Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers begged people to skip Thanksgiving celebrations with anyone from outside their households as the state set a new record for COVID-19 deaths. (Nov. 24)
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers begged people to skip Thanksgiving celebrations with anyone from outside their households as the state set a new record for COVID-19 deaths. (Nov. 24)
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "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., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,543 new vaccinations administered for a total of 613,285 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,618.197 per 100,000. There were 31,065 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 848,565 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.27 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 6,845 new vaccinations administered for a total of 153,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.944 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 196,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,691 new vaccinations administered for a total of 209,788 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.282 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 4,212 new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.891 per 1,000. There were 12,665 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,459 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,618 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.182 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 3,879 new vaccinations administered for a total of 89,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.403 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 11,432 new vaccinations administered for a total of 87,346 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.021 per 1,000. There were 18,400 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 117,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 163 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 1,158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,141 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 55.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 35.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
Beijing-based ByteDance recently launched its own third-party payment service for Douyin, the Chinese version of its hit short video app TikTok, as it presses to expand into the e-commerce business in China. "The set-up of Douyin Pay is to supplement the existing major payment options, and to ultimately enhance user experience on Douyin," Douyin said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday. Users of Douyin, which accumulated 600 million daily active users, previously could use Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent Holdings' WeChat Pay, the country's two ubiquitous third-party mobile payment channels, to buy virtual gifts for livestreamers or items from shops on the platform.
Sometimes, it's a split-second decision that changes the course of history — or, in the case of Alec Snelgrove, changes our view of history. Thanks to Snelgrove and his family, 843 photos depicting the early years of Corner Brook and its paper mill are now in the safe keeping of the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. Snelgrove was a mill supervisor at the newsprint mill in Corner Brook in 1984 when the mill was sold by the Bowater Corporation to Kruger, the current owner. Snelgrove came across a pile of photos and mementos set aside to go in the trash and, instead of letting them end up in a landfill, he gathered up some of the photos to rescue them from that fate. After he died in 2001, his family donated the photos to the museum, which has been sharing some of the images recently on its Facebook and Instagram accounts. "He would be so proud. He would be so happy right now," said Snelgrove's daughter, Catherine Cooke, in an interview for CBC Newfoundland Morning. Disbelief over discards Cooke said her father loved history and would often take her to the Corner Brook waterfront to watch the log booms coming down the Humber River. She believes it was his love for the mill and for the community that made him want to take the photos home with him. The Corner Brook newsprint mill was built in the early 1920s and first produced paper in 1925. The photos rescued by Snelgrove show the mill under construction and in its early years of operation, as well as logging operations in an era when horses were used to haul logs out of the woods. Cooke said her father couldn't believe the photos were being discarded. But Cooke's husband, Mark, who also happens to work at the paper mill, said he can understand why the mill's new owner didn't have the same appreciation for the history of the mill as Bowater did. "For a new company coming in, there's no nostalgia to the area. There's no connection with the building of the power plant or the horse-drawn log hauling of the past. But this is all the history of Corner Brook," said Mark Cooke. Treated like trash The disposal of items that may have historical significance is not as uncommon as one might hope, according to George French, archivist and manager at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. French knows of other instances when businesses have been sold or shut down and people have rescued materials from being thrown out, but he is resigned to the fact that not everything gets saved. "Things are lost every day, unfortunately, that I would see value in. But not everybody sees the same value," said French. One-of-a-kind photos French said, thanks to the photos donated by the Cookes, the Corner Brook Museum and Archives now has one of the largest collections of photos of the mill that exist anywhere. "I think they're very important. Every time we get more documentary evidence of life in Corner Brook through its past, I think it adds to the local culture, the heritage, and also a sense of community memory," said French. While some of the 843 photos are duplicates that exist elsewhere, French said some of them offer a completely new perspective on the mill, based on the vantage point from which the photos were taken. "I've seen a lot of photographs of the mill over the past 20 years here at the museum, and it's the first time I've ever seen this portion of the mill being built and near what was called the acid plant," French said, with reference to one of the photos. "This is the first time I've seen when it was the train tracks going along there and they were using the area as a parking lot as opposed to where the road is now for the [Lewin] Parkway. So I have not seen the image of that perspective before. And sometimes that different perspective and context can bring new light to information," said French. Pandemic photo sharing The photos donated by the Cookes were posted publicly just recently, following years of museum staff worked with them, adding descriptions to catalog them properly and, last summer, scanning them to create digital images. Then, due to the pandemic, the museum did not open up to visitors so staff weren't busy with the usual tours and programming. As a result, French directed staff to spend time digitizing the photos, which are now being shared on social media. French said it's been a way to stay connected with the public despite COVID-19 restrictions. "It's really been an outlet, a way of still providing services to the public during the pandemic and still being there in the public sphere," said French. As for Snelgrove's family, they're delighted to see the photos popping up on their social media feeds. "I mean these were not something you'd want to tuck away and look at every now and then, like wedding photos," said Mark Cooke. "This is not just pictures of us and our family, but pictures that everybody in the city should have access to." Thanks to Alec Snelgrove's quick action more than 35 years ago and the Cookes' donation to the museum, city residents and history buffs far and wide will be able to see and appreciate the photos well into the future. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. There are 715,072 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 715,072 confirmed cases (73,919 active, 623,033 resolved, 18,120 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,225 new cases Monday from 55,172 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,889 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,698. There were 80 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 990 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 141. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 48.21 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,612,155 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 122 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,491 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 108 confirmed cases (10 active, 98 resolved, zero deaths). There were four new cases Monday from 251 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,471 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,557 confirmed cases (25 active, 1,467 resolved, 65 deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 909 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 196,719 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 973 confirmed cases (305 active, 656 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 26 new cases Monday from 719 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 39.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25. There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,996 tests completed. _ Quebec: 244,348 confirmed cases (19,936 active, 215,325 resolved, 9,087 deaths). There were 1,434 new cases Monday from 7,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,658 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,951. There were 32 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 352 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 50. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.59 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 107.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,664,134 tests completed. _ Ontario: 240,364 confirmed cases (28,621 active, 206,310 resolved, 5,433 deaths). There were 2,578 new cases Monday from 38,983 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21,244 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,035. There were 24 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 375 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.3 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,672,567 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,629 confirmed cases (3,108 active, 23,748 resolved, 773 deaths). There were 118 new cases Monday from 5,188 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 226.95 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,181 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 441,424 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,562 confirmed cases (4,265 active, 16,078 resolved, 219 deaths). There were 290 new cases Monday from 1,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 363.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,036 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 291. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 322,431 tests completed. _ Alberta: 117,311 confirmed cases (11,923 active, 103,941 resolved, 1,447 deaths). There were 474 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 272.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,220 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 746. There were 11 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 140 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.46 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 61,447 confirmed cases (5,713 active, 54,656 resolved, 1,078 deaths). There were 301 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 112.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were five new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 68 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 19 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,175 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 216 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,774 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has delayed its high school scenarios process yet again, leaving parents of junior high students waiting to find out where their child will attend high school. Some of those parents say it's time for the school board to "pull the Band-Aid off," allowing families to plan for the future. Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the purpose of this work will determine the catchment areas for students entering high school in the 2022-2023 school year. The plan is meant to deal with growing capacity issues faced by numerous high schools in the city. "Otherwise what will happen is we'll have situations where if a school is way above capacity, then we run into challenges around safety and even our ability to be able to provide effective programming because there are just too many students in that one building," he said. "You probably heard in fall of last school year that one of our high schools, [Ernest Manning], was way over capacity and we were really challenged from a health and safety standpoint." Changing timelines Documents posted on the CBE website in May 2019 said the original timeline for the engagement process would see the scenarios finalized and communicated between July and October 2021. In February 2020, the timeline was adjusted, pushing back the engagement and presentation of possible scenarios from March to June 2020, to September to November last year. However, that never happened, and in November, CBE parents were informed that the board would be sharing the high school scenarios with them this month. But in an email sent home last week, the CBE informed parents there would be yet another delay — and that scenarios would be released and and engagement would take place between Feb. 23 and March 17. Kelly Van Webber has a daughter in junior high who will be directly impacted by these decisions. The area their family lives in is currently designated for Ernest Manning, but these potential boundary changes could see them designated to Central Memorial. "The concerning part around that is … when they redid the boundaries for [Ernest Manning High School] before, they basically said in November of that year, 'your kids are going to these schools,' and it was under a year to plan and families were thrown into chaos," he said. COVID-19 to blame for delays Usih said all of the delays to this process have been caused by COVID-19 and the challenges the school board has faced when it comes to school re-entry and online learning. He said it's been an adjustment to switch to engaging families and staff online, as opposed to an in-person session. Van Webber said he struggles to see how this work can be dragging on for more than a year-and-a-half. "[The CBE] knows the numbers, so make a decision and let people plan," he said. "Pull the Band-Aid off already." For his family, Van Webber said knowing which high school their daughter is designated to has big implications. "We're going to see where our designated high school is and we've talked to different families and said, 'Hey, do we form some sort of carpool to go to Bowness?' for example. A bit of a circuitous route to get there, but at least it's a shorter commute," he said. "We've kicked around the idea of, do we move basically a kilometre away to get on the other side of Old Banff Coach road to get into the catchment for Manning if we decide that's the best or the appropriate school? Should move into the catchment area? So, going back and forth with that." CBE confident parents will have time to plan Usih said he appreciates and understands that families want their child to attend a school where there's strong and effective programming. "And, if parents have concerns about programming or any aspect of the school there, we have processes in place for addressing those," he said. "But I cannot emphasize enough the need to ensure that we have strong programming in every one of our schools." Van Webber said the uncertainty of this process is beginning to weigh on students too. "My daughter is in Grade 8 now, and she and her friends are starting to talk about it and, you know, you kind of want some certainty for them as they go into high school, especially with all the wackiness that COVID has caused," he said. Usih said he knows the last year has been a difficult period for many. "We want to make sure that we are we are doing our due diligence to communicate clearly and to provide opportunities for families to know what our plan is going forward," he said. "And I'm confident that, you know, the timelines that we've we've indicated will will satisfy that expectation." Following the engagement in March, Usih said the scenarios are subject to change. But, he said the CBE is committed to finalizing all scenarios for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.
Ninety per cent of physicians would feel comfortable getting immunized against COVID-19 today, if they could. That’s according to Doctors Manitoba vaccination survey, which saw 507 physicians respond — 75 per cent of whom are in the Winnipeg region. Some physicians indicated they would wait to allow those "more at risk" to get immunized first, according to the survey. "I would say no to the vaccine today, because I think there’s others who need it first. But I do want it when there’s enough to go around," stated one physician. Overall, physicians are supportive of the vaccine and are eager to participate in its delivery, said Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba and a rheumatologist who works at the Manitoba Clinic. Conversations with the province have begun, he said. Included in the survey results shared with media is a public poll which found that 90 per cent of people would be willing to go to their physician’s office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Baillie said that’s because doctors know their patients’ histories and patients trust them. Baillie also said vaccine hesitancy does exist, and the main concerns relate to how quickly vaccines have been developed, as well as there not being a lot of resources and educational material related to them. Social media hasn’t helped in that regard. "There’s no end to different theories that are available on different social media sites. Talk to your physician. Talk to a health-care provider who you can trust to get appropriate information," he said. "These vaccines were studied and are safe and our future out of the pandemic is going to be essential on getting enough Manitobans immunized." According to the survey, doctors want more information about vaccines regarding safety and effectiveness. "In the survey, and one of the things I found particularly helpful about it, was that they outlined what types of tools physicians would find most useful when it comes to vaccine information," Dr. Joss Reimer said at Monday’s provincial news conference. Reimer is a member of Manitoba’s vaccination task force. "We’re going to take the information that they provided and take that back to the task force, to start looking at how we might be able to develop, in partnership, some of those tools, because we absolutely want our physicians, our nurses, our pharmacists, and all of our other immunizers to have every tool that they need to provide accurate information to their patients, to their clients, and to help inform Manitobans about this vaccine to demonstrate how safe and effective it is," she said. Tools include fact sheets and brochures, frequently asked questions, posters, webinars, videos and podcasts. Reimer also noted that for those few patients where there might be some risks that need to be considered, it’s important physicians have the tools to be able to have that conversation with them. The Doctors Manitoba survey results can be read at bit.ly/3sDHXSU Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte narrowly won a confidence vote in the upper house Senate on Tuesday, allowing him to remain in office after a junior partner quit his coalition last week in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic. However, Conte failed to secure an absolute majority, meaning he now heads a minority government that will struggle to implement its policy programme at a time of severe national emergency. Having overcome a similar confidence motion in the lower house on Monday, Conte won in the 321-seat Senate by 156 to 140, with 16 abstentions.
The company that operates the Eurostar rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has called for a UK government bailout following a collapse in travel. The train operator runs daily services through the Channel Tunnel between London, Paris and Brussels.View on euronews
ISLAMABAD — A Russian-American climber who went missing last week while trying to scale a mountain amid harsh winter weather in northern Pakistan has been found dead, the region's tourist police and the Alpine Club of Pakistan said Tuesday. The tourist police in the town of Gilgit made the announcement on Twitter, saying Alex Goldfarb went missing on Friday while he was trying to summit the Pastore Peak, not far from K2 — the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second tallest after Mount Everest. Contact with Goldfarb was lost and a helicopter rescue and search team was sent out. The Pakistan army on Monday found the body, after a day-long search, according to alpine official Karrar Haidri. Muhammad Ali Sadpara, a famous Pakistani mountaineer who was part of the rescue team, also tweeted the sad news. Efforts were now underway to bring Goldfarb's body down with the help of Pakistani and foreign mountaineers, Haidri told The Associated Press. Goldfarb and Hungarian mountaineer Zoltan Szlanko had initially planned to scale Pastore together but Szlanko later decided to turn back. Haidri expressed condolences to Goldfarb's family, saying “I will never forget his kindness." On Saturday, a team of Nepalese climbers made history by scaling K2 in the winter season. Haidri said this has never been done in winter. Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit). Hundreds of local and foreign climbers scale mountains and peaks in northern Pakistan every year and accidents are common because of avalanches and sudden changes in weather. The Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Masks off the minute you step inside. Bars packed and pulsing like it’s 2019. Social media stars waving bottles of champagne. DJs spinning party tunes through multi-hour brunches. Since becoming one of the world's first destinations to open up for tourism, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, has promoted itself as the ideal pandemic vacation spot. It cannot afford otherwise, analysts say, as the virus shakes the foundations of the city-state's economy. With its cavernous malls, frenetic construction and legions of foreign workers, Dubai was built on the promise of globalization, drawing largely from the aviation, hospitality and retail sectors — all hard hit by the virus. Now reality is catching up to the big-dreaming emirate. With peak tourism season in full swing, coronavirus infections are surging to unprecedented heights. Daily case counts have nearly tripled in the past month, forcing Britain to slam shut its travel corridor with Dubai last week. But in the face of a growing economic crisis, the city won't lock down. “Dubai's economy is a house of cards," said Matthew Page, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Its competitive advantage is being a place where rules don't apply." While most countries banned tourists from the U.K. over fears of the fast-spreading virus variant found there, Dubai, home to some 240,000 British expats, kept its doors open for the holidays. Emirates flew five daily flights to London’s Heathrow Airport. Within days, the new virus strain had arrived in the emirates, but that didn't stop reality TV and soccer stars from fleeing Britain's lockdown and wintry weather for Dubai’s bars and beaches — without taking a coronavirus test before boarding. Scenes of pre-pandemic revelry were splattered across British tabloids. Facing backlash, Instagram influencers spotted at raucous yacht parties were quick to proclaim their travel “essential.” Dubai was glad of the influx. Hotel occupancy rates surged to 71% in December, according to data provider STR. The London-Dubai air route ranked busiest in the world over the first week of January, said OAG, an aviation data analysis firm. “People have had enough of this pandemic already,” said Iris Sabellano from Dubai's Al Arabi Travel Agency, adding that many of her clients have been forced to quarantine after testing positive for the virus on arrival or before departure. Travelers coming from a select list of countries don't need to get tests before their trips but all must at Dubai's airport. “With vaccines coming out, they feel it's not the end of the world, they're not going to die," she said. For those who do die of COVID-19, Emirates Airlines offers to pay $1,800 to help cover funeral costs. As the outbreak worsens, it seems the stampede will slow. Israeli tourists, who were coming in the tens of thousands following a normalization deal between the countries, have vanished due to new quarantine rules. A decision to suspend visa waivers for Israelis to the UAE until July took effect Monday. Britain's move to mandate a 10-day quarantine for those returning from Dubai threatens to clobber what's left of the tourism sector. “Brits make up such an important proportion of tourists and investors in Dubai,” said David Tarsh, spokesman for ForwardKeys, a travel data-analysis company. “Cutting that pipeline ... is a complete disaster for the city." British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted that the government's decision was prompted by the UAE's latest virus data. Beyond daily infections, however, the data is scant. The UAE does not make public information about disease clusters or hospitalizations. Amid an aggressive testing campaign, the country has reported more than 256,000 cases and 751 deaths. Analysts speculate the UAE’s unique demographics — 90% expatriate, comprising mostly healthy, young labourers — have prevented well-staffed hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and kept the death rate low, at 0.3%. But that hasn’t assuaged Abu Dhabi, Dubai's more conservative neighbour and the country's capital. Without explanation, Abu Dhabi has kept its border with freewheeling Dubai shut, despite promises to reopen by Christmas. Anyone crossing into Abu Dhabi must present a negative coronavirus test. Relations between service-heavy Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi can get tense. During the 2009 financial crisis, Abu Dhabi needed to rescue Dubai with a $20 billion bailout. This time, it's unclear whether Dubai can count on another cash infusion, given the crash in global oil prices. Even pre-pandemic, Dubai's economy was heading toward another downturn thanks to a shaky real estate market, which has plunged 30% in value since 2014 peaks. The emirate and its web of government-linked entities face billions of dollars in debt repayments. Already the government has stepped in to help Emirates Airlines, which received $2 billion in aid last year. Other indebted firms invested in hospitality and tourism may need help, especially with events like World Expo pushed back a year. S&P Global, a ratings agency, estimates Dubai's debt burden to be some 148% of gross domestic product if state-linked industries are included. Under pressure, authorities have seized on vaccines as the only way to contain the outbreak. Plastered across front pages of state-linked newspapers are stories touting the mass inoculation drive, which officials claim to be the world’s second-fastest after Israel, with 19 doses distributed for every 100 people as of Tuesday. The UAE is offering the Chinese coronavirus vaccine Sinopharm to everyone, even as its announcement about the shot's efficacy lacks data and details. Demand has overwhelmed supply for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Dubai, where hotline operators say thousands of high-risk residents remain on a waiting list. With the country shattering its infection record for seven consecutive days, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, declared that widespread vaccination, not movement restrictions, would “accelerate the full recovery of our country.” But even if Dubai meets its goal of inoculating 70% of the population by the end of 2021, Moody’s Investors Service expects the UAE's economy to take three years to bounce back. “I don't think Dubai's days are numbered,” said Page, the Carnegie scholar. “But if the city were more modest and responsible, it would be a more sustainable place.” Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests.Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials.In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move.Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18.Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians "want to do their part and will stand by their governments" in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces "need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work." The poll also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on.Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada.Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April.Bourque said mental health experts do not consider "good" to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK.The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April.Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them.Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable.Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they'll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they'll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won't take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn't know what they'll do.The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
A Thai court on Tuesday sentenced a 65-year-old woman to more than 43 years in jail for sharing online posts criticizing the royal family, her lawyer said, the country's harshest ever sentence for insulting the monarchy. Her sentence comes at a time of unprecedented youth-led demonstrations in which protest leaders have openly criticised the monarchy, risking prosecution under Thailand's strict law known as lese majeste, which carries a 15-year penalty for each violation. Anchan Preelert pled guilty to 29 separate violations of sharing and posting clips on YouTube and Facebook between 2014 and 2015, her lawyer, Pawinee Chumsri, told Reuters.
AL-QAIM, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq is tightening security along its 600 km (400 mile) border with Syria to curb the movement of Islamic State militants, drug smuggling and other illegal activities. Iraqi commanders on Monday toured the remote desert frontier controlled by various different forces, including the Iraqi military, Iran-aligned militias, the Syrian army, anti-Damascus rebels, and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. The border is a flashpont for tension between Iran-backed groups and the United States, and is also tense because of Islamic State incursions and Turkish pressure on Kurdish rebel groups.
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on the Island at her regular briefing Tuesday morning. Some Prince Edward Islanders are not self-isolating as they are legally required to and are putting others at risk, Morrison also said at the briefing. The organizers of The Spud hockey tournament in Charlottetown say they had no choice but to cancel the event this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Twenty-one senators from the Maritimes are urging the federal government to provide financial assistance to an inter-city bus service that they say is in financial peril because of the pandemic. A P.E.I. judge is wrestling with how to sentence a P.E.I. man who failed to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. A variety of circumstances including the pandemic have kept the Charlottetown Bluefins out of the Bell Aliant pool, and they say it's good to be home. P.E.I. reported four new unrelated cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Island dentists are offering their expertise as the province ramps up and rolls out COVID-19 vaccinations. As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 on P.E.I. continues to climb, some Islanders who are living with underlying health conditions say they've been left wondering when their shots will come. Two P.E.I. charities, Family Violence Prevention Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters are finding novel ways around the challenges of fundraising during the pandemic. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. is 108, with 10 still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. There are now 304 active cases in the province. Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, marking the second day this month that zero new cases were announced. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
The race against the virus that causes COVID-19 has taken a new turn: Mutations are rapidly popping up, and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge. The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself, threatening to undo the progress made so far to control the pandemic. On Friday, the World Health Organization urged more effort to detect new variants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new version first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March. Although it doesn’t cause more severe illness, it will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths just because it spreads much more easily, said the CDC, warning of “a new phase of exponential growth.” “We’re taking it really very seriously," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, said Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “We need to do everything we can now ... to get transmission as low as we possibly can,” said Harvard University’s Dr. Michael Mina. “The best way to prevent mutant strains from emerging is to slow transmission.” So far, vaccines seem to remain effective, but there are signs that some of the new mutations may undermine tests for the virus and reduce the effectiveness of antibody drugs as treatments. “We’re in a race against time" because the virus “may stumble upon a mutation” that makes it more dangerous, said Dr. Pardis Sabeti, an evolutionary biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Younger people may be less willing to wear masks, shun crowds and take other steps to avoid infection because the current strain doesn’t seem to make them very sick, but “in one mutational change, it might,” she warned. Sabeti documented a change in the Ebola virus during the 2014 outbreak that made it much worse. MUTATIONS ON THE RISE It's normal for viruses to acquire small changes or mutations in their genetic alphabet as they reproduce. Ones that help the virus flourish give it a competitive advantage and thus crowd out other versions. In March, just a couple months after the coronavirus was discovered in China, a mutation called D614G emerged that made it more likely to spread. It soon became the dominant version in the world. Now, after months of relative calm, “we’ve started to see some striking evolution” of the virus, biologist Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle wrote on Twitter last week. “The fact that we’ve observed three variants of concern emerge since September suggests that there are likely more to come.” One was first identified in the United Kingdom and quickly became dominant in parts of England. It has now been reported in at least 30 countries, including the United States. Soon afterward, South Africa and Brazil reported new variants, and the main mutation in the version identified in Britain turned up on a different version “that’s been circulating in Ohio ... at least as far back as September,” said Dr. Dan Jones, a molecular pathologist at Ohio State University who announced that finding last week. “The important finding here is that this is unlikely to be travel-related” and instead may reflect the virus acquiring similar mutations independently as more infections occur, Jones said. That also suggests that travel restrictions might be ineffective, Mina said. Because the United States has so many cases, “we can breed our own variants that are just as bad or worse” as those in other countries, he said. ___ TREATMENT, VACCINE, REINFECTION RISKS Some lab tests suggest the variants identified in South Africa and Brazil may be less susceptible to antibody drugs or convalescent plasma, antibody-rich blood from COVID-19 survivors — both of which help people fight off the virus. Government scientists are “actively looking” into that possibility, Dr. Janet Woodcock of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told reporters Thursday. The government is encouraging development of multi-antibody treatments rather than single-antibody drugs to have more ways to target the virus in case one proves ineffective, she said. Current vaccines induce broad enough immune responses that they should remain effective, many scientists say. Enough genetic change eventually may require tweaking the vaccine formula, but “it’s probably going to be on the order of years if we use the vaccine well rather than months,” Dr. Andrew Pavia of the University of Utah said Thursday on a webcast hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Health officials also worry that if the virus changes enough, people might get COVID-19 a second time. Reinfection currently is rare, but Brazil already confirmed a case in someone with a new variant who had been sickened with a previous version several months earlier. ___ WHAT TO DO “We’re seeing a lot of variants, viral diversity, because there’s a lot of virus out there,” and reducing new infections is the best way to curb it, said Dr. Adam Lauring, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Loyce Pace, who heads the non-profit Global Health Council and is a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, said the same precautions scientists have been advising all along “still work and they still matter.” “We still want people to be masking up,” she said Thursday on a webcast hosted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We still need people to limit congregating with people outside their household. We still need people to be washing their hands and really being vigilant about those public health practices, especially as these variants emerge.” ___ AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson in Seattle contributed reporting. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey on Tuesday slapped advertising bans on Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest over their non-compliance with a controversial new law that requires social media platforms to appoint legal representatives in the country. The law — which human rights and media freedom groups say amounts to censorship — forces social media companies to maintain representatives in Turkey to deal with complaints about content on their platforms. Companies that refuse to designate an official representative are subjected to fines, followed by advertising bans and could face bandwidth reductions that would make their platforms too slow to use. Facebook avoided the advertising ban after it announced Monday that it had begun the process of assigning a legal entity in Turkey, joining LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Dailymotion and the Russian social media site VKontakte, which have agreed to set up legal entities in Turkey. “We hope that Twitter and Pinterest which have still not announced their representatives will rapidly take the necessary steps,” said Omer Fatih Sayan, the deputy minister in charge of communications and infrastructure, after the advertising bans for Twitter, it’s live video-streaming app, Periscope and on the image sharing network, Pinterest, were announced on Turkey’s Official Gazette. Sayan added: “It is our last wish to impose bandwidth reductions for social networks that insist on not complying with their obligations.” There was no immediate comment from Twitter and Pinterest over the advertising ban. Under the law that came into effect in October, the local representative of social media companies would be tasked with responding to individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection. The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours. The law also requires social media data to be stored in Turkey, raising concerns in a country where the government has a track record of clamping down on free speech. Rights groups have said the decision by international tech companies to bow to Turkish pressure and appoint representatives would lead to censorship and violations of the right to privacy and access to information in a country where independent media is severely curtailed. The Freedom of Expression Association says more than 450,000 domains and 42,000 tweets have been blocked in Turkey since October. Facebook said Monday it remained committed to maintaining free expression and other human rights in Turkey. The Associated Press