The Manitoba government is extending its COVID-19 restrictions on store openings and public gatherings for another two weeks. Health officials point to a spike in cases from gatherigs over the holidays
The Manitoba government is extending its COVID-19 restrictions on store openings and public gatherings for another two weeks. Health officials point to a spike in cases from gatherigs over the holidays
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
GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued to the media Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities" to adopt basic public health measures as early as possible. “What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” it said. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying disputed whether China had reacted too slowly. “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions,” she said, pointing out that Wuhan — where the first human cases were identified — was locked down within three weeks of the outbreak starting. “All countries, not only China, but also the U.S., the U.K., Japan or any other countries, should all try to do better,” Hua said. An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them, including the new virus' genetic sequence. The story noted that WHO didn't have any enforcement powers. At a press briefing on Tuesday, Johnson Sirleaf said it was up to countries whether they wanted to overhaul WHO to accord it more authority to stamp out outbreaks, saying the organization was also constrained by its lack of funding. “The bottom line is WHO has no powers to enforce anything," she said. “All it can do is ask to be invited in." Last week, an international team of WHO-led scientists arrived in Wuhan to research the animal origins of the pandemic after months of political wrangling to secure China's approval for the probe. The panel also cited evidence of COVID-19 cases in other countries in late January, saying public health containment measures should have been put in place immediately in any country with a likely case, adding: “They were not.” The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency — its highest warning for outbreaks — sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO's top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don't appear to be sick. Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump slammed the U.N. health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization. The U.N. health agency bowed to the international pressure at the annual assembly of its member states last spring by creating the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The WHO chief appointed Johnson Sirleaf and Clark — who both have previous ties to the U.N. agency — to lead the team, whose work is funded by WHO. Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of commending countries for their response efforts. Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response said he warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP. To date, the pandemic has killed more than 2 million people worldwide. ___ AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from Toronto. Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed to this report. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Maria Cheng And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia's leader on Wednesday assured relatives of 62 people killed in a Sriwijaya Air plane crash that they will be compensated. President Joko Widodo visited the command centre at Jakarta’s international container terminal where tons of plane debris hauled by divers from seafloor were collected for an investigation into what caused the Boeing 737-500 to nosedive into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Jan. 9. He also witnessed the first three relatives of the victims receiving money from the compensation fund. Sriwijaya Air offered relatives an insurance payout of 1.25 billion rupiah ($89,100), in line with the Indonesian law that stipulates compensation must be offered within 60 days of a crash. In addition, state-owned insurance company Jasa Raharja has provided 50 million rupiah ($3,560) to each family of the victims. “I assure you that all compensation will be completed immediately for all victims,” Widodo said. A search is still ongoing for the crucial memory unit of the cockpit voice recorder. The device apparently broke loose from its exterior and officials have said the underwater locator beacons attached to both crash-proof black boxes became dislodged due to the impact. The flight data recorded was recovered three days after the crash. The 26-year-old Boeing had been out of service for almost nine months last year because of flight cutbacks caused by the pandemic. Indonesia’s aviation industry grew quickly after the nation’s economy was opened following the fall of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s. Safety concerns led the United States and the European Union to ban Indonesian carriers for years, but the bans have since been lifted due to better compliance with international aviation standards. ____ Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report. Fadlan Syam, The Associated Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
BEIJING — China’s capital, Beijing, recorded seven more coronavirus cases on Wednesday amid a lingering outbreak in the country’s north. Another 46 were recorded in Jilin province, 16 in Heilongjiang on the border with Russia, and 19 in Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing. China has now recorded a total of 88,557 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, with 4,635 deaths. China is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by mid-February and is also releasing schools early and telling citizens to stay put during the Lunar New Year travel rush that begins in coming days. A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization criticized China and other countries this week for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier, prompting Beijing to concede it could have done better but also to defend its response. “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions and insisted on timely detection, reporting, isolation, and treatment despite incomprehensive information at the time. We have gained time to fight the epidemic and reduce infections and deaths,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday. “We are firmly opposed to politicizing issues related to virus tracing, as this will not help the international community to unite and co-operate in the fight against the pandemic,” Hua said. A team of experts from WHO are quarantined in Wuhan ahead of beginning field visits aiming to shed light on the origins of the virus that is thought to have jumped to humans from animals, possibly bats. Other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — India has began supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. India’s Foreign Ministry said the country will send 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 to the Maldives on Wednesday. Vaccines will also be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles in coming weeks, the ministry said, without specifying an exact timeline. Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said the government will ensure that domestic vaccine makers have adequate stocks to meet domestic needs as they supply partner countries in the coming months. Of the more than 12 billion coronavirus vaccine doses expected to be produced this year, rich countries have already bought about 9 billion, and many have options to buy even more. This means that Serum Institute, which has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make a billion doses, is likely to make most of the vaccine that will be used by developing nations. The Associated Press
MAMUJU, Indonesia — Grocery stores, gas stations and other shops were reopening Wednesday in a quake-hit Indonesian city where debris still covered streets and searchers continued to dig in the rubble for more victims. Immediate food and water needs have been met and the local government has started to function again in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson Raditya Jati said in a statement. Thousands of people are sleeping outdoors, fearing aftershocks, and the streets of Mamuju were still covered in debris. Security officers toured the city in a patrol van with a loudspeaker, urging people to observe COVID-19 health protocols as reopened gas stations and markets attracted large crowds. Disaster Task Force Commander Firman Dahlan said a navy hospital ship, a university floating hospital and field health centres were providing care to help overwhelmed hospitals. A total of 79 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene from the magnitude 6.2 quake that struck early Friday. More than 30,000 people had to flee from their damaged houses, and nearly 700 others were injured, many with serious injuries, according to the agency's data. Dahlan said at least 12,900 evacuees remained in shelters in Mamuju and Majene in West Sulawesi province as of Wednesday. Friday’s quake was one of a series of recent disasters to hit Indonesia. The disaster agency recorded 169 minor- to major-scale disasters in the vast archipelago nation this month alone, including landslides, floods, tornadoes, tidal waves and earthquakes, that have left 160 people dead, 965 others injured and more than 802,000 displaced. The crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet on Jan. 9 killed all 62 people on board. And Indonesia has confirmed more than 927,000 infections and 26,590 deaths from the pandemic, the most in Southeast Asia. Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is lined with seismic faults and is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. Annual monsoon flooding also causes problems, and its transit infrastructure is weak and stretched beyond capacity. ___ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, 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
China's central bank has proposed stepping up antitrust measures for companies in the non-bank payments industry, such as Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat Pay. Under draft rules proposed on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) can advise the state council's antitrust committee to stop companies abusing their dominant position or even break up a non-bank institution if it "severely hinders the healthy development of the payment service market".
Police are investigating after a man died in a multi-vehicle crash on a Toronto highway. The Toronto Police Service says the crash happened Tuesday afternoon. The force says a Volkswagen Jetta was exiting onto an off ramp when it struck another car. The Jetta then struck a cargo van that was travelling in the opposite direction. Police say the 59-year-old driver of the Jetta was hospitalized and later died from his injuries. A passenger in another vehicle was injured. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
CAIRO — A fire, followed by an explosion at an ammunition warehouse at a naval academy in western Libya killed three people, including two officers, a Libyan spokesman said Wednesday. It was not clear what caused the overnight blaze at the academy in the town of Janzur, about 24 kilometres (14 miles) west of the capital of Tripoli, said Masoud Abdal Samad, the spokesman of the Libyan navy. Four people were also wounded in the incident. Samad said the dead included Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ayoub, the head of the academy, and Brig. Gen. Salem Abu Salah, who ran the naval college. The third person who died was not identified. Video footage that circulated online following the incident shows firefighters and ambulances rushing to the site where a building is engulfed in a huge fire. Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed the country’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The oil-rich country is now ruled by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east. Eastern-backed forces had fought a months-long offensive to capture Tripoli but the campaign ended in failure last year. The Associated Press
NEW DELHI — India began supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries on Wednesday, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. India's Foreign Ministry said the country would send 150,000 shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 shots to the Maldives on Wednesday. Vaccines will also be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles in coming weeks, the ministry said, without specifying an exact timeline. It added in its a statement late Tuesday that regulatory clearances were still awaited from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius. Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said India would ensure that domestic vaccine makers have adequate stocks to meet India's domestic needs as it supplies partner countries in the coming months. “India will continue to supply countries all over the world with vaccines. This will be calibrated against domestic requirements and international demand and obligations,” he said. Indian regulators gave the nod for emergency use to two vaccines earlier this month: the AstraZeneca vaccine and another one by Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech. India kicked off its own massive vaccination drive on Jan. 17, with a goal of inoculating 300 million of its nearly 1.4 billion people. These vaccines being sent to neighbouring countries are being sent as grants and India’s Foreign Ministry said the vaccines were not part of COVAX, the U.N.-backed global effort aimed at helping lower income countries obtain the shots. With nations making their own plans and not waiting for COVAX, some experts fear that India’s gesture of goodwill may inadvertently undermine the struggling initiative, which has yet to deliver any of the promised 2 billion vaccines to poor countries. Although COVAX has announced new deals to secure vaccines in recent weeks, it has only signed legally binding deals for a fraction of the needed shots. WHO said earlier this week it hopes vaccines bought by another global initiative started by the Gates Foundation, GAVI, might start being delivered to poor countries later this month or next. The U.N. health agency’s Africa chief, however, estimated that the first COVID-19 vaccines from that initiative might only arrive in March and that a larger roll-out would only begin in June. Of the more than 12 billion coronavirus vaccine doses being produced this year, rich countries have already bought about 9 billion, and many have options to buy even more. This means that Serum Institute, which has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make a billion doses, is likely to make most of the shots that’ll be used by developing nations. ___ Associated Press journalists Ashok Sharma in New Delhi and Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Aniruddha Ghosal, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
A Saskatoon woman says she's honouring her sister's dying wish. Regina mom Cheryl Kay was admitted to a Regina hospital in December following a series of seizures related to low electrolytes. She was eventually placed on life support, and died Christmas Eve. In the days before she fell into the coma, she asked her sister Rachel Smith to care for her children if she didn't survive. Kay's youngest child is now with their birth father. Smith has welcomed the other six into her Saskatoon home. They joined Smith, her husband and their own five kids. Smith said the first priority was to let the kids know they are loved, and that they have a home. Then she called all her friends and family, who came together to buy Christmas presents for the children. Smith, a graduate of Nutana Collegiate who's worked at both the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, is also busy running her own take-out restaurant, Bannock Express. Smith said she never considered turning the kids away. "I didn't think twice. Being the way I grew up, I was a ward of the government since I was 13 years old. I grew up in residential schools, group homes, foster homes. I just couldn't let this happen to the children. They've been through so much already," she said. An online fundraising campaign has been set up for Kay's funeral expenses and for the children. Smith said they need everything from diapers to laptop computers for school work. The campaign has raised nearly $5,000. "Basically, everyone rallying and coming together has meant so much to my family in the memory of my sister. I feel her spirit is strong right now," Smith said. She and her husband are planning to home-school the kids until the end of this year to minimize the chance of bringing COVID-19 into their expanded household. She's in the process of applying for permanent guardianship.
As of the third week of January, Holland College has brought most of its students back on campus, with some seeing it for the first time. The college got approval from P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office to bring students back after having to move many students to online learning because of COVID-19. "We're extremely excited, and it feels good to have the students back. They're learning in the method that we want them to learn in," said Michael Dimitroff, manager of recruitment and first-year advising at Holland College. "Our education is very hands-on and we couldn't go much longer with the online format, so we had to make the move," he said. "Online can only go so far." 'The class looks awesome' Logan MacKenzie, a culinary arts student, said it feels great to be on campus for the first time. "It's amazing to be here in person. The class looks awesome," said MacKenzie. MacKenzie is from Halifax and had to isolate before beginning in-person classes. He said the online learning "wasn't bad" but he prefers the in-class experience. "Been waiting a very long time for this," he said. "I'm like a kid on Christmas." He said most of his classes will be in a kitchen setting, and his group of eight must wear masks at all times. He said when he thinks about what's happening in many parts of Canada, he's grateful. "We're very fortunate that we're able to get out," he said. More productive in person Shumbusho Armel Gispain came from Rwanda to attend the business administration program. He also isolated before attending classes. "I think it will be pretty productive, now that we get to see people in person," he said. "We're really glad to be here." He said it's nice to be able to ask questions to instructors in person. "You can ask them questions, more than in an online setting. It's really hard — you're really kind of reserved," he said. "I'm getting to make new friends, a lot of great experiences so far." He said P.E.I. is handling COVID-19 really well. Gym and performance hall in use Holland College says it's following public health guidelines for social distancing and classes of 30 are using the gym or a large performance hall so students can be well spaced out. But many groups are much smaller. Dimitroff said the number of students on campus will also be much lower than a normal year, with certain programs only coming certain days. "They're likely not here every single day of the week," he said. Although some students have been following a blended format all along, he said almost half of the college programs started online last semester. "So far, so good," said Dimitroff. Holland College hopes to keep students on campus until the school year ends this spring. "Ideally we can get back to a closer normal in September," he said. More from CBC P.E.I.
The UK has historically had a special relationship with the US, but will British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s friendship with Donald Trump undermine his relationship with the new president? And what role will the UK's divorce from the EU play in transatlantic relations?View on euronews
This time of year would normally be the height of flu season in Nova Scotia, but so far there have been no reported cases in the province. Health Department spokesperson Marla MacInnis confirmed the absence of influenza cases to CBC News and said there were 442 cases last season. Nova Scotia's experience is reflected in national influenza figures. A Jan. 15 report from Public Health Agency of Canada said there haven't been enough influenza cases to even declare the start of the 2020-2021 season in Canada. MacInnis said in an email that public health protocols to minimize the spread of COVID-19 have had a similar effect on influenza in the province. "Masking, physical distancing and good hand hygiene are all measures that can not only reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, but other viruses such as influenza," she said. Statistics for the past six years show that by this time of year there would normally be an average of 14,811 influenza detections reported in Canada. So far this season there have been just 51 influenza cases reported. Twenty-seven of the 51 influenza detections reported to date this season are connected to people who received an attenuated influenza vaccine and do not represent community circulation of the flu virus. The agency's Flu Watch report for Jan. 3-9 said the percentage of positive tests for influenza in Week 1 of 2021 was 0 per cent, compared to 23.4 per cent during the past six seasons. There have been no laboratory confirmed outbreaks in Canada this season. The low circulation of the seasonal flu has meant that the National Microbiology Laboratory has been unable to test for influenza strain characterizations or antiviral resistance. MacInnis said the province ordered more doses of the flu vaccine this year than we ever before, but said many providers ran low because of demand. She said the province secured more influenza vaccine in December and has distributed these additional doses to providers. MacInnis said if someone still wants the vaccine and it is not available at their usual provider they may need to call around. Some experts predicted flu cases would tumble in the Northern Hemisphere based on Australia's experience with plummeting flu figures after it introduced COVID-19 measures. Australia's flu season coincides with Canada's summer. In October, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said it's possible to avoid a flu season. "We would expect and hope that as long as we all stick with the COVID protocols it'll have a significant positive impact on influenza as well," he said. "But that doesn't diminish the importance at all of having as many Nova Scotians as possible add another layer and the best way to protect influenza and that is getting a flu vaccine." In a normal year, the Public Health Agency of Canada said influenza causes 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in the country. MORE TOP STORIES
The owner of an RV campground in Pouch Cove is crying foul after tax changes have left him holding a projected bill that's nearly eight times what he paid last year. Dave Snow, who owns Marine Park, says a complex array of municipal tax changes last month have left him fuming. "From $10,000 a year ago, the campground business alone will go up to over $78,000," he said. "Not counting the RV, the propane, the self storage — none of those included. It's substantial." Snow says two things are at play. The taxes jumped because the municipal assessment agency split his one business into four, and determined his business is about more than just camping. So, the town is now taxing him at a much higher rate — his campground mill rate alone goes from 14 mils to 70. "We had some disagreements and miscommunications with the municipality," he said, noting that the province sided with him after the town objected to families staying at the park year-round during the pandemic. WATCH | The CBC's Cec Haire speaks with business owner Dave Snow and Pouch Cove Mayor Joedy Wall: "I don't know if this is a form of retribution or punishment … but it's certainly punishing, and after two-and-a-half decades it really feels like we're being singled out and persecuted, and fairly maliciously at that." Snow took over the day-use picnic park from the province 24 years ago. It now boasts 450 campsites, a propane refill station, a convenience store, self-storage, RV sales and an outdoor tool dealership. Council did not foresee impact on business Mayor Joedy Wall denies any ill intent, and told CBC News council didn't realize how the changes would affect Snow when they passed the town's budget. Wall said it wasn't clear, at the time, how much Snow's business had grown through renovations and additions. "He has a large business, there's no doubt," Wall said. "It has grown leaps and bounds the last couple of years." Wall said council last met on Dec. 7, when they tabled and passed the town's budget for 2021. He added that council set the rate while waiting on a reassessment for Snow's property, which came a week later. "It was then when we realized that there was such an exponential jump in his assessment for Marine Park at that time," Wall said. "We couldn't do anything about it. It was our last meeting for the year, and we knew that we would deal with this issue in the new year." The mayor says he understands Snow's frustration, and stresses that council wants to work with Snow, but says there's also pressure on council from mom-and-pop businesses wondering about their tax rates compared to larger companies. "We have to be logical and reasonable when we do all our taxation ... taking into consideration the smaller business owners, who said 'How can you tax me the same at this large business owner?'" Snow told CBC he's appealing the town's mill rates and assessment by the municipal assessment agency. Wall, meanwhile, says he's confident council can find a solution. "I'm very proud this business is in our town," Wall said. "It's a huge draw." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
In his first official acts as president, Joe Biden is signing executives orders on a broad range of issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change and immigration, to fulfil campaign promises. Highlights of actions Biden is taking Wednesday: THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC MASK REQUIREMENT: Biden is requiring the use of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors. Consistently masking up is a practice that science has shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, particularly when social distancing is difficult to maintain. He is challenging all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration. That’s a critical period, since communities will still be vulnerable to the virus even as the pace of vaccination increases in pursuit of Biden’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Biden also is directing the government to rejoin the World Health Organization, which Donald Trump withdrew from earlier this year after accusing it of incompetence and bowing to Chinese pressure over the coronavirus. Symbolizing Biden’s commitment to a more prominent global role, White House coronavirus co-ordinator Jeff Zients announced that Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver a speech Thursday to the WHO as head of a U.S. delegation. Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, will lay out how the administration intends to work with the WHO on reforms, supporting the coronavirus response and promoting global health and health security ___ CLIMATE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD: Biden will sign an executive orders to rejoin the Paris climate accord, fulfilling a campaign pledge to get back into the global climate pact on Day One. Trump, a supporter of oil, gas and coal, had made a first priority of pulling out of global efforts to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions. It will take 30 days for the U.S. to officially be back in. REVIEWING TRUMP ROLLBACKS: Biden’s Day One plans also include a temporary moratorium on new Trump administration oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, moving to revoke a presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil and gas pipeline and reviewing a Trump administration freeze on vehicle mileage and emissions standards. Biden also is setting in motion an evaluation of another Trump move that cut boundaries and protections for some national monuments. Agencies will be directed to consider impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities and on future generations from any regulatory action that affected fossil fuel emissions, a new requirement. ___ IMMIGRATION ENDING BAN ON MUSLIM Travellers: Biden is ending what is variously known as the “travel ban” or the “Muslim ban,” one of the first acts of the Trump administration. Trump in January 2017 banned foreign nationals from seven mostly Muslim countries from entry into the country. After a lengthy court fight, a watered-down version of the rule was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 2018. The new administration says it will improve the screening of visitors by strengthening information sharing with foreign governments and other measures. BORDER WALL: Biden is immediately ending the national emergency that Trump declared on the border in February 2018 to divert billions of dollars from the Defence Department to wall construction. He also is halting construction to review contracts and how wall money might be redirected. Despite Trump's repeated promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says Americans have committed $15 billion for more than 700 miles (1,120 kilometres). It is unclear how many miles are under contract and what penalties the government would have to pay for cancelling them. The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments Feb. 22 on the legality of Trump’s diverting Defence Department funds for counter-narcotics efforts and military construction projects to wall construction. DACA: Biden will order his Cabinet to work to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as young children from deportation since it was introduced in 2012. Trump ordered an end to DACA in 2017, triggering a legal challenge that ended in June when the Supreme Court ruled that it should be kept in place because the Trump administration failed to follow federal rule-making guidelines in undoing it. But DACA is still facing legal challenges. In his presidential proclamation, Biden is calling on Congress to adopt legislation that gives DACA recipients permanent legal status and a path to citizenship. There are currently about 700,000 people enrolled. DEPORTATIONS: Biden is revoking one of Trump’s first executive orders, which declared that all of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally are considered priorities for deportation. The Department of Homeland Security will conduct a review of enforcement priorities. Biden’s campaign site says deportations will focus on national security and public safety threats. The order says nothing about a 100-day moratorium on deportations that Biden promised during the campaign. Susan Rice, who is tapped to run the White House Domestic Policy Council, says any decision on moratoriums would come from Homeland Security. CENSUS: Biden is reversing a Trump plan to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted in the 2020 Census. The once-a-decade census is used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year. Biden’s team says the new administration will ensure the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate count for each state and that the apportionment is “fair and accurate.” ___ STUDENT DEBT Biden is asking the Education Department to extend a pause on federal student loan payments through at least Sept. 30, continuing a moratorium that began early in the pandemic but was set to expire at the end of January. Borrowers, who owe a collective $1.5 trillion, would not be required to make payments on their federal student loans, their loans would not accrue any interest, and all debt collection activity would halt through September. Congress paused student debt payments last March as part of a virus relief package, and the Trump administration extended it twice. Biden's order does not include the type of mass debt cancellation that some Democrats asked him to orchestrate through executive action. He has said that action should come from Congress. ___ HOUSING FORECLOSURES Housing foreclosures and evictions would be delayed until at least March 31, 2021. Almost 12% of homeowners with mortgages are late on their payments, while 19% of renters are behind, according to a Census Bureau survey of households. The federal moratoriums would ensure that people could stay in their homes even if they cannot afford their monthly bills. Biden is also calling on Congress to extend assistance to renters. While the moratoriums have aided several million Americans during the pandemic and helped to contain the disease, they have also meant that billions of dollars in housing costs have gone unpaid. ___ Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ellen Knickmeyer, Ben Fox, Elliot Spagat, Matt Lee and Josh Boak contributed to this report. The Associated Press
Researchers in Washington state have found that the impact nearby boats have on endangered southern resident killer whales isn't equal between males and females. A study published in the latest edition of the journal Frontiers in Marine Science shows that female orcas are more likely to stop foraging for food when vessels are close — a finding that raises further concerns about the dwindling southern resident population's ability to find the required food to reproduce. "I was surprised to see a bigger effect in females, but when you think about it more, it kind of makes sense," said Marla Holt, lead author on the paper and research wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Holt reasoned that female orcas have smaller bodies and less capacity for deeper dives, and they're more likely to be associated with younger orcas, which have even less ability to make deep dives. Holt and her team carried out the study from 2010 to 2014, using multi-sensor tags temporarily attached to orcas by suction cups. The tags used accelerometers and magnetometers to track movements and dives, as well as hydrophones to record vessel noise and the sounds killer whales use to track their prey. Identifying the different types of sounds the animals make when they hunt helped the researchers determine whether they were using echolocation to find possible prey in the water below, or whether they were nearing the fish and capturing them — a behaviour that includes such rapid clicks that it sounds like a buzz to the human ear. "Both males and females actually made fewer dives, and they spent less time in dives involving deep foraging and prey capture," said Holt, adding that "nearby" vessels included any that were within 400 yards (366 metres). But that effect was more significant in females. "The fact that we're finding when vessels are close to females, that they forgo foraging, is very significant, because those lost calories can have cascading effects on a female's ability to support reproductive efforts," she said. In the waters off southern B.C., an interim order bans boats within 400 metres of killer whales. Holt said according to Washington state law, vessels must stay 274 metres away from the sides of orcas and 366 metres away if they're in front of or behind them. U.S. federal law only requires 183 metres from an orca's side. According to Holt, one of the goals of this research is to provide a scientific basis for clear rules in the different jurisdictions that people can easily follow. The total number of southern resident killer whales, which live in the Salish Sea in B.C. and Washington state, is believed to be 74, after two new calves were born in September. Holt says the primary factors affecting the recovery of the endangered group are contaminants, the availability of prey like chinook salmon, and disturbances by vessels. Do you have more to add to this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org Foillow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday unveiled the EQA, a new electric compact SUV as part of plans to take on rival Tesla Inc and offer more emission-free vehicles to consumers to meet targets in Europe and China. The EQA, the first of several electric models Mercedes-Benz plans to launch this year, will initially have a range of 426 kilometres (265 miles), with a 500km model coming later, the premium brand carmaker said in a video presentation.