A group of parents helps support University of Michigan students while they are sick or quarantining (Dec. 3)
A group of parents helps support University of Michigan students while they are sick or quarantining (Dec. 3)
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Sinéad Clarke’s Irish Design House in Toronto’s Riverside district had a website before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but she admits it wasn’t that useful since most customers want to touch the curated artisan imports she sells. But it has become the subject of intense focus for the young business owner since, including one particularly frantic weekend in November after Premier Doug Ford’s Friday announcement of tighter restrictions that would force the store closed that Monday. Clarke and her partner Benny, a graphic designer, worked into the early mornings to stock virtual shelves with handmade pottery, weaving, silversmithing, tailoring, screen-printing and other products sourced from dozens of Irish craftspeople. That weekend, they also set up bookings for 20-minute virtual video-shopping experiences that she credits with boosting Christmas sales. She felt she had little choice. “That's not an option,” Clarke said when asked whether she’d consider walking away. “Not that it's not an option, but I really hope it's not because I’ve put too much into this to just close. So we'll try everything from every different angle.” That included a fast pivot to mask-making in the early days, when sales dried up overnight. Initially donating them all to hospitals and care homes, she later added a donate button to the store's website so others could help shoulder the costs, then sharing the sewing work by giving volunteers fabric kits to help out. Eventually, she started selling them to help cover mounting back-rent payments and other costs. “That’s how we made it through the first lockdown,” Clarke recalled in a video interview. “If I didn't do that, I wouldn't be here now.” The 36-year designer’s struggles to keep her business solvent are shared by small business owners across the city and beyond, but she said the longevity of her goods provide some breathing room. “At least if it doesn't sell, it's not the end of the world. It's here and paid for and I can have it for next year at least,” she said, about the inventory she ordered in the summer for the end-of-year shopping season. “For a restaurant, food spoils. This doesn't spoil.” Clarke had been offering one-on-one sewing lessons and designing her own brand of sustainable clothing at the back of the store when the pandemic hit. She has put that work on hold — and cancelled her usual summer camp for kids — to focus on the demands of keeping the main business running. Clarke is determined to carry on, but worries 2021 will see a slump as customers stop spending as lockdowns drag on. She also doesn’t know what will happen when she gives birth to her first kid, due in April. “I'm too stubborn to let that happen, so I'll work as hard as I can, but it's really scary. It still is,” she said. Clarke said the support of loyal customers has helped her keep the faith. On that weekend back in November, Clarke decided to extend Sunday's store hours of noon to 5 p.m. to 10 a.m to 9 p.m., and when she arrived to open up, there were customers waiting. “That was amazing, to see the support,” she said. “That was unreal, and that’s what keeps you going. We know that the support is out there.” Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) has made the decision to pull the ice out of the Beaver Valley Community Centre (BVCC) arena for the remainder of the season. “The ice at the BVCC will be removed for the 2020/21 season. This was a difficult decision for staff to make as we know how important local arenas are to the community,” said Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM. “However, the driving force behind the decision was the extension of the provincial shutdown and the unknown of what a re-opening would look like and when that may happen,” he continued. BVCC was originally closed on March 16 when TBM declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ice surface, which is usually open to the public near the end of September, was installed at the beginning of November. The facility had been available for use by local minor league teams and the Beaver Valley Skating Club with a number of new COVID-19 protocols. Throughout this time the rink was not open to the public or to private rentals. The arena was open from Nov. 2 to the first province-wide shutdown on Dec. 26. Gibbons explained once the ice has been removed, the town does not intend to re-install the ice surface until next season. “Staff will not be re-installing the ice if the shutdown restrictions are lifted. Instead, the focus will shift onto the upcoming 2021/22 ice season while working with the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit and user groups to ensure all protocols are put in place for a safe re-opening in the fall,” Gibbons added. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
NEW YORK — Isabel Wilkerson's “Caste,” an acclaimed biography of Malcolm X and fiction by Martin Amis and the late Randall Kenan are among this year's finalists for National Book Critics Circle prizes. The critics circle announced five nominees in each of six competitive categories Sunday, and seven finalists for an award for best first book. The Feminist Press, whose founder Florence Howe died last year, will receive a lifetime achievement award and has a nominee for criticism: Cristina Rivera Garza's, “Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country.” New Republic critic Jo Livingston received a citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Winners will be announced March 25. This year's nominees are the first under new leadership at the NBCC after many of its board members departed in 2020 amid a dispute over how to respond to the summer's Black Lives Matters protests. Among those stepping down was NBCC president Laurie Hertzel, senior books editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She was replaced by David Varno, Publishers Weekly's fiction reviews editor. In the NBCC's fiction award category, Amis was nominated for his autobiographical novel “Inside Story” and Kenan, who died in 2020, for the story collection “If I Had Two Wings.” The other finalists were Maggie O’Farrell's “Hamnet,” Souvankham Thammavongsa's “How to Pronounce Knife” and Bryan Washington's “Memorial.” Wilkerson's “Caste,” her widely read exploration of American racism; was a nonfiction finalist. The others were Walter Johnson's “The Broken Heart of America: St, Louis and the Violent History of the United States,” James Shapiro's “Shakespeare in a Divided America,” Sarah Smarsh's “She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs” and Tom Zoellner's “Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire.” Biography nominees included “The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X," co-written by Tamara Payne and her father, the late journalist Les Payne, and winner last fall of the National Book Award. The other finalists were Amy Stanley's “Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World,” Zachary D. Carter's “The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes," Heather Clark's “Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath” and Maggie Doherty's “The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s.” In poetry, the nominees were Victoria Chang's “Obit,” Francine J. Harris' “Here Is The Sweet Hand,” Amaud Jamaul Johnson's “Imperial Liquor,” Chris Nealon's “The Shore” and Danez Smith's “Homie.” The autobiography finalists were Cathy Park Hong's “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning,” Shayla Lawson's “This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope,” Riva Lehrer's “Golem Girl,” Wayétu Moore's “The Dragons, The Giant, The Women” and Alia Volz's “Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco.” Beside's Garza's “Grieving,” criticism nominees were Vivian Gornick's “Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader,” Nicole Fleetwood's “Marking Time." Namwali Serpell's “Stranger Faces” and Wendy A. Woloson's “Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America.” Three of last year's most talked about first novels, Raven Leilani's “Lustre,” Megha Majumdar's “A Burning” and Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain," are nominees for the John Leonard Prize for best first book, fiction or nonfiction. The other finalists are Kerri Arsenault's “Mill Town,” Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's “The Undocumented Americans,” Brandon Taylor's “Real Life” and “C Pam Zhang's ”How Much of These Hills Is Gold." The Leonard award is named for the late literary critic, who helped found the NBCC in 1974. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
The arena, built-in 1972, has been a fixture in the community for almost as long as Fox Creek was incorporated as a town. Within the arena, walls remain the many memories for parents who’ve watched their children play hockey since they were little and could keep their balance on skates to playing adult hockey. It will be exciting to see what's in store for the future space, while for others, it will be a sad moment as another part of the towns’ history disappears. The arena hadn’t seen any activity since 2017/18 when building inspectors discovered the presence of asbestos in the arena’s foundation. Although the air quality was tested and deemed safe, the inspector brought further safety issues, which ultimately led to the building being unsafe for public use without first doing significant renovations. As the town has a new multiplex, including the Pembina arena, the administration felt it was not economically beneficial to do the old building repairs and opted to explore other viable avenues to utilize the existing space. As it turned out, on July 30, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced a Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) for municipalities, which would aid in supporting capital infrastructure projects and help contribute to local economic recovery and job creations. The Alberta Government set aside $500 million in grant money distributed to those Alberta municipalities that applied before October 1, 2020, and met the program objectives specified. The application reviews went relatively quick, and just last week, the Town of Fox Creek received notification for grant approval for $307,727 by the Alberta Government. To maintain funding eligibility, the Town of Fox Creek must begin construction in 2021, as well it can’t create operational funding costs for the province or result in municipal tax increases. The MSP grant money will be used to remove the Derald Palmer Arena and the lot repurposed into a space that the community can enjoy. In a media release, Mayor Hailes stated, “The Town of Fox Creek would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Provincial Government and MLA Todd Loewen for the Municipal Stimulus Grant to repurpose the Derald Palmer Memorial Arena site. It will be bittersweet to see removing a building that has been so much a part of our history. We look forward to the opportunities that this will provide for our community." The planning and preparation for removing the arena will occur once conditions allow. Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court declined Monday to take up the case of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence after being convicted in a corruption case. The high court's decision not to hear Silver's appeal is another sharp blow to the Manhattan Democrat, who was once one of the three most powerful state officials. Silver was ousted as speaker in 2015 and was convicted later that year. His original conviction was overturned on appeal, but he was convicted again in 2018. Part of that conviction was then tossed out on another appeal, leading to yet another sentencing in July. Silver, 76, began serving his sentence in August. In the part of the case that survived the appeal process, Silver was convicted in a scheme that involved favours and business traded between two real estate developers and a law firm. Silver supported legislation that benefited the developers. The developers then referred certain tax business to a law firm that paid Silver fees. Two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they would have heard Silver's case. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump was considering clemency for Silver, but ultimately no pardon or sentence reduction was granted. Silver has been serving time at the federal prison in Otisville, about 80 miles (130 kilometres) from New York City. Before his conviction, Silver was a giant in New York politics. First elected to the Assembly in 1977, he became speaker in 1994, holding that position for more than two decades. For nearly half that time, during the administration of Republican Gov. George Pataki, he was the most powerful Democrat in the state. Silver's lawyers had asked the court to consider allowing him to serve his sentence at home because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying in prison. But District Judge Valerie Caproni said issuing a sentence without prison time was inappropriate because Silver was guilty of “corruption, pure and simple.” The Associated Press
During Biden’s election campaign, he made no qualms about nixing the proposed pipeline and vowed to keep Alberta’s “dirty” fossil fuels from entering the country if he gets elected. Right from day one, Biden’s been advocating for a cleaner environment without risks of spills and ground contamination caused by potential line breaks. On our side of the border, to push the pipeline through and boost the economy, the Alberta Government contributed a $1.5 billion equity investment to the construction of the KXL pipeline in 2020 and agreed to another $6 billion loan guarantee in 2021. TC Energy purchased the pipe. Construction began last spring, employing thousands of Albertans for the stretch that would have gone from the Hardisty terminal to the Saskatchewan border just past Oyen. After receiving U.S. President Biden’s announcement and having their permit revoked, TC Energy halted operations so they can review Biden's decision, assess its implications and re-evaluate. It's a massive setback for everyone involved as 200 kilometres of the pipeline is already laid on the U.S and Canadian sides of the border. The remainder of the pipe is being stockpiled in pipe yards along the pipeline route. TC Energy announced its disappointment in Biden’s decision to revoke the permit. In a news release, TC Energy states, “The action would directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers and negatively impact ground-breaking industry commitments to use new renewable energy as well as historic equity partnerships with Indigenous communities.” The Keystone XL pipeline is undoubtedly the most controversial project that’s divided our countries. For over a decade, the proposed pipeline has caused tension politically and amongst various activist groups and citizens in the United States. The project has ricocheted back and forth like a ping-pong ball trying to get off the ground since 2008. The energy company has spent ten years jumping through regulatory hoops, in and out of court due to land and environmental conflicts on the U.S side, only to have President Biden shut it down with the stroke of a pen. History shows in 2010, the National Energy Board originally approved the application for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The U.S State Department released a draft environmental impact statement saying the pipeline would have limited effects on the environment. In 2012, the proposed pipeline was met with much resistance from various groups. Tensions mounted as the energy company announced it wouldn’t require presidential permission to begin construction since it did not cross the U.S / Canada border. However, in 2015, former President Barrack Obama killed the proposal. Jumping forward to 2017, President Trump approved the pipeline after being elected into the White House and signed the presidential order to proceed with the Keystone XL Pipeline. A U.S federal judge stepped in and blocked the pipeline's construction one year later. Then again, in 2019, President Trump issued a new presidential permit to expedite the construction of the XL pipeline. Construction finally commenced in April 2020 despite backlash from Indigenous groups and environmentalists in the States. With another presidential election behind us came the announcement to shut the project down once again. Just like that, within a matter of hours after Biden’s inauguration, the project, which was to have employed thousands of people for the next several years and generate $30 billion in tax and royalty revenues for Albertans, is done. It’s going to be a political waiting game as the pressure is placed on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the pipeline’s future with President Biden and hope to come to an amicable decision to not divide our countries further than what they are now. Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press
CALGARY — A player with the Western Hockey League Kamloops Blazers has suffered what the league describes as "life-altering injuries" following a weekend snowboarding accident in Saskatchewan.A statement posted by the league says the news about Kyrell Sopotyk is devastating.The 19-year-old forward from Aberdeen, Sask., was entering his third year with the Blazers.An online fundraiser set up for Sopotyk says he has been paralyzed.The fundraiser launched Sunday to assist Sopotyk and his family with "possible renovations, health care costs and any additional supports," and had far surpassed its $50,000 goal in less than 15 hours.A statement issued by the Kamloops Blazers encourages public support of the fundraiser and calls Sopotyk "a tremendous young man and an exemplary representative" of the team.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Common animals in the area are moose, deer, black bear and the mighty grizzly bear. Over the past few years, cougars have also made their presence known. These wild animals all thrive in the dense forest surrounding Fox Creek. Not only do the forests provide great shelter, but the natural cycle of the food chain is what keeps them here. It depends where these animals sit on the food chain and if they are the predator or the prey that keeps them here. Sightings of cougars in the area is a sign of a healthy ecosystem. For centuries humans have lived alongside wildlife, and as we continue building and encroaching into their territory, there will be more encounters. More often than not, all wildlife is afraid of humans, just as we fear them. The wildlife common to this area, such as moose and deer, are more docile towards humans and know they are prey; therefore typically run in the opposite direction. The grizzly bear and cougar are predators and sit at the top of the food chain. Despite their status and known as the hunters, they won't show signs of aggression towards humans unless provoked. As the cougar is the newest animal to venture close to town, people need to understand them better and learn to respect them to live amongst them. Studies done by Wildlife Societies indicate the cougar population is on the rise in Alberta as the deer population has increased. Cougars are found in habitats suitable for white-tailed and mule deer as that's the preferred prey. The forested areas surrounding Fox Creek are prime locations for the big cat as it offers an abundance of places to make a den, and the trees provide excellent camouflage while they stalk its prey. There has been evidence of a cougar on the biking trails, but the elusive creature has not been physically spotted. Wildlife experts indicate it's rare to see one as they are "masters of camouflage" and can hide beneath a spruce tree while you walk by and never know it. Cougars are loners and will call it home if satisfied with an area due to sufficient food, shelter, and water. The home range territory can cover an area of about 300 square kilometres. Due to the coverage size, that may be why some residents have only spotted the occasional traces in passing. Once the cougar has established its home range or personal territory, it will defend and mark the area, discouraging other cougars from entering. As it's confirmed, there is a cougar somewhere around the trail system; while you are out walking or biking, watch for other signs indicating its boundary. They may leave claw marks on trees near the territory edges or leave piles of leaves, pine needles, and dirt that's covered over with urine and feces. As big and scary as these majestic creatures seem, human encounters are rare because they are so elusive. A few safety tips from Alberta Fish and Wildlife should come across a cougar; first off, do not run or scream. Walk away slowly and never turn your back to the cougar. Under normal circumstances, they will not attack unless they are threatened, or you've backed them into a corner with leaving them no escape route. Of the human attacks reported, most of those are children or adults jogging or hiking alone. As children are small and have a high-pitched voice, they are portrayed as easy prey to the cougar. As a preventative safety measure, if you're out with children, keep them between the adults and don't let them run ahead or lag. Another big one is dogs. As evidence of a cougar was spotted on the trails, it may be best to leave them at home as they can attract the cougar due to them being easy prey or keep them on a short leash. If you've found yourself too close to the animal and its grooming and only taking momentary glances as you, that's your cue to back away slowly and leave the area. However, if it's staring intently and begins hissing, that's when it becomes a real threat. Prepare to stand your ground, show the cougar you are not prey. Make yourself as big as possible, which can be done by opening your coat and waving your arms. If that fails, fight back using fists, sticks or anything handy to hit it in the face and eyes. The goal is to remain standing and don't stop fighting. As mentioned, a cougar's home range is around 300 square kilometres, a large area for one animal. Don't let this deter you from getting out on the trails for fresh air and exercise. Be prepared before going out is all. Carry bear spray, a whistle or bells and avoid plugging in your headset or earpieces for music so you can stay in tune with your surroundings. Travel in pairs or a group, pick up a stick if you're walking or a noisemaker if you're out on the bike. If you do come across the cougar or evidence it's in the area, don't hesitate to advise the Fox Creek Fish and Wildlife office. Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press
One year after Canada's first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, many of the lessons learned from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic are being applied now.
Residents in Windsor-Essex long-term care homes will receive their second doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week, while shortages of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine due to supply issues mean a major change to the province's overall plan for vaccine rollout Theresa Marentette, CEO and chief nursing officer of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said the unit will be starting the next wave of vaccinations on Thursday using its existing supply of the Moderna vaccine. It expects another shipment to arrive the week of Feb. 1. The vaccine is one of two approved for use in Canada. Both require a second dose in order to be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. Shipments of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine are seeing significant delays, prompting Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) to stop administering first shots and delay second doses. In a news release Monday, the hospital said it is forced to delay second doses by 42 days rather than the 28 day window that was initially recommended. But according to Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the increase is expected to provide "similarly high protection" as seen with the 28 day period. By Monday, WRH said it will have vaccinated about 7,091 people with first doses, 2,154 of them with second doses. At this time, the hospital said it is about 10 per cent shy of vaccinating some individuals listed under the province's phase 1 priority grouping, including long-term care and retirement home staff, congregate care staff, essential caregivers, higher risk local Indigenous populations and Windsor-Essex hospital staff. This suggests that nearly 5,000 people will have to wait longer than expected to get the second shot. These local delays are the result of a cancelled Pfizer-BioNTech shipment that was expected in Canada on Monday and a 50 per cent drop in supply for deliveries in the next four weeks. The provincial COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force announced Monday that due to the Pfizer-BioNtech shortages, vaccinations will be delayed for health-care workers and essential caregivers to focus on other priority groups such as long-term care residents. The health unit reported 68 new cases of the virus on Monday, the fifth time this month that daily case counts have dipped below 100. The sources of the majority of new infections are under investigation, while three cases are linked to outbreaks, one was community acquired and another is a close contact of a confirmed case. One additional death was reported, a woman in her 90s who was a resident of a long-term care home. There are 107 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 16 in intensive care. Active cases declining The number of active infections has declined by more than 1,100 since last Monday. Given the lower cases counts, current contact management efforts are going well and staff are reaching people in a timely manner, Marentette said. "We do have good resources, I feel, to continue to address the new cases that we receive," she said. "We also know that overall testing is down a little bit in our area as well, so we want to make sure that we are ready for any cases ... that come our way." Despite the recent decline in cases, there are still 52 outbreaks active in the region, including six between Windsor Regional Hospital and Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. Outbreaks remain active at two Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario locations. Outbreaks are active at 25 workplaces: Seven in Leamington's agricultural sector. Five in Kingsville's agricultural sector. Six in Windsor's health care and social assistance sector. One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. One in Kingsville's health care and social assistance sector. One in Windsor's manufacturing sector. One in a retail setting in Windsor. One in a retail setting in Essex. One in a retail setting in Lakeshore. One in a transportation and warehousing setting in Windsor. There are 19 active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities: Heron Terrace in Windsor with one resident case and one staff case. Chartwell Leamington in Leamington with two resident cases and one staff case. Regency Park in Windsor with seven resident cases and seven staff cases. Chartwell Royal Marquis, with one resident case and one staff case. Harrowood Senior Community Living in Harrow, with six resident cases and two staff cases. Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with 44 resident cases and six staff cases. Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville, with two staff cases. Rosewood Erie Glen in Leamington, with 38 resident cases and seven staff cases. Leamington Mennonite Home with seven staff cases. Augustine Villas in Kingsville, with 64 resident and 18 staff cases. Sunrise Assisted Living of Windsor, with 15 resident cases and eight staff cases. Huron Lodge in Windsor, with 47 resident cases and 25 staff cases. Sun Parlor Home in Leamington with two resident cases and 13 staff cases. Banwell Gardens Care Centre in Windsor, with 115 resident cases and 64 staff cases. The Shoreview at Riverside in Windsor, with 30 resident cases and 16 staff cases. Extendicare Tecumseh, with 90 resident cases and 57 staff cases. Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, with 99 resident and 61 staff cases. The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, with 163 resident cases and 136 staff cases. Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh, with 64 resident cases and 32 staff cases. COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent In Lambton County, 11 new cases were reported on Monday. Chatham-Kent, which does not release new data over the weekend, saw an increase of 42 cases.
Shares in Canadian technology company BlackBerry are changing hands at their highest level in almost a decade on Monday, as investor enthusiasm for the once high-flying stock has mysteriously returned. BlackBerry shares were trading at almost $25 a share when the Toronto Stock Exchange opened on Monday, up more than $7 or more than 40 per cent from Friday's level. The stock was briefly halted on Monday morning when its rise set off automatic circuit breakers that trigger when companies see their value climb or fall rapidly. When trading resumed, the shares pulled back a little, but they were still up 20 per cent to close at $22.92. The stock has been quietly rallying for several days now, before taking off on Monday. When 2021 began, the company was worth just over $8 a share. It's now worth about three times that. The company has had a number of small pieces of good news in recent weeks, but nothing that would explain Monday's rise in share price. Regulators halt trading The company itself admitted as much in a news release Monday, saying it is "not aware of any material undisclosed corporate developments ... that would account for the recent increase in the market price or trading volume of its common shares." BlackBerry made that statement at the request of regulators, who put a halt to all buying and selling of BlackBerry shares until the TSX could sort out what exactly was going on. Last month, the company signed a deal with Amazon to work on a connected cloud software program for cars, and then in mid-January BlackBerry favourably settled a patent fight with Facebook, but Morningstar analyst William Kerwin says neither development is good enough or recent enough to explain Monday's surge. "BlackBerry's stock movement doesn't appear to be rooted in any fundamental firm changes, in our view," he said in an email to CBC News. Instead, the company has seemingly become one of many recent firms to benefit from a groundswell of retail investor enthusiasm on popular online message boards such as Reddit, regardless of whatever the Wall Street community thinks. Of the 11 analysts who cover the company, nine have a "hold" rating on the company's shares, and two have "sell" recommendations. None suggest buying. But that's not stopping retail investors from doing exactly that. "BB is moving on Reddit boards," said Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of trading firm Capital Market Labs. "Not much else to say, but this is not a single stock story; it is a behavioural story." Latest in a series of unexpected rises U.S. video game retailer GameSpot has seen its shares quintuple in recent weeks as retail investors pile into the company, even as institutional money is shorting the shares. Short sellers make money by betting against stocks. While BlackBerry has very few of its shares being currently shorted, it is being swept up in the same tide of retail investor exuberance. More than 26 million of BlackBerry's shares changed hands in Toronto Monday. That's more than five times the usual volume. Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto, says BlackBerry is just the latest in a series of companies that have seen unexpected rises in share prices in recent weeks. The current stock market rally has driven up the valuation of huge companies, and now investors are moving down the food chain looking for bargains. "Smaller stocks don't have as much liquidity or stock available to trade so a sudden stampede of cash chasing into a smaller cap stock can swamp supply and cause the kind of massive spikes on no news that have started to really pop up in the last week or so," he said in an email to CBC News. "So to me, these moves are more about market sentiment, relative performance, and supply/demand issues rather than fundamental news." Kerwin agrees that there are no fundamental changes to BlackBerry's business that properly explain the price surge. "We think there's likely a shift in market sentiment about BlackBerry, perhaps with investors getting more bullish about [their] prospects after the fact. There's above average trading volume this morning, which might also point to [a] retail investor swell." 'Most undervalued stock in the world' British Columbian Paul Ni is one such retail investor who's riding that swell. Ni said he first became interested in the company last November, when his due diligence led him to deduce the company was the "most undervalued stock in the world." He's active on a Reddit board called wallstreetbets, that boasts nearly two million people, sharing their thoughts on various equities. "How to evaluate a stock is supposed to be done by Wall Street," he told CBC News in an interview. "But now we already dig it out." He bought at around $6 a share. Despite the shares now being almost five times higher than that, Ni has no plans to sell any time soon because he thinks more people are realizing the value of the company's automotive technology, which includes software used in self-driving cars and other automotive functions. The company is currently worth $12 billion since its run-up, but Ni says it should be worth $50 billion or more. "We are very proactive about discovering value," he said of his fellow investing Redditors. Greg Taylor, chief investment officer at Toronto-based money manager Purpose Investments, says while he thinks BlackBerry is a good company with a decent balance sheet that has managed to legitimately turn itself around, the stock market valuation has gotten way ahead of itself. "What we've got is a lot of stimulus in the system, and people have more cash that they're starting to deploy to the stock markets, and it's really gotten to more of the gambling phase more than anything else," he said in an interview.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has brought back Dr. Kevin O'Connor as his physician, replacing President Donald Trump's doctor with the one who oversaw his care when he was vice-president. The White House confirmed that Dr. Sean Conley, the Navy commander who served as the head of the White House Medical Unit under Trump and oversaw his treatment when he was hospitalized with COVID-19, will assume a teaching role at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. O'Connor, a retired Army colonel, was Biden's doctor during his entire tenure as vice-president, having remained in the role at Biden's request. He remained Biden's physician while assuming a role on the faculty of George Washington University. The White House said O'Connor was being commissioned by the president but was not rejoining the military. He is the first non-active duty doctor to serve as physician to the president in almost three decades. Conley faced intense scrutiny over his lack of transparency during Trump's illness with COVID-19. Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said at the time that Trump's condition was worse than Conley had let on. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Bev Priestman has named six uncapped players in her first roster as coach of the Canadian women's team. The 34-year-old Priestman, who took over the team in November after Kenneth Heiner-Moller stepped down to take a coaching job in his native Denmark, has named a 29-player squad for a two-week camp ahead of next month's SheBelieves Cup in Orlando. The roster will be reduced to 23 for the four-team tournament, scheduled for Feb. 18-24 at Exploria Stadium The Canadian women, tied for eighth with Brazil in the FIFA rankings, are taking part with the top-ranked U.S., No. 10 Japan and Brazil. Potential debutantes includes goalkeeper Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), defenders Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars) and Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), midfielders Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina) and Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), and forward Evelyne Viens (Paris FC). Rose, who turns 18 on Feb. 12, has attended two senior camps but has yet to earn a cap. All but Viens worked with Priestman in her previous role as Canadian youth coach. It's the first time Canada Soccer has summoned Viens, a prolific goal-scorer at the University of South Florida who is currently on loan to Paris FC from Sky Blue FC of the NWSL. Veterans include captain Christine Sinclair (296 caps), Diana Matheson (206 caps), Sophie Schmidt (199 caps), and Desiree Scott (157 caps). Goalkeeper Erin McLeod (118 caps) earns her first call-up since returning from injury in 2019. The 37-year-old Sinclair goes into the Florida tournament with a world-record 186 international goals to her credit. “The pre-competition camp is designed to provide any players not in season with the chance to get in valuable preparation heading into the SheBelieves Cup,” Priestman said in a statement. “It also provides us with an opportunity to see where players are ahead of selecting our final 23-player roster for the SheBelieves Cup." Priestman has a good handle on Canada's young talent. From 2013 to 2018, she helped develop talent for the Canadian women's program and served as an assistant coach under John Herdman, whom she had also worked with in New Zealand. She left in August 2018 to return home, serving as Phil Neville's No. 2 with the English women's team and English youth coach. Eleven of the players on the Canadian camp roster are currently with teams in Europe with five playing in England, five in France and one in Sweden. There are 11 players from the NWSL, five from U.S. colleges and two from the developmental Super REX Ontario program. The Canadian women have not played since March 10, when they wrapped up play at a tournament in France with a 2-2 tie with Brazil. A Canadian camp scheduled for England in October was called off on the advice of medical experts due to the pandemic. All four teams at the SheBelieves Cup have qualified for the Tokyo Games with Canada finishing runner-up to the Americans at the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship last February. And all four made the knockout phase of the 2019 World Cup in France. The U.S. won the tournament while Canada, Brazil and Japan were eliminated in the round of 16. The defending champion Americans have won the SheBelieves Cup three times. France won in 2017 and England in 2019. CANADA Goalkeepers: Rylee Foster, Liverpool FC (England); Stephanie Labbe, FC Rosengard (Sweden); Erin McLeod, Orlando Pride (NWSL); Kailen Sheridan, Sky Blue FC (NWSL). Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Olympique Lyonnais (France); Vanessa Gilles, FC Girondins de Bordeaux (France); Jade Rose, Super REX Ontario; Shelina Zadorsky, Tottenham Hotspur (England); Gabrielle Carle, Florida State University; Allysha Chapman, Houston Dash (NWSL); Ashley Lawrence, Paris Saint-Germain (France); Bianca St-Georges, Chicago Red Stars (NWSL); Jayde Riviere, University of Michigan. Midfielders: Samantha Chang, University of South Carolina; Jessie Fleming, Chelsea FC (England); Julia Grosso, University of Texas; Jordyn Listro|, Orlando Pride (NWSL); Diana Matheson, FC Kansas City (NWSL); Quinn, OL Reign FC (NWSL); Sophie Schmidt, Houston Dash (NWSL); Desiree Scott, FC Kansas City (NWSL). Forwards: Janine Beckie, Manchester City (England); Jordyn Huitema, Paris Saint-Germain; Adriana Leon, West Ham United (England); Nichelle Prince, Houston Dash (NWSL); Deanne Rose, University of Florida; Christine Sinclair, Portland Thorns; Olivia Smith, Super REX Ontario; Evelyne Viens, Paris FC (France). --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan, 25, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Trois-Rivières – À l'issue du deuxième tour du camp de sélection de Star Académie dimanche soir, étape où 10 candidats seraient éliminés, trois des cinq représentants de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec ont évité le couperet, alors que Rosalie Ayotte (Saint-Tite), Frédérique Beaulieu (Trois-Rivières) et William Cloutier (Victoriaville) passent à la prochaine étape. Toutefois, tout n'est pas terminé pour Benjamin Gendron (Trois-Rivières) et Allyson Pétrin (Drummondville) puisque ces derniers auront l'occasion d'être «sauvés» par le public qui devra s'exprimer sur les réseaux sociaux afin que leurs parcours ne prenne pas fin. Tout au long de la séance de sélection dimanche soir, les artistes de la région nous ont offert des moments empreints de sensibilité. Que l'on pense à William, dont la copine attend un enfant à la mi-février, ce qui, au dire du jeune homme de Victoriaville, ajoutait au «facteur stress», mais il soutenait qu'elle l'encourageait tout de même à poursuivre l'aventure. Alors qu'il avait impressionné les profs lors du premier tour du camp de sélection, William a cette fois eu droit à nouveau à des éloges de Gregory Charles. «Peu importe ce qui arrive, tu ne peux pas faire autre chose», a-t-il lancé, faisant référence au futur métier de l'artiste. Ce dernier a d'ailleurs avoué entretenir des doutes «comme tout artiste, mais il est temps que ça arrête.» Rosalie a présenté l'une de ses compositions dans un moment touchant où elle a évoqué la difficulté de vivre avec ses troubles obsessionnels compulsifs. Frédérique a, une fois de plus, séduit par sa confiance en elle et son talent. Allyson a interprété une version très sensible de sa chanson «De l'amour pis du brandy», en blaguant que ce n'était pas de la crème glacée qu'elle mangeait dans une peine d'amour, mais plutôt l'alcool doré. Benjamin a connu une soirée plus difficile, lui qui s'est trompé dans ses paroles en interprétant «Crystel» de Philippe Brach. «Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé?», a demandé Gregory Charles, qui a constaté le faux pas. Charles a alors avoué l'incident. «J'ai l'impression que tu es celui qui croit le moins qu'il a rapport ici», lui a lancé le coach. Le candidat de 18 ans a cependant réussi à se relever de cette situation, soulignant qu'il avait «deux-trois trucs à régler». «Si moi je n'y crois pas, qui y croira?», a-t-il mentionné, sourire en coin. Deux candidats sur les 10 à avoir été placés sur la voie d'évitement pourront donc être rapatriés à l'issue du vote du public, reste maintenant à savoir si ces deux artistes proviendront de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec.Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
At about 6 a.m. on travel day last week, one of the vaccination teams in the Beaufort Delta region prepared for a three-day clinic in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. But before the team heads out, it needs to fill up a portable freezer, at a temperature of -20 C, with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. "That's Aidan's baby for two weeks," laughs nurse Heather Redshaw, who is part of the vaccination team heading to the hamlet. Her partner in this experience is Aidan Healy, one of the core logisitians with the COVID-19 immunization team. Healy's duties involve making sure the freezer stays around -20 C at all times, and that the vaccines are at the proper temperature. "I'm pretty much the safe-guarder of the vaccine, so when we travel to communities I'm the one bringing the cooler," said Healy. Redshaw explains that there are two teams that have been making their way through the Northwest Territories' Beaufort Delta region. Redshaw and Healy have already gone to Paulatuk, Sachs Harbor and Aklavik. Tuktoykatuk is their final destination for the first round of vaccinations. 'We want to make sure we get it here safe' The duo spend the next couple hours loading up the 54-kilogram freezer with the vaccines they may need for three days. "We want to make sure we get it here safe, and that it's effective for the people," said Redshaw. They safely put 61 viles of the vaccine, which contain a total of 610 doses, into the freezer at the Inuvik Regional Hospital's pharmacy, which is where all the vaccines in the region are stored. Then they hit the road in a bus that is normally used for the hospital's elder day program. For the last couple of weeks however, it's been used to help bring vaccines, support team members and equipment to the airport or directly to communities. The person in charge of driving the bus is Chris Balla, the Beaufort Delta regional operations manager for Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority. Balla's also part of the immunization response team, and is responsible for making sure the vaccines and the vaccine team make it to their final destination. Team arrives at Tuktoyaktuk's Kitti Hall When the team arrives at Kitti Hall in Tuktoyaktuk, they start thawing out some of the vaccines that will be used that day. Healy is making sure the room is at the right temperature for the thawed vaccines — between 15 and 25 C. At one point Healy opens up the door to make the room a bit cooler. Healy also helps with the database once the clinic begins. Both Healy and Redshaw are from Yellowknife, but everyone else helping with the vaccine clinics, including the nurses, are from communities in the region. At about 10:30 a.m., the team is ready to give residents their first shot. Of the 274 Tuktoyaktuk residents that will receive doses on Friday, Sister Fay Trombley is the first. "That's amazing," exclaims Trombley, while still in the chair after getting the vaccine. "You hardly feel anything." Although their days are long, some can be up to 12 hours, both Healy and Redshaw say they feel privileged to be part of the team. "I feel like I'm part of something bigger than myself," said Redshaw. "It's a little bit of hope on a really dark year for lots of people and people are hopeful it will get back to some type of a new normal and I'm excited to be part of it."
When Kaitlyn Trainor saw the viral pictures of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders following the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, she knew immediately what he was wearing on his hands. Smittens, mittens put together with material from recycled sweaters. "I thought, 'It's great for the crafters out there.' I was at work so I didn't really see it happening but I did see it after," Trainor told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier. Trainor is one of a trio known as Trainor Smittens. "It's three generations of love, I like to say. Me, my mom and my grammie," she said. "It's a good way to spend time together." The small business dates back to when Trainor was a university student, and they saw a pair of smittens at a craft show. It started with the idea they would just make some for themselves, and grew from there. Now the three women comb the thrift stores for old wool sweaters, and sew them together with a lining of cashmere or merino wool. Very little goes to waste. The cuffs for the mittens come from the bottom of sweaters or the sleeves. It takes about an hour for the three of them to make a pair. "It is a bit of a process to put it all together, but it's fun," she said. Trainor said their stock is down after Christmas, but they were working over the weekend to make more in the face of an expected increase in demand following all the attention last week. More from CBC P.E.I.
SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s medical regulator has approved use of its first coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for inoculations to begin next month. The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday gave provisional approval for people aged 16 and over to use the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Residents and workers at aged-care facilities, frontline healthcare workers and quarantine workers are among the groups being prioritized for the first doses. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the development. He said Australia was among the first countries to complete a comprehensive process to formally approve a vaccine rather than just grant an emergency approval. Australia has an agreement for 10 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and an option to buy more if supplies allow. Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the country overall had secured 140 million vaccines, one of the highest dosing rates per head of population in the world. The biggest of the pre-orders, conditional on regulatory approval, is 53.8 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 50 million of which would be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL. Australia is aiming to complete inoculations by October. The nation of 26 million people has reported fewer than 30,000 virus cases and a little over 900 deaths. In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — Australia has suspended its partial travel bubble with New Zealand after New Zealand reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in two months. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the suspension would last for three days and was being implemented out of an abundance of caution. Travelers affected need to cancel or face two weeks in quarantine upon arrival. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she’d told Morrison she had confidence in New Zealand’s systems and processes, but it was up to Australia to decide how they managed their borders. Health officials in New Zealand say genome tests indicate the woman contracted the virus from another returning traveller just before leaving quarantine. However, there was no evidence the virus has spread further. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the 56-year-old woman had recently returned from Europe. During her mandatory two weeks in quarantine, she tested negative twice. She developed symptoms at home later and tested positive. Officials say the woman appears to have caught the more infectious South African variant of the virus from another traveller on her second-to-last day in quarantine, and they’re investigating how the health breach happened. — Bangladesh received 5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine from an Indian producer on Monday. Under a three-way agreement, it plans to buy 30 million doses from the Serum Institute of India in phases. A Bangladeshi company, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd., received the 5 million doses as distributor for the South Asian country. Nazmul Hasan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals, said the vaccine will be provided to government authorities across the country. The government is training thousands of volunteers to administer the vaccine. The country received 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine last Thursday as a gift from India, while Monday’s doses were purchased. The vaccine, manufactured under license by Serum Institute of India, will be given first to front-line workers, including doctors and nurses. Bangladesh has recorded more than 8.000 deaths from the coronavirus. — Sri Lanka's government says it will start administering a coronavirus vaccine this week. Sri Lanka is to receive a donation of 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India on Wednesday and will begin inoculations the next day, the government said. It will first be given to health workers, the military and police. Sri Lanka has also ordered supplies of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, and separately is to receive enough vaccine for 20% of its population through COVAX, a program led by the World Health Organization and others. Last week, Sri Lanka’s National Medicines Regulatory Authority approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid warnings from doctors that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to prevent the medical system from collapsing. On Saturday, health minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi tested positive for COVID-19. The disease resurged in October with two new clusters, one at a garment factory and the other at a fish market. Sri Lanka has reported 58,429 case, with 283 fatalities. — A lockdown in part of Hong Kong's Kowloon neighbourhood was lifted Monday after thousands of residents were tested for the virus. The lockdown that began early Saturday covered 16 buildings in the working-class Yau Tsim Mong district. During the lockdown, residents were not allowed to leave their premises until they had tested negative for the coronavirus. The district has been at the centre of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, with over 160 cases reported over the first three weeks in January. Higher concentrations of the virus were also found in sewage samples, prompting fears the virus could be transmitted via poorly installed plumbing systems in subdivided units that lack ventilation. The government said in a statement early Monday that about 7,000 people were tested for the coronavirus during the lockdown, with 13 positive infections found. As of Sunday, Hong Kong has reported 10,086 cases of the coronavirus overall, with 169 deaths recorded. — South Korea has reported another new 437 infections of the coronavirus as officials raised alarm over an outbreak at a missionary training school. Around 130 students and teachers were found infected so far at the church-run academy in the central city of Daejeon. Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun during a virus meeting called for health officials to deal swiftly with the outbreak at the Daejeon school and prevent transmissions from spreading further. South Korea throughout the pandemic has repeatedly seen huge infection clusters emerge from religious groups, including more than 5,000 infections tied to the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus that drove a major outbreak in the southeastern region in spring last year. “We cannot let that situation repeat,” Chung said. The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the national caseload to 75,521, including 11 deaths. The Associated Press
Washiiyeh Jeannotte spends a lot of time on the ice and is hoping to inspire other Indigenous youth by providing a glimpse into his backyard rink practices via TikTok. "I've been playing hockey since I was four years old and I love taking slap shots," said the nine-year-old hockey player and member of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, about 300 kilometres northwest of Montreal. Washiiyeh is also a big fan of "the Michigan goal," the lacrosse-style move made by Canadian hockey player Mike Legg while playing for the University of Michigan in a 1996 NCAA tournament. "It's been improved since then. A lot of NHLers have done it now; a lot of these guys had little kids want to try it, and I think this little guy has perfected it," said Washiiyeh's father, Andrew Jeannotte, who put together the slick-looking vid. A video of the young hockey player practising the move on TikTok had garnered over 22,000 views as of Monday morning. Washiiyeh couldn't practise or play with his AA atom team as a result of the pandemic, so the family made a backyard rink. Washiiyeh and his brother spend their mornings on the ice before school and then again after school. It's set up with outdoor lights so that afternoon practices can extend well into the night. "Every day after school, they've been doing videos and practising hockey, since they had no access to the arenas for the local rinks," said his mother, Nicole Ratt. "To be able for him to go outside and practise the sport he loves, it's been great." Hockey plays a big role in the family. "It's important for a lot of reasons. It keeps us busy, keeps us motivated," said Andrew Jeannotte. "I believe for a lot of First Nations kids, they know the link between hockey and the tradition. The first people to make hockey sticks were Mi'kmaw people. There's a huge link between the sport and the rich history of the Indigenous people in Canada." Washiiyeh's name means "loudest thunder" in Algonquin, inspired by retired Inuk NHL player Jordin Tootoo's Inuktitut name. The two got to meet when Barriere Lake invited Tootoo to speak at a youth gathering in 2019. Andrew said Washiiyeh has been on a tear ever since. "When you look at Barriere Lake and where we live, it is extremely isolated. So with hockey, most of the kids have not been able to play whatsoever," said Andrew. "That's why it's so important for us to get [the rink] going and make sure that they're skating all the time to keep them busy and keep them motivated."
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials that showed it was safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unfounded theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm. State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus. Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland. “It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.” Yuan Zeng, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, said the government’s stories spread so widely that even well-educated Chinese friends have asked her whether they might be true. Inflaming doubts and spreading conspiracy theories might add to public health risks as governments try to dispel unease about vaccines, she said, saying, “That is super, super dangerous.” In the latest volley, state media called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly people in Norway after they received the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor at CGTN, the English-language station of state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news. Health experts say deaths unrelated to the vaccine are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributory role” in the Norway deaths. The state media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine lower than previously announced. Researchers initially said Sinovac’s vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised that to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases. After the Brazil news, researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think-tank , reported seeing an increase in Chinese media disinformation about vaccines. Dozens of online articles on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine at length, drawing on an op-ed published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about its clinical trial data. “It’s very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to raise doubts about the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said. Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy in voicing concerns about the mRNA vaccines developed by Western drug companies. They use a newer technology than the more traditional approach of the Chinese vaccines currently in use. In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he can’t rule out negative side effects from the mRNA vaccines. Noting this is the first time they are being given to healthy people, he said, “there are safety concerns.” The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly in the beginning, even reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public. The visiting researchers will begin field work this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine. The Communist Party sees the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The party wants to “distract domestic and international audiences by pre-emptively distorting the narrative on where responsibility lies for the emergence of COVID-19,” Wallis said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by calling for the WHO investigation of the U.S. military lab. The site had been mentioned previously by CGTN and other state-controlled outlets. “If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua said. Her comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on Sina Weibo. China isn’t the only government to point fingers. Former President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his government’s handling of the pandemic, said last year he had seen evidence the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts think it is unlikely. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press