Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most since April. The province has imposed new restrictions on the Halifax area, including closing gyms and libraries and banning indoor dining.
Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most since April. The province has imposed new restrictions on the Halifax area, including closing gyms and libraries and banning indoor dining.
NEW YORK — The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary. In an interview, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous." The national GOP, under McDaniel's leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump's 2020 reelection. But should he run again in 2024 — and he has publicly and privately suggested he wants to — the national party infrastructure would not support his ambitions over those of other prospective candidates, in accordance with party rules, she said. “The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.” Just months removed from the last presidential election, several Republican prospects have already begun jockeying for position for the 2024 contest. McDaniel is far more focused on the 2022 midterms, when Republicans have an opportunity to break the Democrats' monopoly on Congress. McDaniel is in a difficult political position as she begins her new term as the national GOP chair. She has been a devoted Trump loyalist, but as the RNC leader, she is also tasked with helping her party recover from its painful 2020 election season in which Republicans lost the Senate and the White House and failed to win back the House. Trump's fervent base continues to demand loyalty to the former president, even as some party officials acknowledge that Trump's norm-shattering behaviour alienated elements of the coalition the GOP needs to win future elections. Tensions are especially high within the party as the Senate prepares for Trump's second impeachment trial. Ten House Republicans voted earlier in the month to impeach the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and on Tuesday, five Senate Republicans voted to move forward with a trial that could ultimately ban him from holding public office ever again. McDaniel acknowledged the frustration of Trump's base, which remains a powerful voice in the party and has little tolerance for Republican officials unwilling to stand behind the former president and his achievements in office. But she repeatedly called for party unity and discouraged elected officials from attacking other Republicans — even those who voted to impeach Trump. She declined to single out any specific Republicans when pressed, however, including Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is travelling to Wyoming this week to campaign against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment. “If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel said. She also forcefully condemned the pro-Trump QAnon movement, a large group of conspiracy theorists who were a visible presence at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Trump repeatedly declined to denounce the group while in the White House. “I think it’s really important after what’s just happened in our country that we have some self-reflection on the violence that’s continuing to erupt in our country,” McDaniel said, pointing to violence across the political spectrum. “I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it’s dangerous.” Moving forward, she said that voters, not Trump, are the head of the Republican Party, though Trump continues to maintain “a huge, huge presence” with his base. McDaniel said she's expecting several Republican leaders to play a significant role in the party's future, mentioning former Vice-President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations. Both are also considered potential 2024 presidential contenders. She also downplayed reports that Trump is considering leaving the GOP and starting a new party, warning that such a move would divide Republicans and "guarantee Democrat wins up and down the ticket. “It would be basically a rubber stamp on Democrats getting elected. And I think that's the last thing that any Republican wants,” she said. "It’s clear that he understands that.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The provincial government is pumping money into agricultural technologies in an effort to grow Southwest Ontario’s greenhouse sector. Chatham-Kent–Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls announced $3.6 million of funding on Wednesday via teleconference, on behalf of Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman. “I can remember my earlier years traveling down Highway 77, and saying, “Wow look at all those empty fields.’ Those fields aren't so empty anymore. The greenhouse development has just been thriving. They've been a major part of making sure that our province's food supply is strong,” Nicholls said. The funds will go toward 12 projects under the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative which was started to help the Ontario greenhouse sector thrive in the global markets. Several projects are focusing on biosecurity by developing technologies that can detect diseases and reduce the spread of plant and human viruses in greenhouses. The Leamington area greenhouses will receive approximately $2.3 million of the funding with no projects set for Chatham-Kent. However, Trevor Jones, a director with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) said the Chatham-Kent growers will benefit from the technologies developed which, if commercially viable, will put the Southwest area “on the world stage” when it comes to fruit and vegetable production. “When it comes to things like pest mitigation, disease reduction, and all those technologies, that's really for all greenhouse operators, the highest concentration of which are obviously in Southwestern Ontario,” he said. “And we have a growing concentration of high-tech greenhouses in Chatham-Kent.” Of the funding, $1 million was also given to Allegro Acres, Ruthven, to commercially test a 24-hour low intensity lighting system to reduce energy consumption during peak hours. Nicholls noted the surrounding communities will welcome that particular project, as light pollution has been a hot topic of debate, causing municipalities to look at implementing light mitigation bylaws. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
The leader of the Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the provincial government to shut down all bar service and limit the businesses to takeout only. The call comes in the wake of fines being issues to three bars allegedly not obeying the current public health orders. On Tuesday, Ryan Meili was asked if he thought Saskatchewan should close bars down and limit them to serving takeout orders. "It would make perfect sense to close down bars," Meili said. "That's what every other province with serious levels of cases has done, with cases far less than we have. They've done that and that's what we should be doing. We need to look at the places where the transmission is happening the most and where people are at the highest risk." Earlier on Tuesday, health officials confirmed three bars — Crazy Cactus and Crackers in Saskatoon, along with Stats Cocktails and Dreams in Regina — had been fined $14,000 "for failure to abide by public health orders." Blue Clegg, who owns Crackers, said in a text on Wednesday that the bar is not fighting its fine. Health officials provided no details on how the orders were allegedly breached. Tuesday's announcement marked the first time the province publicly named businesses that had come in the crosshairs of health officials. When a gospel outreach centre in Prince Albert was fined last fall, its name went unmentioned in the government's daily COVID-19 news releases. "We should be releasing the names of organizations that have received fines like this and we are releasing those now," Premier Scott Moe said about the policy turnabout. "It's our hope that we wouldn't have to release any more." Meili said "it's fine" that the bars were named and fined, but that the province's overall approach is "confused." "They're thinking of controlling the virus as though it's a punishment when it is the measures we should take to protect people," he said. Bar owner says he's not fighting fine The Saskatchewan Health Authority declared a potential "superspreader event" at Crackers on Jan. 11, though it did not specify what triggered that alert. In a Facebook post at the time, the bar stated customers were exposed to COVID-19 "despite our best efforts." As of Jan. 20, more than 80 COVID-19 cases were linked to the Crackers outbreak. The bar's website showed evidence of singing events happening last fall, including a message about sanitizing mics as well as video montages with titles such as "Fall Karaoke League Thursday Halloween 2020" showing some unmasked singers. However, the SHA said shortly after the outbreak was declared that karaoke had not been a risk factor. The website was more recently updated with a message touting the potential for karaoke sessions to resume this spring. Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, has said the general public might not start receiving the vaccine until June.
Alphabet unit Google on Wednesday opened a centre to tackle harmful online content, in a move also designed to ease regulatory concerns about how the company and other tech giants police a growing problem on the internet. The world's most popular search engine, along with other U.S. tech giants, has drawn criticism because of the spread of illegal and harmful content via their platforms, triggering calls for more regulatory action. The 27-country European Union has taken the lead in proposing tough new rules to curb their powers, protect smaller rivals and make them take more responsibility for removing harmful content from their platforms.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia says it will spend nearly $500 million this fiscal year to improve and upgrade the province's roads, highways and bridges. Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said today in a news release the province's five-year highway improvement plan includes more than 150 major construction and improvement projects for 2021-22. Hines says spending on roads and bridges is an "investment in public safety." The plan calls for 11 major construction projects in 2021-22, with the focus on the ongoing twinning of Highways 101, 103, 104 and Highway 107. Other work involves improving intersections, constructing passing and turning lanes, and building new interchanges and roundabouts. A total of 19 bridges are to be replaced or repaired at a cost of $29.1 million, while more than 500 kilometres of asphalt and gravel road work are also planned. Last year, $385.3 million was budgeted for road and highway projects. The province says 612 kilometres of road were paved in 2020-21, while 15 new bridges were built and 13 were repaired. More than 216 tenders were issued last year for highway and road work. Nova Scotia has 23,000 kilometres of roads and highways and 4,100 bridges. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
For the first time in 60 years, Fort Frances’ Dairy Queen has a new owner. Yogesh Patel became the new owner of the local Dairy Queen in November which was formally run by Christin Thomson and her sister Candice Thomson Kadikoff. Patel said he has friends in Fort Frances who told him it was a good opportunity and also said the people and the town are really nice. Patel said he grew up in a small town in India until he was 22, when he then he moved to Canada. His father is a farmer and he said because of him he knows a bit about farming and that he enjoys the small town atmosphere because it reminds him of where he grew up. “The town atmosphere is very attractive to me. It is in my heart,” Patel said. He said it is also nice not to be stuck in traffic anymore, which was a common problem when he lived in Edmonton. Now he enjoys a much more peaceful lifestyle. Thomson, who started wiping counters at the Dairy Queen as soon as she could reach them, said she never envisioned that one day she would be running the business. She had dreams of becoming a professional golf player even going away to school on a golf scholarship. but had to put those dreams on hold when her dad got sick. Thomson and her sister then took over the business and ran it for 13 out of the 60 years. She said that over the years they have doubled in sales and gone through a few renovations, making it quite a different business since their grandparents and father ran it. Although business at the Dairy Queen was booming, Thomson said they were ready to move on. “We just had different personal interests that we wanted to pursue and we kind of felt that it was time,” Thomson said. As the third generation to run the business, Thomson said it was a hard decision to come to because of the family ties. “It’s the family connection that is the hardest to move on from but we’re very proud of what we did to carry on that tradition and it will always be something that we can be proud of that our family did and put their best into it,” Thomson said. Her grandfather Elgin Thomson brought the Dairy Queen to Fort Frances when it was just starting as a walk up ice cream stand. Thomson said she remembers her grandfather as ‘the ultimate customer service guy.’ “He really loved what he did. He wore the original very clean uniform and he would have his little paper hat that he would wear,” Thomson said. “If anything, as we move on that’s the kind of passion that I want to have for that things that we continue to do and want to bring into this community as well.” Thomson said they will miss the community and seeing everyone on a regular basis, as well as their employees who have become like family over the years. “It’s always been an extension of our home,” Thomson said. “It was always a place that when we were kids I looked forward to stopping in and visiting my dad so that’s probably my fondest memory is just popping in and seeing him in his office, that is what I will always remember.” Thomson said they are happy with the new owner and they wish them all the success. Due to COVID-19, Patel said they are only able to have the drive through open but that it hasn’t slowed down business. Patel has been a previous business owner in Edmonton but this is his first Dairy Queen. He lived there for 10 years before moving to Fort Frances with his wife and toddler. Patel said Christine and Candice helped him a lot when he was first taking over and is very grateful for that. He also is grateful to the community for welcoming him and being so kind. “And in the future I will always be ready to help the community in any case that arises,” Patel said While his daughter is a little young to start helping around the business, Patel said she enjoys coming to the store and eating the french fries. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
CORNWALL – COVID-19 vaccinations will slow down to nearly zero due to a shortage in supply from manufacture Pfizer-BioNTech. The good news is that before supplies ran out, residents in all but one long-term care home in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region have received their first dose of a vaccine. Facing a shortage in vaccine supply, the provincial government changed vaccination protocols to focus on LTC home residents receiving the vaccine. Staff, caregivers, and volunteers will have to wait until vaccine shipments to Canada resume. The single LTC home that has not been vaccinated, Lancaster Long Term Care, will not miss out on its vaccinations. Doses have been saved for when the facility is no longer in an outbreak. EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said that doses of the Moderna vaccine will start going into arms of residents of retirement homes and group homes. “With the Moderna that we have got, we are going to be doing the high-risk retirement homes,” he explained during his January 25th media update. In all, 2,267 vaccines have so far been administered by the health unit. For group homes and other congregate living settings, a similar risk-based assessment will be completed and vaccines given based on the highest risk of an outbreak. As with LTC homes and retirement homes, the type of space, size of the facility, and number of high-risk residents all factor into the priority list. Roumeliotis said that once more vaccine supply is received, staff and volunteers who were missed in the first round due to shortages will be vaccinated first. For the second week in a row, overall COVID-19 infections have decreased in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region and continue to trend downward. “If we continue going downwards, I think the Stay-at-Home order would expire,” Roumeliotis said. Hospitalization and Intensive Care Unit rates are a key factor, both of which he said needed to stabilize. “I think the next week is going to be crucial,” Roumeliotis added. Test positivity, reproductive rate and infections per 100,000 people have all decreased in the past week for the region, and daily infection counts have started to drop provincially. The EOHU region has a test positivity rate of 4.35 per cent, reproductive rate of 0.75 and the rolling seven-day average of infections per 100,000 people is 60.8. One week ago, the seven-day average was 109.9 per 100,000 people, test positivity was 5 per cent, and the reproductive rate was 0.98. In comparison, Ottawa Public Health reported a reproductive rate of 0.82, any number below 1.0 is an indicator that the pandemic spread is reducing. The active case count in South Dundas has dropped to three people since last week, and there have been 24 cases since the pandemic began. North Dundas has 14 active cases, and has had 55 cases total. South Stormont has 20 active cases, and 95 cases total. Cornwall continues to lead the region in active (219) and total (624) cases. Nearly one-quarter of all COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began have been in Cornwall. As of the January 25th update, there are 499 active cases in the EOHU region, and there have been 2,380 cases since the Novel Coronavirus was first detected in the region 11 months ago. Twenty-two people from the region are hospitalized, six of those are in the ICU. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, ICUs in the health unit are at 109 per cent occupancy, and the COVID-19 ICU are at 18 per cent occupancy. The number of deaths from the virus has increased to 52. Four people, all from LTC homes, died in the last week. There are 17 COVID-19 related outbreaks in facilities in the region, none are in Dundas County. Most of the outbreaks involve staff only and not residents. Eight staff and seven residents have tested positive for the virus at Glen Stor Dun Lodge, and one person has died at that facility. Riverview Manor in Cornwall, and Woodlawn Villa in Long Sault are among the facilities in outbreak according to the EOHU. A detailed breakdown of how many staff and residents at each facility was not available. Local COVID-19 statistics are updated weekdays by the health unit, except for statutory holidays. The Leader publishes a weekly online update each Friday at www.morrisburgleader.ca. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Plusieurs sujets ont été couverts lors de la première séance du conseil de la municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) de Minganie de 2021 : la fusion potentielle du centre Desjardins Entreprises (CDE) –Côte-Nord à celui du Saguenay et la création du comité Motoneiges Minganie font partie des faits saillants de la rencontre. Le conseil de la MRC a résolu de mettre sur pied le comité Motoneiges Minganie à la suite des demandes de Gestion Piste Info Neige, du club Le Blizzard de Havre-Saint-Pierre et du club de motoneigistes de la Minganie, qui exigent que les problématiques qu’ils encourent soient « traitées d’un point de vue régional ». Le groupe est composé du préfet Luc Noël, de la mairesse de Rivière-St-Jean, Josée Brunet, du maire d’Aguanish, Léonard Labrie, des directeurs des services aménagement et développement économique de la MRC, de représentants de chacun des acteurs mentionnés plus haut, d’un représentant de la Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec et d’un agent de Tourisme Côte-Nord. Le conseil de la MRC a officialisé son opposition à une possible fusion des CDE Côte-Nord et Saguenay en stipulant que l’unification des deux centres diminuerait « de façon importante » le poids des caisses nord-côtières dans les prises de décision. La fusion n’en est qu’au stade d’étude de faisabilité, mais le préfet, Luc Noël, a préféré prendre le taureau par les cornes. Il dénonce le processus fait « en catimini et sans transparence » par le comité de coordination en charge de l’étude, comité composé des directeurs généraux des caisses concernées. Les services incendie ont de nouveau été abordés lors de cette séance tenue par visioconférence. Les municipalités ont mandaté la MRC pour qu’elle entreprenne des démarches dans le but d’accorder un mandat de consultant afin que ce dernier inventorie des effectifs et des équipements sur le territoire. Le conseil a également résolu de déposer une demande auprès d’Hydro-Québec pour obtenir certains équipements d’incendie vu le « besoin criant » dans les services incendie minganiens. À l’échéance du projet de la Romaine, prévue pour 2021, la MRC aimerait mettre la main sur un camion pompe-échelle, un camion de désincarcération, un simulateur de flammes au propane et des extincteurs de pratique, entre autres. Le conseil a aussi choisi de verser une aide financière de 34 139,87 $ à la Maison des jeunes L’Entre-deux-Tournants de Natashquan pour l’agrandissement de son bâtiment, plus précisément pour l’aménagement d’une salle commune. Le montant provient du Fonds de soutien au développement des communautés en santé du Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de la Côte-Nord. La MRC a octroyé une aide non remboursable de 26 800 $ à l’entreprise Les Chalets Minganie d’Havre-St-Pierre pour la construction de trois nouvelles unités d’hébergement.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
La députée de Manicouagan, Marilène Gill, veut encourager la participation politique chez les 18-25 ans de la circonscription en les invitant à se joindre au Conseil jeunes de Manicouagan (CJM). L’instance, tout récemment créée, sera formée de deux jeunes par municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) et de deux jeunes issus de communautés autochtones de la région, pour un total de 14 membres. « Le Conseil […] aura pour objectif d’étudier des sujets choisis par ses membres et de se prononcer sur ceux-ci », est-il indiqué dans le communiqué de presse. Les jeunes qui siégeront au CJM pourra entendre des témoins et soumettre des rapports, à l’instar des comités de la Chambre des communes. Le CJM se réunira à partir de la mi-mars pour sept rencontres virtuelles. « Si tu es un jeune intéressé par les enjeux touchant la Côte-Nord, assoiffé de politique et motivé à faire une différence dans votre communauté, le CJM est pour toi. Il s’agit d’un endroit idéal pour échanger et faire valoir les idées qui te tiennent à cœur », convient Mme Gill. Les intéressés peuvent déposer leur candidature avant le 26 février à 16 h (HNE) par la poste ou par courriel au firstname.lastname@example.org. Tous les détails et le formulaire à remplir se retrouvent sur la page Facebook de la députée.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
A local developer has stepped up to the plate, and boosted the efforts of the King Township Food Bank. Flato Developments is proud to be an annual sponsor of the King Township Food Bank. They look forward to not just building homes but building and supporting the communities they build in. “This is part of our corporate mission, not just building homes but building the communities we develop. Supporting our local food banks is the right and moral thing to do any time we can. It would be a shame for anyone to go to bed hungry in a rich country like Canada,” said Shakir Rehmatullah, president of Flato Developments. And indeed, Flato Developments and the Rehmatullah Family have a long history of philanthropy that spans decades from supporting hospitals. In fact, Mr. Rehmatullah has a cancer wing named after him at the Markham/Stouﬀville Hospital). The company has supported homeless shelters, food banks, animal shelters and everything in between. “Our goal in community building is that everyone, rich or poor feel part of the community and enjoy where they live,” Rehmatullah added. King Township Food Bank welcomes Flato Developments as the newest Annual Diamond Sponsor. The KTFB is grateful that Flato recognizes the need in King and is stepping up to help this totally volunteer organization fight hunger with their ongoing commitment to support KTFB every year. Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
THUNDER BAY —Two Manitoba residents are facing charges relating to drug trafficking following a traffic stop on a commercial motor vehicle in Dryden last week. In a news release, Ontario Provincial Police said a traffic stop was conducted on a vehicle for a highway traffic act violation on Friday, Jan. 22 just before 2 p.m. in the city of Dryden. Further investigation led officers to locate a bulk amount of Canadian currency from the vehicle. Michael Sigurdon, 51, of St. Adolphe, Man., and Brooklyn Gatlin, 22, of Winnipeg Man., have been charged with possession of a schedule one substance, possession of a schedule four substance for the purpose of trafficking, laundering proceeds of crime, possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and trafficking in property obtained by crime. Both individuals have been held in custody and are scheduled to appear in Dryden bail court on Wednesday. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
APELDOORN, Netherlands — Jos Bieleveldt had a spring in his step when the 91-year-old Dutchman got a coronavirus vaccine this week. But many think that was way too long in coming. Almost two months before, Britain's Margaret Keenan, who is also 91 now, received her shot to kick off the U.K.'s vaccination campaign that has, so far, outstripped the efforts in many nations in the European Union. “We are dependent on what the European Commission says we can, and cannot, do. As a result, we are at the bottom of the list, it takes far too long," Bieleveldt said of the executive arm of the EU, which, perhaps unfairly, has taken the brunt of criticism for a slow rollout in many of its member states. Onerous regulations and paperwork in some countries and poor planning in others have also contributed to the delay, as did a more deliberate authorization process for the shots. Overall, the 27-nation EU, a collection of many of the richest countries in the world — most with a universal health care system to boot — is not faring well in comparison to countries like Israel and the United Kingdom. Even the United States, whose response to the pandemic has otherwise been widely criticized and where tens of thousands of appointments for shots have been cancelled because of vaccine shortages, appears to be moving faster. While Israel has given at least one shot of a two-dose vaccine to over 40% of its population and that figure in Britain is 10%, the EU total stands at just over 2%. And it is not just EU citizens who are laying the blame at the bloc's door. Criticism is also coming from many nations that had hoped to see some live-saving liquid from the EU trickle through their borders. Amid concerns that the richer nations had snapped up far more doses than they needed and poorer nations would be left to do without, the EU was expected to share vaccines around. The rocky rollout is also testing the bloc's long commitment to so-called soft power — policies that advance its cause not through the barrel of a gun but through peaceful means, like through the needle of a syringe. “Today it’s harder to get the vaccines than nuclear weapons,” said Serb President Aleksandar Vucic, who had been counting on a lot more help from the EU. Serbia sits at the heart of the Balkan region where the EU, Russia and even China are seeking a stronger foothold. Helping the Balkan countries with their vaccine rollout seemed an area where Europe, with its medical prowess and a willingness to prioritize such co-operation, would have an edge. Not so far. Vucic said weeks ago when he welcomed 1 million doses of Chinese vaccines that Serbia had not received “a single dose” from the global COVAX system aimed at get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries that the EU has championed and funded. Instead, Vucic said Serbia secured vaccines through deals with individual countries or producers. Rubbing salt in the wound, Vucic went for the EU's social conscience when he said this week that “the world today is like Titanic. The rich tried to get the lifeboats only for themselves ... and leave the rest.” Other nations on the EU's southeastern rim have also been critical. It is a big turnaround from only a month ago when the EU's future looked pretty bright. It had just inked a last-minute trade deal with the United Kingdom, clinched a massive 1.8 trillion-euro pandemic recovery and overall budget deal and started rolling out its first COVID-19 vaccines. “This is a very good way to end this difficult year, and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time. By this past weekend, though, her attitude soured as it became clear that the bloc would be getting vaccines at a slower rate than agreed upon for its 450 million people. AstraZeneca has told the EU that of its initial batch of 80 million, only 31 million would immediately materialize once its vaccine got approved, likely on Friday. That came on the heels of a smaller glitch in the deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Both companies say they are facing operational issues at plants that are temporarily delaying the rollout. Italy is threatening to take legal action against both over the delay. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had been boasting that the country’s rollout was a huge success, especially when the millionth dose was given on Jan. 15. But after Pfizer announced the temporary supply reduction, Italy slowed from administering about 80,000 doses a day to fewer than 30,000. Bulgaria has also criticized the drug companies, and some there have called for the government to turn to Russia and China for vaccines. Hungary is already doing so. “If vaccines aren’t coming from Brussels, we must obtain them from elsewhere. One cannot allow Hungarians to die simply because Brussels is too slow in procuring vaccines,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” But supply isn't the only thing holding up the EU's campaign. The problem is partially that the EU Commission bet on the wrong horse — and didn't get enough doses of the early success vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech. The commission notes there was no way of knowing which vaccines would succeed — and which would be first — and so it had to spread its orders out over several companies. The EU rollout was also slowed because the European Medicines Agency took more time than the U.S. or U.K. regulators to authorize its first vaccine. That was by design as it made sure that the member nations could not be held liable in case of problems and in order to give people more confidence that the shot was safe. But individual countries also share in the blame. Germany, Europe's cliche of an organized and orderly nation, was found sorely wanting, with its rollout marred by chaotic bureaucracy and technological failures, such as those seen Monday when thousands of people over 80 in the country’s biggest state were told they would have to wait until Feb. 8 to get their first shots, even as vast vaccine centres set up before Christmas languished empty. “The speed of our action leaves a lot to be desired,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “Processes have often become very bureaucratic and take a long time, so we have to work on that.” It is no different in France, where there is a Kafkaesque maze of rules to get consent for vaccinating the elderly. In the Netherlands, which banked on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine being the first available, authorities had to scramble to make new plans for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, whose ultracold storage requirements make it more complicated. “We were proven to be insufficiently flexible to make the change," said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. The Dutch have been particularly criticized since they were the last in the EU to begin vaccinations, more than a week after the first shots were given in the bloc, and they have been especially slow to roll doses out to elderly people living at home, like Bieleveldt, a retiree. “I’m already playing in injury time in terms of my age," he said. "But I still want to play for a few more years.” ___ Casert reported from Brussels. AP journalists across the European Union contributed. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine. Raf Casert And Mike Corder, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — When marine biologist Stuart Sandin talks about sharks, it sounds like he’s describing Jedis of the ocean. “They are terrific predators, fast swimmers and they have amazing senses — they can detect any disturbance in the ocean from great distance,” such as smells or tiny changes in water currents. Their ability to quickly sense anything outside the norm in their environment helps them find prey in the vastness of the open ocean. But it also makes them especially vulnerable in the face of increased international fishing pressure, as global fishing fleets have doubled since 1950. “You drop a fishing line in the open ocean, and often it’s sharks that are there first — whether or not they’re the primary target,” said Sandin, who works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Scientists have known for decades that individual shark species are declining, but a new study drawing on 57 global datasets underscores just how dramatically worldwide populations have collapsed in the past half century. Globally, the abundance of oceanic sharks and rays dropped more than 70% between 1970 and 2018, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. And 24 of the 31 species of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, while three species — oceanic whitetip sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks and great hammerhead sharks — are considered critically endangered. “The last 50 years have been pretty devastating for global shark populations,” said Nathan Pacoureau, a biologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada and a co-author of the study. Sometimes sharks are intentionally caught by fishing fleets, but more often they are reeled in incidentally as “ bycatch," in the course of fishing for other species such as tuna and swordfish. Sharks and rays are both fish with skeletons made of cartilage, not bone. In contrast to most other kinds of fish, they generally take several years to reach sexual maturity, and they produce fewer offspring. “In terms of timing, they reproduce more like mammals – and that makes them especially vulnerable,” said Pacoureau. “Their populations cannot replenish as quickly as many other kinds of fish.” The number of fishing vessels trolling the open ocean has risen steeply since the 1950s, as engine power expanded ships' range. And while climate change and pollution also imperil shark survival, increased fishing pressure is the greatest threat for every oceanic shark species. “When you remove top predators of the ocean, it impacts every part of the marine food web,” said Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University, who was not involved in the study. “Sharks are like the lions, tigers and bears of the ocean world, and they help keep the rest of the ecosystem in balance.” ___ Follow Christina Larson on twitter: @larsonchristina ___ 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. Christina Larson, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The 2017 murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall had all the gruesome elements of a modern true-crime classic. Writer and director Tobias Lindholm initially disagreed. The young woman had been decapitated in a homemade submarine. The perpetrator had tortured and sexually assaulted her. He cut off her limbs and threw them overboard in weighted bags. “People around me would say, ‘That would make a great movie,’" says Lindholm from his home in Copenhagen. "And I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see the reason to tell this story.” The submarine case had already generated lurid stories in the Scandinavian tabloids and clickbait headlines online. One way to retell the story was to go over-the-top — showing the bloody underwater crime scene and limbs being hacked off. “It would be tasteless and inhumane and there would be no reason to do that,” Lindholm says. “Other than fascination with a brutal crime, what would be the real, responsible storyteller reason to touch this story?” After meeting members of the police and the victim's family, Lindholm went the opposite direction: Viewers never see or hear the accused in the limited miniseries “The Investigation,” which premieres on HBO on Feb. 1 and is available to stream on HBO Max. Viewers don't just never see the murderer, they also never see the victim in flashbacks or visit the autopsy table. They never go into the cold water with the divers to find the bags. There's not a drop of blood shown in the entire six hours — almost an inverse of “The Killing,” the Danish series that helped kick off a wave of grim and bleak detective procedurals in 2007. Instead of the crime, the show explores the close relationship forged between Wall's grief-stricken parents and the head of homicide, whose pursuit of the case has personal costs. The camera follows the dogged detectives seeking a logical and scientific cause of death that can convict the accused. “I realized that the story wasn’t about all the brutality and it wasn’t about the darkness and it wasn’t even about a murder. It was about people that did their job," Lindholm says. “It was about people in uniform that stood together and actually helped complete strangers through a very hard time,” he adds. “It’s not a story that we seem to share too much with each other these years.” It is a moody, meditative and patient show. Many scenes are silent, with detectives pouring over binders of evidence or with divers scanning the horizon. The camera deliberately includes scenes of actors just driving or thinking, moments usually excised from American dramas. Lindholm — whose reality-based feature films include “A Hijacking” and the Oscar-nominated “A War” — cites the Baltimore-based series “The Wire” as a big influence, with its tendency to detour from the plot to show men and women just doing their — sometimes tedious — jobs. He explained his vision to producers at the outset, and they backed him for the six-part series that is subtitled for English viewers. He was well aware of commercial pressures to go lurid but insisted that the monster at the show's heart would never be shown. “It’s like these days when my kids want candy every day because we’re home all the time. It’s just not going to happen. So they won’t ask me. They know that ‘no’ would be the answer,” he says, laughing. There is a documentary feel to the series, one carefully tethered to reality. Lindholm employed the same cadaver dogs used in the actual murder case, used the same crane ship that recovered the sub and even asked the same police divers to recreate their steps. "Divers dive much better than actors and actors act much better than divers," he explains. “If I was not to make the same mistake that I felt the media had done already by limping towards a true crime fascination, I would need a lot of elements from reality to keep me straight on track.” Jonas Allen, whose Danish production company Miso Film helped produce “The Investigation,” credits Lindholm with staying true to his concept. “I think as soon as Tobias had this approach, we were all behind him 100%," says Allen. ”You need to find that specific angle and you need to find that vision. Hats off to Tobias." In many ways, Lindholm's series is the reverse of his own past. He worked with David Fincher on the “Mindhunter” series, which was obsessed with getting inside the mind of killers because that's how the FBI catches them. “Here we had a chance to actually tell a story where we could be fascinated by a very difficult investigation and where we could liberate ourselves from that cliché,” he says. “And the fact that it’s so radical to leave out the perpetrator tells me that that is probably something we should do a bit more in the future.” Lindholm notes that he's a huge fan of “The Killing,” which kicked off a wave of so-called Nordic noir shows. He credits that series' success with his ability to create the political drama “Borgen.” “Nevertheless, I kind of felt that we could end the circle,” he says. "They did ‘The Killing.’ Now we did ‘The Investigation’ and maybe we could all start to do something different.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
The last thing Elizabeth Williams considers herself to be is an artist. Being called an environmentalist is likewise something she doesn’t fully identify with. When you create a 10-foot reflective pillar to draw attention to coal mining in the Rocky Mountains, however, it’s natural that people will make some assumptions. Located on windswept prairie a stone’s throw from Maycroft campground, Elizabeth’s stainless steel monolith is an attempt to piggyback on some of the public interest in similar structures that were mysteriously being erected around the world. “I thought this would be just a nice thing for people to go and investigate during Covid while we’re kind of in dark times,” Elizabeth says. Garnering public attention, she explains, fits into a larger plan. The southern Alberta monolith’s purpose is to draw attention to the provincial government’s decision back in May to rescind its 1976 coal policy. The policy imposed varying degrees of restrictions on coal development in the Alberta Rockies. Cancelling the policy has resulted in a flurry of mining companies purchasing exploratory leases and beginning the regulatory process to investigate potential coal mines. With the monolith, Elizabeth seeks to bring awareness to this industrial change. “It’s my attempt to create a beautiful, uplifting curiosity that just draws people’s attention to the threats facing the landscape it reflects,” she says. While emphasizing she is neither pro-coal nor anti-industry (“Clearly, metallurgical coal is needed to make steel,” she says, pointing to the monolith), the massage therapist does describe herself as “pro due process.” “When they made that decision and quietly announced it on a Friday before a long weekend, that’s pretty sneaky,” Elizabeth says. “It doesn’t look so good. And what was making me crazy was that people didn’t know about it — so few people were aware that this was happening.” Raising awareness of the change became her personal mission. “If most people want this to happen and responsible public engagement takes place, then that’s fair. That’s democracy in action, and that’s what I want to see happen.” Unable to work due to the pandemic, Elizabeth decided to use her time to bring awareness to the policy change. Although having no previous experience, she learned some basic welding skills and contacted a friend who has a shop, borrowing their tools and expertise to create the monolith. With landowners’ permission, she has been placing the steel structure in various locations around southern Alberta that could be adversely affected by widespread mining in the Rockies. “If you sacrifice these mountains, there’s no snowpack, and if there’s no snowpack, there’s no water,” Elizabeth says. “And if there’s no water then you don’t get water to the irrigators who rely on this for crop growing, you don’t get any municipality having any water downstream from here, and any livelihoods like ranchers [and] tour operators who do hunting and guiding in this area — all those jobs are sacrificed to gain jobs for mining.” Sacrificing stable livelihoods for jobs in an industry subject to boom and bust cycles is bad math, she says. “It’s not an economic growth platform.” Elizabeth hopes the monolith’s story will encourage people to follow her lead and step outside their comfort zones. “I just want people to speak up. Often there’s an attitude of hopelessness about politics,” she says, but adds it doesn’t have to be that way. “If I can do this, people can write a letter. Write to your elected; speak up for what you value.” So far, the monolith has been successful at attracting attention — good and bad. “Don’t lick it, you’ll freeze!” Elizabeth shouts during the interview at a group of teenage boys taking selfies next to the tower. Soon, a group of women come over with their cameras just as a pickup truck rolls up. “Taking lots of pictures?” the driver calls over to the group. After answering in the affirmative, the driver laughs and yells back before driving away, “Good, ’cause we’re tearing it down tonight!” Such animosity was anticipated, Elizabeth says, which is why she already has plans for a backup monolith — just in case. The masseuse turned monolith-maker is also filming a video, which she says will feature narration in Blackfoot, given the significance mining will have on the traditional ancestral lands of the Blackfoot people. Overall, Elizabeth hopes the monolith’s message isn’t lost in the media coverage. “The focus isn’t the monolith itself, nor the builder,” she emphasizes. “It’s again to draw attention to the threats on these landscapes so that the public can speak to their elected about their concerns and about what they value.” Whether that involves conservation or responsible resource extraction, she concludes, should be determined by the voice of Albertans. More information is available on the monolith project’s Instagram account, wildstonestories, or by visiting http://bit.ly/wsStories. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Max and Katie relax in the pool with their new cowboy hats. Coolest dogs ever!
Eganville – A new mental health initiative for the Highway 60 corridor jointly funded through various agencies should be unveiled soon as COVID-19 continues to take a toll on mental health. “As we all know, mental health services in our area are virtually non-existent,” Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy told a committee of council January 19. While still in the early stages a plan is in place to have an individual who would work out of Eganville as a coordinator. Funding is from the Phoenix Centre, Whitewater Bromley Medical Centre and Tyerman and Daughters, as well as other support from West Champlain Family Health Team, Children’s Services (Renfrew County) and Bonnechere Valley. This newly formed “Renfrew County Mental Health Initiative” will provide a way for people to connect to existing services. The funding will hire a coordinator and public relations staff member who will be based in Eganville. The mayor approached council on the issue, noting BV was asked to “be the employer” and do the payroll, even though the funding will all be from the other agencies. More information and a full report would come in early February, she said. “This person is a coordinator,” she explained. “It’s more of a data compiling role to see where we can allow our residents to be sent to for their different needs.” Councillor Merv Buckwald pointed out there is a lack of mental health support and this is the real issue. “I don’t want to rain on your parade,” he said. “But at one time there were only two psychiatrists in Renfrew County and there may be only one now. It is fine to direct people but where are they going to direct people? Where are the services to be provided? That is the question.” Mayor Murphy said the question the group wants answered is where the resources are and if they are not in Renfrew County, why aren’t they? She also highlighted another initiative recently unveiled. “And I am sure everyone heard of this initiative for February to go dry,” she said. “We also have some pretty serious substance abuse problems right now. Alcohol, drugs, etc. and it’s not in Bonnechere Valley, it’s not in Renfrew County, it’s everywhere. “I’m by no means saying Bonnechere Valley has a problem, I’m saying we have a systemic problem and I think this is an excellent way to start,” she said. The “Dry Feb” initiative Mayor Murphy referred to is from the Canadian Cancer Society and is asking people to go dry in February, raise funds for people with cancer and also have other benefits including “clear your head, more energy, sleeping better, weight loss, healthier skin and a sense of achievement.” Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
EDMONTON — Discount carrier Flair Airlines says it will add 13 new Boeing 737 Max aircraft to its fleet. The Edmonton-based airline will lease the planes from one of its investors, 777 Partners, which owns 25 per cent of Flair. Stephen Jones, Flair's president and chief executive officer, says the addition of the planes will allow the airline to keep fares low while expanding its capacity. Flair's announcement of its expansion comes as Canadian airlines cut dozens of routes and lay off staff in response to more severe lockdown restrictions. The Max was grounded in Canadian airspace for nearly two years beginning in March 2019, after two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Transport Canada lifted the grounding order on Jan. 20 after approving a set of changes to the aircraft's design and requiring pilots to undergo additional training. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — The European Union and drugmaker AstraZeneca sparred Wednesday over a delay in coronavirus vaccine deliveries as the deepening dispute raises concerns about the increasing competition for limited supplies of shots needed to end the pandemic. AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot addressed the dispute for the first time, rejecting the EU's assertion that the company was failing to honour its commitments. Soriot said vaccine delivery figures in AstraZeneca's contract with the 27-nation bloc were targets, not firm commitments, and they couldn’t be met because of problems in rapidly expanding production capacity. “Our contract is not a contractual commitment, it's a best effort,’’ Soriot said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “Basically, we said we’re going to try our best, but we can’t guarantee we’re going to succeed. In fact, getting there, we are a little bit delayed.” AstraZeneca said last week that it planned to cut initial deliveries in the EU to 31 million doses from 80 million due to reduced yields from its manufacturing process in Europe. That drew an angry response from the EU, which says it expects the company to deliver the full amount on time. On Monday, the EU threatened to put export controls on all vaccines made in its territory. Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for health and food safety, rejected Soriot’s explanation for the delays, saying that “not being able to ensure manufacturing capacity is against the letter and spirit of our agreement.” A third round of talks in as many days aimed at resolving the dispute is scheduled to take place Wednesday evening in Brussels. “I call on AstraZeneca to engage fully to rebuild trust, to provide complete information and to live up to its contractual, societal and moral obligations,” Kyriakides said at a media briefing in Brussels. The EU, which has 450 million citizens and the economic and political clout of the world’s biggest trading bloc, is lagging badly behind countries like Israel and Britain in rolling out coronavirus vaccine shots for its health care workers and most vulnerable people. That’s despite having over 400,000 confirmed virus deaths since the pandemic began. The EU has signed deals for six different vaccines, but so far regulators have only authorized the use of the two, one made by Pfizer and another by Moderna. The EU's drug regulator will consider the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday. AstraZeneca is setting up more than a dozen regional supply chains worldwide to meet regional demand for its vaccine. Overall, AstraZeneca plans to deliver up to 3 billion doses to countries around the world by the end of 2021. However, establishing each facility is a complicated process that involves training people and ensuring each batch of vaccine is safe and effective. Sometimes this goes smoothly, but in other cases there are problems, Soriot said. “We train them on how to manufacture,? he said. “And then, you know, some people are new to this process. It’s like they learn the process. They don’t know how to make the vaccine and they’re not as efficient as others.? There are two basic steps in producing the vaccine. The first is a biological process that involves growing cells, which are injected with a virus, Soriot said. The second involves turning this “drug substance” into the final product, filling vials and testing each batch of vaccine. Soriot said AstraZeneca had to reduce deliveries to the EU because plants in Europe had lower than expected yields from the biological process used to produce the vaccine. This has also happened in other regions as AstraZeneca sought to rapidly expand production capacity to meet demands from countries battling the pandemic. “We've also had teething issues like this in the U.K. supply chain," Soriot said. “But the U.K. contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal, so with the U.K. we have had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced. As for Europe, we are three months behind in fixing those glitches." An official from the European Commission, the EU's executive, said the bloc has agreed to give 336 million euros ($407 million) to AstraZeneca to develop its vaccine and deliver doses. The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said the commission would be entitled to recover part of the money if the company fails to live up to the terms of this advance purchase agreement. If the company’s U.K. plants are working more efficiently than those on the continent, the EU expects to receive doses made in Britain as provided in the contract, the official said. “We reject the logic of first come, first served," Kyriakides said. “That may work at the neighbourhood butchers, but not in contracts and not in our advance purchase agreements. There’s no priority clause in the advanced purchase agreement.” The shortfall in planned deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine is coming at the same time as a slowdown in the distribution of Pfizer-BioNTech shots as Pfizer upgrades production facilities at a plant in Belgium. “There are a lot of emotions running in this process right now, and I can understand it: people want vaccine," Soriot said. “I want the vaccine too, I want it today. But, at the end of the day, it’s a complicated process.? ___ Danica Kirka reported from London. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Raf Casert, Samuel Petrequin And Danica Kirka, The Associated Press