Woodland beach with choppy waves in Tiny, Ont.
Woodland beach with choppy waves in Tiny, Ont.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is expanding its travel restrictions to require all domestic travellers to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the province. Since last June, only people arriving from areas east of Terrace Bay in northern Ontario have been subject to the requirement. But, starting Friday, all out-of-province arrivals will be covered by the public-health measure to help fight the spread of COVID-19. "This is being done out of an abundance of caution to protect Manitobans," Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday. The move is needed because of the growing spread of novel coronavirus variants and because of delays in vaccine supplies, he said. There will be ongoing exceptions for people travelling for essential work and medical care, and a new exemption for residents of border communities who cross into Saskatchewan or Ontario for necessities. Pallister also called on the federal government to tighten rules governing international travellers. He said a ban on non-essential trips, as suggested by Quebec Premier Francois Legault last week, should be on the table. "We believe that a total travel ban may be something the federal government needs to consider seriously," Pallister said. "I respect that the federal government has to make this call and that's why I'm not trying to be overly prescriptive with what Manitoba wants. ... I'm simply adding my voice to those of the premiers who have said, 'Make a decision on this and doing nothing is not an option.'" Pallister also revealed that he had disciplined James Teitsma, a Progressive Conservative caucus member, who travelled with his family to British Columbia in December. The vacation did not contravene any formal public-health orders, but went against advice to avoid non-essential travel. Pallister did not say what discipline Teitsma was subjected to, and Teitsma did not return requests for comment. He sits on cabinet and Legislature committees and receives extra pay as chairman of one. A recently updated list of members of the cabinet committee on economic growth no longer includes Teitsma's name. Manitoba's COVID-19 case count continued its downward trend Tuesday. Health officials reported 92 additional cases and five deaths. Numbers have been dropping since late fall, shortly after the province brought in tight restrictions on public gatherings and store openings. Some of the measures were eased on the weekend to allow small social gatherings in private homes and non-essential store openings with limited capacity. "It's trending the right way again, but we still have a number of people in hospital ... so it still is a burden on the acute-care system," said Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief public health officer. Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he supports the government's expanded travel restrictions, but said the province must build up intensive care units, which are running well above pre-pandemic capacity. "Let's use this time to make the investments in our health care system so that we can withstand what's coming, potentially, as the pandemic drags on," Kinew said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
SASKATOON — Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it will expand its use of a proximity alarm and contact tracing technology to help protect 14,500 of its employees from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Saskatoon-based company says it has rolled out its Proximity Trace equipment, made by U.S.-based Triax Technologies, to more than 8,000 employees to date and expects to introduce it to 6,500 more in coming months, representing 65 per cent of its global employee base. Proximity Trace tags are attached to workers’ clothing or hard hats and produce an audio and visual alert to those who come within two metres of one another. Nutrien says the sensors also automatically log data to allow contact tracing if a positive case is found, helping limit further spread and reassuring those not at risk. The company says the system is expected to help it minimize operational shutdowns and related costs and product delivery delays from disease outbreaks. The first sensors were deployed last July at fertilizer plant sites in the United States. They are now to be employed at Nutrien's potash mines in Saskatchewan and at corporate offices in Colorado, Illinois, Alberta and Saskatchewan. “At the workplace, if you maintain proper physical distancing, then your risk of spreading the virus is very low,” said Dr. Tarek Sardana, a medical expert advising Nutrien, in a company news release. “I encourage people to think of themselves as if they’re living within six-foot bubbles, and if no one penetrates the bubbles, it’s harder for the virus to spread.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:NTR) The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The first inaugurations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were the only ones to exceed Joe Biden's in popularity among television viewers over the past 40 years. The Nielsen company said that 33.8 million people watched Biden's inauguration over 17 television networks between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. last Wednesday. Reagan's festivities in 1981 drew 41.8 million viewers, and Obama's 2009 inaugural reached 37.8 million, Nielsen said. Perhaps most important to a former president known to watch television ratings closely: Biden exceeded the 30.6 million who watched Donald Trump take office in 2017, Nielsen said. CNN was the most popular network for inaugural viewers, Nielsen said. Meanwhile, Fox News' audience for Biden's oath of office and inaugural address was down 77% from the network's viewership for Trump. Meanwhile, the pro football conference championship games gathered people around televisions in big numbers Sunday. Nielsen said 44.8 million people saw Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Bucs qualify for the Super Bowl, while 41.8 million watched Kansas City beat Buffalo. With the prime-time game, CBS easily won the week in the ratings, averaging 10.4 million viewers. ABC had 3.4 million, Fox had 2.7 million, NBC had 2.5 million, Univision had 1.2 million, while Ion Television and Telemundo each averaged 1.1 million viewers. CNN led the cable networks, averaging 2.76 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 2.67 million, Fox News Channel had 2.56 million, TNT had 1.19 million and HGTV had 1.1 million. ABC's “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race, hitting 10.1 million people. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.2 million. For the week of Jan. 18-24, the top 20 prime-time programs, their networks and viewerships: 1. AFC Championship: Buffalo at Kansas City, CBS, 41.85 million. 2. “NFL Post-Game,” CBS, 17.88 million. 3. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 9.64 million. 4. “FBI,” CBS, 8.99 million. 5. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 8.75 million. 6. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.39 million. 7. “911,” Fox, 7.2 million. 8. “Presidential Inauguration" (9 p.m.), CNN, 7.08 million. 9. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.73 million. 10. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC, 6.3 million. 11. “Presidential Inauguration” (8 p.m.), CNN, 6.24 million. 12. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 6.09 million. 13. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 6.03 million. 14. "Magnum, P.I., CBS, 5.86 million. 15. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.81 million. 16. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 5.56 million. 17. “Presidential Inauguration” (10 p.m.), CNN, 5.31 million. 18. “B Positive,” CBS, 5.06 million. 19. “Mom,” CBS, 5.03 million. 20. “The Bachelor,” ABC, 5.02 million. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Out of 99 new positive cases discovered in the Simcoe Muskoka Region, health officials say 97 are linked to a long-term care home in Barrie and all of those people are likely affected by the fast-spreading U.K. variant. There are concerns the highly contagious strain of the virus is more widespread than initially thought. Miranda Anthistle has the details.
HALIFAX — The interruption in the supply of COVID-19 vaccine justifies Nova Scotia's conservative distribution strategy, Premier Stephen McNeil said Tuesday. McNeil defended the province's immunization plan to hold doses back for booster shots, and he voiced concerns about the ongoing availability of vaccine. "We have serious concerns about supply," he told reporters. "We had hoped that we wouldn't be in this situation but we will not be receiving any new doses this week." The premier said vaccinations will continue at some long-term care homes because the province had put doses in reserve for booster shots. As of Monday, 11,622 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the province, with 2,708 people having received their second of two doses. McNeil acknowledged the criticism about his government's approach of holding back doses. Quebec, by contrast, decided against that strategy and instead vaccinated as many people as possible with a single dose. The premier, however, said his main concern has been around the consistency of vaccine supply. "We want to reassure all Nova Scotians that if we give you the first shot you will get the second shot," McNeil said. "Until we see a level of consistency in supply, that's the protocol we are going to continue to follow." Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said Nova Scotia would get no vaccine this week from Pfizer and then 1,950 doses the week of Feb. 1, along with another 5,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine. "Beyond that there is no certainty around the amount of vaccine, whether its Pfizer or Moderna, that we are going to get," Strang said. Strang, however, said the province remained committed to its strategy. He said Nova Scotia feels less pressure compared to other provinces to vaccinate the largest amount of people as quickly as possible. Nova Scotia reported one new case of COVID-19 Tuesday and a total of 11 active reported infections. No one was in hospital with the disease. Strang said science is also solidly behind the approach of giving two doses of vaccine within the 21-to-28-day window prescribed by the manufacturers. Over the next three months, he said, the province will continue to focus on vaccinating front-line health-care workers as well as staff, residents and designated caregivers in long-term and residential care facilities. To date, Strang said, vaccinations have been completed at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax, where 53 of the provinces 65 deaths occurred last spring. He said vaccinations are also complete at Ocean View Continuing Care Centre in Dartmouth and at Harbourstone Enhanced Care in Sydney. As well, Strang said the province is targeting mid-to-late February to open its first community clinic, which he said will be at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, for people over 80 years of age. "These are community clinics that will help us understand what works and what doesn't work, so when we are ready to administer large quantities of vaccine we are able to do so immediately," Strang said. Meanwhile, health officials urged post-secondary students in the Halifax area to get tested for COVID-19. They said several cases of COVID-19 had been identified among Halifax's student population, and they recommended that all students be tested — even if they haven’t travelled, have no symptoms or haven't visited a location that had been exposed to the novel coronavirus. Drop-in testing began Tuesday and at Dalhousie University and pop-up rapid testing was scheduled to begin Wednesday at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., and at two locations in Sydney, N.S., including Cape Breton University. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 26, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Shortly after the House of Commons voted unanimously to call on the Trudeau government to identify the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he'll listen to the intelligence collected by the country's security agencies before deciding on next steps. "To be clear: the decision to list any organization as a terrorist entity is based on intelligence and evidence collected by our national security agencies," said the minister in a statement sent to CBC News last night. "Terrorist designations are not a political exercise." Canadian authorities have been collecting information about the far-right Proud Boys group as part of a possible terrorist designation following reports about the organization's role in this month's deadly U.S. Capitol attack. Multiple media reports have linked Proud Boys members to those who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., after a speech by then-U.S. president Donald Trump on Jan. 6. Last week, a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys was arrested for taking part in the siege. The Canadian government has not said if the Proud Boys will be added to Canada's formal list of terrorist groups. Such a move would come with immediate ramifications for the group; financial institutions would freeze their assets and it would become a crime to knowingly deal with the group. "We're very mindful of ideologically motivated violent extremists, including groups like the Proud Boys. They're white supremacists, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynist groups. They're all hateful, they're all dangerous," Blair told CTV News in an interview earlier this month. "Our national security officials are very mindful of these individuals. They're gathering intelligence. They bring that intelligence before me and I bring it before cabinet ... We're working very diligently to ensure that where the evidence is available, where we have the intelligence, that we'll deal appropriately with those organizations." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh brought forward a motion Monday calling on the government "to use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacist and hate groups, starting with immediately designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity." 'Pretty direct politicization of the process' While the motion is non-binding, it has some national security experts troubled by what they see as the politicalization of the terror list. "The issue I have is by including the call to list the Proud Boys, it is a call for the government to engage in a legal process and with a predetermined outcome," said Leah West, a former Department of Justice lawyer and now a national security professor at Carleton University. "I tend to have issues with parliamentarians asking for certain criminal law effects to take place on individuals in the House of Commons. I think that there should be a separation between parliamentarians and a process that, in this case, is not a typical criminal law process but is a legal process that could have a criminal effect." West said she worries about setting a precedent. She pointed to statements by some MPs in early 2020 describing Indigenous-led rail blockades as terrorism and asking whether the groups protesting should be added to the terror list. "There's nothing to stop a similar type of motion from being brought to the House floor around Indigenous or environmental protesters who arguably engage in activity that could give rise to meeting the threshold," she said. "I just want us to be careful [and avoid] approaching listing terrorist entities in the same way we saw with the Trump administration in the U.S., where basically [he] used terrorist listings as a way of condemning groups that were unfavourable, or his enemies, or that were critical of the government" Jessica Davis, a former senior intelligence analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who now heads Insight Threat, called the vote "a pretty direct politicization of the process." "All of these MPs should know better in terms of how the process actually works. It's been well-articulated. They have access to information about how these things happen," she said. "This motion is meant, I guess, to put pressure on the government to list a group, but we don't even know yet if the group meets a technical threshold." A spokesperson for the NDP said the party isn't trying to politicize the process, but argued the Proud Boys are an undeniable threat to the United States and Canada both. "The rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazi [organizations] is an underestimated threat in Canada and people are scared. Canadians don't want to see what happened in the U.S. happen here in Canada. We need actions and we need them, now," said Melanie Richer. Decision lies with minister According to the Department of Public Safety, the process of designating a terrorist group begins with a report from the RCMP and CSIS detailing "reasonable grounds to believe that the entity has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity; or the entity is knowingly acting on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with, an entity involved in a terrorist activity." That report is reviewed by the minister of public safety. If the minister has reasonable grounds to believe that the group in question meets the threshold, the minister makes a recommendation to cabinet to place the entity on the list. Davis said the process could use more transparency and clarity from the government about the criteria used to make a determination. Created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the terrorist designation list includes more than 50 organizations. Many of them are Islamist terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and ISIS. Two far-right groups — Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi network, and its armed wing, Combat 18 — were added in June 2019 under the public safety minister at the time, Ralph Goodale. Where does the government draw the line? "The activities that the groups are engaged in range really dramatically from al-Qaeda — who we know conducted many large-scale, high-impact attacks and inspired many others — to Combat 18, who seem to have committed one politically motivated assault and a firebombing," said Davis. "There's a lot of daylight between those two examples. "So where is that criteria? Because if it's closer to the Combat 18, I think that that's more of a problem. It really allows a very expansive definition of terrorism in this country." West said the process is not above political influence but it has some safeguards in place. "So it's not that there is no politics involved in this, in that it is a cabinet decision. But it's not unusual in the realm of national security for ministers to be making decisions like this," said West. "This decision is also reviewable by a federal court to ensure that that the minister's decision is reasonable and compliant with the statutory requirements set out in the Criminal Code." Davis said the process is inherently political because it's a cabinet decision — but bringing in a multi-party committee into the process or striking a committee of bureaucrats could remove at least some of the political taint. "So there's a number of ways to move that ministerial responsibility, but at the same time, I think that it is important that the government be responsible for this list," she said
A more contagious strain of COVID-19 may be spreading rapidly through the Simcoe-Muskoka region, public health officials said Tuesday after testing showed 99 more people likely had a variant of the virus. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said most of the cases are linked to an outbreak at a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home that has killed 46 people and infected more than 200. A variant of the virus first identified in the U.K. has already been found in several cases there. But two of the 99 variant cases have no known link, including a staff member who is part of a small outbreak at the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, in Penetanguishene, Ont. The other person was not connected to any known outbreak. Further test results, expected in the coming days, will identify the specific variant that has been found in the 99 cases. Officials believe it is likely the U.K. variant. But the fact that nearly 100 cases of a variant were found -- with some not connected to any known outbreak -- suggests a different strain of COVID-19 is likely spreading in the community, said Dr. Charles Gardner, the region's top doctor. "If it isn’t readily spreading in our community now, it may very well do so in the near future," he said. "It’s really, really important that people take that to heart and behave accordingly." Tuesday's figures on the variant came from an ongoing study by Public Health Ontario that’s screening all positive COVID-19 tests from Jan. 20 for three new "variants of concern" for a provincewide snapshot of their prevalence. The current numbers might be the "tip of the iceberg" in Simcoe-Muskoka, Gardner said. Gardner said it was also concerning that 42 close contacts of those working at the Barrie long-term care home, Roberta Place, have been infected COVID-19. He said he believes everyone in the Roberta Place outbreak has the U.K. variant and noted that the facility's outbreak currently accounts for 42 per cent of all outbreak-related deaths recorded in the local health unit during the pandemic. "That one outbreak alone has had a major impact locally on the total mortality figure that we’ve had," he said. "Clearly tragic." Gardner also said that one person infected in another long-term care home outbreak in Bradford, Ont., south of Barrie, had one of the three "variants of concern," with further tests underway to confirm which one. The infected person at Bradford Valley Care Community had been in contact with another individual who tested positive for the U.K. variant. Public health officials in Simcoe-Muskoka said they would be prioritizing long-term care home residents in Barrie and Bradford for COVID-19 vaccinations going forward, given the increased risk of infection from the new variant that's considered more transmissible. Public Health Ontario is in the process of ramping up screening to find cases of the new strains labelled "variants of concern," which first emerged in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa. Officials said Monday that a clearer picture of where the variants are in Ontario would come in the next few days. Only the U.K. variant had been detected in Ontario as of Monday, with cases confirmed in Toronto, Ottawa, York, Durham, Peel, Simcoe, Middlesex-London and the Kingston area. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
When Isak Vaillancourt first began thinking of his short documentary, a project he would create with his team and the support of the guest curator of Up Here 6, Ra’anaa Brown, the global conversation on race had never been louder. At the time, it was shouting names like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “People were suddenly realizing the urgency and validity of this movement,” said Vaillancourt. “Having difficult conversations in regards to their own complicity with systematic racism and their privilege. With the short documentary, I wanted to capture this unique moment in time from the perspectives of three Black community members here in Sudbury.” In the opening shots of the film, an introduction reads: “Black communities are having conversations about race that never make it to mainstream media. The collective consciousness rarely lends itself to amplify these voices.” With his documentary, Vaillancourt wanted to add new voices to the conversation. Not his, however: he decided to amplify the voices of three Black women in Sudbury and the struggles, racism and challenges to their own identity they have faced. And he called it, Amplify. Vaillancourt, a multimedia content producer and activist, is also from the area. He grew up in Chelmsford with his twin sister and younger brother, the children of a Franco-Ontarian father and a mother who found her way to Canada after leaving Somalia in 1991 to escape the civil war. He wanted to show that despite many believing that there are no issues with racism in Sudbury, the reality is quite the contrary. “It’s important to realize that racism and discrimination exist in Sudbury, as much as we like to pretend that Canada is a nation of cultural tolerance.” To him, the medium of a short documentary was the perfect choice to showcase his message. “We decided that a short documentary would be the perfect platform to shed light on the inequalities and discrimination that affects the lives of many racialized individuals here in Sudbury,” said Vaillancourt. “This project would not have been possible without the continuous support from the amazing team at Up Here. Behind the scenes, I worked very closely with my cinematographer, Shawn Kosmerly, and my editor, Riley McEwen, to bring this project to life.” The documentary itself focuses on the lived experiences of the three Black women it features: Josephine Suorineni-Zaghe, Shana Calixte and Sonia Ekiyor-Katimi, and their thoughts in relation to the current political climate, racial inequality and social justice. It is an opportunity for them to describe the challenges they have had to overcome and to educate those that perhaps have never had to consider the prejudice, both subtle and overt, that Sudburians of colour face. It is a chance to understand that if you have not experienced something directly, rather than deny or deflect, you should defer. “We as a society need to learn how to defer to people with lived experiences when speaking on issues that affect them directly,” said Vaillancourt. But also cautions, “Keep in mind that, amplifying Black, Indigenous, and POC (people of colour) voices does not mean placing the heavy burden on marginalized communities to educate you on the ways they’ve been oppressed. It’s the act of listening, self-reflection and continuous learning. It’s a commitment.” As the film lives on, Vaillancourt hopes viewers will find ways to show this commitment by getting involved locally. He quotes Josephine Suorineni-Zaghe from the film and says “Build up the movement locally. Be there for Black children. Be there for Black girls and Black boys. Be there for the Black LGBTQ+ community and when you do have that interaction, you do see the immediate change.” He also notes the many grassroots organisations that can benefit from more community involvement. “Within the City of Greater Sudbury, there has been a growing culture of community care and mutual aid all in the face of hatred,” he said. “This has not been cultivated by city officials but rather grassroot community groups such as Black Lives Matter - Sudbury, Sudbury Pride, Myth and Mirrors, SWANS Sudbury and The Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) just to name a few. I encourage viewers to take the extra step and learn more about how they can uplift these organizations and the important work they're doing.” The video is currently hosted by Up Here 6, and it is also available with French-language subtitles. For now, not only is Vaillancourt submitting this film to festivals, but he is currently working on multimedia projects that highlight “the amazing and diverse communities we have here in Sudbury.” For more of Vaillancourt’s work, you can visit his website at IsakVail.ca. You can watch the documentary below. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WASHINGTON — Female soldiers can let their hair down, and flash a little nail colour under new rules being approved by the Army. But male soldiers will still have to shave. Army leaders announced Tuesday that they are loosening restrictions on various grooming and hairstyle rules, as service leaders try to address longstanding complaints, particularly from women. The changes, which also expand allowances for earrings and hair highlights and dyes, are particularly responsive to women of various ethnicities, and will allow greater flexibility for braids, twists, cornrows and other styles more natural for their hair. The new regulations take effect in late February and come after months of study, in the wake of a directive by former Defence Secretary Mark Esper, who ordered a new review of military hairstyle and grooming policies last July. The review was part of a broader order to expand diversity within the military and reduce prejudice, in the wake of widespread protests about racial inequality last summer. “These aren’t about male and female,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston, the Army's top enlisted leader during a Facebook Live presentation on Tuesday about the latest changes. “This is about an Army standard and how we move forward with the Army, and being a more diverse, inclusive team.” The Army announcement has been long-planned, but it came just days after the Pentagon's first Black defence secretary — Lloyd Austin — took over. Austin has vowed to try to root out racism and extremism in the ranks and foster more inclusion. Esper and many of the service leaders have also been taking steps to make the military more diverse, particularly in the higher ranks. As an example, Esper last summer ordered that service members’ photos no longer be provided to promotion boards. Officials said studies showed that when photos are not included “the outcomes for minorities and women improved.” On Tuesday, Army Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders told reporters that the panel recommending the new grooming changes considered a variety of factors, including cultural, health and safety issues. He said the tight hair buns previously required by the Army can trigger hair loss and other scalp problems for some women. And larger buns needed to accommodate thick or longer hair, can make a combat helmet fit badly and potentially impair good vision. At the same time, he said that changes, like allowing women in combat uniforms to wear earrings such as small gold, silver and diamond studs, let them “feel like a woman inside and outside of uniform." He added, "At the end of the day, our women are mothers, they're spouses, they're sisters, they definitely want to be able to maintain their identity and that’s what we want to get after." In many cases — such as the earrings — the changes simply let female soldiers wear jewelry or hairstyles that are already allowed in more formal, dress uniforms, but were not allowed in their daily combat uniforms. Army leaders said women will now be able to wear their hair in a long ponytail or braid and tuck it under their shirt. Sanders said that allowing that gives female soldiers, particularly pilots or troops at a firing range, greater ability to turn their head quickly, without the restraints that the buns created. The new regulations also allow the exact opposite. Female soldiers going through Ranger or special operations training get their heads shaved, like male soldiers do. But when they leave training, their hair is too short, based on the Army's previous minimum length requirements. Now there will be no minimum length rules. For men, however, the perennial request to allow beards is still a no-go. Grinston's answer to the question from the online audience was short and direct: “No.” He noted that the Army already makes exceptions for medical and religious reasons. Also, male soldiers still can't wear earrings. The new lipstick and nail polish rules, however, allow men to wear clear polish, and allow colours for women, but prohibit “extreme” shades, such as purple, blue, black and “fire engine” red. Men will also be able to dye their hair, but the colours for both genders are limited to “natural" shades. Prohibited colours include blue, purple, pink, green, orange or neon. In another sign of the times, the new rules state that soldiers will now automatically receive black and coyote-colored face masks. They are also permitted to wear camouflage colored masks, but have to buy those themselves. The Army also is taking steps to change wording in the regulations to remove racist or insensitive descriptions. References to “Fu Manchu” moustache and “Mohawk” hairstyle have been removed, and replaced with more detailed descriptions of the still-banned styles. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Another milestone for The Great One. Wayne Gretzky turned 60 Tuesday. It's a number the Hockey Hall of Famer knows well. The NHL notes that the former Edmonton Oiler, Los Angeles King, St. Louis Blue and New York Ranger scored 60 hat tricks (50 during the regular season and 10 in the playoffs) during an NHL career that stretched from 1979 to 1999. No. 99 also recorded a point in 60 consecutive regular-season games from March 13, 1983, to Jan. 27, 1984 (one day after his 23rd birthday), during which he recorded 70 goals and 111 assists for 181 points. The run began with a nine-game point streak to end the 1982-83 campaign (9-19—28) and continued with a 51-game stretch to start the 1983-84 season (61-92—153), which remains the longest point streak in NHL history. Gretzky also holds NHL records for fewest games to 60 goals in a season (49 games played in 1981-82), 60 assists in a season (32 games played in 1985-86) and 60 assists in a career (56 games played). The native of Brantford, Ont., retired with 894 goals and 1,963 assists for 2,857 points in 1,487 regular-season games. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021 The Canadian Press
CAMEROON, Cameroon — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced Tuesday it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, a reversal of the Trump administration’s cutoff and a key element of its new support for a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills made the announcement of Biden’s approach to a high-level virtual Security Council meeting, saying the new U.S. administration believes this “remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.” President Donald Trump’s administration provided unprecedented support to Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, slashing financial assistance for the Palestinians and reversing course on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war. The international community considers both areas to be occupied territory, and the Palestinians seek them as parts of a future independent state. Israel has built a far-flung network of settlements that house nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem since their capture in 1967. The peace plan unveiled by Trump a year ago envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel, siding with Israel on key contentious issues including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements. It was vehemently rejected by the Palestinians. Mills made clear the Biden administration’s more even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” he said. Mills said peace can’t be imposed on either side and stressed that progress and an ultimate solution require the participation and agreement of Israelis and Palestinians. “In order to advance these objectives, the Biden administration will restore credible U.S. engagement with Palestinians as well as Israelis,” he said. “This will involve renewing U.S. relations with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people,” Mills said. “President Biden has been clear that he intends to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development programs and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, and to take steps to reopen diplomatic relations that were closed by the last U.S. administration,.” Mills said. Trump cut off funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency known as UNRWA, which was established to aid the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948. It provides education, health care, food and other assistance to some 5.5 million refugees and their descendants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The U.S. was UNRWA’s major donor and the loss of funds has created a financial crisis for the agency. The Trump administration closed the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington in September 2018, effectively shutting down the Palestinians’ diplomatic mission to the United States. Mills said the United States hopes to start working to slowly build confidence on both sides to create an environment to reach a two-state solution. To pursue this goal, Mills said, “the United States will urge Israel’s government and the Palestinians to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult, such as annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolitions, incitement to violence, and providing compensation for individuals in prison for acts of terrorism.” Israel has accused the Palestinians of inciting violence and has vehemently objected to the Palestinian Authority paying families of those imprisoned for attacking or killing Israelis. Mills stressed that “the U.S. will maintain its steadfast support for Israel” -- opposing one-sided resolutions and other actions in international bodies that unfairly single out Israel and promoting Israel’s standing and participation at the U.N. and other international organizations. The Biden administration welcomes the recent normalization of relations between Israel and a number of Arab nations and will urge other countries to establish ties, Mills said. “Yet, we recognize that Arab-Israeli normalization is not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he said. Mills stressed that the fraught state of Israeli-Palestinian politics, and the fact that trust between the two sides “is at a nadir,” don’t relieve U.N. member nations “of the responsibility of trying to preserve the viability of a two-state solution.” Before Mills spoke, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki sharply criticized the Trump administration for using “the United States’ might and influence to support Israel’s unlawful efforts to entrench its occupation and control” and reiterated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' hopes “for the resumption of relations and positive engagement.” “Now is the time to heal and repair the damage left by the previous U.S. administration,” he said. “We look forward to the reversal of the unlawful and hostile measures undertaken by the Trump administration and to working together for peace.” Malki called for revival of the Quartet of Mideast mediators -- the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia -- and reiterated Abbas’ call for an international peace conference “that can signal a turning point in this conflict.” He also expressed hope that “the U.S. will play an important role in multilateral efforts for peace in the Middle East.” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is convinced that the Quartet, working closely with both sides and Arab states, “can play a very, very effective role.” In support of Abbas’ call for an international conference, Lavrov proposed holding a ministerial meeting this spring or summer with the Quartet and Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as well as Saudi Arabia to analyze the current situation and assist “in launching a dialogue” between Israeli's and Palestinians. Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said “Palestinians suffered from unprecedented pressure from the former U.S. administration" and said the organization's 22 members look forward to Biden correcting Trump's actions and working with international and regional parties to relaunch “a serious peace process." But Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the council that instead of focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should focus on Iran, which “does not try to hide its intention of destroying the world’s only Jewish state.” On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he suggested that the council discuss what he called “the real obstacles to peace: Palestinian incitement and culture of hate.” Israel remains willing to make peace “when there is a willing partner,” Erdan said, accusing Abbas of inciting violence, and saying he should come to the negotiating table “without making outrageous demands and not call for another pointless international conference ... (which) is just a distraction.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — CN says it will reinstate its guidance for 2021 and increase the company's dividend by seven per cent after seeing improved demand for freight in the last three months of 2020. The Montreal-based railway says its net income surged 17 per cent in the fourth quarter to $1.02 billion or $1.43 per share. That was up from $873 million or $1.22 per share in the prior year. Adjusted profits for the three months ended Dec. 31 were up 14 per cent to $1.02 billion or $1.43 per share, from $896 million or $1.25 per share in last year's quarter. Revenue increased two per cent, or $72 million, to $3.66 billion. CN Rail was expected to report $1.41 per share in adjusted profits on $3.62 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. CN reported operating income of $1.4 billion, compared with $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. JJ Ruest, CN's president and CEO, says that while the recovery was uneven across sectors, the company was pleased with the growth in volume demand during the fourth quarter. CN also said it planned to announce $3 billion in capital investments to stay ahead of demand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CNR) The Canadian Press
Teachers are determined to keep remote learners connected to the school community. At Cook elementary, Grade 5 and 6 students learning from home are writing poetry that is displayed inside the school. “We want to continue to build connections and relationships even with the students that are at home learning, and include their work on our school bulletin boards,” says principal Sarah Loat. “We want to stress the importance of community more than ever during this stressful time.” She says teachers are trying to offer all students the same learning opportunities, whether they're in the classroom or not. “Teachers are taking a great deal of time and care to plan and implement creative, meaningful, engaging learning opportunities,” says Loat. “I am very proud of the job the staff are doing to keep students safe, supported and engaged.” Similarly, at Diefenbaker elementary all students are invited to “Zoomblies”—including those learning from home—to help build and maintain connections. Many classroom teachers have created individual kits of supplies for students, and some have come up with songs for lining up, washing hands, and cleaning up, says principal Huey Wong. Masks with the school’s logo are available to staff and students, thanks to PAC subsidization for the adult mask cost. And Grade 7 students have been engaged as morning ambassadors, picking up younger students from the drive-thru lane and walking them to their classroom door. And at Richmond High, students were connected starting early on in the year with a virtual clubs day. International Baccalaureate (IB) students celebrated their accomplishments through a four-day film festival. “This included digital work, music ensembles, singing, dancing, a chess battle, and an interactive show that had one performer zooming in to improvise music based on audience suggestions,” says principal Anita Kwon. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Public health regulations in the Sudbury district could be made even more restrictive than the current lockdown and stay-at-home order if a variant of the COVID-19 virus somehow increases the number of infections. The issue was discussed in an online interview hosted by Science North on Monday with Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for the Public Health Sudbury and Districts. Staff scientist Katrina Pisani joined Sutcliffe for a 40-minute discussion on why the COVID-19 guidelines in Ontario keep changing. Pisani told the online audience the purpose of the discussion was to get a better understanding of why guidelines change and what the public needs to know about the current emergency regulations and the stay-at-home order currently in place. On Monday afternoon, the province decided to expand the order for an additional two weeks. Sutcliffe said despite some initial confusion, the order was simple and direct. "So the stay-at home order is exactly that for all Ontarians, to stay home unless it is really essential that you're not at home." She said it is intended to be as simple as possible notwithstanding some of the confusion about it. This is despite speculation and questions that people might have about every little excuse to somehow get around essential reasons for leaving home. Sutcliffe said essential reasons could include such things as picking up groceries, going to the pharmacy, getting health care or doing some essential work that cannot be done from home. "It's different from the lockdown, because the lockdown is one of the areas of the coded phases for management of COVID in our province. And so those that were in the gray or lockdown parts of our province meant that they had high rates of COVID-19 and there are specific requirements there, but not an overall stay-at-home order as we have now, really to protect our health and our health-care system as we have seen rates of the disease really increase across the province," said Sutcliffe. Pisani asked about the importance of one's mental health, because some people believe it is important to get out of the house for something like a walk around the block. Sutcliffe said it was an important point as the pandemic has left many people feeling isolated, not being able to engage with their friends or their families as they would normally. She added it has had an impact on people with addictions and risks associated with drug overdoses. Sutcliffe said the stay-at-home order does allow people to go outside for exercise. It allows you to spend time with members of your own household, but not to have more than five people when you are gathered outdoors and no gatherings indoors. Sutcliffe said from the public health perspective the order does recognize the importance of having time outdoors. She said it is understood the risk of the virus outdoors is lower, with fresh air and better ventilation by not being in an enclosed space, but it is still important to wear a face mask when one is close to others in the outdoors. When asked if the outdoor activities could be made more restrictive, Sutcliffe said that had more to do not necessarily with an increase in active COVID-19 cases, but more about the kind of virus that presents itself. "People will be aware that there are the variants of concern (VOC) or different variants; the UK Variant, the South African Variant, the Brazil Variant that we understand are more transmissible," Sutcliffe explained. It was revealed Monday afternoon that a variant of the COVID virus might have infected a Sudbury person who had been travelling. That person is now in isolation. "The big concern is, as those get more commonplace and spread in our communities, what additional public health measures might be needed to prevent transmission?" said Sutcliffe. "If something is so transmissible that it might require further restrictions outdoors then those decisions, based on science, will have to be made," she added. "But really I think that the kind of virus we are seeing and the transmissibility is a big factor in that. If we're finding that being outdoors people are still gathering together closely, then there might be additional measures and we know that's been the case in some parts of the province put in place." Pisani mentioned the situation of the North Bay Parry Sound district health unit, where it was decided earlier this month that snowmobiling, outdoor skating and tobogganing would be banned for the time being. Sutcliffe also acknowledged that the pandemic is indeed frustrating and people are having a difficult time with it. “I think we are tired of hearing that we are all in it together, but we are still all in it together. And that means Team Sudbury, or Team Northern Ontario or Team Ontario or Team World. You know we are all in this together and we need to support each other.” Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Ottawa's medical officer of health is calling on the province to allow schools in this city to reopen as soon as possible, saying current COVID-19 rates here are manageable. "The level of community transmission in Ottawa is similar to, or lower now, than it was at our peak in October when schools were open and we managed that level of COVID in the schools," Dr. Vera Etches said Tuesday during a technical briefing on the city's vaccination plan. There are many different kinds of harms that we see with schools being closed, which lead us to wanting to open them as soon as we can. - Dr. Vera Etches Last Wednesday, Ontario announced schools within four public health units in eastern Ontario could reopen on Monday. Ottawa was not on the list, and there's still no word from the province about when in-person learning can resume in this city. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, CEO of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, told reporters on Tuesday he believes schools in that region will be allowed to reopen by Feb. 9 or Feb. 10, so long as caseloads remain on the right trajectory. Etches argues Ottawa's current COVID-19 caseload doesn't justify the ongoing closure. She has compared in-class learning to essential work for children, and said parents are facing too much stress handling their own work while supervising their kids' at-home schooling. There's also the strain on students: during last spring's provincewide shutdown, demand for mental health services among children and youth increased, Etches said. "There are many different kinds of harms that we see with schools being closed, which lead us to wanting to open them as soon as we can," said Etches. Return to school should not depend on vaccination campaign, Etches says In recent weeks, Ottawa has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 transmission. On Tuesday, Ottawa Public Health reported just 23 new cases, while the test positivity rate has dropped to three per cent, down from 4.6 per cent two weeks ago. If cases surge again, the city has proven itself equipped to track cases in schools and keep the virus at bay, said Etches. "I never use the word 'safe,'" she said. "But what I feel confident about is that we can manage the COVID levels to decrease transmission within schools, just as we did in the fall." In areas of Ontario where students returned to the classroom Monday, the province has introduced additional measures to control the spread of COVID-19 including targeted asymptomatic testing, more vigorous screening, mandatory masks for students in grades 1 to 3, and mandatory masks outdoors when physical distancing can't be maintained.
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are preparing to push ahead quickly on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package even if it means using procedural tools to pass the legislation on their own, leaving Republicans behind. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told senators to be ready to vote as soon as next week on a budget reconciliation package that would lay the groundwork for swift passage. Coming so soon in Biden's administration, the action provides a first test of Republican opposition to the White House priorities as well as to the new president's promise of a “unity” agenda. “The work must move forward, preferably with our Republican colleagues, but without them if we must," Schumer said after a private meeting of Democratic senators. "Time is of the essence to address this crisis. We're keeping all options open on the table.” Unwilling to wait for Republicans who argue Biden's price tag is too high and his priorities too wide-ranging, Democrats are flexing their newfound power as they take control of the Senate alongside the House and White House. It is the first time in a decade the party has held the full sweep of power in Washington, and Democrats say they have no time to waste trying to broker compromises with Republicans that may, or may not, happen. They have watched Republicans use similar procedural tools to advance their priorities, most recently the Trump administration’s GOP tax cuts. The fast-moving events days into the new majority on Capitol Hill come as the White House continued meeting privately with groups of Republican and Democratic lawmakers in hopes of striking a bipartisan agreement. Biden's COVID-19 aid package includes money for vaccine distribution, school reopenings and $1,400 direct payments to households and gradually boosts the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. The next steps remain highly fluid. The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus of more than 50 House lawmakers met virtually Tuesday with top administration officials on the virus aid and economic recovery package. And the dozen senators emerging from a lengthy private meeting with the White House on Sunday evening are talking on their own to try to craft a more targeted bill. The bipartisan senators assembled privately again Monday evening. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier Tuesday that Biden is still looking to negotiate on an aid package, while putting a priority on acting swiftly before aid lapses in March. “He laid out his big package, his big vision of what it should look like, and people are giving their feedback,” Psaki said. "He’s happy to have those discussions and fully expects it’s not going to look exactly the same on the other end.” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who led a bipartisan effort for the last $900 billion relief package, is working again with the senators on crafting an alternative package that she has said would be more focused on money for vaccine distribution and tailored economic assistance to the neediest Americans. Collins said Tuesday that the White House made good on its commitment to deliver a more detailed accounting of the proposed expenditure. But she said the group is still waiting for data on how much funding remains unallocated from past relief measures that, by her tally, totals a whopping $1.8 trillion still unspent. Congress has approved some $4 trillion in emergency aid since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, a stunning outlay and the largest rescue package in the nation's history. Senators from both parties who joined the White House call over the weekend agreed the priority needs to be standing up the country's faltering vaccine distribution system. With the death toll climbing, and new strains of the virus threatening more trouble ahead, ensuring vaccinations appears to be crucial to stemming the COVID-19 crisis. Several senators from both parties also said they want the $1,400 direct checks to be more targeted to those in need. They also want an accounting of what remains from previously approved aid bills. But Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and the incoming Budget Committee chair, said he is already working on the budget package for next week and expanding it to include Biden's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. Raising the wage is a long-running Democratic priority that would essentially double the current $7.25 hourly wage set the last time the party was in control in the Obama administration. Advocates say the pay raise would boost millions of full-time workers from poverty. “There is a consensus,” Sanders told reporters at the Capitol. “If Republicans are not prepared to come on board, that’s fine. We’re not going to wait. We’re going forward soon and aggressively.” Lisa Mascaro And Josh Boak, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — CBS has placed two top executives on administrative leave as it investigates charges of a hostile work environment for women and minorities at news operations in some of its largest individual stations. Peter Dunn, president of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, senior vice-president for news at the stations, are on leave pending the results of an external investigation. “CBS is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary,” the network said in a statement. The accusations were outlined over the weekend in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and a subsequent meeting between CBS and the National Association of Black Journalists. Since 2009, Dunn has been head of stations owned and operated by CBS in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago and others. The Times said Dunn had referred to a Black male news anchor in Philadelphia as “just a jive guy." One executive at the station quit because she couldn't tolerate the culture and another has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relates Commission alleging he was fired for co-operating with an internal review of his bosses, the Times reported. The NABJ has said CBS stations lag in maintaining diverse staffs, saying New York's WCBS-TV had only one female Black full-time reporter and went five years without a male Black reporter. “This is toxic. There's no other way to put it,” said Ken Lemon, the NABJ's vice-president of broadcast, on Tuesday. Since the story was published, Lemon said he had talked to at least five other people with new experiences to tell about the working atmosphere at CBS. He said the NABJ is optimistic about the steps CBS has taken. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Key Lake, Sask., is often recorded as the coldest place in Canada on specific days, despite it not being as far north as some other communities. Key Lake is about 570 kilometres north of Saskatoon. David Philips, senior climatologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said there are two major factors that contribute to Key Lake consistently registering as the coldest place in Canada when it comes to daily temperatures. "The first is topography," Phillips said in an interview with CBC Saskatchewan's The Afternoon Edition. "Wherever the thermometers are housed might be in a little bit of a dip." According to Phillips, because cold is air heavy and dense, it descends and remains in low spots. This means if the weather is being tracked in a low spot the temperatures might be a bit colder. He also mentioned that a soil difference could be responsible. "Key Lake has sandy soil and sandy soil is notorious for having wide ranges of temperature. During the day it can really warm up but at night it cools down." Phillips said that on average, more northern places like Colin's Bay and Uranium City are colder than Key Lake. "There are singular moments when Key Lake is the weather superlative of a cold pole in Canada, but on average it doesn't really come out that way." On the other end of the spectrum, Maple Creek, Sask., often records very warm winter temperatures compared to the towns around it. Maple Creek is about 350 kilometres southwest of Regina, close to the Alberta border. Phillips said Maple Creek is deserving of the title "Miami of the North" primarily because of Chinook winds. "Because Maple Creek is so close to the Saskatchewan-Albertan border, those Chinook winds can blow right across the prairies." These winds warm up the air in the area. The tables turn in the summer, however, with Maple Creek often having cooler summers than the rest of the province. "Sometimes the cold air will push in and dam up against the Cypress mountains and flow back into places like Maple Creek," Phillips said. "It has that oddity of being the warmest spot and at night be the coolest spot."
Northern Health has released COVID-19 exposure notices for Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School in Terrace. The exposure at Uplands Elementary School occurred Jan. 19 to Jan. 21, and Centennial Christian School’s exposure took place on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, according to Northern Health’s list of public exposures and outbreaks. There have been numerous COVID-19 exposure notices for Terrace schools issued by Northern Health since Nov. 2020, and nearly all Terrace schools have had at least one exposure notice. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News