Rachel Schousten has the details
Rachel Schousten has the details
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will leave Washington next Wednesday morning just before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration to begin his post-presidential life in Florida. Refusing to abide by tradition and participate in the ceremonial transfer of power, Trump will instead hold his own departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before his final flight aboard Air Force One. Officials are considering an elaborate send-off event reminiscent of the receptions he's received during state visits abroad, complete with a red carpet, colour guard, military band and even a 21-gun salute, according to a person familiar with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. Trump will become only the fourth president in history to boycott his successor's inauguration. And while he has said he is now committed to a peaceful transition of power — after months of trying to delegitimize Biden's victory with baseless allegations of mass voter fraud and spurring on his supporters who stormed the Capitol — he has made clear he has no interest in making a show of it. He has not invited the Bidens to the White House for the traditional bread-breaking, nor has he spoken with Biden by phone. Vice-President Mike Pence has spoken with his successor, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, calling her on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance, according to two people familiar with the call. Pence will be attending Biden's inauguration, a move Biden has welcomed. While Trump spends the final days of his presidency ensconced in the White House, more isolated than ever as he confronts the fallout from the Capitol riot, staffers are already heading out the door. Many have already departed, including those who resigned after the attack, while others have been busy packing up their offices and moving out personal belongings — souvenirs and taxidermy included. On Thursday, chief of staff Mark Meadows’ wife was caught on camera leaving with a dead, stuffed bird. And trade adviser Peter Navarro, who defended the president's effort to overturn the election, was photographed carrying out a giant photo of a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Staff are allowed to purchase the photographs, said White House spokesman Judd Deere.) Also spotted departing the West Wing: a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Stewart D. McLaurin, the president of the White House Historical Association, said he had reached out to the White House chief usher, who manages the building's artifacts with the White House curator, because of questions raised by the images. “Be reminded that staff have items of their own that they brought to the White House and can take those items home as they wish. Some items are on loan to staff and offices from other collections and will be returned to those collections,” he said in a statement. Earlier this week, reporters covering the president's departure from the South Lawn spotted staff taking boxes into the residence for packing up the first family's belongings. And on Friday the packing continued, with moving crates and boxes dotting the floor of the office suite where senior press aides work steps from the Oval Office in the West Wing. Walls in the hallways outside that once featured a rotating gallery of enlarged photographs of the president and first lady framed in gold suddenly were bare, with only the hooks that held the picture frames left hanging. Moving trucks pulled in and out of the driveway outside. While some people have been asked to stick around by the incoming administration, the White House has been reduced to a skeleton crew, with more scheduled to depart on Friday. That includes White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Come Monday, the press staff will be down to two. Trump will leave Washington with his future deeply uncertain, two weeks after his supporters sent lawmakers and congressional staffers scrambling for safety as they tried to halt the peaceful transition of power. While Trump was once expected to leave office as the most powerful voice in the Republican Party and the leading contender for its 2024 nomination, he has been shunned by much of the party over his response to the violence, which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Trump is expected to be joined in Florida by a handful of aides as he mulls his future. ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report. Jill Colvin And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
The Canadian Coast Guard has established a first-of-its-kind division to elevate safeguards against human-caused deaths and injuries to whales in B.C. waters. Staffed 24/7, the Marine Mammal Desk will report sightings in real time to advise vessel traffic on the activities of whales to help reduce collisions and net entanglements. The information will be shared with enforcement agencies for rapid responses to vessels in restricted areas like the Southern Resident Killer Whale Interim Sanctuary Zones. “I’m so proud that today Canada will be home to the first Marine Mammal Desk. This is an exciting innovation that will allow us to track and report of whale sightings in real time. The Southern Resident Killer Whale is an icon of our pacific coast, and we want to see its population protected – and revived – for generations to come,” Bernadette Jordan, minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard said. Data is channeled to the desk from an array of sources, including radar, real-time vessel movement information and the Automatic Identification System, in addition to on-water CCG vessels, light stations and aircraft of three government agencies, CCG, Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Marine Mammal Desk became operational at the end of October, 2020, and is staffed by five specially trained officers. It is located in Sidney, B.C. within the CCG’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre (MCTS). Ocean Wise Conservation Association collaborated on the project’s development and is contributing its B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN) to the streams of data. The 20-year old network is today driven mainly by a citizen-action app called the Whale Report Alert System (WRAS) that allows mariners to send and receive data on whale locations. Jessica Scott, Ocean Wise’s BCCSN manager and applied research biologist said it’s critical authorities have the tools to enforce compliance of restricted areas, as noise from vessel traffic interferes with the animals’ echolocation causing them to avoid eating and sometimes mating. “They need quite places to take a break,” she said. “This is going to be an amazing tool for everybody.” With ship strikes, she said humpbacks are affected especially hard in B.C. “They’re slow and spend a lot of time on the surface. It’s quite under-reported because these ships are so big they won’t even know necessarily that they struck a whale, and then the carcasses sink.” Between 2004 to 2011 there were about 30 humpback collisions reported in B.C. waters. The bulk of the reports came from small vessels less than 15 metres in length. Scott said it’s rare for vessels to strike a killer whale. “But with the endangered southern residents, there’s only 74 individuals left. So even the loss of one could have major implications on the recovery of that species.” Vessels are required to keep a minimum distance of 400 metres from killer whales. The public is asked to call the DFO Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Hotline at 1-800-465- 4436, to report whale sightings or instances of whales being harassed or disturbed. Mariners unable to reach the incident reporting hotline can call CCG’s Marine Mammal Desk at 1-833-339-1020 or CCG radio. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
According to a report recently published by the Northern Policy Institute, Northern Ontario communities need to create a collective brand to make the North more attractive to new residents. Last February, the City of Temiskaming Shores and the Northwest Community Futures Network, in partnership with Northern Policy Institute and the Northwestern Ontario Immigration Partnership, held two conferences to explore population growth strategies in Northern Ontario. The Come North conferences were held in Thunder Bay and Temiskaming Shores with more than 300 people representing almost 100 organizations coming together to discuss how to attract and retain more people in the North. Last December, the Northern Policy Institute released a conference report, a 10-point action plan and conference proceedings detailing what was discussed during the sessions and how northern communities can be more welcoming. Being more welcoming means not only toward international newcomers but to domestic migrants as well, the report says. The 37-page conference document includes short, medium and long-term objectives for northern communities and identifies 16 core themes and 18 separate action items. The five key points state that Northern Ontario communities need to work together to create a coordinated marketing plan and one consistent brand to promote to newcomers. In addition, the action plan needs to be updated on an annual basis. “The brand should be Northern Ontario … We’re speaking to people from southern Ontario and/or outside Canada, so they don’t know what we look like or the geography," said James Franks, an economic development officer for the City of Temiskaming Shores. "Life here is not much different than life anywhere else. We have all the services and activities that you can find in communities in southern Ontario, just less often," he said. "The way I would sell it to people is you can enjoy all the activities anywhere else, however, in Northern Ontario there’s just less people enjoying it with you.” Franks said communities need to come together to create one marketing plan to sell the same narrative instead of having scattered brands for each community. “Some people come to North Bay, some to Temiskaming Shores and some come to Timmins. And that’s great, everybody gets a little piece of the pie. But what we need to do is grow the pie,” Franks said. He said people in the south often ask him if there are gas stations in the north or whether there are places to stay. “They really do believe they’re going off into the wilderness. A part of the marketing plan is to help people understand there are communities up there, you don’t have to drive six hours between gas stations,” Franks said. “It isn’t the scary north, it’s a safe north.” One of the points in the action plan suggests the Timmins Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) look for funding to keep the Northeastern Ontario Immigration portal and its resources up-to-date. “If it’s difficult for people to find information or to be able to locate to an area, then they don’t come,” Franks said. “We’re good at websites but (people) often have questions, they want to talk to somebody to get answers.” The report says newcomers must be a part of the reconciliation process, that the existing immigration portals need to focus on population growth and offer more information on how to battle racism. “Unemployment and lack of economic participation among First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples remain high. Increasing participation and encouraging retention among these populations represents the largest potential domestic contribution to our future wellbeing,” reads the report. Franks said communities may not be aware of how vibrant First Nation communities are in the north and how fast the Indigenous population is growing, so communities need to “reconnect” with First Nations. “Because how can we better integrate that potential workforce with employers who are advising us they’re having trouble finding employees because the demographics in Northern Ontario is shrinking,” he said. “If we have a portion of our population that is growing, then we need as communities to better work with that portion of the population to fill the jobs and make ... Indigenous people feel as they’re part of the community.” Last summer, northern communities saw a significant increase in tourists although there were no specific promotions for people outside the region to come up north, Franks said. “Whether COVID is a driving force behind that, I assume it is, but every community across the north is seeing new residents coming here. And it’s a perfect time to work together to keep this going once the pandemic relaxes and if that’s the cause of people coming here, let’s build that,” Franks said. The next step would be making sure all communities are onboard to sell the same product and getting bigger partners involved so that the project keeps moving, Franks said.Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
Richmond’s Gateway Theatre has commissioned a piece in response to a question posed by the National Arts Centre in its Transformations Project: What would it take to transform our society for the betterment of all? In the piece, local Taiwanese-Canadian artist Johnny Wu dives into themes of family, belonging, and filial piety—a central value in traditional Chinese culture that means respect and duty for one’s parents and ancestors. A regular in the theatre scene, Wu has worked with Gateway several times before, including as the Surtitle translator for China Doll. To learn more or view the piece online, click here.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Neale Richmond, European Affairs spokesperson for a coalition party, Fine Gael, described the move as an "outrage".View on euronews
Some Oakville residents have been told to seek shelter in their basements amid what police are calling an "active situation" with at least two people barricaded inside a home. According to tweets from Halton police issued Friday afternoon, Lakeshore Road West is closed from 4th Line to Birch Hill Lane for an ongoing investigation. Police say they first received a call just before 1:20 p.m. reporting possible gunfire in the area. On Twitter, investigators said the ongoing situation is contained to a residence on Lakeshore Road West, and originally involved "at least two" people barricaded inside. Police later said one person is now out of the home, but at least one person remains inside. Crisis negotiators have been in contact with the person inside the home and there are no reported injuries, police said. "Our crisis negotiators will be working to resolve this safely," police said on Twitter. Ryan Anderson, media relations officer with Halton Regional Police, says as of Friday evening, the situation is still ongoing. "It is our goal, our ultimate goal, to bring them out safely without anybody being injured," he said. Anderson could not say whether it was a hostage situation or if the person remaining in the home resided there or explain the relationship between the two people. Police are concerned for the safety of the individual inside, as well as those who live nearby. "We have reason to believe there may have been gas released in the home, so utilities have been cut off to the home," Anderson said. As a result, approximately nine residences have been notified and evacuated accordingly. Investigators say there is a "heavy police presence in the area," including officers, the tactical rescue unit, and police dogs. Appleby College was also in a hold and secure, but that has since been lifted. However, students boarding there will continue to remain indoors, according to the school's Twitter feed Police are asking people to avoid the area.
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
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is leaving the door open to tighter travel restrictions, including a possible ban on outbound air travel. Trudeau says the government is "always open to strengthening" measures around international flights, and is keeping an eye on countries where more easily transmissible strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have broken out. At a news conference Friday, Trudeau pointed to worrisome mutations in Brazil as well as the United Kingdom, whose outbound flights Canada banned before implementing a strict new testing requirement on all passengers entering the country. Trudeau says the choice of whether to bar travel to the United States lies largely with the U.S., not Canada, since the country of arrival has jurisdiction over who enters. Earlier this month, a survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 87 per cent of respondents said they would support a total ban on international travel until there are several consecutive days of reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases. Leger vice-president Christian Bourque said that response is consistent with similar questions asked throughout the pandemic, but also reflects a growing desire by Canadians for governments to take stronger action to curb the spread of COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing has brought entertainer Pitbull on as an ownership partner for an organization making its debut next month at the Daytona 500. Trackhouse made the Friday announcement with a video on Twitter in which the Grammy winner is featured dancing to an “I believe we will win” chant. He also holds signs that say: “Knuckle Up, Fight Hard. Buckle Up. Fight hard." The Cuban-American, known also as “Mr. Worldwide," joins NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan as celebrity owners entering NASCAR this year. Jordan is a part owner of 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin. “I've been a fan of the NASCAR story since the movie ‘Days of Thunder,’" Pitbull said in a statement. “We are going to show the world NASCAR is not only a sport but a culture.” Pitbull noted the announcement coincided with his 40th birthday on Friday: “So get ready! Dale!” he ended with his signature tagline that translates to “Let's go!” Trackhouse was launched late last year by former driver Justin Marks, who struggled to find a charter that guarantees entry into every Cup Series race on the schedule. He ultimately leased one from Spire Motorsports to get his organization on the grid. The team has hired Daniel Suarez to drive the No. 99 Chevrolet but it will not be NASCAR's first pairing of a Latino driver and team owner. Juan Pablo Montoya, a Colombian, drove for Chip Ganassi Racing when it was part owned by Felix Sabates, a Cuban. Suarez is Mexican. Jenna Fryer, The Associated Press
If one were to go to the province of Nova Scotia’s website and click on the news section, they would find several releases celebrating record immigration levels and huge population jumps. “We have experienced an increase not only in our immigration numbers, but interprovincial migration as well that has contributed to our population growth,” said a Government of Nova Scotia spokesperson. The province has a reason to be optimistic. For decades, N.S.’s population was stagnating, if not in actual decline. This reality had dire implications for N.S, which had an aging population, diminishing labour force, declining tax revenue and economy. The province is directly attributing this bounce back to those record immigration levels. The province approved 3,517 applications in 2020. About 1,900 of those were from the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) and 1,617 were from the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. That same year, 620 people coming in through the pilot project were awarded permanent residency and 1,240 through the NSNP. The change in population growth suggests the government’s sunny outlook is well-founded. Signs of recovery began to show when the population grew in bursts in the 2000s. The first time beginning in 2001 and again in 2007. But true recovery would not happen till 2015. Back then, there were 937,000 people living in N.S. That number reached 979,000 by 2020, a 4.5 per cent increase. New Brunswick, which has a similar number of residents and a history of decline like N.S., saw lower growth in the same time period, about 2.9 per cent. Outmigration in N.S. is nothing new. Ontario has always been a pull for Nova Scotians looking for work. As much as 49 per cent of those who leave N.S. end up going there. However, N.S. still had pretty steady population growth throughout its history till roughly the early 90s. The collapse of the fisheries industry in Atlantic Canada around 1991 and 1992 increased outmigration from the province, further accelerating the decline when combined with diminishing birth rates. The agonizingly moribund state of affairs has continued as per usual. The trend reached a new grim milestone in the early 2010s when the death rate officially surpassed births. Between July 1, 2019 and July 1 2020, N.S. saw a birth rate deficit of 1,527 people. The province’s overall population as a percentage of the national whole has also shrunk. In 1973, N.S. was 3.6 per cent of the overall population. By 2017, it was 2.6 per cent. The journey towards this radical break from the past began in January of 2005 at Pier 21 in Halifax. Future premier Rodney MacDonald was sworn in as the province’s first immigration minister that day, thus creating a pathway to address the ongoing issues of population decline. “It was recognized by the (then) premier, John Hamm, and our government that there was a need to strengthen the policies, procedures and overall initiative for immigration in Nova Scotia,” MacDonald told NCM. “There was, and continues to be, a population issue in our province of Nova Scotia and there is a need to draw new people, new ideas, new investment.” That initial strategy aimed to more than double the number of immigrants who move to the province by 2010, jumping from 1,500 per year to 3,600. The Hamm government, and later when MacDonald succeeded him as premier, wanted to retain at least 70 per cent of those who came to the province. This policy appears to have created a good deal of results. Starting in 2007, during MacDonald’s premiership, the population began to jump from 935,000 and peaked in 2011 at 942,000. The goal of retaining 70 percent of newcomers appears to have been achieved. "About 74 percent of immigrants who had arrived during 2011-2018 were still living in the province (21,210 in total),” read the report. “The top three reasons these respondents gave for having left the province, or for their intention to leave, were to seek better employment opportunities, seek better wages and lower taxes, and trying to find better health care. Some also complained of discriminatory workplaces.” But that growth petered off and it would be years before the current results would be seen. After MacDonald succeeded Hamm as premier, his government was marred in scandal. One of the sore points in the issue was his immigration policy. Newcomers were promised professional job experience through a mentorship scheme under the Nova Scotia Nominee Program, but instead were, allegedly, put into menial jobs. Hundreds of potential applicants needed to be reimbursed. “Well I’m shocked the opposition would criticize the government on its policies,” MacDonald said sarcastically. He said the program in question existed before the Office of Immigration was initiated. “A review of the program occurred (in 2005) and in June of 2006 we cancelled it.” Demographer and sociologist Howard Ramos of University of Western Ontario, formerly of Dalhousie University, attributes the success of the immigration policy to the work of the current premier. “You see the real impact change with probably Stephen MacNeil,” Ramos told NCM. “MacDonald brought in the provincial nominee program. It was largely not very effective under his regime,” he added. He praised the Atlantic Immigration Pilot for accelerating the growth and recovery experienced by the province. “We spend a lot of time making sure that we can create a work environment so they can stay here,” said Premier MacNeil in an emailed statement to NCM. “When they were coming in they were actually doing jobs our children wouldn’t do or creating jobs for themselves and jobs for our own sons and daughters. I feel that and see that in the province now and that’s a positive thing.”Mansoor Tanweer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
Saskatchewan health officials released their latest in-depth accounting of the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on the province on Thursday. Here are five key takeaways. The source of many infections remains a mystery Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said interprovincial travel continues to account for "a lot of our cases," as an example of a source of transmission. But the province remains in the dark about the cause of many other people's infections. In a table cataloguing exposure types from the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 to Jan. 10, 2021, the largest number of cases, 4,696, were "unknown/not identified," followed by 4,311 pending, or unclassified, cases. Among known categories, household exposure and heath-care workers were the most prevalent exposure types. "Even though we are not supposed to be meeting between households, we continue to see transmission when people have gotten together over the holidays," Shahab said. 1 in 5 hospitalized people end up in ICU The Ministry of Heath's daily updates on COVID-19 in Saskatchewan only detail how many people are in hospital or under intensive care on that given day. Thursday's update provided a window into total hospitalizations to date. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 750 people with COVID-19 have wound up in the hospital. Out of those, 164, or 22 per cent, have required intensive care. "This has not been a minor event by any stretch of the imagination," Shahab said. "We have had significant hospitalizations in hospital, in ICU and deaths." Active case rates highest in far north Saskatchewan's far north region was among the first to receive shipments of the Moderna vaccine. Numbers released Thursday provided insight into why that was. The far northwest, far north central and far northeast zones experienced dramatically higher daily active case rates and test positivity rates in early January, compared to other parts of the province. The far northeast zone — which includes Air Ronge and eight other northern communities — had a daily active case rate of 1,685 per 100,000 people from Jan. 5 to Jan. 11. Shahab cautioned that "with smaller populations, [case rates] can fluctuate quite a bit." Number of close contacts going down Shahab noted one positive trend on Thursday: infected people are coming into contact with fewer people than before. The mean number of close contacts per infected person was 4.4 from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3., compared to eight last November, Shahab said. "This means that we're not having large gatherings in worship services [with more than 10 people]," he said. Vaccine efforts are going well in long-term care homes Early this week, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said a small percentage of its workers were declining to take a COVID-19 vaccine, citing nervousness among some of those being offered shots ahead of the general public. But Shahab said uptake among long-term care residents — another group singled out for priority vaccination — has been "extremely high." "It puts more pressure on the supply," Shahab said. "But that's what we want to see. We want to see high uptake." The province is not releasing a full list of when specific nursing homes are scheduled to receive vaccines. Extendicare, the private operator of the Parkside nursing home in Regina where 43 residents have died during an outbreak, said residents and staff would start getting vaccinated on Friday. The company reported no active cases of the virus the day before.
WASHINGTON — Mike Pompeo isn't quietly fading away. In his final days as secretary of state, he's issuing orders that have caused international consternation and tweeting up a storm on his official and personal accounts to cement his legacy as a prime promoter of President Donald Trump’s “America First” doctrine. With a potential eye on a 2024 presidential run, Pompeo has doubled down on his support for Trump, even as other Cabinet members have resigned or stayed out of sight in the aftermath of the Capitol violence. While the House debated Trump's role in encouraging the riot, Pompeo sent a tweet promoting Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. Over the past week, Pompeo has celebrated controversial policies that are likely to be overturned by his successor, stepped up criticism of what he believes to be unfair news coverage, and he has complained about alleged censorship of conservatives on social media. And in a sign of his post-Trump ambitions, he urged followers of his official State Department Twitter account to start following his personal one. While it’s not unusual for outgoing Cabinet members to publicize their successes, Pompeo has taken it a step further by trashing his predecessors in the national security community, some of whom will play prominent roles in President-elect Joe Biden's administration. “Remember this Middle East ‘expert?’ He said it couldn’t happen. We did it,” Pompeo said in a taunting tweet featuring a video clip of John Kerry saying Arab countries would not recognize Israel without an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Kerry, a former secretary of state, will serve as climate envoy in the Biden administration. Already the most political of recent secretaries of state, Pompeo has bristled at even the mildest criticism and accused his critics of being misguided, unintelligent or incompetent. He has ignored the advice of his own advisers by forging ahead with pet projects, some of which seem designed to complicate Biden’s presidency. Since last Saturday, he has: —Rescinded long-standing restrictions on U.S. contacts with Taiwan, a move that's main result is to anger China. —Declared Yemen's Houthi rebels a terrorist organization, a step that the United Nations and relief agencies say could worsen what is already a humanitarian catastrophe. —Re-designated Cuba a “state sponsor of terrorism," an action that will impede or at least delay any attempt by Biden to improve ties with Havana. —Accused Iran of deep and longstanding ties with al-Qaida, a pronouncement that many in the intelligence community find overblown given a history of animosity between the two. The actions are in line with a tough “America First” policy that he has long espoused with gusto. He has attacked China, Iran, various U.N. organizations, multilateral institutions like the International Criminal Court, and bilateral treaties such as arms control accords with Russia, two of which the Trump administration has withdrawn from during his time as America’s top diplomat. On Iran, Pompeo has been particularly harsh, re-imposing all sanctions that had been eased by the Obama administration after the 2015 nuclear deal and adding more penalties. He also advocated for the killing of a top Iranian general in Iraq at the beginning of last year and has been at the forefront of an effort to encourage Sunni Arab states to unite against predominantly Shiite Iran. “The foreign policy blob constantly looks for a moderate inside the Iranian regime who will ‘normalize relations’, Pompeo said this week. “The reality is you have a better chance finding a unicorn.” Pompeo has made a sport out of trashing China, Cuba and international organizations, as well as Obama administration officials he believes were hopelessly naive in negotiating with them. “As the UN’s largest contributor, I put U.S. taxpayers and America’s interests first,” Pompeo tweeted on Monday. It was accompanied by a photo of former President Barack Obama, Kerry, Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice and Obama’s U.N Ambassador Samantha Power at the United Nations. Along with Kerry, Rice and Power have also been named to prominent positions in Biden’s administration. Yet for all the efforts to celebrate Trump administration foreign policy, Pompeo and the State Department have had minimal roles in some of the biggest areas, with the White House taking charge. That was most notable in what Trump supporters see as one of his top accomplishments, improving Israel's ties with its Arab neighbours. Led by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the administration relentlessly promoted Israeli-Arab peace efforts, culminating in agreements for the normalization of relations between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. Pompeo and the State Department were largely absent from that diplomacy, with the exception of Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who reports mainly to the White House. Pompeo's State Department was effectively shut out of Kushner's much-talked-about Israeli-Palestinian peace "vision" — and the secretary of state was not present for the rollout of the economic part of the plan in Bahrain in 2019. Pompeo and other Cabinet members were present for the unveiling of the political piece of the proposal last January, yet his role in creating the plan, which was immediately rejected by the Palestinians, is murky. On Thursday, Pompeo lauded Trump's March 2019 decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967. He tweeted a video of himself and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem that night with the caption: “I’ll never forget this moment.” Yet he and his delegation had been out of the loop on the timing of the Golan Heights decision, which Trump made after consulting with Kushner just minutes before Pompeo was to meet with Netanyahu. Similarly, the State Department took a backseat in Kushner's negotiations to get Morocco to normalize ties with Israel, which involved U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the former Spanish territory of Western Sahara. Pompeo did void a decades-old U.S. legal opinion regarding the legality of Jewish settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. On his last visit to Israel in November, Pompeo became the first secretary of state to visit a settlement and on Thursday proudly promoted a West Bank wine named after him. “L’Chaim to Pompeo wine!” Pompeo said on Twitter. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
A federal judge denied Apple Inc's bid to set aside or reduce a $502.8 million patent infringement verdict favoring VirnetX Holding Corp, and awarded interest and royalties that could boost Apple's total payout in two lawsuits above $1.1 billion. In a decision issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder in Tyler, Texas rejected Apple's request for a new trial and several other claims. These included that VirnetX's award should not exceed $113.7 million, and that jurors should have been told the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had deemed VirnetX's claims "unpatentable."
Provincial police are urging people not to call 911 with questions about Ontario's stay-at-home order. They say emergency dispatchers have seen an uptick in the number of callers looking for information about the province's latest public health measures. But officers say 911 is only to be used for emergencies. They say those with questions about the public health legislation should seek out information from the province. The stay-at-home order came into effect across Ontario on Thursday, and provincial officials are urging people to only leave their homes for essential trips. Law enforcement officers are able to enforce the order -- which does not give a specific definition for "essential" -- but they cannot conduct random stops to check why people are out. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Yukon's lobbyist registry now has teeth. A 90-day grace period for the registry came to an end this past week. The registry aims to track who is lobbying the Yukon government and what they're talking to MLAs, cabinet ministers and civil servants about. Helen Fitzsimmons, the registry's administrator, said the grace period was a "one-time deal" to let lobbyists get accustomed to the new rules. "It's new legislation, so there's an education component part of it," she said. "And we'll be doing that as well as advising all government employees or public office holders what their responsibility is." Fitzsimmons said the onus is on lobbyists to register. First-time violations of the rules can mean a fine of up to $25,000. Subsequent violations can carry a penalty of up to $100,000. The registry is managed by the Legislative Assembly but falls under the authority of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. Fitzsimmons said that office does not have the power to investigate complaints. The registry applies to two types of lobbyists: in-house, who are employees of organizations or businesses who lobby the government for at least 20 hours per year, and consultant, who are paid to lobby on behalf of a client. Are you a lobbyist? Take the quiz to find out Fitzsimmons acknowledged there's still some confusion about what exactly constitutes lobbying. The registry has an online quiz that aims to help people determine whether what they're doing amounts to lobbying. "Advocacy is an activity that seeks to garner public support for or make the public aware of a particular issue," Fitzsimmons said. "Advocacy becomes lobbying where there's an intent to influence the public office holder to support or oppose, for example, changes in laws, programming, [or] funding arrangements." So far, the registry has 11 entries. It includes some familiar names in the Yukon private sector, including Northwestel, Alexco Resources Corp., and Northern Vision Development. The Yukon Conservation Society has also registered. Northern Vision CEO Rich Thompson said he supports the registry because more transparency means more public trust in government. "I think it's really more about just making sure things are tracked when conversations happen and contact is made," he said. "So we certainly wouldn't think that we will change anything that we do. Our business causes us to interface with government fairly frequently. And so that won't change." Thompson said it's too early to assess how well the registry is working. Fitzsimmons said the registry won't keep dates or details of meetings or other communications between lobbyists and government officials.
Saskatchewan is reporting an increase of 386 COVID-19 cases and four deaths on Friday. The province said two deaths were in the 60 to 69 age group, one in the northeast and one in the southeast. Two others were in the 80+ age group, one in the Saskatoon zone and one in the southeast region. The new cases are in the following zones: Far northwest (46). Far north central (two). Far northeast (24). Northwest (45). North central (38). Northeast (36). Saskatoon (88). Central west (two). Central east (14). Regina (42). Southwest (one). South central (four). Southeast (30). Pending location (10). There were also four cases that were added to Saskatchewan's total due to out-of-province tests. The province said 210 people are in hospital, the most since the pandemic began. One hundred and seventy-five are receiving in-patient care while 35 are in the ICU. There are 4,010 known active cases in the province. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 320 or 26.4 per 100,000 people. The province said 3,455 tests were processed on Thursday. As of Friday, the province said 14,017 total vaccines have been administered in the province, with 2,032 doses given Thursday. Seniors aged 70 and up in Wakaw and Cudworth were getting vaccinated Friday, while seniors in Rostern and the surrounding area will have a clinic on Saturday. Vaccination clinics are also being held the north central region in Canwood, Shellbrook, Birch Hills, Debden, Blaine Lake, Candle Lake and Christopher Lake. CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — No criminal charges will be filed against a former temporary elections worker authorities have said mistakenly discarded nine military ballots ahead of the November presidential election, a federal prosecutor announced Friday. Officials have previously blamed the decision to toss out the ballots on an unidentified and improperly trained contract worker who had been handling mail-in ballots for the county for two days. The ballots were later retrieved from the trash and were counted with other mailed ballots after the Nov. 3 election. “After a thorough investigation conducted by the FBI and prosecutors from my office, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove criminal intent on the part of the person who discarded the ballots,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce Brandler, a career prosecutor, said in a news release. “Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed and the matter is closed," he said, President Donald Trump repeatedly brought up the nine ballots as he pressed groundless claims of election fraud, including two mentions during the first presidential debate. Brandler's predecessor, Dave Freed, a Trump nominee who recently stepped down ahead of the change in administrations, has said that seven of the ballots were cast for Trump. The other two had been resealed. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat whose office oversees voting in Pennsylvania, has previously described the discarded ballots as a “bad error” but not a matter of intentional fraud. The Department of State provided training for Luzerne County election workers in the wake of the September incident. The unidentified worker was fired. The Associated Press
Philanthropist Melinda Gates has donated US$250,000 to a new prize celebrating women's contributions to American and Canadian literature. Organizers of the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction say Gates is backing the C$150,000 award for female and non-binary authors through her investment company Pivotal Ventures. Gates joins a list of high-profile supporters of the initiative to address the inequality women face in the publishing world, including celebrated authors Margaret Atwood and Jodi Picoult. The annual award is set to be handed out each spring starting in 2023 after the launch was postponed by a year because of the COVID-19 crisis. The prize will carry a $150,000 cheque for the winner, and $12,500 to four finalists. Eligible women and non-binary writers must be residents or citizens of the U.S. or Canada, and the books must be published in English in those two countries. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — At age 22, poet Amanda Gorman, chosen to read at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, already has a history of writing for official occasions. "I have kind of stumbled upon this genre. It's been something I find a lot of emotional reward in, writing something I can make people feel touched by, even if it's just for a night," says Gorman. The Los Angeles resident has written for everything from a July 4 celebration featuring the Boston Pops Orchestra to the inauguration at Harvard University, her alma mater, of school president Larry Bacow. When she reads next Wednesday, she will be continuing a tradition — for Democratic presidents — that includes such celebrated poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. The latter's “On the Pulse of Morning," written for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton, went on to sell more than 1 million copies when published in book form. Recent readers include poets Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, both of whom Gorman has been in touch with. “The three of us are together in mind, body and spirit,” she says. Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and she has made news before. In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country's first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV; written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike; and has a two-book deal with Viking Children's Books. The first work, the picture book “Change Sings," comes out later this year. Gorman says she was contacted late last month by the Biden inaugural committee. She has known numerous public figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama, but says she will be meeting the Bidens for the first time. The Bidens, apparently, have been aware of her: Gorman says the inaugural officials told her she had been recommended by the incoming first lady, Jill Biden. She is calling her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” while otherwise declining to preview any lines. Gorman says she was not given specific instructions on what to write, but was encouraged to emphasize unity and hope over “denigrating anyone” or declaring “ding, dong, the witch is dead" over the departure of President Donald Trump. The siege last week of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the election was a challenge for keeping a positive tone, but also an inspiration. Gorman says she has been given 5 minutes to read, and before what she described during an interview as “the Confederate insurrection” of Jan. 6 she had only written about 3 1-2 minutes worth. The final length runs to about 6 minutes. “That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” says Gorman, adding that she will not refer directly to Jan. 6, but will “touch" upon it. She said last week's events did not upend the poem she had been working on because they didn't surprise her. “The poem isn't blind,” she says. "It isn't turning your back to the evidence of discord and division." In other writings, Gorman has honoured her Black ancestors, acknowledged and reveled in her own vulnerability ("Glorious in my fragmentation," she has written) and confronted social issues. Her poem “In This Place (An American Lyric),” written for the 2017 inaugural reading of U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, condemns the racist march in Charlottesville, Virginia ( “tiki torches string a ring of flame”) and holds up her art form as a force for democracy: ____ Tyrants fear the poet. Now that we know it we can’t blow it. We owe it to show it not slow it _____ Gorman has rare status as a poet, and has dreams of other ceremonies. She would love to read at the 2028 Olympics, scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, and in 2037 wouldn't mind finding herself in an even more special position at the presidential inauguration — as the new chief executive. “I'm going to tell Biden that I'll be back,” she said with a laugh. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
A month has passed since the first round of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Canada, but Kanesatake’s turn has not yet come. While the federal government put Onkwehón:we communities among their priorities, Emergency Response Unit (ERU) spokesperson, Robert Bonspiel, said that the community hasn’t received a fixed date as to when the vaccination will begin. “We have been led to believe that the reason for the delay is because of the enviable position that Kanesatake finds itself to be in,” said Bonspiel. Bonspiel said that at the moment, the community still has zero active cases. In comparison, their neighbour’s sister community, Kahnawake, has more than 20 positive cases, where some members already received their first dose of the vaccine. “The ERU and the community, we are not reactionary, we are proactive,” said Bonspiel. “We are using a lot of common sense, things that are culturally appropriate to us. And so far, it’s working amazingly.” Julie Lemieux-Côté from the communication services of the Centre integre de sante et de services sociaux des Laurentides (CISSS), explained that the rollout of the vaccine follows priority groups, rather than the amount of cases. The groups were established by the Quebec government, putting at top of the priority list the vulnerable people living in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLD), health and social workers who have contact with COVID-19 patients, and then private seniors homes. As mentioned last week during one of Quebec’s press conferences, the province’s plan is to have 250,000 people from its priority groups vaccinated before February 8. “We are still at the first levels, then we will start the vaccination in remote communities,” said Lemieux-Côté. The CISSS is already in contact with the ERU to organize the logistics surrounding the vaccination campaign in the community. Lemieux-Côté assured that it would only be a matter of one or two weeks, depending on the delivery of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Although, health and social workers don’t have to wait for the vaccines to be delivered in the community to receive their first shot. The Quebec government sent invitations to schedule the administration at one of their two locations outside of the community, such as at Quartier Dix30 in Brossard. Yet, none of the Kanesatake Riverside Elders Home health workers, staff from the Health Centre, nor the First Nations Paramedics (FNP) received their invitation. “I’m considered a priority to the CISSS in comparison to the general population but not that high on the list,” said Riverside’s registered nurse team leader Sabrina Richard, explaining that they aren’t in direct contact with COVID-19 patients. Richard believes that Kanesatake has been very lucky not to have been affected by COVID-19 like some other communities have. “Our time to get the vaccine will come and I hope that everyone considers getting it. It will not only protect you from serious complications, but it will also protect your loved ones,” said Richard. Even if the vaccine is not mandatory, Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon hopes that community members will collaborate. For him, there’s no other alternative, saying that the community cannot keep going into lockdown. “Either you roll up your sleeve,” he said, “or you get out there and take the chance to die of this.” email@example.com Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door