There are a lot of reasons to like timberland REITs -- and several notable reasons to be wary. Here's what you need to know.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
The Muskoka Lakes Snow Trail Association is looking to raise $10,000 to pay for the right equipment to fix their tricky snow trails for sledders this season. Steven Elliott, vice president of the association, said volunteers spend hundreds of hours every year grooming and maintaining trails in Port Carling, Bala, Moonbridge and Bass Lake. He said they pay a lot for special equipment to groom and maintain trails in the swampy lands of Muskoka Lakes. “If we, as volunteers, want to put together the best product that we can for our riders, then we need this equipment,” Elliott said. According to Elliott, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), the non-profit organization financing their club and 230 others in the province, will not cover the expenses of this equipment. The federation declined a request for an interview or comment. The first week of January, the club began a fundraiser to purchase a Skandic Wide Track Utility Snowmobile and a small drag to be pulled behind the machine. The retail price of this Ski-Doo snowmobile begins at $10,099. As of Monday afternoon, Jan. 18, they’ve raised $1,800 via their GoFundMe page. “This is one of the first times we’ve really reached out … or done anything like this,” he said. “The reality is that the permit money people pay doesn’t go far enough to fund some of these types of equipment expenses.” People pay for a snowmobile permit, or season pass, to utilize the trails in the winter. A regular season pass currently costs $270. That money goes toward the grooming and preparation of the trails, including the purchase, fuelling and operation of purpose-built industrial groomers. However, Elliott said the funding doesn’t pay for utility snowmobiles, small drags or brushing equipment. Elliott said the club doesn’t have statistics on how many riders use their trails, but said OFSC's District 7, from Georgian Bay to Algonquin Park, sells 5,000 to 6,000 permits annually. Elliott said the club hopes they’ll receive support from the thousands who use trails like theirs for snowmobiling in Muskoka. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
CAIRO — A boat carrying migrants bound for Europe capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coat of Libya, drowning at least 43 people, the U.N. migration agency said Wednesday. The International Organization for Migration said the “tragic” shipwreck that took place a day earlier was the first maritime disaster in 2021 involving migrants seeking better lives in Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with Libya’s coast guard and other local groups to stem such dangerous sea crossings. Rights groups, however, say those policies leave migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centres rife with abuses. The IOM said coastal security forces in Libya’s western town of Zuwara rescued 10 migrants from the shipwreck Tuesday and brought them to shore. It said the dead were all men from West African nations, according to survivors. The migration agency said the boat left the western city of Zawiya early Tuesday and capsized a few hours later after its engine stopped working amid rough seas. In the years since the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, war-torn Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Central Mediterranean route. The U.N. migration and refugee agencies called for an “urgent and measurable shift in the approach” to the situation in the Mediterranean, including an end to returns to “unsafe ports." "Arbitrary arrests and arbitrary detention in the direst of conditions continue (in Libya). Many are victimized and exploited by traffickers and smugglers, held for ransom, tortured, and abused,” they said in a statement Wednesday. The IOM said in November that some 500 migrants have died trying to cross the central Mediterranean, but the actual number of people who lost their lives could be much higher, due to “the limited ability to monitor routes.” Samy Magdy, The Associated Press
The chief of the Shawanaga First Nation near Parry Sound said he is confident the majority of his people will want to get vaccinated against COVID 19. However, Chief Wayne Pamajewon said he understands the reluctance of some to get the vaccine, adding that it is their prerogative. The chief said he did not have an exact date on when the vaccine would reach his territory. He said he fully understands the reasons some of his people are reluctant to get the vaccine shots, particularly in light of the troubling history of the treatment of Indigenous people in the Canadian health-care system. However, he is advising his people to take the vaccination program seriously. “I think there are a couple of leaders within my council who are a little leery of this COVID needle. I’ve been a diabetic for 37 years. A needle to me means nothing,” the chief said. “I have never pushed my people to do anything they didn’t want to do. The call is probably going to be put into their hands. I can’t make them do that. I refuse to do that. The Great Spirit will work with them on that one.” The chief said he has every reason to believe his people will continue to follow COVID-19 protocols and he is cautiously optimistic that the territory will continue to remain coronavirus-free. Chief Pamajewon said the community has only had to address one COVID case — a student who does not live on the Shawanaga First Nation but attends school there was confirmed to have had the virus last month. That youngster has since self-isolated and has been declared COVID-free. There was no transfer of the virus to his community members. “We isolated that case right away because we were notified about it. We sent all the children from that community where the child was from home because they attend our school. It’s just lucky that we cut it off at the right spot and it went nowhere,” the chief said. “All the contacts came back negative. That was great that we were able to stop it right in its tracks before it got into our community.” The chief went on to say that he and his membership will abide by the latest provincial lockdown protocols, but he wanted to make it clear he does not necessarily classify himself as an Ontarian, but a member of Turtle Island, (the Indigenous term for North America). “Maybe what could’ve happened was that (the restrictions) had been tighter and longer from the beginning. I don’t think we locked the door tight enough,” Chief Pamajewon said. “I don’t think Premier Doug Ford had any choice, especially in the hot zones. But even some of our political leaders are (travelling). You can’t tell someone to do something and you turn around and you don’t do that. What is that? To me that’s wrong.” Pamajewon said that since the pandemic began, no one on the territory has been issued a ticket for hosting large gatherings at their home. “We don’t want our people to be charged or anything like that. What we want is preventive policing. We’ve had co-operation from our people to be mindful of gathering together. I’ve even approached some of their bonfires and talked with them to remind them to be mindful of the rules in place,” Chief Pamajewon said. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
DURHAM, N.C. — Two city councils in North Carolina have unanimously passed ordinances protecting against discrimination for wearing hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks or afros. The Durham City Council on Tuesday voted to ban employers from discriminating based on hairstyles, WRAL-TV reported. It’s an issue that Black people, especially women, say they’ve faced in their careers. “It is absolutely a form of racial discrimination,” said Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, who helped push for the legal protections. Early in her career, Deberry said, a court clerk pulled her aside and suggested she reconsider her short afro. “There’s probably a very, very small percentage of Black women who can tell you that they haven’t felt some form of discrimination based on how they’ve chosen to wear their hair,” Deberry said. “Your grooming is talked about when you go out on interviews.” The ordinance also protects residents from discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality and military status, The News & Observer reported. It comes as North Carolina municipalities are acting to expand LGBT rights since the expiration of a moratorium on nondiscrimination ordinances agreed to years ago as a compromise to do away with the state’s “bathroom bill.” Greensboro’s City Council passed a measure similar to that of Durham's on Tuesday. Orange County, just northwest of Durham, also passed an anti-discrimination measure, but its ordinance did not address hairstyles. People who work in hair care see the problem: Salon owner Kito Jones said one client who worked as a neurosurgeon used hair relaxers because she felt pressured to conform. The woman’s hair then started falling out, Jones said. “She was the only woman of colour,” Jones said. “It did cause her to continue to wear her hair with chemicals in a straightened pattern so there was an acceptance, so to speak, amongst her colleagues.” While several other states, including Virginia, California, New York and New Jersey, have passed similar legislation, Durham is among one of the first cities in North Carolina to ban hair-based discrimination. The city council is also scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution in support of Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, a federal bill that bans discrimination based on hair. The legislation passed the U.S. House in September, and city officials are joining a push to have the U.S. Senate take up a vote. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas was scrolling through Twitter a few years ago when she saw a headline that a film adaptation of “The White Tiger” was in the works. She immediately got on the phone to her agent. Her request: Please call the producers and offer her services. At the very least, she wanted to executive produce and help use her platform to get the word out. Aravind Adiga's novel about a driver in India who rises to become a successful businessman despite the stratified caste system was an international bestseller and critical darling, winning the Man Booker Prize in 2008. In the film, which hits Netflix Friday, Jonas not only got that producer credit, but co-stars as well. “(The book) had a profound effect on me,” Jonas said. “It made me uncomfortable and made me think about a part of the world that we sort of desensitize ourselves to.” People have been trying to get a film adaption of “The White Tiger” off the ground for years. Producer Mukul Deora scooped up the film rights a decade ago. But it’s safe to say no one has been hoping to make an adaptation as long as Ramin Bahrani. The “99 Homes” director and Adiga have been friends since their days at Columbia University in the '90s and he was reading rough drafts of the novel years before it was published. He’s even on the dedication page. “It’s an epic story that required a lot of financing and money and resources to get it made in India,” Bahrani said. “That wasn’t so easy when the novel came out.” Deora told him it was fated to be. But even with the precedence of films like “Slumdog Millionaire,” they didn’t think one of the traditional studios would make the film at the level they wanted because, as Bahrani said, “There are no comic book characters in it and they’re not flying around shooting and killing one another and encouraging us to go to war.” So they tried Netflix. “They were hungry for it,” Bahrani said. “They have an appetite for global stories, for voices that are not typically represented behind a camera or in front of the camera.” At the core of the story is Balram, who narrates his own journey from a small village to being the head chauffeur for a prominent and corrupt family. Big international and Bollywood stars were interested in the part, but Bahrani had a different idea. “It seemed to me that this story about an underdog from the underclass should be played by an Indian and hopefully an unknown Indian, not a movie star,” he said. The man they found was Adarsh Gourav, a local working actor who had not had a lot of luck lately. “I thought it was beyond my league,” Gourav said. He went to the audition without much hope. But Bahrani saw in him exactly what he was looking for. “His smile was so inviting and so charming and he could turn on a dime,'” Bahrani said. ‘He had that duality the part needed.” After a month of call backs, Bahrani told Gourav he’d gotten the role. “It felt so surreal I couldn’t even react,” Gourav said. “I couldn’t process it.” Gourav was a fan of the book, too. It made him realize his own privilege when he’d read it as a teenager and he wanted to do the role justice, so he committed to trying to understand the circumstances of his character’s life. He lived in a small village for a few weeks and even worked in a small food shop in Delhi, where he’d clean plates and sweep floors for the equivalent of $1.50 a day. “It was a very humbling experience,” Gourav said. The film does have a major Bollywood star in Rajkummar Rao, and, of course Jonas whose stardom is now global. But it may still be a revelation for U.S. audiences who have yet to see the scope of Jonas’ acting talents. “I see myself at the beginning of my career and in the States right now,” Jonas said. "I’ve never (thought) just because I’ve had a career with almost 50 movies somewhere else that I should have that same kind of reception in a country that doesn’t know me. (But) when I first came over to this side of the world, it was hard because not a lot of parts are written for people who look like me.” She had to fight for roles that were more than stereotypes. Even Pinky, who is married to Balram's boss, required a little bit of an update for the film. In the book she’s seen only through Balram’s voyeuristic eyes. In the film, she’s a more fully realized person. Jonas has also taken it upon herself to get more South Asian stories out in the world through her production company, Purple Pebble Pictures. “We’re one fifth of the world’s population, but you don’t see that represented in global entertainment,” she said. Eventually she’d like to direct, too. Her husband, Nick Jonas, has advised her to, “Stop overthinking it and just go do it.” And she thinks streaming services are helping to broaden people’s horizons and introduce them to global content. Jonas does hope that non-Indian audiences understand that “The White Tiger” is set at the turn of the 21st century and that modern India is very different from what is depicted in the book and film. The class divide, she said, is a metaphor for the vast wealth disparity in every country. Of course “The White Tiger” is also, first and foremost, entertainment with some “Goodfellas” touchstones. “We tried to make a fun, fast, propulsive movie with a great lead character and an amazing set of performances,” Bahrani said. “Anything else is a bonus.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Check out this cute little Morkie dog attempting to attack the show dogs on TV. Too funny!
OTTAWA — Canada's parliamentary budget officer says reforms to a federal support program for provinces will nearly triple the cost to Ottawa next year, with the price tag projected to be about $4.5 billion. Yves Giroux says the government's fiscal stabilization program, which transfers cash to provinces that experience steep year-over-year revenue drops, will increase by $2.9 billion in fiscal 2021-22. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a major change to the program in the government's fall economic update. The revenue-insurance plan, which has been around since 1967, will now index the cap on provincial payments to Canada’s rate of GDP growth per person, a ceiling that was previously fixed at $60 per person in 1987. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said the overhaul does not go far enough, calling it a "slap in the face," since even major declines in resource revenue might not trigger the fiscal stabilization, while a five per cent drop in non-resource revenue will. The beefed-up federal support comes as provinces wobble under the strain of record deficits and revenue shortfalls amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine and stronger foreign demand is brightening the outlook for the Canadian economy in the medium term, the Bank of Canada said on Wednesday, as it held its key overnight interest rate at 0.25%. But the central bank warned the economy would contract in the first quarter of 2021 amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and lockdowns, with inflation not expected to return sustainably to target until 2023, keeping interest rates at record lows.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of a Barrie woman, upholding a local decision that she be awarded $1.3 million for injuries suffered during surgery resulting in the removal of her kidney. It echoed the endorsement made by an appeal court judge of Barrie Justice Gregory Mulligan’s decision following the original trial. Karen Armstrong underwent laparoscopic surgery in February 2010 at what was then called Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH). The trial judge found that, during the colonoscopy, Dr. Colin Ward improperly used a cauterizing device and caused a thermal injury. She experienced abdominal pain after the surgery and her ureter — which carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder — was blocked with scar tissue, severely damaging her left kidney, which was removed the following October. “This really changes her life; this is the end of the road,” her lawyer, Jan Marin, said of the high court’s decision. “It’s been almost 11 years since the original surgery.” Marin said Armstrong, who is now 48, isn’t working as a result of the injury and that she requires some assistance. The decision and monetary award means she can now access the help she needs, including hiring a personal caregiver. Justice Mulligan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Barrie originally decided in favour of Armstrong, but that ruling was overturned by a majority at the Ontario Court of Appeal. In December 2019, Justice David M. Paciocco, writing for the majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal three-person panel, found the trial judge had erred in defining the standard of care the doctor had to meet, “improperly establishing a standard of perfection” and allowed Ward’s appeal, dismissing the action against him. Justice Katherine van Rensburg was the lone holdout on the panel and wrote a lengthy opinion about why the decision of the judge in the first instance should stand. It was that opinion that Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner relied upon Monday when he announced simply that the appeal is allowed. It came on the same day, shortly after the hybrid hearing was held. Both the Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC) and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association sought intervener status in the case. “HIROC participated as an intervener because it was important to have clarity on the issues before the court, including the role of an injury when considering whether there was a breach of the standard of care,” said Anna L. Marrison, who represented HIROC. “With the (Supreme Court of Canada) accepting Justice van Rensburg's reasons from the Court of Appeal, there has been no significant change in the law," she added. And that was the big fear, said Ron Bohm, representing the trial lawyers. If the Court of Appeal’s decision against Armstrong were to stand, it could have set a precedent, hampering the ability for others to bring medical malpractice action. “The Court of Appeal majority decision, in our view, had the risk of making it next to impossible for certain victims of medical negligence to be able to recover damages for their losses, putting up next to impossible hurdles,” said Bohm. “So we were very concerned about the access to justice issue.” The Court of Appeal seemed to suggest that if a physician conducting surgery says they follow the proper practice and procedures, then relying on the results would be improper for a trial judge, he said. Because a patient is unconscious during surgery, their version of events during that period is not available, resulting in “a tremendous imbalance” in the possession of information. Marin said medical malpractice cases are difficult to begin with and costly to bring forward, so only the most serious cases are pursued. If Armstrong had failed to succeed before the top court, it could have blocked further attempts to seek damages for medical errors. “This case truly underscores the importance of the dissenting opinion,” said Marin, referring to Ontario Court of Appeal Justice van Rensburg’s opinion in dissent, which the Supreme Court accepted in its entirety. “They adopted her reasons. Clearly it was impactful to them,” added Marin. Lawyers for the doctor did not respond to requests for comment. Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
Donald Trump left the White House for the final time as the 45th United States president Wednesday morning, travelling to Florida instead of attending his successor Joe Biden's inauguration. Trump, along with his wife, Melania, walked to the White House lawn and boarded the Marine One helicopter that took off just after 8:15 a.m. ET for Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland. "It's been a great honour, the honour of a lifetime. The greatest people in the world, the greatest home in the world," Trump told reporters before heading to Marine One, rotors whirring, on the South Lawn. "We accomplished a lot." Members of Trump's family gathered for the send-off at Andrews along with the president's loyalists, who chanted "We love you!" "Thank you, Trump" and "U.S.A." Four Army cannons fired a 21-gun salute. The couple will land in Florida and make their way by motorcade to their Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. His arrival at Mar-a-Lago is being timed to get him behind the wall of the resort before Trump's term as president expires at noon. Trump is the first outgoing president to skip the inauguration ceremony for his successor since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. Trump refused to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power, including inviting the Joe and Jill Biden to the White House for a get-to-know-you visit. He did follow at least one tradition: The White House said Trump left behind a note for Biden. A Trump spokesman, Judd Deere, declined to say what Trump wrote or characterize the sentiment in the note, citing privacy for communication between presidents. Still popular within his party Trump will settle in Florida with a small group of former White House aides as he charts a political future that looks very different now than just two weeks ago. Before the Capitol riot on Jan.6, Trump had been expected to remain his party's de facto leader, wielding enormous power as he served as a kingmaker and mulled a 2024 presidential run. But now he appears more powerless than ever — shunned by so many in his party, impeached twice, denied the Twitter bullhorn he had intended to use as his weapon and even facing the prospect that, if he is convicted in his Senate trial, he could be barred from seeking a second term. WATCH | Presidential historian Thomas Balcerski on Trump's legacy: But although Trump has left the White House, he retains his grip on the Republican base, with the support of millions of loyal voters, along with allies still helming the Republican National Committee and many state party organizations. He also potentially faces a host of other legal troubles unrelated to the presidency. While in Washington, Trump rarely left the confines of the White House, except to visit his own hotel, where foreign dignitaries often stayed, hoping to gain access to administration aide. He and his wife never once ate dinner at any other local restaurant, and never ventured out to shop in its stores or see the sights. When he did leave, it was almost always to one of his properties. In addition to his Florida properties, that included golf courses in Virginia and New Jersey. White House cleaning crews worked overnight Wednesday and were still going as the sun rose to get the building cleaned and ready for its new occupants. In what will be the office of incoming press secretary Jen Psaki, a computer keyboard and mouse on her desk were encased in plastic. A black moving truck had backed up to the door of the West Wing entrance, where the presence of a lone Marine guard usually signals that the president is in the Oval Office. Most walls were stripped down to the hooks that once held photographs, and offices were devoid of the clutter and trinkets that gave them life. The face of at least one junior aide was streaked with tears as she left the building one last time.
The mayor of King Township has taken on a new role – to help conserve and preserve our heritage. Mayor Steve Pellegrini has been appointed as a member of the Ontario Heritage Trust. The Trust has a province wide mandate to conserve, interpret and share Ontario’s heritage. It acts as a centre of expertise, and serves as the heritage trustee and steward for the people of Ontario. It conserves provincially significant cultural and natural, tangible and intangible heritage, interprets Ontario’s history, celebrates its diversity, and educates Ontarians of its importance in our society. “The Ontario Heritage Trust is a great fit for me as King is rich in its places and landscapes, histories, traditions and stories that embody our heritage,” he said. “This is a true opportunity to demonstrate excellence in the conservation and stewardship within the province’s heritage that reflect our diversity and complexity.” The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. Its mandate is to: • Advise and make recommendations to the Minister on any matter relating to the conservation, protection and preservation of the heritage of Ontario. • Receive, acquire and hold property in trust for the people of Ontario. • Support, encourage and facilitate the conservation, protection and preservation of the heritage of Ontario. • Preserve, maintain, reconstruct, restore and manage property of historical, architectural, archaeological, recreational, esthetic, natural and scenic interest. • Conduct research and implement educational and communications programs necessary for heritage conservation, protection and preservation. For more, visit https://heritagetrust.on.ca/ Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
ST. MARY’S – Riding a groundswell of support for a whale-friendly environment, and with just a hint of déjà vu, James Harpell became the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s newest council member Saturday night. This will be the fourth term representing district 8 for the popular Harpellville ferry-boat skipper, who handily defeated James Bingley of Fisherman’s Harbour by a vote of 158 to 46. Harpell had previously served in consecutive sessions between 2000 and 2012. The seat had been up for grabs since October when its former occupant – councillor Peggy Kaiser-Kirk (and Harpell’s successor eight years ago) – resigned shortly after her acclamation in the general election. In an interview following his victory, Harpell (63, and the captain in charge of the Country Harbour ferry operation) said he was keen to get started on a range of issues voters raised during his door-knocking campaign. “A lot of people were really excited about the beluga whales coming,” he said, referring to the California-based Whale Sanctuary Project slated to commence in Port Hilford sometime in the next two years. “The first thing they wanted to know was what I thought about it.” Atlantic Gold’s proposed mining operation at Cochrane Hill near Sherbrooke was also top of mind. “It was a hot topic,” he said. “People were on board with the idea of not being left in the wake of an open pit mine that might harm the environment even in the future.” At the same time, he added, “They definitely considered the job aspect of [the mine] as well. Some constituents were really concerned about that. What with Covid-19, there’s a lot of that stuff up in the air right now.” Harpell has endorsed a cautious approach to the mine’s development (which Atlantic Gold recently pushed back to 2026 due to other priorities at its nearby Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream mining projects). “What people here are really looking for is something that’s not going to harm the environment,” he told The Journal in December. “We have a pristine environment here on the Eastern Shore. And the citizens want to be very careful about what they put in here. There must be other ways to lessen the impact on the environment. [That goes for] any business that is even looking at coming over here.” Meanwhile, the condition of the area’s overland routes was a common thread among voters, Harpell said. “Roads are a big thing. We’ve got some that are pretty rugged on the west side of Port Bickerton, and on the west side as well. The 211 has places that could be fixed.” Overall, though, the prospect of the area becoming home to a handful of formerly captive cetaceans fired most people’s doorstep conversations, Harpell said. “I think it’s a really good idea. There’s the infrastructure that could happen. We’d have to be careful [with the whales], of course, and I can’t say for sure what’s really going to happen there. But there could be spin offs, like boat tours.” Bingley, who did not respond to a request for an interview following the special election, told The Journal in December that while he supported the gold mine, he had no opinion about the whales. “I don’t really know a whole lot about it,” he said at the time. “I’m not interested in that at the moment.” According to the municipality’s returning office, Saturday’s results – which were deemed official on Tuesday – showed an unusually high voter participation rate of 73.4 per cent, with 204 of 278 eligible voters casting ballots. Forty-three percent (121) voted by Web, while 30 per cent (83), by phone. Said Harpell: “I’ve received a few calls from the other councillors and I told them I am looking forward to working with them. It definitely feels a bit like coming home.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
LONDON — Dozens of U.K. music stars including Elton John, Ed Sheeran and conductor Simon Rattle say musicians have been “shamefully failed” by the British government, which has left them facing post-Brexit restrictions on touring in the European Union. In a letter published Wednesday in the Times of London, more than 100 musicians including Sting, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Roger Daltrey of The Who, along with the heads of major arts institutions, said the new U.K.-EU trade deal that took effect Jan. 1 has “a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be.” Britain’s departure from the EU means that U.K. citizens can no longer live and work freely in the 27-nation bloc. Tourists do not need visas for stays of up to 90 days, and some short business trips are also allowed. But artists and musicians have not been included in the deal. Britain and the EU disagree about who is to blame for the omission, each accusing the other of rejecting a deal for touring artists. The new rules mean U.K. performers have to comply with differing rules in the 27 EU nations, negotiating visas for musicians and permits for their equipment. Many say the costs and red tape will make it impossible for British artists to perform on the continent, endangering the country’s status as a cultural powerhouse. The musicians’ letter said the new expense and bureaucracy will make “many tours unviable, especially for young emerging musicians who are already struggling to keep their heads above water owing to the COVID ban on live music.” Scottish National Party lawmaker Pete Wishart, a former member of rock band Runrig, said Tuesday in the House of Commons that musicians and artists were “mere collateral in this government’s obsession in ending freedom of movement” and controlling immigration once it left the EU. Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage acknowledged the situation was “incredibly disappointing,” but said “the door is open” to talks with the EU on a deal for musicians. She resisted calls from the opposition to publish details of the proposals made by the U.K. during negotiations that the bloc allegedly rejected. ___ Follow all AP stories about Brexit developments at https://apnews.com/Brexit. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Edmonton International Airport officials are guardedly optimistic about the expansion on February 1 of the COVID-19 international border testing pilot program. Currently the pilot is only available to eligible international travellers arriving at the Calgary airport and the Coutts land border crossing. Those participating in the program entering Canada will have to show proof of a negative test — taken within 72 hours before the flight — before being allowed to board the plane destined for the province. Once they arrive in Alberta, they're tested again and must quarantine for 48 hours. If the second test result comes back negative, they can leave quarantine as long as they remain in Alberta for the first 14 days and get a followup test a week later. "We believe this is a great program," EIA vice president Steve Maybee said. "We have to put these in place so when travel does come back and people are encouraged to travel again, that we have the right programs in place to make it safe." Currently, both the federal and provincial governments are discouraging unnecessary travel. Maybee said the EIA isn't encouraging people not to follow the advisories. "We're not suggesting or encouraging travel right now," Maybee said. "We're following along with what the government restrictions and mandates that are in place." Edmonton travel agent Lesley Paull thinks the expansion of the pilot program is a sign of better days ahead for local travellers. "I think it's just going to give people more encouragement to go," she said. "We don't have as many flights as Calgary has, so we'll probably be starting a slower process, but hopefully with testing here, that will bring us more non-stop flights back." The testing is free of charge for eligible participants and the pilot will run until 52,000 people have been tested. No international flights for six months in 2020 at EIA Based on 2020 travel numbers, it may take awhile to get to that 52,000 mark. EIA said 2.6 million people went through their airport last year, compared to 8.1 million the year before, for an overall drop of 67.7 per cent. There were no international flights at all between April and September and flights to the United States were down 78.5 per cent. There was also a 70 percent decrease in domestic flights coming in and going out of the Edmonton airport. The travel agent summed up her business in one word. "Brutal," Paull said with a laugh. But she hopes pent up demand will lead to change. "We're doing so many bookings for 2022 now, and even the end of 2021," Paull said. "I think that people are so anxious to get out of here. They're really quite sick of the whole thing."
CANSO – Maritime Launch Services (MLS) will not get liftoff as early as the company had hoped. Just more than four years ago, in Oct. 2016, MLS was formed in Nova Scotia to create a spaceport in Canso. In some of the earliest press releases about the proposed project, MLS stated the estimated timeline for first launch capability was 2020. And, although COVID-19 has created a Groundhog Day effect, time has continued to move forward – the calendar has turned to a new year, and MLS has yet to break ground on the Canso Spaceport facility. MLS CEO Steve Matier told The Journal on Monday (Jan. 18) that the delay could be attributed to several causes including, most recently, the wrench the global pandemic has put in every plan – be it business or personal. In addition, Matier said the original 2020 launch date was based on getting shovels in the ground in 2018. That wasn’t possible, as it took until June of 2019 to get the Environmental Assessment (EA) approved by the Department of Environment. And, he said, “There’s the whole land lease issue working with [Nova Scotia] Lands and Forestry; that takes time as well.” At this point, the company is working to meet the terms and conditions in the 2019 EA document, which include associated activities involved with designs for roads and buildings; plans for erosion and settlement control; analysis of potential impacts to watercourses and existing water users; environmental monitoring plans and more. “Within that approval (EA) was the rather lengthy list of compliance pieces that we need to get to them to review,” Matier told The Journal, adding that no construction could take place until the information supplied by the company was accepted by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment. Matier said he hoped they could move to breaking ground on the project in six months’ time, but “it’s hard to predict exact dates,” due to the time it takes for review and approval. Given that the Department of Lands and Forestry accepted the company’s draft survey for the lease of Crown land required for the project just before Christmas, the wheels of government can be seen to move forward. Once the project moves past approvals, and on to groundbreaking, Matier said it could be another two years before the first launch. “We require about 18 months of construction activities and six of commissioning before you can get to an actual launch.” While there have been delays, Matier told The Journal the company has potential clients lined up and waiting. “We have a fairly extensive set of letters of intent and MOUs with satellite developers and aggregators already, but these don’t turn into formal launch contracts until the point when we can tell them what that actual launch date is. Once we break ground, we’ll be in a much better position to project what the launch date is and start to turn those letters of intent into launch contracts.” Progress on the project has been slow this past year, and there has been little to report, which may have pleased some people in the Canso/Hazel Hill area who are opposed to the spaceport. Matier said, while the company is aware of the opposition, MLS would not have selected the site without support from the majority of community members. “We really started this initiative by working with the community, first and foremost,” he said, adding that the company has held open information sessions and met with stakeholder groups like the Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Fishermen’s Association. “We have sought input and will continue to do so. We’re not about to ram this through … we have been open and honest about everything we are planning to do,” Matier said. The Environmental Assessment Approval, dated June 4, 2019 states that work must commence on the project within two years of the approval date; beyond that time, a written extension must be granted by the provincial environment minister. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Canadian companies are being told to ensure they’re not importing Chinese goods produced through the forced labour of the Uighur religious minority group. “Reports indicate mass transfers of Uighur labourers to factories across China where they are enrolled in forced labour programs that taint global supply chains in a variety of industries,” reads a Global Affairs Canada advisory. The federal government says it’s also aware of other human rights violations affecting Uighurs and other ethnic and religious groups by Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and other parts of China, including mass arbitrary detention, forced separation of children from their parents, forced sterilization, and torture. China is a major trading partner for Canada, with $75 billion worth of merchandise imported from China in 2019, according to Statista. International Trade Minister Mary Ng said that the feds are committed to ensuring Canadian businesses aren't engaged with supply chains involving forced labour. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to increasing supply chain transparency, promoting responsible business conduct, and ensuring that Canadian companies are upholding Canadian values, wherever they may operate,” Ng said in a statement. Parliament amended the Customs Tariff Act last July to ban the imports of goods produced wholly or partly as a result of forced labour from any country. The government reminds companies that they must conform to these laws, adding that companies that operate within the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) may also be subject to human rights legislation. “In addition to legal risks, companies face reputational damage related to their supply chains if it is discovered that they are sourcing from entities that employ forced labour,” the advisory added. It remains unclear if there indeed have been confirmed instances of Uighur-made products flowing through Canadian supply chains. Canada’s National Observer asked Ng if she can definitively say there aren’t products made by Uighurs or other minority groups in Canadian supply chains, but the question was deferred to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which also didn’t provide direct comment to the question. However, Jacqueline Callin, spokesperson for CBSA, explained shipments containing goods suspected of being produced by forced labour are detained at the border for inspection by a border services officer who has the authority to ban these goods from entering Canada based on their analysis of the specific situation. The government announced Monday that companies with ties to Xinjiang will have to sign a “Xinjiang Integrity Declaration” recognizing they’re aware of Canadian laws regarding the prohibition of forced labour and the “human rights situation in Xinjiang” before they receive support from the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). It wasn't indicated when this declaration requirement will come into effect. The government also appointed a Canadian ombudsperson for responsible enterprise in April 2019 to review claims of alleged human rights abuses involving Canadian companies abroad, but Amnesty International Canada doesn’t think the office’s role goes far enough. “Without the power to compel documents or witness testimony, we fear the ombudsperson will be unable to fully investigate allegations of forced labour or other abuses from companies’ supply chains,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, the organization’s secretary general, in a statement. The Global Affairs advisory said the government urges Canadian companies with links to Xinjiang to “closely examine their supply chains to ensure that their activities do not support repression, including ... the Chinese government’s surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang, detention or internment facilities, or the use of forced labour.” However, Nivyabandi believes this shouldn’t be left to individual companies, calling for the Trudeau government to pass legislation that would require Canadian companies to conduct “human rights due diligence” within their global operations and supply chains. “The Canadian government has missed a crucial opportunity to hold Canadian companies accountable for human rights violations in Xinjiang and beyond,” Nivyabandi said. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Representatives of the religious faiths recognized in Belgium have joined forces to urge federal authorities to increase the number of people admitted inside places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic. Under the current COVID-19 rules, such places can accommodate up to 15 people. In a letter to Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, the religious representatives argued that the number of people allowed should instead be linked to the space available. They proposed a return to the “one person per 10 square meters" rule which applied in June last year when Belgium exited the spring lockdown. “The use of this standard proved to be less restrictive for religious practice and at the same time very protective for public health,” they said in a statement on Wednesday. The letter was signed by representatives from the Roman Catholic, Protestant-Evangelical, Jewish, Anglican, Muslim and Orthodox faiths. “In these difficult and uncertain times, the need for meaning and spirituality is felt more than ever," they said. “For months now, a maximum of 15 people at a time have been able to gather in churches, mosques and synagogues in our country. Even if the life of a believer does not take place exclusively in the place of worship, many feel this measure in the long run as a drastic restriction of the latter." The government introduced the 15-person limit in December after the country’s highest court said the ban of services — with the exception of weddings and funerals in restricted company — which was introduced in October was disproportionate and impeded constitutional conditions on freedom of religion. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press