In seismic shift, Warner Bros. to stream all 2021 films; Rapper Casanova surrenders in federal racketeering case; Sean Connery's "Dr. No" gun sells at auction for $256,000. (Dec 4.)
In seismic shift, Warner Bros. to stream all 2021 films; Rapper Casanova surrenders in federal racketeering case; Sean Connery's "Dr. No" gun sells at auction for $256,000. (Dec 4.)
NEW YORK — The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary. In an interview, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous." The national GOP, under McDaniel's leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump's 2020 reelection. But should he run again in 2024 — and he has publicly and privately suggested he wants to — the national party infrastructure would not support his ambitions over those of other prospective candidates, in accordance with party rules, she said. “The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.” Just months removed from the last presidential election, several Republican prospects have already begun jockeying for position for the 2024 contest. McDaniel is far more focused on the 2022 midterms, when Republicans have an opportunity to break the Democrats' monopoly on Congress. McDaniel is in a difficult political position as she begins her new term as the national GOP chair. She has been a devoted Trump loyalist, but as the RNC leader, she is also tasked with helping her party recover from its painful 2020 election season in which Republicans lost the Senate and the White House and failed to win back the House. Trump's fervent base continues to demand loyalty to the former president, even as some party officials acknowledge that Trump's norm-shattering behaviour alienated elements of the coalition the GOP needs to win future elections. Tensions are especially high within the party as the Senate prepares for Trump's second impeachment trial. Ten House Republicans voted earlier in the month to impeach the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and on Tuesday, five Senate Republicans voted to move forward with a trial that could ultimately ban him from holding public office ever again. McDaniel acknowledged the frustration of Trump's base, which remains a powerful voice in the party and has little tolerance for Republican officials unwilling to stand behind the former president and his achievements in office. But she repeatedly called for party unity and discouraged elected officials from attacking other Republicans — even those who voted to impeach Trump. She declined to single out any specific Republicans when pressed, however, including Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is travelling to Wyoming this week to campaign against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment. “If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel said. She also forcefully condemned the pro-Trump QAnon movement, a large group of conspiracy theorists who were a visible presence at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Trump repeatedly declined to denounce the group while in the White House. “I think it’s really important after what’s just happened in our country that we have some self-reflection on the violence that’s continuing to erupt in our country,” McDaniel said, pointing to violence across the political spectrum. “I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it’s dangerous.” Moving forward, she said that voters, not Trump, are the head of the Republican Party, though Trump continues to maintain “a huge, huge presence” with his base. McDaniel said she's expecting several Republican leaders to play a significant role in the party's future, mentioning former Vice-President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations. Both are also considered potential 2024 presidential contenders. She also downplayed reports that Trump is considering leaving the GOP and starting a new party, warning that such a move would divide Republicans and "guarantee Democrat wins up and down the ticket. “It would be basically a rubber stamp on Democrats getting elected. And I think that's the last thing that any Republican wants,” she said. "It’s clear that he understands that.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Eganville – Although there has not been a lot of activity from the Eganville and Area Community Development Group (EACDG), members have been meeting regularly to try and plot a course of action in light of COVID-19 restrictions that affects most volunteer groups. North Algona Wilberforce Township Councillor Maria Robinson, who also volunteers as the treasurer for EACDG, presented an update to council on what the group has been up to and also informed council many EACDG members reside in the township. “Even though the name of the group has Eganville, a number of members reside in our township,” Councillor Robinson said. “It is not only some township residents who are part of the group, but it also includes some business owners like Chris Hinsperger at Bonnechere Caves who have been there since the beginning and helped develop some major projects.” She explained how the group was founded in November 2016, when a volunteer group of local residents and business owners working in partnership set out to rebuild our small community and surrounding area. Among the initiatives was “Discover Eganville” and the online headquarters of the Eganville and Area Community Development Group. She said the EACDG commitment to the restoration of McRae Park from an area filled with litter and broken trees and unkept shrubs has been transformed into one of the area’s most pristine natural parks with the Bonnehcere River the central attraction. “The EACDG is hoping to have an official opening of the park this summer if conditions are better in terms of COVID,” she said. Moving forward, the group hopes to install a fishing dock that is fully accessible so that anyone can use it and it will be located along the Bonnechere River across from the Rotary Beach. Bruce McIntyre,, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
STELLARTON, N.S. — Empire Co. Ltd. is expanding its discount grocery banner FreshCo in Western Canada and Ontario, with plans to convert seven of its Safeway stores starting this fall. The company says six of the store conversions are in Alberta, while one is in Thunder Bay, Ont. Mike Venton, general manager of Empire's discount division, says the FreshCo network has grown 23 per cent since the company opened its first discount store in Western Canada two years ago. Empire says it will work with the unions representing affected employees and offer them the opportunity to work at the new FreshCo locations or other stores within the network. In 2017, the Stellarton, N.S., based company announced a five-year plan to convert 25 per cent of its full-service Safeway and Sobeys locations to FreshCo stores. Empire says it now has 37 FreshCo locations in Western Canada confirmed to date. The grocery chain says the cost of closing and converting its full-service stores into discount locations is about $11.7 million before tax, which will be charged to earnings in the third quarter of fiscal 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:EMP.A) The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario’s labour minister says the province is ramping up COVID-19 safety inspections on farms ahead of the new growing season. Monte McNaughton says hundreds of inspectors will visit farms to ensure COVID-19 safety measures are being followed to protect temporary foreign workers arriving in the coming weeks. The province says there were approximately 20,500 temporary foreign workers in Ontario last year and most resided in communal living quarters on farms. McNaughton says inspections of these living quarters is the duty of the federal government. The province says that more than 1,780 temporary foreign workers in Ontario tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020 - and three died of the virus. McNaughton could not say if Ontario will provide the COVID-19 vaccine to temporary foreign workers. Ontario reported 1,670 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 49 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 450 new cases in Toronto, 342 in Peel Region, and 171 in York Region. She said that nearly 55,200 tests were completed since the last daily update. Ontario also reported that 9,513 more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine had been administered since Tuesday's update. A total of 305,330 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province so far. There have been 260,370 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since the pandemic began and 5,958 people have died from the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021, The Canadian Press
Eganville – Bonnechere Valley councillors had some questions about the over $9.1 million in development on “at capacity” Lake Clear in the last decade as the issue of RVs and their impact on the ecologically sensitive lake is rapidly coming to a head. “I was under the assumption at capacity meant no build,” said Councillor Jack Roesner at a committee meeting of council. “I don’t understand how this at capacity would trigger things with RVs.” Council had asked Building Inspector Mark Schroeder to compile a list of building permits for work done around the lake following concerns about RVs around the lake and their impact on the water quality. While the issue has been tossed back and forth for about five years, council recently finished a by-law amendment and specified just what an RV is and how many would be permitted on a lot. Council opted to allow four RVs per lot in the township, excluding the village of Eganville. A public meeting on the issue will be held February 16. As part of previous discussions, council questioned the amount of building which has been done around the lake in recent years. They narrowed it down to the last decade, although Lake Clear was declared an “at capacity” lake decades before this, and asked Mr. Schroeder for a report showing the building permits. In his report to council, he showed there have been 141 permits issued in the last 10 years for a total building value of $9,141,700. In 2020, there were 21 permits issued, including several homes, cottages, additions and garages. Over the last two years building permits were valued at just under $2 million annually. Most of the other years the figure was closer to the $500,000 mark. “I was going to take decks out until I saw there was one delineated as a deck at $250,000,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy noted. Coun. Roesner said he counted 12 homes in the last decade, including some substantial ones, as well as 17 additions and 44 septics. “If they are saying we can’t have development, what is this?” he asked. “This to me is developed.” As well, there was only one demolition listed, he said. “Are these new homes or existing cottages that were torn down?” he asked. “This is a fly in the ointment a lake at capacity where you can’t build.” Mr. Schroeder said some might have been a construction onto an existing cottage, while others were torn down and a new home created. “When the permit is used as a new dwelling it could be either/or,” he said. Coun. Roesner said many could be seasonal cottages turned into homes. “In my opinion this is development,” he said. “I don’t quite understand why they are screaming so much about RVs when they are allowing this around the lake.” Mr. Schroeder said there is still vacant land around Lake Clear. “There is nothing to prevent someone from building a new home as long as they meet setbacks and there is proper legal access to the property,” he said. Councillor Brent Patrick said he knew the new buildings had to be on the new setbacks and have new septics but questioned if a cottage is on a foundation can this be used as a footprint. Mr. Schroeder said for the older smaller cottages most people just tear them down and build a home. “It is an existing lot of record,” he said. Councillor Merv Buckwald pointed out some of the old cottages are quite simply built. “The old cottage is gone within half a day,” Mr. Schroeder agreed. Lake Clear is considered at capacity so no new lots can be created and there are no severances, he explained. Councillor Tim Schison said he had a call from a property owner with a large property and 1,700 feet of waterfront. He said they want to use the property for RVs for extended generations of the family. “It is a way for them all to enjoy the lake,” he said. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Milo loves to say good morning as he greets his owner. He also enjoys giving kisses, and we can’t get enough!
A Whitehorse woman has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2017 slaying of Greg Dawson. Connie Peggy Thorn, 52, entered her plea in Yukon Supreme Court Wednesday morning. Dawson, a 45-year-old citizen of Ta'an Kwäch'än Council, was found beaten to death in a Riverdale apartment on April 6, 2017. Thorn was arrested two and a half years later on Oct. 16, 2019. She was originally charged with second-degree murder. 'Loud banging sound,' and later, sobbing According to admissions of fact Crown attorney Noel Sinclair read to the court, Thorn and Dawson were in a relationship and living together in a basement apartment on Alsek Road. Thorn called 911 shortly before 9:30 p.m. on April 6, 2017, Sinclair said, telling the dispatcher that she had returned home about 20 minutes earlier and discovered Dawson dead on the kitchen floor. Thorn told the dispatcher Dawson looked "beat up" and that his death may have been related to his history of seizures. Police arrived and found Dawson's body, with his hands and face covered in blood. A forensic examination of the apartment also found "blood staining in most of the rooms in the house." Thorn originally told police she had been out all day and had not seen Dawson since the night before, when she claimed he had unexpectedly left the apartment while she was sleeping. She also told investigators she had spent April 6 "wandering around Whitehorse" looking for him because she was concerned about his well-being, according to the admissions, but did not call any of Dawson's family members, friends, police or the hospital. Thorn's story was contradicted by an upstairs neighbour, who told investigators they'd overheard Thorn and Dawson fighting during the day, a "loud banging sound" and then the sounds of Thorn sobbing in the early afternoon. One of Dawson's relatives also called Thorn the evening of April 6 looking for him, but Thorn told her he wasn't home. An autopsy found a number of recent, serious blunt-force trauma injuries to Dawson's head and torso that caused his death. "Ms. Thorn admits that she lost her self-control and assaulted Mr. Dawson using excessive force, resulting in Mr. Dawson's death," the admissions read. The admissions say Thorn was "intoxicated from her consumption of vodka and cider" at the time and "acted in the heat of passion." Guilty plea accepted Yukon Supreme Court Justice Edith Campbell accepted Thorn's guilty plea, noting she was too intoxicated to have formed the intent for murder. However, she said, a reasonable person would have known Thorn's actions would cause "non-trivial harm" to Dawson. A number of Dawson's family members were in court for the proceedings but declined to speak to the CBC afterwards. Thorn's sentencing hearing is scheduled for April.
DETROIT — In about three years, Navistar plans to start selling low-emission hydrogen-powered heavy trucks under a partnership with General Motors and a small distribution company called OneH2. The venture announced Wednesday is an early commercial deployment of the technology in U.S. long-haul trucking. Navistar hopes it will start widespread use of hydrogen-electric trucks, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning diesel fuel. GM will provide fuel cell “power cubes” to Navistar, while OneH2 will set up fueling stations either by trucking hydrogen to terminals or through small hydrogen generation units, the companies said in a statement. Trucking company J.B Hunt will use test trucks in a pilot program starting toward the end of next year. Navistar says its trucks will be able to go more than 500 miles (800 kilometres) on a single charge and can be refuelled in less than 15 minutes. None of the companies would give financial details of the collaboration. GM, which has been researching hydrogen fuel cells for 50 years, has stated in the past it wants to develop markets to sell its new technologies to other companies. Navistar said it would take a minority stake in Longview, North Carolina, based OneH2. The companies said the cost of running Navistar's International RH fuel cell electric vehicles is expected to be comparable to diesel in certain markets. They are expected to be commercially available sometime in 2024 to run routes with OneH2 refuelling stations along the way. "It is going to be opened and expanded to other companies," said Navistar CEO Persio Lisboa. “There's been a lot of interest from our customers.” J.B. Hunt wouldn't say where the trucks would run in the test program. “It can be anywhere. We have a lot of flexibility as we roll this out,” said Nick Hobbs, the company's chief operating officer. Hydrogen fuel cell trucks have an advantage over battery-electric powered trucks, with longer range pulling heavy loads, and because they can be refuelled faster, said Charles Freese, executive director of GM's fuel cell business. Tom Krisher, The Associated Press
When Alan Sallows thinks about hunting, these words come to mind: bonding, memories and tradition. “[I like] getting out in the outdoors, spending time with my grandfather, enjoying the harvest we can take at that time,” he said. Sallows has been a hunter for over 25 years. It’s a pastime his grandfather passed down to him while he was growing up in Waubaushene. Now, a resident of Georgian Bay, Sallows has shared the practice with his teenage daughter, Annie. “She’s been coming with me since she was five years old,” he said. Sallows and his daughter hunt ducks and deer starting in the fall, using either shotguns or rifles. He takes a week off from work to hunt — if he’s able to — or he hunts on Saturdays. However, being able to hunt on Sundays would be ideal, he said. “[It’s] just to give the working force an opportunity for a day out to spend with their family and keep the tradition of hunting going.” He said the hunters he knows would be in favour of it too, in spite of the opinion of some local seasonal cottagers, who, according to Sallows, look down on hunting. “I’m not saying all seasonal people, but a few seasonal people can make it not-so-welcoming for Sunday hunting,” he said. The township is reigniting discussions about Sunday hunting rules. At council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters will deliver a presentation arguing in favour of opening up the township’s rules. Councillor Cynthia Douglas said she and other councillors received emails in mid-December from people asking if the township would discuss introducing a bylaw to permit Sunday hunting with a firearm. Douglas said she’s not sure how accurate the information provided in the emails is and wants to hear more feedback from people on all sides of the issue, including from the federation. “I think this is an important issue,” she said. Provincial regulations prohibit Sunday gun hunting unless a municipality chooses to allow it. As of Sept. 1, according to the Government of Ontario website, Georgian Bay, made up primarily of Crown land, is the only township in the District of Muskoka prohibiting Sunday gun hunting. In 2014, Georgian Bay council held a discussion about permitting Sunday gun hunting. Douglas was on that council for the last term. “I think we heard from a lot of people in public that were for and against,” she said. Council, in the end, voted against endorsing the activity in a “very close” vote, Douglas said. The topic came up at council’s first meeting of 2021 on Monday, Jan. 11. Councillors, like Douglas, shared their perspectives on Sunday hunting and the next steps the township could take, including consulting with the Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers Inc. “It’s not a simple black-and-white question,” said Mayor Peter Koetsier. The Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers Inc. did not return a request for an interview in time for publication. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters did not respond to a request for comment. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
In his first week in office, U.S. President Joe Biden has rolled out a wave of executive orders to fulfill a roster of campaign promises, underscoring just how easy it is to reverse some of the policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump. As of Wednesday morning, Biden had cranked out some 40 executive orders, nearly half of them overturning Trump mandates. With one stroke of the pen, the United States rejoined the Paris climate accord and with another, Biden blocked funds for a border wall with Mexico.
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, moving the total number of cases since last March to 400. Both new cases are men between 20 and 39 years old in the Eastern Health region. One is related to international travel while the source of the second case is still under investigation, said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald during Wednesday's weekly update. Both men are self-isolating, and contact tracing is finished for one of the cases. The other is ongoing. There have been no new recoveries since Tuesday. The province has five active cases. As of Tuesday, Fitzgerald said, the province had received 16,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and more than 10,000 have been administered. But Fitzgerald said Pfizer-BioNTech shipments are now delayed as the company has temporarily shut down some production lines at its factory in Europe for renovations that will allow they company to increase its output. "The timing of this delay is unfortunate," said Fitzgerald, who said regional health authorities are holding onto vaccines to be able to give people their needed second doses. Watch the full Jan. 27 update: In the fall, the federal government offered the province Statistics Canada resources to assist with contact tracing and traveller followup. Followup phone calls for travellers in isolation in N.L. began in December, according to the Department of Health. "These resources are being provided at no cost to the province," the department said in a statement to CBC News. Fitzgerald said stepping up those followups was part streamlining the process for travellers seeking exemption to enter the province and learning what they can and cannot do during those two weeks. "Public health officials make contact with all travelers in self-isolation. If there is no response after several attempts by phone and email law enforcement will be contacted," she said. Fitzgerald added that calls from public health may show up as an unknown number, and anyone whose contact information changes should email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible with updated information. To date, 78,749 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, including 272 in the last day. One person is in hospital. New variants of COVID-19 found in Alberta Two new variants of COVID-19 have been circulating the globe, at least two of which have been found in Canada. Fitzgerald said that while vaccines protect against the variant first found in the United Kingdom, the mutation of COVID-19 moves faster and easier between people. "COVID-19 variants are transmitted in the same way as the original strain, through droplets," she said. "This means that the public health measures that we have been practising all year will protect against COVID variants." When asked on Wednesday if the province would — given the presence of the variant strains in Alberta — change the rules for rotational workers, Fitzgerald said the situation is being monitored. "At the moment, certainly we're not seeing large numbers in Alberta and they're certainly quite aware of the situation as well and they're taking measures to help reduce the spread of those variants," she said. "As we've been saying from the beginning, if the evidence changes and the epidemiology changes then we'll change our response." Fitzgerald added this province's new cases are being sent for additional testing to see if they are either of the new strains. Outbreak in St-Pierre-Miquelon being followed Fitzgerald said the province has been following the recent outbreak in St-Pierre-Miquelon, and the province's Department of Health as well as officials from Eastern Health met with health officials from the French territory Wednesday morning. St-Pierre-Miquelon has reported seven cases in recent days, all tied to its hospital. "St-Pierre-Miquelon have completed extensive contact tracing and testing, and have the situation well in hand," said Fitzgerald. "They have agreed to send only those patients who visits are deemed essential for care, and all infection prevention and control protocols are being followed." Residents with medical appointments in Newfoundland are permitted to enter the province, but must self-isolate except to attend their appointment. Eastern Health has contracts in place with health officials on the French islands that allow its residents to receive COVID-19 care in Eastern Health facilities, if needed. Eastern Health told CBC News on Tuesday it has not yet received any requests from St-Pierre-Miquelon for physician support, medical equipment or supplies. The health authority also said it could not send doctors to treat patients in St-Pierre-Miquelon itself as they are not licensed to practise in that jurisdiction. "We will be meeting with officials in St-Pierre-Miquelon regularly as the situation evolves, and we'd like to thank them for their collaboration and co-operation," Fitzgerald said. She said the province has not identified any new cases related to the two cases reported a week ago on the MV Blue Puttees ferry run between Port aux Basques, N.L., and North Sydney, N.S. A total of 78,477 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador since the pandemic began. One person is in hospital in the province due to the virus. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
APELDOORN, Netherlands — Jos Bieleveldt had a spring in his step when the 91-year-old Dutchman got a coronavirus vaccine this week. But many think that was way too long in coming. Almost two months before, Britain's Margaret Keenan, who is also 91 now, received her shot to kick off the U.K.'s vaccination campaign that has, so far, outstripped the efforts in many nations in the European Union. “We are dependent on what the European Commission says we can, and cannot, do. As a result, we are at the bottom of the list, it takes far too long," Bieleveldt said of the executive arm of the EU, which, perhaps unfairly, has taken the brunt of criticism for a slow rollout in many of its member states. Onerous regulations and paperwork in some countries and poor planning in others have also contributed to the delay, as did a more deliberate authorization process for the shots. Overall, the 27-nation EU, a collection of many of the richest countries in the world — most with a universal health care system to boot — is not faring well in comparison to countries like Israel and the United Kingdom. Even the United States, whose response to the pandemic has otherwise been widely criticized and where tens of thousands of appointments for shots have been cancelled because of vaccine shortages, appears to be moving faster. While Israel has given at least one shot of a two-dose vaccine to over 40% of its population and that figure in Britain is 10%, the EU total stands at just over 2%. And it is not just EU citizens who are laying the blame at the bloc's door. Criticism is also coming from many nations that had hoped to see some live-saving liquid from the EU trickle through their borders. Amid concerns that the richer nations had snapped up far more doses than they needed and poorer nations would be left to do without, the EU was expected to share vaccines around. The rocky rollout is also testing the bloc's long commitment to so-called soft power — policies that advance its cause not through the barrel of a gun but through peaceful means, like through the needle of a syringe. “Today it’s harder to get the vaccines than nuclear weapons,” said Serb President Aleksandar Vucic, who had been counting on a lot more help from the EU. Serbia sits at the heart of the Balkan region where the EU, Russia and even China are seeking a stronger foothold. Helping the Balkan countries with their vaccine rollout seemed an area where Europe, with its medical prowess and a willingness to prioritize such co-operation, would have an edge. Not so far. Vucic said weeks ago when he welcomed 1 million doses of Chinese vaccines that Serbia had not received “a single dose” from the global COVAX system aimed at get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries that the EU has championed and funded. Instead, Vucic said Serbia secured vaccines through deals with individual countries or producers. Rubbing salt in the wound, Vucic went for the EU's social conscience when he said this week that “the world today is like Titanic. The rich tried to get the lifeboats only for themselves ... and leave the rest.” Other nations on the EU's southeastern rim have also been critical. It is a big turnaround from only a month ago when the EU's future looked pretty bright. It had just inked a last-minute trade deal with the United Kingdom, clinched a massive 1.8 trillion-euro pandemic recovery and overall budget deal and started rolling out its first COVID-19 vaccines. “This is a very good way to end this difficult year, and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time. By this past weekend, though, her attitude soured as it became clear that the bloc would be getting vaccines at a slower rate than agreed upon for its 450 million people. AstraZeneca has told the EU that of its initial batch of 80 million, only 31 million would immediately materialize once its vaccine got approved, likely on Friday. That came on the heels of a smaller glitch in the deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Both companies say they are facing operational issues at plants that are temporarily delaying the rollout. Italy is threatening to take legal action against both over the delay. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had been boasting that the country’s rollout was a huge success, especially when the millionth dose was given on Jan. 15. But after Pfizer announced the temporary supply reduction, Italy slowed from administering about 80,000 doses a day to fewer than 30,000. Bulgaria has also criticized the drug companies, and some there have called for the government to turn to Russia and China for vaccines. Hungary is already doing so. “If vaccines aren’t coming from Brussels, we must obtain them from elsewhere. One cannot allow Hungarians to die simply because Brussels is too slow in procuring vaccines,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” But supply isn't the only thing holding up the EU's campaign. The problem is partially that the EU Commission bet on the wrong horse — and didn't get enough doses of the early success vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech. The commission notes there was no way of knowing which vaccines would succeed — and which would be first — and so it had to spread its orders out over several companies. The EU rollout was also slowed because the European Medicines Agency took more time than the U.S. or U.K. regulators to authorize its first vaccine. That was by design as it made sure that the member nations could not be held liable in case of problems and in order to give people more confidence that the shot was safe. But individual countries also share in the blame. Germany, Europe's cliche of an organized and orderly nation, was found sorely wanting, with its rollout marred by chaotic bureaucracy and technological failures, such as those seen Monday when thousands of people over 80 in the country’s biggest state were told they would have to wait until Feb. 8 to get their first shots, even as vast vaccine centres set up before Christmas languished empty. “The speed of our action leaves a lot to be desired,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “Processes have often become very bureaucratic and take a long time, so we have to work on that.” It is no different in France, where there is a Kafkaesque maze of rules to get consent for vaccinating the elderly. In the Netherlands, which banked on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine being the first available, authorities had to scramble to make new plans for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, whose ultracold storage requirements make it more complicated. “We were proven to be insufficiently flexible to make the change," said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. The Dutch have been particularly criticized since they were the last in the EU to begin vaccinations, more than a week after the first shots were given in the bloc, and they have been especially slow to roll doses out to elderly people living at home, like Bieleveldt, a retiree. “I’m already playing in injury time in terms of my age," he said. "But I still want to play for a few more years.” ___ Casert reported from Brussels. AP journalists across the European Union contributed. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine. Raf Casert And Mike Corder, The Associated Press
The Nova Scotia government will spend almost $500 million in 2021-22 on a variety of road and bridge projects, with continued highway twinning efforts driving that spending. Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines released his department's annual five-year plan on Wednesday. It includes the ongoing work to twin sections of highways 101, 103, 104 and 107. There are also plans to replace or rehabilitate 19 bridges. Other major projects include: Improvements to the Port Hastings rotary. A new aerotech connector project, including a connector road between Highway 102 and Trunk 2 at Exit 5A, roundabouts and two other structures. The start of construction on the new Bridgewater interchange on Highway 103. $20 million on the provincial gravel road program. Hines said that in total officials in his department anticipate 150 major construction projects for 2021-22. The twinning effort, scheduled to be complete by 2023, remains on schedule and on budget, said the minister. Hines repeatedly touted the value of twinning highways as a safety measure. In the current fiscal year, the province has paved 612 kilometres of roads and highways, an effort augmented by $100 million in COVID-19-related stimulus work announced last spring. Hines said the majority of that work is complete or in progress, although some bridge work will roll over into the coming construction season. Department officials expect about 500 kilometres of paving and gravel road work this coming fiscal year. MORE TOP STORIES
THUNDER BAY —Two Manitoba residents are facing charges relating to drug trafficking following a traffic stop on a commercial motor vehicle in Dryden last week. In a news release, Ontario Provincial Police said a traffic stop was conducted on a vehicle for a highway traffic act violation on Friday, Jan. 22 just before 2 p.m. in the city of Dryden. Further investigation led officers to locate a bulk amount of Canadian currency from the vehicle. Michael Sigurdon, 51, of St. Adolphe, Man., and Brooklyn Gatlin, 22, of Winnipeg Man., have been charged with possession of a schedule one substance, possession of a schedule four substance for the purpose of trafficking, laundering proceeds of crime, possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and trafficking in property obtained by crime. Both individuals have been held in custody and are scheduled to appear in Dryden bail court on Wednesday. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Le Bloc québécois place la gestion de la pandémie, la hausse des transferts en santé, le soutien aux aînés et la préservation du français en tête de ses priorités pour la rentrée parlementaire qui avait lieu lundi. Les élus bloquistes comptent « talonner Justin Trudeau pour qu’il assume sa responsabilité d’approvisionner le Québec en vaccins », est-il écrit dans le communiqué de presse paru à la suite du caucus présessionnel virtuel du parti. Les livraisons des doses de vaccin de Pfizer sont sur pause, cette semaine, et le Canada recevra seulement 79 000 fioles sur les 367 000 attendues dans la semaine du 1er février. Le Bloc continuera d’exiger un meilleur contrôle des frontières sur le même refrain que le premier ministre François Legault, c’est-à-dire en demandant l’interdiction des vols non essentiels et un resserrement des mesures de contrôle des quarantaines des voyageurs. Rappelons qu’Ottawa a reconduit les restrictions imposées aux vols internationaux vers le Canada jusqu’au 21 février et n’a pas exclu de mettre en place de nouvelles mesures « très sévères » en vue de la semaine de relâche. Le parti bloquiste demandera une augmentation des transferts en santé vers le Québec et une hausse durable de 110 $ par mois de la pension de vieillesse des aînés. Le gouvernement fédéral présentera son premier budget en deux ans ce printemps. « Parallèlement, nos élus continueront de proposer des solutions au déclin du français [dans la province] », rappelle-t-on dans le communiqué, « alors que Québec s’apprête à légiférer pour promouvoir notre langue nationale ». Lors de la dernière session parlementaire, le BQ avait mis de la pression sur le Parti libéral afin que la loi 101 s’applique aussi aux entreprises réglementées par le fédéral, telles les banques. Avec la COVID-19 en trame de fond, le retour des députés dans la Chambre des communes est incertain. Les négociations se poursuivent entre les partis fédéraux pour la reconduction du Parlement hydride, soit avec quelques élus présents en personne et la majorité travaillant en visioconférence. Le Bloc québécois enjoint le gouvernement à obtenir l’unanimité avant de mettre en place une application permettant le vote à distance. « Les libéraux ne peuvent pas changer par simple majorité une règle du jeu aussi fondamentale que la manière dont se tiennent les votes », juge la députée de Manicouagan, Marilène Gill. Si les libéraux doivent s’attendre à être mis sur la sellette par les partis d’opposition, le chef du Bloc québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, devra quant à lui répondre à des questions concernant ses insinuations de liens entre le nouveau ministre fédéral tous des Transports, Omar Alghabra, et le « mouvement islamique politique ».Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Pembroke – With no COVID-19 outbreaks currently in Renfrew County, only two people currently diagnosed with the virus and vaccines beginning to be administered in long-term care homes, these positive signs are tempered by news of the second death from the virus. A release from the Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) confirmed last week a second individual had died from the virus. In an interview with the Leaderearlier in the week, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman had confirmed an individual was in hospital in Ottawa following the diagnosis and did have significant comorbidities. Vaccines are also beginning to be administered, with the first clinic for residents at Valley Manor in Barry’s Bay. The health unit is working with long-term care homes to provide the vaccinations during the next two weeks in accordance with the provincial government announcement each long-term care, high-risk retirement home and First Nations elder care home resident in the province would receive first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by February 5. A reduced shipment of vaccines to the province has meant staff and essential caregivers will be vaccinated at a later date, as supply stabilizes. “We are asking residents to be patient during this time,” Dr. Cushman said. “We will release more information on timelines and vaccine roll out as it becomes available. It is our firm hope that keeping our case numbers low and rolling out the vaccines will put this behind us. Remember, we need to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.” On Tuesday, the health unit reported two people in self-isolation with confirmed cases of COVID. There have been 297 people who have tested positive for the virus and 293 who have recovered. No new cases were diagnosed on Tuesday. However, this week also marked the beginning of a return to back-to-schools in the county. Following a break of over a month, students in elementary and secondary schools returned to in-person instruction on Monday morning. They had previously been doing online learning since the province announced a decision to close all schools in the province to in-person learning. Schools in Renfrew County were one of only seven districts in the province which saw a resumption of in-person learning. Looking at COVID numbers in the district covered by the RCDHU, the numbers are much more encouraging than early January projections. In December there were over 90 confirmed cases of COVID, the highest number of any month since the pandemic statistics were first recorded in March 2020. The health unit is reporting 61 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in January, with a week remaining. “After the holidays, we saw a rise in cases related to gatherings and lack of adherence to public health measures,” Dr. Cushman noted. “Since then, cases in Renfrew County and district have remained relatively low, and we aim to keep trending downward.” Renfrew County has seen 21 outbreaks since the pandemic began and although 49 health care workers have been diagnosed with COVID, only three residents of long-term-care homes/retirement homes have been diagnosed with the virus. This is in stark contrast with other areas of the province and the dominion where many long-term-care homes/retirement homes have seen horrific outbreaks. The county has recorded 25 positive cases of COVID within the school setting since the pandemic began. Of these 10 were among staff members and 15 among students. With the resumption of school holding in-person class, Dr. Cushman is reminding area residents to not let their guard down. Provincially, numbers are also on a downward trend with 1,740 cases reported on Tuesday, the lowest daily number since mid-December. COVID testing continues in the county. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that the world risks sliding deeper into instability as the coronavirus pandemic combines with global rivalries and other international tensions. Speaking by video link during a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Putin pointed at growing inequality and unemployment and a rise of populism as potential triggers for new conflicts that he said could plunge the world into a “dark anti-Utopia.” “The pandemic has exacerbated the problems and disbalances that have been accumulating,” the Russian leader said. “International institutions are weakening, regional conflicts are multiplying and the global security is degrading.” Putin hailed the decision by Russia and the United States to extend their last nuclear arms control pact as a positive move, but he added that spiraling tensions have come to resemble the situation before World War II. “I strongly hope that such ‘hot’ global conflict is impossible now. It would mean the end of civilization," he said. “But the situation may become unpredictable and spin out of control. There is a real danger that we will face a downturn in global development fraught with an all-out fight, attempts to solve contradictions by searching for internal and foreign enemies, and the destruction of basic traditional values.” Putin attributed the worsening economic situation to a Western liberal economic model that he said “foments social, racial and ethnic intolerance with tensions erupting even in countries with seemingly long-established civil and democratic institutions.” The Russian leader pointed to what he described as the negative role of technology companies that run top social networks, charging that they have abused their position and tried to “control the society, replace legitimate democratic institutions and usurp an individual's right to decide how to live and what views to express.” “We have seen it all in the United States,” Putin said without elaborating. Putin also claimed that there has been " increasingly aggressive pressure on those countries that disagree with a role of obedient satellites, the use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions, restrictions in the financial, technological and information spheres.” Relations between Russia and the West have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, Russia's meddling in the U.S. elections and recently, the poisoning and the subsequent arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “The era marked by attempts to create a centralized unipolar global order is over now,” Putin said in an apparent reference to the perceived global domination of the U.S. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia says it will spend nearly $500 million this fiscal year to improve and upgrade the province's roads, highways and bridges. Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said today in a news release the province's five-year highway improvement plan includes more than 150 major construction and improvement projects for 2021-22. Hines says spending on roads and bridges is an "investment in public safety." The plan calls for 11 major construction projects in 2021-22, with the focus on the ongoing twinning of Highways 101, 103, 104 and Highway 107. Other work involves improving intersections, constructing passing and turning lanes, and building new interchanges and roundabouts. A total of 19 bridges are to be replaced or repaired at a cost of $29.1 million, while more than 500 kilometres of asphalt and gravel road work are also planned. Last year, $385.3 million was budgeted for road and highway projects. The province says 612 kilometres of road were paved in 2020-21, while 15 new bridges were built and 13 were repaired. More than 216 tenders were issued last year for highway and road work. Nova Scotia has 23,000 kilometres of roads and highways and 4,100 bridges. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Big plans are underway for the Rainy River Cattleman’s Associations (RRCA) new Sales Barn that is set to start building in April. On Jan. 21 the RRCA had their annual general meeting where updates on cattle sales for 2020 were discussed, as well as an exciting development about the new Sales Barn, which will also include upgrading their cattle scale which is a priority when selling cattle because they are sold by weight. Louis Bujold, president of the RRCA, said the building of the new sales barn is going to be tight because they only have around four months to complete it. Bujold said they were expecting to receive approval to start construction on the Sales Barn in May 2020 but did not receive one until November 2020, which set everything back; they could not go ahead with the project until they knew for sure that they were getting funding. The project will cost about 1.6 million. Bujold said they received funding from FedNor and NOHFC, which will help with the cost. He added that they will be left with a loan at the end which the board feels is manageable to pay back. Bujold said construction for the new barn began in 2019 with a fire at the old barn, which led them to look at funding to rebuild. The RRCA puts on five cattle sales a year and luckily, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year did not stop the sales, but Bujold said he was worried about the impact. “At first I was very nervous in the spring sale because that’s when COVID first hit so a lot of things were a bit up in the air, but that actually was a pretty good sale,” Bujold said. He added that COVID also impacted what they needed to run the sales, such as masks and hand sanitizer, but they were able to get government funding to help cover the cost. The RRCA is now getting ready for their next cattle sale in April of this year and the other four will be starting at the end of August or early September, which is when they are hoping the new Sales Barn will be finished. Bujold said probably the next day after the sale in April, they will begin moving gates out of the old sales barn and getting things ready for construction. The main drive for the new sales barn is to provide a better facility for the cattle. “The issue is always weather with farming. It can be cold, but if cattle are wet, they can get sick and they’re just not as presentable to sell if they’re full of mud and manure,” Bujold said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a disaster back there but it does get muddy and it gets soupy and it’s way better for the cattle if we can put them on cement and keep them drier.” Bujold said it has been difficult organizing the construction because of COVID-19. Meetings have been forced online, making it difficult to share visual ideas and communicate in a timely way. “If you meet, you can decide it in a couple hours but because you can’t meet, everyone has to do their bit to try to help and communicate,” Bujold said. “So it doesn’t take two hours, it takes sometimes weeks to go back and forth, so that’s the biggest hurdle.” Despite the setbacks, Bujold said things are underway which is important because the Sales Barn is the hub of the members and ‘where you meet your neighbours.’ He also adds that without the Sales Barn, money would not be going back into the community. “It’s pretty important and $7.3 million went through there last year so that’s a lot of money for the community,” Bujold said. “If we didn’t have that sale, a lot of that money would be going out to Manitoba or southern Ontario.” Bujold said they are currently in the middle of drilling a new well at the Sales Barn and are close to sending out bids for construction of the Sales Barn and yard improvements. They began the cement work for the cattle yard in the fall of 2020 until the weather no longer permitted it. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times