WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
It’s that time of the year again for the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Fire Department: they’re set to host their annual recruitment campaign this February to hire part-time firefighters. The department’s recruitment officer says they’re doing everything they can to bring in and train new members in spite of unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses. Starting Feb. 1 going until Feb. 26, the department plans to go through all applications for the job online, host interviews and begin each member’s required 160 hours of training. “We are taking every measure possible to make sure that everybody that shows up on a regular basis is safe,” said Paul Calleja, the department’s training and suppression officer. “We have, I think, an optical responsibility to the public that we are doing things responsibly.” A communiqué from the Office of the Fire Marshal exempts fire departments from standard social gathering protocols during training, effective Oct. 19. Calleja said their department is trying to adhere as close as possible to the normal guidelines throughout recruitment. This year, instead of an in-person meeting, complete with a tour of the firehall, people will participate in a virtual information session on Jan. 28 and submit applications online. “It is what it is,” he said. In lieu of traditional meeting and networking, Calleja said he’s glad to chat with recruits personally over the phone throughout the campaign. He said he doesn’t have a specific goal for recruitment this year, as the numbers of new recruits fluctuates from 75 to 110 across the years. “We’ll run a recruit class with one person, if that’s all that shows up,” he said. The department is hiring part-time members who work an average of 200 hours a year. “A part-time firefighter is no different than a career firefighter,” he said. Part-timers aren’t stationed at a fire hall: they wear a pager and are called to scenes when there’s an emergency. “We do the same job: suppression, rescue, hazardous materials, public education.” Gary Monaham, the department’s deputy fire chief, said they haven’t seen a consistent increase in calls for service from the fire department since the pandemic began which would require them to recruit more members. “Back in March, when they first announced it, our medical calls dropped dramatically. Nobody wanted to call EMS. By the summer time, medical calls started going high again,” he said. “It’s up and down.” Monaham said calls have dropped “dramatically” in the last three weeks since the lockdown began. Calleja said it can be difficult to recruit people from lower-population communities in Lake of Bays: part-timers are “stationed” in their own communities. “It’s easier to find bodies in Huntsville than it is to find them in Dwight,” he said. With this challenge in mind, Calleja said they look to emphasize the benefits to joining the crew: an hourly wage, a compensation and insurance package, the opportunity to learn new life skills and a foot in the door to a new career in firefighting. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Local police and town authorities are warning the public about the dangers of thin ice after four teens fell into a pond on the weekend. The incident happened on a pond at the Vollmer Culture and Recreation Complex on Sunday, just after 2 p.m. Police said the teens went out to play hockey, but shortly after getting on the ice, it broke apart. One of the group members ended up under the water, according to Const. Terry Seguin. "They were all scared," he said. "You're just getting ready to go out and have a little fun and you don't expect the ice to give way underneath you." Police say a parent who was standing on shore called 911, and paramedics assessed the teens for any injuries or hypothermia. The group member who was submerged was sent to hospital for further assessment. Seguin said people should never go out on ice without first telling someone where they'll be. Having that parent on shore gave the teens a chance to contact emergency services immediately, rather than if or when they managed to scramble out of the water. 'It is very, very terrifying' Ice needs to be at least 10 centimetres thick to be considered safe, said Seguin. Thickness can also vary in different places and it can be difficult to know just how much ice there is without chopping a hole to be sure, he added. Regardless, police say it hasn't been cold enough — for long enough — for any ice to be safe. "It takes a good two, three weeks for sure, at least, of sub-zero temperatures, to develop a thickness of ice that can be considered safe," Seguin explained. Lakeshore is also cautioning residents to stay off of ice in the municipality. Mayor Tom Bain said in a news release that retention ponds in the municipality are not safe for skating. The news release added that several of the ponds in the area have pumps that are set to automatically turn on and off depending on conditions in Lakeshore's drainage system. As a result, ice on the ponds doesn't get very thick. For his part, Seguin said a fall into freezing water decades ago taught him just how much of a shock it can be. "I can speak from experience. It ... instantaneously takes your breath away and it is very, very terrifying," he said. "The key is, keep your wits about you and get out of the ice as quick as possible and get help as quick as you can."
After arguments between residents who lived near Meadowcrest beach erupted in the later summer, McDougall’s council has decided that boats will not be permitted to launch from that location. At the previous meeting in December, Leduc brought forward three recommendations to council on how to remedy the situation at the small beach. The first option was to operate the beach the same as before the pandemic, with the launching of small boats limited to a vessel that a person can carry to the water. Option two was to operate the beach with the added restriction of no vessel launching of any kind, and the third option was to allow people to launch small boats or vessels on trailers only from ice out until May 31 and then again from Sept. 15 to the time the lake ices. Here are some quotes from the council meeting regarding the decision: “This isn’t a resolution, it’s just direction to staff; currently it is established as a beach and I spoke at the previous meeting about leaving it as a beach and my position hasn’t changed on that,” said Mayor Dale Robinson. “Are there any other spots on Portage Lake where it’s possible to look at for future boat ramps?” asked Coun. Joe Ryman. “The spot at Portage Creek right now is municipal property; there is no dock there currently, so there really is no encumbrance for us to put a dock there if we needed to, as it is our property,” said parks and recreation director Brian Leduc. At the Jan. 20 council meeting, three councillors and the mayor voted in favour of the beach remaining simply a beach. 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
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” by Joan Didion (Alfred A. Knopf) Back in 1968, Joan Didion identified a problem with the mainstream media. “The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain, very probably by an Associated Press wire …,” she begins in an essay that goes on to criticize traditional news outlets, including the wire service carrying this review, for pretending that there is such a thing as neutral, unbiased, objective reporting. That article, “Alicia and the Underground Press,” was a snarky ode to alternative newspapers in the 1960s like the East Village Other and Berkeley Barb that might have been “amateurish and badly written” but at least had the virtue of speaking directly to their readers, and speaking to them as friends. Some 50 years later, in a media landscape dominated by players who present “alternative facts” with a straight face, and consumers who get their news through platforms tailored to their specific interests, Didion’s critique seems more prescient than ever. The essay is one of 12 she wrote between 1968 and 2000 that have been collected in a new volume, “Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” sure to be of interest to Didion completists and fans of such cultural touchstones as “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking.” Others haven’t aged as well. Another piece from 1968, about Gamblers Anonymous, quotes the people at a meeting in ungrammatical English, speaking “as if from some subverbal swamp.” In “A Trip to Xanadu,” she sneers at tourists at the Hearst Castle in their “slacks and straw hats and hair rollers.” But when she punches up instead of down, the results can be devastating, as in her portrait from the same year of Nancy Reagan, then the wife of the California governor, portrayed as a media-savvy control freak and distant mother to her then 10-year-old son. Similarly, her 2000 profile of Martha Stewart captures what most observers missed at the time — that Martha wasn’t selling homemaking, she was selling success. The best of the bunch have to do with the subject Didion, 86, knows and cares about most — being a writer. In essays like “Why I Write,” whose title she borrowed from George Orwell, “Telling Stories” and “Last Words,” she makes it clear why she has been an essential voice in American arts and letters for more than half a century. Ann Levin, The Associated Press
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials indicating it is safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm. State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus. Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland. “It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.” Yuan Zeng, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, said the government’s stories spread so widely that even well-educated Chinese friends have asked her whether they might be true. Inflaming doubts and spreading conspiracy theories might add to public health risks as governments try to dispel unease about vaccines, she said, saying, “That is super, super dangerous.” In the latest volley, state media called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly people in Norway after they received the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor at CGTN, the English-language station of state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news. Health experts say deaths unrelated to the vaccine are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributory role” in the Norway deaths. The state media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine lower than previously announced. Researchers initially said Sinovac’s vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised that to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases. After the Brazil news, researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think-tank , reported seeing an increase in Chinese media disinformation about vaccines. Dozens of online articles on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine at length, drawing on an op-ed published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about its clinical trial data. “It’s very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to raise doubts about the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said. Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy in voicing concerns about the mRNA vaccines developed by Western drug companies. They use a newer technology than the more traditional approach of the Chinese vaccines currently in use. In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he can’t rule out negative side effects from the mRNA vaccines. Noting this is the first time they are being given to healthy people, he said, “there are safety concerns.” The Pfizer mRNA vaccine and another one developed by Moderna have passed both animal and human trials in which they were tested on more than 70,000 people. The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly in the beginning, even reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public. The visiting researchers will begin field work this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine. The Communist Party sees the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The party wants to “distract domestic and international audiences by pre-emptively distorting the narrative on where responsibility lies for the emergence of COVID-19,” Wallis said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by reviving earlier Chinese calls for a WHO investigation of the U.S. military lab. State media have referenced past scandals at the lab, but China has given no reliable evidence to support the coronavirus theory. “If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua said. Her comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. China isn’t the only government to point fingers. Former U.S. President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his government’s handling of the pandemic, said last year he had seen evidence the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts think it is unlikely. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — A 38-year-old man has been charged in connection with the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 16 in Niagara Region.Police say they launched the investigation last July and made the arrest on Friday.The suspect, a man from Niagara Falls, Ont., is charged with one count each of sexual assault and sexual interference.He's being held in custody and expected to appear in court at a later date.Police are asking anyone with information to come forward. The Canadian Press
Sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers melting 60 per cent faster than in the 1990s
VANCOUVER — A weekend of Environment Canada warnings about snow over the south coast of British Columbia produced very little of the white stuff and all warnings except the one covering Metro Vancouver have now been lifted. But the weather office says up to five centimetres of snow is still likely for higher elevations of North and West Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge. Other areas of the Lower Mainland can expected to see rain or occasional sleet through the day, but little or no snow on the ground. Environment Canada had been calling for as much as 15 centimetres in some south coast regions by Monday morning. Parts of eastern Vancouver Island, higher areas of Greater Vancouver and the eastern Fraser Valley reported modest accumulations over the weekend. Snow also covered highways leading into the southern Interior early Monday, but no warnings or advisories were posted. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Italian consumer association Altroconsumo said on Monday it had told Apple it has launched a class action against the U.S. tech giant for the practice of planned obsolescence. In a statement Altroconsumo said it was asking for damages of 60 million euros ($73 million) on behalf of Italian consumers tricked by the practice which had also been recognised by Italian authorities. Altroconsumo said the lawsuit covers owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus, sales of which in Italy totalled some 1 million phones between 2014 and 2020.
WASHINGTON — Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit on Monday against Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who led the former president's efforts to spread baseless claims about the 2020 election. The lawsuit seeks more than $1.3 billion in damages for the voting machine company, a target for conservatives who made up wild claims about the company, blaming it for Trump's loss and alleging without evidence that its systems were easily manipulated. Dominion is one of the nation's top voting machine companies and provided machines for the state of Georgia, the critical battleground that Biden won and which flipped control of the U.S. Senate. The company faced such a mountain of threats and criticism that one of its top executives went into hiding. The suit is based on statements Giuliani made on Twitter, in conservative media and during legislative hearings where the former mayor of New York claimed the voting machine company conspired to flip votes to President Joe Biden. Dominion's lawsuit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, is among the first major signs of fallout for the former president's allies and the failed effort to subvert the 2020 election that ended with a Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that claimed the election had been stolen. “For Dominion — whose business is producing and providing voting systems for elections — there are no accusations that could do more to damage Dominion’s business or to impugn Dominion’s integrity, ethics, honesty, and financial integrity,” the lawsuit says. “Giuliani’s statements were calculated to — and did in fact — provoke outrage and cause Dominion enormous harm.” There was no widespread fraud in the election, which a range of election officials across the country including Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Biden’s victory, also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices. “Dominion brings this action to set the record straight, to vindicate the company’s rights under civil law, to recover compensatory and punitive damages, and to stand up for itself, its employees, and the electoral process,” the lawsuit read. Giuliani did not respond to a reporter's message seeking comment. During an episode of Giuliani’s podcast, he charged that “Dominion had stolen the election ‘technologically,’” the lawsuit alleges, and warned listeners that cybercriminals could steal the titles to their homes online. The lawsuit also details Giuliani pitching supplements to cure their achy joints and muscles, offering a special discount code as he held up the bottles. The lawsuit also includes a photo of Giuliani holding a cigar, hocking cigars with a deal for $20 off orders over $100 after he pushed accusations about Dominion and falsely alleged that the election had been fixed by a Venezuelan company. The lawsuit argues that Giuliani worked in concert with Trump supporters and lawyers Sidney Powell, L. Lin Wood and conservative media outlets “determined to promote a false preconceived narrative about the 2020 election.” Dominion has also sued Powell, who claimed that the company was created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late leader Hugo Chavez and that it has the ability to switch votes. The lawsuit also alleges Giuliani’s false statements about Dominion and the election being “stolen” helped to perpetuate the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to vote to certify Biden as the winner of the election. “Having been deceived by Giuliani and his allies into thinking that they were not criminals — but patriots ‘Defend(ing) the Republic’ from Dominion and its co-conspirators — they then bragged about their involvement in the crime on social media,” the lawsuit states. ___ Associated Press Writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report. Colleen Long, The Associated Press
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6 Jan. 31: Composer Philip Glass is 84. Actor Stuart Margolin (“The Rockford Files”) is 81. Actor Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”) is 80. Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite is 77. Actor Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul,” ?Breaking Bad”) is 74. Actor Glynn Turman (“The Wire,” ?A Different World”) is 74. Singer Harry Wayne Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band is 70. Singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) of the Sex Pistols is 65. Actor Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace,” ?Murder One”) is 62. Actor Kelly Lynch is 62. Singer-guitarist Lloyd Cole is 60. Actor Paulette Braxton (“The Parkers,” ?In The House”) is 56. Bassist Al Jaworski of Jesus Jones is 55. Actor Minnie Driver is 51. Actor Portia de Rossi (“Arrested Development,” ?Ally McBeal”) is 48. Comedian Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live”) is 44. Actor Kerry Washington (“Scandal,” ?Ray”) is 44. Singer Justin Timberlake is 40. Actor Tyler Ritter (“The McCarthys”) is 36. Singer Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line is 34. Singer Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons is 34. Actor Joel Courtney (“Super 8,” “The Kissing Booth”) is 25. Feb. 1: Actor-comedian Garrett Morris is 84. Singer Don Everly of The Everly Brothers is 84. Bluegrass singer Del McCoury is 82. TV personality Joy Philbin is 80. Guitarist Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is 71. Blues musician Sonny Landreth is 70. Actor-writer-producer Billy Mumy (“Lost in Space”) is 67. Singer Exene Cervenka of X is 65. Actor Linus Roache (“Law and Order”) is 57. Actor Sherilyn Fenn (“Twin Peaks”) is 56. Singer Lisa Marie Presley is 53. Comedian Pauly Shore is 53. Actor Brian Krause (“Charmed”) is 52. Jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman is 52. Drummer Patrick Wilson of Weezer is 52. Actor Michael C. Hall (“Dexter,” ?Six Feet Under”) is 50. Rapper Big Boi of Outkast is 46. Musician Jason Isbell is 42. Singer Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT is 38. TV personality Lauren Conrad (“The Hills,” ?Laguna Beach”) is 35. Actor-singer Heather Morris (“Glee”) is 34. Singer Harry Styles (One Direction) is 27. Feb. 2: Comedian Tom Smothers is 84. Singer Graham Nash is 79. Actor Bo Hopkins (film’s “American Graffiti,” TV’s “Dynasty”) is 77. Singer Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers is 75. TV chef Ina Garten (“Barefoot Contessa”) is 73. Actor Jack McGee (“The McCarthys”) is 72. Actor Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) is 72. Bassist Ross Valory of Journey is 72. Model Christie Brinkley is 67. Actor Michael Talbott (“Miami Vice”) is 66. Actor Kim Zimmer (“Guiding Light”) is 66. Actor Michael T. Weiss (“The Pretender”) is 59. Comedian Adam Ferrara (“Rescue Me”) is 55. Bassist Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots is 55. Actor Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) is 51. Rapper T-Mo (Goodie Mob) is 49. Actor Marissa Jaret Winokur is 48. Actor Lori Beth Denberg (“The Steve Harvey Show”) is 45. Steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is 45. Singer Shakira is 44. Actor Rich Sommer (“Mad Men” Film: “The Devil Wears Prada”) is 43. Actor Zosia Mamet (“Girls”) is 33. Feb. 3: Actor Bridget Hanley (“Here Come The Brides,” ?Harper Valley P.T.A.”) is 80. Actor Blythe Danner is 78. Guitarist Dave Davies of The Kinks is 74. Singer Melanie is 74. Actor Morgan Fairchild is 71. Actor Pamela Franklin (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) is 71. Actor Nathan Lane is 65. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth is 65. Actor Thomas Calabro (“Melrose Place”) is 62. Drummer Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) is 62. Actor Michele Greene (“L.A. Law”) is 59. Country singer Matraca Berg is 57. Actor Maura Tierney (“ER,” ?NewsRadio”) is 56. Actor Warwick Davis (“Harry Potter” films, “Willow”) is 51. Actor Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”) is 50. Singer Daddy Yankee is 45. Actor Isla Fisher is 45. Singer Jessica Harp (The Wreckers) is 39. Actor Matthew Moy (“2 Broke Girls”) is 37. Rapper Sean Kingston is 31. Actor Brandon Micheal Hall (“God Friended Me”) is 28. Feb. 4: Actor Jerry Adler (“The Good Wife,” ?The Sopranos”) is 92. Actor Gary Conway (“Burke’s Law”) is 85. Drummer John Steel of The Animals is 80. Singer Florence LaRue of the Fifth Dimension is 79. Singer Alice Cooper is 73. Actor Michael Beck is 72. Actor Lisa Eichhorn is 69. Singer Tim Booth of James is 61. Country singer Clint Black is 59. Guitarist Noodles of The Offspring is 58. Country bassist Dave Buchanan of Yankee Grey is 55. Actor Gabrielle Anwar (“The Tudors”) is 51. “Daily Show” correspondent Rob Corddry is 50. Actor Michael Goorjian (“Party of Five”) is 50. TV personality Nicolle Wallace (“The View”) is 49. Bassist Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World is 46. Singer Natalie Imbruglia is 46. Rapper Cam’ron is 45. Singer Gavin DeGraw is 44. Singer Zoe Manville of Portugal. The Man is 37. Actor Ashley Thomas (“Salvation,” ?24: Legacy”) is 36. Actor Charlie Barnett (“Secrets and Lies,” ?Chicago Fire”) is 33. Actor Kyla Kenedy (“Speechless”) is 18. Feb. 5: Actor Stuart Damon is 84. Singer-songwriter Barrett Strong is 80. Actor David Selby (“Dark Shadows,” ?Falcon Crest”) is 80. Singer Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat and Tears) is 77. Actor Charlotte Rampling is 75. Actor Barbara Hershey is 73. Actor-director-comedian Christopher Guest is 73. Actor Tom Wilkinson (“Selma”) is 73. Actor-comedian Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) is 60. Actor Jennifer Jason Leigh is 59. Actor Laura Linney is 57. Bassist Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver (and Guns N’ Roses) is 57. Actor Chris Parnell is 54. Singer Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors is 54. Singer Bobby Brown is 52. Actor Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex,” ?Frost/Nixon,” ?Twilight” films) is 52. Actor David Chisum (“Black Box,” ?One Life to Live”) is 51. Country singer Sara Evans is 50. Country singer Tyler Farr is 37. Keyboardist Mark Shusterman of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is 36. Actor Darren Criss (“Glee”) is 34. Actor Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) is 34. Keyboardist Kyle Simmons of Bastille is 33. Actor Jeremy Sumpter (“Friday Night Lights,” ?Peter Pan”) is 32. Drummer Graham Sierota of Echosmith is 22. Feb. 6: Actor Mamie Van Doren is 90. Actor Mike Farrell is 82. NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 81. Actor Gayle Hunnicutt is 78. Singer Fabian is 78. Actor Michael Tucker (“L.A. Law”) is 76. Actor Jon Walmsley (“The Waltons”) is 65. Actor-director Robert Townsend (“The Parent ‘Hood”) is 64. Actor Kathy Najimy (“Veronica’s Closet,” ?King of the Hill”) is 64. Drummer Simon Phillips of Toto is 64. Actor Barry Miller (“Saturday Night Fever,” ?Fame”) is 63. Actor Megan Gallagher (“Millennium”) is 61. Country singer Richie McDonald of Lonestar is 59. Vocalist Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is 59. Singer Rick Astley is 55. Bassist Tim Brown of the Boo Radleys is 52. TV host Amy Robach (“Good Morning America”) is 48. Actor Josh Stewart (“Criminal Minds,” ?Third Watch”) is 44. Actor Ben Lawson (“Designated Survivor”) is 41. Actor Crystal Reed (“Teen Wolf”) is 36. Actor Anna Diop (“24: Legacy”) is 33. Singer Tinashe is 28. The Associated Press
La pandémie a des impacts sur la recherche, non seulement sur la façon de concilier le travail de terrain et les règles sanitaires, mais sur le rapport du chercheur avec l’objet étudié.
Le conseil de la MRC du Domaine-du-Roy a entériné un premier projet de partage de services. En partenariat avec les cinq municipalités, la MRC mettra en place un service de mise en commun de l’inspection municipale. Le partage des services fait partie des batailles que souhaite mener le préfet de la MRC du Domaine-du-Roy, Yanick Baillargeon. « On ne peut pas continuer comme ça sans rien faire, parce que les coûts augmentent et qu’on a de la difficulté à trouver de la main-d’oeuvre, dit-il. On doit essayer des partages de services, même si le changement dérange ». Plusieurs municipalités partagent déjà des services entre elles. C’est le cas avec le service des loisirs entre Chambord, Lac-Bouchette, Saint-François-de-Sales et Saint-André. Saint-Félicien et La Doré partagent aussi des services en lien avec l’eau potable. D’autres regroupements sont possibles, estime le préfet. « Les cinq municipalités du sud de la MRC (Chambord, Lac-Bouchette. Saint-François-de-Sales, Saint-André et Sainte-Hedwidge) se sont concertées pour mettre en place un service d’inspection commun et, comme la MRC a aussi des besoins, nous avons décidé de lancer un premier projet de regroupement de services », explique-t-il. Ainsi, le conseil de la MRC a entériné la mise en place d’un service d’inspection en bâtiment et en environnement pour 2021. « Je pense que ça va ouvrir la voie à d’autres regroupements, mais il faut commencer par un projet concret », remarque Yanick Baillargeon. 83 000 dollars pour le sentier Ouiatchouan Lors de la séance du conseil de la MRC, tenue la semaine dernière, les élus ont aussi accepté de céder l’aide financière confirmée par le ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur de 83 000 $ à la Corporation de gestion du sentier pédestre Ouiatchouan, gestionnaire du sentier et détentrice des droits de passage. Cette somme servira à la mise à niveau et à l’amélioration du sentier, ainsi qu’à la mise en oeuvre du projet « Sentier Ouiatchouan : L’aventure pour tous ! ». « Il y a quelques années, il n’y avait plus d’organisation pour s’occuper du sentier Ouiatchouan et la MRC avait fait des démarches pour développer le sentier, explique le préfet. Avec le renouvellement de l’implication bénévole et la mobilisation, on a pris la décision de céder les montants reçus pour développer le sentier à la Corporation. » Un sentier de quad entre La Doré et La Tuque La construction de la ligne de transmission Chamouchouane-Bout-de-l’Île a créé un réseau de sentiers en pleine forêt, et au lieu de les détruire comme il était prévu par Hydro-Québec, la MRC et la municipalité de La Doré comptent en faire un sentier de quad. Le conseil de la MRC a donc passé une résolution pour demander au ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs de permettre l’utilisation des ponts forestiers pour le tracé d’un sentier entre La Doré et le Relais 22, sur le territoire de La Tuque, à plus d’une centaine de kilomètres.Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
BERLIN — Austrian authorities stopped a man at Vienna airport as he tried to smuggle 74 protected chameleons from Africa into the country. They said in a statement Friday that a 56-year-old man, who was not further identified, had hidden the animals in socks and empty ice-cream boxes when he was caught at customs control in Vienna. He had travelled to Austria from Tanzania via Ethiopia. The chameleons were taken to the Austrian capital's Schoenbrunn Zoo, which said that three of the animals did not survive. All the animals were from the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania and ranged in age from 1 week old to adult animals. On the black market they would sell for for about 37,000 euros ($44,9700), officials said. The man who smuggled the animals into Austria has to pay a fine of up to 6,000 euros, the Austrian finance ministry said in a statement. The Associated Press
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 457 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 253 633 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 227 215 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 41 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 9 478. De ces 41 décès, 12 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 26 entre le 17 et le 22 janvier, 2 avant le 17 janvier et 1 à une date inconnue. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 56 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 1 327. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a augmenté de 3, pour un total actuel de 219. Les prélèvements réalisés le 22 janvier s'élèvent à 33 719, pour un total de 5 646 660. Au cours des 7 derniers jours (depuis le 16 janvier), ce sont 72 396 personnes qui ont été vaccinées, pour une moyenne quotidienne de 10 342 personnes vaccinées.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
L’annonce de la démission de Julie Payette représente une occasion de renouveler l’équipe dirigeante du bureau du gouverneur général « dans le but de répondre aux préoccupations concernant le milieu de travail que des employés ont soulevées », a déclaré le premier ministre. Prenant acte du départ de celle qu’il avait nommée en octobre 2017, le premier ministre, Justin Trudeau, s’est contenté d’indiquer que Mme Payette avait « rempli ses obligations de préserver la démocratie parlementaire et de servir les Canadiens. » « Tous les employés du gouvernement du Canada ont le droit de travailler dans un milieu sain et sécuritaire, et nous prendrons toujours cette question très au sérieux », a-t-il cependant reconnu, en référence au rapport confirmant les allégations de harcèlement en milieu de travail dont la représentante de la Reine Élisabeth II fait l’objet. Justin Trudeau a ajouté que le juge en chef de la Cour suprême du Canada, Richard Wagner, assurerait l’intérim. « Une recommandation concernant un remplaçant sera présentée à Sa Majesté la reine Élisabeth II et annoncée en temps voulu », a-t-il conclu. Une démission qui arrive « à point nommé » « Bien qu’aucune plainte officielle… n’ait été formulée au cours de ce mandat, ce qui aurait immédiatement déclenché une enquête détaillée comme le prescrivent la loi et les conventions collectives en vigueur, je prends toujours ces allégations très au sérieux », a assuré Julie Payette dans un communiqué, rappelant qu’elle a encouragé « à maintes reprises » les employés à participer à l’enquête sur le climat de travail à Rideau hall. La firme commise en septembre dernier pour faire la lumière sur des allégations de harcèlement à Rideau Hall a remis un rapport accablant au président du conseil privé de la Reine pour le Canada, Dominic Leblanc. Les allégations visaient principalement l’ancienne astronaute et sa secrétaire Assunta Di Lorenzo, démissionnaire. Dans un reportage diffusé sur le réseau de CBC, des agents et ex-employés de Rideau Hall avaient accusé ces deux personnalités d’avoir intimidé et humilié des membres du personnel. « Pour le bien de notre pays, pour l’intégrité de ma fonction vice-royale et de nos institutions démocratiques, je suis arrivée à la conclusion qu’un nouveau gouverneur général devrait être nommé, car, dit-elle, “les Canadiens méritent la stabilité en ces temps incertains”, a indiqué Mme Payette. Sur les raisons de sa démission, elle s’est contentée de constater que “des tensions sont apparues à Rideau Hall au cours des derniers mois”, s’est dite “désolée”, et a ensuite souligné une démission qui arrive “à point nommé” pour des raisons personnelles. “La santé de mon père s’est sérieusement détériorée ces dernières semaines et ma famille a besoin de mon aide”, a-t-elle précisé. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
After much discussion, the Township of McMurrich/Monteith will remain in the regional fire training program. The Township received 16 letters from residents on Jan. 18, relating to concerns of not entering into the shared fire training agreement. Here are some key quotes from the discussion: “My concern is that I will not be able to get my people trained anymore or be able to get them certified; as a result, I won’t have firefighters to meet what we need to do in our municipality,” said McMurrich/Monteith’s fire chief John Ross. “I do not have the manpower to take on a single-family dwelling, so the automatic aid has been a huge plus for us, along with everything else that comes with it: the training, the bulk purchasing … the collaboration with the other departments. Leaving just the training has such a huge fallout.” “The contract is the problem, not the trainer — I’ve never had a problem with the trainer so to be clear on that, it’s the contract,” said Coun. Alfred Bielke. “The only way I know we’re going to get the service we require is to enter into this agreement because, right now, we’re being told we can’t get the training. We don’t have the personnel to even fight a fire in our own township … we’re putting our people at risk, we’re putting their homes at risk and we’re putting lives at risk, so the only way to get this back is to rescind the motion we defeated and put it back on the table,” said Coun. Dan O’Halloran. “For the authors of our letters, and the people that are listening, this agreement (is) a prelude to the regional fire training and regional fire department …” said Coun. Lynn Zemnicky. “I just want people who are listening to realize that the previous council jumped on board to chip in on this equipment, (the) ice and fire rescue boats … they were thousands of dollars; one is housed in, I believe, Kearney and the other in Magnetawan. If you fall into Bear, Doe or Buck Lake, I hope you can stay treading water until it comes all the way from Magnetawan. That’s where your taxpayer money is sitting.” “Our stations are going to stay our own and be operated by our council and our fire chiefs. Purchases will still be done through our council and not through the region …” said Reeve Angela Freisen. “If we opt out of this, we’re losing the automatic aid and, as Chief Ross said, we don’t have enough personnel to handle our own fires, (and) we’re going to lose the benefit of group purchasing.” “I would like to see council agree to continue with the training and take an active part in the working out of the funding model over the (next three) years, but in the meantime, our fire department doesn’t suffer,” said Ross. McMurrich/Monteith council directed staff to notify the six municipalities participating in the regional firefighter training agreement that the following should be added to the draft agreement. The funding model will be discussed within three months of signing; the proposed allowance be submitted by invoice, not automatic payment, and all cost increases must be decided by unanimous vote of all the municipalities. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Structure and rhythm are important for Ayden Rana. The six-year-old is on the autism spectrum and requires a little extra help to complete his studies. When the winter break turned into an extended period away from the classroom, keeping most children and teachers at home, it presented a unique challenge for Ayden and his mother, Karen, who found herself playing the role of teacher, therapist, support worker and parent. “He was very receptive the first two days, I would say, to virtual learning because he got to see the teacher and the educational assistants,” Karen said. But the novelty quickly wore off. Studying became much harder. Learning became even more challenging than usual. Touch and sense are key to Ayden’s educational development, meaning the curiously flat, two-dimensional world of pixels on a screen, fell far short of meeting his needs. “The educational assistant realized his needs for tactile material — he’s not grasping the Chromebook — so she put together a binder with all the activities,” Karen explained. “All the math, English, all the subjects he would do at school, along with his puzzles, his timer [and] his favorite pens [are included].” The binder is carefully prepared by his educational assistant every week and left for Ayden to pick up, offering new material to make the best of a difficult situation. For some other students with special needs, learning at home — even with the extra work and resources — isn’t a possibility. As a result, despite the province-wide shutdown and stay-at-home-order, some are still physically in school. A few teachers are on hand, along with a small army of special education assistants. At the Peel District School Board, they are referred to as educational assistants (EAs) and a large number of the board’s 3,800 EAs are reporting for duty. At Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, where they are known as educational resource workers (ERWs) 40 school sites are open and staffed. A major issue for EAs working at PDSB is a lack of coordination and tracking by the board, Natacha Verdiel, president of OPSEU Local 2100, the union representing EAs at PDSB, explained to The Pointer. Unlike students and teachers who cohort together, EAs do not have to sign into classrooms and are not included in contact tracing efforts when an outbreak is declared. “An EA might cross cohorts 14 times on any given day,” she explained. “They might report to 12 different classrooms to provide support to high needs students. They’re now cross contaminating between students, that’s alarming, and no one knows they’ve been in that classroom.” As a result of their specific profiles, many children with special needs are unable to wear a mask. Some even find staff wearing them to be upsetting and can attempt to physically remove them. Depending on a child’s age, size and unique needs, such behaviour can be challenging. In some instances the desire to create normalcy can even lead to aggressive actions by some students. That’s why some personal protective measures to mitigate the risk of viral spread can’t be used. “Here’s what I don’t think the public understands: the students that are reporting to the physical building right now are students who cannot wear masks,” Verdiel said. “They are all unmasked, all of the students are unmasked. Most of them are extremely behavioral, they are our highest needs students in the system.” Verdiel described one situation where a particular student coughs, spits and sneezes as part of their behavioural profile. “The staff in there are covered in bodily fluids, all day long,” she said, lamenting the lack of effective personal protective equipment and how masks can act “as a target” for some students who attempt to remove them or strike the workers wearing them. For the parents of children with special needs, the role EAs, ERWs and the education system play can be nothing short of a miracle. Staff are able to look after children during the day, calm them and tend to their various behavioural and physical needs. “Some of our workers have phenomenal skills… some of them are outrageously amazing at what they can do,” Pam Bonferro, president of the Dufferin Peel Educational Resource Workers’ Association, told The Pointer. “They’re like pied pipers, they walk into a room and the students calm down.” Karen Rana agrees, describing Ayden’s EA as a rock. “He changed three classes [due to COVID-19 attendence variations], so you can imagine,” she said. “Three classes, three teachers, three sets of students, but with the same assistant. She has been the constant and it’s been very positive for Ayden.” The work of classroom assistants is often born of passion. As a vocation, many pursue the work out of a desire to help care for children and assist with their challenging development. “It’s not that they don't want to support the students that are there,” Verdiel added. “They want the Province to acknowledge that those who are reporting in person are unable to maintain any kind of physical distancing at all. Their job is very, very, very high risk in terms of exposure to bodily fluids.” Highlighting the fact the government is working hard during a crisis, but still missing key supports, Bonferro said ERWs and EAs are being inadvertently positioned in opposition to the very families they support. “What they have technically done is they have pitted the EAs against the parents,” she said. “They are taking the EAs voice away, if an EA speaks up, they’re going to be kind of vilified as the bad guy [in the] situation. So they are way beyond stressed and what’s really tearing them apart is: they have a conscience, they care about the kids they work with.” The Ministry of Education did not provide a response in time for publication. Despite working in the same space as teachers, classroom assistants have unique demands, detailed by the unions who represent them. Where teachers can safely distance from pupils, even in the same classroom, EAs and ERWs are unable to make the space. Their duties include helping students use the bathroom, feeding and, when needed, physically helping them to calm down. “The exposure level that a teacher has when they’re standing in front of a classroom teaching versus the exposure that an EA has when they’re being spat in the face or restraining a student [is significantly different],” Verdiel said. The unions have several specific asks of the Doug Ford government to improve the situation. They include pandemic pay, more robust PPE and rapid access to the vaccine. Under the Province’s current vaccination rollout, teachers and classroom assistants find themselves on the list at the same time. The second phase, which also includes older adults living in the community and several other key worker categories, could run as late as July, which risks some EAs and ERWs not being vaccinated until during the summer break. “The government has taken on the position that EAs are now essential workers; however, they are not being provided with the same level of pay or protection,” Verdiel said. “The NDP has long called for pandemic pay for all frontline workers, and believes educators should be included among the groups prioritized to get their vaccine,” NDP Education Critic Maritt Stiles told The Pointer. “Special education assistants, who are now working in classrooms with vulnerable people, should be vaccinated as soon as possible, when the vaccine becomes available.” PDSB provided a statement offering extensive instructions to EAs around wearing PPE. It did not address questions around contact tracing and EAs working in multiple classrooms. “Since returning from the winter break, all students and staff, including EAs, who have returned to in-person learning and working are required to follow the Active Daily Screening process,” a spokesperson told The Pointer. At DPCDSB, contact tracing does not appear to be an issue and ERWs are carefully monitored. “School principals maintain a record of any ERWs that are working in the school and should a positive COVID case be reported, any staff and students that worked with, or could be considered to be a close contact, would be identified for contact tracing,” Bruce Campbell, general manager of communications and community relations for the board, told The Pointer. As most schools remain closed and the majority of children learn at home, EAs and ERWs continue to show up for work feeling increasingly isolated and vulnerable. “Everybody is sympathetic, everybody understands,” Verdiel said. “Nobody is willing to do anything.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer