Zach Ertz's return may not be good news for his fellow Eagles tight end, says Andy Behrens.
Zach Ertz's return may not be good news for his fellow Eagles tight end, says Andy Behrens.
WASHINGTON — Members of President Donald Trump’s failed presidential campaign played key roles in orchestrating the Washington rally that spawned a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, according to an Associated Press review of records, undercutting claims the event was the brainchild of the president's grassroots supporters. A pro-Trump non-profit group called Women for America First hosted the “Save America Rally” on Jan. 6 at the Ellipse, an oval-shaped, federally owned patch of land near the White House. But an attachment to the National Park Service public gathering permit granted to the group lists more than half a dozen people in staff positions for the event who just weeks earlier had been paid thousands of dollars by Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. Other staff scheduled to be “on site” during the demonstration have close ties to the White House. Since the siege, several of them have scrambled to distance themselves from the rally. The riot at the Capitol, incited by Trump’s comments before and during his speech at the Ellipse, has led to a reckoning unprecedented in American history. The president told the crowd to march to the Capitol and that “you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” A week after the rally, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, becoming the first U.S. president ever to be impeached twice. But the political and legal fallout may stretch well beyond Trump, who will exit the White House on Wednesday before Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office. Trump had refused for nearly two months to accept his loss in the 2020 election to the former vice-president. Women for America First, which applied for and received the Park Service permit, did not respond to messages seeking comment about how the event was financed and about the Trump campaign’s involvement. The rally drew tens of thousands of people. In a statement, the president’s reelection campaign said it “did not organize, operate or finance the event.” No campaign staff members were involved in the organization or operation of the rally, according to the statement. It said that if any former employees or independent contractors for the campaign took part, “they did not do so at the direction of the Trump campaign.” At least one was working for the Trump campaign this month. Megan Powers was listed as one of two operations managers for the Jan. 6 event, and her LinkedIn profile says she was the Trump campaign's director of operations into January 2021. She did not respond to a message seeking comment. The AP’s review found at least three of the Trump campaign aides named on the permit rushed to obscure their connections to the demonstration. They deactivated or locked down their social media profiles, removed tweets that referenced the rally and blocked a reporter who asked questions. Caroline Wren, a veteran GOP fundraiser, is named as a “VIP Advisor” on an attachment to the permit that Women for America First provided to the agency. Between mid-March and mid-November, Donald J. Trump for President Inc. paid Wren $20,000 a month, according to Federal Election Commission records. During the campaign, she was a national finance consultant for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the president’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee. Wren was involved in at least one call before the pro-Trump rally with members of several groups listed as rally participants to organize credentials for VIP attendees, according to Kimberly Fletcher, the president of one of those groups, Moms for America. Wren retweeted messages about the event ahead of time, but a cache of her account on Google shows at least eight of those tweets disappeared from her timeline. She apparently removed some herself, and others were sent from accounts that Twitter suspended. One of the messages Wren retweeted was from “Stop the Steal,” another group identified as a rally participant on a website promoting the event. The Jan. 2 message thanked Republican senators who said they would vote to overturn Biden’s election victory, including Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas. She also retweeted a Jan. 1 message from the president promoting the event, as well as promotional messages from one of the president’s son, Eric Trump, and Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activist and a spokesperson for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Wren did not return messages seeking comment, and locked her Twitter account after the AP reached out to her last Monday to ask her about her involvement in the Trump rally and the tweets she had removed. Several days later, she blocked the AP reporter. Maggie Mulvaney, a niece of former top Trump aide Mick Mulvaney, is listed on the permit attachment as the “VIP Lead.” She worked as director of finance operations for the Trump campaign, according to her LinkedIn profile. FEC records show Maggie Mulvaney was earning $5,000 every two weeks from Trump’s reelection campaign, with the most recent payment reported on Nov. 13. Maggie Mulvaney had taken down her Twitter account as of last Monday, although it reappeared after an AP reporter asked her about the account’s removal. On Sunday, the same day the AP published this report, she blocked that AP reporter on Twitter. Maggie Mulvaney retweeted several messages on Jan. 6, including one from the president that urged support for the Capitol Police. Trump's Twitter account has been suspended, but the message could be seen in a cache of her Twitter account captured by Google. She also retweeted a message from her uncle, urging Trump to address the nation. Maggie Mulvaney did not respond to messages seeking comment. The insurrection at the Capitol prompted Mick Mulvaney to quit his position as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. He told CNBC a day after the assault that remaining in the post would prompt people to say “‘Oh yeah, you work for the guy who tried to overtake the government.’” The leaders of Women for America First aren’t new to politics. Amy Kremer, listed as the group’s president on records filed with Virginia’s state corporation commission, is “one of the founding mothers of the modern day tea party movement,” according to her website. Her daughter, Kylie Jane Kremer, is the organization’s treasurer, according to the records. The IRS granted Women for America First tax-exempt status as a social welfare organization a year ago, with the exemption retroactive to February 2019. The AP requested that the group provide any tax records it may have filed since then, but received no response. In a statement issued the same day rioters attacked the Capitol, Amy Kremer denounced the assault and said it was instigated after the rally by a “handful of bad actors,” while seeming to blame Democrats and news organizations for the riot. “Unfortunately, for months the left and the mainstream media told the American people that violence was an acceptable political tool,” she said. “They were wrong. It is not.” The AP reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest or who, going maskless during the pandemic, were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee. The review found the crowd was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, off-duty police, members of the military and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals. Videos posted on social media in the days following the Capitol attack shows that thousands of people stormed the Capitol. A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building and many other officers were injured. A woman from California was shot to death by Capitol Police and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos. Trump’s incendiary remarks at the Jan. 6 rally culminated a two-day series of events in Washington, organized by a coalition of the president’s supporters who echoed his baseless accusations that the election had been stolen from him. A website, MarchtoSaveAmerica.com, sprung up to promote the pro-Trump events and alerted followers, “At 1 PM, we protest at US Capitol.” The website has been deactivated. Another website, TrumpMarch.com shows a fist-raised Trump pictured on the front of a red, white and blue tour bus emblazoned with the words, “Powered by Women for America First.” The logo for the bedding company “My Pillow” is also prominent. Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, is an ardent Trump supporter who’s falsely claimed Trump didn’t lose the election to Biden and will serve another four-year term as president. “To demand transparency & protect election integrity,” the web page reads. Details of the “DC PROTEST” will be coming soon, it adds, and also lists a series of bus stops between Dec. 27 and Jan. 6 where Trump backers can “Join the caravan or show your support.” Kimberly Fletcher, the Moms for America president, said she wasn’t aware the Trump campaign had a role in the rally at the Ellipse until around New Year's Day. While she didn’t work directly with the campaign, Fletcher did notice a shift in who was involved in the rally and who would be speaking. “When I got there and I saw the size of the stage and everything, I’m like, ‘Wow, we couldn’t possibly have afforded that,’” she said. “It was a big stage. It was a very professional stage. I don’t know who was in the background or who put it together or anything.” In addition to the large stage, the rally on the Ellipse featured a sophisticated sound system and at least three Jumbotron-style screens projecting the president's image to the crowd. Videos posted online show Trump and his family in a nearby private tent watching the rally on several monitors as music blared in the background. Moms for America held a more modest “Save the Republic” rally on Jan. 5 near the U.S. Capitol, an event that drew about 500 people and cost between $13,000 to $14,000, according to Fletcher. Justin Caporale is listed on the Women for America First paperwork as the event’s project manager. He’s identified as a partner with Event Strategies Inc., a management and production company. Caporale, formerly a top aide to first lady Melania Trump, was on the Trump campaign payroll for most of 2020, according to the FEC records, and he most recently was being paid $7,500 every two weeks. Caporale didn’t respond to requests for comment. Tim Unes, the founder and president of Event Strategies, was the “stage manager” for the Jan. 6 rally, according to the permit paperwork. Unes has longstanding ties to Trump, a connection he highlights on his company’s website. Trump’s presidential campaign paid Event Strategies $1.3 million in 2020 for “audio visual services,” according to the campaign finance records. The company declined to comment for this story. Another person with close ties to the Trump administration, Hannah Salem, was the rally’s “operations manager for logistics and communications,” according to the permit paperwork. In 2017, she took a hiatus from the consulting firm she founded and spent three years as senior White House press aide, “executing the media strategy for President Trump’s most high-profile events,” according to her company bio and LinkedIn profile. Last week, within minutes of an AP reporter sending her a LinkedIn message asking about her involvement in and understanding of what happened on Jan. 6, Salem blocked the reporter and did not respond to questions. ___ Smith reported from Providence, Rhode Island. ___ Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York and Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report. Richard Lardner And Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press
Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food delivery giant Grab is exploring a listing in the United States this year, encouraged by robust investor appetite for IPOs, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The IPO could raise at least $2 billion, one of the sources said, which would likely make it the largest overseas share offering by a Southeast Asian company. Singapore-based Grab declined comment on the potential IPO.
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Billionaire Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong is heading back to prison after a South Korean court sentenced him to two and a half years over his involvement in a 2016 corruption scandal that spurred massive protests and ousted South Korea’s then-president. In a much-anticipated retrial on Monday, the Seoul High Court found Lee guilty of bribing then-President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante to win government support for a 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates. The deal helped strengthen his control over the country’s largest business group. Lee’s lawyers had portrayed him as a victim of presidential power abuse and described the 2015 deal as part of “normal business activity.” It wasn’t immediately known whether he would appeal. Prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison term for Lee. Lee helms the Samsung group in his capacity as vice-president of Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s largest makers of computer chips and smartphones. Lee, 52, was sentenced in 2017 to five years in prison for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. But he was freed in early 2018 after the Seoul High Court reduced his term to 2 1/2 years and suspended his sentence, overturning key convictions and reducing the amount of his bribes. Park and Choi are serving prison terms of 22 years and 18 years, respectively. In 2019, the Supreme Court returned the case to the high court, ruling that the amount of Lee’s bribes had been undervalued. It said the money that Samsung spent to purchase three racehorses used by Choi’s equestrian daughter and fund a winter sports foundation run by Choi’s niece also should be considered bribes. The Associated Press
David Pontone's voice still shakes as he recalls having to crawl out of Toronto's Humber River Hospital on his hands and knees. "The pain was unbearable," said Pontone. "To be able to walk properly was impossible." It happened on April 18, 2018, but involved a lengthy battle for his family to obtain video footage of the event. The 45-year-old had gone to emergency, complaining of excruciating pain in his legs. Pontone also told medical staff he took medication for bipolar affective disorder — a mental illness that causes severe depression and episodes of mania — but that he'd been stable for seven years. He says that disclosure affected his treatment. "They thought I was faking it because I was bipolar," Pontone told Go Public. "There are no words to describe what I went through that night." One of Canada's leading psychiatric experts says overlooking serious physical health issues in people who struggle with mental illness is a widespread problem — and that it can severely shorten their lifespans. "We are failing this population miserably," said Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, psychiatrist and physician-in-chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital. WATCH | Video shows man crawling from hospital after calls for help dismissed: "They go in for a broken leg and get sent to psychiatry to check their head." Pontone says he hopes sharing his story will prevent others from experiencing an ordeal like his. "I was mistreated. Misjudged. It should never be repeated, with any person," he said. When Pontone arrived at emergency he was seen by a doctor who ordered an MRI but also referred him to an on-call psychiatrist after learning about his mental illness. In medical records obtained by Go Public, the psychiatrist noted that "anxiety" seemed to be Pontone's most dominant symptom — despite Pontone having said he was in a great deal of pain and had been suffering from increasing leg pain for a month. Another note says the reason for Pontone's visit is "bipolar" — not his inability to walk. When the MRI didn't find anything unusual, the psychiatrist discharged Pontone. "As soon as they got the results … they took off the blankets and started saying, 'Come on, get up! You're fine, there's nothing wrong with you!'" said Pontone. 'Totally helpless' Video cameras at the exit captured Pontone as he was ordered to leave. The footage shows Pontone lying on the hallway floor, struggling to stand. As he gets to his hands and knees and crawls toward the exit, a nurse walks next to him, escorting him out. Passersby stop to look at the spectacle, but the nurse encourages Pontone to keep going. "The nurse kept saying, 'You're a big boy! You're strong! Come on, big boy, stand up!'" said Pontone. "I've always been a gentleman, but I was angry. I felt totally helpless." It took Pontone about 20 minutes to reach the exit. A security guard later helped him to a waiting taxi. He says the doctors had made him think his pain was "all in his head," so a few days later, he made his way to CAMH, where a psychiatrist immediately determined that his suffering had nothing to do with his mental health. An ambulance took him to Toronto Western Hospital in downtown Toronto, where a neurologist diagnosed Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves. Five weeks later, the family met with Humber management. They hadn't seen the video yet, but chief nursing executive Vanessa Burkoski had screened it and told them she was disturbed by what she saw. She apologized, and told the family they could have the video once people's faces had been blurred for privacy. In a follow-up meeting two months later, the family viewed the video for the first time. "They let him go, like a dog, outside," said Pontone's mother, Lucia. "Nobody should be treated like that." "It's hard to understand how the hospital thought this was OK," said Pontone's sister Laura. "It was humiliating. It was not OK." Pontone wanted a copy of the video, but in spite of Burkoski's earlier assurances, the hospital now said it couldn't hand the footage over, in case Pontone unblurred the faces of other people. The hospital took the matter to Ontario's Privacy Commissioner, stating it didn't feel comfortable giving Pontone the video and that a cybersecurity expert would have to be hired for about ten hours to use multi-layered obscuring technology, so Pontone couldn't unblur the faces later. It also said Pontone would have to pay the cost and sign an agreement, promising not to share the video. The Pontones met with Toronto personal injury lawyer Harrison Cooper, who offered to work pro bono after hearing about his ordeal. "In Canada we pride ourselves on evolving to understand mental illness," said Cooper. "And we don't want incidents like this — where someone who has a mental illness isn't treated the same way someone without mental illness is treated." The fight took two years to resolve. The privacy commissioner ruled Pontone could have the footage if basic blurring was done, stating that Pontone had shown no indication he wanted to reveal other people's faces. The hospital paid for the blurring and shared the footage. Hospital 'deeply troubled' Go Public requested an interview with a spokesperson for Humber River Hospital, which was declined. In a statement spokesperson Joe Gorman said the hospital was "deeply troubled" by Pontone's experience and that the staff involved "were dealt with accordingly." "Every patient at Humber River Hospital deserves compassionate, professional and respectful care from our staff," Gorman wrote. Go Public has learned that the nurse who escorted Pontone out of the hospital was fired. Gorman wouldn't say whether any of the doctors were disciplined. 'Diagnostic overshadowing' Stergiopoulos was not involved when Pontone visited CAMH. But she says it's so common for health-care professionals to blame mental illness for people's physical health concerns that there's a term for it — "diagnostic overshadowing." She recalls, several decades ago, "having to take a patient of mine with serious mental illness to the oncologist who had refused to treat her just because she had a mental illness." "It was through advocacy that I managed to get her into treatment and she was treated successfully," she said. "And to see that persist so many years later, it's really heartbreaking. I think we can do better and I think we should do better." A 2019 Lancet Psychiatry Commission reviewed the findings of almost 100 systemic reviews that examined the presence of medical conditions among people worldwide with mental illness. It found that people with serious mental illness have a life expectancy that's up to 25 years shorter than the general population. "The statistics are indeed shocking," said Stergiopoulos. "And what is most shocking is that they're persisting despite us knowing about these issues for many years now." She says several factors can be behind the shortened life expectancy for people with mental health issues — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a lack of disease prevention services — but a key reason is stigma and discrimination by health-care workers. At the root of the problem, says Stergiopoulos, health-care professionals see physical and mental health as separate. "This is flawed and we need to do a better job at seeing people as human beings." Pontone spent almost four months undergoing intensive rehabilitation, but considers himself lucky to be able to walk again — Guillain-Barré Syndrome can worsen rapidly and attack the organs. It can also lead to full-body paralysis and possibly death. His mother hopes that speaking out will benefit other people with mental illness who need help with a physical problem. "I want the hospital to change the way they look at mental health," she says. "So that this doesn't happen again."
EDMONTON — Albertans will be able to visit hair salons and tattoo parlours today as the province relaxes a few of its COVID-19 restrictions. Starting today, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said last week that Alberta can't entirely ease up, but that it can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities. Alberta's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that easing rules now will act as a test case, and that COVID-19 case numbers will have to be lower before any other restrictions are loosened. Since early December when COVID-19 infections spiked to well over 1,000 a day, outdoor gatherings were banned and restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. Casinos, gyms, recreation centres, libraries and theatres were closed. Retail stores and churches were allowed to open but at 15 per cent capacity. Alberta reported 750 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 19 more deaths. Hinshaw said officials looked at the province's COVID-19 data along with research from other parts of the world, and she said funerals, outdoor gatherings and personal service businesses show a lower level of risk for transmission. Shandro said last week that hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and pose a threat to the province's health system capacity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Presidential traditions are usually known for their solemnity and carry the weight of future historical significance. This one began with cartoon turkeys and a reference to lunch. As he was preparing to leave the White House in January 1989, President Ronald Reagan wanted to leave a note for his successor, George H.W. Bush, and reached for a pad emblazoned with a cartoon by humorist Sandra Boynton under the phrase, “Don’t Let the Turkeys Get You Down.” It featured a collection of turkeys scaling a prone elephant, the symbol of both men's Republican Party. “Dear George, You’ll have moments when you’ll want to use this particular stationary. Well, go to it,” Reagan scrawled. He noted treasuring “the memories we share” and said he'd be praying for the new president before concluding, "I’ll miss our Thursday lunches. Ron.” Thus was born the tradition of departing presidents leaving a handwritten note in the Oval Office for their successors. The missives' contents start off as confidential, but are often eventually made public by archivists, references in presidential memoirs or via social media after journalists and others filed requests to obtain them. The 32-year tradition is in peril this year. President Donald Trump has refused to accept the results of November’s election and vowed not to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. That makes it doubtful Trump will leave behind any handwritten, friendly advice for Biden. Presidents often write reflectively at the end of their time in office, including George Washington, who stated that he was “tired of public life” in recording why he wasn't seeking a third presidential term. But historians say Reagan's is likely the first instance of a personal letter being passed between presidents as they left and entered office. “It was a sort of a revelation that a note like this was left,” said Jim Bendat, author of “Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President." “We’ve come to expect them. It’s a great tradition. It’s one of those new traditions. And the traditions for Inauguration Day are like that — they often evolve through the years.” The notes are striking in their simplicity given just how big the job of the presidency is. But they are also notable in their camaraderie and common purpose — especially since the handoff of power is often an unhappy one: Reagan to Bush was the last time the country had one president from the same party succeed another. Despite losing to Bill Clinton in the bitter 1992 election, Bush followed Reagan's lead, this time on more stately, White House stationary. “I leave a note on the desk for Bill Clinton. It looks a little lonely sitting there," Bush recalled in his book "All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings.” “When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too,” Bush wrote in the note, adding, "I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some presidents have described." He continued, "I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course,” before concluding, “Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good luck — George.” Those words were so touching that the new president’s wife, Hillary, later recalled they made her cry. “It speaks not only to his grace, but ultimately what the presidency should be all about, which is thinking about your country first,” said Mark K. Updegrove, a historian and CEO of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, who has written about the Bush family. “Though he had been soundly defeated by Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, as a good American, was wishing the new president well.” Writing to that president’s son, incoming President George W. Bush in 2000, Clinton noted that the “burdens you now shoulder are great but often exaggerated” and that the “sheer joy of doing what you believe is right is inexpressible.” In his own letter to President Barack Obama eight years later, the younger Bush advised that "critics will rage. Your ‘friends’ will disappoint you,” but ”no matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.” Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were 27 at the time. They wrote a sort of kids' guide to the White House for Malia and Sasha Obama, then 10 and 7. It included such advice as “slide down the banister of the solarium" and "when your dad throws out the first pitch for the Yankees, go to the game.” In his letter to Trump in 2017, Obama wrote, “This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful.” But Obama did offer some words that now appear prophetic given Trump's impeachment for inciting the deadly mob violence at the U.S. Capitol. “We are just temporary occupants of this office," he wrote. "That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for.” “It’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them," Obama continued. Updegrove said even if the note tradition stops with Trump, it could easily start again when Biden leaves office. He has already been vice-president and spent 36 years in the Senate, where tradition and bipartisan congeniality are strong. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he would do it graciously," Updegrove said. Will Weissert, The Associated Press
Mobile games developer Huuuge Inc. expects to raise up to $150 million from a new share issue as part of its planned initial public offering (IPO) in Warsaw, the U.S.-registered company said on Monday. Huuuge, with a significant base in Poland, adds to a list of companies that have targeted IPOs as restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus crisis prompt more people to go online for entertainment, shopping and other needs. Polish parcels locker firm InPost announced its IPO plans in Amsterdam as more shoppers order online.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. There are 708,619 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 708,619 confirmed cases (75,281 active, 615,324 resolved, 18,014 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,436 new cases Sunday from 70,499 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.27 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47,285 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,755. There were 149 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,001 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 143. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.92 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,557,083 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Sunday from 204 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.49 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,369 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday from 331 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,220 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,558 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,464 resolved, 65 deaths). There were four new cases Sunday from 743 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.54 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 195,810 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 947 confirmed cases (293 active, 642 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 36 new cases Sunday from 874 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 37.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 168 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 24. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,277 tests completed. _ Quebec: 242,714 confirmed cases (20,651 active, 213,008 resolved, 9,055 deaths). There were 1,744 new cases Sunday from 9,270 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 243.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,893 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,985. There were 50 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 369 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 53. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.62 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 106.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,656,534 tests completed. _ Ontario: 237,786 confirmed cases (28,893 active, 203,484 resolved, 5,409 deaths). There were 3,422 new cases Sunday from 58,215 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 198.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,004 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,143. There were 69 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 380 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,633,584 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,511 confirmed cases (3,081 active, 23,661 resolved, 769 deaths). There were 189 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 224.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,194 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were eight new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,272 confirmed cases (4,121 active, 15,936 resolved, 215 deaths). There were 287 new cases Sunday from 862 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 33 per cent. The rate of active cases is 350.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,158 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 308. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 24 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 321,266 tests completed. _ Alberta: 116,837 confirmed cases (12,234 active, 103,167 resolved, 1,436 deaths). There were 750 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 279.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 769. There were 19 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 152 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.5 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.85 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,440 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 349. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 42 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were three new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
As the first terminally ill cancer patient in Canada to legally use so-called magic mushrooms to treat anxiety, Thomas Hartle is hopeful that more temporary approvals from the federal government signal a permanent regulatory regime may be in the works. Hartle, 53, received a one-year exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act last August to use psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, during psychotherapy. Since then, Health Canada has approved 24 more applications from cancer patients for treatment of end-of-life distress. It has also granted exemptions to 19 health-care providers, giving them the right to possess and use mushrooms containing psilocybin for professional training purposes, a spokeswoman said in a statement. The department has yet to decide whether it will allow the public to use any psychedelics for therapeutic purposes beyond the exemptions it has granted so far. Hartle has had two psychedelic psychotherapy sessions at his home in Saskatoon, the last one in November, with psilocybin from mushrooms he grew and dried himself using a coffee grinder to turn them into powder and placed into capsules for precise dosages. The IT administrator, who is on leave from his job, said anxiety over dying from colon cancer and leaving his wife and two children, both on the autism spectrum, became unbearable after his inoperable condition was diagnosed in 2016. However, taking psilocybin during his two sessions with the help of his regular clinical psychologist helped him manage his anxiety to the point that he hasn't felt the need to have any more psychedelic-assisted therapy while he continues traditional therapy, Hartle said. "I think that's probably obvious to most people who have interacted with me before and after my sessions," he said of the marked improvement in his anxiety through a deeper understanding of the word "serenity." "I've been talking about subjects that I would previously have considered almost impossible to talk about and keep a clear voice and not break down into a very emotional state. Instead of focusing on the pain or discomfort, I'm focusing on making lunch for my family or something like that." Before each of the two sessions, Hartle said he met with his therapist and completed paperwork to gauge his anxiety level in order to establish a baseline that could be compared with how he would feel afterwards. The first session lasted about six hours, during which he took three capsules about an hour apart, containing a total seven grams of psilocybin, he said. His therapist and a friend remained by his side as he lay blindfolded and wearing a headset while listening to music from a playlist compiled by Johns Hopkins University as part of its research into psychedelics. Hartle said the range of music, from classical to chanting as well as South American and African beats, elicited different emotions and he saw multiple colours and geometric shapes as he entered "a state of other," which made it impossible for him to recall the names of his family members. "It was very serene and comforting to me to realize that I could have consciousness and awareness that had nothing whatsoever to do with this existence." Hartle said that prior to his cancer diagnosis, he had never used illegal substances and only started taking cannabis oil to deal with the nausea brought on by chemotherapy as part of his cancer treatments. Focused psychotherapy sessions before, during and after his two sessions were crucial to his use of psilocybin, Hartle said. "It's not like you take a pill and suddenly everything is fantastic. It doesn't work like that any more than regular therapy does. There is work to be done. There are challenges to face. There are issues that need to be worked through the same as any other session. The main difference is that with the psychedelic-assisted therapy, it can get your ego out of the way so you can get at some things." Spencer Hawkswell, CEO of TheraPsil, a Victoria-based advocacy group for patients, said it helped Hartle apply for exemptions to use psilocybin on compassionate grounds based on Canadians' right to medical assistance in dying. He said access to assistance in dying should also give terminally ill patients the right to try mushrooms to reduce their emotional suffering. "When we can't manage someone's symptoms, that's often when they choose MAiD. (Psilocybin) deserves to be put in between the treatment options that are failing those patients and MAiD." TheraPsil has helped people from six provinces apply for exemptions. Health-care providers who have received exemptions to use psilocybin themselves before leading psychedelic-assisted sessions include family doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical counsellors and social workers, Hawkswell said, adding the group is putting together a training program that will need partnerships with provincial governments. Psilocybin is just one of several psychedelics being considered to treat mental health conditions while a growing number of private companies promote their potential use for multiple issues including obesity, smoking, alcohol dependence and addiction to illicit substances. Mark Haden, chair of the board for the Canadian chapter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS Canada, said psychedelics appear to be seen as the new cannabis before it was legalized. "A lot of venture capitalists went into the cannabis world. Many of them made money. Some of them lost a huge amount of money, so the cannabis bubble exploded and then burst. So, all of that money is saying, 'Where do we go next? What's the next big thing?' And they've latched their view on psychedelics." MAPS Canada is currently conducting a Phase 3 clinical trial in Vancouver on the use of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Haden said the small trial involving about 12 people is expected to be completed next year as part of the research by over a dozen sites in the United States and Israel. Traditional PTSD therapy has a high dropout rate, may involve patients taking medication for years and has an effectiveness rate of 10 to 25 per cent, said Haden, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health. "With MDMA, it takes a few months and the effectiveness is 60 to 80 per cent," he said of research findings elsewhere. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
The City of Ottawa says it plans to collect all fines issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, including ones handed out in parks that some in the legal community call "legally dubious." In the spring, the city moved to enforce pandemic restrictions, shutting facilities including parks and playground equipment. Dozens of fines were handed out during the first wave of the pandemic alone, including $880 tickets to people who allegedly sat on park benches or used off-limits payground equipment. Some who received those fines said they hoped the city would choose not to come after them, since parks and playground equipment have been kept open during more recent lockdowns. "It's disappointing, for sure, to know that I have to deal with this $880. [It's] a huge deal for a 24-year-old. I'm hoping that once I get in front of a judge, I can explain myself properly," said Alexandra Plante, who was fined for sitting on a park bench in Orléans in April. Plante, one of the first people fined during a bylaw blitz in the spring, said she had no idea she was breaking any rules. "I think there's a huge difference between sitting on a bench and being caught at a gathering with 30 people or failing to wear a mask," said Plante. City's stance an 'embarrassment' In April, refugee advocates called on bylaw to "warn and inform" after Quasi Alnofal, a young Syrian man with limited English, was fined $880 for briefly allowing his young siblings to climb on a closed play structure during an afternoon walk. "Government officials' attitudes on mental health, and people getting out and being able to exercise, have really changed," said Ronalee Carey, an immigration and refugee lawyer who was part of a group that helped sponsor the Alnofal family and bring them to Ottawa in 2017. "So if they're not penalizing people for doing that action now, because the science has changed ... why would they want to persecute people who were charged before?" Carey said she believes tickets handed out for "blatantly opposing the rules on gatherings" make sense, but she wants the city to bring in an "amnesty" for tickets given in parks. "I think, frankly, it's an embarrassment to the city for them to be pursuing these kinds of things," she said. 'Doesn't make sense' The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said it's "disappointed" the city is pursuing all tickets and doesn't believe it's in the public interest. "There were a lot of concerning fines and punitive enforcement handed out during the first wave of COVID that — even at that time — we weren't really sure how they connected to public health goals and what we knew about the spread of COVID," said the association's Abby Deshman. "Laws were changing extremely quickly, day-by-day, what you could and couldn't do changed ... It really doesn't make sense to me to proceed with these legally dubious tickets, given the pressing crisis in our justice system where we have murder trials that have been postponed for close to a year now." Deshman also said Ottawa stood out during the first wave as being "one of the cities that ticketed more than others." City waiting for courts to reopen In a statement, the city said would pursue the fines "once the courts reopen and defendants have had the opportunity to exercise one of the many options available to them." "We are still offering support to individuals through our online offerings. They can pay fines online, request a trial date, contest a parking ticket or plead guilty and make submissions as to penalty," said Alain Hyppolite, program manager of citizen services. A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Watson declined to comment, saying that "as an elected official," the mayor refrains from commenting "on matters that are within the Provincial Offences Court."
Selena Gomez is in talks with Facebook, and is not afraid of them.
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korea’s president on Monday urged the incoming Biden administration to build upon the achievements and learn from the failures of President Donald Trump’s diplomatic engagement with North Korea. A dovish liberal and the son of northern war refugees, Moon Jae-in had lobbied hard to help set up Trump’s three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but their diplomacy stalemated over disagreements over easing crippling U.S.-led sanctions for the North’s disarmament. Biden has accused Trump of chasing the spectacle of summits rather than meaningful curbs on the North’s nuclear capabilities. North Korea has a history of staging weapons tests and other provocations to test new U.S. presidents, and Kim vowed to strengthen his nuclear weapons program in recent political speeches that were seen as aimed at pressuring the incoming Biden administration. The South Korean leader has been desperate to keep alive a positive atmosphere for dialogue in the face of Kim’s vows to further expand a nuclear and missile program that threatens Asian U.S. allies and the American homeland. And while Moon acknowledged that Biden is likely to try a different approach than Trump, he stressed that Biden could still learn from Trump’s successes and failures in dealing with North Korea. During a mostly virtual news conference in Seoul, Moon claimed that Kim still had a “clear willingness” to denuclearize if Washington and Pyongyang could find mutually agreeable steps to decrease the nuclear threat and ensure the North’s security. Most experts see Kim’s recent comments as further evidence he will maintain his weapons program to ensure his regime’s survival. When asked about the North’s efforts to increase its ballistic capacity to strike targets throughout South Korea, including U.S. bases there, Moon said the South could sufficiently cope with such threats with its missile defence systems and other military assets. “The start of the Biden administration provides a new opportunity to start over talks between North Korea and the United States and also between South and North Korea,” which have stalled amid the stalemate in nuclear negotiations, Moon said. “The North Korean efforts to expand its nuclear program and acquire more weapons systems are all because we have not succeeded yet in reaching an agreement over denuclearization and establishing peace. These are problems that could all be solved by success in dialogue,” he said. During an eight-day congress of North Korea’s Workers’ Party that ended last week, Kim described the United States as his country’s “foremost principal enemy.” He didn’t entirely rule out talks, but he said the fate of bilateral relations would depend on whether Washington abandons its hostile policy toward Pyongyang. The erosion in inter-Korean relations have been a major setback to Moon, who met Kim three times in 2018 while expressing ambitions to reboot inter-Korean economic engagement when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such projects. Moon said the South would continue to seek ways to improve relations with the North within the boundary of sanctions, such as pursuing humanitarian assistance and joint anti-virus efforts against COVID-19. But Kim during the ruling party congress already described such offers as “inessential” while slamming South Korea for its own efforts to strengthen defence capabilities and continuing annual military exercises with the United States, which were downsized under Trump to create space for diplomacy. Experts say Pyongyang is pressuring Seoul to break away from Washington by halting their joint drills and to defy sanctions and restart inter-Korean economic co-operation. During Trump’s first summit with Kim in June 2018, they pledged to improve bilateral relations and issued vague aspirational vows for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur. But the negotiations faltered after their second meeting in February 2019 when the Americans rejected the North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for the dismantling of an aging nuclear reactor, which would have amounted to a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities. Moon said that Trump and Kim’s agreement in their first meeting was still relevant and the Biden administration should take lessons from the failures of their second meeting, “The declaration in Singapore under the Trump administration was a very important declaration for denuclearization and building peace in the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said. “Of course, it’s very lamentable that the (content of the) declaration remains theoretical because of the failures to back it up with concrete agreements," he said. "But if we start over from the Singapore declaration and revive talks over concrete steps, it’s possible that diplomacy between North Korea and the United States and between South and North Korea would gain pace again.” Moon said he hopes to meet Biden as soon as possible and that South Korean officials were actively communicating with their American counterparts to ensure that the North Korea issue remains a priority for the new U.S. government, which inherits a horrendous coronavirus outbreak and domestic political turmoil. Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 27,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 570,742 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,505.944 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.95 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,838 new vaccinations administered for a total of 146,694 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.144 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 11,007 new vaccinations administered for a total of 200,097 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.622 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 3,232 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,159 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.096 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.62 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 4,374 new vaccinations administered for a total of 85,935 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.522 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 102.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Sunday's Games (All Times Eastern) NHL Pittsburgh 4 Washington 3 (SO) Florida 5 Chicago 2 Dallas at Tampa Bay, ppd. --- NBA New York 105 Boston 75 Chicago 117 Dallas 101 Utah 109 Denver 105 New Orleans 128 Sacramento 123 L.A. Clippers 129 Indiana 96 Philadelphia at Oklahoma City, ppd. Cleveland at Washington, ppd. --- NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Kansas City 22, Cleveland 17 Tampa Bay 30 New Orleans 20 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. "I would say the simple rule would be that we vaccinate people who've had prior infections, just like everybody else," Veillette said. "If you had the infection, yes, you may have some protection, but it may not last a long time, and it may not be as good as the vaccine." Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials in protecting against severe disease. But there are still questions around whether the vaccines can actually prevent someone from catching the virus and spreading it to others. While Moderna has some data that their product may protect against acquiring the virus, it's still unclear. Antibodies from natural infections suggest the same — that they may protect us from getting really sick again, but not from getting the virus a second time. While there have been some cases of reinfection around the world, immunology expert Steven Kerfoot says the fact we're not seeing more of those suggests the immune response from initial COVID-19 infections is probably "pretty strong." Kerfoot, an associate professor at Western University, says vaccines are designed in a way that should produce an immune response "at least as good or better" than what we get after a natural infection. "So it may help fill in holes where people may not have developed an immune response effectively to the virus," Kerfoot said. "If anything, the vaccine could as act as its own booster that would improve your immunity." While some studies have suggested antibodies may disappear relatively quickly after COVID-19 infections, others have found a more lingering immune response. An American study published this month showed antibodies present for at least eight months, and possibly longer. Even studies suggesting an early drop-off of antibody levels aren't concerning, Kerfoot says. Infections trigger the body to produce other immune cells and memory cells that reduce slowly over years and help fight off future invasions from the same virus. If the immune response in those with past COVID infection is expected to be lengthy, could there be justification to defer their inoculations, especially if vaccine supply is low? It will be up to provinces to decide priority in each stage of their rollouts, but Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba, says that will be a tricky decision. "I don't think we can use prior infection as an indicator of priority, because we just don't know what that person's immune response actually is," Kindrachuk said. "We don't know what long-term immunity looks like in those folks. "The recommendations are going to be that everybody gets vaccinated because that way we know — across vulnerable groups and all ages and different demographics — they'll all get a robust immune response." Veillette adds that many people with previous COVID cases were also in higher-risk settings — either because of their jobs or living environments — that would theoretically put them at risk for reinfection. And if they were to get the virus again but not show symptoms, they could still pass it on to other people. "There's probably a whole spectrum of situations there, and when there's so many variables it's better to have a simple rule," he said. "So I think that's another reason to vaccinate previously infected people." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is now the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation, a move health officials believe could see a significant rise in the number of donors over the next few years. Legislation passed in April 2019 finally took effect Monday following more than 18 months of work to ensure provincial systems were equipped to handle the change. Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out. "To my knowledge nobody else is close to considering this, but many places are thinking about it," said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia's organ and tissue donation program. "We have an opportunity to transform a component of the health care system and that just does not happen very often." In an interview last week, Beed said the work to bolster the province's organ donation program has focused on planning, education and public awareness. He said the system has, in effect, been "rebooted" with the recruitment of several donation physicians and an increase to the number of system coordinators, who have also seen a change in their training. Overall, 27 new professionals have been brought into the system over the last three years. In addition, a donation data system has been developed to assess the program's performance. The province plans to spend $3.2 million this fiscal year to bolster the system. "Overall I honestly think that the system change is the most important part," Beed said of the shift to presumed consent. He said that was the message delivered to Premier Stephen McNeil when he first approached health officials with the idea for the legislation. "We said, 'If you change the law all you really have is words on a piece of paper, but if you change the law and then support the redesign of our system then you have reason to be optimistic'." Beed said organ donation rates increased by as much as 35 per cent in European countries such as Belgium and Spain after they adopted an opt-out system, though he noted other jurisdictions that made the switch have had the opposite experience. But one prospective organ recipient said the success stories abroad have left her more optimistic about matters closer to home. "I am very proud that Nova Scotia is the trailblazer for this," said Anita MacDonnell of Halifax, who is awaiting a kidney transplant. "I was very encouraged when they announced this back in 2019." MacDonnell, who turns 60 on Wednesday, was approved for a new kidney last May and started dialysis in October. She and her friend Brenda Mackenzie, also of Halifax, suffer from a genetic kidney disease that has seen several of their siblings and both of their mothers require transplants in the past. Both women undergo dialysis three nights a week for four hours at a time and liken the life-saving process to having a part-time job. Mackenzie, 60, describes her wait for a kidney as "pretty nerve-wracking." "So I guess my hope obviously would be that with this (change) that so many more people would be able to be transplanted," she said. "That's what the ultimate hope is." The new approach hasn't received universal support on its way to becoming provincial law. Some civil libertarians balked at the legislation when it was first proposed, raising concerns around governments having the power to tell people what to do with their bodies. Other opponents expressed potential cultural and religious concerns about the move. Beed said he believes those issues have been addressed through the development of an opt-out registry and safeguards such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are honoured. Those who tell their families that they don't want to be donors will see those instructions respected, he said, even if they haven't formally opted out. In addition, certain groups will be exempt such as new immigrants, transient residents of Nova Scotia, and people who don't have capacity to make their own decisions. Beed said talks are also continuing with leaders of religious and faith communities to ensure they are "engaged" with the system. Peggy John, the acting director for the organ and tissue donation and transplantation program at Canadian Blood Services, agrees the opt out program will only be as good as the strength of the system put in place to support it. John, whose organization is the national collaborating body for provincial transplant systems, said the end goal should be to increase the opportunities for transplant for patients who are in need. According to the most recent figures compiled by Canadian Blood Services, 250 Canadians died while waiting for a transplant in 2019 — an increase from 223 in 2018. They also showed that Canada still has a shortage of organs, with 4,419 patients still waiting for transplants at the end of 2019. John said the new Nova Scotia law will be an opportunity to observe and to learn about what might work elsewhere to potentially boost donation rates. "We are keen to see what's going to happen," she said. "We know they (Nova Scotia) have been approaching this in the right way and we will continue to watch what the outcome will be." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Kamala Harris will make history on Wednesday when she becomes the nation’s first female vice-president — and the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to hold that office. But that’s only where her boundary-breaking role begins. With the confluence of crises confronting Joe Biden's administration — and an evenly divided Senate in which she would deliver the tie-breaking vote — Harris is shaping up to be a central player in addressing everything from the coronavirus pandemic to criminal justice reform. Symone Sanders, Harris' chief spokeswoman, said that while the vice-president-elect's portfolio hasn't been fully defined yet, she has a hand in all aspects of Biden's agenda. “There are pieces that Biden may specifically ask her to champion, but outside of that she is at the table for everything, involved in everything, and giving input and feedback and being a supportive partner to him on all pieces," she said. People working closely with Harris on the transition resist the idea of siloing her into any specific issue early on, because the sheer number of challenges the Biden administration faces means it will be “all hands on deck” during their early months. They say she'll be involved in all four of the major priorities they’ve set out: turning around the economy, tackling COVID-19, and addressing climate change and racial justice. “She has a voice in all of those. She has an opinion in all those areas. And it will probably get to a point where she is concentrating on some of the areas more specifically,” Sanders said. “But right now, I think what we’re faced with in this country is so big, it’s all hands on deck.” Harris has been closely involved with all of Biden’s biggest decisions since winning the election in November, joining him for every one of his key meetings focused on Cabinet picks, the COVID-19 relief bill, security issues and more. The two talk over the phone nearly every day, and she travels to Delaware sometimes multiple times a week for transition events and meetings. Those involved in the transition say both have taken seriously Biden’s insistence that he wants Harris to be the “last voice in the room” on key decisions. Biden is known to turn to Harris first during meetings to ask for her opinion or perspective on the matter at hand. Biden and Harris knew each other prior to the 2020 presidential campaign in part through Harris’ friendship with Biden’s deceased son, Beau. But they never worked closely together. Since joining the ticket, and particularly since the election, Harris has made efforts to deepen their relationship and is in frequent contact with the president-elect, people close to Harris say. That personal relationship, according to presidential historian Joel Goldstein, will be key to their success as working partners. “The relationship of the vice-president to the president is the most important relationship. Establishing mutual understanding and trust is really a key to a successful vice presidency,” Goldstein said. Goldstein pointed to Biden and President Barack Obama’s relationship as a potential model for the incoming team. Biden and Obama were from similarly different backgrounds and generations and also entered the White House with a relatively fresh working relationship. But their relationship and mutual understanding grew throughout the presidency, and Obama trusted Biden with some of his administration’s biggest endeavours, like the implementation of the 2009 Recovery Act and the troop withdrawal from Iraq. Harris is said to be looking at Biden’s vice presidency as a guide for her own. But unlike Biden during his first term, Harris will face constant questions about her political future. While Biden has skirted questions about whether he plans to run for reelection, at 78 he’ll be the oldest president in history, leaving questions about whether he'll retire at the end of his term. That would make Harris the immediate frontrunner in any 2024 Democratic presidential primary. Early in the vice-presidential vetting process, her potential presidential ambitions gave some Biden allies pause. But since her selection, Harris has proven a loyal partner to Biden, rarely if ever contradicting him publicly. Still, California Rep. Barbara Lee, who was the first Congressional Black Caucus member to endorse in the primary when she backed Harris, said the vice-president-elect isn’t afraid to speak her mind. “She’s no shrinking violet," Lee said. "If she believes that one decision should be made versus another she’s gonna weigh in and give her thoughts and opinions.” Biden has a personal affection for the work of diplomacy and deep relationships with global leaders that Harris can't match. But aides say she'll be deeply involved in the administration's diplomatic priorities simply because of the sheer amount of issues that will take up Biden's time. She may also be given a particular aspect of the administration's coronavirus response to oversee. One of her main priorities early on is certain to be the passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Biden announced Thursday. Those working with Harris on the transition say that while Biden will be intimately involved with ushering the package through the Senate because of his longstanding relationships with longer-serving lawmakers, Harris knows the newer members and can help build fresh relationships in Congress. The first few months of the Biden administration will be focused on COVID-19 and the economy. But Harris is certain to face scrutiny — and pressure — from advocates to ensure the perspectives of Black and brown Americans are reflected in those policies and the Biden White House's priorities. Leah Daughtry, a former chief of staff at the Democratic National Committee, said Harris will make a difference simply by being in the room. “The fact that Kamala Harris is a Black woman, is a woman of Indian ancestry, is a woman, automatically makes her different from every other vice-president this country has ever seen,” she said. “That combination of experiences brings a set of values and lived experiences into a room where they have not previously existed. And that can only be good for this American democracy.” But as South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn put it, “There will be a lot of weight on those shoulders.” “Those of us who come to these positions, we come to them knowing full well that we have a burden to make sure that we do it in such a way, that there will be people coming behind us,” he said. Clyburn also acknowledged that Harris could also be a flashpoint for controversy among the portion of President Donald Trump’s followers who are motivated by racial animus, which Clyburne said contributed to the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. “They’re still holding on to a lot of animus about Barack Obama, and they’re gonna transfer it to her, just like they transferred it to others here in this building," Clyburn said. "And they’re never gonna get beyond that.” But Harris’ allies say as a child of civil rights activists, and a Black woman who’s spent her life confronting and trying to address racism and inequality, navigating those pressures as vice-president will come as second nature for her. “Kamala Harris didn’t just fall out of the Harvard Law School like Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz or somebody like that,” said Bakari Sellers, referencing two Republican senators who objected to the congressional certification of Biden’s win. (Hawley graduated from Yale Law School.) Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker and an early Harris endorser, likened her to other civil rights trailblazers. “She comes from the same lineage as Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm and Ella Baker,” he said. “I mean, she’s built for this.” Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
The world is on the brink of a "catastrophic moral failure" on distributing vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said, urging countries and manufacturers to share COVID-19 doses more fairly. For example, more than 39 million doses of vaccine have been administered in 49 higher-income countries whereas in one poor country, just 25 doses have been given, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. China's economy picked up speed in the fourth quarter, with growth beating expectations and poised to expand further this year even as the global pandemic rages unabated.
NEW ORLEANS — Tom Brady's best game in three tries against New Orleans kept the Buccaneers moving on in the NFL playoffs, and has Saints quarterback Drew Brees headed home — perhaps for good. Brady and the Bucs' offence turned three Saints turnovers, including two interceptions of Brees, into touchdowns, and Tampa Bay beat New Orleans 30-20 in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Sunday night. Two of those touchdowns came on short passes to Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette. And after Brees was intercepted by linebacker Devin White in the middle of the fourth quarter, Brady drove the Bucs to the 1, from where he scored himself to all but ensure his 14th trip to a conference championship game — his first in the NFC. That game will take place in Green Bay next week, where the 43-year-old Brady will try to advance to his 10th Super Bowl in a showdown with Packers All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, the Brees era in New Orleans could be over after 15 seasons. The game may have been the last in the Superdome for the 42-year-old Brees, who is under contract for one more year but has not discussed any plans to play beyond this season, and has sometimes hinted at his impending retirement. While just 3,750 tickets were distributed in the 73,000-seat Superdome to comply with local COVID-19 restrictions, the fans made themselves heard with an eruption of cheers when Brees took the field for New Orleans’ first offensive series. If it was his last game, it won't be one he'll want to remember. The NFL's all-time leader in completions and yards passing was 19 of 34 for 134 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Brady finished 18 of 33 for 199 yards in what often resembled more of a defensive struggle. Unlike his previous two meetings with the Saints — both losses — he was not intercepted and largely avoided pressure, taking only one sack. After Brees' third interception on a tipped pass late in the fourth quarter, the Bucs were able to close out the game with Brady, in his first season with Tampa Bay after 20 with New England, taking a knee. The Saints led 6-3 when Brees, while trying to flee pressure, underthrew Michael Thomas and was intercepted by Sean Murphy-Bunting, who raced 36 yards along the sideline to the Saints 3. Brady hit Evans one play later to put the Buccaneers up 10-6. The Saints answered, helped by a drive-extending third-down defensive holding call on Murphy-Bunting. New Orleans drove to its 44 before unleashing a trick play. Kamara took a direct snap and gave the ball to receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a reverse Sanders lateraled back to Jameis Winston. The reserve QB launched an accurate pass down the middle to Tre'Quan Smith for a 56-yard score. Ryan Succop’s 37-yard field goal capped an up-tempo Bucs drive powered by Fournette’s 40 yards from scrimmage, tying the score at 13 to end the half. Brees’ 16-yard pass to Smith put the Saints ahead 20-13, and New Orleans appeared primed to build on that lead when Brees completed a third-down pass to Jared Cook across the 50. Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. stripped Cook from behind and White snagged the loose ball as it bounced to him, returning it 18 yards to the New Orleans 40. Five plays later, Brady hit Fournette over the middle for a 6-yard score. Succop’s 36-yard field goal made it 23-20 before White’s interception of a pass intended for Kamara gave the Buccaneers the ball at the New Orleans 20. STATS Fournette finished with 107 yards from scrimmage, 63 on the ground. Kamara had 105 yards from scrimmage, with 85 on the ground. Thomas was held without a catch in his final game of an injury-plagued season. INJURIES Buccaneers: Linebacker Jack Cichy went out with an elbow injury in the first quarter. Saints: Deonte Harris, who returned the first Tampa Bay punt 54 yards to set up a field goal, left with a neck injury in the first half. UP NEXT The Bucs will try to advance to the second Super Bowl in franchise history with Brady, no stranger to high-stakes games in cold weather after his two decades in New England. New Orleans might have to ponder life without Brees. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL Brett Martel, The Associated Press
Recent developments: What's the latest? Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 85 more COVID-19 cases and two more deaths. Hospitalizations in the city have more than tripled since the start of the month, but other signs key indicators are slowly trending down from record highs. Pools have been closed since Boxing Day in Ontario, meaning people with disabilities or injuries can't use them for physical therapy and rehabilitation despite asking the province for an exemption. Ottawa and Kingston, Ont., are getting provincial funding for an unspecified number of "critical care and high intensity medicine beds," according to Premier Doug Ford. While Kingston has kept its own COVID-19 hospitalizations low, it's been taking intensive care patients from other parts of the province where hospitals are under pressure. How many cases are there? As of Monday, 12,371 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,232 known active cases, 10,734 resolved cases and 405 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 22,100 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 19,200 resolved cases. One hundred and five people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 142 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside. WATCH | The call to drop most fines from the spring: Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Outdoor recreation venues remain open. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The province will announce by Wednesday which schools can offer general in-person learning, with some boards already delaying that return to classrooms. Child-care centres remain open. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with, with an exception for people living alone. They can visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8, Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. WATCH | Pandemic driving more young people to seek mental health help: COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February. Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. That's already happened in Ottawa. Ontario's campaign will then expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August. Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by then. Another scenario, depending on supply, has Ontario vaccinating everyone who wants a dose by early August. WATCH | Rick Hillier provides update on Ontario's vaccination timeline Quebec has a somewhat controversial policy of giving a single dose to as many people as possible rather than giving fewer people two doses. It says people will get their second dose within 90 days. Ottawa had given more than 18,500 vaccine doses as of Jan. 15. As of Jan. 17, western Quebec's health authority had given out about 5,400 doses. It says it will have reached all of its long-term care homes by early this week. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Its Alexandria and Casselman sites will reopen next week. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had 129 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and five deaths. More than 240 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information