Canadian business titan and philanthropist Michael DeGroote has long denied being involved with the Montreal Mafia for casinos in the Dominican Republic, but audio recordings from a court battle reveal otherwise.
Canadian business titan and philanthropist Michael DeGroote has long denied being involved with the Montreal Mafia for casinos in the Dominican Republic, but audio recordings from a court battle reveal otherwise.
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
The Charlottetown Islanders say they will play by the COVID-19 rules when their season resumes in Cape Breton on Friday. The Charlottetown Driving Park is the only open harness racing track in Canada right now, and it was first to open in the spring, and that created a surge in revenues in 2020. The final numbers are in, and they show what many observers already suspected — 2020 was the worst year on record for the Charlottetown Airport in the last 45 years. The pandemic has slowed down the process of turning Hog Island, along P.E.I.'s North Shore, into a national park reserve. Provincial qualifiers for the Scotties and the Brier are short on competitors, and Curl P.E.I. says it is because of the self-isolation requirements. A trauma and orthopedic surgeon has been splitting his time between work in three New Brunswick hospitals and his home and family in P.E.I. And he's got dozens of COVID-19 test results to show for it. UPEI's writer-in-residence will not actually be in residence this year. A 24-year-old P.E.I. woman from the Summerside area has been fined for not following the province's COVID-19 self-isolation rules. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. remains 110, with six still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick reported 14 new cases Wednesday. Nova Scotia had four new cases, with 12 active. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
COUNTRY HARBOUR – Better now than during the summer is the general reaction from people in the Country Harbour area when it was announced last week (Jan. 20) that the Country Harbour ferry would continue to be out of service – due to mechanical problems – until May, when a new ferry comes into service. The Stormont II served as a link between the communities of Country Harbour and Port Bickerton for more than 40 years and was scheduled for replacement in May; a schedule the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says is on track. The cable ferry makes 13,000 voyages a year carrying 25,000 passengers and 15,000 vehicles but traffic is greatly reduced over the winter months. Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) Councillor Rickey McLaren, whose district includes Country Harbour, told The Journal that he had not gotten any calls about the disruption to service. If service were stopped in the summer, he expected there might have been more of a reaction. That’s a sentiment shared by the local stores in the Country Harbour area; Smokey Hollow General Store and Rhynold's Gas and Convenience. Paul MacLennan of Smokey Hollow General told The Journal that the temporary closure of the Country Harbour ferry at this time of year made little difference in his business but added if it had happened in the summer, tourism would be affected. At Rhynold’s store there was similar comment, with the exception that one of the part-time employees now has to add 30 minutes’ drive to her commute. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Lloyd Hines, who is also MLA for the Country Harbour area, said in the TIR press release, “This is disappointing news, especially during a year that has already been hard…We had hoped the old ferry would takes us through to the arrival of the brand new ferry. The Stormont II served the community well for more than 40 years, but unfortunately the mechanical issues are significant." The Stormont II has been out of service since November. During the pause in service, a detour has been in place. It runs from Port Bickerton, on Route 211, to Route 7 and then to Melrose Country Harbour Road and onto Route 316. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
LONDON — Arsenal has signed Norway midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid for the rest of the season, the latest step in the career of a player who is looking to fulfil the promise he showed after making his international debut as a 15-year-old. Odegaard has been at Madrid since 2015 — when he joined at the age of 16 — but failed to establish himself at the Spanish giant and has had loan spells at Heerenveen and Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands and then at Real Sociedad last season. Following the departure of Mesut Ozil to Fenerbahce last week, the 22-year-old Odegaard will provide competition in the attacking-midfield department at Arsenal. “Martin is, of course, a player that we all know very well,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said on Wednesday, “and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while. Martin will provide us with quality offensive options.” Odegaard was the youngest ever player to feature in Norway’s top division when he made his debut for Stromsgodset at 15 in April 2014. He made his first senior international appearance the following August — as Norway’s youngest debutant — before joining Madrid five months later, when he was billed as one of Europe’s most talented youngsters. Emile Smith Rowe, 20, currently plays in the No. 10 role at Arsenal under Arteta, who has been keen to promote youth since taking charge in December 2019. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A slugfest between Wall Street and Main Street took an unexpected turn late on Wednesday after moderators of a stock trading forum that has helped fuel massive rallies in the shares of GameStop temporarily closed its doors. Shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment, Koss Corp and BlackBerry all dropped at least 20% moments after the shuttering of the forum, highlighting the role it has played in fueling stock rallies that many say have been driven primarily by retail investors.
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – Last week (Jan. 21) the government relaunched its Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) online portal, https://iaprequest.novascotia.ca . The reboot became necessary after a data breach discovered in April of 2018 on the previous website resulted in a shutdown of the site, a return to mail-in request forms and the creation of a website where the public could only access previously completed requests. The security breach and the length of time it has taken to restart the system is only one of many issues facing access to information in Nova Scotia. The Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) is quick to highlight two more: the timeliness of request fulfillment and lack of willingness to provide information by both business and other levels of government. At the regular MODG council meeting on Jan. 20, council was informed that a letter they sent to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, in regard to the future of a contaminated site that belongs to Irving Oil Ltd. in Guysborough, was met with a response advising the municipality to file a FOIPOP request. To say that council was not satisfied with that answer would be an understatement. Warden Vernon Pitts said the response was “unacceptable.” Pitts, in a media interview, went on to outline the lack of success the MODG has had with similar requests. “The municipality made a FOIPOP request a number of years ago in regard to TDR, Tire Derived Aggregate. We FOIPOPed for information from the Province of Nova Scotia because we thought that that contract was awarded illegally—was our opinion at that time -- and the only way we could find out was to have an actual look at the contract. It took us five years to obtain that information and almost all of it was blacked out, so the information was absolutely useless,” he explained. It isn’t only the MODG that has gotten a lacklustre response to a recent FOIPOP request. The PC Party of Nova Scotia has run up against the FOIPOP wall in recent months in regard to a request they submitted to obtain the results for air quality testing in public schools. No information was made available. In a release issued on Jan. 18, PC Education Critic and Dartmouth East MLA Tim Halman said, “I worry that the only reason for the Liberals to withhold the schools’ air quality reviews from the public is that they are embarrassed by the results … If that is the case, then swift action is needed urgently.” The PC release also stated, “On January 7, after the Liberal Cabinet meeting, Education Minister Zach Churchill confirmed that data from school ventilation reviews was being tracked and kept, but dodged questions about actually releasing that information.” Tricia Ralph, Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner, told The Journal in a Jan. 22 interview that while she could not speak directly to either of these cases, the office encouraged open access to information. “As a general principal we encourage the ideas of open government and open data,” said Ralph, “but the legislation doesn’t require it. So, it is possible for one government to say to another ‘You have to file a FOIPOP request.’ … I don’t know how common it is, but I suspect it isn’t terribly uncommon. But it is not the only way; government is not restricted or bound by legislation to only reply in the form of a FOIPOP request. They could do it another way. They could just give it out.” More information about how to request information under FOIPOP is available online at https://oipc.novascotia.ca/faq. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Actuellement conseillère municipale pour le district 4 de la Ville de Matane, Annie Veillette se lance cette fois-ci à la tête du conseil de ville. Se disant limitée dans ses implications en tant que conseillère, elle est prête à tout tenter pour devenir mairesse. Celle qui tient le poste de conseillère du district 4 à Matane depuis 2017 se dit prête à briguer la mairie le 7 novembre prochain, alors que l’actuel maire, Jérôme Landry, a déjà annoncé son départ de la politique municipale il y a un peu plus d’un mois. Étant la plus jeune conseillère élue et la seule femme sur le conseil, Annie Veillette est fière de ses récents accomplissements, des projets défendus lors de son premier mandat et de son implication auprès de l’administration et de la communauté. Mais elle est restée sur sa faim. « Ce n’est pas assez. Je veux être plus sollicitée, et je veux mettre plus de temps sur des dossiers et des réflexions pertinentes pour la ville », dit-elle. « Comme mairesse, je suis déterminée à m’investir pleinement afin d’améliorer Matane, sans voir le temps passer. Même dans mes temps libres, je pense à la ville, aux dossiers, à comment mieux réfléchir les enjeux et à des solutions possibles », a-t-elle avancé. « Considérant mon profil d’élue, de jeune femme formée en développement régional, avec une expertise en développement de projets pour la collectivité, j’ai la conviction de me démarquer des autres. » Aux citoyens matanais, Annie Veillette promet de s’engager et de s’investir dans des projets qui les serviront immédiatement et dans le futur, d’avoir une approche toujours humaine et inclusive et enfin, d’être présente et accessible. Elle souhaite également défendre des dossiers de développement régional, de milieu de vie attractif, de respect de l’environnement et d’une gestion saine et efficace à long terme pour la Ville. En plus d’être conseillère chargée du district 4, Mme Veillette est chargée des dossiers d’urbanisme et des familles pour la Ville de Matane. Elle a notamment été nommée au sein de la Commission des jeunes élues et élus de l’Union des municipalités du Québec. Âgée de 26 ans, Annie Veillette est née et a grandi à Matane, y complétant ses études secondaires et collégiales. Elle a obtenu un baccalauréat en Psychologie et Sociologie de l’Université de Montréal, et finalise à présent une maîtrise en Développement territorial et régional à l’UQAR. Son essai de maîtrise porte sur la résilience des agriculteurs et des communautés. Elle a donné naissance à une fille en décembre 2020.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
GUYSBOROUGH – This past year has given us a lot of time to reflect, to think globally – as well as locally – about things that matter, things that don’t and about what we want the world to look like when we finally get to see it again in person and not through a computer monitor. But what can we do with so many thoughts and so few people to talk to? ArtWorks East, an association of artists and crafters who live in Guysborough County, has an answer to that question: create. Just as the new year was about to dawn, with the weight of many hopes for the coming months, ArtWorks East (AWE) announced a new project, Letter to the World, on Facebook. The project asks potential participants, “As we enter 2021, what would you like to say to the world? Write a letter, take a picture, and post it … The world needs you!” AWE member Renee Sagebear spoke to The Journal about the genesis of the project last week. The idea started in the form of a calendar which had as its cover the tarot card for ‘The World.’ “I got out my tarot decks and, sure enough, number 21 in the tarot deck is the world. That, to me, was pretty fantastic…. Then I looked through the calendar and one of the contributors had written her letter to the world and I thought ‘This is the year of the world, and it would be so fantastic if we all just realized that,’” Sagebear said. The idea took another step forward due to Sagebear’s familiarity with the Facebook page, View From My Window, where contributors from all around the world post pictures and videos from their location. The page started as an online remedy to the isolation brought on by COVID-19 lockdowns. “I was inspired by that,” Sagebear said, adding that once she had the two ideas together she brought them to AWE President Jack Leonard, “To ask people to contribute a letter to the world on the ArtWorks East Facebook site with the intention, at the end of the year, to have an exhibit of all of the letters, photographs or paintings.” Now that Sagebear’s idea has launched, she said, “I thought, ‘What would I write?’… I’ve only just scratched a few words so far because when you write a letter to the world, that’s quite phenomenal … People will probably come up with ideas that we can’t even fathom.” Studying the tarot has done that for Sagebear. She told The Journal that the addition of the numbers that make up this year, 2021, equal five and, “The number five in the tarot is the peacemaker.” Perhaps a good jumping off point for her letter to the world. The concept is large and initially daunting, but Leonard suggested people start their submission by thinking “about your target audience, think about your context; what’s on your mind. It could be climate change, or it could be the pandemic, or it could be the elections, and then you have to think about your medium.” The medium could be as diverse as anything that can fit on a page or canvas, “We wanted to leave the door wide open for people to create whatever they wanted.” Speaking to the motivation AWE has in hosting this event Leonard said, “The nice thing about it is it invites a lot of people to participate who might not be members of the organization and may not feel that they are visual artists in any way… It’s nice to have something occasionally where you invite everybody, regardless of age or talent, to make a contribution.” Submissions to the Letter to the World project are welcome from anyone, everywhere, in any style of writing. And if words are too small to hold your thoughts, you could see your letter to the world and submit an image. The project is evolving, and the result depends on how many and what kinds of submissions AWE receives. Those interested in submitting an entry have the next eleven months to cogitate and create a Letter to the World. Information about the project and the location for submissions can be found on the ArtWorks East webpage under Events or on the ArtWorks East Facebook page. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Saskatchewan’s top doctor spoke for the first time following a rally outside of his family home over the weekend.
The European Union failed to make a breakthrough in crisis talks with AstraZeneca on Wednesday and demanded the drugmaker spell out how it would supply the bloc with reserved doses of COVID-19 vaccine from plants in Europe and Britain. The EU is making more comprehensive checks on vaccines before approval, which means a slower rollout of shots than former EU member Britain and growing public frustration. The issue has been exacerbated by Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca and Pfizer of the United States both announcing delivery hold-ups in recent weeks.
A former residence for horse racing jockeys is now being used to give Edmontonians struggling with homelessness better odds at finding a home. The former jockey dorms at Northlands have been renovated and operating as a bridge housing facility for the past month. Kevin Chapman, 56, has been staying at the dorms for about a month. He's one of 35 people who have a private room and is provided daily meals through the building's dining service. His stay is expected to be temporary. Chapman has been struggling with homelessness for the past two years and say he's grateful to be staying somewhere private. "I don't have to worry when I get up and crawl from underneath that pine tree or wherever," he said. "Shelters turn me away sometimes, because they're full. So, you look wherever you can. Having a place over your head is a big thing." Like other guests at the dorsm, Chapman has a housing support coordinator from Homeward Trust who helps him get what he needs to find a permanent home, from proper documentation to finding suitable vacancies and setting up viewings. "It's helped get my mind straightened out a little bit more focused on what I do," Chapman said. "So in the end, I think it helps tremendously." Guests at bridge housing facilities are expected to stay for anywhere from one to three months before transitioning into a home. They're referred through Boyle Street Community Street Community Services. The jockey dorms bridge housing facility opened last month after signing a three-year lease with the City of Edmonton. So far, five people have found or are in the process of moving into permanent housing. While the facility is in its early stages, Homeward Trust's CEO Susan McGee says it's allowed coordinators to find housing options specific to individual needs of guests. "It's really meeting a very important gap and certainly it's building off of the experience we've had in our community with the bridge housing offered at the Coliseum Inn," she said. "So as we work and as we grow as a system to make sure that we get that immediate access to really stable environments, a focus of the team has been to really nuance and make sure that as the folks that are being referred there, we're identifying potential barriers, challenges." 2 of 3 bridge housing facilities considered temporary Two Edmonton hotels are also being used as bridge housing. An EconoLodge in south Edmonton has 35 available rooms and The Coliseum Inn on Wayne Gretzky Drive has 95 rooms. Since the Coliseum Inn bridge housing opened in the spring of 2020 there have been 231 people who have moved from the hotel to permanent housing. The two bridge housing hotels have been funded through pandemic relief money, as a part of the City of Edmonton's plan to get people out of encampments and into safe shelter during the pandemic, which also included opening the Edmonton Convention Centre and Commonwealth Stadium as 24/7 shelter spaces. The plan is expected to be in place until the end of March, but it doesn't mean the temporary bridge housing programs will be scrapped. "Those funding programs are time limited. They potentially run out in March, but we are also just continually assessing our needs and ability to continue to keep them open," said Colton Kirsop, manager of project development for affordable housing and homelessness with the City of Edmonton. "So if there is a major need to keep those open, I think we will be continually looking at whether or not we can fund them through a different funding stream. The federal government may extend their funding packages as well." As for Chapman, he's happy that bridge housing now exists in the city at a time when he's ready to find a home. "I'm glad. Finally somebody is doing something about it. it's great. It's good for me, so far and anybody else," he said. "You can just start working on getting your life straight."
The City of Fredericton is giving the Phoenix Learning Centre and the overnight out–of–the–cold shelter Marshall House funding to help keep the doors of the learning centre open longer and to get people into the shelter more quickly. "People who are homeless, not only are they having trouble in the night time, but in the daytime, there's just not a place for them to go," said Joan Kingston, chair of the Community Action Group on Homelessness. Guests at the shelter have had to wait in long queues to register under COVID precautions, sometimes up to a couple of hours. "Because every night it's first come, first served," said Kingston. The Phoenix Learning Centre opened last fall. It's a place for people who are homeless to go during the day to stay out of the cold, since most public spaces are closed because of the pandemic. The one-time, $20,000 funding from the city will also make registering for Marshall House a little easier. People will be able to register at the Phoenix centre and then move over to Marshall House when it opens at 9 p.m. "Which means that people will be able to stay in the warmth and comfort of the Phoenix Learning Centre," said Kingston. Scott Earle is the co–ordinator at the Phoenix Centre. He said that during the red level, an average of 44 people were coming to the centre each day. "So now they know that, okay from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. they know they have a place to go, whether it's red, yellow, green, blue, it doesn't matter. It's just one place they can't' be turned away from." City council voted to fund the project in a meeting Monday night. "This was a small request that could have an immediate, significant impact," said Mayor Mike O'Brien. "So that's the reason we decided to fund this one." Kingston says the learning centre should be able to start operating with extra hours this weekend.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The United States says all soldiers from Eritrea should leave Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region “immediately.” A State Department spokesperson in an email to The Associated Press late Tuesday cited “credible reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human rights abuses." "There is also evidence of Eritrean soldiers forcibly returning Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea,” the spokesperson said. The statement reflects new pressure by the Biden administration on the government of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country with 114 million people and the anchor of the Horn of Africa, and other combatants as the deadly fighting in Tigray nears the three-month mark. The AP this week cited witnesses who fled the Tigray region as saying Eritrean soldiers were looting, going house-to-house killing young men and even acting as local authorities. The Eritreans have been fighting on the side of Ethiopian forces as they pursue the fugitive leaders of the Tigray region, though Ethiopia’s government has denied their presence. The U.S. stance has shifted dramatically from the early days of the conflict when the Trump administration praised Eritrea for its “restraint.” The new U.S. statement calls for an independent and transparent investigation into alleged abuses. “It remains unclear how many Eritrean soldiers are in Tigray, or precisely where,” it says. It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. has addressed its demand directly to Eritrean officials. And the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed did not immediately respond to questions. Witnesses have estimated that the Eritrean soldiers number in the thousands. Eritrean officials have not responded to questions. The information minister for Eritrea, one of the world’s most secretive countries, this week tweeted that “the rabid defamation campaign against Eritrea is on the rise again.“ The U.S. also seeks an immediate stop to the fighting in Tigray and “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” to the region, which remains largely cut off from the outside world, with Ethiopian forces often accompanying aid. “We are gravely concerned by credible reports that hundreds of thousands of people may starve to death if urgent humanitarian assistance is not mobilized immediately,” the statement says. The United Nations in its latest humanitarian update said it is receiving reports of “rising hunger” in Tigray and cited a “dire lack of access to food” since many farmers in the largely agricultural region missed the harvest because of the fighting, and as “critical staff” to scale up the humanitarian response can't access the region. Transport, electricity, banking and other links “have yet to be restored in much of the region,” the U.N. said, and 78% of hospitals remain nonfunctional. “Our concern is that what we don’t know could be even more disturbing," U.N. children's agency chief Henrietta Fore said in a statement Wednesday. "For 12 weeks, the international humanitarian community has had very limited access to conflict-affected populations across most of Tigray.” Vaccinations have stopped across the region, Fore added. The U.S. statement added that “dialogue is essential between the government and Tigrayans.” Ethiopia's government has rejected dialogue with the former Tigray leaders, seeing them as illegitimate, and has appointed an interim administration. The former Tigray leaders, in turn, objected to Ethiopia delaying a national election last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and considered Abiy's mandate over. Cara Anna, The Associated Press
BERLIN — A German woman has been charged with preparing a far-right attack and other crimes on allegations she was in the process of building a bomb to target Muslims and local politicians in Bavaria, Munich prosecutors said Wednesday. Susanne G., whose last name wasn't given in line with privacy laws, also faces charges of making threats and violations of weapons laws, among other things. She has been in custody since her arrest. Prosecutors allege that the woman started planning a firebombing attack no later than May 2020, motivated by her xenophobic and extreme-right views. She is alleged to have downloaded information on bomb building online and have gathered materials for the construction, including gasoline, fireworks and fuses, by the time of her arrest in September. Between December 2019 and March 2020 the suspect is alleged to have sent six anonymous letters, five including a live bullet, with death threats to a local politician in the Nuremberg area, a Muslim community association, and an asylum seeker aid organization. During the summer of 2020, she started focusing on local police officers and a different local politician than the one threatened by letter as other possible targets, and began scouting their homes and cars. The Associated Press
L’implication du directeur des travaux publics et inspecteur municipal par intérim, Jérôme Durocher, au sein de l’entreprise privée de ski hors-piste Ski Saguenay, soulève des questions parmi les membres du conseil municipal de L’Anse-Saint-Jean. À la suite de la publication, dans les derniers jours, d’un reportage dans Le Progrès portant sur l’ouverture de deux secteurs de ski hors-piste par l’entreprise exploitée par Philippe Pichon et M. Durocher, certains citoyens et élus s’interrogent afin de savoir si le fonctionnaire n’est pas en situation de défaut de loyauté envers son employeur. En effet, L’Anse-Saint-Jean exploite également une telle activité via la station de ski du Mont-Édouard, dont elle est propriétaire. Ski Saguenay a été fondée et enregistrée auprès du registre des entreprises en novembre dernier. Lors d’une réunion plénière virtuelle tenue par le conseil lundi, des membres ont fait part de leur surprise d’apprendre que le cadre municipal allait procéder à l’ouverture d’un centre privé de pistes hors route sans en avoir informé la municipalité, sans demande de permis ou autres démarches. La surprise s’ajoute au fait que les deux associés projettent de développer un secteur d’hébergement doté d’un sauna et de bains nordiques, ainsi qu’une remontée sur chenillette tel qu’indiqué dans l’article. Interrogé à ce sujet, le maire Lucien Martel est visiblement mal à l’aise et admet qu’il s’agit d’un sujet plutôt délicat qui soulève des interrogations. « Je sais qu’au conseil, des gens posent des questions. Je voudrais prendre le temps d’analyser les dessous ainsi que le contexte », a déclaré M. Martel. Il a ajouté qu’il revenait à l’administration de la municipalité de répondre aux questions soulevées. Un appel logé auprès de la direction générale n’a pas obtenu de retour. Parmi les conseillers, Anicet Gagné a mentionné qu’il a proposé de discuter du sujet avec ses collègues, mais qu’il a été convenu qu’il revenait au maire Martel de faire toute déclaration. M. Durocher est présentement en congé de maladie à la suite d’un accident de travail. Il a subi des blessures lors d’une altercation physique survenue en septembre dernier avec un entrepreneur en construction. L’incident avait été rapporté par Le Quotidien.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
GUYSBOROUGH – Three times wasn’t the charm, so the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) invited representatives from ambulance provider Emergency Health Services (EHS) – Derek LeBlanc and Phil Stewart – to council, once again, to answer questions about the provision of service in the area. And, once again, council was disappointed. The EHS representatives joined council by video link at its regular meeting on Jan. 20. They answered questions from Warden Vernon Pitts, CAO Barry Carroll and councillors for almost an hour, but they failed to satisfy the concerns council has about lack of service and long wait times for ambulance transfers between hospital facilities. These issues are, in part, due to staffing shortages. The EHS representatives noted that the company, like any health care service in the province, has had difficulty attracting employees. A full-time job was posted for Canso three times and couldn’t be filled, said Stewart. Councillor Desmond asked if there was a minimum or maximum response time for EHS service. Warden Pitts reiterated that question and was told by Stewart that the complexities pertaining to the question didn’t allow him to provide the answers they were looking for. After council adjourned, Pitts told media present, “In regard to medical first response by EHS what really blew me away, as the warden, was there are no expected minimum or maximum response times within our municipally and to me, that is totally unacceptable … We should be given a minimum time – if your live in a city or whatever, I expect a minimum time in regard to response; same as the fire department or police. If you don’t have a minimum response time what are you measuring it by – this is totally unacceptable. “What it comes right down to is we’re playing Russian roulette and the gun is going to go off one of these times, if it hasn’t already gone off, and it has lately. We want a minimum level of service within MODG and surrounding areas – that’s not too much to ask for,” said Pitts. ‘Unacceptable’ continued to be the theme of the council meeting, with MODG receiving a response from the Department of Environment stating that a freedom of information request would need to be filed in order for the municipality to gain access to information regarding Irving Oil’s plans for a contaminated lot on Main Street in Guysborough. “That’s the only way they will release that information to us,” said Pitts, “And that is also totally unacceptable. “My understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan; now I haven’t got this from a legal source, but my understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan. It’s waiting approval from the province. Apparently, there are two avenues that this can go down. I don’t know exactly what those avenues are, but we just want to be made aware of what the plan is now; that we can have some input into it as a municipal unit as well as the residents. This is not acceptable. This is Main Street in Guysborough and this is impacting people’s lives and property values,” said Pitts. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
RCMP in Alberta are investigating Yellowknife RCMP officers and their role in an alleged incident that took place in cells in October 2020. The incident in question revolves around the arrest of a 25-year-old Whatı̀ woman, Tracella Romie. According to court documents, employees of a Yellowknife liquor store called RCMP on the evening of Oct. 14, 2020, after Romie reportedly assaulted workers there. Romie was arrested a short while later and charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief. In an interview with CBC, Romie says she was put in the back of an RCMP vehicle by two officers and brought to the Yellowknife detachment, where two other officers also detained her. Romie says she was intoxicated and remembers very little of that night. She says she does remember spitting up blood and officers pulling her handcuffed hands high in the air in a painful manner. "I don't really remember much. I remember being in the cells for like 14 hours, maybe 16," Romie says. She says after she was released from cells she went to a friend's house and found bruises on her back, shoulders and wrists. "I knew I had been mistreated that night." Use of force investigation Romie says she thought about making a complaint against the RCMP, but ultimately changed her mind. More than a month after the arrest, Romie says she received a call from two RCMP officers in Alberta who said they were investigating what happened that night. Romie says the investigators told her that a Yellowknife officer who had witnessed her detainment in cells had made a complaint about their colleagues' excessive use of force. Emails Romie provided to CBC show that two investigators from the RCMP's Maskwacis detachment in central Alberta flew to Yellowknife the first week of December to interview her. I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated. - Tracella Romie Maskwacis RCMP deferred CBC's questions to the Yellowknife detachment. Yellowknife RCMP refused to say how the alleged incident came to their attention. They also refused to provide CBC News with an arrest report or video footage from the night in question. "As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide either of the items you requested, nor comment on how the incident that is part of the investigation was reported," N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote in an email. If indeed it was an RCMP officer who came forward, Romie says she's grateful to them. "If it wasn't [for that officer] all of this investigation would not have been brought to attention," she said. "I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated." Neither the Yellowknife or Maskwacis RCMP would comment on when the investigation is expected to be finished. Romie is being represented by a lawyer with legal aid services in relation to the charges, which are still working their way through the courts.
MOSCOW — Russian lawmakers on Wednesday quickly approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear Russia-U.S. arms control treaty, a fast-track action that comes just days before it’s due to expire. Both houses of parliament voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years, a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin said they agreed to complete the necessary extension procedures in the next few days. Speaking via video link to the World Economic Forum's virtual meeting, Putin hailed the decision to extend the treaty as “a step in the right direction,” but warned of rising global rivalries and threats of new conflicts. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move and Putin has to sign the relevant bill into law. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told lawmakers that the extension will be validated by exchanging diplomatic notes once all the procedures are completed. The upper house speaker, Valentina Matvienko, said after the vote that the decision to extend the pact shows that Russia and the U.S. can reach agreements on major issues despite the tensions between them. New START expires on Feb. 5. After taking office last week, Biden proposed extending the treaty for five years, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer. The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Biden indicated during the campaign that he favoured the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice-president. Russia has long proposed prolonging the pact without any conditions or changes, but the Trump administration waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands. The talks stalled, and months of bargaining have failed to narrow differences. The negotiations were also marred by tensions between Russia and the United States, which have been fueled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other irritants. After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries. Earlier this month, Russia announced that it would follow the U.S. in pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allowed surveillance flights over military facilities, to help build trust and transparency between Russia and the West. Before the Biden administration took office, Russia always had offered to extend New START for five years — a possibility that was envisaged by the pact at the time it was signed. But President Donald Trump charged that it put the U.S. at a disadvantage. Trump initially insisted that China be added to the treaty, an idea that Beijing bluntly dismissed. The Trump administration then proposed to extend New START for just one year and also sought to expand it to include limits on battlefield nuclear weapons. Arms control advocates hailed the treaty's extension as a boost to global security and urged Russia and the U.S. to start negotiating follow-up agreements. Ryabkov said that Russia will count its Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle along with other Russian nuclear weapons under the treaty limits. The Russian military has said the Avangard is capable of flying 27 times faster than the speed of sound and could make sharp manoeuvrs on its way to a target to bypass missile defence systems. It has been fitted to a few existing Soviet-built intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of older type warheads, and in the future could be fitted to the Sarmat, a prospective intercontinental ballistic missile now under development. Ryabkov said that Russia is ready to sit down for talks on prospective arms cuts, noting that they should also involve non-nuclear precision weapons with strategic range. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
A Cree pilot says he was honoured to be the person who delivered vaccines to some Cree communities in northern Quebec. Air Creebec pilot Willard Petagumskum flew vaccines to all of the coastal Cree communities in Quebec on Jan. 16. It marked the start of a regional vaccination campaign across Cree territory and an important step in the Cree fight against COVID-19. "I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. Because with everything we have been going through with this pandemic ... that it would help our people," said Petagumskum in Cree. As of Tuesday, there were 86 positive COVID-19 cases tied to an outbreak at the start of the new year in the region. Two Cree communities — Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou — have been hit particularly hard. There are 52 positive cases in Mistissini and 28 in Oujé-Bougoumou, according to the latest numbers from Cree public health. I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. - Willard Petagumskum, Air Creebec pilot For Petagumskum, who is from Whapmagoostui, the vaccine is an important way to protect vulnerable people in Cree communities. "There is a vaccine for [COVID-19] to help many ... elders and all our people," said Petagumskum. So far in the vaccination campaign, more than 8,200 people have received the vaccine that Petagumskum delivered, according to health officials. "I'm glad to be a part of this with the nurses and doctors, they do a lot to help our people. The small part of me being able to help out with this, that made me happy." The vaccine delivery happened in the middle of a snowstorm on Jan. 16, but after 30 years as pilot, Petagumskum took it in stride. "When I woke up Saturday morning to get ready for work, I noticed it was snowing a lot. There was a snowstorm in Montreal." Petagumskum needed to have a negative COVID-19 test before he could make the flight. He said he will get the vaccine himself as soon as he's able. 'I want people to look after themselves even after you receive your shot of this vaccine. You still have to be careful," he said. WATCH | Resident Fred Tomatuk watches the flight carrying the vaccine land in Eastmain, Que.: