Jude the French Bulldog is ecstatic with his new paddling pool!
Jude the French Bulldog is ecstatic with his new paddling pool!
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. — Attorneys for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are striking back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county. Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanour counts of wilful neglect of duty. He was indicted by a Genesee County judge who sat as a grand juror and considered evidence presented by prosecutors. “Neither of these allegations of non-feasance, or failure to act, occurred while the former Governor was in the City of Flint. At all times set forth in the Indictment, our client was the presiding governor of the State of Michigan with the Executive Office of the Governor located at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing,” attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to prosecutors. The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence possessed by prosecutors, a typical step by the defence in a criminal case. Lennon indicated in the letter that he soon would formally ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the former Republican governor. Snyder was one of nine people charged in a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism. The city, under Snyder-appointed emergency managers, used the Flint River for drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Separately, the water was blamed by some experts for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which killed at least 12 people in the area and sickened dozens more. ___ White reported from Detroit. Ed White And David Eggert, The Associated Press
The COVID-19 pandemic could be the catalyst for much-needed reform of the World Health Organization just as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 forced urgent changes at the U.N. nuclear agency, an independent review panel said on Tuesday. The panel, set up to investigate the global response to the coronavirus, said the WHO is underpowered, underfunded and required fundamental reform to give it the resources it needs to respond more effectively to deadly disease outbreaks. "We are not here to assign blame, but to make concrete recommendations to help the world respond faster and better in future," the panel's co-chair, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told a news briefing.
The Spanish soccer federation suspended Lionel Messi for two matches on Tuesday after he hit an opponent in an incident away from the ball in the Spanish Super Cup final. The Barcelona forward was facing a suspension of up to 12 matches for swinging his arm at an Athletic Bilbao player at the end of the team's 3-2 loss on Sunday. The federation’s competition committee did not deem the incident to be severe and applied a less severe penalty against the player. After passing the ball out to the left flank, Messi swung his right arm at the head of Athletic forward Asier Villalibre as they ran toward the box. Villalibre immediately fell to the ground and after a video review, Messi was given his first red card in 753 appearances for Barcelona. Referee Gil Manzano said in his match report that Messi hit his opponent with “excessive force” while the ball was not near him. Messi will miss Barcelona's match against third-division club Cornellà in the Copa del Rey and against Elche in the Spanish league. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(ANNews) – Alexis Nakota Sioux Chief Tony Alexis is criticizing the vaccine roll out in Alberta. In November 2020, The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released preliminary guidance on the key populations for early COVID-19 vaccinations, “for the efficient, effective, and equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine(s).” The NACI guidance came because of the limited supply of the vaccines which necessitates that there be “prioritization of immunization in some populations earlier than others.” The key populations in Stage 1 of the national vaccine rollout, which were identified by the NACI, are as follows: Residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors. Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit by 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available. Health care workers (including all those who work in health care settings and personal support workers whose work involves direct contact with patients). And adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences. On January 19, Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Tony Alexis, condemned the Alberta Government for its handling and distribution of its COVID vaccines. "Provinces across Canada are following the NACI guidance and vaccinating Indigenous communities early, with other populations like the elderly identified as vulnerable,” said Chief Alexis. “Meanwhile in Alberta under Minister [of Health] Shandro’s watch, First Nation communities are seeing case numbers rapidly rise, while the rest of the Alberta COVID numbers decline.” Alarmingly, First Nations in Alberta have experienced the most on-reserve COVID cases in the entire country. At the time of writing, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) lists Alberta as having 4,086 confirmed cases within First Nations. A few days ago, it was also reported that Maskwacis has had a total of 1,573 cases – nearly 10 percent of its entire population. Chief Tony Alexis continued by saying, “after weeks of discussions and ‘consultation’ with Chiefs across Alberta – the government of Alberta deceived us and made special arrangements to distribute vaccines early to only one First Nation community. There was no direct communication for this action beforehand.” “This behaviour belittles First Nations people and is a tactic that has been historically used by the government to divide Indigenous people in an attempt to pit us against one another.” “Please know, my outrage is not directed to the community receiving the vaccine early, it is directed to Minister Shandro and the UCP government,” Chief Alexis emphasized. “I am tired of being consulted and urged to work together when it truly does not matter. The UCP government continues to leave us in the dark on issues that directly and disproportionately affect Indigenous people.” The Chief ended his statement by urging Minister Shandro that 10,000 doses would not be enough and that they need to comply with the NACI’s guidance. Then just yesterday, Jason Kenney announced that the provincial government’s plan to vaccinate First Nations and Métis individuals aged 65 and older, which was expected to begin in February, has been put on hold until further notice. “We have quite simply run out of supply,” Kenney said at a press conference. Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Native News. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
Huronia West OPP were called to a collision between a farm tractor driven by Springwater resident Teunis Ploeg, 84, and a motorcycle driven by David Ball, 64, of Essa Township on July 10. The bike and tractor collided on Highway 26 near Horseshoe Valley Road shortly before 1:30 p.m. Ball was thrown from his motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene. As a result of the police investigation, Ploeg has been charged with Careless Driving Causing Death and could face provincial fines up to $50,000 and/or up to two years in prison. Ploeg is scheduled to appear in Provincial Offences Court in Wasaga Beach on March 2, 2021. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Huronia West OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is an anonymous tip line; contributors don’t testify and could receive a cash reward up to $2,000. As a result of the police investigation, Ploeg has been charged with Careless Driving Causing Death and could face provincial fines up to $50,000 and/or up to two years in prison. Ploeg is scheduled to appear in Provincial Offences Court in Wasaga Beach on March 2, 2021. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Tiny Township residents can expect a 1% blended tax rate increase for this year. The decision was forwarded to the next meeting after hours of deliberation at Monday's budget meeting. Where a majority easily agreed on the option, one council member expressed some concerns. A blended tax rate is achieved after incorporating the county and education tax rates. "I’m not comfortable with 1%," said Coun. Tony Mintoff, adding he also wasn't comfortable sacrificing important projects to find the $400,000 to keep the township's tax rate increase at zero per cent. "Based on that, I will reluctantly agree to a 1% blended rate increase." Council approved $70,000 in salary for a full-time human resource person. Staff pointed out that there may yet be savings in this line item once recommendations from the North Simcoe services operations review comes forward in March. Further, even if the township hires an independent HR staff member, the $70,000 annual salary will not be realized in full for this year. Then council found $30,000 in savings by directing staff to take out the extra ask for arena use from the Town of Penetanguishene. "It’s my understanding the recreation master plan had created the recommendation that fulsome discussion be held with all three municipalities that provide arena facilities to us," said Mintoff. "Given the fact that hasn’t happened yet, my recommendation would be to remove the $30,000 that was asked by Penetang, subject to the discussions to take place in 2021." Agreeing with staff, council decided to delay the purchase of a vehicle for the parks department, instead moving the $70,000 to reserve funds. At the end of the day, staff was sent back to find efficiencies in departments or seek out projects that could be delayed to make up for the $8,500 in funding gap that still remains if the tax rate is to be set at 1%. Other budget approvals include a 6% increase in funds to be moved to the municipal infrastructure reserves. As well, council approved a 1% cost of living increase for staff wages, despite Mintoff's suggestion to the contrary so the township could show solidarity with residents who had suffered through the pandemic. "This has been a very difficult year financially for a lot of our residents," he said. "The majority that live in the private sector world and those who live on retirement income. I’m pleased we were able to maintain full employment for our staff, so I think it would be inappropriate and insensitive of us to consider any kind of increase in wages. My recommendation would be to remove this salary increase from the budget." Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma disagreed with his peer. "I can 100% justify the cost," he said. "When you look at municipal employees as a whole, there’s very little you can do in terms of incentives. There are no bonuses and there’s no additional time off you can get. I know there’s been a CPP increase this year. If we’re going to take a look at our retirees being affected, we have to back it up with quantitative evidence as well. "If a statement needs to be made in terms of leadership, then I’d be in favour of council taking no increase," added Walma. "The savings can be donated to a local charity. Or the council could take the 1% increase and donate it back to the municipality into the bursary program." Other council members agreed with his suggestion. And so did Mintoff. "I have no issue with council taking zero per cent increase," he said. "Speaking about council’s initiative to raise our rate of pay for staff from 50th percentile to the 55th percentile, how much did that bumping up of salaries cost? "I believe it was several hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t want my comments to be misconstrued that we don’t value our staff, but I believe we pay them above a comparative group. I don’t want staff watching to think they don’t deserve fair recognition and compensation for what they do." Staff will now bring back a third and possibly final draft of the 2021 budget at a meeting next month. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
MADRID — Atlético Madrid appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday to suspend Kieran Trippier’s ban for breaching betting rules. Atlético filed its appeal to CAS a day after FIFA rejected the Spanish club’s attempt to keep the ban imposed on the defender by the English Football Association from being applied worldwide. The England international was punished by the FA for passing information on his 2019 transfer from Tottenham to Atletico to be used by friends to bet on. Spanish league leader Atlético succeeded two weeks ago in getting FIFA to pause Trippier’s 10-week ban that was imposed in December and runs through Feb. 28. As it stands, Trippier would miss nine more games, including the Champions League fixture against Chelsea in the round of 16 on Feb. 23. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Ninety per cent of physicians would feel comfortable getting immunized against COVID-19 today, if they could. That’s according to Doctors Manitoba vaccination survey, which saw 507 physicians respond — 75 per cent of whom are in the Winnipeg region. Some physicians indicated they would wait to allow those "more at risk" to get immunized first, according to the survey. "I would say no to the vaccine today, because I think there’s others who need it first. But I do want it when there’s enough to go around," stated one physician. Overall, physicians are supportive of the vaccine and are eager to participate in its delivery, said Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba and a rheumatologist who works at the Manitoba Clinic. Conversations with the province have begun, he said. Included in the survey results shared with media is a public poll which found that 90 per cent of people would be willing to go to their physician’s office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Baillie said that’s because doctors know their patients’ histories and patients trust them. Baillie also said vaccine hesitancy does exist, and the main concerns relate to how quickly vaccines have been developed, as well as there not being a lot of resources and educational material related to them. Social media hasn’t helped in that regard. "There’s no end to different theories that are available on different social media sites. Talk to your physician. Talk to a health-care provider who you can trust to get appropriate information," he said. "These vaccines were studied and are safe and our future out of the pandemic is going to be essential on getting enough Manitobans immunized." According to the survey, doctors want more information about vaccines regarding safety and effectiveness. "In the survey, and one of the things I found particularly helpful about it, was that they outlined what types of tools physicians would find most useful when it comes to vaccine information," Dr. Joss Reimer said at Monday’s provincial news conference. Reimer is a member of Manitoba’s vaccination task force. "We’re going to take the information that they provided and take that back to the task force, to start looking at how we might be able to develop, in partnership, some of those tools, because we absolutely want our physicians, our nurses, our pharmacists, and all of our other immunizers to have every tool that they need to provide accurate information to their patients, to their clients, and to help inform Manitobans about this vaccine to demonstrate how safe and effective it is," she said. Tools include fact sheets and brochures, frequently asked questions, posters, webinars, videos and podcasts. Reimer also noted that for those few patients where there might be some risks that need to be considered, it’s important physicians have the tools to be able to have that conversation with them. The Doctors Manitoba survey results can be read at bit.ly/3sDHXSU Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Those surprised at U.S. president-elect Joe Biden’s intention to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit might want to take a look at the incoming administration’s plans for environmental justice. In addition to Biden openly vowing to cancel the controversial project if he won office, the pipeline has faced stiff opposition from some U.S. tribes. Ignoring these Indigenous groups in the context of fossil fuel development would seem to go against Biden’s “climate crisis strategy,” specifically designed to support tribes as well as states and territories. Experts say if Biden follows through with his intention to kill Keystone XL, it should be seen in this broader context, as the incoming U.S. administration gets set to put Biden’s overarching “plan to secure environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity” into motion. “Climate justice is the idea that, rather than just looking at climate change as just an environmental or physical issue, it recognizes there are so many aspects to it that are also related to justice,” said Lindsey Bacigal, director of communications at Indigenous Climate Action, in an interview. “Capitalism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, anti-migrant sentiment, Islamophobia, anti-Indigenous sentiment, racism — all these things really help to uphold climate change, rather than work to fix it,” she said. “Rather than looking at these systems of power that have got us to where we are right now, how is it that we can work from the grassroots up, rather than from the top down?” Bacigal said ending Keystone XL would be “far from the only fight — it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but we’re far away from climate justice yet.” Environmental justice addresses the fact that in many parts of the world, the places where pollution is generated, toxic chemicals are processed or garbage is dumped tend to be near marginalized or low-income communities. Often, these communities have no power over the fact that they are exposed to threats to their health or safety. Environmental justice seeks to ensure that no community should be forced to endure this kind of exposure just because of its particular demographic makeup. The Biden campaign pivoted towards this approach after the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated “how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of colour,” it stated in its plan. The administration intends to direct 40 per cent of clean energy spending towards “disadvantaged communities” to address the idea that “communities of colour and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades.” The plan says the administration will use a “climate and economic justice screening tool” to identify which communities are disadvantaged or “threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution.” The president-elect’s team has picked Cecilia Martinez, for example, the co-founder and executive director of the Minneapolis-based Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy, to be senior director for environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Also joining the team is Stefanie Feldman, who was national policy director for the campaign, worked on Biden’s climate plan and will now serve as deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser to the director of the Domestic Policy Council. Feldman is credited with securing support from environmental justice advocates during the presidential race. Tim Gray, executive director at Environmental Defence, also said he thought a decision to cancel Keystone XL should be seen in the context of environmental justice, and he expected to see more action on that front from the administration. Gray noted that Biden had nominated North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Regan to run the Environmental Protection Agency following a campaign by dozens of advocates to block the candidacy of Mary Nichols, who chaired the California Air Resources Board, over concerns she did not adhere to recommendations from environmental justice bodies. “Many urban areas and non-urban areas in the U.S., where a lot of fossil fuel manufacturing is occurring … a lot of those are disproportionately impacting marginalized communities,” said Gray. “I think you’ll see a lot more attention on that from the Biden administration, for sure.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
AL-QAIM, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq is tightening security along its 600 km (400 mile) border with Syria to curb the movement of Islamic State militants, drug smuggling and other illegal activities. Iraqi commanders on Monday toured the remote desert frontier controlled by various different forces, including the Iraqi military, Iran-aligned militias, the Syrian army, anti-Damascus rebels, and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. The border is a flashpont for tension between Iran-backed groups and the United States, and is also tense because of Islamic State incursions and Turkish pressure on Kurdish rebel groups.
The lawyer for the younger teen accused of murdering a Calgary police officer has been notified that if convicted, the prosecution will seek an adult sentence. A bail hearing got underway Tuesday morning for one of the two young men charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett. Prosecutor Doug Taylor is opposing release. Harnett, 37, was killed on New Years Eve when he was dragged during a traffic stop by a fleeing SUV. Police charged two teens with first-degree murder: a 17-year-old, who turned 18 last week and was the alleged driver of the SUV, and Amir Abdulrahman, 19, who police say was the passenger. Although he is now 18 years old, the young man is prohibited from being identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. CPS officers, the accused's mother and sister and members of the media were in the courtroom for the hearing. A publication ban sought by defence lawyer Kaysi Fagan protects her client's right to a fair trial. That means no details on arguments or evidence presented at the bail hearing can be published. Fellow officers tried to save Harnett Around 11 p.m. on New Year's Eve, Harnett pulled over an SUV, police say. After speaking with the driver, who police allege is the 17-year-old youth, Harnett was in the process of issuing traffic tickets related to the driver's graduated licence and headlights, which were not on. CBC News previously reported that Harnett was dragged 400 metres before he was flung from a fleeing SUV. Other officers and paramedics tried to save Harnett, but he died in hospital nearly an hour later. Harnett's own body-worn camera footage — which Taylor previously said would be played at the accused's bail hearings — is expected to be critical evidence for the Crown. Court documents show Abdulrahman was wanted on four warrants, including one for assault and three for failure to comply with court orders. The bail hearing will continue on Wednesday. The judge has indicated he will likely reserve his decision.
Reports that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion are reverberating in Saskatchewan.
OTTAWA — Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests.Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials.In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move.Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18.Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians "want to do their part and will stand by their governments" in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces "need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work." The poll also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on.Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada.Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April.Bourque said mental health experts do not consider "good" to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK.The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April.Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them.Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable.Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they'll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they'll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won't take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn't know what they'll do.The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
BÉCANCOUR. Toujours généreux de son temps et reconnaissant pour l’intérêt qu’on lui porte, Zachary Bolduc a accepté de répondre aux questions du Courrier Sud au cœur de cette saison hors de l’ordinaire marquée par la COVID-19. Une année 2021 pour le porte-couleur de l’Océanic de Rimouski qui est également celle de son admissibilité au repêchage de la Ligue nationale de hockey (LNH). «En raison de blessures, j’ai disputé 7 matchs des 16 de mon équipe. C’est derrière moi. J’ai continué de m’entrainer en salle. J’ai mis les bouchées doubles et je ne crois pas que cela va compromettre mon développement», exprime le Bécancourois qui tire de grandes leçons de la COVID-19. Une pandémie qui affecte grandement les activités de la Ligue de hockey junior majeur du Québec (LHJMQ). «C’est certain que c’est fâchant de ne pas avoir une saison normale et de disputer moins de parties. On s’adapte. Notre entraineur Serge Beausoleil nous fait disputer des mini-matchs. C’est une épreuve qui va quand même m’être utile pour le futur. Ça me permet d’avoir le focus à la bonne place et de mettre l’accent sur ce que je contrôle», indique sagement l’attaquant qui a remporté le titre de recrue de l’année de la LHJMQ l’an dernier. Bien que d’une nature calme, il demeure que Zachary Bolduc ressent une certaine excitation à penser que 2021 est son année d’admissibilité pour le repêchage de la grande ligue. «Mais je ne suis pas trop distrait par ça. Quand j’ai commencé à jouer au hockey, c’était pour avoir du plaisir et c’est ce que je continue de faire tout en voulant m’améliorer», souligne un Zachary Bolduc qui a déjà été interviewé, virtuellement, par une dizaine d’équipes de la Ligue nationale de hockey. «Ça ressemble à une entrevue pour un emploi. Il y a des mises en situation. Les organisations veulent apprendre sur moi: comment je suis comme personne et comme joueur. Certaines équipes m’ont également fait passer des tests psychométriques», explique-t-il. Évidemment, en discutant avec Zachary Bolduc, on n’allait pas se priver de connaître son point de vue sur Alexis Lafrenière. Premier choix à l’encan amateur de 2020, l’ancien Océanic a amorcé sa carrière professionnelle la semaine dernière. «J’aime regarder le hockey, je n’ai pas manqué un match du Canada lors du championnat mondial junior de hockey. J’avais aussi hâte que la LNH recommence pour voir Alexis jouer avec les Rangers de New York. C’est un excellent joueur. Son talent et sa façon de travailler vont paraître. Je ne suis vraiment pas inquiet pour lui», conclut celui qui pourrait bien le retrouver dans le circuit Bettman sous peu. Mais d’ici là, il devra poursuivre son cheminement dans la LHJMQ. D’ailleurs, au moment d’écrire ces lignes, des rumeurs d’échange le concernant étaient dans l’air, l’envoyant chez les Rempart de Québec ou chez les Olympiques de Gatineau. À suivre… Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
After months out of the spotlight, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has returned centre stage with diplomatic and economic moves which diplomats say are aimed at showing the new U.S. president he is a valuable partner who can get things done. Within the span of a few weeks, the kingdom announced an Arab deal to reconcile with Qatar, voluntary cuts to Saudi crude output to help stabilise markets and new momentum on an economic diversification plan that stumbled due to political controversy, low oil prices and COVID-19. Whether behind the scenes or front and centre chairing a Gulf summit for the first time, the young prince, known as MbS, is moving to present an image as a reliable statesman and set a pragmatic tone with a less accommodating Biden administration, especially on foe Iran, three foreign diplomats said.
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has delayed its high school scenarios process yet again, leaving parents of junior high students waiting to find out where their child will attend high school. Some of those parents say it's time for the school board to "pull the Band-Aid off," allowing families to plan for the future. Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the purpose of this work will determine the catchment areas for students entering high school in the 2022-2023 school year. The plan is meant to deal with growing capacity issues faced by numerous high schools in the city. "Otherwise what will happen is we'll have situations where if a school is way above capacity, then we run into challenges around safety and even our ability to be able to provide effective programming because there are just too many students in that one building," he said. "You probably heard in fall of last school year that one of our high schools, [Ernest Manning], was way over capacity and we were really challenged from a health and safety standpoint." Changing timelines Documents posted on the CBE website in May 2019 said the original timeline for the engagement process would see the scenarios finalized and communicated between July and October 2021. In February 2020, the timeline was adjusted, pushing back the engagement and presentation of possible scenarios from March to June 2020, to September to November last year. However, that never happened, and in November, CBE parents were informed that the board would be sharing the high school scenarios with them this month. But in an email sent home last week, the CBE informed parents there would be yet another delay — and that scenarios would be released and and engagement would take place between Feb. 23 and March 17. Kelly Van Webber has a daughter in junior high who will be directly impacted by these decisions. The area their family lives in is currently designated for Ernest Manning, but these potential boundary changes could see them designated to Central Memorial. "The concerning part around that is … when they redid the boundaries for [Ernest Manning High School] before, they basically said in November of that year, 'your kids are going to these schools,' and it was under a year to plan and families were thrown into chaos," he said. COVID-19 to blame for delays Usih said all of the delays to this process have been caused by COVID-19 and the challenges the school board has faced when it comes to school re-entry and online learning. He said it's been an adjustment to switch to engaging families and staff online, as opposed to an in-person session. Van Webber said he struggles to see how this work can be dragging on for more than a year-and-a-half. "[The CBE] knows the numbers, so make a decision and let people plan," he said. "Pull the Band-Aid off already." For his family, Van Webber said knowing which high school their daughter is designated to has big implications. "We're going to see where our designated high school is and we've talked to different families and said, 'Hey, do we form some sort of carpool to go to Bowness?' for example. A bit of a circuitous route to get there, but at least it's a shorter commute," he said. "We've kicked around the idea of, do we move basically a kilometre away to get on the other side of Old Banff Coach road to get into the catchment for Manning if we decide that's the best or the appropriate school? Should move into the catchment area? So, going back and forth with that." CBE confident parents will have time to plan Usih said he appreciates and understands that families want their child to attend a school where there's strong and effective programming. "And, if parents have concerns about programming or any aspect of the school there, we have processes in place for addressing those," he said. "But I cannot emphasize enough the need to ensure that we have strong programming in every one of our schools." Van Webber said the uncertainty of this process is beginning to weigh on students too. "My daughter is in Grade 8 now, and she and her friends are starting to talk about it and, you know, you kind of want some certainty for them as they go into high school, especially with all the wackiness that COVID has caused," he said. Usih said he knows the last year has been a difficult period for many. "We want to make sure that we are we are doing our due diligence to communicate clearly and to provide opportunities for families to know what our plan is going forward," he said. "And I'm confident that, you know, the timelines that we've we've indicated will will satisfy that expectation." Following the engagement in March, Usih said the scenarios are subject to change. But, he said the CBE is committed to finalizing all scenarios for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press