These "nature-made snowballs" are the aftermath of heavy snow followed by strong winds.
These "nature-made snowballs" are the aftermath of heavy snow followed by strong winds.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Some Niagarians were stocking up on groceries on Wednesday in advance of an impending stay-at-home order, recently announced by the provincial government. On Jan. 12, Ontario declared a 28-day state of emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to rise aggressively, having already filled more than 400 intensive care unit beds across the province. With the goal of preventing movement and contacts between people, Premier Doug Ford issued a stay-at-home order, which came into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Dave Mace made a point of visiting the Niagara Falls Costco to stock up because he wasn’t sure what exactly the stay-at-home order would involve. “It’s necessary,” he said of the order, adding that he believes the Ford government made the right move. Regardless of what decisions were made, people would still criticize, he said. Complying with the order won’t be a challenge for him and his partner, Mace said — there’s plenty to keep them occupied at home with computers, TVs and books. Under the new rules, people are expected to stay home with exceptions for things like grocery shopping, accessing medical services, including pharmacies, exercise or for work. Social gathering limits have also increased, and non-essential businesses are required to close by 8 p.m.. Robert Howieson and Christina Lancaster also made a trip out for groceries at the Costco location on Wednesday, predicting that reduced shopping hours would result in longer lineups. “I expect that there will be large crowds,” Howieson said of the days ahead, noting that he was surprised there weren’t more people out. Howieson supports the order but said it “should have been done sooner.” His impression of the Ford administration’s handling of the pandemic was positive before the second wave, but Howieson’s views have since changed. “He’s too beholden to business,” he said. “What do you want, happy businesses or people dying?” Others spoken with on Wednesday said they would support more stringent government measures, like a curfew, to bring an end to COIVD-19 sooner. “Let’s get on with life because this is ridiculous, it’s been going on too long,” said Tracy McIntee, as she loaded groceries into her vehicle. She’s in favour of a full-on lockdown instead of what she said are incremental steps. She was expecting more from Tuesday's announcement, saying that the new rules look much like what people are already doing. “In a sense, I don’t think the government is doing enough,” she said. “I wish they would have done more yesterday.” Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Divers found parts of the cockpit voice recorder on Friday as more personnel joined the search for wreckage and victims from an Indonesian plane that crashed last weekend in the Java Sea with 62 people on board. The aerial search for the crashed Sriwijaya Air jet was being expanded as well, said National Search and Rescue Agency mission co-ordinator Rasman, who uses one name. More than 4,000 search and rescue personnel are supported by 14 airplanes, 62 ships and 21 inflatable boats. They are using an underwater metal detector and remotely operated vehicle to search for human remains, the cockpit voice recorder and more wreckage. Divers narrowed the search for the cockpit voice recorder after finding some of its parts. “We have found the casing, the beacon and the CVR batteries. We need to search for the memory unit,” the commander of the navy's First Fleet Command, Abdul Rasyid, said Friday. “We hope it will be not far from them,” he said. Investigators have downloaded information from the plane's flight data recorder, which was recovered earlier this week. “There are 330 parameters and everything is in good condition. We are learning about it now,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Committee. Families of those on board have been providing DNA samples to help identify them. National Police spokesperson Rusdi Hartono said 12 of the 62 victims had been identified as of Thursday, including a flight attendant and an off-duty pilot. The committee has said the crew did not declare an emergency or report any technical problems before the plane plunged into the sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta in heavy rain. They said it broke apart upon impact with the water, ruling out a midair explosion, because the debris field is concentrated and engine parts indicate it was running until impact. The 26-year-old Boeing 737-500 was out of service for almost nine months last year because of flight cutbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The airline and Indonesian officials say it underwent inspections, including for possible engine corrosion that could have developed during the layoff, before it resumed commercial flying in December. Indonesia’s aviation industry grew quickly after the nation’s economy was opened following the fall of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s. Safety concerns led the United States and the European Union to ban Indonesian carriers for years, but the bans have since been lifted due to better compliance with international aviation standards. Edna Tarigan And Fadlan Syam, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says he will recommend new restrictions next week if COVID-19 case numbers don't decline. The province is averaging 313 new cases a day over the last week, a rate that Dr. Saqib Shahab said is too high. "If you continue to see cases as high as this week I will be speaking to the Minister of Health Mr. [Paul] Merriman, about additional measures which may be required next week," Shahab said Thursday during an update on the virus. The Saskatchewan government has refrained from introducing new COVID-19 containment measures since mid-December, choosing to rely on public compliance to reduce transmission. "We should all be knowledgeable over the guidelines and follow them to a dot. It's the only chance we've got. Otherwise in a week or two it will lead to stricter restrictions, and that always has stronger consequences," Shahab said. On Tuesday, the province extended it's current health measures to at least Jan. 29. Worst infection rates in Canada Saskatchewan's rate of active cases continues to be the highest in Canada for the fourth consecutive day, as neighbouring provinces like Manitoba and Alberta have seen a decline. As of Thursday, the rate of active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan was 329 per 100,000 people. The national average is 207 per 100,000 people. "Our case numbers have been going up," Shahab said. "We're also the second-highest in Canada in terms of our average cases over the last seven days." The province falls just behind Quebec. "We're seeing a significant escalation and we really need to pull together to address this," Shahab said. Saskatchewan's average test positivity rate is 12 per cent, but in some areas, like the far north central zone, it's as high as 31 per cent. Shahab said transmission is found "in health care settings and workplaces, but primarily it is household exposure and then in other public and other social settings." He added those who are testing positive for COVID-19 have an average of one to 35 close contacts. "We should be able to count our close contacts on one hand," Shahab said. ICU availability declines to 5% Rising case numbers have also led to rising hospitalization. Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone said ICU availability in the province is at five per cent. "We're at 95 per cent capacity. And about 34 per cent of the current ICU beds are taken up with COVID patients," Livingstone said. He said the SHA has the ability to double capacity, but he added "we're pushing ourselves to the limit." "This is the most fragile point in the pandemic," Livingstone said. Since the pandemic began there have been nearly 700 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, with over 200 people dead. Hospitalizations continue to break record after record. "This has not been a minor event by any stretch of the imagination," Shahab said.
JUNEAU, Alaska — A proposal to split the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services into two organizations has been criticized by health care workers, social service organizations and tribal governments. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the reorganization plan Dec. 22, saying the department had become too large and its administration too burdensome to operate as a single entity, The Juneau Empire reported Thursday. Dunleavy issued an executive order to establish the Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services. The order will be submitted in the legislative session that starts Jan. 19. The order must be approved by a majority vote in a joint session of the Legislature to go into effect. Richard Chalyee Eesh Peterson, president of Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, expressed concern the reorganization would complicate providing services for child welfare programs, particularly because the majority of children under state care are Alaska Native. During testimony Wednesday to the state House Health and Social Services Committee, Peterson said Tlingit and Haida traditionally partnered with the state in social services administration. “It is hard to discuss the bifurcation of DHSS without talking about negative impacts,” Peterson said. The state and certain tribal governments reached a 2017 agreement to work together toward better child welfare programs, but Peterson said there was no outreach from the state to Tlingit and Haida, which represents about 32,000 tribal citizens. Health department spokesperson Clinton Bennett said in an email Wednesday that the reorganization plan fulfills the conditions of the 2017 agreement. “There is no substantive change or impact to the compact with the departmental split," Bennett said. "Other than changing the name of DHSS to the correct corresponding new Department names, all rights and responsibilities as outlined in the Compact remain unchanged.” The department consulted stakeholder groups and will continue to do so, Bennett said. Tanana Chiefs Conference Chairman P.J. Simon said the organization was willing to work with the administration on an alternative to reduce bureaucracy, but the current proposal would negatively affect social services. The proposed split would produce “worse outcomes than the status quo," Simon said. Lynn Biggs of Casey Family Foundation, who also testified Wednesday, said several states tried reorganizing departments as a way of producing better social service outcomes. But research showed every model of providing social services comes with pros and cons, and better outcomes are more often produced by greater levels of collaboration, Biggs said. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The long-promised public inquiry into search and rescue operations in Newfoundland and Labrador was launched Thursday. Justice and Public Safety Minister Steve Crocker formally established the $1.5-million inquiry, which he said will look different than past commissions of inquiry, such as the recent one on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. It will be more policy based as opposed to investigative, Crocker said, and will be smaller and more focused. “It will examine the organization, the operations of ground search and rescue in the province, with a final report making recommendations on how to improve that system,” he said at a news conference. The 2012 death of 14-year-old Burton Winters after he went snowmobiling near Makkovik spurred the inquiry, which is expected to last about six months. Winters' body was found three days after he was reported missing. Search and rescue helicopters were not called to look for him until two days after he was reported missing, which caused widespread concern. Crocker said it is impossible to deny how the case exposed gaps in the search and rescue system and spurred the inquiry. “None of us know when we will require the support of search and rescue teams,” he said. “But we hope that if we need them that service will be there and be adequate and prepared to respond in a timely manner.” The inquiry was a Liberal campaign promise in 2015 and was announced on Dec. 4, 2018. Retired provincial court judge James Igloliorte, originally from Hopedale, will lead the inquiry as commissioner, and said the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed things down a little, but they have been working behind the scenes doing consultation and research since last summer. The inquiry won’t focus on any specific cases, but a hearing will be held in Makkovik involving members of Winters' family and others who knew him. Igloliorte said they want to frame the examinations and the recommendations as being the Burton Winters Inquiry, and people were affected by the Inuk teen’s death, with a lot of questions arising about search and rescue. “We will be in Makkovik and allow the entire community to speak to us if they wish, and we will make sure that, insofar as we can, we will answer any questions they may have through the presentation of various witnesses to participate in the discussions,” he said. Igloliorte said they have already been consulting with the Indigenous groups of Labrador and expect them to be a part of the process. He said due to the relationship the Indigenous people of Labrador have with the land and outdoor activities, they are more at risk, and that will be recognized in this inquiry and report. They will work with a number of groups, Igloliorte said, including the public, various search and rescue organizations, and police forces. The inquiry will be largely comprised of informal hearings, but may also include research studies, interviews and surveys, and written submissions. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
The women's curling team skipped by Jill Brothers will represent Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Alberta next month. The team was invited to attend by the Nova Scotia Curling Association after the provincial championships for men and women were cancelled due to the pandemic. The event, set for Feb. 19-28, will be played in a bubble in Calgary. It wasn't an easy decision under the current circumstances, Brothers said. "It's part of my nature to just want to win. I just really like to compete. If I could curl for a living I would." The team found out on Monday it had being given the nod to represent Nova Scotia. It was asked to make a decision by Wednesday. The team asked for an extra day before confirming it would be able to go. Family and work support helped with decision Brothers, a 37-year-old Halifax hair stylist who has two young children, said she wouldn't be going if her family and work didn't support her. But the entire team isn't going. Sarah Murphy has opted to stay home. Another player was undecided until Friday, but has chosen to make the trip. Emma Logan, the team's alternate, will move into the regular lineup. "Sarah, in her gut, just doesn't feel right about it and we totally respect her answer," said Brothers, who will be making her fifth appearance at the Scotties. "We're going to miss her a lot and I know she'll have a hard time watching it on TV and not being there, we have no hard feelings whatsoever." The decision to attend the Scotties is a commitment of nearly a month. The team will have to travel to the bubble. There will be testing prior to the event, the competition itself and the return trip to Nova Scotia. A two-week isolation period will be required upon return. A team skipped by Mary-Anne Arsenault won the Nova Scotia championship in 2020, but Arsenault has since moved to B.C. Nova Scotia men's lineup undetermined Jamie Murphy's team, the 2020 provincial men's champion, has been invited to attend the Tim Hortons Brier in March. It will also be played in the Calgary bubble. But Murphy has declined, citing travel risks and the isolation period required on return. His team is still looking for someone to replace him. MORE TOP STORIES
City of Whitehorse crews have been dealing with record amounts of snow on residential streets and roads. Equipment operators have been working steadily to plow the snow and dump it into bucket trucks, street by street. The trucks haul the snow to cleared-out areas known as snow dumps, most of which are close to the subdivision they are clearing. As one truck is loaded with snow, another is waiting to be filled by a loader operator. It is a big job — there are more than 600 lane kilometres of roadway to shovel. The exception is the Alaska and Klondike highways managed by the Yukon government. "With the large dump of snow that we had early this winter, we immediately recognized that snow storage was going to be an issue," said Richard Graham, manager of operations for the City of Whitehorse. "So we actually had contractors in with Cats, as well as Snowcats, to help us pile the snow even higher to make sure we have enough room for the season," Graham said there are 14 snow dumps around Whitehorse, but the biggest one is what's called the South Access Snow Dump. It's located by the dirt bike race track near Robert Service Way. "This is the largest snow dump that we have, just because everything downtown ends up here, and this is the only snow dump the city will permit for contractors to dump at as well," Graham said. "So any snow that is being removed from private property, for those that have permits, they can dump that snow here as well." He says the mountain of snow at the South Access Snow Dump is up to about 12 metres high in places. Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis says snow removal eats up 10 per cent of the city budget, with more than $3 million put aside for the work every year. "I probably get the most compliments in my role for the Christmas lights and the most complaints about snow," he said. Curtis said thousands of truckloads of snow will be hauled away this winter to the 14 snow dumps around Whitehorse, keeping a small army of city workers and contractors busy with plenty of overtime.
COPENHAGEN — The ex-partner of Norway’s former justice minister was convicted and sentenced to 20 months in jail Friday for setting a fire outside the politician’s home and other threatening behaviour. The Oslo District Court found Laila Bertheussen guilty of setting fire to a garbage container and scrawling graffiti that included the word “racist” and a swastika on the Oslo home of then-Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara in 2018 and 2019. She also was found guilty of writing Wara a threatening letter. Bertheussen, 55, also was found guilty of making threats against other peoples. Throughout her trial, she pleaded innocent and argued that Norway’s domestic security agency had conducted a one-sided investigation. Presiding Judge Yngvild Thue rejected the defence argument, saying the court found the investigation to have been exceptionally thorough. Bertheussen was arrested in March 2019. Wara stepped down at the same time because of the case, which made headlines in Norway. He has described the vandalism as “unpleasant and scary.” The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
Residents in the town of Ogema, Sask., were shocked after an enormous windstorm knocked down a historic landmark this week. On Thursday, people in the town woke up to find its 28-foot-tall firewall completely destroyed by winds that had gusted well above 100 km/h. The mayor says it's a huge loss for the community. "It was very iconic," said Mayor Carol Prentice. "People come from all around just to look at it. It's something that wasn't just in every little town." The firewall was built in 1915 to protect the town after a large fire. "In January 1915, a fellow's lamp tipped over and started a fire. And we lost one side of Main Street because they were all wooden buildings," said Prentice. "So the townspeople thought if we build a firewall on one side and a fire hall on the other, then we wouldn't lose the whole side of Main Street if there had to be another fire." The wall was designed by R.J. Lecky, the construction superindendant of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, and cost the town $4,600 to build, a sizable amount of money in those days. While there were several firewalls built across the province, Prentice said she believes only two of them were still standing before Ogema's was destroyed. Prentice doesn't believe the wall will ever be rebuilt, as doing so would be too expensive. "A few years ago, we had a few cracks in it, so we finally found a mason that was able to repair it. And just that little bit of repair work was $18,000," she said. "So, I'm thinking it might be cost prohibitive, just because there's so many other things we need in the town right now."
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed star running back Andrew Harris to a one-year contract extension. The Winnipeg native returns to the Blue Bombers for a fifth season. The 33-year-old Harris has led the CFL in rushing the past three years. He was named the game MVP and most valuable Canadian in Winnipeg's Grey Cup win over Hamilton in 2019. During the 2019 season, Harris passed Ben Cahoon to become the CFL's career leader in yards from scrimmage by a Canadian. He also moved past Normie Kwong as the Canadian career rushing leader. A five-time CFL all-star, Harris also was named the league's most outstanding Canadian in 2017. REDBLACKS SIGN FOUR The Ottawa Redblacks have signed Canadian linebacker Brad Cowan and defensive back Dagogo Maxwell and American defensive backs Brandin Dandridge and Marcus Roberson. Cowan was Ottawa's sixth-round pick in the CFL draft. He played university football at Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo, Ont. Maxwell was Calgary's fifth-round pick in 2018 out of UBC. He had six special-teams tackles with Calgary in 2019 before signing with Ottawa. Dandridge had 12 defensive tackles and four pass breakups in four games in 2019 with Ottawa. Roberson had 20 defensive tackles in 11 games for Toronto in 2018, his last action in the CFL. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Seguin Township has completed Milestone 1 of the Integrated Community Energy and Climate Action Plans (ICECAP) project as of December 2020. Milestone 1 tasked municipalities involved with ICECAP to create a greenhouse gas emissions inventory of both the corporate and community aspects of the township. During its Jan. 13 council meeting, members of council discussed what moving forward into Phase 2 of the program would look like. Here’s the discussion captured in five quotes: 1\. “There’s two pieces to Milestone 1 — one being corporate, the township; one being community, all the residents,” said Daryle Moffatt, ICECAP co-chair and Seguin councillor. “ … The next hurdles are to set emissions targets and develop a plan. We’ve done a number of things corporately and residents have done a number of things, we just need to continue to set our goals to see if we can achieve some lower greenhouse gas emissions.” 2\. “How long will it take to set targets? What is the procedure going into Milestone 2 and what’s the timing?” asked Coun. Rod Osborne. 3\. “We will be working with other ICECAP members (and) organizations around the table in 2021 to start to develop our emission reduction target as well as our local plan,” said Moffatt. “What we’ve realized is ICECAP is not one-size-fits-all — it’s going to ebb and flow. It’s going to be a work in progress but it is a goal in 2021 to achieve Milestones 2 and 3.” 4\. “I will emphasize again to all the councillors, if you have not done your own personal carbon calculator, please do it. It will make a difference to how West Parry Sound moves forward,” said Seguin’s mayor, Ann MacDiarmid. “It’s worth doing. It’s a real eyeopener.” 5\. “I would extend that to all staff and residents, not only in Seguin but across all the municipalities that are participating in ICECAP,” said Moffatt. “It is critical to capture that data because it will only help us going forward.” MacDiarmid thanked those involved with the ICECAP initiative from Seguin and mentioned that the carbon calculator could be used as a good school assignment for teenagers. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci is accused of being the driver in a gang-related drive-by shooting that left one man dead and another wounded, authorities said. The 29-year-old rapper turned himself in Wednesday, a day after Atlanta police announced murder charges against Lucci, whose real name is Rayshawn Bennett. Police said Bennett and other “gang members” drove through rival gang territory on Dec. 10 and two people inside the car opened fire, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported citing an arrest warrant. The rivals returned fire, hitting James Adams, 28, in the head, police said. Adams was “manually ejected” from the car and police later found his body lying in the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Later that day, Kevin Wright, 32, arrived at a fire station with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He survived. Police said Ra’von Boyd, 23, was also in the vehicle during the shooting. Boyd and a 17-year-old juvenile were charged in the incident and were both arrested in Miami. A warrant was put out for Bennett's arrest Tuesday, charging him with murder, aggravated assault, participating in criminal street gang activity and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Before he surrendered to authorities Wednesday night, he released his latest music video on his Twitter and Instagram pages. Bennett's attorney Drew Findling said a “review of the initial evidence” provided “no basis for any criminal charges.” Lucci is best known for his 2016 song “Key to the Streets” featuring the Atlanta-area-based rap group Migos. The Associated Press
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
During a COVID-19 modelling update on Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the rise in case numbers is largely due to Canadians gathering during the holidays. She added that measures must be “further intensified,” in order to help stop the spread.
Une seconde procédure de destitution de Donald Trump vient d’être déclenchée. Si les démocrates sont partis confiants, son succès est en réalité compromis par la posture des élus républicains.
Eleven adult male deer, or bucks, were harvested by hunters from the Shawanaga and Wasauksing First Nations during last month’s controlled harvest inside Killbear Provincial Park west of Parry Sound. The figures were released Jan. 11, by Shawanaga band manager Adam Good. It was the first time since the park opened in 1964 that Indigenous hunters were allowed inside the park boundary in order to harvest deer on their traditional and treaty hunting grounds. It was held from Dec. 15 to 18 and the park was closed to the public for the hunt for safety reasons. Hunters were restricted to shotguns only. Good said that 15 hunters in total from the two territories took part in the event. There had been concerns that protesters, who had expressed opposition to the harvest on social media, might also try to invade the park for the harvest but Good said that never materialized. “We were thinking that there could’ve been some sort of petition or a protest but that never occurred. It wasn’t a huge hunt. The number of hunters was low … there were some COVID scares but it was good for the first start. It was more about awareness,” Good said. He added that the harvest was the culmination of years of negotiations between park staff, other officials and the two First Nations. Good said that it is not yet clear if the harvest will become an annual event. He said they may look at making it a bow hunt in the future. He added that youngsters and Elders also accompanied the hunters with a goal of educating the young people about responsible harvesting on land that had used been used by Indigenous hunters for hundreds of years. Good said that the two First Nations will work with the park on just exactly what future hunts might look like. Prior to the hunt getting underway, Good said that a prayer and smudging ceremony was held. Both chiefs, Shawanaga’s Wayne Pamajewon and Warren Tabobondung, took part, he added. Good said that some hunters also brought their families with them for the historic harvest. “The (kids) were amazed. It’s a learning experience and they loved being outdoors. It’s something you can’t teach in the classroom. It’s being outdoors and experiencing it first hand. It was a life lesson that the youth won’t soon forget,” Good said. “They now understand that this is traditional territory where they can exercise their rights whether that be hunting, fishing or picking berries.” Good said the venison from the harvest has been shared with community members, particularly Elders. He added that the food was appreciated by all, especially during the global pandemic when getting out of the home to shop has been more complicated. “The meat was delivered to the Elders’ homes. They were very thankful. The Elders always enjoy receiving venison or moose,” Good said. Kenton Otterbein, education leader for the park, stated in an email that the harvest went off without a hitch. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
WASHINGTON — The line stretched nearly a block long. Nobody was grumbling about the wait. Those gathered at a senior wellness centre in Washington, D.C., viewed it as a matter of life or death. The nation's capital had just opened up coronavirus vaccines to people 65 and older because of their increased risk. I was among those who had a shot within reach. In the nation's capital, along with the rest of the country, coronavirus cases have surged since the holidays. More than 32,800 positive cases have been recorded overall in the city. Nearly 850 people have died. And now add fears that the mob insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month could turn into a superspreader event, adding to the totals. People were on edge. As I waited for my shot, I wondered if I should be there. The district had offered the vaccine first to health care workers, but were there others who should have come before me, people like teachers and workers in grocery stores and other businesses providing essential services during the pandemic? What about the older old — people over 75? Yes, journalists are considered essential, and I also am a teacher at the college level. But equally important to me, I haven't seen my grandson and his parents in California for more than a year — half his life — and l long to get on a plane to visit. And I do fit the new criteria for vaccines, people 65 and older. So I was all in. The city started offering appointments to the over-65 crowd Monday. I called up the website, filled in the questionnaire and looked for a location. The site closest to my home had no times available so I widened my search, finally choosing a senior centre about 3 miles away. Later, I checked my neighbourhood listserv. It was filled with complaints from residents who found the whole process unwieldy and were furious that all the available appointments had been booked. A D.C. council member acknowledged that “the rollout came with a significant number of frustrations and challenges" but said there would be other opportunities for seniors to get the vaccine. It's an issue of supply and demand. There are just under 85,000 D.C. residents 65 and older who qualify for shots, but only 6,700 appointments were available the first week. I was one of the lucky ones. It was cold, but the length of the line at the wellness centre didn't bother me. I was grateful that we were outside for much of the wait, and that people were voluntarily self-distancing. That was enforced once we moved inside. Everyone wore a mask. Some people who were visibly frail were moved to front of the line. No one complained. And while I waited, I worked. In a bit of irony, that meant consulting with a colleague on a story about the Trump administration's push to expand vaccination to more people, including those over 65. The District of Columbia, it turns out, was ahead of the curve. Ninety minutes after I arrived, I was given the Moderna vaccine, administered by a Safeway pharmacy manager brought in from Rehoboth, Delaware. After we talked about her hometown — a favourite beach vacation spot for my family — and other vaccinations I might need, she told me how to sign up for the second dose. Then I was sent to wait in another room to make sure I didn't have a serious allergic reaction to the shot. I didn't. I get my second dose Feb. 10. I've already started thinking about booking that flight to California. There's only one negative — now everyone knows my age. ___ Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow Washington-based AP news editor Carole Feldman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaroleFeldman Carole Feldman, The Associated Press