Oliver the Watusi is such a gentle giant, he loves to play hide and seek with his owner. How cool is that?! @oliverwatusi
Oliver the Watusi is such a gentle giant, he loves to play hide and seek with his owner. How cool is that?! @oliverwatusi
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
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.
Paul Lavoie est devenu le nouveau directeur général de Tourisme Côte-Nord le 13 janvier. M. Lavoie assurait l’intérim du poste de directeur général pour l’organisation depuis le mois d’août. Cumulant une quinzaine d’années d’expérience dans le milieu du développement économique et fort d’une « passion inconditionnelle pour la Côte-Nord », M. Lavoie sera chargé d’assurer la poursuite des efforts de promotion et de développement touristique de la région, est-il mentionné dans un communiqué de presse. « Je suis extrêmement content que nous ayons nommé Paul. Ce fut un processus de longue haleine, mais nous avons trouvé le meilleur candidat pour ce poste », exprime le coprésident du conseil d’administration de Tourisme Côte-Nord et maire de l’île d’Anticosti, John Pineault. Paul Lavoie remplace Mario Cyr, qui avait quitté la tête de Tourisme Côte-Nord en août.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
The Muskoka Lakes Snow Trail Association is looking to raise $10,000 to pay for the right equipment to fix their tricky snow trails for sledders this season. Steven Elliott, vice president of the association, said volunteers spend hundreds of hours every year grooming and maintaining trails in Port Carling, Bala, Moonbridge and Bass Lake. He said they pay a lot for special equipment to groom and maintain trails in the swampy lands of Muskoka Lakes. “If we, as volunteers, want to put together the best product that we can for our riders, then we need this equipment,” Elliott said. According to Elliott, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), the non-profit organization financing their club and 230 others in the province, will not cover the expenses of this equipment. The federation declined a request for an interview or comment. The first week of January, the club began a fundraiser to purchase a Skandic Wide Track Utility Snowmobile and a small drag to be pulled behind the machine. The retail price of this Ski-Doo snowmobile begins at $10,099. As of Monday afternoon, Jan. 18, they’ve raised $1,800 via their GoFundMe page. “This is one of the first times we’ve really reached out … or done anything like this,” he said. “The reality is that the permit money people pay doesn’t go far enough to fund some of these types of equipment expenses.” People pay for a snowmobile permit, or season pass, to utilize the trails in the winter. A regular season pass currently costs $270. That money goes toward the grooming and preparation of the trails, including the purchase, fuelling and operation of purpose-built industrial groomers. However, Elliott said the funding doesn’t pay for utility snowmobiles, small drags or brushing equipment. Elliott said the club doesn’t have statistics on how many riders use their trails, but said OFSC's District 7, from Georgian Bay to Algonquin Park, sells 5,000 to 6,000 permits annually. Elliott said the club hopes they’ll receive support from the thousands who use trails like theirs for snowmobiling in Muskoka. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
TORONTO — Ontario's labour minister says 25 tickets were issued during a weekend inspection blitz of big-box stores that found the majority were following public health rules. Monte McNaughton says the province ticketed stores for failing to enforce physical distancing and masking rules, and also for failing to have installed some plexi-glass barriers. He says 242 stores were inspected over the weekend throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. McNaughton says a team of 50 inspectors, with the help of local bylaw officers, conducted the blitz. The team found 76 contraventions of the rules, the majority of which were dealt with by issuing orders to improve. McNaughton says the province will ramp up inspections of other workplaces in the coming weeks to ensure pandemic health measures are being followed. He said that starting today, approximately 300 inspectors will begin to visit restaurants providing take-out meals, essential service businesses like gas stations, and farming operations to ensure rules are being followed. McNaughton says overall, the inspections revealed that nearly 70 per cent of big-box stores were following the rules. But the minister said after months of life in the pandemic, the compliance rates should be higher. "This is truly disappointing," he said. "These corporations must do better. Shareholders have the responsibility to keep their workers and customers safe. I want businesses to know if they won't operate safely in this emergency, you won't operate at all." Under the provincial rules, corporations can face $1,000 fines and workers can face fines of $750 for not following public health measures. Meanwhile, York Region shared a list of retailers fined over the last week for violations of Ontario’s Reopening Ontario Act, among them major pharmacy and grocery locations. Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Costco locations are among those ticketed. Ontario recently ordered people to only leave their homes for groceries, medical appointments, exercise and work that can’t be completed remotely. Stores selling non-essential goods have been forced to temporarily close and operate solely through e-commerce and curbside pickups. The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development said it has conducted more than 34,000 COVID-19 related workplace inspections and halted unsafe work 55 times throughout the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Representatives of the religious faiths recognized in Belgium have joined forces to urge federal authorities to increase the number of people admitted inside places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic. Under the current COVID-19 rules, such places can accommodate up to 15 people. In a letter to Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, the religious representatives argued that the number of people allowed should instead be linked to the space available. They proposed a return to the “one person per 10 square meters" rule which applied in June last year when Belgium exited the spring lockdown. “The use of this standard proved to be less restrictive for religious practice and at the same time very protective for public health,” they said in a statement on Wednesday. The letter was signed by representatives from the Roman Catholic, Protestant-Evangelical, Jewish, Anglican, Muslim and Orthodox faiths. “In these difficult and uncertain times, the need for meaning and spirituality is felt more than ever," they said. “For months now, a maximum of 15 people at a time have been able to gather in churches, mosques and synagogues in our country. Even if the life of a believer does not take place exclusively in the place of worship, many feel this measure in the long run as a drastic restriction of the latter." The government introduced the 15-person limit in December after the country’s highest court said the ban of services — with the exception of weddings and funerals in restricted company — which was introduced in October was disproportionate and impeded constitutional conditions on freedom of religion. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — Illicit drug overdoses are rising in northern British Columbia and health officials warn a new mix of street drugs can make a key life-saving medication less effective. Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority have issued an overdose alert, warning that benzodiazepines, or benzos, have been found in illicit drugs circulating in the region. The alert says users of drugs contaminated with benzos might be difficult to rouse and could also be slow to respond to naloxone, the drug that reverses opioid overdoses. Health officials say benzos impede brain activity and raise the potential for overdose when mixed with street drugs laced with opioids such as fentanyl, which slow breathing and heart rate. The health authorities say street drugs have become increasingly toxic and unpredictable during the COVID-19 pandemic and they urge area drug users not to use alone. Data from BC Emergency Health Services shows overdoses spiked in northern B.C. between 2019 and last year, with calls in Fort St. John rising from 77 to 125, while paramedics in Prince George answered 999 overdose calls in 2020, an jump of 375 cases in one year. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
Looks like this conductor isn't crazy about a drone getting some up-close footage of his train. Watch out for the water canon!
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter HILLIARD TOWNSHIP – The Ontario government has announced that it is providing financial support through the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program to help Hilliard Township recover from a landslide. Heavy snowfall back on October 29, 2019, coupled with sudden snowmelt, resulted in a landslide on Veley Road. The road is a major access route for the township’s residents, farmers, and emergency service providers. The government says the township may be eligible for as much as $500,000 in provincial disaster recovery assistance funding, which could be used to help rebuild and repair the road. “It’s very crucial,” said Hilliard Reeve Laurie Bolesworth of the funding. “We have quite a few residents back there that could potentially be shut off and we wouldn’t be able to supply access just due to that landslide,” she said in a telephone interview. “So this funding is coming in a crucial time to get the road fixed.” Bolesworth said that when the landslide happened, the damage continued to grow and spread to the edge of Veley Road, with the potential to take out the entire roadway. “We were worried it was going to take out the road, the potential is there for it to collapse into the river as well,” she noted. She said in the spring of 2020 “we used up the road allowance we could to widen up the road to ensure that access was available at all times. The funding gives us a means to repair that landslide and secure it so that the future access for those people back there on that dead-end road will be available at all times.” Bolesworth said in order for the township to forge ahead with the repairs it would have to get an engineer’s report first. She was hopeful the report would be secured and the work would be able to commence “as soon as possible.” Ontario's MDRA program helps municipalities address extraordinary emergency response costs and damage to essential property or infrastructure - like bridges, roads and public buildings - as a result of a natural disaster. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said that as partners with municipalities, the government “must ensure that everyone in the province has access to the necessary infrastructure and services they need to maintain their quality of life." "By accessing this funding, Hilliard will be able to make essential repairs to local infrastructure that was damaged by the landslide,” he said in a news release. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Both Bayham fire departments responded to a report of a structure fire of a separated garage/hobby shop located at 53834 Vienna Line in Bayham on Friday, January 15. The owner was busy working in the shop when the fire began. A family member came outside, noticed smoke pouring out of the building, and immediately called emergency services at about 1:10 p.m. Upon fire department arrival, the metal-clad structure engulfed in flames said Bayham Fire Chief Harry Baranik. Firefighters worked to contain the blaze, as there were two buildings nearby and wind drove the fire around in the building. The garage and its contents were completely lost. The separate buildings received heat damage to their exterior. Damage to the structures is estimated at $50,000 with approximately $200,000 in contents. There were no injuries. Firefighters remained on the scene for about three hours. An excavator was brought in to pull the metal apart to ensure the fire was fully extinguished. Both Bayham fire stations responded with a total of 25 firefighters. The cause of the fire is not considered suspicious, and has been listed as “undetermined.” Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Donald Trump left the White House for the final time as the 45th United States president Wednesday morning, travelling to Florida instead of attending his successor Joe Biden's inauguration. Trump, along with his wife, Melania, walked to the White House lawn and boarded the Marine One helicopter that took off just after 8:15 a.m. ET for Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland. "It's been a great honour, the honour of a lifetime. The greatest people in the world, the greatest home in the world," Trump told reporters before heading to Marine One, rotors whirring, on the South Lawn. "We accomplished a lot." Members of Trump's family gathered for the send-off at Andrews along with the president's loyalists, who chanted "We love you!" "Thank you, Trump" and "U.S.A." Four Army cannons fired a 21-gun salute. The couple will land in Florida and make their way by motorcade to their Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. His arrival at Mar-a-Lago is being timed to get him behind the wall of the resort before Trump's term as president expires at noon. Trump is the first outgoing president to skip the inauguration ceremony for his successor since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. Trump refused to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power, including inviting the Joe and Jill Biden to the White House for a get-to-know-you visit. He did follow at least one tradition: The White House said Trump left behind a note for Biden. A Trump spokesman, Judd Deere, declined to say what Trump wrote or characterize the sentiment in the note, citing privacy for communication between presidents. Still popular within his party Trump will settle in Florida with a small group of former White House aides as he charts a political future that looks very different now than just two weeks ago. Before the Capitol riot on Jan.6, Trump had been expected to remain his party's de facto leader, wielding enormous power as he served as a kingmaker and mulled a 2024 presidential run. But now he appears more powerless than ever — shunned by so many in his party, impeached twice, denied the Twitter bullhorn he had intended to use as his weapon and even facing the prospect that, if he is convicted in his Senate trial, he could be barred from seeking a second term. WATCH | Presidential historian Thomas Balcerski on Trump's legacy: But although Trump has left the White House, he retains his grip on the Republican base, with the support of millions of loyal voters, along with allies still helming the Republican National Committee and many state party organizations. He also potentially faces a host of other legal troubles unrelated to the presidency. While in Washington, Trump rarely left the confines of the White House, except to visit his own hotel, where foreign dignitaries often stayed, hoping to gain access to administration aide. He and his wife never once ate dinner at any other local restaurant, and never ventured out to shop in its stores or see the sights. When he did leave, it was almost always to one of his properties. In addition to his Florida properties, that included golf courses in Virginia and New Jersey. White House cleaning crews worked overnight Wednesday and were still going as the sun rose to get the building cleaned and ready for its new occupants. In what will be the office of incoming press secretary Jen Psaki, a computer keyboard and mouse on her desk were encased in plastic. A black moving truck had backed up to the door of the West Wing entrance, where the presence of a lone Marine guard usually signals that the president is in the Oval Office. Most walls were stripped down to the hooks that once held photographs, and offices were devoid of the clutter and trinkets that gave them life. The face of at least one junior aide was streaked with tears as she left the building one last time.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas was scrolling through Twitter a few years ago when she saw a headline that a film adaptation of “The White Tiger” was in the works. She immediately got on the phone to her agent. Her request: Please call the producers and offer her services. At the very least, she wanted to executive produce and help use her platform to get the word out. Aravind Adiga's novel about a driver in India who rises to become a successful businessman despite the stratified caste system was an international bestseller and critical darling, winning the Man Booker Prize in 2008. In the film, which hits Netflix Friday, Jonas not only got that producer credit, but co-stars as well. “(The book) had a profound effect on me,” Jonas said. “It made me uncomfortable and made me think about a part of the world that we sort of desensitize ourselves to.” People have been trying to get a film adaption of “The White Tiger” off the ground for years. Producer Mukul Deora scooped up the film rights a decade ago. But it’s safe to say no one has been hoping to make an adaptation as long as Ramin Bahrani. The “99 Homes” director and Adiga have been friends since their days at Columbia University in the '90s and he was reading rough drafts of the novel years before it was published. He’s even on the dedication page. “It’s an epic story that required a lot of financing and money and resources to get it made in India,” Bahrani said. “That wasn’t so easy when the novel came out.” Deora told him it was fated to be. But even with the precedence of films like “Slumdog Millionaire,” they didn’t think one of the traditional studios would make the film at the level they wanted because, as Bahrani said, “There are no comic book characters in it and they’re not flying around shooting and killing one another and encouraging us to go to war.” So they tried Netflix. “They were hungry for it,” Bahrani said. “They have an appetite for global stories, for voices that are not typically represented behind a camera or in front of the camera.” At the core of the story is Balram, who narrates his own journey from a small village to being the head chauffeur for a prominent and corrupt family. Big international and Bollywood stars were interested in the part, but Bahrani had a different idea. “It seemed to me that this story about an underdog from the underclass should be played by an Indian and hopefully an unknown Indian, not a movie star,” he said. The man they found was Adarsh Gourav, a local working actor who had not had a lot of luck lately. “I thought it was beyond my league,” Gourav said. He went to the audition without much hope. But Bahrani saw in him exactly what he was looking for. “His smile was so inviting and so charming and he could turn on a dime,'” Bahrani said. ‘He had that duality the part needed.” After a month of call backs, Bahrani told Gourav he’d gotten the role. “It felt so surreal I couldn’t even react,” Gourav said. “I couldn’t process it.” Gourav was a fan of the book, too. It made him realize his own privilege when he’d read it as a teenager and he wanted to do the role justice, so he committed to trying to understand the circumstances of his character’s life. He lived in a small village for a few weeks and even worked in a small food shop in Delhi, where he’d clean plates and sweep floors for the equivalent of $1.50 a day. “It was a very humbling experience,” Gourav said. The film does have a major Bollywood star in Rajkummar Rao, and, of course Jonas whose stardom is now global. But it may still be a revelation for U.S. audiences who have yet to see the scope of Jonas’ acting talents. “I see myself at the beginning of my career and in the States right now,” Jonas said. "I’ve never (thought) just because I’ve had a career with almost 50 movies somewhere else that I should have that same kind of reception in a country that doesn’t know me. (But) when I first came over to this side of the world, it was hard because not a lot of parts are written for people who look like me.” She had to fight for roles that were more than stereotypes. Even Pinky, who is married to Balram's boss, required a little bit of an update for the film. In the book she’s seen only through Balram’s voyeuristic eyes. In the film, she’s a more fully realized person. Jonas has also taken it upon herself to get more South Asian stories out in the world through her production company, Purple Pebble Pictures. “We’re one fifth of the world’s population, but you don’t see that represented in global entertainment,” she said. Eventually she’d like to direct, too. Her husband, Nick Jonas, has advised her to, “Stop overthinking it and just go do it.” And she thinks streaming services are helping to broaden people’s horizons and introduce them to global content. Jonas does hope that non-Indian audiences understand that “The White Tiger” is set at the turn of the 21st century and that modern India is very different from what is depicted in the book and film. The class divide, she said, is a metaphor for the vast wealth disparity in every country. Of course “The White Tiger” is also, first and foremost, entertainment with some “Goodfellas” touchstones. “We tried to make a fun, fast, propulsive movie with a great lead character and an amazing set of performances,” Bahrani said. “Anything else is a bonus.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Police Services Board received a progress report on the 44 recommendations handed out by the Office of the Independent Police Review during Tuesday’s board meeting. Legal counsel for the Thunder Bay Police Service, Holly Walbourne, presented the second yearly report to the board on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and outlined the service’s progress on all 44 recommendations. In December 2018, a 300-plus page report by the OIPRD detailed failings on the part of the Thunder Bay Police Service to address the policing needs of Indigenous people in the community. One of the most significant recommendations in the report recommended the reinvestigation of nine sudden deaths involving indigenous people by a multi-discipline team. The OIPRD recommended the cases be reopened because the initial investigations lacked quality. On Tuesday, Walbourne informed the board the re-investigations are still ongoing and further updates will come from the executive governance committee. Other completed recommendations reported on Tuesday included the recommendation of the police force to make the wearing of name tags on the front of police uniforms mandatory for all officers. According to the report, as of August 2020, all name tags were ordered and are now considered a permanent part of an officer’s uniform. After the presentation by Walbourne, board member Michael Power stated he would advocate for updates on the report to be reviewed at every board meeting rather than an annual review. “We as a board own this report,” Power said, adding transferring the written report to a grid format where recommendations can be labelled as completed or not completed in terms of progress could also be beneficial to share with Indigenous leaders and communities to evaluate the police force's progress on the report. "We can get into more significant conversation about what has been done as a result of implementation, what needs to be done and improve the level of understanding," he said. Also on Tuesday, the board discussed the implementation of in-car and body-worn cameras. Police said in their report capital funding has been secured to actualize the project and the service will be announcing the rollout of the project by the end of the first quarter of 2021. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Dan Taddeo said providing the board with a solid timeline for the implementation of the program is difficult. For the full progress report presented during Tuesday’s meeting go to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron wants to take further steps to reckon with France’s colonial-era wrongs in Algeria but is not considering an official apology, his office said. A report commissioned by Macron, to be published later Wednesday, submits proposals to improve the complex relationship between the two countries, from opening up war archives to holding commemorations. Macron's office said there will be “no apologies” but that Macron intends instead to make “symbolic acts” aimed at emphasizing recognition of the harsh colonial reality and helping reconciliation between the two countries. Macron will take part in three commemoration days by next year, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the eight-year war with France that resulted in the North African country gaining independence in 1962 — after 132 years of French rule. France will “pursue and broaden” the opening of its archives on the war as work is under way to allow the release of classified secret documents, Macron's office added. Amid other actions, Macron wants to honour Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of torture by the French military during the war. He will launch the process aiming at burying her at the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. The first French president to be born after Algerian independence, Macron promised to open a new chapter in France’s relationship with Algeria during his term, including facing the countries’ painful history. In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the death of a dissident in Algeria in 1957, admitting for the first time the military's systematic use of torture during the war. He commissioned historian Benjamin Stora last year to assess France’s relation with the memory of Algeria’s colonization and the independence war. Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last year that his country was awaiting an official apology for France's colonial occupation. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
The Hastings County Historical Society is excited to announce a new Memories program that invites residents to share stories and memories of older times within the county. Residents of Hastings County are encouraged to share life experiences or events from the past to capture memories of the county and turn them into short stories to share memories of past decades with future generations. As part of the Hastings County Historical Society’s ongoing efforts to gather, preserve and share local history, the Memories program encourages residents to send in 250–400-word short stories of recollections and memories to the Society. Hastings County Historical Society director Jim Kennelly explained that while the organization has been affected by COVID-19, it has not been idle. “While activities such as our Public Presentations, Historic Bus Tour and Annual Banquet have been cancelled for the year, the Society has been very busy with new programs,” said Kennelly. “One of those being this project to gather the colourful stories of life as it was some years ago.” Continuing throughout the year of 2021, memories can be submitted by mail or email to 254 Pinnacle St., Belleville, ON, K8N 3B1 or email@example.com. The stories will be kept for the benefit of future generations in the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County and a selection of them will be published in the Society’s newsletter, Outlook, for members and friends across the region to enjoy. “We are living in such a fast-changing world and many of the younger people today have no idea what life was like even back in, say, the 1950s,” said Kennelly. “It is so important to have the older generations share their knowledge of our history before this treasure chest of information is lost forever.” Residents looking for further information are encouraged to contact Dan Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
Canadian companies are being told to ensure they’re not importing Chinese goods produced through the forced labour of the Uighur religious minority group. “Reports indicate mass transfers of Uighur labourers to factories across China where they are enrolled in forced labour programs that taint global supply chains in a variety of industries,” reads a Global Affairs Canada advisory. The federal government says it’s also aware of other human rights violations affecting Uighurs and other ethnic and religious groups by Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and other parts of China, including mass arbitrary detention, forced separation of children from their parents, forced sterilization, and torture. China is a major trading partner for Canada, with $75 billion worth of merchandise imported from China in 2019, according to Statista. International Trade Minister Mary Ng said that the feds are committed to ensuring Canadian businesses aren't engaged with supply chains involving forced labour. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to increasing supply chain transparency, promoting responsible business conduct, and ensuring that Canadian companies are upholding Canadian values, wherever they may operate,” Ng said in a statement. Parliament amended the Customs Tariff Act last July to ban the imports of goods produced wholly or partly as a result of forced labour from any country. The government reminds companies that they must conform to these laws, adding that companies that operate within the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) may also be subject to human rights legislation. “In addition to legal risks, companies face reputational damage related to their supply chains if it is discovered that they are sourcing from entities that employ forced labour,” the advisory added. It remains unclear if there indeed have been confirmed instances of Uighur-made products flowing through Canadian supply chains. Canada’s National Observer asked Ng if she can definitively say there aren’t products made by Uighurs or other minority groups in Canadian supply chains, but the question was deferred to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which also didn’t provide direct comment to the question. However, Jacqueline Callin, spokesperson for CBSA, explained shipments containing goods suspected of being produced by forced labour are detained at the border for inspection by a border services officer who has the authority to ban these goods from entering Canada based on their analysis of the specific situation. The government announced Monday that companies with ties to Xinjiang will have to sign a “Xinjiang Integrity Declaration” recognizing they’re aware of Canadian laws regarding the prohibition of forced labour and the “human rights situation in Xinjiang” before they receive support from the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). It wasn't indicated when this declaration requirement will come into effect. The government also appointed a Canadian ombudsperson for responsible enterprise in April 2019 to review claims of alleged human rights abuses involving Canadian companies abroad, but Amnesty International Canada doesn’t think the office’s role goes far enough. “Without the power to compel documents or witness testimony, we fear the ombudsperson will be unable to fully investigate allegations of forced labour or other abuses from companies’ supply chains,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, the organization’s secretary general, in a statement. The Global Affairs advisory said the government urges Canadian companies with links to Xinjiang to “closely examine their supply chains to ensure that their activities do not support repression, including ... the Chinese government’s surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang, detention or internment facilities, or the use of forced labour.” However, Nivyabandi believes this shouldn’t be left to individual companies, calling for the Trudeau government to pass legislation that would require Canadian companies to conduct “human rights due diligence” within their global operations and supply chains. “The Canadian government has missed a crucial opportunity to hold Canadian companies accountable for human rights violations in Xinjiang and beyond,” Nivyabandi said. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
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.
LONDON — Dozens of U.K. music stars including Elton John, Ed Sheeran and conductor Simon Rattle say musicians have been “shamefully failed” by the British government, which has left them facing post-Brexit restrictions on touring in the European Union. In a letter published Wednesday in the Times of London, more than 100 musicians including Sting, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Roger Daltrey of The Who, along with the heads of major arts institutions, said the new U.K.-EU trade deal that took effect Jan. 1 has “a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be.” Britain’s departure from the EU means that U.K. citizens can no longer live and work freely in the 27-nation bloc. Tourists do not need visas for stays of up to 90 days, and some short business trips are also allowed. But artists and musicians have not been included in the deal. Britain and the EU disagree about who is to blame for the omission, each accusing the other of rejecting a deal for touring artists. The new rules mean U.K. performers have to comply with differing rules in the 27 EU nations, negotiating visas for musicians and permits for their equipment. Many say the costs and red tape will make it impossible for British artists to perform on the continent, endangering the country’s status as a cultural powerhouse. The musicians’ letter said the new expense and bureaucracy will make “many tours unviable, especially for young emerging musicians who are already struggling to keep their heads above water owing to the COVID ban on live music.” Scottish National Party lawmaker Pete Wishart, a former member of rock band Runrig, said Tuesday in the House of Commons that musicians and artists were “mere collateral in this government’s obsession in ending freedom of movement” and controlling immigration once it left the EU. Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage acknowledged the situation was “incredibly disappointing,” but said “the door is open” to talks with the EU on a deal for musicians. She resisted calls from the opposition to publish details of the proposals made by the U.K. during negotiations that the bloc allegedly rejected. ___ Follow all AP stories about Brexit developments at https://apnews.com/Brexit. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Ontario reported another 2,655 cases of COVID-19 and 89 more deaths of people with the illness on Wednesday, as the government said it is expanding its workplace enforcement effort to include farming operations and essential businesses in the service sector. The new cases include 925 in Toronto, 473 in Peel Region, 226 in York Region and 179 in Windsor-Essex County, which continues to see a huge strain on its intensive care units. Other public health units that saw double- or triple-digit increases were: Niagara Region: 129 Waterloo Region: 101 Ottawa: 86 Hamilton: 75 Simcoe Muskoka: 71 Durham Region: 70 Middlesex-London: 65 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 56 Halton Region: 51 Southwestern: 20 Thunder Bay: 17 Eastern Ontario: 16 Haldimand-Norfolk: 16 Porcupine: 14 Chatham-Kent: 13 Lambton: 12 Huron-Perth: 11 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) The infections come as Ontario's network of labs processed 54,307 test samples for the novel coronavirus — a third straight day well below the system's capacity of more than 70,000 — and logged a test positivity rate of 4.9 per cent. The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 2,850, marking 10 consecutive days of decreases from a high of 3,555. Notably, another 3,714 cases were marked resolved in today's update. There were 26,467 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide as of yesterday evening, a figure that has trended downward since the pandemic peak of 30,632 on Jan. 11. The 89 additional deaths match the previous single-day record, which came on Jan. 7. (Public health units recorded 100 deaths on Jan. 15, however 46 of those deaths occurred "earlier in the pandemic," the Ministry of Health said at the time, and were included in that day's total due to data clean-up in the Middlesex-London Health Unit.) There were 1,598 people with COVID-19 in hospitals. Of those, 395 were being treated in intensive care, while 296 required a ventilator to breathe. Enforcement campaign to ramp up, province says Meanwhile, the province said in a news release up to 300 inspectors will be involved in a new COVID-19 enforcement blitz, that will include inspections at farming operations that rely on temporary foreign workers. The first campaign is to be held in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, with 10 others planned so far in Toronto, Durham, Niagara, Halton, Huron Perth, Peterborough and Leeds Grenville Lanark. The announcement comes after Ministry of Labour inspectors targeted 240 big-box stores in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area over the weekend and found about 69 per cent of locations were in compliance with public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said groups found 76 contraventions of the rules, the majority of which were dealt with by issuing orders to improve. Twenty-five tickets were issued, including to Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Costco locations. Similar actions last December found about 67 per cent compliance. The most common infractions were not wearing masks, not having a safety plan and not screening people in the workplace, the province said. But the minister said after months of life in the pandemic, the compliance rates should be higher. "This is truly disappointing," he said. "These corporations must do better. Shareholders have the responsibility to keep their workers and customers safe. I want businesses to know if they won't operate safely in this emergency, you won't operate at all." Under the provincial rules, corporations can face $1,000 fines and workers can face fines of $750 for not following public health measures. Meanwhile, York Region shared a list of retailers fined over the last week for violations of Ontario's Reopening Ontario Act, among them major pharmacy and grocery locations. Ontario recently ordered people to only leave their homes for groceries, medical appointments, exercise and work that can't be completed remotely. Stores selling non-essential goods have been forced to temporarily close and operate solely through e-commerce and curbside pickups.