Looks like Zeus would rather sit up front with his owner!
Looks like Zeus would rather sit up front with his owner!
Canadian forward Tyler Pasher is back in Major League Soccer, signing with the Houston Dynamo from the USL Championship's Indy Eleven. The 26-year-old from Elmira, Ont., scored 23 goals and added six assists in 50 appearances for Indy Eleven -- the sixth-most in the USL Championship since 2019. Pasher, with 10 goals and two assists in 15 appearances, was named to the 2020 USL Championship All-League team following an abbreviated 16-game season. “Tyler is a player we’ve been tracking closely over the last year and we are pleased the timing was right to add him to our roster,” Matt Jordan, Houston's senior vice-president and GM, said in a statement. “His ability to take players on and put up numbers, along with being naturally left-footed, make him a good fit for our group and system.” A former Canadian youth international, Pasher has yet to earn a senior cap but was called into camp in both 2015 and 2017. "Tyler is a relentless worker on both sides of the ball and he fits really well into our game model,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said. “We feel that we added a player who is going to be successful and going to contribute in the attacking third." Pasher spent seven years with Newcastle United as an academy and reserve player before returning to Canada in 2010 for two seasons with Toronto FC’s academy. He wore the captain's armband after coming off the bench in July 2012 as an 18-year-old in a TFC friendly against Liverpool. He went on to play for Finland's PS Kemi in 2013 and Michigan's Lansing United, in the National Premier Soccer League, in 2014. He signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2015) and Swope Park Rangers (2016). The five-foot-nine 150-pounder made his MLS debut with Sporting Kansas City, Swope’s parent club, in 2017. He signed with Indy Eleven following the 2017 season. Houston now has 24 players under contract for the 2021 MLS season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — His place in the history books rewritten, President Donald Trump endured his second impeachment largely alone and silent. For more than four years, Trump has dominated the national discourse like no one before him. Yet when his legacy was set in stone on Wednesday, he was stunningly left on the sidelines. Trump now stands with no equal, the only president to be charged twice with a high crime or misdemeanour, a new coda for a term defined by a deepening of the nation's divides, his failures during the worst pandemic in a century and his refusal to accept defeat at the ballot box. Trump kept out of sight in a nearly empty White House as impeachment proceedings played out at the heavily fortified U.S. Capitol. There, the damage from last week’s riots provided a visible reminder of the insurrection that the president was accused of inciting. Abandoned by some in his own party, Trump could do nothing but watch history unfold on television. The suspension of his Twitter account deprived Trump of his most potent means to keep Republicans in line, giving a sense that Trump had been defanged and, for the first time, his hold on his adopted party was in question. He was finally heard from hours after the vote, in a subdued video that condemned the insurrection at the Capitol and warned his supporters from engaging in any further violence. It was a message that was largely missing one week earlier, when rioters marching in Trump’s name descended on the Capitol to try to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. “I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week," said Trump. He added that “no true supporter” of his “could ever endorse political violence.” But that message, partially motivated to warn off legal exposure for sparking the riot, ran contrary to what Trump has said throughout his term, including when he urged his supporters to “fight” for him last week. Trump said not a word about his impeachment in the video, though he complained about the ban on his social media. And later Wednesday, he asked allies if he had gone too far with the video, wondering if it might upset some of his supporters. Four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing discussed Trump’s private conversations on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to do so publicly. With only a week left in Trump's term, there were no bellicose messages from the White House fighting the proceedings on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue and no organized legal response. Some congressional Republicans did defend the president during House debate in impeachment, their words carrying across the same space violated by rioters one week earlier during a siege of the citadel of democracy that left five dead. In the end, 10 Republicans voted to impeach. It was a marked change from Trump’s first impeachment. That December 2019 vote in the House, which made Trump only the third president ever impeached, played out along partisan lines. The charges then were that he had used the powers of the office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political foe, Joe Biden, now the president-elect. At that time, the White House was criticized for failing to create the kind of robust “war room” that President Bill Clinton mobilized during his own impeachment fight. Nonetheless, Trump allies did mount their own pushback campaign. There were lawyers, White House messaging meetings, and a media blitz run by allies on conservative television, radio and websites. Trump was acquitted in 2020 by the GOP-controlled Senate and his approval ratings were undamaged. But this time, as some members of his own party recoiled and accused him of committing impeachable offences, Trump was isolated and quiet. A presidency centred on the bombastic declaration “I alone can fix it” seemed to be ending with a whimper. The third-ranking Republican in the House, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said there had “never been a greater betrayal” by a president. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told colleagues in a letter that he had not decided how he would vote in an impeachment trial. For the first time, Trump’s future seemed in doubt, and what was once unthinkable — that enough Republican senators would defy him and vote to remove him from office — seemed at least possible, if unlikely. But there was no effort from the White House to line up votes in the president’s defence. The team around Trump is hollowed out, with the White House counsel’s office not drawing up a legal defence plan and the legislative affairs team largely abandoned. Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to push Republican senators to oppose removal. Graham’s spokesman said the senator was making the calls of his own volition. Trump and his allies believed that the president’s sturdy popularity with the lawmakers’ GOP constituents would deter them from voting against him. The president was livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney and has been deeply frustrated that he could not hit back with his Twitter account, which has kept Republicans in line for years. He also has turned on his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who touted election conspiracy theories and whom many in the president's orbit believe shoulders some of the blame for both impeachments. Trump had grown irritated at Giuliani's lavish spending, which included a request to be paid $20,000 a day, and told aides to stop paying him. Trump watched much of the day's proceedings on TV from the White House residence and his private dining area off the Oval Office. A short time before he was impeached, Trump was in the White House East Room presenting the National Medal of Arts to singers Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs as well as former Associated Press photographer Nick Ut. His paramount concern, beyond his legacy, was what a second impeachment could do to his immediate political and financial future. The loss of his Twitter account and fundraising lists could complicate Trump's efforts to remain a GOP kingmaker and potentially run again in 2024. Moreover, Trump seethed at the blows being dealt to his business, including the withdrawal of a PGA tournament from one of his golf courses and the decision by New York City to cease dealings with his company. There's the possibility that if the Senate were to convict him, he also could be barred from seeking election again, dashing any hopes of another presidential campaign. A White House spokesman did not respond to questions about whether anyone in the building was trying to defend Trump, who was now the subject of half of the presidential impeachments in the nation's history. One campaign adviser, Jason Miller, argued Democrats’ efforts will serve to galvanize the Republican base behind Trump and end up harming Biden. He blamed the Democrats’ swift pace for the silence, saying there wasn’t “time for mounting a traditional response operation.” But he pledged that “the real battle will be the Senate where there’ll be a more traditional pushback effort.” The reminders of the Capitol siege were everywhere as the House moved toward the impeachment roll call. Some of the Capitol’s doors were broken and windows were shattered. A barricade had gone up around outside the building and there were new checkpoints. Hundreds of members of the National Guard patrolled the hallways, even sleeping on the marble floors of the same rotunda that once housed Abraham Lincoln’s casket. And now the Capitol is the site of more history, adding to the chapter that features Clinton, impeached 21 years ago for lying under oath about sex with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and Andrew Johnson, impeached 151 years ago for defying Congress on Reconstruction. Another entry is for Richard Nixon, who avoided impeachment by resigning during the Watergate investigation. But Trump, the only one impeached twice, will once more be alone. ___ Lemire reported from New York. Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The Americanization of the Black experience had become so deeply rooted in me that I felt like I didn’t have a home within Blackness.
OTTAWA — Canada’s two largest provinces are now under significant restrictions to curb surging cases of COVID-19 and a professional group for emergency doctors is calling for more transparency around vaccine distribution. Ontario’s stay-at-home order came into effect Thursday as the province reported 62 more deaths and 3,326 new novel coronavirus infections. Among added measures is a requirement for people to wear a mask inside businesses and restrictions on the size of gatherings. All non-essential retail stores may only open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Premier Doug Ford has said everyone must stay home and only go out for essential trips. The number of COVID-19 cases, including the new United Kingdom variant, are increasing rapidly in the province. But Ontario has so far avoided bringing in a curfew like one enacted in Quebec last weekend. Hospitalizations continued to rise in Quebec to 1,523, with 230 people in intensive care. The province also reported 2,132 new cases and 64 more deaths due to COVID-19, including 15 in the past 24 hours. Health Minister Christian Dube was expected to provide more details about Quebec’s vaccination campaign later Thursday. The organization representing emergency doctors is calling for a clear description of who is being prioritized for first doses and why. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians said Wednesday in a statement that many members in areas with limited human resources have not been vaccinated, while urban providers who have less patient contact appear to have received shots. The group also wants priority to go to those directly caring for patients who are critically ill or suspected of having COVID-19. The statement said communication so far don't support claims that the vaccine rollout will follow an ethical framework. Many doctors don’t know when they will be vaccinated and the association said that needs to change. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. — By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg The Canadian Press
Asha Allen-Silverstein vividly remembers the sense of sadness and dread that came over her one day last March, as she closed up after a makeup workshop in The Beauty Collective’s space at 991 Queen St. E. The 15-year industry veteran had only opened the store the previous November, but had no idea when she’d be back. The next day, a provincial state of emergency was declared and the COVID-19 pandemic response had begun. “It was almost like an abyss of not knowing when and how you could reopen,” she recalled in a recent video interview from the shop, where 10 months later, she mostly researches and applies for grants, loans and rent relief to keep afloat while waiting for a time when full service can resume. It hasn’t ever really gotten much clearer, but the business is still standing, which Allen-Silverstein credits to sharing fixed costs among a five-person collective and accessing federal commercial rent relief and grants such as property tax and electricity rebates. But she still wrestles with the decision to keep going. “Some days it's like, ‘Do we just keep the concept, stay in touch with our client base, and open up somewhere new at some point?’” she said. “It’s a hard thing, especially when you just don’t know how long this is going to go on.” From one end of Toronto’s usually bustling Queen Street to the other, the thousands of small businesses that populate local economic zones have, by and large, had a rough go of it throughout 2020. Half of Canada’s restaurants risk closing within six months, according to survey results published by Restaurants Canada earlier in December. In Ontario, the provincial government’s decision to expand restrictions last month means more than a third of businesses won’t survive, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which wants the province to immediately top up federal rent and wage subsidies to cover 100 per cent of those costs for businesses in lockdown zones and provide more funding for announced rebate programs. Almost three-quarters of the several hundred small businesses in Toronto, Ottawa, and Guelph who responded to a Danforth BIA-led survey last summer said they couldn’t pay all of June’s rent, up from 63 percent in May and half of respondents in April. And with COVID-19 cases spiking ever higher and Premier Doug Ford announcing a new state of emergency on Tuesday, more than five months after lifting the first one, the chances of survival for those already falling behind on rent are getting even slimmer, their backers warn. “(The year) 2020 for me is tears,” said Robert Sysak, adding the scale of collapsed local businesses so far is the worst he has seen in 12 years as executive director of the West Queen West BIA. “I've never heard so many people cry.” “(The year) 2020 was quite devastating and depressing, and truth be told, I don't think the worst has happened yet,” said Sysak, whose BIA in the art and design district has more than 400 members, including building owners and landlords as well as about 160 businesses. Sysak said he counted 26 storefronts either vacant or with new tenants on a recent walk around his precinct, one of 84 in a city initiative to boost local shops and services. But public health measures to fight COVID-19 and government efforts at pandemic support have affected Toronto storefronts differently for various reasons, including the type of business and age of the owner, according to Sysak and the heads of other local business associations. “I honestly think the younger folks were able to pivot a lot easier than some of our older restaurants or other things,” Sysak said, while also noting younger entrepreneurs are finding it easier to walk away. “When you're younger, you have more time, you can still succeed at doing something else,” Sysak said. “But if you've been doing something for 40 years and you’re in your 60s or 50s, late 50s, you probably think, ‘OK, if I leave this, what do I do again?’” Dominic Cobran also says the younger owners among the 200-odd members of the Leslieville BIA (including Allen-Silverstein and The Beauty Collective) have, on the whole, found it easier to adjust to the changed circumstances of a mostly digital world. “Since the pandemic has happened, I've seen a lot of cases where the businesses that are owned by young people have fully made a switch to digital,” he said. Cobran said he has seen six or seven businesses close since COVID-19 hit, including a couple shut out by landlords early in the pandemic before government rent relief was on offer. “We have certainly not seen the amount of closures I anticipated,” he said. “I was working with the pulse, what was on the ground, so I was engaged with my businesses a lot, and for the most part I was hearing, ‘I don't think I can make it. I don't think I can make it.’ And for the most part, many of them are still standing,” he said. Sysak from West Queen West says that's mostly thanks to government support and their dedication to a life choice. “I do think there are a lot of businesses still there because these are their dreams and their passions, and they’re hanging on,” he said. For Allen-Silverstein, the future could involve either outcome. She’s not always sure it’s worthwhile to keep going, but has invested a lot — “mostly sweat equity,” she says — into the venture and says with some capital assistance she could produce high-quality online lessons and course content or work with chemist friends to create her own products. She’s currently awaiting word on how to apply for a provincial grant of between $10,000 and $20,000 that was announced in December and is said to be coming in mid-January. “There’s a lot of things, if you’re creative, that could just be absolutely online-only sales,” she said. “It could be like opening another branch of our business so we’re not just service-based. “It's kind of a hard time to ask people to pivot into something new when you really don't have the means to do so,” she noted.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
ATHENS, Greece — Police have used tear gas to disperse crowds at a rally in Athens organized to protest plans to set up a state security division at university campuses. Mass gatherings are banned under current lockdown rules imposed because of the pandemic, but members and supporters of student and left-wing groups joined a rally Thursday near parliament in central Athens. Greece’s centre-right government scrapped a decades-old ban on police entering university grounds, arguing the measure had been frequently exploited to organize violent protests and even criminal activity. The government plans to set up a campus police division and limit entrance to university grounds to students, academic staff, employees and guests. Under the proposed changes, university entrance requirements will also be amended and time limits will be set for the completion of degree courses. Free access to university areas is seen by many Greeks as an important source of political dissent and which allowed resistance to be developed against authoritarian regimes in the past. The main left-wing opposition party, Syriza, is backing the education protests and has described the proposed reforms as undemocratic and aimed at making universities “sterile and unfree.” The Associated Press
New York's attorney general sued the New York Police Department on Thursday, calling the rough treatment of protesters against racial injustice last spring part of a longstanding pattern of abuse that stemmed from inadequate training, supervision and discipline. Attorney General Letitia James' lawsuit includes dozens of examples of alleged misconduct during the spring demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s police killing, including the use of pepper spray and batons on protesters, trapping demonstrators with a technique called kettling and arresting medics and legal observers. "We found a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests,” James said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. James, a Democrat, was tasked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo with investigating whether NYPD officers used excessive force to quell unrest and enforce Mayor Bill de Blasio’s nightly curfew. She issued a preliminary report in July that cited a “clear breakdown of trust between police and the public.” She is seeking reforms including the appointment of a monitor to oversee the NYPD’s policing tactics at future protests and a court order declaring that the policies and practices the department used during the protests were unlawful. The NYPD did not immediately comment on the lawsuit. James' lawsuit is the second major legal action to stem from the NYPD’s handling of the protests. In October, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society sued the city on behalf of protesters who say they were assaulted and abused by police. A civil rights organization and a city watchdog agency have also criticized the department’s actions. Human Rights Watch issued a report in November citing evidence that police planned an aggressive crackdown on protesters on June 4 in the Bronx. In December, the city’s inspector general found that the NYPD was caught off guard by the size of the protests and resorted to aggressive disorder control methods that stoked tensions and stifled free speech. Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
An anti-government website that was promoting armed protests in the U.S. ahead of the presidential inauguration was shut down by the company hosting its cloud servers after CBC News revealed those servers were in Montreal.
As the first groups from Central America reached the Guatemalan border on Thursday as part of a caravan aiming to reach the United States, regional governments are using coronavirus measures as the latest tool to curtail migration. Small groups of migrants arrived in the Honduran border town of Corinto on Thursday afternoon, where they were stopped by police demanding negative coronavirus tests, according to local media. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico issued a joint declaration earlier this week imposing coordinated health measures to deter migration, including requirements to produce negative coronavirus tests at border checkpoints.
Mick Fleetwood has become the latest in a series of rock musicians to cash in on their work by agreeing on Thursday to sell his back catalogue to music major BMG. The deal gives BMG, owned by German media company Bertelsmann AG, a share in the royalties from over 300 recordings including "Dreams" and "Go Your Own Way", two of the biggest hits from Fleetwood Mac, the band he co-founded in 1967. Bob Dylan and Neil Young have both done rights deals in recent months as the popularity of streaming services ensures they are able to tap into new audiences.
The latest COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 10:30 a.m. The province of Ontario says there are 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 968 of those new cases are in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Vaccinations continue across Ontario with 14,237 doses administered since Wednesday's update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
Maritime Bus will keep two northern routes going as it explores financial assistance options from municipalities. In early January, the company said it can no longer afford to keep service between Moncton and Campbellton and between Fredericton and Edmundston. Owner Mike Cassidy said the last run would be on Jan. 15. On Thursday, Cassidy confirmed the last run will now be Jan. 31 in hopes that the municipalities' Safe Restart federal COVID-19 relief fund can be used to subsidize the routes. "I felt comfortable today to say I think we need a little bit more time to discuss how important busing is," he said. "We've been talking now in the last week, it's essential, it's important, but let's take all that talk and let's come up with an agreement." Cassidy there has no been commitment or agreement for financial assistance, only "good bus talk." Michel Soucy, mayor of the village of Atholville and president of the Francophone Association of New Brunswick Municipalities, said multiple municipalities in rural New Brunswick affected by the possible end to bus service have started meeting and discussing how they can keep the service going. He said at this point, having municipalities spend their own money to subsidize the bus service is not on the table. But they are trying to find out if they can use relief funds meant for public transit to keep the inter-city service afloat. "We're looking at the federal government, the provincial government and all other municipalities that are involved in the province to find a solution," he said. "Because we feel that this service is really an essential service for the people of northern New Brunswick." The federal government has given New Brunswick $41.1 million in relief funding for municipalities. Premier Blaine Higgs previously turned his back on possible millions in transit-specific federal relief cash because of a misunderstanding. At a COVID-19 media briefing Thursday, Higgs said it's possible the province will send some funding to Maritime Bus before the end of the pandemic. "The restart money that the federal government had moved to municipalities, that is for COVID related expenses. And this is confirmed as a COVID related expense," he said. Higgs said he doesn't have details on exactly how funding will happen but he hopes to see things resolved in the next week. Soucy said the two weeks will be valuable time while rural municipalities try to figure out how to keep the buses going, especially considering how isolated rural areas have been during the pandemic. "There's people that needs that type of service, to get health services, for example," he said "And it's good for the economy also because we have companies that are using this bus system to transport goods from one municipality or one region to another." COVID-related losses Cassidy previously said company has been coping with plummeting ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cassidy said Maritime Bus moved 111,000 passengers in 2019. In 2020, he said the company had 69,000 passengers. He said the parent company, Coach Atlantic, which also provides tours and caters to cruise ship passengers, lost about $4.9 million in net income in 2020, and revenue dropped by $33 million.
WASHINGTON — The Constitution says the chief justice is to preside at the impeachment trial of a president. But what about an ex-president? Like so much else about the Constitution, the answer is subject to interpretation. If President Donald Trump’s trial begins after Jan. 20, it’s not clear whether Chief Justice John Roberts would make his way to the Senate chamber as he did last year for Trump’s first trial. Impeachment scholars, law professors and political scientists offer differing views. The choices appear to be Roberts, Kamala Harris, who by then will be vice-president, or Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will be the Senate’s president pro tem once the Democrats gain control of the Senate. The issue is “unsettled, completely without precedent, and unspecific in existing Senate rules and precedents,” Princeton University political scientist Keith Whittington wrote in an email. One reason that the Constitution specifies the chief justice to run the president’s trial is that the person who otherwise presides over the Senate is the vice-president — the very person who would assume the presidency if the chief executive is convicted. That’s a bit unseemly. But if the stakes are changed and the sitting vice-president no longer stands to get the top job, why not have Harris, who by then will have taken over for Mike Pence, preside? Whittington said he thinks that could happen, “as with the impeachment of any officer other than the president.” But he said he “can imagine that the Senate might go the other way and treat a former president the same as a sitting president.” University of Texas law professor Steven Vladeck said the chief justice is the better choice. The House on Wednesday impeached the president, not the former president, Vladeck wrote on Twitter. “Indeed, if Trump resigned (or his term ended) mid-trial, it would be more than a little odd for the Chief Justice to give way to the Vice-President. The question should be whether the impeached officer was President at the time of impeachment. Here, he was, so Roberts presides,” Vladeck wrote. Another factor in favour of Roberts is that “a trial of a President (even a former President) is a momentous event and having the Chief Justice preside seems more congruent with, or more fitting of, the occasion,” Georgia State University law professor Neil Kinkopf wrote in an email. If it’s not Roberts or Harris, who may wish to avoid the appearance of a conflict that presiding over Trump’s trial might inflame, the next choice would be Leahy, the senior Democrat in the Senate, Norm Eisen said on CNN. Eisen was a legal adviser to Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment. Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
BEIRUT — It was a choice between containing a spiraling virus outbreak and resuscitating a dying economy in a country that has been in steady financial and economic meltdown over the past year. Authorities in Lebanon chose the latter. Now, virus patients struggling to breathe wait outside hospitals — hoping for a bed or a even chair to open up. Ordinary people share contact lists of oxygen suppliers on social media as the the critical gas becomes scarce, and the sound of ambulances ferrying the ill echoes through Beirut. Around 500 of Lebanon's 14,000 doctors have left the crisis-ridden country in recent months, according to the Order of Physicians, putting a further strain on existing hospital staff. On Thursday, Lebanese authorities swung the other way: They began enforcing an 11-day nationwide shutdown and round-the-clock curfew, hoping to blunt the spread of coronavirus infections spinning out of control after the holiday period. The curfew is the strictest measure Lebanon has taken since the start of the pandemic. Previous shutdowns had laxer rules and were poorly enforced. Now, residents cannot leave their homes, except for a defined set of reasons, including going to the bakery, pharmacy, doctor’s office, hospital or airport — and for the first time they must request a permit before doing these things. Even supermarkets can only open for delivery. While Lebanon still somehow managed to keep cases to an average of fewer than 100 per day until August, it now leads the Arab world in number of cases per million people. Today, the number of daily COVID-19 deaths is more than 13 times what it was in July. On Jan. 9, over 5,400 infections were reported, a record for the small country. While its neighbours begin vaccinating their populations — including Israel whose campaign promises to be among the world's speediest — Lebanon has yet to secure a first batch of shots. Once a leader in the health sector among Middle Eastern countries, Lebanon has been stymied in its effort to get vaccines by repeated bureaucratic delays partly due to the fact that it has a caretaker government. Parliament is expected to meet Friday to vote on a draft law to allow importing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with the first deliveries expected to arrive next month. “This is the result of deliberate decisions made by irresponsible and immoral politicians,” said Sami Hanna, a 42-year-old businessman who was waiting for his turn to enter a pharmacy earlier this week, looking for pain relievers, anti-depressants and blood pressure medicine for his elderly parents. “This is how we spend our days now, begging,” he said, adding that his next mission was to look for bread, which was out of stock because of panic-buying before the curfew set in. “It is too little too late.” The surge in coronavirus cases began in late August, a few weeks after the massive explosion at the Beirut port that destroyed parts of the capital, including several hospitals with virus patients. The explosion was caused by a fire that detonated nearly three tons of poorly stored ammonium nitrate that had been sitting in a port warehouse for years — the kind of mismanagement that is typical of a corrupt political class that fails to provide even basic services for its people. The virus surged in the chaos of inundated hospitals, funerals and protests that followed. Further complicating efforts to rein in the virus, politicians have been unable to agree on a new government since the old one resigned in the wake of the port explosion, effectively ensuring the country's continued unraveling. But in December, as most governments around the world tightened lockdowns, Lebanon went the other way, allowing restaurants and nightclubs to reopen with barely any restrictions in place. An estimated 80,000 expats flowed to the country to celebrate Christmas and New Year with loved ones — many of them Lebanese who skipped visiting in the summer because of the devastation wrought by the explosion. “The holiday season should have been the time for lockdown. The season of crowds, shopping and parties,” said Hanna Azar, owner of a money transfer and telephones shop. “They opened it to allow dollars into the country and now they want to close. Especially in this economic crisis, people don’t have money to eat.” Many hospitals have now reached maximum capacity for coronavirus patients. Some have run out of beds, oxygen tanks and ventilators. Others have halted elective surgeries. Last week, Lebanon imposed a 25-day nationwide lockdown and a nighttime curfew to limit the spread of the virus, but many sectors were exempted and enforcement was lax, as in the past. Many businesses, including hair salons, welcomed customers behind shuttered storefronts. In some areas of north and south Lebanon, it was business as usual. With hospitals on the brink of collapse, the government then ordered an 11-day nationwide curfew starting Thursday, triggering three days of mayhem as crowds of shoppers emptied shelves in supermarkets and bakeries. On Thursday, police manned checkpoints around the country, checking motorists’ permission to be on the road. Halim Shebaya, a political analyst, said the government still has no clear strategy and cautioned that it would be difficult to bring the numbers down this late in the game. “The main issue now is the absence of trust in the government and authorities and managing a pandemic necessitates the presence of public trust in measures taken by the authorities,” he said. Still, Rabih Torbay, who heads Project HOPE, an international global health and humanitarian organization, said time is of essence and urged authorities to take any step that might help curb infections. “Every day that goes by the country is sliding further into the abyss,” he said. ___ Associated Press journalists Fadi Tawil and Bilal Hussein contributed reporting. Zeina Karam, The Associated Press
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever left its mark on Montreal Alouettes linebacker Henoc Muamba and his family. Mamba's mother-in-law, Elizabeth Tweneboah, died in June after contracting the novel coronavirus. She was 66. That resulted in Muamba and his wife, Jessica _ who's expecting their second child any time now _ becoming the primary caregivers for Muamba's 27-year-old sister-in-law, Joyce, who has some disabilities and endured mental health issues. The pandemic also cost Muamba, 31, financially as the CFL didn't play last year. But that certainly pales in comparison to what Muamba - who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Mississauga, Ont. - and his family continue to deal with. "It's definitely challenged all of us to grow in many ways ... and rethink our times together," Muamba said in a phone interview. "One of the things my wife and I have been intentional about, as of late, is just being present in the moment. "You never know how fleeting life is and I think it's a great reminder of not only being present in each moment that you spend with loved ones but also just remembering those people." Muamba's mother- and sister-in-law both lived downstairs in the family's Brampton, Ont., residence. Muamba said Tweneboah began suffering body aches initially before the family took her to hospital as a precaution. But upon arrival, Tweneboah was admitted immediately. On the same day, the Muambas learned they'd be having a second child. Henoc Muamba said while Tweneboah was a diabetic, she'd shown no signs of being ill. "She'd been healthy, strong," he said. "She'd had her business (beauty supplies store) and even after that she was doing things, she never liked staying still. "She was just an entrepreneur at heart ... she'd always be talking about it and we'd laugh and tell her, 'Man, you have to learn how to rest,' and she'd say, 'What do I need to rest for? I have a lot of energy and I'm going to continue doing this.' She always found people to help. That was her, that was her heart." But Muamba said after a few days in hospital, Tweneboah was put on a ventilator. She died roughly two weeks after being admitted. Muamba, his wife, and sister-in-law all underwent COVID-19 testing. While Muamba's result was negative, his wife and sister-in-law were both positive but they're fine now after following quarantine protocols. However, family couldn't visit Tweneboah in hospital. "That was extremely difficult," Muamba said. "But we're a family of faith and I think that's one of the things that's really been our backbone and kept us strong. "But the passing of my mother-in-law may change a lot for me and my family because her presence was a big reason why I was able to practically play football anywhere in Canada. I knew my wife and daughter were in very, very good hands. There's nothing like a mother's help and that gave me great peace playing in Montreal and leaving my family here." Muamba said Tweneboah packed a lot of living into her 66 years. "She was an amazing woman who impacted so many people and I don't just say that because of the circumstances," he said. "She was originally from Ghana and was a pillar of the Ghanaian community. "She's one of six (kids) and was always thinking about one of her siblings or close friends. She'd go grocery shopping for her friends or get their medicine all the time. Since her passing, my mother-in-law's closest friend calls my wife and sister-in-law literally every day and that's just a single testament to the impact my mother-in-law had on people. As sad as it is, one thing I keep reminding my wife is that, man, she had a life that was well lived." But Tweneboah's passing also meant Muamba and his wife becoming responsible for his sister-in-law's care. She was born with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) - an eye ailment - and cognitive developmental delay (a condition where intellectual function and adaptive behaviour are significantly below the expected average for their age). She also has a learning disability and the early onset of psychosis, which affects how the brain processes information. "And despite all that she's still functioning and thriving," Muamba said proudly. "She's in college and just finished her last semester and is on to the next one. "I'm actually challenging her to write a book because I think people need to hear her story. She needs to talk about her story just to provide inspiration, not only to those around her but the world. She's a miracle child ... no matter how high the odds have been against her, she's been thriving and I think that will be a platform." And in honour of her mother, Muamba's wife has applied to medical school. "That was one of the last conversations my wife had with her mother and she encouraged my wife and told her she should do it if that's what she wanted to do," Muamba said. "One of the stories my wife brings up is she was still feeling nauseous but had to write an exam and said, 'I don't know how to do this. What if I throw up?' "Me just being the person I am, I told her, 'OK, bring a bag and if you throw up, just continue writing.' She said, 'You're right,' and ended up going. The amount of inspiration and motivation right in front of my eyes has been extremely heartfelt and amazing but we're all drawing from the strength of my mother-in-law's life." That matter-of-fact approach has served the six-foot 230-pound Muamba well in football. The top defensive player in Canadian university football in 2010, the former St. Francis Xavier star is entering his 10th pro season and has played on both sides of the border. In 2019, he was the CFL's top Canadian. "Football has taught me so much ... and allowed me to grow in ways I don't know I would have if I didn't play the game," he said. "It has helped me now ... but I think it's hard or impossible to put yourself in this situation if you're not in it. "It's definitely been difficult. I'd be lying if I said because I played football I was fully prepared for a situation like this, especially something that happened so suddenly." The Muambas are expecting another girl and have settled upon the name Adah, which in Hebrew means "beautiful ornament." The youngest Muamba's middle name will also include her grandmother's maiden name. And after growing up with two brothers - Cauchy and Kelvin have also been with CFL teams - Muamba's household now features a majority of females. "I think it's God's way of balancing things out," Muamba said with a chuckle. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
Ottawa Redblacks kicker Lewis Ward has signed a one-year contract extension with the CFL team. Ward, the league's rookie of the year in 2018, signed an extension for the 2021 season, the Redblacks said Thursday. He hit 43 of 50 field-goal attempts in 2019 and made nine of 11 converts. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said today that manufacturers are expected to deliver up to one million doses a week starting in April. In the spring, Fortin said, the country will shift from phase one of the vaccine rollout — immunizing particularly vulnerable people, such as long-term care home residents, some Indigenous adults and health care providers — to a wider rollout as deliveries become larger and more frequent. The Canadian immunization campaign has gotten off to a slow start. A month into the inoculation efforts, barely one per cent of the population has received at least one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna products. Only 615,000 doses have been delivered to the provinces and territories. The federal government is expecting up to six million doses — enough for three million people to be fully vaccinated using the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose products — by the end of March. But Fortin conceded Thursday the government is still negotiating a delivery schedule. "We have a scarcity of vaccines in the first quarter," Fortin said. April will mark the start of the what he's calling the "ramp-up phase." The prospect of a million doses a week will be welcome news to provincial leaders who have been demanding more vaccine supply as COVID-19 cases spike. While the vaccination campaign got off to a slow start, some provinces, notably B.C., Ontario and Quebec, have been fine-tuning their processes to administer doses faster. "We have been sharing data with provinces and territories who, of course, understandably want more vaccines as they ramp up their vaccination programs. The challenge is we have limited quantities," Fortin said. "The rub is right now … there's perhaps a disappointment with the relatively small numbers that are being distributed," Fortin said. WATCH / Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin on vaccine rollout: Other provinces are laggards. Tens of thousands of the doses the federal government has so far shipped are sitting in freezers. Manitoba and Nova Scotia have been particularly slow out of the gate, using less than half of the shots they have received. According to CBC's vaccine tracker, 419,209 doses have been administered so far. Other promising vaccine candidates, such as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical division, Janssen, are currently being reviewed by regulators at Health Canada. Asked how many doses of those vaccines could flow to Canada in the second quarter of this year, Fortin said he couldn't say. "We're aware of planning figures. I'm not going to disclose them at this time because it's subject to confidentiality agreements with the manufacturers," he said. "We have an amount that's been contracted, purchased pending regulatory approval. I can't speak to dates of quantities at this time." He said doses will start "trickling into the country" if those products get the green light from Health Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that as many as 20 million Canadians could be fully vaccinated between April and June. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand's office later clarified that that figure is dependent on other vaccines beyond the Moderna and Pfizer products being approved by regulators for use in Canada. 2nd vaccine dose could be delayed for up to 42 days: NACI Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, also sought to clarify Thursday a recent report by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). That federal body, comprised of scientists and vaccine experts, said this week that provinces could accelerate the number of people being vaccinated by delaying the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna shots for up to 42 days. NACI said every effort should be made to follow the prescribed dosing schedules, but noted there can be exceptions, particularly when vaccine supplies are so hard to come by and the spread of the virus in a given jurisdiction is rapid. WATCH / Dr. Howard Njoo on two-dose protocols: Njoo said Canadian public health officials are still committed to administering the two-dose regime on the timeline recommended by manufacturers — three weeks after the first shot for the Pfizer product, or one month after the first shot for the Moderna vaccine. Echoing NACI, he said there are legitimate reasons to delay some second shots "In exceptional circumstances, jurisdictions may consider an extended interval between doses based on current and projected epidemiological status, health care system capacity and vaccine delivery and management logistics," Njoo said. Quebec, for example, has pushed off some doses to get more initial shots into the arms of patients faster as caseloads mount. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs told CBC News Network's Power & Politics that his province has not started stretching out the time period between doses but expects his province will begin doing so soon. "Once we have that confirmation of the timelines, that we can spread out between doses, also the confirmation of supply, that we can be assured of what doses are coming and when — when we have those factors in place, we will be able to extend the range and we will do that I'm sure," Higgs told host Vassy Kapelos. "The public health experts and authorities are looking at whether the interval can be increased and based on the available data … it is reasonable," he said. "The principle of increasing the dosing interval is not as problematic."
BATON ROUGE, La. — The widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who died from complications related to COVID-19 before he could take office, declared Thursday that she is entering the race to fill the Louisiana congressional vacancy left by her husband's death. Julia Barnhill Letlow, a Republican who lives in Richland Parish, announced her campaign launch in a statement and a radio interview ahead of next week's candidate signup period for the March 20 election for the 5th District seat representing central and northeastern Louisiana. “Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment. My motivation is the passion Luke and I both shared: to better this region that we called home and to leave it a better place for our children and future generations," she said in the statement. She added: “I am running to continue the mission Luke started -- to stand up for our Christian values, to fight for our rural agricultural communities and to deliver real results to move our state forward.” Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41 only days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office, cutting short what appeared to be a promising political future and leaving behind a family that includes two young children. Republican backers encouraged Julia Letlow to run for the position, and she appears to be lining up the support that had previously gone to Luke Letlow. Julia Letlow, who has a Ph.D. in communication, works at the University of Louisiana at Monroe as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach, among several jobs she's held in higher education. She's worked on political campaigns in north Louisiana and was an active participant in her husband's campaign, but she's a newcomer to running for office herself. “During Luke’s campaign for Congress last year, Luke and I travelled to every corner of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District — from Bastrop to Bunkie to Bogalusa — and all points between," Julia Letlow said. “I met many of the hardworking people of the district and listened to the dreams and ideas they have for our district.” Luke Letlow, who had no known underlying health conditions that put him at greater risk of death from COVID-19, had been elected in a December runoff election. He was going to fill the seat vacated by his boss, Republican Ralph Abraham. He had been Abraham’s chief of staff and ran with Abraham’s backing for the job. At least two other candidates who ran for the seat in last year's election have announced they intend to compete for the job again: Sandra “Candy” Christophe, an Alexandria Democrat who finished third in the race, and Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican. The candidate qualifying period runs from Jan. 20 through 22. After her announcement Thursday, Julia Letlow quickly picked up an endorsement from Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson Parish, a top-ranking House Republican who announced his backing on Twitter. He described Luke Letlow's death as “nothing short of devastating.” “Julia shares the same commitment to public service and I can’t think of anyone better to carry on Luke’s legacy in representing Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District,” Scalise wrote. Louisiana's March 20 election will have two congressional races on the ballot. In addition to the 5th District competition, voters will be choosing someone to fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the job to work for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. If no candidate tops 50% of the vote in the elections, the races will move to April 24 runoffs. ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
Cobden – Whitewater Region will soon have a new fire chief from within the ranks when the acting chief completes his contract in a few months. Deputy-Fire Chief Jonathan McLaren takes over as chief early in the spring. Guy Longtin, who was appointed acting fire chief last March, completes his contract at the end of May. Chief Longtin, who was chief in Renfrew previously, stepped in to assist the fire department twice following the departure of the previous two fire chiefs at different times, once in 2017 and again in 2020. In the second instance, Deputy-Chief McLaren took over the chief duties until Mr. Longtin was hired. “Guy has saved our bacon twice now,” said Chief Administrative Officer Robert Tremblay at the last meeting in December. “I thank Guy for a steadying hand and thank Jonathan for stepping up. “Our fire department is progressing in a great direction,” he added. Chief Longtin said he is leaving the department “in the best financial situation” it has been in for a long time. As well, he said, the deputy-chief has shown good leadership and “he’ll be chief next year.” He reviewed the restructuring of the department, providing an organizational chart. He noted there will be one fire chief, an administrative assistant, two deputy-chiefs, and then several captains, lieutenants and firefighters. It’s hoped some day the complement of firefighters will be 100, but currently it sits around 75 members, Chief Longtin said. The structure shows the fire chief will work 20 hours per week, each deputy-chief 10 hours per week, and the administrative assistant 13 hours per week, he noted. Chief Longtin said the five stations responded to a total of 100 incidents in the past year. Station 1 (Haley Station) attended 18, Station 2 (Cobden) attended 30, Station 3 (Foresters Falls) went to 9, Station 4 (Beachburg) attended 23 incidents and Station 5 (Westmeath) answered 20. Mayor Mike Moore, who had been deputy-fire chief and a firefighter for many years, but resigned his position in July 2017, noted the average number of calls is about 125 each year. It has reached as high as just over the 130 mark, he added. “The majority of the calls are on Highway 17,” he said. He recalled there were 32 extrications in one year on that highway about seven years ago. As part of the council report, which was delivered during the ZOOM meeting, Deputy-Chief McLaren reviewed the Fire Master Plan recommendations. There are 59 recommendations in the plan and of those, 20 are completed. He then reviewed those that had been acted on since it was last discussed. When questioned about ice and water rescue, Mayor Moore said that discussion “has been shelved many times.” He agreed it’s time “for the fire committee to make a written decision.” The traffic on the river is not slowing down, if anything, it’s increasing, with kayaks on the water in December, he added. Deputy-Chief McLaren said there is a huge training aspect for this type of rescue and will cost the township a lot of money. “We are not talking about responding to normal lakes and rivers,” he said. “The Ottawa River is an exceptionally powerful body of water.” Mr. Tremblay said the emergency plan can be reviewed and information as to who can respond in an ice/water situation can be included in it. The next step for the department is to post internally for the deputy-fire chief and administrative assistant positions.Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Doug Ford’s new stay-at-home order for Ontarians will come into effect Thursday at 12:01 a.m. As the details and confusion get sorted in the lead up, the Star spoke to experts about what guidelines members of the public should focus on to continue doing their part in reducing the spread of COVID-19, as well as steps leaders in government should take to improve its pandemic response. What you can do Don’t overcomplicate the guidelines — this one is most important As messaging from the government has changed and led to confusion over the past few months, Barry Pakes, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, says to strip away the noise and follow this guiding principle: “The key message is still do your very best not to interact with anyone outside of your household, full stop.” Pakes advises that members of the public try not to get lost in the “nitpickiness” of the changes and said, “(Do) everything you can not to leave, except for the most essential purposes.” Be mindful even when you’re outdoors Staying attentive while outdoors is something that is crucial right now, says Alex Abramovich, a scientist at CAMH and assistant professor at University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “I’ve noticed that people tend to think that if you are outdoors it is safer, or they forget to keep distance; however, we are at a critical point and it is so important that we do our best to keep our distance from one another during this time.” In addition, much of public health messaging throughout the pandemic has been that if you’re outside and well-distanced from other people, you could forgo a mask, but Pakes says it’s still better to mask up than not. “Masks at all times is really what we should be doing right now.” What leaders in government need to do Paid sick leave for workers Dr. Anna Banerji, Faculty Lead, Indigenous and Refugee Health at University of Toronto wants the public to stop blaming one another. “I think the vast majority of people are doing the right thing,” Banerji said. “Anyone who pays attention to [the news] is trying to do their best.” Banerji says that a lot of the onus is on the government to support essential workers with paid sick leave and that these workers shouldn’t be blamed for the high numbers of infections. “We need to have paid sick leave to encourage anyone who has any kind of symptom —whether it’s minor, or more significant — to stay at home,” Banerji said. “We need to try to stop people who feel that they have to go to work,” Banerji said, adding that there are various circumstances, like paying rent, that result in people feeling pressure to leave their homes for work. Paid sick leave would help alleviate some of that pressure. “Who are we to judge what kind of position someone’s in?” Accessible testing in more workplaces In addition to taking the necessary precautions to avoid the contraction of COVID-19, Banerji says rapid testing near outbreak sites will help bring the numbers down. She explained that similar to our U.S. neighbours, our front-line workers should have access to at-home COVID-19 testing. “Those kinds of tests, they can be implemented in factories where people are at risk. I think if they can have that kind of screening on a regular basis, you’d probably (detect) the COVID sooner.” A plan for the homeless population is needed “A one-size-fits-all approach does not work,” Abramovich said. He said while the advice to stay home and keep one’s distance should be followed, “it is also important to understand how difficult or impossible this can be for many who do not have a safe place to call home.” Improving supports for those without housing is an important step to take now, he said. “Marginalized populations, particularly individuals experiencing homelessness, are receiving the least amount of support during the pandemic.” A focus shift to upping hospital capacity Martha Fulford, associate professor in infectious disease at McMaster University, says the repeated focus on lockdown as the solution may be misguided and strategies from the province could be put to better use elsewhere. Fulford says the goal isn’t to eradicate the virus, but to avoid overwhelming the hospital system, and there are several routes that could achieve that goal. “Instead of wasting vast sums of money shutting down the province, why are we not putting all of our energy and creativity into expanding hospital capacity?” she said. For example, could hotels be used for medical space? How can we increase the number of health-care staff? The second tactic would be focusing on vaccinating the senior population quickly, since they account for the most severe cases of COVID-19 infection. “If we increase our capacity, and if we decrease the risk in the people who are vulnerable and require hospital care then we have effectively dealt with why we’re doing all this — preserving an overwhelmed health-care system,” she said. Finally, for everyone, don’t lose hope The key thing Banerji says to remember is to not lose hope, a sentiment that has been shared by many leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I think that this will end in the next little while,” Banerji said. “Life next year will not be like this.” Danica Samuel is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach her via email: email@example.com or follow her on Twitter: @danicasamuel Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgAngelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter and Danica Samuel, Toronto Star, Toronto Star