Pluto dances with his bobble head buddies while he chows down on a tasty banana. Hilarious!
Pluto dances with his bobble head buddies while he chows down on a tasty banana. Hilarious!
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday unveiled the EQA, a new electric compact SUV as part of plans to take on rival Tesla Inc and offer more emission-free vehicles to consumers to meet targets in Europe and China. The EQA, the first of several electric models Mercedes-Benz plans to launch this year, will initially have a range of 426 kilometres (265 miles), with a 500km model coming later, the premium brand carmaker said in a video presentation.
Planning is important in this province’s tourism industry, and with only a short window to make things happen, operators must be ready and on schedule to welcome visitors at peak times during the tourism season. That was disrupted last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the province was cut off to outside visitors. The importance of having a plan heading into the 2021 season is paramount as the tourism sector stares down the barrel of a second season limited by the pandemic. “It is important that the plan is being worked on,” said Hare Bay Adventures owner Duane Collins, who is also with the Shore Tourism Association. “I think it is important that it is relayed to the industry broadly … and then it lets us communicate that to our guests and to the companies we work with.” The pre-election announcement of a tourism action group was a welcome one for operators across the province and seen as a good start, Collins said. On Jan. 15, the government announced the 14-member Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism. The government pledged to spend $1.12 million over three years to support Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador as it prepares the tourism and hospitality sector for a post-pandemic recovery. That money is coming through the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement. That means the industry wasn’t overlooked at the time, but there is still a question of how the group will look or operate in the wake of the election on Feb. 13. “I want to hear about a plan on how we open the province back up,” said Collins. “Not saying any particular date, because that is beyond our control, frankly.” For Collins, clarity and transparency will be important as that plan continues to evolve. There must also be an effort to work with the industry, he said. Janet Davis had conversations last summer with plenty of people who had never before been to her home of New-Wes-Valley. The owner of Norton’s Cove Studio and Café in the Brookfield part of the community, Davis found those conversations usually included a line about having little knowledge of her part of the province. “The staycation has been really good for my business,” Davis said of what brought those people to her door. As the election campaign begins to ramp up, how the next provincial government is going to help tourism operators in the future is at the top of a lot of operators' minds. For some, like Davis, want to continue to push people to explore their province as they did last summer through the Stay Home Year 2020 campaign. “Keep promoting our own,” said Davis. “It’s great to have your own people supporting you. “We have to keep promoting our own people.” Deborah Bourden says the number of people who will explore their own province next summer is just a fraction of what is needed to keep the tourism sector going. There also must be an effort to maintain the tourism department’s current pot for marketing initiatives, she says. That means having the next government maintain the current level of funding being put into marketing initiatives, both locally and abroad. “We don’t want to see any less in marketing,” said Bourden, who is the co-owner of the Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites in Twillingate. If things start to open back up to national and international travel next fall, then a part of the tourism plan will need to look at how best to get those people into the province, she says. “We have to be prepared so we can come out of the gate strong next year this time,” said Bourden. “We have to be thinking about what we need, and we need to be prepared for that.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
The UK has historically had a special relationship with the US, but will British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s friendship with Donald Trump undermine his relationship with the new president? And what role will the UK's divorce from the EU play in transatlantic relations?View on euronews
CANSO – Maritime Launch Services (MLS) will not get liftoff as early as the company had hoped. Just more than four years ago, in Oct. 2016, MLS was formed in Nova Scotia to create a spaceport in Canso. In some of the earliest press releases about the proposed project, MLS stated the estimated timeline for first launch capability was 2020. And, although COVID-19 has created a Groundhog Day effect, time has continued to move forward – the calendar has turned to a new year, and MLS has yet to break ground on the Canso Spaceport facility. MLS CEO Steve Matier told The Journal on Monday (Jan. 18) that the delay could be attributed to several causes including, most recently, the wrench the global pandemic has put in every plan – be it business or personal. In addition, Matier said the original 2020 launch date was based on getting shovels in the ground in 2018. That wasn’t possible, as it took until June of 2019 to get the Environmental Assessment (EA) approved by the Department of Environment. And, he said, “There’s the whole land lease issue working with [Nova Scotia] Lands and Forestry; that takes time as well.” At this point, the company is working to meet the terms and conditions in the 2019 EA document, which include associated activities involved with designs for roads and buildings; plans for erosion and settlement control; analysis of potential impacts to watercourses and existing water users; environmental monitoring plans and more. “Within that approval (EA) was the rather lengthy list of compliance pieces that we need to get to them to review,” Matier told The Journal, adding that no construction could take place until the information supplied by the company was accepted by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment. Matier said he hoped they could move to breaking ground on the project in six months’ time, but “it’s hard to predict exact dates,” due to the time it takes for review and approval. Given that the Department of Lands and Forestry accepted the company’s draft survey for the lease of Crown land required for the project just before Christmas, the wheels of government can be seen to move forward. Once the project moves past approvals, and on to groundbreaking, Matier said it could be another two years before the first launch. “We require about 18 months of construction activities and six of commissioning before you can get to an actual launch.” While there have been delays, Matier told The Journal the company has potential clients lined up and waiting. “We have a fairly extensive set of letters of intent and MOUs with satellite developers and aggregators already, but these don’t turn into formal launch contracts until the point when we can tell them what that actual launch date is. Once we break ground, we’ll be in a much better position to project what the launch date is and start to turn those letters of intent into launch contracts.” Progress on the project has been slow this past year, and there has been little to report, which may have pleased some people in the Canso/Hazel Hill area who are opposed to the spaceport. Matier said, while the company is aware of the opposition, MLS would not have selected the site without support from the majority of community members. “We really started this initiative by working with the community, first and foremost,” he said, adding that the company has held open information sessions and met with stakeholder groups like the Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Fishermen’s Association. “We have sought input and will continue to do so. We’re not about to ram this through … we have been open and honest about everything we are planning to do,” Matier said. The Environmental Assessment Approval, dated June 4, 2019 states that work must commence on the project within two years of the approval date; beyond that time, a written extension must be granted by the provincial environment minister. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
BANGKOK — Thai officials on Wednesday filed criminal charges against a popular former politician, accusing him of defaming the monarchy by broadcasting criticism of government efforts to secure supplies of coronavirus vaccines. The action against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit came just a day after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that that his government will prosecute anyone who shares false information about coronavirus vaccines. Thanathorn, former leader of the dissolved Future Forward Party, accused the government of acting too slowly in procuring the vaccines. He also pointed out that the government’s main contract for vaccine supply was made with a Thai company owned by the royal palace. The government and the company deny any wrongdoing. “What Thanathorn said is not true at all. The monarchy has nothing to do with the vaccines and they are not in the position to respond to him in the public,” said Thosaphol Pengsom, a vice minister attached to the prime minister’s office. Vice Minister of Digital Economy and Society Newin Chochaiyathip said at a news conference that anyone who shares Thanathorn’s broadcast or distorted information about vaccines and monarchy judged to be distorted would be prosecuted. Thanathorn’s office said he had no immediate comment. The government has increasingly used the law against defaming the monarchy to crack down on critics. The law, widely know as Article 112, makes insulting King Maha Vajiralongkorn or his family punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment. Thanathorn has long been a thorn in the side of Prayuth’s government. His party, critical of the army, a pillar of the country’s establishment, made a strong third-place showing in the 2019 general election, but he was forced out of Parliament when a court ruled that he had broken an election law. His party was later dissolved on a similar technicality. He has faced a number of legal cases which supporters charge are politically motivated. Also Wednesday, six activists from Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police to acknowledge Article 112 charges against them. Their appearance at a central Bangkok police station was the latest skirmish between Thailand’s royalist establishment and the youth-led protest movement that caught fire last year with a series of well-attended rallies around the country calling for major political reforms, including of the country’s influential monarchy. The six protesters were charged by police with insulting or expressing malice toward the king in connection with a December protest at a Bangkok shopping mall. The charge sheet offers no details. According to a member of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, who asked for anonymity because she was not authorized to release information, police explained that the charges were related to wearing short cropped T-shirts at their protest to make fun of the king and his queen. Two minors were not accused of wearing inappropriate attire but of having signs or making hand gestures supporting the protest. Photographs of the king casually wearing cropped T-shirts have circulated widely on social media and have been published overseas, but not in Thai mass media, which does not publish undignified photos of the royal family. The monarchy is revered by many Thais and until recently was almost universally treated as an untouchable institution. But the protest movement charges that monarchy is unaccountable and wields too much power is what is supposed to a democratic constitutional monarchy. From November to January this year, about 50 people have been charged with lese majeste — though none has yet gone to trial. Most if not all cases were based on statements made at public rallies or posted on the internet. Critics says the law can easily be abused because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint. After Vajralongkorn took the throne in 2016, he informed the government that he did not wish to see the law used. But the escalating criticism of the king late last year prompted Prayuth to declare that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions. ——- Associated Press video journalist Tassanee Vejpongsa contributed to this report. Grant Peck And Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday it was "outrageous" that hundreds of thousands of police records had been deleted due to a human coding error with the Police National Computer. A piece of software to weed out records from the database that the computer had no legal right to hold went haywire because of faulty coding and began to automatically delete hundreds of thousands of other records, the Home Office said. "Of course it is outrageous that any data should have been lost but at the moment ... we're trying to retrieve that data," Johnson told parliament, adding that the Home Office (interior ministry) hoped to restore the deleted information.
A newly released study suggests university students are eating worse, are less active and are drinking more alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic than they were before. Gordon Zello, a professor in nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, was one of the head researchers on the study, which has been published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. "There's certainly been some research out there that suggested that the COVID epidemic made university students and vulnerable groups have poor diets and less physical activity," Zello said. "But the problem with a lot of these studies is they didn't have a pre-COVID analysis." The study took a survey about the student's pre-pandemic lifestyles in the spring of 2020, so the University of Saskatchewan researchers had a frame of reference for the new data. Zello said the findings show university students, especially those most vulnerable — people who live independently, or with roommates or partners but are responsible for buying and preparing their own food — need to be targeted for interventions. The four-month study surveyed 125 graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina who were considered vulnerable. Worsening habits weren't surprising, Zello says, but the study found students ate less of the foods typically eaten in the spring — like fruits and vegetables. Similarly, "with physical activity going into summer months, you would expect people to be more physically active. So to actually see things get worse during COVID was a bit surprising," Zello said. The study found students weren't getting the vitamins and nutrients they needed, that hours of sedentary behaviour rose dramatically from three hours to 11 per day, that students ate less meat, and that their alcohol consumption significantly increased. "Remember, these students were not those which had a big [social] bubble, if you like," he said. "So they're going to be more isolated and [that] probably led to more things like screen time or sedentary behaviours." Keely Shaw, a graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan, was another of the study's authors. She knew university students don't always have the best habits during normal times, let alone during a pandemic. "If it's their first or second year being away from home, they might not have the skills to cook food. They might rely a lot on eating out or ready-made meals," Shaw said. Combined with recommendations to avoid going out to restaurants, "there's a lot more strain put on the individual," she said. But Shaw says the increased alcohol consumption wasn't expected, because pre-pandemic, people typically drank more with their peers than when alone. Shaw was also surprised by the decrease in meat consumption. "I feel like in Western culture, we kind of structure our meals around the meat. So I would almost have expected that to be a little bit more stable across the board, but our research showed otherwise," Shaw said. Zello said he hopes the impacts from this study are remembered for the next waves of the pandemic and any future pandemics. He said there's been more focus on family units instead of isolated people and fostering positive habits. "These lifestyle changes are hard to change again," Zello said. "So the longer this epidemic goes on and the longer people are not physically active, the longer they're eating poor diets. To change them back to what they were before becomes also difficult." Shaw hopes university students read the research and consider their own habits, she said. She suggests walking around the block, eating as healthy a diet as a person's budget allows, and carrying any positive habits forward into a post-pandemic world. "Hopefully from there they can really understand the importance of maintaining a super well-balanced, rich in fruits and vegetables diet, and trying to really ensure that they're limiting their sedentary behaviour," Shaw said. Shaw and Zello conducted the research with co-authors Leandy Bertrand, Phil Chilibeck, research assistant Jongbum Ko and undergraduate summer student Dalton Deprez.
Swedish telecom operators are planning to cover almost the entire country with 5G in the next two to three years after a spectrum auction by the country's telecom regulator PTS. The auction between four bidders, which had been delayed for a security review and by a lawsuit filed by Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei, finally took place on Tuesday. Bidders were units or joint ventures of telecom operators Telia, Tele2, Telenor and Tre.
GUYSBOROUGH – Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) launched an initiative last year to reduce the amount of lost fishing gear, also called ghost gear, in Canadian and international waters. In a news release issued earlier this month (Jan. 7), DFO stated that early estimates show this initiative has helped to remove almost 63 tonnes of ghost gear; 80 per cent of which was retrieved from the Bay of Fundy and coastal waters off Nova Scotia, including the waters surrounding the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) – Lobster Fishing Areas 31 A and 31 B. The overwhelming majority of gear type retrieved was lobster and crab pots (86 per cent). Nets and longline from various fisheries comprised 14 per cent of gear retrieved. And 3.2 km of rope was removed from coastal waters in Atlantic Canada. Gear was retrieved by projects supported through DFO’s $8.3 million Ghost Gear Fund, self-funded third-party projects authorized by DFO to collect gear, fishery officer patrols and fish harvesters. In MODG, all retrieved gear was collected by harvesters who previously lost their fishing gear in these areas. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued to the media Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities" to adopt basic public health measures as early as possible. “What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” it said. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying disputed whether China had reacted too slowly. “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions,” she said, pointing out that Wuhan — where the first human cases were identified — was locked down within three weeks of the outbreak starting. “All countries, not only China, but also the U.S., the U.K., Japan or any other countries, should all try to do better,” Hua said. An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them, including the new virus' genetic sequence. The story noted that WHO didn't have any enforcement powers. At a press briefing on Tuesday, Johnson Sirleaf said it was up to countries whether they wanted to overhaul WHO to accord it more authority to stamp out outbreaks, saying the organization was also constrained by its lack of funding. “The bottom line is WHO has no powers to enforce anything," she said. “All it can do is ask to be invited in." Last week, an international team of WHO-led scientists arrived in Wuhan to research the animal origins of the pandemic after months of political wrangling to secure China's approval for the probe. The panel also cited evidence of COVID-19 cases in other countries in late January, saying public health containment measures should have been put in place immediately in any country with a likely case, adding: “They were not.” The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency — its highest warning for outbreaks — sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO's top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don't appear to be sick. Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump slammed the U.N. health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization. The U.N. health agency bowed to the international pressure at the annual assembly of its member states last spring by creating the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The WHO chief appointed Johnson Sirleaf and Clark — who both have previous ties to the U.N. agency — to lead the team, whose work is funded by WHO. Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of commending countries for their response efforts. Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response said he warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP. To date, the pandemic has killed more than 2 million people worldwide. ___ AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from Toronto. Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed to this report. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Maria Cheng And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
The owner of Canada's biggest stock exchanges is seeking to attract more Asian derivatives investors, aiming to boost the share of its overall revenues from outside the country to half from one-third currently. TMX Group, which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, the TSX Venture Exchange and the Montreal Exchange, plans to extend derivatives trading to 23 hours in the second half of 2021 from 14-1/2 hours now to attract Asia-Pacific institutional investors, Chief Executive John McKenzie told Reuters in an exclusive interview. McKenzie said TMX hopes both to expand outside Canada and beyond its traditional equities trading operations, which already accounted for less than a tenth of revenues in fiscal 2019, half the level of a decade earlier.
A man from the Bathurst area is dead after a motor vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon. The accident happened just before 4 p.m. on Route 11 near Petit-Rocher and was a head-on crash. A 22-year-old man died and a 45-year-old truck driver was injured. Traffic was rerouted for several hours.
A small Nova Scotia First Nation is poised to start collecting property taxes in April from non-Indigenous businesses located on land it purchased for commercial development in the Annapolis Valley. Chief Sidney Peters of the Glooscap First Nation says it's about self-reliance. "It's just another way of trying to bring in a few extra dollars of revenue to help the community out," Peters said. The 400-member band currently pays a little over $20,000 a year in property taxes to the Municipality of the County of Kings for Glooscap Landing, which is home to a gas station and Tim Hortons on 11 hectares it owns on Highway 101 near Hantsport. Passed motion last month To get its hands on that money, Glooscap band council passed a motion last month to create its own taxing authority under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. The band says initially it is likely to charge the same tax rate as the neighbouring municipality. Peters said the "biggest thing" is to have the money come back to the band. The band is also pressing the federal government to designate the 11 hectares part of its reserve, the other key step that will enable it to exercise taxing authority. Peters said he expects to have the reserve addition in time for April. This will not impact federal or provincial taxes. Band members won't be charged property taxes because they are exempt. Millbrook pioneered band tax collection in N.S. Glooscap is not the first to go down this road in Nova Scotia. The Millbrook band pioneered property tax collection under late Chief Lawrence Paul. It has been levying property taxes at its Power Centre outside Truro for years. According to financial records, taxation generated $711,000 in revenue for Millbrook in 2019. Eskasoni, in Cape Breton, also collects property tax, according to data from the First Nations Tax Commission that helps bands across Canada set up tax regimes. Paqtnkek, near Antigonish, is also looking at creating its own property tax regime. Taxing across Canada The First Nations Tax Commission says 152 First Nations collected $96 million in property tax across the country in 2020. About $1.25 million was collected by bands in Atlantic Canada. "Communities are looking for more ways to become more independent of government and to exercise their own self-governance through their own institutions. And taxation is a fundamental governmental power," said Manny Jewels, chief commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission. About 80 per cent of First Nation tax regimes in place across Canada are under the authority of the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, which came into force in 2006. The remainder are under the Indian Act. 'Legislation is working' In addition to strengthening First Nations' property taxing power, it also created the First Nations Financial Authority, a non-profit corporation used by bands to raise money. It bankrolled the blockbuster $250-million loan to the Membertou band to pay for its share of the purchase of Clearwater Seafoods. "It tells you very clearly that the legislation is working," said Jewels. "It's the most successful legislation for First Nations in Canadian history. We were working, quite frankly, with over 50 per cent of the communities right across the country." MORE TOP STORIES
As you take a closer look at your financial footing amid the headwinds of a pandemic, it’s an excellent time to examine the possible impact of a Joe Biden presidency on money matters. The balance of Congress has shifted following the Georgia runoffs, providing possible momentum for President Biden’s agenda. A new COVID check, taxes, health care — it’s all on the line. Here’s how. A SHORT FUSE ON ANOTHER ROUND OF STIMULUS CHECKS Look for another round of pandemic relief shortly after Biden’s inauguration, says Bernard Yaros Jr., an economist with Moody’s Analytics. “In February, we expect that there’s going to be a COVID-specific relief package,” Yaros says. That measure will likely once again extend unemployment insurance benefits, with enough support for another round of checks issued to Americans, “whether it’s 2K or slightly lower,” he says. Small businesses are likely to receive more grants and forgivable loans, as well. “And we’re also thinking, you would probably get some additional funding for rental assistance,” Yaros adds. MOVING FROM RELIEF TO STIMULUS With Democrats gaining two seats in the Senate from the Georgia runoffs, there is now a greater possibility of moving from “relief” to “stimulus” mode in late 2021. “That’s because now that the Democrats have a simple majority in the Senate. They can pass changes to the tax code as well as implement changes in spending,” Yaros says. Moody’s Analytics economists expect the Biden administration will dedicate increased funding for enhancements to “social safety nets,” possibly including: — Expanding eligibility for Medicare. — Retooling Obamacare into Bidencare. — Rolling out paid sick leave protections. — Offering universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. — Providing some kind of student debt forgiveness. But on these initiatives, Democrats will “have to pick and choose,” Yaros says. “Among the more moderate Democrats, they’re not going to want to increase the deficit too much. That’s obviously going to be a limiting factor,” he adds. And while Vice-President Kamala Harris holds the deciding vote in the event of a Senate tie, the 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans doesn’t constitute filibuster-proof power. REVERSING TRUMP TAX CUTS Higher taxes are expected to partially fund the widening of these social safety nets. Yaros says Biden is likely to succeed in reversing Trump’s tax cuts, raising the corporate income tax rate to 28%, increasing the tax rate for taxable incomes of more than $400,000 and eliminating some tax breaks for those making more than $1 million. But the tax hikes may be smaller than widely anticipated, says Michael Zezas, head of U.S. public policy research at Morgan Stanley. “In a Senate where Democrats have the slimmest majority possible, any one Democratic senator effectively has a veto. And when it comes to taxes, we expect many of the Biden administration’s proposed taxes won’t pass muster with Democratic moderates,” Zezas says in an analysis. “We estimate about $500 billion of tax increases are possible, obviously a smaller number than another potential COVID stimulus round, and also smaller than the $1 trillion-plus spending now in play for each of health care and infrastructure,” Zezas added. Even if Biden can swing the tax hikes, they aren’t expected to kick in until 2024, Yaros says, “to make sure that there’s no fiscal drag, at all, on the economy in these next couple of years when we’re still digging ourselves out of the pandemic.” REVISING RETIREMENT PLANS Joe Biden also has some ideas to reshape employer-sponsored retirement plans. One of those proposals is to equalize the tax benefit of contributing to a retirement plan so that “higher-income earners aren’t getting more of the benefit than the lower-income workers, that it’s standard across the board,” says Anne Tyler Hall, founder and principal of Hall Benefits Law. For example, someone in a 37% tax bracket is able to deduct the full amount of a retirement plan contribution; so $37 for every $100 pre-tax contribution. That’s a greater tax benefit than someone in a lower tax bracket, such as 20%, who would receive a $20 deduction for each $100 pre-tax contribution. The idea proposed by the Biden administration is to offer a tax credit to low- and moderate-income workers, resulting in an equal tax benefit. Democrats are also pushing for employers to make retirement saving easier for the U.S. workforce. “Employers who don’t offer retirement plans would be required to allow employees to make contributions to individual retirement accounts, IRAs,” Hall says. “Contributions to the IRAs would come directly from paychecks.” With the shift of balance in Congress, Hall says such changes may be more likely. Plus, “some of these provisions have bipartisan support,” she adds. RELATED LINKS: Georgia Changes the Game https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/thoughts-on-the-market-zezas Budgeting 101: How to Budget Money http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-budget-101 Hal M. Bundrick Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
BERLIN — Police say a 26-year-old was detained in Berlin twice after throwing snowballs and other projectiles at the American consulate and scuffling with security personnel while yelling slogans against outgoing President Donald Trump. The man, whose name wasn’t given in line with German privacy laws, first appeared outside the consulate Tuesday yelling slogans and throwing snowballs at about 3 p.m. At about 10:30 p.m., the man reappeared outside the consulate and threw two half-full beverage cans at police officers. He was eventually released after being brought to a police station. Police said Wednesday he's under investigation for causing property damage and bodily harm. The Associated Press
Drivers around Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Regina are asked to be extra careful Wednesday morning as a band of windy weather made travel treacherous. On Wednesday morning, much of central Saskatchewan, stretching from the Battlefords through Saskatoon, Regina and into the far southeast corner of the province was still under a wind warning. The wind started Tuesday night, carrying gusts of up to 90 km/h, bringing snow and rain with the weather system. As of 6 a.m. CST, Saskatchewan's Highway Hotline had posted travel not recommended advisories on most roads in the Saskatoon area, including Highway 11 northbound to Prince Albert, Highway 11 southbound to Davidson, and Highway 16 eastbound past Lanigan. As well, travel was also not recommended on the Trans-Canada Highway east of Regina, from the Highway 35 Junction to Balgonie and westbound, from the Junction of Highway 6 to Belle Plaine. Travel was not recommended on Highway 6 northbound from Regina to Naicam, and southbound on Highways 6 and 33. Highways said the roads were covered with ice, and had poor visibility and drifting snow. Travel was not recommended in many other highways in the region, including Highway 3 from Prince Albert to Shellbrook. Drivers are asked to be cautious and to slow down if they encounter icy conditions.