A person slides down a hill and hits a jump at the end
A person slides down a hill and hits a jump at the end
MONTREAL — Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, with four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that all Quebecers need to continue to follow public health rules to ensure cases and hospitalizations go down. The province's Health Department reported 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. Quebec currently has 21,640 active cases. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
Brazil's government will not seek to bar Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from 5G network auctions slated for June this year, newspaper Estado de S. Paulo reported on Saturday, citing government and industry sources. Financial costs potentially worth billions of dollars and the exit of ally President Donald Trump from the White House are forcing President Jair Bolsonaro to backtrack on his opposition to Huawei bidding to provide the next generation cellular network for carriers in Brazil, the paper said.
TRAVAIL. Selon la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), après la gestion de la pandémie en 2020, les négociations dans le secteur public seront le gros défi que le gouvernement devra relever en 2021. «La Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) compte d'ailleurs rappeler au premier ministre, François Legault, qu'il est maintenant plus que temps qu'il fasse un choix pour le Québec, le choix de bien traiter celles et ceux qui préparent l'avenir des élèves et des étudiants et qui prennent soin des personnes malades et souffrantes», a déclaré Sonia Ethier, la présidente de l’organisation syndicale qui représente plus de 200 000 membres, dont environ 125 000 font partie du personnel de l'éducation. «La pandémie a mis en lumière l'état important de désorganisation dans lequel se trouve notre réseau de santé à la suite des coupes et des compressions des dernières années. La situation n'est guère mieux dans les réseaux de l'éducation et de l'enseignement supérieur où les mauvaises conditions de travail mettent en péril la capacité de l'État à garantir les services à la population. Après la crise sanitaire, il y a une véritable crise des conditions de travail que le gouvernement ne pourra régler qu'en mettant fin à l'exploitation éhontée des travailleuses et travailleurs du secteur public, qui a trop duré», explique Sonia Ethier. La CSQ poursuivra d'ailleurs la mobilisation de ses membres, enclenchée en 2020, qui devrait se traduire par l'adoption de mandats de grève dans l'ensemble des syndicats d'ici la fin du mois de janvier. «Le ras-le-bol et la colère sont généralisés chez nos 125 000 membres du secteur public, et cela se traduit par d'importants appuis à la grève», ajoute-t-elle. Qualité de l'air et vaccination À l’occasion d’une conférence de presse virtuelle tenue le 10 janvier, la présidente de la CSQ est également revenue sur la question de la qualité de l’air dans les écoles. Ayant écouté attentivement les propos du ministre Jean-François Roberge à ce sujet, Sonia Ethier l'invite à ne pas écarter trop rapidement le recours à des purificateurs d'air dans les classes où les normes ne sont pas satisfaisantes. «Le ministre semble dire que leur présence dans les classes et le bruit que ces appareils produisent seraient dérangeants pour la concentration des élèves. Je pense qu'il saute un peu trop vite aux conclusions et qu'il met en doute trop facilement le bon jugement du personnel pour ce qui est de choisir le meilleur emplacement pour ces purificateurs. Rappelons-nous qu'il n'y a pas si longtemps, le ministre doutait de la nécessité de porter des masques en classe, alors que son point de vue a changé depuis. La question des purificateurs d'air mérite sans nul doute d'être plus réfléchie également», met en garde la leader syndicale. Pour ce qui est de la question de la vaccination du personnel du réseau scolaire et du réseau de l'enseignement supérieur, la décision d'inclure les enseignants ainsi que les éducatrices des services à la petite enfance parmi les groupes prioritaires pour la vaccination est une bonne nouvelle pour la CSQ. «Cependant, nous pressons le gouvernement et l'Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) d'inclure tous les personnels de l'éducation dans ces groupes prioritaires, c'est-à-dire d'ajouter aussi le personnel de soutien ainsi que le personnel professionnel. En effet, ces travailleuses et ces travailleurs ne sont pas moins à risque que leurs collègues de l'enseignement», indique Sonia Ethier. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Ontario says it's slightly slowing the pace for some COVID-19 vaccinations in response to a shipping delay from drugmaker Pfizer BioNTech. Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams says the company's decision to temporarily delay international vaccine shipments will likely have an effect on the province, though the full impact of the move is not yet known. Williams says long-term care residents, caregivers and staff who already received their first dose of Pfizer's vaccine will receive their second dose between 21 and 27 days later, no more than a week longer than originally planned. He says the timetable will be longer for anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine, with second doses being delivered anywhere from 21 to 42 days after the initial shot. The adjustments come as Ontario reported 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 stand at 1,632, with 397 patients in intensive care. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Toronto and the neighbouring regions of Peel and York continue to post the highest infection rates in the province. She said 903 of the most recent diagnoses were found in Toronto, with 639 in Peel and 283 in York. Some of those regions are among those targeted by a government blitz of big box stores which got underway on Saturday. The province said earlier this week it would send 50 inspectors to stores in five regions -- Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. They'll be looking to ensure the retailers are complying with the province's tightened public health rules, which went into effect on Thursday along with a provincewide stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of the virus. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton has said inspectors will focus on compliance with masking and physical distancing rules, as well as other health guidelines. He said they'll have the authority to temporarily shut down facilities found to be breaching the rules, and to disperse groups of more than five people. The minister said inspectors will also be able to issue tickets of up to $750 to management, workers or customers if they're not abiding by the measures. Premier Doug Ford, who has faced criticism for allowing big-box stores to remain open for on-site shopping while smaller businesses are restricted to curbside pickup or online sales, vowed this week to crack down on big lineups and other infractions at large retailers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with lowly Mainz while Leipzig again missed the chance to move to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday. Leipzig, which was denied top spot in losing to Dortmund 3-1 last weekend, could manage only 2-2 at Wolfsburg and it remains a point behind league leader Bayern Munich. Bayern hosts Freiburg on Sunday. Dortmund was looking for its fourth win in five league games under new coach Edin Terzic but was frustrated by a committed performance from Mainz in Bo Svensson’s second game in charge. The draw was enough for Mainz to move off the bottom on goal difference from Schalke, which visits Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Dortmund got off to a fine start with Erling Haaland firing inside the left post in the second minute. But the goal was ruled out through VAR as Thomas Meunier was offside in the buildup. Jude Bellingham struck the post toward the end of the half and it was as close as Dortmund came to scoring before the break. Mainz defended doggedly and took its chance in the 57th when Levin Öztunali eluded Mats Hummels with a back-heel trick and let fly from 20 metres inside the top right corner. The visitors almost grabbed another shortly afterward when Alexander Hack struck the crossbar with a header. The 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko had just gone on for Dortmund and he played a decisive role for his side’s equalizer in the 73rd, keeping the ball in play before sending in a cross that was cleared by Mainz defender Phillipp Mwene – only as far as Meunier, who fired back in to equalize. Meunier was then fouled in the penalty area by Hack, giving Reus a chance to score from the spot. The Dortmund captain sent his kick outside of the left post. It could have been worse for Reus’ team as Mainz captain Danny Latza hit the post late on. Dortmund remained fourth, four points behind Bayern, which has a game in hand. Werder Bremen scored late to beat Augsburg 2-0 at home, Cologne drew with Hertha Berlin 0-0, and Hoffenheim vs. Arminia Bielefeld also ended scoreless. Stuttgart hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
New Brunswick is reporting 27 new cases of COVID-19 spread across six regions of the province on Saturday. The province has experienced a surge over the past two weeks, prompting officials to move all health zones to the orange recovery phase. The province has 267 active cases. There were 24 active cases on Jan. 1. The new cases include: Moncton region, seven cases: an individual 19 and under. an individual 20-29. three people 30-39. an individual 50-59. and an individual 60-69. Saint John region, four cases: two people 19 and under. an individual 40-49. an individual 90-99. Fredericton region, four cases: an individual 40-49. an individual 60-69. and two people 70-79. Edmundston region, seven cases: an individual 19 and under. an individual 20-29. an individual 30-39. an individual 40-49. two people 50-59. an individual 60-69. Campbellton region, three cases: an individual 19 and under. an individual 20-29. an individual 50-59. Bathurst region, two cases: two people 20-29. The Miramichi region reported no new cases and is the only region in the province with no active cases. New Brunswick has confirmed 911 total cases. Three people are in the hospital related to the virus. The province has recorded 631 recoveries and 12 deaths. The death of a 13th person with COVID-19 was not related to the disease. Officers visited 172 sites earlier this week and found 99.4% of all patrons were wearing masks, according to a press release. Employee compliance with mask use was 88.9%. The province said warnings were issued and businesses breaking the rules during future inspections could face fines of up to $10,000. Tucker Hall reports case Shannex Parkland Saint John is reporting a new case of COVID-19 involving a resident as part of an outbreak at its Tucker Hall nursing home. The company announced the new case in a statement released late Friday. The facility has 15 residents with the virus along with nine employees. Three residents of Lily Court died last week. Tucker Hall began receiving doses of the vaccine on Friday after Public Health officials reversed an earlier decision not to vaccinate at nursing homes experiencing outbreaks The units most affected at the long-term care homes experiencing outbreaks will not receive vaccine. Two parts of Tucker Hall, Lily Court and Portland Court are currently excluded. Shannex said it plans to retest all residents and employees of Tucker Hall next week. All results from the last round of testing on Thursday have been returned. The province has 170,985 tests since the the start of the pandemic, including 1,729 since Friday's update. More doses due to arrive More doses are expected to be delivered to long-term care facilities in the coming days. Premier Blaine Higgs said a shipment of Moderna vaccine that arrived in the province Thursday will be used to immunize residents and staff in eight long-term care facilities. New Brunswick has administered more than 7,700 vaccine doses, according to the latest figures from Public Health. Of that group, 1,862 have received a second dose. Vitalité reduces services Some hospital services are being reduced in northwestern New Brunswick in response to growing cases of COVID-19. Vitalité Health Network said the changes will impact the Edmundston Regional Hospital, Grand Falls General Hospital, and Hôtel-Dieu-Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin. Service reductions will vary at each facility depending on capacity and the situation in the community, according to the health authority. Vitalité is asking the public to limit emergency department visits to critical situations. Those facilities remain open for people who need urgent care. Dr. John Tobin, head of the family medicine department in Zone 4 for the Vitalite Health Network, said hospitals in the northwest are maintaining designated space in the event COVID-positive patients are admitted. "If we can delay the treatment or the surgery for a few days for a few maybe weeks, it might be delayed," he said. "But this is without saying every patient that needs urgent surgery or cancer treatment surgery will be treated." Exposure notification Public Health identified a possible public exposure where a passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 may have been infectious on the follow flight: Air Canada Flight 8910 – from Toronto to Moncton departed on Dec. 31 at 11:23 a.m. A Saint John restaurant has posted on Facebook that it is closed after being told an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 was inside. East Side Mario's said in the post that it will be closed for 48 for a deep clean. Public Health did not issue a notice about the restaurant. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
WASHINGTON — Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” has been arrested by the FBI for his involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. Gionet was arrested by federal agents in Houston on Saturday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter before the public release of a criminal complaint and spoke on condition of anonymity. Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win. Five people died in the mayhem. Law enforcement officials across the country have been working to locate and arrest suspects who committed federal crimes and so far have brought nearly 100 cases in federal court and the District of Columbia Superior Court. Gionet posted video that showed Trump supporters in “Make America Great Again” and “God Bless Trump” hats milling around and taking selfies with officers in the Capitol who calmly asked them to leave the premises. The Trump supporters talked among themselves, laughed, and told the officers and each other: “This is only the beginning.” Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, and four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. The province added 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. --- 10:45 a.m. Ontario is reporting 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 today along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliot says 903 of the latest diagnoses are in Toronto, with 639 in neighbouring Peel region and 283 in York Region. The province says 1,632 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital, with 397 in intensive care. Elliott says the province had administered 189,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of 8 p.m. on Friday. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario says a shipping delay from Pfizer BioNTech means residents who receive an initial dose of the company's COVID-19 vaccine will have to wait longer than expected to receive their second one. The government says long-term care residents and staff who have been inoculated already will wait up to an extra week before a second dose is administered. Anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine were initially supposed to get a econd dose after 21 days, but will now see that timetable extended to a maximum of 42 days. The government says it's on track to ensure all long-term care residents, essential caregivers and staff, the first priority group for the vaccine, receive their first dose by mid-February. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — With coronavirus restrictions forcing bars and restaurants to seat customers outside in the dead of winter, many are scrambling to nab erratic supplies of propane that fuel space heaters they’re relying on more than ever to keep people comfortable in the cold. It's one of many new headaches — but a crucial one — that go with setting up tables and tents on sidewalks, streets and patios to comply with public health restrictions. “You’re in the middle of service and having staff run up and say, ‘We’re out of propane!’" said Melinda Maddox, manager of a whiskey tasting room in Colorado. Propane long has been a lifeline for people who live in places too remote to get natural gas piped to their homes for heat, hot water and cooking. This winter, 5-gallon (18-litre) propane tanks have proven a new necessity for urban businesses, too, especially in places like the Rocky Mountains, where the sun often takes the edge off the chill and people still enjoy gathering on patios when the heaters are roaring. The standard-size tanks, which contain pressurized liquid propane that turns to gas as it's released, are usually readily available from gas stations, grocery stores or home improvement stores. But that's not always the case lately as high demand leads to sometimes erratic supplies. “I spent one day driving an hour around town. Literally went north, south, east, west — just did a loop around Fort Collins because every gas station I went to was out. That was frustrating,” said Maddox, who manages the Reserve By Old Elk Distillery tasting room in downtown Fort Collins, about 65 miles (105 kilometres) north of Denver. Nearly all states allow at least some indoor dining, but the rules nationwide are a hodgepodge of local regulations. In Fort Collins, indoor seating at bars and restaurants is limited to 25% of normal capacity, so there's a strong incentive to seat customers outside despite the complication and expense. Local propane tank shortages result not just from higher demand but household hoarding similar to the pandemic run on toilet paper and other goods. One national tank supplier reported a 38% sales increase this winter, said Tom Clark, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association. But Clark says the supply is there, it just may mean searching a bit more than normal. If there are 10 suppliers in a neighbourhood, “maybe 1 out of 10 may be out of inventory. Certainly, you can find propane exchange tanks if you look around,” Clark said. Franklin, Tennessee-based tank manufacturer Manchester Tank has been paying workers overtime and boosting production in India to meet demand, company President Nancy Chamblee said by email. So far, the surge in demand for small-tank propane hasn't affected overall U.S. propane supply, demand and prices, which are running similar to recent winters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But trying to find a steady supply of propane can cost already-stressed businesses time and money they lack in the pandemic. Gas stations are better than home improvement stores for propane tank runs because you can park closer, said Maddox, but shops that refill tanks are best because it's cheaper and not as complicated as trying to run every tank dry. “The issue there is it takes longer,” Maddox said. “You just have to build that into your day and say OK, it’s going to take 40 minutes instead of 25 minutes.” Across the street, Pour Brothers Community Tavern owners Kristy and Dave Wygmans have been refilling tanks for their 18 or so heaters and fire bowls at a supplier at the edge of town after a nearby shop stopped offering refill service. They discovered that propane tanks carry a date-of-manufacture stamp. Propane shops won't refill tanks older than 12 years unless they have been re-certified in five-year increments. “We’re learning more and more about propane," Dave Wygmans said. They also have gained insight into the market for space heaters, which more than doubled in price last fall due to surging demand, and outdoor furniture for their street-parking-turned-outdoor-patio area that can seat up to 44 people, Kristy Wygmans said. Their employees also had to quickly learn to hook up propane tanks and light heaters, needed in a place where temperatures can plunge well below zero (minus 18 Celsius) in winter. Keeping customers comfortable has taken on a new dimension outdoors, Dave Wygmans said. “Before it was just drinks and food, right? And now, we think the priority is drinks and food but maybe the customer thinks the priority is the heat. And so now we have to balance one more priority that some customers might care about," he said. "It’s almost like another service that we’re providing is outside heat,” Wygmans said. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver. Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sofia who loved books but was bothered by how the book collection in her school library was very … well … white. So the girl decided she'd try to write a new twist to the tale by penning something prosaic yet powerful — an application for a government grant, to be exact. Two thousand dollars later, 13-year-old Sofia Rathjen of Sherwood Park, Alta., is curating a collection of books by, and about, Black, Indigenous and people of colour. The new books are building diversity on the bookshelves of the Sherwood Heights junior high library and more tolerance and understanding among its students. "Students of colour — and all people of colour — can see their stories represented authentically and unapologetically and written by authors who understand those experiences," the Latino-Canadian teen told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "And non-people of colour can understand things that we go through. That way, it's not always our job to explain everything and why something is hurtful or racist." 'I just thought about how I could change that' In total, the school will get 134 books — science fiction, poetry, history, graphic novels, mythology and more — featuring authors from dozens of cultural backgrounds. Rathjen's application for Strathcona County's Community Change grant grew out of another piece of writing — a "passion project" essay about why representation matters in school libraries that she had done the year before. "The library was great, [but] I noticed that it lacked representation of people of colour and I saw the way that it affected outside of the library and outside of books," Rathjen said. "Personally, I experienced a lot of micro-aggressions, and I know people who have experienced blatant racism from people at our school. And so I just thought about how I could change that." The Grade 8 student came up with the idea to apply for the grant, then went to the teacher of her leadership class, Robin Koning, for help. Koning said he is "pleased as punch," not just at the grant being approved but at what it means for the school. "We really want to increase our Black/Indigenous/people of colour collection," he said. "Like Sofia said, we want people to realize that people from other cultures experience all kinds of discrimination, whether it's words or actions or just weird things that people say and do." The school's new "technicolour bookshelf," as Rathjen dubs it, is a powerful way to share that message. And Rathjen, said Koning, is a powerful ambassador. "For us to increase the collection of books that ... students would love to read, that's what we're about," he said. "The excitement from Sofia will make, hopefully, other students her age excited about reading." The first 39 books arrived at Rathjen's home during the at-home schooling period so, of course, she took the opportunity to read them. Books provide perspective She reviews books, too, on her Instagram account @the_technicolour_bookshelf, and happily rattled off suggestions to a CBC Radio producer who asked about titles. "OK, so Clap When You Land is by Elizabeth Acevedo. This is about two sisters who don't know that the other exists until their dad dies in a plane crash. And it's about grief and loss and also sisterhood. And it's really beautiful," she said. "And this, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, is based off of African and African-American mythology. And it's about a boy who punches a hole in the sky into a world of folklore that he thought were only stories." Rathjen said she worked hard to find books that will appeal to people of any ethnicity, whether or not they love books as much as her. Books, she said, are the way to see the perspectives of others. "There's a metaphor [about] windows and mirrors. So books are either a window into someone else's perspective and experiences, or a mirror of your own. "And so I think that's why I love reading so much. Because you get to read about so many different stories and experiences and put yourself in the shoes of other people." The end. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
COVID-19. Suite à une discussion avec la Santé publique et en accord avec les représentants des partis, le président de l'Assemblée nationale, François Paradis, indique que les séances des commissions parlementaires prévues pour les deux prochaines semaines seront virtuelles. Les auditions se dérouleront donc à distance pour les témoins et les députés impliqués dans les auditions publiques des projets de loi sur la modernisation du régime de santé et de sécurité du travail, l'Institut de technologie agroalimentaire du Québec et celui sur l’aide aux personnes victimes d'infractions criminelles. Les études détaillées des autres projets de loi qui étaient prévues pour les deux prochaines semaines sont quant à elles annulées. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party on Saturday chose Armin Laschet, the pragmatic governor of Germany’s most populous state, as its new leader — sending a signal of continuity months before an election in which voters will decide who becomes the new chancellor. Laschet will have to build unity in the Christian Democratic Union, Germany's strongest party, after beating more conservative rival Friedrich Merz. And he will need to plunge straight into an electoral marathon that culminates with the Sept. 26 national vote. Saturday’s vote isn’t the final word on who will run as the centre-right candidate for chancellor in Germany’s Sept. 26 election, but Laschet will either run himself or have a big say in who does. He didn't address his plans at Saturday's party convention. Laschet, 59, was elected in 2017 as governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, a traditionally centre-left stronghold. He governs the region in a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, the CDU’s traditional ally, but would likely be able to work smoothly with a more liberal partner, too. Current polls point to the environmentalist Greens as a likely key to power in the election. Laschet pointed Saturday to the value of continuity and moderation, and cited the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump as an example of where polarization can lead. “Trust is what keeps us going and what has been broken in America,” he told delegates before the vote. “By polarizing, sowing discord and distrust, and systematically lying, a president has destroyed stability and trust.” “We must speak clearly but not polarize,” Laschet said. “We must be able to integrate, hold society together.” He said that the party needs “the continuity of success” and “we will only win if we remain strong in the middle of society.” Laschet said that “there are many people who, above all, find Angela Merkel good and only after that the CDU.” He added that ”we need this trust now as a party” and that “we must work for this trust.” Laschet beat Merz, a former rival of Merkel who was making his second attempt in recent years to win the CDU leadership, by 521 votes to 466. A third candidate, prominent lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, was eliminated in a first round of voting. Merz's sizeable support suggests that a strong contingent would like a sharper conservative profile after the Merkel years. Merkel has led Germany since 2005 but said over two years ago that she wouldn't seek a fifth term as chancellor. Merkel, 66, has enjoyed enduring popularity with voters as she steered Germany and Europe through a series of crises. But she repeatedly abandoned orthodox conservative policies, for example by accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and ending military conscription. Her decision in 2015 to allow in large numbers of migrants caused major tensions on the centre-right and strengthened the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Saturday's vote ends a nearly year-long limbo in Germany’s strongest party since outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who narrowly beat Merz in 2018 to succeed Merkel as CDU leader but failed to impose her authority, announced her resignation. A vote on her successor was delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic. Laschet called for unity after Saturday's vote and said Merz remains “an important personality for us.” “All the questions that will face us after the pandemic need a broad consensus in our party,” he said. “And we will need this consensus for all the elections that are ahead of us, too. Everyone will be against us.” Laschet, a miner's son who served as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2005, shouldn't expect much of a honeymoon in his new job. In addition to the national election, Germany is holding six state elections this year, the first two in mid-March. And at some point, he will confer with allies in Bavaria on who runs for chancellor. The CDU is part of the Union bloc along with its sister party, the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, and the two parties will decide together on the candidate. The Union currently has a healthy poll lead, helped by positive reviews of Merkel’s handling of the pandemic. CSU leader Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria, is widely considered a potential candidate after gaining in political stature during the pandemic. Some also consider Health Minister Jens Spahn, who supported Laschet and was elected as one of his deputies, a possible contender. Polls have shown Soeder’s ratings outstripping those of Saturday’s CDU candidates. Laschet has garnered mixed reviews in the pandemic, particularly as a vocal advocate of loosening restrictions after last year’s first phase. “It's very good that a year-long discussion process is over,” Soeder said. “I am sure that Armin Laschet and I will find a joint, wise and united solution to all other pending questions.” Saturday’s result will now be officially endorsed in a postal ballot. That is expected to be a formality but is required by German law. Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Hours after an angry mob of Trump supporters took control of the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection, Selena Gomez laid much of the blame at the feet of Big Tech. “Today is the result of allowing people with hate in their hearts to use platforms that should be used to bring people together and allow people to build community,” tweeted the singer/actor. “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey, Sundar Pichai, Susan Wojcicki — you have all failed the American people today, and I hope you’re going to fix things moving forward.” It’s just the latest effort by the 28-year-old Gomez to draw attention to the danger of internet companies critics say have profited from misinformation and hate on their platforms. Gomez has been calling out Big Tech for months — publicly on the very platforms she’s fighting and privately in conversations with Silicon Valley’s big hitters. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Gomez said she’s frustrated by what she views as the companies’ lacklustre response and that they have to “stop doing the bare minimum.” “It isn’t about me versus you, one political party versus another. This is about truth versus lies and Facebook, Instagram and big tech companies have to stop allowing lies to just flow and pretend to be the truth,” Gomez said in a phone interview from New York. “Facebook continues to allow dangerous lies about vaccines and COVID and the U.S. election, and neo-Nazi groups are selling racist products via Instagram. “Enough is enough,” she said. Facebook and Twitter representatives declined to comment. Google didn't respond to an AP request for comment. Gomez is among a growing number of celebrities using their platforms to call out social media, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Kerry Washington, and Kim Kardashian West. Gomez became passionate about the issue in 2017 when a 12-year-old commented on one of her Instagram posts: “Go kill yourself.” “That was my tipping point,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what I was seeing.” Social media experts have argued that companies like Facebook and Twitter played a direct role in the Capitol insurrection both by allowing plans for the uprising to be made on their platforms and through algorithms that allow dangerous conspiracy theories to take flight. That’s even though executives, such as Facebook’s Sandberg, have insisted that planning for the riots largely took place on other, smaller platforms. “The operational planning was happening in spaces that Selena, for example, was identifying to Sheryl Sandberg in advance saying, ‘You know, we need to do something about white supremacist extremism online and their ability to just form a group on Facebook and happily talk away to each other, plan what they’re going to do next,’” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which has helped educate Gomez about online misinformation. In emails shared exclusively with the AP, Gomez told Sandberg in September that “a search for a militia group ‘Three Percenters’ results in dozens of pages, groups and videos focused on people hoping and preparing for civil war, and there are dozens of groups titled ‘white lives matter’ that are full of hate and lies that might lead to people being hurt or, even worse, killed.” That’s even though Facebook banned U.S.-based militia groups from its service in August. In the same email, Gomez also points to several ads with lies about election fraud being allowed to remain on Facebook and Instagram and questions why that was being allowed. “I can’t believe you can’t check ads before you take money, and if you can’t you shouldn’t be profiting from it,” she wrote. “You’re not just doing nothing. You’re cashing in from evil.” In an email response to Gomez, Sandberg defends Facebook’s efforts to remove harmful content, saying the platform has removed millions of posts for hate speech, and bans ads that are divisive, inflammatory, or discourage people from voting. She didn’t directly address the advertising examples Gomez pointed to. “It’s beating around the bush and saying what people want to hear,” Gomez said about her interactions with Sandberg and Google, among others. "I think at this point we’ve all learned that words don’t match up unless the action is going to happen.” Following the violence at the U.S. Capitol, tech companies made some of their biggest changes to date. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms banned President Donald Trump, drawing criticism from some including the American Civil Liberties Union that it was censorship, and praise from others who say the president abused his platform by encouraging violence. In a thread defending Twitter’s Trump ban, CEO Jack Dorsey said “offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.” In addition to banning Trump, Facebook has been removing video and photos from Capitol rioters. The company also added text on posts questioning the election, confirming that Joe Biden has been lawfully elected, and saying it was taking enforcement action against militarized social movements like QAnon. While the changes are positive, they’re “just a drop in the bucket,” said Jeff Orlowski, director of Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma,” a popular 2020 film that showed how Silicon Valley’s pursuit of profit could pose an existential threat to U.S. democracy. Voices like Gomez’s can be a huge help to get the message across, considering her hundreds of millions of followers, Orlowski said. “Think of the advertising revenue from every Selena Gomez post. Think of the advertising revenue from every Donald Trump post, the advertising revenue from every post from The Rock or whoever,” he said. “Those people are literally generating millions of dollars for these companies ... The top 20 people on Instagram have probably the most influence over Mark and Sheryl compared to anybody else until finally Congress as a whole gets enough momentum and energy to put some legislation together.” Orlowski and Ahmed both said they’re looking to Biden’s administration for reforms, including a measure that would hold social media companies accountable for the posts they allow, an effort that has gained momentum and drawn bipartisan support. “The question no longer is ‘Is there going to be change,’” Ahmed said. “The question is, ‘What kind of change are we going to get?’” Meanwhile, Gomez vows to keep fighting as long as she has a pedestal. “While I have this, I’m going to do good things with it,” she said. “I think that’s my purpose.” ___ Associated Press writer Barbara Ortutay contributed to this report from Oakland, California. Amanda Lee Myers, The Associated Press
The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) council plans to waive penalties on tax payments in the initial few months of 2021. “I think residents and businesses across the town have been severely impacted by COVID. This last shutdown over the Christmas season has been particularly painful for a lot of businesses and residents,” said TBM councillor Rob Sampson. “I think we should, as a council, show some recognition of that pain and provide some relief,” he added. TBM staff will be preparing a draft bylaw for council consideration that will look to waive penalties on tax payments for April, May and June of 2021. The bylaw is expected to waive penalties for both commercial and residential taxpayers. According to Ruth Prince, director of finance for TBM, waiving the penalties may cost the municipality approximately $100,000. However, she says that if an additional round of COVID relief funding were to come from the province, the cost could be covered should the town obtain some of that funding. “I’ve got to believe the province is going to have to provide a third round of funding. It is not as though COVID has stopped impacting municipalities. In fact, I would argue that's probably gotten worse,” Sampson said. TBM previously waived penalties for tax payments at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to Prince, most TBM residents continued to make the payments on-time and in-full. “Last year most people did make their payments even though there was a waive of the penalty and interest,” she said. “Most people are in the habit of making the payments and understand that they will have to pay the money eventually anyways.” A related staff report and draft bylaw are expected to be brought to a committee of the whole meeting in early February. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Plateau Mountain is the first thing John Smith looks at every day on his ranch near Nanton, Alta. "They're a barometer of weather. That's where our chinook arches are. You can tell when there's big wind coming, they blow snow off, and they're just cool to look at," Smith said. The 48-year-old third-generation rancher named his business after it — Plateau Cattle Company. He has nearly 600 head of cattle and 1,500 acres near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. If open pit mining happens on the eastern slopes, it threatens his operation. "Thirty-five per cent of our cattle go up there," Smith said. "So in these COVID times, I'm sure everybody understands what a 35 per cent reduction in wage or the bottom line of a business [does]. So yeah, it's definitely a threatening thing." Along with his wife Laura Laing, Smith is pushing back against the provincial government's decision to revoke a 1976 policy that kept coal mines out of most of the province's Rocky Mountains and Foothills. WATCH | Why Alberta is looking to the Rockies for coal: One mine is under review, and others could follow. Some residents of former mining towns have applauded the prospect of potential jobs returning to their communities. But others, including Smith, worry about what the change might have on quantity and quality of local water — which at the moment runs good and clear. "Every kid in agriculture has always been told this. Your grandfathers tell you, if you haven't got water, you haven't got [nothing]," Smith said. Laing said speaking up against the changes is not a comfortable thing to do, but it's important. "We've been challenged in lots of adversities. We're fighting for a bigger picture here. Everybody's water, the landscapes, the mountains," Laing said. The couple's plight has been boosted by star power recently. Alberta-born country stars Corb Lund and Paul Brandt posted their feelings on social media, saying they oppose coal development in the region. WATCH | Country star Corb Lund comes out against proposed coal mines: "I know a lot of people are afraid to speak out. It's not easy, I get it. But I'm so glad they're taking the lead and sharing the story," Laing said. The mayor of High River, Craig Snodgrass, doesn't want it either. He said provincial maps show Category 2 lands where mines will be allowed stretch into Kananaskis Country and the headwaters of the Highwood River and Cataract Creek. "Reinstate the policy, the protections in these [Category 2] lands and let's have a discussion, and we'll give you the chance openly to prove to us that everything's going to be good," Snodgrass said. Snodgrass put forward a motion this week to send the province a letter of opposition. It was unanimously approved by town council. David Luff is a former assistant deputy minister and was a resource planner for former premier Peter Lougheed's government when the policy was created. He said the process the United Conservative government used was ethically and morally wrong, adding the policy was based on a vision for a long-term priority. "The eastern slopes were to be recognized as having the highest priority for watershed protection, recreation and tourism," Luff said. For Smith, who would like to see his family's ranch reach a fourth generation, the situation is one that weighs heavy. "This place can provide a living for multiple families for a hundred or two hundred years," he said. "I don't think there's a coal mine that can do and create what agriculture is doing here." Representatives with Alberta's energy and environment ministries were unavailable to comment for this story.
Ottawa's homicide unit is investigating the death of a man who was found with gunshot wounds in the city's south end early Saturday morning. According to police, the man was found in the area of Hunt Club Road and Lorry Greenberg Drive at approximately 3 a.m. He was identified Saturday afternoon as 20-year-old Mehdi El-Hajj Hassan. A section of Lorry Greenberg Drive was closed to traffic but has since re-opened. People with information are asked to contact police or can submit anonymous tips by calling Crime Stoppers.
Canadian scientists in a nationwide network of labs are on a mission to detect and disrupt the new and highly contagious coronavirus variants in the U.K. and South Africa. Dawna Friesen takes us inside the hunt for the new variants.
Beset by political infighting, split between three territories and distrustful of their institutions, many Palestinians are sceptical that their first national elections in 15 years will bring change - or even happen at all. President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held later this year in a bid to heal long-standing divisions. The announcement is widely seen as a gesture aimed at pleasing U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with whom the Palestinians want to reset relations after they reached a low under Donald Trump.
NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers. “In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said. To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance. Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday. The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have cancelled them again as infections spiked. One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was co-ordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department's headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long. The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk. “The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California. As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis. According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis. The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said. As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis. The bacterial disease is spread similarly to COVID-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking. Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died. __ Balsamo reported from Washington. __ On Twitter, follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 Michael R. Sisak And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
A number of front-line doctors across Canada have volunteered their scarce free time over the past year to help Canadians understand COVID-19. Jeff Semple checks in with some of these doctors to answer your questions, and give us a glimpse into their lives.