Feeling sad to see 2013 end? We bet you aren't sorry to say goodbye to at least some of the year's trends, faces and places. Check out our collection of things that no one wants to hear about again after the year ends.
Feeling sad to see 2013 end? We bet you aren't sorry to say goodbye to at least some of the year's trends, faces and places. Check out our collection of things that no one wants to hear about again after the year ends.
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
Canada’s three Prairie provinces are particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis, and now their governments are helping make climate data more accessible, according to the head of a new non-profit. Jane Hilderman is executive director of ClimateWest, an organization that launched Tuesday aiming to make data on climate change accessible to municipal planners, land use planners, and other institutional-level groups in the Prairies. Hilderman said all three provinces helped with the startup, as well as the federal government and other organizations. “I know climate can be a divisive topic,” she said in an interview. “There is a strong consensus on the need to do this work. Hopefully, if we do it well, by investing today, you are going to save both hardship and public dollars down the road.” ClimateWest will be part of a network of climate change information hubs across the country, such as Ouranos in Quebec and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium in British Columbia. The organization is receiving $2.86 million in total, spread out over three years, as initial startup funding. The government of Alberta has committed $400,000, while the government of Manitoba has committed $510,000, and the federal government is contributing $1.95 million, said Hilderman. In addition, the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are making in-kind contributions, she said. The organization plans to offer training, as well as a public help desk of sorts to answer questions about climate information. To do so, it will be drawing on experts from the Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg, the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg. “I call it the constituency office: Bring us a problem, and hopefully we can help you move things along for your organization in terms of its use of climate information,” said Hilderman. The Prairies have had the “strongest warming to date” across southern Canada, in particular during the winter, according to a report from Natural Resources Canada. Canada’s three Prairie provinces are particularly vulnerable to the #climate crisis, and now their governments are helping make climate data more accessible, according to the head of a new non-profit. One reason is because the Prairies experience large seasonal swings in weather, and will often depart from regular conditions, for example, experiencing droughts or floods. These swings will get more dramatic. Scientists expect the Prairie provinces to be much warmer and wetter in winters and springs, with higher highs and more intense rains. Such impacts may “exacerbate existing societal inequities,” the departmental report noted, “especially among Indigenous peoples, women, people of low socio-economic status, youth and the elderly.” The Prairies have already been the site of the most expensive natural disasters in Canadian history, with 13 of the 20 most costly events since 1983, and six of the 10 most costly events since 2010. These include the $3.9-billion Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016, the $1.7-billion southern Alberta flood in 2013, and a Calgary hailstorm last year that caused $1.2 billion in damage. One area where Hilderman said she anticipates some demand is in the private sector, as more and more businesses look for the climate-related risks facing their assets or operations. While the conversation around climate-risk disclosure has so far happened largely at the level of the Bank of Canada, as well as with large pension funds and investment funds, that is now changing. The supplementary mandate letter issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos on Jan. 15, for example, orders him to “apply a climate lens to all government decision-making.” “It’s going to continue to percolate through the economy as climate becomes a benchmark, or lens, through which decisions get made,” said Hilderman. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Avec le renouvellement du confinement provincial, Revenu Québec reconduit certaines mesures d’assouplissement, dont la simplification de la demande de déduction des dépenses liées au télétravail et le délai pour le renouvellement du crédit d’impôt pour maintien à domicile des aînés. Parmi les mesures d’assouplissement dédiées aux particuliers, l’utilisation de la signature électronique pour faciliter les démarches administratives, permise depuis mars dernier, demeure en place. Une personne qui aurait besoin d’un préparateur (personne autorisée à produire une déclaration de revenus en leur nom) peut utiliser cette formule électronique. Le délai pour le renouvellement du crédit d’impôt pour maintien à domicile des aînés est aussi reconduit, tandis que la demande d’une déduction pour dépenses relatives au télétravail sera simplifiée. Il sera possible de demander 2 $ pour chaque jour travaillé à domicile durant l’année 2020, et ce, jusqu’à un maximum de 400 dollars. Du côté des entreprises, Revenu Québec continuera de traiter en accéléré le versement des crédits d’impôt et des remboursements. Les entreprises peuvent également utiliser l’option de la signature électronique. De plus, un service en ligne sera mis en place sous peu afin de réduire la quantité de formulaires à remplir en ce qui a trait aux conditions générales d’emploi. De plus, Revenu Québec précise que les activités de recouvrement seront limitées. L’organisation invite les contribuables à communiquer avec leur service à la clientèle afin de se prévaloir d’une entente de paiement.Julie Sauvé, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
TORONTO — Shareholders of West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. and Norbord Inc. have approved a $4-billion all-stock deal that will marry two of Canada's big wood product producers. Norbord chief executive Peter Wijnbergen, who will join West Fraser as president of of engineered wood, said in November that the combined company aims to be a “one-stop shop” for construction customers. The combined company says it will operate as West Fraser with headquarters in Vancouver and a regional office in Toronto, with West Fraser shareholders owning 56 per cent of the company, and Norbord shareholders owning about 44 per cent. Executives said when the deal was announced that the new West Fraser will have 10,000 employees. The deal comes as lumber prices have hit record highs twice in the past six months, according to lumber statistics from RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analyst Paul Quinn. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:WFT, TSX:OSB) The Canadian Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
A northern Cape Breton man is now in custody after evading police for three days. Late Wednesday evening, RCMP Sgt. André Mazerolle confirmed that Perry MacKinnon has "safely been brought into custody." RCMP were not immediately able to provide any other details. RCMP officers went to a house in Meat Cove on Monday morning to arrest MacKinnon, but they say he ran into the nearby woods with a firearm. MacKinnon's cousin, C.J. MacKinnon, who is acting as a family spokesperson, said he turned himself in. "We're happy to see that because that's a much more peaceful resolution, so we're grateful for that," she said. "But I'm saddened because of the amount of wasted resources that went into it." An emergency alert was issued around 1:30 p.m. Monday, warning residents in the small community that MacKinnon was on the loose. The RCMP then searched for him on the ground and by air using a plane and a helicopter equipped with a thermal imaging camera. People were advised to stay indoors and wait for updates from police. C.J. MacKinnon said her cousin has a long history of running from police, but he ultimately turns himself in without incident. The Edmonton woman and the 34-year-old man were raised together as siblings in St. Margaret Village, N.S., an isolated community located between Capstick and Bay St. Lawrence. Based on information given to RCMP from the man's girlfriend, MacKinnon's relatives believed he was unarmed. They feared a large-scale operation to arrest MacKinnon would only keep him from coming out of hiding. Both the family and RCMP were concerned about MacKinnon's health given freezing temperatures, and that he wasn't adequately dressed for the outdoors. C.J. MacKinnon said her cousin doesn't have any severe injuries, except for the beginning stages of hypothermia. Wanted on multiple charges Perry MacKinnon is wanted on multiple warrants for failing to attend court. According to court documents, he faces a variety of charges, including break and enter along with nearly 20 firearms offences. The charges stem from incidents alleged to have occurred in January 2020 and March 2019. In 2008, he was also sentenced to six and a half years in prison for threatening an elderly man at gunpoint during a home invasion in Bay St. Lawrence. C.J. MacKinnon said her cousin lives in the Meat Cove area and is well-versed in travelling through the backwoods and mountains. She believes money spent on finding her cousin could instead have been put toward drug rehabilitation, food security and mental health in the community. 'He's made to look bad' MacKinnon said her family sees Perry as a loving uncle and a beloved brother. She said the family wanted the matter to be dealt with in a responsible manner. "He's made to look bad because of his criminal history, but it's never taken into effect how he got there," she said. MORE TOP STORIES
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
NEW YORK — As the coronavirus swept across the globe last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sank into the shadows, undermined by some of its own mistakes and stifled by an administration bent on downplaying the nation's suffering. Now a new CDC director is arriving to a mammoth task: reasserting the agency while the pandemic is in its deadliest phase yet and the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign is wracked by confusion and delays. “I don’t know if the CDC is broken or just temporarily injured,” but something must be done to bring it back to health, said Timothy Westmoreland, a Georgetown University law professor focused on public health. The task falls to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, 51, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, who is expected to become CDC director this week — a time when the virus's U.S. death toll has eclipsed 400,000 and continues to accelerate. While the agency has retained some of its top scientific talent, public health experts say, it has a long list of needs, including new protection from political influence, a comprehensive review of its missteps during the pandemic and more money to beef up basic functions like disease tracking and genetic analysis. Walensky has said one of her top priorities will be to improve the CDC’s communications with the public to rebuild trust. Inside the agency, she wants to raise morale, in large part by restoring the primacy of science and setting politics to the side. The speed at which she is assuming the job is unusual. In the past, the position has generally been unfilled until a new secretary of health and human services is confirmed, and that official names a CDC director. But this time, the Biden transition team named Walensky in advance, so she could take the agency's reins even before her boss is in place. Walensky, an HIV researcher, has not worked at the CDC or at a state or local health department. But she has emerged as a prominent voice on the pandemic, sometimes criticizing certain aspects of the state and national response. Her targets have included the uneven transmission-prevention measures that were in place last summer and a prominent Trump adviser's endorsement of a “herd immunity” approach that would let the virus run free. She acknowledged the weaknesses in her resume. “When people write about me as the selection for this position, they will say, ‘But she has no on-the-ground public health experience,'" she said during a podcast with the Journal of the American Medical Association. The podcast’s host, Dr. Howard Bauchner, who is also editor of the journal, praised her effusively. “I can't imagine the CDC and the country being luckier ... mostly just because you can communicate, which is such an important task for the head of the CDC,” he said. Walensky did not respond to interview requests from The Associated Press. She will succeed Dr. Robert Redfield, 69, who came to the CDC with a similar resume as an outsider from academia. Redfield kept a low profile during his first two years in office after being appointed by the Trump administration in 2018. Veteran CDC scientists handled crises such as a deadly national surge in hepatitis A cases among homeless people and illicit drug users, and a mysterious spike in severe illnesses in people who vaped electronic cigarettes. The agency’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak began in a similar way. Staff scientists took the lead, holding regular news conferences to update the public on the emerging problem. But the agency stumbled in February when a test for the virus sent to states proved to be flawed. Then, later in the month, a top CDC infectious-disease expert, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, upset the Trump administration by speaking frankly at a news conference about the dangers of the virus when President Donald Trump was still downplaying it. Within weeks, the agency was pushed off stage. Redfield made appearances, but he was often a third-tier speaker after remarks dominated by Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and others. The CDC "has been sidelined, has been maligned, has been a punching bag for many politicians in the outgoing administration. And that has had a detrimental effect on the agency’s ability to fulfil its mission,” said Dr. Richard Besser, a former CDC official who now heads the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. White House officials also took steps to try to control the CDC's scientific reports and the guidance on its website. For instance, the agency removed guidance that advised limiting church choir activities even though studies had demonstrated the danger of transmission of extended singing indoors. The agency also dropped guidance advising that anyone who came into close contact with an infected person should get tested — then re-adopted it after criticism from health experts. “Folks across the political spectrum have had reason to doubt the veracity and accuracy, sometimes, of CDC’s messages,” said Adriane Casalotti of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. While public health veterans say they do not know everything that happened behind the scenes, they say Redfield apparently failed to stand up for agency scientists, declined to contradict Trump and those around him and passively allowed the Trump administration to post its messaging on CDC websites. “He wasn’t willing to resign when it was necessary or to be fired for standing up for principle,” said David Holtgrave, a former CDC staffer who is now dean of the public health school at the State University of New York at Albany. Redfield declined to be interviewed. The pandemic also exposed some CDC failures and weaknesses unrelated to politics. The test kit problem was tied to laboratory contamination at the agency’s Atlanta headquarters — a sign of sloppiness. The CDC also lost its standing as the nation's go-to source for case counts and other measures of the epidemic after university researchers and others developed better systems for tracking infections. Much of that has to do with cycles of funding for the national public health system that rise in reaction to a crisis and then fall, hurting efforts to prevent the next crisis. Last week, Biden said he would ask for $160 billion for vaccinations and other public health programs, including an effort to expand the public health workforce by 100,000 jobs. Georgetown's Westmoreland called for a law or other measure to prohibit political appointees from having editorial review of CDC science and to ban them from controlling when the agency releases information. He also recommended a review of the CDC to determine if the agency’s problems can be traced to mismanagement by Trump’s political appointees or whether there are deeper flaws in the organization. Some experts suggest that an administration that values science and increases funding could restore the CDC to preeminence. Biden has pledged to put scientists out front on COVID-19 matters, Besser noted. “That’s something I think will be fixed on Day One,” he said. “One of the things that gives me hope is I did not see a large exodus from CDC during this past year. I saw professionals doing their jobs. I saw the mental toll they were taking, but I did not see them giving up." ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press
Watching Kincardine native Sam Pearce entertain an audience is, well, magical. As early as four years-of-age, Pearce already knew that he wanted to be a magician. He credits his grandfather with providing him with the inspiration to pursue his career. Grandpa Frank Pearce, formerly of Kincardine and now living in Lucknow, loved to make people laugh, telling jokes and using sleight of hand to amaze and amuse friends and family. Pearce says “he is the reason I am doing this today.” Flashback to 2003, when a then 12-year-old Pearce was the subject of a feature article in The Kincardine Independent. Even then, he knew that he had to keep his illusions fresh and professional to keep his audience entertained. As a young man, he advertised his skills in the area, performing at birthday parties for just $20, while honing his skills and perfecting his delivery. A move to Kitchener in 2008 brought him closer to bigger opportunities, and he began to perform at awards galas, team building events and corporate conferences, acting as not only an entertainer, but as a master of ceremonies as well. His clients have included such companies as Sobeys head office, Epson and Canada Life. And in pandemic times, in order to accommodate gathering and physical distancing restrictions, Pearce has used technology to bring his services into the board rooms and living rooms of his customers. His expert team operates remotely from cities across southern Ontario and he has turned his living room into a professional television studio, where he shoots videos of his performances. Each event is customized to meet the needs of his clients, is interactive and very entertaining. “One thing I’m really proud of is the ability to broadcast with live closed captions,” said Pearce. “It’s so important to me that the events are accessible and welcoming to everyone. It was a bit tricky to develop, but we now have a solid system where we send live audio to a stenographer (working remotely in Toronto), they transcribe the event in real-time, and we sync the words with the video before broadcasting to our viewers.” His goal is to use his skills in comedy and magic to bring people together. “My goal is to connect people,” said Pearce. “…to give people a sense of community and connection from the comfort of their homes.” Examples of Pearce’s performances can be seen on his company’s website, www.canadianillusionist.com. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Sundridge-Strong Fire Chief Andrew Torrance is working on a plan to increase the size of his volunteer fire department. Attracting and retaining volunteer firefighters is an ongoing challenge, Torrance has admitted. Recently, he started interviewing departing volunteers to better understand why they retire or resign. Those interviews revealed to Torrance “that generally when people do retire it's because they don't have the time or energy to continue with the training mandate,” made more demanding several years ago by changes to provincial regulations. Torrance realized for this group there is no way to “stay connected in a productive manner with the fire department,” until he learned that departments elsewhere have introduced an auxiliary component to their service. The auxiliary would be open to former volunteer firefighters and the community at large, but conditions would apply. “There would be training on the items they would be allowed to participate in like shuttling resources and equipment, handling radio equipment, but no 'hot zone' jobs,” Torrance explains. A 'hot zone' job is where a trained firefighter wears a self-contained breathing apparatus responding to incidents such as a fire or motor-vehicle collision. Torrance clarifies that although an auxiliary member wouldn't be involved in these types of functions, they would respond to the scene in a support capacity. “So someone with a commercial (driver's) licence could be trained to drive the tanker from the station to the scene,” he says. “This is done in other places.” Torrance says auxiliary members would not be expected to respond to run-of-the-mill calls. But, he says, they are a bonus to the volunteers in large-scale calls “where we need all hands on deck.” As well, because of the training auxiliary members “could also help us with public education opportunities.” Although the concept is still being developed, Torrance has discussed the idea with former firefighters. “I can say as many as three (retired) firefighters would join right now if the policy was endorsed,” he says. “These are people who would have loved to stay involved as volunteers earlier in time, but couldn't make the commitment like they did before.” He says the auxiliary would keep them involved, but at a reduced capacity. Torrance also believes there are community members who have considered becoming a volunteer firefighter but don't join because they can't make the time commitment. He says this is where the auxiliary can help out. “So this is an opportunity for someone who can't make the (volunteer firefighter) commitment,” he says. “They're already working, but the auxiliary helps them understand how it might fit into their lifestyle and they might realize this is something they can do.” Torrance's long-term hope is community members who join the auxiliary might then one day take the next step and sign on as a volunteer firefighter. The Sundridge-Strong Fire Department is set up to have 29 firefighters, but has had between 20 and 23 in recent years. Torrance says Sundridge and Strong councils have approved the idea of an auxiliary, but what remains is their approval of the fine details of the policy, including the pay rate. He hopes to have the final policy before both councils sometime during the second quarter of this year. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
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The Municipality of Magnetawan is set to get better internet connectivity sooner rather than later. According to a Facebook post by the municipality, Magnetawan had applied for grant from CENGN, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks and was approved on Jan. 18 for three internet tower projects in the Ahmic Harbour and Lake regions. What internet service provider is involved with the project? Spectrum Telecom was selected to provide a broadband solution for Ahmic Harbour and Lake area. How does the funding work? This project is a part of CENGN’s Northern Ontario Residential Broadband program. Supported by the program's funding, Spectrum Telecom will build three self-supporting towers which will use licensed and unlicensed fixed wireless access technology to bring a range of internet access to residents in the area. What type of internet speeds will residents be able to use once the project is completed? The fixed wireless access will allow for internet service up to 50 mbps download and 10 mbps upload speeds. What is a self-supporting internet tower? A self-supporting tower is ideal for areas with limited space and it allows for towers to be built on narrow, unused road allowances. What are some benefits of the project? The multi-tower placement, on both sides of the lake, will ensure a wider coverage area for residents. The release also states that residents could see up to 50 per cent in cost savings over other options. When will this be operational? The project is aiming for a fast network deployment time frame and the release states it will be operational by the end of 2021. According to Magnetawan’s mayor, Sam Dunnett, the broadband initiative will help foster economic growth and retention of the population base within the municipality. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
GUYSBOROUGH – It has been three months since the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society hearing regarding charges against Adam Rodgers, former partner in the Port Hawkesbury law firm Boudrot Rodgers, concluded. The charges sought to define the potential level of knowledge and complicity Rodgers shared with his former law firm partner, Jason Boudrot, in the latter’s defrauding of clients’ trust funds. The hearing panel, in a decision released Tuesday, Jan. 12, found Rodgers had engaged in professional misconduct and had been reckless in regard to his professional responsibility – but had not misappropriated funds or assisted Boudrot in doing so. “The Panel has concluded that the Society (Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society) has satisfied its burden of establishing on the balance of probabilities that Adam Rodgers has engaged in professional misconduct by being reckless in regard to his professional responsibilities regarding trust funds,” stated the Notice of Decision issued by the Hearing Panel of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society on Jan. 12. In October of 2018, managing partner Boudrot contacted the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society (NSBS) to report that he had “some issues with his trust accounts,” stated a NSBS hearing committee document in 2019. That led to a suspension of Boudrot’s practicing certificate, a declaration of bankruptcy and, in 2019, the disbarment of Boudrot. Last August, the NSBS published a notice stating that the society would hold a hearing respecting charges of professional misconduct and professional incompetence against Rodgers. The hearing, which took place at the beginning of last October, convened to hear submissions and consider evidence regarding the fraudulent dealings with clients’ trust monies managed by Boudrot Rodgers, to determine Rodgers’ role in the matter. The panel heard and was supplied evidence – in the form of an agreed upon joint book of exhibits – related to three charges of professional misconduct by encouraging or knowingly assisting with fraudulent or dishonest dealings with clients' trust monies and/or professional incompetence. The panels’ findings state, “We, as a Panel are satisfied that the Society has demonstrated it is more probable than not that Adam Rodgers, allowed Jason Boudrot to misappropriate clients’ trust funds, through his willful blindness and recklessness and thereby failed in his professional obligations. “The Panel is satisfied by clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Rodgers was “deliberately ignorant” of the activities of Mr. Boudrot. The Panel is satisfied that Mr. Rodgers did not deliberately nor actively misappropriate funds nor assist Mr. Boudrot in doing so. The Panel is satisfied the Society has demonstrated that it is more probable than not that Adam Rodgers aided Jason Boudrot through his willful blindness and recklessness and thereby failed to preserve and protect clients’ property.” The conclusion of its 50-page decision states, “In reaching this conclusion the Panel has imputed to Mr. Rodgers’ knowledge of the illegal activities of Mr. Boudrot and that he should have done something about it. The Panel findings are not based on a criminal standard that he aided and abetted Mr. Boudrot, but rather that a lawyer has a very high obligation of trust, as set out in the code of professional conduct and the regulations to properly deal and protect trust funds and Mr. Rodgers breached that obligation.” Rodgers, who has been vocal in his defense against the charges brought by NSBS, shared his response to the decision with The Journal via email Jan. 13. He wrote, “I am pleased to be exonerated on the main charges that I was somehow a participant in the large-scale theft and misappropriation schemes of my former law partner. It was not easy to fight the powerful Bar Society all on my own, but it was the right thing to do, and most of the Bar Society allegations against me were found by the Panel to be without merit, as I had predicted. “My conscience was always clear, but it was still satisfying to see it confirmed by the Panel that I did not take anything from anybody, that I did good work as a lawyer for my clients, and that I handled the crisis brought on my former partner in an appropriate manner,” he stated. Speaking to the finding of misconduct, Rodgers stated, “Where the Panel did make a finding of misconduct, it was to do with relatively minor billing matters, distinct from the main allegations. The Panel agreed that these instances did not result in any client of mine or other third party experiencing any losses and characterized my actions as willful blindness. “While I disagree with this unusual characterization, I take the matter seriously, and have learned some important lessons from the experience. I also wish to move on from this entire matter and focus my energy on the clients and other people I serve, both as a lawyer and community volunteer. I recognize and accept that lawyers are held to a higher standard and, throughout this difficult time, I have tried my best to act and communicate publicly in ways that would reinforce respect for our justice system and preserve the integrity of the legal profession in Nova Scotia.” As for the future, Rodgers wrote, “I look forward now to putting this entire ordeal behind me and see what I can do next for the people of my area, and throughout Nova Scotia. I continue to prepare for the next phase of the Desmond Inquiry, which resumes hearings next month, and [I] am considering several potential opportunities after that.” The panel has 60 days from the time of the decision’s release to determine what sanctions may be applied to Rodgers regarding the findings of the hearing. 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
PARIS — French university students protested Wednesday on Paris’ Left Bank to demand to be allowed back to class, and to call attention to suicides and financial troubles among students cut off from friends, professors and job opportunities amid the pandemic. Carrying a banner reading “We Will Not Be the Sacrificed Generation,” hundreds of students gathered to march on the Education Ministry, seeking government help for those struggling. Other student protests were planned Wednesday elsewhere in France. The government ordered all universities closed in October to stem resurgent virus infections, after a similar closure in the spring set many students back academically and socially. Students have increasingly been sharing their woes on social networks under such hashtags as #suicideetudiant and #etudiantphantomes, or ghost students. Heidi Soupault, a 19-year-old student in Strasbourg, wrote an open letter to President Emmanuel Macron last week saying she and her peers have “no more dreams” and have “the impression of being dead.” While France tightened its curfew last week as virus hospitalizations grow again, Prime Minister Jean Castex made a gesture toward college students, allowing first-year students to start returning to partial classes as of next week. The government acknowledged that lockdown-related mental health problems among young people are also a public health concern. But the protesting students say the measures don’t go far enough to address their woes. France has among the world’s highest numbers of virus infections and deaths. ___ Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Ontario's police watchdog is investigating after a 49-year-old man arrested by Ottawa police late Tuesday afternoon was found unresponsive in a police station cell hours later. He was later pronounced dead in hospital. Ottawa police arrested a man at a home around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday as officers carried out a warrant, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) wrote in a news release Wednesday morning. The unidentified man was taken to Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin Street and placed in a cell. The SIU said he was found unresponsive in the cell around 9:30 p.m. Paramedics were called to take the man to hospital, where he was pronounced dead just after 10 p.m. He had lost vital signs before arrival, said the SIU. An autopsy is scheduled to take place Wednesday. The SIU, which investigates when law enforcement officials are involved in a death, serious injury, shooting or allegations of sexual assault, is asking anyone with information to call 1-800-787-8529. Ottawa police said in a news release all information on the incident would be released through the SIU.
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.
DURHAM, N.C. — Two city councils in North Carolina have unanimously passed ordinances protecting against discrimination for wearing hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks or afros. The Durham City Council on Tuesday voted to ban employers from discriminating based on hairstyles, WRAL-TV reported. It’s an issue that Black people, especially women, say they’ve faced in their careers. “It is absolutely a form of racial discrimination,” said Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, who helped push for the legal protections. Early in her career, Deberry said, a court clerk pulled her aside and suggested she reconsider her short afro. “There’s probably a very, very small percentage of Black women who can tell you that they haven’t felt some form of discrimination based on how they’ve chosen to wear their hair,” Deberry said. “Your grooming is talked about when you go out on interviews.” The ordinance also protects residents from discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality and military status, The News & Observer reported. It comes as North Carolina municipalities are acting to expand LGBT rights since the expiration of a moratorium on nondiscrimination ordinances agreed to years ago as a compromise to do away with the state’s “bathroom bill.” Greensboro’s City Council passed a measure similar to that of Durham's on Tuesday. Orange County, just northwest of Durham, also passed an anti-discrimination measure, but its ordinance did not address hairstyles. People who work in hair care see the problem: Salon owner Kito Jones said one client who worked as a neurosurgeon used hair relaxers because she felt pressured to conform. The woman’s hair then started falling out, Jones said. “She was the only woman of colour,” Jones said. “It did cause her to continue to wear her hair with chemicals in a straightened pattern so there was an acceptance, so to speak, amongst her colleagues.” While several other states, including Virginia, California, New York and New Jersey, have passed similar legislation, Durham is among one of the first cities in North Carolina to ban hair-based discrimination. The city council is also scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution in support of Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, a federal bill that bans discrimination based on hair. The legislation passed the U.S. House in September, and city officials are joining a push to have the U.S. Senate take up a vote. The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – Last week (Jan. 12) residents throughout the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) found a copy of the broadsheet publication The Epoch Times in their mailbox. It didn’t take long before social media was flooded with comments and questions about this delivery. According to media organizations in Canada and the Unites States – including CBC, NBC and the New York Times, as well as the fact-checking website Snopes – The Epoch Times is backed by Falun Gong (a religious movement founded in China in the early 1990s that has been repressed by the Chinese government) and has spread right-wing misinformation to create an anti-China, pro-Trump media presence in more than 30 countries in recent years. In May of 2020, the CBC reported that the union representing Canada Post employees in Ontario asked the federal public services minister for an interim order to stop delivery of the newspaper due to the inflammatory nature of an edition published at that time. A spokesperson for the minister stated in the CBC article, "An initial assessment of this material does not appear to meet the required criteria of the offence of wilful promotion of hatred, as established in the Criminal Code of Canada. However, further assessment is ongoing." Last week, The Journal once again questioned Canada Post’s role in the unsolicited delivery of this newspaper to MODG mailboxes. In an email, Canada Post media spokesperson Valérie Chartrand wrote, “As Canada's postal administration, Canada Post is obligated to deliver any mail that is properly prepared and paid for, unless it is considered non-mailable matter. The Courts have told Canada Post that its role is not to act as the censor of mail or to determine the extent of freedom of expression in Canada. This is an important distinction between Canada Post and private sector delivery companies. “Any views we may have about the content do not change our obligation to deliver. Any further questions about the publication should be directed to the publisher.” The Journal did attempt to contact the editor of The Epoch Times, Cindy Gu, but as of the time of publication of this newspaper, there was no response. Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway was asked for his comments on the mailout of The Epoch Times last week and he told The Journal in an email, “During this time of crisis, millions of Canadians of different backgrounds are working together, many of them putting themselves at risk on the frontlines, with the common goal of helping their fellow Canadians. It is essential that we continue in our resolve to be an open and welcoming country that brings together people from diverse backgrounds, and I know that constituents in Cape Breton-Canso share that belief. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Canadian Chinese community during this time. The COVID-19 virus does not have a nationality or an ethnicity, and we must stand together against xenophobia and racism. “I brought this situation to the attention of the office of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Anita Anand. I was informed that Canada Post has a legal obligation under the Canada Post Corporation Act to accept all neighbourhood mail for delivery subject to the regulations on Non-Mailable Matter. Decisions made by Canada Post about whether to deliver or refuse delivery of neighborhood mail are subject to the Charter of Right and Freedoms. After an initial legal assessment of this material, it does not appear to meet the required criteria for prohibiting distribution. However, given the serious nature of the complaints regarding the newspaper, Minister Anand has asked her department to look into the matter further,” stated Kelloway. Social media posts indicate that residents in the MODG and across Canada – where many have recently received the Epoch Times, unsolicited, for the first time – are unimpressed. Some have commented that the paper would make a good fire starter. Most were curious and dismissed the publication’s content. The edition of The Epoch Times that was delivered to residents in the MODG last week was labelled a ‘sample issue,’ indicating an advertising campaign for potential subscribers. Anand has had complaints about this publication on her desk for at least eight months. The Journal asked for comment from her office about the issue but has, as yet, received no response. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine and stronger foreign demand is brightening the outlook for the Canadian economy in the medium term, the Bank of Canada said on Wednesday, as it held its key overnight interest rate at 0.25%. But the central bank warned the economy would contract in the first quarter of 2021 amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and lockdowns, with inflation not expected to return sustainably to target until 2023, keeping interest rates at record lows.