Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, the stars of Netflix's "Cobra Kai," talk to Yahoo Entertainment about reuniting with Elisabeth Shue season 3.
Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, the stars of Netflix's "Cobra Kai," talk to Yahoo Entertainment about reuniting with Elisabeth Shue season 3.
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."
Alphabet Inc's Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content. Google's threat escalates a battle with publishers such as News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds.
B.C. health officials announced 564 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 more deaths on Thursday. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 309 people, 68 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,119 people in B.C. have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,450 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 6,816 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 56,010 people who tested positive have recovered. There is a new community cluster in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region, in and around Williams Lake. "We remind people to pay close attention to how they are feeling and to immediately arrange to get tested if they are feeling unwell with symptoms of COVID-19," Henry and Dix said in the written statement. "Despite our COVID-19 curve trending in the right direction, we continue to have new outbreaks, community clusters and high numbers of new cases. COVID-19 continues to spread widely in our communities." The total number of patients in hospital has fallen by about 11 per cent in the last week, reaching the lowest level since Nov. 28, but intensive care numbers have remained steady. There have been no new outbreaks in health-care facilities, but six have been declared over. Meanwhile, the latest data confirm B.C.'s second wave of the pandemic has spread across the province and is no longer concentrated in the Lower Mainland. About 39 per cent of the new cases announced Thursday were in the Interior Health, Northern Health and Island Health regions. Update on vaccine rollout coming Friday To date, a total of 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the province, including 1,680 second doses. Health officials had originally scheduled an on-camera briefing for Thursday, but cancelled it as they prepare to update the province's strategy for immunization against the virus. The premier's office said Henry and Dix will instead join a news conference Friday with Premier John Horgan and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading B.C.'s COVID-19 immunization rollout. The four are expected to comment on the next steps in the immunization program that has been complicated by a hiccup in the vaccine supply from Pfizer-BioNTech. The province adjusted its vaccination plan in response to news that Pfizer-BioNTech isn't sending any doses of its vaccine to Canada next week.
VICTORIA — The B.C. government says a review of legal options has made it clear it cannot prevent people from travelling to the province from elsewhere in Canada. Premier John Horgan says in a statement that much of the travel that is happening between provinces is work-related and can't be restricted. The province had asked for a review of legal options related to restricting interprovincial travel last week in response to concerns that visitors have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. Horgan says the province also asked for "a better understanding of the impact of travel on transmission" of the illness. He says B.C. can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of residents. If transmission increases due to interprovincial travel, the premier says B.C. would impose stronger restrictions on non-essential travellers, though he did not offer details on potential measures in Thursday's statement. Horgan said he spoke with premiers in other provinces Thursday and asked them to share messages that now is not the time for non-essential travel. "We ask all British Columbians to stay close to home while vaccines become available. And to all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely," he said. Public health officials indicate it's most important that everyone obey health orders, wherever they are, rather than imposing mobility rules, said Horgan. While announcing the legal review on Jan. 14, Horgan said he wanted to put the matter of interprovincial travel restrictions "either to rest, so British Columbians understand we cannot do that" or find if there's a way to do it. Horgan added that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is exploring further restrictions on international travel and “B.C. stands ready to assist.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. There are 731,450 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 731,450 confirmed cases (67,099 active, 645,729 resolved, 18,622 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,955 new cases Thursday from 102,162 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 178.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,079. There were 160 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,040 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 149. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,895,320 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 397 confirmed cases (nine active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 284 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.35 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,326 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 419 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 87,989 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,565 confirmed cases (21 active, 1,479 resolved, 65 deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 939 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.16 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 17 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,703 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,057 confirmed cases (325 active, 719 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 32 new cases Thursday from 1,457 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 41.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 28. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 132,168 tests completed. _ Quebec: 248,860 confirmed cases (18,260 active, 221,327 resolved, 9,273 deaths). There were 1,624 new cases Thursday from 8,900 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 215.2 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,033 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,719. There were 65 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 397 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 57. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.67 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 109.29 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,687,068 tests completed. _ Ontario: 247,564 confirmed cases (26,063 active, 215,887 resolved, 5,614 deaths). There were 2,632 new cases Thursday from 67,959 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 178.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,254 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,751. There were 46 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 379 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,826,459 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,089 confirmed cases (3,205 active, 24,091 resolved, 793 deaths). There were 196 new cases Thursday from 2,090 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.03 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,135 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 162. There were five new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.91 per 100,000 people. There have been 446,640 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,338 confirmed cases (3,099 active, 18,000 resolved, 239 deaths). There were 226 new cases Thursday from 1,157 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 263.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,005 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 286. There were 13 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 33 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.35 per 100,000 people. There have been 325,825 tests completed. _ Alberta: 119,114 confirmed cases (10,256 active, 107,358 resolved, 1,500 deaths). There were 678 new cases Thursday from 14,378 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,529 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 647. There were 16 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 111 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 34.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,048,875 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 62,976 confirmed cases (5,847 active, 56,010 resolved, 1,119 deaths). There were 564 new cases Thursday from 4,334 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 115.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,368 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 481. There were 15 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.07 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,040,843 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from seven completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,210 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 77 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been seven new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,959 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 161 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,179 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Researchers at Ruhr University use designer protein brain injections to regenerate spinal nerves which allow paralyzed mice to walk again.
NEW YORK — Nothing illustrates the political passions of a television network's audience quite like ratings for a presidential inaugural. The 6.53 million people who watched President Joe Biden take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address on MSNBC Wednesday was a whopping 338% bigger than its audience for Donald Trump's swearing in four years ago, the Nielsen company said. On the flip side, Fox News Channel's audience of 2.74 million for Biden on Wednesday represented a nearly 77% drop from its viewership for Trump in 2017, Nielsen said. A preliminary Nielsen estimate shows Biden's inaugural viewership on the top six networks beat Trump by 4%. Nielsen said it doesn't have a complete estimate for inaugural viewing because it is still counting people who watched on other networks or outside their homes. CNN, with 10 million viewers, easily beat ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox during Biden's big moment, Nielsen said. That's 196% more than watched Trump four years ago. CNN, which has been on a hot streak in the ratings since Biden's victory, also topped all the others for its coverage of the primetime inaugural celebration. MSNBC, meanwhile, said it recorded the highest daytime ratings of the network's nearly 25-year history on Wednesday. ABC had 7.66 million viewers for the oath-taking (up 10% from 2017), NBC had 6.89 million (down 12%) and CBS had 6.07 million (down 13%), Nielsen said. David Bauder, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — After an unexplained delay, the Pentagon announced plans Thursday to move ahead with a military trial for three men held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who are suspected of involvement in deadly bombings in Indonesia in 2002 and 2003. A senior military legal official approved non-capital charges that include conspiracy, murder and terrorism for the three men, who have been in U.S. custody for 17 years for their alleged roles in the deadly bombing of Bali nightclubs in 2002 and a year later of a J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. The timing of the charges, which had been submitted under President Donald Trump but not finalized, caught attorneys for the men by surprise and would seem to be in conflict with President Joe Biden's intention to close the detention centre. Gen. Lloyd Austin, Biden's nominee to be secretary of defence, this week reaffirmed the intention to close Guantanamo to the Senate committee considering his nomination. "The timing here is obvious, one day after the inauguration,” said Marine Corps Maj. James Valentine, the appointed military attorney for the most prominent of the three. “This was done in a state of panic before the new administration could get settled.” A spokesman for the military commissions, which have been bogged down for years over legal challenges largely centred around the brutal treatment of men during their previous confinement in CIA detention facilities, had no immediate comment. Military prosecutors filed charges against Encep Nurjaman, an Indonesian known as Hambali, and the other two men in June 2017. The case was rejected by the Pentagon legal official known as a convening authority for reasons that aren't publicly known. “The case fell apart on them. I cannot tell you why because that’s classified,” said Valentine, part of the legal team for Hambali. Now that the convening authority has approved charges, the U.S. must arraign the prisoners before the military commission at the base in Cuba. Court proceedings at Guantanamo have been halted by the pandemic and it's not clear when they will resume. Hambali is alleged to have been the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian affiliate of al-Qaida. The Pentagon said in a brief statement on the case that he is accused with Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, who are from Malaysia, of planning and aiding the attacks. All three were captured in Thailand in 2003 and held in CIA custody before they were taken to Guantanamo three years later. The October 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, including 88 Australians. A cleric who inspired it, along with other attacks, was released from an Indonesian prison earlier this month after completing his sentence for funding the training of Islamic militants. The August 2003 attack on the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta killed 12 and wounded about 150. In December, Indonesian police arrested a man believed to be the military leader of Jemaah Islamiyah network. The most prominent Guantanamo case, involving five men charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has been stuck in the pre-trial phase since their arraignment in May 2012. No date for the death penalty trial has been set. The U.S. holds 40 men at Guantanamo. President Barack Obama sought to close the detention centre, move the prisoners to facilities inside the United States and transfer military trials to civilian court. Obama reduced the prisoner population but his effort to close Guantanamo was blocked by Congress, which prohibited transferring anyone from the base to the U.S. for any reason. Biden has said he favours closing the detention centre but has not yet disclosed his plans for the facility. In written testimony to the Senate, Austin said he would work with others in the administration to develop a “path forward” to closure. “I believe it is time for the detention facility at Guantanamo to close its doors," he said. Ben Fox, The Associated Press
On Thursday the province released the updated numbers on COVID-19 cases in youth. The total active cases in youth provincially in all locations are 969, 19 have no known location and 950 have a location reported. The province releases the update on the numbers each Thursday. Currently in the North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, there are 106 active cases in youth, an increase of 10 from the previous report. Last week there were 266 tests performed across the North Central zone. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 53 active cases in youth. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 53 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. Cumulative tests performed since Sept. 7, 2020 in the North Central zone is 4,925. Provincially there is a 17.5 per cent test positivity rate in youth. There were 2,941 tests performed in total in the province in the last week. The cumulative number of tests performed since Sept. 7, 2020 is 63,842. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Vaccinating close to a million people in less than a year is likely going to take more hands to accomplish than Nova Scotia's health-care system currently has on deck. That's why regulatory bodies like the Nova Scotia College of Nursing are offering to relicense former health-care professionals to help with the massive COVID-19 vaccination program. The college put out a call to retired nurses last week to sign up for free temporary licences — a program meant primarily to bolster the vaccine workforce and help with other aspects of the COVID-19 response like contact tracing and assessment. In the first seven days, the college handed out 139 emergency conditional licences. Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, said she expects far more nurses will sign up in the months ahead as the vaccine rollout is supposed to ramp up. "We're always nurses, regardless of when we retire. Many [nurses] have retired, but are still anxious to help out," Hazelton said in an interview. The union isn't involved in the relicensing program, but Hazelton said phones at her office have been ringing off the hook with questions about helping with vaccine efforts. Hazelton said there are hundreds of nurses in Nova Scotia who, like herself, don't currently work in clinical settings but have maintained their licences to practise. She said reassigning some people from administrative roles to vaccine clinics could help keep other health services running uninterrupted. "It's an opportunity for us to vaccinate because we have the skills to do that, and to keep as many nurses as we can at the bedside doing what they do best: looking after patients," she said. The Nova Scotia College of Nursing launched a similar program last spring to help with the COVID-19 response, and almost 200 nurses reactivated their licences. At that time, the program was open to people who had practised within the past five years. This year's iteration includes nurses who have practised within the past 10 years. The temporary licences from the college are valid for four months starting when the individual is selected for work — and Nova Scotia's health authority has been looking to hire. Several job postings recently closed for workers across the province to support COVID-19 vaccinations. They were open to paramedics, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, midwives, nurse practitioners and pharmacists. At a COVID-19 briefing earlier this week, Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said he expects more health-care regulators, including the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, will soon introduce rapid relicensing programs. Dr. Chris Randall, a retired physician in Yarmouth, N.S., came out of retirement last year when the college first offered temporary licences in response to the pandemic. He was assigned to a COVID-19 unit but didn't end up seeing any patients. It was boring, he said, but he didn't mind. "We're trying to make people well," he said. "When we don't see sick people, that's absolutely great." Randall said he wouldn't hesitate to reactivate his licence again to help with the vaccination effort should the health system need his help. MORE TOP STORIES
While the North Shore mountains haven’t had much snowfall over the past week, boarders and skiers can expect a lot more fresh powder on the slopes this weekend. The last seven days has only seen around seven to nine centimetres of snowfall on the local ski hills – Cypress Mountain Ski Resort on Hollyburn Mountain and Mount Seymour haven't had any fresh snow in over 48 hours, while Grouse Mountain recorded 1 cm overnight. But, do not despair, Environment Canada has forecast snow for the local mountains and at sea level in Metro Vancouver Saturday night. Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, says all the right ingredients are coming together for a snow event on Saturday evening that’s expected to continue through to Sunday. “This event for Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse is very likely to bring some snow,” he said. “It'll be a great little top-up, whether it's five or 10 centimetres, or quite a bit more, even double that still remains to be seen. “We couldn't honestly tell you now, what it is exactly going to deliver, but all of the ingredients are for sure there that the local mountains will see some snow Saturday night into Sunday.” On top of Saturday and Sunday’s snow predictions, the Metro Vancouver forecast also calls for a 30 per cent chance of flurries on Monday night with a daytime top of 4°C and a low of 0°C at night. Plus, Castellan also said to stay tuned for a possibility of more snow on Tuesday and Wednesday at elevation and sea level, with a 60 per cent chance of flurries or rain showers in the forecast. Temperatures will hover between 4-5°C during the day and drop to a chilly 2-0°C at night over the week. Despite the lack of snow during the past week, Castellan said snowfall for the local mountains this season was so far above average. To date this season, Grouse has had a total of 489 cm, Seymour has recorded 505.5 cm and Cypress Resort has had 415 cm. “We're well above average right now, which is not surprising, because it was very stormy for the better part of five weeks,” he said. “Between the end of the first week of December, all the way through to just last week was just one storm after the other, and for the local mountains, they're high enough that most of that fell as snow.” While the mountains have had a fair amount of snow, he said exceedingly warm temperatures in December had made it difficult for snowfall to reach sea level. “Generally speaking, the snow has been very active at elevation but for us down at sea level, for most of the North Shore, it's been very wet and not the amount of snow that we have typically seen over the three decades that we kind of average back to from 1981 through 2010. “It's been a slow winter for sea level, there's no doubt about that.” He said the low snowfall over the past week on the local mountains coincided with the storms ending. “We've kind of turned off the tap,” he said. “There's been a little bit of rain, but the snow was hinging on storms and if you turn off the storm track, then you're not going to get very much in the way of snow. “It's that magical mix between having storms still populating the Coast but also being cold enough.” Castellan said this weekend's snow event was the result of the “La Niña pattern starting to take hold.” “What we need to happen is that the high pressure system anchors itself further west underneath or south of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and for the trough [low pressure] to be to the east of that, and that gives us that northwesterly flow. “For the longest time, we've had the trough be too close to us, and it's given us a southwesterly flow. So, finally, we're going to make some of that cold air coming south." He said the cold air coming south wasn't a true Arctic air mass, so there wouldn't be record low temperatures over the next week. "We have just enough cold that when you clash that cold with a Pacific system coming down the coast from the Gulf of Alaska, then you get that mix where finally you can get some snow and the potential for snow at sea level is significantly ramped up compared to anything that comes from the southwest.” While non-essential travel advisories are still in place, Castellan also reminded residents to be prepared for snowy conditions on British Columbia highway passes, including the Coquihalla, Sea to Sky, Okanagan Connector and the Malahat on Vancouver Island. Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in B.C. from Oct. 1 to April 30. These routes are marked with regulatory signs posted on highways throughout the province. Drivers are required to have winter tires when travelling on highways in Northern B.C., the Southern Interior, the South Coast, and areas of Vancouver Island. The province has designated winter tire and chain routes drivers can check before venturing out. Winter or M+S rated tires are mandatory for vehicles on Cypress Bowl Road and the road to Mount Seymour at all times from Oct. 1 to March 31. Winter rated tires are strongly recommended during snowfall events. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
Sask Polytech and three partner institutions have received a funding boost from the Lawson Foundation for a project that will help in their efforts to advance outdoor early learning and teaching across Canada. The collaborative project by Bow Valley College, New Brunswick Community College, Okanagan College and Saskatchewan Polytechnic is called Outdoor Pedagogy in Early Childhood Education: From Colleges to Communities and has been awarded a grant of a grant of $750,000. Project lead Dr. Beverlie Dietze, director of learning and applied research at Okanagan College, explained that outdoor education is vital for children because of health benefits, physical literacy and connecting with nature. “Those are core components in children’s development as well as we look at it from a social development, peer play and experiences that support children in preparing for later academic skills. Much of the foundations, for example, of science and math are started as children engage in outdoor experiences,” Dietze said. She explained that outdoor education is vital as part of health and wellness and supports students in returning to the outdoors as a place where they participate in daily lives. “This is how we build environmental stewardship and how children are going to become further connected with their environment and care for their environment,” she explained Nancy Holden, Sask Polytech School of Human Services academic chair agreed. She added that children could be educated in various curriculum through outdoor learning. “They are doing it without realizing what they are doing. So there is science when they try to put two sticks together and wonder if they are going to hold each other up or they are going to do math when they are playing in the rocks and they want everyone to have the same number. All parts of their being and growth — whether it is creatively, cognitively — all of those pieces can be tapped into when they are playing outdoors,” Holden said. According to Dietze, there is social learning and physical learning in outdoor learning including strengthening body structures as a physical aspect. “The whole notion of what we call self-regulation or knowing how far they can push and pull with their friends — that happens when they are outdoors in a rough and tumble experience. And when we look at it emotionally it’s a very important place for children to again gain that sense of calmness and ability to deal with some of their stressors and to really be able to refocus,” Dietze said. She explained that it is important from a health and educational perspective. “When we look at young children and preparing them for later academic skills it very much is connected to those earlier experiences. When we look at the increase in children with diabetes, when we look at the children having visual difficulties, those are all related to them requiring action and activity in the outdoor environment. We can actually contribute a great deal to reducing our heath care costs when we have children engaged in regular outdoor experiences.” The goal of the three-year project is to demonstrate a model of outdoor pedagogy practices, teaching, learning and mentoring that will create a shift in curriculum in post-secondary Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs and in community early learning and child care programs. According to a press release, in 2018 only five out of 100 college ECE programs had explicit outdoor pedagogy courses and no practicum experiences for students had outdoor play requirements. In addition, a Canadian survey of 896 ELCC educators who enrolled in an online outdoor play training course found that 89 per cent of respondents had never received any training in outdoor pedagogy, and 72 per cent indicated that they lacked the training and experience to implement outdoor pedagogy in their work. “Pedagogy means a combination of experiences and knowledge creates learning. So when we look at it from an outdoor perspective, we use the term outdoor pedagogy because it’s going to be the experiences, the play, the connections to land that will contribute to children building on their learning and their knowledge foundations,” Dietze said. Through the collaboration, the group aims to support college instructors, their students, and early childhood educators, in implementing high quality outdoor experiences and play opportunities to and with children. Dietze explained that the project’s purpose is to support ECE students to work on understanding the impact of outdoor play and experiences with children. “So that is the intent that we will increase the amount of education that those educators see. And then when they are working with children they will see the outdoor environment as a very important part of the experiences that children require,” Dietze said. Holden explained that the learning occurs naturally. “It is adults who put labels on things. Children don’t sit around and say okay I am going to engage in a cognitive activity now and I am going to sit down and do some science, but yet, that is what they are doing,” Holden said. Children playing in nature can learn through the labels and language that already exist. “So it is a great opportunity and when you think about. We often ask our students to think about one childhood memory that brings you joy and it’s interesting because 98 per cent of the students will reflect on an outdoor activity,” she added. Dietze explained that land-based learning is part of the package for children. She said that it supports children in looking at the place they are and utilizing, preserving and getting to what is in the land. “It’s all interconnected. Whether we utilize the term land-based or outdoor pedagogy the principles are the same. We are wanting children to connect to their environment and to use that as a lab for their play,” Dietze said. According to Dietze. Saskatchewan is a large part of adding to the knowledge base of the project because of experiences in the land. That will be part of the research as it spreads internationally. “Your communities are very important to this project as we learn and create that new awareness of how land-based and outdoor pedagogy can be implemented in communities such as yours,” Dietze said. “Further from the college perspective how it makes a difference in their graduates in being prepared when they graduate to bring this new knowledge base to the children and the families of your communities.” Holden explained that one goal would be ideally to develop an outdoor demonstration center similar to one that currently exists for ECE programming. “We may be able to develop a demonstration center in outdoor play where we have an opportunity for children to come and they live outdoors for the entire time that they are in there,” she said. “When you say to someone that they are going to send a three-year-old outside at minus 20 degree weather most people would cringe. There are ways around that and this will be part of the project that we will be able to prove to people that there are safe ways to allow children to be outdoors during those times,” she explained. Holden explained that the different institutions bring different experiences with four partners each bringing their own perspective. “Saskatchewan plays a really key part in a lot of different ways. Definitely in our harsh winters comparative to places like British Columbia or New Brunswick. But also our level of Indigenous and how can we incorporate Indigenous ways of doing that are very much ties to the outdoors and nature and what can we offer there.” Sask Polytech is happy to be part of the partnership as it grows. “Really we see it as a Canada-wide opportunity to really make a difference in the future for our communities and for our society,” Holden said. “When children get these opportunities to be outdoors and to learn through nature and improve their health it is nothing but a win-win and I think this is just the beginning of what is to come.” Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
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 or Nevada 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
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer's Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada's deliveries over four weeks in half. In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021. Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February. Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn't know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada's doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned. Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses. Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn't blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it. "If I was in (Trudeau's) shoes ... I'd be on that phone call every single day. I'd be up that guy's yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn't know what hit him," he said of Pfizer's executives. Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday. Trudeau didn't suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected. Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays. Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn't say which ones. Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment. Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks. Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March. Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Bitcoin wavered on Friday and was heading toward its sharpest weekly drop since September, as worries over regulation and its frothy rally drove a pullback from recent record highs. Traders said a report posted to Twitter by BitMEX Research https://twitter.com/BitMEXResearch/status/1351855414103715842 suggesting that part of a bitcoin may have been spent twice was enough to trigger selling, even if concerns were later resolved. "You wouldn't want to rationalise too much into a market that's as inefficient and immature as bitcoin, but certainly there's a reversal in momentum," said Kyle Rodda, an analyst at IG Markets in Melbourne, in the wake of the BitMEX report.
A trade organization representing Canada's movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they're operating as restaurants or bars.Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, "highlights the kind of absurdity of what's happening" in the province.The frustration comes as B.C. leaders have allowed gyms, restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November.Vancouver's Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city's Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December.Those sorts of creative rebrandings were applauded by the province's Health Ministry in a statement on Wednesday that recognized those in "the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic."Bronfman says the trade group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing "ingenuity in order to survive.""Most movie theatres don't have liquor licences, and they are on the verge of shutting their doors forever," she says."All we're asking is to be looked at as an industry, as a sector that has a very low risk of any kind of transmission of the disease."Theatres across Canada have been shuttered for a large part of the pandemic over concerns they are a spreading ground for the virus. But representatives for the industry have argued there's no data that points to cinemas as being a point of transmission.Bronfman says if concerns about airflow are part of the issue, it's unclear why health authorities would deem it safe for people to sit across from each other at a bar, but not inside a theatre with high ceilings.It's equally confusing why showing a Sunday night football game would be allowed, but not a screening of sports favourites "Rudy" or "Friday Night Lights," which are shorter and would provide less theoretical exposure to the virus."We're not getting the answers as to why we can't open," she says."There's a level of frustration and quite frankly desperation."Before they were closed, cinemas across the country had introduced various safety protocols that limited the size of crowds and kept them distanced with assigned seating.However, there were critics of the reopening of movie theatres who questioned whether proper enforcement was in place at multiplexes to prevent people from sitting in groups.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Barricades that blocked the Highway 6 bypass around Caledonia for the past three months came down this week, but traffic is not flowing just yet. Land defenders from Six Nations carted away construction debris and moved a large dirt pile off the road. But a trench dug just south of Argyle Street needs to be repaired before the bypass can reopen. Skyler Williams, spokesperson for the land defenders, told The Spectator that Ministry of Transportation inspectors were out assessing the state of the bypass. “The MTO and OPP have full access,” Williams said. “So it’s just a matter of them fixing the road.” The bypass has been blocked three times since the dispute over a planned subdivision on McKenzie Road started in mid-July, when land defenders occupied the 25-acre site — which they claim as unceded Haudenosaunee territory — and named it 1492 Land Back Lane. The most recent barricades started to go up Oct. 22, prompted by a skirmish with police hours after a Superior Court judge made permanent a pair of injunctions barring land defenders from occupying the McKenzie land or blocking roadways in Haldimand County. Williams said trenches were dug across the bypass, Argyle Street and McKenzie Road that night “to protect our camp from police violence.” On Monday, the Land Back group announced it would move off the bypass and shrink the occupied zone on Argyle Street in hopes of persuading the federal government to engage in nation-to-nation negotiations. “In August, barricades were removed in good faith because (federal ministers) Carolyn Bennett and Marc Miller said they would meet with our community, but that hasn’t happened,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to push the feds and the province to come here with a mandate to make some real changes.” Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt reacted with tempered enthusiasm to the news. “This is a step in the right direction, but we’re not breaking out the champagne at this point,” he said. “We stand behind the process we took with the developer and Six Nations in getting to the point where this particular development was to proceed. We believe there’s still a long way to go for us to get to where we feel we belong.” Reopening the bypass should relieve pressure on detour routes that have been clogged with transport trucks and plagued by collisions. But access in and out of Caledonia will still be limited. Land defenders still control roughly one kilometre of Argyle Street south of the town, from the south end of the Caledonia Baptist Church property to just north of a Hydro One transfer station the utility company took offline as a security precaution in October. Williams said his group moved the school bus that had been blocking access to the church parking lot as a gesture of good faith. Trenches ring the construction site on McKenzie Road, while the mangled rail line that runs through the community remains out of service. The barricades serve a tactical purpose, making it harder for the OPP to reach the Land Back camp. Land defenders also hoped to raise public awareness of what they consider an unjust development and put pressure on the government to act. But Hewitt said talks can’t proceed against a backdrop of blockaded roads and occupied land. “It all has to start with roads and infrastructure being opened up,” the mayor said. “So if this is the sign of those steps moving forward, then I’m encouraged, and I encourage that to continue.” The federal ministers have said they are waiting to be invited to a meeting at which Six Nations Elected Council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council can speak with one voice. Getting to that point involves overcoming a century of political division on the reserve that Williams said was created by the federal government instituting the band council system to supplant traditional leadership. “The government and the police, and the Brits before Canada, have tried really hard to divide not just our community, but every (Indigenous) community,” he said. “So for them to take advantage of that century-old divide in our community and say you need to get over the division of the last 100 years, that reconciliation has to come with some trust-building.” Hewitt said it only makes sense for Ottawa to want a lasting solution “that’s embraced by all.” “We can’t continue to have a conversation today with one faction (on Six Nations) and then find out tomorrow that that faction is no longer valid,” he said, calling it “unfortunate” that Caledonia residents and McKenzie homebuyers are stuck in the middle. “We’re looking forward to not only this road, but every road being open, and a strategy that Haldimand and Six Nations can embrace with respect to land development and opportunities that can benefit both communities,” Hewitt said. Williams cautioned that the barricades could go up again if the land defenders and their allies feel they are in danger of being forcibly removed by police while political negotiations proceed. “We know our community supports us and believes in our right to our land,” he said. “We know that if police escalate this situation again, that community will show up for us.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
BILLINGS, Mont. — The Biden administration announced Thursday a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment. The suspension, part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior, went into effect immediately under an order signed Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega. It follows Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change. The order did not ban new drilling outright. It includes an exception giving a small number of senior Interior officials — the secretary, deputy secretary, solicitor and several assistant secretaries — authority to approve actions that otherwise would be suspended. The order also applies to coal leases and permits, and blocks the approval of new mining plans. Land sales and exchanges and the hiring of senior-level staff at the agency also were suspended. Under former President Donald Trump, federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican's goal to boost fossil fuel production. Trump consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden has made a top priority. On his first day in office Wednesday, Biden signed a series of executive orders that underscored his different approach — rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and telling agencies to immediately review dozens of Trump-era rules on science, the environment and public health. The Interior Department order did not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning activity won't come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated. Its effect could be further blunted by companies that stockpiled enough drilling permits in Trump's final months to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years. Erik Milito with the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents offshore energy firms, said he was optimistic companies still will be able to get new permits approved through the senior-level officials specified in the order. But Biden’s move could be the first step in an eventual goal to ban all leases and permits to drill on federal land. Mineral leasing laws state that federal lands are for many uses, including extracting oil and gas, but the Democrat could set out to rewrite those laws, said Kevin Book, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners. The administration's announcement drew outrage from Republicans and some industry trade groups. They said limiting access to publicly owned energy resources would mean more foreign oil imports, lost jobs and fewer tax revenues. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said the administration was “off to a divisive and disastrous start." He added that the government is legally obliged to act on all drilling permit applications it receives and that “staff memos” can't override the law. “Impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery,” American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a statement. National Wildlife Federation Vice-President Tracy Stone-Manning said she expected Biden to make good on his campaign promise to end leasing altogether, or at least impose a long-term moratorium on any new issuances. “The Biden administration has made a commitment to driving down carbon emissions. It makes sense starting with the land that we all own,” she said. “We have 24 million acres already under lease. That should get us through." Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels generates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons (500 metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a 2018 study. Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting Biden’s climate agenda. But there are other ways an ambitious Biden administration could make it harder for permit holders to extract oil and gas. “The ability to get your resources out, to get right of way, to get roads, to get supporting infrastructure, not all of that is signed and sealed right now,” Clearview Energy's Book said. Under President Barack Obama, the Interior Department imposed a 2016 moratorium on federal coal leases while it investigated the coal program's climate effects and whether companies were paying a fair share for coal from public lands. Trump lifted the moratorium soon after taking office. __ AP writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
Peterborough County councillors have agreed to send a request to the province to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing into long-term care facilities across the province to test residents and staff. The motion brought forward by Sherry Senis, deputy mayor of Selwyn Township, will be sent to both the federal and provincial governments and health officials further requesting they commit to vaccinating all long-term care residents, retirement and other congregate senior living facilities by Feb. 15. While the province has already made the Feb. 15 commitment, Senis said council members would be reiterating that commitment by supporting the motion. “Health Canada has yet to approve the rapid COVID testing for widespread use. Once this is done, we ask the province to deploy the testing into long term care facilities. At this time, Fairhaven is on a pilot project for the testing,” she said. During their special virtual council meeting held on Thursday, Senis said the pandemic has put a spotlight on long-term care homes across the province with devastating results for family members. “As of this week, over 3,000 (Ontario long-term care) residents have died, along with 10 staff. Every day we hear about another outbreak in a long-term care home,” she said. “As I’m a board member of Fairhaven, I felt it appropriate to bring forward this motion with the executive director, Lionel Towns supports.” The motion also requests the federal and provincial governments provide sufficient emergency funds to hire adequate staff, provide training and continue to enhance long term care wages, similar to what Quebec has done. “Quebec has done a massive hiring of staff and trained them for their long-term care homes and their numbers have decreased substantially as a result. In Ontario, we should be following suit and pay the staff accordingly,” Senis said. The Peterborough census metropolitan area has the second largest proportion of seniors living in Canada’s 34 census metropolitan areas, she said. “Many of them are vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves. County council represents a large swath in Peterborough County and I feel it would be appropriate for us to support the recommendations and send them forward. We have a voice and I can’t think of a better reason than this to use it,” Senis said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP Phillip Lawrence, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot, Premier Doug Ford, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini, Long-Term Care Minister Merilee Fullerton, the City of Peterborough, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus will all receive a copy of the motion. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
RCMP are investigating after 63 cows and calves were reported stolen from land in the Moosomin and Fairlight area in southeastern Saskatchewan. The thefts took place between October and December 2020, police say. Twenty-two black-and-white and 13 red cattle were stolen. All the cows were branded with a horizontal bar over the letters "TE." The calves were not branded, but all the steer calves have green ear tags and the heifer calves have yellow tags. RCMP's livestock services is assisting with the investigation, and RCMP say they will know if any of these animals hit auction marts or similar venues. Anyone with information related to the whereabouts of these cattle are asked to call 310-RCMP (7267), or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).