WASHINGTON — Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against lawyer Sidney Powell on Friday, seeking at least $1.3 billion for Powell's “wild accusations” that the company rigged the presidential election for Joe Biden.“Dominion brings this action to set the record straight,” the company said in the suit filed in federal court in Washington.Powell has for weeks claimed without evidence that the election technology vendor, whose vote-counting equipment was used in several states, was part of a scheme to steal the election from President Donald Trump. Powell has been representing Trump in a series of unsuccessful lawsuits filed to contest the election outcome.She has claimed that the company was created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late leader Hugo Chavez and that it has the ability to switch votes.There was no widespread fraud in the election, which a range of election officials across the country including Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Biden’s victory, also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices.The company said there “there are mountains of direct evidence that conclusively disprove Powell’s vote manipulation claims against Dominion — namely, the millions of paper ballots that were audited and recounted by bipartisan officials and volunteers in Georgia and other swing states, which confirmed that Dominion accurately counted votes on paper ballots."Dominion said that when it formally told Powell her claims were false and asked her to retract them, she “doubled down,” using her Twitter account with more than 1 million followers to amplify the claims.Eric Coomer, Dominion's security director, already has sued Powell, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the president's campaign for defamation after he was driven into hiding by death threats. Conservative columnists and news outlets also were named in Coomer's lawsuit, filed in Colorado, where the company is based.Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.The Associated Press
TOKYO — Japan began its first day under a coronavirus state of emergency Friday with much of life as usual, including morning commuter trains shuttling crowds of mask-wearing people at bustling stations.Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated his request for restaurants to shorten business hours and for people to work from home.“We take this very seriously. By all means, I would like to overcome this difficult situation with the co-operation of the people,” Suga told reporters.The emergency runs through Feb. 7. The declaration is asking restaurants and bars close by 8 p.m. while drinks won't be served after 7 p.m.It applies to Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.Nationwide, confirmed COVID-19 cases have reached some 260,000, with more than 7,500 new cases reported Friday.“Infection is the highest ever in every region of the nation,” said Suga.Suga has promised legal revisions, including allowing penalties and other measures to add more force to the requests. They will be studied in parliament later this month.The declaration is expected to have some sway in conformist Japan. Some companies have been resistant to working remotely and the emergency state may help workers assert their wishes to stay home.But much of life will stay the same, with schools, sports events, stores and movie theatres open, but with social distancing and mask-wearing measures. Crowds are expected to thin at night.The previous emergency, declared last April and May, although wider in scope and area, had some effect on curtailing the spread of COVID-19.The number of daily cases in Tokyo have been climbing, reaching a daily record 2,447 Thursday. The goal is to bring them down to 500, according to officials.Like many other Tokyo residents, Kazue Kuramitsu was already pessimistic about how long it might take for things to get back to normal.“From today, we’re basically in a battle for one month. But I don’t think the spread will stop,” she said.___Associated Press video journalist Haruka Nuga contributed to this report.Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HarukaNuga and Yuri Kageyama at https://twitter.com/yurikageyamaYuri Kageyama, The Associated Press
BEIJING — The former chairman of the main Chinese state bank behind Beijing's initiative to build railways and ports across dozens of Asian countries has been sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges, a court announced.Hu Huaibang was sentenced Thursday after being convicted of taking 85.5 million yuan ($13.2 million) in bribes between 2009 and 2019, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Chengde, a city north of Beijing. It said he used his post to help others obtain jobs and loans.Hu also was Communist Party secretary of China Development Bank, one of the world's richest lenders.The CDB is the main source of financing for the multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building railways, highways, ports, airports, power plants and other facilities across an arc of countries from the South Pacific through Asia, Africa and the Middle East to Europe.The BRI has prompted complaints some countries are left with debts they cannot repay. There was no indication Hu's prosecution was connected to the BRI.The court said Hu's sentence was lenient because he confessed and handed over the bribe money.Convictions for economic crimes in China sometimes result in the death penalty.In an unrelated case, the former chairman of another government financial entity, Lai Xiaomin of Huarong Asset Management Co., was sentenced to death Tuesday on charges of taking bribes.The Associated Press
China's top internet watchdog canvassed public opinion on Friday for a plan to update rules more than two decades old, aiming to widen oversight of online services to cover payment, shopping and livestreaming platforms. For the first time, the Cyberspace Administration of China defined "internet information services" within its purview to include offerings by such platforms, as well as those of news information providers and search engines. The move would "promote the healthy and orderly development of Internet information services," it said on its official WeChat account.
The Duchess of Cambridge won't be returning to London any time soon.
Geneviève M’Boua mijotait son idée depuis plus d’un an. Dans son « Marché d’ici et d’ailleurs » à Saint-Félicien au Lac-Saint-Jean, un produit manquait parmi ses étagères de manioc granulé et des boissons gazeuses créoles. Pour satisfaire les gourmands curieux, elle commercialise en octobre dernier une gamme de repas congelés concoctés à partir de recettes d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Dans une dizaine d’épiceries à grande surface de la région, on retrouve désormais du poulet yassa, du riz au gras et de l’attiéké poulet alloco entièrement préparé au Lac-Saint-Jean. Plus récemment, ces mets sont apparus dans des marchés spécialisés de Québec et de Montréal. « On hâte d’arriver dans les grandes surfaces à Montréal. On travaille là-dessus cette année », s’enthousiasme l’Ivoirienne d’origine, maintenant jeannoise depuis plusieurs années. « Je partage la culture d’ici. Je peux partager ma culture culinaire. » Cette innovation fait partie d’une tendance marquée parmi les entrepreneurs afro-québécois, assure la présidente du conseil d’administration de la Chambre de commerce Québec-Afrique, Catherine Frenette. Fini le temps où l’entrepreneuriat africain était cantonné à l’épicerie de produits exotiques ou au restaurant du coin. « On est en train de dépasser cette phase ». L’événementiel, les services informatiques, le domaine de la santé jusqu’à l’importation de bois exotiques, les exemples abondent. Pourtant, la diaspora africaine, en général hautement diplômée, a longtemps eu tendance à se tourner vers le salariat, fait-elle remarquer. « Il y a un risque au fait de se lancer en affaires quand on a la perspective d’être embauché dans une entreprise à haut salaire. » C’est pourtant ce qu’a fait Achani Doubogan. Alors étudiant à l’Université Laval, il démarre en 2016 la ligne de vêtement West’Af. À partir de tissu aux couleurs éclatées, le wax, la petite entreprise confectionne d’abord des morceaux pour ses compatriotes de Québec. Puis, les entrepreneurs élargissent leur vision. « On a beaucoup plus d’Africains qui se sentent concernés. Ça, c’est normal. Mais, on propose aussi des vêtements qui permettent aux Québécois de découvrir sans pour autant perdre leur identité. » Enregistrée en 2018, l’entreprise n’a cessé de croître, bien que les propriétaires doivent encore boucler leurs fins de mois avec un second emploi. Adaptation Pour flatter le palais québécois, il faut s’adapter, accorde Geneviève M’Bao. Tamiser un peu la saveur et « éliminer le piquant », font partie de sa recette gagnante. « On peut toujours rajouter du piquant par la suite », se justifie-t-elle. « On mélange les styles », concède à son tour Achani Doubogan. Les vestes et les cotons ouatés adaptés à la vie nordique tiennent la belle part des rayons de West’Af. « On ne peut pas faire de business au Québec sans penser à l’hiver et aux changements de température qu’on vit, surtout dans le domaine vestimentaire. » Pandémie oblige, les couturiers ont dû cesser leurs défilés de mode pour se tourner vers la vente en ligne avec une ligne de vêtements recalibrée. Signe d’un « écosystème » entre entreprises à l’identité africaine, les masques vendus par West’Af proviennent d’un fournisseur d’origine africaine, dit M. Doubogan. Pour atteindre de nouveaux sommets, Catherine Frenette conseille toutefois aux entrepreneurs de sortir de leurs réseaux d’affaires de même culture. « Plus on a des victoires faciles et rapides dans notre réseau […], moins on a besoin d’aller au-delà de ce réseau-là. Le défi, autant pour les membres de la diaspora africaine, que les professionnels afrodescendants, que la société québécoise en général, sera de dépasser ce modèle-là. » Appréciation culturelle Si les clients de Geneviève M’Boua sont majoritairement québécois, parmi les clients de West’Af, « on a 10 % de blancs », estime M. Doubogan. Pour expliquer cette réticence, Achani Doubogan met en cause « des débats dans la société nord-américaine qui limitent un peu la pensée des gens dans leurs habitudes. Exemple : un Canadien ou un Québécois qui porte un vêtement purement africain dans la rue, il se fait traiter comme quelqu’un qui fait de l’appropriation culturelle, ce qui n’est pas forcément vrai. Reconnaître la richesse de la culture d’autrui et l’utiliser, ce n’est pas nécessairement de l’appropriation culturelle. C’est sûr que si tu crées une entreprise et que tu fais de l’argent sur le dos d’une autre culture, ça devient de l’appropriation culturelle. » Il souligne aussi que « sur 10 clients blancs, on va avoir 6 Français, 4 Québécois. 7 Français, 3 Québécois peut-être. Personnellement, je l’explique par le fait que l’immigration a commencé en France bien avant le Québec. Les Français sont en contact avec les Africains depuis les années 1800. […] C’est une histoire de temps. Je suis sûr que dans 50 ans, la mentalité aura changé complètement. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
An increasingly isolated President Donald Trump sought on Friday to stave off a new drive to impeach him and Twitter permanently suspended his account, two days after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an assault on American democracy. Twitter, long Trump's favorite way to communicate with his supporters and a way to share his false claims of election fraud with his nearly 90 million followers, had been under increasing pressure to take action after Wednesday's mayhem in Washington. Trump exhorted thousands of followers to march on the Capitol as Congress met to certify his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden, prompting chaos in which crowds breached the building, forced the evacuation of both chambers and left a police officer and four others dead in their wake.
The United Kingdom recorded its highest daily death toll on Friday since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as London declared a major incident, warning that its hospitals were at risk of being overwhelmed. With a highly transmissable new variant of the virus surging across Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shuttered the economy and is rushing out vaccines faster than the country's European neighbours in a bid to stem the pandemic. Britain has the world's fifth-highest official death toll from COVID-19 at nearly 80,000, and the 1,325 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive test on Friday surpassed the previous daily record from last April.
EDMONTON — A series of commemorative events stretching over two days has begun to mark the one-year anniversary of the downing of Flight PS752.At 9:42 pm EST — the exact moment the Ukrainian International Airlines flight took off from Iran — more than 1,000 people from around the world tuned in to a live stream to honour the 176 people on board who died.More than 100 of the victims had ties to Canada, and at least 55 were Canadian citizens.The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims group organized the service.Voices of loved ones -- some wishing to talk to those who died, others wanting to know their last thoughts -- played over videos and photos of faces young and old.Biographies of the victims were to be read throughout the night and outdoor rallies were to take place later in various cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton.The plane was bound for Kyiv on Jan. 8, 2020, when it was shot out of the sky shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.Tension between Iran and the U.S. had been brewing. A few days earlier, a U.S. strike on the Baghdad airport had been ordered by President Donald Trump that resulted in the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Iran’s military had fired missiles at American forces in Iraq in retaliation.Iran initially denied any involvement in the downing of the airliner, then admitted it was shot down by accident after mistaking it for a missile."Justice delayed is justice denied" was repeated in the comment section of the online memorial. It's a sentiment the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims have said looms over their heads, as many still wonder when they will see accountability. The Iranian government recently pledged to pay $150,000 to each of the victims’ families. But family members in Canada say they don’t care about compensation.They want answers.“Over the past year, after burying our loved ones and attending the funerals, families of victims started to work together,” said Javad Soleimani of Edmonton.Soleimani decided to stay home to study during the holidays last year while his wife travelled to Iran to visit her family. She never returned.Every day he hopes he’s living a nightmare and the love of his life will show up and embrace him, he said.“The most valuable thing that many families of victims have at this moment is that we are all united in discovering truth and justice,” said Soleimani, who is also a member of the association.“We need the truth. Compensation is not going to do that for us. We need to get the truth and justice punishing all those responsible for this heinous crime.”Daniel Ghods-Esfahani, a medical student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said the last year has been difficult.His girlfriend, Saba Saadat, her sister Sara, and their mother, Dr. Shekoufeh Choupannejad, were on the flight.He only recently started processing that a pandemic was happening in the world, he said.“We wake up. We have a routine. We do certain things throughout our day now. But the feeling, like physically and mentally, is very similar to the first few days after we found out about the downing of the flight."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2021.___This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press
A personal support worker from Sutton got an early Christmas present when she became the first person to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at Southlake Regional Health Centre. Robin Dowdall, a PSW at River Glen Haven Long-Term Care Home, received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine from the local hospital on December 23. River Glen Haven is a long-term care residence hit particularly hard by the virus. As she begins her 14th year working there, Ms. Dowdall says the last 12 months have been the hardest she has ever experienced. “I’m excited to be getting this vaccine,” said Ms. Dowdall in a statement released shortly after receiving her injection. “We’ve been waiting for it. We’re a compassionate caring team at River Glen Haven and we’ve been doing everything we can to keep COVID out of the home. By getting the vaccine today, I’m protecting residents at the home, as well as my family, until they are able to get vaccinated themselves.” Following Ms. Dowdall’s vaccination, Southlake’s vaccination clinic was visited by Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen, Minister of Health and Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, as well as York Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney and Newmarket Mayor John Taylor to thank staff for their work. “I am pleased to see the first COVID-19 vaccines being administered at Southlake Regional Health Centre,” said Mr. Van Bynen. “Vaccines save lives and are an important tool to end the pandemic. I am proud that all levels of government have worked together as quickly as possible to start to get Canadians vaccinated.” Added Ms. Elliott: “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Southlake has gone above and beyond in their efforts to care for patients and families in our community. Watching one of our health care heroes, Robin Dowdall, a personal support worker at River Glen Haven, become the first person in our community to be vaccinated reminds us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light grows brighter with every vaccine administered. Thank you to the teams at Southlake and River Glen Haven for your compassion and commitment to our community, and for being partners in this critical new stage in our fight against COVID-19.” For Arden Krystal, President & CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre, Ms. Dowdall’s vaccination was “a turning point” in the fight against the virus. “It’s an honor to be a part of the largest vaccination campaign this country has ever seen,” she said. “This vaccine is a turning point and as much as today is about looking forward with hope, it is also an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the partnerships we’ve forged throughout this pandemic. Today is great example of what we can achieve when we work together, across the healthcare system and at every level of government.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
People all over the Okanagan and Secwepemc spent the morning preparing their ribbon skirts, signs, and posters in preparation for another court date for Curtis Sagmoen. Sagmoen faces assault charges due to an incident that occured between him and RCMP officer, Cpl. Gerry Kovacs on Oct, 29, 2020 in the Spallumcheen area. He was charged with Assault of a Peace Officer. Sagmoen did not show up to the courthouse today but youth, men and women, some travelling for hours, did. After a brief appearance by his lawyer, Sagmoen’s arraignment hearing, where he will plead either guilty or not guilty, was set for Feb. 11, 2021. Once word reached the group that he was not there some decided to go to the Sagmoen’s property on Salmon River Road. “He didn’t come today, so we will go to him,” one youth, who didn’t want to be identified due to safety concerns said to IndigiNews. IndigiNews followed as the group of mostly Syilx and Secwepemc youth drove from the courthouse to the Sagmoen farm. When they arrived they laid down medicine, hung a red dress and together repeated “we will not stop until we have answers, no justice, no peace!” In addition to the current charges, Sagmoen is currently on probation, after he was convicted of assault causing bodily harm in June of 2020 for assaulting a sex worker in 2017 on the Sagmoen family farm property just outside of Enderby, B.C. The three year probation sentence involves many conditions including consent to inspection of devices at any given moment, no consumption intoxicating substances, as well as no contact direct or indirect with sex trade workers. In 2017, the remains of 18 year-old Traci Genereaux were uncovered at the Sagmoen farm where Curtis and his parents currently reside. No charges have been laid in that case. In a separate case in 2019, Sagmoen was found guilty of three charges involving a woman who came to the property to provide “companion” services. She testified that when she arrived at the property Sagmoen jumped out of the bushes with a gun. He was convicted of disguising his face with intent to commit an offence, use of a firearm during an offence and possession of a controlled substance. On Oct. 21, 2020, the RCMP released a public warning to sex trade workers after a rise in suspicious activity near the farm was being circulated on private Facebook groups in the area. “Police are warning any person involved in the sex trade not respond to any requests for their services, and not engage in any activity, in the Salmon River Road area,” the release states. The release shared that Sagmoen’s probation conditions include not having “contact in any way with any sex trade worker, escort, or person offering paid dating or companion services.” “In the interest of safety, we are releasing a photo of Sagmoen. We are requesting anyone who receives a request for sex related services in the area of Salmon River Road, not attend the area, and contact police immediately,” shared Cst. Terleski, Media Relations Officer for the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP in the release. Those who rallied today say they intend on returning for Sagmoen’s arraignment hearing in February.Kelsie Kilawna, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
WASHINGTON — The Latest on the fallout of the storming of the Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump loyalists (all times local):12:40 a.m.The U.S. Capitol Police says an officer who was injured after responding to riots at the Capitol has died.Officer Brian D. Sicknick died Thursday due to injuries sustained while on-duty, physically engaging with protesters at the U.S. Capitol, the statement said.Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm Democrat Joe Biden won the election. Sicknick returned to his division office and collapsed, the report said. He was taken to a hospital and later died.The death will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and federal law enforcement. Sicknick joined the Capitol police in 2008.Democratic leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said the “tragic loss” of a Capitol police officer “should remind all of us of the bravery of the law enforcement officers who protected us, our colleagues, Congressional staff, the press corps and other essential workers? during the hourslong takeover of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters.9:05 p.m.Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has become the second Cabinet secretary to resign a day after a pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.In a resignation letter Thursday, DeVos blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming tensions in the violent assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. She says, “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao tendered her resignation earlier Thursday. News of DeVos' resignation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.In a farewell letter to Congress earlier this week, DeVos urged lawmakers to reject policies supported by President-elect Joe Biden, and to protect Trump administration policies that Biden has promised to eliminate.___HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW A DAY AFTER PRO-TRUMP FORCES BREACHED CAPITOL:Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner before dawn Thursday, hours after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a stunning attempt to overturn the election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Trump in the White House. The top two Democrats in Congress are calling on the Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, and if it doesn't, they are considering impeachment again.Read more:— Biden win confirmed after pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol— Capitol police chief defends response to ‘criminal’ rioters— World watches US chaos with shock, dismay and some mockery— After excusing violence, Trump acknowledges Biden transition— Race double standard clear in rioters’ Capitol insurrection___HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:8:10 p.m.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has accepted the resignation of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger a day after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.The Kentucky Republican said Thursday in a statement that he had earlier requested the resignation and later received it. He says Stenger’s resignation is effective immediately.McConnell says Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms Jennifer Hemingway will now be acting sergeant-at-arms.He says, “I thank Jennifer in advance for her service as we begin to examine the serious failures that transpired yesterday and continue and strengthen our preparations for a safe and successful inauguration on January 20th.”Democrat Chuck Schumer had earlier vowed to fire Stenger when Schumer becomes Senate majority leader later this month if Stenger was still in the position.___7:20 p.m.President Donald Trump is conceding to President-elect Joe Biden and condemning the violent supporters of his who stormed the nation’s Capitol.In a new video message Thursday, Trump says that now that Congress has certified the results, the “new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20” and his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power.”He also spoke out against the violence, calling it a “heinous attack” that left him “outraged by the violence lawlessness and mayhem.”Trump did not address his role in inciting the violence. But in the video, he tells his supporters that, while he knows they are “disappointed,” he wants them to know “our incredible journey is only just beginning.”___6:40 p.m.Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. is criticizing President Donald Trump for prioritizing his own interests over the nation’s following the deadly siege of the Capitol by the president’s supporters.In a statement Thursday, the Trump-era ambassador called on Americans to join together and push through this “anguishing period of history.” His comments come a day after violent protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.Huntsman says, “Our light has been dimmed by repeated reckless behaviour encouraged by our President, who has shown time and again he cares more about his own ego and interests than in building trust in our ever-fragile institutions of democracy.”Huntsman resigned from his role as ambassador to Russia in 2019 after two years. He joined other former Trump officials in condemning Wednesday’s attack, including former Attorney General William Barr and former White House chief of staff John Kelly.__6:15 p.m.The head of the U.S. Capitol Police will resign effective Jan. 16 following the breach of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.Chief Steven Sund said Thursday that police had planned for a free speech demonstration and did not expect the violent attack. He said it was unlike anything he’d experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement.He resigned Thursday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on him to step down. His resignation was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.The breach halted the effort by Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Protesters stormed the building and occupied for hours. The lawmakers eventually returned and finished their work.— By AP writer Michael Balsamo___5:45 p.m.Democratic leaders of five House committees are seeking an immediate briefing from the FBI on its investigation of Wednesday’s violent breach of the Capitol, which left four people dead and disrupted a congressional proceeding to confirm the results of the presidential election.In a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the lawmakers called the riot “a deadly terrorist attack” incited by President Donald Trump and his supporters.The lawmakers wrote, “Given the incendiary environment caused and exacerbated by President Trump’s rhetoric, along with the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, it is imperative that the FBI leverage all available assets and resources to ensure that the perpetrators of this domestic terrorist attack and those who incited and conspired with them are brought to justice, and that this domestic terrorist group is disrupted from further actions against our government.”The letter was signed by Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson, Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and Armed Services Chair Adam Smith.___5:35 p.m.White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says President Donald Trump’s administration found the siege of the U.S. Capitol to be “appalling, reprehensible and antithetical to the American way.”But while McEnany’s statement to the press Thursday broke the White House’s silence a day after the violence, Trump himself remained quiet.McEnany, for the first time, said that the White House was committed to the “orderly transition of power” to President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. She also took pains to try to draw a distinction between the “violent rioters” and other Trump supporters who attended the president’s rally in Washington just before the siege of the Capitol.But McEnany took no questions. And the impact of the statement would likely be muted, as Trump has long said that only he speaks for his White House.The president has yet to condemn the violence that was meant to stop the congressional certification of Biden’s victory.___5:40 p.m.State lawmakers and police are taking extra precautions at state capitol buildings as legislatures in most states return to session.Pro-Donald Trump demonstrators have rallied outside numerous capitols since the Nov. 3 election, and some groups have said they want a large presence when lawmakers return. Trump has falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud cost him the election and has convinced many of his supporters that President-elect Joe Biden will be illegitimate.Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol has heightened concerns.In Washington state, a pro-Trump group has said it will try to get inside the capitol building in Olympia when lawmakers return to work on Monday.In Oregon, the state police said it is aware of rumours that armed groups are considering taking over the capitol and warned that anyone attempting that would be arrested.In Michigan, where several men were charged last fall in separate plots to kidnap the governor and storm the statehouse in hopes of inciting a civil war, police briefly closed the capitol on Thursday after a man called to make a bomb threat.___5:25 p.m.The head of the union representing U.S. Capitol Police is calling on the department’s chief to resign, saying the Capitol riot “should never have happened.”Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement Thursday that a lack of planning led to officers exposed to violent protesters storming the Capitol. He says officers lacked the backup and equipment needed to control rioters and argues that Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund must be replaced to prevent similar incidents in the future.Police have been criticized for not immediately arresting many people who stormed the Capitol. Papathanasiou said, “Once the breach of the Capitol building was inevitable, we prioritized lives over property, leading people to safety.”Papathanasiou is chair of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee.___5:15 p.m.A longtime U.S. senator who has been a staunch supporter of Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri says he was “bamboozled” and no longer backs him.Three-term Republican Sen. John Danforth of St. Louis told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he first met Hawley when Hawley was a third-year student at Yale Law School and was immediately impressed by his intelligence. Now, he calls his support of Hawley “the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life.”Danforth cited Hawley’s decision to challenge the legitimacy of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory in November. Danforth says telling people the election was fraudulent “is very, very destructive to the country,” and the attack at the Capitol building on Wednesday “was the culmination of that whole approach to politics.”Danforth says he would no longer support Hawley’s political future, whether it be for a reelection bid or a run for president in 2024.Asked if he believes Hawley bears some responsibility for the attack on the Capitol, Danforth says simply, “Yes, I do.”___5:10 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden is leaving it up to the current Cabinet to decide whether to remove President Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment.Transition aide Andrew Bates says in a statement Thursday that Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris are “focused on their duty” - the transition work in preparation for their inauguration on January 20 - “and will leave it to Vice-President Pence, the Cabinet and the Congress to act as they see fit.”The 25th Amendment allows for a majority of the Cabinet to vote to transfer the powers of the presidency to the vice-president in cases where the president is unable to perform his duty. Trump officials are facing growing calls to consider the move after pro-Trump protesters, egged on by the president himself, broke into the Capitol on Wednesday in a violent melee that forced lawmakers to evacuate.Biden avoided weighing in on whether Trump should be impeached again, a move already gaining traction among House Democrats in an attempt to remove the president from power before he leaves office later this month.___4:20 p.m.One of the people who died of a medical emergency during the storming of the Capitol was the founder of a pro-Trump social media site called Trumparoo and had co-ordinated transportation for several dozen people from Pennsylvania to Washington.The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 50-year-old Benjamin Philips drove there in a van along with Trump-related memorabilia he had produced. The Inquirer and the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise both spoke with Phillips before the rally.He was a web developer and founder of Trumparoo, a social media site for supporters of President Donald Trump. His profile on the site said he was organizing a bus from the Bloomsburg area to go to the rally and expressed anger at Democratic officials and moderate Republicans.The Inquirer reports that members of his group say they last saw Philips around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, and that he did not show up to meet them for a 6 p.m. departure. They learned from police that he had died and had a sombre ride back to Pennsylvania.Philips told the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise on Tuesday that people from other states were staying at his home. He said, “My ‘hostel’ is already full.”___This item has been corrected to show the victim's last name is spelled Philips, not Phillips, as police had initially said.___4 p.m.The top federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia says “all options are on the table” for charges against the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, including sedition.Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for D.C., says prosecutors plan to file 15 federal cases on Thursday for crimes including unauthorized access and theft of property, and investigators are combing through scores of evidence to bring additional charges.He says 40 other cases had already been charged in a District of Columbia superior court.The announcement comes a day after angry and armed protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.Police say more than 90 people were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday morning.___3:55 p.m.Vice-President Mike Pence is expected to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration..That’s according to two people — one close to Pence and one familiar with the inauguration planning. The people spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the plans had yet to be finalized.The news comes a day after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the congressional confirmation of Biden’s victory, with some angrily shouting that they were looking for Pence.Trump had told his supporters that Pence had the power to reject electoral votes and make him the president instead of Biden, even though he didn’t have that authority. The pressure campaign created a rare public rift between the men after years of Pence’s uncheckered loyalty.Pence’s press secretary Devin O’Malley tweeted Thursday: “You can’t attend something you haven’t received an invitation to....”But it is customary for an outgoing vice-president to attend the inauguration. Outgoing President Donald Trump has not said whether he plans to attend.Biden will be inaugurated in Washington on Jan 20.— AP writers Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller___3:30 p.m.A marketing firm based in Maryland has fired an employee who wore his company badge when he stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington.Navistar Direct Marketing of Frederick said in a statement Thursday that it was made aware that a man wearing a Navistar badge was seen inside the Capitol during the security breach. The statement said that after the company reviewed the photos, the unidentified employee was fired for cause. No additional details were released.The statement also said that any Navistar worker who demonstrates dangerous conduct that endangers the health and safety of others will lose their jobs, too.A violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to overturn the presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep the president in the White House.___3 p.m.Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s top congressional allies, says the president must accept his own role in the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol.The South Carolina senator said Thursday that Trump “needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution.”Graham was a foe of Trump’s during the 2016 campaign and questioned his mental fitness for office. Once Trump was in office, however, Graham became one of his closest confidants and often played golf with him.Graham added that he had no regrets of his support of Trump but that “it breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, would allow yesterday to happen.”Graham complimented Vice-President Mike Pence’s decorum during the Electoral College vote certification process, saying that any expectation that Pence could have overturned the results was “over the top, unconstitutional, illegal and would have been wrong for the country.”___2:55 p.m.District of Columbia police have identified the three people who had medical emergencies and died during the storming of the Capitol.They are 55-year-old Kevin Greeson, of Athens, Alabama; 34-year-old Rosanne Boyland, of Kennesaw, Georgia; and 50-year-old Benjamin Philips, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania.Police Chief Robert Contee would not go into detail about the exact causes of their deaths and would not say if any of the three was actively involved in breaching the Capitol building on Wednesday.Contee would only say that all three “were on the grounds of the Capitol when they experienced their medical emergencies.”Greeson’s family says he had a heart attack. They described him as a supporter of President Donald Trump’s but denied that he condoned violence.The Capitol Police say a fourth person, identified as Ashli Babbitt, was shot by an employee of Capitol Police while the rioters were moving toward the House chamber. She died at a hospital.The siege at the Capitol by Trump loyalists came as Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.___This item has been corrected to show that the victim's name is spelled Benjamin Philips, not Phillips, as police had initially said.___2:35 p.m.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s seeking the resignation of Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund a day after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol.The California Democrat also said Thursday that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, another key security official, had already submitted his resignation. He reports directly to Pelosi, while Sund answers to both House and Senate.Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’ll fire the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger.Lawmakers have mixed praise for the Capitol Police with harsh criticism for the outfit, which was overwhelmed by Wednesday’s mob and unprepared for it.___2:30 p.m.Canadian-based e-commerce company Shopify Inc. has removed online stores affiliated with U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his actions have violated the company’s policies.The company said in a statement Thursday that it does not tolerate actions that incite violence. The president has been accused of inciting his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after repeatedly and falsely telling them that Democrats had stolen the election from him.The company says, “Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our acceptable use policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause.”Sites for Trump hotels, trumpstore.com and campaign store shop.donaldjtrump.com generated messages saying, “Oops something went wrong? and ”This store is unavailable.?Trump’s social media channels showed the stores sold items including Christmas ornaments depicting his hotels, flip flops and T-shirts emblazoned with his logo and the American flag, scented candles, teddy bears, bath and beauty products, model airplanes and footballs.___2:25 p.m.The family of an Alabama man who died of a medical emergency during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol say he was a supporter of President Donald Trump's but deny that he condoned violence.District of Columbia police said Kevin D. Greeson, of Athens, died of a medical emergency during the fracas on Wednesday at the Capitol.Officials did not release additional details about the circumstances of Greeson’s death or where he collapsed, but family members said he had a history of high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack.In a family statement emailed from his wife, Kristi, the family described Greeson as a Trump supporter but maintained he was not there to participate in the rioting inside the Capitol. The family said they are devastated by the loss.They said, “Kevin was a wonderful father and husband who loved life. He loved to ride motorcycles, he loved his job and his coworkers, and he loved his dogs.”The family added that Greeson attended the event to show his support for Trump. They say, “He was excited to be there to experience this event- he was not there to participate in violence or rioting, nor did he condone such actions.”___2:20 p.m.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump should immediately be removed from office or Congress may proceed to impeach him.Pelosi on Thursday joined those calling on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to force Trump from office. It came a day after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, forcing the building into lockdown. Trump called them “very special” people and said he loved them.She said at the Capitol: “The president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America.”Pelosi says he could do further harm to the country: “Any day can be a horror show for America.”Democrats and some Republicans want Trump removed before his term ends on Jan. 20 with Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration.The 25th Amendment allows for the vice-president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. The vice-president then becomes acting president.___2 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden is calling the violent group that descended on the U.S. Capitol “domestic terrorists” and laying the blame for the violence squarely at President Donald Trump’s feet.During remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, Biden says people should not call the hundreds of Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol protesters. Rather, he says, they are “a riotous mob — insurrectionists, domestic terrorists.” Biden said Trump is guilty of “trying to use a mob to silence the voices of nearly 160 million Americans” who voted in November.Biden says the president has “made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done” and unleashed an “all-out attack” on the country’s democratic institutions that ultimately led to the violence Wednesday.___1:45 p.m.Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is resigning effective Monday, becoming the highest ranking member of President Donald Trump’s administration to resign in protest after the pro-Trump insurrection at Capitol.In a statement Thursday, Chao, who is married to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, said the violent attack on the Capitol “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”She said her department will continue to co-operate with President-elect Joe Biden’s designated nominee to head the department, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.___1:30 p.m.Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is vowing to fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.Stenger is in charge of the chamber’s security.Schumer says, “I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate.” The New York Democrat will become the majority leader after President-elect Joe Biden and Georgia Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in.Top Republican and outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees that there was a “massive failure’’ by police and other officials that allowed a violent breach at the Capitol Wednesday.McConnell says a “painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow.’’He says the “ultimate blame” lies with the criminals who broke into the Capitol and the people who incited them. But he said that "does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”___11:40 a.m.Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling on President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to remove him from office following Wednesday’s violent assault on the Capitol by the president’s supporters.In a statement Thursday, Schumer said the attack on the Capitol “was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president.” He added, “This president should not hold office one day longer.”Schumer said Vice-President Mike Pence and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment and immediately remove Trump from office. He added, “If the vice-president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”The Associated Press
The federal government paid back all but $16.4 million to Manitoba residents and businesses that it had collected from the carbon tax in the first year it was in place. Ottawa received $193.3 million in carbon taxes in Manitoba from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020. Through various tax rebates and climate change programs, $176.9 million was returned to Manitobans. Environment and Climate Change Canada recently released a review of the tax in provinces and territories that refused to implement their own carbon tax. The report said $157 million was returned directly to residents through climate action incentive payments. The $16.4 million that was outstanding was rolled into the current fiscal year. Revenue from the carbon tax is generated from a fuel charge, collected through the Canada Revenue Agency, which reflects an increasing price on carbon that began at $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019 and will rise by $10 per tonne until it hits $50 per tonne in 2022. A separate tax scheme applies to industrial emissions. Andrew Leach, an energy and environmental economist at the University of Alberta said Wednesday the people who expected definitive proof as to whether the policies were working, will be disappointed. It will take years of study to fully understand how carbon pricing affects emissions as well as household and business spending and incomes, he told the Free Press. “There’s so many moving parts to our economy and greenhouse gas emissions are tied to just about everything. So, that’s why it takes so long to get good information,” Leach said. As such, the first full review of the federal government’s carbon tax is due in 2022, the report states. Repayments varied in each province. For Manitoba residents, repayment in the first fiscal year consisted of $170 for a single adult (or the first adult in a couple), with the second adult receiving $85. Each child under the age of 18 was entitled to a $42 rebate. Rural residents are also eligible for a 10 per cent supplement. Leach says there is a great deal of research that goes into laying the groundwork for such a program. He said it is not surprising that revenue didn’t align exactly with payouts in the first year, but he expects the calculations are likely to be adjusted. “As this annual report shows, all direct proceeds from pricing carbon pollution under the federal system are being returned to the jurisdiction in which they were collected. Returning proceeds from pricing carbon pollution helps with affordability, but it does not change the incentive to pollute less,” wrote federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in the introduction to the report. The Manitoba School Board Association received $5 million for energy retrofit projects and $1.8 million was allocated to programs for small and medium-sized enterprises in the province through the Climate Action Incentive Fund. An additional $9.3 million remains available but all programs that receive funding must be approved by the federal government.Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a potential blow to the MeToo movement in China, a court ruled that two former journalists defamed a third journalist by publishing an account accusing him of sexual misconduct.A court in the eastern city of Hangzhou ruled Tuesday that the evidence provided by Zou Sicong and He Qian against prominent journalist Deng Fei was “not enough to allow someone to firmly believe without any hesitation that what was described truly happened.”The court ordered He and Zou to pay 11,712 yuan ($1,813) in damages. They plan to appeal the ruling.The lawsuit was based on an article written by He that Zou published online in 2018, in which He alleged Deng lured her to a hotel room in 2009 to discuss story ideas, then removed her clothes and tried to kiss and grope her.He said that at the time, she was a 21-year-old intern at a news magazine where Deng was chief reporter.The article came amid a swell of allegations as young women across China went public with stories of sexual assault and misconduct as part of the global MeToo movement.However, the movement has had difficulty gaining traction in China, where politics, arts and the business world remain overwhelmingly male-dominated. Accusations brought both publicly and anonymously against a few dozen men in industries ranging from media to academia have sparked a backlash, and since 2018, at least six men have brought defamation suits against either their accusers or people who helped publicize the accusations.Deng denied the allegation, writing on his Wechat microblog that he had “never done anything this stupid or this bad." He petitioned successfully to keep details of the case out of the public record to protect the privacy of third parties who might be mentioned.“I did not even get a chance to find the relevant evidence to prove my innocence, and further, given it’s been 10 years, I don’t even remember this person who said herself that she has only seen me once,” Deng wrote.Throughout the process, Zou and He said they faced a higher burden of proof under Chinese law. Although China allowed sexual misconduct as a ground for lawsuits in 2019, the definition of such harassment remains murky and very few cases are filed. Many have been prosecuted in courts as labour disputes or under laws to protect public reputations.Tuesday's decision could discourage others from coming forward with reports of sexual misconduct in the future, the defendants said.“This is equal to telling someone who was humiliated, who was hurt, that if you don’t have audio recordings or videos of the event, then you better hurry up and shut your mouth,” Zou's and He’s lawyer, Xu Kai, said in a statement. “The court had imposed the entire burden of proof on Zou Sicong and He Qian.”“If back then we had the surveillance footage and the police report and then in the court I told this to Deng Fei, then we should be standing in your position as the accuser," Zou said. “This will definitely have a chilling effect."He said the the judgment was a setback but she still has hope for the movement.“I want to know how far we can go with the existing legal system,” she said.Deng did not respond to messages left on his social media accounts.Zhou Xiaoxuan, the face of one of China’s most high-profile MeToo cases, said she did not see the ruling as a defeat. “It was very brave then for He Qian to speak out about this with her real name. She did this for the rights of other women.”___This story corrects that court ruling involved a civil lawsuit, not a criminal conviction.Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
Premier Brian Pallister wants to reopen Manitoba’s economy by easing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses as soon as the end of this month the Free Press has learned. On Wednesday, the premier pulled back about easing restrictions, a week after stating the rules would almost certainly be relaxed. But senior government sources say Pallister remains “headstrong” about forging ahead with relaxing the rules quickly. On Dec. 30, Pallister said Manitobans “lessened our personal freedom to save lives” under code-red restrictions, which have been in place since Nov. 12. “We’re going to be floating ideas we think should happen with easing restrictions, but I can’t speak to what Dr. (Brent) Roussin and what Dr. (Jazz) Atwal will say to that yet.” Pallister has repeatedly said the economy, which helps fund health and social programs, is suffering, and that must be taken into account. “So we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to move into an open economy as soon as we possibly can,” he said Wednesday. Speaking to the Free Press on the condition they not be named, three Tory officials said the premier has his sights set on moving all of Manitoba from a critical code red lockdown to less strident code orange limitations by the beginning of February. It would mean most businesses would be allowed to reopen with limited capacity (including hair salons, restaurants and clothing retailers), while indoor and outdoor gatherings of up 10 people will also be permitted. “(Pallister) told us his idea of a benchmark for when restrictions should be eased is around a 100 or so daily cases — maybe even 180,” a government official with knowledge of the Tories’ planning said Wednesday. “But more than that, a lot of it has to do with the pressure that he’s been facing from commerce and business groups.” “I think he believes we might not have to dedicate so many resources to rescue businesses if they were allowed to at least somewhat reopen,” another senior Tory member told the Free Press. When Manitoba phased out pandemic restrictions after the first wave of the coronavirus in the spring, the province had around 40 active cases with a single-digit increase per day or no increase at all in May. “This time, everything is really quite different,” said Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist in Winnipeg. “We now have the realistic threat of a new strain, and even if a vaccine is providing good news, it’s certainly not enough to quickly ease restrictions and neither do we know for sure whether it will be effective against the new COVID strain detected in other provinces.” Carr said the province should not take a risky approach after “finally having a somewhat handle” on daily COVID-19 cases. “Let public health guide economic and social policy because the way to have a healthy economy is by having healthy people, and we’re the ones that know the risk of a symptomatic spread,” she said. “Period.” Business leaders, however, would welcome a lifting of some restrictions. “As long as it’s safe and as long it’s achievable, of course that’s all we could want for our business community,” said Loren Remillard, president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. “It’s definitely been a significant period since we’ve locked down completely,” he said. “But now there’s enough research which shows how to find a sweet spot for reopening, and I think we should be looking at that for a realistic future of our economy surviving.” Jonathan Alward, Prairies director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the provincial government must continue to support local businesses regardless of restrictions. “Reopening as quickly as possible is a make-or-break situation for many sectors,” said Alward. “That doesn’t mean they won’t need support even after they’re allowed to reopen — a capacity limit is a capacity limit.” That’s certainly the case for Sam Rivait and Cait Bousfield’s new barbershop on Osborne Street. “At this point, we’ve been out of business for months and months now,” said hair stylist Rivait, who co-owns Good Fortune. “We’ve been getting message after message about the effect of not getting a haircut for all these months on people — it’s all so completely draining,” she said. Still, public health officials aren’t keen on the idea of reopening. Manitoba health leaders believe pandemic restrictions cannot be eased until test-positivity rates drop, hospitalization numbers decrease, and daily case counts decline. “It’s premature right now to determine any changes to our restrictions,” Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said Monday. The province’s acting deputy public health officer echoed those statements Wednesday. “Today’s numbers are a bit higher,” Dr. Jazz Atwal said, announcing 10 more virus-related deaths and 176 new cases. “But those restrictions in place have made a difference and are continuing to make a difference.” Atwal said it’s too early to relay the full impact the holiday season will have on COVID-19 metrics.Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
NEW YORK — A woman who falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and then tackled him at a New York City hotel was arrested Thursday in her home state of California.Miya Ponsetto, 22, was jailed in Ventura County, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office there said. It wasn't immediately clear what charges she might face.The New York Police Department flew detectives out to California earlier Thursday with a warrant for Ponsetto's arrest. The trip followed days of intense media coverage of the fracas at the hotel and demands by the teen's family and activists that she face criminal charges.Ponsetto's lawyer, Sharen Ghatan, told The Associated Press in an interview before the arrest that her client is “emotionally unwell" and remorseful for her Dec. 26 conflict with 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. at Manhattan’s Arlo Hotel.The teen's father, jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, recorded the confrontation and put the video online.In his video, an agitated woman is seen demanding the teen's phone, claiming he stole it. A hotel manager tries to intervene. Keyon Harrold can be heard in the recording telling the woman to leave his son alone. Ghatan confirmed that Ponsetto is the woman in the video.Security video later released by the NYPD shows Ponsetto frantically grabbing at the teen as he tried to get away from her through the hotel’s front door. She’s seen clutching him from behind before both tumble to the ground.Ponsetto's missing phone had actually been left in an Uber and was returned by the driver shortly afterward, Keyon Harrold has said.The altercation drew comparisons to cases like that of Amy Cooper, a white woman who was charged with filing a false report for calling 911 and saying she was being threatened by “an African American man” during a dispute in New York’s Central Park in May.Ventura County Sheriff's deputies arrested Ponsetto after spotting her driving near her home in Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, said department Capt. Eric Buschow.She drove two blocks before stopping her vehicle, then refused to get out of the car, Buschow said.“She tried to slam the door on one of the deputies and that’s when they just reached in and forcibly removed her,” he said, adding that the sheriff's office would ask county prosecutors to charge her with resisting arrest.Ghatan said she spoke to her client earlier Thursday, and that “she strikes me as someone who’s unwell."She said Ponsetto “lashed out" over worry about her phone disappearing, and that it wasn't racially motivated.It “could have been anyone," she said.The Associated Press
As he headed in the direction of a fairground attraction, five-year-old Drew Hayden Taylor stopped in his tracks to look at a small horse taking his fellow youngsters for a “ride” in small circles. It was tethered in place, limited to that circle, day in and day out. “It just looked down and never looked up,” Hayden Taylor recalls decades later. “Even as a little kid, it looked so sad to me.” It may have just been a daytrip to Campbellford he took with his grandfather, but this takeaway was anything but. Over the years, this horse has fuelled both his imagination and his creativity. Now, the resulting novel, Chasing Painted Horses, has been selected by the Aurora Public Library (APL) as its One Book One Aurora selection for 2021. One Book One Aurora is APL’s initiative to get all of Aurora reading from the same page. With multiple copies of the book ready to be released throughout the community over the coming months to be picked up, read, shared and passed on, it will form the centrepiece of a year’s worth of Library programming. Chasing Painted Horses begins with Ralph Thomas who comes across graffiti of a horse in an alleyway. “He recognizes the horse. A half-asleep Indigenous homeless man sees Ralph’s reaction to the horse and calls out to him. Over the course of a morning’s worth of hot coffee on a bitterly cold day, Ralph and the homeless man talk and Ralph remembers a troubling moment from his childhood when an odd little girl, Danielle, drew the most beautiful and intriguing horse on his mother’s Everything Wall, winning the competition set up for children on the Otter Lake Reserve. “Ralph has lived with many questions that arose from his eleventh winter. What did the horse mean – to him, his sister, his best friend, and, most importantly, the girl who drew it? These questions have never left him.” Nor has the story of the horse left Drew Hayden Taylor. A resident of Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough, Mr. Hayden Taylor has had a storied career as a writer. His credits include episodes of The Beachcombers, Street Legal, and North of 60, a number of novels, and short story collections. Chasing Painted Horses began life as a short story in his collection “Fearless Warriors” under the title The Girl Who Loved Her Horses. “It wasn’t happy just being a short story, so I wrote it into a one-act play for a young audience,” Hayden Taylor tells The Auroran. “It was my favourite thing I ever had the opportunity to write but, again, it still wasn’t happy being a one-act play for kids; it kept telling me it had more story there.” Hayden Taylor didn’t start out wanting to be a novelist. In fact, he was often discouraged from writing by his mother and “oddly enough, my Grade 11 English teacher.” “Growing up on the Reserve can be quite boring, so I read a lot and the more I read the more I realized I wanted to be a writer. I gave up wanting to be a writer and it wasn’t until I was in my 20s…that it wasn’t so much of me finding my art, but my art tracking me down and kicking me in the ass,” he says. He started off writing magazine articles before turning to the film industry. He turned in his first television script at the age of 25, but didn’t really feel he had found his voice until his late 20s when his first play became a hit. He published his first novel nearly 15 years ago, with his second novel, Motorcycles & Sweetgrass, becoming a national hit. “I never thought I was a novelist, that involves real effort – novels are like a marathon – but I realized I could write it and this story had been sitting in the back of my mind for so long that it eventually came forward and said, ‘Don’t forget us.’ So, I decided to blow the dust off the horse, Danielle and Ralph, sit down and just create their world once more and give them much more freedom, dimension and life.” Now, this story, with its complete freedom, dimension and life, is set to become the heart of a community conversation and Mr. Hayden-Taylor says the fact that “it was picked for something like [One Book One Aurora] that lets other people feel the resonance of what I felt from the story and wanted to share on a larger scale means so much to me.” “Getting face-to-face, one-on-one interactions with [Aurora readers] is what I am most looking forward to,” he says about One Book One Aurora. “I hope they like the book and [I look forward to] learning what they liked about it. As a die-hard lover of reading books, as well as writing them, sitting down and talking about literature is just so much fun. A lot of people talk about movies, a lot of people talk about television…. I do that, but I also like to talk about literature. I miss authors festivals and all my usual lectures where we get to talk about the wonders of Indigenous literature. I am very, very flattered.” Drew Hayden Taylor has recently completed work on a 13-part documentary series for APTN called “Going Native” and is presently working on a non-fiction book that will form the fourth installment of what he calls his “Me” series. Previous volumes include Me Funny, which “deconstructs” Indigenous humour, Me Sexy, which explores Indigenous sexuality, and Me Artsy, which looks at how Indigenous heritage influences art. The latest, Me Tomorrow, looks ahead. “It is about Indigenous futurisms, where we will be in 10, 20, 50 years from now,” he says. “People are always thinking of Indigenous people, including ourselves, where we came from, what was lost, what we’re trying to get back, our connection to the past. I want to turn that lens around to see where we will be in 10, 20, 50 years.” For more information about One Book One Aurora, including programming as it takes shape, visit onebookoneaurora.com.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Early assessment scores in Manitoba schools suggest elementary English and French literacy skills have suffered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while numeracy scores are similar to last year’s statistics. Manitoba has suspended the collection of several K-8 provincewide assessments, but divisions continue to collect and analyze test scores and report cards to find out how students are faring, following the spring learning disruptions. In Seine River School Division, which encompasses St. Norbert-area classrooms and others southeast of the Manitoba capital, grades 1-3 reading score averages trail slightly behind where they would be in a typical school year. Superintendent Michael Borgfjord said these students, on average, experienced four months’ worth of learning loss in reading — per November 2020 Fountas & Pinnell tests done in the division. The latest results in Seine River indicate “there’s been a change at the bottom and the top” of early-year classes, Borgfjord said. The number of students who need additional support has increased by 10 per cent over previous years, while the total pupils who exceed grade level expectations has also decreased by approximately 10 per cent. Meantime, different data from Seine River, as well as the Louis Riel School Division — the latter of which has been analyzing November report cards to determine how many K-8 students scored a three or four (good or excellent proficiency) — show numeracy progress in a different light. In Louis Riel, fall numeracy averages improved since 2019 in all but one level: Grade 2. The percentage of second graders who achieved a good or excellent first-term score in English reading and writing also dipped, by nine and seven percentage points, respectively. (In the spring, the division identified 41 per cent of current Grade 2s would need recovery learning in English, French and mathematics, in comparison to 36 per cent of the K-8 population.) Louis Riel’s data also show a significant decrease in early years’ pupils French immersion literacy levels. Grade 2 scores dropped by 15 percentage points in French reading and 16 in French writing. “In French immersion, those early years are so critical in terms of building language… We are creating a very special learning environment where students are immersed in language,” said superintendent Christian Michalik. Double-digit drops in Grade 2, 3 and 4, as well as 7, indicate many students didn’t speak French at home in the spring or summer, Michalik said. Similar to recent research on COVID-19 literacy learning loss out of the University of Alberta, Manitoba data indicate the province’s youngest learners have struggled more than older peers. Recovery reading teacher Lisa Harder said it isn’t unusual for there to be literacy learning loss among younger students in any given year, because they are not independent learners and have yet to attain reading proficiency. Significant gaps this year, however, can be attributed to whether or not students could connect for online lessons, said Harder, who works at both Park La Salle School and École St. Norbert Immersion. Face-to-face reading intervention strategies cannot be replicated online, said Teresa Hampton, principal of Park La Salle School. That’s especially the case with struggling young readers: “You need to be right there, right beside them.” While COVID-19 has complicated close one-on-one reading support, read-alouds on the carpet and mouth-reading through masks, Hampton said teachers are making sure there are lots of opportunities to read and write in all subject areas this year. Reading recovery, co-teaching and literacy plans are longtime strategies in Seine River. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Police say a snowboarder at Whistler Blackcomb died on Thursday after plunging 20 metres off a cliff.RCMP said they received a request for assistance from B.C. Ambulance at about 10:20 a.m. PT.Police said the snowboarder was on Whistler Mountain at the top of the Peak Chairlift, when he fell 20 metres off a cliff.Whistler Blackcomb said that ski patrollers responded to the accident and provided emergency care.The 26-year-old man sustained serious injuries and was transported by helicopter to the Whistler Health Care Centre where he was pronounced dead.Sgt. Sascha Banks with Squamish RCMP said the man was a Whistler local and was snowboarding with a friend in the alpine area, which is meant for experienced riders."He had the experience to be up there, but it was just an unfortunate event," she said.Whistler RCMP are investigating the incident with the BC Coroners Service and Whistler Blackcomb."Our thoughts are with the family, friends, and those who worked tirelessly to try and save this young man," Banks said in a statement."As we have seen in the past few weeks, unfortunate incidents can happen to the most experienced adventures. Please take that extra moment, that extra check of your surroundings and ensure you have all your safety equipment."Whistler Blackcomb confirmed a "serious incident" took place with one of its guests Thursday."On behalf of the Whistler Blackcomb team and the entire Vail Resorts family, we extend our deepest sympathy to the guests' family and friends," Geoff Buchheister, chief operating officer of Whistler Blackcomb, said in a written statement.Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Whistler RCMP.
Listening to the same tune again and again isn’t new to Ray Giguere, but not when it comes from the provincial government, and not when it relates to his struggling business during a global pandemic. “How am I supposed to listen to them or trust anything they say when they can’t even deliver a $5,000 cheque?” The owner of a Winnipeg record and vinyl shop is frustrated after waiting nearly two months for emergency business assistance from the government, despite qualifying for a bridge grant in November. Argy’s Records & Entertainment Shop had yet to receive any funding Thursday, the very day the province announced a second round of financial support for businesses. The St. Vital store remains shuttered under COVID-19 restrictions and has had meagre online and curbside sales. “Now, I’ve just gotten used to hearing the same dial tone and automatic email replies when I reach out to the government folks every other day,” Giguere told the Free Press. “I have no choice but to keep waiting and listening to the same thing.” Giguere is not the only business owner biding his time. Biz leaders worry several shops have “slipped through the cracks” after qualifying for support but not receiving a cheque, or failing to qualify for aid altogether. “I’ve heard from hundreds of businesses that are barely getting by without any support,” said Jonathan Alward, Manitoba director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “Most of that’s because of the many asterisks placed on grants and loans, restricting people from accessing the funding.” At a news conference Thursday, Finance Minister Scott Fielding joined Economic Development and Jobs Minister Ralph Eichler to address those concerns and provide an update about support payments to businesses. They announced the province has paid out more than $180 million under several programs since last summer — including the Manitoba Bridge Grant, the Summer Student Recovery Jobs program, the Back to Work this Summer initiative, the Gap Protection program, and three other wage-subsidy programs. Both ministers defended provincial offerings and repeated the Tory government’s talking points, but remained mum about whether those support programs — many of which have expired or are set to expire this month — will be extended, should COVID-19 restrictions continue. “I can assure you that we’re offering the most generous support for our businesses across Canada,” said Fielding, using the same phrasing Premier Brian Pallister did last fall when he incorrectly touted Manitoba’s emergency programs as the “most generous” or “most effective” of all provinces. A Free Press comparison from coast to coast had shown that claim to be false. “We don’t have a crystal ball to predict how restrictions will go,” said Eichler, “but we will continue listening to business groups about what they have to say based on the health orders, and help them as much as possible.” But the apparent $180 million in spending is much less than the funding allocated to those programs — and the accuracy of that figure is subject to speculation. According to provincial data, only $16.2 million has been paid out of the initial combined $120-million budget for the Back to Work in Manitoba, Back to Work This Summer and Student Wage Subsidy programs. Out of the Gap Protection program, $59 million has been paid from an earlier budget of at least $120 million. Through the Manitoba Bridge Grant, the province says it has added $100 million “processed” payments within the overall $180 million in emergency payments to businesses so far. However, that $100 million includes a second stream of $5,000 cheques which the province has yet to notify qualified businesses about. (By mid-December, it had only paid out $31 million — which, within weeks, had tripled in “processed” payments.) A provincial spokesperson told the Free Press the discrepancies can be attributed to a “shuffling of funds based on changing circumstances and programs that ran their course.” The spokesperson said several other payments are underway, including $2.5 million through youth initiatives and a new $5-million restaurant relief program, which was launched with the Chambers of Commerce Wednesday. “And our second stream of the Bridge Grant is also locked and loaded, ready to go,” she said. Reaction from opposition critics was swift Wednesday. “What we didn’t see was any new money,” NDP finance critic Mark Wasyliw told reporters. He said the government update was a rehash of previous announcements. “There’s a habit with this government to release big, inflated numbers,” he said. “Then, when you actually look at program delivery and spending, it’s a fraction of what they actually claim.” Fielding maintains, however, that funding has “flowed already or will flow tomorrow.” “The needs of Manitobans continue to evolve,” he said. “We’re going have more to say on that next week.” Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press