Cold, frosty water flows over Niagara Falls as seen from right along the edge of the cliff.
Cold, frosty water flows over Niagara Falls as seen from right along the edge of the cliff.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Pfizer Inc told Canada on Tuesday it will receive no coronavirus vaccines next week, officials said, an unexpected development that promises more pain for provinces already complaining about a shortage of supplies. Pfizer said last week it would slow production in late January and early February because of changes in manufacturing processes, resulting in a supply cut for Canada and European Union nations. Canada had already predicted last week that Pfizer shipments would be cut in half over the next month.
LONDON — A collection of teeter-totters that briefly allowed children on both sides of the US-Mexico border wall to play together has won a prize from London’s Design Museum. The three hot-pink seesaws were installed through the slats of the wall, with one seat in the El Paso, Texas suburb of Sunland Park, New Mexico, and the other in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The artwork was put up on July 28, 2019, and removed from the politically charged border barrier after less than an hour. The Design Museum named the project Tuesday as the overall winner of the Beazley Designs of the Year competition for 2020, which considered 74 projects by designers from around the world. Teeter-Totter Wall was designed by California architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello with help from Colectivo Chopeke, an artists’ collective in Juarez. “It encouraged new ways of human connection and struck a chord that continues to resonate far beyond El Paso in the USA and Juarez in Mexico,’’ museum director Tim Marlow said in announcing the prize. “It remains an inventive and poignant reminder of how human beings can transcend the forces that seek to divide us.” The teeter-totters were installed amid the heated debate over U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the almost 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. “We thought this would be a moment to show to the world a very important reality of the border, which is that the border isn’t a desolate place where no one lives,” Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, told a university publication in 2019. “This is a world where women live and children live and that we can use play as a kind of vehicle for activism.” Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
This dynamic Northern Lights display shone in the winter sky near the Finnish town of Muonio, by the Swedish border.
RICHMOND, Va. — Two Virginia Democratic lawmakers are spearheading a push to repeal a decades-old law that allows the state to hold certain sex offenders at psychiatric facilities indefinitely after their criminal sentences if they are deemed “sexually violent predators.” Critics say civil commitment laws are fundamentally unfair and violate the constitutional prohibition against punishing someone twice for the same crime. Supporters counter that the laws protect society from repeat offenders who are unable to control their behaviour. Sen. Joe Morrissey and Del. Patrick Hope, both Democrats, are co-sponsoring legislation that would end the state’s authority to civilly commit sex offenders. “It is as archaic and as Neanderthal a process as I can imagine," said Morrissey, a defence attorney and lead patron of the bill that would repeal 1999's Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act. “We don't sentence people because of what they might do,” he said. “That's abhorrent to everything that our democracy and our criminal justice system believes in.” Twenty states and the federal government now have civil commitment laws, which have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Morrissey's bill is drawing criticism from Republicans and raising eyebrows among some Democrats who believe the state should retain the ability to commit the most serious sex offenders. “The civil commitment of sexual predators appears to be well within constitutional bounds, and there is no reason to believe it’s not working to make sure that dangerous people do not have access to future victims as long as they remain a threat to the public,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert. The process begins with an initial screening by the Department of Correction. Based on that, offenders deemed likely to reoffend are given a psychological evaluation and additional review by an interagency committee. That group then makes a recommendation on whether the state attorney general should seek civil commitment. A judge or a jury makes the ultimate decision on whether to commit or release an offender. Offenders who are committed are sent to the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, where about 405 people are currently housed and a 258-bed expansion is underway. Attorney General Mark Herring's office says inmates are placed in a “secure, intensive, inpatient sex offender treatment program,” while critics say it's a place where sex offenders are forced to serve a second prison term. Offenders are entitled to an annual review hearing for the first five years and every two years after that, when a court decides whether the person remains sexually dangerous and needs to stay at the facility or can be released with monitoring and supervision. Since 2003 — when the law was first funded by the legislature — through October 2020, Virginia had a total of 689 civil commitments after final disposition as a sexually violent predator. During that same time period, the state granted 410 conditional releases from civil commitment. The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services said the recidivism rate for people released from the centre is currently estimated at about 2%. “If you look at our discharge numbers, despite claims, people are not held here indefinitely. They receive good treatment and it results in a reduction in recidivism and safety in the community," said Facility Director Jason Wilson. Critics say the process of deciding who will be committed is rife with speculation by state-hired experts trying to predict who will commit crimes in the future. Galen Baughman has spent years trying to repeal civil commitment laws around the country. Baughman spent 6 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to nonviolent sexual misconduct involving offences that occurred when he was 14 and 19. As he was completing his sentence, the state moved for civil commitment, and he was held for another 2 1/2 years while awaiting a trial. The jury found he was not a “sexually violent predator” and he was released on probation. Four years later, he was arrested on a technical probation violation after he exchanged text messages with a teenage boy he met at the funeral of a mutual friend. Baughman, who is gay, said there was no sexual content in his text messages with the heterosexual boy. The state moved to revoke his probation, and a judge sentenced Baughman to 21 months in jail. When the state then tried to civilly commit Baughman for a second time, a psychologist hired by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services found that Baughman was not a "sexually violent predator." But Attorney General Mark Herring then retained another psychologist who said Baughman met the criteria to be labelled sexually dangerous. In 2019, the jury, which was not allowed to hear testimony from two defence psychiatrists or from the first expert who found that Baughman was not dangerous, found that Baughman was eligible for commitment as a sexually violent predator. Baughman has asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to hear his appeal. “This is anyone's worst nightmare — getting locked up, with no exit, with the government claiming it's ‘treating’ you," he said. "The state is trying to punish you for what you might do in the future. This turns the Constitution upside down.” Denise Lavoie, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — R&B star Jazmine Sullivan and country singer Eric Church will join forces to sing the national anthem at the next month’s Super Bowl, where Grammy-winning singer H.E.R. will perform “America the Beautiful.” The performances will take place Feb. 7 at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa before the big game and halftime show starring The Weeknd. It will air on CBS. Deaf rapper and recording artist Warren “WAWA” Snipe will perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” in American Sign Language. Emmy-nominated musical director Adam Blackstone will arrange and produce Church and Sullivan’s rendition of the national anthem. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company is executive producing the halftime show for a second year. Jesse Collins, who has produced the BET Awards and is working on this year’s Grammys and Oscars telecasts, will serve as an executive producer. Sullivan rose to the top of the R&B charts in 2008 with her debut single and album. She’s earned 12 Grammy nominations and written songs for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Monica. Her new album, “Heaux Tales,” debuted at No. 4 on this week’s all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart. Church, a 10-time Grammy nominee, released his debut album in 2006 and has topped the country charts with songs like “Drink In My Hand,” “Springsteen,” “Talladega” and “Record Year.” He’s released multiple multiplatinum and platinum albums and was named entertainer of the year at last year’s Country Music Association Awards. H.E.R. won two Grammys in 2019 and has earned critical acclaim for her live performances, including her work as a guitarist. She’s won honours at the MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards and Soul Train Music Awards and launched R&B hits such as “Focus,” “Best Part,” “Slide,” “Damage” and “B.S.” with Jhené Aiko. Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
B.C.'s provincial health officer declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver officially over. Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the end of the outbreak, which claimed the lives of 17 McKinney Place residents, Monday during the province's regularly scheduled press conference in Victoria. A total of 23 staff members and 54 of the 59 residents who lived at McKinney Place at the beginning of the outbreak had tested positive. "We are very thankful that McKinney place has been under control. That was a very challenging outbreak in Interior Health and we know 17 people in the McKinney Place community lost their lives to COVID in that outbreak," Henry said. Interior Health announced residents at both McKinney Place and Sunnybank Retirement Centre received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 8 Minister of Health Adrian Dix touched on the end of four outbreaks in long-term care across the province Monday, including McKinney Place. "I can tell you from my own experience and the experience of every family member, every resident in long-term care, that the day an outbreak is declared is a very, very difficult day indeed and the day that it is declared over is a day of some relief," Dix said. "Not that the pandemic is over, but that this period, this moment in the pandemic has changed. I'm thinking of everybody who has lost someone at those care homes, everyone who has been through that experience even if they were not diagnosed positive with COVID-19, everyone who works in those care homes, we are thinking of them today on what is I would say a better day in all of those places, a day when those outbreaks have been declared over." An outbreak is declared over when two incubation periods, or 28 days, have passed from the last onset of symptoms in a resident. “I want to thank our staff for their commitment and dedication during this challenging outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care,” said Susan Brown, Interior Health president and CEO. “Everyone stepped up to ensure the people living at McKinney Place received the best possible care, and on behalf of everyone at Interior Health, we send our condolences to the families who lost a loved one during this difficult time.” All eligible residents and staff at McKinney Place have been offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. Additional death at Sunnybank Interior Health reported Monday an additional death at Sunnybank Retirement Centre, marking the second COVID-19 related death at the facility. Sunnybank now has 34 cases: 26 residents and eight staff. Interior Health sees 257 new cases in three days The province reported on new cases over a three-day period Monday. From Jan. 15 to 16 there were 584 new cases province-wide, from Jan. 16 to 17 there were 445 new cases and in the last 24 hours 301 new cases have been diagnosed. Of the new cases, 257 are in the Interior Health region. Across B.C. there are 4,326 active cases of COVID-19, 343 in hospital, 68 of whom are in intensive care. There are 6,865 people under active public health monitoring province-wide. Over the last three days, 31 people died from COVID-19, four of whom in the Interior Health region. A total of 1,078 people have died from COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began, a majority of which are seniors in long-term care. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Pfizer's temporary slowdown of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Canada is forcing Quebec to make adjustments to its short-term vaccination goals, including reducing the number of doses to be administered. Pfizer is temporarily scaling back deliveries to Canada as part of plans to expand its long-term manufacturing capacity at its facility in Belgium. Last Friday, Health Minister Christian Dubé tweeted that Quebec would only receive about half of about 176,000 doses it was expecting to receive from the manufacturer within the next three weeks. In a statement released Tuesday, the Health Ministry said the province's target of providing 250,000 doses by Feb. 8, has been lowered to 225,000, but it is still promising to provide second doses within a maximum of 90 days to people who have had their first shot. The Quebec government has been criticized of late for its decision to not administer the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines within the manufacturers' prescribed time-frame — 21 and 28 days for the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines, respectively. Some long-term care residents at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte St-Luc have even threatened legal action, demanding that they receive their second dose as soon as possible. Health Minister Christian Dubé has insisted that spreading out first doses to as many people as possible is the right way to go. Quebec's Health Ministry says its plans to finish vaccinating people living in long-term care homes by next Monday remains unchanged, with 75 per cent of residents having already received a shot. Once that is done, much of the vaccination campaign's focus will shift to private seniors' homes, but the ministry says the 21,000 doses now set to be given out by Feb. 8 is fewer than originally planned. The province had planned to vaccinate 160,000 health-care workers by then, but that number is expected to be reduced to 127,000. The target for people living in remote regions remains the same.
The body of a 41-year-old Grand Manan man reported missing earlier this month has been found in Nova Scotia, West District RCMP say. The body was discovered on Jan. 15 on the shore near Central Grove, about 55 kilometres north of Digby. The man was last seen Jan. 7 on Red Point Road on Grand Manan. The RCMP searched for him, but the search was scaled back Jan. 12. In a statement at the time, Sgt. Christopher Henderson said "information gathered has led us to believe there is a strong likelihood that he could be in the water." RCMP said an autopsy was completed Monday and criminality was not a factor in the death.
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
A North Battleford man arrested by the RCMP Gang Task Force pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and weapons charges. Trevor Cummer, 39, entered guilty pleas in North Battleford Provincial Court Jan. 19 to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a knife for a dangerous purpose, and possession of proceeds of crime. At the federal Crown prosecutor’s request, Judge Daniel O’Hanlon stayed all charges against Cummer’s co-accused Ashlyn Paules. Cummer and Paules were arrested after RCMP executed a search warrant at a residence in the 700 block of 100 Street in North Battleford in October 2020. Police say when Cummer was arrested he had 22 grams of crack cocaine on him, hydromorphone, cash and weapons. During the search police say they found more evidence of drug trafficking. Paules was arrested at the residence and Cummer was arrested on his way to the residence. The search warrant came after a drug trafficking investigation the North Battleford RCMP Gang Task Force/Street Enforcement Team began at the end of September 2020. The Crown told the court they are proceeding by way of Indictment, instead of the less serious summary conviction. Judge O’Hanlon told Cummer there, “will be jail” time. Defence lawyer Jonathan Bodvarson asked the court for a sentencing date of March 9 “so (Cummer) can get his affairs in order.” Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
En intégrant le « taxi squad » des Penguins de Pittsburgh, le défenseur chamblyen de 21 ans, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, alias « P.O. » pour les intimes, flirte avec la Ligue nationale de hockey (LNH) et joue dans l’anneau de glace des grands. La saison 2020-21 de la Ligue nationale de hockey (LNH) a été entamée le 13 janvier dernier et réduite à 56 matchs en raison de la pandémie. Les contraintes amenées par la COVID-19 ayant généré beaucoup d’incertitudes, la LNH permet aux équipes de s’allier avec une escouade de six joueurs supplémentaires, le « taxi squad ». Ils accompagnent alors l’équipe et sont substituables aux joueurs réguliers en cas de problème sanitaire. Un début dans la LNH L’équipe des Penguins de Pittsburgh a donc annoncé, le 11 janvier dernier, qu’elle accueillait six nouveaux joueurs en tant que membres de son escouade de secours, qui s’entraîneraient indépendamment des 23 membres réguliers de la formation, mais qui seraient d’un soutien valorisé. Parmi les six joueurs, on compte quatre québécois, dont Pierre-Olivier Joseph comme seul défenseur. « C’est un avant-goût de ce qui m’attend dans les prochains mois et années; c’est vraiment un bon ‘’step’’! », confie Pierre-Olivier, qui se réjouit également de la chimie qui s’opère déjà entre lui et les autres. « Ça se passe très bien, on passe pas mal de temps ensemble et je peux dire que ce sont de bons compagnons de vie. Dans le squad, on est quatre Québécois, et ça fait du bien des fois de pouvoir parler français aussi entre nous. Je connaissais déjà plusieurs d’entre eux, dont l’attaquant Frédérick Gaudreau, avec qui j’ai joué au golf il y a quelques étés. » Le défi réel Bien que l’expérience soit très emballante, elle n’exclut pas d’avoir à composer avec certaines difficultés, « comme le fait de devoir créer des liens avec l’équipe tout en maintenant une distance appréciable afin de limiter les risques de contagion », explique le jeune homme. Pierre-Olivier est reconnu pour sa constance et sa fluidité sur la glace. Questionné à savoir comment il décrirait ses forces, il répond : « Je pense que je suis un défenseur avec un bon QI. » Il raconte qu’il espère faire officiellement partie de la LNH cette année, car « ce serait un rêve de jeunesse exaucé ».Chloé-Anne Touma, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Journal de Chambly
Health officials in B.C. have not detected a single case of influenza circulating in the community since flu season began, continuing an "exceptional" nationwide trend even as the province sits in the thick of its regular flu season. The B.C. Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) confirmed the non-existent seasonal flu numbers to CBC News on Monday. "It's still a big goose egg in terms of influenza detection provincially. It's really quite exceptional how low the influenza activity is," said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, the lead for influenza and emerging respiratory virus monitoring at the BCCDC. "I've been on the influenza beat for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this ... and that's not for lack of trying." The BCCDC has tested 30,000 samples for influenza this year. Only a dozen of those tests came back positive and all were linked to people who'd received a vaccine, which doesn't count as community spread. By comparison, the centre found 861 positive tests last year with roughly one-third of the testing. B.C.'s experience is reflected across the country. A report from the Public Health Agency of Canada on Thursday said there hasn't been enough influenza cases to even declare that the 2020-21 flu season has begun in Canada. The statistics have calmed fears of health experts across Canada who worried a second wave of COVID-19 would arrive just as seasonal flu infections began to spread, creating an overwhelming "twindemic" this winter. "We are trying to find that [influenza] virus, but so far, nothing — which is good news," said Skowronski. COVID-19 measures caused 'dramatic drop-off' The 30,000 tests run for the flu this year is four times the average number of tests B.C. has done over the past five flu seasons. The dozen positive results were all connected to people who'd received the "live attenuated" flu vaccine, which is made from weakened influenza virus and delivered by nasal spray. "It's not unusual to pick up the vaccine virus in the nose swab," Skowronski said. "What is unexpected is to find no influenza viruses otherwise at all in the province." Flu season typically peaks in B.C. in December and January. Skowronski said public health measures taken to slow COVID-19 — like handwashing, physical distancing, mask-wearing and reduced travel — are likely what's thwarted the regular flu. "We saw a dramatic drop-off in influenza activity almost as soon as we implemented those public health measures last March. We were experiencing an influenza epidemic then and as soon as those measures were in place, it was like influenza fell off a cliff ... and it's been like that ever since," she said. Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu comes from influenza viruses, while COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. As for whether the public health measures should remain in place to ease flu season even after COVID-19 is under control, Skowronski said it's an idea for health officials to consider. "I think it would be useful to take stock of the measures and what's worked, but it's a balance. Some of those measures are quite extreme and are put in place because, ultimately, the SARS-COoV-2 virus is not the influenza virus," she said. "It takes a much greater toll in terms of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths than typical influenza season virus does. "We'll have to weigh the benefits and the costs of those measures."
A local business owner is allowing young entrepreneurs to display their work on her shelves. Top Notch Custom Kreations owner Shannon Deveau is happy to encourage young Hatters to get creative and start their own businesses. “At the moment we have eight young entrepreneurs selling different stuff at the store,” she said. “All of them are between the age of six to 16. Each has their own shelf at the store, and they each have a little bio on their shelf that says a little about them.” There is a wide range of products being sold by the young entrepreneurs including jewellery, hoodies, beanies, spray paint canvases, toques, crayons and more. Deveau decided to offer the space as a way to keep kids busy during the ongoing pandemic. “I know a lot of kids have had their activities cancelled or postponed because of COVID,” she said. “I work with kids during the day and have heard from parents how bored some of the kids are. “I think this is a great way to encourage kids to make something and have fun with it. It’s even better because they can make a bit of money.” The entrepreneurs debuted their goods at the store earlier this month and Deveau says they are seeing success. “It’s a tough month to start this, but they’re doing well,” she said. “I know one of the girls who makes necklaces has sold 17 so far.” Deveau says products will be rotated on the store shelves every few months based on how much demand there is for space. She added that there are still a few spots open for young entrepreneurs to claim. Those interested can reach out to Top Notch Custom Kreations on Facebook or Instagram. Top Notch is located at 656 Third St. SE downtown. Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Shelburne Council have been instructed to investigate the feasibility and implemen-tation of a proposed expansion of the Grey County Transit to include weekend bus service.The direction came after a report was presented to Council from CAO Denyse Morrissey regarding the extension. The possibility does exist to imple-ment the service, from Southgate through Dundalk to Orangeville and the cost would be $60,000. It was noted that the project could be done on a month to month basis.Currently, in the 2021 Budget, there are two expenditures for Transit which could be realigned to pay for a five month pilot project to see weekend bus service from Dundalk to Orangeville, via Shelburne. The two items are $25,000 for two pro-posed bus shelters and another $8,000 for the winter maintenance of these shelters. The proposed realignment would see the $25,000 used to fund the service and the $8,000 spend on marketing the extended service. The times for the weekend routes has yet to be determined, but would be lat-er than the weekly runs due to a different ridership.Two potential issues are that there is no GO service from Orangeville on weekends and Orangeville’s transit does not operate on Sundays. In addition, with the current COVID shutdown, the two stops current-ly in Orangeville are not really useful, as the services at those stops are currently closed. Added to this, the expected in-creased COVID restrictions from the Prov-ince, will further hamper the service. CAO Morrissey proposed that the ser-vice not be implemented until the current lockdown is lifted, which could possibly occur in March or April of this year.The pilot project’s five month duration would then see it run for the majority of the functioning year and give a better pic-ture of the usefulness of the idea, under regular conditions. Mayor Mills supports the idea of the weekend service and agreed with the fi-nancing of it. He did however suggest that waiting until the lockdown is lifted makes the most sense, both from a finan-cial and ridership perspective. That way, they would not be paying for an ineffective service that would not be beneficial to the residents or the transit authority.Deputy Mayor Steve Anderson compli-mented Morrissey on her report before asking how the rest of the service could be paid for as it was a total cost for the year of $60,000. The CAO responded that at the moment the plan was to meet with Grey County Transit after two months to evaluate if the service was being successful. Assuming that it was indeed a success, she would come back to Council to see how to pro-ceed. They could investigate if any grants were available, since rider fees do not even cov-er the costs of the normal weekly transit runs. Should further COVID 19 funding be available, potentially it could be used for transit, as it currently is in other commu-nities. Staff could also look at other potential procurement of funds in the 2021 Budget or barring that, search for other alternative sources of funding.With that, Council voted to accept the report as presented and to realign the two proposed amounts in the 2021 Budget to the transit services and marketing.In other news, Council approved the new Borrowing By-law presented by the Treasurer, for $8,897,020 in 2021. This is a mandatory annual by-law which authorizes Council to borrow up to the ap-proved amount in the By-law. This does not mean Council will borrow the nearly $9 million, but instead, it sets their limit for the fiscal year of 2021. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
VANCOUVER — A man and woman have each been fined for pretending to cough on customers in a gym just steps from Vancouver police headquarters. A statement from police says the owner of the gym flagged down two passing constables outside the business Saturday night. He said a man and woman, who were not wearing masks and were not members of the gym, were inside coughing in the general direction of patrons and equipment. A 60-year-old man and his 25-year-old girlfriend told the officers they were only pretending to cough. Police say the couple claimed they reacted because gym members were staring at them. The police statement says both people left the business after being handed $230 tickets for violating the Emergency Program Act by failing to wear a face covering. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two players are among the three latest COVID-19 cases that have emerged from testing conducted on passengers who arrived on charter flights bringing people to Melbourne for the Australian Open. Tournament director Craig Tiley said the players weren't considered to be contagious, though, and hadn't been taken out of the regular quarantine hotels. The first six positive tests were reported over the weekend and connected to flights from Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi and Doha, Qatar. All passengers on those flights, including 72 elite tennis players, were classified by local health authorities as close contacts of people infected with the coronavirus and forced into hard lockdown. That means they're not allowed to leave their hotel rooms for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. The six infected people, including a member of the aircrew on one flight and two coaches on different flights, were transferred to a medical hotel. The Victoria state government announced three new positive tests on Tuesday, the first to involve players. The Australian Associated Press quoted Tiley as saying the health department “will need to confirm that they are viral shedding but I can tell you that they’re not in the medical hotel.” Tennis Australia declined to provide The Associated Press with a list of the 72 affected players, but many have made their status known via posts on social media. More than 1,200 players, coaches, staff, officials and media arrived on flights in a 36-hour period until Saturday morning to prepare for the Australian Open, which starts Feb. 8. Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said some of the cases linked to the tournament will be reclassified as “non-infectious shedding." But the state's chief medical officer, Brett Sutton, later said the reclassification was unlikely to mean any of the 72 players in lockdown — meaning they're not allowed to leave their rooms for daily practice sessions like the broader player group — could leave isolation early. All people travelling to Australia for the tennis tournament had to return a negative test before boarding the charter flights, although there was at least one exemption in the case of the historic shedding. Tennys Sandgren, a two-time quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park, originally tested positive for the coronavirus in November and the Victoria state health authorities determined after reviewing the American player's medical records that he was no longer contagious, although still shedding viral particles. So he was given approval to fly to Australia last week. “My two tests were less than 8 weeks apart. I was sick in November, totally healthy now,” Sandgren wrote on Twitter. “There’s not a single documented case where I would be contagious at this point. Totally recovered!” Some players have used social media to detail their perceived hardships of being in lockdown, some saying they weren't aware of the strict quarantine regulations. “These are high performing athletes and it is hard to keep a high performing athlete in a room,” Tiley said. “This is the contribution that they have to make in order to get the privilege of when they do come out to compete for $80 million ($62 million) in prize money." Organizers had a zoom conference with players on Monday night and Tiley conceded he had faced criticism, saying some of the advance warnings of the risks may have been lost in translation. “There was some big hits that we took but there were also some compliments. The most heartening thing at the end in the chat there was a scroll of thank yous from all the stars and players," Tiley said, according to AAP. "Sometimes the minority have the loudest voices.” Tiley, appearing on Nine Network television on Tuesday, rejected calls from some men’s players to reduce Australian Open matches to best-of-three sets instead of best of five. “We’re a Grand Slam,” Tiley said. “Right now, three out of five sets for the men and two out of three sets for the women is the position we plan on sticking to.” He also defended Novak Djokovic for appealing to Australian Open organizers to ease restrictions in a list reported on Monday, including a request to shift as many players as possible in Melbourne to private residences with tennis courts. Djokovic’s requests were quickly refused by Andrews. “In the case of Novak, he wrote a note, these weren’t demands, they were suggestions,” Tiley said. “But he, too, is understanding what two weeks of lockdown means ... every player coming down knew that if they were going to be close contacts or test positive that these were going to be the conditions.” Djokovic is part of a smaller group of players who landed in the South Australia capital of Adelaide, along with Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal, and are allowed outside for practice sessions under bio-secure protocols. Australia’s international borders are mostly closed, although there are exemptions in special circumstances. All arrivals must do mandatory quarantine. Each of Australia’s states and territories has its own border and travel restrictions, and those can change on very short notice. Victoria state, which has Melbourne as its capital, accounted for 810 of Australia’s 909 deaths from COVID-19, most of those during a deadly second wave three months ago which resulted in curfews and lockdowns for the city. ___ More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Dennis Passa, The Associated Press
Rank, Book Title by Author Name, ISBN, Publisher 1. Bridgerton Collection Volume 1 by Julia Quinn - 9780063045118 - (Avon) 2. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424105 - (Avon) 3. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424037 - (Avon) 4. The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child - 9781538747292 - (Grand Central Publishing) 5. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn - 9780062424075 - (Avon) 6. To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn - 9780062424112 - (Avon) 7. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn - 9780062424082 - (Avon) 8. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn - 9780062424136 - (Avon) 9. Daylight by David Baldacci - 9781538761687 - (Grand Central Publishing) 10. The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher - 9781488076749 - (Graydon House Books) The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Hallie Knight, a high school senior from Jacksonville, Florida, has some well formed ideas about where the country is and how she'd like to see it change. The 17-year-old has won a contest organized by the Academy of American Poets for which students under 18 wrote their own inaugural poems in anticipation of Wednesday's swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden. Applicants for the Inaugural Poem Project were urged to submit work that reflects “on the country’s challenges, strengths, and hope for its future," according to the guidelines. Knight says she "wanted to acknowledge the greatness of the potential for our country at this present moment, and the opportunity we have as citizens to choose what it becomes out of all this chaos.” Inspired by works ranging from W.H. Auden's “As I Walked Out One Evening” to Adrienne Rich's “Storm Warnings,” Knight crafted a piece called “To Rebuild” that likens the U.S. to a house that has been severely but not hopelessly damaged. The work is not complete until The walls protect all who live there, No exceptions. Abandonment of all Unnecessary despair. Knight will receive $1,000, and her work — along with the poems of two runners-up — will be featured on Poets.org and in American Poets magazine. The official inaugural poem will be read during Wednesday's ceremony by Amanda Gorman, the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate. She is 22, just a few years older than Knight. “She is proof to people of all ages, but especially those younger than her, that there is no need to wait to make an impact,” Knight says. A former inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, served as judge for the contest finalists. Blanco said he was impressed by Knight's imagery, likening it to Abraham Lincoln’s famous warning that a “house divided against itself cannot stand.” He added that he was taken by the level of craft Knight and others demonstrated, and by their remarkably unbroken idealism. “Even after everything we've been through the past few years, they're not giving up," says Blanco, who read at the 2013 inaugural of President Barack Obama. “We don't want to sugarcoat what's going on and be a Hallmark kind of poem. We're looking for that balance of truth and hope.” Mina King, a 17-year-old from Shreveport, Louisiana, came in second for “In Pursuit of Dawn," in which she wove in the common American theme of rising from poverty. My stepfather created opportunity from the destitute nothing he was dealt, consoled only by the American dream that came as whispers under snow-dappled stars. And from these muffled mumblings he bettered his situation. The third-place finisher is just 12 years old: Gabrielle Marshall, from Richmond, Virginia. Her “The Power of Hope” acknowledged the country’s profound divisions, and possibilities: Today’s hope is peering beyond the lingering barrier, but still recognizing the diversity in ourselves. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Translators say they are "riddled with auditory injuries" after nine months of interpreting parliamentarians online via fuzzy laptop mics and poor internet connections. The association representing some 70 accredited interpreters who translate English into French and vice versa on Parliament Hill says seven in 10 respondents to a new survey have experienced auditory issues that forced them to go on leave for recovery. The problem persists as MPs prepare to return virtually to the House of Commons next week, even as roughly 15 per cent of staff interpreters remain on leave and a growing number of freelancers also take time off from work. The strain of Zoom-based proceedings has also prompted shorter shifts and more requests for transfer to non-virtual assignments during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a shrinking pool of available translators. Interpreter Nicole Gagnon says she has experienced some hearing loss due to a constant stream of low-quality sound and loud feedback loops, while her colleagues are coping with tinnitus, nausea and headaches. The federal translation bureau did not respond immediately to requests for comment on calls for better sound quality. Many Canadians grapple with the frustrations of daily video conferencing, but Gagnon says the clash of speaking constantly overtop of audio from high-decibel MPs adds a level of physical strain and mental stress that has pushed some to the breaking point. A study last fall found Canada ranked 13th out of 81 countries in the number of acoustic shock incidents suffered by interpreters, with six in 10 Canadian respondents having reported symptoms typical of the trauma. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press