The Apple icon's youngest daughter is the California cool girl on everyone's radar.
The Apple icon's youngest daughter is the California cool girl on everyone's radar.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
A Kelowna, B.C., man is questioning why the ski trip he booked with several friends in Ontario to Sun Peaks Resort is being allowed to go ahead as pandemic numbers soar in other provinces and with the B.C. government advising that people avoid all non-essential travel into and within the province. Mark Wenn, a recent Ontario transplant to B.C., said for the past five years he and his wife have booked a ski holiday with a group of friends from Ontario to a different ski resort each year. Last fall, the group chose Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops for its March 2021 trip and made the booking with SkiCan, a travel agency in Ontario, Wenn said. Fast forward to 2021, with the situation with COVID-19 drastically changed since last September. Sun Peaks advises on its website that guests should "follow government recommendations and avoid non-essential travel within B.C. at this time." This month, Wenn reached out to the travel agency to see if he could cancel the booking. "With the travel restrictions and what is happening in Ontario with all the ski hills being shut down and trying to do the right thing, obviously, we don't want to travel to Sun Peaks. We want to remain in our bubble," he said. Wenn found out from the travel agent the trip was still going ahead as planned, and he and his wife would lose their deposits of $500 each, if they backed out, he said. More concerning than losing the deposit, Wenn said, is the issue of the travel agency sending people from Ontario to B.C. "It should be shut down," he said. "The message should be that there is no inter-provincial travel and there is no non-essential travel." The B.C. government strongly discourages non-essential travel both inter-provincially and from one region to another within the province. Last week, Premier John Horgan said the government was getting legal advice to determine whether an inter-provincial travel ban would be doable or even constitutional. 'It just doesn't make sense' Wenn said he thinks travel agencies and ski resorts have a moral duty to ensure their clients abide by the government's directives not to travel for a ski vacation at this time. "But yet, I can join a ski group ... leaving from Toronto with 20 other people and be welcomed at Sun Peaks in March? It just does not make sense," he said. Wenn said about half of his Ontario friends have also decided they won't be going on the ski holiday to B.C. The owner of SkiCan, Karen Nasmith, told CBC news her company warned its customers about the risks of booking a holiday during the pandemic and recommended they purchase travel insurance. She defended withholding deposits as a way to defray the cost of the work her staff does when arranging ski holidays. Nasmith said after bookings are made, the tickets belong to the clients and it is up to each individual whether they still choose to travel or not. 'We rely on people to make the right decision' Sun Peaks resort chief marketing officer Aidan Kelly said the company is advising people to follow provincial health guidelines, including avoiding non-essential travel — a message Sun Peaks displays prominently on its website. "At the end of the day, we rely on people to make the right decision based on their own circumstances," he said. Sun Peaks has not taken the measures that Kelowna's Big White Resort has to keep people off the ski hill by proactively cancelling all out-of-region overnight bookings. "People have been cancelling on their own," Kelly said, adding he estimates 95 per cent of out-of-region guests have decided to follow the travel restriction and cancel or postpone their ski trips. With files from CBC's Daybreak Kamloops and Jenifer Norwell
Everyone wants a PET scanner, but not everyone knows what they do. In a nutshell, they pinpoint problem spots in a patient's body so a specialist can consider treatment options. While they are used for heart or neurological anomalies, they are most commonly used in seeking out cancerous tumours. Unlike a CT (computerized tomography) scanner, which uses X-rays to produce a 3-D image of the body, a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner detects tiny “particles” of light, or protons, that are emitted by a radioactive substance injected into the body. The substance used for PET scans emits positrons, which are no bigger than electrons. The amount of radiation is very low and safe. In fact, when they combine with electrons in the body, they are destroyed and give off the tiny specks of light that the machine picks up. The positrons injected are often attached to molecules of sugar called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). Why sugar? Because cancer cells are more aggressive and grow at a faster rate, consuming sugar in the process. The radioactive sugar tends to accumulate around these cells. The result is an eerie glow that shows up on the screen, and the intensity of that glow can even indicate how aggressive the cancer is. Often, a PET scan is done in conjunction with a CT scan and the two merged through computer software. This gives a better framework to pinpoint the glowing tumour. Similar to a PET scanner is a SPECT scanner (ingle-photon emission computerized tomography), except the isotopes used in this case emit gamma rays. Their purpose is to show how a patient's organs are working. They can show how blood flows to the heart and which areas of the brain are more active or less active. Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Hamilton’s public school board is asking the province for pandemic pay for educators supporting students learning in the city’s schools. “Educational assistants and teachers are providing direct care and in-person instruction for students who are not able to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols, such as wearing masks or physically distancing,” Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) chair Dawn Danko wrote in a Jan. 19 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. The letter calls on the Ontario government to administer an additional payment for education workers who have been “attending in-person at a physical school” in Hamilton — many since Jan. 4 — “in recognition of the elevated risk to staff performing the essential work of supporting students with significant special needs during the lockdown and remote period.” Temporary pandemic pay was initiated by the Ontario government last spring to provide financial support offered to “eligible front line and support workers,” including health-care and long-term-care staff. The program ended in mid-August. As of Jan. 14, there were approximately 330 staff supporting students learning in-person at public schools in Hamilton. On Jan. 15, the Catholic board told The Spectator that approximately 360 educators were working in schools. Chair Pat Daly said the Catholic board, through the Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), has advocated for “additional funding and support” since March, but pandemic pay isn’t something that has been requested. Susan Lucek, president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 527, which mainly represents educational assistants, said the HWDSB’s request is “a step in the right direction.” “We are happy that somebody is finally listening,” she said. But, Lucek said, pandemic pay isn’t enough to address members’ health and safety concerns. “Schools should be closed for everybody at this time,” Lucek said. “Everybody should be remote, even though it’s not ideal for parents, students or educators.” In an email to The Spectator, Daryl Jerome, president of the local bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), said the letter penned by Danko “was certainly welcomed.” “However, I would have hoped for more of an emphasis on just how unsafe our membership is when delivering curriculum to students who cannot social distance or wear masks and some who require hands-on supports,” he said, adding that approximately 80 members are currently working in schools. Not included in the request are principals, vice-principals, administrators and custodial staff. “They typically are a step removed, they’re not working directly with the students,” Danko told The Spectator. Danko said “it seemed that a focused request would likely be more successful.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
International students who are on a co-op work term don't have to wait for their permit to begin their job placements, according to a new policy released earlier this week by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Students can start working while their applications for their co-op work permit are being processed. This is a special permit that allows international students to complete all work components related to their academic degree, including co-op terms, internships, and practicum. It is a separate permit that students have to apply for, in addition to their study permit, with which students are authorized to complete non-academic-related work. Amy Braye, the manager of the International Education Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University, said students are now allowed to use the regular work hours allocation from their study permit for their co-op experience while they wait for approval for the special work permit. "Basically the regular work and the co-op work were always separate. And the government has said, listen, we're going to allow that students can use their regular work allotment for their co-op experience, if they want to, and if they can," said Braye. The new policy applies to students who are studying remotely in their home country as well. "In the past, if a student didn't have their co-op work permit, and they said, 'I'm living in China, but Nova Scotia Power wants to hire me, they are OK if I telecommute. Is that acceptable?' We would have advised that no, it's not acceptable," Braye said. But with the new policy, the answer is yes, she said. However, according to IRCC's website, it requires approval from both the institution and the employer. "Ultimately both the employer and the co-op program must be in agreement that the specific opportunity is suitable for remote work from outside of Canada and that the employer can support the student in their learning appropriately," said Janet Bryson, associate director of media relations and issues management at Dalhousie University. A standard study permit only grants students 20 hours per week of off-campus work experience. Students may work full-time off campus during an academic break. "It's still good for students. It means that they can work right towards their co-op, whereas before, they were just barred from working towards their co-op," Braye said. "It doesn't solve all of the problems, because they have to meet the co-op hours that they need." Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
WASHINGTON — Vice-President Kamala Harris broke the barrier that has kept men at the top ranks of American power for more than two centuries when she took the oath Wednesday to hold the nation's second-highest office. Hours after she was sworn in as the first female U.S. vice-president — and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent in the role — she cast the moment as one that embodied “American aspiration." “Even in dark times we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be," she said in brief remarks outside the Lincoln Memorial. “We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up." For Harris, the day was steeped in history and significance in more ways than one. She was escorted to the podium by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the officer who single-handedly took on a mob of Trump supporters as they tried to breach the Senate floor during the Capitol insurrection, and she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of colour on the court, on a Bible that once belonged to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She wore a deep purple dress and coat created by two emerging Black designers. Her rise is historic in any context, another moment when a stubborn boundary falls away, expanding the idea of what's possible in American politics. But it's particularly meaningful because Harris takes office at a moment when Americans are grappling over institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated Black and brown communities. Those close to Harris say she'll bring an important — and often missing — perspective to the debates on how to overcome the many hurdles facing the new administration. “In many folks' lifetimes, we experienced a segregated United States," said Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate and longtime Harris friend and mentee. “You will now have a Black woman who will walk into the White House not as a guest but as a second in command of the free world." Harris — the child of immigrants, a stepmother of two and the wife of a Jewish man — “carries an intersectional story of so many Americans who are never seen and heard." Later during the procession to the vice-presidential office building, she was led by her alma mater Howard University's marching band and walked while holding the hand of her grandniece and alongside her husband, stepchildren, sister, brother-in-law and nieces. She then quickly got to work, presiding as Senate president for the first time to swear in three new Democratic senators: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California, Harris' replacement. Harris, 56, moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first came to Washington as a senator from California, where she'd served as attorney general and as San Francisco's district attorney. She had expected to work with a White House run by Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump's victory quickly scrambled the nation's capital and set the stage for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars. Her own presidential bid fizzled, but her rise continued when President Joe Biden chose her as his running mate. Wednesday evening, she urged Americans to join Biden's call for “the courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good." With Trump absent from the inauguration, Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, took on the symbolic duty of escorting former Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, out of the Capitol. It's a gesture that would normally be performed by incoming and outgoing presidents. To celebrate the historic day, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the nation’s oldest sorority for Black women, which Harris joined at Howard University, declared Wednesday as Soror Kamala D. Harris Day. Members of the sorority watching the celebrations across the country were clad in pearls, as was Harris, and the sorority's pink and green colours. “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” said Elizabeth Shelby, a member of the sorority's Alpha Psi chapter, who watched from her home in Nashville, Tennessee. “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.” Biden, in his inaugural address, reflected on the 1913 march for women's suffrage the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, during which some marchers were heckled and attacked. “Today, we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice-President Kamala Harris. Don't tell me things can't change," Biden said. As vice-president, Harris will expand the definition of who gets to hold power in American politics, said Martha S. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and the author of “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All." People who want to understand Harris and connect with her will have to learn what it means to graduate from a historically Black college and university rather than an Ivy League school. They will have to understand Harris' traditions, like the Hindu celebration of Diwali, Jones said. “Folks are going to have to adapt to her rather than her adapting to them,” Jones said. Her election to the vice presidency should be just the beginning of putting Black women in leadership positions, Jones said, particularly after the role Black women played in organizing and turning out voters in the November election. “We will all learn what happens to the kind of capacities and insights of Black women in politics when those capacities and insights are permitted to lead,” Jones said. __ Ronayne reported from Sacramento, California. Associated Press journalist Christine Fernando in Chicago contributed. Kathleen Ronayne And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
SYDNEY — People travelling to Australia from most other countries will need to test negative for the coronavirus before they depart, as of Friday. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Thursday that he has signed orders that require international travellers to have a negative test within three days of leaving for Australia. All internationals passengers will also have to wear masks on their flights. New Zealand and a handful of Pacific Island countries are exempt from the new rules. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: Britain hits another record daily virus deaths. Ontario's leader asks Biden for 1 million vaccine shots due to Pfizer shortfall for Canada. India to start delivering Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to neighbouring countries. Expert panel says both China and the WHO should have acted faster to prevent the pandemic. Surging infections give Spain’s new emergency hospital in Madrid a chance for use. Italy ponders suing Pfizer for vaccine delays. __Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: TOKYO — Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. says it is using its refrigerator technology to develop special boxes for storing the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which must be kept at ultracold temperatures. The company said Thursday that samples will be ready in March, with a product to follow a month or two later. The box will use dry ice to maintain the temperature at the minus-70 degrees Celsius required for the Pfizer’s vaccine. It does not need to plug in. Japan’s government has deals with various drug companies, including one with Pfizer for enough vaccine to inoculate 72 million people this year. That is more than half the nation’s population. Japan is pushing a vaccine rollout after a surge in coronavirus cases, including a more than doubling of its pandemic death toll in the last three weeks to more than 4,600. ___ BEIJING — China is imposing some of its toughest travel restrictions yet as coronavirus cases surge in several northern provinces ahead of the Lunar New Year. Next month’s festival is the most important time of the year for family gatherings in China, and for many migrant workers it is often the only time they are able to return to their rural homes. This year, however, travellers must have a negative virus test within seven days of departure, and many local governments are ordering quarantines and other strict measures on travellers. A national health official had this message Wednesday for Chinese citizens: “Do not travel or have gatherings unless it’s necessary.” Officials are predicting Chinese will make 1.7 billion trips during the travel rush. That is down 40% from 2019. ___ MEXICO CITY — Mexico has had a second consecutive day of COVID-19 deaths surpassing 1,500. Officials reported 1,539 such deaths Wednesday, a day after 1,584 deaths were listed. There was also a near-record one-day rise in new virus cases of 20,548. Mexico has seen almost 1.69 million confirmed coronavirus infections and over 144,000 test-confirmed deaths related to COVID-19. With the country’s extremely low testing rate, official estimates suggest the real death toll is closer to 195,000. Mexico City is the current epicenter of the pandemic in the country, and 89% of the capital’s hospital beds are in use. For the nation as a whole, 61% of hospital beds are filled. ___ TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s surgeon general is urging the federal government to increase allotments of coronavirus vaccine to states like his where large concentrations of seniors face the greatest risk of illness and death from COVID-19. But Dr. Scott Rivkees added Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that Floridians will eventually get their turns at vaccination. In his words, “The message is this: We will get to you.” It will be many months before all Floridians can be vaccinated. With 21.5 million people, Florida is the country’s third most populous state, and the state has vaccinated at least 1.1 million people so far. Since the pandemic began, the state has recorded about 1.6 million coronavirus cases and had more than 24,500 deaths — 83% of them 65 or older. ___ O’FALLON, Mo. -- Missouri's governor says the state plans to have mass vaccination sites by the end of the month in an effort to get more protection against the coronavirus to more people. Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday that he will activate the National Guard to help with new vaccination sites in each of the nine Missouri State Highway Patrol regions. Specific dates and locations for the sites were not announced. Each will be capable of administering up to 2,500 doses per day. The state also plans to send “targeted vaccination teams” to St. Louis and Kansas City, where they will work with clergy to help get vaccinations to “vulnerable populations” in the two cities. State officials say at least 250,000 Missourians have been vaccinated so far. The state’s initial doses have been for people such as health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and those at high-risk of serious illness. ___ FRANKFORT, Ky — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is warning his state that although it is ramping up its vaccination effort, demand continues to outpace supply. He says that “the supply that we’re going to get next week is already 30,000 doses underneath our ability of what we can put in someone’s arm in just a seven-day span.” As of Wednesday, Kentucky has administered around 60% of doses designated for its state immunization program and roughly a third of doses in the Long Term Care Facilities Program. While Kentuckians age 70 and up are now eligible for the vaccine, many are having to wait for more appointments to become available due to the limited supply. ___ LONDON — An arthritis drug tried in patients with severe COVID-19 showed no benefit in a study that was stopped early because of safety concerns. The study was published Wednesday in the British journal The BMJ. The drug tocilizumab hadn’t been recommended outside a clinical trial, but some less rigorous research had suggested it could help. The study found more deaths in patients who received the drug. The deaths were attributed to COVID-19 related breathing problems or organ failure. The drug is sold by Switzerland-based Roche as Actemra and RoActemra for treating rheumatoid arthritis and some other diseases. It lowers inflammation by tamping down a protein called interleukin-6 that’s often found in excess in COVID-19 patients. The study involving 129 patients at nine hospitals in Brazil found no benefit for those who got the arthritis drug along with standard care. Two weeks later, 11 patients who received the drug had died, against two in the other half who didn’t. ___ ATLANTA — Judges say Georgia’s court system could take years to dig out of a backlog of jury trials delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton told lawmakers during hearings Wednesday that it could take one to two years to catch up. Superior Court Judge Wade Padgett estimated it could be more like three years. Under state law, Melton has been renewing a declaration of judicial emergency every 30 days, limiting what court cases can happen in person. He says he’s eager to resume jury trials as soon as possible. For a period late last year, Melton allowed some jury trials to go ahead. But Melton says rising infection rates forced another shutdown. ___ SACRAMENTO — California reported its second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths Wednesday but also a dip in hospitalizations below 20,000 for the first time since Dec. 27. The California Department of Public Health has reported the total of 694 new deaths is second to the record 708 reported on Jan. 8. Hospitalizations stood at 19,979. California officials are pinning their hopes on President Joe Biden as they struggle to obtain coronavirus vaccines to curb a coronavirus surge that has packed hospitals and morgues. Doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been arriving haphazardly as they make their way from the source to counties, cities and hospitals. ___ COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health has said a pharmacy responsible for distributing the coronavirus vaccine to Ohio nursing homes failed to document storage temperatures for leftover shots, resulting in 890 doses being wasted. The agency said on Wednesday that it suspended SpecialtyRx in Columbus from the distribution system and ordered it not to administer any of the wasted doses. Officials said SpecialtyRx received an initial 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine late last year for distribution to eight nursing homes and had 890 leftover. The state said the company failed to properly record the minimum and maximum refrigerator and freezer temperatures for the leftover doses each day during transportation. Department spokesperson Melanie Amato said the doses are considered wasted because the monitoring wasn’t done properly. An official with New Jersey-based SpecialtyRx said Wednesday she wasn’t aware of the problem but promised a company response. ___ NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he expects the state to exhaust its supply of vaccine available to people receiving their first dose within two or three days. “What’s clear now is we’re going to be going from week to week and you will see a constant pattern of basically running out, waiting for the next week’s allocation, and then starting up again,” the Democrat said. He urged health care facilities to be careful not to schedule appointments to give away vaccine they haven’t been allocated yet, “because we don’t know what we’re going to get next week and we don’t know where we’re going to distribute it next week.” ___ OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Wednesday that it is seeking volunteers to help at vaccination sites in the state. The department’s Medical Reserve Corps said Wednesday that both medical and non-medical volunteers are needed to give vaccinations, handle registration and other tasks. The volunteers work at points of dispensing sites at more than 50 locations in the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Oklahoma has administered 242,093 vaccinations, including 30,919 to people who have now received the required two doses of vaccine. The CDC reported the state has received 455,275 doses thus far. According to Johns Hopkins University, Oklahoma had the fourth highest number of new cases per capita in the nation Wednesday with 1,270 per 100,000 residents during the past two weeks. The health department reported 1,986 new cases Wednesday and 48 more deaths due to the virus. ___ TOPEKA, Kan. — The top health official in Kansas has told lawmakers that the state will likely see a small uptick in immediate supply of the COVID-19 vaccine with the change in presidential administrations. In a joint hearing Tuesday before Senate and House health panels, Dr. Lee Norman, head of the state health department, said he has been told the state will probably get a 1% or 2% increase in its vaccine supply in the short run. The federal government allocates vaccines to states based on population. Kansas, with its population of 3 million, receives 1% of the nation’s allocated vaccines, he said, adding that the state has at times been shorted as much as half of its anticipated supply. The state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout prioritizes health care workers and nursing homes in its first phase, which is almost complete. About a third of the state’s population will be covered in the second phase, which covers people ages 65 and older, those in congregate settings such as prisons, and high-contact critical workers. ___ MADRID — Spain’s government is resisting calls by regional health authorities to let them impose earlier curfews amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. Spain’s hospitals are filling up again after a third rise in infections since the start of the pandemic. Another 464 people were reported dead on Wednesday, increasing the confirmed death toll to 54,637. Some regions want the government to allow a change of the curfew to 8 p.m., instead of the current 10 p.m. allowed under a state of emergency. Health Minister Salvador Illa says the ministry would “evaluate” the request, even though he insisted it wasn’t needed because of current measures. Spain registered another 41,000 cases on Wednesday in the midst of rolling out its vaccination program. Despite the recent hiccups in the shipments the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Spain broke 1 million vaccines administered on Wednesday. Spain has 2.4 million confirmed cases, eighth in the world. It has registered more than 54,000 deaths, 10th globally. ___ The Associated Press
The number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in Fort Liard, N.W.T., now stands at six. That's according to a 9 p.m. news release from the territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola. Kandola says she's "cautiously optimistic" that the situation in that community is now under control. "However, we do still expect to see some more infections in the community in the coming days — and things can change very quickly." The release confirms no other cases were detected in the territory Wednesday, including in Yellowknife, where last week a case surfaced with no known origin. The news release again suggests that the positive wastewater signal detected in Hay River was linked to the Fort Liard cluster, and not to Hay River. A vaccination clinic planned in Fort Liard Thursday will go ahead as planned. It will run from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Information on who will get vaccinated and how will be available at the Fort Liard health centre Thursday morning. Additional clinics will run Friday and Saturday. The territory has now given out 1,893 vaccinations, according to the N.W.T. government.
Five of six cats abandoned in a remote area on Pigeon Lake Road at Short Drive south of Bobcaygeon have been found and brought to the Lakefield Animal Welfare Society. On Monday morning, a local farmer and Bell Canada worker named Ryan were able to round up three of the cats — one of which is pregnant — according to LAWS manager Janet Evans. To help find the other three cats, volunteers with Operation Catnip was contacted, she said. “They’re a local organization that does trap, neuter and release (of feral cats),” Evans said. On Tuesday morning, the organization was able to capture a grey cat and, in the evening, they were able to catch an orange one. They were still out looking for the sixth one on Wednesday. Four of the five cats were found in good physical condition. The fifth cat had a bit of frostbite on one of its ears, she said. “We took them to the vet this morning and as it turns out only one of them was pregnant,” Evans said. “They’re all between three months to just over a year. They all know each other because when we reunited them here at LAWS, they just kind of sniffed each other. There was no reaction.” She said she doesn’t believe the cats were strays. “Only because if you were to look at a cat that is actually a stray or a feral at this time of the year, they’ve grown really thick coats and they usually look a little worse for wear and that’s because they’re always worried about where their next meal’s coming from or who’s going to eat them,” Evans said. “So, visually there’s a difference between a cat that’s just been dumped and one that has been living out there for quite some time.” Because of the current pandemic, she said it’s been difficult for some people with pets. “If they lose their job or they get laid off due to COVID, then other things come first in some situations and that’s when decisions have to be made,” Evans said. There are a number of organizations in the Peterborough region unwanted pets can be brought to as opposed to being abandoned or sold on Kijiji, she said. “There’s the Kawartha Lakes Humane Society, ARC, which is a smaller rescue in Lakefield, there’s ourselves, LAWS, and there’s also the Peterborough Humane Society,” Evans said. “Please, please do reach out to an organization. At least this way if you contact a shelter, you’re going to be confident that they’ll get vetted and be placed in a loving home.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Souvent embauchés pour exercer un emploi de nuit, des milliers de travailleurs au statut migratoire précaire sont dans l’impossibilité d’obtenir une attestation de leur employeur pour justifier leurs déplacements entre 20 h et 5 h. Craignant d’être interceptés par la police, ce qui pourrait leur valoir une contravention, voire l’expulsion, ils sont contraints de quitter l’emploi qui leur permet de subvenir à leurs besoins et à ceux de leurs familles. Le couvre-feu a des conséquences lourdes pour des milliers de travailleurs de nuit œuvrant dans des domaines essentiels, comme l’entretien ménager et l’alimentation. Deux travailleurs mexicains nous ont confié l’état de leur situation. Les noms des travailleurs cités dans ce reportage ont été modifiés afin de protéger leur identité. Arrivée du Mexique avec un permis de travail temporaire en septembre 2019, Angela a travaillé comme femme de ménage dans un hôtel de Québec jusqu’en décembre 2020. L’industrie de l’hôtellerie ayant été durement touchée par la pandémie, son employeur n’a pas été en mesure de fournir une nouvelle évaluation de l’impact sur le marché du travail (EIMT), ce qui a entraîné le refus du renouvellement de son permis de travail. « Mon permis expiré, je suis tombée sans statut à la fin décembre », raconte la mère de trois enfants, venue au Québec en quête d’une meilleure rémunération pour pouvoir subvenir à leurs besoins. « J’ai pu trouver un emploi en entretien ménager de nuit dans un centre commercial à Lévis, mais j’ai dû le quitter début janvier en raison du couvre-feu. » Travaillant au noir, Angela se débrouille pour l’instant pour payer son loyer en faisant l’entretien ménager de bureaux quelques heures par soir. « J’arrive à 17 h, une fois que les gens sont partis. Toutefois, je dois repartir vers 19 h 40, pour réussir à attraper le bus qui me permet de rentrer chez moi juste avant 20 h. » Gagnant très peu d’argent en faisant trois heures de travail quotidien, elle nous confie devoir à tout prix trouver un autre emploi de jour pour pouvoir couvrir son loyer, payer les honoraires de l’avocat qu’elle a embauché pour l’aider à retrouver son statut migratoire et recommencer à envoyer de l’argent à ses enfants. « Je veux pouvoir offrir à mes enfants un meilleur avenir. Mon fils aîné est à la veille de commencer l’université. Il veut être médecin », raconte Angela, qui devra quitter le Québec si elle ne réussit pas à trouver un emploi de jour à temps plein d’ici quelques semaines. Sans statut depuis 2013 en raison du refus de sa demande d’asile, Omar travaille en assainissement dans un abattoir situé à l’extérieur de Montréal depuis quelques mois. N’ayant droit à aucune aide du gouvernement en raison de son statut, tout comme Angela, il dépend à 100 % des emplois au noir qu’il peut trouver çà et là pour couvrir ses dépenses et pouvoir envoyer de l’argent à ses enfants au Mexique chaque mois. Jusqu’à l’entrée en vigueur du couvre-feu, le résident de Villeray devait se rendre chaque soir à 22 h tapant à une station de métro dans l’est de la ville pour monter en voiture avec un de ses collègues qui l’emmenait au travail pour son quart de travail qui commençait à 23 h. Depuis le 8 janvier, il doit se rendre chez son collègue avant 20 h et attendre l’heure du départ assis près de la porte. « Je ne suis pas censé entrer chez lui, mais je n’ai pas d’autre choix si je veux me rendre au travail. Je dois briser une loi pour éviter de contrevenir à une autre », avoue le père de trois enfants, qui craint de tomber sur la police chaque fois qu’il est en déplacement vers son travail depuis le 8 janvier. « Mon collègue n’est pas à l’aise de m’accueillir chez lui, car il habite avec sa famille, et mon boss craint que je lui attire des ennuis si je me fais arrêter, car il m’embauche sans papiers. Alors, c’est ma dernière semaine de travail. » Juan devra recommencer sa recherche de travail dès samedi prochain. « J’ai toujours fait le travail que les autres ne veulent pas faire. Actuellement, je lave les machines et le plancher souillés de sang et d’excréments de porc, mais cela ne me dérange pas, pourvu que je puisse travailler pour nourrir mes enfants et payer l’avocat qui soumet ma demande de résidence permanente pour des raisons humanitaires », dit-il. « Depuis la première vague de COVID-19, le rôle clé des travailleurs sans statut dans notre société a été mis en évidence. Ils occupent souvent les emplois que la société n’arrive pas à pourvoir malgré les incitatifs financiers du gouvernement », explique Mostafa Henaway, organisateur communautaire au Centre de travailleurs et travailleuses immigrants. Il ajoute qu’il est nécessaire de remettre en question le rôle de la police dans la crise sanitaire actuelle. « En raison du couvre-feu, ces travailleurs doivent rester cachés dans l’ombre et perdre leurs revenus, n’ayant aucune garantie que la police ne vérifiera pas leur identité ou n’alertera pas l’Agence des services frontaliers du Canada. Nous devrions plutôt consacrer toutes ces ressources aux agences de santé publique ou à la santé et à la sécurité au travail », conclut-il.Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Washington– This is the verbatim executive order killing the Keystone XL pipeline, again, as signed by newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden within his first hour in the Oval Office: “Sec. 6. Revoking the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. (a) On March 29, 2019, the President granted to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. a Presidential permit (the “Permit”) to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada (the “Keystone XL pipeline”), subject to express conditions and potential revocation in the President’s sole discretion. The Permit is hereby revoked in accordance with Article 1(1) of the Permit. “(b) In 2015, following an exhaustive review, the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest. That analysis, in addition to concluding that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs. The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action. “(c) Climate change has had a growing effect on the U.S. economy, with climate-related costs increasing over the last 4 years. Extreme weather events and other climate-related effects have harmed the health, safety, and security of the American people and have increased the urgency for combatting climate change and accelerating the transition toward a clean energy economy. The world must be put on a sustainable climate pathway to protect Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts, and to create well-paying union jobs as part of the climate solution. “(d) The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest. The United States and the world face a climate crisis. That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement. Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever. The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is warning Regina city council there could be financial consequences if it restricts energy companies from sponsoring or advertising with the city. Council's executive committee voted Wednesday in favour of a motion that would ban fossil fuel producers and sellers from advertising or having sponsorship agreements for city operations. The motion must now go to the full city council for another vote. If approved, it would see non-renewable energy-based companies added to other types of firms or organizations that could compromise the city's reputation. Moe calls the motion passed by the executive committee "absurd" and thanked Mayor Sandra Masters and some other council members for voting against it. He says the motion is a hypocritical attack on the hardworking workers and employers that fuel Saskatchewan’s economy and fund important community initiatives through voluntary sponsorships. "Should this motion pass Regina City Council next week, our government will seriously consider the future of sponsorships to the City of Regina from provincial energy companies like SaskEnergy and SaskPower," Moe said Thursday in a release. "I would also note that the City of Regina receives about $29 million a year from the municipal surcharge on SaskPower bills and $4.3 million from the municipal surcharge on SaskEnergy bills. "If these Regina city councillors have such a strong aversion to accepting money from energy companies, I assume they will no longer want to receive these funds, which could instead be distributed to other Saskatchewan municipalities." The motion was brought forward by Coun. Daniel Leblanc, who said allowing such sponsorships implies acceptance, at the city level, of what the companies do. He said that contradicts council's moves to make Regina more environmentally sustainable. "We are concerned about the amount of carbon used in our city, I think it is similarly or more inconsistent for us to have buildings and parks named after fossil fuel corporations than it is to be named after a pack of smokes." LeBlanc said. (The Canadian Press, CTV) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 The Canadian Press
As the COVID-19 vaccine program rolls out across the province and country, polls indicate most Canadians intend to get immunized. For the minority who remain uncertain – safety and effectiveness are cited as primary concerns – we gathered the most common questions and turned to scientists, experts, and reputable sources for answers. Do vaccines work? Yes. Every year, vaccines prevent people around the world from contracting dozens of infectious diseases and their variants, including, polio, hepatitis, measles, tetanus, tuberculosis and others. According to the World Health Organization, over the past century, billions of vaccinations have been administered globally, preventing 2 to 3 million deaths annually. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are both about 95 per cent effective at preventing symptoms, serious illness, and the development of COVID-19. Seasonal influenza vaccines typically have between a 40 to 60 per cent effectiveness. “When someone receives a vaccine, it stimulates our own body's immune system to produce antibodies to that antigen, that protein,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The vaccine was developed so fast, is it safe? “The global community of scientists have collaborated in ways we never experienced before, with a single purpose in mind to develop a safe and effective vaccine for the world,” Henry said. “The greatest brains around the world were put to this process and to this task.” Each vaccine manufacturer had to demonstrate clear and substantial scientific and clinical evidence that the vaccines are safe, effective, and manufactured to the highest quality, she said. COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Dec. 10 indicated similar safety levels to other commonly administered virus vaccines. “Health Canada, and other regulators around the world, set the bar high to ensure that any vaccines that came out of this process met those standards, that they were safe, that they worked, and that they were quality vaccine,” Henry said. How long will I be immune after I get vaccinated? Immunity varies for different vaccines. Some provide immunity for years, some for a lifetime, and others, like influenza, for months. So far, the immunity levels have held steady for people who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines beginning with clinical trials last fall. “It's at least three to four months, which is good news,” said Henry. We won’t know the full length of immunity until more time passes. Can I still spread the virus after getting vaccinated? It’s not yet known whether people can shed virus after being immunized. Vaccines are effective tools against the spread of communicable disease. The COVID-19 vaccine will slow the spread of the virus by reducing the number of people who contract the disease and suffer severe illness, but it won’t eliminate the virus. “This disease appeared a year ago, and we've made so much progress in terms of knowledge about this disease in a year it is incredible,” said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, a pediatric infectious disease physician who holds the Canadian Research Chair in Infection Prevention at the University of Montreal and is also Chair of the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI). “So yes, there are things we don't know, and I think it is important to acknowledge we don't know. But I don't think that that should stop people from getting vaccinated.” Will I still have to wear a mask after I’ve been immunized? Yes. While the vaccine is about 95 per cent effective at preventing the development of COVID-19, it’s not yet known if a vaccinated person can, subsequently, be an asymptomatic spreader of the virus, just as it’s unknown whether a person can be reinfected after contracting COVID-19 naturally. “That's why, it's still really important that everybody continues to wear masks, to clean their hands regularly, to take those measures that we know prevent transmission to droplets between people,” said Henry. COVID-19 isn’t as serious as public health is saying – why don’t we just let the disease die out naturally? “The risk of complication and death is just too high to let it run its course,” said Quach-Thanh. In Canada, as of Jan. 20, more than 725,000 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 18,462 Canadians had died from the disease (including 1,004 people in B.C.) over the duration of the pandemic. Worldwide, more than 2 million people had died and more than 97 million had been diagnosed with COVID-19. By that date in the U.S., 24.4 million Americans had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 405,000 people had died of it. Virginia Commonwealth University researchers called the COVID-19 mortality rate in the U.S. ‘calamitous,’ comparing it to having 15 Airbus jetliners carrying 150 people crash every day. Will the government make vaccinations mandatory? Neither Federal, nor British Columbian government officials have suggested mandating vaccinations. According to a recent Ipsos poll for Global News, however, 64 per cent of Canadians support mandatory vaccination, while 72 per cent said they would get vaccinated as soon as they could, including 88 per cent of British Columbians polled. Are the vaccine side effects worse than the disease? In Canada, side effects so far have been similar to mild flu symptoms, sometimes intensifying after the second dose, Quach-Thanh said. Common side effects include pain at the site of injection, body chills, fatigue or feeling feverish. These indicate a healthy immune system response and tend to occur within one to three days of inoculation, resolving within hours or a few weeks, according to Health Canada. As of Jan. 20, almost 700,000 COVID-19 shots had been administered in Canada, including almost 98,125 in B.C. By the same date, more than 55 million COVID-19 vaccine shots had been administered worldwide, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. “If something happens, we will hear about it, because the company has to report it to Canada,” said Quach-Thanh. Pregnant women, people with severe autoimmune conditions such as cancer patients, and people who have previously had severe allergic reactions to vaccines should consult a health practitioner before getting vaccinated. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine? “There is absolutely no way you can get COVID-19 from the vaccine. It is not possible,” said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at University of California Davis Children’s Hospital in the school’s health bulletin. “None of the vaccines being developed use the live virus. There is nothing in the vaccine that could cause COVID-19.” Should I get vaccinated? “I think that if we are able to stop this pandemic, it will be due to the vaccine, otherwise, it will strain our lives like this for many, many, many years to come,” said Quach-Thanh. “The Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are very effective at preventing symptoms, especially severe symptoms, and preventing people from hospitalization and dying from COVID,” said Henry. For more information, visit: BCCDC.ca or Canada.ca Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
One of the wonders of the world was illuminated Wednesday night in tribute to a larger-than-life businessman from Six Nations of the Grand River. Niagara Falls glowed blue and green between 6 and 11 p.m. in honour of Ken Hill, a multimillionaire cigarette magnate who died Monday of undisclosed causes at his Miami home. He was 62. The falls are usually illuminated to celebrate days of significance and draw attention to worthy causes. Hill joins Canadian prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on the short list of individuals to be memorialized with a light show. In their application to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for this rare tribute, Hill’s family described him as “legendary, both on and off Six Nations” as the co-founder of cigarette manufacturer Grand River Enterprises, among dozens of business interests that employed thousands of people. Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati remembered Hill as “a strong advocate for Indigenous rights (and) a generous philanthropist.” Hill’s Jukasa Studios sponsored the 2020 Niagara Music Awards last October. “Kenny’s appreciation and love for music inspired him to build a world-class studio and sanctuary for artists and musicians to call home and produce lasting pieces of musical history,” the Ohsweken studio said in a statement. “Kenny was always excited to meet new artists and was delighted to come into the studio and listen to what was being created. He had an undeniable presence that was felt from the moment he walked into a room. That presence will be sadly missed.” Global superstars Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler and Snoop Dogg recorded at Jukasa, and Canadian indie rockers July Talk recorded their Juno Award-winning sophomore album, Touch, on the reserve in 2016. Webster actor Emmanuel Lewis was a fixture at the studio. “You were and still are a legend with the heart the size of a grizzly bear,” Stevie Salas, guitarist and executive producer of music documentary “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” said of Hill on social media. In a video tribute posted on Monday, rapper Fat Joe said he and Hill had met for lunch in Florida the week before his death. “Kenny Hill is one of the sweetest, most humble people I ever met in my life. He is a gentle giant,” the five-time Grammy nominee said. “Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, my heart goes out to you.” Six Nations councillors extended their condolences to the Hill family, including Elected Chief Mark Hill, who is Ken Hill’s nephew. Ken Hill served three terms on Six Nations Elected Council from January 1986 to December 1991. “Always maintaining Six Nations as his home, Mr. Hill built portions of his industry at the very same corner where he grew up and lived,” read the statement from council. “His ventures also gave back in the form of education and employment opportunities through the local Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Hill and his family while they try to deal with their devastating loss.” According to its website, the Dreamcatcher Foundation provides funding to Indigenous recipients involved in education, sports, health care and the arts, with a particular focus on developing future Indigenous leaders by supporting youth and families in need. Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt told the Sachem that Hill’s loss would be felt far and wide. “It’s hard to fathom and perhaps appreciate the depth and reach he’s had in different communities, and employing so many different people and then helping so many families,” Hewitt said. While Hill enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he demonstrated his generosity by quietly paying off medical bills for those in need and sending three jet airplanes packed with relief aid to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas in 2019. “Ken Hill was well known across both sides of the border and around the world. He was an advocate for Indigenous rights as well very helpful on and off the reservation,” his family’s statement to the Niagara Parks Commission read. “He along with his best friend Jerry (Montour, co-founder of GRE) worked to help so many people around the world. He will always be loved and surely missed by all.” Sports were a passion for Hill, who sponsored lacrosse, hockey and fast-pitch teams, and co-owned Jukasa Motor Speedway near Nelles Corners. Lacrosse organizations across Canada expressed their condolences, with the Six Nations Snipers saying that Hill’s “impact on lacrosse has been felt locally and across the globe.” Hill assumed control of the Six Nations Chiefs in 1993, after the death of his brother Erlind. The Chiefs promptly won three straight Mann Cups, adding three more national titles in the 2010s. “Words cannot describe the sadness and disbelief that the team is in over the passing of our owner and leader Ken (KR) Hill,” said Chiefs presidents and general manager Duane Jacobs. “Ken was like an older brother to me. He did so much for me and my family. He allowed me to run this team and is directly responsible for all the championships we’ve won. The players were treated well and all he ever wanted in return was championships.” Hill ran the Brantford Golden Eagles junior B hockey team in early 1990s, and at the time of his death owned the junior B Caledonia ProFit Corvairs, sponsored by his Caledonia health club. “Kenny wasn’t just an owner. He was a friend to all players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the Corvairs said in a statement. “Kenny gave his all to make sure everyone was treated respectfully and set up to succeed both on and off the ice. He wanted to create something the community could always be proud of.” Hill also sponsored the world-renowned Hill United Chiefs fast-pitch team and, with Montour, co-owned MontHill Golf and Country Club, south of Caledonia. The business mogul earned millions of dollars tax-free annually, according to court filings, and his life was not without controversy. As an exporter of cigarettes to clients worldwide — including as the exclusive supplier of the German army — Hill and Montour fought legal battles over taxation and licensing, and defended charges of trafficking contraband tobacco in the United States. As a result, Hill’s relationship with Ottawa over the years was not always harmonious. But after his death, federal international trade minister Mary Ng offered her condolences to the family. “I am saddened by the new of Ken Hill’s passing — a community leader, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory” Ng tweeted. In recent years Hill was involved in a contentious child and spousal support dispute with one of his former partners. Earlier in the pandemic, he made the news after allegedly hosting a large party at his Six Nations mansion in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Executive director of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation Melanie Campbell talks about meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris before inauguration to push them to pursue important policy changes for the Black community and all Americans.
REGINA — A former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash has submitted paperwork with reasons why he should not be sent back to India when he gets out of prison. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is now waiting for the Canada Border Services Agency to write a report that will recommend whether he be allowed to stay in his adopted country or be deported. A grieving father of one of the hockey players killed will be waiting, too. Scott Thomas said he aches every day for his 18-year-old son, Evan, but submitted a letter in support of Sidhu. “I know for a fact that he’ll never drive a semi again. I know for a fact that if he could take back what happened that day he would in a heartbeat. He would trade places with any one of those boys," said Thomas. Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 2018 collision that killed 16 people and injured 13. Court was told that Sidhu, a newly married permanent resident, had missed a stop sign at a rural Saskatchewan intersection and driven into the path of the Broncos bus carrying players and staff to a junior hockey league playoff game. The lawyer for the then-30-year-old Sidhu noted during sentencing arguments that jail time would mean the commerce graduate wouldn't be allowed to stay in Canada, where he has lived since following his partner who had come over in 2013. A criminal conviction that carries a sentence of more than six months makes a permanent resident ineligible to remain in the country. An immigration lawyer says Sidhu's bid has the makings of other cases where deportation was avoided. “ I do think this is one of those types of cases where (border services) could choose to exercise their discretion … given the exceptional circumstances," said Erica Olmstead, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, who's not representing Sidhu. But some other parents do not support Sidhu's attempt to stay in Canada.Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, said he intends to send a letter to the Canada Border Services Agency asking for the deportation to go ahead. Joseph said he doesn't want the world to think that all of the families support Sidhu."I don't think the rules should be bent again for him to allow him to stay in the country," Joseph said. "I don't doubt that he lives with regret every single day. I'm not sure that his staying in Canada is best for him."Michelle Straschnitzki and her husband Tom have a constant reminder of the accident. Their son Ryan is paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the crash."I'm not in any way trying to be punitive but absolutely the law is the law and it's not special for anybody else," she said. "I wish I could be more forgiving but we never want this to happen again and there's got to be consequences. I do feel sorry for his family."Sidhu's lawyer, Michael Greene, acknowledges his client's crime had catastrophic consequences but his actions weren't malicious. Greene notes Sidhu wasn't impaired, has a low likelihood to reoffend, and deporting him would also mean deporting his wife. "This offence was more of a tragedy than it was a crime," Greene said Wednesday. He said he has been overwhelmed with letters in support of Sidhu, including from a retired judge, some of which he submitted to border services. “The main thing we’re up against is the perception that ... it would be offensive to the victims and their families and/or the Canadian public to allow him to stay given the magnitude of the tragedy.” “We want to show that ... the Canadian public is not hell-bent on giving him further punishment." Thomas said he's more concerned about regulations that allowed the inexperienced truck driver, three weeks on the job, to get behind the wheel. “We just always felt that the deportation part of it shouldn’t necessarily apply. He’s a broken man. He’s broken psychologically and spiritually, and to deport him now would just add to the suffering to him and his family." Thomas forgave Sidhu in court and has kept in touch with his wife, who shared their emails with her husband. Thomas realizes Sidhu's desire to remain in Canada is divisive. “There’ll be a lot of families that would never support this and there are going to be some that do, too.” Greene said support has come from some other Broncos families, but they asked to remain anonymous so as not to upset others. Olmstead said the deportation policy is there to protect Canada's security, but she has seen orders avoided when someone is guilty of a single offence as in Sidhu's case. "But on the other hand, you’ve got this terrible tragedy where there were so many victims." She explained that a border officer considers community connections and someone's chance of reoffending when writing a report, which could take months, and decides whether there are "exceptional circumstances" that would allow a person to remain in Canada. "It’s quite rare for people to not then still get referred for a removal order.” The Immigration and Refugee Board then holds a hearing to consider the report and is responsible for issuing any deportation order. A permanent resident can appeal the board's decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but not if a sentence, like Sidhu's, is longer than six months. “This is the end of the road for him," Olmstead said. Sidhu could seek a review before a Federal Court, but would first need to be granted leave to do so, she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 -- With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is stepping down at the end of June, ending an 11-year tenure in which the conference landed a transformational billion dollar television deal but struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five peers when it came to revenue and exposure. Sports Business Journal first reported the news Wednesday night and a person with knowledge of what was being called a mutual decision between the 56-year-old Scott and university presidents who make up the league’s executive committee confirmed it to AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official statement from the conference was expected later Wednesday night. Scott’s current contract was set to expire June 2022, but he will not seek a new deal and instead finish out this academic to assist with the transition to his successor. Under Scott, the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 by adding Colorado and Utah to the conference in 2011 and created a football championship game. The additions helped the conference secure a 12-year $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN that set the standard in the college sports market at the time. Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is moving swiftly to dismantle Donald Trump's legacy on his first day in office, signing a series of executive actions that reverse course on immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The new president signed the orders just hours after taking the oath of office at the Capitol, pivoting quickly from his pared-down inauguration ceremony to enacting his agenda. With the stroke of a pen, Biden ordered a halt to the construction of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, ended the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, declared his intent to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization and revoked the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, aides said. The 15 executive actions, and two directives, amount to an attempt to rewind the last four years of federal policies with striking speed. Only two recent presidents signed executive actions on their first day in office — and each signed just one. But Biden, facing the debilitating coronavirus pandemic, a damaged economy and a riven electorate, is intent on demonstrating a sense of urgency and competence that he argues has been missing under his Republican predecessor. “There’s no time to start like today," Biden said in his first comments to reporters as president. Biden wore a mask as he signed the orders in the Oval Office — a marked departure from Trump, who rarely wore a face covering in public and never during events in the Oval Office. But virus precautions are now required in the building. Among the executive actions signed Wednesday was one requiring masks and physical distancing on federal property and by federal employees. Biden's order also extended the federal eviction freeze to aid those struggling from the pandemic economic fallout, created a new federal office to co-ordinate a national response to the virus and restored the White House’s National Security Council directorate for global health security and defence, an office his predecessor had closed. The actions reflected the new president's top policy priority — getting a handle on a debilitating pandemic. In his inaugural address, Biden paused for what he called his first act as president — a moment of a silent prayer for the victims of the nation’s worst public health crisis in more than a century. He declared that he would “press forward with speed and urgency” in coming weeks. “For we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities — much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain,” he said in the speech. But Biden's blitz of executive actions went beyond the pandemic. He targeted Trump's environmental record, calling for a review of all regulations and executive actions that are deemed damaging to the environment or public health, aides said Tuesday as they previewed the moves. Another order instructs federal agencies to prioritize racial equity and review policies that reinforce systemic racism. Biden revoked two Trump orders related to the 2020 census. The first attempted to discern the citizenship status of every U.S. resident, and the second sought to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the numbers used for apportioning congressional seats among the states.” He also ordered federal employees to take an ethics pledge that commits them to upholding the independence of the Justice Department. The president also revoked the just-issued report of Trump’s “1776 Commission” that promotes “patriotic education.” Those moves and others will be followed by dozens more in the next 10 days, the president’s aides said, as Biden looks to redirect the country without having to go through a Senate that Democrats control by the narrowest margin and will soon turn to the impeachment trial of Trump, who is charged by the House with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. Republicans signalled that Biden will face fierce opposition on some parts of his agenda. One of his orders seeks to fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, a signature effort of the Obama administration that provided hundreds of thousands of young immigrants protection from deportation and a pathway to citizenship. That's part of a broader immigration plan Biden sent to Congress on Wednesday that would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. The plan would lead to “a permanent cycle of illegal immigration and amnesty that would hurt hard-working Americans and the millions of legal immigrants working their way through the legal immigration process,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Even that familiar criticism seemed a return to the normalcy Biden has promised after years of disruptive and overheated politics. Hewing to tradition, Biden started his day by attending church with both Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress. His press secretary, Jen Psaki, held a briefing for reporters, a practice the Trump White House had all but abandoned in the final two months of the presidency. Psaki said she intended to restore regular briefings as part of the White House's commitment to transparency. “I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play," she said. Biden took other steps to try to signal his priorities and set the tone in his White House. As he swore in dozens of political appointees in a virtual ceremony, he declared he expected “honesty and decency” from all that worked for his administration and would fire anyone who shows disrespect to others “on the spot.” “Everyone is entitled to human decency and dignity,” Biden said. “That’s been missing in a big way for the last four years.” Zeke Miller And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Two Canadians working in health care are now facing public health charges for not revealing contact with an international traveller after they were diagnosed with a variant of COVID-19 first discovered in the U.K.