Morning swim for Tala as temperatures reached double digits in Birchy Bay, NL.
Morning swim for Tala as temperatures reached double digits in Birchy Bay, NL.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Activist Velma Morgan says several Black organizations were denied federal funding through a program designed to help such groups build capacity — after the department told them their leadership was not sufficiently Black.The chair of Operation Black Vote tells The Canadian Press her group received an email from Employment and Social Development Canada this week saying their application did not show "the organization is led and governed by people who self-identify as Black."The department sent a second email the next day, saying their applications were not approved because it did not receive "the information required to move forward."Morgan says her not-for-profit, multi-partisan organization that aims to get more Black people elected at all levels of government is one of at least five Black organizations that didn't get the funding.Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen says the initial letter his department sent to unsuccessful applicants was "completely unacceptable" and that he demanded a retraction as soon as he saw it.In a thread on Twitter, Hussen says he discussed with his department's officials to how such a mistake could have happened and implemented measures to make sure it does not happen again. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2020———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Tanya Bogatin's once pristine home is no longer quite so organized, and she's waiting a little longer between loads of laundry, but it's no skin off her back. Her priorities have shifted now that she'll be helping her two young kids attend classes from their home in Vaughan, Ont., for another month. "Things are gonna fall to the backburner," she said. "I tell my kids, don't stress about it ... relax, relax. We're happy, we're safe, we're healthy." With online learning extended until late January across southern Ontario, and for even longer in Toronto, York, Peel, Durham and Windsor-Essex, parents like Bogatin are finding a litany of strategies to manage all their responsibilities. She said she briefly panicked when she found out her kids would be learning remotely until at least Feb. 10, but then she came up with a game plan. Each morning, she and her kids get up at around 8:20 a.m., with half an hour to spare before classes begin. Once classes start, her son -- who is in Grade 4 -- stations himself in the dining room, and her daughter -- in Grade 2 -- sets up her laptop at the desk in the toy room. Bogatin sits on the stairs between them, listening in case they call for help. At recess, she said, she bundles them up in winter gear and sends them out to play in the backyard. Right after classes end, they get to work on homework. Bogatin works part-time, and as of this week she's able to do that from home. "I'm very, very lucky that I have a very flexible job," she said, noting that she's mostly able to set her own schedule, and will sometimes retreat into her bedroom for online meetings. Her days are busy, she said, but they're "good busy." Parents are making it work, said Rachel Huot with the Ontario Parent Action Network, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. "It's extremely challenging to try and support children learning remotely," she said. "Your kids are not meant to learn sitting in front of a computer screen for six hours a day." Parents who have to juggle supervising kids and working -- either in or out of the home -- are stretched even thinner, she said. "Then there's the fact that we're watching the government fail us day after day. And there's no clear end in sight," she said. Huot echoed calls from teachers' unions that are requesting broader testing of asymptomatic students, smaller class sizes and better ventilation systems in schools so that kids can safely return to the classroom. A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said student safety is the government's top priority. "We know that parents want their children back in class and we firmly agree, and our commitment to deliver on that is to further enhance our safety protocols and provincewide targeted surveillance testing to ensure our students can safely go back to class," she said. The government has cited rising COVID-19 positivity rates amongst children as well as soaring daily infections for its decision to have students learn virtually for longer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
After 11 years in the trades – from scaffolding and metal work, to her current role in concrete forming – Mulisius Joe has also become skilled at navigating the male-dominated construction industry. “I've worked with a few men who didn’t think I should be there,” she said, citing times when empty reasons were given to exclude her from contributing to a job. “It’s never said out loud but you could feel it…where you don't know if it’s racist or it’s sexist, but you know it's something.” Calls for equity among construction labourers in the GTA were made decades ago, with African-Canadian carpenters and their allies protesting the exclusion of Black workers from trades unions and construction companies in the early ‘70s. Trade union programs are now slowly helping to change that. Joe said she has seen a shift in how journeypersons, or mentors for trade apprentices, are increasingly focused on the treatment of women and visible minorities on site, and are better prepared to foster an equitable environment. These changes make her hopeful the industry will develop a similar awareness around issues of discrimination and equity, especially after the racist incidents this past summer, when five nooses were found tied onto scaffolding or hanging in view at GTA construction sites. Despite police and union investigations – and the firing of at least one worker – another two nooses were found at Michael Garron Hospital in East York in late September. “It didn't just go away because we said how we feel,” said Brampton resident Chris Campbell, of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In November, Campbell became the union’s first Equity and Diversity Representative. He will work to include racism in the scope of “toolbox talk” – trades-speak for frank discussions about safety issues – in an attempt to change the culture of silence around workplace discrimination in the construction industry. The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario represents more than 30,000 workers across 16 affiliated trades unions. Campbell completed his apprenticeship in the early ‘90s, and became a project supervisor at various sites across the GTA before teaching at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, based in Woodbridge. An active member in the Jamaican Canadian Association and other Black community organizations, Campbell went on to become a Local 27 Toronto Carpenters’ Union rep prior to his current appointment. Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, Black Lives Matter demonstrations underscored the urgent need to confront anti-Black racism in the workplace. Campbell said he and other union representatives marched in the downtown Toronto protests in June, sporting the union flag. Mulisius joined the marches, and commended the union for making their presence visible. “It feels good, because as a woman on site, and also as a Black person, I’m always the minority. To see our union jump behind this, it makes me feel so much prouder to be a Local 27 member,” she said. But later that month, the first noose was found at the Eglinton Crosstown LRT job site. Campbell said one of the union’s members admitted to tying it and was fired, had his union membership revoked and was banned from working on projects operated by Crosslinx Transit Solutions. “It’s not just a noose for some people. It’s a health issue, because they’re traumatized, they can’t mentally handle it,” Johnson said, adding that there were Black workers at the site. “Some people, they become emotional and they cannot go back to work because to them, it symbolizes an extreme aggression. To them, it symbolizes what their grandparents went through a few decades ago.” According to 2016 Census data, close to one-fifth of Brampton’s workforce was in the trades, transport and equipment operations industry, compared to about 12 percent in Mississauga. Peel Region also has the highest proportion of immigrants compared to its bordering regions – at about 52 percent of the population – and the highest proportion of visible minorities, at 62 percent, compared to 51 percent in Toronto, and the GTA average of 48 percent. The booming construction industry holds the potential to dramatically improve the employment prospects of Peel’s large visible minority communities. Many of these residents have not been well represented in the trades, traditionally. The BOLT (Building Opportunities for Life Today) program was launched by construction giant Tridel in 2009, and in 2013 it was established as a charitable foundation aimed at introducing career opportunities to marginalized and other “under-resourced” youth across the GTA. It has provided more than 400 post-secondary scholarships for construction-related programs, in an effort to help young people from all backgrounds pursue a career in the trades. Opening up one of Ontario’s largest industries to reflect the province’s population, is a challenge the unions are now taking up as well. Whether it’s because of cultural issues, for example the view among some South Asian-Canadian communities that trades jobs are not traditionally socially acceptable, or because of discriminatory dynamics within the industry, the lack of representation means many Peel residents are being cut off from highly lucrative careers. In 2018, the average wage of workers in the construction industry across the country was almost $32 an hour, according to Statistics Canada. The average minimum wage in the country (which is what many newcomers earn) at the time sat at about $12 an hour. A 2016 Peel-Halton Workforce Characteristics Report notes that women, racialized minorities and newcomers face disadvantages when holding precarious positions in Peel, with the largest proportions of people earning lower incomes located in Brampton and Mississauga compared to Halton municipalities. In the construction and industrial sectors, about 97 percent of Peel and Halton journeypersons and apprentices are male, though there is no race-based data provided or notes on discrimination trends in the workplace. The recent rash of racist incidents raises questions about what the industry is doing to confront discrimination. At the large LRT construction site where the Fairbank Station in Toronto, near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue will open in 2022, Campbell said the union interviewed people on site and had a “toolbox talk” after a noose was tied there. The union has partnered with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create a charter document and establish standards for an inclusive workplace that rejects racism, xenophobia and discrimination. The document is now posted at some construction sites, Campbell said, adding that the union is planning to address racism in the workplace through new educational initiatives and training for members and senior leadership. In his new role, Campbell will be notified and involved in the complaints resolution process related to racism in the workplace, and encourages workers to report these incidents. “It’s a health and safety issue,” he said. With the work of craft and trade unions based in skill development, at the forefront of efforts to address racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination is the question of whose skills are being recognized, said Tania Das Gupta, a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As part of her research into racism in the labour movement, Das Gupta interviewed visible minority workers in leadership roles within larger unions, who expressed feeling obstructed in their work. “In other words, you could have diversity, but sometimes it becomes tokenism and the [union] structures are not conducive to inclusion,” she said. Education is integral to making anti-racism programs a success, she added. “If the workers are prepared, and they’re educated on why these changes are happening, then they're likely not to feel threatened.” Professional associations and developers such as Tridel and Ellis Don have launched anti-racism campaigns in response to the incidents this past summer, including quarterly roundtable discussions with 21 industry partners, spearheaded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The group is meeting for the second time this month. “These incidents didn’t happen in isolation, and it wasn’t just one incident…so we realized that this is an issue that we need to dive deeper into combatting,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations at RESCON. The collective launched the Construction Against Racism Everyone (CARE) Campaign, distributing more than 2,000 hardhat stickers for workers to show their solidarity, while launching educational webinars and subcommittees to tackle education, communication and training within the industry. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. Question: What is Brandon’s test positivity rate? We are anxious for loosening restrictions and feel we should be counting on our own numbers rather than the rest of Manitoba’s stats. I got a little worried yesterday when seeing Winnipeg’s positivity rate has dropped, but the rest of Manitoba of which we are part of didn’t. Dr. Jazz Atwal: Sorry, I don’t have all the test positivity rates off the top of my head or on a paper in front of me right now. So I do apologize. I do know, Manitoba test positivity is 10 per cent, Winnipeg is 7.1 per cent. I think it’s somewhat intuitive to know that the Northern RHA (regional health authority) likely has a high positivity rate with all the new cases and a smaller population. Again, I think we need to understand that test positivity is just one indicator that public health looks at, right? So, when we look at our epidemiology, we look at test positivity, we look at cases, we look at risk. We look at a whole bunch of different things when we’re looking at restrictions and orders and what should be done from an orders perspective, to look at those things. So, again, we don’t look at one indicator. I know people get fixated on a case number or just test positivity, or both, but there are many other indicators on top of that, that we look at. We look at hospitalizations, etc. to take those next steps, to create a sound plan for Manitobans. Follow-up question: Is it nevertheless possible to provide the region’s positivity rate or even just Brandon’s? Is it possible to tease that out for the area? Atwal: I have to come back to you on that. We’ll have to seek out that information and see what we can provide. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Readers Ask.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The line stretched nearly a block long. Nobody was grumbling about the wait. Those gathered at a senior wellness centre in Washington, D.C., viewed it as a matter of life or death. The nation's capital had just opened up coronavirus vaccines to people 65 and older because of their increased risk. I was among those who had a shot within reach. In the nation's capital, along with the rest of the country, coronavirus cases have surged since the holidays. More than 32,800 positive cases have been recorded overall in the city. Nearly 850 people have died. And now add fears that the mob insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month could turn into a superspreader event, adding to the totals. People were on edge. As I waited for my shot, I wondered if I should be there. The district had offered the vaccine first to health care workers, but were there others who should have come before me, people like teachers and workers in grocery stores and other businesses providing essential services during the pandemic? What about the older old — people over 75? Yes, journalists are considered essential, and I also am a teacher at the college level. But equally important to me, I haven't seen my grandson and his parents in California for more than a year — half his life — and l long to get on a plane to visit. And I do fit the new criteria for vaccines, people 65 and older. So I was all in. The city started offering appointments to the over-65 crowd Monday. I called up the website, filled in the questionnaire and looked for a location. The site closest to my home had no times available so I widened my search, finally choosing a senior centre about 3 miles away. Later, I checked my neighbourhood listserv. It was filled with complaints from residents who found the whole process unwieldy and were furious that all the available appointments had been booked. A D.C. council member acknowledged that “the rollout came with a significant number of frustrations and challenges" but said there would be other opportunities for seniors to get the vaccine. It's an issue of supply and demand. There are just under 85,000 D.C. residents 65 and older who qualify for shots, but only 6,700 appointments were available the first week. I was one of the lucky ones. It was cold, but the length of the line at the wellness centre didn't bother me. I was grateful that we were outside for much of the wait, and that people were voluntarily self-distancing. That was enforced once we moved inside. Everyone wore a mask. Some people who were visibly frail were moved to front of the line. No one complained. And while I waited, I worked. In a bit of irony, that meant consulting with a colleague on a story about the Trump administration's push to expand vaccination to more people, including those over 65. The District of Columbia, it turns out, was ahead of the curve. Ninety minutes after I arrived, I was given the Moderna vaccine, administered by a Safeway pharmacy manager brought in from Rehoboth, Delaware. After we talked about her hometown — a favourite beach vacation spot for my family — and other vaccinations I might need, she told me how to sign up for the second dose. Then I was sent to wait in another room to make sure I didn't have a serious allergic reaction to the shot. I didn't. I get my second dose Feb. 10. I've already started thinking about booking that flight to California. There's only one negative — now everyone knows my age. ___ Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow Washington-based AP news editor Carole Feldman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaroleFeldman Carole Feldman, The Associated Press
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam presented new COVID-19 modelling from the federal government Friday, which showed that the country is on track to see more than 10,000 coronavirus cases a day by the end of January, with “increasing hospitalizations and deaths expected to continue to follow the rising case numbers."
Educators teaching students with special needs are raising concerns about returning to physical classrooms in southern Ontario while schools otherwise remain closed to in-person learning due to COVID-19. Students in southern Ontario are learning online until at least Jan. 25 and the government extended virtual classes for those in five hot spots until Feb. 11. Special education students who cannot participate in remote learning, however, were back in physical classrooms on Monday – a move the government said was recommended by experts. But as COVID-19 cases rise, some special education teachers say they are worried about their safety, as well as the safety of their students, some of whom are immunocompromised. "For my five- and six-year-old (children), it's not safe for them to go to school, but it's totally safe for my immunocompromised students to go to school?" asked Katie Swallowell, a teacher working for a Catholic school board in London, Ont. Swallowell, who teaches high school students with special needs, said some of her students may not wear masks or may have mask exemptions. "Some of them don't wear masks or they take them off because they hate them. Sneezing, coughing, hugging," she said. "Some of them you can't say no to. You try to say no, but they don't understand and you feel bad." Among 16 of her students, only five opted for remote learning, while the remaining 11 resumed in-person classes, said Swallowell. The teacher said she's worried about bringing the virus home to her three children, including a one-year-old. "It's either safe or it's not safe," she said, adding that there have been no added COVID-19 measures at her school since coming back from winter break. "It looks the same as it did in December." The education ministry said students with special needs can benefit from the routine and consistency of in-class learning and noted that their return to physical classrooms comes with "strong health and safety measures." "We have followed that advice, supported by the chief medical officer of health, to ensure a small number of the most exceptional children can receive the care they desperately need," said ministry spokeswoman Caitlin Clark. Laura Kirby-McIntosh, a parent of two children with autism and president of Ontario Autism Coalition, said the government's choice to resume in-person learning for special education students is the right one. Keeping schools open for those students helps them maintain normalcy and routine during the pandemic, she said. But more needs to be done to ensure consistency for students and a safe working environment for educators, she said. A good supply of personal protective equipment, regular asymptomatic testing, temperature checks and access to vaccinations are just some of the things that can help, she said. Jennifer Windsor, a physical education teacher at Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock, Ont., said her school board only informed educators about coming back to teach in-person two days before classes resumed. "We're being told, it's not safe for students. Yet our most vulnerable sector, you're telling us it's safe to return and no changes since we left in December have been made," she said. Windsor, also a mother of three, said she had to ask her ageing parents for help with her own kids as she returned to teach at school. "For me, the potential of exposing my parents – that has a certain burden and stress. I have barely slept since Thursday, I can barely eat," she said. The resumption of special needs in-person learning means unrecognized increased risks for many education workers, students and families, the union representing Windsor and other teachers in her school board said. "(We are) concerned that the Ford government’s announcement is a half measure that does not go far enough in protecting student and staff safety during the COVID-19 pandemic," District 11 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said in a statement. Union district president John Bernans said he can't understand how the government believes it's safe for the group of students and staff to return to in-person learning when it is not safe for any other group. “This government has had 10 months to put social supports in place for parents of children with special needs that keep students, families and workers safe. They have failed to do that," said Bernans. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
Quebec says it will seek leave to appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada a lower court decision that reduced the sentence of convicted mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette. The province's highest court in November reduced the killer's life sentence from 40 years in prison before chance at parole, to 25 years. In 2019, a Quebec Superior Court justice rewrote a 2011 law that granted courts the right to impose consecutive sentences in blocks of 25 years for multiple murders, declaring that the law amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Francois Huot instead handed Bissonnette a sentence of 40 years. The Court of Appeal agreed with Huot that consecutive sentencing violated the Charter, but decided the lower court judge erred in granting the killer a 40-year sentence and instead opted for 25 years. Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March 2018 to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder, following the 2017 mosque attack in Quebec City. His murder victims were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39. In addition to the men killed, five others were struck by bullets. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
MOSCOW — Russia said on Friday that it will withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities after the U.S. exit from the pact, compounding the challenges faced by the incoming administration of president-elect Joe Biden. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty last year “significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states,” adding that Moscow’s proposals to keep the treaty alive after the U.S. exit have been cold-shouldered by Washington’s allies. The ministry said that Russia is now launching the relevant procedures to withdraw from the pact "due to the lack of progress in removing the obstacles for the treaty's functioning in the new conditions.” The Russian parliament, which ratified the treaty in 2001, will now have to vote to leave it. The treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord’s more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities. More than 1,500 flights have been conducted under the treaty, aimed at fostering transparency about military activity and helping monitor arms control and other agreements. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for the United States to remain a party. The U.S. completed its withdrawal from the pact in November. Russia denied breaching the treaty, which came into force in 2002. The European Union has urged the U.S. to reconsider and called on Russia to stay in the pact and lift flight restrictions, notably over its westernmost Kaliningrad region, which lies between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland. Russia has argued that the limits on flights over Kaliningrad, which hosts sizable military forces, are permissible under the treaty’s terms, noting that the U.S. has imposed more sweeping restrictions on observation flights over Alaska. As a condition for staying in the pact after the U.S. pullout, Moscow unsuccessfully sought guarantees from NATO allies that they wouldn't transfer the data collected during their observation flights over Russia to the U.S. Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, said in televised remarks Friday that Russia could review its decision to withdraw if the U.S. decides to return to the pact, but acknowledged that the prospect looks “utopian.” Moscow has warned that the U.S. withdrawal will erode global security by making it more difficult for governments to interpret the intentions of other nations, particularly amid Russia-West tensions after the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The demise of the Open Skies Treaty follows the U.S. and Russian withdrawal in 2019 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The INF Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,410 miles), weapons seen as particularly destabilizing because of the shorter time they take to reach targets compared with intercontinental ballistic missiles. The only U.S.-Russian arms control pact still standing is the New START treaty that expires in three weeks. Moscow and Washington have discussed the possibility of its extension, but have so far failed to overcome their differences. Biden has spoken for the preservation of the New START treaty and Russia has said it's open for its quick and unconditional extension. But negotiating the deal before the pact expires on Feb. 5 appears extremely challenging. New START was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Arms control advocates have warned that its expiration would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has kicked York Centre MPP Roman Baber out of the Progressive Conservative caucus for sending an open letter that calls for the province's lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions to end. In a statement issued Friday morning, Ford called the comments from the two-page letter "irresponsible," saying Baber will not be allowed to seek re-election as a PC member. "By spreading misinformation he is undermining the tireless efforts of our frontline health-care workers at this critical time, and he is putting people at risk," Ford said. "I will not jeopardize a single Ontarian's life by ignoring public health advice. "There is no room for political ideology in our fight against COVID-19 — rather, our response has been and will always be driven by evidence and data." Ford said. "Furthermore, Mr. Baber has put himself ahead of his PC Caucus team, who have worked around the clock for months to support and protect the people of Ontario through this public health crisis." In Baber's letter, posted on Twitter today, the MPP argues that while the virus is real, "the fear of COVID is exaggerated. "Lockdowns are deadlier than Covid. I wrote a respectful letter to Premier Ford, asking to end the lockdown," he said in a tweet. Baber wrote that the virus is not as deadly as first thought and claimed Ontario's hospital capacity is "better than pre-pandemic." So far, more than 5,200 Ontarians have lost their lives to the virus. In response, the Ministry of Health circulated a fact sheet disputing or outright debunking many of the central claims in Baber's letter. You can read the full text of the ministry's response at the bottom of this story. CMHA says it 'unequivocally' supports lockdown measures Moreover, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) issued its own statement, saying that Baber "mischaracterized" its research on the connection between the pandemic and "suicidal ideation" among adults in the country. "At a time when so many Ontarians are struggling, we are disappointed that the MPP has for political purposes misconstrued statistics about the sensitive subject of suicidal ideation," said Camille Quenneville, CEO of the organization. "We unequivocally support provincial lockdown measures to protect the health and safety of Ontarians and to help ease the monumental burden our front-line health care workers are facing every day," the statement continued. Baber's claims come as provincial officials and health experts alike have warned that Ontario's health-care system is on the brink of being overwhelmed. The province began warning hospitals to prepare for the transferal of patients across and out of regions just over a week ago, and is now telling ICU doctors across Ontario to prepare to use critical care triage to determine who will receive life-saving care when ICU resources are limited. "The public needs to understand they're at risk of not getting the care they need," Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, told CBC News Thursday. Warner said implementing these criteria would mean that not every patient who needs critical care — related to COVID-19 or not — would get that critical care if triage comes into effect. "It makes me very uncomfortable, it's morally distressing and it's terrible for patients," he said. In a series of tweets posted later this morning, Baber said he doesn't regret "speaking out for millions of lives and livelihoods decimated by public health" and that he "couldn't watch the suffering anymore." He called Ford's move to turf him from caucus a regretful decision "since many colleagues agree with me." 2,998 new COVID-19 cases, record-high testing Meanwhile, Ontario reported another 2,998 cases of COVID-19 this morning, as well 100 additional deaths of people with the illness. The further deaths are the most recorded on a single day since the pandemic began, though the Ministry of Health said that 46 occurred "earlier in the pandemic" and were included today due to a "data cleaning initiative" by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, but offered no further details. The previous single-day high came on Jan. 7, 2021, when 89 deaths were reported. Ontario's official death toll is now 5,289. Today's new cases include 800 in Toronto, 618 in Peel Region and 250 in York Region. Other public health units that saw double- or triple-digit increases were: Waterloo Region: 161 Niagara Region: 153 Windsor-Essex: 148 Hamilton: 138 Ottawa: 133 Durham Region: 113 Halton Region: 81 Simcoe Muskoka: 73 Middlesex-London: 61 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 51 Lambton: 36 Eastern Ontario: 27 Brant County: 25 Huron Perth: 20 Southwestern: 19 Chatham-Kent: 18 Haldimand-Norfolk: 18 Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 13 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) The new cases come as Ontario's network of labs processed a record-high 76,472 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 4.6 per cent, the lowest it has been in nearly three weeks. The seven-day average of new daily cases dropped to 3,273, while the number of active cases provincewide fell for a fourth straight day to 28,825. The number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals decreased by 10, down to 1,647. Of those, 387 were being treated in intensive care, one fewer than yesterday, and 280 required a ventilator to breathe. Another 15,609 doses of vaccines were administered yesterday, the province said. A total of 174,630 shots have been given out so far in Ontario, and 17,094 people have been fully vaccinated with both doses. The federal government said Friday that global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada because it is pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, to expand long-term manufacturing capacity. "Pfizer believes that by the end of March it will be able to catch up, such that we will be on track for the total committed doses for Q1," Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said, referring to the first quarter of the calendar year. In a statement, Ford said the province is "evaluating" the possible impact of the news. "We will adjust as necessary, recognizing the fact that Ontario will soon have a baseline capacity to vaccinate nearly 40,000 people a day with the ability to triple or quadruple this capacity with notice," the statement said. The province has been administering an average of around 10,000 doses a day during much of the past week. "I know the federal government is working to secure more supply and when they are able to deliver more vaccines, Ontario will be ready to administer them."
When at least five centimetres of snow falls in Mississauga, the City’s army of plows, salters and other winter maintenance vehicles are dispatched to clear the slippery stuff within 24 hours. An excess snowfall volume, or limited on-site space, forces clearers to haul the snow over to a City storage facility – and there aren’t enough of them. The essential work that makes Mississauga’s streets safer to navigate during the winter months, and allows for the smooth operation of parks and recreation features, is made harder as Works, Operations and Maintenance departments vie for places to store equipment, in the same limited spaces where snow sometimes has to be stored. Now, the City is gearing up for a temporary solution by transforming the West Credit Avenue storage site originally planned for MiWay transit vehicles – near Derry Road and West Credit Avenue – to accommodate more snow clearing vehicles and other related uses. The City’s new $141-million winter maintenance contract – which includes additional snow clearing vehicles – is leaving the Works department even more strapped for space. Council opted for a short-term solution in the 2021 budget to create a temporary site at the West Credit location, ahead of the 2022 Yard Master Plan and Modernization Study. This fall, the site was used to stockpile dry leaves after three of the City’s existing yards reached capacity. The “extraordinary high volumes of leaves” that fell this November slowed the Region of Peel’s ability to transfer them to composting sites, according to a staff report that month. In other words, were it not for the West Credit site’s use as a backup storage location, the leaf collection program would have ground to a halt. Mississauga’s One Million Trees program and commitment to urban forest development will affect leaf collection in the future, the report notes. And when the seasonal storage of nature’s elements is not a factor, the City is still left needing room to tuck away equipment. Mississauga has four operations yards: the Mavis yard, built in 1956; the Clarkson and Malton yards, built in 1977; and the Meadowvale yard, built in 1996. In 2005, staff said a fifth operations yard needed to be built urgently, by 2008, for the Engineering and Works Operations, and Recreation and Parks divisions. Thirteen years after that hard deadline, the yard still has not been built. The rapidly growing city faced criticism recently for chronically neglecting desperately needed expansion of its fire service, while through the Region of Peel, which all 12 Mississauga council members represent at the higher tier, affordable housing in the city has been ignored for decades and the recent report revealed crucial infrastructure to keep streets running and parks cleared are also being kicked down the road. “This is understandable, given that yards are costly to construct and yards are not public facing like community centres and libraries,” the November 30 staff report reads. “However, yard capacity is important to maintain Council-approved service levels.” In 2022, the City will release its Yard Master Plan, and Modernization Study completed by consultants, as part of budget discussions for that year. The Works department says its snow storage capacity right now is in deficit of about 26,000 cubic metres, not including the West Credit site. That floor space alone translates to at least six-and-a-half average sized football fields. The Hurontario LRT in 2024 will result in the need for another 51,000 cubic metres of space to store snow, the report states. Earlier this year, the City’s Enforcement staff had to relinquish some of their storage space at a Mavis North facility to the Works department for winter vehicles. The City has 31 tractor and loader plow units, and added another 24 single-and tandem-axle plows, which remove snow and distribute salt at the same time. Outdated winter maintenance practises in Mississauga result in the City using 60,000 tonnes per year of road salt, which will be reduced with the addition of more plowing and be better for the environment. These changes are part of an eight-year, $141 million winter maintenance contract Council approved this summer. The contract begins next year, and will cost about $17 million in its first full year, by 2022. According to 2021 budget documents, the City will be tapping into its winter maintenance reserve to the tune of about $1.9 million, which will go toward funding priority sidewalk and bus stop clearing services. Staff are expecting that the West Credit site can be used for a minimum of a decade. The report was drafted following a request from Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito during budget discussions last month, after some of the $3.5 million project budget line was mistakenly qualified to Council as “throwaway” costs. Saito said she did not want Council to approve the project without having a closer look at the spending. Staff were able to reduce the West Credit site cost by $700,000, to $2.8 million, after changing the type of asphalt for the project, Saito said in an interview. “If we're going to put money into anything, we need to put it into our maintenance locations because if we don't have somewhere to store the snow, to put the leaves…the parks equipment, the forestry equipment and the snow plows, we can't provide service to the community,” Saito said. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci is accused of being the driver in a gang-related drive-by shooting that left one man dead and another wounded, authorities said. The 29-year-old rapper turned himself in Wednesday, a day after Atlanta police announced murder charges against Lucci, whose real name is Rayshawn Bennett. Police said Bennett and other “gang members” drove through rival gang territory on Dec. 10 and two people inside the car opened fire, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported citing an arrest warrant. The rivals returned fire, hitting James Adams, 28, in the head, police said. Adams was “manually ejected” from the car and police later found his body lying in the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Later that day, Kevin Wright, 32, arrived at a fire station with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He survived. Police said Ra’von Boyd, 23, was also in the vehicle during the shooting. Boyd and a 17-year-old juvenile were charged in the incident and were both arrested in Miami. A warrant was put out for Bennett's arrest Tuesday, charging him with murder, aggravated assault, participating in criminal street gang activity and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Before he surrendered to authorities Wednesday night, he released his latest music video on his Twitter and Instagram pages. Bennett's attorney Drew Findling said a “review of the initial evidence” provided “no basis for any criminal charges.” Lucci is best known for his 2016 song “Key to the Streets” featuring the Atlanta-area-based rap group Migos. The Associated Press
With snowmobiles in high demand, there may be a lot of newcomers to the winter sport, which is why safety on the trails is always important. Out alone on the pristine waterfront in the McKellar area, Morely Haskim has volunteered with the Dun Ahmic Snowriders for over 30 years. He suggests that people educate themselves first by going online to mto.gov.on.ca where there is a snowmobile safety category or the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website where there are six courses someone can take online. “As far as anybody starting out, there’s the obvious things such as wearing proper gear: helmet, snowmobile suit and boots,” said Haskim. “And usually try to snowmobile with somebody else — don’t go alone.” Another important tool for snowmobiling safety is making sure to check the trails on the interactive trail map provided by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website. “Do your own homework before you get out there,” said Haskin. “You’re in control of your own destination even though the clubs are doing the best they can to make sure all the trails are safe and open.” Safety on the trails is important because it can be life threatening and Haskim advised that snowmobilers shouldn’t be speeding. “We have a lot of families out there now with their young kids on the machine with them and if they meet a bunch of people racing it may not end up being the best situation,” he said. The speed limit on most trails is 50 km/hour. While there are risks that come with snowmobiling, Haskim says his favourite thing about it is volunteering on the trails. “I used to be a real snowmobiler,” he said with a laugh. “I would go out in big groups back years ago and have pretty much snowmobiled everywhere around our area but eventually I phased out of personally snowmobiling.” Now, he tries to get out two times a week to groom, stake or inspect trails. “I report our trail conditions to our district who then puts the condition of the trails on the interactive trail guide.” Out along the Hwy. 522 corridor, Matthew Wagenaar, who manages the popular snowmobiling Instagram page The Daily Doo with his friends, rides the Argyle Riders trails. “The place I stay is right off the C105D trail,” Wagenaar said. “A large portion of that trail is crown land. So, early in the winter season, myself and a few friends go up and try to clean up the trail by cutting up trees and getting them off the trail.” When it comes to snowmobile safety, Wagenaar said that the most important thing he would say to newcomers is to know your machine. “Snowmobiles don’t behave like most other off-road vehicles,” he said. “Get familiar with the sled by riding but riding with added caution.” However, the biggest risk, according to Wagenaar, who does a lot of backcountry riding as well, is riding over open water. “(You) could go through the ice but that can be easily taken care of by waiting until you have over eight inches of ice and also knowing where the open water is,” he said. But, echoing Haskim in McKellar, the good times are worth it. “The best part is the time spent in nature with friends — the awesome part about Port Loring is it truly is God’s country up there,” he said. “There’s nothing like waking up and seeing a fresh couple of inches of snow on the sled, heading out at dawn and watching the snow-covered trees get hit by the first sun rays.” “Though safety is important at work and at play,” he said. “We all have someone we want to go home to.” Story behind the story: With snowmobile sales through the roof and snowmobile clubs anticipating new riders on the trail, our reporter wanted to find out the best safety tips for new and seasoned sledders. So, she reached out to local club volunteers and trail enthusiasts to find out what the best practices for snowmobiling the Parry Sound and Almaguin trails were. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative., Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Slovenia's leftist opposition submitted a no-confidence motion against the centre-right government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa on Friday, and a secret parliamentary ballot is expected next week. Karl Erjavec, leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), said the opposition had gathered 42 signatures in favour of the motion from among deputies in the 90-seat parliament. Until recently DeSUS was part of the ruling coalition, but it quit saying it was unhappy with the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, its jeopardising of media freedom and siding with Hungary and Poland in disputes within the European Union over democratic standards in those countries.
Seguin Township has completed Milestone 1 of the Integrated Community Energy and Climate Action Plans (ICECAP) project as of December 2020. Milestone 1 tasked municipalities involved with ICECAP to create a greenhouse gas emissions inventory of both the corporate and community aspects of the township. During its Jan. 13 council meeting, members of council discussed what moving forward into Phase 2 of the program would look like. Here’s the discussion captured in five quotes: 1\. “There’s two pieces to Milestone 1 — one being corporate, the township; one being community, all the residents,” said Daryle Moffatt, ICECAP co-chair and Seguin councillor. “ … The next hurdles are to set emissions targets and develop a plan. We’ve done a number of things corporately and residents have done a number of things, we just need to continue to set our goals to see if we can achieve some lower greenhouse gas emissions.” 2\. “How long will it take to set targets? What is the procedure going into Milestone 2 and what’s the timing?” asked Coun. Rod Osborne. 3\. “We will be working with other ICECAP members (and) organizations around the table in 2021 to start to develop our emission reduction target as well as our local plan,” said Moffatt. “What we’ve realized is ICECAP is not one-size-fits-all — it’s going to ebb and flow. It’s going to be a work in progress but it is a goal in 2021 to achieve Milestones 2 and 3.” 4\. “I will emphasize again to all the councillors, if you have not done your own personal carbon calculator, please do it. It will make a difference to how West Parry Sound moves forward,” said Seguin’s mayor, Ann MacDiarmid. “It’s worth doing. It’s a real eyeopener.” 5\. “I would extend that to all staff and residents, not only in Seguin but across all the municipalities that are participating in ICECAP,” said Moffatt. “It is critical to capture that data because it will only help us going forward.” MacDiarmid thanked those involved with the ICECAP initiative from Seguin and mentioned that the carbon calculator could be used as a good school assignment for teenagers. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has criticized the United States for kicking his country out of the F-35 stealth jet program after Ankara purchased a Russian missile defence system, a move that also triggered U.S. sanctions. Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey paid “very serious money” for the F-35 fighters but hasn't received them. “This is a very serious mistake that America, as an allied country, has done to us,” Erdogan said. “I hope with Mr. Biden assuming office and with discussions, he will take more positive steps and we can straighten this out,” he added. Turkey was removed from the F-35 program even though it produced some parts for the jets. The U.S. said the Russian system could jeopardize the safety of the F-35s. The U.S. halted the training of Turkish pilots and said Turkey would not be allowed to take final possession of the four aircraft it bought. Erdogan remained defiant, saying the country was in continued dialogue with Russia about a “second package” of the S-400 surface-to-air missile system and would discuss details at the end of the month. Turkey received the first batch of the system in 2019 and tested it in the fall. Washington also sanctioned four Turkish defence officials last month under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a U.S. law aimed at thwarting Russian influence. The sanctions, which included a ban on issuing export licenses to Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries, were the first time the law was used to punish a NATO ally. “No country can decide on the steps we will take for our defence industry,” Erdogan said. The Associated Press
The deal will be largely paid through cash and Lazy Audio's management team will get post-acquisition equity-settled awards, Tencent said. The acquisition comes at a time when the music streaming site is looking to bolster its content library in order to put it behind a paywall and add more paid users.