WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
DENPASAR, Indonesia — An American graphic designer is being deported from the Indonesian resort island of Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated it as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live. Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali in January 2020 and wound up staying through the coronavirus pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and Los Angeles and links to buy her e-book, began going viral in Indonesia on Sunday. “This island has been amazing because of our elevated lifestyle at much lower cost of living. I was paying $1,300 for my LA studio. Now I have a treehouse for $400,” one of Gray’s posts on Twitter said. Gray’s posts were considered to have “disseminated information disturbing to the public,” which was the basis for her deportation, said Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. A statement from the office cited her descriptions of Bali providing comfort for LGBT and being easily accessible during the pandemic. It also referenced tweets with links to her e-book, which had direct links to agents who could help foreigners move to the island. “She stated that she could provide easy access to Bali through the recommended agency and offered the low living costs in Bali, that it is comfortable and LGBTQ-friendly,” Manihuruk said at a news conference Tuesday. Her tweets also referenced her e-book costing $30 and a follow-up consultation about becoming an expatriate in Bali for $50. “She is suspected of carrying out business activities by selling e-books and put a rate for consulting (about) Bali tourism,” Manihuruk said. Many Indonesian social media users were furious that she was showing off living and working in Bali without a proper business visa. “I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my (tourist) visa. I am not making money in Indonesian rupiah. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am deported because of LGBT,” Gray told reporters after Immigration officials announced the deportation. Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreigners from coming to the country since Jan. 1 to control the spread of COVID-19, and public activities have been restricted on Java and Bali islands. “The Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights urges foreign nationals to comply with the current COVID-19 pandemic to comply with health protocols and to follow right procedures regarding visa processing and while in Indonesia,” Manihuruk said. Gray and her partner, Saundra Michelle Alexander, are currently in immigration detention while waiting for a flight to the United States. Firdia Lisnawati, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said vaccination numbers for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are improving after a holiday slowdown. Pfizer recently announced that doses would be slowed due to a situation at a factory and Moe reiterated a point made by Ontario Premier Doug Ford in a press conference earlier in the day. “I think Premier Ford made some comments about what he would urge the Prime Minister to do and that was to find someone if not the CEO of Pfizer and maybe light a firecracker up his yin-yang I believe was the words that I heard. He did say that … if the Prime Minister was able to do that there would be a lineup of premiers behind and I would bring a lighter,” Moe said. Moe gave credit to healthcare workers for and policy changes for the improvement in vaccination numbers. “In the past week we have administered vaccines in long term care facilities in a number of communities throughout the province and to many other people aged 70 and over in those very same communities. As a result we were able to deliver about 15,000 vaccination shots this past week,” Moe said. He explained that Saskatchewan is currently second on a per capita basis to Prince Edward Island on delivery of vaccinations. “In fact, if Saskatchewan were a country our pace of vaccines delivered would now be in the top ten among all countries worldwide. So that is very good news. And we will continue to deliver vaccines as safely and as quickly and as efficiently as possible just as soon as we are able to receive them from the federal government.” The provincial NDP took issue with the way vaccines have been rolled out. During a press conference Tuesday, they cited a situation at a Regina assisted living resident where leftover vaccines were divvied up by drawing names from a hat. NDP deputy leader Nicole Sarauer said it’s a sign of a wider problem of a confusing and disorganized vaccine roll-out. Administrator of the Qu’Aappelle House in Regina, Bev Desautels, doesn’t see it that way. She told the Regina Leader-Post she requested enough doses to vaccinate all 75 residents and staff at the facility on Tuesday. But public health alerted her that morning they wouldn’t be vaccinating 15 assisted-living residents. The vaccine was only for those in long-term care, a higher level of care. Yet there was enough vaccine left in vials already opened to make up six doses. Public health nurses didn’t want to waste the precious fluid, so they asked Desautels to pick six assisted-living residents to get the shot, she recalls. She’d have to leave nine unvaccinated and still at risk. “They asked me to choose, and I said, no, I’m not going to choose,” she recalls. “So I put the names in a hat and the nurses pulled out names.” The SHA said that the incident will be reviewed, but applauded staff for their ingenuity. The slowdown of Pfizer shipments will mean only 2,925 more doses of the vaccine are delivered next week. “Those doses will be delivered to Regina to Fort Qu’Appelle and to North Battleford. Where they will be administered to residents and staff in long term care as well as personal care homes. At the pace we are going and with the slowdown in deliveries from Pfizer we expect that Saskatchewan will run out of vaccines over the course of the next few days,” Moe said. For the next month, the province will be receiving 17.5 thousand doses from Pfizer which is over half of what was expected. “We did almost that many shots this past week alone. And just this morning Major General Fortin said that Canada is expecting more deliveries from Pfizer next week. So we are in the process of seeking clarification if that will further impact Saskatchewan’s total supply of vaccines over the course of the next four weeks,” Moe said. According to Moe, the province will have to revise their vaccine rollout plan and needs the federal government to pick up the pace on deliveries as well as negotiations with Pfizer. Moe expects life to return to normal after a significant portion of the province has received both doses of any of the vaccines available. “I would encourage everyone to sign up to get vaccinated as soon as it is your turn and to continue in the meantime to follow all of the public health orders and the guidelines that are in place. We will get through this as we get more of our population vaccinated yes, but until then I am asking everyone to keep following all of these public health orders that are in place. Keep yourselves safe and keep those around you safe and keep your family safe,” Moe said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) announced on Jan. 17 that they were ending the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak declared in Sturgeon Lake First Nation on Dec. 30, 2020. Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, Medical Health Officer with NITHA, has declared the outbreak over after the standard 28-day period has passed after the onset of the last case that had the potential to contribute to transmission in Sturgeon Lake First Nation. “This does not mean there are no cases in the community. The public is reminded that during the COVID-19 pandemic it is important to continue to take precautions to protect yourself, your families and everyone who lives in the community. COVID-19 is present in Saskatchewan and we all have a responsibility to minimize the spread of the disease,” the release stated. They reminded people that masking in all indoor public spaces and physical distancing should be done at all times to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Another reminder was for everyone to follow the public health guidelines for hand washing, physical distancing, self-monitoring and self-isolating to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable populations. “Together we can make a positive difference in our community by reducing the spread.” Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama announced plans Tuesday to restore the world’s only full-sized mockup of a space shuttle coupled with an external fuel tank and twin rocket boosters. The shuttle test model, called Pathfinder, has been weathering outside the museum in Huntsville for more than three decades. The restoration work will be funded with a $500,000 federal grant and additional corporate donations, officials said. The shuttle mockup was mated with a huge fuel tank and two prototype solid-rocket boosters for display at the state-owned museum in 1988. The multimillion refurbishment will take several years and involve removing the display, repairing it and returning it to its giant concrete stand. Consisting of a shuttle-shaped metal frame covered with sheeting, Pathfinder was originally used to test ground handling, transportation and other procedures for the space shuttle. Once testing was completed and it wasn't further needed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Pathfinder was outfitted with fiberglass, plywood panels and engines to more closely resemble an actual shuttle. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first . “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
Le bilan du jour du Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux du Bas-Saint-Laurent rapporte 5 nouveaux cas de COVID-19, portant le total de la région à 1434 cas. La Santé publique dénombre 52 cas actifs au Bas-Saint-Laurent en date du 18 janvier. Il n’y a d’ailleurs aucun cas actif dans la MRC de La Matanie, mais 37 dans celle de Rimouski-Neigette selon le CISSS BSL. Cas par MRC : Kamouraska152Rivière-du-Loup257 (+1)Témiscouata81Les Basques28Rimouski-Neigette580 (+4)La Mitis76La Matanie206La Matapédia48Indéterminés6Bas-Saint-Laurent1434 (+5)Sur les 1434 cas comptabilisés depuis le début de la pandémie, on compte 1355 guérisons. Le bilan des décès demeure au nombre de 27. Actuellement, trois personnes sont hospitalisées en lien avec la COVID-19. Et dans les dernières 24 heures, 409 tests de dépistage ont été réalisés auprès de la population. L’éclosion de l’Unité transitoire de réadaptation fonctionnelle (UTRF) de Rimouski récolte 2 nouveaux cas, pour un total de 38 cas de COVID-19 auprès de 24 usagers et 14 employés. La situation est stable pour le moment au CHSLD de Chauffailles (8 cas) ainsi qu’à l’Unité de réadaptation fonctionnelle intensive (URFI) de Mont-Joli (7 cas).Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
The Blue Jays have signed star free agent outfielder George Springer, with Toronto and the three-time All Star agreeing to a deal on Tuesday pending a physical. ESPN was first to confirm the two sides reached an agreement on a deal, while adding Springer was heading to Toronto's spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., for the physical. MLB Network reports the deal to be for six years and US$150 million. The Blue Jays confirmed the deal was for six years pending a physical when reached for comment by The Canadian Press. No further details were provided. The 31-year-old Springer was considered one of the premier players available after declining his qualifying offer from the Houston Astros — the team he has spent his entire seven-year career with — in October to become a free agent. The New York Mets and Blue Jays were reportedly the two frontrunners for Springer, with his name being linked to both clubs for weeks. The centre fielder was named an All Star for the first time in 2017, and went on to become World Series MVP that season when Houston beat the L.A. Dodgers in seven games for a championship, now tainted by the Astros sign-stealing scandal that became public in 2019, and confirmed by MLB in January 2020. He was also named an All Star in 2018 and '19, and took home the AL Silver Slugger Award in both seasons. Springer brings Toronto plenty of playoff experience after reaching the American League Championship Series four seasons in a row, falling just one win shy in 2020 from reaching the World Series for the third time in four campaigns. Springer, from New Britain, Conn., was selected by Houston 11th overall in 2011, and made his debut in 2014. He has 174 home runs and 458 RBIs, with a .270/.361/.491 slash line in his career. This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
CAMEROON, Cameroon — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he intends to invite the rival leaders on Cyprus to an informal meeting “as soon as practicable,” but he warns that this meeting must be different and help clarify “the true extent" of their common vision “and outline steps necessary to chart a way forward.” The U.N. chief also warned in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Tuesday that “time is working against a mutually acceptable political settlement in Cyprus.” After decades of status quo, he said, “changes are happening on the ground that may become irreversible, should the two communities not recommit themselves to resolving their differences peacefully, proactively and with determination.” Guterres gave no date for the meeting of Cyprus’ rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders along with the three “guarantors” of the Mediterranean island nation's independence -- Greece, Turkey and Britain. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that “there’s no date I’m able to share with you.” The Security Council was briefed virtually behind closed doors Tuesday on the latest developments by U.N. special representative Elizabeth Spehar, who heads the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the briefing and discussions were private, said there was broad support among the 15 members for Guterres’ intention to convene a U.N. meeting at the earliest opportunity. Members also welcomed the positive response of the rival leaders who signalled their agreement to take part with no preconditions, the diplomats said.. Cyprus was divided into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south in 1974 following a Turkish invasion that was triggered by a coup aimed at union with Greece. Numerous rounds of U.N. mediated talks have ended in failure, with the last push for a peace deal in July 2017 ending in acrimony. That meeting also led to an apparent shift by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots toward seeking a two-state deal rather than pursuing their stated aim of reunifying the country as a federation made up of Greek and Turkish speaking zones. Guterres stressed that “the primary responsibility for the future of the process remains with the parties.” Following consultations over the past months by U.N. envoy Jane Holl Lute, he said both sides and the guarantors have expressed a willingness to attend an informal meeting under his auspices. “The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a sustainable, lasting solution to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon,” the secretary-general said. Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic has widened longstanding fractures within and between the island's two communities. He also pointed to rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean region over exploration for oil and gas, and delineating maritime boundaries. Guterres called for serious efforts to defuse tensions and urged dialogue to resolve disputes. “I continue to stress that natural resources located in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and constitute a strong incentive to reach a mutually acceptable settlement in Cyprus without any further delay,” he said. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
A new, government-funded, not-for-profit organization opened its doors Tuesday in Winnipeg, with the express purpose of helping the Prairie region recognize the risks, and potential opportunities, presented due to climate change. ClimateWest will serve as a resource hub supported by some of the top climate-focused research organizations in the country: Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, based at the University of Regina; Prairie Climate Centre, based at the University of Winnipeg; and International Institute for Sustainable Development, with its headquarters in Winnipeg. ClimateWest will focus on research and recommendations that address how communities will need to change and adapt in a warming world, instead of on the emissions mitigation side of the equation. “Our mandate is to support greater climate adaptation across the Prairies by empowering people, businesses, communities, governments to use climate information and data in their decision making,” executive director Jane Hilderman said in an interview with the Free Press. Hilderman said she knows, especially for smaller communities that can’t afford to bring someone onto the municipal payroll to look at climate change impacts, the amount of information available is daunting and hard to sort through. The hope is ClimateWest can help bridge the gap. David Sauchyn, Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative director, said the time has come: adaptation must be a bigger part of the conversations had about climate change. “PARC’s been in the adaptation business for more than 20 years now. Initially, when we were launched, people complained that we’d given up on climate change, that if you focus on adaptation then you’re assuming that the climate is changing. And people weren’t sure 20 years ago, now they’re absolutely certain the climate is changing,” he said. “So, even though mitigation is absolutely necessary to slow the rate of climate change, we know we’re living in a changed climate and therefore a certain amount of adaptation is required.” Economic analysis of adaptation costs proves time and time again investing in adaptation earlier rather than later is beneficial, he said. The first order of business for ClimateWest will be to establish a help desk, which will provide a public service of answering climate adaptation questions. “Whether it’s a small town trying to track down the most relevant climate data for its geography and region, whether it’s a city planner that’s wondering if they have the right kind of design specs in terms of building for anticipated weather extremes,” Hilderman said, the vast research knowledge of the founding three partners will be tapped. Sauchyn was one of the lead authors on a recent report released by Natural Resources Canada that identified how significant the impacts of climate change in the Prairies already have been, as well as how it will progress. “Probably, the most challenging impact of climate change is going to be how it’s amplifying the severity of our weather. So, the wet seems to be getting wetter, the dry seems to be getting dryer,” Sauchyn said. Funding for the research hub comes from the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta provincial governments, as well as the federal government. Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
CARACAS, Venezuela — With the clock winding down on his term, U.S. President Donald Trump shielded tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants from deportation Tuesday night, rewarding Venezuelan exiles who have been among his most loyal supporters and who fear losing the same privileged access to the White House during the Biden administration. Trump signed an executive order deferring for 18 months the removal of more than 145,000 Venezuelans who were at risk of being sent back to their crisis-wracked homeland. He cited the “deteriorative condition” within Venezuela that constitutes a national security threat as the basis for his decision. “America remains a beacon of hope and freedom for many, and now eligible Venezuelan nationals in the U.S. will receive much-needed temporary immigration relief,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican of Florida, said in a statement praising the decision. The last-minute reprieve — in sharp contrast to Trump’s hardline immigration policies the past four years — capped a busy final day in office that also saw Trump issue a sweeping new round of financial sanctions targeting the alleged front man of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and tighten controls to keep spying technology out of the hands of the Venezuelan military. But ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, far greater attention was focused on the president-elect’s choice to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, who during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing in Washington showed continued support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Blinken, in his first comments on Venezuela, said he would continue recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president and indicated he has no illusions of an eventual dialogue with Maduro, who he called a “brutal dictator.” Still, the veteran diplomat expressed frustration with the results of current U.S. approach, which hasn’t shaken Maduro’s grip on power or led to free and fair elections. He said there is room for fine tuning sanctions and better co-ordination with allied nations to restore democracy to the crisis-stricken South American nation. “The hard part is that for all these efforts, which I support, we obviously have not gotten the results that we need,” Blinken said. The Trump administration was the first of now more than 50 countries in the world to recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s president shortly after the young lawmaker rose up to challenge Maduro’s rule two years ago. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke Monday by phone with Guaidó, expressing his “personal respect and appreciation” to the opposition leader for his “commitment to the cause of freedom,” the State Department said in a statement. Venezuela, a once wealthy oil-producing nation, has fallen into economic and political crisis in recent years that has seen a flood of more than 5 million residents flee a breakdown in public services and shortages including a lack of running water, electricity and gasoline. Most have migrated to other parts of Latin America. But an estimated 350,000 are believed to reside in the U.S., and about 146,000 of them have no legal status, according to the Center for Migration Studies in New York. More than 700 Venezuelans have been removed from the U.S. since 2018, while 11,000 more are under deportation proceedings, according to the TRAC immigration data base of Syracuse University. For years, Venezuelans, with bipartisan support, have been clamouring for so-called temporary protected status to no effect as Trump has tried to end the program for migrants from six other countries, including Haiti, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Trump’s order provides similar protections, including protection from deportation and the right to work, but was still met by resistance by some Democrats who want Biden to introduce legislation providing additional safeguards. “Our community will not be fooled and used for political games anymore,” said Leopoldo Martinez, the first Venezuela-born member of the Democratic National Committee. In the latest round of sanctions trying to pressure Maduro out, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on three individuals, 14 businesses and six ships. All are accused of helping the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA evade earlier U.S. sanctions designed to stop the president from profiting from crude sales. The sanctions target people and businesses linked to Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman who U.S. officials say is the front man for Maduro responsible for everything from the importation of food to the export of the nation's crude. Saab was arrested on a U.S. warrant last year in the African nation of Cape Verde on what Maduro says was an official mission to Iran to purchase supplies. He is now fighting extradition to Miami, where he faces corruption charges. Maduro’s government blasted the sanctions as another act of “imperialist aggression” aimed at destroying Venezuela’s ability to meet its own needs through oil sales after four years of attacks from the Trump administration. The U.S. Department of Commerce also announced measures Tuesday to block U.S. technology from being used by military intelligence in nations including China, Cuba, Russia and Venezuela. Such stiff measures have become an almost routine feature of the outgoing administration's hardline approach to Venezuela, which has proven popular with exile Latino voters in Florida. ___ Associated Press writer Scott Smith reported this story in Caracas and AP writer Joshua Goodman reported from Miami. AP writers Adriana Gomez Licon and Gisela Salomon in Miami contributed to this report. Scott Smith And Joshua Goodman, The Associated Press
The Columbian Centre seniors living complex in Prince Albert has been taken out of lockdown. The senior’s living complex was put under lockdown after public health detected five COVID-19 cases among residents on Dec. 23. After further testing was completed on Jan. 2, no further cases were detected and the lockdown was lifted just two days later. “The rest of us all tested negative so they lifted our lockdown on Monday, Jan. 4,” facility manager Rob Fahlman said. “Everybody in here was patient they persevered and they also recognized that the regulations during COVID have to be followed and it was Public Health and we had to do our part to curb the COVID,” The news came as a great relief to residents. “We were all very happy to hear that and very thankful. And we just attribute it to of course the Public Health looking after us and the tenants themselves being obedient” he explained. “A lot of our tenants are praying too, oh yes they were praying hard and they told me so and I believe them. Through Public Health’s assistance we were able to nip it in the bud.” According to Fahlman, after an initial positive test was confirmed on Dec. 23, public health informed Columbian Centre that seniors were not allowed to leave their rooms and visitors were not permitted. All residents were tested on Christmas Eve and the other four positive results were returned in late December. The province, in the official listings on the province’s online dashboard, listed the outbreak as declared on Dec. 27. An outbreak is declared when there are at least two active cases in a location. Things have returned to relative normalcy in the building since the lockdown was lifted. “For two weeks now people have been going about their business. They missed some time with their families of course over Christmas and New Year’s but I think most of them made up for it after within the confines of the COVID restrictions. They have reunited with their families in some way,” Fahlman said. “My hat is off to these people because they have been through a lot already. And in this time of their life family is huge for them. It was quite a sacrifice for them.” Last Friday, public health offered vaccinations to residents. Fifty took part. Still, the building isn’t taking any chances. “I tell them that from my understanding this vaccination isn’t going to kick in for another couple of weeks so there is no letting down on the masks and sanitizing that we do in the building. There is no letting down in anything so we just keep on doing what we have been doing,” Fahlman said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
OTTAWA — Nikolaj Ehlers scored in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets twice rallied from a two-goal deficit en route to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Ehlers scored at 2:20 of overtime, moments after Winnipeg goalie Laurent Brossoit made a nice stop on Ottawa's Drake Batherson in the extra period. Josh Morrissey's goal with 1:17 remaining in regulation forced overtime. It came with Brossoit on the bench for the extra attacker. Adam Lowry and Kyle Connor had the other goals for Winnipeg (2-1-0), which was outshot 41-28 in the contest. The Jets were coming off a 3-1 road loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night. Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Alex Galchenyuk scored for Ottawa (1-1-1). It's the first of three games in five days between the two clubs. They'll square off again in the nation's capital Thursday night before returning to Winnipeg on Saturday. Winnipeg was minus forward Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) for a second straight game. He's listed as day to day with this contest being the first of five for the Jets in the next seven nights. Rookie forward Tim Stutzel, who's dealing with a nagging minor injury, didn't play for Ottawa. The third overall selection in the 2020 NHL draft, who has a goal through two games with the Senators, is also considered day to day. Ottawa dominated the first period, outshooting Winnipeg 18-9, and was rewarded with the opening two goals of the contest. Norris opened the scoring on the power play at 4:41 of the first. He registered his first NHL goal when he slid the puck in off the skate of Brossoit, who got the start after Connor Hellebuyck played Monday night. Conner came close to putting Winnipeg on the scoresheet when he fired a shot off the goalpost on the power play. But Tierney put Ottawa ahead 2-0 with a deflection at 10:31 for his second goal of the season. Lowry pulled Winnipeg to within 2-1 at 18:09. He deflected Neal Pionk's shot from the point past Matt Murray -- making his third straight start in goal for Ottawa -- for his first of the year. It was more of the same in the second as Ottawa outshot Winnipeg 14-8 in the period and went back ahead by two goals at 11:47 of the second on Galchenyuk's power-play blast. It was his first of the season but Winnipeg countered with Connor's goal with the man advantage at 16:12. It was Connor's third of the season. He's scored in all three Jets games in 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 19. 2021. The Canadian Press
Demetri Garcia describes the experience of going back to his seventh grade classroom after a month in COVID-19 quarantine as being akin to his stomach “collapsing in on itself.” “I got into the classroom, and saw my classmates, who all said: ‘Welcome back!’ and it made my stomach feel even worse. I sat down in my chair, tried not to look at them, and stayed silent because of the sheer fear of being back,” the 12-year-old wrote in a recent non-fiction narrative assignment at River Heights School in Winnipeg. “I was scared to be in public and talk to people again.” A positive COVID-19 test is unnerving enough, let alone having to return to junior high school after the fact — unsure of how people will act. In an interview with the Free Press, Demetri recalled not wanting to talk about the experience at all, once he first returned to school in late November; instead, he wanted to shrink in his seat. But days later, he decided to put his feelings on paper when given the chance in English class. Following a lesson on how to show rather than tell through writing, Demetri and his peers were tasked with picking an emotion they once felt strongly and then describe the scene with descriptive language. Demetri picked “anxiety.” His final piece, “Back in School” would be published in a classroom collection of best non-fiction narrative works from the fall. “This kind of writing is about telling your truth. We’re trying to teach kids to be honest,” said Colin Steele, a retired teacher who has been filling in for an absence at River Heights School. Steele said it’s been his job as a teacher this school year to gauge how students are feeling and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Citing how visibly anxious Demetri was upon his return, Steele said he was surprised Demetri chose to be so vulnerable in writing, which was shared with, and well-received by, the rest of the class. Not only was Demetri stressed out about being around other people after being cooped up in his room alone for weeks, the Grade 7 student said he also worried about the academic workload he had to catch up on. After learning his father had tested positive for the novel coronavirus — having been deemed a close contact of a co-worker who had broken public health directives and attended a Halloween party — Demetri went to get swabbed with his mother, who he was staying with at the time. Only Demetri, who spends time at both his mother and father’s homes, received a positive test result, in early November. He experienced a sore throat, nausea, dizziness, a cough and at one point, woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t move. “It just sucks as a parent, when you can’t do anything for your kid... knowing that he was struggling with an illness that nobody can really help him with,” said Gorete Rodrigues. Rodrigues added the situation was made even more frustrating since both she and Demetri’s father had been “extra cautious” because each household has a baby. Meantime, Demetri said his school has been strict about COVID-19 precautions. Among them: masking, announcement reminders to stay apart, and physical distancing requirements. The principal, Demetri said, has entered his classroom more than once with a measuring stick to ensure desks are spaced two metres apart. “I always thought it was real and I was pretty careful and I just kind of stayed away from people. I have the same mind-set (now),” he said, adding it is annoying to see other students mingling around in clusters outside after school. His advice for peers who are not taking the pandemic seriously? “It was not fun. It was hard to breathe, so if you value being able to breathe, take it seriously.” Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Months-old embers from a deadly California fire were blown back to life Tuesday by powerful winds that raked the state and prompted safety blackouts to tens of thousands of people. Firefighters chased wind-driven blazes up and down the state, trees and trucks were toppled, Yosemite National Park was forced to close and two coronavirus vaccination centres were shut down. South of San Francisco, the state’s firefighting agency said it responded to 13 vegetation fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties in 12 hours, and isolated evacuations were ordered for a total of 120 homes near two of them. The fires were small, with the largest no more than a couple dozen acres, and by nightfall were “creeping" rather than racing, according to state fire website descriptions. Two were within the area burned by last year's CZU Lightning Complex inferno. “Fires within the CZU Lightning Complex burn area were regenerated by high winds,” the local unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection tweeted. The complex started Aug. 16, 2020, during a barrage of lightning strikes. Separate fires merged, torching 1,500 buildings across 135 square miles (350 square kilometres) in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. One person died. The Santa Cruz Mountains have a thick layer of “duff,” dead vegetation under heavy timber in which deep smouldering embers can be revived by the wind, said Cecile Juliette, a Cal Fire spokeswoman. Cal Fire received nonstop reports of toppled trees and branches during the windstorm, Juliette said. Small fires blazed throughout the state, though most were quickly stopped from spreading and posed no serious threat to homes. The largest, near Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley, burned about 1 square mile (2.77 square kilometres) but was mostly surrounded. In both the north and south, residents were blacked out by utilities to prevent downed or damaged power lines from sparking blazes. Southern California Edison shut off power to more than 78,000 homes and businesses in seven counties and was considering blacking out well over a quarter-million more. Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to more than 5,000 customers. Most of California is experiencing drought conditions and the remainder is considered abnormally dry. Winter snowfall and rain have largely been woeful. Gusts howled at speeds up to 95 mph (152.8 kph) in the Mayacamas Mountains to the north of San Francisco Bay, and winds raised clouds of ash and dust from wildfire burn scars across Monterey County, the regional National Weather Service office said. High wind warnings were posted in the Sierra Nevada and adjacent foothills. “People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches,” the Hanford weather office wrote. “If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.” Yosemite National Park closed for the day, citing the winds and downed trees that smashed trucks and at least one building. In Southern California, the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds were ramping up, making travel hazardous for big rigs. Some were blown over. One gust hit 86 mph (138.4 kph) in northern Los Angeles County, the National Weather Service said. The wind forced closure of a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Hansen Dam in the San Fernando Valley. Another site at a Disneyland parking lot was closed in advance of the gusts. The city of Los Angeles instituted its program of restricting parking in hilly neighbourhoods where narrow, winding streets can be difficult for fire engines to manoeuvr. Downtown Los Angeles has had only 1.95 inches (4.95 centimetres) of rain since the Oct. 1 start of the “water year,” nearly 4 inches (10.16 centimetres) below normal. The Associated Press
In what could be the longest of legal long shots, several of those arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol are holding out hope that President Donald Trump will use some of his last hours in office to grant the rioters a full pardon. Longtime advisers to Trump are urging him against such a move but the rioters contend their argument is compelling: They went to the Capitol to support Trump, and now that they are facing charges carrying up to 20 years in prison, it’s time for Trump to support them. “I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there. So I was doing what he asked us to do,” said Jenna Ryan, a Dallas-area real-estate agent who took a private jet to the Jan. 6 rally and ensuing riot to disrupt the certification of the election of President-elect Joe Biden. Ryan — who prosecutors say posted a now-deleted video of herself marching to the Capitol with the words, “We are going to f---ing go in here. Life or death” — told Dallas television station KTVT: “I think we all deserve a pardon. I’m facing a prison sentence. I think I do not deserve that.” Perhaps the most high-profile rioter, the so-called “QAnon Shaman” who broke into the Senate chamber and posed at the dais with a spear, wearing a horned fur hat and animal skins, is also pleading for a pardon. Jacob Chansley’s lawyer told The Associated Press that he reached out to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about a possible pardon on behalf of the Arizona man, acknowledging it might be a reach but that there’s nothing to lose in seeking one. If Chansley is not granted a pardon, attorney Albert Watkins said, it could offer the added benefit of further awakening his client to the fact that his devotion to Trump has not been reciprocated, comparing it to being a jilted lover or even a member of a cult. “The only thing that was missing at the Capitol was the president, our president, stirring up the Kool-Aid with a big spoon,” Watkins said. Dominic Pezzola, a Rochester, New York, man and far-right Proud Boys supporter who was seen in a video using a clear police shield to shatter a Capitol window, also explored seeking a pardon but his attorney said there was not enough time to make it happen. “To believe the president is going to carte blanche issue these pardons is kind of a fantasy,” defence attorney Mike Scibetta told the AP. “I think it would cast a shadow on his own impeachment defence.” Trump, who has long reveled in suspense, was expected to spend his last full day in office issuing a flurry of pardons to as many as 100 people, two people briefed on the plans told the AP. But if Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz has his say, the more than 150 rioters arrested so far and the thousands more suspected should not be among them. Dershowitz, who represented Trump in his first impeachment last year, told the AP he has not been approached by any of the rioters about seeking a pardon but even if he had, “it would be wrong to pardon rioters who committed crimes.” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who speaks often with Trump, was among the confidantes urging the president not to go there. “I don’t care if you went there and spread flowers on the floor, you breached the security of the Capitol, you interrupted a joint session of Congress, you tried to intimidate us all,” Graham said on Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures.” “You should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and to seek a pardon of these people would be wrong. He warned that such a move “would destroy President Trump.” Pardons normally go through an extensive vetting process within the Department of Justice. The Office of the Pardon Attorney, which handles these reviews, did not respond to a request for comment, but former federal prosecutors said Trump giving clemency to those at the Capitol would be highly unusual. Such pardons would be “a slap in the face to the law enforcement officers who protected the Capitol and our leaders who were inside,” said Joe Brown, who until last year was a U.S. attorney in Texas. Not all of those charged in the Jan. 6 riot are in the market for a pardon. Victoria Bergeson of Groton, Connecticut, who faces charges of violating curfew and unlawful entry wants her case to “just go away” but sees accepting a pardon “as an admission that she knowingly did something wrong,” said her attorney Samuel Bogash. “She does not want to do that due to a justifiable fear of how the public would perceive it,” he said. “She is already being trolled online.” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, said Trump’s use of his clemency powers has set up a “spoils system” for his allies and pardoning the insurrectionists would just be a more extreme version. “That this president might be willing, even to pardon those who rose up against the United States," he said, “would be the ultimate statement of his perversion of the purpose behind pardons.” ___ Bleiberg reported from Dallas, Mustian from New York. AP White House reporter Jill Colvin contributed to this report. Jake Bleiberg And Jim Mustian, The Associated Press
“Enough is enough,” Premier Moe said during Tuesday’s provincial COVID-19 update, referring to a video taken over the weekend at a pub in Regina. In the video some patrons without masks dance and defy the Public Health orders. However, the government plans to stay the course with the current measures despite the continuing high seven-day average of new cases. Today’s average rebounded to 300 and remains the highest in the country. The current measures which were introduced in mid-December have been extended to January 29, 2021. The Premier said he does not want to roll out more restrictive measures, but did hint that venues which allow for the contravention of the public health orders may be facing more serious consequences. “I’ve asked public health to look at if there is [sic] other opportunities, in addition to fines, including closing these bad actors indefinitely.” Dr. Shahab asserted that the current measures would work if there was 100% compliance across the board, but obviously that isn’t happening. The province is “stuck”, Shahab said, in that 300 new cases per day range and obviously he would prefer that number to be trending downward instead. With baseline transmission so high, it continues to feed the growth of the virus and hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths slowly but steadily are creeping up and increasing the stress on our healthcare system. Shahab has said that while the health system is not at the breaking point yet, when it gets there, the “hammer” needs to come down. “We may not be there yet, but that hammer is a very blunt instrument. It causes many unintended consequences, It’s not the preferred instrument but when the health-care system is on the brink of collapse, then unfortunately those desperate measures have to be taken as well.” The question that begs asking is do we really want to push the health system to that brink? Lang McGilp, Research Director of Insightrix Research Inc. says that surveys taken over the past couple of months show the longer the pandemic goes on the less people are inclined to follow the restrictions and that mental health is playing a part in that. Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Small businesses located near various U.S. capitol buildings are still anxious after the violent political rallies of Jan. 6, and they’re hoping for a calmer inauguration and a return to stability under a new president.