Ontarians will face a strict, new lockdown right after Christmas, as the province aims to get a handle on COVID-19 cases. As Eric Sorensen reports, Canada's capital city, where cases have dwindled, sees the orders as unfair.
Ontarians will face a strict, new lockdown right after Christmas, as the province aims to get a handle on COVID-19 cases. As Eric Sorensen reports, Canada's capital city, where cases have dwindled, sees the orders as unfair.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued to the media Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities" to adopt basic public health measures as early as possible. “What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” it said. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying disputed whether China had reacted too slowly. “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions,” she said, pointing out that Wuhan — where the first human cases were identified — was locked down within three weeks of the outbreak starting. “All countries, not only China, but also the U.S., the U.K., Japan or any other countries, should all try to do better,” Hua said. An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them, including the new virus' genetic sequence. The story noted that WHO didn't have any enforcement powers. At a press briefing on Tuesday, Johnson Sirleaf said it was up to countries whether they wanted to overhaul WHO to accord it more authority to stamp out outbreaks, saying the organization was also constrained by its lack of funding. “The bottom line is WHO has no powers to enforce anything," she said. “All it can do is ask to be invited in." Last week, an international team of WHO-led scientists arrived in Wuhan to research the animal origins of the pandemic after months of political wrangling to secure China's approval for the probe. The panel also cited evidence of COVID-19 cases in other countries in late January, saying public health containment measures should have been put in place immediately in any country with a likely case, adding: “They were not.” The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency — its highest warning for outbreaks — sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO's top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don't appear to be sick. Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump slammed the U.N. health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization. The U.N. health agency bowed to the international pressure at the annual assembly of its member states last spring by creating the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The WHO chief appointed Johnson Sirleaf and Clark — who both have previous ties to the U.N. agency — to lead the team, whose work is funded by WHO. Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of commending countries for their response efforts. Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response said he warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP. To date, the pandemic has killed more than 2 million people worldwide. ___ AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from Toronto. Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed to this report. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Maria Cheng And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
BERLIN — Police say a 26-year-old was detained in Berlin twice after throwing snowballs and other projectiles at the American consulate and scuffling with security personnel while yelling slogans against outgoing President Donald Trump. The man, whose name wasn’t given in line with German privacy laws, first appeared outside the consulate Tuesday yelling slogans and throwing snowballs at about 3 p.m. At about 10:30 p.m., the man reappeared outside the consulate and threw two half-full beverage cans at police officers. He was eventually released after being brought to a police station. Police said Wednesday he's under investigation for causing property damage and bodily harm. The Associated Press
CAIRO — A fire, followed by an explosion at an ammunition warehouse at a naval academy in western Libya killed three people, including two officers, a Libyan spokesman said Wednesday. It was not clear what caused the overnight blaze at the academy in the town of Janzur, about 24 kilometres (14 miles) west of the capital of Tripoli, said Masoud Abdal Samad, the spokesman of the Libyan navy. Four people were also wounded in the incident. Samad said the dead included Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ayoub, the head of the academy, and Brig. Gen. Salem Abu Salah, who ran the naval college. The third person who died was not identified. Video footage that circulated online following the incident shows firefighters and ambulances rushing to the site where a building is engulfed in a huge fire. Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed the country’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The oil-rich country is now ruled by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east. Eastern-backed forces had fought a months-long offensive to capture Tripoli but the campaign ended in failure last year. The Associated Press
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s Defence Ministry on Wednesday reported the death of a soldier in Afghanistan, the second from the tiny Western Balkan country to die during the international peacekeeping mission. The soldier, identified only by the initials Xh. J., died Tuesday night at 1810 GMT (1:10 p.m. EST), the ministry said in a statement. It didn't specify the location or give any details about the circumstances. The ministry said that the Albanian military was assisting an investigation by the command of the Resolute Support Mission operation in Afghanistan, made up of around 16,000 troops from 38 countries. Albania, a NATO member since 2009, has been part of the international mission since 2010. The country currently has 99 troops in Afghanistan, located at two bases in Herat and Kabul. The ministry expressed condolences to the family and “assure the personnel in the mission and their families of continuous support in the successful accomplishment of their mission.” The Associated Press
As you take a closer look at your financial footing amid the headwinds of a pandemic, it’s an excellent time to examine the possible impact of a Joe Biden presidency on money matters. The balance of Congress has shifted following the Georgia runoffs, providing possible momentum for President Biden’s agenda. A new COVID check, taxes, health care — it’s all on the line. Here’s how. A SHORT FUSE ON ANOTHER ROUND OF STIMULUS CHECKS Look for another round of pandemic relief shortly after Biden’s inauguration, says Bernard Yaros Jr., an economist with Moody’s Analytics. “In February, we expect that there’s going to be a COVID-specific relief package,” Yaros says. That measure will likely once again extend unemployment insurance benefits, with enough support for another round of checks issued to Americans, “whether it’s 2K or slightly lower,” he says. Small businesses are likely to receive more grants and forgivable loans, as well. “And we’re also thinking, you would probably get some additional funding for rental assistance,” Yaros adds. MOVING FROM RELIEF TO STIMULUS With Democrats gaining two seats in the Senate from the Georgia runoffs, there is now a greater possibility of moving from “relief” to “stimulus” mode in late 2021. “That’s because now that the Democrats have a simple majority in the Senate. They can pass changes to the tax code as well as implement changes in spending,” Yaros says. Moody’s Analytics economists expect the Biden administration will dedicate increased funding for enhancements to “social safety nets,” possibly including: — Expanding eligibility for Medicare. — Retooling Obamacare into Bidencare. — Rolling out paid sick leave protections. — Offering universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. — Providing some kind of student debt forgiveness. But on these initiatives, Democrats will “have to pick and choose,” Yaros says. “Among the more moderate Democrats, they’re not going to want to increase the deficit too much. That’s obviously going to be a limiting factor,” he adds. And while Vice-President Kamala Harris holds the deciding vote in the event of a Senate tie, the 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans doesn’t constitute filibuster-proof power. REVERSING TRUMP TAX CUTS Higher taxes are expected to partially fund the widening of these social safety nets. Yaros says Biden is likely to succeed in reversing Trump’s tax cuts, raising the corporate income tax rate to 28%, increasing the tax rate for taxable incomes of more than $400,000 and eliminating some tax breaks for those making more than $1 million. But the tax hikes may be smaller than widely anticipated, says Michael Zezas, head of U.S. public policy research at Morgan Stanley. “In a Senate where Democrats have the slimmest majority possible, any one Democratic senator effectively has a veto. And when it comes to taxes, we expect many of the Biden administration’s proposed taxes won’t pass muster with Democratic moderates,” Zezas says in an analysis. “We estimate about $500 billion of tax increases are possible, obviously a smaller number than another potential COVID stimulus round, and also smaller than the $1 trillion-plus spending now in play for each of health care and infrastructure,” Zezas added. Even if Biden can swing the tax hikes, they aren’t expected to kick in until 2024, Yaros says, “to make sure that there’s no fiscal drag, at all, on the economy in these next couple of years when we’re still digging ourselves out of the pandemic.” REVISING RETIREMENT PLANS Joe Biden also has some ideas to reshape employer-sponsored retirement plans. One of those proposals is to equalize the tax benefit of contributing to a retirement plan so that “higher-income earners aren’t getting more of the benefit than the lower-income workers, that it’s standard across the board,” says Anne Tyler Hall, founder and principal of Hall Benefits Law. For example, someone in a 37% tax bracket is able to deduct the full amount of a retirement plan contribution; so $37 for every $100 pre-tax contribution. That’s a greater tax benefit than someone in a lower tax bracket, such as 20%, who would receive a $20 deduction for each $100 pre-tax contribution. The idea proposed by the Biden administration is to offer a tax credit to low- and moderate-income workers, resulting in an equal tax benefit. Democrats are also pushing for employers to make retirement saving easier for the U.S. workforce. “Employers who don’t offer retirement plans would be required to allow employees to make contributions to individual retirement accounts, IRAs,” Hall says. “Contributions to the IRAs would come directly from paychecks.” With the shift of balance in Congress, Hall says such changes may be more likely. Plus, “some of these provisions have bipartisan support,” she adds. RELATED LINKS: Georgia Changes the Game https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/thoughts-on-the-market-zezas Budgeting 101: How to Budget Money http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-budget-101 Hal M. Bundrick Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Almost every hospital in New Brunswick is either over its target occupancy rate for the orange level of COVID-19 recovery, or very close to it, figures from the two regional health authorities show. This is with only one COVID-19 patient in the province hospitalized, as of Tuesday. Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network did not respond to a request from CBC News for red-level occupancy rate targets, but five of the 15 hospitals are operating at overcapacity for any phase, with one as high as 150 per cent. The Moncton region, Zone 1, Saint John region, Zone 2, and Fredericton region, Zone 3, have all been bumped back to the more restrictive red level from orange, as of midnight Tuesday. Premier Blaine Higgs announced the decision Tuesday afternoon, after one more death and 31 new cases of the respiratory disease were confirmed in New Brunswick, pushing the total active cases to 316. "We're simply not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," Higgs said during the COVID-19 news briefing. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive. And we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." "We don't want to be too late in reacting and look back and say, 'Only if.'" Even a small number of new admissions can have a ripple effect throughout our health-care system. - Geri Geldart, Horizon Health Network The Horizon hospitals in the three largest cities in these zones all have inpatient occupancy rates hovering around the orange-level target of between 85 per cent and 90 per cent. The Moncton Hospital is at 87 per cent capacity, the Saint John Regional Hospital, 96 per cent, and the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, 92 per cent. "Even a small number of new admissions can have a ripple effect throughout our health-care system, as we continue to balance high inpatient occupancy rates with limitations on staffing resources," Geri Geldart, vice-president clinical, said in an emailed statement prior to the announcement to move the three zones to red. "Our priority is to ensure as many surgeries as possible can continue while also preserving ICU and other beds in the event of a COVID-related surge." Horizon closely monitors its inpatient occupancy rates daily and makes decisions surrounding patient discharge on a case-by-case basis to ensure it has capacity in each hospital to admit any COVID-positive patients, she said. Vitalité's Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital Centre in Moncton is operating at nearly 94 per cent capacity, as of Monday afternoon. Its orange-level target is 80 per cent. Vitalité president and CEO Dr. France Desrosiers was unavailable Tuesday for an interview. The Edmundston region, Zone 4, has been at the red level since midnight Sunday. One of its hospitals is over its orange-level target occupancy, while the other two are close behind, according to figures provided by Vitalité on Monday. The Grand Falls General Hospital is at 90 per cent capacity. The target for the 20-bed hospital is 85 per cent. Edmundston Regional Hospital, which has 169 beds, is operating at 69 per cent, just below its 70 per cent target. Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin is not far from reaching its 85 per cent target either. The six-bed facility is currently operating at 83 per cent. That's down from 100 per cent on Friday. Vitalité spokesperson Thomas Lizotte did not respond to a request for comment about what might explain the high occupancy rates, given the sole hospitalized COVID-19 patient in the province, who is in a Horizon hospital, whether the rates are unusual, or what steps are being taken to ensure the hospitals will be able to admit future COVID patients. Daily discussions 'around the risks' Public Health is having daily discussions with both regional health authorities "around their capacity, around the risks," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, told CBC News. The health-care system's ability to respond to COVID-19 patients is one of the triggers considered for moving to another phase of recovery. "We are looking at the ages of the people that are diagnosed with COVID-19 every day and projecting, you know, whether or not they would need hospitalization," Russell said. If the government hadn't acted "swiftly and decisively" to roll Zones 1, 2 and 3 back to red on Tuesday, Russell predicted the province would "soon see dozens, perhaps even hundreds of new cases every day." "We would see a flood of gravely ill patients that would inundate our hospitals and overwhelm our doctors, nurses and paramedics. We would see more deaths and disruptions and sorrow," Russell said. "We need to continue to protect our health-care system and our health-care workers, not only to provide care in the health-care system, but to be there to vaccinate our population. We need to continue to protect our most vulnerable and we need to protect our social determinants of health." Russell said a combined total of 76 health-care workers are off work from Horizon and Vitalité either because they tested positive for COVID-19 or they're isolating as a precaution. This has also had an impact on some services, she said. The Vitalité Health Network said more than 100 of its surgeries were cancelled between Jan. 4 and Jan. 14, including 55 in the Moncton region, two in the Edmundston region, 35 in the Campbellton region and 14 in the Bathurst region. The Horizon Health Network had 37 surgeries cancelled last week alone. Those include 26 in the Moncton region, eight in the Saint John region, two in the Fredericton region, and one in the Miramichi region. 5 over 100 per cent Of Vitalité's other hospitals, Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, in Zone 1, has the highest occupancy rate at 150 per cent. Its orange target is 85 per cent. The three other overcapacity hospitals are all in the Bathurst region, Zone 6. They include: Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus RHSJT in Caraquet: 133.3 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 per cent. Lamèque Hospital, 116.7 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 per cent. Tracadie Hospital,101.7 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 per cent. Horizon also had an overcapacity hospital: Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville, Zone 3, 102 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 to 90 per cent The overall hospital occupancy rate for Vitalité is 82.5 per cent, said Lizotte. "We're aiming [for] 80 per cent," he said in an email. The other Vitalité hospitals include: Campbellton Regional Hospital, Zone 5, 74.6 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 60 per cent. Chaleur Regional Hospital, Zone 6, 62.1 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 70 per cent. The remaining Horizon hospital is: Miramichi Regional Hospital, Zone 7, 87 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 to 90 per cent. "During the very early stages of the pandemic, Horizon was able to successfully discharge a number of alternate level of care (ALC) patients to more appropriate care settings — such as a nursing home or adult residential facility — to build additional capacity within our hospitals," said Geldart. Compared to other jurisdictions, New Brunswick has also been "relatively successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19," she said. Because of this, Horizon hospitals have not had to care for large numbers of COVID positive patients at a single time. "It's important to note, however, this situation can change at any time, and because of this we remain on high alert," Geldart said.
Check out this cute little Morkie dog attempting to attack the show dogs on TV. Too funny!
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
NEW DELHI — India began supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries on Wednesday, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. India's Foreign Ministry said the country would send 150,000 shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 shots to the Maldives on Wednesday. Vaccines will also be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles in coming weeks, the ministry said, without specifying an exact timeline. It added in its a statement late Tuesday that regulatory clearances were still awaited from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius. Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said India would ensure that domestic vaccine makers have adequate stocks to meet India's domestic needs as it supplies partner countries in the coming months. “India will continue to supply countries all over the world with vaccines. This will be calibrated against domestic requirements and international demand and obligations,” he said. Indian regulators gave the nod for emergency use to two vaccines earlier this month: the AstraZeneca vaccine and another one by Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech. India kicked off its own massive vaccination drive on Jan. 17, with a goal of inoculating 300 million of its nearly 1.4 billion people. These vaccines being sent to neighbouring countries are being sent as grants and India’s Foreign Ministry said the vaccines were not part of COVAX, the U.N.-backed global effort aimed at helping lower income countries obtain the shots. With nations making their own plans and not waiting for COVAX, some experts fear that India’s gesture of goodwill may inadvertently undermine the struggling initiative, which has yet to deliver any of the promised 2 billion vaccines to poor countries. Although COVAX has announced new deals to secure vaccines in recent weeks, it has only signed legally binding deals for a fraction of the needed shots. WHO said earlier this week it hopes vaccines bought by another global initiative started by the Gates Foundation, GAVI, might start being delivered to poor countries later this month or next. The U.N. health agency’s Africa chief, however, estimated that the first COVID-19 vaccines from that initiative might only arrive in March and that a larger roll-out would only begin in June. Of the more than 12 billion coronavirus vaccine doses being produced this year, rich countries have already bought about 9 billion, and many have options to buy even more. This means that Serum Institute, which has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make a billion doses, is likely to make most of the shots that’ll be used by developing nations. ___ Associated Press journalists Ashok Sharma in New Delhi and Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Aniruddha Ghosal, The Associated Press
The owner of Canada's biggest stock exchanges is seeking to attract more Asian derivatives investors, aiming to boost the share of its overall revenues from outside the country to half from one-third currently. TMX Group, which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, the TSX Venture Exchange and the Montreal Exchange, plans to extend derivatives trading to 23 hours in the second half of 2021 from 14-1/2 hours now to attract Asia-Pacific institutional investors, Chief Executive John McKenzie told Reuters in an exclusive interview. McKenzie said TMX hopes both to expand outside Canada and beyond its traditional equities trading operations, which already accounted for less than a tenth of revenues in fiscal 2019, half the level of a decade earlier.
OKLAHOMA CITY — One name missing in President Donald Trump's flurry of pardons is “Tiger King” Joe Exotic. His team was so confident in a pardon that they'd readied a celebratory limousine and a hair and wardrobe team to whisk away the zookeeper-turned-reality-TV-star, who is now serving a 22-year federal prison sentence in Texas. But he wasn't on the list announced Wednesday morning. Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. Baskin was not harmed. Maldonado-Passage, who has maintained his innocence, was also sentenced for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records. A jury convicted him in April 2019. In his pardon application filed in September, Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys argued that he was “railroaded and betrayed” by others. Maldonado-Passage, 57, is scheduled to be released from custody in 2037, but his attorneys said in the application that “he will likely die in prison” because of health concerns. Maldonado-Passage's legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday. The blond mullet-wearing zookeeper, known for his expletive-laden rants on YouTube and a failed 2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial campaign, was prominently featured in the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” The Associated Press
Joe Biden's first year in office could go down in history as a record-breaker on the job-creation front, with an explosion in hiring expected as the coronavirus vaccine rollout allows Americans to emerge from a year in hiding. Only slightly more than half of the 22 million jobs lost in the pandemic were regained by the end of last year. As Biden takes the oath of office on Wednesday, the job market awaiting him presents a monumental challenge.
Regina– Saskatchewan, and Canada as a whole, is seeing hiccups in what are still early days of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. On Jan. 19, the federal government explained that it would not be receiving any of the Pfizer vaccine the following week, for instance. The New Democratic Party pointed out a Regina facility didn’t have enough vaccine for all its assisted-care clients in addition to its long-term care clients on Jan. 18. But eventually, the residents and staff of long-term care facilities, the provinces’ highest priority for the vaccine distribution, will be fully vaccinated. Will we see restrictions start to lift for those people, or will they have to wait six months? At the regular COVID-19 briefing on Jan. 19 in the Legislature, both Premier Scott Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab replied. Shahab said, “I think that’s really important.” “The main thing, right now we have been very cautious because the vaccination rate is coming up very slowly. And as you know, in the clinical trials the vaccines had 95 per cent effectiveness, but in the real world we do know that if you're elderly, have immune suppression, the vaccine may not be that effective and COVID is so highly transmissible that, even if you have a long term care facility where you, for example, have a 90 per cent uptake of the vaccine, and the vaccine is 90 per cent effective that still leaves you a significant proportion of the long-term care residents still susceptible to COVID. “So, I think at the present time, it is very important that as our vaccination picks up, we adhere to all public health measures. Once we have the vast majority of the population vaccinated, especially adults with that underlying risk factors, but also broadly all adults, I think then we can cautiously start looking at how we relax our public health measures over the summer, likely that will start happening. “And again, I think it remains important. Right now, Obviously, there's no vaccine amount, high demand especially for the most vulnerable. I think once we have a large amount of vaccine available in the summer, we need to make sure that those of us who, if COVID so even low in the summer, all of us think of getting vaccinated. Well, that is one way how we can you know come out of most of restrictionns that we currently face, by fall. Shahab added, “But I think, right now, we really have to, even after getting vaccinated, we do have to comply with all public health measures, because not everyone is fully protected by the vaccine, and we're understanding more about how the immunization affects not just clinical illness, which it does protect to a large extent, but also transmissibility. But as we get more data from Canada, from our own province, and from other countries, you know, we'll be updating guidelines that but that likely won't change. Then at least May, June, once we have the majority of the population, especially the most vulnerable fully immunized. Moe said it ties into hospitalizations, and it is still a couple months early for this discussion. “But the fact of the matter is, as we are able to access vaccines for the most vulnerable in our population, the elderly in our population, and start creeping those vaccines and the availability of those vaccines down through the age groups in society, it does beg the question on when will we be able to start to look at relaxing the measures that we have in place; the very, very significant measures that we have in place here in Saskatchewan.” He continued, “I would point back to the conversation we had about hospitalizations and as we start to hopefully, if you look at our hospitalizations, quite often the age of the of the folks in hospital are somewhat younger than what we might have in our long-term care facilities. And so, as we work our way through the age groups, and we start to see our hospitalizations decreasing in significant fashion, that would speak to the fact that we have many of those that are more vulnerable in our community receiving the vaccine and not contracting COVID-19, and not as a point, I think, when we could have a little more open conversation about what the future looks like for Saskatchewan. “So two things on that: that isn't in the in the next number of weeks, that will be the next number of months. And this speaks to the importance of us, as Canadians and us, looking to our Canadian government to do everything they can to procure as many vaccines as they can, and to do so in as the shortest timeframe as possible. “I think premier Ford and made some comments today about what he would urge the prime minister to do and that was to find, I believe, someone, if not the CEO of Pfizer, and maybe light a firecracker up his yin yang, I think was the words that I heard. And I, I would just say, that there would be a lineup of premiers behind that the prime minister was able to do that; there would be a lineup of premiers behind that would bring a lighter to that party.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
A group of horseback riders on P.E.I. is looking at other options after their request to use sections of the Confederation Trail was rejected by the provincial government. Donna Lee Cole, an avid rider and member of the group, said they had asked to use a 10 to 20 kilometre section of the trail in each of the three counties as a pilot for the summer of 2021. They would share the trail with cyclists, joggers and walkers, as is done in other parts of the country. "We want to be part of the nature and the different woods and the undulating landscape and hillside, that's what we're looking for as trail riders," she said. "If we could access parts of the trail in rural areas to connect to separate adjoining trails that would be phenomenal." However, when they met last fall with Steven Myers, P.E.I.'s minister of transportation, infrastructure and energy, he quickly made his position clear. "My response was no," he said, "but that I would work with them in developing trails around that they could use for horses." Myers said government would be willing to partner with the group to redevelop the old horseback trail in Forest Hill near Dundas in eastern P.E.I. "It's a really nice trail in a really picturesque area," he said. "We're looking at what we can do to bring that back. And certainly interested in if we can help create a new type of multi-use trail that includes horses in other parts of Prince Edward Island. We'd also entertain that." Myers said money could come from the active transportation fund. I'm not ready to drop it but if he is willing to come up with alternatives, that would be great. — Donna Lee Cole He said staff in his department have told him that allowing horses on the Confederation Trail would cause bumps and ruts that would make it unsafe for cyclists and walkers, and would require a lot of maintenance. Cole said she disagrees that the horses would cause damage to the trail, and was "quite disappointed" when the proposal was rejected. Currently, horses are allowed on P.E.I. roads, but anyone riding on the Confederation Trail can face fines up to $1,000. "I'm not ready to drop it but if he is willing to come up with alternatives, that would be great," Cole said. Myers has asked the group to come up with a plan that doesn't include the Confederation Trail. 'The door is open' "From where I stand, the door is open and we're here and ready to work," he said. "I want it to be their project. I'd kind of want them to be the lead on it because they're the experts.… Just like we do with cycling groups and walking, hiking groups, we rely on them to say, 'here is what we want,' and then we try to make it fit into the program that we have currently running." Janice MacSwain, another member of the group who met with the province, said the Confederation Trail is a logical first option because of its accessibility, but she is more concerned about just having a safe place to ride. She is looking forward to meeting with government to further discuss the possibilities. "I really want it to go forward in whatever format we can for the safety. I ride with a young girl sometimes and when we're on the road I'm just a little bit nervous," she said. "It's just not as safe on the roads as it was, say, 20, 30, 40 years ago." Cole said the horseback riding group is also in discussions with the ATV Federation about the possibility of sharing their trail system. More from CBC P.E.I.
As Labrador hunkers down under an ongoing blizzard, the south-east portion of the province is waiting for its first major storm of the season. The latest forecast from CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler calls for 30 to 40 centimetres of snow and gusts up to 90 km/h for much of the Avalon peninsula and the Bonavista area on Thursday. While Labrador will see its blizzard conditions peter out early Thursday, Brauweiler said just hours later a new weather system will move in. She expects snow to start falling on the island around mid-day. Brauweiler also has her eye on another storm system that could dump more snow on the island Saturday, but says it's too early to tell how much it will bring. "It is going to be unsettled — a very busy weather pattern over the next little bit," she said Wednesday evening. Her forecast echoes Wednesday morning's predictions from Veronica Sullivan, an Environment Canada meteorologist based in Gander. "For the next few days … it's going to be quite active, especially for eastern Newfoundland, the northeast coast and the Great Northern Peninsula, and also Labrador," Sullivan said. The Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas are under a winter storm warning, with Environment Canada predicting between 20 to 35 centimetres of snow as of Wednesday evening, and possibly higher amounts for the Avalon's easternmost points, including the St. John's area. That weather system could also affect the island's northeast coast and Northern Peninsula, said Sullivan, although that uncertain track means it's too soon to say how much snow will fall later on Thursday night. Blizzards, and a busy weekend Meanwhile, a storm is already pushing through Labrador's north coast with the entire area under a blizzard warning Wednesday. Heavy snow and high winds are reducing visibility to zero, according to Environment Canada, which predicts between 15 to 25 centimetres of snow and possibly more in certain areas by Thursday morning. However, much of Labrador can expect more snow on the way for the weekend, Sullivan said. That snow "could persist for many days," although it is too early to firm up that forecast. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
BEIJING — China’s capital, Beijing, recorded seven more coronavirus cases on Wednesday amid a lingering outbreak in the country’s north. Another 46 were recorded in Jilin province, 16 in Heilongjiang on the border with Russia, and 19 in Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing. China has now recorded a total of 88,557 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, with 4,635 deaths. China is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by mid-February and is also releasing schools early and telling citizens to stay put during the Lunar New Year travel rush that begins in coming days. A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization criticized China and other countries this week for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier, prompting Beijing to concede it could have done better but also to defend its response. “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions and insisted on timely detection, reporting, isolation, and treatment despite incomprehensive information at the time. We have gained time to fight the epidemic and reduce infections and deaths,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday. “We are firmly opposed to politicizing issues related to virus tracing, as this will not help the international community to unite and co-operate in the fight against the pandemic,” Hua said. A team of experts from WHO are quarantined in Wuhan ahead of beginning field visits aiming to shed light on the origins of the virus that is thought to have jumped to humans from animals, possibly bats. Other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — India has began supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. India’s Foreign Ministry said the country will send 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 to the Maldives on Wednesday. Vaccines will also be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles in coming weeks, the ministry said, without specifying an exact timeline. Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said the government will ensure that domestic vaccine makers have adequate stocks to meet domestic needs as they supply partner countries in the coming months. Of the more than 12 billion coronavirus vaccine doses expected to be produced this year, rich countries have already bought about 9 billion, and many have options to buy even more. This means that Serum Institute, which has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make a billion doses, is likely to make most of the vaccine that will be used by developing nations. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
China's central bank has proposed stepping up antitrust measures for companies in the non-bank payments industry, such as Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat Pay. Under draft rules proposed on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) can advise the state council's antitrust committee to stop companies abusing their dominant position or even break up a non-bank institution if it "severely hinders the healthy development of the payment service market".
MAMUJU, Indonesia — Grocery stores, gas stations and other shops were reopening Wednesday in a quake-hit Indonesian city where debris still covered streets and searchers continued to dig in the rubble for more victims. Immediate food and water needs have been met and the local government has started to function again in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson Raditya Jati said in a statement. Thousands of people are sleeping outdoors, fearing aftershocks, and the streets of Mamuju were still covered in debris. Security officers toured the city in a patrol van with a loudspeaker, urging people to observe COVID-19 health protocols as reopened gas stations and markets attracted large crowds. Disaster Task Force Commander Firman Dahlan said a navy hospital ship, a university floating hospital and field health centres were providing care to help overwhelmed hospitals. A total of 79 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene from the magnitude 6.2 quake that struck early Friday. More than 30,000 people had to flee from their damaged houses, and nearly 700 others were injured, many with serious injuries, according to the agency's data. Dahlan said at least 12,900 evacuees remained in shelters in Mamuju and Majene in West Sulawesi province as of Wednesday. Friday’s quake was one of a series of recent disasters to hit Indonesia. The disaster agency recorded 169 minor- to major-scale disasters in the vast archipelago nation this month alone, including landslides, floods, tornadoes, tidal waves and earthquakes, that have left 160 people dead, 965 others injured and more than 802,000 displaced. The crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet on Jan. 9 killed all 62 people on board. And Indonesia has confirmed more than 927,000 infections and 26,590 deaths from the pandemic, the most in Southeast Asia. Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is lined with seismic faults and is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. Annual monsoon flooding also causes problems, and its transit infrastructure is weak and stretched beyond capacity. ___ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, The Associated Press