Highlights of Today in History: Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba; Abraham Lincoln signs Emancipation Proclamation; Ellis Island opens; Hank Williams Senior dies. (Jan. 1)
Highlights of Today in History: Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba; Abraham Lincoln signs Emancipation Proclamation; Ellis Island opens; Hank Williams Senior dies. (Jan. 1)
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
Last spring, a humpback whale piqued the curiosity and captured the hearts of Montrealers during a brief passage through the St. Lawrence River. The whale swam from the town of Tadoussac, to Quebec City, before ending up under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. During its stay in Montreal, the whale attracted large crowds near the river before its lifeless body was spotted near Varennes, Que. Months later, evidence supporting what researchers believe happened is still hard to come by. The Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals and the Centre québécois sur la santé des animaux sauvages released a report on the whale's journey. Researchers initially thought the whale was hit by a boat, but they say the state of its body and the extent to which it had been manipulated made it difficult to analyze and determine the collision was the cause of death. Several of its organs were missing at the time of the necropsy, the report stated. "The autopsy conducted on the humpback didn't allow us to confirm this hypothesis," read a statement from Stéphane Lair, the veterinarian who oversaw the procedure. "We can think that its prolonged exposure to soft waters hampered its physiological functions." Their research did lead them to believe the whale died quickly and suddenly, since, according to them, it had not shown signs it was getting weaker or losing an abnormal amount of weight due to lack of nutrition. Why did it go to Montreal? The research team says it's looking at different theories to explain why the humpback whale was out of its usual, salt water habitat. The most reasonable one, according to them, is that of "exploratory behaviour" which is sometimes observed among young mammals. They don't believe the whale was suffering from an ailment or a condition that made it confused as to where it was and where it was going. The report acknowledges that more information is needed on how humpback whales behave in unfamiliar territory, and how to intervene. "This visit reminded us that we share the St. Lawrence with fragile giants and shed light on several issues of cohabitation, such as disturbance, sound pollution and collision risks," said Robert Michaud, a co-ordinator with Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals.
GUYSBOROUGH – Three times wasn’t the charm, so the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) invited representatives from ambulance provider Emergency Health Services (EHS) – Derek LeBlanc and Phil Stewart – to council, once again, to answer questions about the provision of service in the area. And, once again, council was disappointed. The EHS representatives joined council by video link at its regular meeting on Jan. 20. They answered questions from Warden Vernon Pitts, CAO Barry Carroll and councillors for almost an hour, but they failed to satisfy the concerns council has about lack of service and long wait times for ambulance transfers between hospital facilities. These issues are, in part, due to staffing shortages. The EHS representatives noted that the company, like any health care service in the province, has had difficulty attracting employees. A full-time job was posted for Canso three times and couldn’t be filled, said Stewart. Councillor Desmond asked if there was a minimum or maximum response time for EHS service. Warden Pitts reiterated that question and was told by Stewart that the complexities pertaining to the question didn’t allow him to provide the answers they were looking for. After council adjourned, Pitts told media present, “In regard to medical first response by EHS what really blew me away, as the warden, was there are no expected minimum or maximum response times within our municipally and to me, that is totally unacceptable … We should be given a minimum time – if your live in a city or whatever, I expect a minimum time in regard to response; same as the fire department or police. If you don’t have a minimum response time what are you measuring it by – this is totally unacceptable. “What it comes right down to is we’re playing Russian roulette and the gun is going to go off one of these times, if it hasn’t already gone off, and it has lately. We want a minimum level of service within MODG and surrounding areas – that’s not too much to ask for,” said Pitts. ‘Unacceptable’ continued to be the theme of the council meeting, with MODG receiving a response from the Department of Environment stating that a freedom of information request would need to be filed in order for the municipality to gain access to information regarding Irving Oil’s plans for a contaminated lot on Main Street in Guysborough. “That’s the only way they will release that information to us,” said Pitts, “And that is also totally unacceptable. “My understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan; now I haven’t got this from a legal source, but my understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan. It’s waiting approval from the province. Apparently, there are two avenues that this can go down. I don’t know exactly what those avenues are, but we just want to be made aware of what the plan is now; that we can have some input into it as a municipal unit as well as the residents. This is not acceptable. This is Main Street in Guysborough and this is impacting people’s lives and property values,” said Pitts. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
After hanging up her scrubs in 2019, retired Windsor nurse Susan Ellsworth wants to return to the front lines and help out health-care professionals during the pandemic. But she says one thing is stopping her from doing that — the cost to reinstate her license to work as a nurse again. According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the cost to apply and re-instate is $226 and the annual registration fee that is also required is $305.10 — making that a total of at least $531.10 — a fee that Ellsworth said she can't afford. "With this pandemic, people want to help out. And I think that it would free up licensed nurses, RNs and RPNs, to do other things. Then we could say, help out doing testing, help out with paperwork, help out with giving the vaccines," she said. "I'm sure I'm not the only person that feels this way." She said there is a series of procedures she must follow in order to return to work which can add up in cost. She wants the fees to activate her license to be waived. "Especially when there's some of us that have worked in nursing for years and they're not going to give us a break?" Ellsworth said, adding that the pandemic is far from over. "I worked through SARS. It was not near anything like this, but just when you hear people saying, like, 'oh, the cases are down today. ... It's going to get better now,' but, you know from working yourself and nursing that it's not," she said. Early in the pandemic last year, the Ontario government declared it needs "all hands on deck" to fight the pandemic and has called in the military to assist front-line workers, Ellsworth says feels heartbroken that she can't help and she's willing to volunteer her time and work unpaid. In an email statement to CBC News, CNO said retired nurses can work as an unrelated care producer which has no cost attached to it. "Retired nurses who are no longer registered with CNO and who want to help with the pandemic efforts, including the vaccination rollout, can choose to work as an unregulated care provider. As an unregulated care provider, any controlled acts they are performing, such as administering a substance by injection, would have to be delegated to them," the statement reads. "However, if they want to resume practice as a nurse and they have practised within the last three years, they can choose to reinstate their CNO membership," it continues. After being informed of this, Ellsworth said this brought her hope and she would look into working as an unregulated care provider immediately. One hospital says it's not suffering a shortage of nurses CBC News reached out to local hospitals to see if there was a demand for nurse volunteers. In an email statement, Erie Shores Healthcare said it's currently "not suffering a shortage of nurses, so this is not an issue we have discussed. That being said, if we ever found ourselves in a nursing shortage situation, this would be something we would have to consider on a case-by-case basis, along with any other relevant options." In another email statement from Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital (HDGH), it said it "will explore any and all options available to assist with the recruitment of nursing staff." "We have been actively recruiting since the beginning of the pandemic. To date, we have not had any retired nurses express an interest to join our hospital. With that said, HDGH would agree to pay the fees associated with reinstating a retired nurses licence." the statement reads. "However, in the interest of not disadvantaging our current nursing staff, we would pay the fee and establish an agreed-upon process that would allow for the hospital to recover the expense by way of payroll deduction," it continues. CBC News reached out to the provincial government for comment, but officials didn't respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
Julie Lefrançois, une infirmière auxiliaire âgée de 42 ans, met ses compétences au service d’autrui en offrant une assistance axée sur des rapports humains de qualité. En matière de soins de santé, la solution miracle n’existe pas, on le sait ! Toutefois, plusieurs pistes s’ouvrent pour améliorer la situation. Forte de son expérience d’une dizaine d’années en milieu hospitalier et en CHSLD, et peut-être un peu lasse des tensions inhérentes à ces environnements, elle a décidé de continuer à aider, mais à sa façon. « J’ai appris énormément dans ces milieux en touchant à différentes spécialités comme la maternité, la chirurgie, etc., précise-t-elle. Tout ce bagage me sert. J’adore mon métier ! Mais je veux le pratiquer en phase avec mes valeurs : prendre le temps nécessaire et établir un contact significatif avec les personnes. En milieu hospitalier, on fait notre gros possible avec très peu de temps à notre disposition. Mais sur une base autonome, ma qualité de vie s’en voit accrue quant à la gestion des horaires et la conciliation travail-famille. Malgré l’insécurité financière normale au démarrage d’un tel projet, je ne retournerais pas travailler à l’hôpital après avoir goûté à cette nouvelle façon de faire ! » Autonome + Lorsqu’on est éprouvé par une situation nécessitant des soins, on a besoin de chaleur humaine, d’écoute et d’intimité. Et on se sent mieux dans un environnement familier. Ainsi, Julie Lefrançois offre à domicile les services suivants : changements de pansements, suivis des signes vitaux, accompagnement post/prénatal, allaitement, retrait d’agrafes et points de suture, accompagnement en convalescence et autres soins. « Mon volet d’accompagnement ratisse large, poursuit-elle. Par exemple, si quelqu’un s’est fracturé un bras, je peux l’aider pour le ménage. Je propose en outre des visites amicales aux personnes seules et je peux permettre du répit aux proches aidants. Autrement dit, tout ce qui peut faciliter le maintien à domicile. Les tarifs sont très abordables, sans compter différentes aides gouvernementales, les assurances, la CSST, l’IVAC, etc. » Un sondage de la Banque Royale du Canada (RBC) publié en 2013 a révélé que 91 % des ainés désirent rester dans leur maison et vivre de façon autonome aussi longtemps que possible. « Tel est le but, se réjouit-elle. La raison sociale de mon entreprise l’illustre bien ! » Espérons que les services de ce genre se développeront rapidement ! Nombreuses sont les personnes qui désirent prendre en main leur santé et qui aspirent à de l’aide empreinte d’humanité. Autonome + 819-342-0567 facebook.com/autonomeplusMireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
APELDOORN, Netherlands — Jos Bieleveldt had a spring in his step when the 91-year-old Dutchman got a coronavirus vaccine this week. But many think that was way too long in coming. Almost two months before, Britain's Margaret Keenan, who is also 91 now, received her shot to kick off the U.K.'s vaccination campaign that has, so far, outstripped the efforts in many nations in the European Union. “We are dependent on what the European Commission says we can, and cannot, do. As a result, we are at the bottom of the list, it takes far too long," Bieleveldt said of the executive arm of the EU, which, perhaps unfairly, has taken the brunt of criticism for a slow rollout in many of its member states. Onerous regulations and paperwork in some countries and poor planning in others have also contributed to the delay, as did a more deliberate authorization process for the shots. Overall, the 27-nation EU, a collection of many of the richest countries in the world — most with a universal health care system to boot — is not faring well in comparison to countries like Israel and the United Kingdom. Even the United States, whose response to the pandemic has otherwise been widely criticized and where tens of thousands of appointments for shots have been cancelled because of vaccine shortages, appears to be moving faster. While Israel has given at least one shot of a two-dose vaccine to over 40% of its population and that figure in Britain is 10%, the EU total stands at just over 2%. And it is not just EU citizens who are laying the blame at the bloc's door. Criticism is also coming from many nations that had hoped to see some live-saving liquid from the EU trickle through their borders. Amid concerns that the richer nations had snapped up far more doses than they needed and poorer nations would be left to do without, the EU was expected to share vaccines around. The rocky rollout is also testing the bloc's long commitment to so-called soft power — policies that advance its cause not through the barrel of a gun but through peaceful means, like through the needle of a syringe. “Today it’s harder to get the vaccines than nuclear weapons,” said Serb President Aleksandar Vucic, who had been counting on a lot more help from the EU. Serbia sits at the heart of the Balkan region where the EU, Russia and even China are seeking a stronger foothold. Helping the Balkan countries with their vaccine rollout seemed an area where Europe, with its medical prowess and a willingness to prioritize such co-operation, would have an edge. Not so far. Vucic said weeks ago when he welcomed 1 million doses of Chinese vaccines that Serbia had not received “a single dose” from the global COVAX system aimed at get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries that the EU has championed and funded. Instead, Vucic said Serbia secured vaccines through deals with individual countries or producers. Rubbing salt in the wound, Vucic went for the EU's social conscience when he said this week that “the world today is like Titanic. The rich tried to get the lifeboats only for themselves ... and leave the rest.” Other nations on the EU's southeastern rim have also been critical. It is a big turnaround from only a month ago when the EU's future looked pretty bright. It had just inked a last-minute trade deal with the United Kingdom, clinched a massive 1.8 trillion-euro pandemic recovery and overall budget deal and started rolling out its first COVID-19 vaccines. “This is a very good way to end this difficult year, and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time. By this past weekend, though, her attitude soured as it became clear that the bloc would be getting vaccines at a slower rate than agreed upon for its 450 million people. AstraZeneca has told the EU that of its initial batch of 80 million, only 31 million would immediately materialize once its vaccine got approved, likely on Friday. That came on the heels of a smaller glitch in the deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Both companies say they are facing operational issues at plants that are temporarily delaying the rollout. Italy is threatening to take legal action against both over the delay. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had been boasting that the country’s rollout was a huge success, especially when the millionth dose was given on Jan. 15. But after Pfizer announced the temporary supply reduction, Italy slowed from administering about 80,000 doses a day to fewer than 30,000. Bulgaria has also criticized the drug companies, and some there have called for the government to turn to Russia and China for vaccines. Hungary is already doing so. “If vaccines aren’t coming from Brussels, we must obtain them from elsewhere. One cannot allow Hungarians to die simply because Brussels is too slow in procuring vaccines,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” But supply isn't the only thing holding up the EU's campaign. The problem is partially that the EU Commission bet on the wrong horse — and didn't get enough doses of the early success vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech. The commission notes there was no way of knowing which vaccines would succeed — and which would be first — and so it had to spread its orders out over several companies. The EU rollout was also slowed because the European Medicines Agency took more time than the U.S. or U.K. regulators to authorize its first vaccine. That was by design as it made sure that the member nations could not be held liable in case of problems and in order to give people more confidence that the shot was safe. But individual countries also share in the blame. Germany, Europe's cliche of an organized and orderly nation, was found sorely wanting, with its rollout marred by chaotic bureaucracy and technological failures, such as those seen Monday when thousands of people over 80 in the country’s biggest state were told they would have to wait until Feb. 8 to get their first shots, even as vast vaccine centres set up before Christmas languished empty. “The speed of our action leaves a lot to be desired,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “Processes have often become very bureaucratic and take a long time, so we have to work on that.” It is no different in France, where there is a Kafkaesque maze of rules to get consent for vaccinating the elderly. In the Netherlands, which banked on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine being the first available, authorities had to scramble to make new plans for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, whose ultracold storage requirements make it more complicated. “We were proven to be insufficiently flexible to make the change," said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. The Dutch have been particularly criticized since they were the last in the EU to begin vaccinations, more than a week after the first shots were given in the bloc, and they have been especially slow to roll doses out to elderly people living at home, like Bieleveldt, a retiree. “I’m already playing in injury time in terms of my age," he said. "But I still want to play for a few more years.” ___ Casert reported from Brussels. AP journalists across the European Union contributed. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine. Raf Casert And Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. QUESTION: Will Manitoba will be lowering the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test cycles, which is currently 40 cycles? The World Health Organization has said to reduce the cycles to under 30 to help prevent any false positives. DR. JAZZ ATWAL: Great question. We work closely with our lab and we have been from the beginning. We have a standard in place in relation to PCR testing and how we utilize that result. We’re going to continue to work with her lab to ensure that the results that we get are accurate. We do look at specific numbers all the way through, so if there are question marks in relation to is this a true positive or a remnant, etc., we are looking at those CT (cycle threshold) values in relation to that. But there’s no plan on changing that, at this point. Again, we look at what’s happening provincially here, we also talk to our national partners in public health right across the country, as well. QUESTION: Regarding the testing pilot project at care homes — at least one worker at Donwood Manor was confirmed to be COVID-19 positive after an asymptomatic test, and Donwood subsequently declared an outbreak. Dr. Roussin and Premier Pallister like to compare their handling of the pandemic to that of other provinces, and they like talk about all the "what-ifs" — like the 1,700 lives their restrictions saved. So how many lives did this one, that we know of, asymptomatic test save? How many lives has NOT testing asymptomatically cost? ATWAL: The information on the pilot program, it’s being analyzed right now. We have to review it on the public health side to look at the impact of that, as well. I mean, care homes are, you could argue, some of the most protected places. We have staff, we have procedures and processes in place, including full use of PPE. Obviously, there still are issues in those environments, including hospitals. So we’re gonna have to review that information, review the data, review what that test result meant, as well. I believe there’s some information on that coming out soon. I don’t have the exact date for that. But, once we have that information, we’ll be able to better look at the risk and the impact of that program, as well. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An emergency order mandating the use of masks in response to the coronavirus pandemic could be turned into city code by the Anchorage Assembly. Assembly members were expected to introduce ordinances Tuesday that could change mayoral emergency orders into local law, including a requirement for masks to be worn within indoor public places, Anchorage Daily News reported. A mask ordinance would move the matter out of the control of the mayor’s office, regardless of whether the measure has the mayor’s support. A new mayor is expected to be chosen during the April 6 election and take office July 1. Assembly members will wait until a future meeting to vote on ordinances proposed Tuesday. While there has been opposition, surveys of Anchorage residents by the University of Alaska Anchorage throughout 2020 found widespread acceptance of mask use to slow the spread of the virus. More than 80% of respondents in November reported wearing masks “most or all of the time when not at home.” The figure increased to 90% in December. A statewide survey in November found a majority of Alaska residents support wearing masks. Acting Assembly Vice Chair John Weddleton said the mask ordinance proposal and three others regarding mayoral emergency orders are steps toward addressing authority issues that have arisen during the pandemic. Weddleton said he has heard from many residents who are concerned about the amount of power in the mayor’s office. The assembly earlier this month extended to April a declaration giving Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson the authority to enact emergency orders in response to the pandemic. It is "unusual to have a mayor say, ‘Let it be so,’ and there’s a law,” said Weddleton, a sponsor of the mask ordinance proposal. Assembly member Jamie Allard said she opposes putting the mask order into city code. “People have shown they’re willing to wear a mask, and some don’t. And I think that’s an individual decision,” Allard said. “I do not agree with people being legally made to cover their faces.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — One of the first book-length inside accounts of the coronavirus pandemic will be coming out in June. Lawrence Wright's “The Plague Year," which builds on a New Yorker story that ran earlier this month, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf on June 8. Wright told The Associated Press that he interviewed more than 100 people for the story, including such top government health officials as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. “The Plague Year” will document what he calls “the shocking failure” of the U.S. to contain the virus, which has killed more than 400,000 people across the country. “America was supposed to be the best positioned country in the world to handle the pandemic,” he said. Knopf, which announced the book Wednesday, is calling it an “an all-encompassing account” covering everything from the virus' origins to the development of vaccines and nature of the disease itself. Wright won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and The Road to 9-11” and wrote a novel, “The End of October,” that was completed before the pandemic and in many ways anticipated it. He is still working on his new book, which he expects will end with the incoming administration of President Joe Biden. He noted that Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20 was one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the U.S. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Requests for mail-in ballots in the upcoming provincial election are soaring, according to Newfoundland and Labrador's chief electoral officer, who credits the pandemic with causing a shift in voting habits. Elections NL workers usually field about 300 such requests in a regular election. In the far-from-normal circumstances of 2021, those requests have spiked, with 3,000 applications in for the special ballots so far. Staff saw the wave coming, as the pandemic axed typical home visits for seniors to vote and travel restrictions continue to create logistical challenges for rotational workers. "As we anticipated, we are getting a lot more volume of mail-out ballots than we ever had before," said chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk. To keep on top of the extra votes, Elections NL staff turned extra warehouse space into a processing centre, where mail-in ballot applications are approved and sent out, and completed ballots are received and sorted. All that work has meant adding bodies to the election effort. "Everybody that we have working in this particular facility here wouldn't be working, because we normally would've been able to handle the mail-out process with the normal staff that we have," Chaulk said Tuesday. Want in? There's still time Those employees will stay busy for several weeks yet ahead of the Feb. 13 election. People can still request a mail-in ballot until 4 p.m. on Feb. 2. For anyone in unusual or remote living arrangements, Elections NL will mail those ballots wherever they can, with Chaulk saying some have been flown by helicopter to the Hibernia offshore platform. One perennially popular ballot destination, however, isn't so hot in an era of non-essential travel. "We're not seeing as many kits mailed to the snowbirds in Florida. We're getting very few that are actually going outside the country," said Chaulk. Elections staff will send out mail-in ballots until Feb. 4. The kits include an pre-stamped Xpresspost envelope for return, and all ballots have a strict deadline to make it back to the St. John's processing centre. "We need all of them back by about the ninth of February in order to have them counted by election day, because the law requires the special ballots to be counted by election day," Chaulk said. Mail-in ballots can also be dropped off, in person, at any of the 60 Elections NL district offices across the province by Feb. 7, he added. Or, if people want to get a jump on their say in the electoral process, they can vote in person at the district offices right up until advance polling day, on Feb. 6. One caveat to mail-in ballots: if someone does request one and it's sent out, their name is then struck from the voters' list, meaning if they don't fill it out and return that ballot, they can't do so at any other poll. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
GENEVA — The interim president of the African soccer confederation is under investigation by FIFA and was barred Wednesday from an election to retain his seat on the governing body’s ruling council. FIFA said Constant Omari failed an integrity and eligibility check because of “an ongoing formal investigation by the FIFA ethics committee.” Details of the case were not given in a letter to the Confederation of African Football from a FIFA-appointed official overseeing integrity checks. The letter was reported by African media and confirmed by FIFA as authentic. Omari is president of the Congo soccer federation and has been an African delegate on the FIFA Council since 2015. The position is paid $250,000 annually by FIFA. Omari stepped up to lead CAF when previous president Ahmad Ahmad was banned by FIFA in November for financial wrongdoing. Ahmad, from Madagascar, and Omari were among three African officials barred as candidates for FIFA positions at CAF elections on March 12. The FIFA governance and review committee carries out mandatory checks on candidates as part of reforms introduced in fallout from financial and election scandals in the past decade. Omari has reportedly been investigated for suspected financial wrongdoing linked to CAF commercial contracts while he was vice-president under Ahmad’s leadership. Turmoil at CAF in 2019 led to FIFA sending its secretary general, Fatma Samoura of Senegal, to run the organization for six months. A forensic audit detailed financial irregularities. The 54-nation African soccer body is due to elect a president, some of its six other FIFA Council delegates and members of its own executive committee. The election meeting is scheduled to be held in Rabat, Morocco. FIFA integrity checks were passed by four presidential candidates: Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast, Patrice Motsepe of South Africa, Augustin Senghor of Senegal and Ahmed Yaya of Mauritania. Motsepe is a billionaire businessman and the brother-in-law of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The next CAF president will also become one of FIFA’s eight vice-presidents. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
Police in six European countries, as well as Canada and the United States, completed a joint operation to take control of Internet servers used to run and control a malware network known as "Emotet," authorities said in a statement. "Emotet is currently seen as the most dangerous malware globally," Germany's BKA federal police agency said in a statement.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska health officials plan to launch a live phone service for residents trying to schedule coronavirus vaccination appointments. The state currently provides an answering service through which Alaska residents seeking appointments can only leave messages, Alaska Public Media reported. The hotline will become available in anticipation of a February shipment of COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration said Monday. Tessa Walker Linderman of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said more than 40 staff members will answer calls from people wanting to book appointments. Many of the workers were previously tasked with tracking the contacts of people who were infected with COVID-19. A decrease in the number of new cases has allowed those employees to shift to the hotline, Walker Linderman said. “We’ve built up a huge workforce, especially when we were seeing hundreds more cases a day than we are now,” Walker Linderman said. Callers may still have to wait, but the system should allow personal interaction within reasonable amounts of time rather than automatically requiring residents to wait for return calls. New appointment openings are expected to be added to the state’s vaccine website starting Thursday, officials said. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
Confirmation of a COVID-19 variant in the community has Simcoe-Muskoka's medical officer of health calling for additional testing of positive cases to identify fast-spreading mutations. “The system, I believe, needs to be developed to be more robust so that there’s a higher proportion of testing happening,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, referring to the two-part test for newer variants of the virus. “The ideal would be to test every sample.” Gardner has previously described Barrie as being "ground zero" for the COVID variant as a result of the spread at Roberta Place, the first long-term care home in Canada known to have the variant. Forty-six residents have died at Roberta Place during the outbreak, which was declared Jan. 8 by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. An essential caregiver associated with the Essa Road facility has also succumbed to the virus, bringing the overall death toll to 47 people linked to Roberta Place. The facility has also seen 127 positive cases among residents — which is all but two people residing there. Additionally, there have been 82 positive tests among staff/team members, three external partners and three essential caregivers. On Saturday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit confirmed the presence of the highly contagious UK variant, known as B.1.1.7, inside the Roberta Place long-term care home. On Tuesday, health officials confirmed an additional 97 cases of a variant have been linked to Roberta Place. Gardner has said he's "fully convinced" all of the Roberta Place cases are the UK variant and another strain is not at work inside the long-term care home. But another two cases of a variant outside of the Barrie facility have been identified. One involves an employee at the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, which is in outbreak, while the other case remains under investigation. The two-part test first looks for the mutation of a variant of concern. Genetic sequencing of the resulting positive cases then identifies the type of variant. The province also conducted a point-prevalence study of all of the COVID-19 positive samples from Jan. 20, Gardner explained during Tuesday's media briefing. The first part of that testing identified a variant existed in 99 Simcoe-Muskoka cases. Testing for a variant can be requested where there is a travel history or contact with someone who has travelled or a severe and rapidly progressing outbreak. “If it’s transmitting freely in the community, unlinked to any of that, there’s a potential to miss all of that without other indicators for testing or more frequent testing happening,” Gardner said. Until recently, testing for that variant in Ontario was only done in special circumstances. So by Friday, only 31 cases had been identified in Canada. Gardner said it will be very difficult to prevent the spread of the COVID variant in the community, emphasizing the importance of prevention and following stay-at-home orders. He also warned against visiting others in their home and vice versa. “It’s really important right now with this new variant on the cusp of spreading into our community,” he said. “The potential for it to spread here is immediate.” The UK B.1.1.7 variant is one of thousands identified worldwide. It was first found in London, England in September and has since been identified in several countries. In December, a Whitby couple was diagnosed with Ontario’s first two cases. It was later determined they had been in close contact with someone who had been in the UK, despite their earlier denials. They were subsequently charged under the Health Protection and Promotion Act and accused of misleading contact tracers. It is believed to be between 50 and 70 per cent more contagious than other coronavirus variants. Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is dealing with a dramatic increase in the number of troops who have been infected with COVID-19 over the past month. New Department of National Defence figures provided to The Canadian Press show nearly 250 Canadian military members tested positive for the illness since the end of December. That number compares to fewer than 700 cases reported during the first nine months of the pandemic. While the increase coincides with a recent surge in cases across Canada and many other parts of the world, it also comes amid an outbreak among the 540 Canadian troops deployed in Latvia. Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier says Armed Forces members on four other missions have also tested positive for COVID-19 since March, along with an unspecified number here at home. Meanwhile, the federal government says more than 1,000 military personnel have received vaccines, with the priority being given to troops working in health-care settings or who have health conditions that could put them at greater risk from COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Last November, Alex Doyle ended up back in prison after violating his parole. That's where he may have inadvertently become a superspreader in Canada's worst COVID-19 outbreak in a federal penitentiary.
LELAND, N.C. — An unlucky start to a North Carolina man’s day turned upside down when he discovered he won a $2 million lottery prize hours after hitting two deer with his new car. Anthony Dowe, of Leland, had an accident on his way to work, the North Carolina Education Lottery said in a statement Tuesday. It ruined his day, so he went back home, got into bed and went to sleep. “Then I woke up and checked my tickets. I checked the fourth ticket and I saw the ‘4' and then the next number and the next number and the next number,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Wow!’ It was just crazy.” His winning Mega Millions ticket matched all five white balls. The odds? 1 out of 12.6 million. Dowe took his ticket to a store and won $1 million. That prize doubled when the 2x Megaplier ticket was drawn. “I went and showed my dad and my mom and everybody was happy,” he said. On Monday, he claimed his prize at the lottery headquarters in Raleigh and took home about $1.4 million after taxes. “It just feels great,” he said. “I’m just gonna fix things on my mother and father’s house and get my car fixed, pay it off, and pay my niece’s car off.” The rest, he said, will go into savings. The Associated Press
In spite of a pandemic, the Municipality had many accomplishments to be proud of, said mayor Anne Eadie. First and foremost, the mayor was very impressed with how the local government and the community adjusted to the pandemic. “One of our biggest successes, which was totally unforeseen, was how we dealt with COVID,” said the mayor. “It became a major focus starting in March. We had our plans, we had our budget done but we had to quickly ‘switch horses’, for lack of a better term, and COVID became our #1 priority throughout the spring and into the summer.” Eadie said that because of the unexpected speed in which it all happened, people came together. She said the community has rallied and dealt with it as best they could, and local numbers stayed reasonable. She said everyone has done their part. While it was a huge challenge, saying who could have dreamed that in a couple of days the whole Municipal office would shut down and staff would be working from home. In just a few days the technology was in place and there was cooperation between all departments. Eadie said “I’ve never seen such a level of cooperation in my time in politics,” as the local government, health unit, county and province put new processes in place. “Everybody pulled together.” She said the recovery centre at the Davidson Centre went up in almost no time, and if hospitals fill up and Kincardine is called on to take on patients, the Municipality is ready. She also pointed out that this pandemic is “unknown territory” for everybody, and the amount of coordination it takes to plan during a pandemic is unbelievable. In terms of infrastructure, a number of plans moved forward as planned or were completed. At Highways 9 and 21, which has been an objective since 2011, there is still some work needed on the roads but the area is ready for development. The two-year Huron Terrace project is underway and good headway was made this year. The Queen Street Bridge reconstruction was completed, and worked well with the unplanned but positively-received closure of Queen Street during the summer. The Maple Street project in Tiverton has the engineering complete, but had to be deferred because the council had to deal with the unexpected damage and erosion along the shoreline on Goderich Street. The repair was expensive and required more money than anticipated. Eadie said they chose to spend the money and “do the job right” and are hopeful it will keep the next round of high water back. “By spending more now, we’ve given it a longer fix.” Completed projects also include the paving of Concession 11 in ward 2 and because the Theatre Guild and other community groups couldn’t hold events this summer, the final phase of renovations to the arts centre were completed. Eadie said “We spent years trying to get natural gas – and it has arrived.” EPCOR and AECON were busy all summer installing lines and feedback is that people are happy with it. The project will continue and Eadie expects it will be finished by 2022. As for 2021, budget meetings have begun and it is hoped the Municipality can continue with the deferred public works projects. Eadie said people are looking forward to the completion of the KIP trail. There has been substantial fundraising in the community and council is waiting to hear by spring to find out if a two-stage grant has been approved. She is very excited about the confirmation of a new high school to be built in Kincardine. The more than $26 million in funding provided by the province was announced in November and while details of the when and where of the school have not yet been announced, the Bluewater District School Board has just completed a survey asking for input from the public. Eadie hopes the new school will offer more options for students, in particular in the areas of technology and trades. Eadie also mentioned the new building the county has invested should be completed by March 2021, with a new affordable housing spaces as well as room for County Human Services, stating “any improvement in affordable housing is a bonus.” Municipal Council is also collaborating with the County to seek options to improve safety on some of the busy roads near Bruce Power. The mayor said one of her biggest sorrows of the year was losing colleague and friend, Marie Wilson, to cancer. She had enormous respect for Wilson and considered her a great asset to Council, saying “the hardest time of 2020 was losing our deputy mayor.” Randy Roppel has since been sworn in as deputy mayor and Dorne Fitzsimmons is the new ward 3 councilor. On Kincardine Council since 2010, and serving as mayor since 2014, Eadie has seen 2020 as a year of unprecedented collaboration and cooperation in this community. She can’t stress enough how much the leadership of Bruce Power has contributed to the wellbeing of residents, from providing expertise, hosting town halls and creating supportive initiatives such as “Be A Light – Fighting COVID Together”. She really appreciates the effort Bruce Power has put forward, and said OPG, supply chain companies, local businesses all “stepped up”. Eadie is looking forward to participating with the Nuclear Innovation Institute this year, to learn more about the nuclear industry and see how it will benefit the community. While 2020 offered many challenges, and will continue to in 2021, Eadie says the community has once again shown its true colours. “I’m really pleased and proud of everyones efforts and determination,” said Eadie. “The pandemic has underlined that we are a community that cares about each other and supports each other.” Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Chloé Marceau a décidé il y a quelques années de faire le grand saut, devant le succès grandissant de son entreprise de vêtements en ligne. Quatre ans plus tard, la jeune femme de Saguenay compte des centaines de ventes par mois pour sa marque CHLOWE, qui totalise de nombreuses collections et qui regroupe d’ailleurs des milliers d’abonnés sur les réseaux sociaux. Pour la jeune entrepreneure, tout a commencé par les réseaux sociaux. S’y intéressant depuis de nombreuses années, la Saguenéenne y a toujours été très active avec par exemple un blogue et des comptes sur les différentes plateformes. La création de sa page Facebook a vraiment marqué le début de l’aventure de son entreprise. « Il y a quelques années, j’ai fait ma page Facebook, Hashtag Chlowe. Je partageais des coups de coeur et plein de petits trucs comme ça. J’ai eu l’idée à un moment donné de faire un chandail sur lequel j’avais dessiné une petite pêche, sur le coin gauche, pour moi. Je l’ai mis en photo sur mon blogue et c’est de là que tout est parti. Les gens m’écrivaient qu’ils en voulaient un », explique Chloé Marceau, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Quotidien. Pour ce modèle, elle dessinait le motif à la main, pour chacune des commandes. Avec le nombre de demandes en hausse, Chloé s’est mise à produire les chandails à grande échelle. Confrontée à la forte popularité de ses quelques produits, l’entrepreneure a dû faire un choix. Soit elle se concentrait sur ses études en Art et technologie des médias, ou elle se consacrait à fond sur son entreprise. « Je me suis dit que je devais le prendre quand ça passait, alors je me suis lancée. Quatre ans plus tard, je fais encore ça, j’ai mon entrepôt dans ma maison et ça va vraiment bien. Je sors trois à quatre collections par année et de nouveaux modèles quasiment tous les mois. J’ai des centaines de ventes par mois », continue-t-elle. Elle a d’ailleurs toujours été inspirée par son père, qui est lui aussi en affaires. Un quotidien chargé Chloé choisit elle-même les couleurs, crée les motifs et imagine les concepts de tous les produits de sa marque. Elle crée des chandails, mais également des jupes, t-shirts, pantalons, accessoires et maillots de bain. Une fois les vêtements produits, elle se charge de l’envoi des commandes et de la préparation, ce qui occupe le plus clair de son temps. Ses créations ont rapidement fait le tour de la province et sont envoyées même partout au Canada. Avant l’arrivée de la COVID, il lui était arrivé d’envoyer des morceaux en Californie et même en Norvège ! Une autre partie importante de son quotidien est la création de contenu et de publicités de tout ce qui touche aux réseaux sociaux. Les siens se démarquent particulièrement sur la Toile. Sur sa page Instagram personnelle et celle de son entreprise, la Saguenéenne compte entre 13 500 et 15 000 abonnés. Sur Facebook, elle rejoint plus de 32 000 personnes. Chloé Marceau est fière de faire ce qu’elle fait à partir de la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. Elle était la première à penser qu’avec sa passion de la mode, elle devait habiter dans une plus grande ville pour en vivre. Elle a habité quelque temps à Montréal, mais est rapidement revenue au Saguenay, car sa vie en région lui manquait trop. « Avec les réseaux sociaux, je crois que peu importe où tu es, tu peux développer quelque chose. C’est vraiment ce que j’aime des réseaux sociaux, je peux rejoindre une belle communauté de gens de partout », insiste la jeune femme. Objectifs Quand Chloé imagine l’avenir, elle espère que son entreprise prospère. « Tous les jours représentent un nouveau défi et mon objectif est toujours d’avoir de l’imagination, d’innover, de trouver de nouvelles idées pour les collections futures », révèle-t-elle. La jeune entrepreneure a également avoué qu’elle travaillait activement sur la collection d’été, qui verra le jour au fil des prochains mois. Ce sera assurément l’une de ses plus importantes collections et la Saguenéenne a très hâte de la dévoiler. Elle se retrouvera sur son site Web, www.hashtagchlowe.com, avec tout le reste des vêtements.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien