Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be hard-pressed to have his way with the Rams’ stingy defense, but L.A. is going to have trouble out-scoring Green Bay.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be hard-pressed to have his way with the Rams’ stingy defense, but L.A. is going to have trouble out-scoring Green Bay.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
LONDON — More than 100,000 people have died in the United Kingdom after contracting the coronavirus, a year into Europe's deadliest outbreak, figures from the government showed Tuesday. Britain is the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 virus-related deaths, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, and by far the smallest. The U.S. has recorded more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world’s highest total, but its population of about 330 million is about five times Britain’s. The health department said 100,162 people have died after testing positive, including 1,631 new deaths reported Tuesday. “It’s hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic,” a sombre Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a televised news conference. The U.K. toll is more than twice as many people as were killed by German bombs in Britain in the 1940-41 Blitz, and 30,000 more than the total number of British civilians killed during the six years of World War II. The first confirmed British victim of the virus was Peter Attwood, an 84-year-old retiree who died on Jan. 30, 2020 — though the cause was not recorded as COVID-19 until months later. A year on, hundreds of thousands of Britons are grieving the loss of loved ones, and demanding an accounting for the terrible toll. In part, Britain has suffered because of longstanding factors such as high levels of conditions including obesity and heart disease, a large gap between rich and poor and London’s status as a global crossroads. But decisions during the pandemic also played a part. Johnson’s Conservative government is accused by many scientists of waiting too long to impose a lockdown in March as infections were rising exponentially. Leading epidemiologists say acting a week sooner might have cut the death toll in half. As in other European countries, cases fell in the summer, then took off again. A more transmissible variant identified in southeast England helped push infections to new highs, and brought a new lockdown, even as a nationwide vaccination campaign began. Johnson — who spent a week in the hospital with the virus in April — has promised that a public inquiry will examine Britain’s handling of the pandemic, though he has not said when it will start. “Of course we will learn lessons in due course and of course there will be a time to reflect and to prepare for the next pandemic,” Johnson said last week. The official count records people who died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus. The full toll, as elsewhere, is likely even higher, due in part to missed cases early on in the pandemic. U.K. statistics agencies say that the number of deaths registered that mention COVID-19 on the death certificate is more than 108,000. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. The Associated Press
More than two weeks after Canada implemented a rule that incoming airline passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the country still appears to be seeing some travel-related cases and the federal government is exploring ways to make it harder to go on trips. As more transmissible variants of the COVID virus emerge across the globe, experts say tightening the leaks around travel becomes even more important, and that the new testing requirements are not likely to catch all cases. COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of a more contagious variant. Colijn says clamping down on travel is her "top recommendation right now." "There's still a good chance that we can prevent — or at least really delay — large numbers of this high-transmission variant coming into Canada," she said. "And if we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then." Colijn says essential travel needs to be more clearly defined by leaders, and quarantine rules more strongly enforced once people arrive. More stringent restrictions on land border crossings and further limitations on travel within the country will also help, she adds. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians should cancel all upcoming non-essential trips they may have planned, other options the government is looking at include implementing a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. On Jan. 7, the government implemented a requirement that airline passengers entering Canada must show proof of a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before their flight. Colijn and other experts are hopeful this rule is catching a large number of positive COVID cases, but the 72-hour window — necessary to ensure people have enough time to get results back — also allows the virus more chances to wiggle through. In some cases, very small amounts of the virus, which could grow to infectious levels days later, aren't picked up in testing. Others cases could contract the virus between taking the test and boarding the plane. Dr. Christopher Mody, the head of the microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, says PCR tests offer "a snapshot in time," meaning the result is only valid on the day the test is taken. "A positive test means you're infected, but a negative test doesn't absolutely exclude infection," Mody said. A Government of Canada online database that keeps track of possible exposure on domestic and international flights shows that since Jan. 7, hundreds of planes have had at least one passenger on board who tested positive for the virus days after landing, and may have been contagious on their flight. Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, says while the negative test requirement is likely helping on a large scale, "it's gonna miss a few people for sure." "Clearly it isn't a perfect system, but there are also a number of people who have been rejected for flights based on their tests," he said. "This just isn't enough to say everyone coming into Canada is completely not infectious at the border." Some experts have suggested the use of rapid antigen tests at airports, either right before boarding or right after landing, as a potential way to ensure positive cases aren't travelling between countries or regions. Dr. Don Sin, a respirologist and UBC professor who's co-leading a rapid test pilot project with WestJet at Vancouver International Airport, says rapid testing could offer a measure of insurance — a second step to be used in addition to the PCR negative test requirement. Rapid antigen tests, which turn results around in 15 minutes, aren't as sensitive as the PCR nasal swab, Sin says, but they work very well in catching positive cases. "If you test positive on the antigen test, you'll test positive with a PCR," he said. "So I think the public can have confidence in the ability of these tests to accurately pick up those who are infectious." Experts say testing can only be part of the strategy to contain the spread of new cases though. The mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which Canada is still implementing, needs to be followed properly. Mody says people also need to understand that a negative test taken days before flying isn't a free pass to skip that isolation period. "We are in a very tenuous time with these variants," Mody said. "If there is community transmission of the variants, we will be in a very serious situation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that travellers flying from city to city within Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test. In fact, the requirement is for air travellers coming from international destinations.
PepsiCo and Beyond Meat are creating a joint venture to develop snacks and drinks made from plant-based proteins. The companies didn’t reveal what kinds of products they will make Tuesday, saying they’re still in development. But the collaboration sent Beyond Meat's shares to their largest single-day gain since they began trading in 2019, jumping by more than $62 each to $221. Pepsi's shares remained flat. The join venture gives Pepsi access to one of the leading plant-based meat companies at a time when consumers are increasingly cutting back on meat consumption and looking for healthier, more sustainable foods. Beyond Meat's burgers, sausages and chicken, which are made from pea protein, are sold worldwide, including at Starbucks in China and Pizza Hut in the U.S. Beyond Meat gets access to to Pepsi’s distribution system and broad product line. Pepsi, in addition to drinks, makes Fritos, Cheetos and Tostitos, as well as Matador beef jerky. It's a shot in the arm for El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat, which had been struggling to convince investors of its growth opportunities as competition increased. Beyond Meat shares plummeted in November after retail sales slowed and McDonald's hinted that it might work with another supplier on a new plant-based burger for the U.S. market. Food companies are increasingly jumping into the plant-based space. In 2019, Chobani introduced coconut milk-based yogurt and Nestle brought out plant-based burgers and ground meat. Meat giant Tyson Foods, which used to own a stake in Beyond Meat, now has its own line of plant-based meats. Consumers are eager to try those products. U.S. sales of plant-based meat jumped 45% in the 52 weeks ending Jan. 16; traditional meat sales rose 19% in the same period, according to NielsenIQ, a data firm. Total U.S. sales of plant-based proteins — including products like almond milk and plant-based eggs — jumped 19% over the last year, outpacing the 14% increase in all food sales. “Plant-based proteins represent an exciting growth opportunity for us, a new frontier in our efforts to build more sustainable food system,” said Ram Krishnan, PepsiCo's global chief commercial officer. Financial terms of the deal weren’t released. The joint venture will be managed through a new entity called The Planet Partnership. Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Turkmenistan's autocratic leader has established a national holiday to honour the local dog breed, media reports said Tuesday. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered the holiday praising the Alabai, the Central Asian shepherd dog, to be celebrated on the last Sunday of April when the ex-Soviet nation also marks the day of the local horse breed, according to the daily Neutral Turkmenistan. The Central Asian nation of 6 million prides itself in horses and dogs, honouring its centuries-old herding traditions. Berdymukhamedov has ruled the gas-rich desert country since 2006 through an all-encompassing personality cult that styles him as Turkmenistan’s “arkadaq," or protector. The Turkmen leader has extolled the Alabai for years. He published a book about the breed and in 2017 presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with a puppy. Last year, he inaugurated a massive gilded statue honouring the dog in the Turkmen capital. In 2019, then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was also given an Alabai puppy. Berdymukhamedov's son, Serdar, who heads the international Alabai association, reported to the president that the holiday will feature a beauty contest and agility competitions. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Easing off a stalemate, the Senate moved forward Tuesday with a power-sharing agreement in the evenly-split chamber after Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster. The stand-off between McConnell and new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had all but ground the Senate to a halt in the early days of the Democratic majority and threatened President Joe Biden's agenda. Schumer refused to meet McConnell's demands. “I'm glad we're finally able to get the Senate up and running,” Schumer said Tuesday as he opened the chamber. “My only regret is it took so long because we have a great deal we need to accomplish.” While the crisis appeared to have resolved, for now, the debate over the filibuster — the procedural tool that requires a 60-vote threshold to advance most legislation — is far from over. Progressive Democrats see the tool as an outdated relic that can be used by the minority Republican Party under McConnell to derail Biden's agenda, and they want to do away with it. They point to the way the filibuster was wielded during the 20th century to stall civil rights legislation, and warn of a repeat. Democrats control 50 votes in the split chamber, with Vice-President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote, and Biden's allies would typically need Republican senators to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance Democratic priorities on COVID-19 relief, immigration or other issues. Even as he dropped his demand, McConnell warned Tuesday of all the ways the Senate business could still be tied in knots if Democrats try to press on with plans to pursue changes to the filibuster. “They would guarantee themselves immediate chaos,” McConnell warned. “Destroying the filibuster would drain comity and consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory.” Usually a routine matter, the organizing resolution for the chamber became a power play by McConnell once Democrats swept to control after the Jan. 5 special election in Georgia and the new senators took the oath of office after Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. McConnell had been holding up the organizing agreement, which divides up committee assignments and other resources, as he tried to extract a promise from Schumer of no changes to the filibuster. Schumer would not meet the Republican leader's demands, but McConnell said late Monday he had essentially accomplished his goal after two Democratic senators said they would not agree to end the filibuster. Without their votes, Schumer would be unable to change the rules. “With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent,” McConnell said in a statement. He was referring to West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema who have expressed reservations about doing away with the tool. Schumer's office said the Republican leader had no choice but to set aside his demands. “We’re glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand," said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the Democratic leader. "We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people.” But the debate over the filibuster, which has increasingly become weaponized as a tool to thwart the opposite party’s agenda, is far from over. A decade ago, then-Democratic majority leader Harry Reid ended the 60-vote threshold to confirm some judicial and executive branch nominees during the Obama administration that were being blocked by Republicans. Reid told The Associated Press recently that Biden should waste little time testing Republican’s willingness to work with him before eliminating the filibuster. He gave it three weeks. McConnell during the last administration upped the ante, and did away with the 60-vote threshold to confirm President Donald Trump's three nominees to the Supreme Court. He wanted to prevent Schumer from taking it to the next level and ending the filibuster for legislation. The details of the rest of the organizing resolution are expected to proceed largely as they did the last time the Senate was evenly divided, in 2001, with any immediate changes to the filibuster, at this stage, appearing to be off the table. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
VERNON, B.C. — Non-native, resident Canada geese in British Columbia's north Okanagan have overstayed their welcome and Vernon council has voted in favour of a cull. Councillors have approved a motion to spend an estimated $41,000 to euthanize up to 150 birds in several area parks. Culling programs aimed at habituated deer have been strongly opposed in the past, but the councillor who proposed the goose cull says she has been flooded with letters of support. Coun. Dalvir Nahal says the provincial government should get involved because most municipalities have similar concerns about aggressive geese and the piles of excrement they leave behind. A program set up to manage Canada geese in the Okanagan estimates about 2,500 resident birds nest between Vernon and Osoyoos, but 70 nests were found around Vernon last year, up from an average of 20. The federal and provincial governments must approve any cull before it can proceed. Non-native Canada geese were first introduced in the Okanagan in the 1970s and quickly outnumbered the few migratory geese that stopped during their annual journeys north and south. Experts say the migratory geese don't usually interbreed with residents, which can live for up to 30 years, produce more offspring than their migratory cousins and never leave the area where they are raised. Coun. Scott Anderson, who supports a cull, says the geese are affecting the use of many parks and beaches in Vernon. “To me, this is an unpleasant duty, but it’s a duty," says Anderson. "Kin Beach is unusable, Marshall Fields are just covered in manure and Polson Park is unusable." Vernon council now plans to write to other north Okanagan communities that don't have control measures, urging them to take steps to curb populations of resident Canada geese. (CKIZ) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Whether it's a slight cough or a scratchy, sore throat, some may be tempted to dismiss mild symptoms as "just the flu" amid a serious global pandemic. But experts say a drastic drop in the circulation of the influenza virus this season means signs of flu are more likely to be COVID-19 than another respiratory virus. A FluWatch report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released last week shows laboratory-confirmed incidents of flu are exceptionally rare this season, despite "elevated testing" for it during the pandemic. Experts say a confluence of factors are playing a role in the abnormally light flu season, including public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 and the reduction of international travel. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says the low prevalence of flu underscores the need to get tested for COVID if people develop symptoms. "You can't tell by looking if somebody has influenza or COVID," he said. "And right now, depending on where they live, if someone has acute viral symptoms, the chances of it being COVID over other things is much higher." PHAC's report shows there have been 51 influenza detections in Canada to date this flu season — significantly lower than the nearly 15,000 cases averaged by this point in the past six seasons — and there were zero lab-detected cases (from 13,000 tests) over the first week of 2021. Chakrabarti expects there to be more cases of influenza than what PHAC's data shows, since not everyone with flu-like symptoms is tested for that virus. But in the segment of the population that is getting tested — typically older adults seeking medical care — influenza isn't coming up. People admitted to hospital with symptoms are given respiratory multiplex tests that can detect multiple viruses at once, Chakrabarti said. "And we've picked up very little in the way of other viruses. So if you're seeing a reduction in those cases, it suggests that the overall amount of flu in the community has dropped." While experts assumed public health measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing would also lessen flu prevalence, the level of drop-off has been surprising, says Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist with McMaster University. He believes travel restrictions have likely played a significant role. Whereas COVID-19 can continue to spread easily because the virus is already entrenched here, Chagla says influenza is usually brought in each winter from tropical climates. A population confined largely indoors due to cold weather helps it spread. "Border restrictions, quarantine rules, that probably limits the amount of influenza coming in in the first place," Chagla said. "And the odd case that does come in, it's harder to spread because people aren't congregating." Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist with the University of Ottawa, agrees that a reduction in international travel likely explains the light flu season more than just the implementation of public health measures. He says places in South America are also seeing dips in flu numbers even though mask-wearing hasn't been as widespread there. A level of immunity to influenza may also be contributing to the stifling of the virus, he added. "More people got a flu vaccine this year," Deonandan said. "That can't be underestimated." Chagla says other respiratory viruses also seem to have decreased this season. While there was an uptick in the common cold rhinovirus in the fall — usually correlated with children going back to school — PHAC data shows it's been dropping since. Hand-washing and sanitizing high-touch areas may be playing a role in controlling viruses that are more transmissible on surfaces, experts say. Chagla says cold or flu-like symptoms should raise a red flag for anyone right now, and he worries about people mistaking COVID signs for another virus. "In years past you could say: 'this is just a cold,' doctors would say: 'don't even come in,'" Chagla said. "And now we have to switch the mentality to say: 'actually, no, go get tested.'" Chakrabarti warns the "just the flu" mentality also diminishes the significance of influenza, which can lead to serious disease in vulnerable people too. So there's need for caution, even if symptoms are from the flu virus. "A lot of people say 'it's the flu, who cares? I get it all the time,'" he said. "This is going to sound familiar, but the reason it matters is because you can spread it to somebody else." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
The Ontario government may have temporarily paused the demolition on several heritage buildings in downtown Toronto, but a challenge to stop the work won’t be easy. Matthew Bingley looks into the powers of minister’s zoning orders and why a court challenge may not be enough to save the heritage buildings.
At approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, officers of the Lennox & Addington (L&A) County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were on patrol and observed a vehicle being operated in a dangerous manner, travelling at a high rate of speed 401 Westbound, west of Deseronto Road. According to a release from OPP, police stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver for dangerous operation, and all three occupants were arrested for Possession of a Schedule I Substance. OPP say the vehicle was seized, along with break in tools and stolen property including identity documents, fraudulent cheques and personal documents. L&A County OPP have charged: Vikramjit Singh, age 31, of no fixed address with: - Dangerous Operation of a motor vehicle; - Six counts of Possession of Credit Card; - Possession of Break in Instruments; - Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; - Fourteen Counts of Possession of a Forged document; - Possession of Instrument for forgery; - Twenty seven counts of Possession of identity Document; - Possession of a Schedule I Substance - Heroin; and, - Stunt Driving. Rajwinder Singh Chauhan, age 27, and Preetam Rattan, age 26, both of no fixed address are charged with: - Six Counts of Possession of Credit Card; - Possession of Break in Instruments; - Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; - Possession of a Forged document; - Possession of Instrument for forgery; - Possession of identity Document; and, - Possession of a Schedule I Substance - Heroin . Rattan received a further charge of Fail to Comply with release order. All accused persons were held for a bail hearing and appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice in Greater Napanee on January 24, 2021. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
OTTAWA — Former finance minister Bill Morneau says he is dropping out of the race to become secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In a statement on Twitter today, Morneau says he did not have enough support from member countries to make it to the third round of the campaign. Morneau, who became Trudeau's finance minister after the Liberals won the 2015 election, abruptly resigned from cabinet and as an MP last August. At the time, he said he would put his name forward as a candidate to succeed Angel Gurria as the next secretary-general of the OECD. But he was also facing opposition calls for his resignation over allegations that he had a conflict of interest in the WE Charity affair after he revealed the organization had paid for two trips he and his family took to Kenya and Ecuador in 2017. The federal ethics watchdog has cleared Morneau of failing to disclose a gift from WE Charity but continues to probe whether he breached the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to recuse himself from the cabinet decision to pay the charity $43.5 million to manage a since-cancelled student grant program. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
When the COVID-19 pandemic first turned video calls into the prevailing platform for social interaction, there was a voyeuristic thrill to peering inside people's homes in all of their poorly lit, pixelated and bare-walled non-glory. But in the months since Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video chats became a facet of daily life, new standards have been set for virtual presentation, prompting people to consider how to best frame themselves on a computer screen. The Canadian Press asked experts for tips on how people can take their video calls to the next level by upgrading their production skills, digital manners and background décor. If you wouldn't do it in person, don't do it on camera While the shift from the boardroom to the Zoom room has given rise to a new digital etiquette, many of the rules of in-person decorum still apply, says Carolyn Levy, president of technology for human resources consultancy Randstad Canada. For example, she said most professionals wouldn't check their emails, get some work done or talk to a colleague in the middle of an office presentation, but such attention slips have become all too common online. "The rule of thumb is (if you wouldn't do it) when you were in person, don't do it if you're virtual." Eye contact is crucial to virtual communication, Levy said, so participants should look directly into the camera when talking, and turn their gaze to the speaker's window to show they're listening. Levy said hosts can help prevent digital faux pas by establishing expectations in their meeting invites, such as whether cameras should be on and when to use the mute button. She also urged attendees to check their setups before they click to join a meeting to avoid technology-related mishaps. Lights, camera, Zoom Cinematographer and photographer Gary Gould says all it takes is a few simple steps to put yourself in the best possible light on your next video call. The Ryerson University professor said one way to show your best angles is to put your laptop on a stack of books so the camera is at eye level. Gould suggested people position themselves as if they were posing for a "passport photo" — your face should take up most of the frame, but leave some space around your head and shoulders so it doesn't seem claustrophobic. Placing yourself close to the camera has the added benefit of ensuring that your laptop's microphone can pick up the sound of your voice when speaking at full volume, said Gould. While a little sunshine never hurts, Gould warned that having a window in the back of your shot will likely obscure your face in shadows. He said the issue can often be fixed by turning the camera 180 degrees. He also recommended arranging your desk lamps so the light is shining toward your face, noting that warm-coloured bulbs such as LEDs tend to be the most flattering. Learn from the pros: YouTubers and video-game streamers Kris Alexander, an assistant professor at Ryerson University's media school, warns his students that it takes more than an impressive resume to win a position. In the Zoom marketplace, Alexander says, "your camera feed is a job interview." For tips on professional virtual presentation, Alexander encourages people to turn to those who have built lucrative livelihoods based on at-home digital production — the stars of YouTube and the video-game streaming platform Twitch. "Currently, we are all in competition with Twitch streamers and YouTubers, whether we want to believe it or not," said Alexander, a video games researcher and Twitch streamer. Thankfully, these video gurus have uploaded their secrets in tutorials on lighting, sound, colour correction and graphics, often using tools that can be found in your own home, said Alexander. "The beautiful thing about it is it starts with you," he said. "It starts with what technology you have available to you." You should be the focal point of your video call Toronto interior designer Nike Onile says the background for your video calls can serve as a palette to show off your esthetic tastes, but the centrepiece of every Zoom room should be the same. "You want you to be the focal point," said Onile, founder of the spatial design studio Ode. "The backdrop should be subtle enough that you still remain the thing that people are looking at." You don't want to compete for your audience's attention by overwhelming the frame with cluttered walls, contrasting loud colours or busy patterns, said Onile. She suggested adding a large piece of art, curtains or a plant to liven up a plain background and create dimension. Décor with uniform, repetitive patterns, such as a bookcase, is also visually engaging without risking distraction, she said. Onile said video call users should also consider how their outfit fits into the frame. Wearing black against a dark backdrop can make you seem like a floating head, she said, while clothes that contrast with the colour of the wall can help you pop onscreen. There's nothing like a personal touch Jessie Bahrey of Port Moody, B.C., and her partner, D.C. politico Claude Taylor, have established themselves as the reigning connoisseurs of video-call backdrops as the minds behind Room Rater, a Twitter account that has racked up more than 350,000 followers by scoring the setups of at-home news segments on a scale out of 10. Bahrey said Zoom rooms with a personal touch tend to earn higher points than those with professional-grade production. She said media figures can show a more relatable side of themselves with details such as sports jerseys, political messages, meaningful quotations, family heirlooms and children's artwork. Some even shake up their set dressing with hidden symbols, she said. Bahrey said simple knick-knacks can serve as conversation starters that help people feel more connected on video calls, even when they can't be in the same room. "I think working from home is going to be the new norm," said Bahrey, who works at a greenhouse. "So people better get their rooms ready." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. The Canadian Press
Initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are set to roll into the country in the next few weeks, and Canadians will be wondering where they stand in the inoculation line.Which segment of the population will get the first doses, once Canada approves them for use, and how long will it take before most of us are inoculated and we can reach that point of herd immunity?The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has already recommended early doses be given to: residents and staff of long-term care homes; adults 70 years or older (starting with those 80 and over); front-line health-care workers; and adults in Indigenous communities — but there's still some debate among experts on whether that's the best strategy for a vaccine rollout.Dr. Ross Upshur of the University of Toronto's School of Public Health, agrees with NACI's recommendations, but he says there's also an argument to be made for vaccinating those more likely to spread the virus first — including people with jobs in the community that can't work from home."There is quite a vigorous debate and ... quite a varied set of arguments about who should go first and the priority list," Upshur said. "And that's because people have very deep and different intuitions about what fairness means, and which fundamental values should illuminate the distribution of scarce resources." Upshur says prioritization, which will fall to the provinces and territories to determine, will depend on the goal of the vaccination strategy.If the main objective is to ensure economic recovery by limiting community spread, essential workers might get vaccinated first, Upshur explained. But if the goal is to limit deaths by preventing our most vulnerable populations from getting COVID, older people, especially those in long-term care, should jump to the front of the line."Each one of those aims leads to favouring a different kind of population," he said. "So priority-setting is a complex task."But because there's going to be a limited number of doses available, choices will have to be made soon."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil by the end of the month, with the first doses delivered next week.Canada, which is currently reviewing several vaccine candidates, has purchased 20 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, and is set to receive four million doses — enough to inoculate two million people — by March.Kelly Grindrod, a researcher and associate professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, says the concept of prioritizing the COVID vaccine may be hard for some to grasp. Grindrod agrees with NACI's recommendations of where the first stage of vaccine distribution should go, but subsequent stages of rollout become trickier.Certain individuals may perceive themselves to be in a higher-risk group and therefore more deserving of a vaccine than others, she said, and it will be hard to determine for example, if a 50-year-old with asthma who works from home should be vaccinated over a taxi driver."What I always say is: if you don't know anybody who's gotten the virus, you're probably one of the last to get the vaccine," Grindrod said. "So that might mean you have a middle-class income and you don't work in a factory or a grocery store."If you're feeling like COVID is something that's not really in your world, that's probably a suggestion that you're fairly low-risk for getting the virus in the first place."Grindrod says it's important to remember that immunizing the majority of Canadians will take a long time. The first stage alone could take months, she said, estimating that Canada will be able to vaccinate roughly three million people (in a country of 38 million) in the first quarter of 2021. "If we're all vaccinated by next Christmas, we will have done a great job," she said.Upshur agrees that getting to herd immunity will take time, but having multiple vaccine candidates reporting high efficacy rates should speed up that process — at least in theory."As exciting as it is to have these studies showing really good results, there's still a lot more questions," he said. "There's a lot more that needs to be done before we can be sure that these vaccines are going to achieve the goals that we hope."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
US Bestseller List - Paid Books: Book Title by Author Name - ISBN - Publisher 1. The Invitation by Vi Keeland - 9781951045425 - C. Scott Publishing Corp. 2. Bridgerton Collection Volume 1 by Julia Quinn - 9780063045118 - Avon 3. Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner - 9781524745059 - Penguin Publishing Group 4. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424105 - Avon 5. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424037 - Avon 6. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn - 9780062424075 - Avon 7. To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn - 9780062424112 - Avon 8. The Stud Next Door by Kendall Ryan - Kendall Ryan, LLC 9. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn - 9780062424136 - Avon 10. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn - 9780062424082 - Avon The Associated Press
Orangeville Hydro plans to borrow $1 million to sustain its capital works plan, half the amount it originally planned, as it attempts to cut costs. A report, presented to Grand Valley council on Jan. 12, states this is done to fund regulatory-related payments, such as increased Hydro One low voltage, network and connection charges. “Historically, Orangeville has provided safe and reliable and cost-effective power to our customers, and our business plan shows that,” said Rob Koekkoek, president of Orangeville Hydro. A $2-million loan was previously budgeted in 2021, but with some expenditures deferred due to COVID-19, as well as a corporate-wide attempt to reduce expense, including financing costs, the forecasted loan was reduced to $1 million. The business plan calls for another $1 million increase in borrowing in 2022 and $2 million in borrowing in 2024. In terms of revenue, the total cost per customer is calculated as the sum of Orangeville Hydro’s capital and operating costs and dividing this cost figured by the total number of customers it serves. Orangeville Hydro’s cost performance increased in 2019 to $568 per customer, above the cost performance in 2018 at $551 per customer. Koekkoek states the number of the company’s customers go up, as the population continues to grow, and infrastructure is constantly upgraded. Orangeville Hydro’s service areas have a population of about 32,000 and are expected to grow to 42,540 by 2036, according to forecasts contained within the Dufferin County Official Plan. Koekkoek said he understands the devastating impacts COVID-19 may have had on customers' budgets and he discussed a way for them to save money. “For businesses and residential that are struggling with their bills, that have been economically impacted by COVID-19, we have the energy response program available for residential and business customers,” he said. “They can get, basically a rebate, on their electricity bills to help them with their costs if they are falling behind.” Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
New results extend hopes for drugs that supply antibodies to fight COVID-19, suggesting they can help keep patients out of the hospital and possibly prevent illness in some uninfected people. Eli Lilly said Tuesday that a two-antibody combo reduced the risk of hospitalizations or death by 70% in newly diagnosed, non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness because of age or other health conditions. All 10 deaths that occurred in the study were among those receiving placebo rather than the antibodies. Separately, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said partial results from an ongoing study suggest its drug combo completely prevented symptomatic infections in housemates of someone with COVID-19. Importantly, the drug was given as multiple shots rather than through an IV. The need for an infusion has greatly limited the use of antibody drugs in the pandemic because of health care shortages. None of the new results have been published or reviewed by other scientists, and the Regeneron ones were based on only one quarter of patients in its study and were not a planned early analysis. Antibodies are proteins that attach to a virus and block it from infecting cells, but it takes several weeks after infection or vaccination for the most effective ones to form. The drugs aim to help right away, by supplying concentrated doses of one or two antibodies that worked best against the coronavirus in lab tests. U.S. regulators have allowed emergency use of some Lilly and Regeneron antibodies for mild or moderate COVID-19 cases that do not require hospitalization while studies of them continued. The drugs are also being tested to prevent infection in those at high risk of it. That’s called “passive vaccination” because it supplies antibodies rather than prompts the body to make them. Both companies are asking regulators to expand authorization of their drugs based on the new findings. Regeneron’s results were on the first 409 people in a study that has enrolled more than 2,000 so far. All tested negative for the virus but live with someone who has COVID-19. There were roughly half as many infections among those given the drug versus a placebo, and none on the drug developed any symptoms. Infections also were shorter and the amount of virus lower among those given the drug. Lilly’s new results were from a study of 1,035 non-hospitalized patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19. About 2% on the drug were later hospitalized or died versus 7% of the placebo group. Last week, Lilly said one of the two antibodies helped prevent illness among residents and staff of nursing homes in a different study. The four deaths that occurred in that study were all among those given placebo. ___ Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP ___ 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
Users across the northeast U.S. reported widespread internet outages Tuesday. Verizon reported a fiber cut in Brooklyn via Twitter, although it’s not clear if that issue is responsible for the entire outage. According to DownDetector and user reports on Twitter, the problem appears to extend from Washington to Boston, and is affecting internet and cloud providers as well as a number of Google services, Facebook and other major sites. Associated Press, The Associated Press
A parking commissionaire who told an Arab business owner to come back when she's learned English will no longer be working with the city of Saint John, or any city until a further investigation is done. Saint John Mayor Don Darling said the commissionaire, who's employed by the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires through a third-party contract, will "no longer have any role with the city." The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires confirmed the man will not be reassigned while the organization conducts an internal investigation. However, the target of his racist comment didn't want to see him lose his job. On Monday morning, the commissionaire was writing a ticket for Yamama Zein Alabdin, who was parked in a loading zone. She tried to explain that she was unloading supplies for her Syrian restaurant, Mashawi Zein, on Germain Street and would move the car shortly, but he still wrote her the $100 ticket. As she continued trying to communicate with him in English and French, she said the commissionaire said, "Come back when you learn English" and walked away. The incident gained attention after a witness posted about it on social media. On Tuesday evening, Zein Alabdin said she is upset that someone would lose their job because of what happened to her. "I am the one affected and I forgive him," she said in Arabic. "There are millions of unemployed people, I don't want them to increase even by one because of me." She said she started working in Saint John "to make the community better." "I feel conflicted and frustrated when someone loses work because of me." Mishelle Carson-Roy, the co-owner of a store across the street, said she was nearby and heard the exchange. She wrote a letter to the parking commission and posted it in Twitter because the city's website has been down because of a cyberattack. The tweet garnered a response from many people, including Darling. In an interview Monday, Zein Alabdin said she wasn't expecting people's response to Carson-Roy's letter and was thankful the city reversed the ticket. However, she said she didn't want to see the commissionaire fired or punished. "What happened was shared everywhere, but I don't want him to be hurt by this," she said. "I came to Canada in search of safety, and I don't want to see anyone be harmed." City asked for removal Saint John spokesperson Lisa Caissie said the city takes "acts of racism and discrimination very seriously." She said as a result of an investigation started Monday, the Parking Commission told The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires the contracted employee "can no longer perform duties on behalf of the City of Saint John." The Corps complied, and is now conducting its own investigation, according to Bob Ferguson, CEO of the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island division. He said any additional actions will be decided by the outcomes of that investigation. "The comments made by the commissionaire are unacceptable by any measure," he said in an email.
If you love food, and most of us do, you will love our Fun and Easy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe! Feel free to tweak the recipe and then let us know what you did and how it came out so we can all give it a try! If you make the recipe as is let us know how you liked it!