Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases doctor in the U.S., says it would not surprise him if the new variant of COVID-19 that is circulating widely in the U.K. were to be found in the U.S. or Canada.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases doctor in the U.S., says it would not surprise him if the new variant of COVID-19 that is circulating widely in the U.K. were to be found in the U.S. or Canada.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
Ontario’s pilot COVID-19 testing program from travellers at Toronto's Pearson International Airport found that of the over 6,800 voluntary participants, 146 people or 2.26 per cent, tested positive.
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's public safety minister says an improved online estimator tool will help drivers see how much they'll save under changes coming to the Insurance Corporation of B.C. Mike Farnworth says the tool allows drivers to estimate their savings once a new model of delivering auto insurance comes into effect at the Crown corporation on May 1. He says most customers will save an average of 20 per cent or $400 a year and will also be eligible for a one-time refund. The new insurance model will limit the ability of those hurt in a crash to sue at-fault drivers or the auto insurer, squeezing legal costs out of the system and saving ICBC an estimated $1.5 billion. Attorney General David Eby called ICBC's financial situation a "dumpster fire" after the NDP took power in 2017 and the government has introduced a series of measures to douse the flames. The government is calling the new insurance model "enhanced care" and the online estimator tool can be found on ICBC's website. "For some time, we've been talking about changes at ICBC and how they're going to help make people's auto insurance premiums, and in turn their lives, more affordable," Farnworth told a news conference Tuesday. "Today, the rubber hits the road." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Another milestone for The Great One. Wayne Gretzky turned 60 Tuesday. It's a number the Hockey Hall of Famer knows well. The NHL notes that the former Edmonton Oiler, Los Angeles King, St. Louis Blue and New York Ranger scored 60 hat tricks (50 during the regular season and 10 in the playoffs) during an NHL career that stretched from 1979 to 1999. No. 99 also recorded a point in 60 consecutive regular-season games from March 13, 1983, to Jan. 27, 1984 (one day after his 23rd birthday), during which he recorded 70 goals and 111 assists for 181 points. The run began with a nine-game point streak to end the 1982-83 campaign (9-19—28) and continued with a 51-game stretch to start the 1983-84 season (61-92—153), which remains the longest point streak in NHL history. Gretzky also holds NHL records for fewest games to 60 goals in a season (49 games played in 1981-82), 60 assists in a season (32 games played in 1985-86) and 60 assists in a career (56 games played). The native of Brantford, Ont., retired with 894 goals and 1,963 assists for 2,857 points in 1,487 regular-season games. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021 The Canadian Press
Construction on Place des Arts began in earnest, then a pandemic set back. Work resumes once again, then a second lockdown — then the announcement of a sort-of third lockdown. The construction was supposed to continue, but then everything was shut down once again last week, with the building work ceasing on Friday. But then Monday it started again. There was an amendment to the legislation. It’s just another part of the journey, says Léo Therrien, executive director of the new Francophone arts and culture centre in downtown Sudbury. “The construction is expected to be done at the end of the summer, give or take, and again COVID willing,” said Therrien. “And then our hope is to open later in the fall. Even once the work is finished, everyone has to move in, we have to test all the equipment, you have to do a few shows, too.” But he’s pleased this timeline should coincide with the vaccination process in Sudbury. “I think everyone will be ready to get back to shows,” he said. It is also this specific, pandemic-related journey that has revealed an interesting way for the seven organisations behind ROCS (Regroupement des organismes culturels de Sudbury) to offer planning and programming that is not only accessible in the pandemic world, but in the post-pandemic world as well: streaming. “Our hope is with streaming that we'll be able to stream internally to the various venues inside,” said Therrien. That includes the ability to watch a performance from anywhere in the building. “There's a performance in La Grande Salle (main theatre),” he said. “We can send it to the studio, we can send it to the Bistro, we can send it to other venues. We could split people in various places internally. “But we can also Zoom it, stream it externally, too, for conferences, for performances, and so on.” Whether you love a live show, or your life is more conducive to enjoying it in your pyjamas, there will be options for you. There will even be recordings, something in the works for La Nuit sur l'étang music festival. “Right now, they're planning the shows in March,” said Therrien, “But they might be able to get only 50 people right now because of COVID. So, their plan is to have various cameras and record the whole show and sell it later on at another date – present it as a recorded show.” And because of the occasional pause in the construction, there is the opportunity to consider these aspects: when you can’t build, you have the advantage of time while you work out the kinks of closed-circuit television. Silver Linings, as they say. “It's the right time for us to put the equipment in place because the walls aren't done yet. It would be too hard to do it if it was all finished,” said Therrien. “That's one of the only bonuses from COVID, is that we were able to adapt.” But also, they are not open. That means they are not bringing in revenue as of yet. Still, that may again be fortuitous (to be generous with the interpretation). Therrien said that while they wish the building was finished, it also prevented them from having to cancel or postpone. “We didn't have to stop any shows because we didn't have any shows planned,” he said. “So many of our partners had to cancel their season, then restart it and cancel it again. And it's been that nightmare for them.” He said that they hope the opening of the Place des arts will allow community arts and culture groups — both Anglophone and Francophone — to come together and pool resources, to use the knowledge and experience from every corner of the city to create programming to enrich Francophone culture and, by extension, Sudbury culture, as well as offer a home to Anglophone groups, like YES Theatre, which is currently in negotiations with the Place des arts team. There will not only be the headquarters of the seven founding Francophone organisations, as well as a gift shop, bookstore, bistro and multi-purpose studio space, but also a grand theatre and office space and rehearsal space. And there has never been a better time for art, said Therrien. Movies, television, books, puzzles, art galleries tours and musicals on Zoom — you name the medium, the world consumed content on it — and he’s hopeful this trend will continue. “Art and culture is healthy to our wellbeing, the health of ourselves,” said Therrien. “That’s why a place like this is essential to our community and to everyone in it.” Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are preparing to push ahead quickly on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package even if it means using procedural tools to pass the legislation on their own, leaving Republicans behind. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told senators to be ready to vote as soon as next week on a budget reconciliation package that would lay the groundwork for swift passage. Coming so soon in Biden's administration, the action provides a first test of Republican opposition to the White House priorities as well as to the new president's promise of a “unity” agenda. “The work must move forward, preferably with our Republican colleagues, but without them if we must," Schumer said after a private meeting of Democratic senators. "Time is of the essence to address this crisis. We're keeping all options open on the table.” Unwilling to wait for Republicans who argue Biden's price tag is too high and his priorities too wide-ranging, Democrats are flexing their newfound power as they take control of the Senate alongside the House and White House. It is the first time in a decade the party has held the full sweep of power in Washington, and Democrats say they have no time to waste trying to broker compromises with Republicans that may, or may not, happen. They have watched Republicans use similar procedural tools to advance their priorities, most recently the Trump administration’s GOP tax cuts. The fast-moving events days into the new majority on Capitol Hill come as the White House continued meeting privately with groups of Republican and Democratic lawmakers in hopes of striking a bipartisan agreement. Biden's COVID-19 aid package includes money for vaccine distribution, school reopenings and $1,400 direct payments to households and gradually boosts the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. The next steps remain highly fluid. The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus of more than 50 House lawmakers met virtually Tuesday with top administration officials on the virus aid and economic recovery package. And the dozen senators emerging from a lengthy private meeting with the White House on Sunday evening are talking on their own to try to craft a more targeted bill. The bipartisan senators assembled privately again Monday evening. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier Tuesday that Biden is still looking to negotiate on an aid package, while putting a priority on acting swiftly before aid lapses in March. “He laid out his big package, his big vision of what it should look like, and people are giving their feedback,” Psaki said. "He’s happy to have those discussions and fully expects it’s not going to look exactly the same on the other end.” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who led a bipartisan effort for the last $900 billion relief package, is working again with the senators on crafting an alternative package that she has said would be more focused on money for vaccine distribution and tailored economic assistance to the neediest Americans. Collins said Tuesday that the White House made good on its commitment to deliver a more detailed accounting of the proposed expenditure. But she said the group is still waiting for data on how much funding remains unallocated from past relief measures that, by her tally, totals a whopping $1.8 trillion still unspent. Congress has approved some $4 trillion in emergency aid since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, a stunning outlay and the largest rescue package in the nation's history. Senators from both parties who joined the White House call over the weekend agreed the priority needs to be standing up the country's faltering vaccine distribution system. With the death toll climbing, and new strains of the virus threatening more trouble ahead, ensuring vaccinations appears to be crucial to stemming the COVID-19 crisis. Several senators from both parties also said they want the $1,400 direct checks to be more targeted to those in need. They also want an accounting of what remains from previously approved aid bills. But Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and the incoming Budget Committee chair, said he is already working on the budget package for next week and expanding it to include Biden's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. Raising the wage is a long-running Democratic priority that would essentially double the current $7.25 hourly wage set the last time the party was in control in the Obama administration. Advocates say the pay raise would boost millions of full-time workers from poverty. “There is a consensus,” Sanders told reporters at the Capitol. “If Republicans are not prepared to come on board, that’s fine. We’re not going to wait. We’re going forward soon and aggressively.” Lisa Mascaro And Josh Boak, The Associated Press
Dr. Jeannette Armstrong is the associate professor in Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan (UBCO) campus. Armstrong was one of three speakers discussing systemic racism in science in a conversations on Indigenous knowledge in academia. Indigenous people still face systemic racism, and their voices are often left unheard, said Ananya Mukherjee Reed, provost and vice-president of UBCO during her opening remarks of the Jan. 20 webinar. During the two-hour discussion, three Indigenous leaders and researchers discussed some of the differences and misunderstandings of Indigenous knowledge and western science, as well as the impacts of what they framed “environmental racism.” Armstrong, who shared a Syilx Okanagan perspective, spoke alongside Aaron Prosper from Eskasoni First Nation, and Elder Albert Marshall from the Mi’kmaw Nation. “In these times of climate change, societal disease and diseases, we need Indigenous knowledge,” said Armstrong. As Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy, Armstrong has been recognized for her award-winning literary work on education, ecology and Indigenous rights. Indigenous knowledge remains overlooked in academia, particularly in science, because unlike a western scientific method, Indigenous knowledge is not evidence-based, according to Armstrong. Indigenous knowledge is focused on a holistic perspective incorporating traditional knowledge and lived experiences, she says. “A general definition of Indigenous knowledge consists of those beliefs, assumptions, and understandings of non-western people developed through long-term associations with a specific place,” Armstrong told participants during the event. “Therefore, Indigenous knowledge is considered the second tier of knowledge, that is, below science. This is racist.” According to Prosper, Indigenous knowledge has been misused or co-opted within the scientific field. “Indigenous people had knowledge prior to Western scientific knowledge, in terms of traditional medicine,” said Prosper, who studies Indigenous Health and Indigenous Ethics & Research Methodologies. “In my personal opinion, there is a significant issue within the scientific field when it comes to racism, systemic racism.” Prosper feels Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous information or data should be valued the same as Western scientific knowledge. “Usually what you see done is an Elder getting interviewed, getting traditional knowledge taken out, and then the researcher collects the data as a western methodology, to interpret that data, which makes it incorrect,” Prosper explained. Marshall believes two-eyed seeing is the transformative change society needs to understand and incorporate Indigenous knowledge. “Being Indigenous, I see everything through my Indigenous lens,” said Marshall, who says ‘two-eyed seeing’ means a worldview which reconciles and incorporates Indigenous ways of knowing and western scientific ways of knowing. “To see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledge, and to see from the other eye with the strengths of Western science knowledge and to use both of these eyes together, is two-eyed seeing.” Indigenous knowledge systems can offer society solutions for living in balance with the environment, the speakers stressed. According to Armstrong, the Syilx Okanagan people view the land as a dynamic system, and their sole purpose is to protect the tmxwulaxw (land) and tmixw (all living lifeforms). “In the Syilx view, the human duty is to perceive how the tmixw are regenerating themselves and how therefore the human must move forward in unity with them,” she said. “Immersion in the knowledge of tmixw allows us to view its reality and makes it possible for the aliveness of each separate life form.” During the webinar, environmental racism was discussed. “In the context of environmental racism, the government had been failing to shut down treatment plants in Indigenous communities,” Prosper told participants. The Pictou Landing First Nation community in Nova Scotia is east of Boat Harbour and is utilized for traditional fishing and hunting. “This place is a significant importance to the Pictou Landing First Nation community,” he said. According to Prosper, Boat Harbour has been receiving wastewater effluent from the industry, and the government has neglected health concerns from the Indigenous people living there. The government told the community that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to make a change, he says. “The government told the people, there’s no evidence of this effluent that we’re putting into boat harbour is affecting the health of the people,” says Prosper. “If our environment is not healthy, how can we be healthy?” said Marshall. Marshall said Indigenous Peoples need to amplify our voices, to protect the environment for future generations. People cannot live in silence, he says, allowing the government to continuously destroy the land. “The government needs to be held accountable because all they do is compromise the ecological entirety of the area, and they compromise the system,” Marshall says. “I was taught, while you stay here on earth, you have to be mindful for the next generations. Most importantly, the future generations will have the same opportunity as we had, of being able to sustain themselves in a healthy environment.” Armstrong is committed to pursuing an alternative academic approach to Indigenous environmental knowledge in her research and study. She has created a methodology that she says may assist as a model in Indigenous Peoples’ struggle to include Indigenous knowledge in the academy. “I am developing better access to Indigenous knowledge through Indigenous oral literature situated as the knowledge documentation system of the Syilx peoples,” Armstrong explains. Marshall is working on cultural understandings and healing of our human responsibilities to care for all creatures and our Earth Mother through two-eyed seeing. “These essentials of the web of life should be protected under the charter of human rights because they constitute to me, a climate emergency,” says Marshall. In response, Prosper is committed to approaching his research mindfully. “How do Indigenous communities consent to research when they were exposed to these unethical experiments, whether be in the residential school or within their own communities?” Prosper asked the group. “We have to be mindful when engaging with Indigenous communities.” “Even the most adverse individuals are still dealing with various issues as a result of their experience with colonialism, and they are still trying to reconcile that.” Prosper acknowledges that little progress in the scientific field has been made, but a lot of work needs to be done. “Yes, we’ve been a lot done within 100 years. Have we done a great job? I don’t think so,” explained Prosper. “I think it’s going to take another hundred years to see a difference.” This event is the second of three examining racism in science, specifically from Indigenous perspectives, with the final one, planned for the spring, will explore Black scientists’ views. Editor’s note: Jeannette Armstrong is reporter Athena Bonneau’s grandmother. At IndigiNews, we take journalistic independence seriously, adhering to the Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines. Due to Armstrong’s role at UBCO and participant in the webinar as an elder and knowledge keeper, we felt it was important to include her perspective in this piece. Athena Bonneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
A weekly book club promoting early literacy is launching tomorrow on Family Literacy Day. The three EarlyON centres in Timmins have partnered to offer a free virtual storytime session for children and their families and caregivers. The book club will take place every Wednesday, starting Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Three different stories — in English, in French, and about Indigenous culture — will be read by a representative from each of the centre via Zoom. The three EarlyON centres are the Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Timmins NEOFACS and Timmins YMCA. “This way, we’ll help families engage in literacy with their children and read books,” said Julie Nowlan, Timmins YMCA's early years co-ordinator. “Sometimes, they may not know which books to read or they may not have books at home either, so at least having the program every week, they have three books read to them.” All of the books can be counted toward the Timmins 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten (B4K) program. It is an early literacy program that encourages families and caregivers to read 1,000 books with their children before they go to kindergarten. “If you read three books a day for three years, you can get to 1,000 books before your child reaches kindergarten,” Nowlan said. "Literacy is always a big component in all our of our centres, so it’s nice to be able to offer that.” For each hit milestone, such as reading 100, 250, 500 and 750 books, children will receive a certificate and a prize. Once they read 1,000 books, they get a bigger prize and can start the program again. The program was launched last year in partnership with the Timmins Public Library. So far, there are 326 children registered for the Timmins 1,000 B4K program. “We had people hit their milestones of reaching 1,000 books,” said Gabriella Desmarais, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB) program manager for EarlyON Child and Family Centre Quality Assurance. Once someone registers for the 1,000 Books B4K program, they will receive a literacy kit that contains a reading log, a book and all the information needed for the program. “We’re definitely going to continue it for sure,” Nowlan said about the virtual book club. “I assume it will continue until virtual programming is no longer. And if not, it will continue in our centre, so we’ll definitely read books when they come in and visit us.” The Zoom link for Jan. 27 book club meeting can be found here. Registration is not required to join the event. For more information about the Timmins 1000 Books B4K program, click here. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
When Isak Vaillancourt first began thinking of his short documentary, a project he would create with his team and the support of the guest curator of Up Here 6, Ra’anaa Brown, the global conversation on race had never been louder. At the time, it was shouting names like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “People were suddenly realizing the urgency and validity of this movement,” said Vaillancourt. “Having difficult conversations in regards to their own complicity with systematic racism and their privilege. With the short documentary, I wanted to capture this unique moment in time from the perspectives of three Black community members here in Sudbury.” In the opening shots of the film, an introduction reads: “Black communities are having conversations about race that never make it to mainstream media. The collective consciousness rarely lends itself to amplify these voices.” With his documentary, Vaillancourt wanted to add new voices to the conversation. Not his, however: he decided to amplify the voices of three Black women in Sudbury and the struggles, racism and challenges to their own identity they have faced. And he called it, Amplify. Vaillancourt, a multimedia content producer and activist, is also from the area. He grew up in Chelmsford with his twin sister and younger brother, the children of a Franco-Ontarian father and a mother who found her way to Canada after leaving Somalia in 1991 to escape the civil war. He wanted to show that despite many believing that there are no issues with racism in Sudbury, the reality is quite the contrary. “It’s important to realize that racism and discrimination exist in Sudbury, as much as we like to pretend that Canada is a nation of cultural tolerance.” To him, the medium of a short documentary was the perfect choice to showcase his message. “We decided that a short documentary would be the perfect platform to shed light on the inequalities and discrimination that affects the lives of many racialized individuals here in Sudbury,” said Vaillancourt. “This project would not have been possible without the continuous support from the amazing team at Up Here. Behind the scenes, I worked very closely with my cinematographer, Shawn Kosmerly, and my editor, Riley McEwen, to bring this project to life.” The documentary itself focuses on the lived experiences of the three Black women it features: Josephine Suorineni-Zaghe, Shana Calixte and Sonia Ekiyor-Katimi, and their thoughts in relation to the current political climate, racial inequality and social justice. It is an opportunity for them to describe the challenges they have had to overcome and to educate those that perhaps have never had to consider the prejudice, both subtle and overt, that Sudburians of colour face. It is a chance to understand that if you have not experienced something directly, rather than deny or deflect, you should defer. “We as a society need to learn how to defer to people with lived experiences when speaking on issues that affect them directly,” said Vaillancourt. But also cautions, “Keep in mind that, amplifying Black, Indigenous, and POC (people of colour) voices does not mean placing the heavy burden on marginalized communities to educate you on the ways they’ve been oppressed. It’s the act of listening, self-reflection and continuous learning. It’s a commitment.” As the film lives on, Vaillancourt hopes viewers will find ways to show this commitment by getting involved locally. He quotes Josephine Suorineni-Zaghe from the film and says “Build up the movement locally. Be there for Black children. Be there for Black girls and Black boys. Be there for the Black LGBTQ+ community and when you do have that interaction, you do see the immediate change.” He also notes the many grassroots organisations that can benefit from more community involvement. “Within the City of Greater Sudbury, there has been a growing culture of community care and mutual aid all in the face of hatred,” he said. “This has not been cultivated by city officials but rather grassroot community groups such as Black Lives Matter - Sudbury, Sudbury Pride, Myth and Mirrors, SWANS Sudbury and The Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) just to name a few. I encourage viewers to take the extra step and learn more about how they can uplift these organizations and the important work they're doing.” The video is currently hosted by Up Here 6, and it is also available with French-language subtitles. For now, not only is Vaillancourt submitting this film to festivals, but he is currently working on multimedia projects that highlight “the amazing and diverse communities we have here in Sudbury.” For more of Vaillancourt’s work, you can visit his website at IsakVail.ca. You can watch the documentary below. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Teachers are determined to keep remote learners connected to the school community. At Cook elementary, Grade 5 and 6 students learning from home are writing poetry that is displayed inside the school. “We want to continue to build connections and relationships even with the students that are at home learning, and include their work on our school bulletin boards,” says principal Sarah Loat. “We want to stress the importance of community more than ever during this stressful time.” She says teachers are trying to offer all students the same learning opportunities, whether they're in the classroom or not. “Teachers are taking a great deal of time and care to plan and implement creative, meaningful, engaging learning opportunities,” says Loat. “I am very proud of the job the staff are doing to keep students safe, supported and engaged.” Similarly, at Diefenbaker elementary all students are invited to “Zoomblies”—including those learning from home—to help build and maintain connections. Many classroom teachers have created individual kits of supplies for students, and some have come up with songs for lining up, washing hands, and cleaning up, says principal Huey Wong. Masks with the school’s logo are available to staff and students, thanks to PAC subsidization for the adult mask cost. And Grade 7 students have been engaged as morning ambassadors, picking up younger students from the drive-thru lane and walking them to their classroom door. And at Richmond High, students were connected starting early on in the year with a virtual clubs day. International Baccalaureate (IB) students celebrated their accomplishments through a four-day film festival. “This included digital work, music ensembles, singing, dancing, a chess battle, and an interactive show that had one performer zooming in to improvise music based on audience suggestions,” says principal Anita Kwon. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Some Tiny council members want some serious action being taken against big corporations that threaten the township's water supply. "We need to stop playing by the rules," said Coun. Gibb Wishart, addressing the question to appeal or not to appeal in the case of the renewal of the permit to take water (PTTW) for the Teedon Pit. "The reason the dump (Site 41) got stopped is that an old couple got arrested; First Nations were there and set up camp, nobody played by the rules. "I think if we play the game the ministry...," he was saying, when Mayor George Cornell cut him off to remind him that even at that time the council played by the rules. Even though Cornell was cautious about siding an appeal process in the matter, Coun. Tony Mintoff spoke his mind clearly. "Anything I’ve heard is overwhelmingly against any kind of operation there," he said. "I encourage council to put their concerns ahead of the province’s unwillingness to allow municipalities to decide what’s best for them within their boundary. "As members of council, it’s our obligation to represent the interests of our residents," added Mintoff. "My suggestion would be we clearly appeal every step." Another member of council, however, was a bit cautious about going the appeal route. "Maybe," said Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma.said, "the right course of action would be to break out some of our concerns around the EBR (Environmental Bill of Rights) process reform and how we work with the MOECP (Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks) in future to make sure the municipality and adjacent landowners are notified of big decisions like this one. "Maybe this goes back to our flaws in the first appeal or commenting process with regards to monitoring water quality." Walma also suggested that if the council does plan on appealing the renewal, it should hold further discussions in-camera. "We have a community member that has made significant upgrades and worked with the township on our comments to date," he added. "There was no need for them to install that many wells. They could have gotten away with a lot less. I think that’s something we want to maintain. It’s a good working relationship so in the future we can share our concerns with them. I think going the legal route potentially cuts those options down." The discussion came forth after council had heard the united plea -- save our water --- from various residents of Tiny and beyond that made deputations to elected officials at Tuesday's special council meeting. Council had convened a special session after it became aware of the Jan. 14 decision by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks to renew a 10-year PTTW for CRH Canada Group Inc., which operates the aggregate quarry. "The approval of the water taking permit may compromise the quality of this water," said Tiny resident Bonnie Pauzé. "As elected officials, we, the taxpayers are putting it all on your shoulder to stop this potential disaster. Every single voter drinks water. Do we want to go down in history as heroes that protected and saved one of the world's purest aquifers? Please don't disappoint us. We need you to step up to the plate. Protect the water." Similar messages were presented by others as well. "Our water needs are being undermined for the sake of a global business," said Erik Schomann, another Tiny resident. "The cost business analysis as I have been able to tell is incomplete. There was no announcement regarding the permit, no civilian insight." Even residents of Guelph had joined in the fight. "Matters of groundwater protection are of extreme concern to people across the province," said Karen Rathwell. "The community is asking for a pause; time to study this phenomenon. Once the overburden is scraped away and the digging eats away through the layers of protection, the groundwater is exposed to pollution." According to the township's legal counsel, Sarah Hahn, if the township decides to appeal, it has to clear a two-part test to seek leave to appeal. "First, you look at whether granting of the permit or any conditions within are unreasonable," she said, explaining that this means, "No reasonable person having regard for law and policies have issued the permit. It’s a pretty high test to have to reach. Secondly, could it result to significant harm to the environment. "It’s not a will, it’s a could, so I think there’s some grounds there," added Hahn. "The test for reasonableness is quite high. Having some evidence that what the ministry did was unreasonable is certainly something we would want to put forward if an appeal was brought." The township said they were satisfied with the conclusion drawn by the professional hydrogeologist, who said the ministry had addressed the municipality's concerns laid out in a 2018 letter to the ministry. "Staff’s opinion is that we rely on our experts and in this case it’s Burnside," said Shawn Persaud, director of planning and development. "Based on their letter, we recommend the township not file an appeal relative to the permit to take water." In his Jan. 25 letter, Dave Hopkins, senior hydrogeologist with R. J. Burnside and Associates Ltd., states that ministry has met and addressed the requests laid out by the township in 2018. "The new PTTW has a much more robust monitoring program than the original PTTW and addresses the Township’s request for additional wells," reads his conclusion. "The monitoring program will be completed, and the annual report is to be prepared by a qualified person (P. Geo. or equivalent). "The Permit requires that an annual report documenting the monitoring well results be submitted to the MECP (MOECP). This will allow the MECP to evaluate the impacts of pumping and make any necessary additions to the monitoring program/permitted rates as required. The PTTW also requires the monitoring of specific domestic wells, which is unusual. "Residents, who feel that their wells may have been impacted, may wish to contact CRH to have their well added to the monitoring program. It is Burnside’s opinion, that all of the Township comments have been addressed by the MECP and the conditions included in the new PTTW." Wishart, however, felt all concerns had not been addressed. "I think the major issue that the township is up against the wall with is that we’re talking about water quality, not the serviceability of a gravel pit," he said. "The province doesn’t seem to address that at all. They dance around saying that the various authorities, namely the gravel pit operators, operate within the guidelines that they’re given. "They’ve answered all the questions we had, but we’re talking about water quality and the potential," added Wishart. "We have no proof at all. All we have is the wish they not take away the filtering medium between the sky and the water." Based on that, he asked, does the province even want to hear us if we conclude that they’re not answering our questions? Mintoff didn't seem to think so. "The MOECP didn’t inform us," he said, "and gave us only 15 days to prepare with documented support, so clearly in their mind they didn’t want an appeal. I think they gave us scant time to prepare for these appeals because they’re not welcoming." Mintoff said he would like to see council adopt the two principles that it doesn’t support the taking of aggregate or washing it in an environmentally sensitive area. Further, he said, the municipality also asked that no further licences be issued until a water study by Dr. John Cherry, professor emeritus at University of Waterloo, has produced its findings. "One of the basic risk management principles is to weigh the risks and rewards," said Mintoff. "In my opinion, CRH gets all the rewards and the township and residents assume all the risks. If their experts are wrong, what are the consequences and who is going to live with them? I don’t think it’s going to be CRH." He said he was tired of hearing that ministries are understaffed or under-resourced and don’t have the wherewithal to operate effectively. "They cannot be, in my opinion, entrusted to protect our most valuable resource," said Mintoff. "We need to err on the side of caution. There’s nothing in it for us, only serious potential for impact on water quality and other environmental components." He also offered a somewhat long-term solution to the situation. "Perhaps it’s time for us to offer the purchase of these specific properties at fair market value and once rehabilitated by the current owners, we could create public-private partnerships to use this land to create more affordable housing," said Mintoff. "And if they choose to decline our offer, then we should look at the practicality of the legal feasibility of expropriating that property in order to do so." Unable to decide whether to appeal or not, council moved into an in-camera session around other matters, promising to reconvene at 1 p.m. Wednesday to further discuss the issue. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday rescinded a Trump-era memo that established a “zero tolerance” enforcement policy for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, which resulted in thousands of family separations. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued the new memo to federal prosecutors across the nation, saying the department would return to its longstanding previous policy and instructing prosecutors to act on the merits of individual cases. “Consistent with this longstanding principle of making individualized assessments in criminal cases, I am rescinding — effective immediately — the policy directive,” Wilkinson wrote. Wilkinson said the department’s principles have “long emphasized that decisions about bringing criminal charges should involve not only a determination that a federal offence has been committed and that the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction, but should also take into account other individualized factors, including personal circumstances and criminal history, the seriousness of the offence, and the probable sentence or other consequences that would result from a conviction.” The “zero tolerance” policy meant that any adult caught crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted for illegal entry. Because children cannot be jailed with their family members, families were separated and children were taken into custody by Health and Human Services, which manages unaccompanied children at the border. While the rescinding of “zero tolerance” is in part symbolic, it undoes the Trump administration’s massively unpopular policy responsible for the separation of more than 5,500 children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border. Most families have not been prosecuted under zero tolerance since 2018, when the separations were halted, though separations have continued on a smaller scale. Practically, the ending of the policy will affect mostly single men who have entered the country illegally. “While policies may change, our mission always remains the same: to seek justice under the law," Wilkinson wrote in the memo. President Joe Biden has issued an executive order to undo some of Trump’s restrictive policies, but the previous administration has so altered the immigration landscape that it will take quite a while to untangle all the major changes. Some of the parents separated from their children were deported. Advocates for the families have called on Biden to allow those families to reunite in the United States. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with Trump and other top leaders in his administration, were bent on curbing immigration. The “zero tolerance” policy was one of several increasingly restrictive policies aimed at discouraging migrants from coming to the Southern border. Trump’s administration also vastly reduced the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. and all but halted asylum at the border, through a combination of executive orders and regulation changes. The policy was a disaster; there was no system created to reunite children with their families. A report from the Justice Department’s inspector general, released earlier this month, found that the policy led to a $227 million funding shortfall. Children suffered lasting emotional damage from the separations and the policy was criticized as grossly inhumane by world leaders. The policy began April 6, 2018, under an executive order that was issued without warning to other federal agencies that would have to manage the policy, including the U.S. Marshals Service and Health and Human Services. It was halted June 20, 2018. A federal judge ordered the families to be reunited and is still working to do so. The watchdog report also found that Sessions and other top officials knew the children would be separated under the policy and encouraged it. Justice officials ignored concerns from staff about the rollout and did not bother to set up a system to track families in order to reunite them. Some children are still separated. ___ Follow Balsamo and Long on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 and https://twitter.com/ctlong1. Michael Balsamo And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is standing by comments he made about Transport Minister Omar Alghabra earlier this month that sparked criticism he was trying to tar the new cabinet member with Islamophobic innuendo. Blanchet addressed the blowback nearly two weeks after what Alghabra dubbed a harmful and "dangerous game" of insinuation by the Bloc. Blanchet released a statement Jan. 13 that pointed a finger at Alghabra's association with what the Bloc called "the political Islamic movement." The leader said "questions arise" over Alghabra's former role as head of the Canadian Arab Federation, but hedged that he "refuses to accuse" the minister of anything specific. "Quebecers have questions in the matter of secularism and of security. I posed a legitimate question very politely, in an irreproachable way, and the government and the prime minister have an obligation to respond," Blanchet said told reporters Tuesday. Those questions were rooted in previous stories and columns by national and provincial media outlets, he added. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called on Blanchet during the daily question period Tuesday to apologize to his fellow MP across the virtual aisle. Alghabra has faced attempts to sow doubt about his background before. In 2018, Conservative Sen. Denise Batters apologized to the Saudi Arabia-born parliamentarian after she wondered aloud why reporters hadn't questioned the then-parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister about his place of birth. Blanchet referred to articles "from the very Toronto and not very independentist Globe and Mail" to bolster his case about media scrutiny of Alghabra. The Bloc leader's office forwarded a 2016 Globe column relating to a Conservative motion about Israel that was backed by the Liberal government. "Mr. Alghabra has long been dogged by accusations he is an extremist, even though his positions on Israel-Palestinian issues are mainstream," the article reads. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has consistently played down any concerns, the piece notes. "We are not aware of any substantive or proven links Mr. Alghabra has to Islamist or political extremism," David Cooper, the centre's vice-president, is quoted as saying in another Globe column earlier this month. Cooper cited allegations "that amount to charges of guilt by association," and said his organization has "never seen any substantive evidence that would trigger any concern." Alghabra was president of the Canadian Arab Federation before being elected as a Toronto-area Liberal MP in 2006. In 2009, then-citizenship and immigration minister Jason Kenney opted to cut funding for the Canadian Arab Federation, whose leader at the time made statements that Kenney called anti-Semitic and supportive of terrorist groups. The Bloc's attempt to undermine confidence in Alghabra follows his move to distance himself from a YouTuber who has expressed intolerant views toward LGBTQ communities. Alghabra said in a Jan. 12 statement he is a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights and was "shocked and disappointed" to learn of a video using homophobic slurs that was posted online by Fadi Younes, whose digital marketing agency Alghabra had hired on a contract that has since been terminated. "I was not aware of these comments before today and I wholly reject them," said the MP for Mississauga Centre. "We must combat ignorance, hate or intolerance in our society. I will continue to support LGBTQ rights, as we continue to build a more inclusive and tolerant society for everyone." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. — With files from Lina Dib Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit C’était inévitable: les problèmes d’approvisionnement des doses du vaccin contre la COVID-19 de la compagnie Pfizer allaient directement réduire la progression de la vaccination en Ontario, où le nombre de doses administrées quotidiennement est sous la barre des 10 000 depuis trois jours. Au cours de la dernière journée, 9707 Ontariens ont roulé leur manche pour recevoir une dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. La province a été en mesure de vacciner en moyenne plus de 12 000 personnes par jour, entre les 6 et 23 janvier, mais depuis trois jours, ce nombre est demeuré sous les 10 000. En tout, 83 285 Ontariens ont reçu leurs deux doses nécessaires du vaccin contre la COVID-19. Cela signifie que près de 300 000 doses ont été administrées en province jusqu’à présent. Le rythme de transmission diminue aussi Néanmoins, l’Ontario compte 1740 nouvelles infections à la COVID-19, le plus bas nombre de cas recensés en une journée depuis la mi-décembre. La moyenne d’infections quotidiennes dans la province diminue également, et se chiffre mardi à 2346. Le taux de reproduction net, une donnée importante selon les spécialistes, soit celle où l'on estime le nombre moyen de personnes qu'une personne infectera lorsqu'elle est atteinte de la COVID-19, est aussi à la baisse. Toutefois, l’Ontario a perdu 63 personnes aux mains de la COVID-19, lundi, portant le total des décès causés par le virus à 5909 depuis le début de la pandémie. La même journée, 1466 personnes étaient hospitalisées à travers la province, dont 383 malades aux soins intensifs. Parmi ces patients atteints du coronavirus, 298 avaient besoin d’un respirateur pour demeurer en vie. Foyers de soins de longue durée En foyers de soins de longue durée (FSLD), 71 résidents et 53 membres du personnel ont contracté la maladie, selon le plus récent bilan de la santé publique. On déplore aussi le décès de 24 résidents de ces établissements. En tout, 3389 résidents et 11 employés en FSLD ont perdu la vie en raison de la COVID-19. Le premier ministre ontarien Doug Ford était à l'aéroport Pearson de Toronto mardi après-midi pour une mise à jour sur le projet pilote ontarien de dépistage volontaire de la COVID-19 et pour réitérer son appel à Ottawa de renforcer le contrôle de la loi à la frontière, dont le dépistage obligatoire pour tout voyageur arrivant de l'extérieur du pays.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
Residents of Île-à-la-Crosse will now have a new place to gather with the completion of their community hall. However, with COVID-19, this is a bittersweet time for the community given that public health restrictions will keep them from using it in the coming months, said Mayor Duane Favel. “Having that space that holds community gatherings and such as weddings and other activities that we like to do within our communities, I think it's going to be a wonderful place for people to gather and socialize in a healthy way.” Île-à-la-Crosse used their Municipal Economic Enhancement Program funding that was announced back in May to finally get the project underway to replace the ageing community hall that was donated in 1980. Additional funding has also been secured, Favel said. The concrete foundation and utility lines are still in good shape, said Île-à-la-Crosse councillor Gerald Roy for an article back in September, so those will remain as they replace the building. The community is looking forward to being able to use the facility, Favel said. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Months-long protests in India escalated on Tuesday as thousands of farmers clashed with police in New Delhi over new laws that they say will push small farmers out of the market and let private corporations exploit them.
Three years ago, filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West got a dream Sundance debut. They premiered their film “RBG” to a sold-out crowd with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only in attendance but seeing it for the first time. There was a standing ovation, a bidding war and a big sale. It also went on to be a major awards contender. It’s the kind of Sundance experience most filmmakers fantasize about. This year they’re returning to the festival with their follow-up, “My Name is Pauli Murray” about the somewhat obscure legal trailblazer, and while their excitement remains high, the festival itself will be quite different. Like so many in the past year, Sundance has had to reinvent itself as a mostly virtual experience. Still, the 2021 Festival which kicks off Thursday is shaping up to be a robust market for companies looking for content. More than 72 feature films are debuting over the seven days. It’s slimmed-down lineup from the previous years’ 118 and some already have ways to get to audiences, like Robin Wright’s “Land” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” which will both be available to the masses in the coming weeks. But many this year are acquisition titles seeking distribution deals. “Buyers and sellers have found a rhythm for conducting business at virtual markets, to great success. And consumers are continuing to ask for more content,” said Deb McIntosh, an SVP at Endeavor Content. “I’m confident that we’ll find distribution partners for all of our films." Julie Dansker, an executive at Shout! Studios, is coming to the virtual festival looking for films to buy and Sundance, she said, always offers a variety of films from established and emerging talents. This year there are high profile projects from well-known names like actor Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut “Passing,” starring Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson as two light-skinned Black women who choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line in 1929 New York. Jerrod Carmichael is making his debut with the dark satire “On the Count of Three” with Christopher Abbott and Tiffany Haddish. Questlove is too with his opening night documentary “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised).” Zoe Lister-Jones also reunites with her “Craft: Legacy” star Cailee Spaeny for “How It Ends,” co-starring Olivia Wilde and Fred Armisen. And “CODA,” a day one film from Sian Heder about a child of deaf adults, is expected to be one of the breakouts. As always, the documentary sections are fertile ground for buyers. Cohen and West’s “My Name is Pauli Murray” is among the sales titles as is Mariem Pérez Riera’s “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It,” which examines how the entertainer battled racism to become one of the few performers to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Lucy Walker has a documentary about the history of wildfires, “Bring Your Own Brigade” and Jonas Poher Rasmussen will debut his animated refugee documentary “Flee.” And then there’s the more unconventional efforts like animator Dash Shaw’s psychedelic “Cryptozoo,” featuring the voices of Lake Bell, Michael Cera and Grace Zabriskie. Or Nattawut Poonpiriya’s Wong Kar-Wai produced drama “One for the Road” and Timur Bekmambetov’s social media age Romeo and Juliet riff “R#J.” There are boundless “discovery” opportunities for parties looking beyond the flashy names who might just stumble upon the next Ryan Coogler or Damien Chazelle. As Sundance programmer Kim Yutani said, “You don’t really know what these films are until you see them.” Audience enthusiasm for a particular film might be harder to judge virtually, though. “There’s all this energy that happens at a festival when you’re in person that is hard to translate to a virtual environment,” said Jordan Fields, head of acquisitions for Shout! Studios. “But on the upside, it gives us the ability to judge movies a little more objectively because we’re not necessarily influenced by a crowd who stands up to cheer it at the end.” And indeed, for better or worse, that in-person energy has often played a role in negotiating the price. Sometimes the hype is warranted, and you get a “Little Miss Sunshine.” But other times off the mountain, the glow fades and companies are left with a flop. Prices have also been going up steadily due to the influx of deep-pocketed streaming companies who don’t have to worry as much or at all about box office returns. Six years ago, Amazon and Netflix both struggled to get titles. Now, the streamers are some of the biggest players in the game. Last year saw Hulu and NEON pay over $17.5 million (a record) for the worldwide rights to the Andy Samberg comedy “Palm Springs.” “Boys State” also got a $12 million deal from Apple and A24. This year there is an added anxiety about content since many productions were put on hold because of the pandemic. But there’s also opportunity in the fact that there could be a bigger and more diverse audience seeing the films who may never have had the opportunity to attend the expensive festival. The cost of entry for the virtual films is $15 a ticket and many are sold out. “Taking Sundance off the mountain and to the whole country will be a beautiful way to commune together over our shared love and need for artistic expression,” said McIntosh. There have already been a few pre-Festival deals. RLJE Films on Tuesday announced that it had acquired the Nicolas Cage film “Prisoners of the Ghostland,” Magnolia Pictures took the rights to “A Glitch in the Matrix” from “Room 237” director Rodney Ascher, Bleecker Street snagged the Ed Helms drama “Together Together” and Juno Films picked up the documentary “The Most Beautiful Boy” about Swedish actor Bjorn Andresen. But many are holding back pre-screenings and waiting until the actual Sundance premiere. “I’m still excited,” said Hall, whose “Passing” premieres Saturday. “But would I rather that we were all together wandering through the snow, freezing cold and, you know, trudging down Main Street? Yes, I would, because that communal experience is part of it.” Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Tisdale town council is looking to change their zoning bylaws after a letter was sent to the council from a resident regarding potentially putting in a secondary suite at their home. During the Jan. 25 council meeting, the council discussed the possibility of allowing these suites for additional income for property owners, said Brad Hvidston, Tisdale’s administrator. The bylaw received its first reading during the meeting with the town hosting a public meeting in March to discuss the change further and allow the public to voice any concerns that they may have. There was little discussion going into the first reading of the bylaw with councillors not having many concerns regarding secondary suites at this time, Hvidston said. February might bring even more changes to the town’s zoning bylaws, he said, as the town will be taking a deeper look at their zoning and community plans. “We're just going to be starting our first meeting consultation process here in February. So we fully expected our whole zoning bylaws going to be redone by June or July for the whole town and the RM. We're doing it as a joint regional project with them.” The last time the zoning bylaw was examined by staff and council was 2005, Hvidston said, so it is time to have that deeper look and see that zones have been adhered to and that the current zones make sense. “We've done a ton of amendments to the zoning bylaw. Even just to follow the zoning bylaw now is getting tougher and tougher because you've got to follow up on all the amendments and changes.” Out buildings, like garages, shipping containers, and sheds, is one area that the town will definitely have to take a closer look at since that part of the zoning bylaw has faced many amendments over the years, Hvidston said. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WASHINGTON — These suspects weren't exactly in hiding. “THIS IS ME,” one man posted on Instagram with a hand emoji pointing to himself in a picture of the violent mob descending on the U.S. Capitol. “Sooo we’ve stormed Capitol Hill lol,” one woman texted someone while inside the building. “I just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol,” another wrote on Facebook about a selfie he took inside during the Jan. 6 riot. In dozens of cases, supporters of President Donald Trump downright flaunted their activity on social media on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos and comments and sent them to the FBI. Their total lack of concern over getting caught and their friends' willingness to turn them in has helped authorities charge about 150 people as of Monday with federal crimes. But even with the help from the rioters themselves, investigators must still work rigorously to link the images to the vandalism and suspects to the acts on Jan. 6 in order to prove their case in court. And because so few were arrested at the scene, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service have been forced to send agents to track suspects down. “Some of you have recognized that this was such an egregious incident that you’ve turned in your own friends and family members,” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, said of the tipsters Tuesday. "We know that those decisions are often painful, but you picked up the phone because it’s the right thing to do.” In the last few weeks, the FBI has received more than 200,000 photos and video tips related to the riot. Investigators have put up billboards in several states with photos of wanted rioters. Working on tips from co-workers, acquaintances and friends, agents have tracked down driver’s license photos to match their faces with those captured on camera in the building. In some cases, authorities got records from Facebook or Twitter to connect their social media accounts to their email addresses or phone numbers. In others, agents used records from license plate readers to confirm their travels. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol, although it's likely not everyone will be tracked down and charged with a crime. Federal prosecutors are focusing on the most critical cases and the most egregious examples of wrongdoing. And they must weigh manpower, cost and evidence when charging rioters. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges against the rioters, which carry up to 20 years in prison. One trio was charged with conspiracy; most have been charged with crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct. Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said prosecutors were “closely looking at evidence related to the sedition charges" and he believed “the results will bear fruit very soon.” Many rioters posted selfies inside the Capitol to their social media accounts, gave interviews to news outlets describing their experience and readily admitted when questioned by federal investigators that they were there. One man created a Facebook album titled “Who’s House? OUR HOUSE” filled with photos of himself and others on Capitol grounds, officials said. “They might have thought, like so many people that work with Trump, that if the president tells me to do it, it’s not breaking the law,” said Michael Gerhardt, an expert on impeachment and professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Others made blunders, like a Houston police officer, who denied he went into the Capitol, then agreed to let agents look at the pictures on his phone. Inside his deleted photos folder were pictures and videos, including selfies he took inside the building, authorities said. Another man was wearing a court-ordered GPS monitor after a burglary conviction that tracked his every movement inside the building. A retired firefighter from Long Island, New York, texted a video of himself in the Capitol rotunda to his girlfriend’s brother, saying he was “at the tip of the spear,” officials said. The brother happened to be a federal agent with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, who turned the video over to the FBI. A lawyer for the man, Thomas Fee, said that he “was not part of any attempt to take over the U.S. Capitol” and that “the allegation is that he merely walked through an open door into the Capitol — nothing more." Another man who was inside the Capitol was willing to rat out another rioter who stole House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern and emailed the video to an FBI agent, even signing his own name to it. “Hello Nice FBI Lady,” he wrote, “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.” In another case, a man was on a flight leaving D.C. two days after the riot when he kept shouting “Trump 2020!” and was kicked off. An airport police officer saw the man get off the plane and the man was booked on another flight. Forty-five minutes later, the officer was watching a video on Instagram and recognized the man in a group of rioters. The man, who was wearing the same shirt as the day he stormed the Capitol, was arrested at the airport, authorities said. Even defence attorneys have acknowledged that the evidence poses a problem for them. “I’m not a magician,” said an attorney for the man seen in a photo carrying Pelosi's lectern. “We’ve got a photograph of our client in what appears to be inside a federal building or inside the Capitol with government property." Police at the Capitol planned only for a free-speech demonstration and were overwhelmed by the mob that broke through and roamed the halls of the Capitol for hours as lawmakers were sent into hiding. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. Trump was impeached after the riot on a charge of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Opening arguments will begin the week of Feb. 8. He is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. Unlike criminal cases, impeachment trials do not have specific evidence rules so anything said and done that day can be used. And several of the people charged have said in interviews with reporters or federal agents that they were simply listening to the president when they marched to the Capitol. ___ Richer reported from Boston. Michael Balsamo, Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
Chelsea pivoted to Thomas Tuchel in a bid to turn around its sputtering season, hiring the German coach on an 18-month deal on Tuesday barely a month after he was fired by Paris Saint-Germain. Having flown to London to sign on as the 11th full-time Chelsea manager in Roman Abramovich’s 18-year reign, Tuchel went to work immediately by taking an evening practice session at the club’s training ground ahead of his first match in charge — against Wolverhampton on Wednesday. Given Chelsea’s current plight, there’s no time to waste. Frank Lampard, a club great as a player but a relative novice as a coach, was fired on Monday after a run of five losses in eight league games which plunged Chelsea to ninth place in the standings, threatening the team’s ambitions of Champions League qualification. In comes a man with far less calibre as a player — Tuchel retired at the age of 24 — but with far more experience as a coach after spells in his native Germany with Mainz and Borussia Dortmund before 2 1/2 years at PSG, where he led the team to back-to-back French league titles and the Champions League final last season. His time in the French capital ended following a power struggle with the club but Chelsea targeted Tuchel after losing patience with Lampard, who oversaw the spending of nearly $300 million on new players for this season. “It is never easy to change head coach in the middle of the season but we are very happy to secure one of Europe’s best coaches in Thomas Tuchel,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said. “There is still much to play for and much to achieve, this season and beyond. We welcome Thomas to the club.” An English pandemic allowance for workers flying into an elite sports environment enables Tuchel to avoid full quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. It means he can take his place in the dug-out for the match against Wolves, and allowed him to take training immediately. “We all have the greatest respect for Frank Lampard’s work and the legacy he created at Chelsea,” Tuchel said. “At the same time, I cannot wait to meet my new team and compete in the most exciting league in football. I am grateful to now be part of the Chelsea family — it feels amazing.” Tuchel, whose deal gives him the possibility to extend his contract beyond the initial 18 months, was fired by Dortmund after falling out with officials — just as he would do at PSG — so gaining favour with the ruthless Abramovich is as crucial as getting the club's senior players on side. Player power has been a term used to describe events at Stamford Bridge since the days of Jose Mourinho's first spell and it will no doubt have been involved in the decision to part ways with Lampard. A divisive character at times because of his penchant for being outspoken, Tuchel will be helped by the relationships he already has with Thiago Silva, from PSG, and Christian Pulisic, from Dortmund. One of Tuchel's biggest tasks will be getting the best out of two of his compatriots, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who were among the new signings bought at great expense last summer but have struggled so far at Stamford Bridge. Werner, for example, scored eight times in his first 12 games, but has scored only once in his last 14 appearances. While Chelsea look a long way off the title, despite being briefly in first place in early December, the unpredictability of this season like no other means a strong run of results could quickly see the team back in the mix. Success in the cups could be used as a springboard for Tuchel, with Chelsea still in the FA Cup and into the last 16 of the Champions League, where the opponent is Atletico Madrid. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Steve Douglas, The Associated Press