Teddy Bears Anonymous is a Saskatchewan charity that has brought a little comfort to thousands of sick and frightened children in hospitals by giving them a teddy bear to snuggle.
Teddy Bears Anonymous is a Saskatchewan charity that has brought a little comfort to thousands of sick and frightened children in hospitals by giving them a teddy bear to snuggle.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
A Vancouver social service agency has bought two recreational vehicles to help people who are homeless or living in shelters to self-isolate while they wait for the result of COVID-19 tests. Duncan Higgon, senior manager of housing for PHS Community Services Society, said the RVs will fill a need and reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading through the Downtown Eastside and other at-risk communities. Up to now, a homeless person waiting for test results — a process that can take up to two days — has nowhere to go except a shelter. Higgon said that could lead to more transmission, because shelter managers are placing people who may or may not have COVID-19 together in a special isolation area. And other people waiting for test results have to find their own isolation solutions. “We are leaving you in the tent, in the community at Strathcona Park... the library if they’re open, buses and public transit, malls or Tim Hortons where you stay warm — and shelters,” Higgon said. “Shelters are congregate settings. So we’ve had to make some really dire, dire decisions.” PHS has created space for people who need to self-isolate at its New Fountain Shelter, but that has meant taking away the women’s only area of the coed shelter and using it for people who need to isolate. And reduced shelter capacity because of the need to social distance has meant there are 379 fewer winter shelter spots open in Vancouver this year compared to last year. Tanya Fader, director of housing for PHS, said the organization faced a challenge when people who tested positive for COVID-19 came to the shelter at night after the intake process was closed for the day. “Obviously, we don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, you’re being screened, and you need to isolate, or you test positive — we’re kicking you out on the street,’” said Fader. “So we came up with the idea of maybe if we could use [RVs], because they’re their own self-contained units.” People who are unhoused and who have tested positive for COVID-19 usually go and stay in hotels under the supervision of Vancouver Coastal Health. The idea is that the RVs will be a short-term option. People who live in SRO hotels — buildings with shared bathrooms — might also make use of the RVs to self-isolate if they can’t get a spot at a hotel right away. PHS applied for new emergency federal funding in December and was able to get $429,000 to buy two RVs and provide 24-7 staffing. Staff will mostly work out of a van near the RVs but will also have access to offices at nearby PHS buildings. PHS is working with Vancouver Coastal Health to make sure infection protocols and other processes are in place. PHS has plans to buy another three RVs if needed. The two campers the organization has already purchased are now set up and should be operating soon. The RVs will be needed after the pandemic is over, Higgon said. When homeless people get sick but are not ill enough to go to hospital, there’s often nowhere for them to stay. That includes someone sick with stomach flu or a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. “A lot of our structures, medical and otherwise, are premised around this idea that we have an [indoor] space,” Higgon said. “When we take that variable out of the equation, it all becomes more complicated.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Selon les plus récentes données transmises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) du Bas-Saint-Laurent, cinq nouveaux cas de COVID-19 s’ajoutent au bilan quotidien du 18 janvier. On dénombre actuellement 52 cas actifs dans la région. Au KRTB, la situation dans la MRC de Kamouraska demeure stable avec six cas actifs. De son côté, la MRC de Rivière-du-Loup ajoute un nouveau cas à son bilan quotidien et chiffre son nombre de cas actifs à sept. La MRC de Témiscouata et celle des Basques ne dénombrent quant à elles aucun nouveau cas. À titre comparatif, la MRC de Rimouski-Neigette ajoute 4 nouveaux cas à son bilan quotidien et compte 32 cas actifs en date d’aujourd’hui. DONNÉES PAR MRC AU BAS-SAINT-LAURENT Kamouraska : 152 Rivière-du-Loup : 257 (+1) Témiscouata : 81 Les Basques : 28 Rimouski-Neigette : 580 (+4) La Mitis : 76 La Matanie : 206 La Matapédia : 48 Indéterminés : 6 Bas-Saint-Laurent : 1434 (+5) BILAN NATIONAL Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 634* nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 244 348 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 215 325 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 32 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 9 087. De ces 32 décès, 9 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures et 23 entre le 11 et le 16 janvier. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a augmenté de 31 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 1 491. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a augmenté de 2, pour un total actuel de 217. Les prélèvements réalisés le 16 janvier s'élèvent à 26 831, pour un total de 5 451 826. Dominique Côté, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Infodimanche
Katie Green has been interested in art since she could hold a pencil. Originally from Maryland, she describes herself as having lived “kind of all over the place.” For the last seven years she’s called Richmond home, and is perhaps best known as a caricature artist who goes by the name “Cartoon Katie.” Green’s parents were very supportive of her desire to have a career as an artist. “They were always getting me the little ‘how to draw Mickey Mouse’ books,” she says. As an art student, she studied visual effects and animation, but was doing caricature art on the side. The style appeals to her partially because of its similarities to animation. “I really like being a little sillier with the drawing,” she says. “I can take a picture of stuff, or I can spend a lot of time rendering perfect details. Mimicking life is impressive, but for me it’s not as fun, not as creative—I want (my art) to express something a little different than what you can normally see.” After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Green worked at a Los Angeles studio as a visual effects artist. And when that studio opened a branch in Vancouver, she was moved up north, still taking caricature gigs occasionally on the side. Eventually she decided to leave the film industry and pursue caricature art full-time. First looking up what kind of city permits she would need to be a caricature artist, Green says the City of Richmond suggested she contact the Harbour Authority. When she did, she was given a patch of grass outside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery to sell art from. “I do a bunch of markets and things, and what I primarily do are events—like Songs in the Snow, or people’s birthday parties, or charity things,” says Green. “(At events) I’ll go and perform, and rather than have people pay to get each drawing like at a market, I’m just drawing as many of the guests as I can in a set amount of time, like an entertainer.” Now an independent business owner, Green covers events from birthday parties to dry grads to business holiday parties. Sometimes she works with other artists at larger events, and she also teaches some classes at local community centres. Many of her gigs come through networking, where someone sees her at an event or market and asks her to work their event or activity as well. “At any kind of celebration party, caricature can fit right in because it’s a customized souvenir,” she says. Green has a process with each drawing: she begins by imagining a person’s head shape, trying to decide how much space it will take up. But usually, while the face shape is the first thing she thinks of, it’s the last part she draws. “People always say I start with the nose, but in my brain I’m starting with a lot of other shapes and things first,” she says. “The nose is in the middle, so if I get it down first I don’t have to draw on top of something to get it the right shape.” Sometimes when she sees people in public, Green imagines how she would draw them. “It’s a thought process that I can’t turn off,” she says. For instance, she might see someone on a bus with an interesting face, or have a conversation with someone who makes a noticeable facial expression. But because she knows she can’t whip out a sketchbook and start drawing without permission, she tries to remember shapes to recreate later. “Inspiration strikes when I see certain faces or certain features, (even) when I’m not drawing,” says Green. Her own personal style has changed over time, depending on what she’s interested in and what she feels like making. The COVID-19 pandemic has totally changed her style, for instance, as well as the way she’s been drawing. “I don’t really feel like I have one specific style, I’m just always trying to be funny, I want it to look good, and I want people to like it,” she says. Because of the humorous nature of caricature, Green says sometimes people don’t respond positively. She describes her art as an illustration rather than a recreation of a photograph, and always tries to have samples available so people know what to expect. “Even though I’m doing art every day, every day seems to be different, I have different challenges to problem-solve, I’m coming up with a new way to deal with something,” she says. One of the challenges this year was the pandemic, of course, which created a distinct lack of work opportunities for many artists. “Everyone was out of work—we had our livelihoods cancelled for some unknown amount of time,” says Green. Some artists created virtual set-ups, including Green. She began with free virtual caricature parties, then began networking with other artists on big virtual events. “There’s been a lot of trying to keep the art community lifted up, while also trying to figure out how to keep my business going.” Virtual events have become more successful and consistent, although not without some technical challenges. Green says as well as doing art, she also provides some technical support to people who may not necessarily know how to turn on their camera, for example. After the events, she emails out drawings so people can access them. During online drawing events, Green uses a tablet and stylus to create her art. She usually shares her screen so people can see what she’s drawing as it’s being created, while also seeing her face as she draws. Normally, she balances drawing on paper and drawing digitally, as she recognizes the complementary skill sets. But despite the challenges, Green is still optimistic. She says inspiration comes from everywhere, especially laughter and “anything fun.” “I don’t feel that it’s making fun of somebody. I know people get that mentality with caricature, with the editorial side of it where you’re usually making fun of politicians, but from a retail and event standpoint it’s more a celebration of what makes people unique rather than making fun of them,” she says. “When I see a unique face, it’s definitely fun—but it’s fun in a positive way, not in a negative way.” Over the years she’s worked on some interesting projects, including children’s storybooks, logos for businesses, and orders for board game or card game art design. But one project that stood out to her was an ongoing collaboration with a Danish man who wanted to create a book of idioms. “They were all in Danish, so he was using Google Translate to help communicate with me,” says Green. “But I had to be illustrating the imagery that would be associated with it, not the meaning.” The language barrier created some communication challenges, but also yielded some fun drawings. “That project was super fun, the guy was really nice and I work with him all the time—but it was one of those cases where every day was a different joke we were coming up with because it made no sense to the project,” she says. When she’s not drawing, Green likes to play video games to hang out virtually with friends, or watch movies with her husband. As a freelance artist, she appreciates being able to work on whatever she’s interested in. Recently, she’s been making a lot of tutorials to help other artists. “The cool part about being freelance and working independently is that I don’t have to dream about a project—I get to work on it when I want to, as long as I don’t have too much other work at the same time.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
A man in his 70s died Tuesday afternoon after being hit by a vehicle on Southwood Drive in Nepean, Ottawa police said on Twitter. Ottawa paramedics tell CBC they received a call to attend the crash at Southwood Drive and Thorson Avenue at 1:55 p.m. Tuesday. When crews arrived, the man was bleeding from his head. Workers tried to resuscitate him, but the man died before he could be transported to hospital, paramedics said. Southwood Drive between Baseline Road and Rector Avenue remains closed while Ottawa police examine the crash site. Police said their thoughts "are with the family at this time," and declined to provide further details about the crash.
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick was moved to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan as Premier Blaine Higgs warned Tuesday of even more severe measures if the spread of the virus doesn't slow. Health officials reported one new death and 31 new COVID-19 cases in the province Tuesday, with 21 of them in the Edmundston region, which entered the red level Monday. The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John zones were to join Edmundston as of midnight Tuesday. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, with masks and physical distancing. "We have had some success in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus across our province, and we have succeeded because we acted swiftly and decisively," chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday. "We haven't waited, as some other jurisdictions have done, until critical levels have been breached." Russell called the increase in cases across the province this month alarming. "The threat it poses to our health-care system and the well-being of our citizens cannot be ignored," she said. Russell said the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, and there have now been more than 1,000 cases since the pandemic began. Four hundred of those have been in the last 30 days. Russell said many of the new cases were spread through large social gatherings, such as parties and holiday gatherings around Christmas and New Year's. Higgs said the province will consider imposing more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. "We are not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," he said. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive, and we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." He said a continuing rise in case numbers could mean a return to a full lockdown as was in place in March, with schools closed and people staying home except to buy essential items. Higgs said the all-party COVID cabinet committee would meet again Thursday to discuss next steps. "Public health is currently working to determine exactly what a lockdown would look like if we need to take this additional step," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Ontario Medical Association has released a white paper outlining fears that rising COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions could limit drug supplies in coming weeks. OMA president Dr. Samantha Hill said chronic drug shortages have worsened during the pandemic and may become more serious if hospitals are overwhelmed. That includes essential and critical care medications propofol, ketamine, succinylcholine, fentanyl, and midazolam. "Drug shortages can be catastrophic for patients, causing treatment delays, increased suffering, financial burden and an increased risk of overdose and underdose," Hill said Tuesday in a release. China and India supply most of the active pharmaceutical ingredients used in North America. The OMA is urging all levels of government to work towards a long-term goal of increasing the country's ability to manufacture and stockpile essential drugs. A coalition of Canada's doctors, pharmacists and citizens raised similar warnings in August, noting many in-demand drugs are used to treat COVID-19 and are also used in operating rooms, emergency departments and palliative care settings. The Critical Drugs Coalition warned of possible shortages in the event of a winter surge of COVID-19, and now that the second wave has strained health-care systems in several hotspots, the OMA suggested we're nearing the precipice of rationing drugs. Dr. Bjug Borgundvaag of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians said the pandemic has especially increased demand for steroids, antibiotics and drugs used for sedation, pain, and blood pressure. "Drug supply so far is still OK but it's very unpredictable," said Borgundvaag, director of the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Medicine Institute at the Sinai Health System. "The pharmaceutical companies do not have the capacity to suddenly double or triple drug manufacturing, and it's very hard to anticipate something like this where the demand can go up to three or four times normal use." Uncertainty over more infectious COVID-19 variants further complicates the difficulty in predicting ICU demands, he added. Borgundvaag said doctors were doing what they could to conserve medication and lobby pharmaceutical manufacturers for greater drug allotments. The OMA warned that drug shortages can seriously affect patient care and "force health-care providers to make very difficult choices." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Richmond councillors are considering a program that would make free menstrual products available in most city facilities. At last night’s general purposes committee meeting, Coun. Carol Day brought the proposal before councillors. While the program was initially envisioned as a pilot project with a review to come at the one-year mark, councillors were in support of expanding the proposed program to a permanent one. “We know many women are specifically marginalized now more than ever due to COVID,” said Richmondite Karina Reid, who spoke as a delegation at the committee meeting. “Access is important, because if you’re in a public facility, you should be able to access (products) and your needs should be able to be met.” In addition to coming up with an implementation plan, staff were also directed to report back with a budget and come up with an education plan. There will be a one-year review of the program. All councillors were in support of the project. It will come before council for final approval in the coming weeks. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
BOSTON — A Massachusetts-based political scientist and author is accused of secretly working for the government of Iran while lobbying U.S. officials on issues like nuclear policy, federal authorities said Tuesday. Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi was arrested by FBI agents at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts, on Monday, officials said. He is charged in New York City federal court with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Iran. An email seeking comment was sent to an attorney for Afrasiabi. Afrasiabi appeared before a Boston federal court judge via videoconference during a brief hearing and a detention hearing was scheduled for Friday. Authorities said Afrasiabi, an Iranian citizen and lawful permanent U.S. resident, has been paid by Iranian diplomats assigned to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in New York City since at least 2007. At the same time, he made TV appearances, wrote articles and lobbied U.S. officials to support the Iranian government's agenda, officials said. In 2009, Afrasiabi helped an unidentified congressman draft a letter to President Barack Obama about U.S. and Iranian nuclear negotiations, according to court documents. He never disclosed that he was working for Iran, officials said. After the January 2020 U.S. military airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Afrasiabi told Iran’s foreign minister and permanent representative to the United Nations that Iran, in response, should “end all inspections and end all information on Iran’s nuclear activities pending a (United Nations Security Council) condemnation of (the United States’) illegal crime,'" according to court documents. Doing so will “strike fear in the heart of enemy” and “weaken Trump and strengthen his opponents,” Afrasiabi wrote, according to court documents. Assistant Attorney General John Demers said Afrasiabi portrayed himself "to Congress, journalists and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran." “Mr. Afrasiabi never disclosed to a Congressman, journalists or others who hold roles of influence in our country that he was being paid by the Iranian government to paint an untruthfully positive picture of the nation," William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York Field Office, said in a statement. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Twenty-one senators from the Maritimes are urging the federal government to provide financial assistance to an inter-city bus service that they say is in financial peril because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The senators have sent a letter to federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, saying Maritime Bus provides an essential service to the health-care sector by transporting blood products and patients across the region. As well, they say the service is particularly important for smaller rural towns and the francophone communities in northern New Brunswick. The company has already requested support from the governments of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. However, the senators say Maritime Bus is not eligible for various federal support programs, mainly because it is a for-profit enterprise. The senators also note that Ottawa provided direct funding for Greyhound when it abandoned bus routes in Western Canada. "Because of the inter-provincial nature of (Maritime Bus), and as a matter of regional fairness, we believe that federal support, tailored to the unique circumstances of the Maritimes, is warranted," the letter says. "As Via Rail service remains suspended and airlines continue to cut routes to the region, it is imperative that we preserve Maritime Bus service. A tailor-made, federal-provincial agreement is the best path forward." Earlier this month, the president of the company, Mike Cassidy, said he has cut routes because the number of Maritime Bus passengers fell from 191,000 in 2019 to just 69,000 in 2020. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like no other: pared down, distanced, much of it virtual. But for actor Christopher Jackson — the original George Washington in Broadway's “Hamilton" — performing in a virtual “ball” is a way of participating in an essential rite of American democracy. “I’m glad to play a part in it,” says Jackson, who will perform at the quadrennial ball for the Creative Coalition, a fundraiser for arts education and one of the more prominent unofficial events surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration. “It’s a great honour, and I’m very grateful that we have allowed our system to continue to work in the way it was intended.” Jackson -- not to mention former co-star and “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda -- joins a slew of celebrities descending on Washington, virtually or in person, for entertainment surrounding the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks contributing musical performances. Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that officially takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls. Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labour leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsey, the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The proceedings will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Fox News will not carry the broadcast. Beyond that event, there’s also a virtual “Parade Across America” on inauguration afternoon, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Jon Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — among many others. There’s also star power on display Tuesday evening at the virtual “Latino Inaugural 2021,” hosted by Longoria and including Broadway and screen star (and EGOT winner) Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, and Miranda again, saluting Puerto Rico with his father, Luis Miranda. The show honours members of Latino communities keeping the country running during the pandemic as front-line workers. In a normal year, there would be a wealth of sideline events, parties and concerts around Washington. One of the higher-profile events is the Creative Coalition's ball, going all virtual this year, Along with Jackson, KT Tunstall will perform. Host Judy Gold will kick off with a comedy set, also featuring comedians Randy Rainbow, Michael Ian Black and Wendi McLendon-Covey. More than two dozen members of Congress are set to join celebrity guests like Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Jason Alexander, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ellen Burstyn, Alyssa Milano and others. Jackson, who spoke in an interview late last week while planning his performance, said he would not be appearing as George Washington -- but history was on the actor’s mind nonetheless, given the unique circumstances of this inauguration. “We put ourselves in a perilous position,” he said of recent events roiling the country. “So the idea that this inauguration is happening is testament to the resolute dedication that our public servants have to making this thing work.” He said he was also eager to shine a spotlight on arts education, the coalition’s core mission, noting that as a kid growing up in southern Illinois, he depended on resources like an early-morning band class at school, where he’d begin each day playing the trumpet. “There was a time when I went through a lot of bad emotional passages as a kid,” Jackson said. “Had it not been for the outlet the arts created for me, I don’t know where I would be today." He noted that support for the arts is ever more urgent given how the pandemic has decimated the arts industry. Actor Tim Daly, the coalition’s president, said that despite optimism for the new administration’s approach to arts funding, it’s still an uphill battle in the United States. “I feel there’s going to have to be a really long and powerful effort by the Creative Coalition and other organizations to finally try and make federal, local and state governments understand the importance of the arts," he said, adding that the arts, besides being a driver of the economy, "is part of our spirit. It’s how we teach empathy and kindness.” Daly said he has mixed feelings as he approaches this very unique inauguration. “This is going to be the strangest (celebration) ever,” he said. “It’s virtual, and the celebration will in some ways be very muted. But in some ways, very meaningful. In a way this year is more important than any other, because our democracy has been under threat.” The coalition’s ball will include breakout rooms where guests can mingle, and even simultaneous hand-delivered meals in multiple cities. But there’s still no way to replace an in-person experience, Daly acknowledged. “There’s nothing that takes the place of human interaction,” the actor said. “I’d be lying or dishonest if I said this was better. But we’re doing the best we can -- and it’s better than nothing.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
IMMOBILIER. Tel que rapporté, selon les données colligées par JLR, une société d’Equifax, 899 préavis d’exercice (prise en paiement, vente sous contrôle de justice, vente par le créancier et prise de possession à des fins d’administration) ont été émis au cours du quatrième trimestre de 2020. Ce qui représente une baisse de 46 % par rapport à la même période un an plus tôt. Pour l’ensemble de l’année, les publications d’actes de ce type se sont élevées à 3916, une chute de 42 % comparativement à 2019. Le nombre de préavis diminuait légèrement avant la pandémie une tendance qui se poursuivait depuis 2016 grâce à une économie et un marché immobilier en croissance rapporte JLR. «La baisse s’est grandement accrue à partir de la mi-mars, soit lors de l’arrivée de la pandémie et de la mise en place de mesures d’aide. Peu de temps après la mise sur pause de l’économie, une possibilité pour les ménages ayant perdu tout, ou une partie, de leurs revenus de reporter leurs paiements hypothécaires de six mois a été annoncée. Ceci, combiné à l’octroi de la PCU à plusieurs citoyens dans le besoin, a réduit de manière importante les processus de reprise hypothécaire, ce qui est contraire à ce qui s’observe habituellement lors d’une crise économique», indique-t-on. Un total de 296 délaissements a été publié au Registre foncier au cours du quatrième trimestre de 2020, une chute de 26 % relativement à la même période en 2019. Un recul qui s’amenuise depuis deux trimestres pour ces immeubles hypothéqués abandonnés volontairement au profit de son créancier ou d’un jugement qui l’ordonne.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
FORT ERIE, Ont. — Police are investigating after the bodies of two women were found inside a house in Fort Erie, Ont. Niagara Police say they received a call early Monday morning about a disturbance that possibly involved a firearm. They say officers found the bodies when they arrived at the house. Homicide and forensic units have taken over the investigation. A portion of a regional roadway was shut for most of Tuesday as police asked people to stay clear of the area. Investigators want anyone with information to contact them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
A man who police say stole a Victoria harbour ferry has been arrested after cops and the coast guard had to chase the wannabe pirate through city waterways Tuesday morning. According to a statement from the Victoria Police Department, officers were called to the waters off the 400-block of Swift Street at approximately 3 a.m. after a boat was reported stolen and heading up the Gorge Waterway. When officers arrived on the scene, the alleged thief changed direction toward the inner harbour and appeared to be trying to flee the area. With the assistance of a nearby harbour ferryemployee, officers boarded a separate boat, took off after the stolen vessel and were able to get close enough to speak with the suspect and convince him to surrender. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape St. James brought additional VicPD officers to the scene to help. Police say the stolen ferry and suspect were then towed to a dock in the 900-block of Wharf Street where the man was arrested. The short-lived ride resulted in recommended charges of theft over $5,000.
La ville de Grande-Rivière et de nombreux acteurs de l’industrie de la pêche dénoncent l’inaction de Québec et d’Ottawa vis-à-vis un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement du port municipal. Amorcées à l’automne 2018, les démarches sont dans une impasse, ministères et gouvernements se renvoyant la balle, au désarroi des élus et des pêcheurs. «On ne demande pas la charité, on veut de l’équité», lance d’emblée le maire de Grande-Rivière, Gino Cyr. Depuis deux ans, son administration multiplie les démarches afin de faire approuver un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement de la municipalité, sans succès. D’un ministère à l’autre, «on se renvoie la balle», dénonce-t-il. Avec les années, les espaces disponibles dans les parcs de la péninsule gaspésienne se font de plus en plus rares. «Les bateaux sont toujours plus gros et les grands parcs de la région sont presque pleins. Le besoin est criant», explique le homardier et vice-président de l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière, Vincent Gallagher-Duguay. Aussi, un nombre grandissant de crabiers des provinces atlantiques viennent entreposer leurs bateaux dans les parcs gaspésiens. Les glaces se libérant plus rapidement du côté québécois, la pêche pourraiy débuter plus tôt. Ces embarcations, souvent plus grosses, ont priorité sur les petits homardiers, qui doivent se trouver d’autres endroits pour passer l’hiver. De nombreux acteurs locaux, allant des associations de pêcheurs jusqu’aux transformateurs, souhaitent donc voir apparaître de nouvelles places pour entreposer les homardiers, comme le demande la Ville de Grande-Rivière. Cette dernière a proposé aux différents ministères un projet qui ferait passer son parc d’hibernation à 48 places pour les petits bateaux. En plus d’ajouter des espaces d’entreposage, l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière souhaite installer une grue-portique ainsi qu’une rampe adaptée sur le site, rendant la mise à l’eau et l’hivernation des embarcations beaucoup plus sécuritaires. «En ce moment, on utilise une remorque archaïque, mal adaptée et dangereuse. En 2017, on a échappé un homardier avec cette remorque artisanale. Qui va prendre la responsabilité si un accident survient?», se demande le maire. La communauté met la main à la poche Le coût du projet, estimé à un peu plus de deux millions $, serait en partie assumé par la communauté, qui a déjà récolté 200 000$ en ce sens. Au moyen d’une contribution de leur part, les pêcheurs financeraient 300 000$ supplémentaires si le projet devait voir le jour. La municipalité souhaite que les gouvernements se partagent le reste de la facture, mais elle se bute à des barrières administratives. «Il n’y a pas de flexibilité dans les programmes. Après trois ans de démarches, le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) nous a ramenés à la case départ en faisant valoir la non-admissibilité du projet aux programmes et en renvoyant la responsabilité de ce dossier au MAPAQ qui n’a pas de programme pour soutenir ce genre de projets», dénonce le maire de la municipalité, dont l’économie est étroitement liée à la pêche. M. Cyr dénonce aussi la rigidité du Fonds des pêches du Québec. «La majeure partie des budgets sont toujours disponibles. Encore un exemple éloquent que ce dernier répond très peu aux besoins de l’industrie! Des changements de fond sont nécessaires rapidement». Des précédents sur la Côte-Nord et aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine Les acteurs locaux s’indignent surtout de la différence de traitement qu’a reçu leur projet si on le compare à d’autres installations similaires récemment financées à 100% par les gouvernements. Au cours des dernières années, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine et la Côte-Nord ont toutes deux vu des agrandissements dans leurs parcs d’hivernement, entièrement financés par les gouvernements via des décrets et des enveloppes dédiées. «Nous connaissons le traitement qu’ont reçu les projets des Îles et de la Côte-Nord : Nous sommes aussi des pêcheurs du Québec», conclut le vice-président de l’Administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière. MM. Cyr et Gallagher-Duguay souhaitent obtenir une rencontre avec le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêches et de l’Alimentation du Québec, André Lamontagne, dans le but que celui-ci signe un décret pour financer le projet. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
Renfrew -- The memorial tree in Low Square is not slated to be cut down, although a story saying the opposite is circulating. “I’ve had several questions from people, and phone calls, in regard to the very big tree in Low Square, which is decorated with the RVH (Renfrew Victoria Hospital) Memory Lights at the moment,” Councillor Sandi Heins said at the January 12 council meeting, held via Zoom. “They have heard rumours that that tree, in regards to some plans that are coming forth for Low Square, is going to be cut down. “I’d like to hear it, and be able to assure people, that that isn’t going to happen.” The memorial tree was planted by the Cadet family who lost their firefighter son, she reminded council. There should be a lot of discussion before that should happen. “When we planted that tree, it was maybe five feet high, and it’s grown into quite a lovely tree and is very momentous to the space and we certainly get a lot of comments on it, how beautiful it is,” Coun. Heins said. “It’s really important to reassure the public that when things are underway in regards to planning of new, maybe a new layout of Low Square…things like the tree and anything that’s very momentous to them, deserves a lot of discussion before it is taken down,” Coun. Heins said. Reeve Peter Emon, who has attended all economic and administration meetings, said the tree has never been discussed. Councillor Mike Coulas said this discussion never occurred at Development and Works Committee. There has been discussion about the refurbishing of Low Square and making it user-friendly or updating it, but nothing was ever said of the tree, he added. “If that comes to be, I’m most assured there will be a ton of discussion about it, I’m sure,” he said. Coun. Heins said it just takes one person who is on municipal staff to say something, or to assume that, and say it in the wrong place, and then people assume that that’s exactly what’s happening. Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader