Pink Floyd releases its best-selling album "The Wall"; Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Dick Clark born; World Trade Organization's meeting met by 40-thousand protesters; (Nov. 30)
Pink Floyd releases its best-selling album "The Wall"; Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Dick Clark born; World Trade Organization's meeting met by 40-thousand protesters; (Nov. 30)
For two Virginia police officers who posed for a photo during the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection, the reckoning has been swift and public: They were identified, charged with crimes and arrested. But for five Seattle officers the outcome is less clear. Their identities still secret, two are on leave and three continue to work while a police watchdog investigates whether their actions in the nation's capital on Jan. 6 crossed the line from protected political speech to lawbreaking. The contrasting cases highlight the dilemma faced by police departments nationwide as they review the behaviour of dozens of officers who were in Washington the day of the riot by supporters of President Donald Trump. Officials and experts agree that officers who were involved in the melee should be fired and charged for their role. But what about those officers who attended only the Trump rally before the riot? How does a department balance an officer's free speech rights with the blow to public trust that comes from the attendance of law enforcement at an event with far-right militants and white nationalists who went on to assault the seat of American democracy? An Associated Press survey of law enforcement agencies nationwide found that at least 31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behaviour in the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for participating in the riot. Officials are looking into whether the officers violated any laws or policies or participated in the violence while in Washington. A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building and many other officers were injured. A woman was shot to death by Capitol Police and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos. Most of the officers have not been publicly identified; only a few have been charged. Some were identified by online sleuths. Others were reported by their colleagues or turned themselves in. They come from some of the country’s largest cities — three Los Angeles officers and a sheriff’s deputy, for instance — as well as state agencies and a Pennsylvania police department with nine officers. Among them are an Oklahoma sheriff and New Hampshire police chief who have acknowledged being at the rally, but denied entering the Capitol or breaking the law. “If they were off-duty, it’s totally free speech,” said Will Aitchison, a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, who represents law enforcement officers. “People have the right to express their political views regardless of who’s standing next to them. You just don’t get guilt by association.” But Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a professor at Case Western Reserve University law school, said an officer’s presence at the rally creates a credibility issue as law enforcement agencies work to repair community trust, especially after last summer's of protests against police brutality sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Communities will question the integrity of officers who attended the rally along with “individuals who proudly profess racist and divisive viewpoints,” she said. “It calls into question whether those officers are interested in engaging in policing in a way that builds trust and legitimacy in all communities, including communities of colour.” In Rocky Mount, a Virginia town of about 1,000, Sgt. Thomas Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker were suspended without pay and face criminal charges after posting a photo of themselves inside the Capitol during the riot. According to court records, Robertson wrote on social media that the “Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem … The right IN ONE DAY took the f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” Attempts to contact the pair were unsuccessful and court records do not list lawyers. Leaders in Rocky Mount declined to be interviewed. In a statement, they said the events at the Capitol were tragic. “We stand with and add our support to those who have denounced the violence and illegal activity that took place that day,” said Police Chief Ken Criner, Capt. Mark Lovern and Town Manager James Ervin. “Our town and our police department absolutely does not condone illegal or unethical behaviour by anyone, including our officers and staff.” On the other side of the county, five Seattle officers are under investigation by the city’s Office of Police Accountability. Two officers posted photos of themselves on social media while in the district and officials are investigating to determine where they were and what they were doing. Three others told supervisors that they went to Washington for the events and are being investigated for what they did while there. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said his department supports officers’ freedom of speech and that those who were in the nation's capital will be fired if they “were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.” But police leaders need to evaluate more than just clear criminal behaviour, according to Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a policing research and policy group. They must also consider how their actions affect the department credibility, he said. Officers' First Amendment rights “don’t extend to expressing words that may be violent or maybe express some prejudice,” Wexler said, “because that’s going to reflect on what they do when they’re working, when they’re testifying in court.” Through the summer and fall, Seattle police — along with officers elsewhere — came under criticism for their handling of mass protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. The city received more than 19,000 complaints against officers, most for excessive use of force and improper use of pepper spray. Andrew Myerberg, director of the Seattle Office of Police Accountability, said none of the officers now under investigation were involved in those cases. But Sakara Remmu, cofounder of Black Lives Matter Seattle/King County, said the officers should be fired regardless. Their public declarations of solidarity with Trump fosters not just community distrust, but terror of the entire department, she said. “It absolutely does matter when the decorum of racial peace cracks and racial hatred comes through, because we already have a documented history and legacy of what that means in this country,” Remmu said. In Houston, the police chief decried an officer who resigned and was later charged in the riot. A lawyer for Officer Tam Pham said the 18-year veteran of the force "very much regrets” being at the rally and was “deeply remorseful.” But many chiefs have said their officers committed no crimes. “The Arkansas State Police respects the rights and freedom of an employee to use their leave time as the employee may choose,” department spokesman Bill Sadler said of two officers who attended the Trump rally. Malik Aziz, the former chair and executive director of the National Black Police Association, compared condemning all officers who were in Washington to tarring all the protesters who took to streets after the killing of George Floyd with the violent and destructive acts of some. A major with the Dallas Police Department, Aziz said police acting privately have the same rights as other Americans, but that knowingly going to a bigoted event should be disqualifying for an officer. “There’s no place in law enforcement for that individual,” Aziz said. Martha Bellisle And Jake Bleiberg, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan's premier says the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline isn't over yet. In a recent interview with CBC's Rosemary Barton, Premier Scott Moe says conversations around the TC Energy project are ongoing, despite U.S. President Joe Biden's recent cancellation of the pipeline's permit by executive order. "I wouldn't say this project is over by any stretch. There is a lot of conversation to have on KXL," Moe said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. The 1,897-kilometre pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from oilsands in Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, connecting to the original Keystone pipeline running to the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. A portion of the project would have crossed into southern Saskatchewan. Moe, along with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, has pushed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government to take action against the pipeline's halt. That could include economic sanctions, Moe suggested — a possibility also raised by Kenney. "I haven't said that we should go to sanctions and sanctions should be utilized first," Moe said in his interview with Barton. "But sanctions are always on the table in any conversation or any challenge that we may have with our trading relationship with our largest partner." The project, originally blocked by U.S. President Barack Obama, was then approved by President Donald Trump, who wanted to negotiate the terms of the project, before ultimately being blocked again by Biden in the first days of his presidency. Federal Opposition leader Erin O'Toole has also expressed frustration over the cancellation of the project, saying in a statement it "will devastate thousands of Canadian families who have already been badly hurt by the economic crisis." Trudeau's government has repeatedly said that it supports the project and has made that clear to the new U.S. administration, but both the prime minister and Canada's ambassador to the U.S. have said it is time to respect the decision and move on. Speaking on Friday morning, Trudeau reiterated his disappointment with the cancellation and said he would raise the issue during his phone call with Biden scheduled for later in the day. "Obviously the decision on Keystone XL is a very difficult one for workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan who've had many difficult hits," he said. "Over the past years we have been there for them and we will continue to be there for them and I will express my concern for jobs and livelihoods in Canada, particularly in the West, directly in my conversation with President Biden." Trudeau stressed he and the new president are on the same wavelength on fighting climate change and middle-class job creation, as well as the "values of Canadians." Moe called the cancellation a "devastating blow to North American energy security," and said in the interview with Barton he'll continue to advocate for the pipeline, which he says has both economic and environmental benefits for Canada.
ATLANTA — Six months after his death, the late civil rights leader and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis will retain a palpable influence in Congress: The state’s two new Democratic U.S. senators — both personal friends and admirers — promise to carry on his legacy. Sen. Raphael Warnock was Lewis’ pastor and stood at his bedside before Lewis died. Sen. Jon Ossoff, the Senate’s youngest current member, served as an intern in Lewis’ Washington office years ago. Both were sworn into office Wednesday. Their victories have already brought about significant change. Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Ossoff is the first Jewish senator from the state. Together, their election victories swung control of the Senate to Democrats. Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost the nationally watched race for Georgia governor in 2018, said in a statement to The Associated Press that Warnock and Ossoff represent Lewis’ legacy in the Senate “as champions of civil rights, human rights and voting rights." “Congressman Lewis is irreplaceable,” Abrams wrote. "However, Georgians gave America the opportunity to pass sweeping reforms that will strengthen our democracy and commemorate his fight for all.” Both of the newly minted senators have pledged to pursue legislation to expand and protect voting rights, a cause that Lewis championed for most of his life. Democrats and their supporters are hopeful that their newfound control of the White House and Congress could mean voting protections previously stalled by a GOP-led Senate could receive quick passage. Chief among those is a bill passed by the House in 2019 that has since been renamed after Lewis. It seeks to restore portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The ruling in Shelby County v. Holder ended a requirement that jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices receive preclearance from the federal government for any changes to voting procedures. Democrats and voting rights groups argue that the ruling has led to a cascade of changes in many states that have disenfranchised voters, including polling place closures. In a news conference Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi identified the legislation as a top priority and said she was optimistic about its prospects. That said, the Senate could have its hands full with the impending impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, as well as consideration of appointments by President Joe Biden and his early legislative proposals, including a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. Lewis died in July at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. He served in the House for 33 years representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes most of Atlanta. Lewis became a key player in the civil rights movement as a young man in the 1960s. He helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was among the original Freedom Riders who challenged segregated bus terminals in the South, and was the youngest person to speak at the March on Washington in 1963. Most associated with the pursuit to secure and protect voting rights, Lewis led protesters in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he had his skull fractured by police, and was a driving force behind voting rights laws in the U.S. for decades. Lewis was a parishioner of Warnock's for years at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached and Warnock remains pastor. Warnock was called to Lewis' bedside days before his death and presided over his funeral service. “Today the world lost a giant. I lost a mentor, a church member and a friend," Warnock said in a tweet shortly after Lewis' death. “In his youth, John Lewis wrestled with a call to ministry. But instead of preaching sermons, he became a sermon for all the world to see.” Ossoff first met Lewis when, as a teenager, he was inspired by Lewis' book “Walking With the Wind” and wrote him a letter. “I was so inspired by how a person so young had taken a leadership role in the pursuit of justice and confronting the abuse of power, and was just in awe of his life,” Ossoff said in an interview with The Associated Press in December. Lewis wrote back and invited Ossoff to come work in his office for a few months, spawning a yearslong relationship between the two. Lewis' early endorsement of Ossoff helped him defeat a challenger with far more experience in elected office to clinch the Democratic nomination for Senate. Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who both ran on fealty to Trump, in a runoff election on Jan. 5. They are the first Democrats to win a U.S. Senate election in Georgia since 2000. On the night of the election, as the Democrats’ leads became clear, members of Congress who worked alongside Lewis paid tribute to the late congressman, saying he laid the groundwork for the victories. “My friend John Lewis planted the foundation of this Georgia over his career,” Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey said in a tweet. “I wish he were here tonight to watch this.” Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada's taxpayers' ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep spike in complaints compared to one year ago, delivering an early warning about how complicated returns should be handled this year. François Boileau says the number of complaints from taxpayers about the Canada Revenue Agency was up 93 per cent in December from the same month in 2019. Urgent requests, for people in dire financial straits, are up 120 per cent since the start of the pandemic, he says. Boileau says the statistics paint a portrait of the difficult circumstances some Canadians find themselves in as a result of COVID-19, and the need for the agency to improve services for the coming tax season. He says too many Canadians still spend hours trying to get through to a call centre agent. Boileau adds that delays are especially frustrating for people who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit last year and are now trying to sort out whether they have to repay some of the aid. Just a few weeks ago, the CRA sent out letters to 441,000 people questioning their eligibility for the CERB, and warning they may owe back some of the payments. The Liberals have promised leniency for people who will have problems paying the money back, but have yet to say what options will be available. Boileau noted that some callers continue to complain about waiting five hours or more to speak with an agent. He says he is worried the CRA won't be able to meet response-time standards as the calendar ticks closer to what will likely be a complicated tax season due to the pandemic. "I hope it (won't) be," Boileau says. "They are preparing for it. They know what's going on and they're taking all the necessary steps." While the pandemic has been a focus of Boileau in his first few months as ombudsperson, his office continues to work away on a review of how the CRA has handled the processing of Canada Child Benefit payments. Boileau's predecessor, Sherra Profit, launched the review of the CCB in late 2019 after three years of flagging overly stringent eligibility rules that prevented payments to some of Canada’s most vulnerable families. In some cases, newcomer families to Canada haven't receive child benefits because they can’t get needed documents, such as a note from a school or family doctor. In other situations, women fleeing domestic violence have felt like they need to get their partner's signatures on forms and other information about custody — despite the government promising that wouldn’t be the case. Boileau says some of these situations add complications for the CRA, which has to take time to sort things out. "It takes time and time is of the essence with the CCB," he says. "It's really touching the lives of citizens, taxpayers that are in a vulnerable state of mind." Boileau says his officials are currently reviewing answers from the agency to some additional questions, although there is no firm timeline on when the review will be complete. The office of the federal auditor general is doing its own review of the CCB, which it expects to publish this year. According to the auditor general's website, the review will focus on whether recipients were eligible for the benefits, and that payments are made in a timely and accurate manner. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
LONDON — Britain is expanding a coronavirus vaccination program that has seen almost 6 million people get the first of two doses — even as the country’s death toll in the pandemic approaches 100,000. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that three-quarters of the U.K.’s over-80s have received a vaccine shot. He said three-quarters of nursing home residents have also had their first jab. Almost 5.9 million doses of vaccine had been administered by Saturday. Health officials aim to give 15 million people, including everyone over 70, a first vaccine shot by Feb. 15, and cover the entire adult population by September. Britain is inoculating people with two vaccines — one made by U.S. pharma firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech, the other by U.K.-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It has authorized a third, developed by Moderna. It is giving them at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and vaccination centres set up in conference halls, sports stadiums and other large venues. Thirty more locations are opening this week, including a former IKEA store and a museum of industrial history that was used as a set for the TV show “Peaky Blinders.” Britain’s vaccination campaign is a rare success in a country with Europe’s worst confirmed coronavirus outbreak. The U.K. has recorded 97,329 deaths among people who tested positive, including 1,348 new deaths reported Saturday. The U.K. is set within days to become the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico — all of which have much larger populations than Britain's 67 million people. Some health experts have questioned the Conservative government’s decision to give the two vaccine doses up to 12 weeks apart, rather than the recommended three weeks, in order to offer as many people as possible their first dose quickly. AstraZeneca has said it believes a first dose of its vaccine offers protection after 12 weeks but Pfizer says it has not tested the efficacy of its jab after such a long gap. The British Medical Association says the government should “urgently review” the policy. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site that sits in quiet contrast to Ottawa's peppy ByWard Market nearby. Users filter into the brick building — dubbed "the trailer," a nod to the service's former digs — offering up greetings and grins en route to 16 basement booths, each furnished with a chair, a shatter-resistant mirror and a needle disposal box. The injection facility halved the number of booths to ensure distancing when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, resulting in a "huge increase" in overdoses in the surrounding community, says Muckle, who for 20 years has headed Ottawa Inner City Health, which provides health care for vulnerable populations. She restored full capacity in response to the spike in overdoses but many services remain reduced or accessible only virtually. “We've seen a really frightening, rapid increase in the number of people using drugs in this pandemic," Muckle says. "I think people feel like maybe they just aren't going to make it through this one." Drug users face greater dangers as the second wave forces harm reduction sites and outreach programs to curtail their services, leaving at-risk communities out in the cold. Shorter hours, physical distancing measures and a curfew in Quebec, combined with a more lethal drug supply due to border closures, have sent addictions services scrambling to help users across the country as opioid overdoses and the attendant death toll continue to mount. In British Columbia, fentanyl-related deaths had been on the decline for more than a year until April, when monthly numbers routinely began to double those of 2019. Deaths linked to fentanyl, a lethally potent synthetic opioid, reached 360 in B.C. between September and November compared to 184 in the same period a year earlier, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Opioid-related deaths countrywide could climb as high as 2,000 per quarter in the first half of 2021, far surpassing the peak of nearly 1,200 in the last three months of 2018, according to modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada. It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply and users turning to substances as a way of coping with high stress. Social services have limited capacity or shut down communal spaces, while programs from meal provision to laundry — some of which are near injection sites, encouraging their use — are now tougher to access. Canada's ongoing border shutdown has disrupted the flow of illicit drugs, and dealers looking to stretch their limited supplies are more apt to add potentially toxic adulterants. Benzodiazepines, or benzos, have been detected in drugs circulating in parts of several provinces. Users can be difficult to rouse and slow to respond to naloxone — the drug that reverses opioid overdoses — and more likely to overdose when fentanyl or other opioids are also in the mix. “With the benzodiazepine, there is no antidote for that," said Paula Tookey, program manager for consumption and treatment at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Toronto. "People are sedated deeply for hours, often 10 hours or even more," forcing workers to turn away other users who then may shoot up alone, she said. The Riverdale site saw 42 out of 1,110 visitors overdose last month — none fatally — compared to just two overdoses in 700 visits in December 2019, Tookey said. Pared-down services have also diminished harm reduction sites' role as de facto community spaces, cutting off a key point of social contact. "We used to have memorials, which were super important for people because we have constant deaths," Tookey said. “A lot of our folks don't have families ... The community and other people in their situations and the workers are kind of the informal family that people have." Limits on gathering in the pandemic have also closed off a critical source of knowledge sharing. "There’s no people to say, ‘Hey, that’s really, really strong, don’t use that much,'" said Karen Ward, a drug rights advocate as well as a drug policy and poverty reduction consultant with the City of Vancouver. "Those facts, that social information, is really, really important to have. You know, ‘Hey, there’s a bad batch,’ that sort of thing.” Health authorities run alert systems for poisoned drugs across B.C., but their patchwork structure leaves lives in jeopardy, she said. In Quebec, Montreal's four supervised consumption sites have seen visits drop sharply since the 8 p.m. provincial curfew came into force earlier this month. Even a mobile unit has reached far fewer users, says Kim Charest, outreach program coordinator at L'Anonyme, which runs the portable site. "Unfortunately, people are less likely to go outside their door basically past 8 p.m.," she said. "But we do know that people don't necessarily stop taking drugs." Even before the curfew, the number of EMS calls where paramedics administered naloxone to opioid users in Montreal and the suburb of Laval nearly doubled last year, reaching 270 compared to 146 in 2019, according to the Urgences-santé ambulance service. Another danger lies in sharing needles — injection sites provide clean ones — and the risk of blood-borne infections. Advocates, outreach workers and users are calling for better drug alert systems and broader support services in the short-term. However, nothing short of decriminalization of possession of small quantities of drugs — requested by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart to the federal government — and more stable housing will help beat back the tide of overdoses, Muckle says. "At the end of the day, if people are unhoused, all of the things that you're doing really have a marginal benefit," Muckle says. "You cannot heal in a shelter .... A home is such a fundamental part of our health." Meanwhile, the social isolation and unsupervised consumption of tainted drugs ratcheted up by the pandemic bode ill for vulnerable Canadians. "We had a pretty significant problem with addiction when this pandemic started. We're going to come out of it way worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
There was no distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine set up by the Trump administration as the virus raged in its last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on Sunday. "The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under Trump’s watch.
PARIS — A suspected Canadian drug baron has been arrested in the Netherlands on an Interpol warrant, according to Dutch and Australian police. The 57-year-old was detained Friday and is of “significant interest” to Australian and other law enforcement agencies, according to a statement Sunday from the Australian federal police. It says he was targeted as part of an operation that dismantled a global crime syndicate in 2019 that was accused of trading large amounts of illegal drugs and laundering the profits. The Australian police plan to seek his extradition. Dutch national police tweeted that he was arrested at the request of Australian authorities via Interpol. The international police agency did not comment on the arrest. The suspect's name was not released. The Associated Press
Rioters looted stores, set fires and clashed with police in several Dutch cities on Sunday, resulting in more than 240 arrests, police and Dutch media reported. The unrest came on the second day of new, tougher coronavirus restrictions, including a night curfew, which had prompted demonstrations. Nearly 200 people, some of them throwing stones and fireworks, were detained in the city, police said.
On her journey to find a suitable therapist, Edmontonian Odion Welch spent 15 minutes of an hour-long counselling session explaining to her white psychologist about plantain — the fried banana common at the dinner table in her Caribbean household. She went through seven counselors before finding the right one because of the barriers of cost, accessibility and most importantly — finding someone who understood her Black culture. "Who do you talk to about that experience?" asked Welch, a mental health youth coordinator with the Africa Centre. Welch is now part of efforts at the Africa Centre that will make it easier for other Black Albertans to find a therapist who can better relate to their experiences. The organization has launched a free counselling clinic to support Albertans of African descent dealing with the impact of COVID-19. "There's a safe one hour conversation that someone can have that's either going to be a safe venting session or a place where they leave with resources and that almost kind of virtual hug that someone gets it," Welch said. In partnership with Alberta Black Therapists Network and funded by United Way, the program is the first of its kind in Western Canada to provide free, culturally-relevant counselling services for Black community members. With many appointments available on evenings and weekends, the sessions are solely virtual right now due to COVID-19 with future plans for in-person sessions. The team of all-Black therapists speak a total of nine different languages. Access to multilingual Black therapists is just one of the ways the program aims to reduce barriers identified during consultations to accessing mental health support. As well as having therapists who better understand the cultures or systemic racism, their lived experience also makes them more sensitive to the reality of microaggressions, pre-migration or intergenerational trauma clients may face. "The most common microaggression that I feel like Black people talk about is the hair, petting the hair and 'Oh I can't believe it feels like this'," Welch said. "We have so many of our youth talk about — they still have teachers say to them, 'You're smart for a Black person'." 'Rocking your natural hair' Welch, an entrepreneur who overcame her own struggle with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, self-published a best-selling book on Amazon: Breakthrough: A Courageous True Story of Overcoming Depression and Anxiety. She highlights the pressures Black women feel whether it's being a good spouse, parent and career woman; fulfilling family expectations; sexual trauma and body image; or concerns about coming across as the "angry Black woman" or "rocking your natural hair." Current events such as the video repeatedly played of the murder of George Floyd can add to that trauma, said Welch. She pointed out that the last segregated school in Canada only closed in the 1980s and noted Edmonton's history of white supremacy lives on today, with racist eruptions repeatedly grabbing headlines. "So if you're a parent, there's only two generations before me that went through those things and saw the segregation and heard the comments and came from a time where, you know, 'If it's Black, it ain't right' kind of thing," Welch said. Jasmine Duncan, an entrepreneur and single mother of three children who struggled to find a Black therapist for her own family, welcomed the new program. "I think it's important, especially for our children to see somebody who looks like them, kind of representing them and understanding what it's like for them," Duncan said. "Even for myself, when I get therapy it's hard to really explain some of the things that you're going through or that you feel if somebody has never experienced anything like it, and it's not something you can really read in a textbook." "When it comes to racism, you can express the things that you have been through or the way you've been treated. But because somebody hasn't had an experience, something to that level, it's kind of like, 'OK, but was it really that bad?' "Unless you've actually really been in those shoes, it's really hard to give the advice that's needed for somebody to work through it." Duncan hopes other parents will see the value of Black children seeing a therapist as a sort of mental health hygiene much like going to the doctor or dentist. "We need to teach them how to take care of themselves once they do leave the home," Duncan said. "So you need to know that if you are struggling with something, you reach out and you ask for help." 'Re-traumatized' Noreen Sibanda is the executive director of the Alberta Black Therapists Network formed last year to offer services for individuals with an understanding of lived experiences of the Black community. The network aims to offer services coming from an anti-oppressive, decolonizing and trauma-informed space that destigmatizes mental health within the Black community. "It's something that people would sort through in isolation," Sibanda said. "But individuals were not seeking out supports one, because they didn't know and two, they were afraid that if they do connect, they are going to connect with someone that would not understand their lived experience and they would have to be re-traumatized by retelling of their story." She said the launch of the program in partnership with the Africa Centre is especially important now because of the pandemic. "So having the Africa Centre partnered with the Alberta Black Therapists Network is saying, we recognize that we cannot think of mental health as something that we'll deal with later, but something that has to be part of the already existing programs," Sibanda said. "We cannot connect individuals with education, employment if we're not taking care of their mental health because they will not succeed. They would run into different areas, or they would come back and feel like they're not being successful because their mental health is not being addressed."
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s groundbreaking abortion law goes into force Sunday under the watchful eyes of women’s groups and government officials, who hope to ensure its full implementation despite opposition from some conservative and church groups. Argentina became the largest nation in Latin America to legalize elective abortion after its Senate on Dec. 30 passed a law guaranteeing the procedure up to the 14th week of pregnancy and beyond that in cases of rape or when a woman’s health is at risk. The vote was hailed as a triumph for the South American country’s feminist movement that could pave the way for similar actions across the socially conservative, heavily Roman Catholic region. But Pope Francis had issued a last-minute appeal before the vote and church leaders have criticized the decision. Supporters of the law say they expect lawsuits from anti-abortion groups in Argentina’s conservative provinces and some private health clinics might refuse to carry out the procedure. “Another huge task lies ahead of us,” said Argentina’s minister of women, gender and diversity, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, who has acknowledged there will be obstacles to the law’s full implementation across the country. Gómez Alcorta said a telephone line will be set up “for those who cannot access abortion to communicate.” The Argentine Catholic Church has repudiated the law and conservative doctors' and lawyers' groups have urged resistance. Doctors and health professionals can claim conscientious objection to performing abortions, but cannot invoke the right if a pregnant woman’s life or health is in danger. A statement signed by the Consortium of Catholic Doctors, the Catholic Lawyers Corporation and other groups called on doctors and lawyers to “resist with nobility, firmness and courage the norm that legalizes the abominable crime of abortion." The anti-abortion group Unidad Provida also urged doctors, nurses and technicians to fight for their “freedom of conscience” and promised to "accompany them in all the trials that are necessary.” Under the law, private health centres that do not have doctors willing to carry out abortions must refer women seeking abortions to clinics that will. Any public official or health authority who unjustifiably delays an abortion will be punished with imprisonment from three months to one year. The National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, an umbrella group for organizations that for years fought for legal abortion, often wearing green scarves at protests, vowed to “continue monitoring compliance with the law.” “We trust the feminist networks that we have built over decades,” said Laura Salomé, one of the movement’s members. A previous abortion bill was voted down by Argentine lawmakers in 2018 by a narrow margin. But in the December vote it was backed by the centre-left government, boosted by the so-called “piba” revolution, from the Argentine slang for “girls,” and opinion polls showing opposition had softened. The law’s supporters expect backlash in Argentina’s conservative provinces. In the northern province of Salta, a federal judge this week rejected a measure filed by a former legislator calling for the law to be suspended because the legislative branch had exceeded its powers. Opponents of abortion cite international treaties signed by Argentina pledging to protect life from conception. Gómez Alcorta said criminal charges currently pending against more than 1,500 women and doctors who performed abortions should be lifted. She said the number of women and doctors detained “was not that many,” but didn’t provide a number. “The Ministry of Women is going to carry out its leadership” to end these cases, she said. Tamara Grinberg, 32, who had a clandestine abortion in 2012, celebrated that from now on “a girl can go to a hospital to say ‘I want to have an abortion.'” She said when she had her abortion, very few people helped her. “Today there are many more support networks ... and the decision is respected. When I did it, no one respected my decision." While abortion is already allowed in some other parts of Latin America — such as in Uruguay, Cuba and Mexico City — its legalization in Argentina is expected to reverberate across the region, where dangerous clandestine procedures remain the norm a half century after a woman’s right to choose was guaranteed in the U.S. ___ AP journalists Víctor Caivano and Yésica Brumec contributed to this report. Almudena Calatrava, The Associated Press
Chinese air force planes including 12 fighter jets entered Taiwan's air defence identification zone for a second day on Sunday, Taiwan said, as tensions rise near the island just days into U.S. President Joe Biden's new administration. China views democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has in the past few months increased military activity near the island. But China's activities over the weekend mark a ratcheting up with fighters and bombers being dispatched rather than reconnaissance aircraft as had generally been the case in recent weeks.
NEW YORK — Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, among the last survivors of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist whose Oscar-nominated script for “The Front” drew upon his years of being unable to work under his own name, died Saturday. He was 101. The cause was pneumonia, according to his wife, the literary agent Gloria Loomis. A World War II correspondent for the military who also had been published in The New Yorker, Bernstein was at the start of what seemed a promising film career when the Cold War and anti-Communist paranoia led to his being blacklisted in 1950, a fate which ruined the lives of many of his peers and led some to suicide. Job offers to Bernstein were rescinded and onetime friends stopped speaking to him. FBI agents looked through his trash, showed up at his door and followed him outside. “I was starting to look around when I left my house, looking over my shoulder when I walked down the street, bracing myself for the inevitable encounter,” he wrote in his memoir “Inside Out,” published in 1996. “Even expecting it, I was startled when it came, and there would be the sudden sour taste of fear for a moment and then a shaming wave of anger, not at them but at myself for being afraid. I could never really get angry at them. They were only doing their job, like delivering milk.” Unwilling to provide the House Un-American Activities Committee names of suspected Communists, the way director Elia Kazan and others had been spared from banishment, Bernstein found employment through the use of “fronts,” people willing to lend their names (and receive part of the proceeds) for scripts he had written. His fronts included an actor’s wife hoping to help her husband break through in movies and a friend of a friend, a guy named Leo, who had a gambling habit to support. Few were aware at any given time that Bernstein had contributed to such hit CBS television series as the crime drama “Danger” and to “You Are There,” hosted by Walter Cronkite and featuring re-enactments of historical events ranging from the Boston Tea Party to the death of Cleopatra. While many were blacklisted just for supporting left-wing causes, Bernstein actually was a member of the American Communist Party and remained so until 1956, when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev revealed the many brutalities of Joseph Stalin, who had died three years earlier. Bernstein would remember his decision with “relief” over no longer abiding Soviet dogma and “sadness” for the people who were fellow idealists. “I had left the Party, but not the idea of socialism,” he wrote in his memoir, “the possibility that there could be a system not based on inequality and exploitation.” The blacklist began to weaken in the late ’50s and ended for Bernstein in 1959 with “That Kind of Woman,” starring Sophia Loren. He was soon working on “The Magnificent Seven,” the Hollywood adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s classic “Seven Samurai,” and on an A-list film that ended in tragedy, “Something’s Gotta Give.” Marilyn Monroe was cast as a shipwreck survivor who returns to her husband and children after being presumed lost. But Monroe was often late or absent altogether from the set and was fired in June 1962. Two months later, she was found dead from an apparent suicide. In the 1970s, Bernstein was able to use his own story for what became his most acclaimed project, “The Front,” starring Woody Allen as a stand-in for blacklisted writers and featuring Bernstein’s friend Zero Mostel, who also had been ostracized in the ’50s. Bernstein received an Academy Award nomination in 1977 and a Writers Guild of America prize for best screen drama. Around the same time, Allen gave him an acting cameo in the Oscar-winning “Annie Hall.” His other writing credits included the Burt Reynolds football comedy “Semi-Tough” and films by such old friends as Martin Ritt (“The Front,” “The Molly Maguires,” a story of rebelling miners he once cited as his personal favourite) and Sidney Lumet (“Fail-Safe”). Bernstein himself directed “Little Miss Marker,” a 1980 release based on the Damon Runyon short story. In 1994, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Eastern branch of the Screen Writers Guild. Into his 90s, he taught screenwriting at New York University and was an adviser to the film school at the Sundance Institute, founded by Robert Redford. Bernstein was married four times, most recently to Loomis, and had five children. Over his long life, he also enjoyed an eclectic range of friends and acquaintances, from authors Irwin Shaw and Shirley Jackson to songwriter Irving Berlin and actress Bette Davis, who, Bernstein was surprised to learn, shared his admiration for the writings of Karl Marx. “The most wonderful books,” she called them. Descended from Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Bernstein was born and raised in New York City and by his teens had found his passions for movies and politics. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, he reviewed movies for the campus newspaper until he was fired for panning the popular 1937 fantasy “Lost Horizon.” In his spare time, he read Marx and Engels, Steinbeck and Dreiser, and sought out films by Sergei Eisenstein and other Russian directors. “The books had opened my head,” he wrote. “The movies opened my heart.” He was drafted in 1941 and spent much of World War II as a reporter for the Army publication Yank, filing dispatches from the Middle East, Sicily and Yugoslavia, where he became the first American to interview the country’s longtime leader, Josip Broz Tito. After the war ended, in 1945, he joined the staff of The New Yorker and received a 10-week contract to work for Columbia Pictures in Hollywood. He stayed 10 months, long enough to be noticed by government agents and to discover his love for movies wasn’t dispelled by learning how they were made. “I had been initiated into the mystery, participated in the sacred process,” he wrote in his memoir. “Making a movie was like building a cathedral, the hard and skilled work of many hands. Then you looked at it when it was finished and, if you were blessed, you saw Chartres. If not, you saw St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue. It was still a cathedral. Even as an acolyte I could still enter the dark, embracing cave and feel mysteriously freed.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
A couple of weeks ago, a snowy owl in the care of Atlantic Veterinary College staff was released back into the wild after recovering from severe emaciation. It was an event Dave McRuer says is uncommon — usually, by the time snowy owls are found in this condition, he said it is too late to save them. McRuer is a wildlife health specialist with Parks Canada based at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown. His job takes him to national parks across Canada, where he has periodically come in contact with snowy owls. He was also director of wildlife services for 11 years at the Wildlife Centre of Virginia, where they would occasionally receive snowy owls, and worked with them as intern at the University of Saskatchewan. Since snowy owls are in the news, we asked McRuer to share what he finds most interesting about the rarely seen species, and he generously obliged. 1. Why they're suddenly here Snowy owls breed and usually stay in the North, on the flat, frozen tundra territories of Canada, the U.S., Greenland and Russia. Some, however, migrate even further north to pack ice where they forage on polar bear kills, and to open water there where they feed on sea ducks. Still others will migrate as far south as the Carolinas and do so annually. Every five years or so there's what scientists call an irruption, when large numbers of them migrate south. Rarely — once every few decades or so — there's a "super movement" of snowy owls south. Right now, snowy owls are in an irruption year, which is why more are being spotted in southern locales including P.E.I. These periodic moves south were thought to be because of a lack of food, but scientists have now debunked that theory and are working to discover why, McRuer said. For more on the owls' migration, he suggests checking out the Project Snowstorm website. 2. 'Young and dumb' The snowy owls that show up here in Canada are typically younger, McRuer said. Scientists affectionately call them "the young and dumb" because they haven't had as much practice catching food. If they miss a few attempts in a row, they can become weak, which can lead to a "downhill spiral" ending in starvation and death, McRuer said. "Those are typically the birds that don't move at all when you walk up to them here," he said. They can end up at the AVC and other wildlife rehabilitation centres, and usually die because they are too severely emaciated. "It's pretty rare that they make it through," he said. "There's no muscle left on their bodies whatsoever." 3. Females are bigger Like most raptors, the females of the species are bigger by up to one third. The males are almost pure white, McRuer said. The females have some black marking or "barring" across their chests, wings and heads, and the young snowy owls have even more barring. 4. That's a lot of eggs Normally the females each lay five to seven eggs a year, but in years where food is very plentiful, they will lay 12 to 16 eggs in one nest. "Those years, there is a ton of snowy owls, and when winter comes, there are territories that these owls do have, and there's just not as much room for all of these young owls, so they tend to migrate south," McRuer said. Those are the years people report seeing more snowy owls. 5. 1,000-yard stare Snowy owls can see for up to a kilometre — really well. As in, a mouse half a kilometre away scurrying across the snow. That's lunch! "As soon as they see it they're off, and they can actually fly really quickly" in pursuit of food, McRuer said, even though at four to five kilograms they are the heaviest North American owls. 6. People make them nervous Because they can see so far away, they can of course see you coming, and they don't like people getting too close. McRuer said if they are fidgeting and staring directly at you, you're too close. The best way to observe them, he said, is with binoculars, from your car. "Cars are fantastic blinds," he said. "You can generally get closer to any kind of wildlife in a car than you can just generally walking." If you "bump" the owl, or get so close it flies away, that's a bad thing, McRuer said: It makes them more vulnerable to predation, and it uses up valuable energy they need to hunt and survive. It also stresses their immune system. 7. Mmm, tundra grouse Prey consists of small rodents like lemmings and voles, and the occasional ptarmigan, a small tundra grouse. And, because they are used to hunting in 24-hour darkness in the North, they usually hunt at night. "Never feed owls," McRuer said, even if they look hungry. "It just encourages the owls to come close to cars," and they are often hit by vehicles. 8. Watch out for that eagle Snowy owls are listed as a vulnerable species and therefore hunting is forbidden. There are 100,000 to 400,000 around the world, he said. But other animals don't know that. Arctic foxes eat the owls' chicks and eggs, but McRuer said adult owls can take on a small Arctic fox (about the size of a domestic cat) and win. Arctic wolves and polar bears will also scavenge on the nests if they find them, he said. People hunted them and stuffed them for show in large numbers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, McRuer said. In southern climes such as P.E.I., their main predators are red-tailed hawks and eagles. But mostly they die due to human activities, McRuer said, such as collisions with vehicles or utility wires, eating rodents that have been poisoned, or being snared accidentally by hunters. 9. Where to spot them The owls' habitat in the Arctic tundra is flat, so they're most at home along the shoreline or perching on a sand dune or telephone pole, but not in trees, McRuer said. 10. Life span Wild snowy owls, like most raptor species, can live as long as 15 years but generally most die "pretty quickly," McRuer said. That's why they attempt to have and care for as many chicks as possible. Snowy owls can live close to 30 years in captivity, McRuer said. 11. The myth of the wise owl McRuer is also a falconer, and trains raptors such as hawks, falcons and even some species of owls. "I can tell you owls are not as easily trained as other raptors. They just don't pick up on things as quickly," he said. "I'm not going to say they're dumb, but they're a little slow on the pickup." The birds he has trained are ones rescued at rehabilitation centres and are used for educational purposes, he said. However, he has not trained a snowy owl. "Having a bird on your glove, you get a lot more attention than just sort of standing up there with a power-point presentation," he said. "They make great education ambassadors." McRuer does not encourage people to try to keep them as pets. 12. They can breed with other owls Scientists have seen snowy owls breeding with other large owl species — so far only in captivity, McRuer said. But don't be surprised if climate change brings about a hybrid in the wild soon, he said. "That's occurred in other Arctic species like polar bears and grizzly bears, for example," he said. More from CBC P.E.I.
When New Brunswick native Susan McDade decided to retire from an almost 30-year career with the United Nations, she was the highest ranking Canadian in the United Nations Development Programme. As an assistant secretary-general with the UNDP, she was responsible for 17,000 people in 130 countries, with a budget of $5 billion. But as a single mom of two teenagers, being "on planes all the time" was taking its toll. So she came to a decision. "The UN could find another person," McDade said in an interview back in her hometown of Rothesay, "My kids can't find another mother." The full circle journey took McDade around the world, but it began in the community of Renforth, now part of Rothesay, with parents who encouraged her to give back. Even they were surprised when, at 16, she applied to finish her high school education at the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Victoria. Growing up in Renforth, McDade said, the only immigrants she knew were educated professionals. They were doctors and engineers, and she thought it would be interesting to attend school with students from 70 different countries. She calls her two years there "life-changing." She left school confident that she wanted to pursue work in the international field and studied economics and international affairs at the University of Guelph, then got a master's degree at the International Institute for Social Studies in the Netherlands. After an internship at the UN sponsored by the OECD, McDade accepted a job at the UN in 1991, and her first field posting was eye-opening. Fluent in Spanish, she was sent to Guatemala, then in the throes of a 35-year civil war. 'Very scary' posting "It was a very scary first posting," McDade said. "If you were an Indigenous person, you were labelled a terrorist," she said, adding that the country had descended into lawlessness. "You had no trust in the police, no trust in the army, no trust in the armed militias." It was a country where the simplest of daily events could put you in harm's way. "We got a flat tire in a mountainous region," McDade recalled, "And I thought 'If we don't get this tire fixed we're going to get killed.'" After a year in Guatemala, she was moved to China for a four-year stint in the mid-90s. That brought her to New York, where she would spend the next decade as a UN administrator, focused on energy issues. But while the work in New York was interesting, she missed field work, which she said meant having clear goals and the ability to see the results of your work, and she wanted to get back to Latin America. By this time, she was a single mother with a young son and pregnant with her second child. That would have likely disqualified her from postings in most of Latin America, where the Catholic Church still holds great influence on society. Fortunately, the posting she received was Cuba, a country McDade said is much more liberal. She also believes being Canadian and having a recent posting in China likely helped in Cuba's acceptance of her posting. Her experience in Cuba was very different from what she saw in that first posting in Guatemala. "The Cuban government is very clear on what constitutes human development. They want every child educated, every child vaccinated," McDade said. She also said Cuba is the best-prepared country in Latin America to deal with natural disasters. McDade continued to work in Latin America until her recent job with UNDP, which brought her back to New York. But with a boy in high school and a girl in middle school, she began to think it was time to slow down and spend more time with her children. So early last year, she made the decision to retire from her position and move back to her hometown. She is living less than a mile from the house she grew up in. The timing of the move couldn't have been better, leaving New York just weeks before the pandemic hit North America in force. McDade said that had she stayed, her job, which was focused on global business continuity, would have become all-encompassing. "My kids wouldn't have seen me — ever," she said. And she and her family would have been in ground zero of the first wave of the U.S. COVID-19 fight. "I feel like I won the lottery every day." Not easy, but satisfying work For people considering her line of work, McDade said they need to make sure they're prepared. If you don't have a skill, like medicine or engineering, get a good grounding in politics, history and economics, she said And understand it's not just volunteerism. The job takes its emotional toll, on you and the people around you. "It's very hard on relationships, I know very few who had relationships that lasted," McDade said. "You're away from your roots and your family and it's a 24-hour clock. We always had an office open somewhere." Despite all that, McDade said, once her children get out of school and off to university, the job could lure her back. "Who knows," she said, "I'm pretty young to be retired."
The European Union will make pharmaceutical companies respect contracts they have signed for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, European Council President Charles Michel said on Sunday. Pfizer Inc last week said it was temporarily slowing supplies to Europe to make manufacturing changes that would boost output. On Friday, AstraZeneca also said that initial deliveries to the region will fall short because of a production glitch.
Take a look at this review of the Canon 28-70mm f/2 RF lens. A great lens for wedding-photography, portrait-photography, documentaries and for filming. Enjoy! +++ PROS +++ 1. Sharpness 2. Bokeh 3. f/2 over entire focal length 4. fast focusing 5. lens ring for own settings +++ CONTRAS +++ 1. weight 2. no wide-angle coverage
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is confronting the political risk that comes with grand ambition. As one of his first acts, Biden offered a sweeping immigration overhaul last week that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for the estimated 11 million people who are in the United States illegally. It would also codify provisions wiping out some of President Donald Trump's signature hard-line policies, including trying to end existing, protected legal status for many immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and crackdowns on asylum rules. It's precisely the type of measure that many Latino activists have longed for, particularly after the tough approach of the Trump era. But it must compete with Biden's other marquee legislative goals, including a $1.9 trillion plan to combat the coronavirus, an infrastructure package that promotes green energy initiatives and a “public option” to expand health insurance. In the best of circumstances, enacting such a broad range of legislation would be difficult. But in a narrowly divided Congress, it could be impossible. And that has Latinos, the nation's fastest growing voting bloc, worried that Biden and congressional leaders could cut deals that weaken the finished product too much — or fail to pass anything at all. “This cannot be a situation where simply a visionary bill — a message bill — gets sent to Congress and nothing happens with it,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for low-income immigrants. “There’s an expectation that they will deliver and that there is a mandate now for Biden to be unapologetically pro-immigrant and have a political imperative to do so, and the Democrats do as well.” If Latinos ultimately feel betrayed, the political consequences for Democrats could be long-lasting. The 2020 election provided several warning signs that, despite Democratic efforts to build a multiracial coalition, Latino support could be at risk. Biden already was viewed skeptically by some Latino activists for his association with former President Barack Obama, who was called the “deporter in chief” for the record number of immigrants who were removed from the country during his administration. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont defeated Biden in last year's Nevada caucuses and California primary, which served as early barometers of the Latino vote. In his race against Trump, Biden won the support of 63% of Latino voters compared with Trump's 35%, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide. But Trump narrowed the margin somewhat in some swing states such as Nevada and also got a bump from Latino men, 39% of whom backed him compared with 33% of Latino women. Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1996 to carry Arizona, in part because of strong grassroots backing from Mexican American groups opposed to strict GOP immigration policies going back decades. But he lost Florida by underperforming in its largest Hispanic county, Miami-Dade, where the Trump campaign's anti-socialism message resonated with Cuban- and some Venezuelan Americans. Biden also fell short in Texas even though running mate Kamala Harris devoted valuable, late campaign time there. The ticket lost some sparsely populated but heavily Mexican American counties along the Mexican border, where law enforcement agencies are major employers and the GOP's zero-tolerance immigration policy resonated. There were more warning signs for House Democrats, who lost four California seats and two in South Florida while failing to pick up any in Texas. Booming Hispanic populations reflected in new U.S. census figures may see Texas and Florida gain congressional districts before 2022's midterm elections, which could make correcting the problem all the more pressing for Democrats. The urgency isn't lost on Biden. He privately spent months telling immigration advocates that major overhauls would be at the top of his to-do list. As vice-president, he watched while the Obama administration used larger congressional majorities to speed passage of a financial crisis stimulus bill and its signature health care law while letting an immigration overhaul languish. “It means so much to us to have a new president propose bold, visionary immigration reform on Day 1. Not Day 2. Not Day 3. Not a year later,” said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, his chamber's lead sponsor of the Biden package. Menendez was part of a bipartisan immigration plan championed by the “Gang of Eight” senators that collapsed in 2013. Obama then resorted to executive action to offer legal status to millions of young immigrants. President George W. Bush also pushed an immigration package — with an eye toward boosting Latino support for Republicans before the 2008 election — only to see it fail in Congress. Menendez acknowledged that the latest bill will have to find at least 10 Republican senators' support to clear the 60-vote hurdle to reach the floor, and that he's “under no illusions" how difficult that will be. Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican from Florida, said Biden may find some GOP support but probably will have to settle for far less than what’s in his original proposal. “Many Republicans are worried about primary challenges,” Curbelo said, adding that Trump and his supporters’ championing of immigration crackdowns means there's “political peril there for Republicans.” But he also said Democrats could alienate some of their own base by appearing to prioritize the needs of people in the country illegally over those of struggling U.S. citizens and thus “appearing to overreach from the perspective of swing and independent voters.” Indeed, Democrats haven't always universally lined up behind an immigration overhaul, arguing that it could lead to an influx of cheap labour that hurts U.S. workers. Some of the party's senators joined Republicans in sinking Bush's bill. Still, Latinos haven't forgotten past immigration failures and have often blamed Democrats more than Republicans. Chuck Roca, head of Nuestro PAC, which spent $4 million on ads boosting Biden in Arizona, said that while Hispanics have traditionally tended to support Democrats, he has begun to see trends in the past decade where more are registering as independent or without party affiliation. Those voters can still be won back, he said, but only if Latinos see real change on major issues such as immigration “even if it's piecemeal.” “They have to get something done if they want to start to turn around the loss of Latino voters,” said Rocha, who headed Latino voter outreach for Sanders’ presidential campaign. “They have to do everything in their power now to get Latinos back.” ___ Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report. Will Weissert, The Associated Press
China reported 80 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, mostly in the northeast where some residents complained they were short of food amid an ongoing local lockdowns, down from Friday's 107. Saturday's toll included 65 domestic cases, with more than half in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin. China, which this weekend marked the anniversary of the world's first coronavirus lockdown in the central city of Wuhan, is facing its worst wave of local cases since March last year.
NEW YORK — Larry King was easy to poke fun at, particularly late in his career at CNN: the pinched look, guffaws and coke-bottle glasses, the suspenders and old-time microphone on the desk in front of him. He was grandpa trying to dance to Drake at a wedding. But at least grandpa tried, didn't he? And if you sat down to talk with him, he could take you places with his words, and you would enjoy the journey. You'd certainly be sorry if he wasn't there. Hearing about King's death Saturday at age 87 stirred a similar feeling. The Brooklyn-born King was a classic conversationalist, a throwback to a different era in showbiz and media even during the height of his on-air career. For 25 years until 2010, “Larry King Live” was a fixture on CNN's weeknight schedule, and that was after a lengthy career as a late-night radio host. King talked to politicians and musicians, the serious and the silly, not as a newsman but as anyone would if suddenly thrust into the room with a famous face. Sometimes it felt that way; King would never be accused of over-preparing for an interview. Journalists at CNN gnashed their teeth at missed opportunities to show off their toughness and knowledge if they'd been in his place asking questions of premiers or presidents. He described himself as a minimalist whose chief goal was to make his guests look good. “I ask short questions,” he said once. “I have no pretense at intellectuality.” King could fill a blooper reel of gaffes that would have been fatal to the careers of lesser personalities. He mistakenly addressed Ringo Starr as “George," and notoriously asked Jerry Seinfeld if it was his choice to leave his namesake sitcom or if the network had cancelled it. But, hey, “Seinfeld” aired at 9 p.m. on Thursdays. So did “Larry King Live.” He was busy. “You're not a reminiscencer?' he asked Prince once. “Is that a word, Larry?” Prince asked. “I invented it,” King said. While King may have sat down to talk to authors without reading their books, he did homework, said Tammy Haddad, his producer for the first eight years King was on CNN. And he wasn't necessarily an easy inquisitor. Ross Perot didn't intend to announce his candidacy for president on King's show in 1992, but the host pressed him - both on the air and during commercial breaks - until he did, Haddad said. He would make interview subjects feel so comfortable that sometimes they'd reveal more than they had intended, she said. “Whenever you sat down in Larry King's TV living room, you felt like you were just having a conversation with a friend and forgot that millions around the world were watching you,” singer Tony Bennett tweeted on Saturday. The lineup for King's 25th anniversary shows - LeBron James, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Lady Gaga - spoke to the eclectic mix he tried to bring to “Larry King Live.” “He'd be happy talking to a taxi driver,” Haddad said. “He came to each of them with the same level of interest.” His connections brought in some big names: Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra in the last interview he gave before his death. King also had a penchant for fading B- or C-list stars, and few things gave him more pleasure than laughing with Don Rickles for an hour. He was more than game enough to speak to a younger generation of stars, too, and took a souped-up ride with Snoop Dogg through the streets of Los Angeles. “Larry King Live” was a type of show that would feel foreign on cable news today, given its obsession with hard-nosed political combat. Podcasts would now be the closest place to get something similar to what King offered, Haddad said. “I think that's one of the reasons people are so nostalgic about Larry,” she said. “They really got to know people (King interviewed) in a way that you just don't have the opportunity to do anymore.” Among the personalities who took time Saturday to tweet memories and photos of themselves with King was filmmaker Kevin Smith. “My dad always asked me, 'Did you see who Larry King talked to last night?'" Smith wrote. “Would've blown his mind to know that one day, it would be his son. "Thanks for that.” David Bauder, The Associated Press