The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
GUYSBOROUGH – Last week (Jan. 21) the government relaunched its Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) online portal, https://iaprequest.novascotia.ca . The reboot became necessary after a data breach discovered in April of 2018 on the previous website resulted in a shutdown of the site, a return to mail-in request forms and the creation of a website where the public could only access previously completed requests. The security breach and the length of time it has taken to restart the system is only one of many issues facing access to information in Nova Scotia. The Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) is quick to highlight two more: the timeliness of request fulfillment and lack of willingness to provide information by both business and other levels of government. At the regular MODG council meeting on Jan. 20, council was informed that a letter they sent to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, in regard to the future of a contaminated site that belongs to Irving Oil Ltd. in Guysborough, was met with a response advising the municipality to file a FOIPOP request. To say that council was not satisfied with that answer would be an understatement. Warden Vernon Pitts said the response was “unacceptable.” Pitts, in a media interview, went on to outline the lack of success the MODG has had with similar requests. “The municipality made a FOIPOP request a number of years ago in regard to TDR, Tire Derived Aggregate. We FOIPOPed for information from the Province of Nova Scotia because we thought that that contract was awarded illegally—was our opinion at that time -- and the only way we could find out was to have an actual look at the contract. It took us five years to obtain that information and almost all of it was blacked out, so the information was absolutely useless,” he explained. It isn’t only the MODG that has gotten a lacklustre response to a recent FOIPOP request. The PC Party of Nova Scotia has run up against the FOIPOP wall in recent months in regard to a request they submitted to obtain the results for air quality testing in public schools. No information was made available. In a release issued on Jan. 18, PC Education Critic and Dartmouth East MLA Tim Halman said, “I worry that the only reason for the Liberals to withhold the schools’ air quality reviews from the public is that they are embarrassed by the results … If that is the case, then swift action is needed urgently.” The PC release also stated, “On January 7, after the Liberal Cabinet meeting, Education Minister Zach Churchill confirmed that data from school ventilation reviews was being tracked and kept, but dodged questions about actually releasing that information.” Tricia Ralph, Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner, told The Journal in a Jan. 22 interview that while she could not speak directly to either of these cases, the office encouraged open access to information. “As a general principal we encourage the ideas of open government and open data,” said Ralph, “but the legislation doesn’t require it. So, it is possible for one government to say to another ‘You have to file a FOIPOP request.’ … I don’t know how common it is, but I suspect it isn’t terribly uncommon. But it is not the only way; government is not restricted or bound by legislation to only reply in the form of a FOIPOP request. They could do it another way. They could just give it out.” More information about how to request information under FOIPOP is available online at https://oipc.novascotia.ca/faq. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Facebook Inc may face questions about fallout from U.S. election controversies when it posts earnings on Wednesday, but top of mind for investors is a less political matter: the company's heavy bet on e-commerce to drive ad sales. The world's biggest social media company is poised to reap a windfall from that gambit, analysts say, bolstered by a return in ad growth rates to pre-COVID levels and a holiday shopping boost from its new "social commerce" features. Wall Street expects the company to report fourth-quarter sales up 25% to $26.4 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
A Cree pilot says he was honoured to be the person who delivered vaccines to some Cree communities in northern Quebec. Air Creebec pilot Willard Petagumskum flew vaccines to all of the coastal Cree communities in Quebec on Jan. 16. It marked the start of a regional vaccination campaign across Cree territory and an important step in the Cree fight against COVID-19. "I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. Because with everything we have been going through with this pandemic ... that it would help our people," said Petagumskum in Cree. As of Tuesday, there were 86 positive COVID-19 cases tied to an outbreak at the start of the new year in the region. Two Cree communities — Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou — have been hit particularly hard. There are 52 positive cases in Mistissini and 28 in Oujé-Bougoumou, according to the latest numbers from Cree public health. I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. - Willard Petagumskum, Air Creebec pilot For Petagumskum, who is from Whapmagoostui, the vaccine is an important way to protect vulnerable people in Cree communities. "There is a vaccine for [COVID-19] to help many ... elders and all our people," said Petagumskum. So far in the vaccination campaign, more than 8,200 people have received the vaccine that Petagumskum delivered, according to health officials. "I'm glad to be a part of this with the nurses and doctors, they do a lot to help our people. The small part of me being able to help out with this, that made me happy." The vaccine delivery happened in the middle of a snowstorm on Jan. 16, but after 30 years as pilot, Petagumskum took it in stride. "When I woke up Saturday morning to get ready for work, I noticed it was snowing a lot. There was a snowstorm in Montreal." Petagumskum needed to have a negative COVID-19 test before he could make the flight. He said he will get the vaccine himself as soon as he's able. 'I want people to look after themselves even after you receive your shot of this vaccine. You still have to be careful," he said. WATCH | Resident Fred Tomatuk watches the flight carrying the vaccine land in Eastmain, Que.:
RCMP in Alberta are investigating Yellowknife RCMP officers and their role in an alleged incident that took place in cells in October 2020. The incident in question revolves around the arrest of a 25-year-old Whatı̀ woman, Tracella Romie. According to court documents, employees of a Yellowknife liquor store called RCMP on the evening of Oct. 14, 2020, after Romie reportedly assaulted workers there. Romie was arrested a short while later and charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief. In an interview with CBC, Romie says she was put in the back of an RCMP vehicle by two officers and brought to the Yellowknife detachment, where two other officers also detained her. Romie says she was intoxicated and remembers very little of that night. She says she does remember spitting up blood and officers pulling her handcuffed hands high in the air in a painful manner. "I don't really remember much. I remember being in the cells for like 14 hours, maybe 16," Romie says. She says after she was released from cells she went to a friend's house and found bruises on her back, shoulders and wrists. "I knew I had been mistreated that night." Use of force investigation Romie says she thought about making a complaint against the RCMP, but ultimately changed her mind. More than a month after the arrest, Romie says she received a call from two RCMP officers in Alberta who said they were investigating what happened that night. Romie says the investigators told her that a Yellowknife officer who had witnessed her detainment in cells had made a complaint about their colleagues' excessive use of force. Emails Romie provided to CBC show that two investigators from the RCMP's Maskwacis detachment in central Alberta flew to Yellowknife the first week of December to interview her. I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated. - Tracella Romie Maskwacis RCMP deferred CBC's questions to the Yellowknife detachment. Yellowknife RCMP refused to say how the alleged incident came to their attention. They also refused to provide CBC News with an arrest report or video footage from the night in question. "As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide either of the items you requested, nor comment on how the incident that is part of the investigation was reported," N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote in an email. If indeed it was an RCMP officer who came forward, Romie says she's grateful to them. "If it wasn't [for that officer] all of this investigation would not have been brought to attention," she said. "I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated." Neither the Yellowknife or Maskwacis RCMP would comment on when the investigation is expected to be finished. Romie is being represented by a lawyer with legal aid services in relation to the charges, which are still working their way through the courts.
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
BERLIN — A German woman has been charged with preparing a far-right attack and other crimes on allegations she was in the process of building a bomb to target Muslims and local politicians in Bavaria, Munich prosecutors said Wednesday. Susanne G., whose last name wasn't given in line with privacy laws, also faces charges of making threats and violations of weapons laws, among other things. She has been in custody since her arrest. Prosecutors allege that the woman started planning a firebombing attack no later than May 2020, motivated by her xenophobic and extreme-right views. She is alleged to have downloaded information on bomb building online and have gathered materials for the construction, including gasoline, fireworks and fuses, by the time of her arrest in September. Between December 2019 and March 2020 the suspect is alleged to have sent six anonymous letters, five including a live bullet, with death threats to a local politician in the Nuremberg area, a Muslim community association, and an asylum seeker aid organization. During the summer of 2020, she started focusing on local police officers and a different local politician than the one threatened by letter as other possible targets, and began scouting their homes and cars. The Associated Press
After hanging up her scrubs in 2019, retired Windsor nurse Susan Ellsworth wants to return to the front lines and help out health-care professionals during the pandemic. But she says one thing is stopping her from doing that — the cost to reinstate her license to work as a nurse again. According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the cost to apply and re-instate is $226 and the annual registration fee that is also required is $305.10 — making that a total of at least $531.10 — a fee that Ellsworth said she can't afford. "With this pandemic, people want to help out. And I think that it would free up licensed nurses, RNs and RPNs, to do other things. Then we could say, help out doing testing, help out with paperwork, help out with giving the vaccines," she said. "I'm sure I'm not the only person that feels this way." She said there is a series of procedures she must follow in order to return to work which can add up in cost. She wants the fees to activate her license to be waived. "Especially when there's some of us that have worked in nursing for years and they're not going to give us a break?" Ellsworth said, adding that the pandemic is far from over. "I worked through SARS. It was not near anything like this, but just when you hear people saying, like, 'oh, the cases are down today. ... It's going to get better now,' but, you know from working yourself and nursing that it's not," she said. Early in the pandemic last year, the Ontario government declared it needs "all hands on deck" to fight the pandemic and has called in the military to assist front-line workers, Ellsworth says feels heartbroken that she can't help and she's willing to volunteer her time and work unpaid. In an email statement to CBC News, CNO said retired nurses can work as an unrelated care producer which has no cost attached to it. "Retired nurses who are no longer registered with CNO and who want to help with the pandemic efforts, including the vaccination rollout, can choose to work as an unregulated care provider. As an unregulated care provider, any controlled acts they are performing, such as administering a substance by injection, would have to be delegated to them," the statement reads. "However, if they want to resume practice as a nurse and they have practised within the last three years, they can choose to reinstate their CNO membership," it continues. After being informed of this, Ellsworth said this brought her hope and she would look into working as an unregulated care provider immediately. One hospital says it's not suffering a shortage of nurses CBC News reached out to local hospitals to see if there was a demand for nurse volunteers. In an email statement, Erie Shores Healthcare said it's currently "not suffering a shortage of nurses, so this is not an issue we have discussed. That being said, if we ever found ourselves in a nursing shortage situation, this would be something we would have to consider on a case-by-case basis, along with any other relevant options." In another email statement from Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital (HDGH), it said it "will explore any and all options available to assist with the recruitment of nursing staff." "We have been actively recruiting since the beginning of the pandemic. To date, we have not had any retired nurses express an interest to join our hospital. With that said, HDGH would agree to pay the fees associated with reinstating a retired nurses licence." the statement reads. "However, in the interest of not disadvantaging our current nursing staff, we would pay the fee and establish an agreed-upon process that would allow for the hospital to recover the expense by way of payroll deduction," it continues. CBC News reached out to the provincial government for comment, but officials didn't respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
A management team from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is now helping staff at a Regina nursing home try to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed the lives of 12 residents. Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home in Regina is operated according to a contract with the SHA. Health officials declared an outbreak at the 141-person home on Dec. 18. According to an update the home provided family members on Monday, the SHA "is piloting an outbreak management team." "This team will meet with us early [Tuesday] morning to see if we can implement new strategies to more effectively contain this virus and stop its spread," the update said. Kelly Chessie, the home's executive director, said it has been working with the SHA and other homes in the Regina area throughout the pandemic, "taking every opportunity to make important changes and improvements as we learn together about what works best when fighting this virus." She said the SHA reached out last Friday with its offer of help. "We happily welcomed their expertise," Chessie said Tuesday in an email to CBC News. "They came this afternoon and I am grateful for the fresh eyes and am optimistic that we can work together to further improve and tighten our infection control measures. "Responding to an outbreak takes a lot of time and effort. Everyone here has been working very hard to contain this virus and stop its spread. Having extra hands and fresh eyes to help with this critical work will be valuable." It's not the first time the SHA has come in to assist a Saskatchewan care home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In early December, the SHA signed a co-management agreement at Extendicare's Parkside home in Regina, where 43 deaths have been linked to COVID-19. That outbreak has since been declared over and the arrangement is set to expire on Jan. 31. The Saskatchewan NDP has called on the province to take similar steps at Extendicare's Preston home in Saskatoon, which is in active outbreak. Three residents have died and more than 30 residents were infected as of last week. SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said on Tuesday the authority is in daily contact with Extendicare Preston's leaders and is supporting them. "Our local teams are given daily updates," Livingstone said. "We've been in the facility doing safety reviews and supporting the use of PPE. The facility is fully staffed, which is different from some of the other situations we've seen." Home is 'slowly building immunity' As of Tuesday, 31 residents and five staff members at Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home were actively infected with COVID-19. Several others had recovered. Santa Maria was among the first long-term care homes in Saskatchewan offered a COVID-19 vaccine, with staff receiving their first Pfizer-BioNTech doses on Dec. 24. Second doses then followed about 21 days later, Chessie said. On Jan. 14, 114 residents received their first dose. No second doses have been administered to residents yet, Chessie said. Since Jan. 14, 17 new cases of COVID-19 have been found at the home, including some residents who were vaccinated with their first dose, Chessie said. "We are slowly building immunity in this home," she stated in a note to families last week. In a subsequent note to families on Monday, Chessie said the home has a "GO team" consisting of a respiratory therapist and nurse as well as a consulting physician. "[They] continue to be here every weekday, during the day, and the physician is available on call," Chessie wrote. She said there are some residents "who need help with this fight."
GUYSBOROUGH – When the Citizens Supporting Community Health Care group in Guysborough asked to take part in the consultation process on the state of health care in the area, they were expecting more involvement before the report was submitted to the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). At a Jan. 19 meeting, the group met with health care consultant Mary Jane Hampton – via Zoom – and was told that the report had already been presented to the NSHA and the minister for review. Paul Long, who has been active in the citizens’ group since it formed last August, told The Journal on Friday (Jan. 22) that the group was surprised to learn the report had already been submitted. “I guess we thought that was a little bit backwards to do it that way but that is the way she has gone about it, so we agreed to be as cooperative as possible and review what she has come up with.” As Long understands the situation, once the report has approval from the NSHA and the minister, it will be brought to the community for comment and adjustments. “To be fair,” said Long, “we’ll reserve our judgement on things until we see it. It just didn’t seem like a real process of consultation. My understanding, most of the consultation was done within the health authority’s parameters and really wasn’t as extensive in the community as some people would have liked to have seen.” During the meeting, Hampton reportedly said that she thought the people in the area would be pleased with the report and that there was no recommendation to close the hospitals in Guysborough and Canso. Long said, “There is no indication of what the hospitals would look like, what the services would be, but it wouldn’t be a recommendation for closure. That part is a positive. But we’ll wait and see what the structure is going to look like.” More information should be forthcoming this week and Long said, “I think the idea is that once it is presented (to the citizens’ group), it will be out there for public consumption – for people to look at and make their opinions known.… If it is not something that is palpable to the community then certainly the municipality will have something to say about it and surely the individual citizens will let their feelings be known.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
European football teams face losing up to $10 billion due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest forecast of the umbrella organization for clubs on the continent. Supporters have been kept out of stadiums in Europe's main leagues longer than anticipated as the second wave of COVID-19 cases has devastated the continent. Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus chairman who leads the European Club Association, said it would be “extremely difficult" to see spectators being allowed back in this season. There have also been rebates to broadcasters and sponsors due to the pandemic after some leagues, including France, were abandoned last season and others paused for up to three months. “When I look at the best information I’ve had so far, we’re looking at a bottom-line loss for the industry in the region of €6.5 billion ($7.9 billion) to €8.5 billion ($10.3 billion) for the combined two years," Agnelli said on a News Tank Football virtual event on Wednesday. Italy — like England — had brought a small number of fans back into some stadiums but had to prohibit access again as part of a national effort to contain the resurgence of coronavirus cases. There are concerns about the financial impact on the value of broadcast rights to games. “About 360 clubs (in Europe) will need cash injections, whether it’s debt or equity within those two years, for an amount of €6 billion ($7.2 billion)," Agnelli said. Just as the ECA is in talks with UEFA about the distribution of Champions League revenue, Agnelli is painting a gloomier picture of the state of club finances than Deloitte. The accountancy firm reported this week that the top 20 revenue-generating clubs lost around €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) last season and their turnover could drop by €2 billion ($2.4 billion) in this campaign. “The revenue that’s been missed out on is driven by the lack of fans in the stadium, the lack of interaction on a match day — fans spending in the club shop and buying food and drink — and there is an element that relates to revenue that broadcasters have either clawed back (or deferred) to next year," said Tim Bridge of Deloitte. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
BERLIN — A survivor of the Holocaust and a young Jewish immigrant spoke about their lives in Germany at a special parliamentary session Wednesday commemorating the victims of the Holocaust 76 years after the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland. Charlotte Knobloch, 88, and Marina Weisband, 33, told lawmakers on International Holocaust Remembrance Day how their lives as Jews in Germany are still far from normal, almost eight decades after the Nazis and their henchmen murdered 6 million European Jews in the Shoah. Knobloch, the president of the Jewish Community of Munich, looked back at her life from when she was a little girl and had to hide from the Nazis under a false identity. “I lost my homeland, I fought for it and I reclaimed it,” she said. “Today, I am standing here in front of you as a proud German,” she told lawmakers. But Knobloch also warned of democracy's fragility and asked lawmakers to protect the achievements of the last decades for both Jews and non-Jews and defend Germany against extremists. “I'm asking you, please watch out for our country,” she said. Both Knobloch and Weisband warned of resurging anti-Semitism in Germany, especially while false claims of Jewish responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic abound online and at anti-government protests. “It is still dangerous for us to be visible as Jews in Germany,” Weisband, who immigrated from Ukraine as a child, said. She described how Jews are under constant police protection whether during visits to the synagogue, in school or at university clubs. However, Weisband also expressed hope that one day Jewish life may become normal again in Germany, “and then we can simply be human beings.” Following the speeches in parliament, several high-ranking government officials bore witness in the prayer room of parliament as a rabbi put the finishing touches on a carefully restored Torah scroll. In the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and others, Rabbi Shaul Nekrich wrote the last 12 letters of the Sulzbacher Torah Scroll, one of Germany's oldest Torah scrolls. The Torah was created in 1792 in Bavaria and survived a city fire in Sulzbach in 1822, and the so-called Night of Broken Glass in 1938, when Germans across the country destroyed synagogues and killed Jews. After the end of World War II, the Torah scroll stood unnoticed for around 70 years in the shrine of the Amberg synagogue in Bavaria, until it was discovered again in 2013. The faded letters and animal skin of the Torah were carefully restored for 45,000 euros ($54,520) with German federal funds in Israel and the Torah will now be used again in services at the Jewish community in Amberg. Kirsten Grieshaber, The Associated Press
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
COUNTRY HARBOUR – Better now than during the summer is the general reaction from people in the Country Harbour area when it was announced last week (Jan. 20) that the Country Harbour ferry would continue to be out of service – due to mechanical problems – until May, when a new ferry comes into service. The Stormont II served as a link between the communities of Country Harbour and Port Bickerton for more than 40 years and was scheduled for replacement in May; a schedule the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says is on track. The cable ferry makes 13,000 voyages a year carrying 25,000 passengers and 15,000 vehicles but traffic is greatly reduced over the winter months. Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) Councillor Rickey McLaren, whose district includes Country Harbour, told The Journal that he had not gotten any calls about the disruption to service. If service were stopped in the summer, he expected there might have been more of a reaction. That’s a sentiment shared by the local stores in the Country Harbour area; Smokey Hollow General Store and Rhynold's Gas and Convenience. Paul MacLennan of Smokey Hollow General told The Journal that the temporary closure of the Country Harbour ferry at this time of year made little difference in his business but added if it had happened in the summer, tourism would be affected. At Rhynold’s store there was similar comment, with the exception that one of the part-time employees now has to add 30 minutes’ drive to her commute. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Lloyd Hines, who is also MLA for the Country Harbour area, said in the TIR press release, “This is disappointing news, especially during a year that has already been hard…We had hoped the old ferry would takes us through to the arrival of the brand new ferry. The Stormont II served the community well for more than 40 years, but unfortunately the mechanical issues are significant." The Stormont II has been out of service since November. During the pause in service, a detour has been in place. It runs from Port Bickerton, on Route 211, to Route 7 and then to Melrose Country Harbour Road and onto Route 316. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
A motion to prohibit fossil fuel producers and sellers from sponsoring city events or advertising on city property has been withdrawn unanimously at Regina's city council. At the executive committee meeting a week ago, councillors voted 7-4 in favour of a motion that would prevent fossil fuel companies from sponsoring city events, advertising or buying naming rights for city buildings. City administration said in a report that these sponsorships are expected to produce between $100,000 to $250,000 in net revenue annually for the city. Coun. Dan LeBlanc says he proposed the motion because the city has a policy to be energy sustainable by 2050, and it's up to the current council to help reach that goal. "I heard from a lot of people in the last week, and most of those I heard from support sustainability and understand that we need to get moving on it," LeBlanc said. "Despite support, I don't think this is one to push on. We don't have enough support at this point. I think taking a step back, let us cast a wider net for sustainability." Ward 4 Coun. Lori Bresciani, who had voted against the ban, says council reversing the decision was admirable and she thanked the councillors who did. "It's listening to your residents," Bresciani said. "And I will speak for all of the councillors that are here that have done that and vocally said that, 'You know what? We made a mistake. We heard you loud and clear,' and that is the job of a councillor." A total of 20 delegations, including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Canadian Labour Congress. Krystal Lewis, one of two delegations who spoke in favour of the amendment, says climate change is an important issue with voters. "Young people want movement on this and they are less afraid than us to talk about it," said Lewis, a member of the Regina Public Interest Research Group that advocates for climate change action. "I hope that we can be a lot more courageous in our thinking and not be afraid despite some backlash or negative feedback, we still need to move forward with these conversations. "We owe it not just to ourselves, but all of these young folks and leaders of tomorrow who will be dealing with the consequences of our decisions today." Twenty of the 21 delegations spoke against the amendment, including John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. Hopkins requested the council defeat the amendment. "The Saskatchewan energy sector is vital to our province. It is one of our big economic factors employing thousands of unionized workers as well as businesses," Hopkins said. "These employees are family, friends and neighbours." Hopkins says energy companies are using unique and innovative ways to reduce emissions and their carbon footprints. The fossil fuel producer and seller change wasn't the only amendment to the policy. Executive committee had also approved prohibiting political candidates or parties from sponsoring city events. On Wednesday, council voted unanimously to allow political parties or candidates to advertise or sponsor events as long as they indicated who it was paid by. Report on ew process for approving downtown parking lots postponed 'City council was set to discuss a report showing that 46.7 per cent of Regina's private land downtown is currently either surface parking or structured parkades. However it was pushed to the next meeting due to time constraints. If approved, the report would create a new process for approving new downtown lots and decommissioning lots when the allotted time ran out. The report was commissioned by the previous city council in August. It had asked city administration to look into amending the official Design Regina community plan to accommodate temporary surface parking lots. City administration looked into allowing lots for three to five years, researched how other cities consider downtown surface lots and consulted with the Regina and Downtown Business Improvement District, downtown property owners and developers. Administration also looked into how to decommission a temporary parking lot. Regina city councils have previously approved three temporary parking lots. The report shows none of them went on to be developed as expected. One such site is at 1755 Hamilton Street. It was approved as a three-year temporary parking lot in 2012, but was supposed to be developed afterward. It remains a vacant lot. A second is at 1840 Lorne Street. In 2015, it was approved for a three-year term. In 2019, another three-year term was approved. It is still a parking lot. "There is a risk that allowing surface parking lots, even on a temporary basis, would cause several demolitions downtown if left uncontrolled," city administration said in the report. Administration is recommending limiting future temporary surface parking lots and creating an underutilized land improvement strategy to redevelop existing sites.
If you have high-interest consumer debt, getting control of your money in the new year might sound overwhelming. Most Americans say the COVID-19 outbreak has caused financial stress, according to a survey released in October by the National Endowment for Financial Education, with 30% listing debt as their top stressor. Despite the pandemic, you can still pay down your debt with the right plan. Here’s how. CONFRONT YOUR DEBT The first step is simple, but it can be the hardest: You have to face the problem. Angela Moore, a Miami-based certified financial planner and founder of Modern Money Advisor, which offers virtual advising and education for consumers, says it’s common for her clients to know they’re in debt but not know how much. She recommends compiling your debt onto one document or spreadsheet, listing all balances, minimum payments and interest rates. Though the task is daunting, most of her clients feel relief once it’s finished. “Debt is an emotional burden,” she says, “but a lot of times that overwhelm goes away once you have clarity.” COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDERS After listing your debt, it’s time to get on the phone with your creditors. Ask for a temporarily lowered interest rate, reduced monthly payment or waived late fees. Make sure to explain how the pandemic has influenced your finances. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, says Dan Herron, a California-based CFP at Elemental Wealth Advisors. “It doesn’t hurt to say, ‘I’m still trying to do the right thing, I’m still trying to make payments. Where can we meet in the middle?’” he says. Any break you get, take that money and apply it to your debt. If you need help negotiating, contact a credit counsellor at a reputable non-profit organization, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Counselors have relationships with creditors and can negotiate on your behalf. Services are typically free for those experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. CONSIDER CONSOLIDATING If you have multiple types of debt, such as loans, credit cards and medical bills, you may want to take out an unsecured personal loan to consolidate it into one monthly payment. A consolidation loan is a good idea only if you can qualify for a lower interest rate than those on your current debts. Some lenders have tightened their approval standards in the pandemic, but borrowers with good to excellent credit (690 FICO or higher) should have a good shot. Look for a lender that specializes in debt consolidation and offers perks like direct payments to creditors or rate discounts for automated payments. If you have credit card debt, you could apply for a balance transfer card. Though these cards typically charge a 3% to 5% fee, they offer an introductory 0% interest period, so all payments go toward your principal, which helps you pay off debt faster. You’ll likely need good credit to qualify. Charles Ho, a California-based CFP and founder of Legacy Builders Financial, urges caution for some consumers. Though consolidation tools can save money, they also free up your credit cards for more spending. “It might make mathematical sense to consolidate your loans, but the math is meaningless if we don’t account for our behaviour and end up almost doubling our debt,” he says. PICK A STRATEGY AND STICK TO IT If you choose not to consolidate, there are two common methods for approaching debt payoff: the snowball or avalanche. With the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debt first, while making minimum payments on the others, then move to the second smallest and so on. The avalanche method uses the same strategy, but you start with the debt that has the highest interest rate. According to Herron, the avalanche method may get you to the finish line faster since the money you save on interest can be applied to other debts, but it’s more important to pick the method that motivates you the most. BREAK THE CYCLE As you make your way out of debt, start to automate your finances. Moore has her clients set up automatic bill payments and savings contributions, so the money is put aside without having to think about it. If finances are tight in the pandemic, build toward a $500 emergency fund. She also advises clients to use a separate account for nonessential spending — 30% of your post-tax income is a good target to hit in this account. Clients can use the money to buy whatever they want, but once it’s at $0, “that’s it,” she says. “By automating and creating systems, it helps you stick to your financial strategy and take the emotional aspect out of it. That’s the key.” ______________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Jackie Veling is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. RELATED LINKS NerdWallet: Compare debt consolidation loans http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-debt-consolidation-loans National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Get help for debt https://www.nfcc.org/ Jackie Veling Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
Quantum Genetix, a laboratory licensed to perform COVID-19 testing in Saskatchewan for profit, has expanded its licence to include anyone in the province who is asymptomatic and wishes to be tested. The Saskatoon lab started processing samples at the beginning of December. At that time the company was only doing travel- and business-related testing in Saskatchewan. Testing kits are $150 and results are emailed to clients within 48 hours. For same-day rush service, testing kits are $250. Quantum Genetix has been very busy since December, according to Heather Deobald, the lab's general manager. The lab has served more than 100 businesses and more than 1,000 travelers so far. "We requested to have our licence expanded because from the start we've been getting requests from Saskatchewan residents who didn't fall under the business or travel related scope that we were given our licence through." Individuals and businesses can order testing kits by mail from Quantum Genetix. Kits contain self-administered nasal and oral swabs, and detailed instructions on how to use them. "Before we were able to do the testing, people were struggling sometimes with having turnaround times that they could utilize and still be able to go out and do their work or whatever they needed the test for," said Deobald. "So I think people are just relieved that they had another option." Deobold says there are many reasons Sask. residents are willing to pay for a quick test. "People waiting for surgery, people who have compassion permission to go into a care facility, families with immunocompromised family members. Single family members who are having another family member come into their home. Or two single people wanting to get together," said Deobald. After receiving the kit, clients can either courier their specimen to the Saskatoon laboratory or drop it off on-location at a kiosk there. Deobald said Quantum Genetix is working on making the process easier for anyone in the province, including those in the north. "We're actually right now working with another private business in Saskatchewan who will help us to expand into all areas of the province," she said. "We should have the news on that and more information on that hopefully next week."
It's a sight familiar to anyone who's driven into or out of Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge — a woman in a bright red bikini, next to a massive number 4. For decades, Studio 4 has greeted millions of drivers entering Canada or heading to the United States; its risqué sign a distinctive —and for some an unwelcome — landmark. But the sign you can't miss won't be there for much longer. The strip club has been sold. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I think if they demolish it or something I want to be there," said Peter Barth, who had owned the bar since 1984. Negotiations for the lot at the corner of Huron Church and Tecumseh roads began last year, according to Iyman Meddoui, president of Westdell Development Corporation, which bought the property. Both Brath and Meddoui declined to say how much the site sold for, but land registry documents show it was transferred on Jan 21 for $1,250,000. Plans for something 'completely different' The new owners won't say just yet what's coming to the site — but it won't be a strip club. "Our plans are going to be something completely different," said Meddoui. "We do have an exciting development that's under the planning." The company has applied to demolish the red building covered in signs currently advertising the XXXTASY LOUNGE, he added. "Saying that it was rough is putting it lightly. It looked like there wasn't much investment made there for many years now." Knocking down Studio 4 means the loss of a landmark — for better or worse. It was part of Windsor's exotic dancer heyday in the 1980s, when roughly a dozen strip clubs were operating and the city was dubbed "Tijuana North" by American visitors, said local historian Marty Gervais. "When you drive off the bridge and you see Studio 4 it's part of our Sin City image and people have always talked about it." The history of catering to partiers who streamed across the river dates back to Confederation when the city boasted the "best bawdy houses in North America," he explained. During prohibition, Windsor offered dance halls and a place to get a drink. More recently, it's attracted visitors with fully-nude dancing, Cuban cigars and a legal drinking age of 19. "We were constantly feeding thirsty Americans with what they wanted, which they couldn't get on the Detroit side of the border," said Gervais. Studio 4, and its salacious sign is part of that history. "It's very much a part of Windsor life. It just seems to have always been there," he said. Sign survived councillors and controversy But the sign, much like the club it stands outside, has had to weather controversy. Alan Halberstadt is a former newspaper columnist and city councillor. He remembers his council colleague, Caroline Postma, leading a crusade to "get that half-naked sign down because she felt it was against the city's sensibilities." Halberstadt said he wasn't happy about the sign either, but over time he got used to it. "After a while it becomes … kind of a Windsor insignia or landmark," he said, adding he believes any concerns about damage it may have done to the city's image is "overblown." "There's a lot of politicians and people that would have liked to see that sign come down, but she's stood the test of time," he said with a wry smile. Tussles with councillors and police officers enforcing the no-touching rule are among memories that were top of mind for Brath on Tuesday. He doesn't have any worries about his sign being a bad first impression of Windsor, or Canada for that matter. "We were right in their face, right on the corner," he said. The sign that's so recognizable today was also once a little more risque. "We had to draw on panties and a bra," said the former owner. "Originally, it was showing a little bit more." Strip clubs have been shut down by COVID-19, but even before the pandemic, Brath, who's 80 now, said business wasn't what it once was. Gone are the days of limousines pulling up out front, seven servers working non-stop and a lineup that extended beyond the canopy snaking out the back door. "The first week we were full, full, full," he said. "Lately? Nothing. Adult entertainment in Windsor is dead." Studio 4's new owners are planning to turn the site into a shopping development, he added. A 'fresh new look' coming to sign Meddoui was tight-lipped about his company's plans, saying they're still being developed. Westdell has also purchased an empty lot next to the club, along with the University and Ambassador shopping centres across the street. They're planning to "transform" the intersection over the next couple of years, said Meddoui. As for the sign? He's promising a very different look in the meantime. "You'll see a fresh new look on that sign on an interim basis," he said. "As the building will be removed, the sign will also be rebranded."
The Writers' Trust of Canada is renaming its annual fiction award after co-founders and literary power couple Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson.In a news release Wednesday, organizers announced that the prestigious honour will now be known as the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.The name change comes with a $10,000 increase in prize money, with future winners set to receive $60,000. Atwood and Gibson, who were partners for more than a half-century until Gibson's death in 2019, were among the wordsmiths who co-founded the Writers' Trust in 1976.In a statement, playwright and fellow co-founder David Young says the prize is a "perfect" way to honour their commitment to Canada's literary culture.Since 1997, the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize has been handed out to the author of the year's best novel or short story collection. Previous winners include Andre Alexis, Emma Donoghue, Lawrence Hill, Alice Munro and Austin Clarke.The finalists for the 2021 prize will be announced on Sept. 28, and the winner will be named on Nov. 3.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press