This pet raccoon has taken over the baby swing for nap time. Cuteness overload!
This pet raccoon has taken over the baby swing for nap time. Cuteness overload!
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California sheriff’s deputy was killed and another deputy was wounded in a shootout with a suspect who gunned down a K-9 dog before he was fatally shot, authorities said. The gunbattle erupted in Sacramento near a racetrack at the Cal Expo event venue after a vehicle pursuit late Monday, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said. The deputy who died was identified as Adam Gibson, a six-year veteran of the department, Jones said. “He leaves behind a wife and an infant child,” the sheriff said. The injured deputy was in stable condition, Jones said. Jones said the suspect was a man in his 40s but didn't release his name He was identified Tuesday as Robert Stephen Calderon by his mother, Jenny Calderon, who talked to the Sacramento Bee. He had a history of criminal activity, drug use and mental illness, according to his family and court records. Calderon said that her son had been on drugs in the past, and “I think he was bi-polar.” “He saw people coming out of the walls,” she said. “They would come, and they would abuse him. And he was mad at me because he thought I was letting them into his room." Calderon said that led him to get a gun and that she had no idea how he was able to obtain it. “I told him to get rid of it, I told him you have to go get some help, and you have to get rid of that gun,” she said. The pursuit and shooting followed an attempted traffic stop, Jones said, and the driver ended up crashing on the Cal Expo grounds. “One of the K-9 officers deployed a K-9 dog up to the vehicle to try and assist getting the suspect out of the vehicle. The suspect immediately shot and killed the K-9 unit, then immediately started firing at the officers,” Jones said. It wasn’t immediately known what prompted the attempted traffic stop. The Sacramento Police Department plans to handle the investigation, Jones said. Gov. Gavin Newsom offered condolences to the slain deputy's family. “Deputy Gibson will forever be remembered for his selfless sacrifice and his commitment to providing safety and security for the Sacramento community,” Newsom said in a statement. Calderon's family described him as a former truck driver and in-home health services worker who loved animals and had a small pug named Max. They said he was frequently homeless and living in a Chevrolet Suburban, often parking it outside the used clothing store where deputies contacted him Monday night. Calderon cycled in and out of custody for decades, according to court records. He had a combined nine felony and misdemeanour cases out of Sacramento County dating to 1993, Superior Court records show. The cases generally involve drugs and stolen vehicles. His most recent local case, a felony, came in 2012. He was sentenced to 16 months in state prison for vehicle theft. Jenny Calderon broke down several times speaking about her son and what he had done. Speaking in her apartment, Calderon said she was mourning not only her son, but especially the fallen deputy and his family. “I’m glad he’s dead because if he knew what he had done to that deputy’s family, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself,” she said. The Associated Press
CAMEROON, Cameroon — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he intends to invite the rival leaders on Cyprus to an informal meeting “as soon as practicable,” but he warns that this meeting must be different and help clarify “the true extent" of their common vision “and outline steps necessary to chart a way forward.” The U.N. chief also warned in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Tuesday that “time is working against a mutually acceptable political settlement in Cyprus.” After decades of status quo, he said, “changes are happening on the ground that may become irreversible, should the two communities not recommit themselves to resolving their differences peacefully, proactively and with determination.” Guterres gave no date for the meeting of Cyprus’ rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders along with the three “guarantors” of the Mediterranean island nation's independence -- Greece, Turkey and Britain. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that “there’s no date I’m able to share with you.” The Security Council was briefed virtually behind closed doors Tuesday on the latest developments by U.N. special representative Elizabeth Spehar, who heads the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the briefing and discussions were private, said there was broad support among the 15 members for Guterres’ intention to convene a U.N. meeting at the earliest opportunity. Members also welcomed the positive response of the rival leaders who signalled their agreement to take part with no preconditions, the diplomats said.. Cyprus was divided into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south in 1974 following a Turkish invasion that was triggered by a coup aimed at union with Greece. Numerous rounds of U.N. mediated talks have ended in failure, with the last push for a peace deal in July 2017 ending in acrimony. That meeting also led to an apparent shift by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots toward seeking a two-state deal rather than pursuing their stated aim of reunifying the country as a federation made up of Greek and Turkish speaking zones. Guterres stressed that “the primary responsibility for the future of the process remains with the parties.” Following consultations over the past months by U.N. envoy Jane Holl Lute, he said both sides and the guarantors have expressed a willingness to attend an informal meeting under his auspices. “The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a sustainable, lasting solution to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon,” the secretary-general said. Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic has widened longstanding fractures within and between the island's two communities. He also pointed to rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean region over exploration for oil and gas, and delineating maritime boundaries. Guterres called for serious efforts to defuse tensions and urged dialogue to resolve disputes. “I continue to stress that natural resources located in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and constitute a strong incentive to reach a mutually acceptable settlement in Cyprus without any further delay,” he said. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Edmontonians are cleaning up after a snow squall brought powerful winds to the city Tuesday night, knocking out power to thousands of homes and creating whiteout conditions on local highways. An Epcor spokesperson told CBC News that about 5,000 customers had lost power due to high winds Tuesday and repair crews were expected to work through the night. As of Wednesday morning, about 200 customers remained in the dark in neighbourhoods across the city. A wind warning remained in effect for the city and several surrounding communities. Strong winds, with gusts near 90 km/h, are expected to continue through Wednesday afternoon. Environment Canada is warning of possible damage to buildings and flying debris before the winds begin to weaken this evening. After weeks of mild weather, the squall hit Tuesday night. The winds picked up around 8:30 p.m., ripping off shingles and downing trees. The sudden, violent gusts of wind reached up to 90 km/h. Drivers were urged to avoid local highways as blasts of blowing snow created near zero visibility. While some hunkered down, many Edmontonians put their face to the storm and took to social media. Some surveyed damage to their properties. Others watched the howling winds from behind rattling windows or from shaking balconies. Tree branches broke. Trampolines were toppled. One young hockey player used the wind to send him gently careening across the ice. Another took to a nearby parking lot to capture a ballet of shopping carts dancing across the icy pavement. 'Everything went black' Mike Henkemans was at his mother's house in the Westmount neighbourhood when there was sickening crash outside that sent the house rattling. "The wind was so crazy and loud and the snow was blowing sideways," Henkemans said. "Then everything went black." A 14-metre tall spruce tree in the backyard had toppled, hitting the roof and a second storey balcony before crashing into a pergola and a barbecue before coming to rest on the ground floor deck. The tree snapped the power lines and the live wires remained dangling. "It just smashed everything," he said. "It was terrifying. It was really scary. I didn't know what was happening." "The power lines are snapped and all over the garage. You can see them dangling." Henkemans said he called Epcor, his insurance company and an arborist for help with the clean-up. A neighbour allowed them to run an extension cord over the property line so they could run a space heater as they waited for the power to be reconnected. "It was a long night," Henkemans said. Edmonton was not alone in experiencing the intense wind. Wind warnings were in effect for much of the province, including the Edmonton region, Jasper, Whitecourt, Okotoks, Olds, Rocky Mountain House and Banff National Park. Snow squall warnings were also issued for Edmonton, as well as other parts of central and northern Alberta including Ponoka County, Leduc County, Drayton Valley and Lloydminster. A snow squall is a brief but powerful storm characterized by strong winds and blowing snow. 'Like a bomb hit my house' Giselle Denis was playing board games with her children when the lights went dark in her home south of Sherwood Park. Moments later, with the wind howling, there was a loud crash. "It sounded like a bomb hit my house," she said. "I have never heard something like that. It was so loud. " The force of the wind had sent a tree toppling. A large branch had smashed through the window of a basement bedroom. "The floor was just covered in glass. It broke the metal and wood frame of the window and the tree was like in the house," Denis said. "It's a full tree." Denis expects insurance will cover the damage but it was a long sleepless night. She spent several hours cleaning up in the dark. "It's hard to go to sleep after that and I think the adrenaline is still pumping through my body." The damaged room used to serve as her son's bedroom but now stores her paintings. Her son's bedroom is next door. She feels thankful no one was hurt. "One more inch to the left and it could have been disastrous," she said. The Edmonton Police Service issued a traffic advisory around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday advising motorists to avoid a section Calgary Trail where three tractor-trailers rolled over as a result of strong winds. No injuries were reported in the rollovers, EPS said. There are also numerous traffic advisories for other parts of the province affected by the wind and snow.
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.
DENPASAR, Indonesia — An American graphic designer is being deported from the Indonesian resort island of Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated it as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live. Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali in January 2020 and wound up staying through the coronavirus pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and Los Angeles and links to buy her e-book, began going viral in Indonesia on Sunday. “This island has been amazing because of our elevated lifestyle at much lower cost of living. I was paying $1,300 for my LA studio. Now I have a treehouse for $400,” one of Gray’s posts on Twitter said. Gray’s posts were considered to have “disseminated information disturbing to the public,” which was the basis for her deportation, said Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. A statement from the office cited her descriptions of Bali providing comfort for LGBT and being easily accessible during the pandemic. It also referenced tweets with links to her e-book, which had direct links to agents who could help foreigners move to the island. “She stated that she could provide easy access to Bali through the recommended agency and offered the low living costs in Bali, that it is comfortable and LGBTQ-friendly,” Manihuruk said at a news conference Tuesday. Her tweets also referenced her e-book costing $30 and a follow-up consultation about becoming an expatriate in Bali for $50. “She is suspected of carrying out business activities by selling e-books and put a rate for consulting (about) Bali tourism,” Manihuruk said. Many Indonesian social media users were furious that she was showing off living and working in Bali without a proper business visa. “I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my (tourist) visa. I am not making money in Indonesian rupiah. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am deported because of LGBT,” Gray told reporters after Immigration officials announced the deportation. Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreigners from coming to the country since Jan. 1 to control the spread of COVID-19, and public activities have been restricted on Java and Bali islands. “The Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights urges foreign nationals to comply with the current COVID-19 pandemic to comply with health protocols and to follow right procedures regarding visa processing and while in Indonesia,” Manihuruk said. Gray and her partner, Saundra Michelle Alexander, are currently in immigration detention while waiting for a flight to the United States. Firdia Lisnawati, The Associated Press
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
Local reactions to the provincial government’s latest lockdown restrictions have been mixed to say the least, and moving into another nearly total shutter on small business operations has many concerned for their future. After Premier Doug Ford announced the second provincial emergency and stay-at-home orders on Jan. 12 in response to alarming surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the province, there was near immediate confusion. Timmins MPP Gilles Bisson said there was a major lack of details from the province. “A lot of people are left scratching their heads, trying to figure out exactly what this staying-at-home order is. The Premier says, ‘I don't believe in curfews’ but he’s doing a stay-at-home order, and quite frankly a stay-at-home order is a type of curfew,” Bisson told The Daily Press. The province's release read that the stay-at-home order was “requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely.” Bisson wondered why there was no stringent travel restrictions included in the plan. “I was told there was no ban on travel between regions. So, somebody can go from Timmins to Sudbury or Toronto or wherever. I was also told by the Minister of Solicitor General that if you’ve got to pick up your son or daughter at university and bring them back home, you can do that.” He said the plan is rife with confusion and mixed messages. “The staying-at-home order needs to be clarified. Northerners are prepared to do their bit, but we need to know why government does things, based on good medical and scientific evidence, and make sure that what their orders make sense.” Bisson said he's received lot of calls from constituents over the past few days, critical of the provincial orders. “They’re saying, ‘How come I can go into Walmart and buy something, but I can’t go into my local business and buy the same thing?’ They can provide the same type of security and probably better safety when it comes to COVID, than what Walmart and other large stores are doing. “People are wondering about this stay-at-home order. They’re thinking this is rather ridiculous. If there's a five-person limit on meetings and gatherings, why are we putting kids on buses that have more than five people and putting them in classrooms of more than five people? A lot of people are just very confused.” Bisson said he is also concerned with the recent surge in cases, but this latest approach might not be the right move. “Do we need to do something? Absolutely. But what the government needs to do is be clear about what it is they’re asking us to do — and they’re not doing so.” Loralee Boucher, who operates a hair salon as well as a private party lounge in Downtown Timmins, is very concerned about the next few weeks until a new announcement comes from the province. Hair appointments are not considered essential at this time, which is a massive portion of her income. She has been unable to provide her services since Dec. 26. Her hair salon has been in operation for more than nine years. Her second venture, above the salon, is the Top Shelf Lounge which is a licensed rental space popular for parties and private functions, and sometimes offers live entertainment. It opened in August 2019. Boucher said it has been a brutal stretch for the lounge. “Top Shelf has had a minimum 80 per cent decrease in revenue over the holidays, compared to last year, because I wasn't able to rent it out nearly as much as I did last year,” she said. In the meantime she has been applying for the various assistance programs offered by the federal government. “I applied for the $900 every two weeks, which is what they gave us, online through the government, and then I applied for the grant that they’re offering, somewhere between 10 to 20 thousand,” she said, still awaiting the results. She said it would be a much-needed financial boost. “I’m hoping some kind of funds become available. I own the building. So on a single income, by myself, I have two mortgages, my home and my business. I also have double the bills, two hydro bills, two gas bills, two property tax bills and I have multiple insurances, because you have to have two business insurances, health insurance, you name it; car insurance; my vehicle payment on top of that. “I need to make a minimum of $10,000 a month just to pay that.” Boucher expressed frustration at the blanket approach the feds took with programs like The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). “The government treats everybody like they’re the same, offering everybody just 900 bucks every two weeks. Well how do you explain that I can’t pay my mortgage now, or I can’t get groceries now, things like that off just a tiny amount? For some people, it’s OK, but you’re treating everybody equally and some people have a lot more bills than others to account for.” The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is a program offered to help businesses and landlords to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses. “You can apply for a property tax rebate, but the percentage of that is not clear. I guess it’s for them to decide. I know somebody applied for a hydro rebate, and they got $21.” Before the pandemic, her salon was booked full nearly every day. She shudders to think about the total of her lost business. “I’m losing so much money, it’s crazy.” To make it sting a little more, Boucher had also recently made a major investment by adding spa facilities to her salon, including another employee, and some very pricey equipment, only to be shut down a few months later. The only current income is selling some of the hair care products online. “They said they initially closed small businesses to stop the spread of the virus, but after our initial two week shutdown, our numbers went up dramatically.” She realized the blame will be on the holiday season, which is likely accurate, but that it proves some people will gather in large groups regardless of provincial orders, which essentially has nothing to do with small businesses. “Small businesses follow the rules. We don’t want to get closed down. We don’t want to get fines. We wear our masks. We wash our hands. For example, a salon, we’re working one on one. There’s no more risk going into a hair salon than there is going into a grocery store or Walmart.” Boucher said the vast majority of small- to medium-sized businesses have taken the protocols very seriously, and have made the necessary adjustments to their operations in order to be able to provide services safely. “There is no reason why any small business should be shut down, if you’re following protocol. If you’re not following protocol, that’s when you should be shut down.” Boucher said she started a local Facebook group called Outside The Box where small business owners can share ideas, supports, advice on grants, and other initiatives. “It’s all about helping each other. That’s why I created the group in the first place.” Although her online sales have been decent, it is but a small fraction of her standard income which relies on personal appointments. However, she does appreciate the support she is getting and feels a silver lining of this whole thing might be a renewed appreciation for local businesses. “The community has been very supportive. A lot of people are doing their part to support local, so that is a very positive outcome.” said Boucher. Another downtown business and building owner, Matthew Poulin of Total Martial Arts Centre, is irked by the fact his business can’t operate, despite the province stating that people can go out for exercise purposes. “We're actually not sure why. Based on government data, which is on their site, transmission from gyms is under 2.2 per cent and other things that are still open contributed a much higher percentage. Also the restrictions we had in place make us even safer than most gyms. Booking systems, high amount of cleaning daily, 50 per cent capacity for us is 18 people, which is extremely low for a facility of our size,” he said. In the meantime, TMAC has attempted to generate some revenue by opening up some online gear sales. “Currently we’re bringing back our online gym, which isn’t ideal but it’s something nonetheless. Also we will be selling memberships for the online gym too,” said Poulin. He said he has also applied for “as many grants as possible” to keep his business afloat. “Some of our members were able to keep their accounts open with us to support the gym during this time. Really, if it wasn’t for that, we would likely have to close. This second lockdown is scary but we’re confident we will make it through.” Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
TORONTO — Another Ontario COVID-19 official has resigned over foreign travel. Premier Doug Ford's office says he has accepted the resignation of Linda Hasenfratz as a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force.Ford's office says she stepped down after it was brought to his attention that she travelled outside the country in December.No other details were released other than that she has apologized.Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Stewart resigned from a group of experts that help guide the provincial government's response to COVID-19 after travelling to the Dominican Republic over the holidays.At the time, Stewart said he regretted the non-essential travel and recognized that everyone should be avoiding non-essential trips.Stewart later stepped down as chief executive officer of the Niagara Health System and the St. Joseph's Health System.Ford's office gave a brief statement Tuesday about Hasenfratz's resignation."Thanks to the efforts of all Ontarians, we are starting to see early signs of progress in bending the curve," reads the statement. "Now is not the time to let up. We continue to urge everyone to stay home." Last week, Dr. Paul Woods, the CEO of a hospital network in London, Ont., was ousted from his post after concerns were raised about his international travel during the pandemic.Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including during the December holidays, the London Health Sciences Centre said.Last month, Rod Phillips, Ontario's former finance minister, resigned from his post after it was revealed he travelled to St. Barts for a December vacation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
Jasper Municipal Council directed administration to implement a paid parking pilot project in the 2021 budget year during its Jan. 19 regular meeting. Administration will also present project and public engagement plans before implementing paid parking. Chief administrative officer (CAO) Bill Given said this will allow administration to consider how paid parking will impact the 2021 budget and assist in the preparation of the budget too. “The concept of a pilot project… would give administration and council an opportunity to work with the community, including affected businesses, residents and other stakeholders on the best way to move forward,” Given said. “Administration is aware of concerns about overflow into residential areas, impact on… closely neighbouring businesses and the impact on our reserves, along with council’s priority on establishing fiscal equity and ensuring visitors are (paying) their fair share of the load of the cost of services in the municipality.” “It’s important to emphasize that the point of bringing together a pilot project is so we can adjust as we go on,” added Coun. Paul Butler. Bernie Kreiner, a “non-resident,” sent a letter to council indicating his strong support for paid parking in the commercial areas of the Municipality of Jasper. He acknowledged moving in this direction will require some courage because of “the likelihood of parking shifting to nearby residential streets” and “some business concern that this might reduce visitors.” “However, as one such customer, I will put a coin in a parking meter and still stop to get a cinnamon bun at the Bearpaw before or after enjoying a day in Jasper’s Nature,” Kreiner wrote to council. “Be bold, and do the right thing for the long term (sic) wellness of your community.” Asbestos removal Council approved a $20,000 capital budget project for asbestos removal in the Multipurpose Hall chair storage room. The Multipurpose Hall renovation capital project was under budget by $15,500, which is available in restricted reserves, and will be applied to the project. Yvonne McNabb, director of culture and recreation, told council the asbestos was detected in November. When it was tested, administration was told it would take a week or two to get approval to remove the asbestos. In addition to getting approval, McNabb said there’s the removal process itself and then replacing the gyprock. “There’s quite a few steps,” she said. “That’s why I thought it was best to get this project going in the event we open our facilities.” Coal development policy Coun. Jenna McGrath urged a letter be sent from council about the province’s decision to rescind a coal development policy, originally published in 1976, to West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long, Premier Jason Kenney and Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon. McGrath said the letter needs to emphasize the importance of protecting the environment and the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. “I believe it’s important for our water supply and the future generations of Albertans to stand up today,” she said. “Go back to the drawing board and encourage reinstating the coal policy.” Effective June 1, 2020, the rescission stated, “Former category 1 lands will continue to be protected from coal leasing, exploration and development of public lands but will not infringe on private lands or freehold mineral rights. “This will support critical watersheds, biodiversity… as well as recreation and tourism activities along the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Leasing outside of these areas will be subject to the same land use planning and management rules that apply to all other resources and industrial uses.” Councillors Scott Wilson, Butler and Bert Journeault said such a letter is not in the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Jasper. Coun. Helen Kelleher-Empey noted she would like for council to return to this matter after she did her own research. Coun. Rico Damota added a formal discussion is needed before a letter comes from council. Mayor Richard Ireland wants to check out the facts first. The matter was deferred to the Feb. 2 regular council meeting. Skating surfaces McGrath suggested skating surfaces in town would be a great idea. The consensus was to keep it simple at first. Wilson said he’s talked with members of the Volunteer Fire Brigade who have looked into it. “It might be prudent to chat with them as well,” he said. “Let’s just start with a small project, a place where most kids can walk to,” Journeault added. “Let’s keep it simple and let it grow. This is a good year to (do it).” Ireland urged a “high key but low cost” approach. Council directed administration to return to a committee of the whole meeting with a report about options for a low cost, high profile, easily-accessible outdoor skating options that can be implemented this winter season. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Municipal leaders in Cap-Pelé are concerned about a misconception that COVID-19 cases have been occurring only in Moncton, and are working to dispel that notion. “We know that there have been cases in our community,” said Justin LeBlanc, director of events and communications for the village of Cap-Pelé. But because the term 'Moncton zone', 'Moncton region' or similar is used to describe Zone 1, there are people who genuinely do not believe that cases occurred in the surrounding communities, LeBlanc said. Village staff have heard residents calling into radio shows indicating these views and are concerned they may be more widely held, LeBlanc said, especially by those who are upset they have to abide restrictions they don't believe are warranted for the area in which they live. “Definitely with the airport being located in [Metro] Moncton and a lot of cases related to travel, people may think the cases stay in Moncton, but we are very connected to Moncton also,” LeBlanc said. While residents of Cap-Pelé and surrounding areas may use the same airport occasionally, hundreds of people who live in Cap-Pelé also work and shop every day in Metro Moncton, he said. Referring to the zone as the “Southeast zone” would be more inclusive for those in the communities outside Moncton, he said, and could help alleviate the problem. For now, the town is doing everything it can to make this information clear by word of mouth, social media and news releases, LeBlanc said. The town was made aware of community residents who tested positive by the residents themselves, LeBlanc said. Public Health does not release this information, citing confidentiality. While the town has seen compliance with pandemic measures, there are concerns the wording of the zones may be giving some a false sense of security, he said. Zone 1 encompasses a large area, LeBlanc said. In addition to Moncton, it also includes Dieppe, Riverview, Salisbury, Petitcodiac, the Harcourt area, Port Elgin area, Rockport, Sackville, Dorchester, Shediac, Beaubassin-Est, Cap-Pelé, Saint-Antoine, Grande-Digue, Cocagne, Bouchtouche, Richibucto, Saint-Louis-de-Kent area, Coverdale, Hillsborough, Riverside-Albert, Alma and every community in between. On Thursday, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, referred to the zone as “Moncton and southeast New Brunswick” during the COVID-19 briefing. When asked by Times & Transcript if the use of “Moncton and southeast New Brunswick” was going to be used from now on to dispel the misconception that cases are not occurring outside the largest city, Russell pointed to the department’s website which lists communities in each health zone. Russell also reiterated Public Health has no plans to name smaller communities where there are positive cases. The decision not to go further than the health region in naming where cases occur is largely to protect people’s confidentiality, she said. But she said it is also because they believe it may be too late to serve a purpose. “By the time we announce a case in a particular area, the virus has probably been circulating for seven days prior to that,” she said, repeating that she wants people to behave as if they and those they are with have COVID-19 all the time. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Deng Pravatoudom played the Lotto Max numbers her husband dreamt of 20 years ago and won a $60M jackpot. Video by Shibani Gokhale
WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Burr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has told him it will not prosecute him over stock sales made during the coronavirus pandemic, ending an insider trading investigation that led him to at least temporarily step aside from a powerful committee chairmanship last year. Prosecutors had investigated for months whether the North Carolina Republican and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee had exploited advance information when he unloaded as much as $1.7 million in stocks in the days before the coronavirus caused markets to plummet. “The case is now closed,” Burr said in a statement. "I’m glad to hear it. My focus has been and will continue to be working for the people of North Carolina during this difficult time for our nation.” His lawyer, Alice Fisher, described the investigation as a “thorough review” and said Burr, who has said he will not seek reelection after his term ends in 2023, would remain focused on “the safety and security of North Carolinians and the United States as a whole.” A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment. The New York Times was first to report on the decision to not bring charges. The investigation escalated in May when the FBI obtained a search warrant to seize a cellphone from Burr. The day after that action became public, Burr said he would step aside as Intelligence Committee chairman while the FBI investigation was ongoing. It is unclear whether he will retake the role as the panel’s top Republican now that he has been cleared. Democrats are set to take control of the Senate on Wednesday, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner will become the panel’s chairman. Burr, who was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee as it conducted its own investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election, has denied wrongdoing in the well-timed stock sales. His lawyer has said he had actively co-operated with the investigation. Senate records show that he and his wife sold between roughly $600,000 and $1.7 million in more than 30 transactions in late January and mid-February, just before the market began to dive and government health officials began to sound alarms about the virus. Several of the stocks were in companies that own hotels. Burr has acknowledged selling the stocks because of the coronavirus but said he relied “solely on public news reports,” specifically CNBC’s daily health and science reporting out of Asia, to make the financial decisions. The Justice Department last year separately closed without charges investigations into stock trading by multiple other senators, including Dianne Feinstein of California, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, according to people familiar with notifications sent to the senators. They, too, had come under scrutiny for transactions made in the weeks before the coronavirus sent markets downhill. ____ Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report. Eric Tucker And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Brayden Harrington, the teenager whom President-elect Joe Biden befriended as a fellow stutterer — and will be part of a primetime inaugural special — has a book coming out this summer. Brayden Harrington's picture story “Brayden Speaks Up” will be released Aug. 10, HarperCollins Children’s Books announced Tuesday. Harrington, 13, is a New Hampshire resident who met Biden in February while the Democratic candidate was at a town hall event in Concord. They later spoke backstage and Harrington, who has praised Biden for giving him confidence, addressed the Democratic National Convention last August in a video that was viewed millions of times. “When I learned I had the opportunity to speak at the Democratic National Convention, I was so nervous!" Harrington said in a statement. "What got me through and helped motivate me was knowing I could be a voice for other children who stutter as well as anyone else who has faced challenges. I only hope my story provides a little extra support and motivation for those that need it,” Harrington, whose first book will be illustrated by Betty C. Tang, has a middle-grade novel scheduled for 2022. He will be among the featured guests Wednesday night during a 90 minute “Celebrating America” program that will help mark Biden's inauguration as president. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
A dangerous mix of dirty street drugs that's prevalent across the province has triggered a public health alert in northern B.C. Officials say opioids contaminated with benzodiazepines are rendering life-saving naloxone less effective and raising the risk of overdose. This week's alert, from Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority, comes amid a dramatic rise in overdoses in the region. Northern B.C. already has the highest per capita overdose death rate in the province. Now, new data shows ambulance calls for drug overdoses jumped 56 per cent in the north in 2020, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services. In Prince George alone, paramedics responded to almost 1,000 overdose calls last year, according to BCEHS. In the first few weeks of 2021, paramedics in the north have already responded to 120 overdose calls. "The Northern Health region had significantly higher overdose call volumes," said Shannon Miller, spokesperson for B.C. Emergency Health Services. Jordan Harris, executive director of the POUNDS Project, a northern support group for drug users, said the contaminated drugs are "extremely concerning." "You're not even sure what's in the drug that you're using, and there's the possibility of a fatal overdose," she said. Health authorities are warning that illicit benzodiazepines — drugs like Ativan and Clonazepam — are contaminating opioid street drugs. Because benzodiazepines are "downers," the toxic blend suppresses addicts' nervous systems twice over, slowing brain activity and suppressing breathing. People who have overdosed on drugs contaminated with benzos may be more difficult to rouse, may remain unconscious, and are often slow to respond to naloxone, according to Northern Health. That's because benzos work on a different pathway in users' brains, so naloxone has less impact than it would with an opioid alone. Harris, of the POUNDS Project, says drug users tell her that benzo contamination is "extremely unsettling. Their overdose looks different. They have deep unconsciousness, they have very long periods of memory loss." "It makes people very hard to revive when they're overdosing," said Dr. Rakel Kling, Northern Health medical health officer. "It takes a lot more naloxone to reverse an overdose. They may need ... several doses," she said. "[Paramedics] are administering more naloxone than ever before, sometimes multiple doses, due to the potency and toxicity of drugs across the province. It's taking more time to stabilize people," said Miller, of B.C. Emergency Health Services. The problem is not confined to the north. "Benzos are a common contaminant we're definitely seeing in the drug supply across B.C.," said Kling. Medical officials in Vancouver raised concerns about benzos and opioids in B.C.'s drug supply in 2019. "Since the start of the pandemic, the drug supply [has] become much more toxic," said Kling. "It's still very much an emergency," she said.
A local business owner is starting a fundraising and donation drive for tenants ousted from their homes by the fire at Town Park Apartments C-block. More than 25 people are out of their homes while officials assess damage, including lots of school-aged kids, toddlers and babies. Michelle Lau just opened All In Family Support Services business, and wants to help people who have lost access to their personal items for the time being. At worst, their stuff might be damaged beyond recovery. The fire started late Sunday night and was under control by 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. A few people were injured by jumping out of windows to escape the blaze, but no one was left in the building. At present, tenants are not allowed back into their homes, even to retrieve personal items. Firefighters can retrieve essentials such as medication. Emergency Support Services jumped into action as the fire was still being put out. Local coordinator volunteer Susan Bjarnason said the initial 72-hour support period has already been extended for another three days. Long-term plans are unknown. READ MORE: ‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months ESS volunteers fear that many tenants did not have renters insurance, and could need to replace a lot of personal belongings, such as furniture, clothes, toiletries and electronics. Lau is accepting cash donations, gift cards, clothing and food for the tenants. She’ll keep everything in her storefront, allowing families to come one by one to get what they need. In less than a day of accepting donations her front room has two tables full of donations of clothes, baby supplies, some snack food, bedding and even some kitchenware. Lunch and breakfast food for school-aged kids are especially needed. The community has been particularly concerned about a dog that was injured in the commotion. Dex, a 65-lb cain corso-black Lab cross broke his forepaw when he was thrown out of a second story window in the panic. He was taken to the vet in Port Hardy, who determined surgery would be needed. The dog was sent to Campbell River for treatment on Tuesday. The vet estimated a cost of $2,000 or more. Lau is accepting donations to help with that bill as well. All In Family Support Services is located at #5-7035 Market St, Port Hardy. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Northwest Territories officials are still investigating a Yellowknife COVID-19 case announced last week. The source of the infection remains unidentified. The case, confirmed on January 15, is something of a mystery. Officials say it is not related to travel but no contacts have been uncovered that would explain how the person contracted the virus. “To date, after identifying and testing multiple potential sources, we have not identified a source of infection,” chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola told reporters on Tuesday. Despite the enduring puzzle, Dr. Kandola said there was no clear evidence of community transmission in Yellowknife and no COVID-19 tests completed in the city since January 15 had come back positive. On Monday night, territorial officials said it was “highly likely that the source has passed their communicable period.” Yellowknife’s wastewater signal remains stable “at trace levels, which is anticipated,” Kandola said. In other words, there has been no spike of the virus in sewage samples. Earlier this week, public health officials following a lead tested staff and residents at the city's Aven Manor care home. No new cases were identified at the facility. Fort Liard remains at three confirmed and two probable cases of COVID-19. Confirmation of the two probable cases could come later on Tuesday, Kandola said. The hamlet is on day three of its containment order, which lasts until January 30 at 10 p.m. but may be extended if deemed necessary. Some residents had expressed concern that information was not accessible to everyone in the hamlet. On Tuesday, Premier Caroline Cochrane said an individual from Fort Liard has been hired who speaks the traditional language. Their job will be to go door-to-door to ensure information is conveyed to everyone. A new information sheet has been created about isolation expectations. A vaccination team is still scheduled to reach Fort Liard on Thursday and Friday. Territorial medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg said the team has added an extra day in Fort Liard to its schedule, though which day was not clear. Residents in isolation will be contacted individually by public health staff to arrange access to the vaccine. Meanwhile, it's increasingly likely that COVID-19 traces in Hay River's sewage were connected to the Fort Liard cluster. The first Fort Liard patient had been isolating in Hay River before returning to the hamlet. Since January 14, 189 COVID-19 tests in Hay River have all come back negative. The most recent sewage samples in Hay River, from January 14, were characterized by Kandola as a fainter, "bare detect" of the virus. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Robbie Fowler is doing his best to keep his name and the sport of soccer in the news in cricket-mad India. The legendary striker for Liverpool and former England international has made more headlines and waves since his arrival as a coach in the Indian Super League (ISL) than his more experienced counterparts on the subcontinent. The 45 year-old Fowler, who scored over 180 goals for Liverpool, took over East Bengal in October and has taken fans of one of India’s biggest and oldest clubs for a roller-coaster ride so far. On the field, after collecting just a single point from the opening five games, the Kolkata team is now unbeaten in seven matches to raise hopes of a top-four finish and a place in the playoff finals series. Off it, Fowler has not missed an opportunity to make controversial points. The latest came after Monday’s 0-0 draw against Chennaiyin in which Fowler was less than happy about a first-half red card for Ajay Chhetri. It was, Fowler said, just the latest in a long line of bad decisions. “It is bordering on the disgraceful, some of the decisions by the referee,” Fowler said on Indian television after the game. “I am mentally exhausted because I am fighting battles with the referees every single game. It’s an absolute joke. We can’t keep doing this, having arguments with the referees as they are spoiling the game.” Fowler declared that the next fixture, against Mumbai City, leader of the 11-team league that came into existence in 2014 and, in 2020, became India’s top tier, will be more of the same. “We know what to expect as we won’t be getting any decisions again because that’s what it’s like. Some of the decisions are awful. I’m not calling them cheats or anything like that but it is bordering on the cheating for us and it’s not right.” It is not the first time that Fowler, who had mixed results in his previous coaching spells in Thailand with Muangthong United and Brisbane Roar in Australia's A-League, has made headlines for controversial comments. After a 3-0 loss in the second game of the season to Mumbai, Fowler caused controversy in post-match comments about local players. “We will coach the players because in all fairness few of them have probably never been coached before and that is what we are doing,” Fowler said. “We will try and make our Indian players better and that takes good coaching and I don’t think they had that in the years gone by,. He later said his remarks had been taken out of context. There is a long history of British influence in Indian football but coaches and players from another European country can be found in much greater numbers in the Indian Super League. Just four of the 11 teams at the start of the 2020-21 season did not have Spanish coaches and there are over 20 Spanish players in the league. At the moment, the top four are all under Iberian influence with the three British-coached teams in the bottom half of the table. If Fowler can get a win against Mumbai then he may start to change that and make headlines for other reasons — his results on the field. ___ More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports John Duerden, The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Plans for a major West Coast liquified natural gas pipeline and export terminal hit a snag Tuesday with federal regulators after a years-long legal battle that has united tribes, environmentalists and a coalition of residents on Oregon's rural southern coast against the proposal. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that energy company Pembina could not move forward with the proposal without a key clean water permit from the state of Oregon. The U.S. regulatory agency gave its tentative approval to the pipeline last March as long as it secured the necessary state permits, but the Canadian pipeline company has been unable to do so. It had appealed to the commission over the state's clean water permit, arguing that Oregon had waived its authority to issue a clean water certification for the project and therefore its denial of the permit was irrelevant. But the commission found instead that Pembina had never requested the certification and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality "could not have waived its authority to issue certification for a request it never received.” The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states. The proposed 230-mile (370-kilometre) feeder pipeline would begin in Malin, in southwest Oregon, and end at the city of Coos Bay on the rural Oregon coast. Jordan Cove did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and it was unclear what next steps the project would take. Opposition to the pipeline has brought together southern Oregon tribes, environmentalists, anglers and coastal residents since 2006. "Thousands of southern Oregonians have raised their voices to stop this project for years and will continue to until the threat of Jordan Cove LNG is gone for good,” said Hannah Sohl, executive director of Rogue Climate. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has opposed the project, said in a statement on Twitter that she was pleased with the ruling. “At every stage of the regulatory process, I have insisted that the Jordan Cove LNG project must meet Oregon’s rigorous standards for protecting the environment, or it cannot move forward,” she wrote. The outgoing Trump administration has supported energy export projects and in particular Jordan Cove. It had proposed streamlining approval of gas pipelines and other energy projects by limiting states’ certification authorities under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says health officials may also have to rebook vaccination appointments for those getting the required second dose. Hinshaw made the announcement just hours after the federal government said there will be no shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week and reduced shipments for about three weeks after that. The slowdown is due to Pfizer retrofitting its Belgium-based plant in order to ramp up production down the road. Hinshaw says Alberta has 456 new cases of COVID-19, with 740 patients in hospital. There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died. “This is frustrating, but the factory issues in Belgium are out of our control," Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a release Tuesday. "We will continue to use what we have to protect as many Albertans as possible. And we will continue to inform Albertans of any changes to our vaccination plans.” Alberta recently finished giving first doses of vaccine to all residents in its 357 long-term care and supportive living facilities. “These are absolutely the highest-risk locations, and people who live in these facilities are the most vulnerable to severe outcomes,” Hinshaw told a virtual news conference. “Two-thirds of all our (COVID-19) deaths have been in long-term care and supportive living facilities.” Alberta has given 90,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to those in the high priority cohort: those in the care homes and front-line health-care workers. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just over 171,000 this week and nothing the following week. Both vaccines require two doses weeks apart for full effectiveness. The delay has also forced the province to put off implementing the next phase of priority cases: Indigenous seniors over 65 and other seniors 75 and older. Alberta remains under strict lockdown measures, which include a ban on indoor gatherings. Bars, restaurants and lounges can offer takeout or pickup service only. Retailers are limited to 15 per cent customer capacity, while entertainment venues like casinos and movie theatres remain shuttered. The province relaxed some measure slightly on Monday. Outdoor gatherings can have 10 people maximum. Personal care services, like hair salons, manicure and pedicure salons and tattoo shops, can open by appointment only. Hinshaw said it’s not clear when further restrictions can be lifted. “Our health system is still under severe strain,” she said. “This continues to impact our ability to deliver care, not only for COVID-19 but all the other health needs Albertans have.” There were 11,096 active COVID cases Tuesday, about half the number recorded at its peak in mid-December. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press