Chris MacLean beams from the pages of the book with a wide smile stretched across his face. The 48-year-old is standing in the courtyard of the Downtown Mission, the moment captured by Doug MacLellan — just one of the dozens of shots that make up the Windsor-based photographer's latest project. It's called The Mission and captures life around the emergency shelter, which provides food packs and hot meals in the heart of the city, through personal stories and portraits. "There's a story behind each person," said MacLean on Wednesday, urging anyone who picks up the book, which is being released by Black Moss Press this week, to do more than flip through the pictures. The Mission started off as a project about homelessness, but MacLellan said he soon realized the facility forms its own kind of community. It's used by some who live on the streets, others who are low income, and people who stop by just to see friends. "The day-to-day life that happens here, you can never imagine," said MacLellan. "You never know what's going to happen." The photographer said he was struck by just how rampant the opioid crisis is in Windsor, adding at least five people he knew of died of overdoses during the months he spent there. "It's a story of solitude. There's a lot of lonely people here." Photography focused on homelessness is often gritty and harrowing, said MacLellan, but he set out to document the moments between the drama with intimate images in order to show the humanity of people who frequent the Mission. He visited the site every day or so from July until October, getting to know the people there and building trust, adding the fact people trusted him enough to take their picture is a "gift" he doesn't take lightly. "I want people to take away the fact that the people you're seeing ... this is the worst-possible times of their lives, most-likely," he said. "They're like you and me. When you find yourself in a situation you'll do exactly what they're doing ... scrambling to survive." WATCH: Doug MacLellan talk about his project Among MacLellan's shots is a tender moment between a young couple lying on the grass together, brightly-coloured toys hanging from a tree branch and a father and son being reunited after five years apart. There's also a massive feline named Spunky. The "huge, black cat" weighed 31 pounds and belonged to a man named Albert who was once an understudy for a play on Broadway, according to the photographer. He saw the pair around a few times then, one day, Spunky took off. "People were coming up and petting the lovely cat. And then the big damn thing just got away," he said with a chuckle, adding Spunky was surprisingly speedy. MacLean said he has not lived on the street for a long time, but he was going to the Mission for meals until about a month ago. He and MacLellan hit it off right away after bonding over a shared love of music. "I think it's needed," he said of the new book. "Hopefully people will notice that the homeless situation in Windsor Ontario and other places has just gotten insane and that it needs to be addressed.' Drugs and the struggle to find housing continue to plague people in the city, said MacLean who called on anyone who picks up the book to "read the stories." That's the photographer's hope too. He said he wants readers to look past their preconceptions and see the people in front of them. "Look at the pictures. Take more than two seconds to look at them. See the look in people's eyes. See some similarities," he said. "I hope that when you look at pictures you may want to know more."
DES MOINES, Iowa — One of the largest jackpots in U.S. history will grow even larger since there was no winner for Friday's drawing of the Mega Millions' $750 million top prize. The numbers were 3, 11, 12, 38, 43, with a Mega Ball of 15 and would have marked the fifth-largest jackpot ever drawn. Mega Millions estimated its next top prize would be $850 million, which would be the third-largest of all time. The drawing is on Tuesday. Lottery players still have a chance to win big with Saturday's drawing for a $640 million Powerball top prize, the eighth-largest jackpot. The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million. It’s been nearly two years since a lottery jackpot has grown so large. No one has won either game’s top prize in months. The listed jackpot amounts refer to winners who opt for an annuity, paid over 30 years. Winners nearly always choose cash prizes, which for Powerball would be $478.7 million. The estimated cash prize for the next Mega Millions jackpot is $628.2 million. Mega Millions and Powerball are both played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico. The Associated Press
KABUL — At least two members of an Afghan militia opened fire on their fellow militiamen in the western Herat province, killing 12, in what provincial police on Saturday described as an insider attack. Herat police spokesman Abdul Ahad Walizada said the attackers fled with the slain militiamen's weapons and ammunition, adding that Afghan government forces had regained control of the area. A Taliban spokesman Yousaf Ahmadi in a tweet claimed responsibility for the insider attack, which took place late Friday. Meanwhile, a sticky bomb attached to an armoured police Land Cruiser SUV exploded Saturday in the western part of the capital, Kabul, killing two policemen and wounding another, Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said. Faramarz did not specify the identities of the casualties. However, two members of the Afghan police force, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said Kabul's deputy police chief Mawlana Bayan was wounded in the attack. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Kabul. In the southern Helmand province, a suicide car bomber targeted a police compound late Friday, killing one policeman and wounding two others, provincial police spokesman Zaman Hamdard said. The attack took place in Lashkar Gah district on the highway between Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Also in Kandahar province, a suicide car bomber and multiple gunmen attacked an auto workshop belonging to the Afghan intelligence agency on Saturday but inflicted no casualties, provincial governor Rohullah Khanzada said. He said at least four attackers were killed and that an operation to clear the workshop compound was ongoing. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Helmand and Kandahar. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in the capital in recent months, including on educational institutions that killed 50 people, most of them students. IS has claimed responsibility for rocket attacks in December targeting the major U.S. base in Afghanistan. There were no casualties. The violence comes as the representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar. However, the negotiations were off to a slow start as the insurgents continue their attacks on Afghan government forces while keeping their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops. The stop-and-go talks are aimed at ending decades of relentless conflict. Frustration and fear have grown over the recent spike in violence, and both sides blame one another. There has also been growing doubt lately over a U.S.-Taliban deal brokered by outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration. That accord was signed last February. Under the deal, an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops ordered by Trump means that just 2,500 American soldiers will still be in Afghanistan when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20. Tameem Akhgar, The Associated Press
More people have been spending time at home during the pandemic and doing more work around their houses. Working from home and staycationing has caused a shortage in things like home office equipment and patio furniture, and driven up the price of lumber substantially. CBC asked people on Prince Edward Island what renovations they'd been doing since the pandemic hit 10 months ago, and why now seemed like a good time to do the work. We received lots of submissions here as well as on the CBC P.E.I. Facebook page. Here's a sampling. (Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.) Kent Dunville in North Granville built a treehouse for the kids, mostly from recycled items. "Floors and frame are pallets, siding from friend, the fibreglass roof is a huge '80s satellite dish and even stuff from roadside cleanups like railings and windows," he said. Dunville said aside from going to work, the family stayed home all summer, so had time and energy for the project. "We really had more time not running here and there for kids and pointless errands, we just stayed close to home and did stuff at home and made our own projects to do with kids," he said, adding he loves to teach his kids to build things. Melissa Gray said during the summer of 2020 she had plenty of time to paint her mother's house, changing it from barn red to aqua. "Chef Michael Smith even stopped and told her it looks like a cosy sweater now," Gray said. "We were both out of work for a few months, we were already planning on painting it, but it definitely wouldn't have been done so fast if not for the pandemic." Chris Knox owns production company K-Audio, and his work was curtailed as performances and gatherings were cancelled. He took the time to build an enclosed, elevated woodworking workshop in his warehouse with its own electrical panel, dust collection and flip-top workbenches. "I've put off my custom drum building for the last six/seven years to build up my production company, but now that COVID has put a stop to all concerts and festivals, I plan on stepping up the drum building again," Knox said. Heather Mullen of Mount Stewart said her family enclosed part of their deck to create a sun porch. "We started the project in the spring after we had spent chilly days and evenings on the deck," Mullen wrote. "This room provides a space outside of the main living area to read and play music and attend many virtual meetings." Anna Keenan and her husband did some kitchen upgrades at their St. Ann home including a sunny yellow tile backsplash, new windows and new countertops, a DIY renovation they'd started in 2017 when they bought their 120-year-old farmhouse. "We know that we are lucky to have not had our jobs at risk when the shutdowns happened," because she already worked from home before COVID-19 hit, Keenan said. But the couple and their young child did have more time and money during the pandemic since bubbling under the same roof with a friend and her child — CBC P.E.I. wrote about that last April. "With evening and weekend dance classes, public events, leisure activities cancelled, it made it easy to chip away at these long-neglected tasks," Keenan commented. Next to the kitchen, the bathroom is another shared family space that saw more use with people at home during the pandemic, and it's the room Donovan McNeely's family had redone this summer. "It was the last room in the house to renovate and was one of the most expensive projects," he shared. "We have been waiting a long time to finally get this done! "It made it much easier to afford since we were working from home. We are rural so it saves a substantial amount on gas with two of us not driving back and forth every day." He said it did take a few months between booking the contractor and getting the work done. Lori S. MacArthur of Charlottetown has almost completed the reno on her family's bathroom, which dates back to the 1970s. "Because we will not be travelling this year, probably not for a long time, [this was] a good way to keep busy and put our money to good use," MacArthur said. "We both have said this has been a good lesson as far as enjoying home more." Audrey Gee Arsenault of Wellington used a washed-grey click flooring to create an accent wall in her kitchen, covering up dated red paint. She said with extracurricular activities cancelled due to COVID-19, her family went on fewer outings and restaurant visits. "We had more cash to spend on renovations and best of all, we had more time to focus on our home. Since we were/are spending more time at home with family, we want to slowly improve it so it becomes more of a cosy and clean sanctuary," she said. Many people made improvements to their backyards, like Chelsea Murphy, who built a fire pit and some lounging chairs. "I was off work because the kids were out of school/daycare. We got to spend more time outside, so why not make the yard a better space?" she said. "As for spending, I was saving lots of money on daycare, so we put it to good use. Like fixing up the yard and buying lots of treats." More from CBC P.E.I.
Suicide rates in Japan have jumped in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among women and children, even though they fell in the first wave when the government offered generous handouts to people, a survey found. The July-October suicide rate rose 16% from the same period a year earlier, a stark reversal of the February-June decline of 14%, according to the study by researchers at Hong Kong University and Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology. The early decline in suicides was affected by such factors as government subsidies, reduced working hours and school closure, the study found.
A study in Janvier, Alta., is trying to find out what happened to the local population of Arctic grayling, a once prominent freshwater fish. Arctic grayling, a member of the salmon family, is classified as a species of special concern with the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee, meaning without human intervention, the species may be under the threat of extinction. Chief Vern Janvier of Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, 400 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, said when he was a growing up in the 1970s, he would fish in a local creek for Arctic grayling, considered a delicacy. A few years later those fishing trips stopped, because the fish were no longer around, Janvier said. "We really wanted to know if there was any fish left," Janvier said. "It's a fish that we used to eat that we haven't had for a long time. We haven't been able to catch them." He'd like to see the population bounce back, as "it'd be a good thing for my grandchildren to experience the fish." Water samples show evidence of fish Now the First Nation has teamed up with a consultant to study the over-winter habitat of the Arctic grayling, to see where they live, and what could be behind the population's decline. The study uses eDNA, which is DNA collected from environmental samples like water. It's a process that can tell researchers where the fish is found, without having to use potentially harmful practices like electrofishing. The researchers take water samples and get them tested to see if Arctic grayling are present in the water body. Last winter, samples of eDNA were collected from locations identified by elders. The fish were found in three out of four of the areas. Janvier said he was excited by the discovery and the research. "For me, as a chief, it shows ... you can put some basis on scientific knowledge. But the ability to mix the Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge is probably the biggest success and we need to do more of that," he said. Study in 3rd year Lead researcher Sarah Hechtenthal, owner of Owl Feather Consulting, said she used western science and traditional knowledge to craft the study. The project is in its third year of funding, having received a total of $228,600 since 2018 from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Researchers will be back out this winter to sample other potential habitat locations, depending on COVID-19 restrictions. The study is now using data loggers in the water, to help Hechtenthal understand what made the rivers and creeks in the area ideal habitat for Arctic grayling in the first place. Stuart Janvier, industry relations coordinator for the First Nation, said this information will be helpful for future industrial development in the area such as oilsands projects. "We want to make sure our traditional lands and the wildlife and the environment it's going to remain intact," he said. "We are the protectors of the environment."
New Brunswick's largest long-term care home is working on a proposal that could see family members help take care of their loved ones as well as other residents in the event of a staffing shortage during a COVID-19 outbreak. Under the province's current COVID-19 rules, family members are not allowed into a long-term care facility when there is even one confirmed case, which constitutes an outbreak. But the York Care Centre in Fredericton contends family members who are part of its designated caregiver program and have been trained in COVID-preventive measures could "bring a lot of value to the response rather than being locked out," said president and CEO Tony Weeks. "We obviously don't have any approvals to actually implement something like that because we're committed to following Public Health directions like everybody else," he said. "And so what we want to do is be able to influence government thinking to allow that to happen." York Care Centre and its research company, the Centre for Innovation and Research in Aging, are preparing a report for the provincial government on a low-staff simulation exercise conducted at the home in December to demonstrate the role designated caregivers could play. Weeks expects to submit the report within the next month. He thinks the centre's program could serve as a model for long-term care homes across the province and across the country, not just during a COVID staffing shortage but in any emergency or evacuation. The Department of Social Development did not respond Friday to a request for comment. Started in the summer The designated caregiver program at York Care Centre started last summer. It links residents with a family member who can assist with care on a set schedule, said Lori McDonald, vice-president of care and research services. Unlike regular visitors, who are accountable only for "being safe when they're here and having that needed togetherness with their loved one," designated caregivers commit to interaction that improves their loved one's health, she said. The type of interaction is different for everyone, said McDonald. "One person might be helping to feed their mother. Another person might be helping walk their father, or someone else might be in just for social engagement because they're at risk for depression." The designated caregivers also receive training in infection control, proper hand washing, the use of personal protective equipment, and safe practices to reduce the risk of bringing any virus into the facility, said McDonald. "So it's quite a robust education program," she said, but a voluntary one. 100 trained so far "We're not approaching them and asking them if they want to be part of this program. They're approaching us, saying, 'We want to be in your facility to care for our loved one, just like we always did [before the pandemic], but in a safe way.'" Of the centre's 218 residents, 100 now have a trained designated caregiver. General visitors are barred from the centre when the Fredericton region is at the more restrictive orange or red levels of COVID-19 recovery, as it is now, but designated caregivers are allowed in no matter the level — as long as there's no outbreak. To date, York Care Centre has not had any positive cases of COVID-19. In the event of an outbreak, "it's a very real possibility that we'll have staff who are sick or maybe scared to come to work," said McDonald. They've told us they want to be here. - Lori McDonald, York Care Centre During earlier outbreaks at other long-term care homes, some staff left or didn't show up for work, and the government had to seek volunteers from other parts of the province. McDonald said family members "bring quite a bit to the residents' lives … And they've told us they want to be here." Residents, meanwhile, have said they "feel lonely and they feel isolated when their families are not here," she said. "So we're looking to bridge that gap … by using our [designated] caregivers." Some of the designated caregivers might also be willing to assist with the social support or quality-of-life issues of residents they're not related to, said McDonald, noting many develop friendships after years of visiting. "There's absolutely no pressure," she added, and the consent of all parties would be required. This was not the program's original "initial target," but is now a "byproduct," said McDonald. "It's something we're looking at." Simulation 'held back' staff In December, the centre ran a simulation to see how it could respond to an emergency that resulted in a significant reduction of its 350 full-time equivalent staff, and determine what role the designated caregivers could play now that they're familiar with the organization and trained, said Weeks. "We couldn't actually run with short staff [and risk compromising care], so all we could do is hold back," he said, adding residents and families were advised in advance of the two-day simulation being conducted by two teams of staff on a couple of different units. "Team A was basically doing all of the functions in a short-staffed scenario, and then they let out some of the B team folks to support it when things got in a pinch. "So similar to if it was a real scenario, resources would become available as we're able to get them. And so that was the examination, to see what impact would that have on the care that we provide. "What impact would it have on the stress on the employees? How would it impact the residents? And again, as a byproduct, what role could designated caregivers play?" One of the scenarios being assessed was, if multiple residents were pressing their call bell at the same time, what was the centre's ability to respond to those call bells in a safe manner, said Weeks. Another example was if a resident required some extra attention that tied up a nurse while something else happened, what impact would it have if the nurse couldn't respond. In addition, the simulation looked at how many of the functions taking place might be considered non-urgent but still quality-of-life issues, such as social interaction or getting people to activities, which designated caregivers might be able to help with, said Weeks. He acknowledged there may be some people who would argue they pay for the care their loved ones are supposed to receive, and they shouldn't have to volunteer. But he said none of the York Care Centre families have made any such comments. "When we told them about this initiative, they were all quite excited to know that it's going on because they understand it provides another level of safety," he said. "Remember, we're talking about people that even before the pandemic, they were coming in here on their own because they have strong connections with their loved ones, and they want to be part of their lives."
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The Trump administration early Saturday carried out its 13th federal execution since July, an unprecedented run that concluded just five days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden — an opponent of the federal death penalty. Dustin Higgs, convicted of ordering the killings of three women in a Maryland wildlife refuge in 1996, was the third to receive a lethal injection this week at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. President Donald Trump’s Justice Department resumed federal executions last year following a 17-year hiatus. No president in more than 120 years had overseen as many federal executions. Higgs, 48, was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. Asked if he had any last words, Higgs was calm but defiant, naming each of the women prosecutors said he ordered killed. “I’d like to say I am an innocent man. ... I am not responsible for the deaths,” he said softly. “I did not order the murders.” He did not apologize for anything he did on the night 25 years ago when the women were shot by another man, who received a life sentence. As the lethal injection of pentobarbital began to flow into his veins, Higgs looked toward a room reserved for his relatives and lawyers. He waved with his fingers and said, “I love you.” Louds sobs of a woman crying inconsolably began to echo from the witness room reserved for Higgs’ family as his eyes rolled back in his head, showing the whites of his eyes. He quickly became still, his pupils visible with his eyelids left partially open. A sister of Tanji Jackson — one of the murdered women who was 21 when she died — addressed a written statement to Higgs after his execution and mentioning his family. “They are now going to go through the pain we experienced,” she said. “When the day is over, your death will not bring my sister and the other victims back. This is not closure.” The statement didn't include the sister's name. The number of federal death sentences carried out under Trump since 2020 is more than in the previous 56 years combined, reducing the number of prisoners on federal death row by nearly a quarter. It’s likely none of the around 50 remaining men will be executed anytime soon, if ever, with Biden signalling he’ll end federal executions. The only woman on death row, Lisa Montgomery, was executed Wednesday for killing a pregnant woman, then cutting the baby out of her womb. She was the first woman executed in nearly 70 years. Federal executions began as the coronavirus pandemic raged through prisons nationwide. Among those prisoners who got COVID-19 last month were Higgs and former drug trafficker Corey Johnson, who was executed Thursday. In the early Saturday execution of Higgs, officials inside the execution chamber were more diligent about their keeping masks on after a federal judge expressed concern that officials at Johnson's execution were lax about coronavirus precautions. When a marshal called from a death-chamber phone to ask if there were any impediments to proceeding with Higgs' execution, he kept his mask on and shoved the receiver under it. Not since the waning days of Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the late 1800s has the U.S. government executed federal inmates during a presidential transition, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Cleveland’s was also the last presidency during which the number of civilians executed federally was in the double digits in one year, 1896. In an opinion piece in The Washington Post earlier this week, Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, noted that Higgs, a Black man, was scheduled to die Friday — his father’s birthday. With last-minute appeals, it was delayed into early Saturday. “The federal government should not be needlessly taking more Black lives, and to do so on my father’s birthday would be shameful,” he wrote. Pressure is already building on Biden to follow through on pledges to end the federal death penalty. The ACLU released a statement after Higgs' execution urging Biden to invoke his presidential powers after he is sworn in. “He must commute the sentences of people on the federal death row to life without parole, and he must drop death from all pending trials," the ACLU said. In 2000, a federal jury in Maryland convicted Higgs of murder and kidnapping in the killings of Tamika Black, 19; Mishann Chinn, 23; and Tanji Jackson. Higgs’ lawyers argued it was “arbitrary and inequitable” to execute Higgs while Willis Haynes, the man who fired the shots that killed the women, was spared a death sentence. In a statement after the execution, Higgs’ attorney, Shawn Nolan, said his client had spent decades on death row helping other inmates. “There was no reason to kill him, particularly during the pandemic and when he, himself, was sick with Covid that he contracted because of these irresponsible, super-spreader executions,” Nolan said. Higgs had a traumatic childhood and lost his mother to cancer when he was 10, Higgs’ Dec. 19 petition for clemency petition said. Higgs was 23 on the evening of Jan. 26, 1996, when he, Haynes and a third man, Victor Gloria, picked up the three women in Washington, D.C., and drove them to Higgs’ apartment in Laurel, Maryland, to drink alcohol and listen to music. Before dawn, an argument between Higgs and Jackson prompted her to grab a knife in the kitchen before Haynes persuaded her to drop it. Gloria said Jackson made threats as she left the apartment with the other women and appeared to write down the license plate number of Higgs’ van, angering him. The three men chased after the women in Higgs’ van. Haynes persuaded them to get into the vehicle. Instead of taking them home, Higgs drove them to a secluded spot in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, federal land in Laurel. “Aware at that point that something was amiss, one of the women asked if they were going to have to ‘walk from here’ and Higgs responded ‘something like that,’” according to court documents. Higgs handed his pistol to Haynes, who shot all three women outside the van, Gloria testified. “Gloria turned to ask Higgs what he was doing, but saw Higgs holding the steering wheel and watching the shootings from the rearview mirror,” said the 2013 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chinn worked with the children’s choir at a church, Jackson worked in the office at a high school and Black was a teacher’s aide at National Presbyterian School in Washington, according to The Washington Post. ___ This story has been corrected to reflect the execution taking place early Saturday. ____ Kunzelman reported from College Park, Maryland. Michael Tarm And Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press
EL TERRERO, Mexico — In the birthplace of Mexico’s vigilante “self-defence” movement, a new group has emerged entirely made up of women, who carry assault rifles and post roadblocks to fend off what they say is a bloody incursion into the state of Michoacán by the violent Jalisco cartel. Some of the four dozen women warriors are pregnant; some carry their small children to the barricades with them. The rural area is traversed by dirt roads, through which they fear Jalisco gunmen could penetrate at a time when the homicide rate in Michoacán has spiked to levels not seen since 2013. Many of the women vigilantes in the hamlet of El Terrero have lost sons, brothers or fathers in the fighting. Eufresina Blanco Nava said her son Freddy Barrios, a 29-year old lime picker, was kidnapped by presumed Jalisco cartel gunmen in pickup trucks; she has never heard from him since. “They have disappeared a lot of people, a lot, and young girls, too,” said Blanco Nava. One woman, who asked her name not be used because she has relatives in areas dominated by the Jalisco cartel, said that cartel kidnapped and disappeared her 14-year-old daughter, adding, “We are going to defend those we have left, the children we have left, with our lives.” “We women are tired of seeing our children, our families disappear,” the vigilante said. “They take our sons, they take our daughters, our relatives, our husbands.” That is, in part, why the women are taking up arms; men are growing scarce in Michoacan’s lime-growing hotlands. “As soon as they see a man who can carry a gun, they take him away,” said the woman. “They disappear. We don't know if they have them (as recruits) or if they already killed them.” Beside the barricades and roadblocks, the female vigilantes have a homemade tank, a heavy-duty pickup truck with steel plate armour welded on it. In other towns nearby, residents have dug trenches across roadways leading into neighbouring Jalisco state, to keep the attackers out. Alberto García, a male vigilante, has seen the medieval side of the war: He is from Naranjo de Chila, a town just across the river from El Terrero and the birthplace of the Jalisco cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera. Garcia said he was run out of the town by Jalisco cartel gunmen because he refused to join the group. “They killed one of my brothers, too,” said Garcia. “They hacked him to pieces, and my sister-in-law, who was eight months pregnant.” El Terrero has long been dominated by the New Michoacán Family and Viagras gangs, while the Jalisco cartel controls the south bank of the Rio Grande river. In 2019, the Viagras hijacked and burned a half-dozen trucks and buses to block the bridge over the river to prevent Jalisco convoys from entering in a surprise assault. And that same year, in the next town over, San Jose de Chila, the rival gangs used a church as an armed redoubt to fight off an offensive by Jalisco gunmen. Holed up in the church tower and along its roof, they tried to defend the town against the incursion, leaving the church filled with bullet holes. It is that stark divide where everyone is forced to chose sides — either Jalisco, or the New Michoacán Family and the Viagras — that has many convinced that the El Terrero vigilantes are just foot soldiers for one of those latter two gangs. The vigilantes bitterly deny allegations they're part of a criminal gang, though they clearly see the Jalisco cartel as their foe. They say they would be more than happy for police and soldiers to come in and do their jobs. El Terrero is not far from the town of La Ruana, where the real self-defence movement was launched in 2013 by lime grower Hipolito Mora. After successfully chasing out the Knights Templar cartel, Mora, like most of the original leaders, has distanced himself from the so-called self-defence groups that remain, and is now a candidate for governor. “I can almost assure you that they are not legitimate self-defence activists,” said Mora. “They are organized crime. ... The few self-defence groups that exist have allowed themselves to be infiltrated; they are criminals disguised as self-defence.” Michoacán's current governor, Silvano Aureoles, is more emphatic. “They are criminals, period. Now, to cloak themselves and protect their illegal activities, they call themselves self-defence groups, as if that were some passport for impunity.” But in some ways, Mora says, the same conditions that gave rise to the original 2013 movement remain: Authorities and police fail to enforce the law and don't guarantee residents peace. Sergio Garcia, a male member of El Terrero vigilante group, says his 15-year-old brother was kidnapped and killed by Jalisco. Now, he wants justice that police have never given him. “We are here for a reason, to get justice by hook or by crook, because if we don't do it, nobody else will,” Garcia said. ___ Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed from Mexico City. Armando Solis, The Associated Press
It's tough to control the spread of information online, but health officials in the Northwest Territories have been trying to tackle the gossip, mistruths and questionable sources around COVID-19 and the vaccine one comment at a time. Mike Westwick has been managing the N.W.T. government's communications response to COVID-19 through most of the pandemic and tries to "flood the zone" with good information. He says people have become better informed throughout, but his team still spends a fair bit of time combating misinformation. "Folks are understandably scared and a little bit frantic during a pandemic," Westwick said. "And our job as communicators is to help them feel a little bit more at ease and get them the information that they need to protect themselves and others." He says the sources of misinformation can vary, from discredited websites to word of mouth — people playing the "telephone game." In the N.W.T., he says the most common misinformation is generally related to the level of threat northerners are facing, "phantom cases" of COVID-19 that never actually existed, or that the territory isn't testing enough. In those cases, he says his team offers quantitative data to dispel the mistruths. "There have been many occasions where we've taken to social media directly to combat those rumours in order to give people, you know, an accurate idea of what the risk is and the current state of COVID-19," Westwick said. Northerners open to conversations Westwick says it's a risk communicator's job to "directly, rapidly and empathetically" combat misinformation. "Social media has opened up all kinds of opportunities for misinformation to spread," he said. "But it's also opened up unprecedented opportunities to actually join those conversations as communicators." Westwick says that, by and large, northerners are open to having those conversations and appreciate hearing from someone with helpful information. "I would just really applaud northerners for ... being receptive to that information and taking the right actions that have led us to the point that we're at today in a very successful pandemic response," he said. That response will be changing hands though. Westwick has taken on a new role in communications for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He says it's been an "intense" year, but quite a ride, and he's looking forward to the new challenge. How to spot misinformation Nadya Bliss, the executive director of the Global Security Initiative at Arizona State University, says people spreading misinformation online are often doing it unintentionally and "tapping into a sense of belonging." Bliss says there are several red flags and things to consider as you scroll through social media feeds. Does the content create an overly emotional response, or make a broad claim? "We're living through a number of overlapping crises. And in crises, people tend to want to share information faster," Bliss said. "You're just nervous, you're worried and you want to share something." Broad claims from unofficial sources should be cross-checked with a trusted source, Bliss said. If you're seeing similar posts or stories, remember — it's the algorithm. Social media algorithms prioritize what they think you will be most interested in, and will amplify posts from your social circle, said Bliss. "If you are getting information from your group of peers or friends, a lot of the time the reason you see it is because you clicked on something similar," she said. "And that is not a way to get trusted scientific information." There is a financial motive behind sharing the information. The best information comes from groups without a profit incentive, like government sources or reliable journalistic sources, because they're focused on "integrity" rather than driving clicks, said Bliss. The post is out of date or has a false information flag. Facebook and Twitter now explicitly label false information, so look out for those. Also make sure the information is current by checking the date.
Mount Allison University lent New Brunswick two -80 C freezers required to store the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, to help the province beat the second wave of the pandemic. The Sackville university's dean of science said a group of technicians, researchers and faculty members worked through Christmas break to clear space in the freezers so they could be lent to the province for a while. Amanda Cockshutt said they were able to empty two of the university's seven super-cold freezers. Cockshutt said it took a lot of effort to get the freezers emptied and operations will be more of a challenge without them, but the university felt supporting New Brunswick through this pandemic was more important than its research projects. "It will be nice to have them back … but that's a sacrifice we felt we could make," Cockshutt told CBC's Shift. "Now that the space is freed up we feel that we can operate, we can continue with our research." She said the donated freezers, which are just over two metres tall, one metre wide and one metre deep and weigh over 200 pounds each, were moved by New Brunswick using an 18-wheel truck earlier this month. Cockshutt said she doesn't know where they were taken. She said each freezer would likely fit enough vaccine to inoculate the entire province. "The vaccines are actually pretty small, they're in vials, and you could fit a lot of doses into one freezer," she said. "But the problem is that the vaccines can't be out of the freezer for very long, so we need a number of them across the province to keep them at the appropriate temperature until they're ready to go into people's arms." These heavy-duty freezers are used for storing delicate materials, including samples of proteins and DNA for the university's lab research. "When you're in the middle of a project, you often need to save samples along the way and you may go back to them, but you also may not," "When we've completed a project and completed the results, we'll often go back and throw out any of the materials that we no longer need.. Sometimes you need a little reminder to go back and do that." Cockshutt said the province can keep the freezers until they're no longer needed, but she's hoping to have them back by September. She said the freezers were funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation along with some endowments to the university.
A brand of sweet rice pancake products are being recalled across Canada due to undeclared egg. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the recall was prompted when a consumer reported a reaction after consuming Wang Korea brand pancakes. Two flavours of the pancakes, Green Tea Flavor Sweet Rice Pancake and Sweet Rice Pancake, were recalled from stores in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. The barcodes for the recalled products are as follows: Green Tea Flavor Sweet Rice Pancake (480 g) - 0 87703 15649 4 Green Tea Flavor Sweet Rice Pancake (180 g) - 0 87703 15408 7 Sweet Rice Pancake (480 g) - 0 87703 15647 0 Sweet Rice Pancake (180 g) - 0 87703 15323 3 The inspection agency is warning people with an allergy to egg to discard the pancakes or return them to the store where they were purchased. "If you have an allergy to egg, do not consume the recalled products as they may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction," the recall said. The CFIA says it's ensuring the recalled products are being removed from the marketplace and a food safety investigation will be conducted. MORE TOP STORIES
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden is proposing a $1.9 trillion plan to expand coronavirus vaccinations, help individuals and jump-start the economy. The plan, which would require congressional approval, is packed with proposals on health care, education, labour and cybersecurity. On Friday, he outlined a five-step approach to getting the vaccination to the American people, and to ensure that it is distributed equitably. “Equity is central to our COVID response,” he said. Here's a look at what's in Biden's plan: CONTAINING THE VIRUS — A $20 billion national program would establish community vaccination centres across the U.S. and send mobile units to remote communities. Medicaid patients would have their costs covered by the federal government, and the administration says it will take steps to ensure all people in the U.S. can receive the vaccine for free, regardless of their immigration status. — An additional $50 billion would expand testing efforts and help schools and governments implement routine testing. Other efforts would focus on developing better treatments for COVID-19 and improving efforts to identify and track new strains of the virus. THE VACCINATION PLAN — Working with states to open up vaccinations beyond health care workers, including to people 65 and older, as well as essential front-line workers. — Establishing more vaccination sites, including working with FEMA to set up 100 federally supported centres by the end of his first month in office . He suggested using community centres, school gymnasiums and sports stadiums. He also called for expanding the pool of those who can deliver the vaccine. — Using pharmacies around the country to administer the vaccine. The Trump administration already has entered into agreements with some large chains to do that. — Using the Defence Production Act, a Cold War-era law to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.” — A public education campaign to address “vaccine hesitancy” and the refusal of some to take the vaccine. He called the education plan "a critical piece to account for a tragic reality of the disproportionate impact this virus has had on Black, Latino and Native American communities” INDIVIDUALS AND WORKERS — Stimulus checks of $1,400 per person in addition to the $600 checks Congress approved in December. By bringing payments to $2,000 — an amount Democrats previously called for — the administration says it will help families meet basic needs and support local businesses. — A temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures would be extended through September. — The federal minimum wage would be raised to $15 per hour from the current rate of $7.25 per hour. — An emergency measure requiring employers to provide paid sick leave would be reinstated. The administration is urging Congress to keep the requirement through Sept. 30 and expand it to federal employees. — The child care tax credit would be expanded for a year, to cover half the cost of child care up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more for families making less than $125,000 a year. Families making between $125,000 and $400,000 would get a partial credit. — $15 billion in federal grants to help states subsidize child care for low-income families, along with a $25 billion fund to help child care centres in danger of closing. SCHOOLS — $130 billion for K-12 schools to help them reopen safely. The money is meant to help reach Biden's goal of having a majority of the nation's K-8 schools open within his first 100 days in the White House. Schools could use the funding to cover a variety of costs, including the purchase of masks and other protective equipment, upgrades to ventilation systems and staffing for school nurses. Schools would be expected to use the funding to help students who fell behind on academics during the pandemic, and on efforts to meet students' mental health needs. A portion of the funding would go to education equity grants to help with challenges caused by the pandemic. — Public colleges and universities would get $35 billion to cover pandemic-related expenses and to steer funding to students as emergency grants. An additional $5 billion would go to governors to support programs helping students who were hit hardest by the pandemic. SMALL BUSINESS — $15 billion in grants to more than 1 million small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic, as well as other assistance. STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT — $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments to help front-line workers. — $20 billion in aid to public transit agencies. CYBERSECURITY — $9 billion to modernize information technology systems at federal agencies, motivated by recent cybersecurity attacks that penetrated multiple agencies. — $690 million to boost federal cybersecurity monitoring efforts and $200 million to hire hundreds of new cybersecurity experts. The Associated Press
New Brunswick writer Richard Vaughan's life and legacy is now being celebrated through a virtual art exhibition. The acclaimed author, poet and playwright died in Fredericton in October. He was 55. Known as Cut. Paste. Resist. Redux, the multimedia exhibition consists of film strips created from collages. Those images are paired with voiceovers of friends and colleagues reading various excerpts from his poetry, chat books and novels. Marie Maltais, director of the UNB Arts Centre, helped organize the project and described Vaughan as "a shining star of New Brunswick's cultural scene." She said the exhibit is a way to "bring back the genius" of the writer. "He was an advocate, he was someone who was very down to earth, you could approach him," Maltais said. Vaughan was born in Saint John, but lived and worked in Montreal, Toronto and Berlin before returning to his home province last year to work as writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick. He wrote under the name R.M. Vaughan. He is remembered as a pioneer for LGBTQ artists and a talented writer who could address many subjects. The new exhibit was inspired by a collage project Vaughan organized with Ken Moffatt, the Jack Layton chair at Ryerson University, early last year. They put out a call for submissions from community members focused on the theme of resistance. More than 200 collages came in from around the world, and were displayed as part of the Cut, Paste, Resist art show at UNB. That initial show has evolved into the project presented online this month in Vaughan's memory. Maltais reached out to Moffatt shortly after Vaughan's death to collaborate on the project. It is being held virtually on the centre's website because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recorded readings from 17 different people will be released throughout the month. The response to the show has been positive, with people sharing fond memories. Maltais said she remembers Vaughan as someone who really cared about his students and the cultural community. "I have spoken to a few people that were mentored by him, and it is really a terrible loss," she said.
Azerbaijan will begin vaccinating citizens against COVID-19 on Monday, using a batch of 4 million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, the health ministry said on Saturday. "Medical workers will be vaccinated first, and then over-65s from Feb. 1," presidential aide Shahmar Movsumov added. The doses will be transported first to Turkey, he said, where they will be checked and packaged, before arriving in batches to Azerbaijan.
The medical director of Nova Scotia's tissue bank expects his department could see more than double the current number of donations when Nova Scotia changes its organ and tissue laws. On Monday, the province is implementing a new presumed consent system. It means all adults will be considered organ and tissue donors unless they register to opt out. Nova Scotia's organ and tissue law will exempt children and those who do not have the capacity to understand the law. It also doesn't include people who have lived in the province for less than a year. Those who do not want to be donors can use the opt-out registry, and their families will have a say when decisions are being made at the time of death. While organ donation is commonly understood, Dr. Michael Gross hopes people will take the time to understand what it means to donate tissue. Gross said many families are scared or intimidated by the thought. "The whole system is set up to respect the donor," he said. "One of the things people are scared of is that the body is not going to be looking normal." He said they have worked with funeral home directors to make sure that they reconstruct bodies after donation. "You are making a difference, but you are not destroying the overall form of the body," said Gross. Donations lead to 'life-saving' operations The list of possible tissue donations includes corneas, skin, tendons, heart valves and bone. Gross believes more people would be open to the process if they knew how each donation could help others. "It's actually a life-saving operation to put a new heart valve in a child that's undergoing surgery for a cardiac anomaly." Right now, 150 people in Atlantic Canada are waiting for cornea transplants. That wait can take a year and a half. "The people who receive corneal transplants can see again, they can drive again, they can read the newspapers," said Gross. Skin is used for grafts, but it's also now being transformed into a collagen product that can be used in rebuilding tendons. There were 978 tissue grafts in Nova Scotia in 2020. To give that context, Nova Scotia Health says one patient with serious burns can need up to 100 skin grafts. Bone donations can help people who have been in accidents, they can be used in breast reconstruction, and they can help rebuild someone's jaw. "You would be amazed," said Gross. "One person who donates their tissues and we take everything, can affect about 100 other different people. And this is the way it goes." Currently 200 tissue donors a year The need for tissue donation is significant. Gross said the department currently has about 200 donors a year, but once the new law is in effect, he expects it could be as many as 500. Unlike organs, he said, tissues can be donated 24 hours after death. "So there's time for your family to say 'we would like our loved one to donate tissues' or with presumed legislation, anybody who is eligible is able to donate their tissues can automatically which is a big thing." Tissue donors need to be under 70 years old, said Gross, and can't have infections or cancers. He says in 25 years in the department, they have never had a problem with safety. "People need to know that we do an awful lot of screening," he said. "We examine the donor's records. We do a lot of questioning." Gross said the department is also in the process of developing a way to donate placenta at some point in the future. Overall, he said donating is an important part of helping families through the grieving process. MORE TOP STORIES
During Alex Azar's time serving as US health secretary, more than 390,000 people in the US have died from COVID-19.View on euronews
January is typically when the holiday lights and Christmas trees begin to come down, as the festive season ends. However, Michael Fabijan, an Inuvik, N.W.T., resident of 33 years, is keeping his unique Christmas tree up to continue to spread some cheer. What was once a blank white wall that separated his living room and kitchen is now donned with a hand-painted tree decked in ornaments crafted by family friends. Fabijan came up with the idea to paint the tree there, and enlisted friends to help spruce it up. "Going away all the time, you never have to decorate for Christmas because you are going to someone else's house. But now I'm here, so I have to decorate," said Fabijan. "And that's where this came from." I'm surrounded by a great crowd of people. - Michael Fabijan Like many, Fabijan spent his Christmas away from family, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 66-year-old said that although this is one of the first holidays he's stayed in Inuvik, the tree ended up bringing a lot of joy and a smile to his face. Every night for about three weeks, four close families in Inuvik would come on different nights to Fabijan's home and spend time decorating the tree with him. "I asked everyone to paint their names somewhere on the board," said Fabijan. Cecile Bleakney, a family friend of Fabijan's, said he is like family, and decorating the tree was like a little celebration every night. "I was amazed about the talent that went in there," she said. "[Almost] everything is handmade… very heartfelt." Sometimes just his friends' kids would come over and paint or add something unique to the tree. A couple of the ornaments feature photos of Fabijan with the children when they were younger. The only two ornaments that aren't handmade are one Fabijan has from childhood, and another he has from his mom. Tree wall may be preserved for future holidays Bleakney and Fabijan have been friends for about 27 years. Bleakney said she felt like the Christmas tree was a great way to bring Fabijan's Inuvik family together. "Because of COVID, the group of us can't all get together," she said. "So that was our way and his way of getting together and spending time with Michael." Fabijan said it helped make the holidays special. "I'm lucky to have friends that will do this. I can't believe it. Everyone I know here that are close friends put something on this tree," said Fabijan. "I'm surrounded by a great crowd of people and the tree is hilarious…. It's just a good family tree," he added. "This made my Christmas and it motivated me." He said he also documented the progress of the tree for family members down south. Fabijan said he always intended to renovate and tear down the wall where the Christmas tree is now painted. But instead, he's decided to try to find a way to keep the wall and bring it out during the holidays. "It's gonna be hard to take down," he said. "To me, it's bringing my local family together at Christmas."
Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Saturday fired long-range ballistic missiles into the Indian Ocean on the second day of a military exercise, state media reported. The drill, which comes in the waning days of high tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, was conducted in the country's central desert region. "One of our most important defence policy goals is to use long-range ballistic missiles against enemy warships, including aircraft carriers and warships," state media quoted Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami as saying.
Saskatchewan health officials called the province's battle against COVID-19 "critical" and the situation in hospitals "fragile" this week, but the provincial government has not implemented further restrictions as seen in other provinces. Saskatchewan surpassed Alberta this week to become the leader in active cases per capita. Saskatchewan has also seen 65 deaths in the first two weeks of 2021 — amounting to 30 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths over the past 10 months. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said Thursday it has reached 95 per cent capacity in ICUs around the province. As of Thursday, 82 people were in ICU in the province — 34 were COVID-19 patients. "Our health-care system is at its most fragile point during the pandemic," SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said Thursday. He said to keep the health system operating and to ensure a "smart, fast immunization program" the public needs to "double down on their efforts." Saskatchewan reached other milestones this week: an all-time high for hospitalizations at 210 and a seven-day daily new case average of 321. The seven-day average increased by 21 per cent week-to-week. On Friday, Saskatchewan reported 386 more cases. Health Minister Paul Merriman said Wednesday that the government is hopeful the spike in new cases is temporary and caused by the Christmas holidays. "We've been able to find that balance between restrictions and allowing people to live out their lives and be able to go to work and do what they would do back in December." The rising numbers have not inspired Premier Scott Moe to implement further restrictions. On Tuesday, the government extended existing measures for two weeks until January 29. He called the current measures "not insignificant." In recent months, Moe has resisted even a partial or short-term "lockdown." "If we're not able to start to bend this trajectory down by the end of January, Dr. Shahab may have some more difficult decisions to make," Moe said Tuesday. But it is not Shahab's decision what will ultimately be implemented. That decision is up to Moe and his government. It has been established that Shahab and his team presents options to the government, which then makes the final call. Shahab told CBC in November, "I issue recommendations and suggest regulatory changes, but the government has to implement them." Status quo, for now On Thursday, the province released modelling for the first time since mid-November. It showed that by Jan. 25, the number of new cases could rise sharply to around 900 — or even as high as approximately 1,600 if there is a "low uptake of public health measures." The predictions were based on trends from Dec. 25 to Jan. 12. Shahab said this week that "universal compliance" with health orders is necessary, otherwise more restrictions will have to be put in place. He said he would speak with Health Minister Paul Merriman about options next week if cases continue on their current trajectory. Shahab has said in the past that 250 cases or more per day would risk the health-care system. Saskatchewan average daily cases were below that threshold between Dec. 16 and Jan. 6. On two occasions this week, when asked about implementing new measures, Shahab said it is not as simple as picking one and knowing it will drive down transmission. Shahab said he consults with his counterparts in other provinces to see how their measures are working. He said his office maintains a database of how COVID-19 is being transmitted. "The bulk of the cases right now seem to be social connections among individuals." He said one option, which the government is choosing to follow for now, is asking people to follow the guidelines and "slow things down" by restricting their outings and interactions. "The other option is the hammer approach where you close everything down. Obviously, you see a reduction but there is a significant impact. Social, economic, mental health," Shahab said. Provincial strategies differ That hammer approach has been implemented in Ontario, where the province introduced a stay-at-home-order this week. As of Thursday, Ontario residents have to stay home except for essential purposes such as grocery shopping, accessing health care and exercising. "Our province is in crisis," Premier Doug Ford said this week, responding to new modelling numbers. "The system is on the brink of collapse. It's on the brink of being overwhelmed." Quebec has instituted a month-long curfew which requires residents to be in their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. "The police will also be very visible," the province's Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said in a tweet last week. "Let's stay at home, save lives." Those without a valid reason to be out between those hours could face fines of $1,000 to $6,000. Manitoba had led the country in cases per-capita in November. This week it extended restrictions including a ban on most gatherings at homes — including in private yards — and public gatherings of more than five people. Maintoba's restrictions also include: A ban on in-person dining. A ban on in-person religious services. Retail businesses can only sell essential items. Personal services like salons must close. On Dec. 8, Alberta ordered the closure of all casinos and gyms, banned dine-in service at restaurants and bars, banned all outdoor and indoor social gatherings and imposed mandatory work-from-home measures. At the time, Alberta led the country in active cases and active cases per capita.