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
At least three people died and eleven were injured on Wednesday afternoon when a building in central Madrid was blown apart by an explosion, with four of the wounded requiring hospitalisation. All available evidence pointed to the blast in Calle Toledo, a street leading out from the city centre, being caused by a gas leak, Madrid's Emergency Services said, although the factors which triggered the leak were yet to be determined. "It was completely nerve-wracking ... I heard and felt the explosion but didn't know where it came from," said local Isabel Romero, whose eight-year-old son is a student at a school next to the building where the explosion occurred.
Sisters Joy and Natalie, with mom Jenn Morin lending a helping hand, are offering to do the Valentine baking for people in the area, with proceeds to be donated to a local cause. The girls are baking a variety of delicious cookies and selling them by the dozen. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to Drop-in at the Bridge. Jenn has been a volunteer at Drop-In at the Bridge, a local centre that describes itself as “a safe place to have a hot drink, relax, be yourself, and interact with others” since the drop-in opened in the spring of 2018. She has helped with numerous events, including a charity fundraising dinner, downtown barbeques, and during pre-COVID times, weekly lunches and get-togethers for adults and students. Over the Christmas holidays, volunteers prepared free Christmas dinners and delivered them around the area. As with many other not-for-profit groups, fundraising has been at a near standstill, but the Drop-in continues to serve the community, and has relied on third-party fundraisers, like the bake sale, and private donations to cover expenses. “We chose the Drop-in at the Bridge for our fundraiser to kick start 2021 because we believe in what it stands for,” said Jenn. “We also helped with the holiday meals, (when) they delivered 61 Christmas meals in 2020. They (The Bridge) were not able to hold their own fundraisers like the barbeques, charity auctions and meals due to COVID. Their volunteer (efforts) ran from making frozen meals and holiday meals to delivering them for those who need it. Why wouldn't we want to help such a great cause? We hope with this fundraiser we can help with some of the costs so they can help even more. “ Jenn asks that all orders be placed by Feb. 10, for pick-up on Feb. 14. She can be reached through her Facebook page, Jenn Morin. The page also lists the type of cookies and cake available and the cost per dozen. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron wants to take further steps to reckon with France’s colonial-era wrongs in Algeria but is not considering an official apology, his office said. A report commissioned by Macron, to be published later Wednesday, submits proposals to improve the complex relationship between the two countries, from opening up war archives to holding commemorations. Macron's office said there will be “no apologies” but that Macron intends instead to make “symbolic acts” aimed at emphasizing recognition of the harsh colonial reality and helping reconciliation between the two countries. Macron will take part in three commemoration days by next year, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the eight-year war with France that resulted in the North African country gaining independence in 1962 — after 132 years of French rule. France will “pursue and broaden” the opening of its archives on the war as work is under way to allow the release of classified secret documents, Macron's office added. Amid other actions, Macron wants to honour Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of torture by the French military during the war. He will launch the process aiming at burying her at the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. The first French president to be born after Algerian independence, Macron promised to open a new chapter in France’s relationship with Algeria during his term, including facing the countries’ painful history. In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the death of a dissident in Algeria in 1957, admitting for the first time the military's systematic use of torture during the war. He commissioned historian Benjamin Stora last year to assess France’s relation with the memory of Algeria’s colonization and the independence war. Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last year that his country was awaiting an official apology for France's colonial occupation. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
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
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
NEW YORK — As the coronavirus swept across the globe last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sank into the shadows, undermined by some of its own mistakes and stifled by an administration bent on downplaying the nation's suffering. Now a new CDC director is arriving to a mammoth task: reasserting the agency while the pandemic is in its deadliest phase yet and the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign is wracked by confusion and delays. “I don’t know if the CDC is broken or just temporarily injured,” but something must be done to bring it back to health, said Timothy Westmoreland, a Georgetown University law professor focused on public health. The task falls to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, 51, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, who is expected to become CDC director this week — a time when the virus's U.S. death toll has eclipsed 400,000 and continues to accelerate. While the agency has retained some of its top scientific talent, public health experts say, it has a long list of needs, including new protection from political influence, a comprehensive review of its missteps during the pandemic and more money to beef up basic functions like disease tracking and genetic analysis. Walensky has said one of her top priorities will be to improve the CDC’s communications with the public to rebuild trust. Inside the agency, she wants to raise morale, in large part by restoring the primacy of science and setting politics to the side. The speed at which she is assuming the job is unusual. In the past, the position has generally been unfilled until a new secretary of health and human services is confirmed, and that official names a CDC director. But this time, the Biden transition team named Walensky in advance, so she could take the agency's reins even before her boss is in place. Walensky, an HIV researcher, has not worked at the CDC or at a state or local health department. But she has emerged as a prominent voice on the pandemic, sometimes criticizing certain aspects of the state and national response. Her targets have included the uneven transmission-prevention measures that were in place last summer and a prominent Trump adviser's endorsement of a “herd immunity” approach that would let the virus run free. She acknowledged the weaknesses in her resume. “When people write about me as the selection for this position, they will say, ‘But she has no on-the-ground public health experience,'" she said during a podcast with the Journal of the American Medical Association. The podcast’s host, Dr. Howard Bauchner, who is also editor of the journal, praised her effusively. “I can't imagine the CDC and the country being luckier ... mostly just because you can communicate, which is such an important task for the head of the CDC,” he said. Walensky did not respond to interview requests from The Associated Press. She will succeed Dr. Robert Redfield, 69, who came to the CDC with a similar resume as an outsider from academia. Redfield kept a low profile during his first two years in office after being appointed by the Trump administration in 2018. Veteran CDC scientists handled crises such as a deadly national surge in hepatitis A cases among homeless people and illicit drug users, and a mysterious spike in severe illnesses in people who vaped electronic cigarettes. The agency’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak began in a similar way. Staff scientists took the lead, holding regular news conferences to update the public on the emerging problem. But the agency stumbled in February when a test for the virus sent to states proved to be flawed. Then, later in the month, a top CDC infectious-disease expert, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, upset the Trump administration by speaking frankly at a news conference about the dangers of the virus when President Donald Trump was still downplaying it. Within weeks, the agency was pushed off stage. Redfield made appearances, but he was often a third-tier speaker after remarks dominated by Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and others. The CDC "has been sidelined, has been maligned, has been a punching bag for many politicians in the outgoing administration. And that has had a detrimental effect on the agency’s ability to fulfil its mission,” said Dr. Richard Besser, a former CDC official who now heads the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. White House officials also took steps to try to control the CDC's scientific reports and the guidance on its website. For instance, the agency removed guidance that advised limiting church choir activities even though studies had demonstrated the danger of transmission of extended singing indoors. The agency also dropped guidance advising that anyone who came into close contact with an infected person should get tested — then re-adopted it after criticism from health experts. “Folks across the political spectrum have had reason to doubt the veracity and accuracy, sometimes, of CDC’s messages,” said Adriane Casalotti of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. While public health veterans say they do not know everything that happened behind the scenes, they say Redfield apparently failed to stand up for agency scientists, declined to contradict Trump and those around him and passively allowed the Trump administration to post its messaging on CDC websites. “He wasn’t willing to resign when it was necessary or to be fired for standing up for principle,” said David Holtgrave, a former CDC staffer who is now dean of the public health school at the State University of New York at Albany. Redfield declined to be interviewed. The pandemic also exposed some CDC failures and weaknesses unrelated to politics. The test kit problem was tied to laboratory contamination at the agency’s Atlanta headquarters — a sign of sloppiness. The CDC also lost its standing as the nation's go-to source for case counts and other measures of the epidemic after university researchers and others developed better systems for tracking infections. Much of that has to do with cycles of funding for the national public health system that rise in reaction to a crisis and then fall, hurting efforts to prevent the next crisis. Last week, Biden said he would ask for $160 billion for vaccinations and other public health programs, including an effort to expand the public health workforce by 100,000 jobs. Georgetown's Westmoreland called for a law or other measure to prohibit political appointees from having editorial review of CDC science and to ban them from controlling when the agency releases information. He also recommended a review of the CDC to determine if the agency’s problems can be traced to mismanagement by Trump’s political appointees or whether there are deeper flaws in the organization. Some experts suggest that an administration that values science and increases funding could restore the CDC to preeminence. Biden has pledged to put scientists out front on COVID-19 matters, Besser noted. “That’s something I think will be fixed on Day One,” he said. “One of the things that gives me hope is I did not see a large exodus from CDC during this past year. I saw professionals doing their jobs. I saw the mental toll they were taking, but I did not see them giving up." ___ 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. Mike Stobbe, 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."
The Municipality of Magnetawan is set to get better internet connectivity sooner rather than later. According to a Facebook post by the municipality, Magnetawan had applied for grant from CENGN, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks and was approved on Jan. 18 for three internet tower projects in the Ahmic Harbour and Lake regions. What internet service provider is involved with the project? Spectrum Telecom was selected to provide a broadband solution for Ahmic Harbour and Lake area. How does the funding work? This project is a part of CENGN’s Northern Ontario Residential Broadband program. Supported by the program's funding, Spectrum Telecom will build three self-supporting towers which will use licensed and unlicensed fixed wireless access technology to bring a range of internet access to residents in the area. What type of internet speeds will residents be able to use once the project is completed? The fixed wireless access will allow for internet service up to 50 mbps download and 10 mbps upload speeds. What is a self-supporting internet tower? A self-supporting tower is ideal for areas with limited space and it allows for towers to be built on narrow, unused road allowances. What are some benefits of the project? The multi-tower placement, on both sides of the lake, will ensure a wider coverage area for residents. The release also states that residents could see up to 50 per cent in cost savings over other options. When will this be operational? The project is aiming for a fast network deployment time frame and the release states it will be operational by the end of 2021. According to Magnetawan’s mayor, Sam Dunnett, the broadband initiative will help foster economic growth and retention of the population base within the municipality. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
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SHERBROOKE – By day, Karen Hallet works a phone as an administrative assistant at Historic Sherbrooke Village. But at night, when the winter wind whips, she solves crimes most foul as a detective in the rolling English Cotswalds. Or maybe she’s a famous chef, or a brilliant quilter, or an expert on British heraldry. It just depends on what dog-eared or peculiar paperback she finds to read at the bottom of a simple wooden box situated along an unprepossessing stretch of Second Street. “We call it our ‘Little Free Library’,” she says. “It’s three feet by two feet with a glass door and no lock. It can hold probably 30 paperbacks and 15 or so hardcovers. Anybody who comes through the town can stop there and, maybe, take a book or leave one. We keep an eye out and if it gets empty, we just fill it back up. We have quite a few volumes right now.” By “we” she means she and her friend Angelina Jack, supervisor of Historic Sherbrooke Village’s interpretation group. About three years ago, they assumed responsibility for the little library when, she says, the local writers’ guild scaled back. “It was their initiative originally. We’ve been looking after it.” Actually, they’ve been curating it and, most recently, promoting it to bibliophiles around the world on the Little Free Library’s website (yes, it’s a thing), littlefreelibrary.org/. Says Hallett: “We just registered ourselves there. If people are travelling and are familiar with the site, they can find little free libraries in towns and villages and countrysides. It’s a wide-open thing. They are popping up everywhere.” Indeed, Little Free Library says it’s “is a non-profit that builds community, inspires readers, and expands book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led little libraries. Through Little Free Library book exchanges, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.” Since its formal founding in 2009 (though the concept is probably as old as reading, itself), “LFL has been honored by the Library of Congress and the National Book Foundation for its work in creating book access for so many people,” according to the parenting advice website Scary Mommy scarymommy.com/. “There are over 100,000 registered LFL boxes in 50 [U.S.] states and 108 countries. The non-profit has seen more than 165 million books shared and is about to add even more titles and opportunities to the mix.” Certainly, Hallet and Jack are doing their best. “We also take books here at the main administration office at the Village,” Hallet says. “There’s been an initiative to build a new, little park in Sherbrooke. We hope to put our library down there… This whole thing is built with the purpose of having books available to anyone coming through.” And come through they do. Before COVID, she says, “People have come from all over the world. We’d fill it up quite often in the summertime… In future, when they go with a book, once they read it, we hope they’ll see another little free library in Canada, or Maine or Texas or wherever, and they’ll drop off the book they got here.” Not that any of this will replace the status quo. Nor should it. That book about the detective in the Cotswalds? Says Hallet: “I got that one through our main library here in Sherbrooke.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Kremlin foe Alexei Navalny, detained on Sunday after flying back to Russia for the first time after being poisoned with a nerve agent, is spending his days under strict control in a VIP cell inside one of Moscow's most infamous jails. The prison, called Matrosskaya Tishina or Sailor's Silence, occupies a block in Moscow's north-east and has housed high-ranking prisoners the authorities wanted to cut off from the outside world since the Soviet era.
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
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
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.
Aylmer resident Rayne Gelinas is taking a stand against “freedom” rallies, the local anti-restrictions movement, and its connection to the Aylmer Church of God Restoration. Ms. Gelinas is the organizer of three roadside protests along John Street North on Dec. 27, Jan. 3, and Jan. 10 just outside the Church of God. Dozens of cars line the road, with occupants displaying signs and occasionally honking during the church service. The move is to support wearing face masks and following COVID-19 health and safety regulations, which some church members and supporters have been vocal in opposing. Ms. Gelinas said she was pleased with the turnout, adding attendees, for the most part, strictly followed health and safety protocols by remaining in their cars. There was one notable exception at the Jan. 3 protest – a 34-year-old Sparta man, Terry Carrington – who was not associated with the group. They dispersed the Dec. 27 rally at Aylmer Police request, due to safety concerns and road congestion. “We’re not interested in getting to violence. We want to put public pressure on misbehaviour of this church and their associates,” explained Ms. Gelinas, specifically pointing to Church of God Pastor Henry Hildebrandt and his son, Herbert. Both Hildebrandts have been active participants with “freedom rallies” and gatherings across Ontario and are facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. Ms. Gelinas organized a social media group called Canadians Against “Freedom” Rallies and Misinformation. She intends to continue the peaceful roadside protests. “I have taken a lot of heat for being in the position I’m in,” she said. “I want our town to become the peaceful, beautiful community that it once was.” Ms. Gelinas alleged that she has been harassed and threatened by some associated with the church following the roadside protest, incidents which were subsequently reported to Aylmer Police. Several cars have driven by her home, with the occupants appearing to record with a cell phone. After the Jan. 10 roadside protest, Ms. Gelinas alleged that a black SUV belonging to a congregation member followed her car to her Aylmer home. The group is not a part of the “We Are One, We Are All” (WAOWAA) group that posted anonymous videos on YouTube, criticizing the actions of those associated with “freedom rallies.” Ms. Gelinas said she is in support of WAOWAA. On. Jan. 14, Ms. Gelinas said the roadside protests outside the church are now on hold as a result of the new provincial stay at home order. “I can’t have anyone in harm’s way.” Group members will now be working on a poster/flyer campaign. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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.
A man in his 60s who suffered serious burns in a fire on Kirkwood Avenue early Wednesday morning has died, Ontario's fire marshal says. Ottawa firefighters were called to a highrise between Devonshire Place and Macy Boulevard around 1:45 a.m., where they found smoke in a corridor and rescued one person, according to a news release. Paramedics said they took a man in his 60s from the apartment to hospital in critical condition. He later died of his injuries. The fire was under control by about 2 a.m., firefighters said. Its cause is still under investigation.
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.
De nouvelles prises de conscience #MoiAussi émergent partout dans le monde, permettant aux filles et aux femmes de briser le tabou de la violence sexuelle.