One woman has died after a fire broke out in a seventh floor unit in a Toronto Community Housing apartment for seniors. Erica Vella has details on the investigation.
One woman has died after a fire broke out in a seventh floor unit in a Toronto Community Housing apartment for seniors. Erica Vella has details on the investigation.
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
Facebook Inc may face questions about fallout from U.S. election controversies when it posts earnings on Wednesday, but top of mind for investors is a less political matter: the company's heavy bet on e-commerce to drive ad sales. The world's biggest social media company is poised to reap a windfall from that gambit, analysts say, bolstered by a return in ad growth rates to pre-COVID levels and a holiday shopping boost from its new "social commerce" features. Wall Street expects the company to report fourth-quarter sales up 25% to $26.4 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
BERLIN — A German woman has been charged with preparing a far-right attack and other crimes on allegations she was in the process of building a bomb to target Muslims and local politicians in Bavaria, Munich prosecutors said Wednesday. Susanne G., whose last name wasn't given in line with privacy laws, also faces charges of making threats and violations of weapons laws, among other things. She has been in custody since her arrest. Prosecutors allege that the woman started planning a firebombing attack no later than May 2020, motivated by her xenophobic and extreme-right views. She is alleged to have downloaded information on bomb building online and have gathered materials for the construction, including gasoline, fireworks and fuses, by the time of her arrest in September. Between December 2019 and March 2020 the suspect is alleged to have sent six anonymous letters, five including a live bullet, with death threats to a local politician in the Nuremberg area, a Muslim community association, and an asylum seeker aid organization. During the summer of 2020, she started focusing on local police officers and a different local politician than the one threatened by letter as other possible targets, and began scouting their homes and cars. The Associated Press
If you have high-interest consumer debt, getting control of your money in the new year might sound overwhelming. Most Americans say the COVID-19 outbreak has caused financial stress, according to a survey released in October by the National Endowment for Financial Education, with 30% listing debt as their top stressor. Despite the pandemic, you can still pay down your debt with the right plan. Here’s how. CONFRONT YOUR DEBT The first step is simple, but it can be the hardest: You have to face the problem. Angela Moore, a Miami-based certified financial planner and founder of Modern Money Advisor, which offers virtual advising and education for consumers, says it’s common for her clients to know they’re in debt but not know how much. She recommends compiling your debt onto one document or spreadsheet, listing all balances, minimum payments and interest rates. Though the task is daunting, most of her clients feel relief once it’s finished. “Debt is an emotional burden,” she says, “but a lot of times that overwhelm goes away once you have clarity.” COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDERS After listing your debt, it’s time to get on the phone with your creditors. Ask for a temporarily lowered interest rate, reduced monthly payment or waived late fees. Make sure to explain how the pandemic has influenced your finances. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, says Dan Herron, a California-based CFP at Elemental Wealth Advisors. “It doesn’t hurt to say, ‘I’m still trying to do the right thing, I’m still trying to make payments. Where can we meet in the middle?’” he says. Any break you get, take that money and apply it to your debt. If you need help negotiating, contact a credit counsellor at a reputable non-profit organization, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Counselors have relationships with creditors and can negotiate on your behalf. Services are typically free for those experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. CONSIDER CONSOLIDATING If you have multiple types of debt, such as loans, credit cards and medical bills, you may want to take out an unsecured personal loan to consolidate it into one monthly payment. A consolidation loan is a good idea only if you can qualify for a lower interest rate than those on your current debts. Some lenders have tightened their approval standards in the pandemic, but borrowers with good to excellent credit (690 FICO or higher) should have a good shot. Look for a lender that specializes in debt consolidation and offers perks like direct payments to creditors or rate discounts for automated payments. If you have credit card debt, you could apply for a balance transfer card. Though these cards typically charge a 3% to 5% fee, they offer an introductory 0% interest period, so all payments go toward your principal, which helps you pay off debt faster. You’ll likely need good credit to qualify. Charles Ho, a California-based CFP and founder of Legacy Builders Financial, urges caution for some consumers. Though consolidation tools can save money, they also free up your credit cards for more spending. “It might make mathematical sense to consolidate your loans, but the math is meaningless if we don’t account for our behaviour and end up almost doubling our debt,” he says. PICK A STRATEGY AND STICK TO IT If you choose not to consolidate, there are two common methods for approaching debt payoff: the snowball or avalanche. With the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debt first, while making minimum payments on the others, then move to the second smallest and so on. The avalanche method uses the same strategy, but you start with the debt that has the highest interest rate. According to Herron, the avalanche method may get you to the finish line faster since the money you save on interest can be applied to other debts, but it’s more important to pick the method that motivates you the most. BREAK THE CYCLE As you make your way out of debt, start to automate your finances. Moore has her clients set up automatic bill payments and savings contributions, so the money is put aside without having to think about it. If finances are tight in the pandemic, build toward a $500 emergency fund. She also advises clients to use a separate account for nonessential spending — 30% of your post-tax income is a good target to hit in this account. Clients can use the money to buy whatever they want, but once it’s at $0, “that’s it,” she says. “By automating and creating systems, it helps you stick to your financial strategy and take the emotional aspect out of it. That’s the key.” ______________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Jackie Veling is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. RELATED LINKS NerdWallet: Compare debt consolidation loans http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-debt-consolidation-loans National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Get help for debt https://www.nfcc.org/ Jackie Veling Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
COUNTRY HARBOUR – Better now than during the summer is the general reaction from people in the Country Harbour area when it was announced last week (Jan. 20) that the Country Harbour ferry would continue to be out of service – due to mechanical problems – until May, when a new ferry comes into service. The Stormont II served as a link between the communities of Country Harbour and Port Bickerton for more than 40 years and was scheduled for replacement in May; a schedule the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says is on track. The cable ferry makes 13,000 voyages a year carrying 25,000 passengers and 15,000 vehicles but traffic is greatly reduced over the winter months. Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) Councillor Rickey McLaren, whose district includes Country Harbour, told The Journal that he had not gotten any calls about the disruption to service. If service were stopped in the summer, he expected there might have been more of a reaction. That’s a sentiment shared by the local stores in the Country Harbour area; Smokey Hollow General Store and Rhynold's Gas and Convenience. Paul MacLennan of Smokey Hollow General told The Journal that the temporary closure of the Country Harbour ferry at this time of year made little difference in his business but added if it had happened in the summer, tourism would be affected. At Rhynold’s store there was similar comment, with the exception that one of the part-time employees now has to add 30 minutes’ drive to her commute. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Lloyd Hines, who is also MLA for the Country Harbour area, said in the TIR press release, “This is disappointing news, especially during a year that has already been hard…We had hoped the old ferry would takes us through to the arrival of the brand new ferry. The Stormont II served the community well for more than 40 years, but unfortunately the mechanical issues are significant." The Stormont II has been out of service since November. During the pause in service, a detour has been in place. It runs from Port Bickerton, on Route 211, to Route 7 and then to Melrose Country Harbour Road and onto Route 316. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – This past year has given us a lot of time to reflect, to think globally – as well as locally – about things that matter, things that don’t and about what we want the world to look like when we finally get to see it again in person and not through a computer monitor. But what can we do with so many thoughts and so few people to talk to? ArtWorks East, an association of artists and crafters who live in Guysborough County, has an answer to that question: create. Just as the new year was about to dawn, with the weight of many hopes for the coming months, ArtWorks East (AWE) announced a new project, Letter to the World, on Facebook. The project asks potential participants, “As we enter 2021, what would you like to say to the world? Write a letter, take a picture, and post it … The world needs you!” AWE member Renee Sagebear spoke to The Journal about the genesis of the project last week. The idea started in the form of a calendar which had as its cover the tarot card for ‘The World.’ “I got out my tarot decks and, sure enough, number 21 in the tarot deck is the world. That, to me, was pretty fantastic…. Then I looked through the calendar and one of the contributors had written her letter to the world and I thought ‘This is the year of the world, and it would be so fantastic if we all just realized that,’” Sagebear said. The idea took another step forward due to Sagebear’s familiarity with the Facebook page, View From My Window, where contributors from all around the world post pictures and videos from their location. The page started as an online remedy to the isolation brought on by COVID-19 lockdowns. “I was inspired by that,” Sagebear said, adding that once she had the two ideas together she brought them to AWE President Jack Leonard, “To ask people to contribute a letter to the world on the ArtWorks East Facebook site with the intention, at the end of the year, to have an exhibit of all of the letters, photographs or paintings.” Now that Sagebear’s idea has launched, she said, “I thought, ‘What would I write?’… I’ve only just scratched a few words so far because when you write a letter to the world, that’s quite phenomenal … People will probably come up with ideas that we can’t even fathom.” Studying the tarot has done that for Sagebear. She told The Journal that the addition of the numbers that make up this year, 2021, equal five and, “The number five in the tarot is the peacemaker.” Perhaps a good jumping off point for her letter to the world. The concept is large and initially daunting, but Leonard suggested people start their submission by thinking “about your target audience, think about your context; what’s on your mind. It could be climate change, or it could be the pandemic, or it could be the elections, and then you have to think about your medium.” The medium could be as diverse as anything that can fit on a page or canvas, “We wanted to leave the door wide open for people to create whatever they wanted.” Speaking to the motivation AWE has in hosting this event Leonard said, “The nice thing about it is it invites a lot of people to participate who might not be members of the organization and may not feel that they are visual artists in any way… It’s nice to have something occasionally where you invite everybody, regardless of age or talent, to make a contribution.” Submissions to the Letter to the World project are welcome from anyone, everywhere, in any style of writing. And if words are too small to hold your thoughts, you could see your letter to the world and submit an image. The project is evolving, and the result depends on how many and what kinds of submissions AWE receives. Those interested in submitting an entry have the next eleven months to cogitate and create a Letter to the World. Information about the project and the location for submissions can be found on the ArtWorks East webpage under Events or on the ArtWorks East Facebook page. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Actuellement conseillère municipale pour le district 4 de la Ville de Matane, Annie Veillette se lance cette fois-ci à la tête du conseil de ville. Se disant limitée dans ses implications en tant que conseillère, elle est prête à tout tenter pour devenir mairesse. Celle qui tient le poste de conseillère du district 4 à Matane depuis 2017 se dit prête à briguer la mairie le 7 novembre prochain, alors que l’actuel maire, Jérôme Landry, a déjà annoncé son départ de la politique municipale il y a un peu plus d’un mois. Étant la plus jeune conseillère élue et la seule femme sur le conseil, Annie Veillette est fière de ses récents accomplissements, des projets défendus lors de son premier mandat et de son implication auprès de l’administration et de la communauté. Mais elle est restée sur sa faim. « Ce n’est pas assez. Je veux être plus sollicitée, et je veux mettre plus de temps sur des dossiers et des réflexions pertinentes pour la ville », dit-elle. « Comme mairesse, je suis déterminée à m’investir pleinement afin d’améliorer Matane, sans voir le temps passer. Même dans mes temps libres, je pense à la ville, aux dossiers, à comment mieux réfléchir les enjeux et à des solutions possibles », a-t-elle avancé. « Considérant mon profil d’élue, de jeune femme formée en développement régional, avec une expertise en développement de projets pour la collectivité, j’ai la conviction de me démarquer des autres. » Aux citoyens matanais, Annie Veillette promet de s’engager et de s’investir dans des projets qui les serviront immédiatement et dans le futur, d’avoir une approche toujours humaine et inclusive et enfin, d’être présente et accessible. Elle souhaite également défendre des dossiers de développement régional, de milieu de vie attractif, de respect de l’environnement et d’une gestion saine et efficace à long terme pour la Ville. En plus d’être conseillère chargée du district 4, Mme Veillette est chargée des dossiers d’urbanisme et des familles pour la Ville de Matane. Elle a notamment été nommée au sein de la Commission des jeunes élues et élus de l’Union des municipalités du Québec. Âgée de 26 ans, Annie Veillette est née et a grandi à Matane, y complétant ses études secondaires et collégiales. Elle a obtenu un baccalauréat en Psychologie et Sociologie de l’Université de Montréal, et finalise à présent une maîtrise en Développement territorial et régional à l’UQAR. Son essai de maîtrise porte sur la résilience des agriculteurs et des communautés. Elle a donné naissance à une fille en décembre 2020.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
The Writers' Trust of Canada is renaming its annual fiction award after co-founders and literary power couple Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson.In a news release Wednesday, organizers announced that the prestigious honour will now be known as the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.The name change comes with a $10,000 increase in prize money, with future winners set to receive $60,000. Atwood and Gibson, who were partners for more than a half-century until Gibson's death in 2019, were among the wordsmiths who co-founded the Writers' Trust in 1976.In a statement, playwright and fellow co-founder David Young says the prize is a "perfect" way to honour their commitment to Canada's literary culture.Since 1997, the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize has been handed out to the author of the year's best novel or short story collection. Previous winners include Andre Alexis, Emma Donoghue, Lawrence Hill, Alice Munro and Austin Clarke.The finalists for the 2021 prize will be announced on Sept. 28, and the winner will be named on Nov. 3.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Charlottetown Islanders say they will play by the COVID-19 rules when their season resumes in Cape Breton on Friday. The Charlottetown Driving Park is the only open harness racing track in Canada right now, and it was first to open in the spring, and that created a surge in revenues in 2020. The final numbers are in, and they show what many observers already suspected — 2020 was the worst year on record for the Charlottetown Airport in the last 45 years. The pandemic has slowed down the process of turning Hog Island, along P.E.I.'s North Shore, into a national park reserve. Provincial qualifiers for the Scotties and the Brier are short on competitors, and Curl P.E.I. says it is because of the self-isolation requirements. A trauma and orthopedic surgeon has been splitting his time between work in three New Brunswick hospitals and his home and family in P.E.I. And he's got dozens of COVID-19 test results to show for it. UPEI's writer-in-residence will not actually be in residence this year. A 24-year-old P.E.I. woman from the Summerside area has been fined for not following the province's COVID-19 self-isolation rules. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. remains 110, with six still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick reported 14 new cases Wednesday. Nova Scotia had four new cases, with 12 active. 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.
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive body warned the Polish government Wednesday that it has a month to address long-standing concerns about laws that Brussels fears undermine the independence of Supreme Court judges or Poland faces possible legal action. The European Commission considers Poland in violation of EU law for allowing the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court to make decisions which have a direct impact on judges and the way they do their jobs. It says the chamber's independence and impartiality are not guaranteed. The commission warned that it “may refer the case” to the European Court of Justice, Europe’s top court, unless Poland takes action to fix the problem and replies to Brussels’ concerns in time. A series of legislative acts approved in late 2019 governs the way Poland's justice system operates. The laws entered force in February of last year. The European Commission started infringement proceedings against the government in Warsaw in April, and took further steps in October and December. The EU is concerned about cases involving the lifting of judges’ immunity to bring criminal proceedings against them, moves to temporarily suspend them and to cut their salaries. The Supreme Court disciplinary chamber can also rule on labour law, social security and the retirement of judges. The European Commission, which supervises the way EU laws are applied in the 27 member countries, said “the mere prospect for judges of having to face proceedings before a body whose independence is not guaranteed creates a ‘chilling effect’ for judges and can affect their own independence.” In November, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber suspended Judge Igor Tuleya and cut his salary by 25%. Tuleya, who has been critical of the changes to the justice system, has become the symbol of the struggle for judicial independence in Poland. Tuleya’s immunity was also waived, allowing prosecutors to press charges against him, for having let the media hear the verdict in a politically sensitive trial. He's the third judge critical of Justice Ministry policy who has been suspended by the chamber, which is largely composed of government loyalists. Poland’s largest association of judges, IUSTITIA, has condemned the decisions. The EU commission's case is part of a long-running row between Brussels and the nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary over concerns that they are undermining democratic standards and the rule of law in the world's biggest trading bloc. The Associated Press
ST. MARY’S – A tiny dirt road near Sonora – a mere afterthought for any mapmaker – has suddenly become an important topic for local decision-makers. In December, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s issued a formal expression of interest in acquiring a tiny strip of surplus land – once an access road to the St. Mary’s River – after receiving a memo from the Real Property Services Acquisition and Disposal division of the provincial Department of Transportation and Renewal. Last week, elected officials heard that the province had withdrawn its offer pending examination of an expression of interest by another government department. What’s more, a local developer has also come forward, inquiring about the land’s availability. At council’s Jan. 20 committee of the whole meeting, Warden Greg Wier wondered whether council should step back. “I think if a land developer would like it and it would help build a couple of homes and give us some tax revenues, I think it would be a good idea to let them have it,” he told his fellow councillors.” Deputy Warden James Fuller added, “It may be good for the tax base, [but] I think we should just wait and see. We may be out of the running anyway. And, if we are, let’s just see what the developer is developing.” Councillor Everett Baker agreed: “There’s not much we can do right now anyway.” The Nov. 18 letter from the province stated: “We are informing you that the land … identified as PID 35231786 on Property Online, Old Ferry Road/Gegogan Ferry Road, at St. Mary’s River, Guysborough County… is surplus to the needs of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Please advise if you have any interest in acquiring the property.” Last month, the municipality’s Director of Finance Marian Fraser explained: “Any time the province has land it no longer has a need for, it always sends out a notice to the adjoining municipalities and any other levels of government to see if there is interest. In this case, council did express their interest and put in a formal notice to acquire it.” The most recent Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report shows that the province earned nearly $161,000 on the disposal of 31 pieces of real property to private and public sector interests during the fiscal year ending March 20, 2020. Of these, the Crown conveyed surplus land only once to a municipality – the County of Shelburne – for $1. Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald told The Journal: “It’s always good for the municipality to have land, especially if there’s water access. It could be used in conjunction with development. So, if there is a piece of development that would increase our tax base, we might eye it for development.” Council has directed municipal staff to inform the private interest that the decision is still with the provincial government. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
MOSCOW — The lower house of Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact days before it’s due to expire. The State Duma voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years. The vote came a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes about extending the New START treaty. They agreed to complete the necessary procedures in the next few days, according to the Kremlin. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week. The Associated Press
Quantum Genetix, a laboratory licensed to perform COVID-19 testing in Saskatchewan for profit, has expanded its licence to include anyone in the province who is asymptomatic and wishes to be tested. The Saskatoon lab started processing samples at the beginning of December. At that time the company was only doing travel- and business-related testing in Saskatchewan. Testing kits are $150 and results are emailed to clients within 48 hours. For same-day rush service, testing kits are $250. Quantum Genetix has been very busy since December, according to Heather Deobald, the lab's general manager. The lab has served more than 100 businesses and more than 1,000 travelers so far. "We requested to have our licence expanded because from the start we've been getting requests from Saskatchewan residents who didn't fall under the business or travel related scope that we were given our licence through." Individuals and businesses can order testing kits by mail from Quantum Genetix. Kits contain self-administered nasal and oral swabs, and detailed instructions on how to use them. "Before we were able to do the testing, people were struggling sometimes with having turnaround times that they could utilize and still be able to go out and do their work or whatever they needed the test for," said Deobald. "So I think people are just relieved that they had another option." Deobold says there are many reasons Sask. residents are willing to pay for a quick test. "People waiting for surgery, people who have compassion permission to go into a care facility, families with immunocompromised family members. Single family members who are having another family member come into their home. Or two single people wanting to get together," said Deobald. After receiving the kit, clients can either courier their specimen to the Saskatoon laboratory or drop it off on-location at a kiosk there. Deobald said Quantum Genetix is working on making the process easier for anyone in the province, including those in the north. "We're actually right now working with another private business in Saskatchewan who will help us to expand into all areas of the province," she said. "We should have the news on that and more information on that hopefully next week."
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
A Cree pilot says he was honoured to be the person who delivered vaccines to some Cree communities in northern Quebec. Air Creebec pilot Willard Petagumskum flew vaccines to all of the coastal Cree communities in Quebec on Jan. 16. It marked the start of a regional vaccination campaign across Cree territory and an important step in the Cree fight against COVID-19. "I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. Because with everything we have been going through with this pandemic ... that it would help our people," said Petagumskum in Cree. As of Tuesday, there were 86 positive COVID-19 cases tied to an outbreak at the start of the new year in the region. Two Cree communities — Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou — have been hit particularly hard. There are 52 positive cases in Mistissini and 28 in Oujé-Bougoumou, according to the latest numbers from Cree public health. I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. - Willard Petagumskum, Air Creebec pilot For Petagumskum, who is from Whapmagoostui, the vaccine is an important way to protect vulnerable people in Cree communities. "There is a vaccine for [COVID-19] to help many ... elders and all our people," said Petagumskum. So far in the vaccination campaign, more than 8,200 people have received the vaccine that Petagumskum delivered, according to health officials. "I'm glad to be a part of this with the nurses and doctors, they do a lot to help our people. The small part of me being able to help out with this, that made me happy." The vaccine delivery happened in the middle of a snowstorm on Jan. 16, but after 30 years as pilot, Petagumskum took it in stride. "When I woke up Saturday morning to get ready for work, I noticed it was snowing a lot. There was a snowstorm in Montreal." Petagumskum needed to have a negative COVID-19 test before he could make the flight. He said he will get the vaccine himself as soon as he's able. 'I want people to look after themselves even after you receive your shot of this vaccine. You still have to be careful," he said. WATCH | Resident Fred Tomatuk watches the flight carrying the vaccine land in Eastmain, Que.:
The European Union failed to make a breakthrough in crisis talks with AstraZeneca on Wednesday and demanded the drugmaker spell out how it would supply the bloc with reserved doses of COVID-19 vaccine from plants in Europe and Britain. The EU is making more comprehensive checks on vaccines before approval, which means a slower rollout of shots than former EU member Britain and growing public frustration. The issue has been exacerbated by Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca and Pfizer of the United States both announcing delivery hold-ups in recent weeks.
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
Answering growing frustration over vaccine shortages, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. is ramping up deliveries to hard-pressed states over the next three weeks and expects to provide enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall. Biden, calling the push a “wartime effort,” said Tuesday the administration was working to buy an additional 100 million doses of each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines. He acknowledged that states in recent weeks have been left guessing how much vaccine they will have from one week to the next. Shortages have been so severe that some vaccination sites around the U.S. had to cancel tens of thousands of appointments with people seeking their first shot. “This is unacceptable," Biden said. "Lives are at stake.” He promised a roughly 16% boost in deliveries to states over the next three weeks. The administration said it plans to buy another 100 million doses each from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna to ensure it has enough vaccine for the long term. Even more vaccine could be available if federal scientists approve a single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson, which is expected to seek emergency authorization in the coming weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the government plans to make about 10.1 million first and second doses available next week, up from this week’s allotment of 8.6 million. The figures represent doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It was not immediately clear how long the surge of doses could be sustained. Governors and top health officials have been increasingly raising the alarm about inadequate supplies and the need for earlier and more reliable estimates of how much vaccine is on the way so that they can plan. Biden's team held its first virus-related call with the nation's governors on Tuesday and pledged to provide states with firm vaccine allocations three weeks ahead of delivery. Biden's announcement came a day after he grew more bullish about exceeding his vaccine pledge to deliver 100 million injections in his first 100 days in office, suggesting that a rate of 1.5 million doses per day could soon be achieved. The administration has also promised more openness and said it will hold news briefings three times a week, beginning Wednesday, about the outbreak that has killed more than 425,000 people in the United States. “We appreciate the administration stating that it will provide states with slightly higher allocations for the next few weeks, but we are going to need much more supply," said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican. The setup inherited from the Trump administration has been marked by miscommunication and unexplained bottlenecks, with shortages reported in some places even as vaccine doses remain on the shelf. Officials in West Virginia, which has had one of the best rates of administering vaccine, said they have fewer than 11,000 first doses on hand even after this week’s shipment. “I’m screaming my head off” for more, Republican Gov. Jim Justice said. California, which has faced criticism over a slow vaccine rollout, announced Tuesday that it is centralizing its hodgepodge of county systems and streamlining appointment sign-up, notification and eligibility. Residents have been baffled by the varying rules in different counties. And in Colorado, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said that the limited supply of vaccine from the federal government is prompting the state to repurpose second doses as first doses, though he expects that people scheduled for their second shot will still be able to keep their appointments. The weekly allocation cycle for first doses begins on Monday nights, when federal officials review data on vaccine availability from manufacturers to determine how much each state can have. Allocations are based on each jurisdiction’s population of people 18 and older. States are notified on Tuesdays of their allocations through a computer network called Tiberius and other channels, after which they can specify where they want doses shipped. Deliveries start the following Monday. A similar but separate process for ordering second doses, which must be given three to four weeks after the first, begins each week on Sunday night. As of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC reported that just over half of the 44 million doses distributed to states have been put in people’s arms. That is well short of the hundreds of millions of doses that experts say will need to be administered to achieve herd immunity and conquer the outbreak. The U.S. ranks fifth in the world in the number of doses administered relative to the country’s population, behind No. 1 Israel, United Arab Emirates, Britain and Bahrain, according to the University of Oxford. The reason more of the available shots in the U.S. haven’t been dispensed isn’t entirely clear. But many vaccination sites are apparently holding large quantities of vaccine in reserve to make sure people who have already gotten their first shot receive the required second one on schedule. Also, some state officials have complained of a lag between when they report their vaccination numbers to the government and when the figures are posted on the CDC website. In the New Orleans area, Ochsner Health said Monday that inadequate supply forced the cancellation last week of 21,400 first-dose appointments but that second-dose appointments aren’t affected. In North Carolina, Greensboro-based Cone Health announced it is cancelling first-dose appointments for 10,000 people and moving them to a waiting list because of supply problems. Jesse Williams, 81, of Reidsville, North Carolina, said his appointment Thursday with Cone Health was scratched, and he is waiting to hear when it might be rescheduled. The former volunteer firefighter had hoped the vaccine would enable him to resume attending church, playing golf and seeing friends. “It’s just a frustration that we were expecting to be having our shots and being a little more resilient to COVID-19,” he said. The vaccine rollout across the 27-nation European Union has also run into roadblocks and has likewise been criticized as too slow. Pfizer is delaying deliveries while it upgrades its plant in Belgium to increase capacity. And AstraZeneca disclosed that its initial shipment will be smaller than expected. The EU, with 450 million citizens, is demanding that the pharmaceutical companies meet their commitments on schedule. ___ Associated Press writers around the U.S. contributed to this report. ___ Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic Jonathan Drew And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
ST. MARY’S – On the subject of feelings, elected officials of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s got down to business last week. After less than five minutes of deliberation, the Jan. 20 committee of the whole meeting voted to send “whoever is available” on council to a think tank on social wellbeing tentatively scheduled to take place in Guysborough next month. The summit is the brainchild of Engage Nova Scotia, a Halifax-based non-governmental organization responsible for “An Exploration of Wellbeing in Nova Scotia: A summary of Results from the Nova Scotia Quality of Life Survey” released a year ago. “The question to this council [from Engage NS] is whether [you’d] like to participate in this event next month,” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald told councillors, adding that the meeting is intended to be a “joint session” also involving council representatives from the Town of Mulgrave, Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish. “It seems to me a good opportunity to hear what the other councils are talking about,” he said. “It seems to me [it is] a good thing to participate in.” Based on the responses of 861 residents from Antigonish and Guysborough counties, the survey appears to show that people here are among the happiest and well-adjusted in the province. Of the 10 regions designated, Antigonish-Guysborough ranked number one on the ‘satisfaction with life in general’ scale, with 45.7 per cent of respondents declaring that they were ‘very satisfied’. Area residents scored second place (behind Southwest Nova) on satisfaction with government responsiveness; second (behind Lunenburg-Queens) on satisfaction with their financial situations; and second (behind Annapolis Valley-Hants) on the environmental quality of their neighborhoods. In the report’s introduction, Engage Nova Scotia says “this set of results deepens our understanding of how Nova Scotia is doing. It is the result of 12,000 [people] participating in a 23-question survey in May and June 2019. It represents the largest data set of its kind in Canada.” Following the meeting, MacDonald said, “There may be some opportunities of joint interest [with other municipalities] going forward. The joint session among the councils is to just talk about what the survey results were for our districts and talk about possibilities for moving forward with that. That’s a good starting point if people are already happy.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal