Protesters and federal agents clashed again into the early hours of Saturday outside a Portland, Ore., courthouse.
Protesters and federal agents clashed again into the early hours of Saturday outside a Portland, Ore., courthouse.
Law enforcement officers far outnumbered protesters at state capitol grounds on Sunday, as few Trump supporters who believe the president's false claim that he won the 2020 election turned out for what authorities feared could be violent demonstrations. More than a dozen states activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed demonstrations, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw. However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in Ontario. The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Jan. 20 will be approximately $6 million. The Canadian Press
This workweek will kick off with what's fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history.Experts say Blue Monday may be a little more than a marketing gimmick, but the pseudo-scientific concept speaks to the real struggles weighing on Canadians between the doldrums of winter and the pandemic's second wave.But the national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association says one of the best salves for this contagion-fuelled seasonal slump is as simple as getting up on your own two feet."Our physical well-being really impacts our mental well-being," Margaret Eaton said. "There is a very well documented connection showing that increasing your physical activity definitely impacts your mood."There's no evidence to support the notion that the third Monday of January is the glummest date on the calendar, but Eaton said the concept of Blue Monday may especially resonate this year.In a spring survey of more than 1,800 participants, 84 per cent of Canadians reported that their mental health had worsened since the outbreak hit, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada.Eaton suspects that moods haven't improved as the COVID-19 crisis has dragged on, and with the onset of seasonal affective disorder, she said many Canadians are contending with a potent confluence of psychological stressors.The weather is getting colder. The holidays are over, and bills are coming due. Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts. It's been nearly a year since people have been able to safely socialize with their friends.And forget about those New Year's resolutions to go to the gym. That's not even an option in many parts of the country. Some people are also indulging in "temporary fixes" such as food and alcohol to distract themselves from the dolor of the pandemic, Eaton said, rather than engaging in diversions that have been proven to lift people's spirits."Canadians are not turning to physical activity to help with their mental health," said Leigh Vanderloo, an exercise scientist with non-profit Participaction. "There seems to be a disconnect. We know it helps, but we don't necessarily do it."According data collected by Participaction, Canadians are more likely to cope with the anxieties of life under lockdown through sedentary activities, such as increased screen time, rather than by getting active.But research suggests that all it takes is a single bout of physical activity to release neurochemicals that lift one's mood, Vanderloo said.You don't have to commit to an intense training routine or invest in expensive equipment to see the benefits of exercise, she said. The key is to find an activity you enjoy, whether that's a stroll outdoors or a brief dance break.Vanderloo said it's also important to spend a few minutes moving for every hour you spend sitting. She encouraged desk dwellers to find ways to sneak in steps during the workday, such as pacing while on phone calls.The key is consistency, said Vanderloo, and in such uncertain times, an exercise routine can offer some much-needed structure."It might take a little bit of trial and error. But there's certainly an activity out there for everyone."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2020. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Staff in long-term care homes across Canada are struggling to isolate elderly residents with dementia during COVID-19 outbreaks, accelerating the deadly spread of the virus, experts say. These vulnerable residents have a tendency to wander as well as a need for social connection and physical touch, leading them to enter other patients' rooms or common areas where they could contract or transmit the virus, say doctors and advocates. "It's a significant problem in the time of COVID-19 and long-term care," said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, a national seniors advocacy group. "It's also quite inhumane to be locking people up in their rooms. Older people with dementia in long-term care are not prisoners," she added. "The good news is there are some things we can do to help support infection prevention and control while at the same time not isolating seniors exclusively in their rooms." The novel coronavirus has taken a lethal toll on Canadians living in long-term care homes. More than 3,000 of Ontario's over 5,000 deaths have been in these facilities, as have more than 600 of British Columbia's roughly 1,000 fatalities. Overall in Canada, residents of these homes account for 10 per cent of total cases and 72 per cent of deaths. A woman whose grandmother died of COVID-19 in a Vancouver care home has raised the alarm about residents wandering during outbreaks. Parbs Bains said she was on a Zoom call with her sick grandmother when another resident entered the room and began hugging her and kissing her on the forehead, remaining for several minutes before a nurse arrived to usher her out. The care home, Little Mountain Place, is the site of B.C.’s deadliest outbreak in such a facility, with 41 dead. But in all long-term care homes with outbreaks in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, keeping residents with cognitive impairments isolated has been a challenge, said chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly. The health authority advises staff to monitor residents who wander but not to lock them in rooms or restrain them, Daly said. Tamblyn Watts said 80 per cent of residents of long-term care homes in the country have some form of cognitive impairment such as dementia. Keeping them in one room without social engagement, exercise or daily routines has a negative effect, she said. She said more staff, not necessarily with medical training but with dementia training, are needed to compassionately intervene when they see a resident wandering and redirect them to a safe area. Ideally, there would be a separate room where residents could walk to other than their own, Tamblyn Watts added. "It does, however, mean that you need to have people on deck to be able to help with that," she said. Quebec announced last year it would hire 10,000 patient attendants to work in care homes and train them over last summer. B.C. and Ontario have also created new jobs in care homes for people without prior experience, but much more hiring needs to be done, Tamblyn Watts said. She also said more infection control, cleaning, testing and now vaccines are needed, in order to prevent COVID-19 from getting inside care homes to begin with. Dr. Roger Wong, clinical professor and vice dean in the University of British Columbia faculty of medicine, said people with dementia need a lot of hands-on care. "Clearly, we always need more staffing," he said. But he said there are some ways to help residents with cognitive impairments stay in their rooms, including placing a stop sign by the door or hanging a curtain over the doorway. In some secure units, seniors wear wristbands that ring an alarm when they leave, Wong said. It's also technologically possible, though not common practice, to place GPS trackers in residents' footwear, he said. Playing a familiar piece of music in their rooms can be comforting and help them remain in that space, Wong added. He said families could plan to speak to their loved ones virtually at times when they are more likely to get confused and wander, often in the late afternoon or evening for Alzheimer's patients. However, it can be a challenge to ensure that residents understand the people on their screen are their loved ones, he said. Jennifer Stewart, manager of advocacy and education for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., acknowledged that virtual visits can be helpful for some and confusing for others. Patients may not be able to understand or retain the information about why they need to be separated from others or be able to follow protocols, such as frequent hand washing, she added. "I think we're in a really tough spot," she said. "I don't think anyone's found a perfect solution here." However, Stewart said person-centred care is key: looking at each patient as a unique individual and speaking with their families about how to provide them with safety, comfort and meaning. B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the primary way that the virus is spreading in care homes is from staff to residents, rather than from resident to resident. Staff are in close physical contact with many different patients, she noted, and many residents are not mobile. She said, though, that immediately after a single positive case, all residents and employees should be tested and residents should be isolated. Every patient positive for COVID-19 should be kept not only in their room, but as much as possible in a certain section of the home, she said. Daly of Vancouver Coastal Health said care homes in the region do not automatically do mass testing after a single staff member tests positive. She said testing depends on the likelihood the employee transmitted the virus to others in the home as well as the timing of transmission. Mackenzie has also called for frequent, routine testing of staff, which B.C. does not do. Ontario tests staff at least every two weeks and has also deployed some pilot projects for rapid testing. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. considered whether to periodically send staff to a testing site, as is done in Ontario, but that is very "low yield" and challenging to do. As for rapid testing at care homes on a daily basis, that is "not feasible" with the tests that the province has, she said. "Our focus has been instead on making sure we have the resources to ensure staffing, particularly if an outbreak has been identified. When an outbreak is identified, testing is done," Henry said. The seniors advocate said understaffing is "absolutely" still an issue. "I think there have been additional strains on an already strained staffing system," Mackenzie said. She said family members can be designated essential visitors to be the eyes and ears of a loved one within the care home and flag problems for staff. Some residents don't have family members who are able to play this role but many do, she said. Mackenzie added that even when dementia patients are isolated, they should be receiving physical touch from staff. Care providers should also use gentle persuasion and de-escalation techniques to assuage any anxieties residents are experiencing, she said. "If they're mobile enough that they're individually ambulating out of their room in the common areas, they've got some capacity. That is not a person in end-stage Alzheimer's with no capacity to understand anything," she pointed out. "It's easy to throw up our hands and say we couldn't do anything, we can't isolate these people because they wander. That is not true of every resident or even of most residents. It might be true of some and we know how to manage that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
At least 56 people have died in the 6.2 magnitude earthquake which hit Sulawesi island on Friday nightView on euronews
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 17, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 35,604 new vaccinations administered for a total of 543,291 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,433.513 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 71.34 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 10,783 new vaccinations administered for a total of 137,856 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.111 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 14,460 new vaccinations administered for a total of 189,090 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.873 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,910 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,927 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.355 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,561 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.528 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
The debate about the U.S. Electoral College pits those who think the president should be chosen via popular vote versus those who believe the interests of small and large states must be balanced.
The company that bought the ammonium nitrate which exploded in Beirut last August had possible links to two Syrian businessmen under U.S. sanctions for ties to President Bashar al-Assad, according to a report by a Lebanese journalist and London company filings. Savaro Ltd, the trading firm which procured the chemicals in 2013, shared a London address with companies linked to George Haswani and Imad Khoury, according to the report by documentary film-maker Firas Hatoum, which aired on Lebanon's al-Jadeed TV station this week. Haswani, Khoury and his brother Mudalal Khoury have all been sanctioned by Washington for supporting Assad's war effort.
NAIROBI, Kenya — From “emaciated” refugees to crops burned on the brink of harvest, starvation threatens the survivors of more than two months of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The first humanitarian workers to arrive after pleading with the Ethiopian government for access describe weakened children dying from diarrhea after drinking from rivers. Shops were looted or depleted weeks ago. A local official told a Jan. 1 crisis meeting of government and aid workers that hungry people had asked for “a single biscuit.” More than 4.5 million people, nearly the region's entire population, need emergency food, participants say. At their next meeting on Jan. 8, a Tigray administrator warned that without aid, “hundreds of thousands might starve to death” and some already had, according to minutes obtained by The Associated Press. “There is an extreme urgent need — I don’t know what more words in English to use — to rapidly scale up the humanitarian response because the population is dying every day as we speak,” Mari Carmen Vinoles, head of the emergency unit for Doctors Without Borders, told the AP. But pockets of fighting, resistance from some officials and sheer destruction stand in the way of a massive food delivery effort. To send 15-kilogram (33-pound) rations to 4.5 million people would require more than 2,000 trucks, the meeting's minutes said, while some local responders are reduced to getting around on foot. The spectre of hunger is sensitive in Ethiopia, which transformed into one of the world's fastest-growing economies in the decades since images of starvation there in the 1980s led to a global outcry. Drought, conflict and government denial contributed to the famine, which swept through Tigray and killed an estimated 1 million people. The largely agricultural Tigray region of about 5 million people already had a food security problem amid a locust outbreak when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Nov. 4 announced fighting between his forces and those of the defiant regional government. Tigray leaders dominated Ethiopia for almost three decades but were sidelined after Abiy introduced reforms that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. More than 50,000 have fled into Sudan, where one doctor has said newer arrivals show signs of starvation. Others shelter in rugged terrain. A woman who recently left Tigray described sleeping in caves with people who brought cattle, goats and the grain they had managed to harvest. “It is a daily reality to hear people dying with the fighting consequences, lack of food,” a letter by the Catholic bishop of Adigrat said this month. Hospitals and other health centres, crucial in treating malnutrition, have been destroyed. In markets, food is “not available or extremely limited,” the United Nations says. Though Ethiopia's prime minister declared victory in late November, its military and allied fighters remain active amid the presence of troops from neighbouring Eritrea, a bitter enemy of the now-fugitive officials who once led the region. Fear keeps many people from venturing out. Others flee. Tigray’s new officials say more than 2 million people have been displaced, a number the U.S. government’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance calls “staggering.” The U.N. says the number of people reached with aid is “extremely low.” A senior Ethiopian government official, Redwan Hussein, did not respond to a request for comment on Tigray colleagues warning of starvation. In the northern Shire area near Eritrea, which has seen some of the worst fighting, up to 10% of the children whose arms were measured met the diagnostic criteria for severe acute malnutrition, with scores of children affected, a U.N. source said. Sharing the concern of many humanitarian workers about jeopardizing access, the source spoke on condition of anonymity. Near Shire town are camps housing nearly 100,000 refugees who have fled over the years from Eritrea. Some who have walked into town "are emaciated, begging for aid that is not available,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Thursday. Food has been a target. Analyzing satellite imagery of the Shire area, a U.K.-based research group found two warehouse-style structures in the U.N. World Food Program compound at one refugee camp had been “very specifically destroyed.” The DX Open Network could not tell by whom. It reported a new attack Saturday. It's challenging to verify events in Tigray as communications links remain poor and almost no journalists are allowed. In the towns of Adigrat, Adwa and Axum, “the level of civilian casualties is extremely high in the places we have been able to access,” the Doctors Without Borders emergency official Vinoles said. She cited the fighting and lack of health care. Hunger is “very concerning," she said, and even water is scarce: Just two of 21 wells still work in Adigrat, a city of more than 140,000, forcing many people to drink from the river. With sanitation suffering, disease follows. “You go 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the city and it’s a complete disaster,” with no food, Vinoles said. Humanitarian workers struggle to gauge the extent of need. “Not being able to travel off main highways, it always poses the question of what’s happening with people still off-limits,” said Panos Navrozidis, Action Against Hunger’s director in Ethiopia. Before the conflict, Ethiopia’s national disaster management body classified some Tigray woredas, or administrative areas, as priority one hotspots for food insecurity. If some already had high malnutrition numbers, “two-and-a-half months into the crisis, it’s a safe assumption that thousands of children and mothers are in immediate need," Navrozidis said. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, funded and managed by the U.S., says parts of central and eastern Tigray are likely in Emergency Phase 4, a step below famine. The next few months are critical, John Shumlansky, the Catholic Relief Services representative in Ethiopia, said. His group so far has given up to 70,000 people in Tigray a three-month food supply, he said. Asked whether combatants use hunger as a weapon, one concern among aid workers, Shumlansky dismissed it by Ethiopian defence forces and police. With others, he didn’t know. “I don’t think they have food either, though,” he said. Cara Anna, The Associated Press
When people think of addiction and drug use in Canada, their minds might turn to cities like Vancouver, Toronto, or even Halifax. But small towns in Nova Scotia have their own struggles when it comes to addressing addiction and overdoses. In 2020, 96 people in Nova Scotia died due to drug toxicity — 10 more than in 2019 — according to monthly reports from the Nova Scotia Health Authority that have not been made available to the public. While the central health zone, which covers Halifax and the surrounding areas, had the highest rates of opioid mortality since December 2019 — 3.9 per 100,000 people — the other health zones weren't far behind. The western zone had a rate of 3.5, and the northern and eastern zones had rates of 3.3 and 3, respectively. The report doesn't break down the number of drug deaths not related to opiods by health zone. Since July, at least two people in the northern health zone have died because of drugs. One of the deaths was due to an overdose. Another was as a result of sores related to levamisole, a livestock dewormer that has been reportedly combined with cocaine in the Pictou County area. Albert McNutt, founder of the Northern Healthy Connections Society, said his biggest concern isn't the numbers, but the people behind them. "When we're looking at stats, we're looking at a bigger picture, but we're forgetting the small picture, which is that individual, that one person that is making headway in their life and moving forward even though they're living with an addiction," he said. "They're forgetting that individual who took their own life because they no longer had a purpose to go to, a program." The society, based in Truro, N.S., started in 1996 as a program for people with HIV and AIDS. It later expanded to work in drug harm reduction and is one of three organizations in the province that runs a free needle exchange program. It also runs mobile outreach services around the province's northern health zone and distributes "emergency bags" containing syringes, tourniquets and other safe use items to pharmacies in small communities for people who may have missed their outreach services in Truro. When the society began to focus on people who use drugs, McNutt said it had difficulty bringing people in. While drug use is pretty much stigmatized everywhere, it can be especially amplified in small communities. "We started out with very few people accessing services because a lot of stigma's attached to it, discrimination's attached to it, fear of being known in a small rural community," he said. "That's one of the biggest things that we deal with in the northern zone because it's primarily rural and everybody knows everybody, and so you keep it very much secret." Addiction 'not easy to hide' in rural N.S. Many factors play into why people may use drugs, such as socioeconomic situations, lack of affordable housing, and access to mental health and addictions programs. "It's not like these folks woke up one morning and said, 'Hey, I want to be addicted to drugs,'" said McNutt. "They turn to drugs to feel good. They turn to drugs to deaden the pain they're feeling ... and it's so easy to hide that in a big city, but it's not easy to hide that in a small community." McNutt said his program has seen people "from all walks of life," and making assumptions about who uses drugs can be harmful. "They could be someone who has been an honour student in school. They could be somebody who didn't go very far in school. They can be business people who get hooked on the medication," he said. "It is something that people just don't realize. There's so much of it going on." The Nova Scotia drug report identified Pictou and Antigonish as having among the highest rates of rates of pharmacy distribution for naloxone, the drug that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose. McNutt said that's actually a good thing. "They know that the drugs are being tainted with other substances, and so by arming themselves with naloxone kits and getting the training, I think that that's really showing a positive response and a proactive response," he said. "I think once somebody loses someone to an overdose death due to drugs, they want to be prepared to prevent the next one. And naloxone is a pretty effective way to do that." In recent weeks, there have been multiple reports of contaminated drugs in Nova Scotia. The northern zone and the eastern zone, where Antigonish is located, also have the highest rates of substance-related emergency calls. More programs needed While the Ally Centre in Cape Breton — another organization that runs a free needle exchange program — is run out of Sydney, N.S., it offers services throughout the eastern health zone, including Antigonish. In an email, Ally Centre executive director Christine Porter said there are four pharmacies in the small town that take part in its brown bag program, each taking approximately 20 bags each month. The centre also provides safe supplies to the opioid recovery program. "I don't believe our Naloxone trainer traveled to Antigonish to train and give kits, so most likely, that distribution is coming from the pharmacies and [the opioid recovery program]," she said. Aside from the three needle exchange programs — run by the NHCS in the northern zone, the Ally Centre in the eastern zone and Mainline in the central and western health zones — there are a number of smaller groups around the province dedicated to doing outreach and educating people about harm reduction. But they don't exist everywhere. "There's not enough harm reduction programs," said Kimm Kent, the founder of the Peer Outreach Support Services and Education Project, or POSSE, in an email. POSSE works out of Windsor, Sipekne'katik and Lower Sackville and trains people between the ages of 15 and 30 to be peer support outreach workers. They then work with members of their communities to teach harm-reduction strategies for safe drug use. "POSSE has had requests to expand to many places … but first we require sustainable funding for what we have," Kent wrote. "So many needs for so many people. I sure wish there was more equity in the world." McNutt agreed. He said the province needs not only harm-reduction programs, but more programs in general where people who use drugs can learn skills, connect with others and find purpose and compassion. He said the Northern Healthy Connections Society used to have a program where women would make reusable cloth bags. After that program was cut due to funding, he said one of the group's members died from an overdose. 'A little bit of funding would go a long way' That was "very, very hard on us," he said. "It seemed like while the program was running, she had a place to go, she had a purpose. She felt like she was actually going to work again," he said. "People feel lost sometimes when they don't have something to go to or be involved with." McNutt said he submitted an application to Truro town council asking for funding to recreate the program. "I am hoping that they will really consider the fact that engaging the population and talking about in a positive way, in a proactive way, is far more important than turning your back on them," he said. "A little bit of funding would go a long way to change someone's life." MORE TOP STORIES
BEIJING — The coronavirus was found on ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting a recall of cartons from the same batch, according to the government. The Daqiaodao Food Co., Ltd. in Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, was sealed and its employees were being tested for the coronavirus, a city government statement said. There was no indication anyone had contracted the virus from the ice cream. Most of the 29,000 cartons in the batch had yet to be sold, the government said. It said 390 sold in Tianjin were being tracked down and authorities elsewhere were notified of sales to their areas. The ingredients included New Zealand milk powder and whey powder from Ukraine, the government said. The Chinese government has suggested the disease, first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, came from abroad and has highlighted what it says are discoveries of the coronavirus on imported fish and other food, though foreign scientists are skeptical. The Associated Press
Small groups of right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol. As darkness fell, there were no reports of any clashes. Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. Crowds of only a dozen or two demonstrated at some boarded-up, cordoned-off statehouses, while the streets in many other capital cities remained empty. Some protesters said they were there to back President Donald Trump. Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or decry government overreach. “I don’t trust the results of the election,” said Michigan protester Martin Szelag, a 67-year-old semi-retired window salesman from Dearborn Heights. He wore a sign around his neck that read, in part, “We will support Joe Biden as our President if you can convince us he won legally. Show us the proof! Then the healing can begin.” As the day wore on with no bloodshed around the U.S., a sense of relief spread among officials, though they were not ready to let their guard down. The heavy law enforcement presence may have kept turnout down. In the past few days, some extremists had warned others against falling into what they called a law enforcement trap. Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said he hoped the apparently peaceful day reflected some soul-searching among Americans. “I would love to say that it’s because we’ve all taken a sober look in the mirror and have decided that we are a more unified people than certain moments in time would indicate,” he said. The security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when far-right Trump supporters galvanized by his false claims that the election had been stolen from him overran the police and bashed their way into the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote. The attack left a Capitol police officer and four others dead. More than 125 people have been arrested over the insurrection. Dozens of courts, election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have all said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential race. On Sunday, some statehouses were surrounded by new security fences, their windows were boarded up, and extra officers were on patrol. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend. Tall fences also surrounded the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall was closed to the public, and the mayor of Washington asked people not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country are expected to arrive in the city in the coming days. U.S. defence officials told The Associated Press those troops would be vetted by the FBI to ward off any threat of an insider attack on the inauguration. The roughly 20 protesters who showed up at Michigan’s Capitol, including some who were armed, were significantly outnumbered by law enforcement officers and members of the media. Tensions have been running high in the state since authorities foiled a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. At the Ohio Statehouse, about two dozen people, including several carrying long guns, protested outside under the watchful eyes of state troopers before dispersing as it began to snow. Kathy Sherman, who was wearing a visor with “Trump” printed on it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol. "I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” she said. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he was pleased with the outcome but stressed that authorities "continue to have concerns for potential violence in the coming days, which is why I intend to maintain security levels at the Statehouse as we approach the presidential inauguration.” Utah's new governor, Republican Spencer Cox, shared photos on his Twitter account showing him with what appeared to be hundreds of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers standing behind him, all wearing masks. Cox called the quiet protests a best-case scenario and said many ”agitating groups" had cancelled their plans for the day. At Oregon's Capitol, fewer than a dozen men wearing military-style outfits, black ski masks and helmets stood nearby with semiautomatic weapons slung across their bodies. Some had upside-down American flags and signs reading such things as “Disarm the government.” At the Texas Capitol, Ben Hawk walked with about a dozen demonstrators up to the locked gates carrying a bullhorn and an AR-15 rifle hanging at the side of his camouflage pants. He condemned the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and said he did not support Trump. “All we came down here to do today was to discuss, gather, network and hang out. And it got blown and twisted completely out of proportion,” Hawk said. At Nevada's Capitol, where demonstrators supporting Trump have flocked most weekends in recent months, all was quiet except for a lone protester with a sign. “Trump Lost. Be Adults. Go Home,” it read. More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Several governors declared states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden's inauguration. Some legislatures also cancelled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week. Even before the violence at the Capitol, some statehouses had been the target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year. Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to coronavirus lockdowns. People angry over the death of George Floyd under a Minneapolis police officer's knee vandalized capitols in several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. Last last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures. Amid the potential for violence in the coming days, the building's first-floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard was brought in. "The state capitol has become a fortress,” said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. “I never thought I’d see that. It breaks my heart.” ___ Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri in Columbus, Ohio; Gillian Flaccus in Salem, Oregon; Mike Householder and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada; Marc Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report. David A. Lieb And Adam Geller, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female vice-president will take her oath of office from the first Latina justice. Harris chose Sotomayor for the task, according to a person familiar with the decision. She’ll also use two Bibles for the swearing-in, one of which belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice. ABC News first reported the latest details of Harris’ inauguration plans. Harris has expressed admiration for both Sotomayor and Marshall. She and Sotomayor share experience as prosecutors, and she once called Marshall — like Harris, a graduate of Howard University — one of her “greatest heroes.” The vice-president-elect said in a video posted to Twitter that she viewed Marshall as “one of the main reasons I wanted to be a lawyer,” calling him “a fighter” in the courtroom. And this will be the second time Sotomayor takes part in an inauguration. She swore in President-elect Joe Biden as vice-president in 2013. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Kids and teens stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic are picking up life skills from older siblings and parents — the kind that result in messy kitchens and less-than-bright whites. But as CBC discovered, parents and experts alike welcome this development. Kitchen wizards Chef Cory Haskins is the academic chair in the culinary arts and baking programs at Algonquin College. He's also got four teenagers at home, and since COVID-19, they've found their culinary groove. "The kids are all at home. They don't have the same activities that we previously had. And [their] mom and I are here to be able to provide some guidance," said Haskins. They started with eggs, pancakes and waffles. Now one daughter has learned to bake bread. Another is making cakes and cookies, and a son has mastered pasta carbonara. For a life-long foodie, Haskins said it feels good to see his kids find their culinary footing. "Everybody needs to learn how to cook," he said. "This is a perfect time for kids to get in the kitchen and do some experimenting." Food educator Carley Schelck heads up The Urban Element, and believes heartily in building kids' culinary literacy. It's cultivated independence in an age where there's a lot of dependency on the parent. - Carley Schelck With kids at home during the pandemic and parents stuck on Zoom calls, Schelck's nine-year-old son is learning to forage. "It has forced my son to go fend for himself a little bit more. It's cultivated independence in an age where there's a lot of dependency on the parent," she said. Schelck's advice to parents is to show kids how to use knives and appliances safely, and then step back and stand by. Dollars and sense For some families, COVID-19 has meant a change in income and spending habits — and that's led some kids to learn about the importance of budgeting and the value of a dollar. "Honestly, this is the best time," said Tecla Kalinda, the founder of Zalasmart, an Ottawa-based organization that helps teach kids and teens about financial literacy. "Especially as parents are losing jobs [and] things are getting tighter." Kalinda says there's a fine line between sharing financial realities with kids and protecting them from worry. "It can be tricky. Parents should be open about talking about money, and talking about in a positive way. [But] you don't want to stress the kids out," said Kalinda. "The best time to teach someone is doing their core development phase. And that's when they're a child. That's when they start building their habits. And a lot of the stuff you learn during that time frame tends to stick with you for life." Fixer uppers Think kids can't wield a hammer or screwdriver? Think again, says Bettina Vollmerhausen, co-founder at the Ottawa Tool Library. The pandemic has created conditions for handy parents to show the way. "There's so much organic learning that goes on when the kids are at home," said Vollmerhausen. Even minor drywall repairs or switching out spent washers can be conquered by kids and teens, although Vollmerhausen's caveat is that potentially dangerous tools only be used "under guidance" from someone with experience. And if no one has that experience? Fire up a YouTube video, Vollmerhausen suggests, and watch it together. "There is so much happening right around us that we can do together to build cohesion in the family. We're in this together. We're learning together." Keys to success Extra time at home could also be spent in the driveway or garage with the family wheels. Teens can learn to check things like tire pressure, wiper blades, and oil and windshield washer fluid levels, said Martin Restoule, the co-ordinator of transportation trades at Algonquin College. Even changing a tire isn't out of the realm of possibilities, he said — albeit with parental supervision. "All this stuff would be good for them to know before they go out and get their licenses," said Restoule. "Lift the hood and have a look around. It's a valuable lesson." Technical literacy Tech-savvy students are rapidly outpacing their parents and, in some cases, their teachers. "Kids are troubleshooting issues together. They're learning about how to present on video, how to connect, how to be aware of their background," said Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of Cloud Research at Trend Micro, a cybersecurity software company. "All of these skills are going to follow these kids throughout life." Kids who are already "very comfortable in a digital world" are going even further, said Nunnikhoven. "To take that already high level of digital fluency to truly understanding how to make things bend to their own will, that's going to stay with them throughout their educational career as well as their professional career."
This story is part of Stopping Domestic Violence, a CBC News series looking at the crisis of intimate partner violence in Canada and what can be done to end it. Ashley McVean wasn't quite ready to go to police about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her former partner. But when she went to the emergency room with neck pain and evidence of strangulation, she hoped someone would notify law enforcement for her. That never happened. Strangulation is one of the most dangerous types of abuse that victims of intimate partner violence can endure. But doctors, nurses, paramedics and other first responders are not required to tell police if they suspect a person has been choked. Members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's intimate partner violence unit say reporting suspected cases of strangulation should be mandatory. "It can just be seconds between life and death," said Malin Enström, crime analyst with the IPV unit. "It's a great concern." There is currently no federal or provincial legislation that requires first responders to report cases of domestic violence involving adults to a relevant third party. There is, however, a legal obligation under Newfoundland and Labrador's Children, Youth and Families Act to report incidents that place children at risk of abuse or neglect. People present at the emergency rooms are crying out for help but they don't get it because it's not mandatory for them to report it to us. - Const. Lindsay Dillon In this province, emergency rooms are obliged to notify police about stabbings and shootings. Const. Lindsay Dillon and Const. Nadia Churchill say that doesn't go far enough to protect victims of abuse at home. "Anything to do with the neck is a lethality factor when it comes to domestic violence," Churchill said. If the unit receives a new case involving a couple and a neck injury is involved, it automatically is given a higher priority. "The issue with strangulation and choking is that you come very close to death sometimes, and there are many studies out there that show the long-term effects of strangulation," said Dillon. "When someone presents with a gunshot wound and stab wound and it's reported to us, great, but choking and strangulation should be up there too because when you look at the dangers involved in that, it's huge." Dillon said they often hear of cases similar to McVean's, where the victim isn't ready to speak to police but hopes the attending medical staff will pass along their findings to the RNC. "People present at the emergency rooms are crying out for help but they don't get it because it's not mandatory for them to report it to us." The IPV unit has been working to address strangulation being included in mandatory reporting on both provincial and federal levels of government, including community partners. 'A very complex issue' The mandatory reporting of gunshots and stab wounds has been in effect in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2015. The House of Assembly passed the law in 2011, but it was not enacted until four years later. In a statement, the province's Department of Justice said, "The idea of adding strangulation to that list is a very complex issue and one that requires more research and consultation with stakeholders before legislative changes are considered." The department highlighted a series of other recent initiatives aimed at reducing violence, including electronic monitoring and a suite of legislative changes. Provincial officials said they are "watching with great interest" the progress of Bill S-249, and noted that the federal approach "will inform our analysis here." That bill — called the National Strategy for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act — was introduced in the Senate in 2018. It was a private member's bill spearheaded by Newfoundland and Labrador Senator Fabian Manning, and would have resulted in the creation of a national strategy or blueprint dealing with the issue of intimate partner violence. One of the things Manning highlighted during debate was reporting regulations for potential cases of abuse. He noted that if a woman arrives at a hospital in many parts of the country with a gunshot wound or has been stabbed, it is mandatory to call the police. "If that same woman arrives at a hospital tonight with two black eyes, a broken nose, her front teeth missing, and evidence of choking or strangulation from the physical abuse of her partner, there is no obligation or law to call the police," Manning said during debate in the Senate in 2018. "I find that absolutely absurd." Bill S-249 made it to second reading in the Senate, before being dropped from the order paper when Parliament dissolved in advance of the 2019 federal election. Manning told CBC News he has since drafted a new bill, along the same lines of the one that had previously been introduced. But it hasn't been tabled yet, and may not be any time soon, because of the pandemic and possibility of a looming federal election that would send the process back to the drawing board. He said he continues to meet with individuals who are advocating for legislation to tackle domestic violence. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ If you need help and are in immediate danger, call 911. To find assistance in your area, visit sheltersafe.ca or endingviolencecanada.org. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Why is the National Capital Commission going ahead with plans to open the Rideau Canal Skateway? What clinic for Ottawa's homeless people has had to temporarily close? And what aspect of the COVID-19 response is frustrating the chief of Kitigan Zibi? These are just a few of the questions designed to vex and perplex you in this week's CBC Ottawa news quiz. On a desktop computer? For the best quiz-taking experience, click on the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner of the quiz widget to expand it.
OTTAWA — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's former head of counter-intelligence says it fell to him to tell the RCMP about a spy in the Canadian navy, even though the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was already well aware of Jeffrey Delisle's sale of sensitive secrets to the Russians. In a newly published book, Frank Figliuzzi casts a critical eye on the Delisle case, pointing to the episode as a prime illustration of systemic problems with how Canadian agencies investigate espionage. As a sub-lieutenant at the Trinity intelligence centre in Halifax, Delisle had access to a databank of classified secrets shared by the Five Eyes community — Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The RCMP arrested Delisle, a junior navy officer, on Jan. 13, 2012, for violating the Security of Information Act. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Delisle had given secret material to Russia in exchange for upward of $110,000 over more than four years. The official story detailed in court records suggested the FBI tipped Canadian authorities to Delisle's relationship with the Russians on Dec. 2, 2011, through a letter to the RCMP. However, as The Canadian Press reported in May 2013, the story actually began months earlier. Senior CSIS officials were called to Washington, where U.S. security personnel told them a navy officer in Halifax was receiving cash transfers from Russian agents. The Canadian spy service soon got court approval to begin electronic surveillance of Delisle. "The United States and its allies were hemorrhaging our most sensitive Russian reporting for as long as five years. As soon as we learned of Delisle, we knew we had to tell the Canadians and stop this guy. Easy, right?" Figliuzzi writes in "The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau's Code of Excellence." "Not so much. Not when dealing with a system that's so very different from ours," the book says. "The problem arose when it came time for someone to put Delisle in handcuffs." CSIS watched Delisle pass top-secret information to Russia for months without briefing the RCMP. The spy agency, acting on legal advice, opted to keep its investigation sealed for fear of exposing sources and methods of the intelligence trade in open court proceedings. "Someone had to call Canada's cops. Strangely, that task went to me," says Figliuzzi, who led the FBI's counter-intelligence division as an assistant director. "I wrote a simple letter on FBI stationery to the RCMP explaining that Jeffrey Delisle was a spy. I flew up to Ottawa and sat in a conference room with RCMP officials and verbally briefed the Mounties. Now the RCMP had to start their own investigation to be used in court," he recalls in the book. "Again, the cycle started from scratch, all while Delisle continued to spill everyone's secrets to the Russians. This was taking so long that we considered luring Delisle into the United States so we could arrest him on our own charges." Figliuzzi says Bob Mueller, FBI director at the time, even placed a call to his counterparts in Canada and "torqued up the pressure for someone to put an end to the madness. The end couldn't come fast enough." CSIS was created in 1984 after a series of scandals led to dissolution of the fabled RCMP Security Service. The new civilian spy service would gather information and tell the federal government of threats from suspected spies and terrorists, but would have no arrest powers. CSIS must hand over a case to the RCMP or work in parallel with the Mounties, then pass along the file when it comes time to take suspected spies or terrorists into custody. "Next time you hear someone suggest the FBI should be split, you have my permission to tell them the Delisle story," writes Figliuzzi, who retired from the FBI in 2012. Canada should rethink the way it approaches counter-intelligence probes, Figliuzzi said in an interview. "I thought that from Day 1 with Delisle, and my position on that hasn't hasn't changed. And I think it can be done with civil liberties still remaining paramount," he said. Authorities don't have the luxury of time for different agencies to independently develop the same information because their protocols and regulations require that they not share with each other, Figliuzzi said. "The bad guys don't respect our rules and our protocols. And in fact, they learn to exploit them quite skilfully. And this is an age that requires a swift response to breaking threats." To this day, the Delisle case remains the worst breach of Canadian secrets in the post-Cold War world, said Wesley Wark, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation. "There has never been any public accounting of the handling by Canadian authorities of the counter-intelligence investigation." The RCMP mounted a crash investigation in the navy spy case over the December 2011 holidays, he noted. "But how much time was lost, and how many secrets, before the Mounties put the cuffs on Delisle?" The RCMP did not respond to a request for comment. CSIS cannot discuss the Delisle case beyond what was presented in court, said John Townsend, a spokesman for the intelligence service. But he said that disclosing sensitive information could limit CSIS's ability to protect and recruit human sources. Moreover, it could significantly affect the service's relationship with partners and reveal its covert methods. "Protecting CSIS information from disclosure means it cannot be relied upon to support a particular case, decision or action," Townsend said. "In some cases, this could lead to the staying of criminal charges, settlements in civil litigation and the reversal of administrative decisions." CSIS works with the RCMP through the “One Vision” framework, which guides how the agencies collaborate on security cases. Over the last decade, CSIS and the RCMP have worked to improve the framework, Townsend said. This has allowed each agency to maintain appropriate separation between respective investigations "while ensuring a functional operational relationship." Federal agencies face challenges when attempting to use intelligence in a form that is admissible as evidence, said Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. "This is a long-standing issue considering that an accused individual cannot be tried based on evidence that cannot be disclosed to them in some fashion." CSIS, the RCMP and the Department of Justice are constantly working together to improve their intelligence gathering and on addressing national security threats, Power said. "By breaking down the silos that come to exist over time, the government is confident it will avoid future roadblocks and better manage litigation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
An apparent family of sabre-toothed cats with an unusual genetic quirk is providing new hints about how the predators lived tens of thousands of years ago. The ancient big cats, also known as sabre-toothed tigers and by their scientific name Smilodon fatalis, ranged through much of North and South America — including Canada — during the last ice age, but died out around 10,000 years ago. The new study by researchers at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto looked at fossils from nearly full-grown individuals that were about 132 and 141 kilograms respectively — roughly the size of a full-grown modern lion or tiger. But despite their huge size, it appeared they weren't quite ready for adult independence. "What we're seeing here is the first evidence to back up this idea that they were probably with their mother at two years old," said Ashley Reynolds, lead author of the research published this week in the journal iScience. That's unlike modern tigers that set out and establish their own territories at a similar stage of growth. Fossils excavated in the 1960s The fossils were among 4,000 from various animals excavated by Royal Ontario Museum researchers in Coralito, Ecuador in the 1960s from a site that was once a grassy, open forest area inhabited by giant ground sloths, camels, alpacas and the occasional fox. Because they were dug up so long ago, the researchers weren't sure how old they were, but it was between 150,000 and 11,000 years ago and probably in the range of 50,000 to 75,000 years ago, said Ashley Reynolds, lead author of the study. There were 58 Smilodon fossils in total, but it wasn't clear how many individuals they came from. Reynolds, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum, took a closer look, and found among them two lower left jaws that obviously belonged to two different individuals. They contained a full set of adult teeth that showed little signs of wear, suggesting the animals, while nearly fully grown, were adolescents about two years old — roughly equivalent to human teenagers. Tooth feature suggests fossils were related And both those individuals had an unusual feature — an extra premolar that is found in only five per cent of sabre-toothed cat jaws. Because it's so rare and the presence of an extra tooth is known to be genetic in other animals such as humans, and because the animals were of similar size and found together, the researchers proposed that the two individuals were from the same litter of cubs. "The coolest thing is that we have evidence that we have siblings," Reynolds said. "It's very, very, very rare that you find evidence of two fossils being related." And most of those cases, she said, involve eggs or newborns. Animals were likely social, not solitary Most of the other Smilodon bones found with the two cubs looked the right size to come from the same animals, except for one ulna — a forearm bone — that was larger and came from a mature adult. The researchers suggested that this was probably the cubs' mother, as modern cats are generally cared for by their mothers. She noted that when modern tigers are this close to being fully grown, they've already gone out and established their own territories. If these cubs were still with their mother, that would imply that sabre-toothed cats were more like lions — social animals that stay with their parents for longer than solitary tigers. Though commonly referred to as the sabre-toothed tiger, Smilodon is not actually closely related to modern-day big cats like tigers and lions. Reynolds noted that other studies suggest that Smilodon's huge, iconic sabre-like canines, used for hunting, took about two years to grow in. The juveniles may have relied on their family group until those had fully developed, she said. "We will never be able to go out and see a sabre-toothed cat in the wild," she said. But, based on interpretation of fossil evidence, she said, "it's pretty remarkable to think what we can tell about animals that have been gone for thousands of years." More study needed to verify assumptions Larisa DeSantis, a paleontologist who has studied sabretooth cats but was not involved in the study, said the paper is "thought provoking and raises several interesting hypotheses regarding the sociality of [sabre-toothed] cats." But DeSantis, an associate professor of biological sciences and earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., said the paper's conclusions rely on a lot of assumptions about the relatedness of the individuals that haven't been verified with techniques like DNA analysis or even radiocarbon dating to confirm they all died at the same time. "It would seem logical that saber-tooth cats would also [like lions] have an extended period of parental care; however, this is difficult to test with fossils," she said in an email. "Further study of these specimens may help bring additional clarity to the social behaviour of sabertooth cats." Reynolds said radiocarbon dating is tricky for fossils found at sites like Coralito, which is saturated in tar, and the likelihood of getting DNA out of fossils from this kind of environment is also low. But she said both techniques would be interesting to try. Margaret Lewis, a paleontologist who studies the evolution of meat-eating mammals and was also not involved in the research, said researchers' hypothesis that the cats were related and the conclusions drawn from that are all possible. "How probable it is, it's hard to say because it's one thing built on another," said Lewis, a professor at Stockton University in Galloway County, N.J. However, she said the ideas about how sabre-toothed cats grew will be interesting to test in future studies.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Vaccines from the West, Russia or China? Or none at all? That dilemma faces nations in southeastern Europe, where coronavirus vaccination campaigns are off to a slow start — overshadowed by heated political debates and conspiracy theories. In countries like the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria, vaccine skeptics have included former presidents and even some doctors. Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic was among those who said he did not want to be forced to get inoculated. False beliefs that the coronavirus is a hoax or that vaccines would inject microchips into people have spread in the countries that were formerly under harsh Communist rule. Those who once routinely underwent mass inoculations are deeply split over whether to get the vaccines at all. “There is a direct link between support for conspiracy theories and skepticism toward vaccination,” a recent Balkan study warned. “A majority across the region does not plan to take the vaccine, a ratio considerably lower than elsewhere in Europe, where a majority favours taking the vaccine.” Only about 200,000 people applied for the vaccine in Serbia, a country of 7 million, in the days after authorities opened the procedure. By contrast, 1 million Serbians signed up for 100 euros ($120) on the first day the government offered the pandemic aid. Hoping to encourage vaccinations, Serbian officials have gotten their shots on TV. Yet they themselves have been split over whether to get the Western-made Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Russia’s Sputnik V, more divisions in a country that is formally seeking European Union membership but where many favour closer ties with Moscow. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday greeted a shipment of 1 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, saying he will receive a shot to show that it is safe. “Serbs prefer the Russian vaccine,” read a recent headline of the Informer, a pro-government tabloid, as officials announced that 38% of those who have applied to take the shots favour the Russian vaccine, while 31% want the Pfizer-BioNTech version — a rough division among pro-Russians and pro-Westerners in Serbia. In neighbouring Bosnia, a war-torn country that remains ethnically divided among Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats, politics also are a factor, as the Serb-run half appeared set to opt for the Russian vaccine, while the Bosniak-Croat part likely will turn to the Western ones. Sasa Milovanovic, a 57-year-old real estate agent from Belgrade, sees all vaccines as part of the “global manipulation” of the pandemic. “People are locked up, they have no lives any longer and live in a state of hysteria and fear,” he said. Djokovic has said he was against being forced to take a coronavirus vaccine in order to travel and compete but was keeping his mind open. The top-ranked tennis player and his wife tested positive in June after a series of exhibition matches with zero social distancing that he organized in the Balkans. They and their foundation have donated 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to buy ventilators and other medical equipment for hospitals in Serbia. Serbian Health Ministry official Mirsad Djerlek has described the vaccine response as “satisfactory,” but cautioned on the state-run RTS broadcaster that “people in rural areas usually believe in conspiracy theories, and that is why we should talk to them and explain that the vaccine is the only way out in this situation.” A study by the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, published before the regional vaccination campaign started in December, concluded that virus conspiracy theories are believed by nearly 80% of citizens of the Western Balkan countries striving to join the EU. About half of them will refuse to get vaccinated, it said. Baseless theories allege the virus isn’t real or that it’s a bioweapon created by the U.S. or its adversaries. Another popular falsehood holds that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is using COVID-19 vaccines to implant microchips in the planet's 7 billion people. A low level of information about the virus and vaccines, distrust in governments and repeated assertions by authorities that their countries are besieged by foreigners help explain the high prevalence of such beliefs, according to the Balkans think-tank . Similar trends have been seen even in some eastern European Union countries. In Bulgaria, widespread conspiracy theories hampered past efforts to deal with a measles outbreak. Surveys there suggested distrust of vaccines remains high even as coronavirus cases keep rising. A recent Gallup International poll found that 30% of respondents want to get vaccinated, 46% will refuse and 24% are undecided. Bulgarian doctors have tried to change attitudes. Dr. Stefan Konstantinov, a former health minister, joked that people should be told neighbouring Greece would close resorts to tourists who don't get vaccinated, because “this would guarantee that some 70% of the population would rush to get a jab.” In the Czech Republic, where surveys show some 40% reject vaccination, protesters at a big rally against government virus restrictions in Prague demanded that vaccinations not be mandatory. Former President Vaclav Klaus, a fierce critic of the government's pandemic response, told the crowd that vaccines are not a solution. “They say that everything will be solved by a miracle vaccine,” said the 79-year-old Klaus, who insists that people should get exposed to the virus to gain immunity, which experts reject. “We have to say loud and clear that there’s no such a thing. … I am not going to get vaccinated.” Populist authorities in Hungary have taken a hard line against virus misinformation, but rejection of vaccines is still projected at about 30%. Parliament passed emergency powers in March that allows authorities to prosecute anyone deemed to be “inhibiting the successful defence” against the virus, including “fearmongering” or spreading false news. At least two people who criticized the government's response to the pandemic on social media were arrested, but neither was formally charged. Romanian Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu said he is relying on family doctors to “inform, schedule and monitor people after the vaccine” and that his ministry will offer bonuses to medical workers based on the number of people they get onboard. Asked if such incentives would fuel anti-vaccination propaganda, Voiculescu said: “I am interested more by the doctors’ view on the matter than I am about the anti-vaxxers.” Dr. Ivica Jeremic, who has worked with virus patients in Serbia since March and tested positive himself in November, hopes vaccination programs will gain speed once people overcome their fear of the unknown. "People will realize the vaccine is the only way to return to normal life,” he said. ___ Associated Press writers Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria; Karel Janicek in Prague, Czech Republic; Justin Spike in Budapest, Hungary; and Vadim Ghirda in Bucharest, Romania, contributed. —- Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Dusan Stojanovic And Jovana Gec, The Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — New satellite images of a refugee camp in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region show more than 400 structures have been badly damaged in what a research group believes is the latest “intentional attack” by fighters. The report by the U.K.-based DX Open Network non-profit, shared with The Associated Press, says “it is likely that the fire events of 16 January are yet another episode in a series of military incursions on the camp as reported by (the United Nations refugee agency).” The Shimelba camp is one of four that hosted 96,000 refugees from nearby Eritrea when fighting erupted in early November between Ethiopian forces and those of the defiant Tigray region. The fighting has swept through the camps and two of them, including Shimelba, remain inaccessible to aid workers. Many refugees have fled. On Thursday, U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi cited recent satellite imagery of fires and other destruction at the two inaccessible camps as “concrete indications of major violations of international law.” A U.N. refugee agency spokesman on Sunday morning did not immediately respond to questions about the latest reported attack. The new report says the satellite images show “smouldering ruins, blackening of structures and collapsed roofs.” The structures, it said, “match the profile of mud-brick dwellings constructed by the refugees themselves. The attackers likely split into multiple groups going door to door to set fires inside buildings," consistent with previous attacks on the Hitsats camp, which also is inaccessible. Neither the U.N. nor DX Open Network has blamed anyone for the attacks, but the presence of troops from Eritrea, a bitter enemy of the Tigray region’s now-fugitive leaders, has caused alarm. Grandi noted “many reliable reports and firsthand accounts” of abuses including the forced return of refugees to Eritrea. The day after Grandi’s statement, Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel tweeted that “UNHCR seems to indulge, yet again, in another bout of gratuitous & irresponsible smear campaigns against Eritrea.” He said Eritrea rejects the “forced repatriation of ‘refugees.'" Eritrea has been described by human rights groups as one of the world's most repressive countries. Thousands of people have fled the country over the years to avoid a system of military conscription. Fighting continues in parts of the Tigray region. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced. Cara Anna, The Associated Press