Quebec is ramping up its plans to administer COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible, but those plans don’t address immediate issues of climbing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Quebec is ramping up its plans to administer COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible, but those plans don’t address immediate issues of climbing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
A train derailment near Field, B.C., has knocked out power to the village. CP Rail confirmed that a grain car derailed west of the village at 1:40 a.m. MT on Tuesday. Nobody was injured, a spokesperson said. CP said crews and equipment were immediately dispatched to the site and that the cause of the derailment is under investigation. BC Hydro's website states that following the power outage caused by the incident, around 150 people are being supplied power from an ESF battery. "We expect that we will not be able to access the site to make repairs until tomorrow at the earliest. It is very likely that the battery will run out of power before we are able to restore power to our customers," BC Hydro said in a statement posted online. "We ask that while your power is coming from the battery, please conserve electricity if possible to extend the supply. This might mean postponing energy-intensive tasks until grid power has been restored." As of 11 a.m., the utility estimated the backup battery had nine more hours of capacity remaining. The derailment comes nearly two years after a fatal runaway CP train crash east of the village. Last month, RCMP's major crimes unit launched a criminal investigation into the February 2019 crash that killed three crew members.
Il est vrai que l’on fait souvent cette expérience douloureuse assez jeune : le feu, ça brûle, mais, comment ce phénomène s’explique-t-il ?
A prospective COVID-19 vaccine touted as a made-in-Canada response has begun human clinical trials in Toronto, and the company says it's already preparing a follow-up that will target more infectious variants. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says if all goes well, it could start manufacturing millions of doses of its first prospective vaccine by the end of the year, guaranteeing a Canadian stockpile that wouldn't be subject to global supply pressures or competition. That's if the formulation proves safe and effective, of course. Among the challenges of developing a vaccine amid a raging pandemic is the uncertainty of how more infectious variants now emerging will complicate the COVID battle. Even if successful, by the time Providence Therapeutics releases its vaccine hopeful much of the country could be in the throes of a more infectious virus that does not respond to this formulation, allowed company CEO Brad Sorenson. "We don't believe that this is going to be resolved by a single vaccine," said Sorenson, whose biotech also produces a personalized mRNA-based vaccine against cancer. It's a challenge now facing Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have each said its products appear to respond well to the variant initially identified in the United Kingdom, and to a lesser degree, the variant first detected in South Africa. Moderna said earlier this week it plans to test two booster vaccines aimed at the variant associated with South Africa. Sorenson said Providence is already internally testing a vaccine candidate that targets the variants, and he hoped to begin clinical trials by the end of the year. "We believe that there's going to be a need to be in a position of readiness to be able to respond as these variants are coming up, and to be able to make sure that we have that capacity." That doesn't mean Providence is changing production runs just yet. Sorenson said the immediate focus is to establish the safety and efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed PTX-COVID19-B and designed in the early days of the pandemic last March. It uses messenger RNA technology and focuses on the spike protein located on the surface of a coronavirus that initiates infection, similar to the Pfizer and Moderna products. The trial involves 60 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 25 who will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected in February. The subjects are divided into four groups of 15, three of which will get three different doses. The fourth group gets a placebo. Sorenson said immediate pandemic efforts should be focused on the novel coronavirus currently devastating many parts of the country. "It's a matter of capacity. Right now these variants are there, they're concerning, and we're keeping a close eye on it, but that's not predominantly what the needs of the population are," said Sorenson. "Right now the needs of the population are still tied to the primary spike protein virus that's out there and is ravaging around the world." Sorenson said his next vaccine candidate takes a broader approach by attempting to elicit a T-cell response, thereby creating a longer-term vaccine "and cover what we believe would be a lot more variants." "We have to prove it out but we believe that if we are successful that it will allow for a much more durable immunity and a much broader immunity." The other goal is to prepare for large-scale manufacturing in Calgary, if all goes well with the trials and approval process. Sorenson said doses for the Phase 1 trial are being made in Toronto but the plan is to commercially manufacture the completed vaccine through a contract with the Calgary-based Northern RNA Inc. That won't be up and running by the end of the year, Sorenson allowed, so the short-term plan is to send raw materials made in Canada to a plant in the United States that would make the commercial product. Eventually, the whole process would be completed in Canada, he said. "We're building the entire chain within Canada so we're not going to run into a problem where this particular input into the vaccine is unavailable," he said. Much of this also depends on financial support from the federal government, Sorenson added. While the National Research Council of Canada has backed Phase 1 trials, Sorenson said he's awaiting word on further support. He'd also like Ottawa to back Providence's efforts to address the new COVID variants. "They've already recognized the importance of mRNA technology. What they don't realize is the power of mRNA technology to be responsive to these challenges that are coming up," he said. "Hopefully the politicians and the people that cut the cheques and write the policies that give direction to the bureaucrats will hear that and we'll start seeing a more concerted approach that looks at a fuller picture." Pending regulatory approval, Sorenson said a larger, international Phase 2 trial may start in May with seniors, younger subjects and pregnant people, followed by an even broader Phase 3 trial. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Months-long protests in India escalated on Tuesday as thousands of farmers clashed with police in New Delhi over new laws that they say will push small farmers out of the market and let private corporations exploit them.
SASKATOON — Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it will expand its use of a proximity alarm and contact tracing technology to help protect 14,500 of its employees from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Saskatoon-based company says it has rolled out its Proximity Trace equipment, made by U.S.-based Triax Technologies, to more than 8,000 employees to date and expects to introduce it to 6,500 more in coming months, representing 65 per cent of its global employee base. Proximity Trace tags are attached to workers’ clothing or hard hats and produce an audio and visual alert to those who come within two metres of one another. Nutrien says the sensors also automatically log data to allow contact tracing if a positive case is found, helping limit further spread and reassuring those not at risk. The company says the system is expected to help it minimize operational shutdowns and related costs and product delivery delays from disease outbreaks. The first sensors were deployed last July at fertilizer plant sites in the United States. They are now to be employed at Nutrien's potash mines in Saskatchewan and at corporate offices in Colorado, Illinois, Alberta and Saskatchewan. “At the workplace, if you maintain proper physical distancing, then your risk of spreading the virus is very low,” said Dr. Tarek Sardana, a medical expert advising Nutrien, in a company news release. “I encourage people to think of themselves as if they’re living within six-foot bubbles, and if no one penetrates the bubbles, it’s harder for the virus to spread.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:NTR) The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin held their first phone conversation as counterparts Tuesday in a phone call that underscored troubled relations and the delicate balance between the former Cold War foes. According to the White House, Biden raised concerns about the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, Russia’s alleged involvement in a massive cyber espionage campaign and reports of Russian bounties on American troops in Afghanistan. The Kremlin, meanwhile, focused on Putin’s response to Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining U.S.-Russia arms control treaty. While the readouts from the two capitals emphasized different elements, they both suggested that U.S-Russia relations will be guided, at least at the beginning of the Biden administration, by a desire to do no harm but also no urgency to repair existing damage. The two presidents agreed to have their teams work urgently to complete a five-year extension of the New START nuclear weapons treaty that expires next month. Former President Donald Trump's administration had withdrawn from two arms control treaties with Russia and had been prepared to let New START lapse. Unlike his immediate predecessors, including Trump who was enamoured of Putin and frequently undercut his own administration's tough stance on Russia, Biden has not held out hope for a “reset” in relations. Instead he he's indicated he wants to manage differences without necessarily resolving them or improving ties. And, with a heavy domestic agenda and looming decisions needed on Iran and China, a direct confrontation with Russia is not likely something he seeks. Although the leaders agreed to work together to extend New START before it expires on Feb. 5 and to look at other areas of potential strategic co-operation, the White House said Biden was firm on U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, while Russia is supporting separatists in the country's east. Biden also raised the SolarWinds cyberhack, which has been attributed to Russia. reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 U.S. election, the poisoning of Navalny and the weekend crackdown on Navalny's supporters. “President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defence of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies,” the White House said. Biden told Putin in the phone call, first reported by The Associated Press, that the U.S, would defend itself and take action, which could include further sanctions, to ensure that Moscow does not act with impunity, officials said. Moscow had reached out last week to request the call, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Biden agreed, but he wanted first to prepare with his staff and speak with European allies, including the a leaders of Britain, France and Germany, which he did. Before he spoke to Putin, Biden also called NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to pledge U.S. commitment to the decades-old alliance founded as a bulwark against Russian aggression. The Kremlin's readout of the call did not address the most contentious issues between the countries, though it said the leaders also discussed other “acute issues on the bilateral and international agenda.” It described the talk as “frank and businesslike” — often a diplomatic way of referring to tense discussions. It also said Putin congratulated Biden on becoming president and “noted that normalization of ties between Russia and the United States would serve the interests of both countries." Among the issues the Kremlin said were discussed were the coronavirus pandemic, the Iran nuclear agreement, Ukraine and issues related to trade and the economy. The call came as Putin considers the aftermath of pro-Navalny protests that took place in more than 100 Russian cities over the weekend. Biden’s team has already reacted strongly to the crackdown on the protests, in which more than 3,700 people were arrested across Russia, including more than 1,400 in Moscow. More protests are planned for the coming weekend. Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Putin’s best-known critic, was arrested Jan. 17 as he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had spent nearly five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Biden has previously condemned the use of chemical weapons. Russian authorities deny the accusations. Just from the public accounts, Biden's discussion with Putin appeared diametrically opposed to Trump's. Trump had seemed to seek Putin's approval, frequently casting doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, including when he stood next to Putin at their 2018 summit in Helsinki. He also downplayed Russia’s involvement in the hack of federal government agencies last year and the allegations that Russia offered the Taliban bounties. Still, despite that conciliatory approach, Trump's administration toed a tough line against Moscow, imposing sanctions on the country, Russian companies and business leaders for issues ranging from Ukraine to energy supplies and attacks on dissidents. Biden, in his call with Putin, broke sharply with Trump by declaring that he knew that Russia attempted to interfere with both the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections. ___ Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Matthew Lee And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
BARRIE, Ont. — Public health officials say 99 more people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Simcoe-Muskoka region likely have a variant of the virus. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says most of the cases are linked to a deadly outbreak at a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home that has killed 46 people and infected more than 200. But two cases have no known link, including one that’s part of a small outbreak at a regional hospital. The data came from an ongoing study by Public Health Ontario that’s screening all positive COVID-19 tests from Jan. 20 for three new variants of the virus. Local health officials say they are still waiting for results that will identify which variant of the virus has infected the 99 people but note that they expect it to be a variant first identified in the U.K. The U.K. variant has already been identified in some of those infected in the Barrie long-term care home outbreak. Dr. Charles Gardner, the region’s top doctor, says if the variant isn't already spreading in the community, it likely will be soon. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday rescinded a Trump-era memo that established a “zero tolerance” enforcement policy for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, which resulted in thousands of family separations. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued the new memo to federal prosecutors across the nation, saying the department would return to its longstanding previous policy and instructing prosecutors to act on the merits of individual cases. “Consistent with this longstanding principle of making individualized assessments in criminal cases, I am rescinding — effective immediately — the policy directive,” Wilkinson wrote. Wilkinson said the department’s principles have “long emphasized that decisions about bringing criminal charges should involve not only a determination that a federal offence has been committed and that the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction, but should also take into account other individualized factors, including personal circumstances and criminal history, the seriousness of the offence, and the probable sentence or other consequences that would result from a conviction.” The “zero tolerance” policy meant that any adult caught crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted for illegal entry. Because children cannot be jailed with their family members, families were separated and children were taken into custody by Health and Human Services, which manages unaccompanied children at the border. While the rescinding of “zero tolerance” is in part symbolic, it undoes the Trump administration’s massively unpopular policy responsible for the separation of more than 5,500 children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border. Most families have not been prosecuted under zero tolerance since 2018, when the separations were halted, though separations have continued on a smaller scale. Practically, the ending of the policy will affect mostly single men who have entered the country illegally. “While policies may change, our mission always remains the same: to seek justice under the law," Wilkinson wrote in the memo. President Joe Biden has issued an executive order to undo some of Trump’s restrictive policies, but the previous administration has so altered the immigration landscape that it will take quite a while to untangle all the major changes. Some of the parents separated from their children were deported. Advocates for the families have called on Biden to allow those families to reunite in the United States. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with Trump and other top leaders in his administration, were bent on curbing immigration. The “zero tolerance” policy was one of several increasingly restrictive policies aimed at discouraging migrants from coming to the Southern border. Trump’s administration also vastly reduced the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. and all but halted asylum at the border, through a combination of executive orders and regulation changes. The policy was a disaster; there was no system created to reunite children with their families. A report from the Justice Department’s inspector general, released earlier this month, found that the policy led to a $227 million funding shortfall. Children suffered lasting emotional damage from the separations and the policy was criticized as grossly inhumane by world leaders. The policy began April 6, 2018, under an executive order that was issued without warning to other federal agencies that would have to manage the policy, including the U.S. Marshals Service and Health and Human Services. It was halted June 20, 2018. A federal judge ordered the families to be reunited and is still working to do so. The watchdog report also found that Sessions and other top officials knew the children would be separated under the policy and encouraged it. Justice officials ignored concerns from staff about the rollout and did not bother to set up a system to track families in order to reunite them. Some children are still separated. ___ Follow Balsamo and Long on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 and https://twitter.com/ctlong1. Michael Balsamo And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
Tisdale town council is looking to change their zoning bylaws after a letter was sent to the council from a resident regarding potentially putting in a secondary suite at their home. During the Jan. 25 council meeting, the council discussed the possibility of allowing these suites for additional income for property owners, said Brad Hvidston, Tisdale’s administrator. The bylaw received its first reading during the meeting with the town hosting a public meeting in March to discuss the change further and allow the public to voice any concerns that they may have. There was little discussion going into the first reading of the bylaw with councillors not having many concerns regarding secondary suites at this time, Hvidston said. February might bring even more changes to the town’s zoning bylaws, he said, as the town will be taking a deeper look at their zoning and community plans. “We're just going to be starting our first meeting consultation process here in February. So we fully expected our whole zoning bylaws going to be redone by June or July for the whole town and the RM. We're doing it as a joint regional project with them.” The last time the zoning bylaw was examined by staff and council was 2005, Hvidston said, so it is time to have that deeper look and see that zones have been adhered to and that the current zones make sense. “We've done a ton of amendments to the zoning bylaw. Even just to follow the zoning bylaw now is getting tougher and tougher because you've got to follow up on all the amendments and changes.” Out buildings, like garages, shipping containers, and sheds, is one area that the town will definitely have to take a closer look at since that part of the zoning bylaw has faced many amendments over the years, Hvidston said. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
MADRID — Sevilla signed Argentine attacking midfielder Alejandro “Papu” Gómez from Atalanta on Tuesday. Sevilla said the former Atalanta captain agreed a contract to June 2024. The 32-year-old Gómez had been at odds with coach Gian Piero Gasperini at the Italian club where he spent six seasons and had a key part in recent success. Gómez played more than 250 games with Atalanta, scoring 59 goals and picking up 71 assists. He broke the Serie A assist record last season, with 16. He previously played for Catania in Italy. Sevilla is fourth in the Spanish league. It hosts Valencia on Thursday in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The owners of a St. Williams gas station were awoken by the sound of gunfire outside their business early Sunday morning. “This morning at 3:45 a.m. shots were fired in a drive-by at our gas station, which is also our home. The shots were fired on the building and the gas pumps,” Neetu Moondi-Kullar wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. Her parents own the Shell station at Highway 24 East and Forestry Farm Road in the west end of Norfolk County. Moondi-Kullar told The Spectator five shots were fired at the building as her parents and brother slept inside, along with the family dog, Jaxx, and their parrot, Castro. “We are still assessing the total damage,” Moondi-Kullar said, adding that her family is feeling “shaken up, scared and angry” after the shooting. “They have worked so hard to build the business and become part of the community, and it’s just disheartening to see something like this happen,” she said. “One wrong shot on the pumps could have blown my whole family up as a worst-case scenario.” The Moondi family has owned the station since December 2016. A police investigation is underway and Norfolk OPP has reviewed surveillance footage that shows “a small, dark-coloured car” in the area at the time of the shooting. Police are attempting to identify the owner of the vehicle and have asked area residents to check their surveillance systems to see if other cameras picked up the car or its occupants around Port Rowan or St. Williams. Tips can be called in to the OPP detachment at 1-888-310-1122 or submitted anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at helpsolvecrime.com. Moondi-Kullar said she hopes whoever endangered her family’s lives will be brought to justice. “This time no one was hurt, but what happens next time when these low-life fools shoot at someone and seriously injure them?” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
RENTON, Wash. — Immigrant rights activists energized by a new Democratic administration and majorities on Capitol Hill are gearing up for a fresh political battle to push through a proposed bill from President Joe Biden that would open a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million people. The multimillion-dollar #WeAreHome campaign was launched Monday by national groups including United We Dream and the United Farm Workers Foundation. It starts with ads on Facebook and other social media to reach lawmakers and the constituents who can pressure them. “We are home,” a young woman's voice declares in the first video spot showing immigrants in essential jobs such as cleaning and health care. “Home, even when they say we don't belong.” The effort is a longshot. Immigration remains a third rail dividing Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., and opponents of the measure have pledged to fight it. Although Democrats now account for 50 of 100 senators, with a deciding vote by Vice-President Kamala Harris, the bill will need at least 60 votes to pass. Opponents promised to launch their own social media blitz, as well as TV and radio ads. They also said they would write letters and meet virtually with members of Congress. But organizers say they enjoy the momentum of a new administration and growing public support for giving people in the U.S. illegally a chance at citizenship. The activists note they are also more seasoned. “The movement has matured,” said Lorella Praeli, the Peruvian-born co-president of Community Change, among the national groups leading the campaign. “It's more diverse, experienced.” Praeli, now 32, was brought to the U.S. when she was 10 so she could get better medical treatment after losing a leg in an accident. She became an immigrant activist in her teens. Praeli honed her skills as Latino communities outreach director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign before addressing the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She said the new battle is being waged on various levels, from grassroots organizing in communities to lobbying on Capitol Hill. The five groups chairing the campaign are paying for the effort with their own fundraising, “We need an early breakthrough on immigration,” said Praeli. “We have 100 days to set the tone.” Patrice Lawrence, the Jamaica-born co-executive director for the UndocuBlack Network, said the campaign represents all immigrants "regardless of the colour of our skin, where we live, if we work, how we pray or how old we are.” Glo H. Choi, of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, said comprehensive immigration reform is overdue. “The temporary measures of the past have just been kicking the can down the road,” said the Chicago-based community organizer who was brought to the U.S. as a child from South Korea. The effort offers hope to immigrants like Daniela Murguia, a University of Washington graduate who lives in the Seattle suburb of Renton. Murguia's family brought her here from Mexico in 2008 when she was 11 and she has no legal status or protections. She recently raised millions of dollars in coronavirus pandemic aid for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and lobbied to include such help in the state budget. Under Biden's bill, most people like Murguia would wait eight years for citizenship, but those enrolled in the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA; those with temporary protective status after fleeing violence-wracked countries; and farmworkers would wait three years. The bill includes protections for other kinds of immigrants, too. Opponents note that President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty for nearly 3 million immigrants was followed by a flood of new arrivals. But immigration enforcement has expanded greatly since, and Biden’s proposal calls for more technology at land crossings, airports and seaports even as he halts construction of former President Donald Trump’s signature border wall. Still, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who supported the wall and is a staunch advocate of restrictive immigration laws, describes the bill as “open borders.” He said it has “no regard for the health and security of Americans, and zero enforcement.” The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a major opponent of the bill, also considers it a kind of amnesty and vows to fight it. “It would not only reward everyone who has violated our immigration laws in the past, but also induce millions more to come here illegally," said R.J. Hauman, head of the group's governmental relations. "In exchange for absolutely nothing.” NumbersUSA Deputy Director Chris Chmielenski suggested Biden may feel beholden to activists who helped elect him. The group favours reduced immigration. “I think it has zero chance of passing,” he said. But the activists have changing public opinion on their side. Seven in 10 voters said they preferred offering immigrants in the U.S. illegally a chance to apply for legal status, compared with about 3 in 10 who thought they should be deported to their birth country, according to AP VoteCast. The November survey of more than 110,000 voters showed 9 in 10 Biden voters and about half of Trump voters favoured creating a way for people to legalize their status. Veteran civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, an activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers who now runs her own foundation, said the immigration reform push will benefit from the dramatic stories of children being separated from their parents under the Trump administration. “I think that is going to make a difference," Huerta said. "Once people see the justice of the issue they will come onboard.” Immigrants say a proposal in the bill to replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” in immigration laws already makes them feel a difference in the way they are viewed. “I feel more hopeful, more confident,” said Melissa Laratte, a member of National Domestic Workers Alliance, another group organizing the campaign. She arrived with her young son in Miami two years ago seeking asylum as a member of an opposition group in her native Haiti. “They're trying to help us,” she said. __ Snow reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writers Claudia Torrens in New York and Gisela Salomon in Miami contributed to this report. __ This story corrects Lorella Praeli's age to 32 and eliminates a incorrect reference to the New Venture Fund, which is not helping bankroll the campaign. Anita Snow And Manuel Valdes, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — CBS has placed two top executives on administrative leave as it investigates charges of a hostile work environment for women and minorities at news operations in some of its largest individual stations. Peter Dunn, president of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, senior vice-president for news at the stations, are on leave pending the results of an external investigation. “CBS is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary,” the network said in a statement. The accusations were outlined over the weekend in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and a subsequent meeting between CBS and the National Association of Black Journalists. Since 2009, Dunn has been head of stations owned and operated by CBS in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago and others. The Times said Dunn had referred to a Black male news anchor in Philadelphia as “just a jive guy." One executive at the station quit because she couldn't tolerate the culture and another has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relates Commission alleging he was fired for co-operating with an internal review of his bosses, the Times reported. The NABJ has said CBS stations lag in maintaining diverse staffs, saying New York's WCBS-TV had only one female Black full-time reporter and went five years without a male Black reporter. “This is toxic. There's no other way to put it,” said Ken Lemon, the NABJ's vice-president of broadcast, on Tuesday. Since the story was published, Lemon said he had talked to at least five other people with new experiences to tell about the working atmosphere at CBS. He said the NABJ is optimistic about the steps CBS has taken. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Maybe Spiderman was onto something about the power of webs after all. A Western University husband-wife research duo, Miodrag and Vojislava Grbic, are using spider mite silk to develop a new, microscopic material they say is “stronger than steel” and would be a boon for biomedical developments. “Silk produced by mites and spiders is one of the most elegant and well-designed materials in existence,” Miodrag Grbic said from his research lab in Spain. The newly developed biomaterial is twice as stiff as spider silk, 400 times thinner and has a tensile strength four times that of steel. It’s also biodegradable and non-toxic. The Grbics used the genetic DNA framework of the gorse spider mite, Tetranychus lintearius, to develop a new fibre and biofilm, based on the insect's silk, which they’ve patented. “These nanoparticles can be used in biomedicine, for example, for targeted drug delivery (in the body) because you need a carrier to deliver drugs to particular cells,” Miodrag said. Other potential applications range from vaccine delivery and regenerative medicine to food production. Miodrag said the team is working to see if the material could have applications in COVID-19 vaccines. Developing the material was a happy coincidence for the couple, born out of a “crazy side project.” The Grbics originally were sequencing the genome of spider mites in an effort to combat the pests in agriculture only to stumble upon the power of the insect’s silk. In collaboration with teams in Spain and the United States, researchers used radiation and light, and minuscule force measurements to determine the makeup of spider mite silk. The Grbics were then able to tweak that code and manufacture their new nanoparticles based entirely on the original spider mite silk. “Instead of focusing on killing this pest, which is devastating tomatoes and potatoes and greenhouse industry, we can actually learn from this particular animal and turn something negative into something positive,” Miodrag said. Outside of medicine, the nanoparticles also could be used to coat slow-release fertilizer pellets, pesticides and herbicides to create “smart agrochemicals” for use in sustainable agriculture. “Having a broader view in a particular project, especially in genome sequencing projects, are really opening gold mines for different applications,” Miodrag said. email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit C’était inévitable: les problèmes d’approvisionnement des doses du vaccin contre la COVID-19 de la compagnie Pfizer allaient directement réduire la progression de la vaccination en Ontario, où le nombre de doses administrées quotidiennement est sous la barre des 10 000 depuis trois jours. Au cours de la dernière journée, 9707 Ontariens ont roulé leur manche pour recevoir une dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. La province a été en mesure de vacciner en moyenne plus de 12 000 personnes par jour, entre les 6 et 23 janvier, mais depuis trois jours, ce nombre est demeuré sous les 10 000. En tout, 83 285 Ontariens ont reçu leurs deux doses nécessaires du vaccin contre la COVID-19. Cela signifie que près de 300 000 doses ont été administrées en province jusqu’à présent. Le rythme de transmission diminue aussi Néanmoins, l’Ontario compte 1740 nouvelles infections à la COVID-19, le plus bas nombre de cas recensés en une journée depuis la mi-décembre. La moyenne d’infections quotidiennes dans la province diminue également, et se chiffre mardi à 2346. Le taux de reproduction net, une donnée importante selon les spécialistes, soit celle où l'on estime le nombre moyen de personnes qu'une personne infectera lorsqu'elle est atteinte de la COVID-19, est aussi à la baisse. Toutefois, l’Ontario a perdu 63 personnes aux mains de la COVID-19, lundi, portant le total des décès causés par le virus à 5909 depuis le début de la pandémie. La même journée, 1466 personnes étaient hospitalisées à travers la province, dont 383 malades aux soins intensifs. Parmi ces patients atteints du coronavirus, 298 avaient besoin d’un respirateur pour demeurer en vie. Foyers de soins de longue durée En foyers de soins de longue durée (FSLD), 71 résidents et 53 membres du personnel ont contracté la maladie, selon le plus récent bilan de la santé publique. On déplore aussi le décès de 24 résidents de ces établissements. En tout, 3389 résidents et 11 employés en FSLD ont perdu la vie en raison de la COVID-19. Le premier ministre ontarien Doug Ford était à l'aéroport Pearson de Toronto mardi après-midi pour une mise à jour sur le projet pilote ontarien de dépistage volontaire de la COVID-19 et pour réitérer son appel à Ottawa de renforcer le contrôle de la loi à la frontière, dont le dépistage obligatoire pour tout voyageur arrivant de l'extérieur du pays.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
À Laval, la Cité de la biotech abrite une société de recherche contractuelle qui est non seulement impliquée dans la moitié des projets de développement de vaccins contre la COVID-19, mais qui s’affiche désormais comme «le plus important joueur» mondial en matière de tests cliniques liés à l’approbation de nouveaux vaccins. Il s’agit de Nexelis, un prestataire de services auprès d’entreprises pharmaceutiques et biotechnologiques né en 2015 (sous l’ancien vocable NÉOMED-LABS) à la suite de la fermeture du centre de recherche sur les vaccins que GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) exploitait au 525, boulevard Cartier. Le 20 janvier, l’entreprise lavalloise annonçait une importante acquisition, la 5e à survenir au cours des trois dernières années. D’ici la fin du mois de janvier, le laboratoire de bioanalyse clinique certifié GCLP que détenait GSK à Marburg, en Allemagne, sera la propriété de Nexelis, qui gonfle ainsi ses effectifs à plus de 360 employés dont près de la moitié œuvrent à Laval. Composée de quelque 80 scientifiques et analystes, l’équipe allemande continuera à œuvrer étroitement avec le géant pharmaceutique britannique en soutien au développement de futurs candidats vaccins de GSK, et ce, en vertu d’un accord de collaboration stratégique d'une durée de 5 ans. «La sous-traitance stratégique permettra à GSK d'accroitre sa capacité de tests et son agilité [et] de continuer à accélérer le développement des candidats vaccins dans notre pipeline», a indiqué par voie de communiqué Emmanuel Hanon, chef de la R&D; de GSK Vaccins, rappelant au passage «la réussite du transfert d’activités de laboratoire à Nexelis» en 2015. Depuis 2017, Nexelis aura en moyenne doublé ses revenus chaque année pour atteindre le plateau des 100 M$ US en 2021, indique son président et chef de la direction, Benoit Bouche. «Le segment de la bioanalytique dans le domaine des vaccins est une niche de l’ordre de 250 M$ et notre part de marché mondiale est supérieure à 20 %», précise-t-il. Benoit Bouche souligne également que les quelque 150 employés affectés aux laboratoires de Laval sont actuellement mis à contribution pour les essais cliniques de 20 des 42 projets de vaccin contre la COVID-19 en développement à travers la planète. En clair, le mandat consiste à valider l’efficacité des candidats vaccins en vue de l’ultime homologation des agences réglementaires, tels Santé Canada et la Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aux États-Unis. Les méthodes analytiques et les plateformes technologiques de pointe développées par Nexelis lui assurent une capacité de tests d’échantillons cliniques à très haut débit. «Notre capacité d’analyse est de 10 à 15 000 tests par jour», illustre M. Bouche en évoquant l’ensemble des laboratoires que l’entreprise possède dans ses cinq installations en Amérique du Nord et en Europe. Entreprise détenue par la société de portefeuille Ampersand Capital Partners, Nexelis a le vent dans les voiles et entend bien poursuivre son expansion comme en témoignent les 80 nouvelles embauches projetées en cours d’année. «On s’engage à recruter au moins 100 nouveaux chercheurs à Laval dans les 3 années qui viennent, dont 40 en 2021», termine Benoît Bouche. Dans la foulée de cette expansion à très court terme, le patron de Nexelis est d’ailleurs à évaluer l’occupation d’un second site à la faveur d’un immeuble vacant de la Cité de la biotechnologie et de la santé humaine. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
REGINA — Saskatchewan's social services minister says the province will soon end the practice of social workers and health-care staff informing child-welfare officials when a baby is born to a mother deemed high risk. Lori Carr says the Saskatchewan Party government heard from First Nations groups who want to see an end to so-called birth alerts. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and other advocates from across Canada say these alerts are disproportionately used against Indigenous mothers and contribute to high numbers of their newborns being taken into care. The final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) called on governments and child-welfare agencies to end the practice. "I do share the concerns. They made it clear that they did not like the practice. They found it insulting," Carr said on Tuesday. "I don't see any reason why we wouldn't change this practice and stop using birth alerts." The Saskatchewan government said 53 of 76 alerts issued last year involved Indigenous women. It said not every report leads to an apprehension. Ministry data shows most of the newborns taken into care from 2016 to 2020, regardless of whether they were the subject of a birth alert, were Indigenous. Of the 98 babies apprehended in 2020 — 60 of whom were Indigenous — 17 of all those children have been returned home, a spokeswoman added. Carr said the practice is to end on Feb. 1. The ministry, she said, will work with community groups to support expectant mothers and ensure hospital staff contact these groups if there are concerns. "We'll just make sure that mother is in contact with their right community-based organization to get the best help at that point in time." "As we move forward, it's just honestly working so closely with those community-based organizations and our health-care professionals to ensure that nobody does fall through the cracks and that they get the right service at the right time." Saskatchewan is the latest province to announce plans to do away with the practice. Following the release of the MMIWG's final report in 2019, the province's former social services minister said newborn apprehensions happened in extreme circumstances and family reunification was always the goal. The government said at the time it would continue with the alerts until an alternative could be found. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — CN says it will reinstate its guidance for 2021 and increase the company's dividend by seven per cent after seeing improved demand for freight in the last three months of 2020. The Montreal-based railway says its net income surged 17 per cent in the fourth quarter to $1.02 billion or $1.43 per share. That was up from $873 million or $1.22 per share in the prior year. Adjusted profits for the three months ended Dec. 31 were up 14 per cent to $1.02 billion or $1.43 per share, from $896 million or $1.25 per share in last year's quarter. Revenue increased two per cent, or $72 million, to $3.66 billion. CN Rail was expected to report $1.41 per share in adjusted profits on $3.62 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. CN reported operating income of $1.4 billion, compared with $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. JJ Ruest, CN's president and CEO, says that while the recovery was uneven across sectors, the company was pleased with the growth in volume demand during the fourth quarter. CN also said it planned to announce $3 billion in capital investments to stay ahead of demand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CNR) The Canadian Press
Shortly after the House of Commons voted unanimously to call on the Trudeau government to identify the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he'll listen to the intelligence collected by the country's security agencies before deciding on next steps. "To be clear: the decision to list any organization as a terrorist entity is based on intelligence and evidence collected by our national security agencies," said the minister in a statement sent to CBC News last night. "Terrorist designations are not a political exercise." Canadian authorities have been collecting information about the far-right Proud Boys group as part of a possible terrorist designation following reports about the organization's role in this month's deadly U.S. Capitol attack. Multiple media reports have linked Proud Boys members to those who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., after a speech by then-U.S. president Donald Trump on Jan. 6. Last week, a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys was arrested for taking part in the siege. The Canadian government has not said if the Proud Boys will be added to Canada's formal list of terrorist groups. Such a move would come with immediate ramifications for the group; financial institutions would freeze their assets and it would become a crime to knowingly deal with the group. "We're very mindful of ideologically motivated violent extremists, including groups like the Proud Boys. They're white supremacists, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynist groups. They're all hateful, they're all dangerous," Blair told CTV News in an interview earlier this month. "Our national security officials are very mindful of these individuals. They're gathering intelligence. They bring that intelligence before me and I bring it before cabinet ... We're working very diligently to ensure that where the evidence is available, where we have the intelligence, that we'll deal appropriately with those organizations." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh brought forward a motion Monday calling on the government "to use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacist and hate groups, starting with immediately designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity." 'Pretty direct politicization of the process' While the motion is non-binding, it has some national security experts troubled by what they see as the politicalization of the terror list. "The issue I have is by including the call to list the Proud Boys, it is a call for the government to engage in a legal process and with a predetermined outcome," said Leah West, a former Department of Justice lawyer and now a national security professor at Carleton University. "I tend to have issues with parliamentarians asking for certain criminal law effects to take place on individuals in the House of Commons. I think that there should be a separation between parliamentarians and a process that, in this case, is not a typical criminal law process but is a legal process that could have a criminal effect." West said she worries about setting a precedent. She pointed to statements by some MPs in early 2020 describing Indigenous-led rail blockades as terrorism and asking whether the groups protesting should be added to the terror list. "There's nothing to stop a similar type of motion from being brought to the House floor around Indigenous or environmental protesters who arguably engage in activity that could give rise to meeting the threshold," she said. "I just want us to be careful [and avoid] approaching listing terrorist entities in the same way we saw with the Trump administration in the U.S., where basically [he] used terrorist listings as a way of condemning groups that were unfavourable, or his enemies, or that were critical of the government" Jessica Davis, a former senior intelligence analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who now heads Insight Threat, called the vote "a pretty direct politicization of the process." "All of these MPs should know better in terms of how the process actually works. It's been well-articulated. They have access to information about how these things happen," she said. "This motion is meant, I guess, to put pressure on the government to list a group, but we don't even know yet if the group meets a technical threshold." A spokesperson for the NDP said the party isn't trying to politicize the process, but argued the Proud Boys are an undeniable threat to the United States and Canada both. "The rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazi [organizations] is an underestimated threat in Canada and people are scared. Canadians don't want to see what happened in the U.S. happen here in Canada. We need actions and we need them, now," said Melanie Richer. Decision lies with minister According to the Department of Public Safety, the process of designating a terrorist group begins with a report from the RCMP and CSIS detailing "reasonable grounds to believe that the entity has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity; or the entity is knowingly acting on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with, an entity involved in a terrorist activity." That report is reviewed by the minister of public safety. If the minister has reasonable grounds to believe that the group in question meets the threshold, the minister makes a recommendation to cabinet to place the entity on the list. Davis said the process could use more transparency and clarity from the government about the criteria used to make a determination. Created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the terrorist designation list includes more than 50 organizations. Many of them are Islamist terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and ISIS. Two far-right groups — Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi network, and its armed wing, Combat 18 — were added in June 2019 under the public safety minister at the time, Ralph Goodale. Where does the government draw the line? "The activities that the groups are engaged in range really dramatically from al-Qaeda — who we know conducted many large-scale, high-impact attacks and inspired many others — to Combat 18, who seem to have committed one politically motivated assault and a firebombing," said Davis. "There's a lot of daylight between those two examples. "So where is that criteria? Because if it's closer to the Combat 18, I think that that's more of a problem. It really allows a very expansive definition of terrorism in this country." West said the process is not above political influence but it has some safeguards in place. "So it's not that there is no politics involved in this, in that it is a cabinet decision. But it's not unusual in the realm of national security for ministers to be making decisions like this," said West. "This decision is also reviewable by a federal court to ensure that that the minister's decision is reasonable and compliant with the statutory requirements set out in the Criminal Code." Davis said the process is inherently political because it's a cabinet decision — but bringing in a multi-party committee into the process or striking a committee of bureaucrats could remove at least some of the political taint. "So there's a number of ways to move that ministerial responsibility, but at the same time, I think that it is important that the government be responsible for this list," she said