Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Grimsby council unanimously threw its support behind the inclusion of a theatre at the new soon-to-be-built West Niagara Secondary School (WNSS). Though there is no financial commitment, council voted in favour following a presentation by Friends of the Arts in West Niagara who are embarking on a $2.6-million fundraising campaign for the theatre. Matt Miller, principal of Grimsby Secondary School, presented the fundraiser to council at the Feb. 16 committee of the whole meeting, explaining the District School Board of Niagara has already allocated $4.2 million of the required $6.8 million needed to build the theatre. Miller said when fundraising starts, there will be printed material to inform the community, as well as a website for donations and contributions will be tax deductible. He said hopes to start fundraising “within the next couple weeks.” According to Miller, the proposed 750-seat venue will be attached to the school but also have separate entrances as it will not be limited to school use, but also available for rent to the community. A per-hour rate will be charged and the rate ranges from $0 to $135, depending on purpose. In his presentation, he said the community will not be responsible for any other costs associated with use of the facility, other than rental fees. WNSS is set to open in Beamsville in 2022. It will accommodate students from the now-closed South Lincoln Secondary School and soon-to-be-closed Grimsby Secondary and Beamsville District Secondary. Miller will come on as principal of WNSS as it takes on the role of a "superschool." The fundraising campaign has received letters of support from multiple members of the community, such as Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan, Lincoln and Grimsby Rotary clubs, the Grimsby Chamber of Commerce and former principal of Grimsby Secondary School Jim Heywood, among many others. Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
WABASCA-DESMARAIS, Alta. — RCMP have arrested a man on 15 sex charges in a remote northern Alberta community and say there could be more. Police say the allegations involve five women and took place between 2013 and 2018 in the Desmarais area, about 275 kilometres north of Edmonton. Mounties say they began investigating in December after receiving reports of sexual offences. Police say the suspect and the women know each other. Daniel Michael Balanger, who is 36, is charged with five counts of sexual assault, five counts of sexual interference and five counts of sexual exploitation. Balanger has been remanded in custody and is to appear in Desmarais provincial court on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
(CBC News file photo - image credit) New Brunswick's auditor general says the province has failed to address the increased demand for nursing homes. Kim Adair-MacPherson outlined her concerns Tuesday morning when she presented her report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. "My biggest concern is the lack of progress since we last did work on this area back in 2016," she told reporters after her report. And ready or not, she said, the province's "aging demographic is going to continue and double in New Brunswick." She told the committee that the number of seniors over the age of 75 would double by 2036 — something she warned the government about in her last report. "I was disappointed to find significant delays in the implementation of nursing home plans since our 2016 report," she said. This graph from the auditor general shows about half of all seniors on the waiting list for a nursing home are waiting in a hospital. "In my view, the province is failing to address the nursing home capacity demand. The province is not ready for the increase in seniors requiring placement in a residential facility." Although some beds have been added in the last few years, Adair-MacPherson said it's nowhere near enough. She said there continues to be long wait time for nursing home placements, which is causing added pressure and costs for hospitals, since about half of those seniors are waiting in hospitals. Adair-MacPherson was also critical in her report of the province's accountability. She called out the Department of Social Development on the accuracy of its status report on recommendations she made in 2016. Adair-MacPherson drew attention to three recommendations the department reported were "implemented." "But when we went in to examine the evidence to determine whether or not they had been implemented, we found something quite different … two have not been implemented and one has been partially implemented." Failing to implement nursing home plans and obtain the needed services for seniors will result in a crisis. - Kim Adair-MacPherson She told the standing committee on public accounts that "this is a concern." After presenting her report, Adair-MacPherson said it's now up to the committee to hold the government to account. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch said 2036 is a long way off, but "we're doing everything we can do today to answer the needs of the present and future 75-year-olds plus." He said his department plans to add another 600 nursing home beds over the next five years. It's also looking at a number of things "to answer those alarm bells that have been rung," including taking "advantage of the special care home beds that may be available," and working with other groups to try to keep seniors in their homes longer. The executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights said she was angry when she heard today's report from the Auditor General. "This is alarming," said Cecile Cassista. Cecile Cassista of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights says the province's lack of progress on a nursing home strategy is "alarming." "Governments day after day — and it's not just one government, it's all of them — basically, they make all these promises, but they don't have a vision to move the senior care forward." Cassista said there's been no progress since the Auditor General's last report in 2016. She said there were 72 on waiting lists in 2000 and now it's 817. "Nothing has changed. And the longer you languish in a hospital bed, you are depriving people opportunities to have their surgery, their other care, and you're also depriving these seniors from having a quality of life." Long-term strategy needed Adair-MacPherson said that while the Department of Social Development created a 10-year aging strategy in consultation with the Department of Health, it failed to develop an appropriate implementation plan. "Failing to implement nursing home plans and obtain the needed services for seniors will result in a crisis," she said. "A severe shortage of available placements will occur. Growing pressure on hospitals and related costs, and inadequate care for a growing number of vulnerable seniors will result." That, too, was mentioned in 2016, Adair-MacPherson reminded the committee. She said the plan isn't just about adding more beds. It should also include a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the increasing seniors population. While the department did develop two five-year plans — one from 2011-2016 and one from 2018-2023 — Adair-MacPherson said there hasn't been enough progress on either one of them. "Essentially," she said, "the province is failing to address nursing home capacity demand." PPP vs. traditional model She also said the province still hasn't done a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether public-private partnerships are more economical than the traditional non-profit model. It surfaced in her 2016 report as a recommendation after the province entered into a public-private partnership in 2008 to open 216 new nursing home beds. "That's a recommendation that we made quite some time ago and it has not yet been done," she said, even though the department reported that it was complete. Fitch said that analysis has been done, although maybe "not in the way the A.G. wanted it done." This slide from the auditor general's report shows how well the government has delivered on nursing home beds. And the answers may not be as clear as the Auditor General may have wanted either. She wants to know which approach is more efficient. Fitch said it depends. He said there are a lot of factors to consider and it's not as easy as picking one over the other without doing an analysis each time. "The scrutiny was done," said Fitch. "The A.G. didn't like the form that was put in. So we're saying, 'OK, if we need to formalize that some and put it into a form that, you know, satisfies the A.G., we're more than happy to do that." Some of the Auditor General's other findings, include: Millions of dollars in additional costs every year due to individuals waiting in hospital for a nursing home bed Percentage of acute care hospital days used by patients awaiting alternate care is higher than national average Only 428 of 704 new memory care beds under 2011-2016 plan completed Significant delays and potential additional costs in relation to Miramichi nursing homes. After 10 years and $11 million spent on repairs and financial assistance, two homes replaced in Miramichi, with 28 additional beds 2018-2023 Nursing Home Plan behind in adding new beds by at least two years Significant ongoing delays — system is failing to address nursing home capacity demand No targets to address services to growing numbers of seniors No implementation plan for Aging Strategy
WASHINGTON — She's guided the Senate through two impeachment trials, vexed Democrats and Republicans alike with parliamentary opinions and helped rescue Electoral College certificates from a pro-Trump mob ransacking the Capitol. She also does spot-on impersonations of senators including Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth MacDonough, an English literature major and the Senate's first woman parliamentarian, is about to demonstrate anew why she's one of Washington's most potent, respected yet obscure figures. Any day, she's expected to reveal if she thinks a federal minimum wage boost, progressives' most prized plank in Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, should fall from the bill. Her decision, a political minefield likely to elicit groans from whichever side she disappoints, will play an outsized role in deciding the wage increase's fate. It may not be definitive — majority Democrats might try overriding an opinion they don't like. “Elizabeth has a soul-crushing job, to which she brings an enormous amount of soul," said her predecessor, Alan Frumin, whom she replaced when he retired in 2012. Part of MacDonough's job, in which she's supposed to be nonpartisan, is enduring high-stakes lobbying from both parties when she's making pivotal decisions. But she’s found a home in the Capitol, where she’s spent most of the past three decades after starting as an assistant Senate librarian in 1990. “She knows the names of every police officer and janitor,” Frumin said. Sometimes, the pressure can be extraordinary. Frumin said that when the Senate was enacting former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law — which was opposed by Republicans and infuriated grassroots tea party conservatives — he had police protection at his home as a precaution. “And the political climate hasn’t gotten friendlier," he said. Even so, MacDonough, 55, has garnered high marks from both parties. Underscoring that, while she was initially appointed in 2012 by Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate majority leader at the time, she was retained by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., when he became majority leader in 2015. “She’s very solid. She listens to all the evidence,” Sanders, the independent Vermont senator and chief sponsor of the minimum wage proposal, said in a recent interview. “She is a brilliant lawyer, a thorough and fair referee and a walking encyclopedia of Senate precedent and procedure,” McConnell spokesman David Popp said Tuesday. She's also used the time to hone an ability to replicate the voices and cadence of several senators including Sanders, associates say. MacDonough's earned her reputation for fairness while helping steer the Senate through some of its highest-profile moments. Rulings she issued striking anti-abortion and other provisions from numerous failed GOP attempts to repeal Obama's health care law weakened their bills. She helped Chief Justice John Roberts preside over then-President Donald Trump's 2020 Senate impeachment trial, and was beside Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., for Trump's second trial this month. Trump was acquitted both times. And as Trump supporters fought past police and into the Capitol last month in hopes of disrupting Congress' certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, MacDonough and other staffers rescued those ballots and hustled mahogany boxes containing them to safety. MacDonough's office, on the Capitol's first floor, was ransacked and declared a crime scene. Raised by a single mother in the comfortable Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland, MacDonough graduated with an English literature degree from George Washington University. She began her Senate career in its library before leaving to get a law degree at Vermont Law School. She worked briefly as a Justice Department trial attorney before returning to the Senate in 1999, this time as an assistant in the parliamentarian’s office. Less than two years later, she helped Vice-President Al Gore preside over Congress’ certification of electoral ballots that sealed his own 2000 election defeat to George W. Bush. “It was very exciting and humbling,” MacDonough said in a Vermont Law School alumni profile. As Democrats begin pushing Biden’s sweeping relief package through Congress, they’re using a special procedure that shields the bill from Senate Republican filibusters, which require 60 votes to thwart. That's out of reach for Democrats in a 50-50 chamber they control with Vice-President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote. But Senate rules require that items in such a bill must have a substantial budget impact that is not “merely incidental” to the language’s main intended purpose. MacDonough has been meeting with Democrats who've tried persuading her that their minimum wage provision meets that test, and Republicans who've told her it doesn't. Democrats want to raise the federal floor, fixed at $7.25 hourly since 2009, to $15 over five years. The Senate usually heeds the parliamentarian's advice, which is whispered to the senator presiding over the chamber. But the majority party will on rare occasion force a vote to overrule the parliamentarian. If MacDonough decides the minimum wage hike should remain in the bill, it would likely survive because GOP opponents would need an unachievable 60 votes to remove it. But at least two Democrats have expressed opposition to the $15 proposal, so it still could be amended or even dropped. If MacDonough says it should be stricken, Democrats would have no chance of garnering 60 votes to overrule her. But they might choose the rarely utilized, hardball tactic of having the presiding officer, presumably Harris, ignore her and announce that the minimum wage language meets the test to stay in the overall legislation. That would force Republicans to find 60 votes to strip the provision, which they'd fail to do. Such a tactic is called the nuclear option because Democrats would be using their majority to muscle through rules changes, enraging Republicans and inviting a future tit-for-tat retaliation. Majority Democrats overruled MacDonough in 2013, eliminating filibusters for executive branch and most judicial nominees. In 2017, Republicans extended that to Supreme Court picks. “It was a stinging defeat that I tried not to take personally,” she said during a 2018 commencement speech at her law school. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
Le recrutement à l’international reste l’une des voies privilégiées par les entreprises et les sociétés québécoises afin de répondre à leurs besoins en manque de main-d ’œuvres professionnelles et ouvrières. L’Abitibi-Témiscamingue est l’une des régions qui souffre davantage de cette problèmqtique et son milieu d’affaires ne cesse pas de multiplier ses efforts afin de combler leurs besoins. « Depuis bientôt cinq (5) ans il nous a été impossible de combler nos besoins de main d’œuvre. Nos offres d’emploi sont publiées sur le site d’Emploi Québec et sur le site Guichet Emplois du Gouvernement du Canada. Nous constatons encore aujourd’hui que les besoins de main d’œuvre en Abitibi-Témiscamingue vont continuer d’augmenter. Nous avons donc à la fin de 2019 décidé d’avoir recours au recrutement international » nous explique la Vice-Présidente d’Agrimax à St-Bruno-de-Guigues, madame Madeleine Paquin. Jusqu’aux Philippines ! Plusieurs stratégies sont utilisées par les ressources humaines de ces sociétés et les directeurs des entreprises pour mieux cibler les compétences voulues et combler les postes vacants dans leurs départements. « En novembre 2019 nous avons donc entamer le processus via Solution Recrutement International, et, nous nous sommes rendus à Manille, capitale des Philippines, pour rencontrer des candidats potentiels. Nous avons alors retenu la candidature de deux d’entre eux pour occuper des postes de mécaniciens de machineries agricoles (lourdes) » indique madame Madeleine Paquin. Le défi de la bureaucratie… C’est la phase bureaucratique qui est la partie la plus complexe à gérer puisque le processus administratif de l’immigration et des vérifications prend beaucoup de temps. Généralement, les employeurs doivent s’armer d’une patience de fer avant de finir toutes les étapes et voir arriver leurs nouveaux recrus. « Les documents ont été signés sur place pour l’embauche de deux (2) d’entre eux pour un contrat de trois (3) ans. Nous avons donc donner le mandat à la firme SRI de procéder aux démarches pour leur venu au Canada. À ce moment-là on nous avait dit que nous pourrions espérer leur arrivée en juin ou au plus tard en septembre 2021 » ajoute la Vice-Présidente. Toujours en attente Bien que les entreprises engagent parfois des firmes spécialisées en recrutement, ils tiennent à faire un suivi de près auprès de leurs futurs employés. « Nous sommes en communication régulièrement avec Mark et Ruel, ils ont tous deux très hâte de rejoindre l’équipe d’Agrimax. Nous sommes toujours en attente d’une confirmation de leur arrivé; Ruel en est à l’étape finale du processus soit l’obtention de son visa; pour Mark il reste certains examens à compléter et, il attend toujours la communication de l’IRCC pour remettre son passeport et ensuite obtenir son visa » poursuit-elle. Les services essentiels d’abord ! « On comprend que la fameuse COVID-19 est venu brouiller les cartes. Selon nos informations le gouvernement traite en priorité les personnes devant travailler pour des services essentiels. Nous avons récemment pu faire valoir qu’Agrimax offre des services essentiels aux entreprises agricoles, et, espérons que nous aurons été entendus » conclut-elle. Moulay Hicham Mouatadid, Initiative de journalisme local, Reflet Témiscamien (Le)
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Public health officials say a second person has died in connection with a COVID-19 outbreak at a North Bay, Ont., apartment building where a variant of the virus has been found. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says the person who died had tested positive for a variant of concern. The health unit says 42 people have contracted COVID-19 in the building outbreak, including 27 who have tested positive for a variant. The variant first detected in South Africa has been detected in one case, while the specific variant strains in the other cases have yet to be determined. The health unit announced the first death in the outbreak just a week after it was declared on Feb. 8. The district is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 variant cases, which the health unit says is particularly worrying because variants spread more easily. North Bay is one of only three regions in Ontario that remain under a stay-at-home order. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
A Mosquito First Nation woman arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit was scheduled to enter a plea Monday but instead asked the court for an adjournment. Rae Ahenakew, 40, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court by phone on Feb. 22 and asked that her matter be adjourned to March 8. Ahenakew and three others were arrested last September during a traffic stop in North Battleford on Railway Avenue. According to Sgt. Adam Buckingham from the Battlefords General Investigation Section, the North Battleford Gang Task Force initiated a traffic stop on two vehicles after they noticed the occupants appeared to be interacting with one another. Police didn’t specify what the interaction was but say one of the occupants was known to police and had an outstanding arrest warrant. Police noticed weapons in one of the vehicles and arrested the four occupants from both vehicles. They searched the vehicles and found a firearm, a Taser, weapons, cocaine, meth and marijuana. Ahenakew is charged with possession of cocaine and meth for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm in a vehicle, and obstructing a police officer. Shynia Skeavington, 24, of Mosquito First Nation, is charged with possession of cocaine and meth for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm in a vehicle, three counts of failing to comply with a probation order, two counts of failing to comply with conditions of a release order, and two counts of possession of a weapon. Skeavington appears next in court on March 17. Matthew Greer, 34, of Biggar, is charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and operation of a vehicle while prohibited. Greer had an appearance in North Battleford Provincial Court on Feb. 22. Desiree Hinse, 24, of Biggar, pleaded guilty in North Battleford Provincial Court on Feb. 8, 2021, to carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a prohibited weapon, obstruction of a peace officer, unlawful possession of a substance, driving while prohibited, and failing to comply with conditions. Hinse will be sentenced on March 22. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island announced the start of a COVID-19 testing pilot project Tuesday for travellers arriving in the province by air. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters the four-week project will assess the feasibility of using rapid tests on travellers. Air travellers will have two swabs taken when they land on the Island: one for a rapid test and another that will be sent for confirmation at a provincial laboratory. Morrison said the test on arrival does not exclude travellers from the mandatory 14-day isolation period for people arriving from outside the province. She said authorities are looking to detect COVID-19 cases among travellers more quickly. Morrison said it would likely be at least six weeks before conditions in the Atlantic region are stable enough to allow for travel within the four-province bubble that existed until rising case numbers ended it in November. She said the province is looking closely at other jurisdictions as they loosen restrictions to monitor the spread of various variants of the virus. No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in P.E.I. on Tuesday, leaving just one active reported infection. The province has had a total of 115 cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — An isolation centre where migrant farm workers in southwestern Ontario recover from COVID-19 may have to close next month due to a funding shortfall created by a shift in federal support. In a letter to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, the mayor of Windsor, Ont., says a decision by Ottawa to shift responsibility for the centre's funding from one government department to another resulted in $2 million in costs not being covered. That means the city, which already pays to staff the centre located at a local hotel would have to take on additional costs it can't afford as pandemic expenses continue to mount. "The City of Windsor has been forced to consider if we are able to continue with this temporary foreign worker isolation and recovery centre," Mayor Drew Dilkens said in his letter on Feb. 17. When the centre first opened in November, the program was funded through Public Safety Canada, and administered by the Canadian Red Cross. In December, the federal government notified the city it would shift funding to the Public Health Agency of Canada, and required the local officials to complete a new application form. During the lengthy application process, Dilkens said it became clear that a 12 per cent fee paid to the Red Cross to administer the centre would not be covered and the city would be on the hook for it. He said additional new criteria from the public health agency would require the centre to shift its mandate and make its services available to the general public. Dilkens said the city already maintains a second centre for the homeless and people in vulnerable communities and adding new "complexities" of an additional open site would require further resources. In his letter to Hajdu, he proposes a compromise - grandfathering the current agreement and conditions into the new terms with Public Health Canada. "Should (public health) reject these modest amendments, included in our application, then the City of Windsor will not be in a position to accept any grant funding and the (isolation centre) will close at the end of March 2021," he wrote. The city's chief administrative officer also wrote the federal public health agency last week to make the case for maintaining the current funding arrangement. Onorio Colucci said the city is projecting a $38-million budget shortfall this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that does not include the additional costs for the isolation centre. "The current funding for the isolation and recovery centre will end on March 31, 2021, but the need for this site remains," Colucci said. "We expect site usage to grow in the coming weeks as the region welcomes thousands of temporary foreign agri-farm workers ... this spring." He said the isolation centre has been used by 490 farm workers who have contracted COVID-19. Health Canada did not immediately provide comment. Thousands of migrant workers take up jobs at Ontario farms and greenhouses every spring. During the first wave of the pandemic, dozens of farm outbreaks were reported across the province. More than 1,780 temporary foreign workers in Ontario tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020, and three died of the virus. NDP MP Brian Masse, who represents a Windsor riding, said he can't understand why the previous arrangement needs to change. "It seems like an incredible amount of effort to sabotage something that was really working well," he said. Masse said if the federal government allows the centre to close it will likely have to set up some kind of alternative in the months ahead, and that will cost time, money and possibly lives. "We had people die by themselves in hotel rooms," he said. "So, we know we have a record of heartbreak, sorrow and regret. .... I think we're going to be liable in different ways." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Deux écoles primaires du Centre de services scolaire de (CSS) de Laval ont été complétement fermées en raison de la possible présence de variants de la COVID-19. En effet, la direction de santé publique de Laval a informé l'organisation scolaire de la suspicions de variants dans ces établissements. L'école primaire Eurêka, située dans Pont-Viau, sera fermée du 23 au 26 février pour l'ensemble des élèves. L'un des groupes, qui était déjà en isolement, retournera plutôt sur les bancs d'école à la suite de la relâche scolaire. De son côté, l'école Père-Vimont sera inaccessible jusqu'au 7 mars. Celle-ci est déjà fermée depuis le 18 février en raison du portrait épidémiologique. Notons que la direction de santé publique de Laval a recommandé à l'ensemble des élèves et du personnel de ces écoles de procéder à un dépistage préventif. Il est aussi demandé que les membres de la bulle familiale de ces personnes demeurent en isolement à la maison jusqu'à ce que l'élève ou l'employé obtienne un résultat négatif. Bien qu'un risque de transmission d'un variant ait été rapporté à l'école primaire de l'Équinoxe, dans Sainte-Rose, seuls les deux groupes touchés ont été mis en isolement préventif. Ils ne retourneront pas dans les installations de l'établissement avant la relâche scolaire. L'édifice principal de l'école secondaire Saint-Maxime, dans Chomedey, a aussi été fermé jusqu'au 7 mars, ce qui touche 63 groupes de l'établissement. Deux groupes avaient préalablement été placés en isolement du 16 au 18 février. 18 classes additionnelles ont aussi été fermées le 21 février en raison d'un risque de transmission d'un variant. La dernière étape, qui implique la fermeture complète de l'édifice principal, est une «mesure d'extrême prudence». L'édifice annexe, qui accueille 14 groupes de secondaires 1 et 2, demeurera quant à lui ouvert. L'édifice 2 de l'école primaire de l'Arc-en-ciel, dans Laval-des-Rapides, sera également fermé jusqu'au 28 février. Aucun risque de transmission d'un variant n'a toutefois été détecté à cette école. Par ailleurs, François Legault a annoncé que la vaccination de masse débutera la semaine prochaine à l'échelle de la province. Les personnes de 85 ans et plus, ou née en 1936, pourront prendre rendez-vous dès jeudi en ligne ou via téléphone au 1 877 644-4545. Le premier ministre a mentionné que cette opération débutera à Montréal et s'étendra aux autres régions au fil des prochaines semaines. Rappelons que trois centres de vaccination devraient être ouverts prochainement sur le territoire lavallois et qu'ils permettront de vacciner au moins 3000 personnes par jour. Avec un bilan de 24 212 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 66 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès augmente à 866 depuis le début de la pandémie. Le CISSS de Laval cumule également 22 607 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 739 cas actifs (-39) confirmés sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 34 sont hospitalisées, dont 13 aux soins intensifs. 15 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Trois résidence privée pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 283 666 cas et 10 330 décès. Au total, 680 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 120 aux soins intensifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
FERGUS – The Township of Centre Wellington is seeking public input on design concepts for St. David Street in downtown Fergus. Colin Baker, managing director of infrastructure, said at a Monday meeting that a stretch of St. David Street, from St. Andrew Street to Edinburgh Avenue, is scheduled for a full reconstruction in 2023. He explained the town will be leveraging the province’s connecting links funding, which can cover up to 90 per cent of costs to repair a municipal road that connects two ends of a highway, in this case Highway 6. Beyond that, Baker said the township is taking that opportunity to look at how the road is designed to better meet the needs of the public and complete streets policy from the township’s transportation master plan. This could include widening sidewalks, streetscape visual improvements, reduction in parking spaces, bike lanes or any combination of these. “What we’re really looking at is what the future vision for this road is,” Baker said at the meeting. Council was presented four options for information purposes ahead of the public engagement period. The first option is to match the existing design which would maintain 14 highly used on-street parking spots, maintain the same traffic flow but not improve active transportation or the visual appeal. The second option would increase the sidewalk width which would provide a better visual look with new trees and lighting and increase vehicle width but all parking spots would be removed. Option three would keep on-street parking between St. Andrew and St. Patrick and then widen the sidewalk north of these streets bringing the benefits of both. Option four suggests separated cycling lanes from St. Andrew to Hill Street and an unseparated bike lane for the rest of the stretch. This would mean a reduction to four parking spaces and vehicle lane width. Adam Gilmore, manager of engineering, said option four is in-line with their complete streets policy and cycling lanes are justified given the average daily traffic volumes. Gilmore said, as noted in other municipalities, narrower lanes can have a traffic calming effect. Baker explained the next steps are to get these concepts out for public input through advisory committees, a landing page on connectCW, advertising and meetings with the Ministry of Transportation. They will then take the feedback and come to council with a recommendation at a later date. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
(Michael Hugall/CBC - image credit) Yellowknife city councillors have voted to spend $1.8 million in federal money on projects they say will reduce homelessness and address its root causes. With strict rules for how the COVID-19 homelessness funding can be spent, Yellowknife city councillors chose to target some of the root causes of homelessness. City council decided to allocate $370,438 to initiatives including a land-based program run by Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and $100,000 for community hunts. Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve the funding allocations recommended by the city's Community Advisory Board on Homelessness. The allocations include both regular funding from the federal government's Reaching Home initiative for 2021-22, as well as a special allocation tied to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home," said Coun. Stacie Smith, acknowledging that the money won't create new housing. She said initiatives like the YKDFN land-based program recognize the importance of culture. Smith said the advisory board on homelessness consulted non-governmental organizations on their needs and allocated money to programs like Housing First, which helps people who are chronically homeless access services and private market housing. Housing First will receive $900,000 from the two federal pots of money. The women's shelter will get $25,000. Other homelessness prevention and diversion initiatives will get $219,000. 'There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home,' said Yellowknife city councillor Stacie Smith. The on-the-land program will be open to people experiencing homelessness in Yellowknife. The COVID-19 spending will support food and breakfast programs, such as those offered by the YWCA, which is set to receive $10,000. As the city debated how to spend almost $2 million from the federal government, it realized it would not be able to put the money into permanent housing. Mayor Rebecca Alty said earlier this month that a major reason the money couldn't go toward more permanent housing projects is that the "federal directives are quite restrictive and the money has to be spent so quickly." Smith said despite this, the city can support programs that recognize the needs of the tight-knit community of people facing homelessness — some of whom return to shelters after they are put into housing. "We can provide as many roofs, apartments for people to stay, but if we're not getting to the root of why they're in the situation that they're in, there will always be homelessness," said Smith. "We found other opportunities where we could put our energies to assist them in those holistic methods that might reach them a lot better than the norm." City to give feds feedback Alty said the city will give the federal government feedback, including its criticism that tight timelines kept the city from putting the money toward permanent housing initiatives. The federal objectives for the Reaching Home COVID-19 funding program are to extend COVID-19 measures for people experiencing homelessness, to find permanent housing for people in temporary housing, and to divert people away from becoming homeless or entering the shelter system.
(Yoskri Mimouna/Radio-Canada - image credit) In the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government spent at least $61 million to help public servants adapt to working from home, according to an analysis by Radio-Canada. The amount is likely higher because some departments including Global Affairs Canada haven't released their spending figures. According to Radio-Canada, the majority of the money that has been reported was used to equip workers with computers and office furniture needed to work from home. The spending doesn't include salaries. As one example, the Department of National Defence provided employees with 960 chairs, 9,896 laptops, 33,000 VPN connections and 110,000 accounts for Microsoft Office 365. The department also allowed each employee to spend $300 on smaller office items. By comparison, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Crown corporation, granted its employees a monthly allowance of $80. "What worries us the most is whether there were duplicate or triplicate expenses," Renaud Brossard, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's director for Quebec, told Radio-Canada in a French-language interview. Brossard is concerned some of that money might have been spent on items that could have been picked up from the office, and said the government needs to keep tabs on all that equipment once the pandemic is over and workers return to their cubicles. Resources stretched thin: unions But Geneviève Tellier, a professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa, cautioned taxpayers to be understanding in these exceptional circumstances. "It is possible that there were mistakes, that we paid too much," Tellier said in French. But according to unions representing federal public servants, even with all the costs, resources for teleworkers are still stretched thin. "We are experiencing technical problems, such as VPNs failing," said the Public Service Alliance of Canada's Alex Silas. Stéphane Aubry of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) said some departments "have not provided much equipment" to their employees. According to PIPSC, some 200,000 federal public servants are working from home during the pandemic. According to Radio-Canada's analysis, the government has also spent more than $26 million on safety measures for workplaces that have continued to function throughout the pandemic. The costs included installing signs and Plexiglas shields.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Interior Department faced sharp questions from Republicans Tuesday over what several called her “radical” ideas that include opposition to fracking and the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman named to lead the Interior Department, tried to reassure GOP lawmakers, saying she is committed to “strike the right balance” as Interior manages oil drilling and other energy development while seeking to conserve public lands and address climate change. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. Native Americans see her nomination as the best chance to move from consultation on tribal issues to consent and to put more land into the hands of tribal nations either outright or through stewardship agreements. The Interior Department has broad oversight over nearly 600 federally recognized tribes as well as energy development and other uses for the nation’s sprawling federal lands. “The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me,? Haaland testified. “Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans — moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.? Haaland's hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was adjourned after nearly 2 1/2 hours and will resume Wednesday. Under questioning from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the panel's chairman, Haaland said the U.S. will continue to rely on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas even as it moves toward Biden’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to clean energy “is not going to happen overnight,” she said. Manchin, who is publicly undecided on Haaland’s nomination, appeared relieved, saying he supports “innovation, not elimination” of fossil fuels. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was less impressed. He displayed a large chart featuring a quote from last November, before Haaland was selected to lead Interior, in which she said: “If I had my way, it'd be great to stop all gas and oil leasing on federal and public lands." If confirmed as Interior secretary, "you will get to have it your way,'' Daines told Haaland. She replied that Biden's vision — not hers — will set the course for Interior. "It is President Biden's agenda, not my own agenda, that I will be moving forward,'' Haaland said, an answer she repeated several times. While Biden imposed a moratorium on oil and gas drilling on federal lands — which doesn’t apply to tribal lands — he has repeatedly said he does not oppose fracking. Biden rejected the long-pIanned Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Haaland also faced questions over her appearance at protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota before she was elected to Congress in 2018. Haaland said she went there in solidarity with Native American tribes and other “water protectors” who “felt they were not consulted in the best way'' before the multi-state oil pipeline was approved. Asked by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., if she would oppose a renewal of the pipeline permit, Haaland said she would first ensure that tribes are properly consulted. She told Hoeven she also would "listen to you and consult with you.'' Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the GOP questions over oil drilling and pipelines revealed a partisan divide in the committee. “I almost feel like your nomination is this proxy fight about the future of fossil fuels," Cantwell said, adding that Haaland had made clear her intention to carry out Biden’s clean-energy agenda. She and other Democrats “very much appreciate the fact that you’re doing that, and that’s what I think a president deserves with his nominee,'' Cantwell said. In her opening statement, Haaland told lawmakers that as the daughter of a Pueblo woman, she learned early to value hard work. Her mother is a Navy veteran and worked for a quarter-century at the Bureau of Indian Education, an Interior Department agency. Her father was a Marine who served in Vietnam. He received the Silver Star and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. “As a military family, we moved every few years ... but no matter where we lived, my dad taught me and my siblings to appreciate nature, whether on a mountain trail or walking along the beach,'' Haaland said. The future congresswoman spent summers with her grandparents in a Laguna Pueblo village. “It was in the cornfields with my grandfather where I learned the importance of water and protecting our resources and where I gained a deep respect for the Earth,'' she said. Haaland pledged to lead the Interior Department with honour and integrity and said she will be “a fierce advocate for our public lands.” She promised to listen to and work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and ensure that decisions are based on science. She also vowed to “honour the sovereignty of tribal nations and recognize their part in America’s story.'' Some Democrats and Native American advocates called the frequent description of Haaland as “radical” a loaded reference to her tribal status. “That kind of language is sort of a dog whistle for certain folks that see somebody who is an Indigenous woman potentially being in a position of power,” said Ta’jin Perez with the group Western Native Voice. In an op-ed in USA Today, former Sens. Mark and Tom Udall said Haaland's record "is in line with mainstream conservation priorities. Thus, the exceptional criticism of Rep. Haaland and the threatened holds on her nomination must be motivated by something other than her record.'' Mark Udall is an ex-Colorado senator, while cousin Tom Udall just retired as a New Mexico senator. Tom Udall's father, Stewart, was Interior secretary in the 1960s. Daines called the notion of racial overtones in his remarks outrageous. “I would love to see a Native American serve in the Cabinet. That would be a proud moment for all of us in this country. But this is about her record and her views,” he said in an interview. National civil rights groups have joined forces with tribal leaders and environmental groups in supporting Haaland. A letter signed by nearly 500 national and regional organizations calls her “a proven leader and the right person to lead the charge against the existential threats of our time,'' including climate change and racial justice issues on federal lands. ___ Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Microsoft Corp has notified 60 customers that their data was likely compromised in the suspected Russian hacking campaign centered on Texas-based software firm SolarWinds Corp, the company’s president told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. In prepared remarks, Microsoft's Brad Smith told the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the company believed some of the methods the hackers used to break into target networks have yet to be made public and that “the attacker may have used up to a dozen different means of getting into victim networks during the past year.” Smith said that several other organizations – including unidentified foreign government agencies – had also been breached.