Watch as a tiny puppy meets a much-larger Doberman. How cute are these two?
Watch as a tiny puppy meets a much-larger Doberman. How cute are these two?
New Brunswick writer Richard Vaughan's life and legacy is now being celebrated through a virtual art exhibition. The acclaimed author, poet and playwright died in Fredericton in October. He was 55. Known as Cut. Paste. Resist. Redux, the multimedia exhibition consists of film strips created from collages. Those images are paired with voiceovers of friends and colleagues reading various excerpts from his poetry, chat books and novels. Marie Maltais, director of the UNB Arts Centre, helped organize the project and described Vaughan as "a shining star of New Brunswick's cultural scene." She said the exhibit is a way to "bring back the genius" of the writer. "He was an advocate, he was someone who was very down to earth, you could approach him," Maltais said. Vaughan was born in Saint John, but lived and worked in Montreal, Toronto and Berlin before returning to his home province last year to work as writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick. He wrote under the name R.M. Vaughan. He is remembered as a pioneer for LGBTQ artists and a talented writer who could address many subjects. The new exhibit was inspired by a collage project Vaughan organized with Ken Moffatt, the Jack Layton chair at Ryerson University, early last year. They put out a call for submissions from community members focused on the theme of resistance. More than 200 collages came in from around the world, and were displayed as part of the Cut, Paste, Resist art show at UNB. That initial show has evolved into the project presented online this month in Vaughan's memory. Maltais reached out to Moffatt shortly after Vaughan's death to collaborate on the project. It is being held virtually on the centre's website because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recorded readings from 17 different people will be released throughout the month. The response to the show has been positive, with people sharing fond memories. Maltais said she remembers Vaughan as someone who really cared about his students and the cultural community. "I have spoken to a few people that were mentored by him, and it is really a terrible loss," she said.
This column is an opinion by Edward Riche, a St. John's novelist, playwright and commentator. For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ. The comparative success of Atlantic Canada in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has gone little remarked in the national media. I put this down to willful ignorance. How to square our "culture of defeat" with our occasional success has always stumped the mainland. It's hard for a hack in Toronto to see political leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador defer to science and medical expertise while Ontario's leadership defers to spin studios. Stephen McNeil or Blaine Higgs may not come off as towering intellects but in comparison to Kenney's and Ford's witless and dangerous response to the pandemic they are the East Coast's own Feynman and Schrödinger. Until the second wave of the pandemic made its appearance in Halifax and prudence dictated we burst the Atlantic bubble, I believe most people judged it a success. Friends of my sister-in-law in Nova Scotia replaced a planned vacation abroad with their first trip to Newfoundland and had a blast. They were surprised by how different the place is from Nova Scotia. I got to work face-to-face with a chap from Prince Edward Island for a week and it proved the limitations of Zoom. Because of the Atlantic bubble, things got done. The diversity within a region with many shared interests was a small engine. Now, between bubbles, there is great enthusiasm for an admittedly fuzzy, "Atlantic Loop." We don't really know the poop on the loop but do know that Hydro-Quebec will never be part of any arrangement over which it doesn't have a stranglehold. No matter. If a federal bailout of Muskrat Falls sees less burning of dinosaur jam to produce electricity in the Maritimes, it's a capital concept. COVID-19 won't be the last global crisis curtailing movement so perhaps we should consider other Atlantic arrangements. Air Atlantic We on the eastern extreme have been terribly served by the Calgary- and Montreal-based air carriers. Before the pandemic, service and schedules were poor, and predatory pricing was deployed to drive out competition when it appeared. Our proximity to Europe and the big urban centres of the eastern seaboard was insulted with logically (and environmentally) unsound routing that sends us west to fly east or south. Then, when COVID-19 made most travel impossible, those Calgary and Montreal companies proved their essential bad faith by failing to refund tickets for cancelled trips. Shag 'em. We need to build or attract alternative carriers (grow PAL Airlines?) for travel within the region and to a few limited destinations beyond, to Gatwick or Keflavík, Dublin or Charles de Gaulle or Newark, from where we could purchase tickets forward to other destinations in a truly competitive market. Reasonable access to the region by air is critical to all business. We can cease palavering about the potential for increased tourism without it. We are never going to attract or retain enterprising young people without reasonable ways to the wider world. It's never going to make a lot of money, but is an essential service. Canada's small population, spread thinly over its vast terrain cries out for a truly national carrier but that would require the kind of state enterprise for which there has been little appetite in Ottawa since the 1970s. Eatlantic Among the many fruits grown in the Annapolis Valley, the Gravenstein Apple cultivated there is the best apple in Canada. (We have to give the peach to Ontario, they grow the best anywhere.) P.E.I. beef is now world-beating, and their oysters the greatest in North America with New Brunswick a close second. There are bountiful fisheries in all four provinces, and wild foods available nowhere else. Newfoundland lamb is nonpareil. Once upon a time, the region used to do much more to feed itself. There is no reason it cannot embrace a more nose-to-tail, hundreds-of-miles diet. There are compelling economic and ecological reasons to cease driving industrial agricultural products from California, Mexico and beyond. But the winning argument is always taste. The stuff they raise in the Chia Pet that is the American southwest has little flavour. We'd have to return to eating more seasonally but the same reasons of politics, economics and palatability again apply. The Atlantic restaurant scene, not so long ago dismal, is now one of the most exciting on the continent. The Merchant Tavern, Bar Kismet, Mallard Cottage, The Inn at Bay Fortune, Port City Royal and countless other joints are all vaut le détour. Start by meeting your friends at the bar for a glass of the original Atlantic bubbles from Nova Scotia's Benjamin Bridge and a big bowl of plain chips from Covered Bridge. Food security was an issue before the pandemic. There will be other disruptions of the supply chain in the future from natural disaster, political instability, the next virus. Let's begin stocking that local larder sooner than later. Bloc Atlantique We are, all four Atlantic provinces, a meaningless entity in the Canadian parliamentary system. Confederation was a forced marriage of Upper and Lower Canada. Lower Canada has never been happy in the union. Upper Canada addresses threats of divorce by meeting Lower Canada's ever more outlandish demands. No matter how many gifts bestowed on Lower Canada, it will never have conjugal relations with Upper Canada as Lower Canada fulfils its own needs. The tension and the balancing act, the horse trading of Confederation, will go on forever. Could not the members of Parliament from the Atlantic region commit to vote as a bloc during the not-uncommon minority parliaments of our system so that we might see some greater fairness? Wait! What am I thinking? MPs are so gutless, so whipped, this is in the category of faint hope. But the status quo is unsustainable. There are many other reasons to consider increased co-operation between the Atlantic provinces, such as transportation networks beyond air, or unique demands for immigration. The fisheries should probably be co-ordinated. The Atlantic bubble worked well enough the first time, we would be foolish not to consider continuing and fostering its best features, imagining where else we could take it. If it could be expanded to somehow include a portion of the E.U., a little piece of France, say … Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United States called Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates “major security partners" early Saturday, a previously unheard of designation for the two countries home to major American military operations. A White House statement tied the designation to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalizing ties to Israel, saying it “reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership.” It also noted the two countries long have taken part in U.S. military exercises. It's unclear what the designation means for Bahrain, an island kingdom off Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, and the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, while the UAE's Jebel Ali port is the busiest port of call for American warships outside of the U.S. Bahrain hosts some 5,000 American troops, while the UAE hosts 3,500, many at Al-Dhafra Air Base. Already, the U.S. uses the designation of “major non-NATO ally” to describe its relationship with Kuwait, which hosts the forward command of U.S. Army Central. That designation grants a country special financial and military considerations for nations not part of NATO. Bahrain also is a non-NATO ally. The U.S. military's Central Command and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The 5th Fleet referred queries to the State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House designation comes in the final days of President Donald Trump's administration. Trump forged close ties to Gulf Arab countries during his time in office in part over his hard-line stance on Iran. That's sparked a series of escalating incidents between the countries after Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. It also comes after Bahrain and the UAE joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia in beginning to resolve a yearslong boycott of Qatar, another Gulf Arab nation home to Al-Udeid Air Base that hosts Central Command's forward operating base. That boycott began in the early days of Trump's time in office after he visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip. ___ Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
Filmmaker Sayda Habib turned lockdown blues into an inspirational project. Sayda Habib was pursuing a project on long-term care homes in Canada for her masters in journalism at the University of Regina when COVID-19 hit. "Originally, I wanted to create a documentary portraying the abuse in the Canadian seniors homes. I wanted to work on this project because the number of seniors suffering from abuse in nursing homes has tripled in the last few years. The documentary was to be named Care in Jeopardy," Sayda said. Weeks into the pandemic, however, it became clear to Sayda and her supervisor that she would have to course-correct. Many of her key characters were restricted from receiving guests and the logistics for getting a camera anywhere became incredibly difficult. "I knew I had to change my plans," Sayda said. "Most nursing homes were restricted to visitors already at that time which meant I had to change my project to a more attainable one." Although it was disheartening to change course late in the academic year after investing so much time and effort into her research, Sayda decided to make a documentary about the cause of the change. Pandemic Minds was born. The documentary finds Sayda following the lives of different characters from different parts of the world to explore how they are adjusting to the strange new world. Assisted by clinical psychologist Syeda Batool Najam, Sayda examines how the various personalities perceive the global pandemic and why. "Pandemic Minds investigates human behaviour in a global crisis through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. This documentary explores five factors of human behaviour through the stories of ordinary people," Sayda said. "The factors that were mentioned in the documentary were denial, self-interest, fear/anxiety, adaptation and solidarity." Sayda raced against the clock to finish her documentary. As she was essentially starting a brand new project, she had to act quickly and find creative solutions to whatever hurdles were thrown her way. This proved to be a long process. "I can say it took me about three and half months to write, record and edit this documentary. But the whole process at that time seemed like a decade," Sayda said. Sayda faced challenges creating the documentary, from finding characters to co-ordinating them. "The biggest challenge was to be able to get at least 20 participants who were willing to record themselves one whole day. Not everyone was comfortable recording themselves and even when they agreed, some of the participants did not follow the instructions while recording," Sayda said. "I also had a hard time getting the materials online. This is because I had participants from different countries and not everyone was able to send me the files through the shared drive." Sayda was able to come through shining on the other side, regardless of the challenges. She said she especially learned the importance of patience and perseverance. Moving forward, she would like to make a documentary series inspired by Pandemic Minds. "The psychological explanations in the documentary would be very detailed yet simple to understand. To give you an example, one episode can solely be on the increase in domestic violence during a pandemic or this specific pandemic," Sayda said. "What is the psychological reason behind that? What goes through the mind of the perpetrator and what can be done about it?"
Toronto Mayor John Tory has congratulated Nick Mantas on winning the Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt byelection. Preliminary results show Mantas won a narrow victory Friday night to replace former Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis in Ward 22. Tory said the byelection happened at a crucial time for the city. "As mayor, it is my job to work with every member of city council," Tory said in a statement. "I look forward to working with councillor-elect Mantas on the issues that are important to him and the residents of Ward 22. "This is a crucial time for our city as we continue to face the challenge of COVID-19. I know councillor-elect mantas is committed to helping our efforts as a city government to confront this virus and make the residents and businesses of Scarborough-Agincourt get through these extremely tough times," Tory added. Tory said he also looks forward to working with Mantas on the prudent management of the city's finances and on the maintenance of strong partnerships with the other governments. He thanked voters who cast their ballot in the byelection either by mail or in person. "Your commitment to making sure your voice is heard as part of our democratic process is so important and has helped make sure Ward 22 will continue to be represented at Toronto City Hall," he said. Mantas, who was the former chief of staff to Karygiannis, was considered one of the more high-profile candidates among the 28 running in the byelection for Scarborough-Agincourt. According to the city's unofficial results, Mantas had a total of 3,261 votes with all 41 polls reporting. He won by a margin of just 223 votes over his nearest rival, Manna Wong, who garnered 3,038 votes. The results are deemed unofficial until the city clerk can declare a winner, according to a tweet from Toronto Elections. Karygiannis was removed as city councillor in September 2020 due to a campaign spending violation in the 2018 municipal election.
Suicide rates in Japan have jumped in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among women and children, even though they fell in the first wave when the government offered generous handouts to people, a survey found. The July-October suicide rate rose 16% from the same period a year earlier, a stark reversal of the February-June decline of 14%, according to the study by researchers at Hong Kong University and Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology. The early decline in suicides was affected by such factors as government subsidies, reduced working hours and school closure, the study found.
“I am very much encouraging my 92-year-old mom to get in line as soon as (a COVID-19 vaccine) is available in her community and she’s all ready and excited about it as well,” said Leila Gillis. She is acting chief nursing officer and director general primary health care with the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). Gillis was speaking on Jan. 14 on the weekly virtual town hall hosted by the First Nations Health Managers Association. “Many communities are currently managing active outbreaks and had such a challenging Christmas period. I worked through it all. And there’s still evidence of community transmission in many, many jurisdictions across the country,” said Gillis. According to figures posted on the ISC website of coronavirus activity on First Nations reserves, as of Jan. 14 ISC “is aware of” 12,071 confirmed positive cases; 4,581 active cases; 7,377 recovered cases and 113 deaths. Worst hit are reserves in the prairie provinces with Alberta numbering 3,944 confirmed positive cases, Manitoba with 3,201 and Saskatchewan with 3,084. British Columbia is next with 1,081 confirmed positive cases. “We’re still working hard to prevent COVID spread in our continued and longstanding public health measures and we can’t lose sight of that while we’re also working to organize and support one of the biggest vaccine administration campaigns in this country’s history,” said Gillis, who spent time reassuring Indigenous viewers and listeners of the safety of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Some First Nations and Inuit communities or members of those communities have been prioritized in the first phase of the vaccine rollout. The vaccines have been “rigorously tested” and the benefits far outweigh the risks, said Gillis. Valerie Gideon, senior assistant deputy minister with FNIHB, said in a national news conference on Jan. 13 that having Indigenous health professionals involved in the process is significant in addressing suspicion from the Indigenous population. “There are a lot of amazing Indigenous health professionals that are speaking very proactively about the vaccine and supporting that understanding that the (ISC) Minister (Marc Miller) is speaking to and I think that makes a significant difference. “They are such influential decision makers with respect to the vaccine planning and administration process, not only within their communities, but overall in the context of supporting First Nations and others across the provinces,” said Gideon. Still some members of the Indigenous population have approached the vaccine with wariness. “The hesitancy comes sometimes with good reason,” said Miller. “You see that hesitancy that is based on perhaps experiences … So it’s based on reality.” He pointed out that Indigenous peoples were the target of medical procedures and experiments in the 1950s and 1960s and they continue to experience mistreatment in today’s healthcare system. Miller also talked about the need to have information available in Indigenous languages as well as the need to build trust with health officials who come into communities to deliver the vaccinations. “One (way) that works best is when you engage local communities to get that information out there, tell people there’s an informed choice, and let them make the choice. It makes for more work but it makes for better vaccination strategies,” said Miller. “We’ve heard a lot more request for the vaccine to arrive than we’ve heard hesitancy… That’s at the leadership level. We will see in the numbers of uptake,” said Gideon. Miller said 75 per cent of the adult population in the territories are expected to have received their second dose of the vaccine by the end of March. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. Rollout of the vaccine to urban Indigenous population – a larger number than live on reserve – will require “coordination amongst partners, provinces and territories. Efficient and effective roll out requires co-planning and is dependent on full collaboration and partnership,” said Miller. He said figures weren’t available for how COVID was impacting Indigenous people living in cities, although he did say that those living in Montreal and Winnipeg had been “really hit.” “Our government is working with all provinces and territories to encourage full inclusion of Indigenous perspectives to ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to support the administration and planning process of the COVID-19 vaccine for Indigenous peoples,” he said. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to scrap President Donald Trump’s vision of “America First” in favour of “diplomacy first” will depend on whether he's able to regain the trust of allies and convince them that Trumpism is just a blip in the annals of U.S. foreign policy. It could be a hard sell. From Europe to the Middle East and Asia, Trump’s brand of transactional diplomacy has alienated friends and foes alike, leaving Biden with a particularly contentious set of national security issues. Biden, who said last month that “America's back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,” might strive to be the antithesis of Trump on the world stage and reverse some, if not many, of his predecessor’s actions. But Trump’s imprint on America’s place in the world — viewed as good or bad — will not be easily erased. U.S. allies aren’t blind to the large constituency of American voters who continue to support Trump’s nationalist tendencies and his belief that the United States should stay out of world conflicts. If Biden’s goal is to restore America’s place in the world, he’ll not only need to gain the trust of foreign allies but also convince voters at home that international diplomacy works better than unilateral tough talk. Trump has insisted that he's not against multilateralism, only global institutions that are ineffective. He has pulled out of more than half a dozen international agreements, withdrawn from multiple U.N. groups and trash talked allies and partners. Biden, on the other hand, says global alliances need to be rebuilt to combat climate change, address the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future epidemics and confront the growing threat posed by China. The national security and foreign policy staff that he has named so far are champions of multilateralism. His choices for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and foreign aid chief Samantha Power — all veterans of the Obama administration — underscore his intent to return to a foreign policy space that they believe was abandoned by Trump. “Right now, there’s an enormous vacuum," Biden said. “We’re going to have to regain the trust and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways to work around us or without us.” Biden intends to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and co-operate again with the World Health Organization. He plans to smooth relations with Europeans and other friends and refrain from blasting fellow members of NATO, and he may return the United States to the Iran nuclear agreement. Still, many Americans will continue to espouse Trump's “America First” agenda, especially with the U.S. economy struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, civil strife in American streets over racism and the absence of civil political discourse. “Whether people liked it or not, Trump was elected by Americans in 2016,” said Fiona Hill, who worked in the Trump White House’s National Security Council and now is at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution. Trump’s election in 2016 and the tens of millions of votes he garnered in 2020 reflect a very divided nation, she says. “We have to accept that the electoral outcome in 2016 was not a fluke," Hill said. Steven Blockmans, research director at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Belgium, said Europeans should not kid themselves into believing transatlantic relations will return to the way they were before Trump. “In all but name, the rallying cry of ‘America First’ is here to stay,” he said. “Biden has vowed to prioritize investment in U.S. green energy, child care, education and infrastructure over any new trade deals. He has also called for expanded 'Buy American' provisions in federal procurement, which has long been an irritant in trade relations with the European Union.” Each part of the world holds a different challenge for Biden. CHINA Fear of China’s quest for world dominance started to mount before Trump came to office. Early on, Trump sidled up to China’s authoritarian president, Xi Jinping. But after efforts to get more than a first-phase trade deal failed, the president turned up the heat on China and repeatedly blamed Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic. He sanctioned the Chinese, and in speech after speech, top Trump officials warned about China stealing American technology, conducting cyberattacks, taking aggressive actions in the South China Sea, cracking down on democracy in Hong Kong and abusing the Muslim Uighurs in western China. Increasingly, Republicans and Democrats alike are worried about a rising economic and geopolitical threat from China, and that concern won't end when Trump leaves office. NORTH KOREA Resetting U.S. relations with Asia allies is instrumental in confronting not only China but also North Korea. Trump broke new ground on the nuclear standoff with North Korea with his three face-to-face meetings with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. But Trump's efforts yielded no deal to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief and security assurances. In fact, North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear capabilities. Biden might be forced to deal with North Korea sooner than later as experts say Pyongyang has a history of conducting tests and firing missiles to garner Washington’s attention around U.S. presidential elections. AFGHANISTAN Nearly 20 years after a U.S.-led international coalition toppled the Taliban government that supported al-Qaida, Afghan civilians are still being killed by the thousands. Afghan security forces, in the lead on the battlefield, continue to tally high casualties. Taliban attacks are up outside the cities, and the Islamic State group has orchestrated bombings in the capital, Kabul, including one in November at Kabul University that killed more than 20 people, mostly students. The U.S. and the Taliban sat down at the negotiation table in 2018. Those talks, led by Trump envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, eventually led to the U.S.-Taliban deal that was signed in February 2020, providing for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan. Set on making good on his campaign promise to withdraw U.S. troops from “endless wars,” Trump cut troops from 8,600 to 4,500, then ordered troop levels to fall to 2,500 by Inauguration Day. The United States has pledged to pull all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1, just months after Biden takes office, but it's unclear if he will. MIDDLE EAST Trump opted to think outside the box when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and relations with Arab nations. The Palestinians rejected the Trump administration's Mideast peace plan, but then Trump coaxed two Arab nations — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — to recognize Israel. This was historic because Arab nations had for decades said they wouldn't recognize Israel until the Palestinians' struggle for an independent state was resolved. Warming ties between Israel and Arab states that share opposition to Iran helped seal the deal. Morocco and Sudan also later recognized Israel. IRAN In 2018, Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, in which world powers agreed to lift sanctions on Tehran if it curbed its nuclear program. Trump said the deal was one-sided, didn't prevent Iran from eventually getting a nuclear weapon and allowed it to receive billions of dollars in frozen assets that it has been accused of using to bankroll terror proxies destabilizing the Mideast. Biden says exiting the deal was reckless and complains that Iran now has stockpiled more enriched uranium than is allowed under the deal, which is still in force between Iran and Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany. Deb Riechmann And Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
A brand of sweet rice pancake products are being recalled across Canada due to undeclared egg. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the recall was prompted when a consumer reported a reaction after consuming Wang Korea brand pancakes. Two flavours of the pancakes, Green Tea Flavor Sweet Rice Pancake and Sweet Rice Pancake, were recalled from stores in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. The barcodes for the recalled products are as follows: Green Tea Flavor Sweet Rice Pancake (480 g) - 0 87703 15649 4 Green Tea Flavor Sweet Rice Pancake (180 g) - 0 87703 15408 7 Sweet Rice Pancake (480 g) - 0 87703 15647 0 Sweet Rice Pancake (180 g) - 0 87703 15323 3 The inspection agency is warning people with an allergy to egg to discard the pancakes or return them to the store where they were purchased. "If you have an allergy to egg, do not consume the recalled products as they may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction," the recall said. The CFIA says it's ensuring the recalled products are being removed from the marketplace and a food safety investigation will be conducted. MORE TOP STORIES
Dougie just can't contain his excitement as he runs and plays in the first snowfall of 2021. Hilarious!
BEIJING — China on Saturday finished building a 1,500-room hospital for COVID-19 patients to fight a surge in infections the government said are harder to contain and that it blamed on infected people or goods from abroad. The hospital is one of six with a total of 6,500 rooms being built in Nangong, south of Beijing in Hebei province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. China had largely contained the coronavirus that first was detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has suffered a surge of cases since December. A total of 645 people are being treated in Nangong and the Hebei provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, Xinhua said. A 3,000-room hospital is under construction in Shijiazhuang. Virus clusters also have been found in Beijing and the provinces of Heilongjiang and Liaoning in the northeast and Sichuan in the southwest. The latest infections spread unusually fast, the National Health Commission said. “It is harder to handle,” a Commission statement said. “Community transmission already has happened when the epidemic is found, so it is difficult to prevent.” The Commission blamed the latest cases on people or goods arriving from abroad. It blamed “abnormal management” and “inadequate protection of workers” involved in imports but gave no details. “They are all imported from abroad. It was caused by entry personnel or contaminated cold chain imported goods,” said the statement. The Chinese government has suggested the disease might have originated abroad and publicized what it says is the discovery of the virus on imported food, mostly frozen fish, though foreign scientists are skeptical. Also Saturday, the city government of Beijing said travellers arriving in the Chinese capital from abroad would be required to undergo an additional week of “medical monitoring” after a 14-day quarantine but gave no details. Nationwide, the Health Commission reported 130 new confirmed cases in the 24 hours through midnight Friday. It said 90 of those were in Hebei. On Saturday, the Hebei government reported 32 additional cases since midnight, the Shanghai news outlet The Paper reported. In Shijiazhuang, authorities have finished construction of 1,000 rooms of the planned hospital, state TV said Saturday. Xinhua said all the facilities are due to be completed within a week. A similar program of rapid hospital construction was launched by the ruling Communist Party at the start of the outbreak last year in Wuhan. More than 10 million people in Shijiazhuang underwent virus tests by late Friday, Xinhua said, citing a deputy mayor, Meng Xianghong. It said 247 locally transmitted cases were found. Meanwhile, researchers sent by the World Health Organization were in Wuhan preparing to investigate the origins of the virus. The team, which arrived Thursday, was under a two-week quarantine but was due to talk with Chinese experts by video link. The team's arrival was held up for months by diplomatic wrangling that prompted a rare public complaint by the head of the WHO. That delay, and the secretive ruling party’s orders to scientists not to talk publicly about the disease, have raised questions about whether Beijing might try to block discoveries that would hurt its self-proclaimed status as a leader in the anti-virus battle. Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
EL TERRERO, Mexico — In the birthplace of Mexico’s vigilante “self-defence” movement, a new group has emerged entirely made up of women, who carry assault rifles and post roadblocks to fend off what they say is a bloody incursion into the state of Michoacán by the violent Jalisco cartel. Some of the four dozen women warriors are pregnant; some carry their small children to the barricades with them. The rural area is traversed by dirt roads, through which they fear Jalisco gunmen could penetrate at a time when the homicide rate in Michoacán has spiked to levels not seen since 2013. Many of the women vigilantes in the hamlet of El Terrero have lost sons, brothers or fathers in the fighting. Eufresina Blanco Nava said her son Freddy Barrios, a 29-year old lime picker, was kidnapped by presumed Jalisco cartel gunmen in pickup trucks; she has never heard from him since. “They have disappeared a lot of people, a lot, and young girls, too,” said Blanco Nava. One woman, who asked her name not be used because she has relatives in areas dominated by the Jalisco cartel, said that cartel kidnapped and disappeared her 14-year-old daughter, adding, “We are going to defend those we have left, the children we have left, with our lives.” “We women are tired of seeing our children, our families disappear,” the vigilante said. “They take our sons, they take our daughters, our relatives, our husbands.” That is, in part, why the women are taking up arms; men are growing scarce in Michoacan’s lime-growing hotlands. “As soon as they see a man who can carry a gun, they take him away,” said the woman. “They disappear. We don't know if they have them (as recruits) or if they already killed them.” Beside the barricades and roadblocks, the female vigilantes have a homemade tank, a heavy-duty pickup truck with steel plate armour welded on it. In other towns nearby, residents have dug trenches across roadways leading into neighbouring Jalisco state, to keep the attackers out. Alberto García, a male vigilante, has seen the medieval side of the war: He is from Naranjo de Chila, a town just across the river from El Terrero and the birthplace of the Jalisco cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera. Garcia said he was run out of the town by Jalisco cartel gunmen because he refused to join the group. “They killed one of my brothers, too,” said Garcia. “They hacked him to pieces, and my sister-in-law, who was eight months pregnant.” El Terrero has long been dominated by the New Michoacán Family and Viagras gangs, while the Jalisco cartel controls the south bank of the Rio Grande river. In 2019, the Viagras hijacked and burned a half-dozen trucks and buses to block the bridge over the river to prevent Jalisco convoys from entering in a surprise assault. And that same year, in the next town over, San Jose de Chila, the rival gangs used a church as an armed redoubt to fight off an offensive by Jalisco gunmen. Holed up in the church tower and along its roof, they tried to defend the town against the incursion, leaving the church filled with bullet holes. It is that stark divide where everyone is forced to chose sides — either Jalisco, or the New Michoacán Family and the Viagras — that has many convinced that the El Terrero vigilantes are just foot soldiers for one of those latter two gangs. The vigilantes bitterly deny allegations they're part of a criminal gang, though they clearly see the Jalisco cartel as their foe. They say they would be more than happy for police and soldiers to come in and do their jobs. El Terrero is not far from the town of La Ruana, where the real self-defence movement was launched in 2013 by lime grower Hipolito Mora. After successfully chasing out the Knights Templar cartel, Mora, like most of the original leaders, has distanced himself from the so-called self-defence groups that remain, and is now a candidate for governor. “I can almost assure you that they are not legitimate self-defence activists,” said Mora. “They are organized crime. ... The few self-defence groups that exist have allowed themselves to be infiltrated; they are criminals disguised as self-defence.” Michoacán's current governor, Silvano Aureoles, is more emphatic. “They are criminals, period. Now, to cloak themselves and protect their illegal activities, they call themselves self-defence groups, as if that were some passport for impunity.” But in some ways, Mora says, the same conditions that gave rise to the original 2013 movement remain: Authorities and police fail to enforce the law and don't guarantee residents peace. Sergio Garcia, a male member of El Terrero vigilante group, says his 15-year-old brother was kidnapped and killed by Jalisco. Now, he wants justice that police have never given him. “We are here for a reason, to get justice by hook or by crook, because if we don't do it, nobody else will,” Garcia said. ___ Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed from Mexico City. Armando Solis, The Associated Press
The build-up to next month's Australian Open was thrown into disarray on Saturday when 47 players were forced into two weeks of strict hotel quarantine after coronavirus infections were reported on two chartered flights carrying them to Melbourne. Two dozen players and their staff landed from Los Angeles to go into quarantine after an aircrew member and a passenger, who was not a player, tested positive for COVID-19. A further 23 players arriving by a chartered flight from Abu Dhabi met a similar fate after another non-player passenger was found positive, the organisers of the year's first grand slam said in a statement.
Beset by political infighting, split between three territories and distrustful of their institutions, many Palestinians are sceptical that their first national elections in 15 years will bring change - or even happen at all. President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held later this year in a bid to heal long-standing divisions. The announcement is widely seen as a gesture aimed at pleasing U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with whom the Palestinians want to reset relations after they reached a low under Donald Trump.
At least five people have died at a nursing home in Italy from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, local media and officials said on Saturday. Seven people, including two health workers, are being treated in hospital for symptoms related to carbon monoxide poisoning, the ANSA news agency said. "It's a tragedy," Interior Ministry Undersecretary Carlo Sibilia wrote in a Facebook post.
A plane carrying one million doses of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Saturday in Serbia, making it the first European country to receive the Chinese vaccine for mass inoculation programmes. President Aleksandar Vucic was accompanied by Beijing's ambassador to the Balkan country at Belgrade's airport as containers carrying the vaccines were unloaded from an Air Serbia plane. "I would like to thank President Xi Jinping and Chinese leadership for sending us one million doses of the vaccine," Vucic, who has helped forge close ties with China in recent years, told reporters.
Hot chocolate bombs are the latest food trend to explode onto the scene from social media, especially TikTok. Slightly larger than a tennis ball, a bomb can be placed in the bottom of a mug and when hot milk is poured over them, the hard chocolate shell melts, gently exploding with hot cocoa powders and marshmallows. Stir and enjoy! "It's really delicious," said Kimberly Davey with At Your Service Creations, one of two bakers who joined CBC Radio: Island Morning host Mitch Cormier to talk about the trend. The trend began last year and came on strong during the Christmas season. Davey began making them last Valentine's Day and makes them in different sizes and flavours. She said most people hadn't heard of them earlier this year, so at her pop-up markets she'd show them videos on her phone of how the bombs work. When the trend exploded on social media, she said people began lining up to get them. "I would be showing up for a market, I'd get there 15 minutes early, but there'd already be a lineup for the hot chocolate bombs," Davey said. Charisa Lykow from DaBomb Custom Baking in Summerside, P.E.I., saw them on social media and began making them for Christmas to expand her selection. "It's been insane, my inbox was constantly filled," she said. Lykow's decided to take a break after Christmas to spend time with her family because she was so busy making bombs before the holiday. "I don't think it's the product itself, to be completely honest — I think it's the process of using the product, It's exciting," she said. "It makes hot chocolate exciting." "I'm not even a kid and I get excited very time I test one." They predict the bombs will be hot sellers this Valentine's and St. Patrick's days. With people spending more time at home and investing in self-care, the bakers hope this trend remains hot — at least, till the next big trend comes along. More from CBC P.E.I.
A top French general in West Africa has dismissed calls for his country to engage more in Central African Republic (CAR) after rebels earlier this week attempted to take the capital Bangui, saying that the situation was different to a rebellion in 2013. The Central African army has been battling groups backed by former president Francois Bozize that are seeking to overturn a Dec. 27 vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared victor despite fraud claims. Russia and Rwanda have sent troops to back the government.
KAMPALA, Uganda — Uganda’s electoral commission says longtime President Yoweri Museveni has won a sixth term while top opposition challenger Bobi Wine alleges rigging and officials struggle to explain how polling results were compiled amid an internet blackout. In a generational clash widely watched across the African continent, with a booming young population and a host of aging leaders, the 38-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker Wine posed arguably the greatest challenge yet to Museveni. He had strong support in urban centres where frustration with unemployment and corruption is high. The electoral commission said Museveni received 58% of ballots and Wine 34%, and voter turnout was 52%. The top United States diplomat to Africa has called the electoral process “fundamentally flawed.” Thursday’s vote followed the East African country’s worst pre-election violence since the 76-year-old Museveni took office in 1986. Wine and other opposition candidates were often harassed, and more than 50 people were killed when security forces put down riots in November over Wine’s arrest. Wine petitioned the International Criminal Court this month over alleged torture and other abuses by security forces. While the president holds on to power, at least 15 of his Cabinet ministers, including the vice-president, were voted out, with many losing to candidates from Wine’s party, local media reported. Wine claimed victory Friday, asserting that he had video evidence of vote-rigging and saying “every legal option is on the table” to challenge the official election results, including peaceful protests. Candidates can challenge election results at the Supreme Court. Hours later, he tweeted that the military had entered his home compound and “we are in serious trouble,” which a military spokeswoman denied. Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was roughed up and arrested several times while campaigning but was never convicted, and eventually he campaigned wearing a flak jacket and said he feared for his life. A heavy presence of security forces remained around his home, where he has said he was alone with his wife and a single security guard. Uganda’s electoral commission has said Wine should prove his allegations of rigging, and it has deflected questions about how countrywide voting results were transmitted during the internet blackout by saying “we designed our own system.” It could not explain how it worked. Monitoring of the vote was further complicated by the arrests of independent monitors and the denial of accreditation to so many members of the U.S. observer mission that the U.S. called it off. Another major observer, the European Union, said its offer to deploy electoral experts “was not taken up.” “Uganda’s electoral process has been fundamentally flawed,” the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, tweeted Saturday, calling for the immediate and full restoration of internet access and warning that “the U.S. response hinges on what the Ugandan government does now.” Museveni, once praised as part of a new generation of African leaders, still has support among some in Uganda for bringing stability. A longtime U.S. security ally, he once criticized African leaders who refused to step aside but has since overseen the removal of term limits and an age limit on the presidency. The head of the African Union observer team, Samuel Azuu Fonkam, told reporters he could not say whether the election had been free and fair, noting the “limited” AU mission which largely focused on the capital, Kampala. Asked about Wine’s allegations of rigging, he said he could not “speak about things we did not see or observe.” The East African Community observer team in its preliminary statement noted issues including “disproportionate use of force in some instances” by security forces, the internet shutdown, some late-opening polling stations and isolated cases of failure in biometric kits to verify voters. But it called the vote largely peaceful and said it “demonstrated the level of maturity expected of a democracy.” Uganda’s elections are often marred by allegations of fraud and abuses by security forces. The previous election saw sporadic post-election riots. The Associated Press
AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use in Pakistan, the health minister said on Saturday, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to get the green light for use in the South Asian country. Pakistan, which is seeing rising numbers of coronavirus infections, said its vaccines would be procured from multiple sources. "DRAP granted emergency use authorisation to AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine," the health minister, Faisal Sultan, told Reuters.