Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a bucket list item for most diving enthusiasts around the world, and for good reason. Just check out this clip of a massive whale shark!
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a bucket list item for most diving enthusiasts around the world, and for good reason. Just check out this clip of a massive whale shark!
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Saint-Félix-d’Otis entend donner un nouveau souffle au site de la Nouvelle-France avec l’installation d’une tyrolienne unique au Canada fabriquée par la compagnie Zip Liner qui permettrait des descentes rocambolesques sur un parcours de 1000 mètres en direction du fjord du Saguenay. Le projet de 1,4 M$ a été dévoilé par le maire de la municipalité, Pierre Deslauriers, en prévision de la mise en service pour la saison touristique 2022. En entrevue, M. Deslauriers a déclaré que le financement du projet était très avancé et qu’il ne restait que 200 000 $ à attacher pour aller de l’avant. Le maire Deslauriers a expliqué que l’idée d’installer une tyrolienne avec chaise et harnais a été inspirée de la directrice générale de la municipalité, Hélène Gagnon, qui a visité le village de Hoonah en Alaska, où a été aménagé le Icy Strait Point destiné à recevoir une clientèle de bateaux de croisière. Le Icy Strait Point est constitué de plusieurs tyroliennes qui permettent de parcourir à une vitesse maximale de 80 km/h une distance de 5300 pieds, sur une dénivellation de 1300 pieds devant le Pacifique, offrant un point de vue extraordinaire. Les passagers sont installés sur des chaises et retenus avec des harnais. « Lorsque je me suis rendue sur place, je n’ai aperçu que des têtes grises dans la tyrolienne. Il s’agit d’une belle aventure douce », témoigne Mme Gagnon. Le projet caressé par Saint-Félix-d’Otis serait plus modeste, puisqu’il permettrait de parcourir une distance d’un peu moins de 1000 mètres à partir du poste d’accueil pour une descente jusqu’à la maison de Champlain, près des rives du Saguenay. M. Deslauriers a mentionné qu’avant les Fêtes, des représentants de la firme Zip Liner, de Colombie-Britannique, sont venus repérer le site envisagé et ont constaté que le projet pourrait profiter d’une belle dénivellation de la montagne. Les tyroliennes permettraient une descente à faible hauteur du sol à une vitesse raisonnable. Plusieurs engagements Selon les informations transmises, le projet serait passablement avancé au niveau du financement puisque la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay s’est engagée pour un montant de 100 000 $ auquel s’ajouterait une enveloppe semblable provenant du programme des projets de grande envergure. Le site de la Nouvelle-France contribuerait pour 200 0000 $ tandis que la municipalité avancerait un demi million $. Québec se serait engagé pour un montant variant entre 150 000 $ à 200 000 $. Ne reste plus que l’engagement du fédéral à confirmer. « On travaille avec Développement économique Canada (DEC). On a discuté avec notre agent de projet. On complète le pro forma et on va tomber dans la phase d’analyse », explique M. Deslauriers. Au départ, il était question de mettre en place un système de visite virtuelle en 3D pour le site de la Nouvelle-France, mais ce projet a été remplacé le projet de tyrolienne, lequel s’inscrit dans le cadre d’un programme de développement du site qui vise à attirer les familles, les grands-parents, dans un cadre où l’histoire serait au centre des activités. La direction souhaite bonifier l’offre de sentiers pour la randonnée pédestre afin d’attirer un plus grand nombre de visiteurs. Pierre Deslauriers ne cache pas que le site a déjà vécu de meilleurs jours alors qu’à une certaine époque, environ 25 000 visiteurs le fréquentaient annuellement, comparativement à 5000 à 6000 présentement.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
A newly released study suggests university students are eating worse, are less active and are drinking more alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic than they were before. Gordon Zello, a professor in nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, was one of the head researchers on the study, which has been published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. "There's certainly been some research out there that suggested that the COVID epidemic made university students and vulnerable groups have poor diets and less physical activity," Zello said. "But the problem with a lot of these studies is they didn't have a pre-COVID analysis." The study took a survey about the student's pre-pandemic lifestyles in the spring of 2020, so the University of Saskatchewan researchers had a frame of reference for the new data. Zello said the findings show university students, especially those most vulnerable — people who live independently, or with roommates or partners but are responsible for buying and preparing their own food — need to be targeted for interventions. The four-month study surveyed 125 graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina who were considered vulnerable. Worsening habits weren't surprising, Zello says, but the study found students ate less of the foods typically eaten in the spring — like fruits and vegetables. Similarly, "with physical activity going into summer months, you would expect people to be more physically active. So to actually see things get worse during COVID was a bit surprising," Zello said. The study found students weren't getting the vitamins and nutrients they needed, that hours of sedentary behaviour rose dramatically from three hours to 11 per day, that students ate less meat, and that their alcohol consumption significantly increased. "Remember, these students were not those which had a big [social] bubble, if you like," he said. "So they're going to be more isolated and [that] probably led to more things like screen time or sedentary behaviours." Keely Shaw, a graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan, was another of the study's authors. She knew university students don't always have the best habits during normal times, let alone during a pandemic. "If it's their first or second year being away from home, they might not have the skills to cook food. They might rely a lot on eating out or ready-made meals," Shaw said. Combined with recommendations to avoid going out to restaurants, "there's a lot more strain put on the individual," she said. But Shaw says the increased alcohol consumption wasn't expected, because pre-pandemic, people typically drank more with their peers than when alone. Shaw was also surprised by the decrease in meat consumption. "I feel like in Western culture, we kind of structure our meals around the meat. So I would almost have expected that to be a little bit more stable across the board, but our research showed otherwise," Shaw said. Zello said he hopes the impacts from this study are remembered for the next waves of the pandemic and any future pandemics. He said there's been more focus on family units instead of isolated people and fostering positive habits. "These lifestyle changes are hard to change again," Zello said. "So the longer this epidemic goes on and the longer people are not physically active, the longer they're eating poor diets. To change them back to what they were before becomes also difficult." Shaw hopes university students read the research and consider their own habits, she said. She suggests walking around the block, eating as healthy a diet as a person's budget allows, and carrying any positive habits forward into a post-pandemic world. "Hopefully from there they can really understand the importance of maintaining a super well-balanced, rich in fruits and vegetables diet, and trying to really ensure that they're limiting their sedentary behaviour," Shaw said. Shaw and Zello conducted the research with co-authors Leandy Bertrand, Phil Chilibeck, research assistant Jongbum Ko and undergraduate summer student Dalton Deprez.
China's central bank has proposed stepping up antitrust measures for companies in the non-bank payments industry, such as Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat Pay. Under draft rules proposed on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) can advise the state council's antitrust committee to stop companies abusing their dominant position or even break up a non-bank institution if it "severely hinders the healthy development of the payment service market".
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s Defence Ministry on Wednesday reported the death of a soldier in Afghanistan, the second from the tiny Western Balkan country to die during the international peacekeeping mission. The soldier, identified only by the initials Xh. J., died Tuesday night at 1810 GMT (1:10 p.m. EST), the ministry said in a statement. It didn't specify the location or give any details about the circumstances. The ministry said that the Albanian military was assisting an investigation by the command of the Resolute Support Mission operation in Afghanistan, made up of around 16,000 troops from 38 countries. Albania, a NATO member since 2009, has been part of the international mission since 2010. The country currently has 99 troops in Afghanistan, located at two bases in Herat and Kabul. The ministry expressed condolences to the family and “assure the personnel in the mission and their families of continuous support in the successful accomplishment of their mission.” The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
Canadian companies are being told to ensure they’re not importing Chinese goods produced through the forced labour of the Uighur religious minority group. “Reports indicate mass transfers of Uighur labourers to factories across China where they are enrolled in forced labour programs that taint global supply chains in a variety of industries,” reads a Global Affairs Canada advisory. The federal government says it’s also aware of other human rights violations affecting Uighurs and other ethnic and religious groups by Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and other parts of China, including mass arbitrary detention, forced separation of children from their parents, forced sterilization, and torture. China is a major trading partner for Canada, with $75 billion worth of merchandise imported from China in 2019, according to Statista. International Trade Minister Mary Ng said that the feds are committed to ensuring Canadian businesses aren't engaged with supply chains involving forced labour. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to increasing supply chain transparency, promoting responsible business conduct, and ensuring that Canadian companies are upholding Canadian values, wherever they may operate,” Ng said in a statement. Parliament amended the Customs Tariff Act last July to ban the imports of goods produced wholly or partly as a result of forced labour from any country. The government reminds companies that they must conform to these laws, adding that companies that operate within the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) may also be subject to human rights legislation. “In addition to legal risks, companies face reputational damage related to their supply chains if it is discovered that they are sourcing from entities that employ forced labour,” the advisory added. It remains unclear if there indeed have been confirmed instances of Uighur-made products flowing through Canadian supply chains. Canada’s National Observer asked Ng if she can definitively say there aren’t products made by Uighurs or other minority groups in Canadian supply chains, but the question was deferred to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which also didn’t provide direct comment to the question. However, Jacqueline Callin, spokesperson for CBSA, explained shipments containing goods suspected of being produced by forced labour are detained at the border for inspection by a border services officer who has the authority to ban these goods from entering Canada based on their analysis of the specific situation. The government announced Monday that companies with ties to Xinjiang will have to sign a “Xinjiang Integrity Declaration” recognizing they’re aware of Canadian laws regarding the prohibition of forced labour and the “human rights situation in Xinjiang” before they receive support from the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). It wasn't indicated when this declaration requirement will come into effect. The government also appointed a Canadian ombudsperson for responsible enterprise in April 2019 to review claims of alleged human rights abuses involving Canadian companies abroad, but Amnesty International Canada doesn’t think the office’s role goes far enough. “Without the power to compel documents or witness testimony, we fear the ombudsperson will be unable to fully investigate allegations of forced labour or other abuses from companies’ supply chains,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, the organization’s secretary general, in a statement. The Global Affairs advisory said the government urges Canadian companies with links to Xinjiang to “closely examine their supply chains to ensure that their activities do not support repression, including ... the Chinese government’s surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang, detention or internment facilities, or the use of forced labour.” However, Nivyabandi believes this shouldn’t be left to individual companies, calling for the Trudeau government to pass legislation that would require Canadian companies to conduct “human rights due diligence” within their global operations and supply chains. “The Canadian government has missed a crucial opportunity to hold Canadian companies accountable for human rights violations in Xinjiang and beyond,” Nivyabandi said. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The mayor of Norman Wells, N.W.T., says that for months, he's held the lease to five empty houses in which town residents could isolate after travel, but the territorial government hasn't given him permission to use them. "There's no cost to the town to use these units," said Frank Pope. "We are willing to meet aircraft bringing people in ... we're willing to look after their needs for groceries, or for whatever they need." Despite having furniture for the houses, and staff trained in COVID-19 safety protocols, said Pope, "we're still not making any progress with the government to use these units." Northwest Territories residents who travel outside the territory must isolate for 14 days upon their return in either Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River or Inuvik. On Jan. 5, the territorial government stopped paying the hotel bills for people who travel for reasons it deems non-essential. The government will still pay the hotel costs for medical travellers, returning N.W.T. students who are studying outside the territory, and others in "exceptional" circumstances. Policy change This policy change may be no big deal to people who live in one of the four larger communities and can isolate at home, but everyone else could face a hefty self-isolation bill. Pope said Norman Wells's five, three-bedroom houses belong to Imperial Oil. He said the town got the lease to them at the start of the pandemic, and renewed it in December for another six months. Pope said the town likely wouldn't charge residents to stay in the houses. Imperial Oil is covering utilities, he said, so isolators would just have to pay for food and other supplies. The oil and gas company is "trying to help us out to meet some of our needs," said Pope. Whether their travel is essential or not, some residents just want to be able to isolate in their home community, said Pope. "We have a couple of families I'm aware of where they have had to isolate every time they go for treatment for medical issues down in Edmonton. Every time they come back, it's two weeks in Yellowknife," he said. "They're getting sick of that and they're sick enough at the best of times. We're trying to help them to overcome that problem as well." However, in an email from government spokesperson Mike Westwick to CBC News, the territory says there has been a number of discussions with Mayor Pope and officials from Norman Wells on self-isolation for residents, but at this time, it isn't going to be expanding the list of hub communities. "While the discussion about expanding self-isolation location options was ongoing over the fall, the situation in Canada has since changed considerably — and for the worse," the email reads in part. "The Public Health Orders currently define the self-isolation hubs as Fort Smith, Yellowknife, Hay River, and Inuvik. Until that shifts, establishing isolation centres in another community would not be on the table." The territory also says it is "absolutely open" to keep discussing and re-evaluating in the future. 'So much more comfortable at home' Norman Wells couple Doug and Sandy Whiteman can sympathize with those having to isolate after medical travel. Doug was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago and may soon have to travel to Edmonton for treatment. "Radiation is probably going to irritate the hell out of me, and I can imagine sitting in a hotel room in Yellowknife for two weeks trying to get through this when I'd be so much more comfortable at home," he said. Sandy, who has isolated in Yellowknife hotels on two separate occasions, said the stays can be difficult, especially when you're travelling alone. She wants residents to know they have options. The Whitemans said they've gotten special approval from the territorial government to isolate at home in Norman Wells. People are just more at home in a home atmosphere rather than a hotel room. - Doug Whiteman, Norman Wells resident But Doug said surely there are others in the Sahtu region in a similar situation to his who can't isolate at home. He said for them, isolating in a house in Norman Wells, even if it's not their own, is likely preferable to a hotel room in Yellowknife. "People are just more at home in a home atmosphere rather than a hotel room," he said. Lise Dolan, a 30-year resident of Norman Wells, said she's of two minds about allowing isolation in town. She sees how it could be good for people who have to travel for medical reasons, but she's also worried about the potential for a local COVID-19 outbreak. "Arviat and Whale Cove are prime examples of what could happen," she said, citing two Nunavut communities that saw a combined 245 COVID-19 cases in less than two months. "I have an 88-year-old mother living with me, so that makes me even more concerned." CBC asked Paulie Chinna, the minister of Municipal and Community Affairs and the Sahtu MLA, whether she'd advocate for converting the Imperial Oil houses into isolation units. She said the decision is up to the chief public health officer.
After the large windstorm that hit Saskatchewan last week, Dallas Ostrom has a tough decision. His property includes the iconic Bents grain elevator, which has been featured in thousands of photos long after Bents became a ghost town. It was in decent condition until the wind storm. Now the elevator has been severely damaged and the top roof is expected to fall off soon. "I've had all sorts of people telling me not to burn it down," he said. "But I don't want anybody going in the elevator and getting hurt. "So I guess I'm wrestling with either burning it down in the wintertime here before the snow leaves or getting a company in to tip it over and see if we can maybe salvage some of the big timbers and stuff out of it. But that gets a little costly." Ostrom looked at the grain elevator every day when growing up because his parents' farm was right across the road. It's located about 94 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon. Ostrom came to possess the elevator after the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool decommissioned it and turned it over to the landowner. He said it wasn't usable even then, and he enjoys seeing people stop by. "We've had people come from all over the world to photograph that elevator," he said. "Like from Qatar, Montreal, all over the States.… It was kind of a sense of pride for me to have one that was so popular and so photographed. "It's a great iconic structure in Saskatchewan. It's too bad that time hasn't been a friend, and this last winter storm the other day kind of was the final straw. So it's a sad day for me." Because he doesn't want to pay the hundreds of thousands to fix it, he needs to decide the next steps. If he doesn't demolish it, he worries someone may get hurt, then sue. "Most people are good people, and they'll stop and ask permission," he said. "But there are a handful of people that come out there and steal stuff out of it and vandalize it and cause trouble. "I don't want to end up broke because somebody sued me for trespassing on my property when they got hurt." Other landmarks damaged in the storm Ostrom's grain elevator isn't the only historic landmark damaged in the storm. The Ogema firewall was destroyed and the Pangman grain elevator was badly damaged. Allan Spriggs, a hobby drone photographer, captured the damage done to the Pangman elevator, about 95 kilometres south of Regina. During the storm, he was concerned about property damage and wasn't planning to take out the drone for the aftermath, but was inspired to check it out after seeing some ground-level images on social media. "My first thought was, 'Wow.' It was incredible to see it ripped apart like that, with portions of the walls completely opened up from the wind, yet the shell of the structure and top of the elevator still standing," Spriggs said. "It looked like it could collapse any minute. "It really gives you a sense of the destructive power of the Prairie wind." Spriggs said people have a real attachment to their small-town elevators, which are part of the cultural identity of the province. "It's sad to see them slowly disappear. It's like seeing a part of our heritage become forgotten," he said. Spriggs hopes to capture more through drone photography before it's too late, and hopes the Pangman elevator will be repaired. He also hopes the old grain elevators will be maintained as heritage sites.
As Labrador hunkers down under an ongoing blizzard, the south-east portion of the province is waiting for its first major storm of the season. The latest forecast from CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler calls for 30 to 40 centimetres of snow and gusts up to 90 km/h for much of the Avalon peninsula and the Bonavista area on Thursday. While Labrador will see its blizzard conditions peter out early Thursday, Brauweiler said just hours later a new weather system will move in. She expects snow to start falling on the island around mid-day. Brauweiler also has her eye on another storm system that could dump more snow on the island Saturday, but says it's too early to tell how much it will bring. "It is going to be unsettled — a very busy weather pattern over the next little bit," she said Wednesday evening. Her forecast echoes Wednesday morning's predictions from Veronica Sullivan, an Environment Canada meteorologist based in Gander. "For the next few days … it's going to be quite active, especially for eastern Newfoundland, the northeast coast and the Great Northern Peninsula, and also Labrador," Sullivan said. The Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas are under a winter storm warning, with Environment Canada predicting between 20 to 35 centimetres of snow as of Wednesday evening, and possibly higher amounts for the Avalon's easternmost points, including the St. John's area. That weather system could also affect the island's northeast coast and Northern Peninsula, said Sullivan, although that uncertain track means it's too soon to say how much snow will fall later on Thursday night. Blizzards, and a busy weekend Meanwhile, a storm is already pushing through Labrador's north coast with the entire area under a blizzard warning Wednesday. Heavy snow and high winds are reducing visibility to zero, according to Environment Canada, which predicts between 15 to 25 centimetres of snow and possibly more in certain areas by Thursday morning. However, much of Labrador can expect more snow on the way for the weekend, Sullivan said. That snow "could persist for many days," although it is too early to firm up that forecast. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
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
Looks like this conductor isn't crazy about a drone getting some up-close footage of his train. Watch out for the water canon!
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday it was "outrageous" that hundreds of thousands of police records had been deleted due to a human coding error with the Police National Computer. A piece of software to weed out records from the database that the computer had no legal right to hold went haywire because of faulty coding and began to automatically delete hundreds of thousands of other records, the Home Office said. "Of course it is outrageous that any data should have been lost but at the moment ... we're trying to retrieve that data," Johnson told parliament, adding that the Home Office (interior ministry) hoped to restore the deleted information.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
GUYSBOROUGH – It has been three months since the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society hearing regarding charges against Adam Rodgers, former partner in the Port Hawkesbury law firm Boudrot Rodgers, concluded. The charges sought to define the potential level of knowledge and complicity Rodgers shared with his former law firm partner, Jason Boudrot, in the latter’s defrauding of clients’ trust funds. The hearing panel, in a decision released Tuesday, Jan. 12, found Rodgers had engaged in professional misconduct and had been reckless in regard to his professional responsibility – but had not misappropriated funds or assisted Boudrot in doing so. “The Panel has concluded that the Society (Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society) has satisfied its burden of establishing on the balance of probabilities that Adam Rodgers has engaged in professional misconduct by being reckless in regard to his professional responsibilities regarding trust funds,” stated the Notice of Decision issued by the Hearing Panel of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society on Jan. 12. In October of 2018, managing partner Boudrot contacted the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society (NSBS) to report that he had “some issues with his trust accounts,” stated a NSBS hearing committee document in 2019. That led to a suspension of Boudrot’s practicing certificate, a declaration of bankruptcy and, in 2019, the disbarment of Boudrot. Last August, the NSBS published a notice stating that the society would hold a hearing respecting charges of professional misconduct and professional incompetence against Rodgers. The hearing, which took place at the beginning of last October, convened to hear submissions and consider evidence regarding the fraudulent dealings with clients’ trust monies managed by Boudrot Rodgers, to determine Rodgers’ role in the matter. The panel heard and was supplied evidence – in the form of an agreed upon joint book of exhibits – related to three charges of professional misconduct by encouraging or knowingly assisting with fraudulent or dishonest dealings with clients' trust monies and/or professional incompetence. The panels’ findings state, “We, as a Panel are satisfied that the Society has demonstrated it is more probable than not that Adam Rodgers, allowed Jason Boudrot to misappropriate clients’ trust funds, through his willful blindness and recklessness and thereby failed in his professional obligations. “The Panel is satisfied by clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Rodgers was “deliberately ignorant” of the activities of Mr. Boudrot. The Panel is satisfied that Mr. Rodgers did not deliberately nor actively misappropriate funds nor assist Mr. Boudrot in doing so. The Panel is satisfied the Society has demonstrated that it is more probable than not that Adam Rodgers aided Jason Boudrot through his willful blindness and recklessness and thereby failed to preserve and protect clients’ property.” The conclusion of its 50-page decision states, “In reaching this conclusion the Panel has imputed to Mr. Rodgers’ knowledge of the illegal activities of Mr. Boudrot and that he should have done something about it. The Panel findings are not based on a criminal standard that he aided and abetted Mr. Boudrot, but rather that a lawyer has a very high obligation of trust, as set out in the code of professional conduct and the regulations to properly deal and protect trust funds and Mr. Rodgers breached that obligation.” Rodgers, who has been vocal in his defense against the charges brought by NSBS, shared his response to the decision with The Journal via email Jan. 13. He wrote, “I am pleased to be exonerated on the main charges that I was somehow a participant in the large-scale theft and misappropriation schemes of my former law partner. It was not easy to fight the powerful Bar Society all on my own, but it was the right thing to do, and most of the Bar Society allegations against me were found by the Panel to be without merit, as I had predicted. “My conscience was always clear, but it was still satisfying to see it confirmed by the Panel that I did not take anything from anybody, that I did good work as a lawyer for my clients, and that I handled the crisis brought on my former partner in an appropriate manner,” he stated. Speaking to the finding of misconduct, Rodgers stated, “Where the Panel did make a finding of misconduct, it was to do with relatively minor billing matters, distinct from the main allegations. The Panel agreed that these instances did not result in any client of mine or other third party experiencing any losses and characterized my actions as willful blindness. “While I disagree with this unusual characterization, I take the matter seriously, and have learned some important lessons from the experience. I also wish to move on from this entire matter and focus my energy on the clients and other people I serve, both as a lawyer and community volunteer. I recognize and accept that lawyers are held to a higher standard and, throughout this difficult time, I have tried my best to act and communicate publicly in ways that would reinforce respect for our justice system and preserve the integrity of the legal profession in Nova Scotia.” As for the future, Rodgers wrote, “I look forward now to putting this entire ordeal behind me and see what I can do next for the people of my area, and throughout Nova Scotia. I continue to prepare for the next phase of the Desmond Inquiry, which resumes hearings next month, and [I] am considering several potential opportunities after that.” The panel has 60 days from the time of the decision’s release to determine what sanctions may be applied to Rodgers regarding the findings of the hearing. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
When David Bernhardt joined the Inuvik fire department as an 18-year-old volunteer in 1980, he never dreamed that he would still be part of the team 40 years later. "I got surprised," said Bernhardt. "I didn't think I'd go this far." Not only has he gotten this far, he's being recognized for his 'significant contributions' to firefighting in the territory with this year's N.W.T. Fire Service Merit Award. The annual award honours individual firefighters or fire departments based on nominations from the public, according to the Department of Community and Municipal Affairs. This year, Bernhardt, who is Inuvik's longest serving firefighter, was the sole recipient. Last year Bernhardt received the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Municipal Long Service award, which recognizes achievements of long-serving volunteer firefighters in communities across the nation. Mentor In a statement from Inuvik Fire Chief Cynthia Hammond, she said Bernhardt has had multiple roles in the fire department over the years including firefighter, lieutenant, captain, and deputy fire chief. In 2013, Bernhardt had a heart attack, so he is no longer on the front lines but he still plays a communication role with the department and helps out the rookies during orientation. Hammond wrote that Bernhardt shares "his history and knowledge as a mentor to novice firefighters." He continues to show up to fire practice every Wednesday where he is part of the support platoon. Hammond said Bernhardt is "ensuring exterior operations run efficiently and more importantly, maintains a calm, steady presence with a watchful eye." 'They are like family to me' Bernhardt, who is originally from Cape Dyer on Baffin Island, Nunavut, has lived in Inuvik since the early 1960s. He said he believes Hammond nominated him for the award and he is thankful to her, the other firefighters on the Inuvik fire department, the fire marshal and the public. "We call each other brothers and sisters in the fire department and I'd like to thank them … they are like family to me ... it's good to see new equipment, new gear, new people." Bernhardt said he thinks he'll be in the department for a couple more years, and he's got some advice for anyone thinking of joining. "I always say the door is always open for you young guys. If you want to learn, it's a good choice," said Bernhardt. "Don't be scared of fire. I know fire burns you but you can also put it out."
BEIJING — China’s capital, Beijing, recorded seven more coronavirus cases on Wednesday amid a lingering outbreak in the country’s north. Another 46 were recorded in Jilin province, 16 in Heilongjiang on the border with Russia, and 19 in Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing. China has now recorded a total of 88,557 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, with 4,635 deaths. China is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by mid-February and is also releasing schools early and telling citizens to stay put during the Lunar New Year travel rush that begins in coming days. A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization criticized China and other countries this week for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier, prompting Beijing to concede it could have done better but also to defend its response. “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions and insisted on timely detection, reporting, isolation, and treatment despite incomprehensive information at the time. We have gained time to fight the epidemic and reduce infections and deaths,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday. “We are firmly opposed to politicizing issues related to virus tracing, as this will not help the international community to unite and co-operate in the fight against the pandemic,” Hua said. A team of experts from WHO are quarantined in Wuhan ahead of beginning field visits aiming to shed light on the origins of the virus that is thought to have jumped to humans from animals, possibly bats. Other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — India has began supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. India’s Foreign Ministry said the country will send 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 to the Maldives on Wednesday. Vaccines will also be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles in coming weeks, the ministry said, without specifying an exact timeline. Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said the government will ensure that domestic vaccine makers have adequate stocks to meet domestic needs as they supply partner countries in the coming months. Of the more than 12 billion coronavirus vaccine doses expected to be produced this year, rich countries have already bought about 9 billion, and many have options to buy even more. This means that Serum Institute, which has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make a billion doses, is likely to make most of the vaccine that will be used by developing nations. The Associated Press
BEIJING — China’s Foreign Ministry described outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday as a “doomsday clown” and said his designation of China as a perpetrator of genocide and crimes against humanity was merely “a piece of wastepaper.” The allegations of abuses against Muslim minority groups in China's Xinjiang region are “outright sensational pseudo-propositions and a malicious farce concocted by individual anti-China and anti-Communist forces represented by Pompeo,” spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing. “In our view, Pompeo’s so-called designation is a piece of wastepaper. This American politician, who is notorious for lying and deceiving, is turning himself into a doomsday clown and joke of the century with his last madness and lies of the century," Hua said. Pompeo’s announcement Tuesday doesn’t require any immediate actions, although the U.S. must take the designation into account in formulating policy toward China. China says its policies in Xinjiang aim only to promote economic growth and social stability. The U.S. has previously spoken out and taken action on Xinjiang, implementing a range of sanctions against senior Chinese Communist Party leaders and state-run enterprises that fund repressive policies in the vast, resource-rich region. Last week, the Trump administration announced it would halt imports of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang, with Customs and Border Protection officials saying they would block products from there suspected of being produced with forced labour. Many of the Chinese officials accused of having taken part in repression are already under U.S. sanctions. The “genocide” designation means new measures will be easier to impose. Tuesday’s move is the latest in a series of steps the outgoing Trump administration has taken to ramp up pressure on China over issues from human rights and the coronavirus pandemic to Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. China has responded with its own sanctions and tough rhetoric. China has imprisoned more than 1 million people, including Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups, in a vast network of prison-like political indoctrination camps, according to U.S. officials and human rights groups. People have been subjected to torture, sterilization and political indoctrination in addition to forced labour as part of an assimilation campaign in a region whose inhabitants are ethnically and culturally distinct from the Han Chinese majority. The Associated Press reported on widespread forced birth control among the Uighurs last year, including the mass sterilization of Muslim women, even while family planning restrictions are loosened on members of China's dominant Han ethnic group. China has denied all the charges, but Uighur forced labour has been linked by reporting by the AP to various products imported to the U.S., including clothing and electronic goods such as cameras and computer monitors. James Leibold, a specialist in Chinese ethnic policy at La Trobe in Melbourne, Australia, said international pressure appears to have had some effect on Chinese policies in Xinjiang, particularly in prompting the government to release information about the camps and possibly reducing mass detentions. “So hopefully we’ll see a continued continuity with regards to the new (Joe Biden) administration on holding China to account," Leibold said in an interview. “And hopefully the Biden administration can bring its allies along to continue to put pressure on the Chinese government," he said. ___ Associated Press journalist Dake Kang contributed to this report. The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — One name missing in President Donald Trump's flurry of pardons is “Tiger King” Joe Exotic. His team was so confident in a pardon that they'd readied a celebratory limousine and a hair and wardrobe team to whisk away the zookeeper-turned-reality-TV-star, who is now serving a 22-year federal prison sentence in Texas. But he wasn't on the list announced Wednesday morning. Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. Baskin was not harmed. Maldonado-Passage, who has maintained his innocence, was also sentenced for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records. A jury convicted him in April 2019. In his pardon application filed in September, Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys argued that he was “railroaded and betrayed” by others. Maldonado-Passage, 57, is scheduled to be released from custody in 2037, but his attorneys said in the application that “he will likely die in prison” because of health concerns. Maldonado-Passage's legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday. The blond mullet-wearing zookeeper, known for his expletive-laden rants on YouTube and a failed 2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial campaign, was prominently featured in the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” The Associated Press
As of the third week of January, Holland College has brought most of its students back on campus, with some seeing it for the first time. The college got approval from P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office to bring students back after having to move many students to online learning because of COVID-19. "We're extremely excited, and it feels good to have the students back. They're learning in the method that we want them to learn in," said Michael Dimitroff, manager of recruitment and first-year advising at Holland College. "Our education is very hands-on and we couldn't go much longer with the online format, so we had to make the move," he said. "Online can only go so far." 'The class looks awesome' Logan MacKenzie, a culinary arts student, said it feels great to be on campus for the first time. "It's amazing to be here in person. The class looks awesome," said MacKenzie. MacKenzie is from Halifax and had to isolate before beginning in-person classes. He said the online learning "wasn't bad" but he prefers the in-class experience. "Been waiting a very long time for this," he said. "I'm like a kid on Christmas." He said most of his classes will be in a kitchen setting, and his group of eight must wear masks at all times. He said when he thinks about what's happening in many parts of Canada, he's grateful. "We're very fortunate that we're able to get out," he said. More productive in person Shumbusho Armel Gispain came from Rwanda to attend the business administration program. He also isolated before attending classes. "I think it will be pretty productive, now that we get to see people in person," he said. "We're really glad to be here." He said it's nice to be able to ask questions to instructors in person. "You can ask them questions, more than in an online setting. It's really hard — you're really kind of reserved," he said. "I'm getting to make new friends, a lot of great experiences so far." He said P.E.I. is handling COVID-19 really well. Gym and performance hall in use Holland College says it's following public health guidelines for social distancing and classes of 30 are using the gym or a large performance hall so students can be well spaced out. But many groups are much smaller. Dimitroff said the number of students on campus will also be much lower than a normal year, with certain programs only coming certain days. "They're likely not here every single day of the week," he said. Although some students have been following a blended format all along, he said almost half of the college programs started online last semester. "So far, so good," said Dimitroff. Holland College hopes to keep students on campus until the school year ends this spring. "Ideally we can get back to a closer normal in September," he said. More from CBC P.E.I.