A funnel cloud was caught on camera near Lions Head on Barrow Bay in Ontario.
A funnel cloud was caught on camera near Lions Head on Barrow Bay in Ontario.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
The City of Summerside, P.E.I. has set the wheels in motion to expropriate four parcels of land in the north end of the city to construct a new roundabout. The roundabout will go at the corner of Central Street and Pope Road, part of a major realignment for that section of road which will also include new sidewalks and upgrades to exits to businesses in the area. Coun. Justin Doiron, chair of the technical services committee, said the city needed about a half dozen parcels of land and they were able to negotiate deals with some landowners,.but they were not able to strike a deal with the owners of four properties, so the city moved to expropriate them. "What those resolutions were tonight was serving notice of our intention to expropriate," Doiron said following a meeting of Summerside city council Monday night. Independent, third-party appraiser hired The vote on expropriation will be in February, Doiron said. In the meantime, the city will continue to negotiate with the landowners, which include one commercial and three residential lots, in an effort to come to a negotiated agreement. If no agreement is reached by next month's council meeting, the city will proceed with expropriation, he said. The city hired an independent, third-party appraiser to come up with a price for the land. Doiron said these are small parcels of land. "Nobody is going to have to relocate. It is minimal impact on homeowners, landowners and business owners," he said. 'We just want safety' Coun. Barb Ramsay said the intersection is dangerous. She is glad to see it's finally going to be fixed. "It's not lined up, there are no sidewalks, they've tried to adjust it a number of years ago. That didn't work," said Ramsay. "We just want safety for our residents." Construction is expected to begin on the new roundabout in the spring. The cost of the project is still not known. Doiron said the city has been trying to get this section of road upgraded for nearly three decades. "There has already been improvements to that intersection," said Doiron, adding that lanes at the intersection have been widened. "It's not like they haven't addressed the problem before; it's just population grows, traffic increases. It's time to really solve it for good." More from CBC P.E.I.
A medical health officer serving Saskatchewan's north says the region needs help — and better co-operation from some residents — as it grapples with a spike in COVID-19 cases. "If we don't have any changes in behaviour at the individual level, I think we are bound to continue to see cases," said Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, a medical health officer for the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) based in Prince Albert. Across the province, there were 4,265 active cases of COVID-19 identified by health officials on Monday. Just over half of those cases, 2,167, were in the six broad Far North and North zones tracked by officials — even though those zones only have a combined population of 272,937 people (compared to the 938,196 people who live in the rest of the province). Some of those northern zones have seen their active caseloads increase dramatically in the new year. In the North West zone, for example, there were 276 cases on Jan. 7. Only ten days later, on Jan. 17, the number had nearly doubled, to 535. "Definitely the current situation in the northern part of Saskatchewan is of great concern to us," Ndubuka said. Ndubuka said northern Saskatchewan faces innate challenges when combating COVID-19, such as poorer access to health care compared to the south. Overcrowded households can make it difficult for infected people to self-isolate, he said. But Ndubuka said several recent mass gatherings, including wakes and funerals, as well as mixing of households, are causing the recent spike in cases. On Sunday, NITHA declared an outbreak in Black Lake, located in the Far North Central sub-zone, and warned residents that COVID-positive people had attended a wake and funeral in the community from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2 while likely infectious. Thirteen cases were linked to the event as of Monday and more cases were expected to emerge, Ndubuka said. Saskatchewan's current public health rules allow for up to 30 people to attend a funeral indoors. "What we're seeing is that that number, most times, is not being respected," Ndubuka said, adding that not everybody has been complying with physical distancing measures either. Only immediate family members should attend such ceremonies, he said. Lower outdoor gathering needed: doctor Ndubuka said that while COVID fatigue may be setting in in the North, people need to rally for the greater good. "We do see hope with the arrival of the vaccine and also for people to be a little bit more patient, as all this comes together to overcome this common enemy." Ndubuka said the province should further restrict attendance at outdoor events. Up to 10 people can currently attend events together outside. "It should be a provincewide approach, recognizing that Saskatchewan has the highest rate [of active cases] per capita in the country," he said. More self-isolation units are needed in the North, he added. More vaccines needed now "The other measures that we think would also help would be the need to increase vaccine allocation to the northern region, recognizing that there's a higher proportion of [Indigenous people], including those living in remote areas, in the north, but only accessible by air," Ndubuka said. Saskatchewan has cited northern communities as one of four priority vaccination groups within the first phase of its vaccine rollout plan. As of Monday, 7,948 first doses were administered in northern Saskatchewan, compared to 12,918 first doses in the rest of the province.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. There are 715,072 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 715,072 confirmed cases (73,919 active, 623,033 resolved, 18,120 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,225 new cases Monday from 55,172 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,889 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,698. There were 80 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 990 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 141. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 48.21 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,612,155 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 122 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,491 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 108 confirmed cases (10 active, 98 resolved, zero deaths). There were four new cases Monday from 251 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,471 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,557 confirmed cases (25 active, 1,467 resolved, 65 deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 909 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 196,719 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 973 confirmed cases (305 active, 656 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 26 new cases Monday from 719 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 39.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25. There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,996 tests completed. _ Quebec: 244,348 confirmed cases (19,936 active, 215,325 resolved, 9,087 deaths). There were 1,434 new cases Monday from 7,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,658 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,951. There were 32 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 352 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 50. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.59 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 107.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,664,134 tests completed. _ Ontario: 240,364 confirmed cases (28,621 active, 206,310 resolved, 5,433 deaths). There were 2,578 new cases Monday from 38,983 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21,244 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,035. There were 24 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 375 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.3 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,672,567 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,629 confirmed cases (3,108 active, 23,748 resolved, 773 deaths). There were 118 new cases Monday from 5,188 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 226.95 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,181 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 441,424 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,562 confirmed cases (4,265 active, 16,078 resolved, 219 deaths). There were 290 new cases Monday from 1,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 363.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,036 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 291. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 322,431 tests completed. _ Alberta: 117,311 confirmed cases (11,923 active, 103,941 resolved, 1,447 deaths). There were 474 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 272.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,220 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 746. There were 11 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 140 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.46 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 61,447 confirmed cases (5,713 active, 54,656 resolved, 1,078 deaths). There were 301 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 112.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were five new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 68 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 19 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,175 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 216 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,774 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,543 new vaccinations administered for a total of 613,285 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,618.197 per 100,000. There were 31,065 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 848,565 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.27 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 6,845 new vaccinations administered for a total of 153,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.944 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 196,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,691 new vaccinations administered for a total of 209,788 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.282 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 4,212 new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.891 per 1,000. There were 12,665 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,459 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,618 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.182 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 3,879 new vaccinations administered for a total of 89,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.403 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 11,432 new vaccinations administered for a total of 87,346 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.021 per 1,000. There were 18,400 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 117,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 163 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 1,158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,141 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 55.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 35.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
MILAN — European car sales plunged by nearly a quarter last year as the pandemic provoked the worst crisis ever to hit the capital-intensive industry. New car registrations sank by 23.7%, or 3 million vehicles, to 9.9 million units, according to new figures released Tuesday by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. It said lockdowns and other restrictions “had an unprecedented impact on car sales across Europe.” All major markets recorded double-digit declines, down 32.3% in Spain, 28% in Italy and 25% in France. Germany suffered a more contained 19% drop. December sales were just 3.3% lower than the previous year, but performance varied drastically between markets. Italy and Spain both had double-digit dips, Germany gained 10% while Spain was flat. Germany’s Volkswagen shed 3% in market share, while gains were posted by PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler -- which on Monday officially launched as a new merged entity -- as well as Toyota. The Associated Press
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
The company that operates the Eurostar rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has called for a UK government bailout following a collapse in travel. The train operator runs daily services through the Channel Tunnel between London, Paris and Brussels.View on euronews
Two British hospitals are using blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines, the companies behind the initiative said on Tuesday, in one of the first such initiatives in the world. Two hospitals, in central England's Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick, are expanding their use of a distributed ledger, an offshoot of blockchain, from tracking vaccines and chemotherapy drugs to monitoring fridges storing COVID-19 vaccines. The tech will bolster record-keeping and data-sharing across supply chains, said Everyware, which monitors vaccines and other treatments for Britain's National Health Service (NHS), and Texas-based ledger Hedera, owned by firms including Alphabet's Google and IBM, in a statement.
When President Donald Trump delivered his inaugural speech on Jan. 20, 2017, he promised an end to “American carnage,” a bleak and dysfunctional nation he had insisted that he alone could fix. Closing out his presidency exactly four years later, Trump leaves behind an even more polarized America, where thousands are dying daily from the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is badly damaged and political violence has surged. Trump didn’t create the bitter differences that have come to define American life.
Sustainable investing experts say TC Energy Corp.'s plan to decarbonize the Keystone XL pipeline is unlikely to save its fortunes, as a growing movement to divest from fossil fuels gains political clout. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden intends to sign an executive order on inauguration day to rescind the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline issued by his predecessor Donald Trump, according to transition documents. The company in turn announced that its plan for the Keystone XL project would achieve net zero emissions when it is placed into service. Biden’s move to rescind the permit for the project, which has faced controversy over its effects on landowners, Indigenous groups and the environment, may not be a surprise for investors who followed the project during Barack Obama’s administration, said Olaf Weber, research chair in sustainable finance at the University of Waterloo. But, Weber said Biden has sent a strong signal — that more projects could be cancelled — to the group of investors that were already questioning the future of Canada’s oilsands. Weber said coal and oilsands are considered particularly risky under increasingly popular standards of environmental, social, and corporate governance investing. "Generally ESG considerations do not automatically exclude certain industries," said Weber. "But there is definitely a high risk for the oilsands, in particular, that they will have less investment in the future." Weber said it could be possible for Canadian companies like TC Energy to fit into the ESG framework for some institutional investors. Royal Dutch Shell, for example, has told investors it won’t add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere starting in 2050. But Weber said that globally, financial investment is moving away from fossil fuels, particularly those that are most carbon intensive, in countries that have signed onto the Paris Agreement. He pointed to Kommunal Landspensjonskasse or KLP, Norway’s largest pension fund, which in 2019 cut four Canadian energy names from its investment list, aiming to divest from companies that derive more than five per cent of their revenue from the oilsands. Other international financial firms, like BlackRock, have made broader calls on corporations to consider climate-change risks. While the energy sector represented 23 per cent of foreign direct investment in Canada as of 2018, that was down one per cent from the prior year, according to Natural Resources Canada. "From an international perspective, we have already seen investors go out of the oilsands, " Weber said. "Canadian investors, they hesitate doing that, because it's a very strong industry in the country." In the past few years though, some sentiment has shifted. In June, 15 Canadian universities said they would regularly begin measuring the “carbon intensity” of their portfolios and would reduce it over time. In November, eight Canadian institutional investors, including the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and Alberta Investment Management Corp., called on corporations to standardize their ESG disclosures. Former Bank of Canada and Bank of England governor Mark Carney now works on ESG issues for Brookfield Asset Management. Leanne Keddie, an assistant professor at Carleton University who studies sustainability accounting, said that these types of institutional investors have plenty of sway on companies' actions. Whether TC Energy's plan will impress ESG-focused banks and investors is the "magic question," she said. "I would think it would be difficult for them — not impossible, but difficult — to try to convince investors that this is a good financial risk," Keddie said. "You're seeing banks, finance institutions shifting away from these types of investments, too. So. I would say if Biden does cancel it ... it's just another endorsement for shifting away from these types of energy sources." While TC Energy's carbon-neutral pledge for Keystone might reassure investors, it also might be coming too late, said Ryan Riordan, director of research at the Institute for Sustainable Finance at Queen's Smith School of Business. Riordan noted that the average investor has already become much more interested in ESG. "There are investors that were perhaps, up until now, on the fence, who now throw their hands up and say... 'It's not going back to the old, Exxon, Shell, BP world. It's a new world, and so I'm going to get out of these types of investments,'" said Riordan. "But there are probably very few non-ESG-sensitive investors left." Riordan added that even those who aren't interested in the ESG framework may be skeptical of TC Energy's path forward. "Decarbonizing projects isn’t free ... so while the reputational or environmental risk around carbon might be dealt with, it's really just making a project more expensive," said Riordan. "Investors generally don't like risk, and this is just adding another layer of risk to to a project." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP) — With a file from Brett Bundale, Dan Healing and James McCarten Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities to apply basic public health measures at the earliest opportunity” and that Chinese authorities could have applied their efforts “more forcefully” in January shortly after the coronavirus began sickening clusters of people. “The reality is that only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available to them to respond to the evidence of an emerging pandemic,” the panel said. The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. At the time, WHO said its expert committee was divided on whether a global emergency should be declared. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO's top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don't appear to be sick. Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Trump slammed the U.N. health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization. An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them. Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of lauding countries for their response efforts. Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests.Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials.In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move.Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18.Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians "want to do their part and will stand by their governments" in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces "need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work." The poll also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on.Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada.Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April.Bourque said mental health experts do not consider "good" to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK.The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April.Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them.Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable.Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they'll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they'll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won't take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn't know what they'll do.The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
ISLAMABAD — A Russian-American climber who went missing last week while trying to scale a mountain amid harsh winter weather in northern Pakistan has been found dead, the region's tourist police and the Alpine Club of Pakistan said Tuesday. The tourist police in the town of Gilgit made the announcement on Twitter, saying Alex Goldfarb went missing on Friday while he was trying to summit the Pastore Peak, not far from K2 — the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second tallest after Mount Everest. Contact with Goldfarb was lost and a helicopter rescue and search team was sent out. The Pakistan army on Monday found the body, after a day-long search, according to alpine official Karrar Haidri. Muhammad Ali Sadpara, a famous Pakistani mountaineer who was part of the rescue team, also tweeted the sad news. Efforts were now underway to bring Goldfarb's body down with the help of Pakistani and foreign mountaineers, Haidri told The Associated Press. Goldfarb and Hungarian mountaineer Zoltan Szlanko had initially planned to scale Pastore together but Szlanko later decided to turn back. Haidri expressed condolences to Goldfarb's family, saying “I will never forget his kindness." On Saturday, a team of Nepalese climbers made history by scaling K2 in the winter season. Haidri said this has never been done in winter. Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit). Hundreds of local and foreign climbers scale mountains and peaks in northern Pakistan every year and accidents are common because of avalanches and sudden changes in weather. The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 19 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA — A new poll suggests almost two-thirds of Canadians would support imposition of a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective. Sixty-five per cent of respondents said they would support a temporary curfew in their province if recommended by public health officials. In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move. Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The poll, conducted Jan. 15 to 18 by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies, also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on; it registered an eight-point rise since last April in the number of respondents who rate their mental health as bad or very bad. The online poll of 1,516 Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples. --- Also this ... OTTAWA — Ontario Conservative MP Derek Sloan says he'll fight efforts by his party's leader to boot him from caucus. Sloan says a decision by leader Erin O'Toole that he should be tossed out over a donation to his leadership campaign by a known white supremacist is ridiculous. O'Toole announced he's launching the effort to remove Sloan late Monday, after news broke that Sloan's campaign had received a donation from Paul Fromm last year. O'Toole framed the decision as being a question of having no tolerance for racism within his party. But Sloan is raising questions about that approach, saying Fromm is a party member and that fact would have previously been known both to O'Toole and to the party itself. Sloan generated controversy during the leadership campaign for his aggressively social conservative views, and his presence in caucus has been polarizing ever since. He had survived a bid to oust him during the leadership race itself, when comments he made about the country's chief public health officer saw him accused of racism, a charge he denied. --- And ... EDMONTON — Alberta has decided to cancel recently issued coal leases in the Rocky Mountains, as public opposition grows to the United Conservative government's plan to expand coal mining in the area. Late Monday afternoon, Energy Minister Sonya Savage issued a press release saying the sale of 11 recently purchased coal leases would be cancelled. Savage added that no further leases would be sold on lands that were protected from open-pit mines under a policy the government revoked last May. She also said the move will have no effect on existing coal projects currently under regulatory review. The cancelled leases are a small portion of the coal exploration leases the government has issued since revoking a policy that protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies — home to endangered species as well as the water source for millions downstream — since 1976. The decision came as more than 100,000 signatures had been collected on two petitions opposing increased mining on two related fronts. One, sponsored by environmental groups on Change.org, was addressed to the provincial government and had 77,000 signatures Monday afternoon. Another, sponsored by a private citizen and addressed to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, had nearly 28,000 names opposing the Benga coal project in southern Alberta, which is undergoing a federal-provincial environmental review. Members of the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta have sent more than 700 postcards to Wilkinson asking him to block coal development in the Rockies and another 2,000 have joined an online group to that end, said organizer Latasha Calf Robe. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol complex temporarily locked down during a rehearsal for president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment roughly a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns in an already jittery city. The false alarm briefly interrupted Monday's rehearsal for Wednesday's inauguration ceremony, a quadrennial exercise in which stand-ins take the roles of Biden and other VIPs and the U.S. Marine Band goes through its paces, including practising "The Star-Spangled Banner" for Wednesday’s performance by Lady Gaga. Rehearsal resumed not long afterward, accompanied by frequent passes by a helicopter patrolling the skies over the Capitol. Law enforcement officials said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. Local firefighters put out the blaze quickly. The evacuation of some participants from the area and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials said. But the fast decision to lock down underscores the fear that has gripped Washington since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters and prompted extraordinary measures ahead of the inauguration. Armed protests planned for this past weekend around the country were mostly a bust, but anxiety is still skyrocketing. U.S. Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol a week early in preparation, and the city centre is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement officers stationed around the area. But U.S. defence officials, worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing the event, pushed the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into the area. Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement Monday that vetting of National Guard troops continues and that the Pentagon has found no intelligence so far that would indicate an insider threat. --- On this day in 1943 ... Princess Margriet of the Netherlands was born in an Ottawa hospital. Crown Princess Juliana, who became queen in 1948, and her two oldest daughters, fled from the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 and eventually came to Canada. --- In entertainment ... "Schitt's Creek" continues to flood the awards circuit. The Canadian CBC series, which swept the Emmys' comedy categories with seven trophies last September, is now up for five Critics Choice Awards. The story of the riches-to-rags Rose family is nominated for best comedy series and in acting categories for stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Daniel Levy, and Annie Murphy. Other series with five nominations apiece include HBO's "Lovecraft Country," and FX's "Mrs. America" and "What We Do In The Shadows." Two Netflix series lead the pack, with "Ozark" and "The Crown" each up for six awards, including best drama series. --- ICYMI ... The backcountry survival skills of a British Columbia teen who got lost while snowmobiling are being praised by search and rescue volunteers who found him safe. The South Cariboo Search and Rescue Society says the 17-year-old did everything right when things went wrong. The society says in a social media post that the teen became separated from his group and when he realized he was lost he parked his snowmobile in an open area, built himself an overnight snow cave and waited for help to arrive. RCMP say they received a call for help around the dinner hour on Saturday and a search team reported finding the teenager at about 10:30 p.m. It society says when team members found the young man he was waiting in the snow cave with food and water. It says he and his family and friends were snowmobiling near Mahood Lake, located about 80 kilometres east of 100 Mile House in B.C.'s Cariboo region. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
MADRID — As soon as the lifeless body is silently pushed away on a stretcher, a cleaning battalion moves into the intensive care box. In a matter of minutes, the bed where the 72-year-old woman fought for over two weeks for another breath gets rubbed clean, the walls of glass isolating it disinfected with a squeegee. There is little time to reflect on what has just happened, as death gives way to the possibility of saving another life. “Our biggest source of joy is obviously emptying a bed, but because somebody is discharged and not because they have passed away,” said Ignacio Pujol, the head of this Madrid ICU. “That's a little space there for somebody else to get another chance.” As a surge of infections is once again putting Spain’s public health system against the ropes, the Nurse Isabel Zendal Hospital that employs Pujol, a project seen by many as an extravagant vanity enterprise, is getting a fresh opportunity to prove its usefulness. Named after the 19th-century Spanish nurse who took smallpox vaccination across the Atlantic Ocean, the facility was built in 100 days at a cost of 130 million euros ($157 million), more than twice the original budget. It boasts three pavilions and support buildings over an area the size of 10 soccer fields, looking somewhere between a small airport terminal and an industrial warehouse, with ventilation air ducts, medical beds and state-of-the-art equipment. The original project was for 1,000 beds, of which roughly half have been installed so far. The Zendal opened to a roar of competing fanfare and criticism on Dec. 1, just as Spain seemed to dampen a post-summer surge of coronavirus infections. By mid-December, it had only received a handful of patients. But Spain on Monday recorded over 84,000 new COVID-19 infections, the highest increase over a single weekend since the pandemic began. The country’s overall tally is heading to 2.5 million cases with 53,000 confirmed virus deaths, although excess mortality statistics add over 30,000 deaths to that. As the curve of contagion steepened after Christmas and New Year's, the Zendal has gotten busy. On Monday, 392 patients were being treated, more than in any other hospital in the region of 6.6 million. Spain's surge follows similar infection increases in other European countries, most notably in the U.K. following the discovery of a new virus variant that experts say is more infectious. The London Nightingale, one of the temporary hospitals across Britain designed to ease pressure on the country's overwhelmed health care system, has also reopened for patients and as a vaccination centre. Spain's top health officials insist they have found no evidence that new variants wreaking havoc elsewhere are contributing in any way to its own rocketing infections. Some experts dispute that, claiming the country's limited ability to sequence coronavirus cases is distorting reality and that a new stay-at-home order is necessary. On the ground, increasing hospitalizations for the virus already surpass the peak of the second resurgence. Nearly one out of every five hospital beds has a patient with COVID-19. The new illness is also taking up one-third of the country's ICU capacity and non-urgent surgeries are already being called off. Joined by some medical experts, left-wing politicians and workers’ unions accuse Madrid's conservative government of spending on vote-attracting hardware instead of reinforcing a public health system they have underfunded for years. Investing in contact tracing and primary care previously, they say, could have averted the need for a Zendal altogether. “Rather than the success they boast, the filling up of this makeshift hospital represents a tremendous failure of those at the helm of the pandemic's response, and also a failure of all of us as a society that could have done better," said Ángela Hernández, a spokeswoman for Madrid's main medical workers' union, AMYTS. The last straw for the unions, she said, has been the regional government laying off medical staff who refuse to abandon their positions in regular hospitals when they are reassigned to the Zendal. "The project has been nonsense from beginning to end," Hernández said. "A few beds without adequate personnel don't make a hospital.” Fernando Prados, Zendal's manager, says he doesn't mind the debate but the 750 patients treated over the last month and a half have already taken significant pressure off other hospitals. “We have already contributed in one way or another," Prados said. "We know that we will continue to have COVID patients and once the pandemic is over this infrastructure will be here for any other emergency.” Past automatic glass doors, patients recover in modules of 8 beds, leaving little space for privacy but providing better monitoring of possible complications in their recovery, said Verónica Real, whose challenge as the head nurse has been to organize staff teams drawn from other hospitals. “Some of the sanitary workers arrive with a degree of anger for all the noise out there about our hospital,” Real said. “But once here, the attitude completely changes.” The Zendal's managers say a modern ventilation system renews the entire facility's air every 5 minutes, which contributes to a safer work environment. But they are most proud of the expansion of the intermediate respiratory care unit, where patients receive varying types of assisted respiration to overcome lung inflammation. The unit's chief, Pedro Landete, says by admitting potentially worsening patients in one of its 50 highly-equipped beds, they are reducing the number of people who later require the more demanding intensive care. José Andrés Armada arrived with mild symptoms at the facility after all his family was infected despite what he said was a very careful approach to the pandemic. But the 63-year-old's health quickly deteriorated and last week he was on the brink of being intubated in one of the Zendal's dozen ICU boxes. “I know that the economy is something to safeguard, but health is more important. We should be in lockdown by now. You can’t have bars and other places open," the former entrepreneur said. “I never imagined it could attack you in such a way." ___ AP reporter Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Aritz Parra, The Associated Press
For one Cape Breton teen, helping out his great-uncle has led to a blooming relationship with tech giant Google. A couple of years ago, Jack Mugridge's great-uncle started using some Google Home devices as part of a project launched by the company that allowed seniors to check in with someone and have daily interactions with people. Mugridge, now a Grade 11 student, stepped up to help his great-uncle try out the devices. As the project continued, Mugridge started to notice things that could be improved on. So when Google came to Cape Breton to record footage for marketing and feedback, Mugridge's great-uncle invited the teen over to meet the crew. The budding tech whiz then took the opportunity to make a presentation of his observations and ideas. "I told them about some issues that it had and some things that I thought were good about it," Mugridge told CBC Radio's Information Morning Cape Breton. For example, instead of loudly broadcasting a conversation a senior might be having with someone checking in, Mugridge suggested an earpiece or integrating the technology with a hearing aid. From N.S. to Google HQ The Google team was so impressed with the teen, they first invited him to Google's Toronto headquarters before scratching the idea and instead flying him to Google HQ — Googleplex in California in February 2019. "It was crazy," said Mugridge, a student at Riverview High School in Sydney River. "They talked about how it was good to get a younger person's view on this kind of technology, how it was also good to get an older person's view on this kind of technology from my uncle." Mugridge wants to someday build gadgets centred around making daily life easier for seniors and people with disabilities. He has some ideas, but a non-disclosure agreement he signed with Google prevents him from revealing too much information. Since his trip to California, Mugridge has taken online courses sent to him by Google and stays in touch. He and his great-uncle also brainstorm gadget ideas together and have put together a 3D printer. Mugridge hopes to learn how to engineer the technology he's been brainstorming and get a job with Google once he graduates college. MORE TOP STORIES
Gil Hymer was sixteen years old when he came out of the closet. When he left home, he met his partner through a consciousness-raising group in the gay community. They became fast friends, and bonded easily over their mutual love for music. They were together for 40 years. "We sort of became very entrenched in our own relationship, and didn't make a lot of friends outside," he explains. When his partner died and he entered his golden years, Hymer found himself longing for community. For many people who are over 50 years old and LGBTQ+, it can be difficult to make new friends. While bars in the Gay Village are an option for younger people, the older generation are often left without a space to connect with others their own age. Hymer, however, found support through a group called Gay and Grey Montreal, a social group for people 50 and over who are LGBTQ+. They meet for barbecues, go out for walks, and offer a safe space for people to be themselves. For now though, because of the pandemic, the group meets primarily through video calls. Gil recalls a special moment he had with the group. "[They] came to one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas I was singing in," he says. "It really touched me that they would go all the way out to the West Island to do that." Bruce Cameron founded Gay and Grey in 2018 . The goal was to counteract the homophobia that some seniors might experience as they get older, and to allow them to interact comfortably with people of the same orientation, gender identity, or who share similar experiences. As Cameron explains, many seniors go back into the closet when they enter residential care. "They have to be concerned again about people being homophobic," he says. "They can't really be free, and this is one of the last places where they're going to live." Through Gay and Grey, Cameron also hopes to fight ageism that exists within the LGBTQ+ community. "Whether you're 40, 50, 60, or 70, you still have needs, you still have wants, you still have desires," he said. "And people should be open and accepting of that." By connecting older members to younger people in the LGBTQ+ community, Bruce hopes to bridge the divide between members of the community. "The older generation, they lived through gay liberation. They remember a time when being themselves was actually illegal," Nikki Machin, an outreach co-ordinator for Gay and Grey, explains. "That's an experience that not many of us today, who are millennials or younger, have any experience with." One of the group's members, K. David Brody, was involved in a court case fighting for the right to a widower's pension after his partner died. At the time, the province of Quebec did not recognize gay couples' rights to the pension. The members of Gay and Grey have a message for young people who may be struggling to come out of the closet. As Cameron puts it: "Be proud of who you are. The people who aren't accepting, that's their issue. Live with who you are, and be proud of that." WATCH | Bruce Cameron discusses what it's like to age as part of the LGBTQ+ community with the CBC's Catherine Verdon Diamond.