FFL Flash Alert - Will the Bills QB go over/under 2.5 combined TDs in Week 16?
FFL Flash Alert - Will the Bills QB go over/under 2.5 combined TDs in Week 16?
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
EDMONTON — Some Alberta rivers and streams have already been heavily contaminated by coal mining, unreported government data suggests. The province's plan for large-scale expansion of the industry is fuelling widespread criticism that includes concerns over selenium pollution. The data shows that same contaminant has been found for years at high levels downstream of three mines and never publicly reported. The findings raise questions about Alberta Environment, said a former senior official who has seen the data. "There were lots of (selenium) numbers and it was consistently above the water quality guidelines and in many cases way higher," said Bill Donahue, the department's one-time executive director of science. "Why did Alberta Environment sit on these data for easily the last 10 to 15 years?" Donahue left the department in 2018 after the NDP government of the day dissolved the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting Agency, an independent body intended to fill information gaps. Before resigning, he had become concerned about selenium in the Gregg and McLeod rivers and in Luscar Creek, all in the Rocky Mountain foothills east of Jasper, Alta. He took the data with him when he left and recently analyzed it for The Canadian Press. "The results are stark," he said. Since at least the late 1990s, Alberta Environment has monitored water upstream and downstream from the Luscar, Gregg River and Cheviot mines. Cheviot, owned by Teck Resources, still operates. The Gregg River and Luscar operations closed in 2000 and 2003, respectively. Gregg River, now managed by Coal Valley Resources, is considered reclaimed. Luscar, managed by Teck, is about 50 per cent reclaimed. Donahue looked at water samples from 1998 through 2016, taken upstream and downstream on the same day. He found that selenium levels averaged almost six times higher in the McLeod River downstream from the Cheviot mine. They were nearly nine times higher in the Gregg River and 11 times higher in Luscar Creek, despite years of reclamation. Selenium levels in all the samples from the Gregg River and Luscar Creek exceeded those considered safe for aquatic life: by nearly four times in the Gregg River and nearly nine times in Luscar Creek. The level was exceeded in about one-quarter of the McLeod River samples. "This is not a subtle story," said Donahue. "This is shocking." Alberta Environment and Parks spokesman John Muir said the department routinely monitors selenium at 89 waterways across Alberta. "We have key experts working on our own water quality studies to better understand the conditions of watersheds and aquatic life downstream of coal mining operations," he said. "(We) will make those findings publicly available." Muir pointed out that all raw monitoring data is available on a searchable database. He said the mines in question pre-date modern regulations and technology. An Alberta government document on reclaiming the mine sites states: "Current assessments indicate there is no risk to humans who drink water or eat fish containing excessive amounts of selenium." Selenium is a naturally occurring element vital in small amounts but toxic in excess. In fish, it can damage the liver, kidney and heart. It can reduce the number of viable eggs a fish can produce and lead to deformed spine, head, mouth, and fins. In humans, it can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. The last time Alberta Environment reported on selenium in the three waterways was 2006. Using data collected in 2000 and 2001, it concluded "selenium concentrations in rainbow and brook trout were usually greater than toxicity effects thresholds." Why the subsequent silence? asks Donahue. "They knew when a report was published that selenium was a problem in these systems related to coal mining. It draws a lot of questions." Last May, the United Conservative government revoked a policy that protected much of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains from open-pit coal mining. The area is home to endangered species, the water source for much of the southern prairies, and one of the province's best-loved landscapes. Hundreds of exploratory drill sites and kilometres of access roads have now been scribed into its wilderness, documents from Alberta's energy regulator show. One open-pit coal mine proposal is before a joint federal-provincial review panel. More than 100,000 Albertans have signed petitions opposing the plans. Opponents range from small-town mayors to ranchers to popular entertainment figures, including Corb Lund and Jann Arden. Mining opponents point across the boundary into British Columbia, where selenium from coal mines in the Elk Valley has created serious contamination problems. The lingering contamination from the three Alberta mines shows the stakes are high, said Donahue. "These pollution problems have persisted long after the closure of coal mines." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021 — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Recent developments: A highly transmissible COVID-19 variant has been found in the Kingston, Ont., area. What's the latest? Ottawa is reporting 48 new COVID-19 cases and no more deaths Monday. The Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) health unit said it's detected a case of the more easily transmitted B117 COVID-19 variant. The KFL&A health unit is asking anyone in the wider region who has travelled, or who has been in contact with someone from outside the area, to get a COVID-19 test. Facing a temporary shortage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Ontario says it's going to give available doses to its most vulnerable care home residents and delay them for health-care workers. How many cases are there? As of Monday, 12,977 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 869 known active cases, 11,689 resolved cases and 419 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 24,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 20,800 resolved cases. One hundred and fourteen people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 150 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Some places, like Kingston, Ont., have started taking on patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't stop people just for being outside. Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Students in areas covered by four of eastern Ontario's six health units can return to the classroom, but not in Ottawa or the area covered by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). Most outdoor recreation venues remain open, although in Ottawa the city has closed one of the most popular sledding hills. The Rideau Canal Skateway is expected to open this week under pandemic rules. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. Health officials say there are signs they have slowed COVID-19's spread and there's been talk about what it will take to lift them. In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with to ease the "very critical" load on hospitals and avoid more delayed surgeries. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. WATCH | COVID-19 'long-hauler' suing insurer after disability claim rejected: Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. WATCH | Feds considering further measures to limit travel: Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. COVID-19 vaccines have started being given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February. Local health units have said they've given more than 33,600 doses, including about 23,900 in Ottawa and more than 8,400 in western Quebec. The fact Pfizer is temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory, however, means some jursidictions can't guarantee people will get the necessary second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks. Ontario is giving its available doses to care home residents and delaying them for health-care workers. Its campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available in August. Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by then. WATCH| Family doctors unsure when they might get a vaccine: Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public. Before Pfizer's announcement, the province said people would get their second dose within 90 days. It has had to delay vaccinating people in private seniors' homes. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. The KFL&A health unit now says people that have left southeastern Ontario or been in contact with someone who has should get a test as they track one of the new COVID-19 variants. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had more than 140 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and six deaths. More than 270 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 20. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had their only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
One student poll in France found 72% had suffered recent psychological distress and more than a third had had depressive symptoms. View on euronews
An initial hearing into Irving Oil's request for increases in petroleum wholesale prices begins today in front of the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board with supporters raising the stark prospect of the company shutting down if it does not get what it is asking for and skeptics warning the board against being manipulated. "We must be cautiously aware that no business is too big to fail," read one letter on the issue received and posted publicly last week by the EUB. "They are playing the Board," read another about the company's application. New Brunswick adopted petroleum price regulation in 2006 and put the Energy and Utilities Board in place to oversee it. Currently wholesalers are allowed to add 6.51 cents per litre to the price of motor fuels they handle (gasoline and diesel) and 5.5 cents per litre to furnace oil. Irving Oil is applying for a 62.8 per cent (4.09 cent per litre) increase in the allowed wholesale margin for motor fuels and a 54.9 per cent (3.02 cent per litre) increase in the margin for furnace oil. The increases are substantially more than the 11 per cent growth in inflation that has occurred since the margins last changed in March 2013, but the company says fundamental changes in the oil industry and a sudden collapse in demand for petroleum products caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have rendered those old amounts obsolete. "Petroleum pricing regulations in New Brunswick were created 15 years ago," Darren Gillis, Irving Oil chief marketing officer, said in an affidavit supporting the application. "They did not contemplate the challenges of the last several years and were not designed to react to a global pandemic." If granted in full, the increases would apply to all New Brunswick wholesalers and would cost consumers about $60 million per year in higher retail prices. The Energy and Utilities Board has tentatively scheduled a full hearing into the matter for the end of March, but in its application Irving Oil said its situation is dire and it cannot wait that long for relief. Instead it is asking for 85 per cent of the requested increase on motor fuels (3.5 cents) and 99 per cent of the increase on furnace oil (3.0 cents) to be granted immediately pending the outcome of the full hearing next spring. "The entire supply chain in under pressure and at risk," Gillis said in the application. "COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges for the industry and urgent action is required." That tone has alarmed supporters of Irving Oil who fear the company is in trouble. Last week, the company announced layoffs at its Saint John refinery and worried suppliers have been mobilizing to urge the EUB to grant its request in full. Eric Lloyd is president of Sunny Corner Enterprises Inc., an industrial construction firm in Miramichi that does business with Irving Oil. Lloyd wrote to the EUB to say it "must take action to understand the economic forces that are stressing a very important contributor to our economy," and warned it is not "too big to fail" in asking its request be granted. Another Irving supplier, Lorneville Mechanical Contractors Ltd. in Saint John, also sent a letter expressing concern about the company's financial health. "We understand that Irving Oil has identified New Brunswick's highly regulated fuel pricing system as a challenge to its ability to operate reliably and sustainably," wrote Lorneville's president Jim Brewer, in endorsing immediate increases. Local building trade unions warned the viability of the refinery itself could hinge on the EUB's decision. "It would be devastating to lose this asset," wrote union president Jean-Marc Ringuette in his letter supporting Irving Oil's request. But others are skeptical. A number of anti-poverty, union and social justice organizations have signed up to oppose Irving Oil's application and a clutch of private citizens, like Saint John resident Mary Milander, also sent letters opposing the increase. "I believe that that the people of Saint John and the whole province have suffered financially much more than the oil industry during the pandemic," Milander wrote to the board. Although yet to start, the hearing has already been highly controversial following news last week that New Brunswick Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland sent his own letter to the EUB expressing concerns about Irving Oil's ability to supply products at current prices. That led to criticism from all three opposition parties and a call for Holland to resign from Green Party Leader David Coon. Premier Blaine Higgs defended Holland's intervention. The EUB has granted interim relief to applicants in other cases before, but normally on the condition money collected from consumers be returned if the increases are later found to be unjustified. A complicating factor in Irving Oil's application for immediate relief is that Gillis has acknowledged that other than home heating oil sales, returning money to customers will not be possible. "In the unlikely case the permanent increase for motor fuels is lower than the interim increase, Irving Oil cannot effectively and fairly rebate the difference," he said.
Roughly 212 light years away in the Virgo constellation lies a super-large exoplanet that has astronomers revising their theory of how giant gas planets form. The exoplanet, called WASP-107b, was discovered in 2017. At the time, it was difficult to accurately pinpoint its mass. But what astronomers did know is that it was already unusual. It is a particularly large planet, roughly the size of Jupiter, but with an orbit that is just a mere nine million kilometres away from its host star, WASP-107, which is estimated to be about three billion years old. To put that in perspective, Mercury, the closest planet to our sun, sits at 60 million kilometres. One year on WASP-107b takes roughly 5.7 days. However, now, after years of observations using the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, a team of international astronomers have uncovered something else: WASP-107b is oddly light. In fact, it's much lighter than what was thought was needed to build gas giants such as Saturn and Jupiter. "What was really surprising about this planet is that people have known … that it's about the size of Jupiter, so it's a gas giant," said Eve Lee, co-author of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal and an assistant professor in the department of physics at McGill University and McGill Space Institute in Montreal. "So if it's a gas giant, then the usual expectation is that it would weigh just as [much] as gas giants. Except it didn't." Jupiter is about 300 times the mass of Earth. But WASP-107b — while roughly the same size as our solar system's biggest and most massive planet — is only 30 times that of Earth. That's 1/10th the mass. The international team of astronomers inferred from their observations that the core of the planet was just four times that of Earth. But in theory, it was believed that these giant planets with such a gaseous atmosphere would require a core that was at least 10 times that of Earth's. After a star forms, the remaining gas and dust — called a protoplanetary disk — come together to build planets. When it comes to the gas giants, it's believed that a core that is 10 times more massive than Earth's is required to build — or accrete — and hold on to the gas envelopes. So what's the deal with WASP-107b? Lead author Caroline Piaulet of the Université de Montréal said there are two key elements in the theory of how this might have happened. First, it's believed that WASP-107b formed much farther out from its current location, likely around one astronomical unit, or the average distance between the sun and Earth, roughly 150 million kilometres. There, it began to accrete gas and dust relatively quickly. Secondly, it began to cool rather quickly. "When it cools down efficiently, it's able to accrete efficiently because if it cools down, it's going to shrink," said Piaulet. "So it's going to have more space to accrete more gas." Eventually, the planet migrated inward to its current position. Yet another surprise WASP-107b isn't the only "super puff" planet, as they are often called. Lee said there are four others known, though WASP-107b is the puffiest. So just how puffy is it? "It's usually compared to cotton candy, because it's about the right density," Lee said. "But it's not the kind that you find at carnivals. It's more like the kind that you buy at stores." And, as surprising as this super-puff planet was, there was yet another surprise in store: a second planet orbiting the star, WASP-107c. The planet was detected because of the longer observation time and was found to be roughly one-third the mass of Jupiter. Its orbit around the star takes about three years, significantly longer than WASP-107b. The discovery is just a reminder that, while we may think we have an understanding of how planets form, we still have a lot to learn about what lies beyond our own solar system. Even then, Piaulet said, we still don't even know much about the cores of our own giant gas planets, such as Jupiter. "What I found really exciting is that it's kind of pushing our understanding of planet formation to its limits."
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Families battered by the pandemic recession soon may discover that the tax refunds they’re counting on are dramatically smaller — or that they actually owe income tax. Congress offered a partial solution, but the fix hasn’t been widely publicized, consumer advocates say. Refunds are crucial to many lower- and moderate-income households, which use the money to catch up on bills and medical treatments, pay down debt and boost savings. But the unemployment insurance that kept many people afloat last year may cause problems at tax time this year. Unemployment benefits are taxable, but tax withholding is typically voluntary — and many people who lost jobs either didn’t know their unemployment checks would be taxed, or they decided against withholding. (Relief checks, such as the $1,200 sent out last year, are not taxable.) Further, unemployment benefits are not earned income and so don’t count toward two crucial tax benefits that keep millions of working families with children out of poverty: the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. “If you’re a single parent or a couple with kids living on, say, $25,000 a year, you might see 25% or more of your annual income in the form of your federal tax refund because of these credits,” says Timothy Flacke, executive director of Commonwealth, a non-profit that promotes financial security. THERE’S A FIX ON CREDITS, BUT NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT There isn’t an easy workaround for tax refunds shriveled by inadequate withholding. But Congress provided a potential fix for the tax credits issue in the $900 billion coronavirus relief legislation passed last month: Filers can choose to use their 2019 income to determine their credits rather than their 2020 income. But that fix hasn’t been widely reported, says Leigh Phillips, chief executive officer of SaverLife, a non-profit that encourages working families to save. Not everyone uses up-to-date tax software or well-informed tax preparers, and Phillips worries that many eligible people won’t learn about it before filing their returns. The IRS will begin accepting returns Feb. 12. “People are going to start trying to file taxes as soon as they possibly can,” Phillips says. “If you think that you’ve got thousands coming in the mail or to your bank account, you’re there day one with your paperwork ready to go.” THOSE WHO RELY ON REFUNDS TEND TO FILE EARLY Research confirms that the earliest recipients of refunds each year tend to be lower income, says Fiona Greig, co-president of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which studies data from millions of customer bank accounts. “(A tax refund) tends to be a larger relative cash infusion event for them, and as a result, they tend to seek their refund earlier in the tax refund season,” Greig says. In typical years, tax refunds equal almost six weeks’ take-home pay for the average recipient, the institute found. Last year the average refund was more than $2,500. Families who qualify for the earned income tax credit can receive thousands more. The maximum credit for working families with three or more children is $6,660 for 2020, and it’s refundable, which means filers get the money even if they don’t owe any tax. The amount you can earn and still qualify rises with family size, so that a married couple with three or more children could get at least a partial credit with adjusted gross income up to $56,844. A single person without children may qualify for a small credit with an adjusted gross income up to $15,820. Meanwhile, the regular child tax credit for children under 17 is $2,000 and not refundable. But low-income families may qualify for a refundable credit, which can be up to 15% of earned income over $2,500, up to $1,400 per child. TAX CREDITS HAVE WIDESPREAD SUPPORT The credits have been around for decades and have widespread bipartisan support among lawmakers, Commonwealth’s Flacke says. “It’s one of the few areas of some consensus across the parties that rewarding workers on the low end of the wage spectrum with these tax credits makes sense,” Flacke says. If you might qualify for one of the tax credits, make sure your tax software or tax preparer looks at both your 2019 and 2020 incomes before submitting your return. If you find out too late that you could have received a bigger refund, you can file an amended return, but you may face a longer wait. Instead of getting your refund in a few weeks, an amended return can take up to four months to process. Going forward, President Joe Biden has proposed one-year expansions of the credits as part of his coronavirus relief package. He wants to increase the maximum earned income tax credit for childless adults from $538 to nearly $1,500 this year and to raise the income limit. He also wants to increase the child tax credit to $3,000, plus an extra $600 per child under age 6, and make the full amount refundable. If enacted, these credits could be claimed on returns filed in 2022. ____________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC): What It Is and How to Qualify in 2020-2021 http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-EIC-2021 Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s medical regulator has approved use of its first coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for inoculations to begin next month. The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday gave provisional approval for people aged 16 and over to use the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Residents and workers at aged-care facilities, frontline healthcare workers and quarantine workers are among the groups being prioritized for the first doses. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the development. He said Australia was among the first countries to complete a comprehensive process to formally approve a vaccine rather than just grant an emergency approval. Australia has an agreement for 10 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and an option to buy more if supplies allow. Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the country overall had secured 140 million vaccines, one of the highest dosing rates per head of population in the world. The biggest of the pre-orders, conditional on regulatory approval, is 53.8 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 50 million of which would be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL. Australia is aiming to complete inoculations by October. The nation of 26 million people has reported fewer than 30,000 virus cases and a little over 900 deaths. In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — Australia has suspended its partial travel bubble with New Zealand after New Zealand reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in two months. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the suspension would last for three days and was being implemented out of an abundance of caution. Travelers affected need to cancel or face two weeks in quarantine upon arrival. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she’d told Morrison she had confidence in New Zealand’s systems and processes, but it was up to Australia to decide how they managed their borders. Health officials in New Zealand say genome tests indicate the woman contracted the virus from another returning traveller just before leaving quarantine. However, there was no evidence the virus has spread further. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the 56-year-old woman had recently returned from Europe. During her mandatory two weeks in quarantine, she tested negative twice. She developed symptoms at home later and tested positive. Officials say the woman appears to have caught the more infectious South African variant of the virus from another traveller on her second-to-last day in quarantine, and they’re investigating how the health breach happened. — Bangladesh received 5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine from an Indian producer on Monday. Under a three-way agreement, it plans to buy 30 million doses from the Serum Institute of India in phases. A Bangladeshi company, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd., received the 5 million doses as distributor for the South Asian country. Nazmul Hasan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals, said the vaccine will be provided to government authorities across the country. The government is training thousands of volunteers to administer the vaccine. The country received 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine last Thursday as a gift from India, while Monday’s doses were purchased. The vaccine, manufactured under license by Serum Institute of India, will be given first to front-line workers, including doctors and nurses. Bangladesh has recorded more than 8.000 deaths from the coronavirus. — Sri Lanka's government says it will start administering a coronavirus vaccine this week. Sri Lanka is to receive a donation of 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India on Wednesday and will begin inoculations the next day, the government said. It will first be given to health workers, the military and police. Sri Lanka has also ordered supplies of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, and separately is to receive enough vaccine for 20% of its population through COVAX, a program led by the World Health Organization and others. Last week, Sri Lanka’s National Medicines Regulatory Authority approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid warnings from doctors that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to prevent the medical system from collapsing. On Saturday, health minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi tested positive for COVID-19. The disease resurged in October with two new clusters, one at a garment factory and the other at a fish market. Sri Lanka has reported 58,429 case, with 283 fatalities. — A lockdown in part of Hong Kong's Kowloon neighbourhood was lifted Monday after thousands of residents were tested for the virus. The lockdown that began early Saturday covered 16 buildings in the working-class Yau Tsim Mong district. During the lockdown, residents were not allowed to leave their premises until they had tested negative for the coronavirus. The district has been at the centre of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, with over 160 cases reported over the first three weeks in January. Higher concentrations of the virus were also found in sewage samples, prompting fears the virus could be transmitted via poorly installed plumbing systems in subdivided units that lack ventilation. The government said in a statement early Monday that about 7,000 people were tested for the coronavirus during the lockdown, with 13 positive infections found. As of Sunday, Hong Kong has reported 10,086 cases of the coronavirus overall, with 169 deaths recorded. — South Korea has reported another new 437 infections of the coronavirus as officials raised alarm over an outbreak at a missionary training school. Around 130 students and teachers were found infected so far at the church-run academy in the central city of Daejeon. Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun during a virus meeting called for health officials to deal swiftly with the outbreak at the Daejeon school and prevent transmissions from spreading further. South Korea throughout the pandemic has repeatedly seen huge infection clusters emerge from religious groups, including more than 5,000 infections tied to the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus that drove a major outbreak in the southeastern region in spring last year. “We cannot let that situation repeat,” Chung said. The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the national caseload to 75,521, including 11 deaths. The Associated Press
Banks, grocery stores, pop makers — it seems like every day, another company is pledging to become a "net-zero" emitter of greenhouse gases — at some point years or decades in the future. But a pair of Alberta companies say they've not only achieved the mark but are actually storing more emissions underground than they are producing from their operations. Enhance Energy and Whitecap Resources both use carbon capture technology to stash emissions far below the surface. For Enhance, the company buys the CO2 from a refinery and a fertilizer plant in central Alberta. The CO2 is transported through a pipeline to its facility north of Red Deer, where it is pumped into an old oil reservoir. The CO2 helps to free up more oil and increase the amount of crude produced at the site, a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The private Calgary-based firm began operations last fall. So far, executives say about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 is stored underground every day, which they say is the equivalent of taking 350,000 vehicles off the road — a point of pride for the company. Because they're getting the CO2 from the two large plants but only extracting a small amount of oil at this point, on balance, they say they're burying more CO2 than their oil will produce. "I get a warm feeling when I come on site and see that injection well," said chief executive Kevin Jabusch. "That's very rewarding. It makes the 10-year effort to put this project together worth it." Federal goal is net zero by 2050 Many in the industry, as well as some environmental groups, support the development of carbon capture technology, although there are concerns about how emission reductions are calculated and whether capturing carbon disincentivizes industries from taking action to produce fewer emissions in the first place. The federal government has set a target of reaching net zero by 2050 and released a blueprint to achieve that goal in December, including hiking the carbon tax from the current price of $30 per tonne to $170 by 2030. The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy. - Kevin Jabusch, Enhance Energy Instead of calling Enhance an oil company, Jabusch describes it as a "carbon mitigation company" and said if the carbon tax rises as expected, the day might come when Enhance no longer will need to produce oil anymore to be profitable. Currently, the company generates revenue from oil production and from selling the carbon credits it gets for sequestering emissions. Alberta charges a carbon tax on heavy industrial emitters, but the province also has a system for companies to earn credits by reducing or storing emissions. Jabusch said the Alberta government's carbon tax program for large industrial emitters measures and monitors the carbon they sequester, but that data is not available publicly. Injecting CO2 to increase output Production from Enhance's Clive field is around 200 barrels of oil per day, but with CO2 injection, the company expects output to gradually grow to between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels per day over the next five years. "We're very negative today over the full cycle of our of our operation," said Jabusch, "and in the long term, we think it would be very close to zero. "Where carbon pricing is headed, we think there's going to be a strong incentive to maximize the amount of CO2 we put in the ground." Whitecap has a similar, but much larger, carbon capture project in Saskatchewan. Emissions from a coal power plant in the province and from a coal gasification facility in neighbouring North Dakota are transported to an oilfield near Weyburn, south of Regina. In each of the last two years, about two million tonnes of CO2 were injected and stored, executives said. The figures are currently being audited. The Weyburn facility has operated since 2000 and was acquired by Whitecap in 2017. With growing focus on sustainability and climate change, investor interest in the project has intensified over the last year, said chief executive Grant Fagerheim. "We're starting to get some of the bigger funds, not just from Canada, but in the U.S. for sure, and around the world," he said. Unlike Enhance, Whitecap does not account for the emissions that will be generated from the eventual use of its oil, saying it has no control over how it is used, making it difficult to calculate. Varying definitions of 'negative' emissions How a company determines whether it claims net-zero or net-negative status varies across the industry and can depend on the emissions that a given company is counting, which are often broken into three groups, or scopes: Scope 1 includes direct emissions from the activities of an organization, such as its industrial operations or the heating of its buildings. Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions, such as if the company uses electricity from a CO2-generating source, such as a gas-fired power plant. Scope 3 also includes indirect emissions, but ones that are out of the organization's control. For an oil company, Scope 3 includes tailpipe emissions from vehicles or when oil is converted into plastics. The combustion of fuel is often the largest source of emissions from a barrel of oil, compared to production, transportation and refinery activity. For Enhance, the company said it is net negative on Scope 1, 2 and 3 while Whitecap said it's net negative on Scope 1 and 2. By that definition, Whitecap expects to remain net negative even as its oil production increases by an estimated 65 per cent this year following deals to acquire Torc Oil & Gas and NAL Resources Management. "We will still be a net-negative emitter," he said. "It is nice to be in this position at this particular time." Projects can carry hefty price tag Fagerheim says he would like to build new carbon capture facilities but that they can be complex projects requiring a large capital investment and new infrastructure, including pipelines. "I believe that people will see the light of day, but ultimately, we're doing what's best for ourselves, and carbon capture utilization and storage is potentially a way into the future," he said. The two largest carbon capture projects in Alberta, including the Carbon Trunk Line that Enhance is part of, cost more than $1 billion to develop, and both required hundreds of millions of dollars in government support. There's growing interest in carbon capture projects. Last week, Tesla chief and billionaire Elon Musk promised a $100 million US prize for development of the "best" technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions. In Canada, one of the challenges with investing in a carbon capture project is the uncertainty about the level of carbon tax in the future since the approach to carbon pricing varies by political party. WATCH | Is carbon capture a solution for the oil industry and climate change? Environmental concerns Environmental leaders have often had mixed feelings about carbon capture facilities because while harmful emissions are stored underground, the technology may just be enabling industries to maintain the status quo and not focus enough on reducing the use of fossil fuels. "The science is fairly clear: we are going to need carbon capture in order to tackle the climate crisis," Jan Gorski, an analyst with the Pembina Institute, a non-profit organization that produces research, analysis and recommendations on policies related to Canadian energy. "Enhanced oil recovery is a way to ramp up carbon capture and drive down the costs and improve the technology as we work to eventually deploy that to tackling these more challenging sources where we really don't have a great way to deal with the emissions right now." Knowledge gained from carbon capture projects operating now could eventually help reduce emissions in tougher-to-tackle industries such as cement plants and steel production, he said. Some environmental groups suggest the investment in carbon capture facilities would be better spent elsewhere, such as building renewable energy projects. For example, a company could slash emissions in producing the oil, but consumers would still pump out emissions when they use it as a fuel for transportation or heating. 'The devil is really in the details' There is also the issue of double counting. Experts say it's important for any action toward reducing emissions to be properly assessed. For instance, if the emissions from a power plant are used by an oil company to increase the production of an oilfield, both companies can't take credit for the carbon-capture project. "I think the key thing is to be clear-eyed about the end goal," said David Keith, a Harvard University professor of applied physics and public policy based in Canmore, Alta. Keith also founded and sits on the board of Carbon Engineering, which aims to capture emissions directly from the atmosphere. "For me anyway, the end goal has to be driving emissions down to zero to protect us from climate disaster and also doing it in a way that does the least damage to our economy and, in Alberta, trying to find a way forward to provide good jobs for people," he said. "Enhanced oil recovery can play some role, but I doubt if it's going to be very big." If oil can actually be entirely net neutral or net negative from its production all the way to its end use, such as powering a vehicle, that would truly be fantastic, said Keith, but "whether or not those companies are doing it, I don't know. The devil is really in the details." Both companies see a strong future for carbon capture and EOR technologies, especially as demand for oil remains robust around the globe. "The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy, and we believe we compete very well with that," said Jabusch, with Enhance.
The San Francisco 49ers will take a greater role in the running of English Premier League club Leeds after raising their stake to 37% on Monday. Paraag Marathe, the president of 49ers Enterprises, will become vice chairman of the northern English club under Andrea Radrizzani, who remains the majority owner. The 49ers first bought 15% of the team from Radrizzani in 2018 and the club has since secured promotion back to the Premier League after a 16-year absence — making increased investment from the NFL franchise more desirable. “Our investment two-and-a-half years ago was to dip our toes in the water," Marathe told The Associated Press. "We really felt like Leeds had the bones of a powerful big global club and just from their global fan base and the supporter base and everything that they have. “As we’ve spent more time there we’ve realized that to be very true, and the opportunity to be very great and so it didn’t take us very long to realize we wanted to be involved in a much deeper way.” Leeds has won admirers with its style of football under Marcelo Bielsa, who has guided the team to 12th in the 20-team standings halfway through the season. “We want to be competitive and not just a flash in the pan competitive, but we want to be sustainably competitive,” Marathe said from San Francisco. "This is really about a deeper engagement. And not just me, but all of us at the 49ers, deploying our resources and expertise and blueprints for success over to Leeds and enable that club (to) really transform itself as well.” That means sharing resources and best practices. “We’re one big family now and it’s really about … and we’ve gone through a transformation at the 49ers over the last decade, decade and a half, and we feel like Leeds, LUFC is in the nascent stages of exactly that,” Marathe said. "First is showing we belong (back in the Premier League), next is competing in Europa (League) and eventually is competing in Champions League. That’s the goal. We’re just on the first step of that matriculation. But like I said, I think we’ve already shown that we belong.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
QUETTA, Pakistan — A Pakistani dissident and woman rights activist who died in exile in Canada last month was brought home and laid to rest in her home village in the southwestern Baluchistan province under tight security, activists said Monday. Only the immediate family of 37-year-old Karima Baloch were allowed to attend her funeral on Sunday in the village of Tump in Baluchistan. Her supporters claim that Pakistani troops had sealed off the village and prevented them from attending her burial. Her remains were brought to Pakistan from Canada earlier on Sunday. Baloch’s body was found on Dec. 22 near Toronto’s downtown waterfront, a place that she liked and often visited, a day after she was reported missing. Toronto police have not treated her death as suspicious though there were allegations by her supporters that she was killed. A fierce critic of Pakistani spy agencies that are often accused of abducting activists in Baluchistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, she was granted asylum in Canada in 2016. Her death has raised suspicions among rights activists, who on Monday denounced authorities for holding the funeral in near secrecy. “It is appalling to see how Karima Baloch’s dead body was treated," said Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker from Pakistan's former tribal regions who campaigns for Pashtun minority right but like Baloch, has also criticized Pakistani spy agencies. “It is not difficult to understand how this will deepen the divide and fuel separatism," he tweeted. "Is this the strategy to deal with the Baloch insurgency, to sprinkle salt on the wounds of Baloch?" There was no immediate comment from the government, but a video that surfaced on social media shows soldiers turning back several mourners who are heard in the footage saying they wanted to pay their last respects to Baloch. Angered over the situation, a Baloch nationalist group — the Baloch Solidarity Committee — issued a call for a daylong strike and complete shutdown in Baluchistan on Monday. Its statement said Pakistani troops spirited Baloch's coffin on its arrival from Canada and foiled a move by her supporters to hold her funeral in Karachi, instead taking her remains to her home village. Later on Sunday, hundreds of Baluch activists rallied in Karachi, denouncing the government for not allowing that Baloch's funeral be held in the city. They chanted antigovernment slogans and demanded justice for Baloch, who they say was a “voice of the Baloch people” that was “silenced.” The activists insisted she did not die a natural death though they offered no evidence to support their allegation. Baluchistan has for years been the scene of a low-level insurgency by small separatist groups and nationalists who complain of discrimination and demand a fairer share of their province’s resources and wealth. Although there are also militant groups in Baluchistan that stage attacks on soldiers, separatists also often attack troops in the province, prompting authorities to detain suspects. Human rights activists often blame security forces of illegally holding people. Such detainees are usually not charged and do not appear in court, which draws protests from their families and rights activists. ___ Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report. Abdul Sattar, The Associated Press
Officials with the Founders' Food Hall & Market want to expand the outdoor seating area next to the waterfront building to give it more of a street presence and create some space that works in these pandemic times. Port Charlottetown, which owns the building, is drawing up plans for more green space and a small bandstand stage for entertainment. "The objective is to use the exterior as much as possible," said Mike Cochrane, CEO of Port Charlottetown. "Obviously, in a post-COVID-19 era, the focus is a lot on exterior operations and making people feel safe." Cochrane said the port wants to create seating in six pod-type areas for groups of eight to 10 people to congregate; he calls them "cluster zones." They may look at installing some fire pits as well. He said the new outdoor space will be good for any kind of artisan demonstrations or local entertainment, as well as just socializing outdoors. The cost is expected to be around $150,000 and the port hopes the new space can be ready for this summer. City planners dealing with request In order to let the outdoor project proceed, the City of Charlottetown's planning department is looking at a request from the port to consolidate two pieces of property. When Port Charlottetown took over the building, land right beside the building was treated as a separate lot. Now the port says it makes more sense to treat it as one area, so that there is only one boundary line for any development. "it would have the whole, entire operation on one piece of land," said Mike Duffy, chair of the city's planning committee. "It makes it easier to administer," he said. Duffy said he believes the proposal would add to the atmosphere outside Founders' Hall, adding: "On a nice summer's evening, there's not much sense of being stuck inside." Planning documents related to the request note that the property in question used to be part of a larger plot of land, but the former owner subdivided it. No concerns with plan expected Duffy said he didn't feel there were many concerns with the proposal, noting that the city's existing bylaws would be able to deal with any noise concerns. "It's just a matter of making sure we're all on the same wavelength," he said. I think it's going to be a very pleasant change. - Mike Cochrane The proposal will get another look at the next planning meeting on Feb. 1. Then a recommendation will be made to council, and council members will vote on it Feb. 8. The application does not require any notice to residents, and no public meeting is required to deal with the change. "It's a heavily utilized area, and to make it more attractive — especially on Water Street, on the main point of traffic coming into Charlottetown — I think it's going to be a very pleasant change," said Cochrane. More from CBC P.E.I.
After months struggling with the symptoms faced by COVID-19 "long-haulers," Chantal Renaud faces the prospect of having to sell her home to pay the bills. The Clarence-Rockland, Ont., woman has had her long-term disability claim rejected by her employer's insurance company. And she can't access federal COVID-19 support programs because they don't acknowledge the condition. Renaud has now launched a lawsuit against the insurer, joining the growing list of long-haulers fighting in court for recognition of the post-viral illness. "I'm feeling very hopeless and anxious," said Renaud about the symptoms that have left her mostly bedridden for months. "It can not only destroy your life, but you can also start losing everything you worked for." 'It makes you panic' The 48-year-old communications manager living east of Ottawa said she contracted COVID-19 in March during the first wave from her construction worker husband. Renaud continued working until early June, when she came down with a more severe set of symptoms, including debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat. For seven weeks, when her illness was at its worst, Renaud said she thought she'd die in her bed. Her husband also developed many of the same symptoms, she said, leaving them both unable to work. "When you're unable to breathe, it makes you panic," she said. "We had a few episodes where we were freaking out and called the ambulance because we couldn't breathe." WATCH | Renaud describes her symptoms: Left in the lurch Renaud tried several times to return to work in the fall, but each time, the severe symptoms came flooding back. She now hasn't worked since November. And while she managed to successfully appeal her workplace insurer's rejection of her short-term disability benefits, her long-term disability claim was rejected in November. That's when she decided to hire lawyer David Brannen. Brannen said Renaud's case is part of a growing number of lawsuits launched against insurance companies for not recognizing the post-viral illness, also known as chronic COVID syndrome (CCS) or "long COVID." Those patients, Brannen said, are trying to seek support at a time when the medical community hasn't established a protocol for how to recognize, diagnose and treat sufferers — leaving them in the lurch when it comes to accessing insurance benefits and income assistance. Medical condition 'in its infancy' "There needs to be some attention here, because this is having real effects on people — to the point they're losing their homes," Brannen said. "Because they're not able to work, and they're stuck trying to prove a medical condition that's really in its infancy." Unlike the United Kingdom, Canada has yet to establish federal guidelines recognizing and defining long COVID, something Brannen said would go a long way to improving sufferers' lives. The U.K. recognizes the condition regardless of whether the sufferer has had a positive test, using other criteria to diagnose and treat the illness. In Canada, people like Renaud and her husband, who came down with COVID-19 during the first wave without needing to be hospitalized were often ineligible for testing. By the time Renaud got a test, the virus had run its course. The U.K. is also building a network of post-COVID-19 clinics to give sufferers access to specialized care. There are only a handful of such clinics in Canada, however. "My concern with long-haulers is that they are really at risk of falling through the cracks," said Brannen. "These people will be left in the dust." Challenge recognizing long COVID Renaud has now joined a new initiative at The Ottawa Hospital called "Stop the Spread," one of the few research projects underway in Canada that involve COVID-19 sufferers with long-lasting symptoms. Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the hospital is actively recruiting 1,000 people, half of whom have been infected with COVID-19. A cohort of that group will be long-term sufferers, said Dr. Curtis Cooper, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital. "We really don't understand who these people are, and why them and not others," said Cooper. Figuring out why their immune systems react differently, Cooper said, could one day "help us develop therapies to try to assist these people." But that won't provide immediate help to sufferers like Renaud. "Not only are we not getting the financial support we need, but we're not really getting the care that we need to recover," said Renaud. Renaud's short-term disability ends in a couple of weeks, and after that, she said she'll be forced to put the family home up for sale. And she's already used up the 15 weeks of employment insurance sick benefits she was eligible for. She said she's speaking out because she wants people to know the risks long-haulers face. "It's a lot more debilitating than just fighting an illness," she said. "You have to be ready to lose everything."
There's a new attempt to find a balance between the economy and the environment in northern Ontario's most watched forest. For decades, Temagami was gripped by logging road blockades, with environmentalists and Indigenous protesters chaining themselves to bulldozers. But now some of those who used to be on opposing sides are sitting around the same board table with the formation of the Temagami Forest Management Corporation. "This was the way to do it," says Temagami Mayor Dan O'Mara. "To get the people who were all involved in the past together to come up with a future for the Temagami forest that everybody could live with." The management corporation is the second of its kind in the province, after one created in the Pic River area in the northwest in 2012. It brings together logging companies, municipal leaders and First Nations to decide which trees to cut and find buyers for that wood. "Even by that happening it's a statement that we can work together for the benefit of all," says John Yakabuski, Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "We'll be talking about this in generations to come because it'll be managed in that regard." "It took us six years and a lot of frowns and raised eyebrows and talking and going back and forth around the table," says John McNutt, the woodland manager for Goulard Lumber in Sturgeon Falls. The company has cut in the Temagami forest for decades and some of its employees were forced into confrontations with protesters in years past. McNutt says about 20 per cent of the trees that arrive at their sawmill come from Temagami and he is "hoping it will increase in a positive way" particularly with new markets opening up through partnerships with First Nations. He is also hoping the new management corporation will cut down on wildfires, like the one that started in Lady Evelyn Provincial Park in 2018. It went on to scorch some 27,000 hectares and threatened towns like Temagami and Elk Lake. McNutt says from the air he has seen how older preserved stands of trees fuelled the flames, while younger trees in managed forest areas didn't catch. But John Kilbridge, who took part in the protests of the 1980s and has worked for years to promote wilderness tourism in Temagami, sees this as the province handing the forests over to the timber companies. "They don't want to be paying for all this oversight. They just want to sit back and collect stumpage fees," he says. Kilbridge also says the Ford government's decision to take forestry projects out of environmental assessment legislation was a "betrayal" because it was "our one way to call the industry to account." "I'm not imagining the scenario about the big bad logging companies giving us a hard time. They are giving us a hard time and the government is giving us a hard time. They're stonewalling us," he says. Kilbridge says more permanent logging roads are already snaking through the Temagami wilderness he and others were fighting to protect all those years ago. "I think it has been lost," he says of the battle over the Temagami forest that started in the 1970s. Much of that was led by the Indigenous peoples of Bear Island. No one from Temagami First Nation or the nearby Matachewan First Nation was available to speak about their involvement in the new management corporation. There is also a seat at the table for the Timiskaming First Nation, across the border in Quebec. Chief Sacha Wabie says 60 per cent of her community's traditional territory is in what is today called Ontario. "Currently, we are disappointed with the way the forest is being managed, as we are excluded from the decision-making process," she wrote in an email. "So, the creation of the new forest management corporation gives us hope that we will have a say in how our lands and territory will be managed." Wabie says she hopes the new corporation will lead to more jobs for her community of 2,200, 600 of whom live on reserve and "receive none of these benefits" from the Ontario forests that "generate a lot of profit for a few companies." "It is a highly bureaucratic and colonial process," she says. "The current forestry regime doesn't take into account our communities' traditional knowledge nor do they share the economics gained from our forested lands. These concerns still remain." Timiskaming, as well as several Ontario First Nations including Mattagami and Teme-Augama Anishnabai, say they are also concerned about the recently approved plan for the Timiskaming forest to the north of Temagami. They are worried about the impact of aerial herbicide spraying and the lack of revenue sharing with Indigenous communities.
Millbrook First Nation is nearly a step closer to developing a section of Shannon Park, but will first need an endorsement from the Halifax Regional Municipality. "We've been working on this for quite, quite some time now," said Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade. "We've acquired the part of Shannon Park a number of years ago and we've been working toward an expansion of our community." The band owns about four hectares of land at Shannon Park in Dartmouth, which is being redeveloped by Canada Lands — the real estate arm of the federal government. The land, which is also known as Turtle Grove or Turtle Cove, was acquired by Indigenous Services Canada and declared reserve land after an outstanding Mi'kmaw claim dating back before the Halifax Explosion. Gloade said Millbrook has been working with Canada Lands and Indigenous Services Canada on the redevelopment of this land for at least 10 years. On Nov. 24, Gloade sent a letter to the Halifax Regional Municipality stating that it was nearly finished establishing a reserve on the Shannon Park land, according to a city council document. The office of Mayor Mike Savage then received an email from Indigenous Services Canada stating it would require "an indication of support" for the reserve. It also required a commitment to enter into a municipal services agreement with Millbrook before the land could be developed. By Dec. 18, the municipality's chief administrative officer, Jacques Dubé, sent a letter to Chief Gloade confirming support for the creation of the reserve and his intention to create a municipal services agreement. However, this first needs to be be endorsed by city council. If the development of the land is endorsed, Gloade said this allows Millbrook to have a larger footprint in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Millbrook has also already worked with the Halifax Port Authority to establish a long-term lease for the infilled water lot. "We're looking at doing a mix of residential and commercial development along the waterfront for economic development purposes for our community," Gloade said. He said if all goes well, the area could see between five and 10 years of construction developments on the waterfront, which will eventually draw more people to the area. "There's a significant amount of the land that we're looking at developing and projects that we're going to be undertaking," he said. "So it will take between five to 10 years by the time everything is done and completed." Halifax Regional Council is expected to vote on the endorsement on Tuesday. MORE TOP STORIES
BALTIMORE — President Joe Biden plans to sign on Monday an executive order that aims to boost government purchases from U.S. manufacturers, according to administration officials. The United States has shed roughly 540,000 factory jobs since last February as the coronavirus pandemic hurled the world's largest economy into recession. The goal of the order would be to use the $600 billion the federal government spends on procurement to boost domestic factories and hiring, said officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement. Biden's order would modify the rules for the Buy American program, making it harder for contractors to qualify for a waiver and sell foreign-made goods to federal agencies. It also changes rules so that more of a manufactured good's components must originate from U.S. factories. American-made goods would also be protected by an increase in the government's threshold and price preferences, the difference in price over which the government can buy a foreign product. The order also has elements that apply to the separate Buy America program, which applies separately to highways and bridges. It seeks to open up government procurement contracts to new companies by scouting potential contractors. The order would create a public website for companies that received waivers to sell foreign goods to the government, so that U.S. manufacturers can have more information and be in a more competitive position. To help enforce these goals, the order establishes a job at the White House Office of Management and Budget to monitor the initiative and focus on ensuring the government buys more domestically made goods. It also requires federal agencies to report on their progress in purchasing American goods, as well as emphasizing Biden's support for the Jones Act, which mandates that only U.S.-flag vessels carry cargo between U.S. ports. Past presidents have promised to revitalize manufacturing as a source of job growth and achieved mixed results. The government helped save the automotive sector after the 2008 financial crisis, but the number of factory jobs has been steadily shrinking over the course of four decades. The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs peaked in 1979 at 19.5 million and now totals 12.3 million, according to the Labor Department. Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, famously promised a factory renaissance, yet manufacturing employment never returned to its pre-Great Recession levels before the coronavirus struck. Josh Boak, The Associated Press
When Ken Oguzie arrived in Nova Scotia in 2014, he was faced with the challenge of convincing prospective employers that his previous work experience counted for something. Like many new Canadians in Nova Scotia, Oguzie had a wealth of work and life experience. Born in Nigeria, he lived in Malaysia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States before deciding to move to Nova Scotia with his family. He was very well qualified academically, with a bachelor's degree in business management from a U.K. university and a masters degree in social policy and development from the London School of Economics. But even with this background, Oguzie said his early job-hunting experience was like a "roller-coaster." 'It didn't mean a lot' "It was kind of challenging because ... you have all of these things, education and experience," he said, "and then you come in here and it didn't mean a lot. "I have all this stuff on my resumé and then I came here and every day I kept having to drop the standards." He was eventually hired by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia in a role that allowed him to coach other new immigrants on the ins and outs of job hunting in the province. Oguzie described the opportunity to help others at ISANS as one of the "most fulfilling jobs" he's had. He said having gone through the experience himself helped him to relate to clients and have a "direct impact." Today, he is a diversity consultant and CEO of Africa Canada Trade and Investment Venture, which promotes trade between Canada and West Africa. Oguzie's experience will have a familiar ring for many. Ann Divine was born in Guyana, raised in England, and moved to Canada in 2004. She runs Ashanti Leadership — a company that works with organizations on professional development and increasing diversity. Divine said there was no consideration given for her qualifications or work history when she arrived in Canada. She said she had to start at the bottom and ended up teaching English to other immigrant women. "Their experiences were no different from mine because they were highly educated women and they couldn't find jobs," she said. Overcoming bias She said one of the problems she encountered was that employers didn't trust foreign qualifications. She said another issue in Nova Scotia was that "many individuals were not used to seeing Black and brown people in a high-profile position." The situation is improving, Divine said, but there is always a challenge of overcoming unconscious, and sometimes overt, bias in organizations. She believes the key is in approaching job applicants with an open-minded approach and having a conversation with them to see what is below the surface and "what they can bring to the table." "Change is happening gradually," she said, "but we need to move a little faster if we're going to grow our economy in the way that we want it to grow and to be more inclusive, particularly of those individuals who are not from Nova Scotia." The problem of obtaining employment even affects new immigrants who are allowed express entry into Canada under the Federal Skilled Workers program, according to Halifax-based immigration lawyer Lee Cohen. He said he has clients who successfully immigrated to Canada because they qualified under the "occupations-in-demand category" and were shocked to discover they had difficulty finding employment. "The truth of the matter is it doesn't make sense. And you have to come up with an answer. Well, one of the possible answers is — wrong last name, wrong accent." Cohen said many professionals such as doctors, nurses, engineers and pharmacists get frustrated that their qualifications are not recognized in Canada. 'Closed-shop syndrome' Calling it a "closed-shop syndrome," Cohen said many immigrants can't get past the regulatory bodies that govern their profession in Canada. He said immigrants are reluctant to spend five to 10 years going back to school to learn a profession that they already know. "I think it is very paternalistic," Cohen said. "It's also condescending. I also think there's bigotry and discrimination associated with this as well." Nabiha Atallah is an adviser for strategic initiatives at ISANS and has been working with the organization for 25 years. Atallah said the organization offers programs to help immigrants adjust to workplace culture in Canada and also works with employers to make them aware of cultural differences. One of the programs offered gives job seekers a six-week unpaid job placement in an area where they want to work, and allows them a chance to get Canadian work experience and a job reference. "Often the employer is very happily surprised by the ability of the immigrant," she said, "And in many cases they have actually offered jobs, although that's not part of the program." Atallah said she has seen a change over the years and an increasing "openness" on the part of employers to embrace the diversity that hiring an immigrant can bring to the workplace. "I think that we are realizing and we are seeing more and more the wonderful contributions that immigrants make to our community," she said. "And it's not totally new. "The numbers are new, but we've had immigrants contributing to Nova Scotia for many years." Strategic job hunting Oguzie offered some practical advice for new immigrants when it comes to job hunting. He said the immigrant journey is often "a step backwards to get to move three steps forward" and he urges job seekers to be strategic in their approach to finding employment. If someone can't get a job at the level they were used to in their previous country, he said, they should think carefully about what job they take in order to pay the bills. Drawing an example of someone with 10 years of experience in investment banking, Oguzie said it is better to take a temporary job in retail banking rather than in a completely different area like a call centre or Walmart — even if it pays a little less. "That way is easier for you to find ways, when the right investment manager job, which is what you used to do, comes along," he said, "it's easier for you to align your resumé." MORE TOP STORIES
On Jan. 25, 2020, officials in Ontario announced that a novel coronavirus that had sounded alarm bells around the world had reached Canadian shores. The diagnosis of Canada's first case of COVID-19 marked the start of a period of dramatic economic and social upheaval. Here's a look back at some of the comments in the days before and after the discovery of Canada's first case: — "The system is on alert, all the things are in place and we're monitoring. If it's a false alarm for Canada, so be it." -- Dr. David Williams, Ontario chief medical officer of health, in an interview with The Canadian Press on Jan. 22. — "We've seen this movie before. Our infection-control game is better than it was. But we still have this problem with the physical plant of our hospitals, with our emergency rooms, where people are stuck together cheek-by-jowl, and that creates vulnerability." -- University of Toronto epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman, discussing potential risks from the then emerging virus on Jan. 23. — "If a case comes here, and it is probably likely that we will have a case here, it will still be business as normal." -- Dr. Peter Donnelly, then president of Public Health Ontario, discussing the prospect of mass quarantines on Jan. 24. — "There's no reason for fear because sometimes the epidemic of fear is greater than what is going on." -- Quebec director of public health Dr. Horracio Arruda, on Jan. 24. — "The risk to Ontarians is still low and things are managed and well-controlled. As I hoped, the system is operating as it should." -- Williams at the Jan. 25 news conference in which he announced that Canada's first COVID-19 case had officially been diagnosed in Toronto. — "The patient has been managed with all appropriate infection and prevention control protocols, so the risk of onward spread in Canada is low. Nevertheless it would not be unexpected that there will be more cases imported into Canada in the near-term given global travel patterns." -- Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, speaking at Jan. 26 news conference held in reaction to the previous day's diagnosis. — "Be careful, be vigilant, but you don't have to change your life at the moment." -- Toronto Mayor John Tory on Jan. 27. — "Transmission of the virus is occurring among family members who have close and prolonged exposure to sick individuals. Canadians should not be concerned that they can pick up the virus from an infected individual by any casual contact, such as walking through the airport or another public place." -- Tam, speaking on a Jan. 27 teleconference hours after officials had confirmed the original patient's wife had also tested positive for COVID-19. — "The World Health Organization's global emergency status is really ... about helping countries that do not have the same level of sophistication as Canada, or perhaps the United States, to protect their citizens if in fact they have a citizen who returns from China who is ill, or has been close to someone who has returned from China who is ill. You know this has been working very well in Canada, because we have actually been able to detect cases very quickly, support those people to get better and prevent the spread of disease." - federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu at a news conference on Jan. 30. — "If we do not take all the measures that we can take right now to make sure that we eradicate this virus from human populations, then we may end up with yet another ongoing endemic infection like influenza that we will have to deal with every year that causes severe illness and some death." -- British Columbia health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, speaking on Jan. 31 days after confirming the province's first case of COVID-19. — This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
When the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China in 2019, slid silently across the United Kingdom in March, Johnson initially said he was confident it could be sent packing in weeks. But 98,531 deaths later, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth worst official death toll - more than its civilian toll in World War Two and twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign, although the total population was lower then. Behind the numbers there is grief and anger.