President Donald Trump departs Florida as he cuts short his Florida vacation and returns to Washington on Thursday, one day earlier than expected for reasons the White House didn't explain. (Dec. 31)
President Donald Trump departs Florida as he cuts short his Florida vacation and returns to Washington on Thursday, one day earlier than expected for reasons the White House didn't explain. (Dec. 31)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ 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. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press
A researcher at the University of Calgary is hoping a new project will shine a spotlight on the lives of long-term care workers in the city. Most are immigrant women from places like Africa and the Philippines who fill low-paid positions, doing work that others simply aren't willing to do. Naomi Lightman's latest project will find out more about the workers who fill these roles at long-term care facilities, hopefully influencing current and future policy. "These women are doing essential work, caring for our loved ones and doing work that Canadian-born people have no interest in doing," said Lightman. The sociologist calls the work 3D: dirty, difficult and dangerous. She says the pandemic has people talking about long-term care facilities and workers more than ever, presenting an opportunity to talk about the inequalities and potential for improvements in the sector. "Their voices have been absent and we'll be developing a policy report that really foregrounds the voices of these women themselves," said Lightman. The work will create a better picture of long-term care workers, their wages and benefits, their well-being and how they compare with other health-care workers. It will also give them a platform to speak about their lives and challenges during the pandemic. Lightman, who has been researching immigrant care workers for the past seven years, hopes the research will help improve wages and working conditions. The Calgary Immigrant Women's Association is partnering with Lightman, helping connect her with women working as health-care aides, via virtual interviews. "A lot come from Southeast Asia and Africa," said Marie-Solange Evehe, a program co-ordinator with association. "Back home, they used to be registered nurses and many came from other backgrounds. We even have a lawyer," said Evehe. Evehe says the immigrant women working in long-term care facilities deserve more money for the work they do. "I never knew what they go through, the kind of hard work involved. They barely make ends meet and it's difficult for them," she said. "These women, they have a lot of passion for what they do." Evehe says the pandemic is a good opportunity to recognize how important long-term care workers are. "These people deserve better. Will that be heard? Hopefully it will," she said. Interviews and data will be gathered by the end of May. The report will be completed by the end of this summer.
Northwest Territories officials are still investigating a Yellowknife COVID-19 case announced last week. The source of the infection remains unidentified. The case, confirmed on January 15, is something of a mystery. Officials say it is not related to travel but no contacts have been uncovered that would explain how the person contracted the virus. “To date, after identifying and testing multiple potential sources, we have not identified a source of infection,” chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola told reporters on Tuesday. Despite the enduring puzzle, Dr. Kandola said there was no clear evidence of community transmission in Yellowknife and no COVID-19 tests completed in the city since January 15 had come back positive. On Monday night, territorial officials said it was “highly likely that the source has passed their communicable period.” Yellowknife’s wastewater signal remains stable “at trace levels, which is anticipated,” Kandola said. In other words, there has been no spike of the virus in sewage samples. Earlier this week, public health officials following a lead tested staff and residents at the city's Aven Manor care home. No new cases were identified at the facility. Fort Liard remains at three confirmed and two probable cases of COVID-19. Confirmation of the two probable cases could come later on Tuesday, Kandola said. The hamlet is on day three of its containment order, which lasts until January 30 at 10 p.m. but may be extended if deemed necessary. Some residents had expressed concern that information was not accessible to everyone in the hamlet. On Tuesday, Premier Caroline Cochrane said an individual from Fort Liard has been hired who speaks the traditional language. Their job will be to go door-to-door to ensure information is conveyed to everyone. A new information sheet has been created about isolation expectations. A vaccination team is still scheduled to reach Fort Liard on Thursday and Friday. Territorial medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg said the team has added an extra day in Fort Liard to its schedule, though which day was not clear. Residents in isolation will be contacted individually by public health staff to arrange access to the vaccine. Meanwhile, it's increasingly likely that COVID-19 traces in Hay River's sewage were connected to the Fort Liard cluster. The first Fort Liard patient had been isolating in Hay River before returning to the hamlet. Since January 14, 189 COVID-19 tests in Hay River have all come back negative. The most recent sewage samples in Hay River, from January 14, were characterized by Kandola as a fainter, "bare detect" of the virus. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
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
North Simcoe's environmental association seems to be under the microscope in another municipality. This time, it's Tiny Township, which is also the residence of the Severn Sound Environmental Association's (SSEA) board chair Steffen Walma. The matter came up at a recent budget meeting when Coun. Tony Mintoff questioned the increase in municipal contributions toward the SSEA. "I’d like to get a specific cost for the SSEA," he said. "I noticed the actual in 2019 was $93,000 and for 2020 it was $176,000. I would like to know which services are mandated and the cost for those services and any other services they provide and their costs and benefits for the residents." The issue also came up recently at Tay Township's council meeting. Budget documents shared with council show that the township budgeted $93,672 for the SSEA costs in 2019 and paid a total of $119,136, which includes costs for Sustainable Severn Sound (SSS) and an invasive species coordinator. For 2020, the township budgeted $176,911 for SSEA costs and paid $181,600, which includes the SSS cost. For 2021, Tiny is being asked for $228,805, which breaks down to a $11,155 for the SSS portion, $187,630 for the SSEA core services and $30,020 for municipal drinking water source protection. Walma, who is also Tiny's deputy mayor, ventured to sum up the reasons for why the costs are the way they are. "In 2019 to 2020, we made a board decision to stop Band-Aiding our way through operations," he said, adding there was a leadership change and SSEA relocated its office to Tay Township. "In 2019, we presented a 65% increase to our municipalities. That included a change in staffing and office and upgrading of our networks." As part of its water quality sampling mandate, staff needs to visit various locations in North Simcoe, said Walma. "We’ve been borrowing vehicles from municipalities and never owned our vehicles," he said. "(From a) liability standpoint, municipalities were no longer willing to loan us vehicles, so we ended up having to purchase our own. "We had been testing wells in the municipality, so we had the responsibility to decommission those wells at the end of their life. We started budgeting a reserve we’ve never had in the past. We also found some liabilities in our existing staffing policies. We modernized our existing budget for the 65 percent." This year, the increase is five percent, according to Walma. "That was listed in the five-year plan," he noted. "We do expect to see some savings on 2020, but those savings won’t be realized by our partners this year because we don’t know what they are yet." As for the services, Walma said, every municipality pays a board-approved service level, there’s no a-la carte. Members, however, have the choice to opt out of core services on a two-year notice period. "(Core services) include cold-water stream sampling, fish habitat mapping, inland lake-water quality sampling, and invasive species programs," he said, adding he can bring to council a more comprehensive list. "The SSS portion of things, they have been rolled in together, is optional. This is a service municipalities choose to participate in." Where contracting the SSEA itself is not mandatory, "the only legislated piece is the source-water protection modelling that’s been put in place by the province," said Walma. "In short, at least until council opts out of the program, we’re obligated to the pay $187,000, not the $11,155 for the SSS." Mintoff said he would bring forward a notice of motion at a future meeting so council could take a closer look at it. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
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.
BERLIN — Teenager Florian Wirtz scored for Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-1 win which dealt Borussia Dortmund its latest Bundesliga setback on Tuesday. Dortmund, which was held 1-1 at home by lowly Mainz on Saturday, slumped to its second defeat in six games under new coach Edin Terzic. Dortmund could fall 10 points behind Bayern Munich at the top on Wednesday when Bayern visits struggling Augsburg. Leverkusen moved second after bouncing back from its 1-0 loss at Union Berlin. Leipzig, which is just behind Leverkusen on goal difference, hosts Union on Wednesday. It was a lacklustre display from Dortmund, which only threatened briefly in the second half and was fortunate not to concede more with Moussa Diaby missing several good chances after he opened the scoring. The unhurried Nadiem Amiri played a cross-field pass that Diaby controlled with his first touch and swept past Dortmund ’keeper Roman Bürki with his next in the 14th minute. Diaby continued to cause problems after the break before Dortmund’s first real chance in the 54th. Marco Reus almost set up Erling Haaland but the 17-year-old Wirtz managed to clear. Thomas Meunier missed another good chance for the visitors before Julian Brandt equalized against his former team in the 67th when Raphaël Guerreiro laid the ball off for him to fire inside the far corner. Brandt almost scored again a minute later, but Edmond Tapsoba cleared off the line. Dortmund paid the price in the 80th when Wirtz scored after Meunier lost the ball. It fell to Patrik Schick and he combined with Diaby, who crossed for the unmarked Wirtz to unleash an unstoppable shot past Bürki for his fourth Bundesliga goal. HERTHA HUMBLED Goals from Sebastian Rudy and two from Andrej Kramaric gave Hoffenheim a 3-0 win at Hertha Berlin that will increase the pressure on coach Bruno Labbadia. Hertha had hopes this season of challenging for European qualification but it has dropped to 14th in the 18-team division with only one win in its last seven games. Wolfsburg moved fifth with a 2-0 win at Mainz, and Borussia Mönchengladbach rode its luck to beat Werder Bremen 1-0. Nico Elvedi’s header was enough for Gladbach. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Few things have lifted Rojhan Paydar’s spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic quite like a Netflix watch party.Isolated inside her home, the Toronto resident is too often short on social opportunities and long on streaming options. So like many people, she’s recreated the experience of watching Netflix with friends through an unofficial web browser application called Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party.It’s been an opportunity for Paydar to gather with pals on a virtual couch while they gasp over the twists of true crime series, “Unsolved Mysteries." Even more often, she's used the app with her boyfriend for date nights watching the dysfunction unfold on “Tiger King" and other bingeable series.“Sometimes we’d eat dinner and set up our webcams to see each other,” she said.“Knowing he was there and we were doing something in real-time — it felt really good and made me less lonely."Not long ago, viewing party technology was a tool reserved for unique situations: a long-distance couple or fans of a niche TV series searching for like-minded people.But a year into the pandemic, weekly rituals have evolved, and online watch parties have proven many of us are desperate for some semblance of connection.As the winter months stretch on, and strict stay-at-home orders grip large parts of the country, observers say the watch party, and apps that help make it happen, are due for a second wave of popularity.“I think we may have seen a cultural shift,” suggested Daniel Keyes, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of British Columbia.“The pandemic and the fact we had to self-isolate totally accelerated it. It made it more mainstream.”For younger generations raised on YouTube and Twitch, watch parties are already part of the zeitgeist. Everyone else, including streaming giants themselves, seem to be playing cultural catchup.Last year, as the pandemic wore on, Amazon Prime Video introduced group chat elements into the laptop version of its platform. Disney Plus took a more restrained approach with a feature that allows up to seven people to sync their screens, but only communicate through emojis.Other streamers, such as Netflix and Crave, have so far chosen not to launch social elements on their platforms. That move could be strategic as the companies observe a sea change in how some viewers consume television, suggested Carmi Levy, director at technology advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group."It's almost as if the snow globe has been shaken and companies like Netflix are waiting for everything to settle down before they decide where to place their bets," he said."Social TV is a thing and it isn't going anywhere. It's very much like remote work: considered the exception before the pandemic, but now the rule."Levy said the entertainment industry couldn't have predicted how quickly the change took hold with casual viewers. For years, upstart tech companies launched second-screen watch party innovations, and most of them failed miserably.That's left the door open for the latest generation of alternatives to capitalize on filling the void, among them TwoStream, a paid monthly watch party option, and Syncplay, which is free.One of the most ambitious newcomers is Scener, a venture-funded operation out of Seattle that currently supports the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Vimeo and horror platform Shudder. In a few clicks, viewers can react to a show through their webcam or type out thoughts on their keyboard.Co-founder Joe Braidwood said replicating the in-person experience, in particular, “the laughter, the screams and the horror,” was a goal of his company long before the pandemic. But it wasn’t always easy getting others to see the value.“Two years ago I would talk to investors about social TV and they would laugh at me,” he recalled over a Zoom chat.“They told me, ‘People don't want social experiences when they're watching television.’ But all you need to do is look on Twitter.”Even before the pandemic, he said, people were engaging over social media platforms about their favourite shows. Now, since everyone's holed up in their homes, Scener's growth has been exponential. Cumulative weekly minutes of programming watched grew nearly 42,000 per cent from March 2020 to January 2021 (57,785 minutes versus 24.2 million minutes), according to data provided by the company.“People who haven't hung out with their best friend while watching ‘The Flight Attendant’ or shared a family Christmas while watching an old classic movie on Scener, they just don't know what this feels like,” he added.“There's this real texture to it... it's warm engagement with people that you care about.”Hoovie, a Vancouver-based virtual watch party service, aims to bridge the gap between art house cinema outings and the comfort of a living room chat.Hosts can dive into the company’s independent film catalogue and book ticketed showings for small groups, typically in the range of 10 to 20 people. After the movie, they’re encouraged to engage in a webcam conversation on the platform that’s inspired by the film’s themes.Co-founder Fiona Rayher describes Hoovie as a platform meant to evoke those experiences outside the cinema where groups of people – sometimes strangers – would passionately discuss what they’d just watched and maybe head to a nearby restaurant for drinks."You’d meet new people and you’d stay connected," she said. "It was all serendipitous."Hoovie plans to debut a "book club for movies" early this year that'll build on connecting movie fans. Every month, subscribers will gather for online screenings that include a post-film conversation with members, filmmakers and critics. Each film will be rounded out with a wine pairing sent by mail.Selling nostalgia for the pre-pandemic days may sound appealing in lockdown, but the question remains on how attractive watch parties will be once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.It's a question Paydar said she thinks about often as she logs onto a watch party for another episode of "Unsolved Mysteries.""Whenever someone asks, 'If COVID ended right now, where would you go?' the first thing I say is, 'I'd like to go to a movie theatre,'" she said."There's something about being in a physical theatre and going with a group of friends...Those end-of-the-night goodbyes, getting late-night eats with my friends.. (we're) creating memories I get to hold on to forever," she said."I don't think that can be replaced."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Another Ontario COVID-19 official has resigned over foreign travel. Premier Doug Ford's office says he has accepted the resignation of Linda Hasenfratz as a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force.Ford's office says she stepped down after it was brought to his attention that she travelled outside the country in December.No other details were released other than that she has apologized.Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Stewart resigned from a group of experts that help guide the provincial government's response to COVID-19 after travelling to the Dominican Republic over the holidays.At the time, Stewart said he regretted the non-essential travel and recognized that everyone should be avoiding non-essential trips.Stewart later stepped down as chief executive officer of the Niagara Health System and the St. Joseph's Health System.Ford's office gave a brief statement Tuesday about Hasenfratz's resignation."Thanks to the efforts of all Ontarians, we are starting to see early signs of progress in bending the curve," reads the statement. "Now is not the time to let up. We continue to urge everyone to stay home." Last week, Dr. Paul Woods, the CEO of a hospital network in London, Ont., was ousted from his post after concerns were raised about his international travel during the pandemic.Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including during the December holidays, the London Health Sciences Centre said.Last month, Rod Phillips, Ontario's former finance minister, resigned from his post after it was revealed he travelled to St. Barts for a December vacation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump might argue the calendar is his friend when it comes to a second impeachment trial. Trump's impeachment last week by the House of Representatives for his role in inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol set up his trial in the Senate. But there's one potential wrinkle. In 2019, the last time Trump found himself impeached by the House, he had nearly a year left in his presidency. But on Wednesday, with the inauguration of Joe Biden, Trump will be out of office by the time any Senate trial gets started. Some Republican lawmakers argue it's not constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a former president, but that view is far from unanimous. Democrats for their part appear ready to move forward with a trial. On Tuesday, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she doesn’t think a post-presidency impeachment trial is constitutional. But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wasn’t so sure. “I think there’s serious questions about it,” he said. Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, meanwhile, said it was “bogus” that a trial after Trump leaves office wouldn't be constitutional, noting that the Senate has held impeachment trials of federal judges after they’ve resigned. “So whether somebody resigns, or runs out the clock it makes no difference. They can still be held accountable and there’s nothing in the spirit, or the letter of the impeachment provisions in the Constitution that argues against it,” he said. Some questions and answers about whether a former president can be impeached. WHY IS THIS OPEN TO DEBATE? The Constitution says: “The President ... shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But the Constitution says nothing about the impeachment of a former president. The question has also never come up. The only other two presidents to be impeached, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were tried while still in office. WHAT DO SCHOLARS AND HISTORY HAVE TO SAY ON THE TOPIC? A recent Congressional Research Service report for federal lawmakers and their staffs concluded that while the Constitution's text is “open to debate,” it appears most scholars agree that a president can be impeached after leaving office. One argument is that state constitutions that predate the U.S. Constitution allowed impeachment after officials left office. The Constitution's drafters also did not specifically bar the practice. Still, the text of the Constitution could be read to suggest impeachment only applies to current office holders. In the early 19th century, one influential Supreme Court justice, Joseph Story came to that conclusion. One powerful suggestion that post-office trial is acceptable, however, comes from history. The Congressional Research Service report cites the 1876 impeachment of Secretary of War William Belknap. Belknap resigned over allegations he received kickbacks. The House impeached him after his resignation, and while Belknap objected to being tried in the Senate because he'd left office, the Senate heard three days of arguments on the topic and then deliberated in secret for over two weeks before concluding Belknap could be tried. He was ultimately acquitted. COULD TRUMP CHALLENGE A CONVICTION? Courts are unlikely to want to wade into any dispute over impeachment. In 1993, in a case involving an impeached former judge, the Supreme Court ruled it had no role to play in impeachment disputes because the Constitution says the “Senate shall have sole Power to try any impeachments.” DOES AN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF A FORMER PRESIDENT PRESENT OTHER LEGAL ISSUES? One other issue is who would preside at the impeachment trial of an ex-president. The Constitution says it's the chief justice's job to preside at the impeachment trial of a president. But scholars offer differing views about whether that's Chief Justice John Roberts' job if Trump's trial begins after he's out of office. The choices for who would preside appear to be Roberts, Kamala Harris, who by then will be vice-president, or Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will be the Senate’s president pro tem once the Democrats take control of the Senate. WHAT'S THE POINT OF IMPEACHING SOMEONE WHO IS OUT OF OFFICE? The consequence the Constitution sets up for a president who is impeached and convicted is removal from office. That's not really a concern for a former president. Still, conviction would send a message about Trump's conduct. Moreover, if the Senate were to convict, lawmakers would presumably take a separate vote on whether to disqualify Trump from holding future office. Some lawmakers believe that's appropriate. "We need to set a precedent that the severest offence ever committed by a president will be met by the severest remedy provided by the Constitution — impeachment and conviction by this chamber, as well as disbarment from future office," incoming Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Tuesday. ___ Associated Press reporter Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's health minister says the province is still on track to begin administering second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine despite the news that no vials will be delivered to Canada next week. Adrian Dix said Tuesday that B.C. had expected to receive about 5,800 Pfizer-BioNTech doses next week, which is "very significant" but a relatively small amount compared with the roughly 25,000 expected in the coming days. "Every time we get news that we're getting less vaccine, that news is obviously disappointing," he said. "Hopefully this is a one-time interruption. But what we can do in British Columbia is use the vaccine that we receive and use it effectively and on vulnerable populations, and that's what we're going to do." The volume of doses is expected to increase to about 25,000 weekly following the shortage, he said. The province will devote more of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine it's set to receive this week, along with the "small amount" it has on hand, to completing first doses in long-term care homes across the province and beginning to administer second doses, Dix said. B.C. reported 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths on Tuesday. The province also extended its state of emergency until Feb. 2. The original declaration was made on Mar. 18, 2020, and allows health and emergency management officials to use extraordinary powers to support the pandemic response. To date, 92,369 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province. Dix said second doses are crucial to the strength of the program and B.C. remains committed to a 35-day interval between doses. The minister said second doses will begin Wednesday, which marks 36 days from the first 3,900 doses being administered in hospitals in Vancouver and Abbotsford, B.C. The following week, 8,000 doses were given out, and 12,000 the week after that, so the demand for second doses will increase over time, he said. Still, he said the loss of 5,800 vaccines next week does not pose a risk to second vaccinations. "The risk is not to second doses. The risk is 6,000 fewer first doses," he said. "Every single one of those doses is directed to a vulnerable person or someone working with vulnerable people ... and every one of them is important." A higher percentage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines given out in the coming weeks will be second doses, he said, while the Moderna vaccine will become the province's "workhorse" for first doses. The province began receiving the Moderna vaccine later, so the 35-day interval for second doses will also end later, Dix said. The federal government announced Tuesday that Canada's shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be cut by nearly one-fifth this week and then go down to zero next week. Pfizer told Canada last week its shipments would be affected because the production facility in Belgium is being upgraded to produce more doses overall. Asked whether B.C. is looking at trying to obtain vaccines outside of the supply chains set up by Ottawa, as it did with personal protective equipment, Dix said that was unlikely. There's no "back door" source for vaccines, he said. He said he expects the federal government to lead efforts to obtain more vaccine for the provinces and he's confident in Ottawa's work. Dix also responded to calls from the Opposition Liberals and B.C. Care Providers Association for the government to begin using rapid tests on staff in long-term care homes. The care providers association said in a news release that 1.3 million rapid test kits purchased by the federal government are currently warehoused in B.C. and ready for use. Dix said rapid tests are being used in remote and rural communities because of the time it takes for lab results to return. However, rapid tests are less accurate than the gold-standard test and take "considerable" investments of staff and effort, he said, making them unrealistic to use on a regular basis. Pilot projects in the Vancouver Coastal Health region show that it's very challenging to do rapid tests more than once a week, Dix said. "I appreciate that people are lobbying for this," he said. "All I can tell you is all of our medical health officers ... are unbelievably committed to long-term care." The minister was in Vancouver Tuesday to announce a new urgent and primary care centre in the city’s northeast opening on Feb. 16. The centre has longer hours and is aimed at providing urgent care for people suffering from injuries or illness that don’t require an emergency room visit. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
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EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says health officials may also have to rebook vaccination appointments for those getting the required second dose. Hinshaw made the announcement just hours after the federal government said there will be no shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week and reduced shipments for about three weeks after that. The slowdown is due to Pfizer retrofitting its Belgium-based plant in order to ramp up production down the road. Hinshaw says Alberta has 456 new cases of COVID-19, with 740 patients in hospital. There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died. “This is frustrating, but the factory issues in Belgium are out of our control," Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a release Tuesday. "We will continue to use what we have to protect as many Albertans as possible. And we will continue to inform Albertans of any changes to our vaccination plans.” Alberta recently finished giving first doses of vaccine to all residents in its 357 long-term care and supportive living facilities. “These are absolutely the highest-risk locations, and people who live in these facilities are the most vulnerable to severe outcomes,” Hinshaw told a virtual news conference. “Two-thirds of all our (COVID-19) deaths have been in long-term care and supportive living facilities.” Alberta has given 90,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to those in the high priority cohort: those in the care homes and front-line health-care workers. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just over 171,000 this week and nothing the following week. Both vaccines require two doses weeks apart for full effectiveness. The delay has also forced the province to put off implementing the next phase of priority cases: Indigenous seniors over 65 and other seniors 75 and older. Alberta remains under strict lockdown measures, which include a ban on indoor gatherings. Bars, restaurants and lounges can offer takeout or pickup service only. Retailers are limited to 15 per cent customer capacity, while entertainment venues like casinos and movie theatres remain shuttered. The province relaxed some measure slightly on Monday. Outdoor gatherings can have 10 people maximum. Personal care services, like hair salons, manicure and pedicure salons and tattoo shops, can open by appointment only. Hinshaw said it’s not clear when further restrictions can be lifted. “Our health system is still under severe strain,” she said. “This continues to impact our ability to deliver care, not only for COVID-19 but all the other health needs Albertans have.” There were 11,096 active COVID cases Tuesday, about half the number recorded at its peak in mid-December. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Canadian Geographic and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) have joined forces on a first of its kind podcast that hopes to breathe life into the endangered Michif language through a lens that is authentically Métis. Hosted by Métis artist, mentor and author Leah Dorion, the first 10 episodes of ‘Paykiiwikay’ give listeners an intimate glimpse of the cultural driving force behind Métis communities in Saskatchewan. “Paykiiwikay is the Métis word for ‘come and visit.’ And that’s what it is. Coming to the table and visiting, even though it was virtually recorded,” Dorion said. Dorion traces her roots back to Cumberland House and has lived in Prince Albert most of her life. She said hosting the podcast is helping her learn the Michif language and connect with her own heritage. “I’ve made such a commitment to start to practice some of the phrases. It is on the endangered languages list. So I’ve been promoting it and talking with people about the language, picking up some of the vocab and working on it myself,” Dorion said. The podcast features Métis music, history and cuisine. It touches on difficult topics such as racism, historical injustice and assimilation all while showcasing the Michif language. Dorion said the series will help the community “really understand the role of the Métis people in founding Saskatchewan and are still contributing to Saskatchewan in a good way.” MN-S Minister of Language, Culture and Heritage, Sherry McLennan said that ‘Paykiiwikay’, will address the very real need to preserve heritage, tradition and Métis identity. “Everything Métis people do is tied to our value systems, beliefs, and respect,” McLennan said. “This podcast series will help teach others about the rich Métis history that is an integral part of the makeup of this province.” The series is produced by veteran broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent David McGuffin. “I am proud of my Métis roots, which date back to the fur trade. Like too many Canadians, my understanding of the story of the Métis people faded out at the Battle of Batoche and the defeat of Louis Riel,” McGuffin said. “Working on ‘Paykiiwikay’ has been one of the highlights of my broadcast career.” The first episode features Michif language, history and cultural educator Russell Fayant. Talking about Michif, Dorion quotes Fayant who says ‘I believe it is the language of reconciliation because it incorporates diverse worldviews of settler society as well as the Indigenous community in equal parts.’ Future guests include Métis musician and actress Andrea Menard, and Elder Norman Fleury. Dorion said the partnership between Canadian Geographic and MN-S is an act of coming together in itself. “I’ve never seen a partnership like this. It’s a cool model that shows reconciliation and partnership can work... It can promote culture and allow the community members a voice, an authentic voice,” Dorion said. “I think there’s a lot to be learned and lots of opportunity to really get our minds wrapped around reconciliation and what it can look like.” Canadian Geographic publisher Gilles Gagnier said the podcasts are bringing important stories about Métis history, language and culture to the forefront and expressed gratitude for being invited to participate. “Canadian Geographic is proud to be a partner of MN-S, and honoured to have been chosen to collaborate on this exciting project,” Gagnier said. Dorion said podcasting is “a first” for her and the platform has opened her eyes to new ways of engaging with an audience, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’ve always been invited to tell Métis stories, and I use whatever medium I can but this is a first for me” Dorion said. “We did what we did, in a good way, and we managed to get some great interviews with all the technology that we have today at our fingertips” For the first episodes the team focused on bringing in diverse voices from Métis communities around Saskatchewan and especially those of Elders. “The priority was to get some of the older generation… to get their voices in there,” Dorion said. She said interest in the series has been good and the audience is growing by the day. “Listeners are already tuning in from around the province. We’ve had people listening and tuning in all over the province. So, it’s nice the northern communities are getting to be aware of it — central and southern communities, too. Wherever there’s Métis people,” Dorion said. “The general public is also encouraged to listen. It’s like having tea and listening to Métis people who carry specific cultural knowledge and just having a visit with them. You get insight into what they do, why they do what they do, and the different cultural gifts that they have, and talents ” Episodes can be streamed on Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify or SoundCloud and are uploaded weekly to Canadian Geographic's website. “Every week a new guest will pop up. So people can follow us for the 10 weeks and listen to every episode each week. That’s the challenge,” Dorion said. Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
PORTLAND, Ore. — Plans for a major West Coast liquified natural gas pipeline and export terminal hit a snag Tuesday with federal regulators after a years-long legal battle that has united tribes, environmentalists and a coalition of residents on Oregon's rural southern coast against the proposal. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that energy company Pembina could not move forward with the proposal without a key clean water permit from the state of Oregon. The U.S. regulatory agency gave its tentative approval to the pipeline last March as long as it secured the necessary state permits, but the Canadian pipeline company has been unable to do so. It had appealed to the commission over the state's clean water permit, arguing that Oregon had waived its authority to issue a clean water certification for the project and therefore its denial of the permit was irrelevant. But the commission found instead that Pembina had never requested the certification and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality "could not have waived its authority to issue certification for a request it never received.” The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states. The proposed 230-mile (370-kilometre) feeder pipeline would begin in Malin, in southwest Oregon, and end at the city of Coos Bay on the rural Oregon coast. Jordan Cove did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and it was unclear what next steps the project would take. Opposition to the pipeline has brought together southern Oregon tribes, environmentalists, anglers and coastal residents since 2006. "Thousands of southern Oregonians have raised their voices to stop this project for years and will continue to until the threat of Jordan Cove LNG is gone for good,” said Hannah Sohl, executive director of Rogue Climate. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has opposed the project, said in a statement on Twitter that she was pleased with the ruling. “At every stage of the regulatory process, I have insisted that the Jordan Cove LNG project must meet Oregon’s rigorous standards for protecting the environment, or it cannot move forward,” she wrote. The outgoing Trump administration has supported energy export projects and in particular Jordan Cove. It had proposed streamlining approval of gas pipelines and other energy projects by limiting states’ certification authorities under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Burr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has told him it will not prosecute him over stock sales made during the coronavirus pandemic, ending an insider trading investigation that led him to at least temporarily step aside from a powerful committee chairmanship last year. Prosecutors had investigated for months whether the North Carolina Republican and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee had exploited advance information when he unloaded as much as $1.7 million in stocks in the days before the coronavirus caused markets to plummet. “The case is now closed,” Burr said in a statement. "I’m glad to hear it. My focus has been and will continue to be working for the people of North Carolina during this difficult time for our nation.” His lawyer, Alice Fisher, described the investigation as a “thorough review” and said Burr, who has said he will not seek reelection after his term ends in 2023, would remain focused on “the safety and security of North Carolinians and the United States as a whole.” A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment. The New York Times was first to report on the decision to not bring charges. The investigation escalated in May when the FBI obtained a search warrant to seize a cellphone from Burr. The day after that action became public, Burr said he would step aside as Intelligence Committee chairman while the FBI investigation was ongoing. It is unclear whether he will retake the role as the panel’s top Republican now that he has been cleared. Democrats are set to take control of the Senate on Wednesday, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner will become the panel’s chairman. Burr, who was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee as it conducted its own investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election, has denied wrongdoing in the well-timed stock sales. His lawyer has said he had actively co-operated with the investigation. Senate records show that he and his wife sold between roughly $600,000 and $1.7 million in more than 30 transactions in late January and mid-February, just before the market began to dive and government health officials began to sound alarms about the virus. Several of the stocks were in companies that own hotels. Burr has acknowledged selling the stocks because of the coronavirus but said he relied “solely on public news reports,” specifically CNBC’s daily health and science reporting out of Asia, to make the financial decisions. The Justice Department last year separately closed without charges investigations into stock trading by multiple other senators, including Dianne Feinstein of California, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, according to people familiar with notifications sent to the senators. They, too, had come under scrutiny for transactions made in the weeks before the coronavirus sent markets downhill. ____ Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report. Eric Tucker And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday. He has pledged to "heal" the country as it grapples with an ongoing pandemic, economic uncertainty and deep political divisions. Extra security measures will be in place following the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as rioters sought to stop Congress from certifying the president-elect's win over outgoing President Donald Trump. Attendance will be further limited because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed 400,000 Americans. CBC News will have comprehensive coverage before, during and after the official swearing-in of Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris at noon ET. Here's how to tune in. Online CBCNews.ca, the CBC News app and CBC Gem will carry the live special CBC News Special: The Inauguration of Joseph Biden, Jr., hosted by Adrienne Arsenault, starting at 10 a.m. ET. You can view the live stream right here on this page beginning at that time. CBCNews.ca and the CBC News app will also have news and analysis throughout the day. On television Coverage begins at 6 a.m. ET on CBC News Network (also streaming on CBC Gem) with Heather Hiscox on CBC Morning Live. Starting at 10 a.m. ET, viewers can watch the live special CBC News Special: The Inauguration of Joseph Biden, Jr., hosted by Adrienne Arsenault, on CBC News Network and CBC TV. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Andrew Nichols and Suhana Meharchand will co-host live coverage of the events in Washington following the official swearing-in of Biden and Harris, as well as reaction in Canada and around the world, on CBC News Network (also streaming on CBC Gem). On radio Listeners can tune into special live coverage of the swearing-in on CBC Radio and CBC Listen from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET, hosted by Susan Bonner and Piya Chattopadhyay.
Hydrogen sulphide is a smelly, poisonous gas, but it plays an important role in aging and longevity. New research shows that eating less meat could be a key to harnessing its healthy effects.