Online shopping has led to a staggering increase in parcels for Canada Post, and though it’s boosted revenue, the Crown corporation is still facing financial challenges.
Online shopping has led to a staggering increase in parcels for Canada Post, and though it’s boosted revenue, the Crown corporation is still facing financial challenges.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Harry Truman Brown, one of Toronto's basketball pioneers, has died. He was 72. Brown inspired generations of players who became stars or coaches, and helped set the tone for how the game would be played in Toronto. The basketball legend and retired Toronto District School Board teacher died Sunday at St. Michael's Hospital. Brown, a former basketball star at the University of Oklahoma was known as a multi-sport player who had been invited to play basketball with the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons and the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys. After a year of pro basketball, he eventually made his way to Toronto. "He was widely acknowledged as one of the best basketball players we'd ever seen on the court here in Toronto," said Dana McKiel, a sports broadcaster and family friend. "From no look passes to shooting from half court at the time when there was no three point line. The way that he used to drive to the bucket," McKiel recalled. Brown would make the rounds of all the city community centres that were early hotspots for the game and would play with the skills and intensity that would inspire a lot of players. "He has had such an impact on basketball in the city for the past 40 to 45 years," said McKiel. "He made basketball important to everyone in Toronto." Local legends in basketball would come out to play with him especially at George Brown College on Sunday nights where the who's who of the city's basketball scene would show up. "If Harry Brown picked you for his side then you knew you were somebody special, you knew you were doing something real well," said McKiel. "It was like being on Broadway. If you could make it there you could make it anywhere." Brown became a pillar of Toronto's basketball community inspiring local stars including Jim Zoet, Val Pozzan, Leo Rautins, Rob Samuels, Norm Clarke, Tony Simms, Simeon Mars, Joe Alexander and Danny Ainge, now president and general manager of the Boston Celtics. From players to coaches and team administrators, McKiel says Toronto has become an epicentre for basketball talent, due in part to the foundation Brown laid. Savanna Hamilton, a host with NBA Canada and the Toronto Raptors, who is a former Ryerson Rams forward, agrees that Brown influenced a generation of basketball players. "I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but a lot of the industry leaders and mentors I work with on a daily basis either played with him or were inspired by him." Hamilton says Brown is not only part of the reason why the game is so popular among GTA youth, but also why Toronto is now one of the hotbeds for top basketball talent in the world. "We have to always pay tribute and homage to those who come before us and how impactful he was to the city and the culture of basketball in Toronto," said Hamilton. "We're known as one the toughest cities to play in and our players are very gritty and you have to wonder where that comes from. "Harry Brown was one of those people who set the foundation for that reputation," said Hamilton. Brown died of complications from diabetes and long-term renal problems. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, family and friends have set up an online memorial on Facebook. A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date. Donations in his name are being accepted by the Yonge Street Mission. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
More details are available about the money raised and spent during Halifax's municipal election last October. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, who was re-elected, raised the most out of all candidates at $104,635, according to his campaign contribution statements. His opponents, Matt Whitman and Max Taylor, raised $19,030 and $8,599, respectively. The amount raised by council candidates ranged from $1,100 to $20,000. The 2020 election looked different from previous years — both due to COVID-19, and due to new rules about where campaign donations could come from. Candidates can no longer accept money from corporations or unions. There's also a maximum amount for individual donations — $1,000 for council candidates and $2,500 to mayoral candidates — and a $15,000 limit on how much candidates and their spouses can give to their own campaigns. As well, campaign spending was limited to $30,000 for council candidates and $300,000 for mayoral candidates. Expenses also have to be listed, and if there are surpluses, they can either be donated to charities or held for the next election. Nearly $10,000 of the money raised for Savage's campaign went unspent. He said he will split the remaining surplus between Feed Nova Scotia and Shelter Nova Scotia. "I didn't see the need to leave the money there [for a future election.] If I run again, I'll go out and raise more money," Savage said. He said the new rules around campaign financing are a "really good step," though he believes the city should review how the election went to see if "there's more that we can do to bring accountability." Coun. Sam Austin, who was re-elected for Dartmouth Centre, raised $15,369.40. After the costs of the campaign, he was left with a surplus of about $1,000. While it's "far too early" to say if he will run again, Austin said the surplus will be donated to charity if he doesn't. "Basically, I've just kept my options open for it," he said. Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road Coun. Patty Cuttell is the only other council candidate to hang onto their surplus for a future election, though a part of it will be donated to charity. Austin said the new rules tightened up the system for reporting contributions and expenses. Previously, he said there were "basically no rules." "The only rule was you had to disclose any donations over $50, and that was it. You didn't have to disclose what money you might have put in yourself, or what you might have taken in that was worth less than $50, or what you spent that money on," he said. Austin said there is still room for improvement, though. He suggested it's time to look at how we fund elections. "Money is an important thing in politics, and the system is biased, certain types of candidates are able to raise money, others are not," he said. "I think we're going to need to think about that access piece, because if you can't raise money, then it's hard to run a campaign and you might actually constrain the options that are then available for people, in terms of people that are offering to represent the community." While there are new rules in place, The Halifax Examiner reported on Thursday that three council candidates broke them. The publication said David Hendsbee, who successfully ran for re-election in Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore, reported in his financial statement that he had received $500 from a company. The document was later changed and the name of the company was changed to that of an individual. The Examiner also said Steve Streach, who lost his bid for re-election in Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley, received a donation from a company, but Streach told the publication he believed all or part of it was from the company's owner. As well, Nicole Johnson, who unsuccessfully ran in the same district, received a donation of $1,200, more than the allowable amount from individuals. The municipality told The Halifax Examiner it was "reviewing the process with these individuals as set out in the by-law." Campaigning during COVID Becky Kent, who successfully ran for District 3, raised $20,561.96 for her campaign, the most money raised by a council candidate. All of it was spent, with much of the money going toward printing and advertising costs. "It did add up probably faster than I anticipated, but we had a unique campaign," said Kent. "We had a campaign where it was very hard to get engaged with constituents because you could not go door to door until it was very much the last minute." Kent last ran for — and won — a seat for council in 2004, which she said was "very, very different." She said going door to door is one of her favourite parts of campaigning, so they had to substitute that with campaigning through social media and mail-outs. "It really was one for the books," Kent said of the election. "I'm glad it's over." On the other side of the coin, re-elected Middle/Upper Sackville-Beaver Bank-Lucasville Coun. Lisa Blackburn raised the least amount of money — $1,165, about half of what she raised during the 2016 election. Blackburn said her campaign managed to cut costs by doing most of its advertising through social media and reusing signs from the last election. While she did receive some union donations in 2016, Blackburn said she was a fan of the new rules. "I think it's a great step towards transparency. I'm quite pleased with how it all rolled out this time around," she said. Where to view the contribution statements But Blackburn added the "ink hasn't really dried yet" for the election, and it's too soon to say what they might do the same, or differently, in future elections. "A lot of the decisions made ... were made because of COVID, so I'd like to see what the next election cycle looks like before saying it worked or it didn't work," she said. "But for me, at this stage, I'd say it worked very well." People can view the campaign contribution statements on Halifax's website. MORE TOP STORIES
Ontario residents received an emergency alert on their phone shortly after 10 a.m. on Thursday reminding them that the province’s stay-at-home order has officially come into effect. The directive to stay at home and leave only when absolutely necessary is clear – but the fine details about rules, enforcement and penalties are still being ironed out. Public Health Sudbury and Districts will be working in collaboration with the Greater Sudbury Police and City of Greater Sudbury bylaw officers in a joint initiative to enforce COVID-19 legislation. Under the new rules, indoor gatherings with people from different households and outdoor gatherings of over five people are prohibited. Non-essential businesses will operate under limited store hours, and all employees who can work from home must do so. “The new COVID-19 modelling released by the province this week is alarming, and it shows we could be in for a very difficult few months before mass vaccinations are available,” said Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger. “This virus is on track to overwhelm our health-care system if we don’t get it in check. It’s imperative that we take this seriously. Please follow the orders. Stay home as much as you can. Be smart about the decisions you make. Let’s continue to set a positive example for the rest of Ontario.” On Thursday, three new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Sudbury. Overall, Ontario reported 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 968 new cases in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Both law enforcement and public health agencies will operate under the assumption that most people want to follow the rules, and discretion will be used by all parties to determine if an individual or business is violating the law. The health unit said that an emphasis will be placed on education, and complaints will be judged on a case-by-case basis. “For the most part, Public Health will be working with police and bylaw on complaints. When a complaint comes in, we will continue to work with our partners to enforce the legislation as needed,” said Burgess Hawkins, Manager in the Health Protection Division at Public Health. “The normal system, which we’ve been using quite successfully up to this point, is that we go in, talk to people, and educate them. We typically find that if you explain what needs to be done, most people and businesses are willing to comply.” Burgess offered a simple explanation as to why some of the rules seem so vague – it’s just impossible for the province to determine what is essential for every individual and business in Ontario. For example, it’s not easy to determine whether employees need to go into an office or whether they can work from home. “Maybe an employee can technically work from home, but if you talk to them, you find out that their spouse and their child are both on the computer all day for work or school. Their internet access is not great, and a third person on there crashes their internet,” he said. “We really have to find out what the situation is. If we got a complaint like that, we would go in and ask questions and look at the relevant legislation on what needs to happen.” Complaints can be registered with the City of Greater Sudbury by calling 311. They can be about the unauthorized use of closed city facilities, people not self-isolating after international travel, continued operation of non-essential businesses, indoor organized events or social gatherings, or outdoor gatherings of over five people. Once a complaint is filed, it will be logged and directed to the appropriate party depending on the time of day, the severity, and the type of issue, according to the City. “We continue to work with Public Health and Greater Sudbury Police to focus on educating and engaging with residents and businesses to ensure compliance,” said spokesperson Kelly Brooks. “Just like we've been doing up to this point, we do ask people to contact (us) if they have concerns about individuals or businesses not following the provincial orders. Fines could be laid for those who blatantly or repeatedly break the rules.” As part of the state of emergency, Brooks added, the province announced that it has enhanced the authority of law enforcement officers. “We’re working with our partners to evaluate what this means locally and finalize the details of any changes to enforcement efforts. We’ll provide any updates in the coming days,” she said. A spokesperson for Greater Sudbury issued a similar statement, saying police will “continue to engage with, encourage and educate community members and business owners in order to ensure compliance.” “Officers will conduct the enforcement required for all municipal, provincial and federal legislation using the legal framework provided by the Provincial and Federal governments,” said Kaitlyn Dunn. “Those who choose to blatantly disregard the new orders including individuals, businesses or corporations will be fined under Ontario Regulation 11/21.” Set fines vary from $750 for failure to comply with an order to $1,000 for preventing others from following an order. Maximum fines are up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. Police officers will be able to use their discretion in terms of whether an individual or a business needs to be ticketed. They also have the authority to temporarily close premises or disperse crowds. However, Dunn said that police were not directed to stop vehicles or question people in the streets to check for compliance with the stay-at-home order. Work, school, and childcare are all considered essential purposes under the new order, as well as leaving the house to obtain food, healthcare services or medications, or other necessary items. All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. People are also allowed to access government services, social services, and mental health and addictions support services. “Doing anything that is necessary to respond to or avoid an imminent risk to the health or safety of an individual, including protecting oneself or others from domestic violence, leaving or assisting someone in unsafe living conditions and seeking emergency assistance” is considered an exception. Exercise is permitted “using an outdoor recreational amenity that is permitted to be open under the Stage 1 Order.” “The Province mentioned exercise as one of its examples of essential outings. So, outdoor rinks are open for those looking to stay active and get some fresh air, but users should stay two metres away from those who are not part of their household,” said Brooks. “Hockey, shinny, ringette and any other sports or games where people are within two metres of each other are not permitted. Everyone just needs to try and do their part.” Burgess also suggested using discretion when it comes to outdoor activities. If a skating rink, a trail, or a toboggan hill is too crowded to allow for appropriate social distancing, then families are asked to opt out. It’s important to note that if an individual lives alone, they can gather with one other household, and the order “does not apply to individuals who are homeless.” The order also states that “taking a child to the child’s parent or guardian or to the parent or guardian’s residence” and “travelling between the homes of parents, guardians, caregivers, if the individual is under their care” is allowed. A full list of exceptions to the stay-at-home rule is available online at files.ontario.ca/solgen-stay-at-home-order-2021-01-13.pdf. “We realize that the restrictions that have been put in are hard. Staying at home is hard, but the disease is spreading. If we can slow it down, get it to a point where we’re not looking at overcrowding of the ICUs, that’s a benefit for everybody,” said Burgess. “Please stay home. If you are out, you must wear a face covering, wash your hands, and keep that physical distance.” For information about local COVID-19 data, visit www.phsd.ca/covid-19. For information on the provincial public health measures during the State of Emergency, visit www.ontario.ca/page/enhancing-public-health-and-workplace-safety-measures-provincewide-shutdown. Residents with questions about provincial rules and regulations or effects on City programs and services are encouraged to call 311 or live webchat with the City at 311.greatersudbury.ca. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 40,283 new vaccinations administered for a total of 459,492 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,212.403 per 100,000. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 594,975 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 77.23 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 2,982 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 6,075 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 1,111 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,831 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 3.926 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 13,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 28.48 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,339 new vaccinations administered for a total of 115,704 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.522 per 1,000. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 14,237 new vaccinations administered for a total of 159,021 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.826 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 196,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.08 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 12,409 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.012 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 25,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,585 new vaccinations administered for a total of 11,985 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.164 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 17,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 8,809 new vaccinations administered for a total of 66,953 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 15.21 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 59,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 112 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,316 new vaccinations administered for a total of 69,746 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.592 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 71,200 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 685 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 16.415 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 9.514 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 121 new vaccinations administered for a total of 521 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 13.453 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 8.683 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
In the week since a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol, the House has impeached President Donald Trump. Dozens of people have been arrested nationwide over participation in the riots. Politicians and business leaders are loudly condemning the violence. Twitter and other social media sites have banned Trump and thousands of other accounts. Yet amid all the noise, a Capitol Police officer hailed as a hero for confronting the insurrectionists and leading them away from Senate chambers has remained silent. Officer Eugene Goodman isn't saying whether he thinks he saved the Senate, as many of the millions who've viewed the video believe. In fact, Goodman isn't saying anything at all publicly — not to reporters, not on social media. And he's asked the force's union, bosses, family and friends to help him maintain his privacy and not publicly discuss the events of Jan. 6. But the video speaks volumes. Goodman, a Black man facing an overwhelmingly white mob, is the only officer seen for a full minute of the footage, shot by reporter Igor Bobic of HuffPost. Goodman stands in front of the rioters, walks backward until he reaches a collapsible baton lying on the floor, and picks it up. “Back up ... back it up!” he yells, keeping his eyes on the mob. He turns and runs upstairs, waving the baton, as the group follows. Goodman calls “second floor” into his radio, then takes a brief glance and half a step to his left at the top of the stairs. Two chairs sit on either side of an entrance to the U.S. Senate chamber, just a few steps away. Dozens of rioters are right in front of him, no other officers to be seen. Goodman shoves one of the rioters and walks to the right, away from the chamber. The mob follows, and Goodman leads them to a room where other officers wait. The time on the video is 2:14 p.m. The Senate stopped its proceedings to begin clearing the chamber at 2:15 p.m. Five died in the riots, including one of Goodman's fellow officers. Legislative offices were trashed, gallows were built outside, and a video showed a woman shot dead while journalists, Congress members and staff hid. The images of Goodman spread via social media and news sites, a foil to the bloody and messy scenes elsewhere at the Capitol. People called him brave, impressive, effective. They dissected the video, guessing about his strategy and decision-making. But not all the commentary has been kind. Backing up and running away is weak, some said. It was a staged photo op, others alleged. Goodman has been silent. He didn't respond to text messages and phone calls The Associated Press left at potential numbers for him. The head of the Capitol Police union said only that Goodman didn't want to talk to reporters. Spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the Capitol Police isn't giving interviews or discussing Goodman’s actions. Public records shed a little light on Goodman. He served in the Army as an infantryman for more than four years, leaving with the rank of sergeant in December 2006 after a year in Iraq. He has worked for the Capitol Police since at least mid-2009. But that's about it. Goodman's friends, family, buddies he would have known from the military, members of Congress and force colleagues all begged off interviews about him. They say he wants to maintain his privacy. Online and in much of the public eye, Goodman is a hero. Plenty of people, famous and not, suggested he has earned the Medal of Honor. A Republican and two Democrats in the U.S. House introduced a bill Thursday to give him the Congressional Gold Medal. “If not for the quick, decisive, and heroic actions from Officer Goodman, the tragedy of last week’s insurrection could have multiplied in magnitude to levels never before seen in American history," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri. But the representatives didn't respond to messages asking if they met with Goodman. In a tweet promoting the bill, they show not a formal photo of Goodman in uniform, but an image of him facing the mob — his eyes wide open, mask down below his nose, baton behind him. ___ AP news researcher Randy Herschaft contributed. ___ Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
It was New Brunswick's largest urban centre as recently as 2003, but Greater Saint John is now 17 per cent smaller than Greater Moncton and is losing ground to Fredericton for the No. 2 spot. New internal New Brunswick population estimates released Thursday by Statistics Canada offer insight into two decades of the cities' shifting positions and changing fortunes. It shows a struggling Saint John, but one that has begun growing again and could ultimately fend off being overtaken by the capital city, according to Sébastien Lavoie, an analyst with Statistics Canada's Centre for Demography. Lavoie said he can't say when, or if, Fredericton is expected to outstrip Saint John. "We're not there yet, but that's kind of been the trend in the last few years," said Lavoie, who cautioned future growth among all communities could follow any number of paths. "Population changes in New Brunswick are quite dynamic, so it doesn't mean that's where these things will stay." Fredericton has steadily gained on Saint John since 2001 Greater Saint John had 39,000 more people than Fredericton in July 2001, but the capital has gained ground every year since and as of July, the difference between them was down to 20,748 people. Much of Fredericton's gains happened between 2011 and 2015, when Saint John began shrinking. That reversed itself in 2016. Greater Saint John began growing again and, in a new development for the area, 80 per cent of that expansion has been inside Saint John city limits rather than outside in nearby bedroom communities. Saint John Mayor Don Darling said that alone makes him optimistic for the future. "The first step is to stop the shrinking and to turn that around, so I think that is really positive news that has happened," Darling said. "We've been talking about, focused on and working on population growth with purpose, and this is a validation of some of that hard work." Moncton's tightening grip on the top spot Whichever community eventually prevails as New Brunswick's second-largest, there is no disputing Moncton's place at the top. After several years of impressive economic growth, the metropolitan Moncton area – which includes Dieppe and Riverview and the nearby villages of Memramcook, Hillsborough, Salisbury and Dorchester – grew 1.8 per cent to 158,695 over the 12 months ending July 1, 2020. That placed it as Canada's seventh-fastest growing municipality, ahead of Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and 24 other metropolitan areas across the country. It was the second year in a row population growth in Moncton has been inside the top 10 in Canada with little sign of that changing. Greater Moncton Realtors du Grand Moncton recently reported 256 property sales by its members in December, 72 more than last December. "No previous December had even cracked 200 sales," association president Parise Cormier said in a statement about the area's booming real estate market. Last month, Moncton Industrial Development Ltd. (MID), which set a record for industrial park lot sales to companies in 2019, told CBC News it doubled that amount in 2020 and may have to open a fifth location. Given the overall economy, "it's quite phenomenal that we were able to pull that off," MID general manager Pierre Dupuis said. Greater Moncton first surpassed greater Saint John as New Brunswick's largest urban area in 2004. It is now larger by nearly 27,000 people, and its economy bubbling has widened that gap annually. Over the last five years, Moncton's population has grown by more than 12,300, compared to just over 8,100 in Fredericton and just under 3,500 in Saint John. By contrast, the rest of the province shrank by 1,300 over the same time period. Lavoie said most population growth in New Brunswick is driven by immigration and most new comers are choosing to settle in the larger urban areas. "The three biggest cities are more attractive to immigrants, especially Moncton and Fredericton," he said. That has been reshaping the makeup of New Brunswick. Numbers show 51.4 per cent of residents now live inside one of the three main urban areas, up from 45 per cent in 2001. NEW BRUNSWICK'S CHANGING POPULATION AREA 2020 POP. CHANGE FROM 2015 Moncton 158,695 +12,328 Fredericton 111,024 +8,128 Saint John 131,772 +3,490 Other 379,985 -1,312 *Source: Statistics Canada. Population figures are all from July 1.
A towering stainless steel monolith set up along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta comes with a message. The three-metre-tall structure, which reflects its surroundings, is one of many that have been found around the world in recent months. Monoliths have been discovered on a California trail, a Utah desert and at sites across Canada. Many have popped up without explanation, but the woman who built the one in southern Alberta says she wanted to draw attention to the threats the area is facing as the province moves to open a vast stretch of the mountains to open-pit coal mining. "This land holds the bones and dreams of our ancestors. This soil remembers the thunder of buffalo hooves and ... still fosters wild grasses. These mountain-fed waters are the lifeblood of southern Alberta," Elizabeth Williams wrote in an Instagram post on her wildstonestories page earlier this month. "They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat," she wrote. "The shiny beacon is not the focal point, but the land, which it reflects." Williams, who couldn't work as a massage therapist during COVID-19 restrictions, said she's been watching some of the provincial government's recent decisions. "I felt compelled to take action," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press. Williams is most concerned about the potential for mining along the eastern slopes and the reallocation of water rights in the area. "It's staggering to me so few Albertans are aware that this is happening," she said. She wanted to do something to inspire others to pay attention and take action. Similar concerns were raised this week by Alberta country singer Corb Lund, who criticized the plan for an area that contains the headwaters for freshwater on which millions depend. Coal mining can release selenium, a highly toxic element already poisoning watersheds downstream of coal mines in British Columbia. Paul Brandt, another country music star from Alberta, added his voice to protest the coal mines Thursday. Williams, who hopes her monolith adds to the growing conversation in Alberta, said she built it after talking to an artist, ordering the stainless steel and borrowing a welding shop. She installed it with the help of volunteers after getting permission from private landowners to put it on their property. "I thought, 'If I make this to last, if I make this extra beautiful and I get it on private land, it can stay and it can become a beacon for the curious.'" The monolith, which was installed in early January, has come with challenges. Williams broke her hand as she and some volunteers were installing it on a windy day where the Oldman River meets Highway 22, known as the Cowboy Trail. And her creation was vandalized by a man who pulled his big truck over at a pullout along the highway and tried to take the monolith apart. "I have it all on camera," said Williams, who noted people are keeping a close eye on the area. Others have expressed intrigue and interest after spotting it on the landscape. "It looked a little bit startling to see it where it hadn't been before," said Kevin van Tighem, a conservationist and author who owns property in southern Alberta. "It's really beautiful. It's a real work of art. "It's really striking how it reflects so much of the landscape and by doing that moves us into thinking about reflecting on the landscape." He said he hopes it draws attention to the natural beauty of the eastern slopes, which he believes are under serious threat as companies start exploring for coal. "Things are happening out of sight and out of mind," said van Tighem. "This thing stands up like a giant reflective beacon that says we can't leave these things out of sight and out of mind. "We have to reflect on who we are and where we're going. We're on the cusp here. This is leading us to permanent change and permanent loss. "We cannot not be paying attention." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities sacked a local police chief and 11 other policemen for failing to protect a Hindu temple that was set on fire and demolished last month by a mob led by hundreds of supporters of a radical Islamist party, police said Friday. The 12 policemen were fired over “acts of cowardice" and “negligence" for not trying to stop the mob when it attacked the temple, with some having fled the scene. Another 48 policemen were given various punishments following a probe into the attack, the police statement said. The punishments come amid government assurances to the Hindu community that the temple in Karak, a town in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, would be rebuilt. Hours after the Dec. 30 attack, authorities arrested about 100 people on charges of participating or provoking the mob to demolish the temple. The detainees included supporters of the radical Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, who are currently facing trials on various charges. The attack took place after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate the temple. Although Muslims and Hindus generally live peacefully together in Pakistan, there have been other attacks on Hindu temples in recent years. Most of Pakistan’s minority Hindus migrated to India in 1947 when India was divided by Britain’s government. The Associated Press
Concluding debate on a resolution to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for "incitement of an insurrection," Rep. Steny Hoyer invoked one of the fundamental truths about democracy that was exposed by recent events in the United States. "For millennia, people have understood that a republic is only as stable and lasting as the citizens and leaders who commit themselves to its upkeep," the 81-year-old Democratic congressman for Maryland's fifth district said on Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, Hoyer joined 231 other members of the United States House of Representatives in voting to impeach Trump. The violent attack last week on Capitol Hill in Washington was horrifying, but also clarifying. What the mob made clear is where the forces of lying, division, fear and nihilism can lead. Such a traumatic event has provoked another moment of reckoning in the United States. But the sight of the world's so-called greatest democracy nearly collapsing is cause for introspection for every other democratic country looking on, including Canada. WATCH | Trump first U.S. president to be impeached twice: However placid and rational Canadian politics might seem by comparison, an understanding of democracy's frailty necessitates some constant level of concern about its upkeep — across the political spectrum. And there is wear and tear worth thinking about here, too. Conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool, formerly an advisor to Stephen Harper, was among the first commentators in Canada to reflect in the wake of last week's violence, writing that he "won't tolerate casual Trumpism in my personal or political cohort anymore." Going forward, he said, Canadian conservatives must become harsher judges of character and more diligent about who they associate with. To that end, he said that Conservative MP Derek Sloan — who has questioned the national loyalty of Theresa Tam and sponsored a petition that cast doubt on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine — should no longer be allowed to sit with the Conservative caucus. Accusations of 'rigging' election fly In an interview with CBC Radio's The Current this week, Boessenkool suggested he wouldn't want to work with a campaign that only wanted to stoke populist anger and said he's encouraged by the private reaction from Canadian conservatives to what he's had to say. But Boessenkool also stopped short of condemning a recently deleted page from the Conservative party's website that accused the Liberal government of "rigging" the last election. Conservatives levelled such accusations multiple times through 2018 and 2019, but Liberals resurfaced those charges last week after the attack on Capitol Hill. The Conservative party subsequently deleted the page, explaining that the content had become "stale dated" because it pre-dated O'Toole's election as Conservative leader. "Since Liberals were trying to falsely insinuate it was something new and recent, we took it down to prevent that from happening any further," party spokesperson Cory Hann explained via email on Monday. The Conservative claims of "rigging" were based on their objections to changes to the Elections Act proposed by the Liberal government — and both Boessenkool and Hann noted that MPs from other parties, including Liberals, used the term "rig" in 2014 while opposing changes made by the former Conservative government. Thus, perhaps no party has a an indisputable claim to the high ground here. Drawing democratic system into disrepute But all politicians should know that accusing your rival of engineering an unfair election result is among the most serious charges that can be laid and, if the reality of the situation does not actually rise to that level, you can fairly be accused of committing the very dangerous act of unnecessarily bringing the country's democratic system into disrepute. In this moment of reflection, O'Toole might choose to leave other elements of Andrew Scheer's leadership behind too –like the party's opposition to the UN global compact on migration. Under Scheer, the Conservative party joined several far-right parties in opposing the compact, claiming without any basis in reality that the Trudeau government's decision to sign the statement of principles would compromise Canada's ability to control its own borders. Scheer was pilloried for peddling misinformation and entertaining extremist views. But Liberals, obviously now keen to point out anything that might be described as Trumpian, have also challenged O'Toole to account for his own language. As a candidate for the Conservative leadership, he promised to "take back Canada" — though it was never clear who had "taken" Canada, how it had been taken or on whose behalf he aimed to "take" it back. He dropped that phrase after becoming leader, but just before Christmas he adopted the populist theory that Canada can be divided between "somewheres" and "anywheres." Some of O'Toole's colleagues have pushed their rhetoric further. Pierre Poilievre, the party's finance critic, has warned that "global elites" are conspiring to push an agenda that threatens people's freedom. In October, Leslyn Lewis, the former leadership candidate who is now set to run for the Conservatives in the Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, warned that a "socialist coup" was unfolding in Canada. Federal government must promote unity Conservatives might charge that it is really Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who needs to be more of a unifying figure. Recall, for instance, the Liberal government's clumsily worded attempt to ban anti-abortion groups from using public funds to promote their cause. Significant responsibility for holding this country together — in all its geographic, social and political diversity — will always belong to the federal government. And Liberals should be sensitive to any evidence of social division, be it west versus east, rural versus urban or any other construct. But the other interesting question for Trudeau's Liberals is whether they will have left the major institutions of Canadian democracy better off than when they found them in 2015. Though no amount of parliamentary reform can necessarily prevent a phenomenon like Trump, it stands to reason that healthy and widely respected institutions can at least reduce the cynicism that drives dysfunction. Trudeau's decision to walk away from electoral reform will always figure prominently in this discussion, though it's also possible that Canada's first-past-the-post system provides better protection against extremism. It is, for instance, difficult to win a national majority government in the current system without appealing broadly across racial and ethnic communities. An independent Senate, the significant innovation that Trudeau did go through with, could also prove to be a useful check on any future government. The Liberals made smaller moves to introduce new rules around omnibus legislation and prorogation, but in neither case did they go so far as to significantly curtail a government's ability to abuse such tools — and the Liberals themselves have now made questionable use of both. Those might seem like rather minor issues when compared with the dysfunction of the American legislative system. But any system will suffer when governments and political parties give voters another reason to feel cynical. Underlying everything that has befallen the United States though is a voluminous amount of lying and subterfuge. "Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president," the historian Timothy Snyder wrote this past weekend. "When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place." Beyond partisan politics and parliamentary procedure, the vital importance of truth and fact could frame efforts to address a number of policy and institutional issues, such as further strengthening the independence of Statistics Canada, regulating social-media platforms, finally fixing the woebegotten access-to-information system, increasing the independence of House of Commons committees, and addressing the decline of local media across Canada. It also puts an onus on the remaining mainstream media to be aggressive advocates for truth and substance. As the United States has now amply demonstrated, defeating lies and untruths is frightfully difficult. But nothing about keeping a democracy is ever easy.
A former head of the United States' nuclear regulator is raising questions about the molten-salt technology that would be used in one model of proposed New Brunswick-made nuclear reactors. The technology pitched by Saint John's Moltex Energy is key to its business case because, the company argues, it would reuse some of the nuclear waste from Point Lepreau and lower the long-term cost and radioactivity of storing the remainder. But Allison Macfarlane, the former chairperson of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a specialist in the storage of nuclear waste, said no one has yet proven that it's possible or viable to reprocess nuclear waste and lower the cost and risks of storage. "Nobody knows what the numbers are, and anybody who gives you numbers is selling you a bridge to nowhere because they don't know," said Macfarlane, now the director of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. "Nobody's really doing this right now. … Nobody has ever set up a molten salt reactor and used it to produce electricity." Macfarlane said she couldn't comment specifically on Moltex, calling information about the company's technology "very vague." But she said the general selling point for molten-salt technology is dubious. "Nobody's been able to answer my questions yet on what all these wastes are and how much of them there are, and how heat-producing they are and what their compositions are," she said. "My sense is that all of these reactor folks have not really paid a lot of attention to the back end of these fuel cycles," she said, referring to the long-term risks and costs of securely storing nuclear waste. Moltex is one of two Saint John-based companies pitching small nuclear reactors as the next step for nuclear power in the province and as a non-carbon-dioxide emitting alternative to fossil fuel electricity generation. Moltex North America CEO Rory O'Sullivan said the company's technology will allow it to affordably extract the most radioactive parts of the existing nuclear waste from the Point Lepreau Generating Station. The waste is now stored in pellet form in silos near the plant and is inspected regularly. The process would remove less than one per cent of the material to fuel the Moltex reactor and O'Sullivan said that would make the remainder less radioactive for a much shorter amount of time. Existing plans for nuclear waste in Canada are to store it in an eventual permanent repository deep underground, where it would be secure for the hundreds of thousands of years it remained radioactive. Reduced storage time and expense O'Sullivan said extracting and removing the most radioactive parts would reduce the needed storage time to only hundreds of years, and therefore lower the long-term expense. "The vast majority will have decayed within a couple of hundred years back down to regular natural levels," he said in an interview. Estimates for storing what's called intermediate radioactive material are from a hundred to a thousandfold cheaper, he said. "It's very different in cost, complexity, depth underground. … That's obviously a very big, very appealing factor." There is no permanent repository for storing spent nuclear fuel deep underground. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization, a national agency, is looking at two sites in Ontario but there's been no decision on a location. Shorter-term radioactivity complicates storage Macfarlane said a shorter-term radioactivity life for waste would actually complicate its storage underground because it might lead to a facility that has to be funded and secured rather than sealed up and abandoned. "That means that you believe that the institutions that exist to keep monitoring that ... will exist for hundreds of years, and I think that is a ridiculous assumption," she said. "I'm looking at the United States, I'm seeing institutions crumbling in a matter of a few years. I have no faith that institutions can last that long and that there will be streams of money to maintain the safety and security of these facilities. That's why you will need a deep geologic repository for this material." My response is: prove it. - Allison Macfarlane, nuclear waste expert And she said that's assuming the technology will successfully extract all of the most radioactive material. "They are assuming that they remove one hundred per cent of the difficult, radionuclides, the difficult isotopes, that complicate the waste," she said. "My response is: prove it. Because if you leave five per cent, you have high-level waste that you're going to be dealing with. If you leave one per cent, you're going to have high-level waste that you're going to be dealing with. So sorry, that one doesn't fly with me." Macfarlane, a geologist by training, raised doubts about molten-salt technology and waste issues in a 2018 paper she co-authored for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In the U.S., she questioned plans for a long-term nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. 'Baffled' by environmental backlash A New Brunswick group opposed to small modular reactors, or SMRs, the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development, has been pointing to her research as another reason to doubt their viability. O'Sullivan said he is "personally very baffled and frustrated" by opposition to SMRs by anti-nuclear activists. He said such activists have long complained about nuclear waste as a key concern "and we think we've finally got a solution that's cost effective to deal with it, and we're still getting this backlash. … We're environmentalists and we have this backlash." ARC Nuclear, the other Saint John-based company working on SMRs, also plans to use some existing nuclear waste in its reactor design. The company said in a statement Thursday that its technology "has successfully been demonstrated, therefore proven, at the engineering scale," but no one was available for an interview. Nuclear power essential to reduced emissions NB Power has predicted the creation of thousands of job and a $1 billion boost to the provincial economy if SMRs are built here. The utility did not respond to a request for comment on Moltex's plan for Point Lepreau's nuclear waste. The previous Liberal government handed Moltex and ARC a total of $10 million to support their research and development. The federal government said nuclear power is essential to Canada reducing its emissions but has not provided funding to the two Saint John companies.
The companies behind the White Rose offshore oil project are taking the Newfoundland and Labrador government to court, saying they have overpaid royalties. Husky Oil Operations and Suncor Energy are seeking a ruling from a judge that their interpretation of the regulations is correct, and would apply to "all past, current and future royalties payable" for White Rose. The application does not specify an exact amount being sought by the oil companies. However, affidavits from Husky and Suncor officials contend that they overpaid more than $32 million, in total, from 2014 through 2017. Those amounts apply to both the original White Rose field, and the White Rose expansion. In a nutshell, the oil companies say the intent of the royalty regulations is for them to pay the greater of two royalty levels in a certain period, but not both. They say that is sometimes happening, even though it's not the way the system is supposed to work. Husky spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said that is the unintended result of an "an anomaly" in the royalty regulations. "We have been working to address this with the province over the past three years; however, it remains unresolved," McConnell said in an email to CBC News. "As a result, we have referred it to court for a decision, which is a mechanism is available to the parties to resolve matters in dispute." The province had not yet filed any documents in reply as of midweek, and the Energy Department declined comment, saying it would be inappropriate to do so while the case is before the courts. Similar issues with Terra Nova settled in the past In court documents, Husky and Suncor pointed to past disputes involving similar issues with the Terra Nova oilfield. The owners of Terra Nova filed court actions in 2010 and again in 2015 over comparable concerns about royalty calculations. Both cases were settled before a judge could issue a final ruling. The second dispute was resolved by both sides essentially deciding to split the difference. The White Rose case is due to be called at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in early February. Husky is the operator of White Rose, owning a 72.5-per-cent share, with Suncor holding the remaining 27.5 per cent. Husky owns 68.875 per cent of the White Rose expansion. Suncor has 26.125 per cent, with Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers holding the remaining five per cent through a Crown-owned corporation. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The chief of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg says it's good news that 30 vaccine doses are on their way to the western Quebec reserve this weekend, but it's not nearly enough to safeguard the community's elders. The community near Maniwaki, Que., has 18 known active cases. Chief Dylan Whiteduck said he's concerned that number could be higher since they only have data for people who were tested on the reserve. "It's just a matter of time until it hits us hard," Whiteduck told Radio-Canada on Wednesday. "And then we see an elder [test positive], someone who's a knowledge keeper, someone who speaks the language, Anishinaabemowin, Algonquin, and then we're going to really feel it." "That's my biggest concern and my biggest fear." Kitigan Zibi recorded its first cases of COVID-19 in mid-December. According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, more than 1,600 people live there. Whiteduck said Kitigan Zibi's leadership informed Quebec health officials there were 340 vulnerable people who needed and wanted the vaccine, but they haven't received a commitment on when additional shots will arrive. While Whiteduck expects the first doses to arrive over the next few days, CISSSO did not confirm to CBC when community members can expect to be vaccinated. "Public health is actively planning vaccination in collaboration with the community," a spokesperson for the health network said in an email. "[We are] confident that the vaccination can be carried out soon." First Nations 'at mercy' of governments, chief says On Wednesday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced that the federal government will spend $1.2 billion to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities, from supporting elders to providing personal protective equipment and adapting facilities. Whiteduck said the federal government needs to be proactive and ensure provinces have a clear plan for First Nations. "We're at the mercy of other governments," Whiteduck said. "And we have to depend on the government of Canada — we always have and we've always will." "We don't even know which health authorities we fall under anymore," he added. Whiteduck said a meeting between Quebec officials, CISSSO and Kitigan Zibi is scheduled for Monday. With the reserve so close to Ottawa, Whiteduck said politicians should remember whose unceded land they live on. "I keep asking myself, 'You know, when are we going to get it?'" he said. "We don't know."
The way our brains operate may be one of the reasons why misinformation about COVID-19 spreads and comes to be believed, say Sudbury researchers. “Understanding how we think and how our brains process new information is actually part of our tool kit to protect ourselves against misinformation," said Chantal Barriault, the director of the Science Communication Graduate Program at Laurentian University. "Our brains actually like to take mental shortcuts, and we are all like this. “Our human brain wants to make things easy. It’s easier to click, to read just the headline, it’s easier to latch onto something that conforms or fits in to what you already believe or think you believe.” Barriault made the comments as Science North and Laurentian University wrapped up their COVID-19 seminar series this week with a live-stream event that addressed the prevalence of misinformation during the global pandemic. If something is easy, she added, it becomes familiar, then accepted. “If we keep seeing (certain information), even if we’re not consciously consuming it, it becomes familiar, and unfortunately, for our brains, familiar feels true,” she said. Becoming more aware of how our brains take shortcuts is one of the ways we can “inoculate” ourselves against misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking the extra step to verify the information we find online is another way to protect ourselves and make sense of what is happening around us. Barriault and other panel members joined Amy Henson, staff scientist at Science North, to discuss how our social circles influence the ways in which we receive, believe, and understand misinformation, how it spreads, and how it can be identified. “Let me ask you a quick question: what colour is COVID-19? I bet what you’re thinking is that COVID-19 is red,” said Dean Millar, interim dean of Science, Engineering, and Architecture at Laurentian University. “We’ve all seen the pictures on TV news, arriving in our social media inboxes, even in brochures at walk-in clinics or in GP surgery – the spiky, red ball. But is COVID-19 really red or is it just someone’s interpretation of the virus’s colour?” Turning to a few of Laurentian’s scientists and researchers, Millar discovered that there is no conclusive answer to that question. The best guess is that the virus is so small that it would not even interact with the wavelengths of light that correspond to colours. “In other words, it would be transparent – not red,” he said. Millar’s question introduced a host of panelists that included Barriault and Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta. The panelists weighed in on conspiracy theories about the pandemic, how to talk to friends and family members about misinformation, the need to empower users of social media to “tease out” what’s real and not real, and learning to pause before sharing information online. “Let’s Talk About COVID-19” is a seminar series that engages local researchers for live discussions about the work they are doing to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Science North and Laurentian University have collaborated on the project since May 2020. For more information or to view the most recent episode, visit www.sciencenorth.ca/covidtalks. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStarColleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
The Dutch government is resigning over its response to a child welfare benefits scandal, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. View on euronews
Iran's Revolutionary Guards fired "abundant" surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and tested locally manufactured new drones in a military exercise on Friday, state television reported. The drill, which it said was overseen by Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami in the central desert region, came in the waning days of high tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. "Also, an abundant number of a new generation of ballistic missiles were fired at selected targets, inflicting deadly blows to the hypothetical enemy bases."
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has launched an investigation into 15 stranded pilot whales whose carcasses were found on the Port au Port peninsula in December. Federal authorities were informed of the stranded whales on Dec. 9 and sent a team of fisheries officers to Three Rock Cove to investigate how the group of black, bulbous-headed cetaceans could have died. "In the photographs that I have of these whales, they looked like they're in in good shape," said DFO marine mammal expert Jack Lawson in a recent interview. "They weren't starving, they weren't thin. There's no evidence of net marks on them and there's no evidence of sort of a wounding process [from striking a ship]." "It looks like these animals may have been pursuing food or perhaps got confused," he said, adding that DFO's probe into the incident continues. "They're known worldwide for being a species that strands. Often it's thought to be that they're chasing prey and end up in shallower waters and get stranded that way.... It may be that perhaps the leader of the group got confused or an animal was ill or something, and they all followed that lead animal on shore." Lawson said pilot whales are extremely social animals that travel in pods that can reach hundreds of members. He said the whales, which can reach 2,300 kilograms and seven metres in length, are becoming less common off the coast of Newfoundland, and a group stranding like the one seen in Three Rock Cove is relatively rare. But he said a similar incident, with about 60 stranded pilot whales, did occur on the island's south coast in the 1970s. 3 carcasses remain near community Only three pilot whale carcasses are still on the beach in Three Rock Cove. During a recent storm, most of the whales were washed out to sea or covered with beach rocks, Lawson said. But some residents of the community said that while many of the bodies were pulled back in the ocean, three were pushed away from the water and are now just a few metres from the main road. "We had a lot of wind, a lot of very strong waves," resident Dwight Cornect told Radio-Canada in an interview last week. "The Mainland, Three Rock Cove area can often have 100, 120, 140 km/h winds coming off the ocean." "I'd say these whales could be pushed closer to [the road]. Who knows what could happen?" Cornect said he wants the federal or provincial government to step in and remove the whales, which he fears will be left to rot on the beach. "It's embarrassing for people in the area. You can see the carcasses," he said. "If it were a moose, they'd be here after even two hours to remove the carcass. For a whale, what's the difference?" Who's responsible for cleanup? In a statement, DFO said it "does not have a role in the disposal of stranded, dead whales" in Three Rock Cove. "If a dead whale is beached within a municipality, the municipality is responsible; on Crown land, the government of N.L. is responsible; and, within the boundaries of a national park, Parks Canada is responsible." Cornect said he's contacted Tony Wakeham, the MHA for Stephenville-Port au Port, to inform him of the situation. In an email, Wakeham said he's been in contact with DFO to discuss the situation. For now, Lawson said, there's no need to remove the carcasses. "Generally, you know, within a short period of time, these animals, because they're relatively small, say, compared to the blue whales that washed up on the west coast, they'll tend to rot fairly quickly and get scavenged by gulls and so on and won't last too long," he said. "The degradation process happens relatively quickly for these small whales and soon they'll just be bones on the beach or washed away. So that's why we won't necessarily rush to try and move an animal like this," he said, adding he doesn't believe the whales present a risk to safety. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Paul Allen, the executive director of Nova Scotia's Utility and Review Board, says most people don't understand the role the regulator can play in helping solve problems with Nova Scotia Power. This week, CBC Nova Scotia revealed there was an unplanned power outage somewhere in the province every day in 2020. People have told CBC since then they don't know where to turn for help if they are in an area with repeated outages. Allen said a customer must take a complaint to Nova Scotia Power first. But, if the problem continues, they can turn to the board for help. "If a customer feels that they're being discriminated against in terms of not being provided service or maybe they feel they've been charged incorrect power rates, the board has the ability to give some direction to the utility to fix those sorts of things," he said. The UARB will also accept complaints about chronic outages. But some things are out of the regulator's control. "The board is not able to deal with billing disputes where it's just a matter of the customer doesn't have the ability to pay." In 2016, changes to the Public Utilities Act gave the UARB the ability to set performance standards with the utility. The performance standards examine three key areas: reliability, which covers routine outages. responses to adverse weather, which includes the length of outages after a major weather event. customer service, which includes general communications. When Nova Scotia Power failed to meet performance standards in 2019, the UARB made it pay a $250,000 penalty. It has the power to issue penalties up to $1 million. The results of the 2020 performance standards are expected next month. Nova Scotia Power told CBC in late December that it was on track to meet them. The standards also examine the bottom five feeder lines. "If a feeder is on that list for two consecutive years, it's labelled as a problem circuit," Allen said. "Any problem circuits that is among the worst five for the third consecutive year is labelled a chronic circuit. It can attract some of those administrative penalties." Wide mandate There are limits to the board's powers. "The board does have some other powers to direct the company to do things or stop doing things depending on the nature of what the complaint is," said Allen. "The board can only do what is allowed under the Public Utilities Act. We can't go beyond that." Allen urged anyone with questions to call the UARB, and not be intimidated by the process. The UARB has mandates covering everything from payday loans to the bridge commission. But, out of everything, the most calls it gets isn't electricity, but another issue that affects nearly all Nova Scotians. "Our No. 1 area for calls is gasoline and diesel oil prices," said Allen. MORE TOP STORIES MORE TOP STORIES
GAZA, Palestinian Territory — With a chainsaw in his car, Ahmed Abdelal tours the Gaza Strip, asking around for people wanting to cut down trees, regrow orchards or make way for construction. One of the few remaining woodcutters in the Palestinian territory, Abdelal, who learned woodcutting from his father, is struggling to scratch out a living in a traditional job that is less and less in demand. Job opportunities are rare in this Palestinian enclave wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, and so are green spaces. Rapid population growth — more than 2 million people are crammed in a 360-square-kilometre (140 square mile) strip — comes at the expense of arable land. Israel maintains a 300-meter (330-yard) wide buffer zone along its frontier with Gaza. At the the height of the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, its military bulldozers levelled large swaths of citrus groves in the border areas. In more recent years, Gaza has suffered under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant Hamas group seized control of the territory from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Israel says the restrictions are needed to prevent Hamas from upgrading its weapons. The Palestinian Authority, or PA, holds sway in the West Bank. The blockade and the rift between Hamas and the PA have weakened Gaza's energy sector. As a result, residents are put on a rotating electricity schedule of eight-hours on, followed by an eight-hour blackout. Here, woodcutters like Abdelal find an opportunity. The unreliability of the power supply drives up the demand for wood in winter. So Abdelal and other Gaza woodcutters look to expand their clientele from the traditional buyers of logs, residents of rural areas who bake bread on woodfire ovens and tribal councils who keep the Arabic coffee pots warm near a woodfire. Among Abdelal’s favourite clients are small kitchens that cook food in ovens dug under the ground. In these pits, the wood is burnt to coal before chicken, lamb shoulders and shanks are tossed in and left to cook for hours. The cooking technique is getting popular. The olive and citrus wood logs also go to a burning site in east Gaza City where they are turned into charcoal. Abu Ashraf al-Hattab, who has been a charcoal burner for decades, says the business has declined in recent years because the local supplies of wood have shrunk and people have turned to cheaper, imported charcoal. In his gift shop, Muhanad Ahmed wanted to offer environmentally friendly items and drop the excessive amount of plastic that's seen on the shelves of other shops, he says. So, he buys the logs and shapes them into wood sculptures. Abdelal says that as long as he can find customers, he will continue. “Cutting the wood is an old profession for us, and despite development and modernity, it still exists,” he said. Wafa Shurafa And Fares Akram, The Associated Press