Writer and director Robert Rodriguez talks about inspiration behind his latest film, "We Can Be Heroes," and how he made it into a family affair.
Writer and director Robert Rodriguez talks about inspiration behind his latest film, "We Can Be Heroes," and how he made it into a family affair.
WASHINGTON — It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause. Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors. Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he's left office, it's hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents. “He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump." “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.'” It's equally clear that the club's other members don't much want him — at least for now. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week, praising peaceful presidential succession as a core of American democracy. The segment included no mention of Trump by name, but stood as a stark rebuke of his behaviour since losing November's election. “I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in 152 years. Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren't there. Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn't a good fit for the ex-presidents club "because he’s temperamentally different.” “People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy," Engel said. "I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.” Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks. George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts. When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life," high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump. Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral. Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Trump's break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened. Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor's record. Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him. Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments. Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again," noting that the pair used to golf together. But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long. “I think Trump has taken it too far," Brower said. "I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.” Will Weissert And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
BARRIE, Ont. — An outbreak in a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., has resulted in more than two dozen deaths after a yet-to-be-identified variant of COVID-19 was detected at the facility. The coronavirus has sickened 122 residents and 81 staff at Roberta Place -- which has 137 beds -- since the outbreak began earlier this month, public health officials said Friday. The number of deaths reported at the facility climbed from 19 to 27 between Thursday and Friday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said it has given the COVID-19 vaccine to all eligible residents and staff at a nearby retirement home "in an effort to protect them against what is highly likely a variant of the virus." Immunization of residents at other long-term care and retirement homes throughout the region will also begin this weekend, it said. The unit said its supply of the vaccine is "extremely low and uncertain" due to the shipment delays of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. “Barrie has become ground zero for what is likely a COVID-19 variant of concern, which has spread rapidly throughout Roberta Place," the region's medical officer of health said in a written statement. Dr. Charles Gardner said they are concerned that the virus variant will spread into the community and other long-term care and retirement homes. The unusually rapid spread of the virus at the nursing home prompted officials to test for variants of COVID-19. In the coming days, officials are expected to confirm which specific variant –strains from the U.K., South Africa or Brazil – was detected at the home during initial testing. Researchers have yet to determine whether any of the new variants are more deadly, but the U.K. strain is known to spread much faster. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A former senior employee with the Ontario government has repaid more than $11 million in COVID-19 benefits the province alleges he took fraudulently, his lawyer said on Friday.The unproven civil claim named Sanjay Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop the computer application for applying and approving the benefit for families with children.In a brief statement, Madan's lawyer Christopher Du Vernet confirmed his client had made the repayment."In fact, the province has recovered in excess of the funds it presently alleges Mr. Madan took from the Families Support Program," Du Vernet said. "However, it is also seeking its legal costs, interest and punitive damages, so the action continues."In its untested lawsuit filed last fall, the province alleged Madan, his wife and two adult children who all worked for the Ontario government in information technology defrauded the province of at least $11 million.The civil claim, which also sought $2 million in punitive damages, accused them and others of illegally issuing and banking cheques under the program that aimed to defray the cost of children learning at home."The Madan family exploited their positions of employment with Ontario and unique access to the (program) and payment processing system," the government alleged in the claim. "The plaintiff was uniquely vulnerable to Sanjay, particularly with respect to the integrity of the...application."The Ministry of the Attorney General did not immediately confirm the recovered money, first reported by the Toronto Star. Du Vernet said his client "deeply regrets" his actions and was awaiting results of medical opinions on his condition.According to the lawsuit, Madan and his family opened more than 400 accounts at the Bank of Montreal between April and May. They then deposited around 10,000 cheques made out to fictitious applicants with thousands of non-existent children under the support program.Most deposits were made over a four-week period starting on May 25, coinciding with a rule change that allowed more than five payments to be made to an applicant. The government alleges Madan either sparked the rule change or knew about it and took advantage.In other court filings, Madan is said to have told the government that he could explain "all of this" and that he has "helped many families."The government had served notice it intended to seize any money the family obtained fraudulently and obtained a court order to have their bank accounts turned over to the court pending the outcome of the lawsuit.The government also obtained a court order freezing the family's assets, which included a list of properties in Toronto.Madan was fired in November. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
An afternoon of drumming and song was devoted to raising Secwepemc Nation members’ spirits during a time of stress and significant loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Today, the prayers we do and the songs that we do are prayers for our people,” Splats’in Chief Wayne Christian said in a virtual ceremony hosted Friday, Jan. 22 by the Secwepemc Health Caucus. “It’s really important for boosting our heart and our spirit to raise it up, especially for those that have lost loved ones because we can’t gather in our tradition, our custom and our culture to help the family,” he added. Tsq’escen’emc (Canim Lake Band) is mourning the loss of language speaker and knowledge keeper Ella Gilbert, the community’s first death due to COVID-19. Christian said it was essential to know and understand that their ancestors would be standing with them as they sang. “They’re watching and helping as much as they can, and I think it’s up to us to ask for the help that we need not only for the people as a whole but also ourselves because many times in ceremony we forget to ask for help for ourselves,” he said, calling everyone a leader in their own way. “So much of what we need to do is within us, within our mind and our heart.” Among those performing was T’exelcemc (William Lake First Nation) cultural co-ordinator David Archie, who sang Amazing Grace for Gilbert and recently passed T’exelcemc members Byron Louie and Michelle Wycotte. While the song was dedicated to anyone facing loss and dealing with COVID-19, Archie said it was primarily for Louie and his family. Mike Archie from Tsq’escen’emc participated by singing the Honour Song. “I know that my community is hit pretty hard by COVID and there’s a lot of people that are asking for prayers,” he said. From their home at Cemetem’ (Deep Creek) north of Williams Lake, Cheryl Chapman said while it was good to virtually see everyone, it was hard not to reach out and be able to physically hug them. Before Chapman joined her partner, Mike Retasket, in singing Remember Me, Retasket said his daughter in Wisconsin was experiencing headaches, fever, chills and body pains that would likely last 24 hours after receiving her second Pfizer vaccine shot. “There are so many people in our nation to help hold up today and I’m really happy to be able to help out with that work,” Retasket said. Prior to singing the Horse Song with his son, Tk’emlups (Kamloops), member Garry Gottfriedson explained how the song he sang during his childhood, about family coming together for strength, originated. “It’s’ really important that we understand that, and we must acknowledge where these songs come from so that we don’t make mistakes in our nation and have to pay the price for it,” he said. “I think so many times I see how we make a mistake and then we suffer for it, but now is the time to sing this song to bring us all together, so we remember for this little child for his future, for the future of our nation — the Secwepemc Nation.” Esk’etemc First Nation (Alkali Lake) elder Fred Johnson led a peace song and closing prayer in Secwepemctsin, which Mary Harry wrote they need to hear more often as it is how they learn to speak in their traditional language. Skeetchestn Chief Ron Ignace advised communities heavily impacted by COVID-19 and needing supplies such as Tsq’escen’emc and T’exelcemc to reach out to other communities who would see how they could help. Chief Christian reminded Secwepemc Nation members to continue following COVID-19 protocols and be cautious with their interactions. “COVID doesn’t travel,” he said. “It’s the people that travel.” Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
The Crown has withdrawn sex-related charges against a former Edmonton martial arts instructor. Kevin Ford was the owner and operator of ATA Martial Arts in west Edmonton. He is no longer listed as an instructor at the facility. When he was charged in 2018, Edmonton police alleged that two women, ages 19 and 25, had been sexually assaulted by Ford when he was instructing them. The case was supposed to go to trial by jury in June, but that trial was cancelled after Crown prosecutor Lori Dunford withdrew the charges. On Friday afternoon, with the consent of Dunford and defence lawyer Mona Duckett, Ford entered into a 24-month peace bond. The terms of the peace bond were not read aloud in court.
The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million). The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012. “This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.” The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing. Many have predicted that the next rights deal with the NHL will include multiple networks with former broadcast partners ESPN and Fox Sports expected to be in the mix. NBC's current deal averages $200 million per season. Premier League deals are usually for three years, but NBC secured a six-year package in 2015 by paying nearly $1 billion. NASCAR, which has its races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has a deal through 2024. IndyCar's contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on NBC, expires at the end of this year. The sanctioning body said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift." Tag Garson, Wasserman’s senior vice-president of properties, said TNT and TBS have already proved it's possible to have a cable channel that does a good job of meshing entertainment programming with sports. “NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer that it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that,” he said. “How many windows can your fit sports programming into at USA? That’s where the internal discussions are going to be and understanding the right balance to have between sports and entertainment.” NBC could also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service, which debuted last year. There are 175 Premier League games airing on Peacock this season. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
B.C. health officials confirmed 508 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and said nine more people had died of the disease. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 315 people, 74 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,128 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,479 active cases of coronavirus in the province, which is an increase from Thursday's number when there were 4,450 active cases. Public health is monitoring 6,719 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 56,455 people who tested positive have recovered. Bend curve, not rules In their statement, Henry and Dix again asked residents to closely follow measures in place to reduce infections "We can break the chains of transmission and bend the curve through our individual actions," it said. "This weekend, choose to bend the curve, not the rules." B.C. has recorded two new outbreaks in health-care facilities — one at Royal Inland Hospital and the other at Royal Columbian Hospital. Interior Health said that as of Friday morning, six patients and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Royal Inland Hospital. Late Friday, Providence Health announced that an outbreak has been declared in another unit at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. There are now outbreaks in three separate areas of the hospital, but the health authority says there is no impact on other parts of building. Interior Health has announced an additional 11 cases of COVID-19 linked to the community cluster at Big White Mountain, bringing the total there to 214 cases since the cluster was first declared. Meanwhile, a community cluster in the Williams Lake area has grown to include a total of 268 cases. Interior Health says most of those cases are related to transmission at social gatherings and events, which are not permitted under current public health orders. The province has also declared an outbreak at the North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre in Port Coquitlam, where 20 inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The new cases announced Friday break down by region as follows: 132 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 228 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 13 in the Island Health region, 79 in the Interior Health region and 55 in the Northern Health region. There was one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada. About 29 per cent of the new cases announced Friday were in the Interior Health, Northern Health and Island Health regions, compared with 39 per cent of new cases in those regions that were announced Thursday. Also on Friday, the province released its plans to vaccinate 4.3 million residents against the virus by September. Officials will vaccinate people in four phases based on age with high-risk and most elderly populations going first. So far, 110,566 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., including nearly 2,202 second doses. Friday's statement said that even as more people are vaccinated in B.C., residents need to continue to keep their guard up against infection. "We need to remember our risk remains high right now, even as we protect more and more people with vaccine," said the statement. "We are not at the point where we can lift restrictions in our community or long-term care." Henry and Dix's statement Friday follows news that B.C. will not ban non-essential travellers from other provinces in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. Thursday evening, Horgan said that the government has explored its legal options but won't be restricting travel at this point, although that could change.
WASHINGTON — Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection for the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule late Friday after reaching an agreement with Republicans. Under the timeline, the House will transmit the impeachment article against Trump late Monday, with initial proceedings Tuesday. From there, Trump's legal team will have time to prepare the case before opening arguments begin in February. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will send the article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the former president's trial on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced Pelosi's intentions Friday for the quick trial, rebuffing Republicans' proposal to push the proceedings to mid-February to give Trump more time to prepare his case. Schumer said there will be “a full trial," and "it will be a fair trial." Unlike any in history, Trump's impeachment trial would be the first of a U.S. president no longer in office, an undertaking that his Senate Republican allies argue is pointless, and potentially even unconstitutional. Democrats say they have to hold Trump to account, even as they pursue new President Joe Biden's legislative priorities, because of the gravity of what took place — a violent attack on the U.S. Congress aimed at overturning an election. The trial could start as soon as Tuesday, but timing remains uncertain as leaders negotiate. If Trump is convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office ever again, potentially upending his chances for a political comeback. The urgency to hold Trump responsible is somewhat complicated by Democrats' simultaneous need to get Biden's government in place and start quick work on his coronavirus aid package. The trial could halt Senate work on those priorities. “The more time we have to get up and running ... the better,” Biden said Friday in brief comments to reporters. A trial delay could appeal to some Democrats, as it would give the Senate more time to confirm the Cabinet and debate the new round of coronavirus relief. The timing and details of the Senate trial eventually rest on negotiations between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who are also in talks over a power-sharing agreement for the Senate, which is split 50-50 but in Democratic control because Vice-President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote. Whenever the start, Pelosi said Friday the nine House impeachment managers, or prosecutors, are "ready to begin to make their case” against Trump. Trump’s team will have had the same amount of time since the House impeachment vote to prepare, Pelosi said. Democrats say they can move quickly through the trial, potentially with no witnesses, because lawmakers experienced the insurrection first-hand. One of the managers, California Rep. Ted Lieu, said Friday that Democrats would rather be working on policy right now, but “we can't just ignore" what happened on Jan. 6. “This was an attack on our Capitol by a violent mob,” Lieu said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was an attack on our nation instigated by our commander in chief. We have to address that and make sure it never happens again.” Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” just before they invaded the Capitol two weeks ago and interrupted the electoral vote count, is still assembling his legal team. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday deferred to Congress on timing for the trial and would not say whether Biden thinks Trump should be convicted. But she said lawmakers can simultaneously discuss and have hearings on Biden's coronavirus relief package. “We don’t think it can be delayed or it can wait, so they’re going to have to find a path forward,” Psaki said of the virus aid. “He’s confident they can do that.” Democrats would need the support of at least 17 Republicans to convict Trump, a high bar. While most Republican senators condemned Trump's actions that day, far fewer appear to be ready to convict. A handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open — but not committed — to conviction. But most have come to Trump's defence as it relates to impeachment, saying they believe a trial will be divisive and questioning the legality of trying a president after he has left office. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally who has been helping him find lawyers, said Friday there is “a very compelling constitutional case” on whether Trump can be impeached after his term — an assertion that Democrats reject, saying there is ample legal precedent. Graham also suggested that Republicans will argue Trump's words on Jan. 6 were not legally “incitement.” “On the facts, they’ll be able to mount a defence, so the main thing is to give him a chance to prepare and run the trial orderly, and hopefully the Senate will reject the idea of pursuing presidents after they leave office,” Graham said. Other Republicans had stronger words, suggesting there should be no trial at all. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said Pelosi is sending a message to Biden that “my hatred and vitriol of Donald Trump is so strong that I will stop even you and your Cabinet from getting anything done.” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson suggested Democrats are choosing “vindictiveness” over national security as Biden attempts to set up his government. McConnell, who said this week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote. He said Senate Republicans "strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defence and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions.” Trump, the first president to be impeached twice, is at a disadvantage compared with his first impeachment trial, in which he had the full resources of the White House counsel’s office to defend him. Graham helped Trump hire South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers after members of his past legal teams indicated they did not plan to join the new effort. ___ Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Washington, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Jill Colvin in West Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Mary Clare Jalonick And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The auditor general of Canada has a "clean" opinion of the Northwest Territories government's 2018-19 financial statements. "This means that the information in the statements is reliable," said auditor general Karen Hogan. Hogan appeared remotely before the territorial government's Standing Committee on Government Operations on Friday for a belated review of the government's 2018-19 public accounts. The review was supposed to take place in May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hogan made two observations during her video presentation. The first had to do with public-private partnerships, also known as P3s. The new Stanton Territorial Hospital — which has had a significant impact on the government's finances — came into being through a public-private partnership. P3s are "usually large and complex," said Hogan. "It is therefore important to have accurate reporting of costs for informed decision making." She noted that auditors found public-private partnerships were recorded accurately, with one exception, and that correcting it resulted in a $30-million increase to both tangible capital assets and liabilities presented in the 2017-18 financial statements. Hogan's second observation had to do with the recording of certain revolving funds' revenues and expenses. Revolving funds can be continuously replenished to help ensure certain government operations. A recording correction resulted in a $34-million increase in both the revenues and expenses presented in 2017-18, said Hogan. "It wasn't an error in that revenues were forgotten or expenses were forgotten, it was just the way they were presented," she said. Gov't has 'limited flexibility' to raise money The public accounts are the annual financial statements of the government and include information on assets, liabilities, net debt and the accumulated surplus or deficit. Each year the auditor general of Canada audits the territory's consolidated financial statements and gives its opinion on whether the statements are a fair and accurate reflection of the government's financial position. The auditor general also looks at noteworthy transactions to ensure that they fall within the government's powers. The 2019 public accounts show that the N.W.T. government had revenues of about $2.4 billion and had expenses of about $2.03 billion, leaving an operating surplus of about $4 million, Julie Mujcin, N.W.T.'s comptroller general, told the committee. Although the government had an operating surplus, it has "limited flexibility" to raise money, as well as "vulnerabilities" related to its revenue sources, "which requires a need for careful fiscal management," said Mujcin. She said the government's finances in 2018-19 were affected in part by the opening of the new Stanton Territorial Hospital, as well as wage increases under government workers' collective agreement. The comptroller general also noted public agencies' challenges in completing audits and reports within the legislated timeframes. Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson noted that the public accounts under review were based on a budget approved by the previous legislative assembly. He also said that many revenue projections from that time were "inaccurate" because, among other factors, "COVID obviously messed up a lot of this."
PITTSBURGH — The son of a couple killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue attack that killed 11 worshippers is suing the National Rifle Association, arguing the group’s inflammatory rhetoric led to the violence. Marc Simon, the son of Sylvan and Bernice Simon, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against the NRA, the gun maker Colt’s Manufacturing Co., and accused shooter, Robert Bowers, news outlets reported. Colt manufactured the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle allegedly used by Bowers. A fourth defendant is the unknown business that sold Bowers the gun. Bowers is charged with killing 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Police said the former truck driver expressed hatred of Jews during and after the October 2018 rampage. “Bowers was not born fearing and hating Jews,” the suit claims. “The gun lobby taught him to do that.” Bowers has pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The plaintiff argues gun lobbyists like the NRA radicalized people with “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories.” The lawsuit also says Colt could have prevented the AR-15 from “bump firing,” or using a modification that allows the rifle to fire more rapidly. An NRA spokesperson declined comment on the lawsuit. The group filed for bankruptcy last week, and the claims against them in Simon’s lawsuit will be stayed as a result of the group’s reorganizing. Colt did not respond to request for comment. Besides a wrongful death claim, the complaint accuses Colt of product liability and says the gun is more akin to a military-style weapon than a civilian product. The Associated Press
The Grand River Conservation Authority is sharing its technical expertise with the public in a live webinar series covering topics of interest for landowners in the watershed. The four-part series includes sessions on the conservation authority’s popular cost-sharing tree planting program, invasive tree diseases and pests like the gypsy moth and oak wilt, aquatic species at risk in the Grand River watershed, and the water quality program where conservation staff work with landowners to customize a cost-sharing plan to reduce pollutants entering the river. Each webinar will consist of a presentation given by a conservation expert followed by a dedicated time for participants to ask questions. “We all have a role to play as landowners in improving watershed health,” said Louise Heyming, supervisor of conservation outreach at the Grand River Conservation Authority. “This series of webinars focuses on supporting rural landowners with information on programs that they can access to help make further improvements to benefit the watershed, and their properties and water quality.” The program was announced earlier this week and 40 participants have registered. The series is designed for rural landowners with more than two-and-a-half acres of land but is open to anyone. The sessions are free of charge but require registration. Recordings of the webinars will also be posted to the conservation authority website and will be free to access. Typically, the conservation authority hosts in-person workshops or attends outreach events to interact with landowners. An online format is being piloted this year because of COVID-19. If all goes well and there is enough interest, Heyming said more sessions will be added. Two of the webinars will focus on the Grand River Conservation Authority’s private land tree planting and rural water quality programs — programs the conservation has been running on behalf of the watershed’s municipalities for decades. “I love working with the individual landowners and those relationships that we have,” said Heyming. “We have a team of staff that has been delivering the program, some of us, for 20 years.” “When we drive through the watershed now, we see the individual projects on the landscape, and know that they’re still there and we get to play a role in supporting those landowners.” The private land tree planting program has been running for more than 60 years, said Heyming. The conservation authority works with an average of 70 landowners to plant about 100,000 trees in the watershed each year. Trees provide multiple benefits for a watershed, including preventing erosion and providing habitat for species at risk. The rural water quality program is a cost-sharing program between the Grand River Conservation Authority on behalf of municipalities and landowners to complete projects designed to improve the watershed’s water quality. Since the program began in 1998, nearly 7,000 projects have been completed with more than $56-million invested in water quality. In Waterloo Region, nearly $500,000 was invested into 65 water quality improvement projects for the 2020 year. More information and registration details can be found at grandriver.ca Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
PHOENIX -- Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona are declining despite the state having the worst infection rate in the country. Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday that the number of patients and even the positivity test rate have dipped slightly in the last few weeks. It was the one bright spot of news as Arizona reached a grim milestone with a pandemic death toll of more than 12,000. That puts COVID-19 on track to eclipse heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the state. The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 8,099 additional known cases and 229 additional deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 708,041 cases and 12,001 deaths. One person in every 141 Arizona residents was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: Dr. Fauci says a lack of candour about the coronavirus under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives. Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics, but faces vaccine roadblocks. Germany passes 50,000 deaths from coronavirus. Lucky few get COVID-19 vaccine because of rare extra doses in U.S. New Chinese film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary. Brazil awaits vaccine cargo from India amid supply concerns. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: BOISE, Idaho -- Limited coronavirus vaccine availability, confusion over which Idaho residents should be vaccinated first and rumours of line-jumpers are all complicating the state’s vaccine rollout. Members of Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee met Friday to help clarify exactly who should have first dibs on the state’s doses. Sarah Leeds with the Idaho Immunization Program says the demand is far higher than the doses available. So far, the federal government has distributed more than 178,000 doses to Idaho. That’s a rate of about 9,970 doses for every 100,000 residents, putting Idaho near the bottom compared to the allotment given other states. Currently, front-line health care workers, nursing home staffers, dentists, pharmacists and other medical-field staffers are eligible to be vaccinated in Idaho, as can child care workers, teachers and staffers at primary and secondary schools and correctional centre staffers. But the people who are charged with giving out the vaccine — local health departments, pharmacies and medical care providers — have different interpretations of exactly who is included in each category. ___ RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that the state has seen 1,280 of its coronavirus vaccine doses get discarded. “Only 0.1% (or 1,280) of the 1.1 million doses which have entered the state thus far have become unusable for any reason and we have not received reports of significant batches being lost,” the department said in a statement to The Associated Press. In a Thursday afternoon news conference, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Mandy Cohen, estimated the waste to be “in the tens of doses.” Doses being administered at county health departments, clinics, hospitals and other places could be tossed out due to a vaccine being stored too long in a freezer or not being administered in a timely manner once it has been taken out of a freezer. There are currently 136 different vaccine providers in the state. The health department said providers are using low dead-volume syringes are designed to maximize the amount of doses it can get out one multi-dose vial. “In some cases, providers have been able to extract an extra dose out of the Pfizer supply, and we appreciate the hard work of providers to maximize the use of this supply,” the department said. North Carolina expects to continue getting about 120,000 new first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week. ___ SEATTLE -- A suburban Seattle man who advertised a supposed COVID-19 “vaccine” he said he created in his personal lab, has been arrested. KUOW reports Johnny T. Stine faces a misdemeanour charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Stine advertised injections of the supposed vaccine for $400 on his personal Facebook page in March 2020. At that time, there was no authorized COVID-19 vaccine on the market. It wasn’t immediately known if Stine has a lawyer to comment on his case. He could face up to one year in prison if convicted. ___ BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A state health inspector has found that some residents of a long-term care and skilled nursing facility in Burlington, Vermont, failed to get doses of required medication and proper wound care and were left to sit in their urine amid a coronavirus outbreak at the facility last month. The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did the inspection at Elderwood at Burlington on Dec. 9 and 10, the Burlington Free Press reported. The survey was done following recent anonymous complaints about the facility. A subsequent report did not find any instances of infection control failing to stop the spread of COVID-19, the newspaper reported. The facility said in a statement Friday that it is committed to working with regulatory authorities to ensure it maintains high standards of care and appropriately complies with all guidance. “Elderwood at Burlington is and always has been committed to high quality, safe resident care. Throughout the pandemic, which has stretched the resources of healthcare providers across the country, our staff have worked with diligence and dedication to care for residents,” the statement said. The report states that the facility continues to hire, train and schedule enough competent staff to meet the needs of residents and surpass state minimum staffing requirements. ___ MISSION, Kan. — Online sign-ups for the coronavirus vaccine are filling up almost as quickly as they are posted as health officials in Kansas begin moving beyond immunizing just health care workers and long-term care residents. Saline County had to shut its down within 30 minutes after residents 65 and older nabbed all 900 available slots. That’s about how long Douglas County had its signup open before its 500 slots were filled. The rush comes after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that the state was moving into the second vaccination phase, which includes about 1 million people. It includes not just those 65 and older but also people in congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters, and critical workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers and meat packing plant employees. The state also will continue vaccinating people from the first phase, some of whom wanted to watch the rollout to see if there were problems before getting vaccinated themselves. The challenge is that the state doesn’t have nearly enough doses for all of them — at least not yet. So the state is leaving it up to counties to decide how to prioritize who gets vaccinated next. ___ SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is reporting a one-day record of 764 COVID-19 deaths but the rate of new infections is falling. The deaths reported Friday by the California Department of Public Health top the previous mark of 708 set on Jan. 8. In the last two days California has recorded 1,335 deaths. Hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases have been falling, however, and health officials are growing more optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over. The 23,024 new cases reported Friday are less than half the mid-December peak of nearly 54,000. Hospitalizations have fallen below 20,000, a drop of more than 10% in two weeks. ___ PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Friday defended her decision to reject federal guidelines and prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine before the elderly, stating that if all of Oregon’s seniors were vaccinated first teachers would likely not be vaccinated before the school year and many students would not return to in-person learning. In addition, during a news conference, officials from the Oregon Health Authority presented a new vaccination timeline that delays the eligibility for seniors 65 to 69 years old to be vaccinated until March 7 and those 70 to 74 pushed back to Feb. 28. Last week, Oregon officials announced a change to the vaccine distribution — instead of vaccinating teachers and seniors at the same time, teachers would be vaccinated beginning Jan. 25 and people 80 or older beginning Feb. 8. ___ SAO PAULO — Sao Paulo state, which has posted the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths of any Brazilian state, has tightened its restrictions on activity until Feb. 7 with the 8 p.m. closure of non-essential businesses. The reopening of schools, previously planned for Feb. 1, was postponed by a week. Health authorities also announced local hospitals could run out of intensive-care beds in 28 days, which forced them to reassign 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients. Sao Paulo state is home to 46 million people, and has recorded almost 51,000 deaths from the virus —almost one fourth of the total in Brazil, where cases and deaths of coronavirus are surging again. Also on Friday, Brazil’s health regulator authorized the emergency use of 4.8 million CoronaVac vaccines bottled locally by Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute. Six million shots were previously made available by Butantan, and another 2 million AstraZeneca shots are expected to arrive from India later on Friday. Brazil has a population of about 210 million. ___ MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's state health officer said a low supply of vaccine is the largest hindrance to getting people vaccinated for COVID-19. Alabama health officials were expecting to get more than 112,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses a week based on conversations with federal officials when Operation Ward Speed began last year. Instead, officials said, the state is getting about 50,000 to 60,000 doses a week. Dr. Scott Harris said federal officials later said the 112,000 figure was not a promise but a figure that the state should use in its planning. Alabama has approved more than 883 pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other providers to do vaccinations but only 364 have received any vaccine. He said only about 117 providers will get vaccine this week because of the available supply. The state of nearly 5 million people has received 502,950 vaccine doses and 223,887 of those have been administered, according to state numbers. Harris said many of the unused doses are designated for patients in upcoming appointments for their second or first dose. ___ WASHINGTON — White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about a potential pause in vaccinations in New York, where the state is reporting a shortage in vaccines available for first doses. Psaki says the White House has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “look into what is possible” to address the situation in New York. But she stressed the administration will defer to the judgment of medical experts. “Clearly we don’t want any states to run out of access to vaccines,” Psaki says, adding the Biden administration aims to avoid supply crunches going forward. ___ LONDON — AstraZeneca says it will ship fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union than anticipated due to supply chain problems. The company is waiting for the European Medicines Agency to approve its vaccine, which could happen when the EU regulator meets on Jan. 29. AstraZeneca’s statement said, “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.” It adds: “We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.” Regulators in Britain and several other countries have already given the vaccine the green light. ___ BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has released some demographic details on who’s received the coronavirus vaccine. However, the data provided Friday lacks key information to determine if Louisiana’s doses are equitably distributed. Few vaccine providers are identifying race in the data submitted. That undermines Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to ensure minority groups have adequate access to vaccination. The information shows at least 33% of Louisiana’s nearly 273,000 vaccine recipients are white and at least 10% are black. But another 56% of those who have received the shots were listed as “unknown” or “other.” Edwards is calling on hospitals, clinics and pharmacies vaccinating people in Louisiana to start providing more complete data. ___ WASHINGTON — New research finds full doses of blood thinners such as heparin can help moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid the need for breathing machines or other organ support. The preliminary results come from three large, international studies testing various coronavirus treatments and haven’t yet been published. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors released the results Friday to help doctors decide on appropriate care. Nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients currently get low doses of a blood thinner to try to prevent clots from forming. The new results show that “when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, there is a significant benefit in preventing them from getting sicker,” said Dr. Matthew Neal, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one study leader. However, the researchers say these drugs don’t help and may harm people who are more seriously ill. The study highlights how timing and degree of illness matter for coronavirus treatments. Steroid drugs can help severely ill patients but not ones who are only mildly ill. Some antibody drugs seem to help when given soon after or before symptoms appear but not for sicker, hospitalized patients. ___ HAVANA — A possibly more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Cuba. Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán of the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine says the variant, originally detected in South Africa, was found in an asymptomatic traveller during a check at ports and airports. While that case was imported, she says authorities can’t rule out the possibility it is also circulating locally. But the institute’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Duran, said it’s not the reason for a recent upsurge in cases on the island. The nation of some 11 million people has recorded more than 20,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 530 on Thursday, and 188 deaths. ___ PHOENIX — Arizona’s death toll surpassed 12,000 on Friday after reporting 229 more deaths. The Department of Health Services reported 8,099 confirmed cases, increasing total cases to more than 700,000. The surge has crowded hospitals statewide. Arizona is ramping up vaccinations by opening an additional site. But like other states, Arizona has had difficulty getting enough doses to administer. ___ WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation is extending its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew and lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more coronavirus vaccinations. Tribal officials announced the measures will take effect Monday and run through at least Feb. 15. Officials say the daily curfew will run daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The tribe has reported a total of 26,782 cases and 940 known deaths on the reservation. ___ RABAT, Morocco — Morocco has received its first doses of vaccine against the coronavirus and plans to start injections next week. The Health Ministry sats the AstraZeneca vaccine, delivered from India, will be followed by another delivery next week of a second vaccine, from China’s Sinopharm. The vaccine rollout will start next week. Priority will be given to health workers age 40 and above, police and army officers, teachers 45 and above and those over 75. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — It's a proven political strategy: Underpromise and overdeliver. President Joe Biden, in his first three days in office, has painted a bleak picture of the country's immediate future, warning Americans that it will take months, not weeks, to reorient a nation facing a historic convergence of crises. The dire language is meant as a call to action, but it's also a deliberate effort to temper expectations. In addition, it is an explicit rejection of President Donald Trump’s tack of talking down the coronavirus pandemic and its economic toll. Chris Lu, a longtime Obama administration official, said the grim tone is aimed at “restoring trust in government” that eroded during the Trump administration. “If you’re trying to get people to believe in this whole system of vaccinations, and if you want people to take seriously mask mandates, your leaders have to level with the American people,” he said. Biden said Thursday that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better” and offered “the brutal truth” that it will take eight months before a majority of Americans will be vaccinated. On Friday, he declared outright: “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” It's all part of Biden's pledge that his administration will "always be honest and transparent with you, about both the good news and the bad.” That approach, aides say, explains Biden’s decision to set clear and achievable goals for his new administration. The measured approach is drawing praise in some corners for being realistic -— but criticism from others for its caution. Trump often dismissed the seriousness of the virus and even acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately played down the threat to the U.S. to prop up the economy. Even as death tolls and infection rates soared, Trump insisted the country was already “rounding the turn.” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Biden’s pledge for 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office might fall short of what’s needed to turn the tide on the virus. “Maybe they’re picking a number that’s easier to achieve, rather than the number that we need to achieve. I would urge people to be bolder than that,” he said. Adalja argued that the goal they’ve set “should be the bare minimum that we accept.” But he also acknowledged that there’s a major political risk in overpromising. “You don’t want people to be discouraged or feel like the government is incompetent” if they fail to meet a goal, he said. “It’s a disappointingly low bar,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician. Biden on Friday acknowledged the criticism, saying he was hopeful for more vaccinations, but he avoided putting down a marker that could potentially fall out of reach. “I found it fascinating that yesterday the press asked the question, ‘Is 100 million enough?'" he said in the State Dining Room. "A week before, they were saying, ‘Biden, are you crazy? You can’t do 100 million in 100 days.’ Well, we’re — God willing — not only going to 100 million. We’re going to do more than that.” In fact, while there was some skepticism when Biden first announced the goal on Dec. 8, it was generally seen as optimistic but within reach. The Biden administration might be taking lessons from the earliest days of the Obama administration, when there was constant pressure to show real progress in turning around the economy during the financial crisis. One former Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about internal conversations, said there was a fevered effort during the first few months of Obama's first term to play down the focus on evaluating the president’s success within his first 100 days because aides knew the financial recovery would take far longer than that. In one notable misstep, Obama’s National Economic Council chair, Christina Romer, predicted that unemployment wouldn’t top 8% if Congress passed the administration’s stimulus package to address the financial crisis. It was signed into law a month into Obama's first term, but by the end of that year, unemployment nevertheless hit 10%. The risk in setting too rosy expectations is that an administration might become defined by its failure to meet them. President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003 — at a time when the Iraq War was far from over — became a defining blunder of his presidency. Trump provided an overreach of his own in May 2020, when he said the nation had “prevailed” over the virus. At the time, the country had seen about 80,000 deaths from the virus. This week, the U.S. death toll topped 412,000. Trump’s lax approach and lack of credibility contributed to poor adherence to public safety rules among the American public. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Trump’s handling of the virus caused so much damage to public perceptions of its severity that it’s important for Biden to set a contrasting tone. “I think it is really important to start telling the American people the truth. And that has not happened in a year, since we found the first case of coronavirus, so he’s got a lot of damage to undo,” she said. “This is a very serious, very contagious, deadly disease, and anything other than that message — delivered over and over again — is, unfortunately, adding to the willingness of lots of people to pay no attention to how to stop the spread of the disease.” Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
A Komoka resident and lifelong environmentalist is building Middlesex Centre’s first net-zero energy house, hoping to spark a trend in the region. A net-zero home minimizes energy use for heating and cooling, while producing its own energy through solar panels. “It’s been a personal mission and passion of mine to try to educate, not to preach, and to live by example,” said Terry Keep. “Even a guy who is not a builder can do this with the right people around them.” Keep has been building his new carbon-neutral family home amid the pandemic and expects to be finished by April. He spent years researching the process before breaking ground last fall. The 2,300-square-foot (214-square-metre) home will feature solar panels on its steel roof, along with thicker walls for better insulation and triple-pane windows to reduce energy use. The lumber used is all Forest Stewardship Council certified. The driveway will use permeable pavers so stormwater can drain through into the ground. “It’s a nicer, quieter, dryer, tighter home,” Keep said. It’s also one of few homes to feature an electric furnace — the home uses no natural gas — and a heat pump. The house is divided into three zones, each heated only when necessary. Though net-zero homes are available in the London region — Sifton’s West Five development, for example, is geared toward sustainable living — Keep said building one independently in other neighbourhoods isn’t common. He’s documenting the building process — he calls it a “labour of love” — on YouTube, aiming to show carbon-neutral homes can be accessible and affordable for everyday consumers, not just environmentalists. He also wanted to prove you don’t have to move to a new neighbourhood to get a carbon-neutral house. “It’s the desire to show people it’s a regular neighbourhood, my home will stand beside a regular, code-built home,” Keep said. “I want people to see it can be done.” Walk through Keep’s house in progress, and it looks like any other mid-century modern home — with hints of Frank Lloyd Wright — not something out of The Jetsons. About 20 per cent of the average home's carbon footprint comes from household energy consumption. It takes about seven years for a solar-powered house to recoup the investment costs. But Keep has faced many hurdles getting his environmentally sustainable house off the ground, even without pandemic hiccups, such as labour and supply shortages. Finding architects, builders and tradespeople with knowledge and experience in developing net-zero houses was a challenge, Keep said, and getting them to commit to a single house even harder. “It’s been a really interesting ride,” said the home's builder, Frank Oosterhoff, who owns Great Lakes Construction. Keep said Middlesex Centre is a progressive area in terms of sustainability, citing the newly built net-zero firehall, and the community centre’s solar panels. Once his own house is finished, Keep plans to pursue building a row of affordable, net-zero townhouses. “The next generation is starting to realize there's value in that,” he said. “If everyone can afford one, they’ll buy it — if they can’t afford one, they won’t.” Keep drives a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is also a vegetarian. He was a founding member of EnviroWestern, a group at Western University that promotes sustainability. “We make small steps to get to a big impact over our life,” Keep said. “It doesn’t happen over a short period.” email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
Yukon will be sharing its doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with neighbours in Atlin, B.C. The community is unusual in that it can only be reached by road from Yukon. It's about a two-hour drive away from Whitehorse. B.C.'s Northern Health, the B.C. First Nations Health Authority and the government of Yukon announced in a news release on Friday that immunization clinics will be held in Atlin on Jan. 27 and 28. The news release says handling requirements for the vaccine, along with Atlin's remote location, make logisitics a challenge. "[Atlin] is part of our northern health authority's jurisdiction and our region, but that said, it is in a location that lends itself, I think, to some affiliation with the Yukon," said Eryn Collins of Northern Health. Two hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine will be shipped from Whitehorse to Atlin ahead of next week's clinics. Those clinics will focus on priority groups such as elders, seniors, health care workers and the medically vulnerable. Atlin residents who are eligible for the first round of inoculations will be contacted directly and offered an appointment. People are also encouraged to contact the Atlin Health Centre or the Taku River Tlingit First Nation health team directly beginning on Monday, Jan. 25, if they have questions or live without telephone access. Yukon began its own community vaccination clinics last week, with two mobile vaccine teams travelling across the territory over the coming weeks. The territory has so far received 14,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine, with more expected to arrive in February.
A supervisor with the Cape Breton Regional Police testified Friday that he was instructed by another department to arrest Christopher Garnier in 2017 for breaching conditions of his release. Sgt. Dave MacGillivray told a hearing of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board there was no discussion regarding a warrant when the request came from Halifax Regional Police to detain Garnier, who was awaiting trial for murder. Members of Cape Breton's municipal force did not charge Garnier after he was taken into custody. "We did not know at the time that there was a definite breach," MacGillivray told the three-member panel. MacGillivray reiterated that Halifax police were handling Garnier's file and keeping track of his whereabouts. 2 constables sent to make arrest He said two Cape Breton constables were sent to pick up Garnier in Millville, N.S., on Feb. 19, 2017 — about 33 hours after Garnier failed to show up at his mother's door as part of a bail compliance. That same year, Garnier was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of off-duty Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. The hearing into the conduct of four Cape Breton Regional Police officers was launched Monday, after Garnier's father, Vincent Garnier, complained police violated his son's rights. Causeway handover After he was taken to a central lockup in Sydney, Christopher Garnier was driven to the Canso Causeway where he was picked up by Halifax officers. MacGillivray was asked if it is uncommon for charges to be laid outside a jurisdiction where an alleged offence took place. "It's not our practice, but in this case it did happen," he said. Governed under the Nova Scotia Police Act, the review board is an adjudicating body for complaints in relation to municipal policing organizations in the province. Board chair Jean McKenna said written arguments are expected, noting the panel could make recommendations on how interdepartmental affairs are handled. "It may seem as though there was information that may not have been properly transmitted," she told hearing lawyers and Vincent Garnier, who has been representing himself as a complainant. The board also has the authority to dismiss the matter, find a complaint valid and award or fix costs where appropriate. Hearing to wrap The constables accused of misconduct are Steve Campbell, Gary Fraser, Dennis McSween and Troy Walker. All of the men, with the exception of McSween — who was given a medical exemption — have testified. In total, 11 witnesses have given testimony, including members of Christopher Garnier's family and an ex-girlfriend. A Halifax police constable is the final person who will give sworn evidence when the hearing resumes Monday. Vincent Garnier alleges police unlawfully arrested his son, took photographs on private property without the knowledge or consent of the homeowner, and invited themselves into the home where his son was staying. Officers who spoke at the hearing said they were only performing their duties according to proper police protocols. MORE TOP STORIES
The motor kicks in, slowly raising the viewing hatch to reveal the celestial bodies shining on this crisp January night — ready for their close-up from the Celestron CPC 1100 telescope mounted in the University of Prince Edward Island observatory. The silver dome-shaped tower sits atop Memorial Hall on the Charlottetown campus. Megan Glover, a laboratory technician in the physics department, controls the direction of the telescope using a computerized control pad to find the bright cratered surface of the first quarter moon. Even thought the opening of the dome and telescope can swivel in all directions, Glover said they are still somewhat limited as to what a group of students can see in the artificially illuminated city skies. "We're still able to show them things like planets, some star clusters, nebula, the occasional galaxy if the weather is cooperating enough," Glover said. "It's just a way for them to have a firsthand view of something — rather than just seeing it as a picture on a textbook or a website." Behind her, placed on a wall near the exit of the 2.5-metre diameter dome, is a newly added plaque. "The Earl L. Wonnacott Observatory," it reads, dedicating the structure to the former professor who was instrumental in getting it installed in 1980. 'Just a tremendous experience' Wonnacott began teaching at Prince of Wales College in the 1940s. He continued as a PWC professor — with breaks to upgrade his own education, as well as serve in the Second World War — until the college merged with St. Dunstan's University to form UPEI in 1969. There he taught physics and astronomy and was the chair of the physics department in the 1980s. Bill Whelan, current chair of the department, took one of Wonnacott's two astronomy courses as an undergrad and calls it "just a tremendous experience. "He had a very soft-spoken, very gentle manner and such an enthusiasm for physics and astronomy. He just sort of… brought you right in and helped you experience the wonders of looking up at the sky." In 1980, Wonnacott was able to get funding for the new observatory. It would consist of a telescope, a dome to cover it and all the infrastructure to support it in a sheltered space on top of a new wing being built at Memorial Hall. "He said that he and his student assistants often got very excited about what they were seeing and they hoped that the people that were visiting would get just as excited — and he thought that it would rub off a little bit on them," Glover said, recalling a paper Wonnacott wrote about the observatory in the early 1980s. "I think that's what we continue to do, is let people see some of these astronomical sites for themselves and get interested and it's a great way to get interested in science." Wonnacott was a founding member of the Royal Astronomical Society, Charlottetown Centre. After he retired, the Professor Earl Wonnacott Prize in astronomy was established in his honour in 1998. He was named a Founder of the University in 2001 for his contributions to education in the province. He continued to teach astronomy into the early 2000s, and would still show up at public viewing events to join in spreading knowledge about astronomy. Whelan recalls a 2017 solar viewing event, when the university partnered with the Charlottetown chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society to set up devices and telescopes to help the public safely take in the event. They were expecting a couple dozen people to show up, but hundreds of community members attended, including Wonnacott. "I can tell you that it electrified a lot of people who attended because many hadn't seen him in a number of years," Whalen said. "We were very pleased to see him there. He has always shared his knowledge about solar eclipses in these solar events and he just elevated the entire event." Wonnacott died on October 18, 2019. To commemorate the 40th year of the Observatory, in 2020 the physics department proposed to the university that it be dedicated in Wonnacott's honour. The university agreed and the dedication was made in October. Sharing the sky with the public Over the years, the observatory has been used often for public viewings, either for the general public or for community groups. Glover said that continues to respect Wonnacott's original intention of helping people see things in the sky with their own eyes. It also lets those leading the public viewings to share in the magic of someone's first-timer delight. "It can be a bit like getting to see it yourself again for the first time," said Glover. "When someone else gets very excited about seeing it, it's a little bit — kind of gets you caught up in it as well." New camera equipment, including a special filter, will help students collect the different spectrum of light from the stars. "Our hope is that students will be able to get a spectrum from a star themselves and study it and learn what they can about the star," Glover said. More from CBC P.E.I.
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's admission Friday that he might have to improve the vetting for high-level appointments sparked criticism over why he didn't figure that out before he chose Julie Payette as governor general. Trudeau named the former astronaut as Canada's 29th governor general in 2017 after disbanding a non-partisan, arm's-length committee created by the previous Conservative government to recommend worthy nominees for viceregal posts. Thursday, she resigned over allegations she created a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall, an unprecedented move for a monarch's representative in Canada. Trudeau faced questions Friday about his judgment and his government's failure to check with Payette's former employers at the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee, where she faced similar allegations of harassing and bullying subordinates. "We will continue to look at the best way to select people for viceregal appointments," Trudeau told a news conference Friday outside his residence at Rideau Cottage. "It's an important role for Canadians and we will look at how we can improve it." But Trudeau would not commit to reinstating the non-partisan, arm's-length committee to choose her successor. Payette announced her resignation about a week after the government received the damning findings of an independent investigation into allegations of harassment and other workplace issues at Rideau Hall. Trudeau said he spoke with the Queen by telephone Friday to inform her that Canada's Chief Justice Richard Wagner is stepping in until a new governor general is named. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said earlier that the Queen was being kept informed and will leave the matter in the hands of the Canadian government. Trudeau said everyone deserves a safe and healthy workplace, including employees at Rideau Hall. He said the work they have done has been "exceptional." But he deflected a question over whether he owed those employees and all Canadians an apology. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said Trudeau handled the hiring process badly and should have accepted full responsibility on Friday. "This was a case where they did not consult. This was likely bounced around in the PMO. And there was zero verification or due diligence. And, unfortunately, we see the results," O'Toole said in an interview. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the choice of Payette was one of style over substance. "Really it comes down to Justin Trudeau, who was more interested in a flashy announcement of a governor general rather than doing the work of making sure it was the right selection," Singh said Friday. "And it seems to be an ongoing trend, this pursuit of a flashy headline instead of working to get the job done." Patricia Faison Hewlin, of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, said leaders with authentic leadership skills have never been more important than now. "During these uncertain and devastating times, we are in critical need of leaders who are skilled at connecting to people in meaningful ways — building unity, allaying concerns, and showing empathy," she said. "The days are over when leaders could skimp on emotional intelligence and building relationships. Employees are demanding more from their leaders." Trudeau's minority Liberal government could be defeated at any time and, were that to happen, it would fall to the governor general to decide whether to call an election or give O'Toole a chance to see if he can command the confidence of the House of Commons. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday the government has begun discussions with those responsible for vetting, but the prime minister hasn't had time yet to reflect on the best way to choose Payette's successor. The government will have more to say on that likely next week, he said. LeBlanc said the government report came to "compelling" and "stark" conclusions and agreed that Payette's tenure shows that the vetting system for such appointments needs to be strengthened. "There always has been a process of vetting, of checks that are made when somebody is appointed to any government job. But clearly, the process can be strengthened, can be improved," LeBlanc said in an interview shortly after Payette's resignation. The government does not intend to release the report due to privacy issues and the promises of confidentiality made to all complainants, LeBlanc said. It will instead release a redacted version of the report in response to requests made under the Access to Information Act. LeBlanc would not discuss the contents of the report, but said it found Rideau Hall "was obviously an unacceptable workplace." LeBlanc said federal public servants "have the right to a secure, safe and healthy workplace and we are adamant … that standard be upheld at every institution of the government of Canada." He said the report "painted a picture that was not consistent" with that standard. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation called on Trudeau to stop paying the expenses of former governors general after they have left office. Former governors general also qualify for a pension of more than $140,000, the federation said. "Two years ago, the prime minister said he would review this program," said the group's director, Aaron Wudrick. "Nothing has happened since. It's time to save taxpayers money by scrapping this outrageously wasteful program." The Senate recently agreed to pay $498,000 in compensation to nine former employees of ex-senator Don Meredith, who was accused of sexually harassing, belittling and humiliating his staff. LeBlanc said there's been no consideration thus far — and no mention in the report — of paying compensation to Rideau Hall employees, some dozen of whom complained anonymously to the CBC about Payette yelling at, belittling and publicly humiliating staff, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit. He said such questions will be handled by senior federal officials, who are planning to talk with all employees at Rideau Hall to plan next steps. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Mike Blanchfield and Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press