A tradition in Los Angeles to honor the burial of the county's unclaimed dead that began in 1896 was held online for the first time Thursday, due to the pandemic. (Dec. 3)
A tradition in Los Angeles to honor the burial of the county's unclaimed dead that began in 1896 was held online for the first time Thursday, due to the pandemic. (Dec. 3)
OTTAWA — As new cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, the federal government and the provinces have been imposing stricter measures to try to limit the illness's spread. The Canadian Press interviewed three leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology, asking their thoughts on Canada's handling of the pandemic, the new restrictions on activities — and what else can be done. Here's what they had to say. John Brownstein, Montreal-born Harvard University epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital Having a national testing strategy in Canada that uses rapid tests people could do at home would limit the spread of the virus, Brownstein says. "That would enable us to get insight on infection and actually have people isolate," he says. No such tests have been approved in Canada yet. "We've been saying this all along, so it's not just a purely Canadian issue, but having a strategy that implements that kind of information would go a long way to drive infections down in communities while we wait for the vaccine." Brownstein says curfews have unintended consequences because they force people to get together over a shorter period of time during the day. "We haven't seen a lot of evidence that curfews have driven down infection." He says a mix of testing and quarantine is the best way to make sure international travellers don't cause outbreaks when they return from the pandemic hot spots. Testing alone is not enough, he says, because tests can come back negative during the novel coronavirus's incubation period; people should be careful about relying on test results that could give a false sense of security. Brownstein says pandemic fatigue is real and the governments' support for people suffering in the crisis should continue. He says promoting low-risk activities, including walking and exercising outdoors, is also important. "Whatever we can do to allow for people to spend more time outside, probably the better." David Juncker, professor of medicine and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at McGill University Canada needs a national strategy for how to use rapid tests for the virus that causes COVID-19, says Juncker. Juncker is an adviser for Rapid Test and Trace, an organization advocating for a mass rapid-testing system across Canada. "Initially the Canadian government (spoke) against (rapid tests) and then they pivoted sometime in October or September," he says. The federal government then bought thousands of rapid tests and sent them to the provinces, where they've mostly sat unused. "Every province is trying to come up with their own way of trying them — running their own individual pilots. There's a lack of exchange of information and lack of guidelines in terms of how to best deploy them," he says. Juncker says the testing regime based on swabs collected in central testing sites was working in the summer but it collapsed in the fall. He says medical professionals prefer those tests because they are more accurate and can detect low levels of the virus, which is important for diagnoses, but rapid tests can be useful for public health through sheer volume, if they're used properly. A federal advisory panel's report released Friday, laying out the best uses for different kinds of tests, is a step in the right direction, he says. "I'm happy to see we're slowly shifting from the point of view of 'Should we use rapid tests?' to a point of view (of) 'How can we best use them?'" More recent research suggests that rapid tests are more accurate than was previously thought, he says. "We still don't have enough capacity to test everyone so we'd have to use them in a strategic way." Juncker says the lockdowns in Ontario and Quebec should have happened earlier in the fall, when cases started to rise. He says the late lockdowns in Canada won't be as effective as those in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, where early lockdowns effectively stopped the disease from spreading. "Countries that were most aggressive early on, are the ones that have, I think, the best outcome." He says countries where health decisions are fragmented across the country, including Canada, have added challenges. "If you live in Ottawa-Gatineau, you have one province (that) allows one thing, the other province allows another thing, so this creates confusion among the citizens," he said. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and member of Canada's COVID-19 therapeutics task force: Canada's federal-provincial sharing of power over health care is highly inefficient and has led to major problems, says Sheppard. "There's a lot breakdown in communication, a lot of territorialism. It's greatly impacted the efficiency of the response," he says. The problems in long-term care homes are examples. "Quebec is screaming they want money but they're refusing to sign on to the minimum standards of long term care," he says. "I think it's heinous." He says highly centralized authority and decision-making has had a stifling effect on innovation. "It puts up roadblocks, and has led to the Canadian health-care system having lost any attempt to be innovative and nimble," he says. Sheppard says he doesn't think there will be mass vaccinations for Canadians this summer and the September timetable that the federal government is talking about for vaccinating everybody is optimistic. "Remember that we don't have vaccines that are approved in under-11-year-olds," he says. "There will still be opportunities for the virus to circulate in children, particularly children are in school settings." He suggested that the current immunization campaign's goal is not herd immunity, eliminating transmission of the virus and rendering is extinct. "The goal here is to create an iron wall of immunity around the 'susceptibles' in our population, such that this becomes a virus of the same public health importance as influenza." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020 ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
The council set up to guide the Northwest Territories government in its economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic has lost a co-chair, and two other members have been replaced. The 17-member Business Advisory Council started meeting in early June to give advice to the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment on lessening the short-term effects of COVID-19 on N.W.T. businesses, and on longer-term actions the territory can take to help the businesses rebound. On Friday Paul Gruner, president and CEO of Det'on Cho Management LP, the economic development arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said he stepped down recently as co-chair of the council to focus on his company during the pandemic. Jenni Bruce, president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce and regional manager at Midwest Property Management is now the council's sole chair. She said it's too early to say what will happen with the vacancy left by Gruner. Bruce said the two other changes on the council were a result of people leaving the organizations they were named to represent. She said each seat was filled by a person from the same organization that lost its representative. Duc Trinh, representing the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Construction Association, was replaced by Trevor Kasteel, who now represents the construction association. Donna Lee DeMarcke of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce took a position with NWT Tourism, said Bruce. Her spot was filled by Terry Rowe, the president of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce.
Sherbrooke — Tout le monde a le pouvoir d’économiser sur son épicerie, peu importe le temps qu’on a à y consacrer, croit la couponneuse aguerrie, mère et courtière immobilière Vicky Armstrong Béliveau. Même si ses années de couponnage intensif sont derrière elle, la Sherbrookoise croit que ce moment de crise est parfaitement choisi pour partager ses meilleures astuces d’épargne et redonner au prochain. La jeune femme, qu’on a même vue dans l’émission à succès Un souper presque parfait sous le surnom de la « couponneuse perfectionniste », en 2017, utilise toujours plusieurs de ses trucs, même si sa situation financière est plus confortable qu’à ses débuts il y a sept ans. « Je m’étais lancé un défi personnel d’apprendre le couponnage parce que je suis tombée enceinte de ma petite puce, et je suivais des cours de courtage le soir. La nuit, quand j’allaitais toutes les deux heures, j’étais sur des sites de couponnage pour voir ce qu’on allait faire. » Depuis quelques années, elle prend maintenant soin de faire don de plusieurs de ses trouvailles à Moisson Estrie. En trois ans, c’est plus de 100 kg de produits qu’elle estime avoir retirés de ses grandes étagères pour en faire bénéficier les moins nantis. « Je réussis à obtenir plein de produits gratuits ou presque; c’est certain que mon cœur en arrache. J’ai habité en Afrique, et j’ai vu comme c’est difficile de boire un simple verre d’eau là-bas. Alors chaque année, j’essaie de donner le plus possible », confie celle qui en profite déjà pour sensibiliser sa fille en l’impliquant dans le processus de dons. « Couponner » en 4 étapes À l’image de cette ère numérique, la méthode en quatre astuces qu’utilise Mme Armstrong Béliveau repose en grande partie sur l’utilisation d’applications mobiles. Premièrement : les rabais de la semaine en épicerie. Mais pas besoin de circulaire papier : « Ce qui est génial, ce sont les applications Flipp ou Reebee, qui regroupent toutes les circulaires de tous les magasins au même endroit. Avec Reebee, on peut même voir les rabais de la semaine prochaine. On peut faire une liste d’achats dans l’application qui sera ensuite divisée par magasin. » En répertoriant les rabais de différents commerces, celle-ci mise ensuite sur les « imbattables », des politiques appliquées chez Maxi et Walmart qui consistent à égaler les prix de la concurrence à la caisse. La deuxième étape, c’est de rassembler divers coupons qu’elle trouve en ligne. Celle-ci propose notamment des sites comme save.ca, websaver.ca et utilisource.ca. « En jumelant les imbattables et les coupons, je n’ai jamais payé de dentifrice ni de brosse à dents. Je suis encore à écouler mes stocks d’il y a quatre ans », se réjouit Mme Armstrong Béliveau. Son troisième truc : l’application Checkout 51, qui propose chaque semaine des remises en argent lorsqu’on achète certains produits. « Je regarde à l’avance quels produits offrent des remises. Ensuite, au retour de l’épicerie, ils demandent que je prenne ma facture en photo dans l’application pour démontrer que j’ai acheté le produit. Ils mettent l’argent dans mon compte et je reçois un chèque dès que j’atteins 20 $ de remises. J’ai déjà fait de l’argent avec ça, parce que j’avais eu quelque chose gratuitement à cause de mes imbattables et de mes coupons. » Finalement, comme quatrième source d’économies, l’experte recommande vivement l’utilisation de programmes de récompenses, comme PC Optimum (dans les magasins Provigo, Maxi et Pharmaprix), qui permettent aussi d’accumuler des remises en argent et d’utiliser le montant sur son épicerie dès qu’on atteint 10 $. Organisé et assumé « Rien n’oblige à utiliser les quatre trucs. Les gens peuvent y aller à leur rythme. Moi, j’étais une passionnée maniaque! Mais avec la COVID-19, tout ce qui se passe et les gens qui perdent leur emploi, ça peut être tellement intéressant de prendre 10 ou 15 heures dans la semaine. », mentionne-t-elle, encourageant les gens à surmonter leur orgueil et les préjugés de file d’attente. Somme toute, l’organisation et le respect demeurent primordiaux. « Il y a des gens qui attendent derrière. On peut les avertir ou le mentionner à la caissière pour qu’elle ferme à l’avance. Je mets mes imbattables dans le haut de mon panier pour les passer en dernier et j’apporte les bons coupons dans une enveloppe. À l’époque, j’avais monté un gros cartable avec mes coupons classés par date. » Si on prévoit faire de grandes économies, il est aussi préférable de prévoir l’espace de rangement nécessaire, et être prêt à changer de marque selon les différents spéciaux.Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Calling an emergency responder. Accessing an affordable housing unit. Children learning inside school buildings, not portables. Patients receiving care in a hospital room, not a hallway. The services delivered in cities are the heartbeat of safe and comfortable communities, ones that attract residents, jobs, and investment opportunities for municipal and regional development. Municipalities own 60 percent of Canada’s infrastructure, according to StatsCan, and bear the corresponding duty to maintain its state of good repair with limited resources. Peel’s cities rely on funding from higher levels of government to provide key services to residents, including local children’s aid societies, healthcare, schools, and social services. A tacit feature of funding to Peel is – no matter the party colours at Queen’s Park or Parliament Hill – the hyper-growth region is not getting its “fair share” of public dollars, despite the equal contribution of local income taxpayers. During the pandemic, the latest examples from Ottawa and Queen’s Park include the federal government’s initial decision to give Toronto $14 million for COVID-19 isolation centres and none to Peel, before local efforts to point out the higher infection rates in the region forced the feds to allocate $6.5 million to Peel. Queen’s Park, meanwhile, despite socio-economic conditions that drove higher case counts in Peel, gave Toronto 17 provincial testing centres, but funded only 4 in Peel, which advocates said was one of the reasons the viral spread was not properly contained in the hard hit region. “What the pandemic has done is put more of a spotlight on how we’re chronically underfunded,” said Regional Councillor Martin Medeiros, of Brampton. “The leader of any political party needs the 905 to win a majority, and we’ve delivered…But when it comes to getting love, we don’t get the love. Why is that?” Local leaders have struggled to glean an answer to this for more than three decades. But what was once a booming battle cry to put pressure on upper levels of government – most recently via a campaign called the Peel Fair Share Task Force – has been reduced like a diminuendo to a restless hum. Nine months shy of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in June 2019, Brampton councillors began making some noise through demands for increased funding to address its healthcare emergency. They highlighted the dangerous lack of hospital beds in the city, which has less than half the per capita number of Ontario overall. The city receives $1,000 less in funding for healthcare, per person, about half the provincial average. These inequities have been magnified during the pandemic. The region has had the highest infection rates in the province, and residents were put at increased risk because of the chronic failure of healthcare funding, which has left local hospitals particularly vulnerable to capacity issues. Prior to the pandemic, the three full-service hospitals in Mississauga and Brampton were already among the worst in Ontario for performance, with average wait times to be admitted between two-and-a-half and three times higher than the provincial target of 8 hours. As part of its 2020 budget asks, the City launched a “Fair Deal for Brampton” campaign for immediate funding to expand Peel Memorial hospital’s urgent care capabilities, fund the second phase of its build, and create a third healthcare facility. A city of about 650,000 residents, Brampton currently has only one full-service hospital, Brampton Civic, operated by the William Osler Health System. More than one-third of Brampton’s population has at least one chronic condition, and the City says it is projected to have the highest rate of dementia between 2015 and 2025. According to a 2014 study by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in collaboration with Peel Public Health, the region was headed for a rate of one in six people having diabetes by 2025, largely due to the significant South Asian-Canadian population, which suffers much higher rates of the disease than the general population. At the time, it was one in ten, as reported by Peel’s former medical officer of health in 2018. According to the City’s pre-pandemic data, the emergency department at Brampton Civic was equipped for 90,000 visits a year, but received about 130,000, while Peel Memorial is funded for 10,000 visits a year and received 75,000. Patient-loads have skyrocketed over the course of the pandemic. As of January 15, Osler’s system was treating 109 COVID-19 patients, where about nine weeks ago, patient transfers were triggered around the time when it was treating just 64 people. In October, Premier Doug Ford announced funding to support the addition of 766 beds for 32 hospitals in the province, including 46 at Etobicoke General Hospital, which is also in the Osler system, and 41 beds in Brampton, which has about 60 percent more residents than Etobicoke. The smaller community was also given two testing facilities through Osler during the first half of the pandemic, among the total of 17 in Toronto, while Brampton only had one. The apparent differential treatment between funding the two hospitals under Osler’s management is a snapshot of the issues facing Brampton as it seeks its fair share from the province, Councillor Medeiros said. “They gave [funding] to Etobicoke without any ties. Notwithstanding, it’s the Premier’s riding,” Medeiros said. “Yet, when the City of Brampton is looking for more investment in healthcare, and we're looking to complete the second phase of Peel Memorial Hospital, they say that there’s provincial legislation requirements that we give 20 to 30 percent as a contribution.” A lack of commensurate allocation by the Province and federal governments has also affected Peel’s $1-billion Housing Master Plan, which has not yet been fully funded. The plan seeks to create 280 emergency shelter beds and another 5,300 affordable housing units by 2034. As previously reported by The Pointer, the federal government’s commitment of $276.5 million is on top of the Region’s $333.5 million, which has been criticized by Peel social services staff as being “significantly and disproportionately high.” Regional Councillor Annette Groves, of Caledon, said that local taxes and development charges are not sufficient to support the wealth of services offered by Peel. “I don't think it has anything to do with the current government. I think that it’s been such a long, outstanding battle,” Groves told The Pointer. “The Province has given us some funding to help with the pandemic, and so has the federal government, but again, it’s still not enough because we’re so far behind in terms of, for example, affordable housing.” Both Queen’s Park and Ottawa are guilty of a form of hypocrisy. The federal government sets immigration targets for the whole country, 401,000 for 2021 and growing to 421,000 in 2023. But it does not establish a funding formula for those municipalities that willingly accommodate newcomers. Brampton, over the past two decades, has welcomed more immigrants per capita than any other large city in Canada, but the federal government does little to provide adequate services and infrastructure for the hyper-growth community that openly supports the country’s immigration policies through its growth planning. Queen’s Park, meanwhile, relies desperately on Peel to accommodate the province’s largest share of population growth, but continues to ignore the funding needs it creates through provincial growth legislation, known as the Places To Grow Act. While Mississauga and Brampton rapidly expand, schools, for example, are not brought on line fast enough by the Province, forcing the use of portables, which have become a common feature in Peel’s education landscape. GO services are also glaringly under-funded, as more and more commuters move into the region without proper transportation infrastructure. The list of inadequate funding commitments for Peel grows every year. On top of education and healthcare, affordable housing, transportation, public health, settlement support, legal aid, children’s aid and almost every other funding area are all under-funded in Peel. For example, despite skyrocketing demand, Mississauga’s legal aid clinic receives far less funding per capita than Toronto. In 2019 the co-executive director of the city’s legal aid clinic, Douglas Kwan, said it receives the second lowest funding per capita of all legal aid clinics in Ontario: the lowest – Brampton. Led by Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish, Peel revived efforts in its Fair Share for Peel coalition about four years ago to address its municipalities receiving less than half of the per capita rate of others in Ontario. In the fall of 2017, the Region organized a $90,000 conference with neighbouring municipalities, called the Summit 4 Fair Funding, to encourage a dialogue surrounding funding needs ahead of the 2018 provincial election. According to the Brampton Guardian, the summit was later cancelled after staff were not able to obtain transparent formulas as to how funding transfers were calculated from the provincial and federal governments. The effort followed years of pressure, culminating in an earlier effort in 2011 to assess underfunding and service delivery obstacles including those for seniors, people with disabilities, and victims of violence and abuse. As Peel braces for what February brings during the pandemic, the Region’s Governance Committee continues to advocate for government dollars. After almost a year of neglect, which contributed to Peel’s designation as a COVID-19 hot spot, and its placement in the current lockdown on November 23, the Ontario Ministry of Health recently agreed to a one-time funding disbursement of $14-million to Peel Public Health, to “support extraordinary costs associated with monitoring, detecting, and containing COVID-19 in the province.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
For the last four years, the Dr. Hugh Twomey Health Care Centre in Botwood has been without 24-hour emergency services. Just prior to the 2019 provincial election, then-premier Dwight Ball pledged to bring those services back to the hospital in the fall of 2020 once a protective care unit was finished. According to Exploits MHA Pleaman Forsey, the time has come for the Liberal government to come through on its promises. “We are left with a commitment from the Liberal minister of health to review the service after the long-term care facility was finished in Botwood,” Forsey said in a prepared statement this week. “That’s not good enough.” The provincial government stripped the hospital of the service in 2016 in a move by Central Health to reduce its operating budget. An analysis completed by the Department of Health in 2018 indicated patient data supported the decision. Forsey recently sent an email to Central Health about the issue and was told the new health unit is expected to be in use by the end of this month. “This creates added stress to the residents of the Exploits district,” Forsey said of not having 24-hour emergency services. The provincial government's department of health and community services said in a statement the work on the protective unit was nearing completion and the matter of returning to 24-hour service will be looked at when it is done. "Following the completion of construction, the demand and the staffing will be examined to see whether or not there is a need to change the way emergency services are provided to the people in Botwood," wrote a spokesperson for the department. On several occasions since Ball pledged the return of 24-hour emergency services, the Botwood council has written to Gander MHA John Haggie, the minister of health and community services, regarding the status of emergency services at the hospital. Botwood Mayor Scott Sceviour said responses the town has received have not indicated if or when any announcement will be made about the return of regular emergency services. At the time, the town was caught off guard by the decision to alter the emergency services at the hospital. It was expected to help save money, but the mayor says little money has been saved by the decision. “There was no justification for it,” he said. “It was a surprise to all of us.” Now that the area MHA has brought the issue to the forefront again, Sceviour said the town will write to Premier Andrew Furey about the commitments of his predecessor and bring him up to speed on the situation. Botwood is scheduled to have a council meeting this week, where the issue will be on the agenda. “We are going to hold this government to the promise,” said Sceviour. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
MANILA, Philippines — Coronavirus infections in the Philippines have surged past 500,000 in a new bleak milestone with the government facing criticism for failing to immediately launch a vaccination program amid a global scramble for COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of Health reported 1,895 new infections Sunday, bringing confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to 500,577, the second highest in Southeast Asia. There have been at least 9,895 deaths. The Philippines has been negotiating with seven Western and Chinese companies to secure 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine but the effort has been fraught with uncertainties and confusion. About 50,000 doses from China-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. may arrive later next month followed by much larger shipments, according to the government, but concerns have been raised over its efficacy. President Rodrigo Duterte says securing the vaccines has been difficult because wealthy nations have secured massive doses for their citizens first. Duterte’s elite guards have acknowledged they have been inoculated with a still-unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine partly to ensure that they would not infect the 75-year-old president. Duterte’s spokesman and other officials have denied the president himself was vaccinated. A flurry of criticism has followed the illegal vaccinations, but few details have been released, including which vaccine was used and how the guards obtained it. Some senators moved to investigate, but Duterte ordered his guards not to appear before the Senate. In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed Monday to get the pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympics this summer with ample coronavirus protection. In a speech opening a new parliament session, Suga said his government will revise laws to make anti-virus measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its virus caseload manageable with non-binding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing and for people to stay home. But recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes toward the anti-virus measures, and doubts are growing as more-contagious variants spread while people wait for vaccines and the Olympics draw closer. The health ministry also reported Monday that three people who have no record of recent overseas travel had tested positive for the new, more easily transmitted coronavirus variant first reported in Britain, suggesting that it is making its way in Japan. Suga said his government aims to start vaccinations as early as late February. Japan has confirmed more than 330,000 infections and 4,500 deaths from COVID-19, numbers that have surged recently though they are still far smaller than many other countries of its size. — A Chinese province grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases is reinstating tight restrictions on weddings, funerals and other family gatherings, threatening violators with criminal charges. The notice from the high court in Hebei province did not give specifics, but said all types of social gatherings were now being regulated to prevent further spread of the virus. Hebei has had one of China’s most serious outbreaks in months that comes amid measures to curb the further spread during February’s Lunar New Year holiday. Authorities have called on citizens not to travel, ordered schools closed a week early and conducted testing on a massive scale. Hebei recorded another 54 cases over the previous 24 hours, the National Health Commission said on Monday, while the northern province of Jilin reported 30 cases and Heilongjiang further north reported seven. Beijing had two new cases and most buildings and housing compounds now require proof of a negative coronavirus test for entry. — Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has unveiled a new 15 billion ringgit ($3.7 billion) stimulus to bolster consumption, with the economy expected to reel from a second coronavirus lockdown and an emergency declaration. Muhyiddin obtained royal consent last week to declare a coronavirus emergency, slammed by critics as a desperate bid to cling to power amid defections from his ruling coalition. The emergency, expected to last until Aug. 1, doesn’t involve any curfew or military intervention but suspends Parliament, halts any election and gives Muhyiddin’s government absolute power, including in introducing new laws. It came at the same time as millions in Kuala Lumpur and several high-risk states were placed under a two-week lockdown to halt a surge in coronavirus cases. Muhyiddin on Monday acknowledged concerns over the emergency but repeated that it was only aimed at curbing the coronavirus. He said the economic impact from the lockdown will be manageable because more activities are being allowed this time. He said the stimulus will provide more funds to battle the pandemic and support livelihoods and businesses. A businessman has filed a lawsuit challenging the emergency declaration and the opposition plans to appeal to the king to rescind his support. Malaysia has recorded more than 158,000 coronavirus cases, including 601 deaths. — Nepal’s health ministry says the country's first cases of the new, more infectious coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom have been confirmed in three people who arrived from the U.K. The ministry said Monday that samples from six people who arrived in Nepal last week were sent to a laboratory in Hong Kong with the help of the World Health Organization. Three of the people — two men and a woman — tested positive for the new variant, it said. Two have recovered and one is still sick, the ministry said. Nepal has recorded 267,322 coronavirus cases, including 1,959 deaths. The Associated Press
A 29-year-od Wha Ti man accused of murdering another man in Yellowknife this month has a long and increasingly violent criminal history. Morin Lee Nitsiza, also known a Morin Mike Nitsiza and Moran Nitsiza, was arrested Jan. 10, two days after another man was found dead near the downtown homeless shelter and sobering centre. According to court records, Nitsiza has been in almost constant trouble with the law since he was a teenager. He has been convicted of assault, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, sexual assault, sexual interference, break and enter, and theft and robbery. In 2011 he was expelled from school for threatening to kill the principal of the Wha Ti school he was attending. In a background report prepared for his sentencing for making that threat, a probation officer noted, "Morin indicated he had no plan to follow through on his words and further states, 'That's just not in me. I may have the courage to fight someone but not to stab or kill someone.'" In early 2018 Nitisza was convicted of slashing another man with a knife in Sombe K'e Park in Yellowknife.The same year he was convicted of breaking and entering a downtown convenience store. According to a background report prepared for his sentencing on the break and enter charge, Nitsiza said he was black out drunk and had no memory of the robbery. "Morin is hopeful that he can establish a healthier lifestyle following his sentence," noted another probation officer in a report prepared for that sentencing. Two attempts at residential treatment According to the background reports, Nitsiza's parents split up when he was five years old. His mother took him and his siblings to Yellowknife. He was placed into care a few years later, after his mother lost her job and started drinking excessively. He remained in foster care the rest of his adult life. A doctor who examined Nitsiza when he was an infant, noticed he was very slow to develop motor skills and suspected he was suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, according to one of the background reports. He was formally diagnosed with FASD when he was four years old and, again, at the age of 16, according to the reports. Nitsiza has never been employed. He began smoking cannabis and drinking when he was 14 and dropped out of school after he was expelled. "I got tired of going to school and seeing the same faces," he told a probation officer. Nitsiza attended two residential counselling programs, according to the probation officers' reports. He was at Ranch Ehrlo in Regina in 2007. "He went AWOL numerous times (13 in total) and did not complete the program," noted one of the probation officers. He committed a robbery while he was in Regina taking the program. From February 2009 to August 2010 Nitsiza attended the PLEA program for troubled youth in Vancouver. He was kicked out of the program when he was charged with assault with a weapon. Nitsiza is currently being held a the North Slave Correctional Centre on the murder charge. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 17.
THE LATEST: There have been 1,330 new cases of COVID-19 and 31 deaths in B.C. in the past three days. The Sunday-to-Monday jump of 301 new cases is the lowest level of one-day growth since Nov. 3. Active cases are at their lowest since Nov. 7. There are currently 4,326 active cases in B.C. 343 people are in hospital, with 68 in the ICU. 13 of the new cases are associated with temporary farm workers who have come to B.C. for work. An outbreak at McKinney Place, which was the deadliest outbreak in Interior Health, has been declared over. 87,346 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine. The deputy provincial health officer says B.C. is "prepared" to adjust its vaccine rollout in case of shipping delays. Officials say consistency with existing public health measures like handwashing and physical distancing will help ward off new variants of the coronavirus. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says outbreaks are slowing in B.C. and the province is at a "tipping point" that she feels positive about. "Clearly the things we are doing in our community are working," Henry said Monday, acknowledging that outbreaks continue in essential workplaces and long-term care homes. B.C.'s curve has started to bend down again following a bump after the holidays, but health officials are warning British Columbians to keep following public health measures as they watch for two confirmed coronavirus variants in the province. Henry said that while B.C.'s numbers continue to slowly trend in the right direction, the risk of transmission remains high in all areas of the province. B.C. 'prepared' for vaccine delays The federal government on Friday announced Pfizer is temporarily reducing shipments of its vaccine in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium. The move means there will be fewer shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech coming to Canada until at least March. Henry and Dix said they were disappointed to hear about the delay. On Monday, Deputy Provincial Health Officer Reka Gustafson said the change will mean a drop in vaccinations in B.C., but added the news was not surprising. "This will mean that, for a brief period of time, we will be able to administer fewer doses of the vaccine because we will have fewer doses of vaccine, but we are also assured that this temporary slowdown is to ensure there is increased production as those weeks pass," Gustafson told CBC's The Early Edition. "It's something we planned for. In a worldwide vaccination campaign, we expect fluctuations in supply and we are prepared to change our vaccination campaign to respond." A total of 75,914 people have been vaccinated in B.C. so far. For those people who are awaiting their second dose of the vaccine after already receiving their first, Gustafson said the plan "is still to provide the second dose within 35 days." B.C. monitoring new variants Public health officials are also monitoring new variants of the novel coronavirus, including those first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Gustafson suspects variants have been playing a role in B.C.'s pandemic for some time. "Variants of this virus have likely emerged throughout the pandemic and are probably a big part of the story of why some areas have very big outbreaks while other areas have smaller outbreaks," Gustafson said. "The variants are what we expect. We are going to be detecting them more as our capacity to do genomic sequences throughout the world expands." Gustafson said it's key that the public sticks to existing health measures such as handwashing and physical distancing. "From an individual's perspective, really, there is at this time no indication that the things we do to prevent transmission of this virus don't work [with variants] ... there is no indication people need to do anything different," she said. "I would suggest doing what we're doing right now and doing it consistently." Weekend fines issued On Saturday, Kelowna RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the organizer of a protest in the city's downtown area. Police did not name the organizer but said it was the third time that person organized a large gathering of people who oppose measures meant to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Also on Saturday, organizers of a planned rally in Surrey in support of farmers in India said the event was unfairly shut down before it could begin. Surrey RCMP said they moved to shut down the protest upon hearing that it would feature a stage and food vendors, which raised concerns about people leaving their vehicles and congregating. B.C.'s current health restrictions are in effect until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. The current orders include a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household. Tourism industry angst B.C.'s tourism industry said that implementing an inter-provincial travel plan would decimate what's left of the sector's operators, as B.C. Premier John Horgan seeks legal advice on the feasibility of a travel ban between provinces. The B.C. Hotel Association is urging the government to pursue other options to limit the spread of COVID-19. It said that an inter-provincial, non-essential travel ban goes against Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If put in place, the association said it would further cripple a sector that is "barely hanging on by a thread." A non-essential travel advisory remains in place in B.C., including travel into and out of B.C., and between regions. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 5 p.m. PT on Sunday, Canada had reported 708,609 cases of COVID-19, with 75,280 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 18,014. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
Residents of the Edmundston region are on edge after a COVID-19 outbreak at a poultry plant forced the area back to red-phase restrictions. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, announced 24 new cases in the Zone 4 region on Sunday. The jump in cases included 11 linked to Nadeau Poultry after mass testing, bringing the entire region to 76 active cases. While the Edmundston region had been on high alert over the past week, the single-day spike came as a surprise. Deputy Mayor Eric Marquis said two dozen cases were more than he could have anticipated. "We were aware that we were pretty close to red after the meeting we had with Dr. Russell this past Friday," he said in an interview. Marquis said he is urging residents to stay home as much as possible. "I'm pretty sure if we do that we're going to be back to orange and we're going to be back to yellow in the upcoming weeks," he said. Some businesses close The move to the red phase means some businesses in the area are forced to close, including gyms, spas, barbershops, hair salons and bars. Cathy Pelletier, executive director of the Edmundston Chamber of Commerce, said many anticipated the rollback to red. Some restaurants had already switched to take out and delivery under the orange phase. Under red restrictions, dining rooms must close. Pelletier said the business community remains hopeful the red phase will be brief and quickly improve the situation. "There will be some impact in the community for the businesses, the hair stylists, the gyms, everything that has to be closed once again," she said. "But a lot of them are pretty resilient." Retail businesses can remain open under COVID-19 operational plans. Plan in place for poultry supply chain The Madawaska region produces most of New Brunswick's chicken and is home to three processing facilities. Thomas Soucy, the president and CEO of Groupe Westco, said his poultry operation in Clair is also at risk of COVID-19. The company has employees that commute from Quebec and truck drivers that travel across the country but has yet to report a case of the illness. "It could have happened to anyone," he said in an interview. "We feel the pain the industry and our competitor is experiencing." A poultry plant in Berwick, N.S., was forced to halt operations last month after an outbreak including six cases. Soucy said the facilities in the Madawaska region helped out Eden Valley Poultry during the temporary closure. Groupe Westco would be prepared to step in if Nadeau is impacted. "The last thing we want to have to do is be forced to euthanize the chickens at the farms," he said. "There's not just us, the plants in Quebec, we all work together to make sure there's the least impact possible on the food chain." Nadeau Poultry is about 40 minutes west of Edmundston within the municipality of Haut-Madawaska. The processing plant has about 240 employees, according to Pelletier. Jean-Pierre Ouelette, the Haut-Madawaska mayor, said the sudden outbreak shows how no one is sheltered from the pandemic. "We need to be even more careful in trying to avoid spreading it," he said. Teachers expected schools to close New Brunswick's red phase guidelines initially included moving schools online. But Education Minister Dominic Cardy announced a change in plans on Sunday. "We're working to keep students in school as much as possible to help support our public health goals," he said. The New Brunswick Association of Francophone Teachers said its members are concerned about returning to the classroom and the decision to keep schools open came as a surprise. President Gérald Arseneault said teachers expected schools to close under the red phase and were prepared to switch to virtual learning. "All of a sudden, only a few minutes before the government announcement, they told us it wouldn't be the case," he said. "We can't forget that our teachers are also parents and worried like the rest of the community about this situation." If a case is confirmed at a red-phase school, it will close for three days. This will allow time for contact tracing and turning the building into a testing site. Students and staff will also be actively screened each day and those with one symptom will be asked to stay home. Pelletier said the community is upset over the decision to keep schools open. She's planning to keep her son home for a couple of days to see how the situation unfolds. She said about 30 part-time employees at the Nadeau poultry operation are students at Cité-Des-Jeunes-A.-M. Sormany, the high school in Edmundston. "A lot of people are worried why the schools are still open," Pelletier said.
Starting next week, Austria will introduce a similar rule nationwide.View on euronews
Budgeting is a pain. But what’s more painful is a bill you can’t easily pay, debt that costs a fortune or not having enough money to retire. Fortunately, you can have a useful, working budget without watching every penny. Automation, technology and a few simple guidelines can keep you on track. The following approach works best if you have reasonably steady income that comfortably exceeds your basic expenses. If your income isn’t steady or doesn’t cover much more than the basics, you may need to track your spending more closely. Also, no budget in the world can fix a true income shortfall, where there’s not enough coming in to cover your basic bills. If that’s the case, you need more income, fewer expenses or outside help. One place to start your search for aid is 211.org, which provides links to charitable and government resources in many communities. Otherwise, though, you can craft a spending plan with the following steps. START WITH YOUR MUST-HAVES Must-have costs include housing, utilities, food, transportation, insurance, minimum debt payments and child care that allows you to work. Using the 50/30/20 budget, these costs ideally would consume no more than 50% of your after-tax income. That leaves 30% for wants (entertainment, clothes, vacations, eating out and so on) and 20% for savings and extra debt payments. A budgeting app or your last few credit card and bank statements can help you determine your must-have costs. The more these expenses exceed that 50% mark, the harder you may find it to make ends meet. For now, you can compensate by reducing what you spend on wants. Eventually, you can look for ways to reduce some of those basic expenses, boost your income or both. “After tax,” by the way, means your income minus the taxes you pay. If other expenses are deducted from your paycheque, such as health insurance premiums or 401(k) contributions, add those amounts to your take-home pay to determine your after-tax income. If you don’t have a steady job or are self-employed, forecasting your after-tax income can be tougher. You can use a previous year’s tax return or make an educated guess about the minimum income you expect to make this year. A withholding calculator can help you determine what you’re likely to have left after taxes. AUTOMATE WHAT YOU CAN Automatic transfers can put many financial tasks on autopilot, reducing the effort needed to achieve goals. If you don’t automate anything else, automate your retirement savings to ensure you’re saving consistently. Also consider saving money in separate accounts — often called “savings buckets” — to cover big, non-monthly expenses such as insurance premiums, vacations and car repairs. Online banks typically allow you to set up multiple savings accounts without requiring minimum balances or charging fees. You can name these accounts for different goals, and automate transfers into those accounts so the money is ready when you need it. My family typically has eight to 12 of these savings accounts at our online bank. I figure out how much I want to have saved by a certain date, divide by the number of months until that date and send the resulting amount, via automated monthly transfers, from our checking account. MANAGING WHAT’S LEFT Return to your after-tax monthly income figure. Subtract your must-have expenses, your contributions to retirement and savings accounts, and any extra debt payments you plan to make consistently. What’s left is your spending money for the month. (Nothing left? Try winnowing some of those must-haves or set less ambitious savings or debt pay-down goals.) In the olden days, you might have put cash in an envelope and used it for your spending money. Once the envelope was empty, you were supposed to stop spending. Some people still do that, but in today’s digital, contactless world, you might prefer other approaches. The easiest would be to put all your spending on a single credit card that’s dedicated to this purpose and paid in full every month. (And since you’re paying in full, consider using a cash back or other rewards card to get some extra benefit from your spending.) Check your balance every few days or set up alerts to let you know when you’re approaching your spending limit for the month. To protect your credit score, you can make payments periodically throughout the month so your balance stays low compared to your credit limit. Alternatively, you could use more than one card, a debit card or a spending app that’s tied to your checking account, such as Venmo, PayPal or Zelle. A budget app or spreadsheet can help keep you on track. You also could consider setting up a separate checking account just for this spending. Again, many online banks offer checking accounts without minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. Your budget won’t be perfect and you’ll have to make adjustments as you go. But at least you, and your money, will be headed in the right direction. ____________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Budgeting 101: How to Budget Money http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-budgeting Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
A Burk’s Falls man is hoping to help those who may be feeling isolated during the second provincial lockdown by bringing back good old-fashioned letter writing. Ryan Baptiste, 32, began the project shortly after the success of the letters to Santa Claus initiative he began before the holidays upon hearing the whisperings of another impending lockdown due to rising COVID-19 numbers. “We can see the emotional effects that lockdown can have on individuals,” said Baptiste, who graduated as an addictions and mental health counsellor in 2011. “We started this as a means to keep people connected and hopefully let them know that there are people out there that care about their well-being.” For the pen pals project, people can drop off a letter and Baptiste — along with two other volunteers, Nicole Byng who lives in Toronto, and Debbie Hope who lives in Almaguin — will reply. While counselling isn’t a full-time job for Baptiste, he said he cares deeply, and the effects of COVID-19 can be felt heavily across the profession. “More intake, referrals and virtual sessions with those who are struggling with the isolation is creating larger backlogs,” he said, adding that lockdowns, isolation and social distancing exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or addictions. After seeing the success of Baptiste’s Santa mailbox, Penny Brandt, who runs a centre for healing arts at 195 Ontario St. in Burk’s Falls, reached out to him to offer him a spot in front of her office. Brandt shares office space with Yolande’s Hair Salon. “I loved what I saw Ryan do at Christmastime with the letters to Santa, and that really hits the heartstrings because of the children and how important it is,” said Brandt. “He has a councillor background, (but) he’s also understanding that there are some awfully lonely people out there that have nobody and sometimes people want to remain anonymous as well.” “So, when I saw that he was looking for a spot to put the mailbox on the main street it was like hey, and I checked with Yolande and she was fine with it, and I thought, this can only help,” she said, mentioning that everyone is suffering mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially in some way due to COVID-19. “The other thing, for me, is remembering that empathy is a starting point for actually creating a community and taking action like Ryan has just done,” Brandt said. “It is the start of change.” The COVID-19 pen pals mailbox can be found at 195 Ontario St. in front of I Am Centre for Healing Arts and Yolande’s Hair Salon or for those who don’t want to venture outside, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
NASHVILLE — As their state faced one of its toughest months of the pandemic, Tennesseans watched Gov. Bill Lee’s rare primetime address to see whether new public restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus might be coming. It was late December, and the state’s hospitals were bursting at the seams with virus patients. Spiraling caseloads placed Tennessee among the worst states in the nation per capita, medical experts were warning that the health care system could not survive another coronavirus spike, and Lee had been affected personally -- his wife had the virus and the governor himself was in quarantine. If ever there was a juncture to change course, the speech seemed like the time and place. But as he stood before the camera, the businessman-turned-politician declined to implement recommendations from the experts, instead announcing a soft limit on public gatherings while stressing once again that stopping the spread of COVID-19 was a matter of personal responsibility. Lee’s decision to stick to his approach has dismayed critics who say the state's situation would not be so dire if he had placed more faith in the government’s role in keeping people safe -- criticism he pushes back against as he keeps businesses open. The first term governor’s response has largely been in step with Republican governors in other states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma, which along with Tennessee have ranked among the worst in the country as case numbers, deaths and hospitalizations increase while the governors rebuff calls for new restrictions. As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University researchers reported 1,236 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people in Tennessee over the past two weeks, which ranks eighth in the country. One in every 187 people in Tennessee tested positive in the past week. “We don’t have to be here. We don’t have to continue this trend. We can do something about it,” Dr. Diana Sepehri-Harvey, a Franklin primary care physician told reporters in a video conference Tuesday. Lee, whose office declined a request for an interview for this article, has rejected claims he hasn’t done enough, countering that he aggressively pushed for more expansive COVID-19 testing throughout the state during the early stages of the pandemic and arguing that sweeping mask requirements have become too political to become effective. He says decisions about masks are best left to local jurisdictions, some of which have imposed them in Tennessee, particularly in more populated areas. According to the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, about 69% of Tennesseans — but fewer than 30 of 95 counties — are under a face mask requirement. Those researchers found that counties that don’t require wearing masks in public are averaging COVID-19 death rates double or more compared with those that instituted mandates. Dr. Donna Perlin, a Nashville-based pediatric emergency medicine physician, sees mask-wearing and other precautions as basic government safety measures. “Just as we have requirements to stop at red lights, or for children to wear seatbelts, or bans on smoking at schools, so too must we require masks, because the refusal to wear masks is endangering our children and their families,” she wrote in a recent editorial. Despite the criticism, Lee hasn’t wavered from his vow never to close down restaurants, bars and retail stores after Tennessee became one of the first states in the country to lift businesses restrictions last year. He also has long advocated for schools to continue in-person learning and has sent school districts protective equipment for teachers and staffers. The governor is quick to point out the state’s swift COVID-19 vaccine rollout, praising Tennessee for being among the country’s leaders in distributing the immunizations. “In addition to creating a strong infrastructure for distribution, we’re currently one of the top states in the nation for total doses administered, vaccinating more than 150,000 Tennesseans in just two weeks,” Lee said in a statement earlier this month, omitting that the state’s initial goal to vaccinate 200,000 residents got delayed because of shipping issues. The CDC reports that 3.7% of Tennessee’s population has been vaccinated, with more than 251,000 shots administered to date — making it among the top 10 states for administration rates. But community leaders and Democratic lawmakers have tried in vain to appeal to the governor in their campaign for a mask mandate and other public health regulations. “What we are doing now is NOT working!” Democratic state Sen. Raumesh Akbari tweeted. “We need a mask mandate, increased testing and contact tracing, and need to consider some business closures. Our hospitals are at the brink! We must act to save lives!” Some have even appealed to Lee's Christian faith, which he regularly touted on the campaign trail and references while governing. “Wearing a mask is loving your neighbour, and taking care of yourself as a Temple of the Holy Spirit,” the Rev. Jo Ann Barker recently wrote to Lee, speaking for the nonpartisan Southern Christian Coalition. “A statewide mask mandate is caring for the community God gives you to care for. If that isn’t important to you, Governor Lee, then what is?” ___ Associated Press writers Jonathan Mattise and Travis Loller contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Kimberlee Kruesi, The Associated Press
Moscow is ready for a quick deal with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to extend the last remaining arms control pact, which expires in just over two weeks, Russia's top diplomat said Monday. Months of talks between Russia and President Donald Trump's administration on the possible extension of the New START treaty have failed to narrow their differences. The pact is set to expire on Feb. 5. Biden has spoken in favour of the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice-president, and Russia has said it’s open for its quick and unconditional extension Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference Monday that Moscow is ready to move quickly to keep the pact alive. “The most important priority is the absolutely abnormal situation in the sphere of arms control,” Lavrov said. “We have heard about the Biden administration’s intention to resume a dialogue on this issue and try to agree on the New START treaty's extension before it expires on Feb. 5. We are waiting for specific proposals, our stance is well-known and it remains valid." New START envisages the possibility of its extension for another five years, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow is ready to do so without any conditions. The Kremlin also has voiced readiness to prolong the pact for a shorter term as Trump's administration had pondered. The talks on the treaty's extension have been clouded by tensions between Russia and the United States that have been fueled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other irritants. Sunday's arrest of Putin's leading critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow after his return from Germany where he was recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin would further cloud Russia-U.S. ties. Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, called on Russian authorities to free Navalny. “Mr. Navalny should be immediately released, and the perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable,” Sullivan said in a tweet. New START was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Arms control advocates have strongly called for its preservation, warning that its expiration would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
ZURICH — Kieran Trippier’s ban from playing for Atletico Madrid will resume after FIFA on Monday rejected the Spanish club’s appeal against the defender’s punishment for breaching betting rules being applied worldwide by the English Football Association. Spanish league leader Atletico succeeded two weeks ago in getting FIFA to pause Trippier's 10-week ban that was imposed in December and runs through Feb. 28. But FIFA announced Monday that its appeal committee had dismissed Atletico's case. “As a consequence, the decision of the FIFA disciplinary committee passed on 23 December 2020 is confirmed, extending sanctions imposed on the player by the English FA to have worldwide effect,” FIFA said in a statement. The England international was punished by the FA for passing information on his 2019 transfer from Tottenham to Atletico to be used by friends to bet on. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
An old roadbed in Conception Bay North is getting a new lease on life. Up until the 1970s, the road between Old Perlican and Bay de Verde was the main thoroughfare that connected the two communities. That road was phased out in the 1970s as the current road was put in. Now, decades later, the old roadbed is getting a facelift as a group of volunteers is restoring the old road into a multi-use trailway. “We thought we could go all the way through to Old Perlican,” said organizer Carl Riggs, who is from Bay de Verde. The idea for the trailway started as a conversation between friends, and it ballooned from there. Riggs decided he would take the idea to the councils of Bay de Verde and Old Perlican. They were supportive of the idea and things took off from there. “The support has been tremendous,” said Riggs. It’s been a whirlwind six weeks between work starting and the idea coming to fruition. Since work got underway on Jan. 11, between 80 and 100 people have contributed to clearing brush, rocks and other debris from the trail. There have been significant contributions from the towns of Old Perlican and Bay de Verde, who have sent various pieces of heavy equipment to help with the job. The business community has also chipped in, and there have been donations of equipment, time and money from people all over the province. “It is amazing how much work has been done in a short period of time,” said Bay de Verde Mayor Gerard Murphy. While the original motivation for the restoration of the old road was for use by all-terrain vehicles, the group believes there is ample room for hikers, walkers, mountain bikers and others to use the trail. When finished, it will connect to Bay de Verde’s Lazy Rock Walking Trail. “It is a little bit of an attraction for the whole area,” said Old Perlican Mayor Clifford Morgan. “It is a very, very nice initiative.” The work being conducted this winter by the group is just the start of things for them. Riggs said they want to install gazebos, rest areas and signage along the route in the future. There are also plans to work with the CBN T’railway group to connect their projects. The CBN group is working to clear and maintain the old railbed in the region. The hope is they will be able to connect and provide all-terrain vehicle users with the chance to go from Brigus Junction to Bay de Verde. “This is just the tip of the iceberg for us,” said Riggs. “Excited is not the word.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
After being "overwhelmed" with 911 calls on the latest pandemic restrictions, Windsor police have provided more information about how they will enforce the rules. The police service said officers won't enter homes, stop cars or people for the sole purpose of enforcing the stay-at-home order and provincial emergency. Further, no one is required to carry proof that they are going to work, the police service said in a statement Friday. If an officer has "reasonable grounds" to think that someone has violated the Reopening Ontario Act or the emergency declaration, officers can ask for ID in order to issue a fine or summons. Failing to properly identify yourself can lead to a fine or obstruction charges. "We will continue to monitor for COVID-19 compliance and respond to COVID-19-related complaints, as required. We will undertake enforcement actions, as necessary, under the legislation," the police service stated. New order sparks questions, criticism Under the stay-at-home order that took effect last Thursday, people can only leave their homes for essential reasons. There is a long list of exceptions, including going out for exercise or essential work, buying groceries and picking up prescriptions. Under the new order, officers can order people attending gatherings to go home, close any building where they believe an illegal event is taking place, and ask for the name and address of anyone they think is committing an offence. Charges can be laid through a ticket or summons to appear in court. The minimum fine for violating provincial gathering rules is $750. For those organizing illegal gatherings, there's a minimum fine of $10,000 and up to a year in jail. Within Windsor and across the province, the new rules have led to questions about how law enforcement will be ensuring compliance. They've also prompted concerns that people from visible minority groups could be disproportionately targeted by enforcement efforts. Police see uptick in 911 calls Windsor police have asked the public not to call 911 regarding the stay-at-home order, saying operators have been "overwhelmed" with calls. On Friday, the police service said it had received 200 non-emergency and 911 calls related to COVID-19 and the new order since Tuesday. "Any call to 911 that is not an emergency can take precious seconds away from a person trying to get through on 911 for a true emergency, where seconds may count for them," police said in an emailed statement.
The McKellar council says it supports the upgrade of unassumed roads within the township. Here are five quotes that capture the discussion from the Jan. 12 council meeting: 1. “This is simply formalizing the process that we did last year, and of course, the word unassumed roads means municipally owned unassumed roads — these are not private roads,” said Coun. Don Carmichael. “We’ve already done Bailey’s (subdivision) and Craigmoore is scheduled for the spring.” 2. “Somebody argued, ‘Why should the municipality put any money on these roads?’ Well, it is the betterment of the township overall in the long run,” said Coun. Morely Haskim. “Somebody argued, ‘It doesn’t affect the vast majority,’ but it does, if you have a subdivision like that and all of a sudden they’re selling as a township-owned, maintained year-round road those properties are going to sell for more than a road that is not maintained by the municipality.” 3. “The resolution seemed a little bit too open-ended, I just thought that maybe it should be more specific regarding which roads that this focusing is going to be on … some type of report from the public works superintendent in regard to what this entails,” said Coun. Mike Kekkonen. 4. “As they get approval by the owners, we have a staff agreement/contract ready, then they can start to be moved forward. There’s not that many but it’s going to take time to get them all,” said McKellar’s Mayor Peter Hopkins. “So there’s a timeline, an open-ended one, to get the agreements in place.” 5. “This is supplementary to the roads policy we approved … it’s a policy that talks about the fact that we have legal liability on municipally owned roads even if we don’t assume it — that’s been clearly demonstrated in the courts so that’s part of the reason why we’re actually interested in doing this,” said Carmichael. According to a report submitted to council, featured in the Dec. 8, 2020 agenda package, the 2020 approved capital budget for the Bailey’s subdivision project was $83,360. The report given by Greg Gostick, road superintendent, states that the total cost for the project, excluding municipal staff time, was $76,867.31 and the cost of staff time to complete the project $14,824.91, bringing the total cost to $91,692.22. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
WASHINGTON — Kamala Harris will make history on Wednesday when she becomes the nation’s first female vice-president — and the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to hold that office. But that’s only where her boundary-breaking role begins. With the confluence of crises confronting Joe Biden's administration — and an evenly divided Senate in which she would deliver the tie-breaking vote — Harris is shaping up to be a central player in addressing everything from the coronavirus pandemic to criminal justice reform. Symone Sanders, Harris' chief spokeswoman, said that while the vice-president-elect's portfolio hasn't been fully defined yet, she has a hand in all aspects of Biden's agenda. “There are pieces that Biden may specifically ask her to champion, but outside of that she is at the table for everything, involved in everything, and giving input and feedback and being a supportive partner to him on all pieces," she said. People working closely with Harris on the transition resist the idea of siloing her into any specific issue early on, because the sheer number of challenges the Biden administration faces means it will be “all hands on deck” during their early months. They say she'll be involved in all four of the major priorities they’ve set out: turning around the economy, tackling COVID-19, and addressing climate change and racial justice. “She has a voice in all of those. She has an opinion in all those areas. And it will probably get to a point where she is concentrating on some of the areas more specifically,” Sanders said. “But right now, I think what we’re faced with in this country is so big, it’s all hands on deck.” Harris has been closely involved with all of Biden’s biggest decisions since winning the election in November, joining him for every one of his key meetings focused on Cabinet picks, the COVID-19 relief bill, security issues and more. The two talk over the phone nearly every day, and she travels to Delaware sometimes multiple times a week for transition events and meetings. Those involved in the transition say both have taken seriously Biden’s insistence that he wants Harris to be the “last voice in the room” on key decisions. Biden is known to turn to Harris first during meetings to ask for her opinion or perspective on the matter at hand. Biden and Harris knew each other prior to the 2020 presidential campaign in part through Harris’ friendship with Biden’s deceased son, Beau. But they never worked closely together. Since joining the ticket, and particularly since the election, Harris has made efforts to deepen their relationship and is in frequent contact with the president-elect, people close to Harris say. That personal relationship, according to presidential historian Joel Goldstein, will be key to their success as working partners. “The relationship of the vice-president to the president is the most important relationship. Establishing mutual understanding and trust is really a key to a successful vice presidency,” Goldstein said. Goldstein pointed to Biden and President Barack Obama’s relationship as a potential model for the incoming team. Biden and Obama were from similarly different backgrounds and generations and also entered the White House with a relatively fresh working relationship. But their relationship and mutual understanding grew throughout the presidency, and Obama trusted Biden with some of his administration’s biggest endeavours, like the implementation of the 2009 Recovery Act and the troop withdrawal from Iraq. Harris is said to be looking at Biden’s vice presidency as a guide for her own. But unlike Biden during his first term, Harris will face constant questions about her political future. While Biden has skirted questions about whether he plans to run for reelection, at 78 he’ll be the oldest president in history, leaving questions about whether he'll retire at the end of his term. That would make Harris the immediate frontrunner in any 2024 Democratic presidential primary. Early in the vice-presidential vetting process, her potential presidential ambitions gave some Biden allies pause. But since her selection, Harris has proven a loyal partner to Biden, rarely if ever contradicting him publicly. Still, California Rep. Barbara Lee, who was the first Congressional Black Caucus member to endorse in the primary when she backed Harris, said the vice-president-elect isn’t afraid to speak her mind. “She’s no shrinking violet," Lee said. "If she believes that one decision should be made versus another she’s gonna weigh in and give her thoughts and opinions.” Biden has a personal affection for the work of diplomacy and deep relationships with global leaders that Harris can't match. But aides say she'll be deeply involved in the administration's diplomatic priorities simply because of the sheer amount of issues that will take up Biden's time. She may also be given a particular aspect of the administration's coronavirus response to oversee. One of her main priorities early on is certain to be the passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Biden announced Thursday. Those working with Harris on the transition say that while Biden will be intimately involved with ushering the package through the Senate because of his longstanding relationships with longer-serving lawmakers, Harris knows the newer members and can help build fresh relationships in Congress. The first few months of the Biden administration will be focused on COVID-19 and the economy. But Harris is certain to face scrutiny — and pressure — from advocates to ensure the perspectives of Black and brown Americans are reflected in those policies and the Biden White House's priorities. Leah Daughtry, a former chief of staff at the Democratic National Committee, said Harris will make a difference simply by being in the room. “The fact that Kamala Harris is a Black woman, is a woman of Indian ancestry, is a woman, automatically makes her different from every other vice-president this country has ever seen,” she said. “That combination of experiences brings a set of values and lived experiences into a room where they have not previously existed. And that can only be good for this American democracy.” But as South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn put it, “There will be a lot of weight on those shoulders.” “Those of us who come to these positions, we come to them knowing full well that we have a burden to make sure that we do it in such a way, that there will be people coming behind us,” he said. Clyburn also acknowledged that Harris could also be a flashpoint for controversy among the portion of President Donald Trump’s followers who are motivated by racial animus, which Clyburne said contributed to the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. “They’re still holding on to a lot of animus about Barack Obama, and they’re gonna transfer it to her, just like they transferred it to others here in this building," Clyburn said. "And they’re never gonna get beyond that.” But Harris’ allies say as a child of civil rights activists, and a Black woman who’s spent her life confronting and trying to address racism and inequality, navigating those pressures as vice-president will come as second nature for her. “Kamala Harris didn’t just fall out of the Harvard Law School like Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz or somebody like that,” said Bakari Sellers, referencing two Republican senators who objected to the congressional certification of Biden’s win. (Hawley graduated from Yale Law School.) Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker and an early Harris endorser, likened her to other civil rights trailblazers. “She comes from the same lineage as Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm and Ella Baker,” he said. “I mean, she’s built for this.” Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
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