Considerable waves coming off the shores of the Strait of Georgia onto Vancouver Island.
Considerable waves coming off the shores of the Strait of Georgia onto Vancouver Island.
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."
If you were to ask anyone who knew Warren Woods — or "Woodsy" as many called him — about his character, they would tell you the longtime Regina sports broadcaster was the same person on the air and off, a close colleague says. Woods died on Wednesday after about a two-month battle with COVID-19. He was 66. For years, Craig Adam covered sports with Woods at STV, which is now Global Regina. And even after going their separate ways (Adam into real estate and Woods into radio broadcasting) he said they remained close. "There aren't many coworkers that you end up being best friends with, but that was Warren," Adam said with a light chuckle. "We used to always reminisce about the stories — and they were always the same stories, all the time, but they were such good memories that we would always have some amazing laughs." 'He connected with everybody' Adam wasn't the only one drawn to Woods, he noted; many others were, too. "He just had this likable attitude and this lovingness about him that everyone wanted to be his friend," Adam said. "I could not go anywhere with Woodsy for, like, five minutes; it would be an hour because he wanted to talk to everybody and everybody wanted to talk to him. That's just the kind of impact he had with everyone that he met." For Woods, life was about connection. And that connection began with covering local sports — from the high school and university levels to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. "He connected with everybody and he connected with all genres of people — from young to old, to all kinds of sports. I think that that's what he will be remembered for: touching so many different people in so many different facets of life," Adam said. He added the tributes pouring in on social media are a reflection of that. "Those stories of people growing up watching him on TV … that's who they went to bed with every night at 11 p.m. — that 'This is Sportsline with Warren Woods!' That's what they remember," he said. "And those are cherished memories by a lot of people. That's why I think he's had this profound effect on people across the country." Outpouring of tributes online In the wake of Woods's passing, many fans, friends, colleagues, politicians, athletes and sports organizations have spoken out on social media to pay their respects. "I am saddened to hear of the passing of one of Saskatchewan's most popular sports broadcasters, Warren Woods. Saskatchewan lost a great friend today. For this night and only for Woodsy... Go Leafs," Premier Scott Moe, an Oilers fan, tweeted out Wednesday evening. "Thank you for all the memories," the Regina Pats hockey team also wrote on Twitter. "Your tremendous passion for sports and the Queen City won't be forgotten." "'Woodsy' covered the Saskatchewan Roughriders for more than three decades and his passion for local sports was unmatched. We will miss his smiling face at Mosaic Stadium," the football club wrote in a statement as well. Talking to Woods's children, Adam said they're proud of the legacy their father is leaving behind. "Nicole and Chris are also grateful for the outpouring of support Warren has received from across the country over the last seven weeks. It's comforting for them to know how many people cared about their dad," Woods's family wrote in a statement. 'COVID is real' Earlier this month, Adam said it had appeared Woods' had "turned a corner" in his recovery. A GoFundMe page was subsequently set up by Woods's friends to help pay for the medical supports he would have needed once home from the hospital. In roughly a day, the fundraiser's goal of $50,000 was eclipsed. However, in the weeks that followed, Adam said Woods' condition "took a turn for the worse," and it left many — including himself — in shock. "It kind of proves the point that COVID is real; it affects people and it affects everybody differently," Adam said. "A lot of people will say, 'Well, it can't happen to me.' But it can."
Le bilan lavallois de la COVID-19 est désormais de 1560 cas actifs selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Cela représente une baisse de 23 cas actifs par rapport à la veille. Il s’agit toutefois d’une augmentation de 145 cas confirmés, ce qui porte le total à 20 959 citoyens lavallois touchés depuis le mois de mars 2020. Au total, 805 personnes (+2) sont décédées du virus sur l’île Jésus. Parmi les Lavallois actuellement touchés, 94 sont hospitalisés, dont 28 aux soins intensifs. 91 employés du CISSS de Laval sont quant à eux absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Vimont/Auteuil est le secteur qui connait la plus faible augmentation du jour avec 15 nouveaux cas confirmés. Il est suivi par Fabreville-Est/Sainte-Rose qui en ajoute 18 à son total. Ce dernier présente le plus bas taux d'infection de l'île Jésus dans les 14 derniers jours avec 489 cas pour 100 000 habitants. À l'inverse, Chomedey (+50) est encore le secteur le plus affecté du territoire lavallois dans les sur cette même période, que ce soit en chiffres absolus (772) ou en taux d'infection (810 cas par 100 000 habitants). Sainte-Dorothée/Laval-Ouest/Laval-Les Îles/Fabreville-Ouest/Laval-sur-le-Lac (+23) demeure quant à lui le moins affecté en chiffres absolus avec 340 nouvelles personnes touchées dans les deux dernières semaines. De leur côté, Duvernay/Saint-François/Saint-Vincent-de-Paul et Pont-Viau/Renaud-Coursol/Laval-des-Rapides constatent 20 nouvelles personnes touchées sur leur territoire respectif en ce jeudi 21 janvier. *** Prendre note que tel qu’indiqué sur le site Web du CISSS de Laval, ces données par secteur incluent l’ensemble des cas des citoyens testés positifs à la COVID-19, qu’ils résident dans des milieux fermés ou ailleurs dans la communauté. Les milieux fermés incluent des milieux de vie comme les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA), les ressources intermédiaires (RI), ainsi que les centres correctionnels. Les données présentées sont calculées en fonction du lieu de résidence. Le CISSS tarde à déterminer le foyer de 27 cas jusqu’ici.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
TIRANA, Albania — Albania on Thursday expelled a Russian diplomat for allegedly not respecting the country’s virus lockdown rules. An Albanian foreign ministry statement declared Alexey Krivosheev “person non grata,” asking him to leave the country within 72 hours. The ministry said that since April last year there were continuous violations from the diplomat. It said Albanian authorities first contacted the ambassador but the diplomat still persisted in breaking pandemic restrictions. “A repeated challenging of the protective rules and steps on the pandemic, and disregarding of the concern of the Albanian state institutions related to that, cannot be justified and tolerated any more,” the statement said. The ministry did not provide details on the alleged violations, or give the post of the diplomat. Albania has set an overnight curfew, mandatory use of masks indoor and outdoors and social distancing. “We hope that such a decision ... at such a very challenging time for the globe, will be well understood from the Russian side as a necessary step to protect the health and security" of everyone in Albania, the ministry statement added. Albania resumed diplomatic ties with Moscow in 1991, 30 years after the country's then-communist regime severed previously close relations with Russia. The Associated Press
TORONTO — Experts at a leading children's hospital say schools need to ramp up COVID-19 testing and masking in order to have all kids return to the classroom as soon as possible. The guidance comes a day after Ontario said it would permit just seven public health units in southern Ontario resume in-person learning Monday, while students in hot-spot regions will continue with online learning until at least Feb. 10. They join others in northern regions that returned to class last week, but areas including Toronto and Peel were deemed too-high risk to return to class. The new guidelines, led by experts at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, urge COVID-19 tests for all staff and students exposed to a confirmed case, while indoor masking be made mandatory for all those Grade 1 and up. The report's co-author Dr. Ronald Cohn says the current protocol is that testing is only required for those who display symptoms. He also stresses the social and mental-health needs of young children, recommending kindergartners be cohorted so they can play and interact with their peers. Cohn, president and CEO, SickKids, said schools closures should be "as time-limited as possible." "It is therefore imperative that bundled measures of infection prevention and control and a robust testing strategy are in place," he said Thursday in a release. The report also cautions against rapid tests using molecular or antigen tests because of their lower sensitivity and less effectiveness with asymptomatic cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely spoke to City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, invited, she said, to explain how the force uses their capital and operating budget. Specifically, McNeely said she was asked to talk about “how the police budget has been constructed to deal with the concerns raised by BIPOC and Black Lives Matter, and how these elements are related to other priorities within the police budget.” “I’ve received probably 100, if not more, emails wondering about the City being able to ‘defund the police,’ using that term that comes largely from the States,” Councillor Robert Kiley noted during the meeting. There are, in fact, 15 Canadian regions registered at Defund.ca, including Katarokwi / Kingston. The co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and a leading advocate of the defund movement, is Canadian writer and activist Sandy Hudson. For Kiley and his colleague Jim Neill, their concern was an apparent misconception by some constituents that they, as councillors, could control the police budget. “My understanding is that actually isn’t something Council can do,” Kiley said. McNeely explained that under the Provincial Police Services Act, the Kingston Police department must submit capital and operating budgets to Council. “We submit that to our board, our board then submits that to yourselves,” she said. McNeely explained that Council is not bound to accept the budget, but does not have the authority to disapprove certain items, line by line. “If the [Police] board is not satisfied that the budget established for it by the Council is sufficient… the board may request that the Commission determine the question, and the Commission, after holding a hearing, will do so,” she explained. “I want to thank you because we haven’t had an appeal for your budget in over a decade, so clearly you’ve been working closely with our treasurer,” said Councillor Neill. McNeely said that, as a percentage of the gross municipal budget over the past 12 years, Kingston Police budget has declined from 11.49 per cent in 2008 to 10.87 per cent in 2020. In contrast, members of the local Defund organization, Defund YGK, argue that it dwarfs funding of municipal social services. “The published budget for Housing and Social Services for 2020 is $17.25M. This is just 4.3 per cent of the city budget,” they wrote in a December Medium article. “The trend over the last five years is only making matters worse; the budget for Housing and Social Services has steadily decreased while the Police Services budget has increased by 15 per cent,” they said. The Black Lives Matter movement gained widespread momentum in Canada and the United States this summer after a Black Minneapolis man, George Floyd, was killed by police officers in broad daylight. Floyd had allegedly used a counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes from a convenience store. His death was captured in a disturbing, widely circulated video, rallying people from cities across North America to decry police brutality, disproportionate use of force against people of colour, and systemic racism. The subsequent “defund” movement has accelerated calls from people at all levels of society to reallocate government spending from police budgets to other social services, in order to reduce the criminalization of marginalized peoples. In Canada, and Kingston, activists for the defund movement have pointed to examples of Black and Indigenous people facing violence or even dying during wellness checks or mental health calls where police are the first responders. “The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police has, for years, been part of the larger discussions at the provincial level about how we, as a society, can adequately fund social and healthcare services, many of which have had their budgets cut or been underfunded by government,” McNeely said. “The fact is that police do not want to be the primary responders when it comes to addictions, mental health, or homelessness calls. Policing is the only service that operates 365 days a year, seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Other social service agencies are not there 24/7 when these calls come in,” she continued. “The reality is that there has to be a solution developed for a better alternative based on evidence, research, and partnerships. We are committed to working with government and community partners to build such a response.” She described protocols and operations that Kingston Police have developed to respond to mental health and addictions crises, such as the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, and the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST model), which partners police with addictions and mental health workers. She said that in 2019, working in collaboration with the City’s CFO and Treasurer, Desirée Kennedy, Kingston Police put a strategy in place to reduce the annual 2021 capital budget requested by just under $1 million so that the City could invest additional money into affordable housing. “As a result, some of our capital projects were deferred to the following year,” she said Internally, McNeely noted that officers undergo cultural awareness training, including education on perspectives of the Indigenous community and the impact of residential school. She also explained how the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategies at Kingston Police are evolving and expanding, with plans to improve recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce. She added that officers are required to “respect the rights and freedoms of the community. Members practice bias-free policing, and we are committed to do our part to address systemic racism.” As a baseline, McNeely said that all leaders need to acknowledge and presume the existence of systemic racism. “Leaders of every organization have to assume that there is systemic racism within their organization because our systems and institutions are often based on ideas that may not be objective and therefore differentially impact our diverse community,” McNeely said. “This is not limited to the justice sector, but to all sectors, including health, education, media, and government, to name but a few.” City Council is set to review City budgets, City-funded agency budget submissions and municipal utility budgets next week. A presentation by Kingston Police Services Board is on the agenda. Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, including one at a Truro school that will close for several days for cleaning and contact tracing. With three new recoveries since Wednesday, the province now has 22 known active cases. One of the newly reported cases is tied to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and the person is self-isolating. Both of the new cases were in the province's northern health zone. No one in Nova Scotia is in hospital for treatment of the virus. The province's microbiology labs completed 1,589 tests on Wednesday. Truro school to close until next week The school-based case is from École acadienne de Truro, a pre-primary to Grade 12 school. In a news release, the province said the infected person did not attend Thursday and is self-isolating. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness said the school closed at noon to begin deep cleaning, contact tracing and any necessary testing. Close contacts of the case will be notified. École acadienne de Truro will move classes online until at least the start of the next week, with an update to be provided to families on Tuesday, Jan. 26, about a possible reopening on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The province advised that the case was reported too late for the daily update on the provincial dashboard and so it won't appear there until Friday. A full list of active exposure notices in Nova Scotia can be found here. As of Wednesday, Nova Scotia has administered 9,827 doses of COVID-19 vaccines including 2,696 second doses. Updates on vaccine administration across the country can be found here. New case at Acadia University Late Thursday, Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. announced that a student living on campus tested positive for COVID-19 after completing a required 14-day self-isolation. In a statement posted to the school's website, Acadia said the student attended class Jan. 18-20 and Nova Scotia Health has begun contact tracing. It said anyone who was in immediate proximity with the student will be advised and given instructions. "At this point, there are approximately 10 individuals who are considered close contacts. Everyone who is a close contact is being notified, tested, and provided self-isolation instructions," it said. "Fortunately, Acadia has extensive safety measures in place, including frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces and applying electrostatic mist to disinfect classrooms between every class. The risk to others is considered minimal because of our campus COVID-19 protocols." The case at Acadia was not included in Thursday's new case numbers. Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
Le virus responsable de la Covid-19 peut infecter différentes espèces. Les scientifiques sont toujours à la recherche de l’animal intermédiaire. Les regards se tournent vers l’élevage de visons.
American forward Sebastian Soto was recalled to Norwich of the second-tier English Championship on Thursday from his loan to Telstar of the Dutch second tier. The 20-year-old from Carlsbad, California, has seven goals in 12 appearances or Telstar this season. Soto scored twice in his U.S. national team debut against Panama in November and also appeared in December's match against El Salvador. Norwich said his recall is subject to confirmation of a British work permit. Norwich leads the League Championship with 53 points, seven ahead of second-place Swansea. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
For 17-year-old Ethan Turpin, a high school student and aspiring welder, co-op has been a pandemic saving grace. “He came home with a sense of confidence, of achievement, and things that he wouldn't be able to get anywhere else because he's not allowed to go anywhere,” said Linda Stenhouse, his grandmother. Ethan is enrolled in a co-operative education program at Waterdown District High School, completing his placement at Flamboro Technical Services, a fabrication and millwrighting company. Stenhouse said he has been invited back for another term. “He went from failing grades and ended up being an honour student,” she said. “We likened it to the fact that he was in the co-op program.” The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) says about half of its students are able to continue with co-op placements — both in person and virtual — amid a provincewide stay-at-home order announced by the Ontario government on Jan. 12. The board has been offering in-person co-op placements since Oct. 21, “after a pause to ensure that student safety was considered, and appropriate protocols were in place,” HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop said in an email to The Spectator. In cases where an in-person placement is not possible, staff will determine whether or not the student can continue virtually or present “alternate learning opportunities” in order to meet curriculum expectations. “There are some community placements that have been unable to place a student given the recent provincial state of emergency stay-at-home order,” he said. “Horse-crazy” Meghan Wahl said she found out last week she would not be going back to her placement at Halton Equine Veterinary Services, where she cleaned stalls, filled water buckets and observed procedures. “That was kind of hard because Meg had to say bye to everyone, like, then,” her mother, Nicolle Wahl, said. Meghan was given the “green light” to begin a co-op placement at the horse vet in October. “It was the vet part, the technical, hands-on seeing treatments and stuff, that was really interesting,” she said. Her mother said masking and physical distancing — where possible — were required at the vet clinic. “The fact that it was in a medical setting was the reason why both my husband and I felt comfortable with sending Meg,” she said. “That definitely made us feel reassured that she was in a safe environment.” Abbie Boyko’s son, a grade 12 student with the HWDSB, landed a part-time job at his co-op placement, the auto department at the Canadian Tire on Barton Street, before his placement ended when the province further tightened restrictions. “It's very disappointing because it's a great opportunity for students,” Boyko said. “He's just lucky that he did well in his co-op that they've hired him on.” She said co-op is valuable for high school students, particularly those who are graduating. “Not every child is going to go on to college or university, they're going to be out in the (workforce),” she said. Students in the Catholic board, which paused in-person co-ops after winter break to “do some consulting,” were offered the option to go back to in-person placements last week after feedback from co-op teachers. “They felt it was very important to continue with that provision, should the parents and the students still want it,” said Sandie Pizzuti, superintendent of education for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB). The board has added more requirements, including face shields, a revised consent form, repeated COVID-19 training and additional workplace evaluation. The board expects to have approximately 730 students in co-op this school year — about two-thirds of last year’s enrolment. Pizzuti said she understands the concerns some families may have over the decision to return to in-person placements. “But what we needed to do was listen to what our co-op teachers were telling us based on student voice and student input," she said. “And we felt that for those who really wanted to get back to their workplace — and in the case where we felt their workplace was very, very safe — that we would still provide the opportunity because we want them to have a very meaningful, relevant experience.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Commentators across the political spectrum spread anti-Islamic rhetoric, insisting that Islam is intrinsically violent and that Muslims are terrorists. But studies show these claims are unfounded.
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Congress is moving quickly to install retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defence, brushing aside concerns about his retirement inside the seven-year window that safeguards civilian leadership of the military. The House is voting Thursday on a waiver that would exempt Austin from the seven-year rule. All signs point to quick action in the Senate after that, putting Austin on track to be confirmed as secretary by week's end. Austin, a 41-year veteran of the Army, has promised to surround himself with qualified civilians and include them in policy decisions. He said he has spent nearly his entire life committed to the principle of civilian control over the military. While the waiver is expected to be approved, the vote puts Democrats in an awkward position. Many of them opposed a similar waiver in 2017 for Jim Mattis, former President Donald Trump's first secretary of defence. Austin, who would be the first Black secretary of defence, said he understands why some have questioned the wisdom of putting a recently retired general in charge of the Defence Department. Much of his focus this week, including in his remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, has been on persuading members of Congress that although he has been out of uniform for less than five years, he sees himself as a civilian, not a general. Some aspects of his policy priorities are less clear. He emphasized on Tuesday that he will follow Biden’s lead in giving renewed attention to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. “I will quickly review the department’s contributions to coronavirus relief efforts, ensuring we are doing everything we can — and then some — to help distribute vaccines across the country and to vaccinate our troops and preserve readiness,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Under questioning by senators, Austin pledged to address white supremacy and violent extremism in the ranks of the military — problems that received relatively little public attention from his immediate predecessor, Mark Esper. Austin promised to “rid our ranks of racists,” and said he takes the problem personally. “The Defence Department’s job is to keep America safe from our enemies,” he said. “But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” Austin said he will insist that the leaders of every military service know that extremist behaviour in their ranks is unacceptable. “This is not something we can be passive on,” he said. “This is something I think we have to be active on, and we have to lean into it and make sure that we’re doing the right things to create the right climate.” He offered glimpses of other policy priorities, indicating that he embraces the view among many in Congress that China is the “pacing challenge,” or the leading national security problem for the U.S. The Middle East was the main focus for Austin during much of his 41-year Army career, particularly when he reached senior officer ranks. He served several tours of duty as a commander in Iraq, including as the top commander in 2010-11. An aspect of the defence secretary’s job that is unfamiliar to most who take the job is the far-flung and complex network of nuclear forces that are central to U.S. defence strategy. As a career Army officer, Austin had little reason to learn the intricacies of nuclear policy, since the Army has no nuclear weapons. He told his confirmation hearing that he would bone up on this topic before committing to any change in the nuclear policies set by the Trump administration, including its pursuit of nuclear modernization. Austin, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army. A year later he assumed command of Central Command, where he fashioned and began implementing a strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He describes himself as the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia, who will speak his mind to Congress and to Biden. Robert Burns And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
L’immense Kazakhstan, riche en ressources naturelles, échappe de plus en plus à l’influence russe au profit de la Chine.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland hired Paulo Sousa as its national team coach Thursday to replace the fired Jerzy Brzeczek. The appointment was announced by Polish soccer federation president Zbigniew Boniek, three days after Brzeczek was surprisingly dismissed despite leading the team to the 2020 European Championship, which was delayed to this summer. The 50-year-old Sousa, a former Portugal international, has previously coached clubs including Basel and Fiorentina. He takes over a Poland team that includes Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, FIFA's world player of the year for 2020, but has just two months to prepare for the start of World Cup qualifying. His assistants will be fellow Portuguese Manuel Julio Cordeiro da Silva and Spaniard Victor Manuel Sanchez Llado. Poland will face Spain, Slovakia and Sweden at Euro 2020 in a group being played in Dublin and Bilbao, Spain. In World Cup qualifying, Poland was drawn into a six-team group that includes England and Hungary. Boniek said the decision to fire Brzeczek was a “very difficult” one but that he didn't expect the team to improve without a coaching change. ____ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Russia has ordered TikTok and other social networks to restrict online calls for nationwide protests in support of detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.View on euronews
Green Party Leader David Coon says potential cuts to Maritime Bus lines are an immediate concern for northern and rural New Brunswickers that the province needs to address now. Earlier this month, the interprovincial bus service announced it was cutting several routes, including the Edmundston-Fredericton and Campbellton-Moncton routes. The company said it was making the cuts because of increased operating costs and low ridership due to the pandemic. "That is an essential service that people need to use to get to medical services for anyone who can't drive or can't afford to drive," said Coon in this week's political panel. "Without it, they're trapped. You can't get there from here if there isn't a bus." On Tuesday, 21 Maritime senators sent a letter urging the federal government to provide federal assistance to the service. Maritime Bus will continue the routes until the end of the month to give municipalities a chance to figure out a way to help fund the service. New Brunswick's Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder didn't explicitly say money was coming, suggesting the province will have to explore the issue more carefully. "I think one of our mistakes historically is that we've all worked from solutions rather than problems and opportunities," said Holder. "I think we have to identify what the challenges are and I think then from there we have to figure out what the solutions are." Coon agrees that a rethink of transportation in the province is needed, but said the planned cuts must be addressed now. Interim Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said the province has made it difficult for businesses to receive help. "P.E.I., Nova Scotia has authorized help, New Brunswick is the only province out of the three that doesn't want to provide the help," said Melanson. "Now, we are hearing for Maritime Bus that maybe help is coming, but the provincial government is putting conditions… the conditions that's being put in place by the premier, by this government to access any potential help is so complicated and difficult to access that businesses are just saying it's not worth it to go and try to apply for this help." Holder said a short-term solution can't come at the expense of a long-tem plan. "I agree something needs to be done in the short term, but that short term solution and that short term conversation just can't be in a vacuum without thinking about where we go moving forward," said Holder. "The fact of the matter is, in March, the government through, I believe it was the Regional Development Corporation, invested $160,000 in this to keep Maritime Bus moving along throughout this COVID situation. So I don't think that it's fair to say that the government has not responded to the situation in the short term." Coon said inter-city bus service needs to be viewed like a ferry service. "We don't say to people, 'we can't run ferries because they can't pay for themselves, so you're going to have to get your own boats,'" said Coon. "But we do take the view that we'll provide the roads but you have to get your own cars to travel on them. And if you can't afford a car, or don't have the ability to drive a car, you're out of luck."
A Calgary father who killed his daughter when he rolled his Jeep while drunk wants his conviction overturned or at least a lighter sentence. Michael Shaun Bomford was convicted of drunk driving causing death and bodily harm, as well as dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm. In September, Bomford was handed a 5½-year sentence for his crimes. In a notice filed with the Alberta Court of Appeal this week, Bomford asked the province's top court to overturn his conviction and either substitute an acquittal or order a new trial. If he is turned down, he wants a lesser sentence because he says the one imposed "was excessive and unreasonable in the circumstances." On Oct. 18, 2016, Bomford's Jeep Liberty was travelling west on McKnight Boulevard between 68th Street and 52nd Street N.E. when it went out of control, fishtailing in the far right lane. Meghan Bomford, 17, died after she was thrown from her father's Jeep. Meghan's best friend, Kelsey Nelson, was also thrown from the vehicle. She survived but suffered a serious brain injury. A number of Good Samaritans stopped to help, including an off-duty firefighter, a paramedic and an ER nurse. Family members credit them with saving Nelson's life. At the time of the crash, Bomford's blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit. Accident reconstructionists were able to show the Jeep was travelling more than 30 km/h above the speed limit when the father lost control. Bomford had picked up his daughter and her friend so the girls could go to the police station to get criminal background checks done that would allow them to become junior ringette coaches. While they were en route to the police station, Meghan was texting with her mother. The text messages were important evidence for the prosecution because they showed Bomford was behind the wheel, not Meghan, as defence suggested. But in his notice of appeal, Bomford indicated he will argue the text messages should not have been admitted as evidence. After Bomford was convicted and sentenced, Meghan's family said that with the court process over, they'd finally be able to properly grieve their loss.
The actor, a dual citizen, did not mince words.
The gate on Highway 7 near Fort Liard, which restricts travel between the community and British Columbia, will be operated by appointment only until at least Jan. 30, the territorial government announced in a news release Thursday. Appointments will only be available on Tuesdays and Fridays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The territorial government says the change is being made to help free up local resources for the COVID-19 response in Fort Liard. Residents in the community are currently on a mandatory 14-day containment order. The order bans all at-home gatherings of any size, forces schools and non-essential businesses to close and mandates masks in public places. Commercial vehicles carrying essential supplies or essential services wishing to arrive through the gate along with any vehicle looking to depart through the gate, must contact Protect NWT at 8-1-1 or 1-833-378-8297 if calling from outside the N.W.T., or email email@example.com. The government says Protect NWT will relay the requests to the local public health officer for action. Only commercial vehicles carrying essential supplies and essential services can come through the gate, while departures may be arranged for other vehicles. The gate, which sits about 10 kilometres from the N.W.T.-B.C. border, has been the source of trouble for RCMP in the area in the past year, with incidents of damage to the gate on several occasions.
Une pétition pour soutenir les ainés Si la Covid-19 frappe particulièrement fort chez les ainés, ces derniers font aussi partie des victimes collatérales de la pandémie. En effet, les 65 ans et plus, qui forment 25 % de la population du Bas-Saint-Laurent, souffrent de l’isolement et de la précarité financière induits par les périodes de confinement. Ce jeudi, trois organismes se sont joints aux deux députés fédéraux Maxime Blanchette-Joncas et Kristina Michaud pour lancer une pétition demandant au gouvernement fédéral d’assurer un meilleur soutien aux personnes âgées. Car si Ottawa n’a pas été avare d’aides financières en tout genre dans la dernière année, les ainés font figure de grands oubliés : ils n’ont eu droit qu’à une aide ponctuelle de 500 $ en mars 2020, loin des milliards dépensés en PCU… Cette différence de traitement alimente un « profond sentiment d’injustice », selon M. Blanchette-Joncas, d’autant plus que les personnes âgées doivent composer avec des frais supplémentaires, qu’il s’agisse d’inflation ou de coûts de livraison. Augmenter le revenu des ainés est donc une priorité, ainsi que le martèle le président régional du Réseau FADOQ Gilles Noël : « Nous demandons que le gouvernement mette en œuvre sa promesse électorale faite lors de l’élection de 2019 en rehaussant minimalement de 10% le montant des prestations de la Sécurité de la vieillesse. » Le bénévolat en déroute Du côté de la Table de concertation des ainés du Bas-Saint-Laurent, on souligne l’urgence de briser l’isolement des 65 ans et plus. « Le gouvernement du Canada doit innover afin de mettre en place un réseau d’aide et de soutien direct aux ainés », explique la vice-présidente Kathleen Bouffard. Il devient difficile de trouver des bénévoles (la majorité ayant plus de 70 ans) pour faire des livraisons ou accompagner quelqu’un devant se rendre à l’hôpital pour passer des examens, et il faudrait donc former des travailleurs de milieu pour aller à la rencontre des personnes vivant seules, qui se sentent de plus en plus abandonnées. De son côté, le président du Carrefour 50 + Richard Rancourt alerte sur la situation des organismes qui font vivre les villages : ceux-ci sont portés à bout de bras par des retraités, et leurs revenus s’effondrent suite à la baisse de leur membership. M. Rancourt aimerait que le gouvernement pense à implanter des mesures de compensation pour assumer les coûts fixes, comme cela a été fait dans d’autres secteurs. La remise en route post-pandémie ne se fera pas d’elle-même, ajoute-t-il : « La culture de la peur s’est installée, il va falloir remotiver tout l’engagement bénévole de nos ainés. » Il sera alors probablement nécessaire d’avoir recours à des professionnels en animation, ce qui aura un coût. Internet haute vitesse et transferts en santé exigées Deux autres revendications plus universelles permettraient également d’améliorer le sort des ainés : tout d’abord, l’amélioration de la connexion au réseau internet haute vitesse, qui pourrait permettre de reconnecter les personnes seules au reste du monde si elles sont en mesure d’utiliser les outils web. Le Bas-Saint-Laurent est la région la moins bien branchée au Québec, souligne le député Blanchette-Joncas. La pétition demande également d’indexer les transferts en santé de 6 %. L’autre députée bloquiste de la région, Kristina Michaud, rappelle que pour « chaque [tranche de] 100 $ dépensé[e] par le gouvernement fédéral depuis le début de la pandémie, seulement 33 cents sont allés dans le réseau de la santé du Québec. » La pétition sera déposée à la Chambre des communes si elle atteint plus de 500 signatures d’ici le 20 mars.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir