Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, the stars of "Cobra Kai" on Netflix, talk about season 3 and the death of their co-star, Rob Garrison.
Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, the stars of "Cobra Kai" on Netflix, talk about season 3 and the death of their co-star, Rob Garrison.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
County council formalized an economic development position and collaborative procurement as its first steps toward improving operations as recommended by a service delivery review. Council discussed the review at a special meeting Jan. 13. All members agreed to include an economic development position in this year’s budget and to begin work on collaborative procurement later this year. The initiatives are just two of the 12 overarching areas addressed by consultant StrategyCorp in the review to improve collaboration, efficiency and realize more than $1 million in potential cash flow improvements. Council also agreed to work through the other recommendations slowly at its future meetings. “I know that this has been a difficult one,” Warden Liz Danielsen said. “But I think we’ve come to some agreement about how we’re going to approach this a bit at a time, in a reasonable fashion that works for everybody.” StrategyCorp recommended the County hire an economic development officer this year, with an estimated upfront cost of $200,000 annually. It also suggested starting collaborative procurement – joint purchasing of goods and services by the County and its lower-tier municipalities – with estimated savings between $372,000 and $1,193,000 annually once implemented. Coun. Brent Devolin said it made sense to move on procurement early. “That’s some of the savings that fund and helps some of the things that will come in subsequent years,” Devolin said. “It’s a real area of need for the County,” CAO Mike Rutter said. “No one (on staff) has that expertise. They’re not a purchasing expert. That would be really helpful for us.” But these only represent two of the six initiatives StrategyCorp suggested to start in 2021. The others were communications, waste management, roads and co-ordination. Council directed staff to bring back more information about implementing those and other recommendations at a future meeting. Danielsen said ongoing discussions will be needed, adding better communication is important. “We’re not good at communicating with each other,” she said. “We have discussions at the County council and quite often the information just stays here. It doesn’t go back to the lower-tiers.” However, Devolin said live-streamed meetings make it easier for lower-tier councillors to access. Although the County may yet move on other initiatives, deputy warden Patrick Kennedy cautioned to not overload staff. “I’m just so worried about our staff, about burning them out,” Kennedy said. “If it takes an extra year, I don’t care.” “We definitely need to agree on an approach and what those, maybe one or two low-hanging fruit pieces are,” he said. “That aren’t going to create a massive workload for any specific individual.” Kennedy praised council for getting through the meeting. “I’m just so proud of this group,” Kennedy said. “We’ve made some pretty big decisions and I’m just so thrilled to be part of it.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Alice Hoagland, a beloved figure of the gay rugby movement that her own son, Mark Bingham, helped set in motion shortly before he perished in the 2001 terrorist attacks as one of the heroes of Flight 93, has died. She was 71. Hoagland, a former flight attendant who became a safety activist while carrying on her son’s athletic legacy, died Dec. 22 in her sleep at her home in Los Gallos, California, after battling Addison's disease, according to longtime family friend Amanda Mark. International Gay Rugby — an organization that traces its roots to one team in London in 1995 and now consists of about 90 clubs in more than 20 countries on five continents — held Hoagland in such esteem that one of the prizes at its biennial Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or the Bingham Cup, is called the Hoagland Cup. Scott Glaessgen, of Norwalk, Connecticut, a friend of Bingham’s who helped organize New York’s Gotham Knights rugby club, described meeting Hoagland at the first Bingham Cup in 2002 in San Francisco. “Nine months after Mark was killed, and there she is with a never-ending smile on her face, just charming and engaging and happy and proud,” Glaessgen said. “And that resilience and that strength that she just exuded was really inspirational.” Amanda Mark, of Sydney, Australia, praised Hoagland for always fighting for people — and continuing to do so after losing her son by standing up for aviation safety and LGBT rights. “Through the Bingham Cup,” Mark said, “she became the inspiration and the acceptance that a lot of LGBT folks needed when they may have been challenged with their families or friends to be true to themselves.” Bingham, 31 when he died, had played on a champion rugby team at the University of California, Berkeley. He helped organize the gay San Francisco Fog team in 2000 and quickly became its main forward. He was on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers commandeered it. He called his mother and told her he loved her. “I only got 3 minutes with him and when I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through,” Hoagland told the Iowa City Press-Citizen in 2019. “As a flight attendant for 20 years, I wanted to tell him to sit down and don’t draw attention to yourself.” But the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Bingham fought back, posthumously winning praise as an openly gay patriot who joined other passengers in foiling the hijackers and causing the plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania instead of its intended target, believed to be the U.S. Capitol. “He grew from a shy, chubby kid into a tall rugby competitor with the ability to amass his energy to face a real enemy in the cockpit of an airplane," Hoagland told the Press-Citizen. Bingham and Hoagland's stories went on to be chronicled in film and screen, including the TV movie “Flight 93," HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and the documentary “The Rugby Player.” Hoagland became an advocate for airline security and for allowing relatives of 9-11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over claims it played a role in the attacks. “We’re less interested in any kind of financial gain than we are in bringing the truly guilty into court and making our case known,” Hoagland told The Associated Press in 2016. The first Bingham Cup consisted of eight teams and was hosted by its namesake's home team. Today, it is billed as the world’s largest amateur rugby event, and cities bid to host it. It was last held in Amsterdam in 2018 with 74 teams competing. Hoagland was a celebrity at every tournament she attended. Players flocked to meet her and have a photo taken. She always obliged. Jeff Wilson, of International Gay Rugby, recalled in a post on the organization's Facebook page a conversation with Hoagland at the 2012 Bingham Cup in Manchester, England. His mother had recently died. “I asked how she kept on during grief — she said it was a purpose, and a calling and that I would keep going because it drove me,” he wrote. “Her compassion, heart and focus on others touched me in ways that I cannot express.” No memorial service is yet planned. Jeff McMillan, The Associated Press
Muskoka Climate change co-ordinator Kevin Boyle said the district’s goal of reducing its corporate and community emissions by 50 per cent in the next 10 years was no certainty. Boyle spoke to an audience of 37 at the Environment Haliburton! (EH) enviro-café Jan. 12 to discuss “A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy” and its creation. The strategy’s goal is significantly greater than Haliburton County’s corporate plan to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent from 2018 levels by 2030. Boyle doubted the goal would have been reached without the advocacy efforts of Climate Action Muskoka (CAM), who demanded it. “You see them every Friday on the corner. That momentum really builds,” Boyle said. “While that is an ambitious target, that shouldn’t be seen as an ambitious target. That is what the science tells us we should do. That should be seen as the baseline.” Boyle highlighted the years of effort that went into building the climate strategy passed Dec. 21, which also includes a net-zero emissions target by 2050. He said action is needed to address climate change and took pride in Muskoka’s efforts. “I am very happy despite how confusing the process was - and it was - where we got to and how much support the council has for it and how much support the community has for it,” Boyle said. “It brings strong policy leadership and firm targets which put climate action at the forefront of all decision-making,” CAM spokesperson Melinda Zytaruk said in a press release. The County of Haliburton passed its corporate climate change mitigation plan in September. The County is still working on adaptation and community plans. Boyle complimented the County for getting all its lower-tier townships on board with the overarching plan but said he could not celebrate if Muskoka went for a lower target, given scientific consensus about the need for greater reductions. “I would rather fail at meeting 50 per cent but try, rather than set something lower. In saying that, I’m not criticizing other governments that haven’t set that target. Maybe they could set that target and blow beyond it,” Boyle said. Canada’s formal goal is to reach a 30 per cent reduction of 2005 levels by 2030, though the federal government has said it will exceed that. Ontario’s climate action plan aims to reduce its emissions by 37 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels. Boyle said Muskoka's goal will require community buy-in, given 98 per cent of the district’s emissions are from community-based sources. “You need buy-in from everybody. So, you really want everyone at the table when you’re developing those reduction strategies,” he said. EH! vice-president Terry Moore said the presentation had takeaways for the organization for when the County begins its community planning. “It’s a lot of encouragement,” Moore said. “Some really good ideas and lessons for us.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Wearing mittens made out of recycled materials and a warm winter jacket, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled off a casual inauguration outfit — and vibe — that only he could. Many people quickly highlighted the 79-year-old independent Vermont senator's look, and created endless memes, from Wednesday's inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, which he said was more about keeping warm than fashion. “You know in Vermont, we dress warm, we know something about the cold, and we’re not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today,” Sanders told CBS on Wednesday. People were particularly enthralled with Sanders’ mittens, which were made by a Vermont elementary school teacher who has a side business making mittens out of recycled wool. “I love it that he loves them, and that he wears them,” Jen Ellis, an elementary school teacher, told NECN-TV. “And I’m totally honoured that he wore them today.” Ellis has never met Sanders. But when her daughter went to a child care centre owned by one of his relatives, she was able to slip a pair into Sanders' hands. “I think people like a heartwarming story — especially now,” she said when asked about the all the attention the mittens were getting on social media. The widespread interest in the mittens prompted Ellis to tweet Wednesday that there were “no more” of the coveted hand warmers. Sanders has donned the mittens before while running for president in 2020 and in interviews with Vermont journalists, the station reported. “Mittens are easy to slip on, they're cozy, you know you're hands stay a little warmer in a mitten, you've got the the body heat thing,” said Ryan Leclerc, a hard goods buyer for Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Vermont. “And you just can't deny how stylish they are, especially the ones he was wearing." Sanders’ inauguration look, including a brown winter jacket made by Burton snowboards, has spawned countless memes since Wednesday including the former presidential candidate on the subway, on the moon, sitting on the couch with the cast of “Friends”. In memes spreading across Indian Country, Sanders is draped with a Pendleton blanket sitting alongside the parade route during a tribal fair, next to the fire during a ceremony and riding in the back of a pickup truck across remote land. Even before inauguration day, he was dubbed “cheii,” the Navajo word for “grandfather." Ryan Leclerc, a hard goods buyer for Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Vermont, said Sanders is more about substance than style, noting the senator's inauguration attire emulated what is “great” about the him. “Those are the mittens you might see when you’re sipping cider around a fire. Sanders doesn’t care and it’s not important to him," Leclerc said. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Oct. 2, 2017: Julie Payette is sworn in as Canada's fourth female Governor General, taking over from David Johnston. Nov. 1, 2017: Payette takes on fake news and bogus science, criticizing climate change deniers, believers in creationism and even horoscopes at a convention on science policy, rankling some critics but earning plaudits from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau January 2018: Payette appoints as her top adviser Assunta Di Lorenzo, a close friend and corporate lawyer with no prior experience in protocol or the governor general's operations. October 2018: One year into her tenure, Payette has attended 195 official events compared to more than 250 for the last two governors general, raising questions around her work ethic. She also breaks with a tradition that saw previous governors general visit all provinces and territories in their first year, as she skipped Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon. July 21, 2020: CBC News reports that Payette had yelled at and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit amid a toxic work environment. July 23, 2020: The Privy Council Office says it will launch an independent review of allegations that Payette mistreated past and current employees at Rideau Hall. Aug. 7, 2020: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says public office holders should be mindful of how they spend taxpayers' money following a CBC report that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on designs and renovations to Rideau Hall, some allegedly at Payette's personal request, for privacy, accessibility and security reasons. Sept. 1, 2020: The Privy Council Office announces it has hired Quintet Consulting Corp., an Ottawa-based consulting firm with a history of reviewing harassment allegations on Parliament Hill, to conduct a third-party probe into workplace culture at Rideau Hall. Sept. 2, 2020: Trudeau comes to the defence of the embattled Payette, saying Canada has an "excellent" representative for the Queen and that now is not the time to replace the former astronaut at Rideau Hall. Jan. 21, 2021: Payette resigns ahead of the expected release of the third-party investigation report, a move unprecedented in the history of Canadian governors general. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Democratic National Committee elected Jaime Harrison of South Carolina as chair on Thursday, signifying an early alignment between newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and state party leaders around the country. The party’s post-inauguration meeting, with election of a full slate of new officers, took place virtually, reflecting continued concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Vice chairs on the roster include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. of Texas. Harrison — a former chair of South Carolina's Democrats who proved his mettle as a fundraising powerhouse in his 2020 challenge to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — already has been anointed by Biden, continuing the tradition of sitting presidents choosing their own party’s chair. “We are all a part of a movement that you all started, and we are nowhere near done,” Harrison said Thursday, thanking the party's outgoing leaders. “I have no intention of letting victory turn into complacency. ... There is important work ahead of us." A Yale and Georgetown Law graduate, Harrison succeeds Tom Perez, who won an unusually contentious open election in 2017, when Democrats were out of power. After Harrison dropped out of that race to back him, Perez tapped him as a deputy chair. Harrison was a key liaison with state party leaders with whom Perez sometimes had rocky relationships. “I am confident that Jaime will ... take us to even higher heights,” Perez said during Thursday's meeting, noting that the slate passed on a vote of 407-4. Harrison, 44, comes into the job with overwhelming support from state party leaders, making his elevation a sign of relative unity in a party organization often beset by infighting among state leaders and Washington power players. “We know Jaime will commit to keep supporting state parties, and what we all need to do on the ground, to do more than just elect Joe Biden,” said Texas Chair Gilberto Hinojosa, who saw disappointing local results in November as Republicans did a better job of turning out voters, including Latinos in south Texas. Biden has committed to supporting state parties, with his inner circle assuring Democrats he won’t let infrastructure wither after his victory over President Donald Trump. Many rank-and-file party leaders remain wary after the down-ballot beating Democrats took even as President Barack Obama, with Biden as his running mate, won two national elections. During their eight years in the White House, Democrats lost control of the House and Senate and lost nearly 1,000 legislative seats around the country. Jen O’Malley Dillon, a deputy White House chief of staff and Biden’s campaign manager, pointed to Democrats’ recent Georgia Senate runoff victories as proof Biden will not preside over a repeat. Georgia Democrats had been building their own infrastructure for years, but DNC aid boosted efforts heading into the presidential election. To help Raphael Warnock’s and Jon Ossoff’s runoff bids, Biden’s team helped fund at least 50 staff positions, worked closely with the campaigns’ digital teams on voter contact strategy and messaging. Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris also each made trips to Georgia. Party building, O’Malley Dillon said in an interview before the inauguration, “is part of who he is.” Harrison also comes in with the backing of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a close Biden ally and the top-ranking Black member of Congress, who has said Harrison's experiences “have uniquely prepared him for this moment and this mission.” Harrison, who is also Black, found his footing in national politics as a top Clyburn aide on Capitol Hill and has often referred to Clyburn as his “political dad.” The pick is also in part a nod to South Carolina, where Black voters make up a majority of the Democratic electorate and which played a major role in Biden's win. Following lacklustre performances in the other early voting contests, and a key endorsement from Clyburn, Biden won the first-in-the-South primary by more than 30 points, a victory that helped propel him to big wins on Super Tuesday and rack up the votes needed for the nomination. “My buddy, Jim Clyburn, you brought me back,” Biden said after his South Carolina victory, acknowledging the lifeline. Sure to be up for debate among Democrats in the coming months is the early voting calendar and whether the lineup of states might be shuffled after an Iowa caucus fiasco. Party leaders said bad decisions, technological failures and poor communications created a mess that humiliated Democrats, undermined confidence in the outcome and threatened to end the tradition of Iowa getting to pick first. Some party leaders, including Clyburn, have argued that a more diverse state like South Carolina should be the first to vote. Thursday's meeting also included a video tribute to Don Fowler, a former national party chair and mainstay of South Carolina politics, who died last month at age 85. ___ Barrow reported from Washington. ___ Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Meg Kinnard And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Interior Health is ordering a review for “lessons learned” from the outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver, after 17 residents died in just over a month. The focus of the review will be around multi-bed units in long-term care facilities, according to Carl Meadows, South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations for Interior Health. “With McKinney, I’ve requested a review for lessons learned,” Meadows told the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board while giving an update on COVID-19 in the South Okanagan at their Jan. 21 meeting. A total of 55 residents tested positive at the facility out of the 59 who lived there at the beginning of the outbreak in December, 2020. Interior Health has previously stated the spread of COVID-19 at the facility was partially due to a lack of single-bed rooms to isolate residents who have tested positive. McKinney Place is an older facility which does have more congregation areas and has fewer private rooms than some newer long-term care facilities, which may have contributed to the spread, Interior Health officials previously stated. “There’s going to be more awareness around these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about them in the near future because it was very difficult to cordon off or cohort infected patients with four-bed units,” Meadows said. In the South Okanagan, including Penticton and Summerland, COVID-19 case numbers are down, but so are the number of tests, Meadows said. “Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping but we have had obviously some significant events at places that have been made public so it has been a very long few months, we’re still in an incident command structure in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. “Our numbers are going down, what we don’t know is our testing numbers are also down, so we don’t know if people are getting tested and of course now we’ve got the Pfizer vaccine that has been delayed and Moderna.” Right now, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the vaccination of long-term care and assisted living staff and residents with priority vaccinations for emergency/intensive care staff and COVID units in Penticton, Meadows said. “(COVID-19) has tested our health system like we’ve never experienced and McKinney was the latest example where it was very challenging. But I can assure you our teams are nothing short of amazing, you’re in very good hands in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
WINNIPEG — Manitoba's auditor general says the provincial government is not retrieving the vast majority of overpayments it makes to doctors. Tyson Shtykalo examined fees that physicians across the province were paid for patient examinations, surgeries and other services over a five-year period. In a report released Thursday, Shtykalo said the Health Department's own auditing branch found $1 million in overbillings submitted by doctors, but only about $11,000 was collected — just over one per cent. The government seems to focus more on educating doctors to avoid future overbillings than retrieving the money, he said. The report says the fee-for-service system is complicated and some mistakes are to be expected when there are billions of dollars in payments over a five-year period. But the Health Department has the authority to withhold future payments as a way to collect money it is owed by physicians. "The (Health Services Insurance Act) provides the department with the authority to offset overpayments against future claims from the physician." Even when the province goes after an overpayment, reimbursements are negotiated, the report says. "We were told that the department starts by asking for 80 per cent of the amount owing and the physician suggests a much smaller amount. Eventually, an agreement is reached, resulting in a repayment lower than the original overbilled amount." The group that represents the province's doctors said it is committed to accurate billing. "The auditor general's report confirms the vast majority of physician billings — over 99.9 per cent — have not been found to be inaccurate or overbilled. Only an average of about $200,000 per year out of almost $1 billion in annual physician services has been flagged as potentially overbilled," Doctors Manitoba said in a written statement. The group also questioned one part of Shtykalo's findings. It said the $1-million figure for overbillings would include suspected cases that were later followed up and deemed correct. "While it's totally legitimate for provincial auditors to flag billing submissions as a potential overpayment, it's important to note that in many cases physicians provide additional documentation that backs up their billing submission and the matter is resolved." Shtykalo confirmed his figures refer to cases as they are initially flagged by Health Department auditors. His report makes six recommendations, including retrieving all overpayments, improving training for health department auditors, and doing more reviews of payments to physicians. The Health Department said it agrees with the recommendations. Many of the issues are addressed in a bill currently before the legislature, it said. "Legislative amendments contemplated in Bill 10 are fundamentally aligned with the recommendations made by the (auditor general's office) in its report," the department said in a written response that accompanies Shtykalo's report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit says it is ready to start rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and expects to get its first shipment in early February. Medical officer of health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, addressed media Jan. 20 and said the unit submitted its rollout plan to the Ministry of Health earlier this week. Gemmill said although the date could change, the province has told the health unit to expect its first vaccines in early February. Vaccines will initially be directed to long-term care homes. “We are ready to go as soon as we get a vaccine available, with a focus on the residents, the staff and the essential caregivers in long-term care,” he said. Gemmill noted the region has relatively fewer cases, so it is a lower priority to receive the vaccine. But he added staff will be ready as soon as it does arrive. “The speed with which the general population will be protected will be determined by one factor only, and that is the supply of the vaccine,” he said. “We are going to have all hands-on deck.” Meanwhile, the district’s COVID cases are going down thanks to the Dec. 26 lockdown, according to Gemmill. There were only four new cases Jan. 20 – including zero in Haliburton – down from the 10-15 daily case average in the two weeks previous. “Our cases, at least for the last couple of days, have been diminishing. I hope that trend continues and I thank people for doing the things that need to be in place to make that happen.” However, the district saw a spike in cases the next day, with 40 new cases Jan. 21, including two in Haliburton. 35 of the cases were in Kawartha Lakes, which the health unit said was due to an outbreak at a long-term care come there. Snowmobile trails staying open The district is not planning to follow the lead of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit in closing Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club (OFSC) trails. “I have received many complaints about people travelling from other districts to use the local snowmobile trails, thus putting our district at risk of COVID-19,” their medical officer of health, Dr. Jim Chirico, said. “The OFSC recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their health unit region to snowmobile, but people have not taken the direction seriously.” Their closure is effective Jan. 21. Gemmill said he does not intend to close local trails, but people need to follow the stay-at-home orders. “I have no problem with people going out for recreation,” Gemmill said. “But do keep within the spirit of the regulations so we don’t have transmission.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Halton's police Chief Stephen Tanner on Thursday expressed remorse over his recent trip to Florida and the fallout it has caused, but said he won't step down. Last week Oakville Mayor Rob Burton resigned as chair of the Halton Police Board after he approved a trip to Florida by Tanner in late December. In a statement on Thursday Tanner said he sincerely appreciates "the full and unequivocal confidence" the Halton Police Board has placed in him as chief. "I will continue to lead our police service in the exemplary manner the Board has come to expect, and will always do my best for our members, citizens and for the community that I am sworn to protect," Tanner said in the statement. Addressing the trip to Florida and the subsequent resignation of Burton, Tanner said: "Regardless of the personal property-related reasons for which I travelled recently, or the permission that I sought and obtained for that travel, I am remorseful for that decision." "I have previously apologized openly to all of our members and to the police. I also regret the impact that this has had on Mayor (Chair) Burton who has stepped down from the Halton Police Board as a result of his decision to support my travel," Tanner continues. Announcing his resignation on Jan. 11, Burton said he was "deeply regretful" for giving his approval before Tanner took the trip. "I regret sincerely that I focused at the time on the ways the chief's trip qualified as essential travel," Burton wrote in the statement. "I should have recommended against it because it could generate public concern about me not setting a higher example than the rules and guidelines actually called for." Meanwhile, Tanner says he looks forward to continuing his service and to providing leadership to the community and police service members "to the very best of my ability in the years to come."
BATON ROUGE, La. — Julia Letlow, the widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, described herself as “both full of grief while also having hope for the future" as she registered Thursday to compete for the congressional seat her husband was unable to fill because of his death from COVID-19 complications. After filing her paperwork for the March 20 election, Julia Letlow faced reporters at the same podium where she stood with her husband six months earlier when he signed up for his bid to represent northeast and central Louisiana. This time, she stood alone. She pledged to continue Luke Letlow's vision for the 5th District, defended her own accomplishments and talked of the respect for public service she shared with her husband and wanted to pass along to their two young children. “We don’t always get to choose what happens to us. But we do get to choose how to respond. Today, I choose to continue to move forward. Today, I choose hope,” said Julia Letlow, 39, a Republican who lives in the small town of Start in Richland Parish. Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41, only weeks after winning a runoff election for the congressional seat and days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office. Julia Letlow said she knows the issues of the poverty-plagued district from travelling with her husband during the campaign and because of Luke Letlow's tenure as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who stepped down after three terms and endorsed Luke Letlow for the job. Abraham now is supporting Julia Letlow for the seat in the special election. “I wouldn’t have done this without his blessing,” Julia Letlow said of Abraham. Julia Letlow has never run for office “besides sixth-grade president" but said she often had conversations with her husband about the possibility. She dismissed suggestions she was riding her husband's political coattails or trying to capitalize off sympathy to get the congressional job, saying she has her own experience to qualify her for the position. “While Luke and I were a dynamo team and I miss him every day, still you’re your own individual person with your own qualifications and accomplishments in life, and I feel like I am very well qualified to run for this 5th Congressional District seat,” Julia Letlow told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “Look at my qualifications. Take a look at my bio. Make your decision there.” She has a career in higher education, with a Ph.D. in communication. She's on leave from her job with the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she works as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach. Six other contenders so far are vying for the congressional seat on the March ballot, including two who ran last fall. One of them, Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican, said Wednesday he’s worried about Julia Letlow’s two young children. Guillory said if Julia Letlow wins the congressional seat, “those kids could lose two parents.” Julia Letlow responded that she's running because of 3-year-old Jeremiah and 1-year-old Jacqueline. “I hope to illustrate for them the power of fortitude, resilience and perseverance," she said. Her campaign platform remains similar to her husband's priorities, with a focus on job development, expanded access to broadband internet and support for agriculture industries. She said she intends a bipartisan approach, “while staying true to my conservative ideals and values that I hold dear.” Asked if she thought President Joe Biden was properly elected to the office, Julia Letlow paused. Then, she said she believes Biden “is the legitimate U.S. president." When pressed, she said she does not have the continuing concerns that some Republicans have cited about fraud. She noted those allegations were litigated in many court cases, where no widespread voter fraud was found. “I have faith in our election cycle, I do,” she said. “I have faith in our democracy.” The sprawling 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, including the cities of Alexandria and Monroe. It's one of two congressional seats on the March ballot. Voters also will fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat, which is open after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the position to work for President Joe Biden’s administration. The signup period for both races wraps up Friday. ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
A yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is extremely concerning because it appears to be spreading more quickly among residents, public health officials said Thursday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said the unusually rapid spread of the virus at Roberta Place earlier this month prompted officials to start testing for a variant strain. Fifty-five people at the nursing home became ill within 48 hours of the first COVID-19 case being identified, said Dr. Colin Lee, the unit's associate medical officer of health. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported that 122 residents and 69 staff had been infected, and 19 residents had died. The variant was identified in six cases and further results are expected in the coming days, the unit said. "The problem is that this spreads so quickly to so many people that ultimately you're going to have a higher chance of more people severely ill and (more) deaths," Lee said. There's a "very high probability" that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants – strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, said Lee. Public health officials will be carrying out more testing at the home and will be trying to immunize as many residents and staff at the facility as possible, he said. An earlier immunization effort saw only 21 residents vaccinated as most others were already infected with COVID-19, he said. "We went in there on Saturday and immunized as many as we could," he said. The health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible so they can self-isolate if needed, said Lee. "One of our primary goals right now is to prevent the spread further, as it gets into households and other hospitals," Lee said. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical of health, said public health officials will also be stepping up infection prevention and control at the home. Yaffe said the source of infection is still hard to determine as the outbreak at the home is still under investigation. "At this point, we know a mutation is in there. The 501 mutation that’s associated with increased transmissibility ... We don’t know which mutant it is, or which variant of concern," she said. “So it’s hard to say right now how widespread it is because we don’t even know exactly what it is.” Last week, the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Roberta Place to help with the growing outbreak. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, along with other local organizations, has also been asked to help manage it. The Ministry of Long-Term Care said Thursday that it was working with its health partners to ensure staffing levels at the home were sufficient. “This development underscores the need for everyone to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our long-term care homes, especially as we find more evidence of new variants in our communities,” said spokeswoman Krystle Caputo. The nursing home's website says it can accommodate 137 residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — A New York judge on Thursday denied the National Rifle Association’s bid to throw out a state lawsuit that seeks to put the powerful gun advocacy group out of business. Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to move ahead in state court in Manhattan, rather than dismissing it on technical grounds or moving it to federal court, as the NRA’s lawyers desired. James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state non-profit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. James is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over non-profit organizations incorporated in the state, such as the NRA, Cohen said. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said at a hearing held by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen also rejected the NRA’s arguments that James’ lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and should’ve been filed in Albany, where the NRA’s incorporation paperwork lists an address. The NRA’s arguments for dismissing the case did not involve the merits of the case. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, though it is headquartered in Virginia and last week filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to reincorporate in that state. The NRA, in announcing its bankruptcy filing last Friday, said it wanted to break free of a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” and that it saw Texas as friendlier to its interests. The NRA’s lawyers said at a bankruptcy court hearing on Wednesday in Dallas that they wouldn’t use the Chapter 11 proceedings to halt the lawsuit. After Thursday’s ruling, they said they were ready to go ahead with the case, including a meeting with lawyers from James’ office on Friday and another hearing in March. In a letter to Cohen in advance of Thursday’s heading, NRA lawyer Sarah Rogers said the organization had no position on seeking to stay the case through bankruptcy, but that it reserved right to seek such orders from bankruptcy court in the future. Normally, a bankruptcy filing would halt all pending litigation. James’ office contends that its lawsuit is covered by an exemption involving a state’s regulatory powers and cannot be stopped by bankruptcy. Assistant New York Attorney General James Sheehan said he hoped to bring the case to trial by early 2022. In seeking to dismiss or move the state’s lawsuit to federal court, Rogers argued that many of its misspending and self-dealing allegations were also contained in pending lawsuits in federal court — a slate of cases she described as a “tangled nest of litigation.” Part of Rogers’ argument for moving the state lawsuit to federal court involved an error in the state’s original filing that she said altered the timeline of when it was filed. James’s office filed its lawsuit on Aug. 6, but later had to amend the complaint to include a part that was left. That same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging James’ actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” Rogers contended that because of the filing glitch James’ lawsuit should be considered a counterclaim to the NRA’s lawsuit and handled alongside of it in federal court. Cohen rejected that, saying Rogers was placing “far too much weight on a non-substantive error that was quickly fixed.” “The attorney general filed first,” he said. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
When Vancouver man Jason Brawn decided to string Christmas lights on trees on the North Shore mountains, he originally thought it’d just be a bit of festive fun to spread joy over the holidays. But, after seeing the smiles on the faces of passersby checking out his latest light display, he’s decided to keep decorating trees throughout the year. Brawn selects a tree, often just over five-metres tall, with epic city views in the background and then uses a customized telescoping pole to string 90 metres of lights around it, offering a little temporary magic and amazing photo opportunities. So far, he's been choosing trees on Mount Seymour, but he’s also looking to check out the trees on Hollyburn Mountain soon. “There will be many more of these trees to come,” he said, adding that he's now naming the decorated trees Bob, after Bob Ross – an American painter. “I thought I'd do one a couple of times a year, but seeing the smiles it's brought folks, how much that's lifted my own spirits, and how much I think we all need a bit of unexpected joy these days, I've been motivated to do them more often.” His latest tree was lit up on Thursday (Jan. 14) at Brockton Point on Mount Seymour. The tree before that was illuminated on Christmas Eve. “I've chosen that spot lately for a couple reasons – I can ski to and from that spot, which makes coming down with a 25 kilogram pack much more pleasant, and there's a lot of traffic there so people can easily come by for a selfie,” said Brawn. While the photo from his last endeavour is no doubt impressive and shows Vancouver’s bright city lights and a decorated tree standing tall, it’s still not quite Brawn’s “perfect tree” for his “dream image.” “The dream tree that I want will let me get a good distance from it so that I can use a long zoom lens – so I can compress distance,” said Brawn. “What I want to do is have the city in the background with this great big tree and then have some people around it for scale.” He’ll be back on the North Shore mountains over the next week (possibly Thursday or Friday) scoping out trees when the weather permits. “I'm not 100 per cent certain where I'll put this one – I've a few spots in mind – possibly up higher on the summit ridge below first peak where it's visible from Brockton [on Mount Seymour],” he said. “I'd also like to do one over at Cypress.” For Brawn, it’s all about sharing a little happiness during the coronavirus pandemic. He hopes his glowing trees will continue to put smiles on faces. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
Calgary police are urging vigilance after more than a dozen women were assaulted while walking alone in the last three months. Investigators are looking into the possibility that one man has assaulted at least 15 women since November. The groping incidents take place both in daylight and at night, according to police, who say the attacker flees immediately after. CPS is asking women to call 911 immediately if they have been targeted so that police have a better chance at finding the offender. "Officers will be dispatched to the area to help locate the suspect in a timely manner," said police in a written statement. Multiple attacks in 5 communities Communities where the assaults took place include downtown, Mission, Thorncliffe, Huntington Hills and Hillhurst. The most recent attack was on Tuesday in Thorncliffe. The method of attack has been similar. While walking alone, women have been approached from behind by a man who then groped them. In some incidents, the attacker seems to have waited for opportunities when the victims were distracted, either by an electronic device, or, as police explain, "during moments when their situational awareness was lowered, such as looking in a bag." Investigators haven't yet determined if all of the incidents are connected to one person, or if there are multiple assailants involved. Police have offered the following safety tips: Walk with others or in well-populated areas. Stay in well-lit areas with clear visibility. Be aware of your surroundings — limit the use of devices that would distract. Limit the number of belongings that you are carrying in your arms to reduce vulnerability. If you are attacked: Make noise to attract attention. Do not try to hold on to your possessions or valuables. Pay attention to the physical attributes of your attacker and what they are wearing. Call 911 immediately.
When U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking the presidential permit enabling construction of the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline Wednesday afternoon, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney suggested the future of this project could still be up for negotiation, if only the federal government would get tough. And if U.S. Democrats want to move on and not continue what Kenney called "a constructive and respectful dialogue" about the energy and environmental issues the project raises? "Then it is clear that the government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country's vital economic interests," he told reporters. "Not doing so would create a dangerous precedent." In an interview Thursday with CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Kenney said he was worried about the precedent that could be set for other pipeline projects if the Americans start retroactively repealing permits. "The Biden administration refuses to give this country sufficient respect to hear us out on this pipeline. In that policy context then, yes, there absolutely must be reprisals," he said. "We need to stand up for ourselves." WATCH: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Ottawa 'folded' on Keystone But what does Kenney mean by "reprisals"? What's legally possible? And what's wise, at this point in Canada's relationship with a new administration? Let's start with the most obvious legal path: seeking damages under Chapter 11 of the original North American Free Trade Agreement. New NAFTA protects 'legacy investments' After the Obama administration blocked Keystone's permit, its owner — then called TransCanada — used NAFTA's investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process to seek $15 billion in damages. The company later dropped its case when U.S. President Donald Trump reversed the decision. Critics of Chapter 11 proceedings say governments should not be constrained in their ability to regulate in the public interest by the threat of lawsuits from corporate investors. The new NAFTA tried to address this, with stronger measures on the environment and weaker investor protections. Canada and the U.S. agreed, however, that their ISDS process would continue for three more years, offering "legacy investors" like TC Energy some continued protection. Because of its $1.5 billion equity stake, the province of Alberta could join the company's action and try to recoup its own losses. Kenney told Power & Politics he believes Alberta's case is strong. But it isn't a slam dunk. Both TC Energy and the Alberta government could have anticipated that Trump would lose the election and their permit could be revoked. Democratic pledges to block the pipeline should have factored into their investment risk calculations. On the other hand, Biden wasn't deterred by the risk of re-igniting a legal case by re-revoking the permit. "It does set an unfortunate precedent and possibly even has a cooling effect on this type of investment, so I do think Canada should fight hard for this," trade lawyer John Boscariol told CBC News. A settlement that compensates for costs and future lost profits could be pricey for the American taxpayer, but it would not reverse Biden's decision. Biden acted on 'climate imperatives' Chapter 31 of the revised NAFTA also has a state-to-state dispute settlement process — for the times when one country feels another isn't keeping its commitments. The U.S. recently initiated a Chapter 31 consultation on Canadian dairy import regulations. Could this executive order on Keystone trigger a Chapter 31 complaint by Canada? When President Barack Obama made his move, TransCanada argued that Congress, not the president, has the proper constitutional authority to regulate pipeline projects. Since Democrats will control both the Senate and the House for the next several years, it's not clear there's any point in reviving that argument now. Has the U.S. violated anything in the new NAFTA? That's also unclear, especially since one of the goals of its do-over was to give governments more power to regulate or legislate in areas like the environment. Biden's executive order said the pipeline "disserves the national interest" because the U.S. and the world are facing a climate crisis, and domestic efforts to reduce harmful emissions "must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement" as it exercises "vigorous climate leadership." "Leaving the Keystone XL permit in place would not be consistent with my administration's economic and climate imperatives," it said. Reacting to the executive order, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn't mention any perceived violations of U.S. trade commitments and made no threats. "While we welcome the president's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president's decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," the prime minister said in his statement Wednesday evening. International Trade Minister Mary Ng's office said Thursday that stands as the federal government's official response. So what about 'sanctions'? Punishing countries that threatened American industries was a feature of Trump's trade policy. His administration's use of "national security" as justification for tariffs on sensitive global commodities like steel and aluminum was denounced as an abuse of measures intended only for emergency situations, such as wars. Protecting domestic companies from harm may be important politically, but it's not "urgent" in a way global trading rules allow. Retaliation is sanctioned as a remedy following the successful arbitration of a dispute. Even then, it's meant to be proportionate to the damage done. When the Trump administration was lashing out with tariffs, Canada joined other countries in demanding a return to "rules-based trade." Canada has tried to play a leadership role on reforms to make the World Trade Organization more effective in resolving disputes. So it's difficult to imagine the Trudeau government striking back at Biden's order with sanctions, however strongly Alberta's premier insists on retaliation. While Kenney may resent the fact that steel and auto workers were supported with retaliatory tariffs, while oil and gas workers apparently won't see the same, the United States' behaviour in the two cases isn't really comparable. The steel tariffs were condemned as illegal under global trading rules. Biden's executive order is not. Any improvised tariffs Canada could consider now would amount to more taxes on Canadian consumers, at a time when the government wants the economy to grow, not recede further. Lashing out in some other tit-for-tat regulatory fashion to harm the U.S. would most certainly be called out and punished. Trade wars are not — as Trump once famously suggested — easy to win. Particularly with a much-larger neighbour you need to work with on other files. "We are going to focus on all of the areas of cooperation," Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau told Power & Politics Wednesday. "When you develop a relationship with somebody, you take into consideration everything, and there are going to be areas where we have a difference of opinion."
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.