Rapid COVID-19 testing for factory workers are among measures that could help slow the spread of COVID-19, says Ottawa ICU physician Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng.
Rapid COVID-19 testing for factory workers are among measures that could help slow the spread of COVID-19, says Ottawa ICU physician Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng.
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Tuesday's Games NHL Winnipeg 4 Ottawa 3 (OT) New Jersey 4 N.Y. Rangers 3 Philadelphia 3 Buffalo 0 Florida 5 Chicago 4 (OT) Pittsburgh 5 Washington 4 (OT) Detroit 3 Columbus 2 (OT) Colorado 3 Los Angeles 2 Dallas at Tampa Bay — postponed Carolina at Nashville — postponed --- NBA Denver 119 Oklahoma City 101 Utah 118 New Orleans 102 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Alphabet Inc's Google is investigating a member of its ethical AI team and has locked the corporate account linked to that person after finding that thousands of files were retrieved from its server and shared with external accounts, the company said on Wednesday. Axios, which first reported the latest investigation around a member of Google's AI team, said Margaret Mitchell had been using automated scripts to look through her messages to find examples showing discriminatory treatment of Timnit Gebru, a former employee in the AI team who was fired. Gebru, who is Black, was a top AI ethics researcher at Google and was fired in December.
Jessica Henwick may be known to fantasy and sci-fi nerds, but she's about to breakout onto the mainstream.
More than 100 British musicians, from Ed Sheeran, Sting and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters to classical stars like conductor Simon Rattle, have said tours of Europe by British artists are in danger because of Brexit. In a letter to The Times newspaper published on Wednesday, the musicians said the government had "shamefully" broken a promise to negotiate a deal allowing musicians to perform in the European Union without the need for visas or work permits. "The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be: everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment," they wrote.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls for an inquiry into his government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday as the country's death toll neared 100,000 and his chief scientist said hospitals were looking like war zones. There have been calls for a public inquiry from some doctors and bereaved families into the management of the crisis. As hospital admissions soared, the government's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said there was enormous pressure on the National Health Service with doctors and nurses battling to give people sufficient care.
WASHINGTON — For more than two centuries, the top ranks of American power have been dominated by men — almost all of them white. That ends on Wednesday. Kamala Harris will become the first female vice-president — and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to hold the role. Her rise is historic in any context, another moment when a stubborn boundary will fall away, expanding the idea of what's possible in American politics. But it's particularly meaningful because Harris will be taking office at a moment of deep consequence, with Americans grappling over the role of institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated Black and brown communities. Those close to Harris say she'll bring an important — and often missing — perspective in the debates on how to overcome the many hurdles facing the incoming administration. “In many folks' lifetimes, we experienced a segregated United States," said Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate and longtime Harris friend and mentee. “You will now have a Black woman who will walk into the White House not as a guest but as a second in command of the free world." Harris — the child of immigrants, a stepmother of two and the wife of a Jewish man — “carries an intersectional story of so many Americans who are never seen and heard." Harris, 56, moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first went to Washington as a senator from California, where she'd previously served as attorney general and as San Francisco's district attorney. She had expected to work with a White House run by Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump's victory quickly scrambled the nation's capital and set the stage for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars. Her swearing-in comes almost two years to the day after Harris launched her own presidential bid on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2019. Her campaign fizzled before primary voting began, but Harris' rise continued when Joe Biden chose her as his running mate last August. Harris had been a close friend of Beau Biden, the elder son of Joe Biden and a former Delaware attorney general who died in 2015 of cancer. The inauguration activities will include nods to her history-making role and her personal story. She'll be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of colour to serve on the high court. She'll use two Bibles, one that belonged to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the late civil rights icon whom Harris often cites as inspiration, and Regina Shelton, a longtime family friend who helped raise Harris during her childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area. The drumline from Harris' alma mater, Howard University, will join the presidential escort. She'll address the nation late Wednesday in front of the Lincoln Memorial, a symbolic choice as the nation endures one of its most divided stretches since the Civil War and two weeks after a largely white mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the election results. “We’re turning the page off a really dark period in our history,” said Long Beach, California, Mayor Robert Garcia, a Harris ally. As Democrats celebrate the end to Trump's presidency, Garcia said he hopes the significance of swearing in the nation's first female vice-president isn't overlooked. “That is a huge historical moment that should also be uplifted,” he said. Harris has often reflected on her rise through politics by recalling the lessons of her mother, who taught her to take on a larger cause and push through adversity. “I was raised to not hear ‘no.’ Let me be clear about it. So it wasn’t like, “Oh, the possibilities are immense. Whatever you want to do, you can do,'" she recalled during a “CBS Sunday Morning” interview that aired Sunday. “No, I was raised to understand many people will tell you, ‘It is impossible,’ but don’t listen.'" While Biden is the main focus of Wednesday's inaugural events, Harris' swearing-in will hold more symbolic weight than that of any vice-president in modern times. She will expand the definition of who gets to hold power in American politics, said Martha S. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and the author of “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All." People who want to understand Harris and connect with her will have to learn about what it means to graduate from a historically Black college and university rather than an Ivy League school. They will have to understand Harris' traditions, like the Hindu celebration of Diwali, Jones said. “Folks are going to have to adapt to her rather than her adapting to them,” Jones said. Her election to the vice presidency should be just the beginning of putting Black women in leadership positions, Jones said, particularly after the role Black women played in organizing and turning out voters in the November election. “We will all learn what happens to the kind of capacities and insights of Black women in politics when those capacities and insights are permitted to lead,” Jones said. Kathleen Ronayne And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
South Korea's LG Electronics said on Wednesday it was considering all options for its loss-making mobile division, which analysts said could include shutting its smartphone business or selling off parts of the unit. LG said in a statement that 23 consecutive quarters of losses in its mobile business had totalled around 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) amid stiff competition. "In the global market, competition in the mobile business including smartphones has gotten fiercer," LG said in the clearest sign yet that it could be considering a winding down of the troubled business.
Thirty-five homeowners in the small B.C. community of Old Fort — just south of Fort St. John — are suing the province and BC Hydro after two landslides they claim were caused by Site C dam construction rendered their properties worthless. On Monday, the group filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court saying the excavation activities carried out by BC Hydro on the $10-billion dam project have destabilized the soil that supports their properties. The first landslide, which happened in September 2018, damaged the only road that provides access in and out of Old Fort and put the entire community under evacuation for a month. Another landslide damaged the same road in June 2020. The homeowners also accuse Deasan Holdings of causing soil instability with mining activities near Old Fort. Malcom MacPherson, lawyer for the plaintiffs, says the families involved cannot sell, mortgage or insure their homes because there is no property value. He says they support industrial development but don't feel they should pay for it with their homes' worth. "They shouldn't be de facto subsidizing the broader wealth creation, which is good for the whole province," he said. "It's not fair that they have to unreasonably bear that burden." In October, the B.C. government posted a report saying despite geotechnical assessments, the root cause of the slide in 2018 remains "inconclusive." The report doesn't address the slide in 2020. In 2018, BC Hydro said there was no evidence the slide was related to the Site C project. Last week, Premier John Horgan said Site C dam construction would continue while his office awaits geotechnical reports written by experts from outside B.C. The lawsuit names the province and the Peace River Regional District for approving the construction work of BC Hydro and Deasan Holdings. They are also suing the City of Fort St. John for operating a sewage lagoon they claim has led to soil instability in the Peace River community. None of the five defendants has responded in court. CBC News has contacted the City of Fort St. John, the Peace River Regional District and BC Hydro. The municipality didn't respond, and the other two parties declined to comment.
New York-listed Best Inc, a Chinese logistics firm backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, is considering a sale as part of a strategic review, six people with knowledge of the matter said. With the endorsement of Alibaba, its biggest shareholder, Best has tapped financial advisers to explore options as its shares have been underperforming and are worth a fifth of its IPO price in 2018, two of the people involved in the discussions said. Billionaire Jack Ma's Alibaba, which owns 33% of the firm, as well as Best founder and CEO Johnny Chou, who has a 11% stake on a fully diluted basis, could both end up selling their stakes, five of the people said.
Calgary teen Max Ganakovsky performed a history-making stunt at the Airdrie Airpark in August when he did the longest manual — similar to a "wheelie" — ever recorded. Now, he's had the feat recognized by Guinness World Records. "It feels surreal. Being a Guinness World Record holder has always been one of my dreams," Ganakovsky told the Calgary Homestretch. "And it feels great to have this dream come true." A manual is the correct term for the trick. It's pretty similar to a wheelie, but with no extra pedalling allowed. In a wheelie, the rider can continue to pedal for that extra propulsion. Ganakovsky managed to pull this off for 648 metres — that's nearly double the previous record of 339 metres. He says it's all in the technique. WATCH | Ganakovsky nearly doubled the record in his attempt to get in the Guinness World Records book. Watch his epic 'manual' in the video above. "Before you take off, it's very crucial to get a lot of speed," Ganakovsky said. "During my attempt, I think I accelerated for about 100 metres prior to lifting my front wheel off the ground. So firstly, the acceleration phase was very crucial. And it's also very important to take off, like pick up your front wheel on the right note so you're not crooked. So everything is centred. And yes, from there it's kind of autopilot. Just make sure to keep balance and, yeah, just not much to it, really." Actually, based on the description, it sounds like there is a bit of skill and practice involved. "It's obviously hard work. It's not something you do on the first try, and it took many years to master, but when you master, it's actually very enjoyable." The BMX racer, who trains with Calgary BMX, says doing manuals is part of his sport. "This manual skill is kind of very important for my sport, and I always do it every day when it's nice weather," he said. "I go outside on my bike and do manuals every day. It has been a skill that I had for a long time and I just wanted to really showcase it to the world and prove that I'm actually good at it." The plan was derailed in June, when Ganakovsky had a training accident that took him out of commission for two months. "I originally was planning to do this in April, and that's when I applied for the record, and the plan was to train with as much knowledge as I had before I got the instructions from Guinness, to attempt it in June. But in June, I had an accident in training and I broke my collarbone in three pieces," Ganakovsky said. After surgery and recovery time, Ganakovsky started training again in August. He made his record attempt on Aug. 27, on the runway at the Airdrie Airpark. Global Raymac Surveys measured the distance, and both Calgary BMX and B-Line Indoor Bike Park were on hand to help out and witness the event. "Obviously, when you have a skill like this, it doesn't fully go away, but it was certainly a struggle to get back to it after taking so much time off," he said. "And I'm happy that I was able to bounce back from this injury and, yeah, and do my world record." After the successful attempt, slow motion video analysis showed the following details: Pedalling cadence prior to crossing the starting line: 158 r.p.m. Take-off speed prior to crossing starting line while performing manual: 55.4 km/h Time from start to finish: 1 min. 53.2 sec. Long term, Ganakovsky would like to compete at the Olympics as a BMX racer. "My whole reasoning behind this world record attempt was to firstly prove myself to the world, what I'm capable of, but also it's a mini milestone in a big journey that I want to have in BMX racing in the long term," he said. "I want to go to the Olympics and represent Canada at the highest stage. And, you know, this record was also very important to me because I really wanted to help my club out and give them the support they need in order to become a world class club. And yeah, I think this record did just that." With files from The Homestretch.
WASHINGTON — Stop. Stabilize. Then move — but in a vastly different direction. President-elect Joe Biden is pledging a new path for the nation after Donald Trump’s four years in office. That starts with confronting a pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans and extends to sweeping plans on health care, education, immigration and more. The 78-year-old Democrat has pledged immediate executive actions that would reverse Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement and rescind the outgoing president's ban on immigration from certain Muslim nations. His first legislative priority is a $1.9 trillion pandemic response package, but there are plans to send an immigration overhaul to Capitol Hill out of the gate, as well. He's also pledged an aggressive outreach to American allies around the world who had strained relationships with Trump. And though one key initiative has been overshadowed as the pandemic has worsened, Biden hasn't backed away from his call to expand the 2010 Affordable Care Act with a public option, a government-insurance plan to compete alongside private insurers. It's an unapologetically liberal program reflecting Biden's argument that the federal government exists to help solve big problems. Persuading enough voters and members of Congress to go along will test another core Biden belief: that he can unify the country into a governing consensus. What a Biden presidency could look like: ECONOMY, TAXES AND THE DEBT Biden argues the economy cannot fully recover until the coronavirus is contained. He argues that his $1.9 trillion response plan is necessary to avoid extended recession. Among other provisions, it would send Americans $1,400 relief checks, extend more generous unemployment benefits and moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and boost businesses. Biden also wants expanded child tax credits, child care assistance and a $15-an-hour minimum wage — a provision sure to draw fierce Republican opposition. Biden acknowledges his call for deficit spending but says higher deficits in the near term will prevent damage that would not only harm individuals but also weaken the economy in ways that would be even worse for the national balance sheet. He also calls his plan a down payment on his pledge to address wealth inequality that disproportionately affects nonwhite Americans. He plans a second major economic package later in 2021; that's when he'd likely ask Congress to consider his promised tax overhauls to roll back parts of the 2017 GOP tax rewrite benefiting corporations and the wealthy. Biden wants a corporate income tax rate of 28% — lower than before but higher than now — and broad income and payroll tax increases for individuals with more than $400,000 of annual taxable income. That would generate an estimated $4 trillion or more over 10 years, money Biden would want steered toward his infrastructure, health care and energy programs. Before Biden proposed his pandemic relief bill, an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that Biden’s campaign proposals would increase the national debt by about $5.6 trillion over 10 years, though that would be a significantly slower rate of increase than what occurred under Trump. The national debt now stands at more than $25 trillion. ___ CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC Biden promises a more robust national coronavirus vaccination system. Ditching Trump’s strategy of putting most of the pandemic response on governors’ desks, Biden says he’ll marshal the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard to distribute vaccines while using the nation's network of private pharmacies. As he said as a candidate, Biden plans to invoke the Defence Production Act, aimed at the private sector, to increase vaccine supplies and related materials. The wartime law allows a president to direct the manufacture of critical goods. Much of Biden’s plans depend on Congress approving financing, such as $130 billion to help schools reopen safely. Beyond legislation, Biden will require masks on all federal property, urge governors and mayors to use their authority to impose mask mandates and ask Americans for 100 days of mask-wearing in an effort to curb the virus. Biden also promises to deviate from Trump by putting science and medical advisers front and centre to project a consistent message. Meanwhile, Biden will immediately have the U.S. rejoin the World Health Organization. The incoming White House has tried to manage expectations. Biden said several times in recent weeks that the pandemic would likely get worse before any changes in policy and public health practices show up in COVID-19 statistics. ___ HEALTH CARE Biden wants to build on President Barack Obama's signature health care law through a “Medicare-like public option” to compete alongside private insurance markets for working-age Americans. He'd also increase premium subsidies many people already use. Biden's approach could get a kick-start in the pandemic response bill by expanding subsidies for consumers using existing ACA exchanges. The big prize, a “public option,” remains a heavy lift in a closely divided Congress. Biden has not detailed when he'd ask Congress to consider the matter. Biden estimates his public option would cost about $750 billion over 10 years. It still stops short of progressives' call for a government-run system to replace private insurance altogether. The administration also must await a Supreme Court decision on the latest case challenging the 2010 health care law known as “Obamacare.” On prescription drugs, Biden supports allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for government programs and private payers. He'd prohibit drug companies from raising prices faster than inflation for people covered by Medicare and other federal programs; and he'd cap initial prices for “specialty drugs” to treat serious illnesses. Biden would limit annual out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare enrollees, a change Trump sought unsuccessfully in Congress. And Biden also wants to allow importation of prescription drugs, subject to safety checks. ___ IMMIGRATION Biden plans to immediately reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allowed people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain as legal residents. He's also planning an Inauguration Day executive order rolling back Trump’s ban on certain Muslim immigrants and has pledged to rescind Trump's limits on asylum slots. Additionally, Biden will send Congress, out of the gate, a complex immigration bill offering an eight-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. As a candidate, Biden called Trump's hard-line policies on immigration an “unrelenting assault” on American values and promised to “undo the damage” while maintaining border enforcement. Notably, the outline of Biden's immigration bill doesn't deal much, if at all, with border enforcement. But his opening manoeuvr sets a flank with plenty of room to negotiate with Republicans. Biden also pledged to end the Trump's “public charge rule,” which would deny visas or permanent residency to people who use public-aid programs. Biden has called for a 100-day freeze on deportations while considering long-term policies. Still, Biden would eventually restore an Obama-era policy of prioritizing removal of immigrants who have come to the U.S. illegally and have been convicted of crimes or pose a national security threat. Biden has said he would halt all funding for construction of new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. ___ FOREIGN POLICY AND NATIONAL SECURITY Biden's establishment credentials are most starkly different from Trump in the area of foreign policy. Biden mocked Trump's “America First” brand as “America alone” and promises to restore a more traditional post-World War II order. He supports a strategy of fighting extremist militants abroad with U.S. special forces and airstrikes instead of planeloads of U.S. troops. That's a break from his support earlier in his political career for more sweeping U.S. military interventions, most notably the 2003 Iraq invasion. Biden has since called his Iraq vote in the Senate a mistake. He was careful as a candidate never to rule out the use of force, but now leans directly into diplomacy to try to achieve solutions through alliances and global institutions. Biden calls for increasing the Navy’s presence in the Asia-Pacific and strengthening alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia and Indonesia. He joins Trump in wanting to end the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, but thinks the U.S. should keep a small force in place to counter militant violence. Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken is Biden's longest-serving foreign policy adviser and holds essentially the same worldview. Both are strong supporters of NATO. Biden and Blinken warn that Moscow is chipping away at the foundation of Western democracy by trying to weaken NATO, divide the European Union and undermine the U.S. electoral system. Biden believes Trump's abandonment of bilateral and international treaties such as the Iran nuclear deal have led other nations to doubt Washington’s word. Biden wants to invite all democratic nations to a summit during his first year to discuss how to fight corruption, thwart authoritarianism and support human rights. He claims “ironclad” support for Israel but wants to curb annexation and has backed a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. He says he'd keep the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem after Trump moved it from Tel Aviv. On North Korea, Biden criticized Trump for engaging directly with Kim Jong Un, saying it gave legitimacy to the authoritarian leader without curbing his nuclear program. Biden also wants to see the U.S. close its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Obama pushed the same and never got it done. ___ ENVIRONMENT Beyond immediately rejoining the Paris climate agreement, Biden has proposed a $2 trillion push to slow global warming by throttling back the burning of fossil fuels, aiming to make the nation’s power plants, vehicles, mass transport systems and buildings more fuel efficient and less dependent on oil, gas and coal. Parts of his program could be included in the second sweeping legislative package Biden plans after the initial emergency pandemic legislation. Biden says his administration would ban new permits for oil and gas production on federal lands, though he says he does not support a fracking ban. Biden’s public health and environmental platform also calls for reversing the Trump administration’s slowdown of enforcement against polluters, which in several categories has fallen to the lowest point in decades. That would include establishing a climate and environmental justice division within the Justice Department. Biden says he would support climate lawsuits targeting fossil fuel-related industries. ___ EDUCATION Biden has proposed tripling the federal Title I program for low-income public schools, with a requirement that schools provide competitive pay and benefits to teachers. He wants to ban federal money for for-profit charter schools and provide new dollars to public charters only if they serve needy students. He opposes voucher programs, in which public money is used to pay for private-school education. He also wants to restore federal rules, rolled back under Trump, that denied federal money to for-profit colleges that left students with heavy debts and unable to find jobs. Biden supports making two years of community college free, with public four-year colleges free for families with incomes below $125,000. His proposed student loan overhaul would not require repayment for people who make less than $25,000 a year and would limit payments to 5% of discretionary income for others. Among the measures in his COVID-19 response plan, Biden calls for extending current freezes on student loan payments and debt accrual. Long term, Biden proposes a $70 billion increase in funding for historically Black colleges and universities, and other schools that serve underrepresented students. ___ ABORTION Biden supports abortion rights and has said he would nominate federal judges who back the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. He's also said he'd support a federal statute legalizing abortion if the Supreme Court's conservative majority strikes down Roe. Biden committed to rescinding Trump’s family planning rule, which prompted many clinics to leave the federal Title X program providing birth control and medical care for low-income women. In a personal reversal, Biden now supports repeal of the Hyde Amendment, opening the way for federal programs, including his prospective public option, to pay for abortions. ___ SOCIAL SECURITY Biden's proposals would expand benefits, raise taxes for upper-income people and add some years of solvency. He would revamp Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment by linking it to an inflation index tied more directly to older Americans' expenses. He would increase minimum benefits for lower-income retirees, addressing financial hardship among the elderly. Biden wants to raise Social Security taxes by applying the payroll tax to earnings above $400,000. The 12.4% tax, split between an employee and employer, now applies only to the first $137,700 of a worker's wages. The tax increase would pay for Biden’s proposed benefit expansions and extend the life of program’s trust fund by five years, to 2040, according to the nonpartisan Urban Institute. ___ GUNS Biden led efforts as a senator to establish the background check system now in use when people buy guns from a federal licensed dealer. He also helped pass a 10-year ban on a group of semi-automatic guns, or “assault weapons,” during the Clinton presidency. Biden has promised to seek another ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Owners would have to register existing assault weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He would also support a program to buy back assault weapons. Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one and would require background checks for all gun sales with limited exceptions, such as gifts between family members. Biden would also support prohibiting all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits and gun parts. As with his public option plan for health insurance, it's not clear how Biden will prioritize gun legislation, and the prospects of getting major changes through the Senate are slim, at best. ___ VETERANS Biden says he'd work with Congress to improve health services for women, the military’s fastest-growing subgroup, such as by placing at least one full-time women’s primary care physician at each Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical centre. He promises to provide $300 million to better understand the impact of traumatic brain injury and toxic exposures, hire more VA staff to cut down on office wait times for veterans at risk of suicide and continue the efforts of the Obama-Biden administration to stem homelessness. ___ TRADE Biden has joined a growing bipartisan embrace of “fair trade” abroad — a twist on decades of “free trade” talk as Republican and Democratic administrations alike expanded international trade. That, and some of his policy pitches, can make Biden seem almost protectionist, but he's well shy of Trump's approach. Biden, like Trump, accuses China of violating international trade rules by subsidizing its companies and stealing U.S. intellectual property. Still, Biden doesn’t think Trump’s tariffs worked. He wants to join with allies to form a bulwark against Beijing. Biden wants to juice U.S. manufacturing with $400 billion of federal government purchases (including pandemic supplies) from domestic companies over a four-year period. He wants $300 billion for U.S. technology firms’ research and development. Biden says the new domestic spending must come before any new international trade deals. He pledges tough negotiations with China, the world’s other economic superpower, on trade and intellectual property matters. China, like the U.S., is not yet a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multilateral trade agreement that Biden advocated for when he was vice-president. ___ TRUMP Biden won't escape Trump's shadow completely, given the many investigations and potential legal exposures facing the outgoing president. Biden said as a candidate that he wouldn't pardon Trump or his associates and that he'd leave federal investigations up to “an independent Justice Department.” Notably, some of Trump's legal exposure comes from state cases in New York. Biden will have no authority over any of those matters. ___ Associated Press writers Will Weissert, Kevin Freking, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ben Fox, Deb Riechmann, Collin Binkley and Hope Yen contributed to this report. Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Saskatchewan is not implementing new restrictions to tame the spread of COVID-19, but businesses that don't comply with public health orders could soon be facing closures. Premier Scott Moe says it is time to take action against those breaking the law. "We don't need to punish all of those that are following the public health orders, but to those establishments and even all those people who are flagrantly operating outside of what the public health orders are, they do need to be punished," Moe said during the province's COVID-19 update on Tuesday. His comments came days after a video circulated on social media of young adults dancing, singing and mingling with patrons from other tables at the Tap Brewhouse in Regina. Some weren't wearing masks. The premier called the video concerning, especially when he has a petition sitting on his desk with 10,000 signatures from adults asking the province to allow their kids to play sports. "At the very same time we have these parents asking for their children to participate in a sport like hockey, we see a video of a number of adults that are selfishly and drunkenly dancing around a restaurant or bar right here in Regina," Moe said. He said he's asked public health if there are other options, in addition to fines, that could include "closing these bad actors indefinitely to ensure that we are having compliance in our communities." That would allow the opportunity for the businesses that are following public health orders to stay open and operate safely, he said. "Enough is enough," Moe said in regards to people breaking orders. "We have kids in community after community in this province that are making the sacrifice. It's time as adults we start making the same sacrifice." No more restrictions at this time Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, said if the public universally follows public health orders, Saskatchewan should see cases start to drop next week. "We continue to be stuck in this 300 [new cases a day] range," Shahab said during Tuesday's press conference. "We want to be heading below 250, 200, below 150 cases." The province reported 309 new cases, and six more deaths from COVID-19, on Tuesday. Moe and Shahab have said repeatedly that if cases continue to trend upwards, new restrictions will be implemented — but that likely won't happen until after Jan. 29, when the province's current health order is set to expire. Shahab says he has been meeting regularly with the provincial Minister of Health Paul Merriman to determine what measures would be implemented next. Eye on hospitalizations While the government didn't provide a threshold of what would trigger more enforcement, both the premier and Shahab said they are watching the rate of hospitalizations. As of Tuesday, 207 people with COVID-19 are hospitalized in Saskatchewan, 31 of whom are in intensive care. "That has been the limiting factor that your hospitals just can't keep up, and you have to make a decision of who gets treatment and who doesn't. That's a point of no return when you have to bring down the hammer to save the health system," Shahab said. "We may not be there yet, but that hammer is a very blunt instrument. It causes many unintended consequences. It's not the preferred instrument but when the health-care system is on the brink of collapse, then unfortunately those desperate measures have to be taken as well."
The B.C. government should tighten restrictions on travel from other Canadian provinces to curb the spread of COVID-19, a global health expert said Tuesday. The province announced last Thursday it was investigating the legality of such a move. Kelley Lee, the director of global health studies at Simon Fraser University, says she is working with researchers from across Canada, the United States and Hong Kong to document travel restrictions adopted by governments around the world. The researchers use genomic sequencing to see how the virus is spread. Lee says travel restrictions, when they're quickly implemented, are effective at containing highly infectious diseases, like COVID-19. "It's really important when an outbreak like COVID-19 occurs that you act early," she told Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South. "The countries that did that very quickly were more effective." Over the past several weeks, health officials have identified coronavirus variants in B.C. that were first seen in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Lee says this is why immediate action is required. "There's a short time window really to prevent more of those imported cases from coming into the province," she said. "We really cannot afford to have those new strains of the virus establishing themselves in the community." On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she is recommending against non-essential travel, but there is no public health order prohibiting it. Lee says while no jurisdiction can completely shut its borders to essential travellers, it's important to have systems in place to monitor them. "What we can do is [to] make sure that those travellers are travelling in a way that is safe for the rest of the population, that there may be an argument to vaccinate them," she said. Last year, In the early stages of the pandemic, a number of provinces set up checkpoints on their boundaries to restrict traffic. Tap the link below to hear Kelley Lee's interview on Daybreak South:
Calgary fire Chief Steve Dongworth called reports of racism in his fire halls "concerning" and says problem employees are difficult to deal with because they're "very clever" and "very subtle" in how they operate. "We have a culture where people tend not to report things for fear of retaliation," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. "That becomes a barrier to us finding out who those laggards are." But Dongworth said "there will be zero tolerance" when the problem employees are identified. The N-word On Monday, CBC News published detailed accounts from seven current and former members of the Calgary Fire Department who confirmed that although it's become less blunt over the years, BIPOC firefighters still experience insidious racism within the city's fire halls. Last summer, several current and retired BIPOC members and their allies sent a letter to the chief demanding change. The group alleges racialized bullying has led to suicides of CFD members. In interviews, several members, who CBC News agreed not to name because of fear of workplace retribution, said even to this day, the N-word is occasionally tossed around casually inside fire stations. Two people said that in fire halls, Black Lives Matter news reports, in particular, seemed to incite microaggressions from some coworkers. Dongworth faced criticism from retired captain Chris Coy, the first Black firefighter with CFD who retired Dec. 1. Coy said the chief has known about the racism within CFD for years and hasn't done nearly enough to change the culture. WATCH | Chris Coy on racism within the Calgary Fire Department: "Have I done enough quickly enough?" asked Dongworth, who was promoted to chief in 2014. "It never feels like that but I will tell you but I know we've steadily moved the needle on this." 'Changing minds takes an awfully long time' There are two prongs to Dongworth's anti-racism strategy. One is to set a hard line of what's considered unacceptable behaviour. "The second part is to start changing people's minds, explaining why racism is wrong, why discrimination is wrong. Changing minds takes an awfully long time." Several active and retired firefighters said their experiences with coworkers inside the fire halls were more traumatizing than the often gruesome scene calls they're dispatched to. "Every time we hear these kinds of accounts, we commit ourselves to double down on that work and make sure we do," said the fire chief. Council motion acknowledges CBC News report On Tuesday evening, the City of Calgary reaffirmed its commitment to anti-racism with a motion including wording specific to the Calgary Fire Department in light of CBC's story. "With respect to concerns related to the Calgary Fire Department, direct administration to specifically include these issues in their continuing work on internal practices and movement toward cultural change," reads the motion. Following a closed door session Tuesday evening, city manager David Duckworth and general manager of community and protective services Katie Black acknowledged the article, which reports a toxic culture suffered by some BIPOC firefighters. A day after calling the racism within CFD "horrifying," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he'll be pushing the release of information from two workplace reviews done in recent years. Chief 'absolutely committed to this work' Currently, there are no women or BIPOC members serving as deputy chiefs. Both groups account for less than three per cent of the 1,400 firefighters in Calgary. "If you don't have many people in the organization who are female or who are people of colour, Indigenous, Black, it's almost inevitable you're not going to have many in leadership positions," said Dongworth. The chief said his organization is actively trying to recruit visible minorities and women to the department. "I'm absolutely committed to this work," said Dongworth. "This has to be seen as a time where we double down on the work that we do, that we embrace those people that bring diverse cultures, genders, views to the workplace."
New South Algonquin Business Association chair Gabriela Hairabedian and outgoing chair Evelyn Lesage made a presentation to South Algonquin Township council on Jan. 13 about the township’s plans for a wayfinding map for visitors. They had some issues with the current draft map and wanted to suggest changes to make it more informative and visually attractive to tourists. They wanted to ensure they had more input on the map as it progresses to completion and also asked council to implement a policy to ensure there’s a feedback process into future economic development projects. The wayfinding map stems from South Algonquin Township’s rebranding initiative, which is being paid for by the Main Street Revitalization funding procured from the Association of Municipalities Ontario. Since the purpose of the revitalization grant was to invest in small businesses and the map itself was proposed by SABA as part of the grant proposal, Harabedian believes that SABA’s input is essential. The township has been working with Placemaking Design since December 2019 on their rebranding efforts, which includes the map. Unavoidably, COVID-19 has slowed this process over the course of 2020, but the initiative is slowly but surely coming to fruition. Hairabedian began the presentation by suggesting that the proposed wayfinding map should cater more toward long-term tourists versus day-trippers. She says that SABA has found that most tourists come from about three hours away and stay longer periods versus those who just come for the day, or day-trippers. While they don’t have any firm data on this, they estimate that less than five to 10 per cent of visitors are day-trippers. “If they have access to a visual map with attractive pictures and where to find those attractions, tourists will consider staying longer in our township and contribute to our economy, instead of going to the park, staying for only one night or having a quick lunch and going home,” she says. On that basis, SABA wanted to request some changes to the draft wayfinding map. These changes were; to remove all businesses and places where tourists would likely not want to go, like the township office and local daycare centres, to focus on natural features like trails, waterfalls and fishing spots, where tourists would more likely want to visit, to have QR Code links on the map to other helpful sources like the township website and trail maps, and to add a scale to the map so people can determine the distance between featured attractions. Hairebedian felt these changes would make the map less cluttered and it would not go out of date as quickly. Finally, she asked council if they could implement a policy that builds a feedback process into future economic development projects. “These decisions affect businesses most of all. We want to be involved and we’d really appreciate if you could do that. Thank you very much,” she says. Mayor Jane Dumas thanked Hairebedian, and said it was a fantastic presentation. “It was very visually pleasing. The work that you and your committee have done is excellent,” she says. She then asked council if they needed any clarification from Hairebedian on the presentation. Councillor Bongo Bongo thought everything had been pretty clear, but was a little surprised to see SABA’s request that all businesses be removed from the map. “But at the same time, I suppose that is one way to really level the playing field and have it very fair towards all businesses. At the end of the day, I really hope this map is well designed and a lot of thought goes into it,” he says. Holly Hayes, the clerk and treasurer of South Algonquin Township, also requested some clarification and asked Hairebedian if she meant that she wanted no private industry like hotels or gas stations on the map. Hairebedian replied that was exactly what she had meant, and that SABA was suggesting just a map to show attractions like beaches, fishing spots and features of that nature. “People can google things like hotels, gas stations, the LCBO easily enough if they need them. It’s nice to have a unique map, something that’s not anywhere to be found. We don’t want to bring confusion either, we don’t want people all over the place. It’s a way to guide them and take them where we want them to go,” she says. As a final suggestion, Hairebedian suggested that since Maynooth and Bancroft appear on the draft map, that they also include Barry’s Bay and Ottawa, so people get a clearer sense of where everything is. Dumas brought up the point that while they appreciated SABA’s suggestions, that council wants to ensure that the final wayfinding map caters to the needs of all South Algonquin businesses and not just to SABA members. She said that she intended to take the presentation back and have a discussion about it at the next economic development meeting on Jan. 20. Hairebedian expressed interest in SABA attending this meeting and Dumas said that she would confirm and let her know soon. “You’ve given us a great deal of food for thought through your committee and we appreciate it very much.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon as part of a late flurry of clemency action benefiting nearly 150 people, including rap stars and former members of Congress. The pardons and commutations for 143 people, including Bannon, were announced after midnight Wednesday in the final hours of Trump's White House term. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. President Donald Trump is expected to pardon his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, as part of a flurry of clemency action that appeared to be still in flux in the final hours of his presidency, according to a person familiar with his thinking. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, stressed that Trump has flip-flopped repeatedly as he mulls his final actions, and warned the decision could be reversed until it's formally unveiled. The last-minute clemency would follow separate waves of pardons over the last month for Trump allies, including associates convicted in the FBI’s Russia investigation as well as the father of his son-in-law. It would underscores the president’s willingness, all the way through his four years in the White House, to flex his constitutional powers in ways that defy convention and explicitly aid his friends and supporters. Whereas pardon recipients are generally thought of as defendants who have faced justice, often by having served at least some prison time, a pardon for Bannon would nullify a prosecution that was still in its early stages and likely months away from trial in Manhattan, effectively eliminating any prospect for punishment. Though other presidents have issued controversial pardons at the ends of their administration, perhaps no commander in chief has so enjoyed using the clemency authority to benefit not only friends and acquaintances but also celebrity defendants and those championed by allies. Critics say such decisions result in far more deserving applicants being passed over. “Steve Bannon is getting a pardon from Trump after defrauding Trump’s own supporters into paying for a wall that Trump promised Mexico would pay for,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on Twitter. “And if that all sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Thank God we have only 12 more hours of this den of thieves.” Trump is expected to offer pardons and commutations to as many as 100 people in the hours before he leaves office at noon Wednesday, according to two people briefed on the plans. The list is expected to include names unfamiliar to the American public — regular people who have spent years languishing in prison — as well as politically connected friends and allies. Bannon has been charged with duping thousands of investors who believed their money would be used to fulfil Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. Instead, he allegedly diverted over a million dollars, paying a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself. Bannon did not respond to questions Tuesday. Trump has already pardoned a slew of longtime associates and supporters, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law; his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone; and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. A voice of nationalist, outsider conservatism, Bannon — who served in the Navy and worked at Goldman Sachs and as a Hollywood producer before turning to politics — led the conservative Breitbart News before being tapped to serve as chief executive officer of Trump’s 2016 campaign in its critical final months. He later served as chief strategist to the president during the turbulent early days of Trump’s administration and was at the forefront of many of its most contentious policies, including its travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries. But Bannon, who clashed with other top advisers, was pushed out after less than a year. And his split with Trump deepened after he was quoted in a 2018 book making critical remarks about some of Trump’s adult children. Bannon apologized and soon stepped down as chairman of Breitbart. He and Trump have recently reconciled. In August, he was pulled from a luxury yacht off the coast of Connecticut and brought before a judge in Manhattan, where he pleaded not guilty. When he emerged from the courthouse, Bannon tore off his mask, smiled and waved to news cameras. As he went to a waiting vehicle, he shouted, “This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall.” The organizers of the “We Build The Wall” group portrayed themselves as eager to help the president build a “big beautiful” barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, as he promised during the 2016 campaign. They raised more than $25 million from thousands of donors and pledged that 100% of the money would be used for the project. But according to the criminal charges, much of the money never made it to the wall. Instead, it was used to line the pockets of group members, including Bannon. ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report. Jonathan Lemire, Eric Tucker And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Paul McDonough has returned to Atlanta United as vice-president of soccer operations. The MLS team announced the rehiring of McDonough on Tuesday after he spent two years as Inter Miami's sporting director. McDonough returns to the role he held in Atlanta from 2016-18, becoming a key player in the club's dynamic entry into MLS. United set numerous attendance records and captured the MLS Cup championship in just its second season in 2018. McDonough left after the championship to lead Inter Miami's entry into MLS as an expansion team this past year. The club went 7-13-3 and made the MLS playoffs in its pandemic-affected debut season. Atlanta United, meanwhile, fell on hard times in 2020. The club fired coach Frank de Boer and missed the playoffs for the first time. “Paul was a key part of our team as we built Atlanta United and we’re delighted to have him back in the organization,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a statement. “Paul brings a vast knowledge of the game, but more importantly he is a great cultural fit who complements our front office." McDonough will report to technical director Carlos Bocanegra and take a leading role in managing the salary cap. McDonough previously worked with Orlando City, helping the club transition to its inaugural season in MLS. He began his career in college coaching, serving as an assistant at Wake Forest, South Carolina and UConn. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A local business owner is starting a fundraising and donation drive for tenants ousted from their homes by the fire at Town Park Apartments C-block. More than 25 people are out of their homes while officials assess damage, including lots of school-aged kids, toddlers and babies. Michelle Lau just opened All In Family Support Services business, and wants to help people who have lost access to their personal items for the time being. At worst, their stuff might be damaged beyond recovery. The fire started late Sunday night and was under control by 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. A few people were injured by jumping out of windows to escape the blaze, but no one was left in the building. At present, tenants are not allowed back into their homes, even to retrieve personal items. Firefighters can retrieve essentials such as medication. Emergency Support Services jumped into action as the fire was still being put out. Local coordinator volunteer Susan Bjarnason said the initial 72-hour support period has already been extended for another three days. Long-term plans are unknown. READ MORE: ‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months ESS volunteers fear that many tenants did not have renters insurance, and could need to replace a lot of personal belongings, such as furniture, clothes, toiletries and electronics. Lau is accepting cash donations, gift cards, clothing and food for the tenants. She’ll keep everything in her storefront, allowing families to come one by one to get what they need. In less than a day of accepting donations her front room has two tables full of donations of clothes, baby supplies, some snack food, bedding and even some kitchenware. Lunch and breakfast food for school-aged kids are especially needed. The community has been particularly concerned about a dog that was injured in the commotion. Dex, a 65-lb cain corso-black Lab cross broke his forepaw when he was thrown out of a second story window in the panic. He was taken to the vet in Port Hardy, who determined surgery would be needed. The dog was sent to Campbell River for treatment on Tuesday. The vet estimated a cost of $2,000 or more. Lau is accepting donations to help with that bill as well. All In Family Support Services is located at #5-7035 Market St, Port Hardy. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette