The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — A 38-year-old man has been charged in connection with the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 16 in Niagara Region.Police say they launched the investigation last July and made the arrest on Friday.The suspect, a man from Niagara Falls, Ont., is charged with one count each of sexual assault and sexual interference.He's being held in custody and expected to appear in court at a later date.Police are asking anyone with information to come forward. The Canadian Press
Phil Chilibeck came upon his latest professional development by accident. The professor of kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan was studying the effect of walking for high blood pressure — something that is known to improve that condition. The walking group would walk, while they had the other group do some stretching. To their surprise, the stretching group was having better outcomes. Both exercises are known to help improve high blood pressure, but now we know that stretching is better than walking when it comes to high blood pressure. "When you stretch a muscle, you're also stretching the blood vessels in the limb that you're stretching. And when you stretch the blood vessels, it looks like it reduces the stiffness of those vessels," Chilibeck said. "If you can make the artery less stiff, it improves blood flow and it reduces your blood pressure." As for the type of stretches, any one that utilizes a major muscle group is effective. "Any type of stretch for your hamstrings, your quadriceps, your calf muscles, so I think the stretches in your lower legs would be most important," he said. This is not to say you should stop walking — you should keep that up if it's part of your routine, Chilibeck said, but add in some stretching too. Chilibeck acknowledged the sample size was small for the study, so the next step is to run a bigger study. According to a news release, 40 older men and women participated in the eight-week study, with a mean age of 61. "One [group] did a whole-body stretching routine for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and the other group walked briskly for the same amount of time and frequency," the release reads. The finding was published Dec. 18, 2020 in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska held the enviable position of having the highest rate of coronavirus vaccinations per capita in the nation as of last week, the state's top health official said. Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said last Thursday that the progress was the result of community efforts to quickly distribute vaccinations and additional allotments for federal agencies within the state, KTOO-FM reported. Zink told the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce that Alaska receives more doses of vaccine because of allowances above the state’s share for the Department of Defence, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service. “We have the highest veterans per capita population. We have a large military presence. And we have a large Indigenous population with over 229 sovereign tribes,” Zink said. “And so, because of those reasons, we did get some additional vaccine in the state via those federal partnerships.” The allotment for the Indian Health Service, which works with tribal entities to deliver health care to Alaska Native residents, could have been subtracted from the state’s share of the federal supply, but ultimately was allowed to be added, Zink said. “That’s been transformational for Alaska, that decision for Operation Warp Speed,” Zink said of the Trump administration's name for the national vaccine distribution initiative. More than 14,000 people had received both required doses of a vaccine cycle as of last Thursday, while more than 67,000 people had received at least one of the shots in the series. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
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.
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
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” by Joan Didion (Alfred A. Knopf) Back in 1968, Joan Didion identified a problem with the mainstream media. “The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain, very probably by an Associated Press wire …,” she begins in an essay that goes on to criticize traditional news outlets, including the wire service carrying this review, for pretending that there is such a thing as neutral, unbiased, objective reporting. That article, “Alicia and the Underground Press,” was a snarky ode to alternative newspapers in the 1960s like the East Village Other and Berkeley Barb that might have been “amateurish and badly written” but at least had the virtue of speaking directly to their readers, and speaking to them as friends. Some 50 years later, in a media landscape dominated by players who present “alternative facts” with a straight face, and consumers who get their news through platforms tailored to their specific interests, Didion’s critique seems more prescient than ever. The essay is one of 12 she wrote between 1968 and 2000 that have been collected in a new volume, “Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” sure to be of interest to Didion completists and fans of such cultural touchstones as “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking.” Others haven’t aged as well. Another piece from 1968, about Gamblers Anonymous, quotes the people at a meeting in ungrammatical English, speaking “as if from some subverbal swamp.” In “A Trip to Xanadu,” she sneers at tourists at the Hearst Castle in their “slacks and straw hats and hair rollers.” But when she punches up instead of down, the results can be devastating, as in her portrait from the same year of Nancy Reagan, then the wife of the California governor, portrayed as a media-savvy control freak and distant mother to her then 10-year-old son. Similarly, her 2000 profile of Martha Stewart captures what most observers missed at the time — that Martha wasn’t selling homemaking, she was selling success. The best of the bunch have to do with the subject Didion, 86, knows and cares about most — being a writer. In essays like “Why I Write,” whose title she borrowed from George Orwell, “Telling Stories” and “Last Words,” she makes it clear why she has been an essential voice in American arts and letters for more than half a century. Ann Levin, The Associated Press
“Every Waking Hour,” by Joanna Schaffhausen (Minotaur) The push-pull relationship between Boston police detective Ellery Hathaway and FBI Agent Reed Markham took a big leap last year in “All the Best Lies,” the third book in Joanna Schaffhausen’s compelling series of crime novels. Now, in “Every Waking Hour,” the world seems determined to pull the new lovers apart. Reed rescued Ellery from serial killer years ago, when she was just a teenager, so their mutual attraction has been fraught with complications from the start. And now? Reed’s ex-wife Sarit disapproves of Ellery. Still bitter about their divorce, Sarit threatens to stop him from seeing his toddler daughter unless he breaks off the relationship. Ellery’s teenage half-sister, a runaway from the father who abandoned Ellery and her mother years ago, shows up and moves in. And Ellery, whose kidnapping was such a huge story that journalists never lost interest in her, is horrified when a news photographer catches the lovers in a tender moment and makes their relationship public. Meanwhile, a 12-year-old girl has been kidnapped, battering Ellery with horrible memories of her own ordeal that are never far from the surface. The obvious suspect is the nanny who was supposed to be watching over the child. However, Ellery and Reed soon discover that the girl’s mother’s first child was murdered years ago when he was also 12 years old. That the crime was never solved. Might the two cases be connected? The result is a tension-filled investigation filled with twists that readers are unlikely to see coming. Though not a particularly stylish writer, Schaffhausen spins her yarn with clear, concise prose that keeps the plot moving at a torrid pace. But as usual in this series, the most compelling part of her story is the fragile relationship between the protagonists. Can it — and even should it — survive what the world keeps throwing at them? ___ Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.” Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
En mars dernier, la pandémie de COVID-19 a surpris tout le monde, y compris la Distillerie Beemer. Au départ, toutes les activités ont été bouleversées quand le Québec a été mis sur pause. N’étant pas considérée comme une entreprise essentielle, la distillerie, qui en était à l’étape de développement de produits, a dû fermer ses portes temporairement. Mais tout a changé lorsqu’un certain Philippe Couillard, l’ancien premier ministre du Québec, a lâché un coup de fil à Sandra Néron, la directrice des ventes et du développement commercial chez Micro Beemer, Distillerie Beemer et maintenant pour PurBoréal. « On s’était déjà rencontré, mais on se connaissait très peu, souligne cette dernière. Il nous a fortement encouragés à lancer un gel antiseptique en utilisant notre alcool. » C’est même Philippe Couillard qui a lancé l’idée du nom PurBoréal, y allant d’une suggestion de nom de marque qui été adopté par l’équipe. C’est ainsi qu’a démarré le projet et l’équipe a dû travailler ardemment pour surmonter toutes les embûches administratives sur son chemin, car pour mettre un produit naturel sur le marché, il fallait d’abord obtenir l’approbation de Santé Canada. « Alors que le Québec était à l’arrêt, on travaillait comme des petites fourmis », souligne Sandra Néron. Le gel antiseptique PurBoréal est fabriqué avec le l’alcool fait à base de bleuets. COURTOISIE En avril, PurBoréal a été en mesure de sortir son produit de première génération. « On a fait un produit même s’il manquait plein de matières premières, dont les agents liants », ajoute-t-elle. Le résultat n’était pas optimal, car le produit se séparait et il n’avait pas d’odeur marquée, « mais c’était efficace avec un taux d’alcool de 80% ». Fait à noter, l’alcool utilisé est produit à base de bleuets de la région. Alors que les pénuries de matières premières se sont estompées avec le temps, l’équipe a travaillé avec un chimiste de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC), Lionel Ripoll, pour développer la deuxième génération, qui est d’une qualité supérieure. « C’est quasiment rendu un produit de cosmétique, avec un beau fini poudreux, une belle consistance et une fragrance de bleuet », lance fièrement Sandra Néron. Tout de suite après le lancement, la demande a explosé, jusqu’en mai, lorsque la compétition a commencé à se faire plus féroce. Depuis, la demande a baissé et elle s’est stabilisée. « Les revenus de PurBoréal nous ont permis d’avoir une bonne entrée d’argent, alors qu’on a dû mettre de côté le développement de nos alcools pour produire le gel », souligne Philippe Harvey, un des associés. Jusqu’à maintenant, plusieurs dizaines de milliers de litres de gel antiseptique ont été écoulés dans la région, mais aussi à des clients partout au Québec. La pandémie a donc forcé l’entreprise de Roberval, dont l'un des partenaires d'affaires est le comédien robervalois Jeff Boudreault, à acquérir une nouvelle expertise, qu’elle compte bien mettre à profit. « Après avoir développé la recette, trouvé les fournisseurs et obtenu toutes les approbations, on ne va pas arrêter là », lance ce dernier, qui espère que la population régionale adopte les produits locaux.Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum - a gathering usually held in a Swiss ski resort - Xi said the global economic outlook remained uncertain and public health emergencies "may very well recur" in future. "We should build an open world economy ... discard discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and take down barriers to trade, investment and technological exchanges," he said. The G20 - an international forum grouping 19 of the biggest developed and emerging economies, plus the European Union - should be strengthened as the "main forum for global economic governance" and the world should "engage in closer macro-economic policy coordination", Xi added.
Paris City Hall has instructed the landlord seeking to close down the city's indebted Fan Museum to extend its deadline for payment, the museum said Monday. Director Anne Hoguet said her beleaguered museum — a registered historic monument — owed 117,000 euros in rent arrears due to losses incurred during virus lockdowns last year. The money was due Jan. 23 and the landlord had threatened to seize the museum's priceless artifacts as payment. In response to AP’s reporting, on Thursday UNESCO called on France to do more to protect the small museum that French officials had placed on an intangible heritage list only last year. Hoguet said that Paris City Hall officials confirmed to her that they had intervened to get the landlord to delay the deadline. “It's a huge relief. We hope to live another day,” Hoguet said. Paris Deputy Mayor Karen Taieb told the AP that officials are now meeting with Hoguet on Feb. 5 “in order to think about long-term solutions for this heritage museum which is in a very complicated situation.” Hoguet said that she has been inundated with offers of donations since last week’s media reports. The Associated Press
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6 Jan. 31: Composer Philip Glass is 84. Actor Stuart Margolin (“The Rockford Files”) is 81. Actor Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”) is 80. Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite is 77. Actor Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul,” ?Breaking Bad”) is 74. Actor Glynn Turman (“The Wire,” ?A Different World”) is 74. Singer Harry Wayne Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band is 70. Singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) of the Sex Pistols is 65. Actor Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace,” ?Murder One”) is 62. Actor Kelly Lynch is 62. Singer-guitarist Lloyd Cole is 60. Actor Paulette Braxton (“The Parkers,” ?In The House”) is 56. Bassist Al Jaworski of Jesus Jones is 55. Actor Minnie Driver is 51. Actor Portia de Rossi (“Arrested Development,” ?Ally McBeal”) is 48. Comedian Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live”) is 44. Actor Kerry Washington (“Scandal,” ?Ray”) is 44. Singer Justin Timberlake is 40. Actor Tyler Ritter (“The McCarthys”) is 36. Singer Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line is 34. Singer Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons is 34. Actor Joel Courtney (“Super 8,” “The Kissing Booth”) is 25. Feb. 1: Actor-comedian Garrett Morris is 84. Singer Don Everly of The Everly Brothers is 84. Bluegrass singer Del McCoury is 82. TV personality Joy Philbin is 80. Guitarist Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is 71. Blues musician Sonny Landreth is 70. Actor-writer-producer Billy Mumy (“Lost in Space”) is 67. Singer Exene Cervenka of X is 65. Actor Linus Roache (“Law and Order”) is 57. Actor Sherilyn Fenn (“Twin Peaks”) is 56. Singer Lisa Marie Presley is 53. Comedian Pauly Shore is 53. Actor Brian Krause (“Charmed”) is 52. Jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman is 52. Drummer Patrick Wilson of Weezer is 52. Actor Michael C. Hall (“Dexter,” ?Six Feet Under”) is 50. Rapper Big Boi of Outkast is 46. Musician Jason Isbell is 42. Singer Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT is 38. TV personality Lauren Conrad (“The Hills,” ?Laguna Beach”) is 35. Actor-singer Heather Morris (“Glee”) is 34. Singer Harry Styles (One Direction) is 27. Feb. 2: Comedian Tom Smothers is 84. Singer Graham Nash is 79. Actor Bo Hopkins (film’s “American Graffiti,” TV’s “Dynasty”) is 77. Singer Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers is 75. TV chef Ina Garten (“Barefoot Contessa”) is 73. Actor Jack McGee (“The McCarthys”) is 72. Actor Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) is 72. Bassist Ross Valory of Journey is 72. Model Christie Brinkley is 67. Actor Michael Talbott (“Miami Vice”) is 66. Actor Kim Zimmer (“Guiding Light”) is 66. Actor Michael T. Weiss (“The Pretender”) is 59. Comedian Adam Ferrara (“Rescue Me”) is 55. Bassist Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots is 55. Actor Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) is 51. Rapper T-Mo (Goodie Mob) is 49. Actor Marissa Jaret Winokur is 48. Actor Lori Beth Denberg (“The Steve Harvey Show”) is 45. Steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is 45. Singer Shakira is 44. Actor Rich Sommer (“Mad Men” Film: “The Devil Wears Prada”) is 43. Actor Zosia Mamet (“Girls”) is 33. Feb. 3: Actor Bridget Hanley (“Here Come The Brides,” ?Harper Valley P.T.A.”) is 80. Actor Blythe Danner is 78. Guitarist Dave Davies of The Kinks is 74. Singer Melanie is 74. Actor Morgan Fairchild is 71. Actor Pamela Franklin (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) is 71. Actor Nathan Lane is 65. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth is 65. Actor Thomas Calabro (“Melrose Place”) is 62. Drummer Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) is 62. Actor Michele Greene (“L.A. Law”) is 59. Country singer Matraca Berg is 57. Actor Maura Tierney (“ER,” ?NewsRadio”) is 56. Actor Warwick Davis (“Harry Potter” films, “Willow”) is 51. Actor Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”) is 50. Singer Daddy Yankee is 45. Actor Isla Fisher is 45. Singer Jessica Harp (The Wreckers) is 39. Actor Matthew Moy (“2 Broke Girls”) is 37. Rapper Sean Kingston is 31. Actor Brandon Micheal Hall (“God Friended Me”) is 28. Feb. 4: Actor Jerry Adler (“The Good Wife,” ?The Sopranos”) is 92. Actor Gary Conway (“Burke’s Law”) is 85. Drummer John Steel of The Animals is 80. Singer Florence LaRue of the Fifth Dimension is 79. Singer Alice Cooper is 73. Actor Michael Beck is 72. Actor Lisa Eichhorn is 69. Singer Tim Booth of James is 61. Country singer Clint Black is 59. Guitarist Noodles of The Offspring is 58. Country bassist Dave Buchanan of Yankee Grey is 55. Actor Gabrielle Anwar (“The Tudors”) is 51. “Daily Show” correspondent Rob Corddry is 50. Actor Michael Goorjian (“Party of Five”) is 50. TV personality Nicolle Wallace (“The View”) is 49. Bassist Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World is 46. Singer Natalie Imbruglia is 46. Rapper Cam’ron is 45. Singer Gavin DeGraw is 44. Singer Zoe Manville of Portugal. The Man is 37. Actor Ashley Thomas (“Salvation,” ?24: Legacy”) is 36. Actor Charlie Barnett (“Secrets and Lies,” ?Chicago Fire”) is 33. Actor Kyla Kenedy (“Speechless”) is 18. Feb. 5: Actor Stuart Damon is 84. Singer-songwriter Barrett Strong is 80. Actor David Selby (“Dark Shadows,” ?Falcon Crest”) is 80. Singer Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat and Tears) is 77. Actor Charlotte Rampling is 75. Actor Barbara Hershey is 73. Actor-director-comedian Christopher Guest is 73. Actor Tom Wilkinson (“Selma”) is 73. Actor-comedian Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) is 60. Actor Jennifer Jason Leigh is 59. Actor Laura Linney is 57. Bassist Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver (and Guns N’ Roses) is 57. Actor Chris Parnell is 54. Singer Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors is 54. Singer Bobby Brown is 52. Actor Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex,” ?Frost/Nixon,” ?Twilight” films) is 52. Actor David Chisum (“Black Box,” ?One Life to Live”) is 51. Country singer Sara Evans is 50. Country singer Tyler Farr is 37. Keyboardist Mark Shusterman of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is 36. Actor Darren Criss (“Glee”) is 34. Actor Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) is 34. Keyboardist Kyle Simmons of Bastille is 33. Actor Jeremy Sumpter (“Friday Night Lights,” ?Peter Pan”) is 32. Drummer Graham Sierota of Echosmith is 22. Feb. 6: Actor Mamie Van Doren is 90. Actor Mike Farrell is 82. NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 81. Actor Gayle Hunnicutt is 78. Singer Fabian is 78. Actor Michael Tucker (“L.A. Law”) is 76. Actor Jon Walmsley (“The Waltons”) is 65. Actor-director Robert Townsend (“The Parent ‘Hood”) is 64. Actor Kathy Najimy (“Veronica’s Closet,” ?King of the Hill”) is 64. Drummer Simon Phillips of Toto is 64. Actor Barry Miller (“Saturday Night Fever,” ?Fame”) is 63. Actor Megan Gallagher (“Millennium”) is 61. Country singer Richie McDonald of Lonestar is 59. Vocalist Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is 59. Singer Rick Astley is 55. Bassist Tim Brown of the Boo Radleys is 52. TV host Amy Robach (“Good Morning America”) is 48. Actor Josh Stewart (“Criminal Minds,” ?Third Watch”) is 44. Actor Ben Lawson (“Designated Survivor”) is 41. Actor Crystal Reed (“Teen Wolf”) is 36. Actor Anna Diop (“24: Legacy”) is 33. Singer Tinashe is 28. The Associated Press
It’s that time of the year again for the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Fire Department: they’re set to host their annual recruitment campaign this February to hire part-time firefighters. The department’s recruitment officer says they’re doing everything they can to bring in and train new members in spite of unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses. Starting Feb. 1 going until Feb. 26, the department plans to go through all applications for the job online, host interviews and begin each member’s required 160 hours of training. “We are taking every measure possible to make sure that everybody that shows up on a regular basis is safe,” said Paul Calleja, the department’s training and suppression officer. “We have, I think, an optical responsibility to the public that we are doing things responsibly.” A communiqué from the Office of the Fire Marshal exempts fire departments from standard social gathering protocols during training, effective Oct. 19. Calleja said their department is trying to adhere as close as possible to the normal guidelines throughout recruitment. This year, instead of an in-person meeting, complete with a tour of the firehall, people will participate in a virtual information session on Jan. 28 and submit applications online. “It is what it is,” he said. In lieu of traditional meeting and networking, Calleja said he’s glad to chat with recruits personally over the phone throughout the campaign. He said he doesn’t have a specific goal for recruitment this year, as the numbers of new recruits fluctuates from 75 to 110 across the years. “We’ll run a recruit class with one person, if that’s all that shows up,” he said. The department is hiring part-time members who work an average of 200 hours a year. “A part-time firefighter is no different than a career firefighter,” he said. Part-timers aren’t stationed at a fire hall: they wear a pager and are called to scenes when there’s an emergency. “We do the same job: suppression, rescue, hazardous materials, public education.” Gary Monaham, the department’s deputy fire chief, said they haven’t seen a consistent increase in calls for service from the fire department since the pandemic began which would require them to recruit more members. “Back in March, when they first announced it, our medical calls dropped dramatically. Nobody wanted to call EMS. By the summer time, medical calls started going high again,” he said. “It’s up and down.” Monaham said calls have dropped “dramatically” in the last three weeks since the lockdown began. Calleja said it can be difficult to recruit people from lower-population communities in Lake of Bays: part-timers are “stationed” in their own communities. “It’s easier to find bodies in Huntsville than it is to find them in Dwight,” he said. With this challenge in mind, Calleja said they look to emphasize the benefits to joining the crew: an hourly wage, a compensation and insurance package, the opportunity to learn new life skills and a foot in the door to a new career in firefighting. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
One student poll in France found 72% had suffered recent psychological distress and more than a third had had depressive symptoms. View on euronews
Families battered by the pandemic recession soon may discover that the tax refunds they’re counting on are dramatically smaller — or that they actually owe income tax. Congress offered a partial solution, but the fix hasn’t been widely publicized, consumer advocates say. Refunds are crucial to many lower- and moderate-income households, which use the money to catch up on bills and medical treatments, pay down debt and boost savings. But the unemployment insurance that kept many people afloat last year may cause problems at tax time this year. Unemployment benefits are taxable, but tax withholding is typically voluntary — and many people who lost jobs either didn’t know their unemployment checks would be taxed, or they decided against withholding. (Relief checks, such as the $1,200 sent out last year, are not taxable.) Further, unemployment benefits are not earned income and so don’t count toward two crucial tax benefits that keep millions of working families with children out of poverty: the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. “If you’re a single parent or a couple with kids living on, say, $25,000 a year, you might see 25% or more of your annual income in the form of your federal tax refund because of these credits,” says Timothy Flacke, executive director of Commonwealth, a non-profit that promotes financial security. THERE’S A FIX ON CREDITS, BUT NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT There isn’t an easy workaround for tax refunds shriveled by inadequate withholding. But Congress provided a potential fix for the tax credits issue in the $900 billion coronavirus relief legislation passed last month: Filers can choose to use their 2019 income to determine their credits rather than their 2020 income. But that fix hasn’t been widely reported, says Leigh Phillips, chief executive officer of SaverLife, a non-profit that encourages working families to save. Not everyone uses up-to-date tax software or well-informed tax preparers, and Phillips worries that many eligible people won’t learn about it before filing their returns. The IRS will begin accepting returns Feb. 12. “People are going to start trying to file taxes as soon as they possibly can,” Phillips says. “If you think that you’ve got thousands coming in the mail or to your bank account, you’re there day one with your paperwork ready to go.” THOSE WHO RELY ON REFUNDS TEND TO FILE EARLY Research confirms that the earliest recipients of refunds each year tend to be lower income, says Fiona Greig, co-president of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which studies data from millions of customer bank accounts. “(A tax refund) tends to be a larger relative cash infusion event for them, and as a result, they tend to seek their refund earlier in the tax refund season,” Greig says. In typical years, tax refunds equal almost six weeks’ take-home pay for the average recipient, the institute found. Last year the average refund was more than $2,500. Families who qualify for the earned income tax credit can receive thousands more. The maximum credit for working families with three or more children is $6,660 for 2020, and it’s refundable, which means filers get the money even if they don’t owe any tax. The amount you can earn and still qualify rises with family size, so that a married couple with three or more children could get at least a partial credit with adjusted gross income up to $56,844. A single person without children may qualify for a small credit with an adjusted gross income up to $15,820. Meanwhile, the regular child tax credit for children under 17 is $2,000 and not refundable. But low-income families may qualify for a refundable credit, which can be up to 15% of earned income over $2,500, up to $1,400 per child. TAX CREDITS HAVE WIDESPREAD SUPPORT The credits have been around for decades and have widespread bipartisan support among lawmakers, Commonwealth’s Flacke says. “It’s one of the few areas of some consensus across the parties that rewarding workers on the low end of the wage spectrum with these tax credits makes sense,” Flacke says. If you might qualify for one of the tax credits, make sure your tax software or tax preparer looks at both your 2019 and 2020 incomes before submitting your return. If you find out too late that you could have received a bigger refund, you can file an amended return, but you may face a longer wait. Instead of getting your refund in a few weeks, an amended return can take up to four months to process. Going forward, President Joe Biden has proposed one-year expansions of the credits as part of his coronavirus relief package. He wants to increase the maximum earned income tax credit for childless adults from $538 to nearly $1,500 this year and to raise the income limit. He also wants to increase the child tax credit to $3,000, plus an extra $600 per child under age 6, and make the full amount refundable. If enacted, these credits could be claimed on returns filed in 2022. ____________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC): What It Is and How to Qualify in 2020-2021 http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-EIC-2021 Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump’s former chief spokeswoman and one of his closest aides, announced Monday she’s running for Arkansas governor, vying for political office even as the former president’s legacy is clouded by an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. The former White House press secretary, who left the job in 2019 to return to her home state, launched the bid less than a week after the end of Trump’s time in office and as the ex-president faces an impeachment trial. But her announcement reflected how much she expected voters in solidly red Arkansas to embrace the former president, if not his rhetoric. “With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defence,” Sanders said in a video announcing her bid. “In fact, your governor must be on the front line. So today I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas.” The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders had been widely expected to run for the office after leaving the White House — and Trump publicly encouraged her to make a go. She’s been laying the groundwork for a candidacy, speaking to GOP groups around the state. Sanders joins a Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The three are running to succeed current Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who is unable to run next year due to term limits. No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat. Sanders launched her bid weeks after a riot by Trump’s supporters at the U.S. Capitol left five people dead. More than 130 people have been charged in the insurrection, which was aimed at halting the certification of President Joe Biden’s win over Trump. Sanders was the first working mother and only the third woman to serve as White House press secretary. But she also faced questions about her credibility during her time as Trump’s chief spokesperson. During her nearly two-year tenure, daily televised briefings led by the press secretary ended after Sanders repeatedly sparred with reporters who aggressively questioned her about administration policy and the investigation into possible co-ordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia. But Sanders earned reporters’ respect working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media. Trump’s tumultuous exit from the presidency may do little damage to Sanders in Arkansas. Republicans hold all of Arkansas’ statewide and federal seats, as well as a solid majority in both chambers of the Legislature. Trump in November won the state by nearly 28 percentage points, one of the biggest margins in his ultimate loss to Biden. Sanders’ nearly 8-minute video prominently features photos of Trump, along with references to his favourite targets such as “cancel culture,” socialism and the Green New Deal. Griffin and Rutledge have spent months positioning themselves ahead of Sanders’ announcement, lining up endorsements from the state’s top Republicans and raising funds. Combined, the two have raised more than $2.8 million. The race could also get even more crowded. Republican State Sen. Jim Hendren, a nephew of Hutchinson’s, is considering a run for the seat. Sanders, who published a book last year and joined Fox News as a contributor after leaving the White House, enters the race with a much higher profile than any of the candidates. She remains an unknown on many of the state’s biggest issues, though in her announcement she called for reducing state income taxes and cutting off funding for cities that violate immigration laws. Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press
After arguments between residents who lived near Meadowcrest beach erupted in the later summer, McDougall’s council has decided that boats will not be permitted to launch from that location. At the previous meeting in December, Leduc brought forward three recommendations to council on how to remedy the situation at the small beach. The first option was to operate the beach the same as before the pandemic, with the launching of small boats limited to a vessel that a person can carry to the water. Option two was to operate the beach with the added restriction of no vessel launching of any kind, and the third option was to allow people to launch small boats or vessels on trailers only from ice out until May 31 and then again from Sept. 15 to the time the lake ices. Here are some quotes from the council meeting regarding the decision: “This isn’t a resolution, it’s just direction to staff; currently it is established as a beach and I spoke at the previous meeting about leaving it as a beach and my position hasn’t changed on that,” said Mayor Dale Robinson. “Are there any other spots on Portage Lake where it’s possible to look at for future boat ramps?” asked Coun. Joe Ryman. “The spot at Portage Creek right now is municipal property; there is no dock there currently, so there really is no encumbrance for us to put a dock there if we needed to, as it is our property,” said parks and recreation director Brian Leduc. At the Jan. 20 council meeting, three councillors and the mayor voted in favour of the beach remaining simply a beach. 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
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
Before Wilf Doyle scratched the Set For Life ticket he had received for Christmas from his partner, Rowena King, he had a rule to follow. It was Jan. 7 and Doyle made sure to remove the Christmas tablecloth that was still on the table in their Gander home. “I said, ‘don’t you dare scratch that ticket on the tablecloth’,” recalls King. Whether Doyle’s adherence to the order had anything to do with what happened next can never be known, but if you suggest that it brought him good luck, it would be tough to argue. Because when he was finished, staring back at him were all the required number of Set For Life symbols, meaning he had won the grand prize. “I really didn’t believe it,” said Doyle. “It was a weird feeling.” As people tend to do in these situations, Doyle checked everything twice. They even called their daughter so she could provide a fresh set of eyes for confirmation. All agreed the numbers made Doyle a big winner. ”It is life-changing,” he said. The ticket was a part of a bundle the couple had purchased at the lotto booth at the Gander Mall as Christmas stocking stuffers for loved ones. King saved the last ticket for the stocking she had for Doyle. “I can’t say how I felt,” said King of first discovering it was the winning ticket. But she knows how it feels now. “It feels good.” Winners of the Set For Life grand prize are presented with a pair of options. They can choose to receive $1,000 a week for the next 25 years or take a one-time payment of $675,000. In this instance, the Gander couple elected to take the lump sum. The decision will pay immediate dividends. Where once they didn’t own a home, they do now. They’ve already picked out their dream house in Bay Roberts — quickly becoming a destination for jackpot winners — and have made a successful offer. They are especially looking forward to making the move since both have family in the Conception Bay North area. As well, their winnings will allow them to eliminate car payments; they recently purchased a new vehicle. They also have plans to purchase an RV sometime in the future. That will allow them to do some travelling around the province. “It could not have come at a better time,” said Doyle. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
TRANSPORT. Dans le cadre d’une opération visant à repérer et à sanctionner les conducteurs dont le véhicule lourd était mal déneigé qui s’est déroulé le 18 janvier, la Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) a remis 88 constats d’infraction et 76 avis de non-conformité. Notons que l’article 498.1 du Code de la sécurité routière prévoit l’interdiction de circuler avec un véhicule couvert de neige, de glace ou de toute autre matière pouvant s’en détacher et susceptible de présenter un danger pour les usagers de la route. L’amende prévue est de 60 $ à 100 $ plus certains frais. La SAAQ rappelle que la neige qui couvre les phares, les feux et les vitres réduit le champ de vision du conducteur. Un véhicule enneigé est également moins visible des autres usagers de la route. Par ailleurs, la présence de neige ou de glace, particulièrement sur un véhicule lourd, peut présenter un danger pour les autres usagers de la route. Finalement, la neige qui poudroie en se détachant d’un véhicule réduit considérablement la visibilité, pour les véhicules circulant derrière, alors que les morceaux de glace qui se détachent peuvent blesser des piétons, endommager des voitures et même causer des accidents. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal