With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
Both Burns and the suppers that celebrate him have proven remarkably malleable symbols worldwide of the Scottish nation and Scottish hospitality.
TORONTO — As Ontario struggles to beat back a dire wave of COVID-19, workplace spread has been singled out by public health experts, mayors and top health officials as a major source of infections. Experts and workers say government measures so far haven’t directly targeted the issue, but fairly simple practices would help track and reduce infections. Epidemiologist Colin Furness at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health said there should be clear consequences for employers that don't take proper precautions at this point in the pandemic. “We know from contact tracing data and outbreak investigations what some of the most risky environments are. We should be coming down on them like a ton of bricks,” Furness said. Hundreds of people have been infected in recent outbreaks linked to workplaces, including at least 121 workers at a Canada Post facility whose cases were reported this week and more than 140 people at a Cargill-owned meat processing facility in Guelph, Ont., last month. Hundreds of migrant workers tested positive on Ontario farms last summer, and more than 5,000 long-term care staff have been infected to date. But observers said there isn’t consistency when it comes to penalties for employers, or even naming workplaces where outbreaks happen. Traditionally, workplaces have been challenging for public health because harsh enforcement might mean future issues are covered up, Furness said. There are some signs of change, however, led by Toronto Public Health. The health unit said this month it would name employers with significant outbreaks and enforce reporting of cases among workers, a move Furness called “revolutionary.” Putting pressure on employers is also important to make sure other measures are effective, Furness said, including paid sick leave, which has become a prominent political issue in Ontario. Mayors from province’s largest cities have been calling for months for accessible, universal paid sick leave so workers don't come to work sick over fear of losing income – an argument supported nearly universally by public health experts. Janice Mills, who has a job in auto manufacturing, said sick leave is the biggest issue at the Glencoe, Ont, plant where she works with about 50 other people per shift. Workers can apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit introduced to support people missing work over a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, but they’re only eligible if they miss 50 per cent of the work week. That's an issue for hourly workers at Mills' plant, she said, because if someone falls ill on Thursday or Friday, they can’t make use of the benefit until the following week. “That's very difficult for people to wrap their heads around,” Mills said. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said Ontario isn’t looking to implement its own sick leave policy because there are still millions of dollars available through the federal benefit. He said the program is sufficient, but workers may not know about it, and he’s asking federal ministers to ensure there isn’t a delay in getting money out to people. “I feel strongly that we shouldn't duplicate this program,” he said in an interview. Furness said sick leave is important, but it doesn’t guarantee workers won’t face repercussions for accessing it – so employers should be held accountable if people are pressured into working while sick. Tim Sly, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at Ryerson University, pointed to regular asymptomatic testing as another key measure that would help assess workplace spread. He noted other regions have made use of rapid tests to find the virus among people who may not know they're infected, but Ontario has until recently been reluctant to introduce the practice. “Why we've delayed it so often, I have not a clue," he said. "It costs so little, it's easy to do, and if you repeat it, you're getting up to really good standards of screening.” Some industries in Ontario, such as film and television production, are already regularly testing employees for COVID-19, and the government plans to ramp up asymptomatic testing in the coming months by sending rapid tests to hard-hit sectors like farms, manufacturing and long-term care. McNaughton said an asymptomatic testing pilot has already begun on construction sites in the Greater Toronto Area, and he said there will be "huge emphasis" on testing workers going forward. He also pointed to the government’s recent “inspection blitz” of big-box stores, which is expanding to more industries. Most fines have been relatively small, at less than $1,000 per infraction, but McNaughton said some larger investigations are underway, and employers should be aware of the potential for fines up to $1.5 million. “I hope my message was clear to every big corporation out there, every shareholder, that if they're not having a safe work environment for their workers, and for customers, I won't hesitate to shut them down,” he said. Meanwhile, frontline workers say appreciation for their work isn't often reflected in the province's official pandemic response. Brittany Nisbett, who works at a group home for disabled adults in the Niagara Region, said new restrictions announced this month haven’t changed anything in her working life – in fact, she said new limits on store hours have made it harder to complete errands during time off. She said it’s been an emotionally taxing year, especially when co-workers and clients have tested positive for the disease, but one silver living has been growing public acknowledgment of the work she does. She’d like to see that reflected with a permanent wage increase, paid sick days and more staff for support. “If you’re going to call us heroes, then I think that we need to be treated like heroes,” Nisbett said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America, if it is developed. The greenhouse gas would be captured from coal-fired power plants, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it causes global warming. The captured gas would instead be pumped underground to add pressure to and boost production from oil fields. In all, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management designated 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres) of federal land for pipeline development through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed the plans last Friday, days before leaving office with the rest of President Donald Trump's administration. The approval allows companies to begin submitting pipeline construction proposals. Wyoming officials including Republican Gov. Mark Gordon have promoted carbon capture as a way to boost the state's struggling coal mining industry. Utilities nationwide have been turning away from coal-fired electricity in favour of cheaper and cleaner natural gas and renewable energy. “The ability to have a CO2 delivery system, as made possible by the pipeline corridor initiative, helps make CO2 commercially viable,” Gordon said in a statement Wednesday. Whether a large system of carbon capture for oil production is technically and economically feasible remains to be seen. One of two such systems in North America, the Petra Nova facility in Texas, has been offline since global oil prices plummeted last year. The Petra Nova system moves carbon dioxide 80 miles (130 kilometres) from a power plant to an oil field in southeastern Texas. In southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, near the U.S. border, the Boundary Dam carbon dioxide system connects a power plant with an oil field 40 miles (65 kilometres) away. Energy markets drive development of carbon capture projects for oil development, said Matt Fry, state of Wyoming project manager for the pipeline initiative. “We’re just helping to incentivize and provide some sort of a bridge for folks to help them move forward. Hopefully, this and future federal incentives will help get the ball rolling, and we’ll get some projects on the ground,” Fry said. Environmental groups including the Western Watersheds Project have criticized the pipeline corridor plan, saying the pipelines would cross habitat of sage grouse — brown, chicken-sized birds that spend most of their time on the ground. Sage grouse numbers have dwindled substantially over the past century and much of their habitat in Wyoming carries development restrictions. The Associated Press
Interior Health is ordering a review for “lessons learned” from the outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver, after 17 residents died in just over a month. The focus of the review will be around multi-bed units in long-term care facilities, according to Carl Meadows, South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations for Interior Health. “With McKinney, I’ve requested a review for lessons learned,” Meadows told the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board while giving an update on COVID-19 in the South Okanagan at their Jan. 21 meeting. A total of 55 residents tested positive at the facility out of the 59 who lived there at the beginning of the outbreak in December, 2020. Interior Health has previously stated the spread of COVID-19 at the facility was partially due to a lack of single-bed rooms to isolate residents who have tested positive. McKinney Place is an older facility which does have more congregation areas and has fewer private rooms than some newer long-term care facilities, which may have contributed to the spread, Interior Health officials previously stated. “There’s going to be more awareness around these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about them in the near future because it was very difficult to cordon off or cohort infected patients with four-bed units,” Meadows said. In the South Okanagan, including Penticton and Summerland, COVID-19 case numbers are down, but so are the number of tests, Meadows said. “Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping but we have had obviously some significant events at places that have been made public so it has been a very long few months, we’re still in an incident command structure in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. “Our numbers are going down, what we don’t know is our testing numbers are also down, so we don’t know if people are getting tested and of course now we’ve got the Pfizer vaccine that has been delayed and Moderna.” Right now, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the vaccination of long-term care and assisted living staff and residents with priority vaccinations for emergency/intensive care staff and COVID units in Penticton, Meadows said. “(COVID-19) has tested our health system like we’ve never experienced and McKinney was the latest example where it was very challenging. But I can assure you our teams are nothing short of amazing, you’re in very good hands in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
When Daniel Pereira sat down with his family to watch the MLS SuperDraft, he didn’t expect to hear his name called first by expansion Austin FC. Between doing virtual interviews with the teams at the top of the draft, the Virginia Tech star took time to look over all the other names being linked with the top selection. “I wasn’t really expecting to be number one, because of all the mock drafts and stuff,” Pereira said Thursday. “It’s an honour like I said. I’m happy, real happy. My family is crying. Just a moment I’ll never forget.” Pereira is the first-ever pick by the newest MLS franchise. Born in Venezuela, his family moved to the United States when Pereira was a teenager in the hopes of giving him better opportunities. His family settled in the Roanoke, Virginia, area, where Pereira became a star at the prep level. He was later an all-ACC freshman team selection after his first season at Virginia Tech. Pereira decided to leave college early to enter the MLS after signing a Generation Adidas contract with the league. “I never thought I’d be a pro. It was my goal, but I just always kept grinding, kept putting the work in and it’s paying off right now,” Pereira said. The 20-year-old midfielder was the headliner of the group of ACC stars that dominated the top of the draft. The top five picks and six of the first seven were from ACC schools. Wake Forest forward Calvin Harris went No. 2 to FC Cincinnati. Colorado traded with Houston to move up to No. 3 and selected Clemson’s Philip Mayaka, whom many expected to go with the top pick. D.C. United nabbed Mayaka’s teammate Kimarni Smith at No. 4, then traded with Atlanta United to take Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields at No. 5. Virginia midfielder Bret Halsey capped the run of ACC players, going No. 7 to Real Salt Lake. The only player outside the ACC to be taken in the top seven picks was Washington defender Ethan Bartlow, who went at No. 6 to Houston. Tim Booth, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario's COVID-19 numbers are showing improvement, but it's too soon to say if that's the start of a downward trend, one of the province's top doctors said Thursday. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Medical Officer of Health, said the provincial case rate has started to decline for the first time since November – sitting now at 145.4 cases per 100,000 people – although that figure is still high. The average per cent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests has also dropped – down to 5.3 per cent from 6.3 per cent last week – and 26 of the province's 34 public health units have seen case rates decline, the government said. "We're seeing some improvement," Yaffe said. "But we do need to see more data to determine if those decreasing rates are a real trend." The positive numbers come a week after Premier Doug Ford's government imposed a state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order to bring soaring rates of COVID-19 under control. Schools throughout much of southern Ontario remain closed for in-person learning because of high community transmission and the government has not provided a timeline for a return to class. Yaffe warned that there are still 1,533 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the province and 388 in intensive care units. The province is also reporting 15 cases of the so-called U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, with four that have no travel history, indicating there could be community spread of the more contagious strain. "We do certainly expect to see more as our laboratories test for this, and for other variants," she said. Yaffe also noted that a yet-to-be identified variant has been found in six cases at a Barrie, Ont., nursing home where 122 residents and 69 staff have been infected. Nineteen residents have died. She said the province is working with the local health unit to identify the variant and take action to halt the outbreak at Roberta Place. "We know there is a mutation in there ... that's associated with increased transmissibility, about 56 per cent more transmissible," she said. "We don't know which mutant it is." Ontario reported 2,632 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford continued to express frustration at COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer amid a production slowdown at the company. "It's absolutely critical that Pfizer steps up to the plate and not leaves us behind the eight ball, which they have," he said Thursday. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just 171,093 doses this week and nothing the next week. The federal government and Pfizer have said shipments of vaccine are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March. Canada's doses of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine are coming from a factory in Belgium that is being upgraded to ramp up production in the coming months. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled House easily passed legislation required to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defence, brushing aside concerns that his retirement occurred inside the seven-year window that safeguards civilian leadership of the military. Thursday's 326-78 vote would grant 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 some Democrats in a position to look like they've flip-flopped. 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
Calgary police are urging vigilance after more than a dozen women were assaulted while walking alone in the last three months. Investigators are looking into the possibility that one man has assaulted at least 15 women since November. The groping incidents take place both in daylight and at night, according to police, who say the attacker flees immediately after. CPS is asking women to call 911 immediately if they have been targeted so that police have a better chance at finding the offender. "Officers will be dispatched to the area to help locate the suspect in a timely manner," said police in a written statement. Multiple attacks in 5 communities Communities where the assaults took place include downtown, Mission, Thorncliffe, Huntington Hills and Hillhurst. The most recent attack was on Tuesday in Thorncliffe. The method of attack has been similar. While walking alone, women have been approached from behind by a man who then groped them. In some incidents, the attacker seems to have waited for opportunities when the victims were distracted, either by an electronic device, or, as police explain, "during moments when their situational awareness was lowered, such as looking in a bag." Investigators haven't yet determined if all of the incidents are connected to one person, or if there are multiple assailants involved. Police have offered the following safety tips: Walk with others or in well-populated areas. Stay in well-lit areas with clear visibility. Be aware of your surroundings — limit the use of devices that would distract. Limit the number of belongings that you are carrying in your arms to reduce vulnerability. If you are attacked: Make noise to attract attention. Do not try to hold on to your possessions or valuables. Pay attention to the physical attributes of your attacker and what they are wearing. Call 911 immediately.
NEW YORK — A New York judge on Thursday denied the National Rifle Association’s bid to throw out a state lawsuit that seeks to put the powerful gun advocacy group out of business. Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to move ahead in state court in Manhattan, rather than dismissing it on technical grounds or moving it to federal court, as the NRA’s lawyers desired. James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state non-profit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. James is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over non-profit organizations incorporated in the state, such as the NRA, Cohen said. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said at a hearing held by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen also rejected the NRA’s arguments that James’ lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and should’ve been filed in Albany, where the NRA’s incorporation paperwork lists an address. The NRA’s arguments for dismissing the case did not involve the merits of the case. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, though it is headquartered in Virginia and last week filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to reincorporate in that state. The NRA, in announcing its bankruptcy filing last Friday, said it wanted to break free of a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” and that it saw Texas as friendlier to its interests. The NRA’s lawyers said at a bankruptcy court hearing on Wednesday in Dallas that they wouldn’t use the Chapter 11 proceedings to halt the lawsuit. After Thursday’s ruling, they said they were ready to go ahead with the case, including a meeting with lawyers from James’ office on Friday and another hearing in March. In a letter to Cohen in advance of Thursday’s heading, NRA lawyer Sarah Rogers said the organization had no position on seeking to stay the case through bankruptcy, but that it reserved right to seek such orders from bankruptcy court in the future. Normally, a bankruptcy filing would halt all pending litigation. James’ office contends that its lawsuit is covered by an exemption involving a state’s regulatory powers and cannot be stopped by bankruptcy. Assistant New York Attorney General James Sheehan said he hoped to bring the case to trial by early 2022. In seeking to dismiss or move the state’s lawsuit to federal court, Rogers argued that many of its misspending and self-dealing allegations were also contained in pending lawsuits in federal court — a slate of cases she described as a “tangled nest of litigation.” Part of Rogers’ argument for moving the state lawsuit to federal court involved an error in the state’s original filing that she said altered the timeline of when it was filed. James’s office filed its lawsuit on Aug. 6, but later had to amend the complaint to include a part that was left. That same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging James’ actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” Rogers contended that because of the filing glitch James’ lawsuit should be considered a counterclaim to the NRA’s lawsuit and handled alongside of it in federal court. Cohen rejected that, saying Rogers was placing “far too much weight on a non-substantive error that was quickly fixed.” “The attorney general filed first,” he said. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
Nearly 20 new seats will be available for health-care assistants at the NVIT Merritt campus via an $8.4 million investment in education and training programs for people looking to secure jobs caring for BC’s seniors. “We’re moving forward with our plan to expand the number of health-care assistants working in B.C. to strengthen the level of care for people in long-term care homes and assisted-living residences,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The Health Career Access Program is underway and is already helping train workers for some of the most important jobs in B.C.” 600 new training seats will be created at public post-secondary institutions across the province as part of the Health Career Access Program, which was announced in Sept. 2020 and is expected to help meet the growing demand for health-care assistants in long-term care and assisted living residences. Those taking part in the Health Career Access Program will be hired as health-care support workers in long-term care and assisted living facilities where they will be paid while they work and complete the necessary coursework to become health-care assistants. This includes the 18 new seats NVIT can now accommodate. In addition, student who are completing a recognized health-care assistant program who commit to a 12-month-return-of-service and who choose to take employment in the long-term care or assisted living sector will be eligible for a $5,000 recruitment incentive. “Government is investing in relevant programs to enable people impacted by COVID-19 to upskill or reskill so they can return to work or advance their careers,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This funding for health-care assistant programs supports training for highly valued and respected workers who provide important daily care for our seniors in long-term care and assisted-living facilities.” Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
OTTAWA — Here are quick facts about Julie Payette, who resigned as governor general on Thursday:Age: 57Hometown: MontrealEducation: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal and earned an international baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Studied electrical engineering at McGill University before obtaining a master's degree in computer engineering from the University of Toronto. Has 24 honorary degrees.Early career: Conducted research in computer systems and speech-recognition software as an engineer with various organizations, including IBM and the University of Toronto, before being chosen by the Canadian Space Agency to become an astronaut in 1992. Payette was one of four people chosen out of more than 5,300 applicants.Astronaut experience: Technical adviser on a robotics system that Canada contributed to the International Space Station before obtaining her commercial pilot licence and military pilot qualification, studying Russian and other training in preparation for travelling to space. CSA's chief astronaut from 2000 to 2007. First space mission was an 11-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver supplies in 1999, when she became the first Canadian to board the ISS. The second was a two-week flight to the ISS in 2009.Post-space life: While still part of the CSA, Payette accepted a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. in 2011 before becoming a representative for the Quebec government in the U.S. capital. She retired from the space agency in 2013 to become the head of the Montreal Science Centre as well as vice-president of a federal Crown corporation, the Canada Lands Company.Viceregal appointment: Sworn in as Canada's 29th governor general in October 2017 following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recommendation to the Queen. Trudeau recommended Payette after abolishing a panel designed to vet and recommend potential governors general.Post-appointment controversy: Following Payette's appointment, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charge unfounded, and it has since been expunged. She was also involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both revelations nonetheless raised questions about the government's decision to recommend her. She also raised eyebrows for using a speech shortly after taking over the position to mock those who question climate change and believe in creationism, and reducing her participation in traditional duties and responsibilities of her office.Toxic work environment: Reports emerged within the first year of her time in office of problems at Rideau Hall, before explosive allegations erupted last year of a toxic work environment within her office. A private firm was hired to investigate and its findings led to her resignation on Thursday.Interests and experiences: Running, skiing, racket sports and scuba diving. Fluent in French and English, conversant in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. Plays the piano and has sung at venues in Canada and Switzerland. Has also produced a number of science productions for broadcast.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — A day after President Joe Biden’s inauguration went off with only a handful of minor arrests and incidents, more than 15,000 National Guard members are preparing to leave Washington, D.C. and head home. The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with co-ordination and the logistics so that troops can get home. Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into D.C. by the planeload and busload late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting. Military aircraft crowded the runways at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, carrying Guard members into the region in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Guard forces were scattered around the city, helping to secure the Capitol, monuments, Metro entrances and the perimeter of central D.C., which was largely locked down for several days leading up to Wednesday's inaugural ceremony. The U.S. Secret Service announced that the special security event for the inauguration officially ended at noon Thursday. The Guard said that it may take several days to make all the arrangements to return the 15,000 home, but it should be complete in five to 10 days. Guard members will have to turn in equipment, make travel plans and go through COVID-19 screening. Some local law enforcement agencies have asked for continued assistance from the Guard, so roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of the month. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
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
REGINA — Saskatchewan says the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations will start to slow in the province as it marked the deadliest day yet of the pandemic. Health officials said Thursday that 13 more residents have died, nine of whom were 80 and older, for a total of 239 deaths. The Ministry of Health reported 227 new infections in the province and 197 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. It says 91 per cent of the vaccine doses received to date have gone into the arms of critical health-care workers, long-term care staff and vulnerable seniors, for a total of more than 29,000 shots. But the ministry says vaccine supply will run short because there are no new deliveries coming next week. A ministry spokeswoman says the province is still figuring out how it's going to adjust its vaccine rollout in light of the supply interruption from Pfizer-BioNTech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — It started a generation ago by a group of Irish immigrants committed to preserving an ancient craft.For years, locals and visitors flocked to NovaScotian Crystal's waterfront location in Halifax to watch skilled craftsman make mouth-blown, hand-cut crystal.But the magical art of glass blowing kept alive by the Nova Scotia business is now the latest casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. The company announced it will be shutting down at the end of February, one of more than 200,000 businesses on the brink of closure as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said Thursday one in six or about 181,000 Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating closing.The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.Based on the organization's updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work – a staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs. At NovaScotian Crystal, 37 employees and craftsmen will be laid off, the company said in a statement."We are not able to envision a sustainable business in the foreseeable future," NovaScotian Crystal said. "We are extremely disheartened. Despite producing a world-class product ... the current obstacles cannot be overcome."The announcement of the closure comes less than a month after the company got a shout-out from a Saturday Night Live cast member.On Christmas Day, American actor and comedian Kenan Thompson posted a video online of a pair of NovaScotian Crystal tumblers he received under the tree."This year has been crazy but there are little gems to be celebrated," he said in the Instagram post. "Much like this boutique shop in Nova Scotia where they do incredible work with glass and crystal ... Every single piece is hand crafted by amazing professionals."While NovaScotian Crystal has benefited from online sales, the company said it wasn't enough to make up for the loss of cruise ship passengers and other tourists that make up the bulk of sales from its retail showroom. Moreover, COVID-19 restrictions have severely curtailed the company's production capacity, it said. "The responsible choice is to close in an orderly fashion while fulfilling our obligations to our employees, suppliers and partners," NovaScotian Crystal said. Simon Gaudreault, CFIB's senior director of national research, said there is an alarming increase in the number of businesses considering closing."We are not headed in the right direction and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision," he said in a statement. "The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose and the harder it will be for the economy to recover."In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said. That's an increase from one in seven or 158,000 businesses the CFIB said were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic in a July study.The grim new research comes after a brutal year for Canadian businesses."The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year," said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement. Only 47 per cent of businesses are now fully open – down from 62 per cent at the end of November, the organization said.But those numbers fall even further in provinces under lockdown restrictions.In Ontario, for example, only 37 per cent of businesses are fully open.Jones called on governments to help small businesses "replace subsidies with sales" by introducing safe pathways to reopen businesses. "There's a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams. Let's make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — An industry analyst says Western Canada's oil producers will likely cope better in the short term with Joe Biden's cancelling of the Keystone XL presidential permit this week than they did with the same move by ex-president Barack Obama in 2015. But Phil Skolnick, a New York-based analyst for Eight Capital, agrees with other observers that the end of the pipeline will stifle new investment and production growth in the Canadian oilpatch for years to come. Shortly after being inaugurated on Wednesday, U.S. President Biden, who was Obama's vice-president, fulfilled a campaign promise and took away the pipeline permit that former president Donald Trump returned to builder TC Energy Corp. in 2019. Skolnick says the difference between now and 2015 is that producers are looking forward to opening two other export pipelines -- Line 3 and Trans Mountain -- that together provide nearly one million barrels a day of export capacity. Richard Masson, an executive fellow and energy expert at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, agrees the two remaining pipelines will provide enough capacity to allow oil production to grow into the second half of this decade. But he says uncertainty about capacity beyond that point makes it impossible for producers to make decisions about new multibillion-dollar oilsands projects, which could take five years or more to plan and build. Canadian Energy Pipeline Association CEO Chris Bloomer, meanwhile, says excess space in the oil transport system is vital going forward to provide optionality, energy security and stable pricing for producers. Earlier Thursday, TC Energy Corp. said it planned to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. The company had previously warned that blocking the project would lead to thousands of job losses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP) The Canadian Press