U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a 46-minute address from the White House reiterating his baseless claim that he won the election.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a 46-minute address from the White House reiterating his baseless claim that he won the election.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — The coronavirus vaccines have been rolled out unevenly across the U.S., but four states in the Deep South have had particularly dismal inoculation rates that have alarmed health experts and frustrated residents. In Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina, less than 2% of the population had received its first dose of a vaccine at the start of the week, according to data from the states and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As in other parts of the country, states in the South face a number of challenges: limited vaccine supplies, health care workers who refuse to get inoculated and bureaucratic systems that are not equipped to schedule the huge number of appointments being sought. But other states have still managed — at their best — to get the vaccines into the arms of more than 5% of their populations. Though it’s not clear why the Deep South is falling behind, public health researchers note that it has typically lagged in funding public health and addressing disparities in care for its big rural population. "When you combine a large percentage of rural residents who tend to be the hard-to-reach populations and have lower numbers of providers with trying to build a vaccine infrastructure on the fly, that’s just a recipe for a not-so-great response,” said Sarah McCool, a professor in public health at Georgia State University. In Georgia, the state’s rural health system has been decimated in recent years, with nine hospital closures since 2008, including two last year. Local health departments have become the primary vaccine providers in some locations, as officials work to add sites where doses can be administered. “If we’re the only game in town, this process is going to take a long time,” Lawton Davis, director of a large public health district that includes Savannah, said at a news conference on Monday. The district had to stop taking appointments in the face of an onslaught of requests after Georgia opened up the vaccine to people over 65. Other health districts in the state saw their websites crash. Alabama and Mississippi have also been hit hard by rural hospital closures. Seven hospitals have shut down in Alabama since 2009 and six in Mississippi since 2005, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Sheps Center. Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi ranked in the bottom five of U.S. states in their access to health care, according to a 2020 report from a not-for-profit foundation connected to insurance giant UnitedHealth. But overall, experts say it's too early in the vaccine rollout to draw conclusions about the region's shortcomings, and they can't easily be attributed to a particular factor or trend. “We’re sort of building this plane as we’re flying, and there are going to be missteps along the way,” said Amber Schmidtke, a microbiologist who has been following vaccine dissemination in the South. Officials in the individual states have cited a number of challenges, but have also acknowledged shortcomings. “We have too many vaccines distributed that are not in arms yet,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who noted that some hospitals in the state are not using their vaccine doses. He said that practice “has to stop.” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp cited a similar challenge and warned providers holding on to vaccines that the state would take their unused doses even if that required “firing up” his pickup truck and doing it himself. But in South Carolina, hospital officials say it is the state that has moved too slowly to expand access to the vaccinations, leaving them with unused doses. The state recently did offer the vaccine to those 70 and older. Mississippi's Reeves said one of the biggest weaknesses in the state’s vaccination system is the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to administer vaccinations in long-term care facilities. The pharmacy chains have been slow in hiring enough people to do the work in Mississippi, the governor said. CVS Health said in a statement that it has “the appropriate resources to finish the job" at long-term care facilities. Walgreens did not respond to an email. During an online forum hosted by Jackson State University in Mississippi on Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is Black, noted the reluctance of many African Americans to be vaccinated. He cited a general mistrust of medical systems stemming back to a now-defunct government study that started in the 1930s and left Black men untreated for syphilis for decades. So far, only 15% of COVID-19 vaccinations in Mississippi have gone to Black people, who make up about 38% of the population, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during the forum. Officials in all four states also said some health care workers — among the first groups eligible for a vaccine — are choosing not to get inoculated. And some stressed that states were dealing with limited supplies and high demand and implored people to be patient. “Yes, the phone lines will be busy. Yes, the websites will certainly crash,” Kemp said Tuesday. “There are simply vastly more Georgians that want the vaccine than can get it today.” Mississippi officials said the state's website and telephone hotline were overwhelmed after the governor announced Tuesday that vaccinations were available to people 65 or older or people who have underlying medical conditions. Liz Cleveland, a 67-year-old retired state employee who lives in Jackson, waited hours on the website using her cellphone, computer and tablet only to encounter unknown errors. “It’s like gambling. You may hit or you may bust,” Cleveland said. About 2 a.m. Wednesday, she was finally able to book appointments for herself and her husband next week in Hattiesburg, which is 90 miles (145 kilometres) away. Mississippi officials said Thursday that they will open an additional drive-thru site for vaccinations soon in the state's largest county. Alabama officials also have been inundated with requests for appointments since announcing the state will begin vaccinations for people over 75 next week. A state hotline received more than a million calls the first day it was open. Celia O’Kelley of Tuscaloosa said she couldn’t get through to anyone to get an appointment for her 95-year-old mother. “I am scared because Tuscaloosa is a hot spot,” she said. ___ Associated Press writers Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; and Michelle Liu in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report. Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
COPENHAGEN — The ex-partner of Norway’s former justice minister was convicted and sentenced to 20 months in jail Friday for setting a fire outside the politician’s home and other threatening behaviour. The Oslo District Court found Laila Bertheussen guilty of setting fire to a garbage container and scrawling graffiti that included the word “racist” and a swastika on the Oslo home of then-Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara in 2018 and 2019. She also was found guilty of writing Wara a threatening letter. Bertheussen, 55, also was found guilty of making threats against other peoples. Throughout her trial, she pleaded innocent and argued that Norway’s domestic security agency had conducted a one-sided investigation. Presiding Judge Yngvild Thue rejected the defence argument, saying the court found the investigation to have been exceptionally thorough. Bertheussen was arrested in March 2019. Wara stepped down at the same time because of the case, which made headlines in Norway. He has described the vandalism as “unpleasant and scary.” The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to turn the tide on the pandemic, speeding up the vaccine rollout and providing financial help to individuals, governments and businesses.
The order has been delivered, and now it’s up to Niagara’s police and bylaw officers to enforce it. The province’s new stay-at-home order came into effect just after midnight on Thursday, requiring people to remain at home unless leaving for “essential trips” to access medical services, pick up groceries, exercise outdoors or go to work. In multiple responses to questions from Niagara This Week about what enforcement of the order will look like across Niagara, “collaboration” was the keyword as municipalities, police, the Region and public health work together to hammer out details of how the stay-at-home order will be enforced. The province has handed down additional power to police and bylaw officers, allowing for officers to disperse gatherings over the allowable limit of five people and to order temporary closures of premises in violation of the order. The Niagara Regional Police Service has received “clarification and direction” from the province about changes to regulations and enforcement during what is now Ontario’s second state of emergency, communications manager Stephanie Sabourin said in an emailed response. Sabourin did not provide specifics but said “there is no one correct answer” to what enforcement will look like because circumstances vary with each incident. “When appropriate, [officers] will educate individuals on the legislation and the compliance requirements. When and where appropriate to do so, the legislation will be enforced with fines and penalties,” Sabourin said. “The service is working diligently to ensure our members understand their responsibilities and the limitations of their authority to enforce this order,” Sabourin said, without providing specific detail on what those responsibilities or limitations are. Joe Couto, spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said during a phone call Thursday, that a government memo was sent to police chiefs across the province on Wednesday giving clarity to police powers. Police cannot stop a person exclusively to find out whether they are complying with the stay-at-home order, Couto explained. “It’s very clear we don’t have those powers,” he said of the province’s memo. “We wouldn’t be just randomly pulling people off the street and going, ‘Why are you here?’” According to Sabourin, police are also not permitted to stop a vehicle “for the sole purpose of determining whether a person is acting in compliance” with the order. Since the early stages of the pandemic, staff have been redeployed from the Region’s business licensing and tobacco enforcement teams to enforce the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the Re-Opening Ontario Act. An educational approach to enforcement of the stay-at-home order will still be the common approach across Niagara’s municipalities, with some shifting attitudes as reviews of the order are ongoing. In Lincoln, a security company has been retained to “assist with monitoring of a park space that contains an outdoor ice rink to disperse gatherings,” according to communications manager, Liliana Busnello. St. Catharines has made enforcement of pandemic-related orders a priority for bylaw officers. In Fort Erie, bylaw patrols have already increased 33 per cent since entering into the red stage, said Town enforcement manager, Paul Chudoba, in an email. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s community engagement coordinator, Lauren Kruitbosch, said decisions have yet to be made about whether by-law enforcement efforts will be increased but noted council has appointed staff from other departments to supplement officers if needed and that “the province is expecting enforcement at this point.” In an emailed statement to Niagara This Week, Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, said he believes “further measures are needed to nudge the population to stay home, break off social contacts outside of one’s household, and stop the spread of COVID-19.” Hirji noted similar orders have been used with success elsewhere, but said success in Niagara will depend on “whether the public voluntarily adheres to the order” and the province effectively enforcing the order. Questions submitted by Niagara This Week to the Premier’s Office about the stay-at-home order went without responses at the time of publishing. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
The first person to die as a result of COVID-19 in the Saskatchewan Penitentiary has been identified by family as 53-year-old Eugene Francis. His younger sister, Konzter Gregorie, confirmed his identity to CBC via email after he was reported to have died in an outside hospital from COVID-19-related complications on Jan. 8. Gregorie said her brother was originally from La La Biche, Alta., but had lived in Edmonton since the '90s. People who knew him, posting on Facebook after his death, used his nickname, Magoo. Laugh, love for family won't be forgotten Gregorie said in a text message his memory will live on. "I'll never forget the sound of his laugh," she said. "And he was always very protective about the ones he loved." She said his health deteriorated quickly. "He called and said he had COVID-19 and next thing he was gone, passed away," she said via text, noting it all happened in a "couple of days." Francis' COVID-19 death is the first recorded at the federal facility in Prince Albert and the fourth of an inmate who contracted the virus in a federal prison. Gregorie said the death has been "very emotional" for her and her family, as they hate to think of their brother passing away, "basically alone, with no family." "I pray that no body else has to go through this kind of heartache," she said. Numbers released earlier this week indicate progress is being made on the Saskatchewan Penitentiary outbreak, as active cases continue to fall. As of Jan. 12, Correctional Service Canada data indicates 213 of the 244 cases recorded in the facility — roughly 87 per cent — have recovered, with only 31 listed as active. Saskatchewan is still leading the country when it comes to active COVID-19 cases in federal prisons, followed by Manitoba with 24 cases and Alberta with seven active cases. The Prince Albert outbreak has been extremely difficult for the families of those inside. They say supports and resources are lacking. "I hate it. I hate that my husband's there," said Amber Slippery. She said her husband, Conrad Slippery, contracted COVID-19 in the prison and that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult. Conrad suffered from extreme fatigue as a result of the virus and could hardly leave his cell, she said. She said that while he's sounding better now, the outbreak has been a struggle for her and their two kids. "They're really scared for him," she said. Amber, who works in the health-care sector, said her husband is at high risk due to diabetes. She said he's told her he's had trouble accessing cleaning supplies. Her worries peaked this weekend when Francis's death was reported. "I just never want my husband to die in there too," she said. Amber said her son is also taking the outbreak hard, as the youngster regularly talks to his dad on the phone, a comfort that's become more scarce with outbreak procedures in place. "[My son] cries quite a bit, because he's used to his dad phoning all the time," she said. "The fact that his dad can't call home all the time, and when he can get to call, they're either sleeping or they're at school, so he's really not talking to his kids now and that's affecting them big time." Desperation taking form Bronson Gordon, an inmate at the facility, claims some are getting so desperate to see outbreak procedures ended they are trying to get others infected using what he called a "virus bomb." He said a virus bomb is when an inmate who has tested positive for COVID-19 will cough and sneeze on a piece of property, like a magazine or an article of clothing, and then pass it along to someone else on the range in hope of exposing others. Bronson, who claims he was targeted by a "virus bomb," said the practice started after a guard inside the facility told inmates the only way they'll be able to lift the outbreak procedures is if active cases fall to zero. Bronson said many of those inside are in vulnerable, fragile states as a result of the lock down and are desperate for it to end. "You've got a lot of people who are sitting in here with extreme f--king mental health issues due to this f--cking lockdown," he said. No other sources with knowledge of life in the facility that CBC has spoken to have said they have heard of virus bombs. CSC investigating remarks CBC Saskatchewan requested an interview with a representative from the Saskatchewan Penitentiary about COVID-19 handling at the facility, including allegations of "virus bombs," but Correctional Services Canada (CSC) provided a written statement instead. The statement said CSC takes the allegations outlined by Gordon seriously and will be looking into it. "With regard to remarks to inappropriate staff comments, CSC employees are expected to act according to the highest legal and ethical standards, and are subject to the rules of professional conduct and code of discipline," CSC said. "CSC does not tolerate any breach of its policies and all allegations are thoroughly investigated regardless of the source." The statement said the safety of its employees, offenders and the public remains CSC's "top priority." It also said that while the facility has modified routines, it is not locked down, as lock-down only happens when there is "a clear and substantial danger to safety and security of an institution, staff members, inmates, or to the public." "Given the close living environment, positive inmates and close contacts are medically isolating in their cells. During the isolation period, inmates have access to health care staff as well as institutional staff," the statement said. "Staff and Public Health will determine when it is safe to adjust Saskatchewan Penitentiary's modified routine and allow inmates to have access to standard routines and services again." COVID adds pressure to already-tense environment Pierre Hawkins, public legal counsel for the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan, which advocates for prisoner rights in Canada, said isolation is mentally taxing on inmates to begin with and those stresses are magnified during a global pandemic. "There's no doubt that COVID-19 in the correctional context increases tension among inmates, between inmates and corrections officers and in the facility generally," he said. "We have a population here that disproportionately suffers, not only from mental health issues, but also from a physical vulnerability to complications from the virus. "So you can understand why, that while on lock down with very few things to do, that people just sort of sit and worry and tensions, understandably, build a little bit." Hawkins said he's also heard reports of cleaning supplies being in short supply at the facility, but didn't have specifics. He said it's unfortunate the outbreak at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary was able to spread so quickly, saying he thought the federal government would have been better prepared to handle the situation after dealing with outbreaks at other facilities earlier in the pandemic. "We like to think that lessons would have been learned, that could have been applied at Saskatchewan Penitentiary, I'm not sure that has happened in this case." Back inside the facility, Gordon said he was recently moved to the maximum security portion of the prison, where he says conditions are better. He said he's not trying to cause trouble at the federal penitentiary, but wants to bring attention and hopefully positive change to a situation he feels is inhumane. "All we talked about was: 'F--k, wouldn't it be good to like just go outside and just breathe in fresh air," he said. "All we get is this circulated air and we're stuck in our cell for 23 and a half hours a day."
New modelling released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) suggests the number of daily COVID-19 cases could more than triple to 30,000 if people increase their contacts during a time of widespread community transmission. The report also projects that if Canadians simply maintain their current levels of contact with people outside their households, case counts will still rise to roughly 13,000 a day from 7,900 now. The modellers said that, based on current case counts, Canada "remains on a rapid growth trajectory," with roughly 2,000 more people expected to die over the next 10 days as the country approaches a death toll of 20,000. As many as 100,000 more people could contract the virus over the next week and a half, PHAC said. "Quick, strong and sustained measures are needed to interrupt rapid growth and maintain COVID-19 control," PHAC said in its report. "Reducing COVID-19 activity is urgently needed as rollout of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines begins." Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told a news conference that the vaccine rollout, which is now protecting priority groups of high-risk Canadians, will not have a big impact on the numbers in the short term. WATCH / Dr. Theresa Tam on the impact of vaccine on COVID-19 transmission: "In terms of the national projections and the transmission in communities, you're not going to see that in the initial months, which is why I think our message ... is [to] absolutely get on with the public health measures," she said. "Do all of those things, don't do non-essential travel. All that really counts. It works. And when you can suppress that projection, the vaccines have a longer runway." Data to determine impact of vaccine rollout Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said government and external experts are working to determine the impact of vaccine rollouts on the numbers mid- and long-term. "But at the present time, it's really difficult to say. There are so many factors involved. Even today, we're seeing issues in terms of vaccine supply, how vaccines are being rolled out across the country," he said. "There's other factors in terms of the increasing rates of infection in various parts of the country. So there are many different factors in play." Right now, Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec are the provinces reporting the highest infection rates per 100,000 people. Rise in cases post-holidays Tam said many provinces, including some that had been on a downward trajectory, saw a sharp rise in daily case numbers after the holidays. That's likely due to people having more contacts over the holidays and reduced testing during those weeks, she said. Since the holidays, stronger community level public health measures have been adopted across Canada and some areas are showing that public health measures are working to slow growth. "However, we have yet to see the widespread and sustained declines in daily case counts that would indicate we are bringing the pandemic under control nationally," she said. Some 10 months into this pandemic, long-term care homes continue to report hundreds of daily cases. There are now more than 400 outbreaks nationwide — a situation which is expected to push hospitalization rates higher still. Alberta and Manitoba are reporting the highest rates of hospitalization per 100,000 people. PM calls LTC deaths 'tragic' During a news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the outbreaks now occurring in long-term care homes in Ontario and across the country are "tragic." "Our parents and grandparents built this country. They raised us. And they deserve so much better," he said. "It is vital that we continue to get vaccines to vulnerable people as quickly as we can. And that's exactly what we're focused on. But remember – no one is invincible. Even if you're young and healthy, this virus can be very dangerous. And that's why we all have to keep doing our part." Trudeau said that while vaccines are rolling out across the country, Canadians must reduce their in-person contacts. "For the moment, that's the only way to get these numbers down," he said. "Since yesterday, Ontario is now under a stay-at-home order. This is the kind of tough but necessary decision that provincial governments are having to make." PHAC said COVID-19-related deaths are steadily rising and may soon exceed levels seen during the first peak. Calling the new modelling "alarming," NDP health critic Don Davies called for stronger federal measures to reduce the spread of the virus. "The numbers released today paint a very sobering picture," he said. "COVID-19 is claiming the lives of 145 Canadians every single day and the situation is getting worse. Clearly, what we've been doing isn't working. PHAC's forecast shows that a stronger response is necessary to slow the alarming spread of COVID-19."
A Scottish court rejected on Friday an appeal to overturn the conviction of a now-deceased Libyan man found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing which killed 270 people. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, an intelligence officer who died in 2012, was jailed for life in 2001 for the murder of 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 residents of the Scottish town in the deadliest militant attack in British history. "The bombing of Pan Am 103 is, to this day, the deadliest terrorist attack on UK soil and the largest homicide case Scotland's prosecutors have ever encountered in terms of scale and of complexity," said Lord Advocate James Wolffe, Scotland's chief legal officer.
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on companies in Iran, China and the United Arab Emirates for doing business with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and on three Iranian entities over conventional arms proliferation. They are the latest in a series of measures aimed at stepping up pressure on Tehran in the waning days of President Donald Trump's administration, which ends on Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had sanctioned seven companies, including Chinese-based Jiangyin Mascot Special Steel Co and UAE-based Accenture Building Materials, and two people for shipping steel to or from Iran.
Amazon Inc's cloud computing division opened its first office in Greece on Friday to support what it said was a growing number of companies and public sector agencies using its cloud services. The move by Amazon Web Services (AWS) comes as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's conservative government has stepped up efforts to attract foreign investment and draw high tech companies to Greece. "We have seen increased customer adoption of AWS in the country and decided to open an office in Athens to better support new customers," Przemek Szuder, the head of AWS operations in central and eastern Europe said in a statement.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
The Township of Perry held a special meeting on Jan. 13 to address the use of the outdoor rinks and parks during the provincial stay-at-home order. While the outdoor rinks could remain open under increased restrictions, the township decided to close both rinks as well as the parks. “We understand with the order we could have (the rinks) open but the spirit of the (resolution) was stay at home,” said Beth Morton, clerk-administrator for the township. Ontario announced on Jan. 12 the province would head into another state of emergency as of 12:01 a.m. Jan. 13. The province is further restricting the limit of outdoor gatherings from 10 people to a maximum of five with limited exceptions. The wearing of masks or face coverings is now recommended for the outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres. Prior to the Jan. 12 announcement, people could use outdoor rinks during the provincewide lockdown with guidelines in place for a maximum of 10 people, wearing a face mask or covering, no hockey and maintaining two-metres distancing. However, Morton said people weren’t adhering to the previous guidelines. “We’re having a lot of increased enforcement,” she said, which is why council decided to close the rinks and parks. “People aren’t willing to wear masks, they’re not willing to follow restrictions and guidelines that are in place, and so we’ve had no alternative but to close (the rinks).” The resolution comes into effect on Jan. 14. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Russia announced on Friday it was pulling out of the Open Skies treaty, saying that the pact, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, had been seriously compromised by the withdrawal of the United States. The move, announced by Russia's foreign ministry, comes days before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration amid fears of a burgeoning arms race. Moscow's last major nuclear arms pact with Washington is set to expire next month.
Une seconde procédure de destitution de Donald Trump vient d’être déclenchée. Si les démocrates sont partis confiants, son succès est en réalité compromis par la posture des élus républicains.
Three Innu men from Quebec were fined on Jan. 7 after being found guilty of illegally hunting caribou in Labrador in 2015. The three men, Roger Mark, Jacques Mark and Jean-Phillipe Vollant, were found guilty of violating the Wildlife Act and fined $1,000 each. Vollant was also found guilty of obstructing a wildlife officer and fined $200. Prosecutor Jim Clarke had asked Judge Kari Ann Pike to impose penalties on the lower end of the range because the three men co-operated with the wildlife officers. “It was non-confrontational is what I’d suggest and that is why the Crown is leaning towards the lower end of those scales and recommending the court impose minimum fines,” he told the court at the sentencing hearing. The incident that lead to the charges happened on Oct. 25, 2015. The Fish and Wildlife enforcement division in Happy Valley-Goose Bay received a complaint that three men were illegally hunting caribou in the Birchy Lake area. Four officers were sent out to do a helicopter patrol of the area and saw a tent set up near the edge of Birchy Lake. They landed, went to the campsite and found the Mark brothers there, with Vollant offshore in a canoe. When asked to come ashore by the officers, he initially refused before complying. That refusal is what led to his obstruction charge. The officers seized hunting gear, a rifle, a shotgun, and meat and animal parts at the campsite. The meat was sent to Trent University to be identified and it was verified to be caribou. A report entered into evidence verified that the camp location and hunt was within the range of the Mealy Mountain population, which are listed as endangered. During the sentencing, defence lawyer Francois Levesque said the men, who have hunted caribou since they were children, had acted respectfully to the caribou, which the Innu have traditionally hunted for generations. “It was a very respectful manner of doing the infraction, if I may put it that way,” Levesque said. “It’s not the worst case we’ve seen of poaching, if I can put it like that. Of course, the remaining fact is that caribou is endangered. Whether it is Red Wine caribou, George River caribou, it was endangered.” Pike said it was an aggravating factor that the men had planned the trip knowing they were not allowed to hunt caribou in the area, but there were also a number of mitigating factors. There was no indication the hunt was for anything but subsistence, she said, and on land the Innu have traditionally used for that purpose for a long time.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
A house fire in Burk’s Falls closed Highway 520 in both directions on Thursday, Jan. 14 while region fire departments responded to the call. The fire started at approximately 11 a.m., according to Burk’s Falls fire Chief Dave McNay. As of 1:41 p.m., asked if the fire was under control, McNay replied that operations had not given that information nor the cause of the fire. At 4:19 p.m., the Ministry of Transportation announced the highway had reopened to traffic. “I can’t tell you much until we get inside to investigate,” McNay said, adding that there were five fire departments on the scene. “I’m appreciative of our neighbours’ support.” There were two people living inside of the house and both were home at the time of the fire. Paul Watson lived there with his roommate and said it all happened so fast. “My buddy was lying down in his room watching TV and I saw the smoke coming from downstairs,” said Watson. “I went to check it out — it was in the room by the furnace room, it was in the floor already and up above — it caught fast.” “By the time I got upstairs again, you couldn’t even see in the house because of the smoke.” Behind Watson, the house was still smouldering, but he said that he and his roommate were OK. “We lost our cat, I think,” he said, sadly. “We had her for three or four years.” Asked if he had a place to stay for the night, Watson replied that they were still trying to figure that out and had been in contact with a crisis management service. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Firefighter Morrison was able to break a path through the ice out to the dog while safely secured by ropes. Just before he got to the dog, it gave out a crying type howl and as soon as he grabbed it, it went completely limp from exhaustion. Video credit Alpena City Firefighters