WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top migration official on Tuesday criticized Bosnian authorities for failing to properly care for hundreds of migrants living in sub-zero temperatures on its territory, warning the Balkans country of its obligations if it hopes to join the EU. Bosnia has faced sharp criticism for leaving around 1,000 people without shelter after a fire gutted the makeshift Lipa refugee camp near the northwest border with EU-member Croatia just before Christmas. The authorities at first said they would move the migrants to another location, but finally set up military tents at the site instead after locals elsewhere protested. “Bosnia-Herzegovina must show it’s capable of managing migration. It must take responsibility, address the humanitarian situation,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told EU lawmakers. “As a country with a perspective of EU accession, we expect Bosnia-Herzegovina to work on sustainable, long-term solutions, to set up facilities evenly distributed across the full territory of the country,” Johansson said. She said she would visit the area in February. The problem is not new. Bosnia has been widely criticized in recent years for mishandling the arrival of thousands of people, many fleeing war and poverty. The politically unstable and impoverished Balkan country is still recovering from its own war in the 1990s. Divided into two feuding entities, Bosnia lacks a unified policy on migrants. The Serb-run part of the country has refused to accept any, and the overburdened northwestern region has complained it has been abandoned despite help from international organizations. Migrants come to Bosnia with the aim of reaching Croatia before moving on into Western Europe. Many have complained about being pushed back, which is illegal under international refugee law, and violence at the hands of Croatia’s police. Johansson said thanks to EU help, around 900 people at the site in Bosnia now have shelter in weather-proof tents, with access to heating and food supplies. “Thanks to our action, the situation has improved, but only from grave to serious. Stopping immediate risk to life is the beginning, not the end, of ensuring acceptable, dignified living conditions,” she said. The Lipa camp was only ever set up as a temporary measure to cope with the impact of the coronavirus over the summer. Bosnian central authorities wanted to move some migrants to a nearby facility at Bira, but local authorities blocked the move as protests erupted. “Winter has a long way to run and I must admit that it is frustrating to have to set up tents and temporary shelters when we have an empty, fully equipped and winterized facility just 30 kilometres (19 miles) down the road,” Johansson said. ___ Jovana Gec in Belgrade contributed to this report. Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
MADRID — Atlético Madrid appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday to suspend Kieran Trippier’s ban for breaching betting rules. Atlético filed its appeal to CAS a day after FIFA rejected the Spanish club’s attempt to keep the ban imposed on the defender by the English Football Association from being applied worldwide. The England international was punished by the FA for passing information on his 2019 transfer from Tottenham to Atletico to be used by friends to bet on. Spanish league leader Atlético succeeded two weeks ago in getting FIFA to pause Trippier’s 10-week ban that was imposed in December and runs through Feb. 28. As it stands, Trippier would miss nine more games, including the Champions League fixture against Chelsea in the round of 16 on Feb. 23. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Ninety per cent of physicians would feel comfortable getting immunized against COVID-19 today, if they could. That’s according to Doctors Manitoba vaccination survey, which saw 507 physicians respond — 75 per cent of whom are in the Winnipeg region. Some physicians indicated they would wait to allow those "more at risk" to get immunized first, according to the survey. "I would say no to the vaccine today, because I think there’s others who need it first. But I do want it when there’s enough to go around," stated one physician. Overall, physicians are supportive of the vaccine and are eager to participate in its delivery, said Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba and a rheumatologist who works at the Manitoba Clinic. Conversations with the province have begun, he said. Included in the survey results shared with media is a public poll which found that 90 per cent of people would be willing to go to their physician’s office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Baillie said that’s because doctors know their patients’ histories and patients trust them. Baillie also said vaccine hesitancy does exist, and the main concerns relate to how quickly vaccines have been developed, as well as there not being a lot of resources and educational material related to them. Social media hasn’t helped in that regard. "There’s no end to different theories that are available on different social media sites. Talk to your physician. Talk to a health-care provider who you can trust to get appropriate information," he said. "These vaccines were studied and are safe and our future out of the pandemic is going to be essential on getting enough Manitobans immunized." According to the survey, doctors want more information about vaccines regarding safety and effectiveness. "In the survey, and one of the things I found particularly helpful about it, was that they outlined what types of tools physicians would find most useful when it comes to vaccine information," Dr. Joss Reimer said at Monday’s provincial news conference. Reimer is a member of Manitoba’s vaccination task force. "We’re going to take the information that they provided and take that back to the task force, to start looking at how we might be able to develop, in partnership, some of those tools, because we absolutely want our physicians, our nurses, our pharmacists, and all of our other immunizers to have every tool that they need to provide accurate information to their patients, to their clients, and to help inform Manitobans about this vaccine to demonstrate how safe and effective it is," she said. Tools include fact sheets and brochures, frequently asked questions, posters, webinars, videos and podcasts. Reimer also noted that for those few patients where there might be some risks that need to be considered, it’s important physicians have the tools to be able to have that conversation with them. The Doctors Manitoba survey results can be read at bit.ly/3sDHXSU Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
(ANNews) – In November 2020, The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released preliminary guidance on the key populations for early COVID-19 vaccinations, “for the efficient, effective, and equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine(s).” The NACI guidance came because of the limited supply of the vaccines which necessitates that there be “prioritization of immunization in some populations earlier than others.” The key populations in Stage 1 of the national vaccine rollout, which were identified by the NACI, are as follows: On January 19, Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Tony Alexis, condemned the Albertan Government for its handling and distribution of its COVID vaccines. “Provinces across Canada are following the NACI guidance and vaccinating Indigenous communities early, with other populations like the elderly identified as vulnerable,” said Chief Alexis. “Meanwhile in Alberta under Minister [of Health] Shandro’s watch, First Nation communities are seeing case numbers rapidly rise, while the rest of the Alberta COVID numbers decline.” Alarmingly, First Nations in Alberta have experienced the most on-reserve COVID cases in the entire country. At the time of writing, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) lists Alberta as having 4,086 confirmed cases within First Nations. A few days ago, it was also reported that Maskwacis has had a total of 1,573 cases – nearly 10 percent of its entire population. Chief Tony Alexis continued by saying, “after weeks of discussions and ‘consultation’ with Chiefs across Alberta – the government of Alberta deceived us and made special arrangements to distribute vaccines early to only one First Nation community. There was no direct communication for this action beforehand.” “This behaviour belittles First Nations people and is a tactic that has been historically used by the government to divide Indigenous people in an attempt to pit us against one another.” “Please know, my outrage is not directed to the community receiving the vaccine early, it is directed to Minister Shandro and the UCP government,” Chief Alexis emphasized. “I am tired of being consulted and urged to work together when it truly does not matter. The UCP government continues to leave us in the dark on issues that directly and disproportionately affect Indigenous people.” The Chief ended his statement by urging Minister Shandro that 10,000 doses would not be enough and that they need to comply with the NACI’s guidance. Then just yesterday, Jason Kenney announced that the provincial government’s plan to vaccinate First Nations and Métis individuals aged 65 and older, which was expected to begin in February, has been put on hold until further notice. “We have quite simply run out of supply,” Kenney said at a press conference. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
Setting money goals in 2020 was likely an exercise in futility. Maybe you’d been saving for a trip abroad, but the pandemic kept you at home. Or you wanted to save up for a down payment on a house, then the recession left you out of a job. The pandemic made achieving yearlong goals a challenge for many last year. In fact, 29% of Americans with financial goals for 2020 said COVID-19 forced them to put some of those aspirations on hold until 2021, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted online in late fall by The Harris Poll among over 1,700 U.S. adults with 2020 financial goals. Although the pandemic is still part of our daily lives, the new year offers an opportunity to craft fresh money goals — and perhaps the trials of last year can help you clarify your financial ambitions. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR PRIORITIES Before you set your goals, think about your current financial situation and your priorities for the new year. “Take an inventory of where you are and more importantly who you are,” says Jordan Awoye, an equitable advisor based in Long Island, New York. First, dig into the state of your finances, including your income, monthly expenses and emergency fund. Understand where you are right now to get an idea of where you could be in a year’s time. Then think about your personal priorities and values — and how they may have shifted as a result of the pandemic — to pinpoint what you want from your finances. Maybe you want to get back to a baseline of where you were in early 2020, before a year of financial challenges. Or maybe you want to use the money you saved while staying at home to put a down payment on a house. “Start with an understanding of the why behind your goal,” says Kristen Holt, CEO of the non-profit credit counselling agency GreenPath Financial Wellness. “A great goal is ‘I want to get out of debt,’ but go deeper and ask why. Will you be able to sleep better? Will you be able to enjoy life more? Get clear on your why, because that can be motivation to stick to your goal.” CRAFT SMART(R) GOALS With the foundation of your priorities and motivation settled, it’s time to establish the framework to build your financial future. That means crafting your goals in a way that makes them easier to achieve. The SMART template for goal-setting can help: — SPECIFIC: Make your goals as specific as possible. If you want to curb your spending, for example, pin down how much you spend on unnecessary items each month. Then set an exact dollar limit for such spending. — MEASURABLE: Choose a way to track your progress. If you’re paying down debt, think about using a debt tracker. Or if you want to save a certain dollar amount, consider visualizing your goal in a savings progress chart that you’ll colour in as you go. — ATTAINABLE: Your goals need to be something you can accomplish within a year. If you’re paying off $10,000 in credit card debt, for example, find what you can realistically pay monthly, multiply that by 12 and use that amount as your goal. — RELEVANT: Choose goals that are meaningful to your personal values. Similar to finding your “why,” choosing relevant goals helps ensure that your 2021 financial plan is connected to your life goals. If you want to retire early, think about upping contributions to a retirement account so you’re on track to accomplish that multi-year goal. — TIME-LIMITED: Setting a deadline can keep the pressure on. And think about breaking up your overarching goal into smaller pieces that you’ll achieve on a monthly basis. Hitting monthly goals can provide a steady feed of accomplishments, which can keep you motivated. Take the SMART acronym a step further by tacking on an “R” for “reward.” Plan rewards for yourself as you make progress. The more enjoyment you get out of the process, the more likely you are to keep working at it. Say you want to reduce debt. For each $100 you pay off, find a way to treat yourself, maybe by making a nice dinner or having a DIY spa day at home. TACTICS TO BOOST YOUR PROGRESS Finally, here are a few simple tips to build momentum: — AUTOMATE: Taking a “set it and forget it” approach can make accomplishing your ambitions easier. For savings goals, try direct depositing a portion of your income into a high-yield savings account. And for debt payoff, set up automatic payments for an amount above the minimum due to ensure you’re making progress. — CUT YOUR INTEREST RATE: If less of your payment goes to interest, more of it goes to debt payoff. You may be able to reduce your rate by refinancing your mortgage, student loan or car loan. If you have credit card debt, see whether you can qualify for a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR promotional period. _______________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sean Pyles is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @SeanPyles. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Money goals in flux under pressure of pandemic http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-pandemic-money-goals Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Codiac Regional RCMP say the force will take some kind of action regarding anti-mask protesters in Moncton who violate the province's emergency measures order. Supt. Tom Critchlow, the commanding officer of Codiac RCMP, told Moncton councillors Monday police would act this week. He didn't offer specifics. "This group obviously wants some type of showdown," Critchlow said. "There's methods in how we deal with that. Rest assured, I will deal with that. We will deal with [it]. At this point, because of the current state that the province is morphing into, we will take action." His comments followed questions last week and by councillors Monday about what the force is doing regarding the protesters who appear to flout rules meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. A board member of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority, which oversees the force that polices Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, last week questioned why tickets weren't handed out to those defying the rules. RCMP officers observed the protests held on weekends outside Moncton city hall. Under the orange recovery phase, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people and masks are required outside when physical distancing can't be maintained. Critchlow told the police authority that the force is taking a "measured" approach, observing the protesters and trying to educate them about the rules. His comments Monday suggested a change in approach. Moncton deputy mayor Shawn Crossman said he understands people have a right to protest, but said he's anxious to see COVID-19 rules enforced. "It's really frustrating," Crossman said of those violating rules. Coun. Paulette Thériault also said she's not impressed by the protests. She said more than two million deaths worldwide have been linked to COVID-19. "To say that we shouldn't be concerned is beyond my comprehension," Thériault said. "I don't think we can ever educate these people because I don't think they really want to hear what the realities are out there." "But if we can find solutions so that at least we can protect our citizens, I think this is extremely important."
Reports that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion are reverberating in Saskatchewan.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
BÉCANCOUR. Toujours généreux de son temps et reconnaissant pour l’intérêt qu’on lui porte, Zachary Bolduc a accepté de répondre aux questions du Courrier Sud au cœur de cette saison hors de l’ordinaire marquée par la COVID-19. Une année 2021 pour le porte-couleur de l’Océanic de Rimouski qui est également celle de son admissibilité au repêchage de la Ligue nationale de hockey (LNH). «En raison de blessures, j’ai disputé 7 matchs des 16 de mon équipe. C’est derrière moi. J’ai continué de m’entrainer en salle. J’ai mis les bouchées doubles et je ne crois pas que cela va compromettre mon développement», exprime le Bécancourois qui tire de grandes leçons de la COVID-19. Une pandémie qui affecte grandement les activités de la Ligue de hockey junior majeur du Québec (LHJMQ). «C’est certain que c’est fâchant de ne pas avoir une saison normale et de disputer moins de parties. On s’adapte. Notre entraineur Serge Beausoleil nous fait disputer des mini-matchs. C’est une épreuve qui va quand même m’être utile pour le futur. Ça me permet d’avoir le focus à la bonne place et de mettre l’accent sur ce que je contrôle», indique sagement l’attaquant qui a remporté le titre de recrue de l’année de la LHJMQ l’an dernier. Bien que d’une nature calme, il demeure que Zachary Bolduc ressent une certaine excitation à penser que 2021 est son année d’admissibilité pour le repêchage de la grande ligue. «Mais je ne suis pas trop distrait par ça. Quand j’ai commencé à jouer au hockey, c’était pour avoir du plaisir et c’est ce que je continue de faire tout en voulant m’améliorer», souligne un Zachary Bolduc qui a déjà été interviewé, virtuellement, par une dizaine d’équipes de la Ligue nationale de hockey. «Ça ressemble à une entrevue pour un emploi. Il y a des mises en situation. Les organisations veulent apprendre sur moi: comment je suis comme personne et comme joueur. Certaines équipes m’ont également fait passer des tests psychométriques», explique-t-il. Évidemment, en discutant avec Zachary Bolduc, on n’allait pas se priver de connaître son point de vue sur Alexis Lafrenière. Premier choix à l’encan amateur de 2020, l’ancien Océanic a amorcé sa carrière professionnelle la semaine dernière. «J’aime regarder le hockey, je n’ai pas manqué un match du Canada lors du championnat mondial junior de hockey. J’avais aussi hâte que la LNH recommence pour voir Alexis jouer avec les Rangers de New York. C’est un excellent joueur. Son talent et sa façon de travailler vont paraître. Je ne suis vraiment pas inquiet pour lui», conclut celui qui pourrait bien le retrouver dans le circuit Bettman sous peu. Mais d’ici là, il devra poursuivre son cheminement dans la LHJMQ. D’ailleurs, au moment d’écrire ces lignes, des rumeurs d’échange le concernant étaient dans l’air, l’envoyant chez les Rempart de Québec ou chez les Olympiques de Gatineau. À suivre… Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Shaun Tobac loves to hunt. Between moose and caribou in the Sahtu region, Tobac takes what he needs for his own family and then provides meat for the elders in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. But an unusually warm fall and winter has yielded a slow year for hunters and trappers in the N.W.T. From a lack of animals on the landscape to safety concerns, to stories of changes in the snow and wind, several northerners discussed the "weird" season and its impact on hunting this year. Tobac was raised on the land. Taught by his grandfather, Charlie, and other elders in Fort Good Hope, Tobac learned how to hunt moose and caribou and trap furs at a young age — a skill he now uses to give back to the community. "A lot of people ask for meat so I'm always hunting," the 27-year-old said with a laugh. Providing elders with moose and caribou meat, the hunter doesn't ask for payment but does accept help with gas money for the ski-doo. But it has been a hard season. "I kind of find it different because we usually do our hunting, we usually go to the river for moose, but it's pretty hard for the moose on the river because the water came up too high," Tobac said. The Fort Good Hope local also traps but said the lack of snow this season has wreaked havoc on the machines. "Trapping season opened in October but then there was hardly no snow until around Christmas," he said. "There was only like half a foot of snow, so it's really hard to travel around and you got to go slow and it's hard on the ski-doo. I keep having ski-doo problems." The animals also seem scarce during the warm weather. "I notice the marten, when it gets warm here, they kind of come out and then the next thing, they go missing. I don't know where they go … but you don't end up seeing tracks for a long time," he said. The furs he has been able to trap, Tobac sells to conservation officers or keeps for sewing. "This is the lowest year I've had in a while," he said. "Everything is a little bit lucky every now and then, but then we don't, we aren't really catching, so we're having a hard time [because] we're pretty much spending a lot of money on gas and food and all that, and we're not making it back. "So it's a pretty tough year." Warm weather creates chaotic conditions With the warm weather also comes safety concerns. The high water, lack of frozen creeks and unstable ice can be dangerous for hunters and trappers, sometimes fatal. The tiniest town in the territories, Kakisa, lost a respected elder and fisherman who fell through the ice last spring. "Fred Simba, he was one of the elders that always went out ahead of everyone, he broke trail. He was the first one out and the last one back," Kakisa Chief Lloyd Chicot said. The loss made the community leery to go out on the land and Chief Chicot attributes the dangerous conditions to global warming. "The whole global warming situation ... the warmer winters, you know, the lack of ice buildup, the earlier snow. You find yourself when you're out on the land, you have to be more careful because the ice is not forming like it used to," Chicot said. Changing winds The warming weather is a trend elders have been noticing for years, Dene knowledge keeper John Bekale said. "Something natural about the wind changes … when you're on the big lake you notice the drifts, we call it the drifts. When the drifts change a little that means the wind changed a little, you know, we notice," Bekale said. Growing up using dog sleds to travel, hunt and check traplines, Bekale said those going out on the land had to be aware of the subtle weather changes. "You learned from your dad and from your elders back then, all the different changes to know," he said. "You talk about a different kind of snow, which is better for the sleigh, when to wait for the wind, when to wait for the cold spell. Everything is dependent on these things." When you're out on the land, you have to be more careful because the ice is not forming like it used to. - Chief Lloyd Chicot Back when Bekale watched people use dog sleds, he said they would go out at the beginning of November and be back in time for the end of December celebrations. But in the last couple of years, the lakes are taking longer to freeze up. When asked if the elders know why the wind and snow are changing, Bekale said it is still a mystery. "That is the question for all of us, even myself — we are not scientists, we're not," he said. The Dene elder said he would like to see traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge work together. "The weather is just not the way it used to be," he said. Resilient spirit While the "weird" weather is causing a tough hunting and trapping season across the territories, a common theme among northerners is the resilient spirit shown. Chief Chicot said the high waters have brought an unexpected perk of more berries during harvesting season. And despite the lack of game caught this season, Tobac still has a great outlook on life. Going out on the land, calling himself boss and being able to bring his partner and five-month-old baby, Charlie, along for the adventure is all worth it. "To be out there, that's all I care about," he said.
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 24-30 Jan. 24: Fiddler Doug Kershaw is 85. Singer Ray Stevens is 82. Singer Aaron Neville is 80. Singer Neil Diamond is 80. Actor Michael Ontkean (“Twin Peaks”) is 75. Country singer-songwriter Becky Hobbs is 71. Comedian Yakov Smirnoff is 70. Actor William Allen Young (“Code Black,” “Moesha”) is 67. Keyboardist-turned-TV personality Jools Holland (Squeeze) is 63. Actor Nastassja Kinski is 60. Drummer Keech Rainwater of Lonestar is 58. Comedian Phil LaMarr (“Mad TV”) is 54. Singer Sleepy Brown of Society of Soul is 51. Actor Matthew Lillard (“Scooby-Doo,” ?She’s All That”) is 51. Actor Merrilee McCommas (“Friday Night Lights,” ?Family Law”) is 50. Singer Beth Hart is 49. Actor Ed Helms (“The Office”) is 47. Actor Christina Moses (“A Million Little Things”) is 43. Actor Tatyana Ali (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) is 42. Guitarist Mitchell Marlow of Fliter is 42. Actor Carrie Coon (“Leftovers”) is 40. Actor Daveed Diggs (“black-ish”) is 39. Actor Justin Baldoni (“Jane the Virgin”) is 37. Actor Mischa Barton (“The O.C.”) is 35. Jan. 25: Country singer Claude Gray is 89. Actor Leigh Taylor-Young (“Peyton Place,” ?Soylent Green”) is 76. Actor Jenifer Lewis (“The Preacher’s Wife”, “The PJ’s”) is 64. Actor Dinah Manoff (film’s “Grease,” TV’s “Empty Nest”) is 65. Drummer Mike Burch of River Road is 55. Singer Kina (Brownstone) is 52. Actor-TV personality China Kantner is 50. Actor Ana Ortiz (“Devious Maids,” ?Ugly Betty”) is 50. Drummer Joe Sirois of Mighty Mighty Bosstones is 49. Guitarist Matt Odmark of Jars of Clay is 47. Actor Mia Kirshner (“The L Word,” “24”) is 46. Actor Christine Lakin (“Family Guy,” “Step By Step”) is 42. Singer Alicia Keys is 41. Actor Michael Trevino (“The Vampire Diaries”) is 36. Bassist Calum Hood of 5 Seconds to Summer is 25. Actor Olivia Edward (“Better Things”) is 14. Jan. 26: Sports announcer-actor Bob Uecker is 86. Actor Scott Glenn is 82. Singer Jean Knight is 78. Actor Richard Portnow (“Trumbo,” ?The Sopranos”) is 74. Drummer Corky Laing of Mountain is 73. Actor David Strathairn is 72. Musician Lucinda Williams is 68. Percussionist Norman Hassan of UB40 is 63. Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is 63. Keyboardist Charlie Gillingham of Counting Crowes is 62. Guitarist Andrew Ridgeley (Wham!) is 58. Singer Jazzie B. of Soul II Soul is 58. Actor Paul Johansson (“One Tree Hill”) is 57. Actor Bryan Callen (“The Goldbergs”) is 54. Gospel singer Kirk Franklin is 51. Actor Nate Mooney (“American Odyssey,” ?It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”) is 49. Actor Jennifer Crystal (“House,” “Once and Again”) is 48. Drummer Chris Hesse of Hoobastank is 47. Actor Gilles Marini (“Sex and the City”) is 45. Actor Sara Rue (“Mom,” ?Less Than Perfect”) is 43. Actor Colin O’Donoghue (“Once Upon a Time”) is 40. Guitarist Michael Martin of Marshall Dyllon is 38. Jan. 27: Actor James Cromwell (“Murder in the First,” ?Babe”) is 81. Drummer Nick Mason of Pink Floyd is 77. Singer Nedra Talley of The Ronettes is 75. Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov is 73. Country singer Cheryl White of The Whites is 66. Guitarist Richard Young of The Kentucky Headhunters is 66. Actor Mimi Rogers is 65. Guitarist Janick Gers of Iron Maiden is 64. Actor Susanna Thompson (“Arrow”) is 63. TV host Keith Olbermann is 62. Singer Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies is 60. Keyboardist Gillian Gilbert (New Order) is 60. Actor Tamlyn Tomita (TV’s “Teen Wolf”) is 58. Actor Bridget Fonda is 57. Actor Alan Cumming (“Spy Kids”) is 56. Singer Mike Patton (Faith No More) is 53. Country singer Tracy Lawrence is 53. Rapper Tricky is 53. Guitarist Michael Kulas of James is 52. Comedian Patton Oswalt is 52. Actor Josh Randall (“Ed”) is 49. Country singer Kevin Denney is 43. Drummer Andrew Lee of St. Paul and the Broken Bones is 35. Drummer Matt Sanchez of American Authors is 35. Actor-musician Braeden Lemasters of Wallows (TV’s “Men of a Certain Age”) is 25. Jan. 28: Actor Nicholas Pryor (“Risky Business”) is 86. Actor Alan Alda is 85. Actor Susan Howard (“Dallas”) is 79. Marthe Keller (“Marathon Man”) is 76. Actor Barbi Benton is 71. Director Frank Darabont (“The Green Mile,” “The Shawshank Redemption”) is 62. Guitarist Dave Sharp of The Alarm is 62. Singer Sam Phillips is 59. Guitarist Dan Spitz (Anthrax) is 58. Bassist Greg Cook of Ricochet is 56. Gospel singer Marvin Sapp is 54. Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan is 53. Rap artist DJ Muggs with Cypress Hill is 53. Rapper Rakim is 53. Actor Kathryn Morris (“Cold Case”) is 52. Humorist Mo Rocca is 52. Keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna of Fitz and the Tantrums is 51. Singer Anthony Hamilton is 50. Singer Monifah is 49. Actor Gillian Vigman (“The Hangover” films) is 49. Keyboardist Brandon Bush (Train) is 48. Actor Terri Conn (“One Life To Live”) is 46. Rapper Rick Ross is 44. Singer Joey Fatone of ’N Sync is 44. Actor Angelique Cabral (“Life in Pieces”) is 42. Actor Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) is 42. Singer Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys is 41. Actor Vinny Chhibber (“The Red Line”) is 41. Actor Elijah Wood (“The Lord of the Rings”) is 40. Rapper J. Cole is 36. Actor Alexandra Krosney (“Last Man Standing”) is 33. Actor Yuri Sardarov (“Chicago Fire”) is 33. Actor Ariel Winter (“Modern Family”) is 23. Jan. 29: Actor Katharine Ross is 81. Actor Tom Selleck is 76. Singer Bettye LaVette is 75. Actor Marc Singer is 73. Actor Ann Jillian is 71. Drummer Louie Perez of Los Lobos is 68. Singer Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band is 68. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is 67. Country singer Irlene Mandrell is 65. Actor Diane Delano (“The Ellen Show,” ?Northern Exposure”) is 64. Actor Judy Norton (“The Waltons”) is 63. Guitarist Johnny Spampinato of NRBQ is 62. Drummer David Baynton-Power of James is 60. Bassist Eddie Jackson of Queensryche is 60. Actor Nicholas Turturro (“NYPD Blue”) is 59. Singer-guitarist Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera is 57. Director-actor Ed Burns is 53. Actor Sam Trammell (“True Blood”) is 52. Actor Heather Graham is 51. Actor Sharif Atkins (“White Collar,” ?ER”) is 46. Actor Sara Gilbert is 46. Actor Kelly Packard (“Baywatch”) is 46. Actor Justin Hartley (“This Is Us”) is 44. Actor Sam Jaeger (“Parenthood”) is 44. Former “The View” co-host Jedediah Bila is 42. Actor Andrew Keegan (“Party of Five”) is 42. Actor Jason James Richter (“Free Willy”) is 41. Guitarist Jonny Lang is 40. Singer Adam Lambert (“American Idol”) is 39. Country singer Eric Paslay is 38. Jan. 30: Actor Gene Hackman is 91. Actor Vanessa Redgrave is 84. Country singer Jeanne Pruett is 84. Country singer Norma Jean is 83. Horn player William King of The Commodores is 72. Musician Phil Collins is 70. Actor Charles S. Dutton (“Roc”) is 70. Actor Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) is 65. Comedian Brett Butler (“Anger Management,” ?Grace Under Fire”) is 63. Singer Jody Watley is 62. Actor Wayne Wilderson (“Veep”) is 55. Country singer Tammy Cochran is 49. Actor Christian Bale is 47. Guitarist Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket is 47. Actor Olivia Colman (“The Night Manager”) is 47. Singer Josh Kelley is 41. Actor Wilmer Valderrama (“That ’70s Show”) is 41. Actor Mary Hollis Inboden (“The Real O’Neals”) is 35. Actor Kylie Bunbury (“Pitch”) is 32. Actor Jake Thomas (“Lizzie McGuire,” ?AI”) is 31. Actor Danielle Campbell (“The Originals”) is 26. The Associated Press
When President Donald Trump delivered his inaugural speech on Jan. 20, 2017, he promised an end to “American carnage,” a bleak and dysfunctional nation he had insisted that he alone could fix. Closing out his presidency exactly four years later, Trump leaves behind an even more polarized America, where thousands are dying daily from the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is badly damaged and political violence has surged. Trump didn’t create the bitter differences that have come to define American life.
A new poll suggests Ontario Premier Doug Ford's popularity has dropped in the last three months, along with his government's approval rating, and a market research firm attributes the decline to the province's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, however, continues to be Ontario's most popular party leader and his popularity is still higher than it was before the pandemic knocked the province off course, according to the survey released Tuesday. In an online poll entitled "A New Year Brings Old Politics to Ontario," Abacus Data has found that only 39 per cent of respondents have a positive view of the premier, while 35 per cent have a negative view. Ford's personal popularity has plummeted seven per cent over the past three months, according to the survey. When it comes to the Ontario government, 10 per cent strongly approve of it and 34 per cent mostly approve, while 21 per cent mostly disapprove and 10 per cent strongly disapprove. Twenty four per cent feel neither way. There has been a decline of eight percentage points in the government's approval rating over the past three months, the poll suggests. Pollster David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, told CBC Toronto this week that he believes the decline in numbers can be attributed to the government's handling of the pandemic's second wave. He said the numbers are clearly trending in the wrong direction for Ford and his Progressive Conservative government. "The overall picture that we're seeing in this poll suggests that over the last few months, both the government's approval rating and views of the premier have taken a hit, I think largely because of some mistakes or decisions that the government has made, specifically around COVID-19," Coletto said. Coletto noted that Ford is still viewed more positively than negatively and continues to have more people approving than disapproving of him. "But I think the longer this pandemic has gone on and the more challenging it actually has become to manage this crisis and deal with the second wave, the more toll it has taken to how people feel about this government and the premier specifically," he said. Ford's approval still higher than before pandemic The PC party, however, can take some solace in the finding that Ford is still getting higher approval numbers than he did before the pandemic, he said. In late 2019 and early 2020, more than 60 per cent of Ontarians had a negative view of the premier. Coletto added that Ford's rivals are not reaping benefits from the decline in his popularity. Feelings about NDP Leader Andrea Horwath are mixed, with 27 per cent having a positive view, 27 per cent having a neutral view and 28 per cent having a negative view. Thirty-eight per cent don't know enough about Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca to have an opinion of him. According to the poll, if a provincial election were called today, 34 per cent of Ontario residents would vote for Ford and the PC party, 29 per cent would vote Liberal, while 25 per cent would vote for the NDP. Colletto said he thinks the downward trend in numbers for Ford and his government are tied directly to what the public thinks of the government's pandemic approach. 37% think government in control of situation Only 37 per cent believe the Ontario government is in control of the situation right now, a drop of 25 percentage points since October. "The belief that the province has a clear plan, is providing consistent advice and guidance and is generally making the right decisions have all dropped significantly in the last few months," the poll suggests.. Sixty-one per cent of Ontario residents, for example, continue to believe the government is making public health "the priority." Twenty-seven per cent believe the premier has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes, an increase of 10 percentage points since October. "I think the reason that, despite the numbers softening, the premier remains more popular today than he was prior, is because at the core, far more people believe that the premier's intentions remain sound, that despite some mistakes that have been made, most people believe that he's either doing a really good job or there's some mistakes, but at the end of the day, he's doing the best that he can," Coletto said. "And that is what gives him, I think, some latitude with the public to make mistakes, to change course here and there, but at the end of the day, people have a good sense that he's doing what he can in a very challenging situation." As for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Ontario residents give the premier a little more slack. Twenty-two per cent believe Ford has done a good job, while 53 per cent believe he has made mistakes but has done as well as can be expected, while 25 per cent believe he has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes that could have been avoided. According to the survey, 43 per cent say vaccine distribution is going either well enough or very well, while 57 per cent say it is going poorly or very poorly. 75% say holiday trips 'completely unacceptable' Not surprisingly, the poll suggests 75 per cent of residents believe that holiday trips taken outside of the Canada by politicians and health-care leaders are "completely unacceptable." Nine in 10 residents have heard about the Caribbean vacation taken by Rod Phillips, former finance minister. Of those aware, only 37 per cent believe the premier handled the situation well, while 49 per cent believe he handled it poorly, with 14 per cent suggesting it was largely out of his hands. Coletto said he was not surprised by the "overwhelming anger and disappointment" over the trip and the general reaction that it was unacceptable. But he said it has had less of an impact on the government than pundits might expect, although it might have weakened trust in elected officials. "It hasn't cratered support for the government or approval rating for the premier," Coletto said. "And that, I think, continues to remind me and us that the people are looking at government today and all the actors in government through the lens of COVID and how they are trying to make people's lives better and protect people from from this virus." Nearly 900 residents surveyed in January The poll concludes that "a lot of the fundamentals" are declining for the Ford government. "His personal reputation, assessments of his government's leadership, and assessments of his handling of COVID-19 have all been in a steady decline over the past few months. However, vote dynamics are largely unchanged," the poll says. Abacus conducted the poll 793 Ontario residents recuruited online from Jan. 8 to 12, 2021. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.48 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
The Township of McMurrich/Monteith is still apprehensive about the one-fifth funding model used to calculate the financial contribution towards a regional fire training program. At its Jan. 12 council meeting, the discussion got heated once again, with councillors raising concerns about Burk’s Falls, Ryerson and Armour’s funding. Here is the discussion encompassed in quotes by council: “I have some grave concerns about what I’m reading in the newspaper regarding the (funding formula) and I believe I have voiced that,” said Coun. Alfred Bielke. “I have some further concerns about what has transpired — the number is quoted as $95,000 in this document here — the cost of the RTO agreement was $95,000 when in fact the numbers in that agreement come down to 92,900. Divided by five, it isn’t the number we were quoted in December.” “The tri-county has always had a cost-sharing model of 50-25-25 (per cent) but in the last couple of years, Armour wanted it one-third, one-third, one-third. It’s the very same discussion we are having right now,” said Coun. Lynn Zemnicky. “(This current agreement) buys us three more years to come up with a solid argument on paper saying, ‘look, this is what it’s costing everyone — we don’t care that you have your own cost-sharing agreement. If you’re going to have seven votes, seven municipalities then that’s how it should be split,” said McMurrich/Monteith Reeve, Angela Friesen. “I’m not saying I agree with this process, but I just don’t want our fire department and our residents to suffer because we make a decision here tonight that doesn’t give our people the protection they need,” said Coun. Dan O’Halloran. “I totally agree that that this thing needs to be looked at in the next three years and hammered out … I think we need to get this on the table, get this thing passed and then sit into negotiations to get this straightened out so we don’t have these discussions anymore.” “… I think you also have a responsibility financially and I resent subsidizing someone larger than ourselves,” said Zemnicky. “It’s always been a couple of townships pushing for the one-fifth and if you look at the numbers it relieves them quite a bit.” McMurrich/Monteith decided to defer its decision on the regional fire training program until its next meeting. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Despite a glitch in text messaging for the Brandon vaccination site, COVID -19 vaccinations took place as planned Monday morning. Joanna Robb, who works at Shared Health’s Westman Regional Laboratory, was the first to be vaccinated yesterday morning. Kirsten Boyce, Robb’s co-worker, was the second. They booked their appointments without issue early last week. Both say no one in their workplace had any issues with booking their appointments. The two, along with others in their workplace, work with body-fluid samples, primarily screening for cancer and pre-cancerous changes. “We’ve already started to see body fluids coming through where it says COVID-positive,” Robb said. As to how they felt about being vaccinated, they both said they were happy to receive the vaccine. Robb said she’s the one in the lab following all the daily numbers. She has a co-worker with family in Saskatchewan who hasn’t seen her parents since the summer. Robb has three children, including a daughter in Grade 12, who is experiencing a tumultuous final year in school. “Everything is just upside-down and to just have this hope that the vaccine is actually happening here in Brandon, now, it’s hopeful. It’s definitely moving the right way. If we could just give everyone a vaccine, like the Amazon dropoff, that would be great,” Robb said. “If there was just a way for everyone that wanted a vaccine, if they could get one … But, we have to be patient and wait.” However, Robb acknowledges how amazing it is that one year after COVID-19 began its spread, vaccines are being deployed. “It’s happening,” she said. “We’ve discussed it amongst ourselves, co-workers, and we talked to our clinical microbiologist — I always say he’s my panic button. If he panics, I panic. So, as long as he’s keeping his calm demeanour, I’m always good. Everyone was working for the same goal. I have confidence in it.” Boyce said her experience was also “easy peasy.” “Seeing how we just heard that they’re paring things back for now, I’m just so, so grateful to have the opportunity to be one of the people that actually gets it so soon. I’m super excited to get this done. I was talking with my family last night … My brother is like, ‘I have major vaccine envy,’” Boyce said. The province is not taking new appointment bookings, due to Pfizer announcing a slowdown in vaccine production, but all appointments currently booked will be honoured. Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday afternoon at the province’s daily COVID-19 update they are recalibrating the coming weeks as a result of that announcement. Robb said the flow through the various stations at the Keystone vaccination site went smoothly. Neither Robb nor Boyce felt the effects of the text issue, which sent the address of the Winnipeg vaccination site for their Brandon appointments. They both knew where they were booked. PetalMD, the company being paid $436,400 to manage COVID-19 screening services for the province, made that text mistake, and were lambasted in emails between provincial employees. “Per Adam’s note — we are now creating a process where we are checking PedalMD’s work. This is the same organization used by over 37,000 doctors across Canada. They are the largest, most reputable player in the space. They have now done this to us — twice. We are going to put them on training heels,” wrote Paul Beauregard to a list of several government employees. In the email thread, contractual penalties are discussed. NDP leadership has an issue with the government and PedalMD. They say this is one more glaring example of mistakes being made during the pandemic. “I think that this is another mistake in the vaccine rollout from the government. I think the average Manitoban probably understands that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it does seem pretty odd that the government seems to be making so many mistakes so many times when it comes to the vaccine rollout, whether it was wasting doses or long waits on the phone, trouble booking appointments, and then, now, messing up the messaging of the addresses a few times,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “In the emails, you see the government admitting themselves that they’ve made some mistakes, more than once. They’ve done it again. It causes concern, because at the end of the day it was health-care workers and other people at the front of the vaccine line in Brandon, who are caused unnecessary stress and confusion.” The province, via a spokesperson, admitted appointment reminder texts were sent with an incorrect address to 558 people with vaccination Monday appointments at the Keystone Centre. “The human error was quickly addressed by a followup text. Government is conducting a review to ensure the service provider is held accountable and that the mistake does not occur again. People with appointments are asked to keep them as scheduled,” the spokesperson stated. The Brandon site is set to deliver its vaccines as planned, two trays with 1,170 vaccines per tray. Both Robb and Boyce have appointments for their second mandated dose. As for possible reopening plans after current critical code red public health orders expire Friday night, Dr. Brent Roussin said more information would be forthcoming later in the week. MONDAY’S COVID-19 UPDATE The COVID-19 update from the province on Monday saw four additional deaths listed, none from the Prairie Mountain Health region. The province reported 118 new cases, as follows: • 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region; • 46 cases in the Northern health region; • seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region; • nine cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and • 45 cases in the Winnipeg health region. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10.6 per cent in the province, and 7.3 per cent in Winnipeg. Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 27,629, with 773 deaths or 2.8 per cent. The province reports 3,108 active cases, with 23,748 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The province has advised the active case count is less, and that number will better reflect the correct number soon. The province also reported 135 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 154 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 289 hospitalizations. Twenty-three people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 12 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 35 ICU patients. In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 203 active cases, with 1,567 recovered. There are 13 people hospitalized, with one patient in ICU, and a total of 43 deaths. Brandon’s active case count is 66, with 821 recovered and 19 deaths. On Thursday, 1,322 tests were completed, for a total of 453, 481 since February, 2020. » Source: Province of Manitoba PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN HEALTH OUTBREAK NUMBERS As of Jan. 18, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows: • Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death. • McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 43 total cases, 14 staff infected, 29 non-staff infected, 30 active cases, nine recovered, four deaths. • Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 0 active cases, 92 recovered, 17 deaths. • Grandview Personal Care Home: 37 total cases, 12 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 0 active cases, 32 recovered, five deaths. • St. Paul’s Personal Care Home: one total cases, one staff infected, 0 residents infected, one active case, 0 recovered, 0 deaths. • Dauphin Regional Health Centre medicine unit: No information Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case. » Source: Province of Manitoba VACCINATION UPDATE To date, 17,751 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 15,607 first doses and 2,144 second doses. Manitoba’s focused immunization teams continue to immunize residents at personal care homes across the province. First doses of the vaccine will now be given to all eligible residents by the end of January, more than a week ahead of initial projections. Last week, teams visited 10 personal care homes, and all consenting and eligible personal care home residents were immunized with their first dose. This week, residents at 51 personal care homes will be immunized throughout the province. All new appointments were paused on Jan. 15 due to the uncertainty caused by the Pfizer vaccine supply disruption. However, Manitoba has revised its updated projections based on new forecasts received from the federal government detailing the revised vaccine delivery schedules. Manitoba will release additional details on the next steps of its immunization campaign later this week. » Source: Province of Manitoba Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun