Check out this incredible drum cover of the classic song "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band. Enjoy!
Check out this incredible drum cover of the classic song "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band. Enjoy!
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
Stephen Fisher, a former constable with the Orangeville Police Service (OPS) has been found not guilty of the two charges alleged against him, relating to the disclosure of a video conversation between two OPS officers. Appearing in court via Zoom on Friday (Jan. 15) for the fifth day of his trial, Fisher was acquitted by Justice Shannon McPherson following final submissions by the defence and crown attorneys. “Mr. Fisher, it is not my normal practice to give judgment without reasons, but in this case I am going to find you not guilty of both counts currently, as alleged against you. My reasons will follow it sometime in the future,” said Justice McPherson. Fisher was charged by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in December of 2018, after an investigation was made into the release of a video which contained a conversation between manager officers, Const. Andy May and Staff. Sgt. Dave McLagan, reportedly discussing and harassing other employees. Fisher was charged with disclosure of private communication and breach of trust by a police officer. Fisher’s trial began on Jan. 11 and saw testimonies from OPS officers including former OPS Const. Andy May, OPP Sgt. Dave McLagan, Sgt. Steve Phillips, Const. James Giovanetti, Special Const. Rick Stevens, and Fisher himself. Defense attorney Pamela Machado started her final submission by saying an internal policy of the Orangeville Police mandated reporting workplace violence and harassment – either in or outside the workplace, on or off duty to a direct supervisor. Machado noted that the policy did not account for what an officer must do when they can’t report up the chain of command. Machado argued that numerous conflicts of interest, made it so Fisher could not report up the chain of command, as per OPS policy. Const. Giovanetti in his testimony said that there was little separation between frontline members and upper management at OPS which made it uncomfortable for people to bring complaints forward due to fear of reprisal. “The evidence has also demonstrated the long contentious history of the Orangeville Police Service,” said Machado. “The toxic work environment, the history of harassment by Andy May and the failure of the executive to act, all of which created a necessity for Steven Fisher to disclose this recording.” Throughout the trial it was established that Fisher found the video recording of Const. May and Staff Sgt. McLagan, discussing and allegedly harassing other employees on a computer in the OPS monitor room. A publication ban is currently in place for the video and information derived from it. Machado in her submission noted that other employees of OPS had in the past made submissions of harassment against OPS supervisors with no outcome. “One area that has been entirely absent from the Crown’s case, is whether the content of the video did in fact amount to harassment,” said Machado. In her argument against the breach of trust by a police officer Machado said: “He testified, he did not disclose this video to anyone other than a law enforcement officer. He did not therefore breach the standard responsibility and conduct demanded, in fact, I would submit it is the opposite, as the public demands accountability and transparency from police.” Crown attorney Katie Beaudoin in her submission argued that the conversation between May and McLagan was a private communication based on four factors. “All [factors] lead to the conclusion that both May and McLagan had an expectation of privacy and were engaged in a private communication,” said Beaudoin. Beaudoin also argued that Fisher went outside his purpose of assisting a harassment complaint, by disclosing the entirety of the 40 minute video and that he breached an oath of confidentiality. “The oath of confidentiality requires police officers not to disclose any information obtained in the course of their duties as a police officer, unless authorized or required by law,” said Beaudoin. “I submit Const. Fisher breached his oath of confidentiality by disclosing Orangeville Police property where it was not authorized or required by law.” Justice McPherson asked Beaudoin to explain her conclusion that Fisher had breached his oath, as he had disclosed the property to another police officer. “My submission is he gives it to a civilian who happens to be a special constable,” said Beaudoin. Justice McPherson, at the conclusion of the Crown’s submissions, ruled Fisher not guilty of both counts – disclosure of private communication and breach of trust by a police officer. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
When Tao Hipwell drove through Delta’s main thoroughfare, she felt the village’s strong energy, and yet, she knew it was one of those villages “that got lost to big-box stores.” She is seeking to change that by opening a wellness studio, purchasing and renovating the historic Jubilee Block building, with its 14-foot ceilings, large bay windows and hardwood floors. “It was becoming more derelict, so we decided to go ahead and purchase it in March 2019. We have an old farmhouse, so we know some things about renovations and restorations. My husband is a stonemason, but we’ve never tackled a big project. It was a steep learning curve, but it was fun, too,” Hipwell said. Hipwell is a doula, practices yoga and has taken wellness courses. Her mother is a massage therapist, with acupressure and reflexology training. “I come from a background of exposure to the benefits of those practices,” she said. When her family moved from Ottawa to Delta five years ago, Hipwell found it hard to find wellness studios in the area. She decided to open the studio “hoping to bring a more alternative, holistic understanding of health — physical, mental and spiritual to our small town. “Having a storefront and a place to actualize our vision of wellness is what we’re trying to do and embody here,” Hipwell said. As for the village’s reaction to a yoga studio, Hipwell said the response has been great. “It’s all been very positive. I was teaching yoga at the town hall, and I was getting 10 to 12 people per class three times a week. People are eager to get in touch with their health, (and) need to connect with their bodies,” she said. Fern and Fox Wellness studio was slated to open in December 2020, but had to postpone due to the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. “We’ve completed the commercial aspect. We are hoping to open (once restrictions are lifted),” she said. The studio will carry local, ethically sourced, handcrafted natural products for the home and body, according to the website. Yoga classes will be offered for seniors, kids, teens and men at $15 per adult, as well as reiki, hot stone, reflexology and readings (tea, tarot, palm and chakra). The Jubilee Block has five storefronts, and Hipwell owns the first two units, as well as the three residential apartment units on the second floor. The apartments have been gutted to its “bare bones,” according to Hipwell, and the second commercial unit, with a bakery, will open soon. On the practice of yoga, Hipwell has this to say: “Generating peace in itself gives you a broader understanding that we’re part of a much wider web. Yoga helps you understand that.” For more information, call 613-292-1564 or visit www.fernandfoxwellness.com. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
Vital, critical, indispensable, crucial and necessary … all words the Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health (MOH) is using to describe the province’s current stay-at-home order. “People ask the question, is it necessary? We're doing really well in Grey-Bruce. Yes, we're doing really well, but it is very necessary,” said Dr. Ian Arra, MOH for the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) during a virtual town hall event hosted by Bruce Power on Wednesday evening. “The Premier said it best, you can look at the regulations and all the complexity of it. But it is simple – just stay home,” Arra said. “When you do this, just remember it's painful but it is saving lives.” Arra is asking the public to look at the current order in a positive light, as it has alleviated the concern of individuals travelling into Grey County from other high-risk, red-zone areas. He said in December the health unit had placed a lot of focus on how individuals from neighbouring communities that were experiencing high COVID case numbers had been moving into the county. “All that planning and communication was not necessary anymore when the province issued the lockdown. It has definitely balanced that equation that would be increasing the risk in our area,” he said. According to Arra, case numbers in recent weeks have remained relatively favourable, despite the health unit seeing a surge in cases following the holidays. “I'm very proud of the community, proud to be part of this community, that the surge was not larger than what it was over the past few weeks,” Arra said, adding that the case numbers have now begun to taper down. “The past week has been averaging around three or four cases per day, which is a success,” he said. As of Jan. 20, there have been 657 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Grey and Bruce counties. Currently, there are 30 active cases and two individuals being hospitalized. According to Arra, early December is believed to have been the peak of the second wave of COVID in Grey-Bruce. However, Arra is asking the public to remain cognizant that the province has been seeing a large number of cases reported every day since the holiday. “We've seen 3,000 cases per day and they're going to translate into higher admission to the hospital, to the ICU, and unfortunately, in deaths,” he said. “People might say, well, in Grey-Bruce we have only two cases in the hospital. But, again, we're not on an island. And our [healthcare] system is built to support universality.” He explained that as the provincial healthcare system continues to be strained, the impacts will trickle down to other regions, adding that the province has already begun transferring patients between hospitals. “We need all of us to stay this course until the vaccine is in enough arms to make this pandemic nonexistent,” he said. “This is not going to end tomorrow. It's going to end in a few weeks and a few months and we need to stay the course.” Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
GENEVA — (asterisk)(asterisk) EMBARGOED TO 1700 GMT RELEASE(asterisk)(asterisk) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter spent a week in an induced coma after having heart surgery in December, his family said Thursday. The 84-year-old Blatter, who also tested positive for COVID-19 late last year, was well enough only this week to be moved out of intensive care at the hospital in Switzerland. “The doctors are satisfied with his condition. But there’s still a long way to go,” Blatter’s daughter, Corinne Blatter Andenmatten, said in an interview with Swiss media. "It was the hardest and saddest Christmas of my life.” Blatter has been under criminal investigation by Swiss federal prosecutors since 2015, and has not yet been told that FIFA filed a further criminal complaint against him last month, his daughter said in an interview circulated on behalf of the family. The latest case relates to FIFA financing the World Football Museum in Zurich. It was a pet project of Blatter that did not open until February 2016, after his presidency ended following the fallout from American and Swiss investigations of soccer officials. “He knows nothing about the museum complaint yet,” his daughter said. “And that is a good thing. He would just get unnecessarily agitated.” Asked about the stress of facing multiple legal cases and interviews with prosecutors, Blatter Andenmatten said “you can imagine that he has been under great pressure.” She spoke in detail about Blatter’s health for the first time ahead of a scheduled meeting next week in one of several civil and criminal cases between FIFA and its president from 1998-2015. Blatter had seemed to overcome his COVID-19 infection and expected his heart surgery to be routine. “But then everything became more complicated and dangerous,” his daughter said. “In total he spent over a week in an artificial coma and was no longer able to communicate. “He has earned the right to be able to enjoy the rest of life without constantly being torpedoed by his previous employer,” Blatter Andenmatten said, asking that “he should be granted what he needs on the path to, hopefully, a complete recovery: rest, time and relaxation.” ___ AP Sports Writer James Ellingworth in Düsseldorf, Germany, contributed to this report. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
A regional chief from the Assembly of First Nations says the practice of birth alerts may result in court action. “I have not out-ruled bringing forward a class action for all birth alerts that have been put in place, for the atrocities and the separation between mothers and children unnecessarily in the past,” said Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart. Hart was speaking at the AFN’S virtual gathering Jan. 19 to discuss An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. That Act came into law Jan. 1, 2020. Section 14 of the Act ends the practise of birth alerts. It states, in part, “To the extent that providing a prenatal service that promotes preventive care is consistent with what will likely be in the best interests of an Indigenous child after he or she is born, the provision of that service is to be given priority over other services in order to prevent the apprehension of the child at the time of the child’s birth.” Birth alerts, according to the Manitoba Department of Children and Families, “are used as a mechanism to notify hospitals and other child and family services (CFS) agencies of the need for further assessment before a newborn is discharged to the care of a parent who has been assessed as ‘high risk’. Under this practice, a CFS agency issues the birth alert and Manitoba Families is responsible for the distribution of the alert.” Manitoba stopped issuing birth alerts as of July 1, 2020, six months after the federal Act came into force, announcing the practise would be “replaced with preventative and community-based supports for families.” For Ontario, the call came even later. The Ontario Ministry of Children and Women’s Issues made the announcement on July 14, 2020 that it would eliminate the birth alerts effective Oct. 15, 2020. “It has been reported the practice of birth alerts disproportionately affects racialized and marginalized mothers and families,” the Ontario government said in a news release. Ending the use of birth alerts was a recommendation from both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the legacy of Indian residential schools, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “The birth alerts, in my respectful view as a law professor and someone who has worked in this field for a long time as a lawyer, they have never been legal in terms of taking your private information and pasting it into an entire healthcare system,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who also spoke at the AFN virtual conference. She called birth alerts “one of the most traumatic, toxic, harmful experiences” a mother could have with her newborn baby ripped away from her. Turpel-Lafond pointed out that that experience with the healthcare system followed the mother, who often times was reluctant to seek health care and when she did she experienced discrimination because the birth alert was on her file. “I do see for … Indigenous women, even by the time they’re grandparents, their kids have (been) brought up, they still feel they cannot access needed health care and they are treated disrespectfully in the health care system. That is discrimination, the stain of discrimination,” she said. Turpel-Lafond said she is aware of some provinces and territories claiming they are phasing out birth alerts, but have not as of yet, which she called “unconscionable.” Indiginews reported on Jan. 15 that British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon officially cancelled the practice of birth alerts in 2019, but Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Quebec continue the practice of birth alerts. Neither Hart nor Turpel-Lafond offered any suggestions for remedies should a class action go ahead. However, Turpel-Lafond said there has to be consequences “because harm has been done.” Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
If you have been shopping for a new or used car over the past few months, you prob-ably noticed that local dealerships are starting to look a little bare as their lots don’t have the same amount of inventory they had a year ago. A check with one dealership noted that they usually have around 150 units on the lot but had been reduced to around 20 .It is a two-fold problem. During a visit to a prominent dealer in the Orangeville area, it was explained that dealerships are having trouble getting new vehicles delivered to their lots. Disruptions in trans-portation due to the current pandemic means dealerships can’t get the inventory they need. On top of that, the recent province-wide lockdown has seen a drop in sales as custom-ers aren’t as willing to make appointments to visit a dealership. One sales person said, “It happened almost overnight. People just stopped coming in.” The shortage of vehicles has also impacted the used car market. With fewer people trad-ing in their old cars, there isn’t a lot of inven-tory on the pre-owned side of the dealership lots. “Used cars are going fast,” one salesperson said. “There’s not a lot of vehicles coming in. When we get a nice one it won’t be here long.” The latest concern in the auto industry is a shortage of parts that is causing delays in pro-duction. The parts shortage has affected pretty much every auto manufacture, not only in North America but around the world. In Brampton, the Chrysler plant has already seen temporary layoffs and also suspended operations at its plant in Mexico. The Alliston Honda plant has announced it will stop production on one of its lines during the week for January 25. The problem is a shortage of semiconductor microchips.After a slow down in production earlier in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, semiconductor manufacturers allocated more capacity to meet the soaring demand from consumer-electronics makers. Microchip makers favour consumer-electronics customers because their orders are larger than those of automakers. The annual smartphone market alone is more than 1 billion devices compared to fewer than 100 million for cars. The pandemic has resulted in an increase in sales in phones, game consoles, smart TVs and laptops, as people are spending more time at home. New cars are using more and more micro-chips in their vehicles to handle everything from navigation systems to traction control.Industry experts say the situation will most likely turn around in the next three months. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
CHICAGO — Elizabeth Shelby had her inauguration outfit planned weeks in advance: blue jeans, a Kamala Harris sweatshirt, a green coat, and pink Chuck Taylors as an homage to her sorority’s colours and Vice-President Harris’ signature shoe. And pearls, just like the ones Harris wore when she graduated from Howard University, was sworn into Congress, and was sworn in as the first woman, first Black and South Asian person, and first Alpha Kappa Alpha member to serve as vice-president. Shelby, a member of the Alpha Psi chapter of AKA, had hoped to wear her pearls at the inauguration in Washington, D.C. Instead, she donned them at home in Nashville, Tennessee. Following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, AKA, the oldest sorority of the historically Black fraternities and sororities that make up the Divine Nine, called off inauguration events and urged members to stay home. So countless AKA members celebrated the historic moment in their living rooms, on Twitter and on Zoom calls. “I wanted to help show Kamala that her sisters are behind her always,” Shelby said. “I wanted her to look out and see a sea of pink and green and know that this is her moment.” After the Capitol insurrection, Shelby cancelled her plane tickets and hotel reservation. The rioting robbed many AKAs of their feeling of safety at the inauguration and beyond, she said, and many members have been telling each other to stop wearing their letters in public for safety reasons. But Shelby said that didn't stop her from celebrating at a Zoom viewing party with her local graduate chapter. “I’m not going to let this take the joy out of this moment,” she said. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, joined AKA in 1986 at Howard University, one of the country’s oldest historically Black colleges and universities. When she accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in August, she thanked AKA, saying, “Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha.” Soon after, donations in increments of $19.08, marking the year, 1908, when the sorority was founded, started flowing in to a Biden-Harris campaign fundraising committee. Alpha Kappa Alpha declared on Twitter that Jan. 20 would be Soror Kamala D. Harris Day, and encouraged members to share photos of their celebrations with the hashtag #KamalaHarrisDay. Andrea Morgan, who became an AKA the same year Harris did, posted photos of her pink sweater and pearls on Twitter with the hashtag, which she told the AP “makes us feel closer together even when we're far apart." “If we were able to be there in person, I don’t think you’d be able to look anywhere without seeing pink and green,” said Genita Harris of the Delta Omega Omega chapter in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. "Now on social media, this is a showing of our solidarity, of our love and support for our soror.” She said group chats with her sorority sisters were “going bananas” during a historic moment for the sisterhood and for HBCUs. “It’s been the same story of white men for centuries," she said. “Now a new story is being written, and it’s our story.” AKA soror Josclynn Brandon booked her plane tickets to D.C. the day Biden announced Harris as his running mate in August. When the 2020 presidential election was called, CNN was playing on her phone on the dashboard of her car. She pulled over and cried. “I knew then that I was going to see Kamala Harris make history,” she said. “It confirmed that Black women and women of colour are so much more capable than some people believe us to be.” Brandon made plans to be in D.C. from Jan. 13-21 to celebrate the sorority’s Founders’ Day on Jan. 15, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration, all in the same city where AKA was founded. After the Jan. 6 insurrection, she, too, cancelled her trip. “It did rob me of my feeling of safety while going to D.C., and it robbed me of the moment of seeing a Black woman and sorority sister become VP right in front of me,” she said. “But it took away so much more than just me going to D.C. It takes away from this celebration and robs our incoming administration of the full celebration they deserved.” Brandon watched Harris' swearing-in from her home in Indianapolis while wearing a sweatshirt with a photo of Harris from college and the words, “The Vice-President is my sorority sister.” “I’m still going to celebrate,” she said. “I’m not going to let that group’s action take away this moment. I don’t want to let them win.” Shelby grew up hearing young Black boys say they wanted to be president after Barack Obama made history as the country’s first Black president. Now, she hopes Black girls will have those dreams too. “It’s a historic moment,” she said. “To see not only a woman but a woman of colour and member of the Divine Nine become vice-president is something I never even dreamed of happening as a little girl growing up in America.” “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” she continued. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It is such a joy to know that she is one of us, that she represents us. She is truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams.” — Fernando is a member of the Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christinetfern. Christine Fernando, The Associated Press
The Canadian Women’s Foundation has launched a new program, Safer + Stronger Grants, to provide financial support for organizations addressing and combating gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There’s a lot of research that shows that gender-based violence does increase in times of disaster and this is something that’s global and Canada of course is no exception to that rule,” said Andrea Gunraj, vice president of public engagement at Canadian Women’s Foundation. “We’ve been seeing that that increase in gender-based violence tends to be because folks might be more isolated, folks might have less access to services, maybe communities are struggling with the disaster response and therefore the response or the services available for gender-based violence are limited.” The Canadian Women’s Foundation launched the grant program back in December after receiving a $19.6 million investment from the Department of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE). The grant will provide organizations with funding for a number of activities and expenses such as crisis intervention, digital resources, staffing, operating cost and COVID-19 prevention. “It’s very open in terms of what organizations could say they need uniquely in their community and the whole idea is we want to make sure that organizations get what they need in this emergency period, to be able to meet those needs of their communities.” With the new grant Canadian Women’s Foundation said through that they will be particularly committed in advancing initiatives in rural, remote and Northern areas which can see increased risk with less available support. “Statistics Canada has found that women in rural areas really do experience the highest rates of violence of intimate partner abuse, and of course some groups within those rural areas experience higher rates as well,” said Gunraj. “We also see that there might be greater barriers for folks who are in rural and remote northern areas, which could be that the shelter is not available for them, if they want to find emergency shelter programs they may not be available in their areas, there may be issues with trying to get to the services because of the distance between and lack of affordable housing options, affordable transportation options,” explained Gunraj. “Resources may be scarce for them, there’s the isolation and the difficulty in leaving a violent situation is going to be more difficult in those areas.” During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic police calls for domestic disturbance increased through March and June. Women’s Shelter Canada reported that 52 percent of 266 shelters surveyed reported seeing clients experiencing more severe forms of violence. In a survey from Statistics Canada, released in April 2020, it showed that 1 in 10 women were very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home. Family Transition Place (FTP) a local organization that provides services for women and children back in July said at the peak of the first wave they initially saw a decrease in calls for help, but as restrictions lifted they saw numbers begin to rise again. With the second wave of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, Canadian Women’s Foundation says there is higher risk of intimate partner violence and that the emergency grant will help support stretched organizations. Deadlines to apply for the Safer + Stronger Grant are Feb. 1 and 15. For more information on the grant go to www.canadianwomen.org. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
Richmond city council will consider banning the use of rodenticides on city-owned property when it meets Monday. The item comes to council following discussion at a July 2020 general purposes committee meeting. According to provincial guidelines, anticoagulant rodenticides are permitted when all pesticide-free methods have been deemed unsuccessful at managing infestations. However, if used improperly, they can enter the food chain and poison non-target animals including insects, birds, squirrels and raccoons, as well as larger animals like coyotes, bobcats and raptors that might eat the contaminated rodents. Affected animals do not die right away, but become lethargic and/or erratic which allows for easier predation and may go on to contaminate other animals that eat the contaminated animals. As well, improper disposal of anticoagulants can contaminate local soil, surface and groundwater conditions. The proposed ban would last for one year, after which point there would be a staff report on its effectiveness. Staff are also recommending writing a letter to B.C.’s Ministry of Environment requesting a review on policies allowing for the retail sale of rodenticides. The plan is estimated to cost $97,000, but some of that funding can be taken from the funds previously allocated to Vancouver Coastal Health, which has overseen the city’s rodent control service but will cease to operate its contract after March 31. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Congress is moving quickly to install retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defence, brushing aside concerns about his retirement inside the seven-year window that safeguards civilian leadership of the military. The House is voting Thursday on a waiver that would exempt Austin from the seven-year rule. All signs point to quick action in the Senate after that, putting Austin on track to be confirmed as secretary by week's end. Austin, a 41-year veteran of the Army, has promised to surround himself with qualified civilians and include them in policy decisions. He said he has spent nearly his entire life committed to the principle of civilian control over the military. While the waiver is expected to be approved, the vote puts Democrats in an awkward position. Many of them opposed a similar waiver in 2017 for Jim Mattis, former President Donald Trump's first secretary of defence. Austin, who would be the first Black secretary of defence, said he understands why some have questioned the wisdom of putting a recently retired general in charge of the Defence Department. Much of his focus this week, including in his remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, has been on persuading members of Congress that although he has been out of uniform for less than five years, he sees himself as a civilian, not a general. Some aspects of his policy priorities are less clear. He emphasized on Tuesday that he will follow Biden’s lead in giving renewed attention to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. “I will quickly review the department’s contributions to coronavirus relief efforts, ensuring we are doing everything we can — and then some — to help distribute vaccines across the country and to vaccinate our troops and preserve readiness,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Under questioning by senators, Austin pledged to address white supremacy and violent extremism in the ranks of the military — problems that received relatively little public attention from his immediate predecessor, Mark Esper. Austin promised to “rid our ranks of racists,” and said he takes the problem personally. “The Defence Department’s job is to keep America safe from our enemies,” he said. “But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” Austin said he will insist that the leaders of every military service know that extremist behaviour in their ranks is unacceptable. “This is not something we can be passive on,” he said. “This is something I think we have to be active on, and we have to lean into it and make sure that we’re doing the right things to create the right climate.” He offered glimpses of other policy priorities, indicating that he embraces the view among many in Congress that China is the “pacing challenge,” or the leading national security problem for the U.S. The Middle East was the main focus for Austin during much of his 41-year Army career, particularly when he reached senior officer ranks. He served several tours of duty as a commander in Iraq, including as the top commander in 2010-11. An aspect of the defence secretary’s job that is unfamiliar to most who take the job is the far-flung and complex network of nuclear forces that are central to U.S. defence strategy. As a career Army officer, Austin had little reason to learn the intricacies of nuclear policy, since the Army has no nuclear weapons. He told his confirmation hearing that he would bone up on this topic before committing to any change in the nuclear policies set by the Trump administration, including its pursuit of nuclear modernization. Austin, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army. A year later he assumed command of Central Command, where he fashioned and began implementing a strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He describes himself as the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia, who will speak his mind to Congress and to Biden. Robert Burns And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best. While the discovery of insulin has saved the lives of millions of people afflicted with diabetes, it is not a cure. Diabetes continues to take the lives of Canadi-ans and the rate of dia-betes is alarming. One in three Canadians are living with, or are at risk of developing diabetes. Currently, youth around 20 years-old have a 50 per cent chance of being diagnose with Type 2 dia-betes in their lifetime. The current COVID-19 pandemic is hindering care for some people with diabetes and placing people with the disease at three-times higher risk of dying from the virus if contracted. Diabetes Canada is launching a new fund-raising and awareness campaign called, “We Can’t Wait Another 100 Years to End Diabetes.”“ The discovery of insu-lin in Canada ranks among the leading achievements of medical research,” said Laura Syron, President and CEO of Diabetes Canada. “Although insulin has enabled an incredible change in life expectancy and quality of life for millions of people around the world, it isn’t a cure. It is a treatment. More than ever, the millions of Canadians with or at risk of diabetes need our support. We can’t wait another 100 years and we hope Canadians will support us and help to end diabetes.” Beginning in January 2021, the year long campaign will recognize the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize-winning scientific achievement by Sir Frederick Banting, Charles Best, and fellow scientists and co-discoveres of insulin, JJR Macleod and James Collip. While celebrating the milestone, the campaign aims to remind Canadians about the serious and sometimes deadly consequences of the disease which can lead to other chronic illnesses includ-ing blindness, heart attack and stroke, amputation and kidney failure. Through the campaign, Diabetes Canada will engage in a national conversation about the disease. Although this is the anniversary of an incredible discovery, Diabetes Canada says “insulin is not enough. It is the starting line, not the finish line for diabetes.” New Tecumseth has a special connection to Sir Frederick Banting. He was born on a farm in Alliston in 1891 and attended high school in the Town before leaving to attend school at the University of Toronto.T he Banting Homestead Heritage Park preserves this historic site. Diabetes Canada was started by Charles Best in 1940, and is dedicated to supporting people living with diabetes. None Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Russia has ordered TikTok and other social networks to restrict online calls for nationwide protests in support of detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.View on euronews
Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) Chief Willie Sellars asked for continued co-operation while also being optimistic the community’s COVID-19 numbers among on-reserve members will begin to drop. From his home, with a picture of his late grandfather wearing goalie pads in the background, Chief Willie Sellars began his Jan. 20 community Facebook address on a sad note. “We have heavy hearts in the community today with the passing of another loved one,” Sellars said, confirming the passing of community member Michelle Wycotte. Wycotte’s death follows the recent passing of another WLFN member, Byron Louie. Her cause of death, as well as Louie’s, have not been released. As of 4 p.m. Jan 20, Sellars said 34 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed within the WLFN community of Sugar Cane. “Of those 34, the good news is 11 have now fully recovered and are completing their 14-day isolation,” he said. “That leaves 23 active cases in the community.” Sellars also provided an update on COVID-19 cases within the Cariboo Chilcotin region which does not include 100 Mile House and Quesnel. He said there are 156 active COVID-19 cases and that it was WLFN’s understanding Interior Health would be declaring a COVID-19 cluster within the Cariboo Chilcotin region later today (Jan. 20). “We encourage our membership, the community at large, not to panic or become anxious in light of the declaration,” Sellars said. “This declaration is being done with transparency in mind and will allow Interior Health to provide area-specific COVID-19 numbers and updates to the Williams Lake community.” A limited supply of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is anticipated to be distributed at the Elizabeth Grouse Gymnasium by the end of the week. While encouraged and optimistic the number of cases will drop by the end of the week at Sugar Cane, Sellars said it will be individuals’ actions that will prevent any spread. Three of six beds at two fully-furnished duplex units complete with groceries and supplies are available for self-isolation. “The greatest challenge our EOC team has faced to date is being a matter of self-isolation practices and ensuring individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 have the opportunity to isolate away from their family members who have tested negative,” Sellars said. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
Dufferin County Council is asking the Province to reassess the makeup of the conservation authority working group, launched by the Ontario government following the passing of Bill 229. During County Council’s meeting last Thursday (Jan. 14), Amaranth Deputy Mayor Chris Gerrits brought forward a motion requesting that the province revaluate the working group to allow for equal representation from municipalities and conservation authorities. “I found yesterday the list of appointees and I was disappointed to see that it’s primarily CAOs of conservation authorities, with only one representative out of 18 representing municipality,” said Gerrits. The Conservation Authority Working Group was established by the provincial government following the passing of Bill 229, which received Royal Assent on Dec. 8 and saw controversial changes to Schedule 6 of the Conservation Authorities Act (CAA). Prior to its passing, conservation authorities and municipalities said the legislation would limit conservation authorities and streamline the development process. Some revision and amendments were made such as allowing conservation authorities to issues stop orders while concerns such as the Minster of Natural Resources and Forestry having the ability to make decision on appeals and issuing permits without expertise from conservation authorities. Gerrits, speaking with the Free Press, explained his concerns with the majority of appointees on the working group being conservation authorities, with only one representative from municipalities. “My issue with is that it’s supposed to be a working group to sort of advise on proposed changes and the fact is that municipalities are the major source of funding for the Conservation Authority,” said Gerrits. “So the recommendations that come out of the working group have the potential to be adopted by the provincial government, with the implication being that any costs associated with improvements or enhancements or any additional scope, which I don’t think would happen, but it is possible – have direct impact on those municipalities because they’re responsible for those costs.” Discussing the motion, Mulmur Mayor Janet Horner questioned a change in the wording, to have additional municipal representation rather than equal, noting that she too believes that one municipal representative is not enough. With 18 members already part of the conservation authority working group, Gerrits did consider how the working could cause a higher number of group members, but chose to continue to the original working of the motion. With the passing of the motion it will also be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek, and Hassaan Basil, chair of the conservation authority working group. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
L’Auberge des Îles de Saint-Gédéon débutera dans les prochaines semaines les phases deux et trois de son projet de développement de condos. Le propriétaire de l’établissement, Éric Larouche, indique vouloir commencer ces phases en février prochain. Rappelons que le projet, évalué à 10 M$, a pour but de construire et vendre 40 unités de logement d’ici 2023. La première phase de ce projet est d’ailleurs déjà complétée. Ce sont ainsi huit condos qui ont été construits et vendus. Les investissements de la deuxième et de la troisième phase du projet sont évalués à 4 M$, selon ce qu’avance Éric Larouche. Chacune de ces deux phases permettra la construction de huit unités, pour un total de 16 condos. « L’objectif est de compléter ces phases d’ici cet été. Au minimum, on veut avoir fait la phase 2 qui comprend 8 unités, mais on aimerait faire les 16 condos », indique-t-il. Ski de fond Éric Larouche a par ailleurs lancé une idée sur sa page Facebook qui attire beaucoup d’intérêt, soit de mettre en place un réseau de sentiers de ski de fond dans le secteur de l’Auberge des Îles. « J’avais vu au départ une publication d’une personne disant rêver de voir des sentiers à Saint-Gédéon. J’ai donc relancé l’idée. De mon côté, ça fait 2 ans que je sensibilise les acteurs du secteur de Saint-Gédéon à ce sujet. Et avec la venue de la SÉPAQ dans le secteur, l’agrandissement de la Pointe-Taillon, ça fait en sorte qu’il faudrait développer un panier de services extérieurs. » Il y a donc actuellement des pourparlers entre les différents acteurs de Saint-Gédéon pour concrétiser le projet. Dans un monde idéal, Éric Larouche aimerait proposer les sentiers pour l’hiver 2021. Espace quatre saisons L’Auberge des Îles a également complété ses investissements pour son Espace quatre saisons. Les investissements, évalués à environ 2 M$, ont permis la création d’une piscine intérieure de 25m, des jeux d’eau intérieurs, un spa, un gym et une salle de jeux interactifs. Le tout avec une vue sur le lac Saint-Jean. De ce 2 M$, une partie a aussi été investie dans l’amélioration des chambres avec un changement du revêtement de plancher, de l’ameublement et la mise en place de portes automatiques et autres éléments techniques pour être conforme en cette période de crise sanitaire. Janick Emond, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris showcased American designers at their inauguration Wednesday, and Harris gave a nod to women's suffrage, Shirley Chisholm and her beloved sorority in pearls and purple. Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush also donned hues of purple. Harris has cited Chisholm, a Democrat from New York, as an inspiration for her career. Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black major-party candidate to run for U.S. president. Pearls had a strong fashion showing, in line with a social media campaign that had inauguration watchers donning strands in support and celebration of Harris. Nobody in attendance did them quite like Jennifer Lopez — from earrings to bracelets — as she sang “This Land is Your Land" in head-to-toe white Chanel. Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, wore a pearl necklace owned by Chisholm herself. It was a gift from Chisholm's goddaughter. “Because of Shirley Chisholm, I am,” Lee, who is Black, posted on Twitter. “Because of Shirley Chisholm, Vice-President Harris is.” The pearls Harris wore, by Wilfredo Rosado, were also a symbol of unity with her sisters in Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first African American Greek-letter sorority, said Rachel Torgerson, fashion features director for Cosmopolitan. The sorority's founders are referred to as the “Twenty Pearls.” Every new member receives a badge adorned with 20 pearls. Harris attended Howard University, one of the nation's historically Black colleges and universities. “There’s no doubt that every part of her look today celebrates who she is, where she came from and where she hopes to lead the country. Every piece was carefully considered and packed with meaning,” Torgerson said. Like Harris, Rosado is the child of immigrants. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders drew fashion praise on social media for his cozy, comfortable inauguration wear: His signature beige parka and a pair of knit patterned mittens. The look earned him his own inauguration Bobblehead to mark his viral fashion moment. It's now on pre-sale for $25 at the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum’s online store. Jill Biden wore an ocean blue wool tweed coat over a dress by American designer Alexandra O’Neill of the Markarian label. The new first lady's matching coat and dress included a velvet collar and cuffs on the coat, and a chiffon bodice and scalloped skirt on the dress. The neckline of the dress is embellished with Swarovski pearls and crystals. The same crystals adorn the coat. The outfit was handcrafted in New York City. Aides said Harris was dressed in Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson. Both are Black designers, Rogers from Louisiana and Hudson from South Carolina. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, wore a Ralph Lauren suit. Michelle Obama, a fashion icon, drew praise from fans on social media for her belted pantsuit in plum, also by Hudson. Joe Biden wore a navy blue suit and overcoat by Ralph Lauren. It was a change from Brooks Brothers, the oldest U.S. clothier at 202. The brand has outfitted 41 of the 46 American presidents, including Barack Obama during his inauguration in 2009. Brooks Brothers fell on hard financial times last year, when it filed for bankruptcy reorganization and announced a planned sale. Ralph Lauren has a history of nonpartisan dressing, including moments with Michelle Obama and outgoing first lady Melania Trump. Joe Biden wore Polo shirts, emblazoned with the label’s pony and polo player logo, to take both of his COVID-19 vaccinations on television. Véronique Hyland, fashion features director for Elle magazine, noted the wins for young American designers. “They chose a diverse group of talents — Christopher John Rogers, Pyer Moss’ Kerby Jean-Raymond, Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill and Jonathan Cohen — to be a part of this historic moment," she said. “It made for a meaningful statement at this particular time, when all small businesses, including fashion businesses, are in need of support and spotlighting.” Harris’ choice to wear pieces by Black designers “felt particularly significant in light of her triply historic title as the first female, Black and Asian American vice-president of our country,” Hyland added. As for the colour purple, it was a symbol of unity and bipartisanship. Republican Red and Democratic blue make purple. “If there’s a message to be taken from today’s inauguration fashion, it’s that those who attended are signalling faith in unity and bipartisanship, as well as restoring truth and trust,” Torgerson said. Hillary Clinton confirmed she wore “purple with a purpose,” telling The Associated Press: “I want to just send a bit of a symbolic message that we need to come together.” Lady Gaga went for red and let her pin do the talking. She sang the national anthem in a lavish custom Schiaparelli gown designed by Daniel Roseberry with a full red skirt and a navy coat adorned with a humongous gold dove holding an olive branch. Garth Brooks went another way: country. He performed “Amazing Grace” holding his black cowboy hat and dressed in blue denim jeans paired with a black suit jacket and shirt. Another inauguration fashion star on Twitter was Nikolas Ajagu, the husband of Harris' niece, Meena Harris. Sharp-eyed sneakerheads noted his ultra-rare and pricey Air Dior Jordan 1 shoes. The Dior 1s, a collaboration between Dior and Jordan, debuted last year and retail for $2,000. They're reportedly going for up to $7,000 on some sneaker resell sites. Harris' stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, schooled some of the older folks in her embellished Shetland Miu Miu coat in a pied de poule pattern with a large brown button at the neck and a pointed collar. “To put it quite plainly, over the last four years we’ve been starved for fashion choices from the White House that are thoughtful and intentional for the sake of the greater good," said Nikki Ogunnaike, digital director for Harper’s Bazaar. ____ This story was first published on January 20, 2021. It was updated on January 21, 2021, to correct the fact that Meena Harris is Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, not her sister. Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
After months of mounting calls to remove police from the front-line response for people in mental health distress, the City of Toronto is proposing a pilot program that would see mobile crisis support teams dispatched to non-emergency calls in four communities with some of the highest rates of calls like this. If approved early next month, the pilot would allow for a "non-police led response for non-emergency, non-violent calls including those involving persons in crisis and for wellness checks," the city said in a news release. The project would be piloted in three areas of the city: northwest Toronto, northeast Toronto and Downtown East, while a fourth would serve Indigenous communities. The crisis teams themselves would be multidisciplinary, the city says, involving crisis workers with mental health and intervention training, as well as de-escalation, situational awareness and field training. The pilot would also provide follow-up care including case management, mental health counselling, substance use support and referrals to other services that may be required. Move follows multiple deaths of people in crisis at hands of police The proposal comes after a string of deaths of people in crisis at the hands of police across Canada. Those include 26-year-old D'Andre Campbell and 62-year-old Ejaz Choudhry in Brampton, 48-year-old Rodney Levi in New Brunswick and in Toronto, 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet, whose death in May 2020 saw thousands take to the streets to demand accountability and protest racism in policing. In the case of Korchinski-Paquet, Toronto police have said they were called after reports of an assault involving a knife. In the ensuing minutes, the 29-year-old fell to her death from her family's 24th-floor apartment building. The five officers involved were later cleared of wrongdoing by the province's special investigations unit. Korchinski-Paquet's relatives have said police were called because of a family conflict that left her in distress. Claudette Korchinski-Beals, her mother, has said she asked police to take her daughter to Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to get her help but that instead, she ended up dead. Given the city pilot project is geared only toward "non-emergency" and "non-violent" calls, it's unclear if the new measures would have changed anything for someone in a position like Korchinski-Paquet. Toronto has seen increase in 'person in crisis' calls Currently, Toronto's mobile mental health teams — consisting of a registered nurse and police officer — are mandated only to provide secondary responses. Police officers alone remain the first responders, particularly for calls involving a weapon. A report from the city manager this week notes Toronto police have seen a 32.4 per cent increase in "person in crisis" calls over the past five years. Out of the nearly one million calls officers respond to every year, about 30,000 are mental health calls, Toronto police have told CBC News. However, the report acknowledges, using law enforcement to respond to health-related issues "creates barriers and risks for many Torontonians, particularly Indigenous, Black, and equity-deserving communities." "Systemic discrimination in Toronto has negatively impacted how these communities experience community safety," it says. "Evidence of disproportionate use of force including deadly force, invasive searches, and greater surveillance on Indigenous, Black, and equity-deserving communities has impacted community trust and confidence in a police-led response for those experiencing a health crisis." In the release, Mayor John Tory called the project "a step in the direction" for residents experiencing "a non-violent crisis." The project will go to the city's executive committee for consideration on Jan. 27 and if approved, will be voted on by city council at the Feb. 2-3 meeting.
Health officials in the Canadian province of Ontario thought large, central clinics would be the most efficient way to get staff at long-term care homes vaccinated quickly, protecting elderly residents most at risk of severe COVID-19 and death. As it became clear that some staff could or would not travel to hospitals in large cities like Toronto, wary of the healthcare system or of the vaccines, officials have turned to new strategies, like bringing the shots directly to care homes. Improving the vaccination rate among staff at long-term care (LTC) homes is critical to limiting further deaths and outbreaks in these facilities, where experts recently forecast another 1,520 residents could die by Feb. 14, under worst-case conditions.
The municipality has brought in a contractor to strengthen the weaker sections on Fort Chipewyan’s winter road. The contractor has started working at the east and west ice crossings over the Des Rochers River. Crews are working daily to reopen the winter road by early February. The winter road plays a critical role in bringing fuel and other supplies to Fort Chipewyan. When the road opened on Dec. 31, the ice crossings could only support light vehicles weighing no more than 5,000 kilograms. Cargo and fuel trucks weigh at least 45,000 kilograms. Warm weather has kept the winter road closed since Jan. 13. Reopening the road depends on weather as crews continue to strengthen the ice crossings. Fort Chipewyan’s community leaders have had emergency plans in place since November in case weather conditions closed the winter road. In a Dec. 31 interview, Chief Peter Powder of the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) said the First Nation has enough fuel to get the community through to the end of February. “These aren’t the first time we’ve had these issues so we’ll get together as leaders and find a path forward,” said Powder. email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today