Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
Slowly, some the staff who were forced to be away due to COVID are beginning to return to their shifts at Lakeview Pioneer Lodge. Today the Lodge is reporting that in general the residents are in stable condition. Two residents are being watched very carefully. One of these two residents has been sent to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon to have a series of lab tests and x-rays completed. The other of the two residents is being carefully monitored on site to watch for any signs that a secondary infection may be setting in. Two other residents have been started on intravenous fluids to assist with hydration. A number of days ago, six residents were transferred out of the community to the hospitals in Melfort and Nipawin, to ease the workload on the remaining staff at the Lodge. Thankfully these six residents continue to be in stable condition and arrangements are slowly being made to repatriate some of these residents back to Lakeview in the next three days or so. This of course will depend on the stability of the staffing numbers. Of the thirty-one residents that are currently remaining on site, there is a group of six residents who are rallying very well and indeed are nearing recovery. The total number of residents who have passed away due to the effects of COVID remains at six. No new deaths have occurred, and as such the Board, the administration and all of the staff are very grateful that their prayers are being heard. It is still too early to say that the situation is ‘rounding the bend’ as it were, but it might be safe to say that there is a glimpse of the bend in the distance. It is safe to say that everyone will be very relieved when the announcement can be made that the outbreak is over, but until that time all will continue to wait and pray that no other lives are lost.Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
If you’re a diabetic, you probably know what it’s like to prick your finger to get a blood sugar reading. If you’re not, Canada may be calling you to let a little blood as a civic duty. The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force recently rolled out its latest wave of antibody home test kits in its effort to map the prevalence of COVID-19 in the country. This past week, 22,000 of the test kits were mailed to randomly selected Canadians. That’s in addition to 4,000 that were sent before Christmas. In total, 48,000 test kits will be distributed, and Newfoundland and Labrador’s share of that will be almost 3,600. Dr. Catherine Hankins, chair of the task force, says she hopes people realize the service they’re providing by participating. “There are two big reasons to participate,” she said this week. “One is you’re being called to serve, in a sense — to serve your province and your country by helping gather information that’s going to be useful to decision-makers … but also, you get to learn your own result, and I can tell you a lot of people are curious.” However, you can't volunteer to do the test unless you've received a kit. The daily count of COVID-19 cases that appears in the news only tallies those who have tested positive for the disease through PCR testing. That’s a genetic test that can detect even the smallest amount of virus in a person's airways. An antibody test is different. It detects the cells a person's body creates to combat the virus. They can linger for months, or even a year or more, long after a person has recovered. They will also be there even if a person didn’t know they had the disease. One advantage of the Canadian-made test the task force is using is that it can detect the difference between the antibodies that occur naturally to fight viral infection, and those that are induced by a vaccine. Commercially produced tests have not been able to do that until now. Michael Grant, an immunologist at Memorial University in St. John’s, says tests they conducted last year did not have that capability. In his study, Grant said, they recruited people who had COVID-19 or thought they might have it or been exposed to it. Out of 160 volunteers, they found only two cases of people who tested negative for the coronavirus but actually had the antibodies. One of them was someone who had quarantined during a cruise, and tested negative when they got back. However, Grant says he was encouraged by the fact some people still had antibodies in their system several months after being exposed. “It would suggest to me that the (infection) immunity is going to last at least as long as the vaccine-based immunity," he said. “That’s all we can say so far, because it hasn’t been that long a time.” Grant said the task force study will offer some important insights, and may even help inform who is best to vaccinate after the high-priority groups are covered. “Right now, the public health approach is that everyone should get the vaccine,” he said. But he adds that 48,000 tests will only tell so much. “They would have to get out a lot in order to cover the entire country and be able to get an accurate idea of prevalence in different regions,” he said. Hankins agrees the sample size won’t give a clear picture of specific regions of a given province, and tests aren’t being distributed to Indigenous reservations, military facilities or prisons. But the algorithm used by Statistics Canada ensures a representative cross-section of age and gender. That’s why she is hoping for a high participation rate. “You’re representing not just yourself,” she tells test recipients, “but everybody else your age, your sex and your province, so you’re really important.”Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
WINNIPEG — Patrik Laine scored his second goal of the game in overtime, and the Winnipeg Jets started their season with a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames Thursday. The Finnish winger put away the winner 1:18 into extra time, using his speed to create space before beating Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom in tight. The Jets (1-0-0) battled back from an early two-goal deficit, starting with a goal by Mark Schiefele just 34 seconds into the second period. Laine and Kyle Connor each registered a goal and an assist for the Jets in regulation. Elias Lindholm had a goal and assist for the Flames (0-0-1), while Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau also scored. Markstrom made his debut for Calgary after signing a six-year, US$36-million deal in free agency and stopped 30-of-34 shots Thursday. Connor Hellebuyck, the NHL’s reigning Vezina winner, had 23 saves for Winnipeg. The game was a rematch of last year's playoff series where the Flames dispatched with the Jets in four games in the qualifying round. Tkachuk was quick to put the Flames on the board Thursday, scoring on just the second shot of the game 4:28 in with a deflection in front of the Winnipeg net. The lead didn't last long. Less than three minutes later, Jets defenceman Derek Forbort made a pair of big plays, first jumping into the Winnipeg crease to make a save as Hellebuyck lay sprawled at the edge of it. Forbort then cleared the puck to Kyle Connor, who sprang Laine for a breakaway with a long pass. The Finnish winger sent a wrist shot sailing past Markstrom to even the score. The Flames went up again on a power play 11:24 into the first period after Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault was called for goalie interference. Nearing the end of the man advantage, Lindholm sent a pass through traffic to a wide-open Gaudreau at the side of the net and Gaudreau put a snap shot past Hellebuyck. Lindholm netted a goal of his own about five minutes later, taking a pass from Dillon Dube and rocketing it into the top corner of the net to put Calgary up 3-1 heading into the first intermission. Chris Tanev registered a secondary assist on the play, marking his first point for the Flames. The 31-year-old defenceman signed a four-year, US$18-million deal with Calgary in free agency after 10 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. Winnipeg wasted no time responding in the second frame. Thirty-four seconds into the period, Nikolaj Ehlers took a shot from the slot and, while Markstrom made the stop, he couldn't control the rebound. The puck squirted out to Schiefele who popped it in from the side of the net to make it 3-2. Whether Ehlers would play Thursday was in doubt until shortly before game time. The 24-year-old left winger missed practice Wednesday due to COVID-19 protocols. Winnipeg evened the score before the end of the second period, striking on a two-man advantage. Calgary was already killing off a too-many-men penalty when Lindholm was called for hooking on Paul Statsny. Winnipeg's power play got to work and Laine found Connor, who sent a one timer past Markstrom to knot the score 3-3. The period ended with some dramatics after Noah Hanifin cross-checked Connor into the boards. Laine responded by going after Hanifin and a scuffle ensued, with several members of each team jumping in. Hanifin was called for cross-checking, and Laine and Tkachuk were each sent to the box for roughing. Markstom made the save of the night with less than three minutes to go after rushing back to his net, stick-less after playing the puck behind the net. Stastny took a shot at the wide-open net, but the Swedish netminder appeared out of thin air and snatched the puck with his glove. Thursday was the first of nine meetings between the two clubs in the pandemic-condensed 56-game season. The Flames will host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, and the Jets are set to visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2020. The Canadian Press
GUELPH/WELLINGTON– Guelph/Wellington Paramedic Service is using remote patient monitoring to take the strain off the healthcare system at a critical time. Chief Stephen Dewar said remote patient monitoring involves community paramedics examining patients who have either been discharged from hospital or flagged by a family physician. Patients use various tools – such as weigh scales, blood pressure and oxygen saturation monitors – that are linked to a modem and results are reviewed by a community paramedic at least once a day. Any issues based on these results can lead to necessary intervention whether that be contacting their doctor or the patient. “Our goal is to try to prevent them from having emergencies in the first place,” Dewar said. This program has been ongoing for a few years, but Dewar said the program has been expanded during the pandemic. “The Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) offered us the opportunity to expand our program and to try to help people who are either mild or moderate symptoms of COVID but staying home,” Dewar said. “Just to make sure that they’re staying safe.” GW paramedics have been assisting at Caressant Care Arthur retirement home which has been in a major COVID outbreak since mid-December. Again, this is to keep people safe and to notify any nursing staff or others if someone begins to show worsening symptoms. Dewar said this is a collaborative effort with staff at Caressant Care and they’re not looking to duplicate any services. This reduces strain on hospitals and assures physicians their patients are resting at home but also allows people to know when they should seek medical help. “That has been our findings a couple of times where people have deteriorated but they weren’t really sure at what point they should be reaching out for more help and we’re able to help them define that,” Dewar said. This has made a large impact in Wellington County as Dewar said that’s where a majority of where remotely monitored patients are based. “Given the rural nature, it’s a lot harder for some of the other organizations to reach those people,” Dewar said. “So remote patient monitoring works really well in Wellington County.” A recent related pilot project has been completely based in the county. Dewar explained the Ministry of Long-Term Care asked GW Paramedic Service to get involved in monitoring people who are on waiting lists for long-term care. “That’s having one paramedic a day going out and visiting these people to make sure that they’re still okay and seeing what other resources they might need,” Dewar said, adding they can then follow-up with phone calls and other technology involved in remote monitoring. He explained this takes pressure off health care providers and family as well who can take some of the burden of care off themselves. “If you’re in there every day, if you’re a family member, you may not know if this deterioration is worthy of reporting or is this person just having a bad day,” Dewar said. “Our paramedics are able to be a little bit more objective about that.” This pilot has been funded through to March 31 but they have applied to fund this in the future and are looking for a more permanent place to operate as it is temporarily at the Harriston Fire Hall. Dewar is ultimately proud of how the team has stepped up during the pandemic beyond just responding to 911 calls. “We feel like the paramedics have said ‘There’s a major emergency and we need to do everything we can,’” Dewar said. “They could just say ‘No we have enough to do’ but they’re stepping up, so I’m very proud of the team that I’m leading and the work that they’re doing.”Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
The lawsuit alleges that Amazon and the five largest U.S. publishers, collectively called the 'Big Five', agreed to price restraints that cause consumers to overpay for eBooks purchased from them through a retail platform other than Amazon.com. The lawsuit comes a day after Connecticut said it was investigating Amazon for potential anti-competitive behavior in its business selling digital books. Amazon declined to comment.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas man was accused Thursday of beating a police officer with a pole flying a U.S. flag during last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents. In an arrest affidavit filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, an FBI agent said Peter Francis Stager is shown in video and photographs striking a prone police officer repeatedly with the flagpole after rioters dragged the officer down the Capitol's west stairs. Confidential informants had recognized Stager in riot video and photographs and alerted authorities, who have charged Stager with interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, according to the affidavit. Stager was in custody Thursday, said Allison Bragg, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock, Arkansas. She referred all questions about the arrest to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, where a spokesman did not immediately return a message Thursday. No attorney was listed for Stager in court records. Stager is the second Arkansas resident to be arrested and charged with participating in the Jan. 6 attack of the Capitol by pro-Trump loyalists that left five people dead, including a police officer. A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday in federal court in Little Rock for Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Arkansas, who remains in federal custody after his arrest on charges that included unlawfully entry to a restricted area with a lethal weapon — in this case, a stun gun. The FBI identified Barnett as a rioter photographed sitting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair during the Capitol insurrection. He surrendered to federal agents on Jan. 8. The Associated Press
East Ferris is pulling the plug on its community centre rink and curling ice in Astorville due to the uncertainty of escalating provincial restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jason Trottier, chief administrative officer, said Thursday that the ice will come out Monday following discussions during their community emergency management meeting. “We tried to make it work,” Trottier said about the decision to open the rink this winter despite not knowing if groups would be able to rent enough hours to justify the expenditure. “But it doesn’t make sense now,” he added, noting the provincial restrictions extending the shutdown until Feb. 10 was only leaving a month or so of hockey. And Trottier said there’s no guarantee there won’t be further extensions. The cost of keeping the ice plant running without customers and prospect of more dead time without revenue left little recourse, he said. George Suszter, president of East Nipissing Minor Hockey Association, said the decision isn’t surprising considering the complexity of the pandemic restrictions, cost and unknown timeframes. “I understand their decision because the taxpayers will have to pay the brunt of the cost,” he said, although as a sport program administrator it “would be nice to have had an option.” Suszter said it is “kind of sad to hear because even if the players are not able to play hockey right now they had hope in a month it would come back.” The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit was telling municipalities Thursday to close their outdoor rinks as well to further protect from viral transmission. The province had said Tuesday that outdoor rinks could stay open if protocols and limits on numbers were maintained. And Trottier said East Ferris was going to keep their Corbeil rink in the Bill Vrebosch Park open before hearing the health unit edict. Suszter said they actually had almost 90 percent of their membership totals from the previous year even though it was under modified playing rules. Hockey was giving the youth and the parents an opportunity for in-person interaction that’s important for mental health, he said. “It brought joy and happiness to the kids, it was a glimmer of normality” in unprecedented times, Suszter said. “People need to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Mankind is not made to isolate from others.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
How the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division educates students with intensive needs was a focus during the board’s meeting on Monday night. Superintendent Tom Michaud gave an accountability report on the division's recent performance. According to the report, Saskatchewan Rivers has significantly higher than average students per capita with intensive needs. According to Michaud's report, those students are succeeding with support from staff in the classrooms, at the division level and in specialized learning centers that do not exist elsewhere in the region. “It was really well received--really good information and good questions.... The inclusions around the health and wellness and our support for inclusive education and student services was a piece that was new to the report this year that hadn’t been in previous reports,” Sask. Rivers Director of Education Robert Bratvold said. Highlights of the report include the increase in educational support teachers, the support for English Language Learners and the capacity-building work done in the division to support students. In the division there are currently 48 emotional support teachers, six speech language pathologists, 10 school social workers, six English as additional language teachers, two educational psychologists and three Intensive Support consultants. Contracted service providers or partnerships include YWCA workers, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists through referral with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and SHA outreach workers. Staff changes in 2020-2021 show two full time occupational therapists under contract until the end of 2022-2023 school year, an additional full time social worker to respond to multiple schools, and a suspension of the school based physical therapists partnership with the SHA. Numbers that were not available in the report included enrolment numbers for alternative education in the Grade 9 to 12 category at Carlton. “There was a challenge and it was sort of an obvious thing.... There was data that we just couldn’t collect because of COVID,” Bratvold said. “It wasn’t unexpected. We knew that and the trustees knew that and so it actually in some ways was able to focus on some of the more qualitative aspects of our programming that isn’t always captured in the numerical data,” he explained The report also outlined mental health supports that exist in the division. Superintendent Tom Michaud gave an accountability report on the division's recent performance. According to the report, Saskatchewan Rivers has significantly higher than average students per capita with intensive needs. According to Michaud's report, those students are succeeding with support from staff in the classrooms, at the division level and in specialized learning centers that do not exist elsewhere in the region. “It was really well received--really good information and good questions.... The inclusions around the health and wellness and our support for inclusive education and student services was a piece that was new to the report this year that hadn’t been in previous reports,” Sask. Rivers Director of Education Robert Bratvold said. Highlights of the report include the increase in educational support teachers, the support for English Language Learners and the capacity-building work done in the division to support students. In the division there are currently 48 emotional support teachers, six speech language pathologists, 10 school social workers, six English as additional language teachers, two educational psychologists and three Intensive Support consultants. Contracted service providers or partnerships include YWCA workers, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists through referral with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and SHA outreach workers. Staff changes in 2020-2021 show two full time occupational therapists under contract until the end of 2022-2023 school year, an additional full time social worker to respond to multiple schools, and a suspension of the school based physical therapists partnership with the SHA. Numbers that were not available in the report included enrolment numbers for alternative education in the Grade 9 to 12 category at Carlton. “There was a challenge and it was sort of an obvious thing.... There was data that we just couldn’t collect because of COVID,” Bratvold said. “It wasn’t unexpected. We knew that and the trustees knew that and so it actually in some ways was able to focus on some of the more qualitative aspects of our programming that isn’t always captured in the numerical data,” he explained The report also outlined mental health supports that exist in the division. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
A Russian entrepreneur has caused a stir by branding his fast food outlet around the murderous tyrant Joseph Stalin. Stalin Doner was visited by authorities and faced a staff walkout, but its very existence reflects the ambiguous view some Russians have of the late dictator.
Efforts to provide Lake Babine Nation's elderly residents with COVID-19 immunizations were suspended Thursday, after a member of the vaccination team tested positive for the virus. Violet Findlay, who was assisting with the vaccine rollout at the First Nation in the Burns Lake area in northern B.C. announced her positive test in a social media post on Wednesday. "Well my test came back positive, I am so heartbroken," Findlay wrote. "Please people stay home. Need someone to encourage mom [and] dad to take the vaccine today." According to Bernard Patrick, emergency operations centre director with Lake Babine Nation, Findlay — who is a home support worker in the community — was helping the team coordinate the vaccinations and manage scheduling. Patrick said vaccinations had begun this week, with 50 residents who are 65 and older identified as candidates. He said many of them were reluctant to get immunizations, but 26 received shots on Wednesday before the clinic was put on pause. 'People are kind of nervous' Lake Babine Nation health director Emma Palmantier said the team was notified about Findlay's test result just before Wednesday's clinic opened. She said other health care workers would be tested as a result, and the community's administrative office was closed and sanitized on Thursday. "People are kind of nervous and wondering, you know," said Palmantier. "There was an outbreak because people didn't stay within their bubbles. That's what happened." According to Patrick, the community counted 56 COVID-19 cases in December — 40 confirmed with tests, with the rest linked to other cases. He said since the new year, there have been four confirmed cases, but "it's starting to pick up again." He said two elders had tested positive for the virus, but the community hasn't had any fatalities. Patrick said the First Nation, which is mostly spread across three communities — Fort Babine, Tachet and Woyenne — is closed to outsiders. He said during the holidays, even off-reserve members were prohibited from visiting, in line with a public health order banning gatherings. But he said despite checkpoints and security, movement couldn't be carefully controlled, as restaurants and businesses remained open. Vaccinations to resume Friday The vaccination program is set to resume on Friday. There had been 15 people scheduled to receive shots on Thursday before the clinic was suspended. Patrick said he expects all the elderly members of the Tachet community who want to be vaccinated will receive their shots on Friday. He said the entire community of Fort Babine will receive vaccinations at one time on Jan. 30, because it's so remote. Patrick estimates 70 to 80 people live there. Findlay's husband, William Findlay, told CBC News that his wife started noticing symptoms on Sunday and that the virus "hit her like a ton of bricks" on Monday. "She's still in bed today. I haven't seen her yet," he said on Thursday. "I tried NeoCitran and stuff like that, but I don't think it's helping." Do you have more to add to this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker
FLINT, Mich. — A new investigation of the Flint water disaster led to charges against nine people, including former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and key members of his administration, who are accused of various crimes in a calamitous plan that contaminated the community with lead and contributed to a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, authorities said Thursday. Nearly seven years after the doomed decision to use the Flint River, pipes at more than 9,700 Flint homes have been replaced and water quality has greatly improved. But prosecutors said it's not too late to pursue people responsible for one of the worst human-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. It’s the second time that six of the nine people have faced charges; their previous cases were dropped in 2019 when a new prosecution team took over. Snyder is the biggest new name in the bunch, though his alleged crimes are not as serious as others: two misdemeanour counts of wilful neglect of duty. Snyder’s former health director, Nick Lyon, and ex-chief medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2015 deaths of nine people with Legionnaires’. Authorities said they failed to alert the public about a regional spike in Legionnaires’ when the water system might have lacked enough chlorine to combat bacteria in the river water. “The Flint water crisis is not some relic of the past,” Fadwa Hammoud of the state attorney general’s office told reporters. “At this very moment, the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at all levels of government who trampled upon their trust and evaded accountability for far too long.” The charges stemmed from evidence presented to Judge David Newblatt, who served as a secret one-person grand jury. All nine defendants pleaded not guilty during a series of brief court appearances. The indictment alleges that Snyder failed to check the “performance, condition and administration” of his appointees and protect Flint’s nearly 100,000 residents when he knew the threat. The Republican served as governor from 2011 through 2018. Wearing a mask, Snyder, 62, said little during his hearing, which was conducted by video. He replied, “Yes, your honour,” when asked if he was living in Michigan. A conviction carries up to a year in jail. Snyder has acknowledged that his administration failed in Flint. But his attorney, Brian Lennon, said a criminal case against him was a “travesty.” “These unjustified allegations do nothing to resolve a painful chapter in the history of our state,” Lennon said. “Today’s actions merely perpetrate an outrageous political persecution.” In 2014, a Snyder-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Earley, who was running the financially struggling, majority Black city, carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction. The corrosive water, however, wasn't treated properly, a misstep that freed lead from old plumbing and into homes. Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration, especially drinking water regulators, took no significant action until a doctor publicly reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behaviour problems. Flint’s woes were highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism. The city resumed getting water from a Detroit regional system in October 2015, though bottled water and filters were distributed for years. Former Mayor Karen Weaver, who was elected in 2015 after the disaster was recognized, said Snyder deserved more than misdemeanours. “Snyder got a slap on the wrist and Flint got a slap in the face. ... Not only did people lose their lives through Legionnaires', we know women who had stillbirths and miscarriages,” Weaver said. Authorities counted at least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County during the 2014-15 water switch, including 12 deaths. Legionella bacteria can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems. Defence attorney Chip Chamberlain said Lyon, the former health director, relied on the advice of experts when following the Legionnaires’ spike and forming policy as head of a sprawling agency. “This is a dangerous day for state employees,” Chamberlain said of the charges. Steve Tramontin — a lawyer for Wells, the ex-medical executive — called the allegations false and “unimaginable to anyone familiar with the level of dedication she has brought to her life’s work.” Prosecutors charged Earley and another former Flint manager, Gerald Ambrose, with misconduct. Rich Baird, a friend and close adviser to Snyder, was charged with extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct. Jarrod Agen, who was Snyder’s chief of staff, was charged with perjury. Attorney Charles Spies disputed the charge against Agen and said he co-operated “fully and truthfully” with investigators. The indictment accuses Baird, a Flint native, of making threats during a university-led investigation of the Legionnaires’ outbreak. He’s also accused of lying during an interview with Flint water investigators in 2017. “There are no velvet ropes in our criminal justice system,” Hammoud said. “Nobody — no matter how powerful or well-connected — is above accountability when they commit a crime.” Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital and an engineering firm have agreed to a $641 million settlement with residents. A judge said she hopes to decide by Jan. 21 whether to grant preliminary approval. Melodie Ingraham, 61, whose skin was irritated by the tainted water, said the criminal charges don't mean much to her. “It’s awful late in the day. They’re worried about the wrong thing," Ingraham said. "The issue is getting Flint back up and running, being safe again.” __ White reported from Detroit and Eggert reported from Lansing, Mich. David Eggert, Ed White And Corey Williams, The Associated Press
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has added her voice to those condemning businesses for denying Indigenous people entry due to COVID-19 fears, calling it racism. But the businesses — which include a restaurant, dentist's office and grocery store — claimed they were trying to stop COVID-19 from spreading from nearby Indigenous communities. The CBC has learned that Save-On-Foods in Powell River, the Glen Lyon Restaurant in Port Hardy, and a dentist's office in Duncan all refused service to Indigenous people, citing cases of COVID-19 in their communities as a reason. When Tla'amin Nation Councillor Brandon Peters learned that members of his Tla'amin Nation were denied access to the nearby Save-On-Foods, he was shocked. "That's infringing on our human rights, it's assuming every single First Nation person [in the community] has COVID," Peters said. The incidents come amid concerns that provincial data identifying the exact location of COVID-19 cases in Indigenous communities is made public — often by First Nations themselves — while geographical data for municipalities and other regions of B.C. is not. In September, when the Tla'amin Nation was hit with a COVID-19 outbreak, the band issued a notice that members were to shelter in place. That's when stores including Save-On-Foods told Tla'amin residents they were not allowed in. "I was aware that some of the Tla'amin folks were being rejected, not just at Save-On, but at other stores as well," said Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa. "Just that it's easy to tell, they're Indigenous," he said. "I think that it was stereotyping, I don't know if it would be racism, they were just saying, 'Oh, the people from Tla'amin are are supposed to be staying home,'" Formosa said. The shelter-in-place order still allowed nation members to access essential services, but a Save-On-Foods representative said the message was confusing. "There was some confusion in the Powell River community about whether Save-On-Foods would be serving customers from the Tla'amin Nation during their voluntary community lockdown," a representative from Save-On-Foods told the CBC. 'Rejected again' Earlier this month, 80-year-old Fort Rupert resident Violet Bracic said she was told by the owner of the Glen Lyon Restaurant that she couldn't come in. The business is in Port Hardy, a 10-minute drive from her community. "I mumbled my discontent and said 'rejected again.' It is appalling. We're decent people," said Bracic, who is Kwagiulth and lives on the Fort Rupert reserve. Her daughter, who was with her at the time was also not allowed in. Another elder from Fort Rupert was also denied access. "I just feel like we're back in residential school days, you know, where they just think we're dirty Indians," said Jamie Hunt, another Fort Rupert resident who took to Facebook to express her outrage about the rejections. At the time, the community had one positive COVID-19 case, but the owner said he had heard there was an outbreak. "There was some misinformation and we are sorry. It was the wrong decision," said Glen Lyon Restaurant owner Jacob Bennett. He said he also denied entry to people from Port Hardy who he suspected had been in contact with a confirmed case. But Bennett noted he had little information to go on since the health authorities release little information about individual towns and cities. Many Indigenous communities in B.C. have chosen to go public with their positive cases. Racism is result of lack of data, says mayor North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring took to Facebook earlier this week to share his concerns about discrimination against Cowichan Tribes members, some of whom he says were rejected from big box stores and a local dentist. "I'm beyond extremely concerned," Siebring said in the Facebook post. When Cowichan Tribes member Barb Jimmy, 62, attempted to make an appointment with her dentist earlier this month she was asked only if she still lived on-reserve. She was not asked any of the standard COVID-19 screening questions. She told Victoria's CHEK News that when she said she lived on-reserve she was denied service. That dentist's office has since said they "feel terrible about the grave miscommunication ... and will make every effort to ensure it doesn't occur again." The Cowichan Tribes have a shelter-in-place order as they are grappling with an outbreak that has affected more than 90 people. But Siebring said while they are not the only ones testing positive for COVID-19, they are the only ones who seem to have access to data. "I, as mayor in North Cowichan and any other elected official municipality in B.C., doesn't know the rate of COVID in our communities — the health authorities are not sharing that," he said. "This is how [First Nations] are being rewarded for that transparency," he said. Siebring said it would make more sense if Dr. Henry and other provincial health officials were more transparent about the locations of all cases. In a statement to CBC News, Henry said being more transparent about the data would not help the situation. "This is sadly an issue of racism and I do not believe it has anything to do with provincial data releases. COVID-19 has illuminated longstanding inequities and in particular those faced by First Nations in B.C. I want to add my voice to the chorus who have condemned such behaviour."
NEW YORK — The New York Jets were searching for a leader, someone who could bring a frustrated, playoff-starved franchise back to respectability. They think they found their guy in Robert Saleh. The Jets reached an agreement in principle with the popular and energetic San Francisco 49ers defensive co-ordinator Thursday night to hire him as their head coach. Saleh replaces Adam Gase, who was fired by on Jan. 3 after going 9-23 in two seasons. The 41-year-old Saleh emerged as a favourite for the Jets job when he was brought in for a second -- and this time, in-person -- interview Tuesday night, and those discussions extended into Wednesday. He was the first of the nine known candidates New York interviewed remotely to meet with chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, team president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at its facility in Florham Park, New Jersey. Saleh left the Jets and met with Philadelphia, which fired Doug Pederson on Monday. And New York also had an in-person meeting with Tennessee offensive co-ordinator Arthur Smith on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. After Smith left without a deal, New York had internal discussions and opted to hire Saleh. “YESSS SIRRRRRRRRRR,” an excited defensive tackle Quinnen Williams wrote on Twitter. Saleh, recognized as an energetic leader who is well liked by his players, had been the 49ers’ defensive co-ordinator under Kyle Shanahan since 2017, overseeing San Francisco’s defence that ranked No. 2 overall on the way to the Super Bowl last season. The 49ers ranked fifth in overall defence this season despite season-ending injuries to pass rushers Nick Bosa — the 2019 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year — and Dee Ford, as well as defensive linemen Solomon Thomas and Ezekiel Ansah. While San Francisco missed the playoffs, Saleh’s work with a banged-up and short-handed defence made him a popular candidate among the teams looking for a coach. “The @nyjets got a great one!” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted. “Congrats to them!” Saleh, the son of Lebanese parents, is the the second minority coach to be hired by the Jets in the last six years and first since Todd Bowles, who is Black, in 2015. He’s the fourth active minority coach in the NFL, joining Miami’s Brian Flores, Washington’s Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin. Saleh, who first interviewed remotely with the Jets last Friday, also spoke with Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Chargers. New York pounced, though, after Douglas promised the team would “cast a very wide net” in its search. Both Johnson and Douglas spoke about finding a leader, a CEO-type of coach who would oversee the entire operation of the team and help re-establish a culture and identity for the franchise. The 20th coach in franchise history, Saleh beat out Smith, Kansas City offensive co-ordinator Eric Bieniemy, Carolina offensive co-ordinator Joe Brady, Buffalo offensive co-ordinator Brian Daboll, Indianapolis defensive co-ordinator Matt Eberflus, New Orleans defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, former Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, and Los Angeles Rams defensive co-ordinator Brandon Staley. Saleh is the seventh straight coach hired by the Jets to not have previous head coaching experience, with the last not fitting that category being Bill Parcells in 1997. He’s also the fifth former defensive co-ordinator to get the job among New York’s last six hires, with Gase the only exception. With the Jets, Saleh will have plenty of work to do. New York hasn’t made the post-season since the 2010 season, the NFL’s longest active playoff drought with both Cleveland and Tampa Bay getting in this season. Saleh and Douglas will also have lots of questions to answer about the roster, none bigger than what the Jets should do at quarterback. Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status and regressed this season under Gase. New York currently holds the No. 2 pick in the draft and could opt to take a quarterback -- perhaps Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zach Wilson -- and start fresh at the position. The Jets, who also have the No. 23 selection, could trade down to collect more picks. A lot will depend on who Saleh brings in as his offensive co-ordinator, and how they view Darnold against the quarterbacks coming out in the draft. Saleh could bring in 49ers passing game co-ordinator Mike LaFleur, brother of Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Saleh's best man at his wedding, to run his offence. The Jets also have 20 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, including several standouts on defence, with safety Marcus Maye, cornerback Brian Poole and linebackers Neville Hewitt and Tarell Basham among them. Saleh, from Dearborn, Michigan, began his coaching career in 2002 as a defensive assistant at Michigan State for two seasons, followed by stints at Central Michigan and Georgia. He joined the Houston Texans in 2005 as a defensive intern under Dom Capers and worked three seasons as a defensive quality control coach under Gary Kubiak before being promoted to assistant linebackers coach in 2009. Saleh joined Pete Carroll’s staff in Seattle as a defensive quality control coach in 2011 before being hired by Gus Bradley in 2014 as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach. He spent three seasons with the Jaguars before joining the 49ers. “He makes sure there’s no gray area in terms of coaching and teaching,” San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said last month. "There’s a lot of coaches out there who just coach. But he’s a great teacher.” ___ AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report. — More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL Dennis Waszak Jr., The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Chuck Schumer is used to drinking from a firehose. But the incoming Senate majority leader has never taken on such a torrent of challenges, with the opening days of both the Biden administration and Democratic control of the Senate coming at the very moment an impeachment trial gets underway. A 38-year veteran of Congress who first came to the Senate during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Schumer is a 70-year-old bundle of energy with one overriding mandate: Help Joe Biden become a successful president. To do so, he’ll have to leverage the narrowest possible majority — a 50-50 Senate with the incoming vice-president, Kamala Harris, delivering the tiebreaking vote. It's a tough assignment. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. But the goodwill Schumer enjoys with key members, and his careful management of the party's constituencies, could help ease the way. “Chuck Schumer has done a remarkable job as our caucus leader the last four years holding our caucus together," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as he entered the Senate chamber during last Wednesday's Electoral College count, speaking just before a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol and the situation turned dire. Then Schumer appeared. “What did I just give a quote about? Our capable majority leader!" Coons said. “Again!" a jubilant Schumer exclaimed. “More adjectives! More adjectives!" Less than an hour later, Schumer was in peril, under the protection of a Capitol Police officer with a submachine gun standing between him and GOP leader Mitch McConnell as the mob breached the building. The ransacking of the Capitol has brought impeachment to the Senate's door again and set Republicans on their heels. And it's put a spotlight on whether the polarized, diminished chamber can process Biden's agenda. Take the installation of Biden's Cabinet. The Senate has traditionally tried to confirm a batch of the most important nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the days thereafter. But to do so requires the co-operation of the entire Senate. Democrats slow-walked many of Trump's Cabinet picks four years ago after a crushing election loss, but there's a palpable sense that Republicans may be more co-operative now, at least when confirming national security nominees and picks like Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. Schumer seeks — and is used to operating in — the spotlight, whether he’s helping run the unwieldy, increasingly divided Senate, micromanaging his beloved Democratic caucus or crisscrossing New York. Any of these is a full-time job. And they don’t always point him in the same direction. For instance, Biden is preaching bipartisanship, and Schumer wants to help, but tensions are inevitable with ardent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ambitious Bronx Democrat whom Schumer allies are watching closely as he runs for a fifth term in 2022. Schumer was a force in Biden's decision to “go big” on Thursday with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill that was bigger than earlier Biden drafts. Progressives hailed the measure. Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. Senate rules are unforgiving, but Schumer and McConnell are hoping to establish a dual-track process to confirm nominations even as the trial unfolds. McConnell and Schumer have a tortured, tense relationship after years of bruising political battles and fights over Supreme Court nominees. They rarely talk spontaneously and have no hesitation in slinging barbs that earlier generations of leaders managed to avoid. But Biden and McConnell are long-standing friends, and the Kentucky Republican — pondering a “guilty" vote in Trump's second impeachment trial and still absorbing the disastrous Senate losses in Georgia — appears inclined to help Biden as best he can. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer. What is more, Democratic control of the chamber comes with filibuster-proof treatment of Biden's nominees, with only a simple majority needed, though Republicans could easily force delays. McConnell and his Republican caucus want to “reasonably co-operate on the national security nominations,” said Hazen Marshall, a former McConnell policy aide. “His view has traditionally been that presidents deserve their staff, unless their staff are crazy or criminals." But GOP senators are sure to drag their feet on less urgent Cabinet posts given the experience under Trump, when even former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., had to endure delays. But with the economy slipping and the public appalled by the melee in Washington, GOP resistance to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package or his slate of Cabinet picks may not be as resolute. “There's a lot to do, but Democrats are on the right side of all of it," said former Schumer strategist and confidant Matt House. “These are good problems to have." Amid the dizzying pace, Schumer also tends to New York. A Brooklyn native, Schumer makes a visit to each of the state's 62 counties every year. And his spur-of-the-moment visits to local events like high school graduations and, more recently, unannounced drop-ins on community Zoom calls are the stuff of legend. Last Thursday, little more than 24 hours after the Capitol riot, Schumer hopped on a call with a community board in Sunnyside, Queens. He spent the opening minutes thanking board members. “You guys and gals do a great job — I know what it’s like," Schumer said, according to the Sunnyside Post. “When things go bad you hear about it; when things are great you hear nothing.” And after Trump's impeachment Wednesday, Schumer heaped praise on local New York media members in a call with publishers and broadcasters thanking him for steering stimulus dollars to struggling news outlets, according to an account by the Syracuse Post Standard. But he had to jump. “Pelosi has called me and Biden, so I won’t be able to be on for too long," Schumer said. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Hundreds of migrants hoping to reach the U.S. border gathered outside a bus station in this Honduran city Thursday despite continued signs from Mexico and other Central American governments that they would not be allowed through. Santos Demetrio Pineda was one of hundreds who showed up with little more than the clothes on their backs for the long, unlikely journey, made that much harder by the coronavirus pandemic. “We lost everything in the hurricane,” said Pineda, referring to two Category 4 hurricanes that hit Honduras in November. “We can't just sit around after what happened to us.” “We are going to leave the country, to ask for help wherever they receive us,” he said. Asked how they would make it past lines of police and immigration agents already preparing for them, Pineda said, “We are going to ask God to open the doors.” Earlier, 200 Honduran migrants walked and caught rides up a highway toward the border with Guatemala on Thursday, a day before a migrant caravan was scheduled to depart San Pedro Sula. That first group set out Wednesday but paused at night before reaching some 75 police officers, dressed in riot gear, who waited along the highway on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula. One officer said the intention was to stop the migrants from violating a pandemic-related curfew, check their documents and make sure they weren't travelling with children that were not their own. By Thursday, more migrants arrived at San Pedro Sula's bus terminal. The station has been the main departure point for caravans in the past and several hundred migrants could be seen around the terminal. Dolores Efrain Ortega, a bricklayer from the town of Cofradía, said he had travelled the route six times before. “Here there are no jobs. Even if you are a bricklayer, there is no work,” Ortega said, adding he was leaving “to get ahead, to have my own house.” But the migrants faced the additional challenge of governments that agreed earlier this week to enforce immigration laws at their borders. On Thursday, Mexico's National Immigration Institute posted videos showing hundreds of agents and National Guard members drilling on the southern border. It said the agents are “keeping vigilant in the states of southern Mexico ... to enforce the immigration law. " For weeks, a call for a new caravan departing Jan. 15 has circulated on social networks. But previous caravans have been turned back. Ariel Villega, from the town of Ocotepeque, was walking with his wife and 10-year-old son. Aware of the hurdles that awaited them, Villega said, “We’ve got everything, the passport and the COVID test.” Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Wednesday night decreed a “state of prevention” along the country's border with Honduras. The decree noted the threat of migrants entering without required documentation and without following pandemic-related screening at the border. Guatemala is requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The decree said more than 2,000 national police and soldiers would be stationed at the border. The Mexican government said Wednesday that it and 10 other countries in North and Central America are worried about the health risks of COVID-19 among migrants without proper documents. The statement by the 11-member Regional Conference on Migration suggests that Mexico and Central America could continue to turn back migrants due to the perceived risks of the pandemic. The group “expressed concern over the exposure of irregular migrants to situations of high risk to their health and their lives, primarily during the health emergency.” On Thursday, Mexican officials said they discussed migration with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and raised “the possibility of implementing a co-operation program for the development of northern Central America and southern Mexico, in response to the the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the recent hurricanes in the region.” When hundreds of Hondurans tried to form a caravan last month, authorities stopped them before they even reached the Guatemala border. Other attempted caravans last year were broken up by Guatemalan authorities before they reached Mexico. Pressure to migrate has only been building. Central America was hit with two Category 4 hurricanes in November, devastating a region already struggling with the pandemic. The storms destroyed crops, shuttered businesses and displaced thousands. Migrants have also expressed hope that they could receive a warmer welcome at the U.S. border under the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office next week. ___ Associated Press writers Sonny Figueroa in Guatemala City and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report. MaríA Verza, The Associated Press
Joanne Rogers, an an accomplished concert pianist who celebrated and protected the legacy of her husband, the beloved children's TV host Mister Rogers, has died in Pittsburgh. She was 92. Rogers died Thursday, according to the Fred Rogers Center. No cause of death was given. The centre called her “a joyful and tender-hearted spirit, whose heart and wisdom have guided our work in service of Fred’s enduring legacy.” Joanne and Fred Rogers were married for more than 50 years, spanning the launch and end of the low-key, low-tech “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which presented Fred Rogers as one adult in a busy world who always had time to listen to children. His pull as America’s favouriteneighbour never seemed to wane before his death in 2003. “I can’t think of a time when we’ve needed him so much,” Joanne Rogers told The Associated Press in 2018. “I think his work is just as timely now as it was when it came out, frankly.” An ordained Presbyterian minister, Fred Rogers produced the pioneering show at Pittsburgh public television station WQED beginning in 1966, going national two years later. He composed his own songs for the show. It offered a soft haven for kids, in sharp contrast to the louder, more animated competition. The final episode of what his widow called “a comfortable lap” aired in August 2001. PBS stations around the country still air “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and some can be found on the PBS Kids video app. There are DVD collections on Amazon and episodes stream on Amazon Prime. The city of Pittsburgh, where the show was produced, tweeted that Joanne Rogers was one of Pittsburgh's “greatest neighbours.” It said the couple “forever changed our city.” Other tributes came from such varied fans as tennis star Billie Jean King to designer Kenneth Cole. Fred Rogers’ effect on popular culture was profound: Eddie Murphy parodied him on “Saturday Night Live” in the 1980s and one of Rogers’ trademark zip-up sweaters hangs in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He’s had a category dedicated to him on “Jeopardy.” 2018, the 50th anniversary of when Rogers first appeared on TV screens, prompted a PBS special, a new postage stamp, the feature-length documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbour?” and, a year later, the Tom Hanks-led biopic “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Born Sara Joanne Byrd in 1928, Joanne Rogers met her future husband at Rollins College in Florida. After Fred Rogers’ death, she helped develop the Fred Rogers Center Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at St. Vincent College in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. “Joanne and Fred were Pennsylvania treasures committed to improving our communities and the lives of our children. We will never forget their legacy of kindness,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. She is survived by two sons, James Byrd Rogers and John Rogers. ___ Associated Press reporter Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report from Pennsylvania. Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — The Alberta government is easing public-health rules around funerals, outdoor gatherings and hair salons while warning residents to keep following other restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Starting Monday, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. On Thursday, Alberta reported 967 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 additional deaths due to the illness. There were 806 people in hospital, with 136 of those in intensive care. "Alberta's hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and they pose a threat to our health system capacity," Health Minister Tyler Shandro told a news conference. "Today, we can't entirely ease up ... but we can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities." Back in November, the United Conservative government banned indoor gatherings and limited outdoor groups, along with funerals and weddings, to 10 people. In early December, as COVID-19 infections spiked to well over 1,000 a day, Premier Jason Kenney announced a strict lockdown similar to one in the spring during the first wave of the pandemic. In addition to banning outdoor gatherings, restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. Casinos, gyms, recreation centres, libraries and theatres were closed. Retail stores and churches were allowed to open but at 15 per cent capacity. He also imposed a provincewide mask mandate, making Alberta the last province in the country to have one. Those rules remain in place and need to be followed, said Shandro. Alberta's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said officials looked at the province's COVID-19 data along with research from other parts of the world about what settings were seeing the most transmission. Funerals, outdoor gatherings and personal service businesses show a lower level of risk, she said. Easing these rules now will act as a test case, she added. Case numbers will have to be lower before any other restrictions are loosened. "This is our opportunity to give Albertans a little bit more freedom and the ability to do a few more activities in a safe way," Hinshaw said. "This really is up to all of us to be able to meet those step-wise levels going down to be able to open additional things going forward." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021 The Canadian Press