A UBC grad has been sentenced to nearly six years in a Saudi prison for defying a ban on women driving in that country.
A UBC grad has been sentenced to nearly six years in a Saudi prison for defying a ban on women driving in that country.
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
Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab will continue his work unabated after protests escalated to a new level on Saturday when a group of people stood with signs outside his Regina home. "The Ministry of Health has indicated that Dr. Shahab will not let this incident distract him from continuing his important ongoing work and is unavailable for comment today," Jim Billington, spokesperson for the Saskatchewan government, said in a statement Monday. Billington said Premier Scott Moe and Shahab would provide an update on current public health orders and vaccine delivery at a news conference on Tuesday. The current set of public health restrictions are scheduled to expire on Friday. Protests of Saskatchewan's public health orders and government policy have been common through the 10 months of the pandemic, but have largely stayed in public areas. Throughout the spring and summer, there were sporadic protests outside the Saskatchewan legislature and later at the T.C. Douglas Building where Shahab and workers within the Ministry of Health have offices. The protest moved to Shahab's residence on Saturday. "We had police respond immediately," Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said. Officers arrived at around 2:30 p.m. CST, with policing staying for about an hour until protesters left. "They were a group of protesters we're acquainted with. We've had interactions with them and discussions with them many times, most of them being around the legislature," Bray said. "The primary focus is on, is there any immediate risk to the safety of anyone, and if there isn't, then the investigative work is done to determine if any potential charges will come from that," Bray said. The Regina Police Service is currently working with Crown prosecutions to determine if any charges will be laid, according to Bray. Moe released his own statement Saturday, referring to the people who gathered outside Shahab's home as, "a group of idiots." "This harassment of Dr. Shahab and his family at their home is simply unacceptable, sickening and wrong," he said. "To those that did this — you should be ashamed of yourselves and your actions." Moe invited those with concerns about public health measures and decisions by government to contact him or their MLA. Shahab is a public servant and works under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health. He and his team make recommendations to government, but he does not have the authority to compel them to implement measures. On Saturday, the province said Shahab and his family were not harmed during the protest. On Monday, Billington said, "while appropriate steps are being taken to ensure the safety and security of Dr. Shahab, we are unable to provide information regarding security considerations." In November, Ontario Premier Doug Ford referred to people protesting restrictions outside his home as "buffoons." In October, people in Manitoba left cardboard tombstones on the front lawn of Premier Brian Pallister's lawn protesting his response to a wave of COVID cases. The Winnipeg Free Press reported on Saturday that anti-restriction protesters planned to demonstrate outside Pallister's home and police were on scene, but a protest never materialized. Protests move from the legislature to private residence In December, an event outside the legislature billed as a "Freedom Rally" drew criticism from Moe when a video showed one speaker making racist remarks toward Shahab. "Those comments are foolish and they should never be made. Quite frankly, they're nothing short of idiotic," Moe at the time, adding that he was "embarrassed" that people from Saskatchewan made those "disgusting" comments. "We have a chief medical health officer in this province who we should be very thankful to have. He didn't have to come to Saskatchewan. And he is among the very best, providing the very best public health advice that any province could ask for." Two organizers of that rally were fined $2,800 for violating public health orders. On Jan. 12, Regina Leader-Post photographer Brandon Harder captured security escorting Shahab to his vehicle after a media conference at the legislative building. A couple of people held signs near the vehicle, with one reading "Expose Mask Nazis." After that incident, Moe tweeted, "This kind of harassing behaviour is utterly unacceptable. Dr. Shahab deserves nothing short of our thanks and respect for his dedication to the health and safety of Saskatchewan people." Doctors group condemns protest On Monday, the association that represents Saskatchewan physicians condemned the protest outside Shahab's home. "Bringing a protest to Dr. Shahab's private residence is absolutely unacceptable, and the SMA condemns these actions," said Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, in a release. She said the SMA commended Moe for telling those that disagree with public health policy to contact elected officials and not civil servants. "Since the pandemic, physicians and all health-care providers have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to caring for and putting the safety of Saskatchewan citizens first. Everyone's effort to reduce the spread of this virus is critical," Dr. Konstantynowicz said. "The SMA is extremely grateful for Dr. Shahab's tireless, dedicated efforts in fighting the pandemic on behalf of the people of the province." CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
A Fort St. John man was sentenced last Tuesday to 20 months probation and 50 hours community service for an illegal cannabis grow-op in June 2017. Edward James Fennell, 51, pleaded guilty to to one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, and for the production of more than three kilograms of cannabis seized from his home on 99 Avenue. Officers seized 170 plants from three hidden grow rooms inside the home, which RCMP described as a “typical two-stage grow op.” The cannabis had a street value between $60,000 to $95,000, court heard. Fennell previously had a medical licence to grow cannabis, which was expired at the time of his arrest, court heard. He declined an opportunity to speak to the court about his sentencing. He was issued a two-year suspended sentence, and released to serve 20 months probation and the requirement to complete community service. Cannabis became legal in Canada in October 2018. Email reporter Tom Summer at firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
Canada’s Natural Resource Minister Seamus O'Regan rebuffed calls to issue sanctions on the United States over President Joe Biden‘s move to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. He said the government has a “responsibility to Albertans to safeguard our relationship with the single largest customer for Canadian crude.”
NEW YORK — Illustrator Michaela Goade became the first Native American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for best children's picture story, cited for “We Are Water Protectors.” Tae Keller's “When You Trap a Tiger” won the John Newbery Medal for the outstanding children's book overall of 2020. Jacqueline Woodson, whose previous honours include a National Book Award, won her third Coretta Scott King Award for best work by a Black author for “Before the Ever After.” And a tribute to Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T," received the King award for best illustration. The book was written by Carole Boston Weatherford, with images by Frank Morrison. The awards were announced Monday by the American Library Association. Goade is a member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes in Southeast Alaska. “We Are Water Protectors,” written by Carole Lindstrom, is a call for environmental protection that was conceived in response to the planned construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through Standing Rock Sioux territory. Keller, who was raised in Hawaii and now lives in New York, drew upon Korean folklore for “When You Trap a Tiger," in which a young girl explores her past. Keller's work also was named the year's best Asian/Pacific American literature. The Newbery medal was established in 1922, the Caldecott in 1937. Goade is the first Native American to win in either category. Daniel Nayeri's “Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story)" won the Michael L. Printz Award for best young adult novel, and Mildred D. Taylor, known for “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” among other works, was given a “Literature Legacy” award. Kekla Magoon, who has written or co-written “X: A Novel" and “How It Went Down,” won a lifetime achievement award for young adult books. Ernesto Cisneros' “Efrén Divided" won the Pura Belpré prize for outstanding Latinx author. Raul Gonzalez's “Vamos! Let’s Go Eat” received the Belpré award for illustration. The Stonewall Book Award for best LGBT literature was given to Archaa Shrivastav for “We Are Little Feminists: Families." ____ On the Internet: ala.org. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
WETASKIWIN, Alta. — RCMP in central Alberta say a man is dead after being hit by a vehicle while he was walking on the highway. Police say it happened Sunday on Highway 2A south of Wetaskiwin. They say a man was walking on the driving lane of the highway when he was struck by a southbound vehicle. The 37-year-old man from Maskwacis died in hospital. Police say the driver stayed on scene and co-operated with investigators. They say charges are not anticipated. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to lawsuits over whether Donald Trump illegally profited off his presidency, saying the cases are moot now that Trump is no longer in office. The high court's action was the first in an expected steady stream of orders and rulings on pending lawsuits involving Trump now that his presidency has ended. Some orders may result in dismissals of cases since Trump is no longer president. In other cases, proceedings that had been delayed because Trump was in the White House could resume and their pace even quicken. The justices threw out Trump’s challenge to lower court rulings that had allowed lawsuits to go forward alleging that he violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel and patronize other businesses owned by the former president and his family. The high court also ordered the lower court rulings thrown out as well and directed appeals courts in New York and Richmond, Virginia, to dismiss the suits as moot now that Trump is no longer in office. The outcome leaves no appellate court opinions on the books in an area of the law that has been rarely explored in U.S. history. The cases involved suits filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia, and high-end restaurants and hotels in New York and Washington, D.C., that “found themselves in the unenviable position of having to compete with businesses owned by the President of the United States.” The suits sought financial records showing how much state and foreign governments have paid the Trump Organization to stay and eat at Trump-owned properties. The cases never reached the point where any records had to be turned over. But Karl Racine and Brian Frosh, the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland, respectively, said in a joint statement that a ruling by a federal judge in Maryland that went against Trump “will serve as precedent that will help stop anyone else from using the presidency or other federal office for personal financial gain the way that President Trump has over the past four years.” Other cases involving Trump remain before the Supreme Court, or in lower courts. Trump is trying to block the Manhattan district attorney ’s enforcement of a subpoena for his tax returns, part of a criminal investigation into the president and his businesses. Lower courts are weighing congressional subpoenas for Trump’s financial records. And the justices also have before them Trump’s appeal of a decision forbidding him from blocking critics on his Twitter account. Like the emoluments cases, Trump’s appeal would seem to be moot now that he is out of office and also had his Twitter account suspended. Republican senators and some legal scholars have said that Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate cannot proceed now that he is once again a private citizen. But many scholars have said that Trump's return to private life poses no impediment to an impeachment trial. Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
Some major changes could be cruising into the Midland Bay Landing project. The matter was brought up by Mayor Stewart Strathearn at a recent Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation (MBLDC) meeting, during which he talked about a staff report from December that referenced two major cruise lines wanting to use Midland as a terminus (a port from where traveller embark or disembark). The report states that Viking Cruises and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection have committed to begin in 2022 and 2023. The former company wants to use Midland as a turnaround port (for embarking and disembarking), which would see between 300 and 400 international tourists staying in the town's hotels and spending in the community. These new ships are over 600 feet long, which is too large for the town dock, a perfect fit for the coal docks. Strathearn's purpose of bringing this up at an MBLDC meeting was to assess interest around the table. "I'm just wondering whether it would be in our interest to merge the two projects, site development and customs port, in some manner," he said. The reaction was mixed. Board chair Bill Kernohan said he was unaware of this concerted effort by the Town of Midland to open the town further to the cruise industry. "I think before we decide how to approach this or to merge the projects, we need a further conversation with the town to ensure that any use of the Midland Bay Landing property is consistent with the overall plan," he said. "This would be a significant alteration." To accommodate larger cruise ships, Kernohan said, the town would likely have to create an arrival area, which would also incorporate customs and immigration. "We love the idea of the cruise ships," he said. "I think we just need to align the different interests to make sure we're all working toward the same goal." Kernohan's hesitation was matched by fellow board member Robert Barber's caution. "I want to reach out from my real estate background and make it clear to all parties that the term of this agreement is imperative and should be short with a realistic out clause for the town," said Barber, managing partner, Den Bosch & Finchley Inc., a Toronto-based design-build company. "We want to start marketing this property to the interested parties, it’s difficult to sell property when you have a tenant. It could significantly encumber our efforts to market the property properly, unless we have a timeline we can communicate to the marketplace." Fellow board member, John Macintyre, had a different view. "If we’re going to have alignment on that, we should probably consider our design process to be an integrated one," he said. "We’ve already gone through a process to identify a preferred supplier for the design services, so it may make sense to combine those two projects and get them kick-started now. Even from a design standpoint, it could be a phased situation where we do part of it this year and finish off the rest of it next year." In a separate conversation with MidlandToday, Strathearn shared some more information around the cruise ships arrival in Midland. "There's a budget allocation yet to be approved to create a port of entry or a customs port at the coal dock," he said, talking about the $50,000 that will be brought to council during budget deliberations. "That would be a temporary thing while the development corporation looks at what we might do in the longer term for the whole harbour itself. "Another site that was considered was the old winter berth, just south of Pettersen Park," added Strathearn. He said he wasn't aware what kind of work would need to be done at the dock. "We’re going to have to provide road access," he said. "We may have to bring electricity. I’m sure it will come to council, I’m not sure when." As for sight-line issues, it might be something to watch in the short term, he said, adding the arrival of the Pearl Mist brings crowds to the waterfront just to see the ship. Addressing the environmental concerns around emissions, he said, these brand new ships would most likely be state-of-the-art and more friendly on the environment. "The industry has undergone significant improvements in terms of emissions," said Strathearn. "They’re now looking at using turbines that burn considerably less fossil fuels." Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
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 variant of the COVID-19 virus known for its ease of transmission appears to have already entered the community, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a news conference Monday. "Let me be blunt: This now is very concerning," Shandro said. Alberta has found 20 cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom, with all but one directly linked to travel, he said. That one case of the B117 variant has raised concerns that there may be more cases in the province. There are two coronavirus variants of concern, one first identified in the U.K. and one in South Africa. Five cases of the variant first identified in South Africa have also been found in Alberta, all related to travel. The ease in which these variants spread would cause huge spikes in Alberta's COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths, particularly without health measures in place to slow transmission, Shandro said. "These variants can spread very quickly," Shandro said. "The emerging research indicates that they have a significantly higher infection rate, estimated to be 30 to 50 per cent higher than the strain that we've had in Alberta to date." Cases skyrocket in U.K. England and Ireland have seen the variant spread rapidly throughout their populations and the U.K.'s daily mortality rate is the highest it's been since the start of the pandemic, he said. "Both countries saw a sharp increase in the number of cases, putting more strain on health-care resources, leading to more hospitalizations and ultimately strict lock down measures. Canada has not seen the variants spreading in large numbers, but that might be changing, he said. "There's no question this kind of exponential growth would push our health-care system to the brink," he said. "It would significantly impact the health-care system and the services available to all Albertans." Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the non-travel case of the variant was the only one identified in the more than 1,000 samples screened last week by the lab. "While we continue to investigate this case to see if we can identify any contacts who may have had a travel exposure, this is a potentially concerning development," she said. "It underlines the importance of the work that our lab has been doing to expand their capacity to screen positive cases for genetic mutations of concern. "If additional steps are required to prevent the spread of variants in Alberta, we will take action to do so." The province is increasing its testing for variants with plans to have labs increase capacity for full genetic testing to 400 per week and 300 per day of the testing for variants, Shandro said. Restrictions remain The presence of the variants in the province complicates when health restrictions will be relaxed, he said. "We need to continue to proceed cautiously," Shandro said. "If we are not careful, the health system could be in dire straits." Alberta reported 362 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and 25 additional deaths. There are now 637 people in hospital with the disease, 113 of them in intensive care. Labs performed 7,200 tests for the virus in the last 24 hours, with a positivity rate of about five per cent. Shandro acknowledged many businesses are anxious about the continuing restrictions. But, he said, easing restrictions depends on hospitalization rates and other metrics. "We understand that the balance of the restrictions against the social and the economic consequences of them but our focus is going to be on a risk-based approach, not essential versus non-essential." Shandro said the province will continue to work with sectors such as the restaurant industry to come up with a plan for easing restrictions. COVID-19 anniversary Monday marks one year since the first case of the virus that causes COVID-19 was confirmed in Canada, in a patient who had recently returned from Wuhan, China. On Jan. 21, 2020, Hinshaw issued her first warning about COVID-19, saying that Alberta was watching developments and taking precautions. The outbreak in China had tripled in size over the preceding weekend, with hundreds of people ill and six confirmed deaths. First cases had also been confirmed in Thailand, South Korea and Japan. One week later, on Jan. 28, Alberta activated its first low-level emergency response protocols. At that point, four cases had been confirmed in Canada, more than 9,000 across the globe. The province confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 5. Since then, 121,535 Albertans have been infected and there have been 1,576 deaths. As of Sunday, here is how the cases break down across the province: Calgary zone: 3,588 Edmonton zone: 3,245 North zone: 1,282 Central zone: 809 South zone: 399 Unknown: 14
An "active incident" that occurred in western P.E.I. on Sunday involved a man with a firearm threatening to harm himself, his family and police, RCMP said. Staff Sgt. Troy MacLean said officers responded to the call in Nail Pond shortly after midnight. The area was secured and nearby residents were asked to stay inside their homes. An emergency response team from New Brunswick, a crisis negotiation team, police dog service and a drone operator were all on-site. RCMP issued a statement around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday saying the situation had been dealt with. No injuries MacLean said there were no injuries related to the incident. "The emergency response team took control of the scene with the crisis negotiation team," he said. "Negotiations continued throughout the day and we were able to safely negotiate the surrender of the individual to police." MacLean said three long guns were seized from the residence. He said the investigation is ongoing and no decision has been made on any charges. More from CBC P.E.I.
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
NEW YORK — In 1963, Sidney Poitier made a film in Arizona, “Lilies of the Field.” The performance led to a huge milestone: He became the first Black winner of a lead-acting Oscar. Now, Arizona is the site of another milestone for the legendary actor and filmmaker. Arizona State University has named its new film school after him. It was to unveil The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at a ceremony on Monday. The decision to name the school after Poitier, 93, is about much more than an emphasis on diversity, said Michael M. Crow, president of the university, in an interview ahead of the unveiling. “You’re looking for an icon, a person that embodies everything you stand for,” Crow said. “With Sidney Poitier, it’s his creative energy, his dynamism, his drive, his ambition, the kinds of projects he worked on, the ways in which he advanced his life.” “Look at his life: It’s a story of a person who found a way,” he said of the actor, who was born in Miami and raised in the Bahamas, the son of tomato farmers, before launching a career that went from small, hard-won theatre parts to eventual Hollywood stardom. “How do we help other young people find their way?” The university, which is expanding its existing film program into its own school, says it has invested millions of dollars in technology to create what’s intended to be one of the largest, most accessible and most diverse film schools. Crow said that much like the broader university, the film school will measure success not by exclusivity but by inclusivity. By expanding both its physical resources and flexible learning options like online study, it hopes to enrol thousands more students, teaching them skills that go far beyond traditional moviemaking. The school will move in the fall of 2022 to a new facility in downtown Mesa, Arizona, 7 miles from the university’s Tempe Campus. It will also occupy the university’s new centre in Los Angeles. The university did not make Poitier, who has been out of the public eye for some time, available for an interview. His daughter Beverly Poitier-Henderson told The Associated Press her father was “doing well and enjoying his family,” and considered it an honour to be the namesake of the new film school. Poitier-Henderson and two of Poitier’s other daughters described in interviews how the film school’s emphasis on inclusivity and access aligned with their father’s long-held ideals. “If it has my Dad’s name on it, it has to be inclusive, because that’s the foundation of who he is and what he stands for,” said Anika Poitier, like her father a filmmaker. “And it’s important to not only have inclusion but to have diversity, and to give people the opportunity to tell their stories. I think it’s imperative to cast a wide net and allow anyone who’s called to tell their story to learn how to do that.” Sydney Poitier Heartsong, the actor’s youngest daughter, noted that the two most important things to her father as she grew up were education and the arts. “Those are the two tracks that run throughout his life, that define what he has contributed and defined what he felt was important to impart to his kids. .... the arts were also a form of education. He wanted to pass that on to all young people but specifically young people of colour." Poitier Heartsong added that the new school had special resonance in a time when “we’ve come to recognize that from a socioeconomic standpoint, a lot of (elite) schools exclude people of colour disproportionately -- and people without the means to go to them. That is the antithesis of what my father would want to be a part of." In his heyday, when he won his Oscar, one of her father's biggest complaints, she said, was that “he was the only one up there, and he wanted others to be up there with him.” The ASU film production programs now enrol 700 students, said Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts there, but that number is expected to double over three to five years. “I just hope that the students at the Sidney Poitier Film School take up the mantle of responsibility the way our father took up the mantle when he was coming up in his career,” said Poitier-Henderson, “and tell their stories regardless of finances, which is easy for us to say. But you’ve got to be true to yourself. It's a very powerful thing, and I’m looking forward to seeing who comes out of it. I’m not looking for the next Sidney Poitier, but I’m looking for the next person who is true to themself." Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
VILLE-MARIE-Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue (CISSS-AT) a devancé d’un mois le retour des infirmières dans les points de service des petites municipalités. Le CISSS-AT avait annoncé le redéploiement de son personnel infirmier dans les hôpitaux de la région le 23 novembre dernier, provoquant du même coup la fermeture des cliniques situées dans les milieux ruraux, où les gens pouvaient aller pour des soins de base (changement de pansement, prise de sang, etc.) Dans un communiqué, le CISSS-AT indique qu’après analyse des besoins de la population, il a décidé de ramener plus d’une cinquantaine d’infirmières vers les différents centres de santé dans les villages de la région. La PDG, Caroline Roy, insiste pour dire que la mesure à l’origine était temporaire (on visait le retour à la normale fin février), et que ce sont les besoins de la population qui allaient dicter la suite des choses. Le CISSS a indiqué qu’il fera le point sur la situation des infirmières dans la région lors de son point de presse hebdomadaire de jeudi. Satisfaction au Témiscamingue Les élus de la MRC du Témiscamingue se réjouissent de cette nouvelle, qui leur a été annoncée la semaine dernière. «Ils étaient très contents, affirme la préfète, Claire Bolduc. Ici, les gens sont plutôt habitués à être bousculés, à perdre des acquis. Cette nouvelle a donc été accueillie avec beaucoup de satisfaction, autant par les élus que par la population. Certains ont dit que cette fois, ils se sentaient respectés.» Mme Bolduc raconte que le CISSS-AT semble trouver plus d’avantages que d’inconvénients à rouvrir les centres de services en milieu rural. «Lorsqu’elle a fait l’annonce aux élus, la PDG a indiqué que la direction avait pesé le pour et le contre avant de prendre la décision. Il semble qu’il valait mieux pour eux éviter que la clientèle fréquente trop les hôpitaux pour des services qui pouvaient se faire en CLSC. De plus, ils ont constaté que le manque d’infirmières n’affectait pas outre mesure les services dans les hôpitaux.» Des questions soulevées De son côté, la députée solidaire de Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue, Émilise Lessard-Therrien, se réjouit de façon prudente. «Je suis très contente d’apprendre que les points de service dans les petites municipalités vont rouvrir leurs portes, affirme-t-elle. Selon moi, il était impensable de demander à des gens de faire 100 km pour des soins de base, surtout en plein hiver.» Elle estime tout de même que certaines questions demeurent sans réponse pour le moment. «Quand on a annoncé la réorganisation en novembre, c’était pour que ces infirmières aillent prêter main forte à des secteurs névralgiques dans les hôpitaux. Or, la pénurie de personnel soignant que nous connaissons n’est pas résorbée. On ne sait pas comment le CISSS-AT va s’organiser pour que les services ne soient pas affectés.» Les infirmières dans les points de service éloignés sont de retour en poste depuis ce lundi, au Témiscamingue et en Abitibi-Ouest (La Sarre). Le CISSS-AT indique par ailleurs que pour la MRC d’Abitibi (secteur d’Amos), des infirmières à la retraite ont permis de maintenir ouverts des points de service pour les prélèvements sanguins.Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
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
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
Le conseil municipal de la Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts a remis à plus tard les démarches visant l’édification d’un projet immobilier dans le secteur du Mont-Habitant. « Nous avons dû remettre à plus tard les consultations publiques pour l’évaluation de ce projet. Nous devons attendre après la Santé publique, afin de pouvoir réunir de 50 à 75 citoyens en un même endroit, à cause de la Covid. On préfère prendre notre temps, agir en toute transparence et voir ce que le promoteur voudra faire. Il est question de possiblement baisser le nombre de maisons mises en chantier », a décrit le maire de Saint-Sauveur, M. Jacques Gariépy. « J’aimerais rassurer les gens, qui me disent que l’on va perdre une belle montagne. Rassurez-vous, il n’est pas question de toucher à la station de ski. C’est un projet à part ». Le premier citoyen sauverien a tenu à souligner l’envoi à Québec d’une résolution de son conseil, demandant à la SQ d’exercer un contrôle plus serré auprès des personnes en provenance des zones rouges, vers la MRC des Pays-d’en-Haut. « Nous l’avons acheminé à la ministre de la sécurité publique, au premier-ministre Legault, au préfêt de la MRC, à notre députée/ministre Marguerite Blais, etc. On veut que tous les moyens soient pris pour garder notre taux de contamination bas ». Enfin, M. Garipéy espère conclure avant la période des fêtes une entente avec la MRC des PDH, afin que les résidents de Saint-Sauveur puissent utiliser gratuitement les sentiers du territoire de la MRC. Il y aura une collecte des encombrants les 3 et 4 novembre prochains. Les citoyens qui souhaitent utiliser ce service doivent s’inscrire en ligne sur le site de la municipalité avant le 30 octobre à midi. Le port du masque est maintenant obligatoire à l’écocentre, dès votre arrivée, pour protéger le personnel et les utilisateurs du site.Ève Ménard, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says there has been a recent increase in overdoses, almost all involving opioids. The health unit says that between Jan. 18 and 20, there were nine emergency department visits related to the opioid fentanyl. In the same time period there were six opioid overdoses involving fentanyl and one involving methamphetamine. "The overdoses are higher than expected when compared to historical numbers for the same reporting week," the health unit said in a statement issued Friday. According to reports from a community partner that haven't been formally confirmed, some recent doses have involved Carfentanil, the health unit said. Carfentanil is an opioid even stronger than fentanyl that is used to sedate large animals. According to WECHU, there were 249 opioid-related emergency room visits in 2019, and 47 people died of opioid overdoses. Last week, Windsor City Council voted in favour of putting naloxone on fire trucks. Some police officers in Windsor also carry the drug, which temporarily reverses opioid overdoses.
EDMONTON — Two Edmonton high schools have moved classes online after both reported large numbers of COVID-19 infections in the past week. There have been 20 confirmed cases at M.E. LaZerte School, where nearly 1,300 students had been attending classes in person. At that school, 300 students and 43 staff have been asked to quarantine. Meanwhile, at J. Percy Page High School, 715 in-person students are now learning at home. Thirteen cases were confirmed at that school, resulting in 366 students and 17 staff members being asked to quarantine. In-person classes are to resume in two weeks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press