WASHINGTON — The patter of paws is being heard in the White House again following the arrival of President Joe Biden's dogs Champ and Major. The two German shepherds are the first pets to live at the executive mansion since the Obama administration. Major burst onto the national scene late last year after Biden, then president-elect, broke his right foot while playing with the dog at their home in Wilmington, Delaware. The Bidens adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association. Champ joined the family after the 2008 presidential election that made Joe Biden vice-president. The dogs moved into the White House on Sunday, following Biden's inauguration last week. “The first family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware,” said Michael LaRosa, spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden. “Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace and Major loved running around on the South Lawn.” The dogs were heard barking outside near the Oval Office on Monday as Biden signed an executive order lifting the previous administration's ban on transgender people serving in the military. Last week, the Delaware Humane Association cosponsored an “indoguration” virtual fundraiser to celebrate Major's journey from shelter pup to first dog. More than $200,000 was raised. Major is the first shelter dog to ever live in the White House and “barking proof that every dog can live the American dream," the association said. The Bidens had promised to bring the dogs with them to the White House. They plan to add a cat, though no update on the feline's arrival was shared on Monday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki predicted, while on video answering questions from members of the public, that the cat will “dominate the internet” when it arrives. Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, a self-described germaphobe, does not own any pets and had none with him at the White House. Just like they do for ordinary people, pets owned by the most powerful people in the world provide their owners with comfort, entertainment, occasional drama and generally good PR. “Pets have played an important role in the White House throughout the decades, not only by providing companionship to the presidents and their families, but also by humanizing and softening their political images,” said Jennifer Pickens, author of a book about pets at the White House. Pets also serve as ambassadors to the White House, she said. Pickens added that she hoped the Bidens' decision to bring a rescue dog to the White House might inspire others to adopt. President Theodore Roosevelt had Skip, who is described by the White House Historical Association as a “short-legged Black and Tan mongrel terrier brought home from a Colorado bear hunt.” Warren G. Harding had Laddie Boy, who sat in on meetings and had his own Cabinet chair. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his beloved terrier Fala. At night, Fala slept in a special chair at the foot of the president’s bed. More recently, George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel Millie was featured on “The Simpsons” and starred in a bestseller, “Millie’s Book: As dictated to Barbara Bush.” Hillary Clinton followed Bush’s lead with a children’s book about family dog Buddy and cat Socks: “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets.” When he declared victory in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama told his daughters: “You have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” Several months later, Bo joined the family, a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy. A few years later, fellow Portuguese water dog Sunny arrived. Among the stranger White House pets was Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Coolidge’s raccoon Rebecca. She was given to the Coolidge family by a supporter who suggested the raccoon be served for Thanksgiving dinner, according to the White House Historical Association. But instead she got an embroidered collar with the title “White House Raccoon” and entertained children at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Some notable pets belonged to first kids, including Amy Carter’s Siamese cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, and Caroline Kennedy’s pony Macaroni. The Kennedy family had a veritable menagerie, complete with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters and a rabbit named Zsa Zsa. President Harry Truman famously said that “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog” — and many successors have followed Truman's advice. The first President Bush once said, “There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog to help you get through the rough spots.” ___ Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report. Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump's former chief spokeswoman, announced she's running for Arkansas governor at a time other Republicans are distancing themselves from the former president facing an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. But the former White House press secretary, who left the job in 2019 to return to her home state, ran the other direction with an announcement Monday that embraced Trump as much as his rhetoric. “With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defence,” Sanders said in a nearly eight-minute video announcing her 2022 bid that prominently featured pictures of the president as well as some of his favourite targets. Trump, who publicly encouraged Sanders to run, wasted no time putting his seal of approval on her bid. The former president on Monday night backed Sanders' candidacy — his first official, public endorsement since leaving office — and called her a “warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct." The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders is the most high-profile Trump official to seek major office and is doing so less than a week after the tumultuous end of his presidency. Her candidacy could showcase just how much of a hold Trump still has on the GOP. “Trump is simply not a liability here,” said Janine Parry, a political scientist at the University of Arkansas. “At least for the time being, we’re in a state where he remains an asset.” That’s even as the Senate is preparing for an impeachment trial over the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters that was aimed at halting the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked the president last week, saying he “provoked” the siege. Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters days before Biden’s inauguration he wanted Trump’s administration to end, though he also opposed the president’s impeachment. Sanders’ announcement makes a brief reference to the Capitol siege that left five dead, equating it with violence that occurred at some protests last year over racial injustice and the 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball practice that injured U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and four others. “This is not who we are as Americans,” Sanders said in the video, but not mentioning Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters who stormed the Capitol. She joins a Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The three are running to succeed Hutchinson, who is unable to run next year due to term limits. No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat. Griffin and Rutledge had already spent months positioning themselves ahead of Sanders’ entry by lining up endorsements, raising money and trying to stake their claims as the most conservative candidate. Griffin has called for the outright elimination of the state’s income tax, while Rutledge signed on to Texas’ ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the result of the presidential election. Following the riot, Griffin and Rutledge issued statements condemning the storming of the Capitol but not addressing Trump’s role in stirring up his backers. Combined, the two have raised more than $2.8 million for the race. Griffin on Monday criticized Sanders for promising in her video to cut off funding to so-called sanctuary cities that violate immigration laws. He noted a 2019 measure Hutchinson signed into law already does just that by cutting off funding to cities that don’t co-operate with immigration authorities. “It sounds like she needs to catch up on what’s been going on in Arkansas,” Griffin said in a statement. Rutledge, meanwhile, said in a statement the race was about “who has a proven record and not merely rhetoric.” The race could also get even more crowded. Republican State Sen. Jim Hendren, a nephew of Hutchinson’s, is considering a run for the seat and said he hoped to make a decision within the next three weeks. “Right now we have three announced candidates but they all do represent the far right part of the Republican Party,” said Hendren, who has been much more willing to criticize Trump and hasn’t ruled out an independent bid. “The question I have to decide is, is there room for a more pragmatic, centrist type of approach?” Sanders was already well known in Arkansas politics, going back to when she appeared in ads for her father’s campaign. She managed Sen. John Boozman’s 2010 election and worked as an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton’s in 2014. During Sanders’ nearly two-year tenure at the White House, daily televised briefings led by the press secretary ended after Sanders repeatedly sparred with reporters who aggressively questioned her. She faced questions about her credibility, but she also earned reporters’ respect working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media. She remains an unknown on many issues and wasn’t made available for interviews Monday, though she staked out some positions in her introductory video that include reducing the state’s income tax. Her introductory video indicates she’s leaning more on her time with Trump, with it featuring images of or calling out those who frequently drew his ire including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and CNN. Republicans hold a firm grip on Arkansas, with the GOP holding all statewide and federal seats. They also hold a majority in both chambers of the Legislature. Trump in November won the state by nearly 28 percentage points, one of the biggest margins in his ultimate loss to Biden. State Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray on Monday called the GOP primary a “race to the bottom.” But national party leaders indicated Sanders’ candidacy may draw more resources and attention to a long-shot race that will coincide with 2022 congressional midterm elections. “As we close the book on a dark chapter in our history, we must make sure Trump’s brand of politics stays in the past," Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison tweeted. “Now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is running on his record." Hutchinson, who has remained generally popular since taking office in 2015, said he didn't plan on endorsing anyone at this time in the race. “I am a voter, so I will follow the campaign with interest, but I have a job to do for the next two years, and I will devote my energies to bring Arkansas out of the pandemic and to revitalize our economy," he said in a statement. ___ Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta's police watchdog says an RCMP officer has been charged in a sexual assault of a woman in Edmonton. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team says in a news release that it was directed to investigate the alleged assault last February. It says Cpl. Kire Kondoski and the woman had been involved in a relationship. The investigation found they were alone at the woman's home sometime between July 30 and Sept. 3, 2018, while Kondoski was off duty. It alleges Kondoski seriously sexually assaulted her when she asked him to leave after trying to end the relationship. ASIRT says the evidence gathered provided reasonable grounds that an offence had been committed and it was forwarded to the Crown's office. "Having received and reviewed the Crown opinion, and having carefully examined the evidence obtained in the investigation, ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson ... made the determination that the officer should be charged," said the news release Monday. It said Kondoski was arrested Friday and charged with one count of sexual assault. He was released on bail and is to be back in Edmonton provincial court on March 4. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
She’s had Dex since he could fit in her hand. As a puppy, Dex had an overbite that made nursing impossible. So Cindi Ilchuk adopted and hand fed the dog until he was able to eat. Now he’s 10 years old, 65 pounds, and the two are inseparable. “Dex is a support dog. He’s not an officially trained support dog, but he fell into the job and he’s filled the role wonderfully,” said Ilchuk’s stepfather Wayne Pierce. “That dog is everything to Cindi. I don’t know what she’d do without him. He’s the one constant in her life.” On Jan. 17, Dex broke his paw in the panic that ensued when a fire engulfed the hallway at Ilchuk’s apartment — the Town Park Apartment C block fire that has displaced everyone who lived in the 15 units. RELATED: ‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months RELATED: Fundraiser started for tenants left hanging after apartment fire In the panic of the fire, Ilchuck slid down the drain pipe to escape the fire and smoke in the hallway. A friend tried to pass Dex down to her. She half-caught, half-broke the dog’s fall, but he landed on one paw breaking it badly. “Everyone heard him yelp when that happened,” Pierce said. If the break had been a few inches higher, a simple cast could have been used. But the paw was broken at a joint, and requires surgery. Dex has been at the North Island Veterinarian Hospital since the fire and is getting anxious for Ilchuk, staff told Pierce. Pierce will take Dex to Campbell River Veterinarian Hospital for surgery on Jan. 25, but isn’t sure how their family will cover the $4,000 bill, plus over $1,000 due to the North Island Veterinarian Hospital. Ilchuk is on disability income for a variety of health challenges, and now faces the imminent challenge of finding new housing. She has been living in Town Park Apartment C-block in Port Hardy for just over a year — the longest home Pierce can remember in the last 20 years. Ilchuk’s mother Ann Ilchuk has started a GoFundMe account to raise funds towards the surgery costs: https://gofund.me/70f1ef35. Staff at both veterinarian hospitals will also accept payments to Dex’s account. RCMP consider the fire suspicious and are investigating. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
A report on the impact of COVID-19 on B.C.'s long term care homes calls for greater government oversight of a sector that contains both privately run businesses and homes operated by health authorities. The firm Ernst & Young was hired to put the report together in the summer of 2020. Although the report notes that B.C.'s long term care homes have weathered the storm of the pandemic better than in many other jurisdictions, it makes 14 short-term and five long-term recommendations for a sector that has seen a much higher death rate overall than in the general public. The report found that policy directives could be "confusing, inconsistent, or lacking in detail" and that a "lack of clarity on oversight and access to supplies in unique circumstances" left private operators scrambling to find the personal protective equipment that was in low supply at the start if the pandemic. Among the recommendations are a call for a way to ensure that short term decisions can be made while ensuring accountability up the chain of ministerial command, the need for clearly outlined policies to provide financial support to operators, improved pandemic response communication and the need for better data collection. A need to 'assess and incorporate lessons' The report praises a decision restricting care home employees to working at a single site only and says the government needs to focus audits of homes on pandemic control and outbreak preparedness. The report also says B.C. needs to address critical staff shortages and high turnover rates in the sector. "B.C.'s health system needs to assess and incorporate lessons learned as we prepare for additional pressure on health services over the fall and winter months," the report says. "B.C. has been actively responding to COVID-19, but it is important to comprehensively evaluate how these lessons learned should be implemented in a consistent, equitable and timely manner. The report focuses on how COVID-19 outbreaks were handled at care homes, and how the virus was able to spread at different facilities. In B.C., roughly two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths are linked to long-term care homes. Questions over why report wasn't released sooner Participating organizations have voiced their concern about why the Ministry of Health did not make the independent report public earlier, as B.C. deals with a second wave of COVID-19 infections. "We were approached back in July," said SafeCareBC CEO Jennifer Lyle. The report has been complete since October. Shirley Bond, interim leader of the B.C. Liberal Party as well as the critic for seniors services and long term care, said transparency is critical. "If a government can sit on a report for three months when we're losing lives in long-term care and if any single one of these recommendations could improve the circumstances of people who live in long-term care, of course it should have been made public," said Bond on CBC's On The Coast. "There should have been more transparency and if the government had done all the work it said it needed to do, it shouldn't have been worried about releasing the report." 'I apologize': Health Minister Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday that the report was not released earlier because people working in the area of expertise are "working their guts out." He said he only learned about the report 10 days ago, but took responsibility for the delayed release. "The report should have been released earlier," Dix said. "I apologize. In terms of frustrations people may feel about that, put it in context. When you read the report you'll see action has been taken on that." The report was commissioned by the Health Services Division of the ministry. Dix, speaking Monday on CBC's The Early Edition, said the government had the report in the fall and did not release it earlier because "people were incredibly busy." "They got the report and they took it and they started to make the changes that were required ... it was about due diligence," said Dix. He said the ministry takes responsibility for not releasing it sooner. Rapid testing concerns Terry Lake, CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association and a former health minister with the B.C. Liberal Party, said interviews for the report were done with the board chair, the acting CEO at the time, and long-term care home operators that are members of the association. He said their biggest concerns were about a lack of rapid testing being done on people working at long-term care facilities. "We don't need to test every worker, only those that are not vaccinated ... I think it would be an effective way to make sure that asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic workers are not coming in and starting an outbreak," Lake said Monday on The Early Edition. B.C.'s seniors' advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, said in January that her office, too, is reviewing care homes. That report is expected to include facilities that experienced major, fatal outbreaks such as Little Mountain Place in Vancouver, Tabor Village in Abbotsford, Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver and Langley Lodge.
The office vacancy rate in downtown Calgary is sitting at just a notch below 27 per cent and is on track to reach an unprecedented 30 per cent within the next year to two years, according to a new market report released Monday. "It now appears that Calgary's downtown will cross into unseen territory for a modern, major office market in Canada within the next 12-24 months," says the Avison Young Calgary Office Market Report for the fourth quarter of 2020. The report says that because of the combined impact of Alberta's economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of space put back into the leasing market in 2020 was higher than anticipated. Avison Young predicts that Calgary's "struggling and evolving" energy sector will continue to result in downtown office space becoming surplus to companies' needs in the coming year. In particular, it is expected that the recent merger of Husky with Cenovus will result in roughly 2,150 job losses — a 25 per cent reduction of the reformed company's 8,600-person workforce, the report says. Cuts of that magnitude could correlate to approximately 322,000 to 537,000 square feet of space no longer being required, given an average office density of between 150 to 250 square feet per employee. 'This is new peak vacancy' Avison Young notes that, before the merger, Husky occupied approximately 600,000 square feet in the north tower of Western Canadian Place in the west end of the downtown core. At the close of 2020, downtown Calgary's office vacancy rate was 26.9 per cent. That's up from 25. 7 per cent in the third quarter. "This is a new peak vacancy for Calgary's downtown office market," the report said. Out of 170 office buildings currently tracked by Avison Young in downtown Calgary, four are completely empty. The most significant of the four is at 801 Seventh Ave. S.W. — formerly known as the Nexen building — which emptied out when Nexen moved all of its employees to The Bow building last year. It offers prospective tenants approximately 600,000 square feet of office space. The other three totally empty buildings are: Lougheed Building — 604 First St. S.W. SNC Lavalin Centre — 909 Fifth Ave. S.W. Eau Claire Place 1 — 525 Third Ave. S.W. An additional seven buildings are more than 75 per cent vacant, Avison Young says. Those properties are: 4th and 4th — 435 Fourth Ave. S.W. Aquitaine Tower — 540 Fifth Ave. S.W. Canadian Centre — 833 Fourth Ave. S.W. Dominium Centre — 665 Eighth St. S.W. Panarctic Plaza — 815 Eighth Ave. S.W. 1000 Eighth —1000 Eighth Ave. S.W. 1019 Seventh Ave. S.W. The former Chamber of Commerce building at 100 Sixth Ave. S.W. was listed in February 2020 as entirely vacant. However, last fall, SAIT announced that its new School for Advanced Digital Technology (SADT) would move later in 2021 into the historic red brick and sandstone building, built in 1912 as the Odd Fellows Temple. The new school was made possible by a $30-million donation to SAIT from Calgary businessman and philanthropist David Bissett. There are 16 properties in the core with more than 100,000 square feet of contiguous space up for lease. These blocks of space account for a quarter of the overall availability in the city's downtown. The report says the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many businesses to reassess their space requirements as employees were forced to work remotely. "It is still unknown what the net result on tenant demand for space will be as a result of COVID-19 as we have seen a variety of approaches. There are companies permanently adopting work-from-home policies putting downward pressure on demand, while other companies are prioritizing work in the office and are being creative with how they use space for increased social distancing and/or meeting spaces," the report said. "It will take a few years for these decisions to fully play out in the market." Citywide, more than 400,000 square feet of space went back onto the market in the last quarter of 2020 — the most in a quarter since 2016. The overall office vacancy rate in Calgary's office market reached a record high 24.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020. There are 16 empty office buildings in the city, four of them in the downtown core, three in the Beltline and nine in the suburban areas.
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — Bertha Higgs, the mother of New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, passed away Monday at the age of 100. The news was made public on Twitter by Higgs's chief of staff, Louis Leger. Mrs. Higgs celebrated her 100th birthday on Dec. 31, 2020, at her home in Forest City, N.B., close to the border with Maine. The premier has said his mother was a school teacher and that up until Grade 6, his teachers were either his mother or his aunt. Higgs has said his mother was very inquisitive and would always ask him about what was happening in the province. Details on funeral arrangements will be forthcoming. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
B.C. health officials say they are extending the gap between shots to 42 days from 35 after learning fewer doses are on their way. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is at a critical juncture.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts made it official Monday: quarterbacks coach and former CFLer Marcus Brady has been promoted to offensive co-ordinator. He will become the NFL's third Black offensive co-ordinator, replacing Nick Sirianni who took the Philadelphia Eagles head coaching job last week. The other two Black offensive co-ordinators are Kansas City's Eric Bieniemy and Tampa Bay's Byron Leftwich. Those two teams will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. Brady had been the Colts quarterbacks coach each of the past two seasons after serving as Indy’s assistant quarterbacks coach in 2018. He spent the previous 16 seasons in the CFL — the first seven as a quarterback with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Toronto and Montreal, the last nine as a coach and six of those as the offensive co-ordinator with the Alouettes or Argonauts. Brady was part of Grey Cup championship teams in 2009 and 2010 with Montreal and 2017 with Toronto. It's been a busy couple of weeks since the Colts were eliminated in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo and starting quarterback Philip Rivers announced they were retiring. Then came the Sirianni announcement. And things could get even busier for Colts coach Frank Reich this week. NFL Network reported Sirianni plans to hire Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon as his new defensive co-ordinator and Indy's passing game specialist, Kevin Patullo, to serve in a similar capacity with the Eagles. Gannon started his coaching career as a student assistant at Louisville then followed Bobby Petrino to the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. Gannon joined the St. Louis Rams as a college scout in 2009 and worked for them as a pro scout in 2010 and 2011 before leaving for Tennessee. After a brief stop with the Titans, he spent four seasons on the Minnesota Vikings staff before he was hired by the Colts in 2018. Patullo, a New Jersey native, spent his first two seasons in Indy as the receivers coach. He's also worked with the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets since starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant for South Florida in 2003. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL The Associated Press
A Timmins singer is “thrilled” to win third place in a national singing competition. Maggie Gignac, who was raised in Gogama, made it to the Top 3 at the virtual KI's Our Voices 2021 competition. “I was thrilled when I found out I’d placed in third,” she said. “I spent the day and evening before announcements convincing myself that I’d be placed in third and that’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t have been any happier. I just had this gut feeling.” The virtual competition kicked off Jan. 19 with the final results announced Jan. 24. Before the pandemic, the singing competition took place at Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, also known as Big Trout Lake. Gignac is not new to this contest. This is her third time competing and each time she has climbed up in ranking. Last year, she won fourth place. “I’m really happy with the way things played out and grateful to have been a part of the experience for the third time,” she said. “It’s a really great competition run solo by a man with a passion for music, so a huge thank you to Noah Chapman for continuously putting on these amazing shows.” There were about 45 participants this year who were split into two groups. Gignac had to submit four videos of her singing plus an audition video and a showcase video. The scoring criteria were based on five categories such as audience likes, vocal talent, originality, stage presence and overall impression/preparedness. For each category, a contestant could receive a maximum of 10 points. “The contestant with the most likes receives 10/10, the second most likes 9/10 and so on,” Gignac said. “In that category, I received 4/10, even after accumulating 700 plus likes on my videos, for both of my top ten performances. So I’m really proud to say with what I lacked, I made up in other categories to have climbed up to the third place.” For Gignac, the challenge this year was the number of well-known singers and their big fanbase. “The Facebook group grew from around 22,000 to over 29,000 within those few days of competition,” she said. “Unfortunately, in the virtual competition, likes play a role in your final scoring, giving well-known artists a bit of an advantage.” The top 10 winners also received cash prizes. For third place, Gignac won $3,000. “With all the uncertainties during this pandemic, I’m sure the cash prizes are most definitely going to help some people out greatly,” Gignac said. Gignac’s work can be viewed on her Facebook page and Instagram. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
POMPEII, Italy — Decades after suffering bombing and earthquake damage, Pompeii’s museum has been reborn, showing off exquisite finds from excavations of the ancient Roman city. Officials of the archeological park of the ruins of the city destroyed in 79 A.D. by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius inaugurated the museum on Monday. Known as the Antiquarium, the museum gives Pompeii a permanent exhibition space. Visitors can see sections of frescoed walls from the sprawling city's unearthed villas, examples of some of the graffiti unearthed by archaeologists as well as household objects ranging from silver spoons to a bronze food-warmer, items of the everyday life that was snuffed out by the volcanic explosion. First opened in about 1873, the Antiquarium was damaged by bombing during World War II and again in 1980, when a deadly earthquake rocked the Naples area. Since the quake, the museum had been closed, although it was reopened in 2016 as a space for temporary exhibitions. The Antiquarium's displays also document Pompeii's history as a settlement several centuries before it became a flourishing Roman city. Due to Italy's COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions, currently only visitors from Italy's Campania region, which includes the Naples area and the Pompeii ruins, can see the museum. Pompeii is one of Italy's top tourist attractions, and when mass tourism eventually resumes, entrance tickets to the ruins will also include a visit to the Antiquarium. The re-opening of the museum after so many decades of travail is “a sign of great hope during a very difficult moment,” Pompeii's long time director, Massimo Osanna, said. He was referring to the harsh blow that the pandemic's travel restrictions have dealt to tourism, one of Italy's biggest revenue sources. On display in the last room of the museum are poignant casts made from the remains of some of Pompeii's residents who tried to flee but were overcome by blasts of volcanic gases or battered by a rain of lava stones ejected by Vesuvius. “I find particularly touching the last room, the one dedicated to the eruption, and where on display are the objects deformed by the heat of the eruption, the casts of the victims, the casts of the animals," Osanna said. “Really, one touches with one's hand the incredible drama that the 79 A.D. eruption was.” Large swaths of Pompeii remain to be excavated. While tourism virtually ground to a halt during the pandemic, archaeologists have kept working. Just a month ago, Osanna revealed the discovery of an ancient fast-food eatery at Pompeii. Completely excavated, the find helped to reveal dishes popular with the citizens of the ancient city who apparently were partial to eating out, including what was on the menu the day that Pompeii was destroyed. —- D'Emilio reported from Rome. Andrea Rosa,Frances D'Emilio, The Associated Press
Le procès des accusés Christopher Sehota Paquet et Ko Prakongkham, en lien avec l’agression d’Aline Bouchard Caron, gravement blessée dans la nuit du 23 au 24 octobre 2017, à Tadoussac, s’est poursuivi du 18 au 22 janvier au palais de justice de Baie-Comeau. « Durant cette semaine, nous en étions à ce qu’on appelle les voir-dire. Il s’agit d’une procédure de la Couronne afin de rendre admissible en preuve les déclarations faites aux policiers par les accusés », explique le procureur de la Couronne attitré au dossier, Me Alex Turcotte. À la suite de la procédure, le juge Rousseau a accepté l’admissibilité en preuve de la déclaration vidéo d’un des accusés. « Je suis satisfait de la décision du juge. Il aura tout ce qu’il faut pour prendre la bonne décision », mentionne Me Turcotte. Les 3, 4 et 5 février seront les dernières journées du procès. « De notre côté, la preuve va être complète », confirme le procureur. Quant à la défense, elle devra choisir de faire témoigner les accusés ou non. Par la suite s’enclencheront les plaidoiries des avocats. Le verdict pourrait être rendu plus tard au courant de l’année tout comme la sentence imposée, le cas échéant. Rappelons que les deux hommes sont accusés de voies de faits graves, séquestration et introduction par effraction et qu’ils ont été arrêtés plus d’un an après le crime, soit en juillet 2019. La première partie de leur procès s’était déroulée du 16 au 20 novembre.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte will formally tell his wobbly coalition government on Tuesday that he intends to offer his resignation, his office said Monday. Conte survived two confidence votes in Parliament last week but crucially lost his absolute majority in the Senate with the defection of a centrist ally, ex-Premier Matteo Renzi. That hobbled his government's effectiveness in the middle of the pandemic. Conte's office said Monday night that the premier will inform his Cabinet at a meeting Tuesday morning of his “will to go to the Quirinale (presidential palace) to hand in his resignation." Then Conte intends to head to the palace to meet with President Sergio Mattarella, who, as head of state, can accept the resignation, possibly asking the premier to try to form a more solid coalition that can command a majority in Parliament. Mattarella could also reject the offer. But he has frequently stressed the need for the nation to have solid leadership as it struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, with its devastating effects on Italy's long-stagnant economy. After consultations, the president could also accept the resignation and tap someone else to try to form a government. If no one can forge a more viable, dependable coalition, Mattarella has the option of dissolving Parliament, setting the stage for elections two years early. Conte has led a long-bickering centre-left coalition for 16 months. Before that, for 15 months, he headed a government still with the populist 5-Star Movement, Parliament's largest party, but in coalition with the right-wing League party of Matteo Salvini. That first government collapsed when Salvini yanked his support in a failed bid to win the premiership for himself. The Associated Press
La Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) diffuse à partir de maintenant des messages pour sensibiliser tous les usagers de la route à l’importance d’adapter leur conduite pendant la saison hivernale, et ce, peu importe les conditions météorologiques et routières. Cette campagne publicitaire s’échelonnera jusqu’au 28 février. «En hiver, les conditions météorologiques et routières peuvent réserver des surprises aux conducteurs. Lorsqu’il fait beau, les conducteurs ont parfois tendance à rouler plus vite et à augmenter ainsi les risques d’accident. La prudence est donc de mise en tout temps. Adapter sa conduite et respecter les règles de circulation sont les meilleurs moyens de réduire les risques d’accident», souligne François Bonnardel. Précisons qu’en 2019, au cours des mois de janvier à mars et en décembre, 11 166 personnes ont été victimes d’accidents. Dans cette optique, la SAAQ invite chacun des usagers de la route à : Ajoutons que lorsqu’il y a une bordée de neige, les conducteurs, piétons et cyclistes sont invités à être particulièrement attentifs, prudents et patients près des véhicules de déneigement. Ces derniers peuvent présenter un danger, notamment en raison de l’importance de leurs angles morts et du fait qu’ils doivent avancer et reculer souvent pour faire leur travail. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. travellers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders. He also added South Africa to the list. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said South Africa was added to the restricted list because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation. “This isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” Psaki said. The prohibition Biden is reinstating suspends entry to nearly all foreign nationals who have been in any of the countries on the restricted list at any point during the 14 days before their scheduled travel to the U.S. The new requirements go into effect on Tuesday. Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called Biden's decision to reinstate the travel restrictions—and add South Africa to the list— “prudent” in a round of television interviews Monday. “We have concern about the mutation that’s in South Africa," Fauci told "CBS This Morning." "We’re looking at it very actively. It is clearly a different and more ominous than the one in the U.K., and I think it’s very prudent to restrict travel of noncitizens.” Biden revered an order from President Donald Trump in his final days in office that called for the relaxation of the travel restrictions as of Tuesday. Trump's move was made in conjunction with a new requirement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all international travellers to the U.S. obtain a negative test for COVID-19 within three days of boarding their flight. Last week, Biden expanded on the CDC requirement and directed that federal agencies require international travellers to quarantine upon arrival in the U.S. and obtain another negative test to slow the spread of the virus. Those requirements also go into effect Tuesday. The 26 European countries impacted by reinstatement of the ban are part of the border-free Schengen zone. They include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Biden's team had announced that he would reimpose the travel restrictions, but the addition of South Africa to the restricted travel list highlights the new administration’s concern about mutations in the virus. The South Africa variant has not been discovered in the United States, but another variant — originating in the United Kingdom — has been detected in several states. Fauci said there is “a very slight, modest diminution” of the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against those variants but “there’s enough cushion with the vaccines that we have that we still consider them to be effective against both the UK strain and the South Africa strain.” But he warned that more mutations are possible and said scientists are preparing to adapt the vaccines if necessary. “We really need to make sure that we begin, and we already have, to prepare if it’s necessary to upgrade the vaccines,” Fauci said. “We’re already taking steps in that direction despite the fact that the vaccines we have now do work.” Aamer Madhani And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
After being delayed by COVID-19 in 2020, Sundridge is expected to be able to rehabilitate one of its high-volume streets this year. Mayor Lyle Hall says Mill Street is a relatively small street compared to other routes in town, but it sees a lot of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. A staff report shows Mill Street experiences washouts, has poor drainage, it heaves in places and is dotted with potholes. The village has budgeted $420,000 for the work, but Hall points out the actual cost is not yet known because the request for proposals is still to be issued. In addition, Hall has asked staff to investigate the cost of adding a sidewalk to Mill Street. The mayor says Sundridge has been fortunate over the past few years by being able to increase its reserves, meaning it can pay cash for some of the projects like Mill Street, “so we don't have to wait for the government to come through on funding.” Hall says the village's reserves are “north of $1 million, which is pretty good for a small municipality.” As well, Sundridge also can apply gas tax money to the Mill Street work. In addition to Mill Street being on council's radar, there are two other streets Hall and council would also like to see work done on this year. They are Anderson Street and the east side of Main Street. However, despite its healthy reserves, Sundridge has only so much money it can spend on road work. “The east end of Main and Anderson will take many millions of dollars of work and we don't have enough cash on our own,” the mayor admits. “If we don't get money from the federal or provincial governments, these projects won't go forward.” Hall says the engineering work for these streets was done last year. Meanwhile, the Mill Street project is one of several the community has planned for this year. “We also want to expand the parks system,” Hall says. “We have four places in town that are open spaces and one we're focusing on is on Edgar Street. It's not particularly attractive now.” But Hall says it will be once the work is done. When complete, he says the park will have walking trails, a metal swing set, a picnic area and basketball court. “For years, we've been concerned about our young people who don't have a place to go or play,” Hall concedes. “It used to be road hockey and now it's basketball on the streets.” Hall says the village has been putting money away for this project for years, and the cost falls in the $142,000-to-$145,500 range. “This is going to be a beautiful addition to our town,” he says. “It's challenging keeping our young people entertained. This is a positive direction for kids to use their energy and have some fun.” 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
More than two weeks after Canada implemented a rule that incoming airline passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the country still appears to be seeing some travel-related cases and the federal government is exploring ways to make it harder to go on trips. As more transmissible variants of the COVID virus emerge across the globe, experts say tightening the leaks around travel becomes even more important, and that the new testing requirements are not likely to catch all cases. COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of a more contagious variant. Colijn says clamping down on travel is her "top recommendation right now." "There's still a good chance that we can prevent — or at least really delay — large numbers of this high-transmission variant coming into Canada," she said. "And if we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then." Colijn says essential travel needs to be more clearly defined by leaders, and quarantine rules more strongly enforced once people arrive. More stringent restrictions on land border crossings and further limitations on travel within the country will also help, she adds. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians should cancel all upcoming non-essential trips they may have planned, other options the government is looking at include implementing a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. On Jan. 7, the government implemented a requirement that airline passengers entering Canada or flying domestically from city to city must show proof of a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before their flight. Colijn and other experts are hopeful this rule is catching a large number of positive COVID cases, but the 72-hour window — necessary to ensure people have enough time to get results back — also allows the virus more chances to wiggle through. In some cases, very small amounts of the virus, which could grow to infectious levels days later, aren't picked up in testing. Others cases could contract the virus between taking the test and boarding the plane. Dr. Christopher Mody, the head of the microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, says PCR tests offer "a snapshot in time," meaning the result is only valid on the day the test is taken. "A positive test means you're infected, but a negative test doesn't absolutely exclude infection," Mody said. A Government of Canada online database that keeps track of possible exposure on domestic and international flights shows that since Jan. 7, hundreds of planes have had at least one passenger on board who tested positive for the virus days after landing, and may have been contagious on their flight. Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, says while the negative test requirement is likely helping on a large scale, "it's gonna miss a few people for sure." "Clearly it isn't a perfect system, but there are also a number of people who have been rejected for flights based on their tests," he said. "This just isn't enough to say everyone coming into Canada is completely not infectious at the border." Some experts have suggested the use of rapid antigen tests at airports, either right before boarding or right after landing, as a potential way to ensure positive cases aren't travelling between countries or regions. Dr. Don Sin, a respirologist and UBC professor who's co-leading a rapid test pilot project with WestJet at Vancouver International Airport, says rapid testing could offer a measure of insurance — a second step to be used in addition to the PCR negative test requirement. Rapid antigen tests, which turn results around in 15 minutes, aren't as sensitive as the PCR nasal swab, Sin says, but they work very well in catching positive cases. "If you test positive on the antigen test, you'll test positive with a PCR," he said. "So I think the public can have confidence in the ability of these tests to accurately pick up those who are infectious." Experts say testing can only be part of the strategy to contain the spread of new cases though. The mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which Canada is still implementing, needs to be followed properly. Mody says people also need to understand that a negative test taken days before flying isn't a free pass to skip that isolation period. "We are in a very tenuous time with these variants," Mody said. "If there is community transmission of the variants, we will be in a very serious situation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A historic number of women are running in the Newfoundland and Labrador election, and party leaders are speaking out about the sexism and abuse some of them are facing on the campaign trail. During a campaign stop Monday in Labrador, Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said sexist and abusive behaviour toward candidates is "totally unacceptable." "I think we need to do better," Furey told reporters. "The government needs to do better, society needs to do better." Last week, Sarah Stoodley, Liberal incumbent for the Mount Scio district in St. John's, said she regularly receives disturbing emails from voters. She said she has lost about half a day so far during the campaign co-ordinating with police about the hateful correspondence. NDP Leader Alison Coffin has said repeatedly that she's subject to sexist comments online and within the provincial legislature. "It is grossly inappropriate, and I will not stand by it," she told reporters last week. Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis has said she received condescending questions about her age while campaigning — questions she said she doesn't feel male candidates her age would face. Tory Leader Ches Crosbie said Monday in an email that the behaviour faced by some female candidates constitutes sexist harassment and bullying. "It should not be tolerated by right-thinking people," Crosbie said. "I call on decent people to call out sexist harassment and bullying, wherever they see it. I denounce this behaviour in totality.” The deadline for candidate nominations closed Saturday. Of the 127 candidates who registered, 39 are women, two are non-binary and one identifies as a transgender woman. Equal Voice NL, a non-profit supporting women and gender-diverse candidates in provincial politics, says the number of women candidates this election is a record for Newfoundland and Labrador. Party leaders kicked off the second week of the campaign Monday spread out across the province, greeting voters and announcing policy. Furey promised his government would build an online portal to help connect entrepreneurs and innovators with investors. And John Hogan, the Liberal candidate running against Crosbie in the Windsor Lake district, called on the Tory leader to apologize for his party's past support of the troubled Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. The project, whose costs have ballooned from $7.4 billion to $13.1 billion, was championed by Danny Williams's Progressive Conservative government and by Kathy Dunderdale, Williams's successor, in 2012. In western Newfoundland, Progressive Conservative candidates promised to find a replacement for an aging long-term care facility in the area, and they committed to ensuring any publicly funded construction project prioritizes workers from the province. Meanwhile in St. John's, the NDP pledged to impose a $15-an-hour minimum wage across the province by the end of 2022. The provincial election is Feb. 13. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health has confirmed its first case of a new, more transmissible variant of COVID-19. Known as B.1.1.7, the variant was first detected in the United Kingdom, and subsequently Ontario, late in 2020. In a move to quickly contain any further cases, Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health at KFL&A Public Health is asking people to consider voluntary, asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 if they have, in the past 14 days: KFL&A Public Health says this asymptomatic testing initiative will be in place for a limited time, based on the outcomes and in consideration of the assessment centre and laboratory capacity. “We know that one in five individuals with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms but carry and transmit COVID-19,” said Dr. Moore. “With this new variant detected in our area, it is crucial that we alter our COVID-19 control strategies and recommend asymptomatic testing to those who have travelled or had visitors from outside our region to detect positive COVID-19 cases early and to isolate these cases to prevent rapid spread of the virus and outbreaks in our community.” Additionally, out of an abundance of caution KFL&A Public Health said they are recommending a more proactive approach to comprehensive and timely case and contact management to limit the spread of this variant with the following public health measures: “Please remain vigilant and continue to adhere to public health measures over the coming weeks and months as schools begin in-person learning,” Dr. Moore said. “The continued efforts of individuals and families to stay home, stay local, and to not travel unless for essential purposes will help keep the number of positive cases low in our area and help our community stay safe until vaccines are available to all,” he added. Public Health is also asking everyone to adhere to the following measures to keep COVID-19 from spreading in the region. Recently, public health officials confirmed that the new COVID-19 variant has been responsible for sickening nearly all the residents at a long-term care home outbreak in Barrie, Ontario. Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com