WASHINGTON — The words of Donald Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot may end up being used against him in his Senate impeachment trial as he faces the charge of inciting a violent insurrection. At least five supporters facing federal charges have suggested they were taking orders from the then-president when they marched on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 to challenge the certification of Joe Biden's election win. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. It's the first time a former president will face such charges after leaving office. “I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there," Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate agent who posted a photo on Twitter of herself flashing a peace sign next to a broken Capitol window, told a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station. Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man photographed on the dais in the Senate who was shirtless and wore face paint and a furry hat with horns, has similarly pointed a finger at Trump. Chansley called the FBI the day after the insurrection and told agents he travelled “at the request of the president that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021,” authorities wrote in court papers. Chanley’s lawyer unsuccessfully lobbied for a pardon for his client before Trump's term ended, saying Chansley “felt like he was answering the call of our president.” Authorities say that while up on the dais in the Senate chamber, Chansley wrote a threatening note to then-Vice-President Mike Pence that said: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” Trump is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. The charge this time is “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” His impeachment lawyer, Butch Bowers, did not respond to call for comment. Opening arguments in the trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the storming of the Capitol say a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on. For weeks, Trump rallied his supporters against the election outcome and urged them to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to rage against Biden's win. Trump spoke to the crowd near the White House shortly before they marched along Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,” Trump said. “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.” Later he said: “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He told supporters to walk to the Capitol to “peacefully and patriotically” make your voices heard. Trump has taken no responsibility for his part in fomenting the violence, saying days after the attack: “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate.” Unlike a criminal trial, where there are strict rules about what is and isn’t evidence, the Senate can consider anything it wishes. And if they can show that Trump’s words made a real impact, all the better, and scholars expect it in the trial. "Bringing in those people's statements is part of proving that it would be at a minimum reasonable for a rational person to expect that if you said and did the things that Trump said and did, then they would be understood in precisely the way these people understood them," said Frank Bowman, a constitutional law expert and law professor at University of Missouri. A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania told a friend that that he travelled to Washington with a group of people and the group listened to Trump's speech and then “followed the President’s instructions” and went to the Capitol, an agent wrote in court papers. That man, Robert Sanford, is accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three Capitol Police officers. Another man, Robert Bauer of Kentucky, told FBI agents that “he marched to the U.S. Capitol because President Trump said to do so,” authorities wrote. His cousin, Edward Hemenway, from Virginia, told the FBI that he and Bauer headed toward the Capitol after Trump said “something about taking Pennsylvania Avenue." More than 130 people as of Friday were facing federal charges; prosecutors have promised that more cases — and more serious charges — are coming. Most of those arrested so far are accused of crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, but prosecutors this week filed conspiracy charges against three self-described members of a paramilitary group who authorities say plotted the attack. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges, which carry up to 20 years in prison, against any of the rioters. Two-thirds of the Senate is needed to convict. And while many Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky— have condemned Trump's words, it remains unclear how many would vote to convict him. “While the statements of those people kind of bolsters the House manager's case, I think that President Trump has benefited from a Republican Party that has not been willing to look at evidence,” said Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law who testified before the House Judiciary Committee during Trump's first impeachment hearings in 2019. “They stood by him for the entire first impeachment proceeding, thinking that the phone call with the president of the Ukraine was perfect and I’m sure they will think that was a perfect speech too. There is nothing yet to suggest that they would think otherwise," Gerhardt said. ____ Richer reported from Boston. Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
Mayor Stasiuk called the regularly scheduled council meeting for the Town of Langenburg to order with all members present. After reviewing the agenda, Councillor Sicinski made a motion to accept the agenda; motion carried Next, the minutes were reviewed before Councillor Popp making a motion to accept; motion carried. The council then reviewed the town’s accounts. After a short discussion, Councillor Lundgren made a motion to accept the accounts as reviewed; motion carried. Next, the council heard the Town Foreman’s Report. Dave Tucker explained what the town maintenance staff have done over the last two weeks as well as what they are looking at doing over the next two weeks. Councillor Hunt made a motion to accept the Town Foreman’s Report; motion carried. Administrator Lemcke reviewed her report with the council. After a short discussion, Councillor Popp made a motion to accept the report which was carried. Corporal Darcy Theimann of the Esterhazy/Langenburg RCMP was in attendance to have an informal discussion with the council. Corporal Theimann was there to meet the new council as well as to inform the council of what’s happening with the local RCMP, the detachment is short-staffed at this time and it isn’t looking any better coming up as they could be as many as 3 staff members short. COVID restrictions were discussed as well as COVID fines, the RCMP are not going out to issue COVID fines but will investigate any complaints or concerns about COVID restrictions. Carrying on, the council reviewed the correspondence received by the town over the last two weeks. Councillor Hunt made a motion to file the correspondence which was carried. The council then moved in-camera with a motion by Councillor Sicinski; motion carried. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
Tourisme Côte-Nord y est allé d’une idée de promotion complètement amusante, afin de continuer à promouvoir la région en temps de Covid. Ils ont lancé ce 21 janvier une campagne humoristique, sur les jeux de société. Tourisme Côte-Nord propose 20 parodies de jeux de société à saveur nord-côtière, et invite la population à partager leur campagne promotionnelle, afin de faire connaître la région, et de rigoler un peu.L’organisme mentionne que l’industrie touristique a été lourdement affectée par cette pandémie et qu’elle aura de grands besoins lors de la relance économique.Voici la toute dernière campagne réalisée par Tourisme Côte-Nord: https://www.facebook.com/613352892084693/posts/3582545271832092/?sfnsn=moKarine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
DALIAN, China — Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez left Chinese club Dalian Pro on Saturday, citing family reasons during the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic is still here, for all of us, and supporting our families has been a priority when making this decision,” Benitez wrote in a statement on his personal website. Benitez had one year left on his contract with the club, which finished 12th in the 16-team Chinese Super League last season. “I say goodbye sadly under these circumstances, but at the same time I am convinced that the future will be bright for Dalian Pro,” he said. The 60-year-old Spaniard went to China after a three-year spell re-establishing Newcastle in the English Premier League. Benitez won the Spanish league twice and a UEFA Cup with Valencia before moving to Liverpool. He led Liverpool to a surprise Champions League title in 2005, the first of his six seasons there. Benitez later had short stints in charge at Inter Milan, Chelsea — winning the Europa League in 2013 — and Real Madrid. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
With input from the Town Engineer, Ste-phen Burnett and Director of Development and Operations Jim Moss, Treasurer Carey Holmes outlined the connecting link grant contract for the East portion of Main Street.The RFP was closed in November and four bids were received. The winning bid, which includes option 1, of the three options pro-vided, was Coco Paving at $491,609.Stephen Burnett outlined to council the total scope of the project and all three options. He explained that when the appli-cation was filed, the total scope of the work was not determined.Once this was accomplished, it was deter-mined that the curbing along the core area of Main Street did need replacement along with the road resurfacing. Behind the curb-ing, between it and the sidewalk, was an area of interlocking stone. The decision that needed to be made was as to whether or not this should be replaced, reused, or left alone, hence the aforementioned three options.The recommendation was that option 1 was the most efficient and practical, replace the interlocking stone and the curbing, along with the resurfacing of the road way.Some of the old interlocking stone could be saved and reused in the renovations to Jack Downing Park.In addition, the curbing in front of Town Hall, at the crosswalk, would be extended out so as to remove one lane of traffic and negate the use to the current barriers to pre-vent motorists from trying to pass cars wait-ing for traffic in the crosswalk.Both the new stone and the lane change are awaiting MTO approval but no issue with that is presently foreseen.Treasurer Holmes indicated that the extra costs of the new stone, which was a little over $82,000, could be taken from the Road Construction Reserve, leaving it with a bal-ance of $293,500.Once the MTO approvals are received for the optional work, the project should commence as soon as weather permits are available, assumably in early spring of 2021. Council approved the project unanimously. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Democrats plan to move quickly on one of the first bills of the new Congress, citing the need for federal election standards and other reforms to shore up the foundations of American democracy after a tumultuous post-election period and deadly riot at the Capitol. States have long had disparate and contradictory rules for running elections. But the 2020 election, which featured pandemic-related changes to ease voting and then a flood of lawsuits by former President Donald Trump and his allies, underscored the differences from state to state: Mail-in ballots due on Election Day or just postmarked by then? Absentee voting allowed for all or just voters with an excuse? Same-day or advance-only registration? Democrats, asserting constitutional authority to set the time, place and manner of federal elections, want national rules they say would make voting more uniform, accessible and fair across the nation. The bill would mandate early voting, same-day registration and other long-sought reforms that Republicans reject as federal overreach. “We have just literally seen an attack on our own democracy,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, referring to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. “I cannot think of a more timely moment to start moving on democracy reform.” The legislation first introduced two years ago, known as the For the People Act, also would give independent commissions the job of drawing congressional districts, require political groups to disclose high-dollar donors, create reporting requirements for online political ads and, in a rearview nod at Trump, obligate presidents to disclose their tax returns. Republican opposition was fierce during the last session. At the time, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., labeled it the “Democrat Politician Protection Act” and said in an op-ed that Democrats were seeking to “change the rules of American politics to benefit one party.” While Democrats control Congress for the first time in a decade, the measure's fate depends on whether enough Republicans can be persuaded to reconsider a bill they have repeatedly rejected. If not, Democrats could decide it's time to take the extraordinary and difficult step of eliminating the Senate filibuster, a procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. Advocates say the bill is the most consequential piece of voting legislation since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. House Democrats vowed two years ago to make the bill a priority, and they reintroduced it this month as H.R. 1, underscoring its importance to the party. “People just want to be able to cast their vote without it being an ordeal,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland who is the lead sponsor of the House bill. “It’s crazy in America that you still have to navigate an obstacle course to get to the ballot box.” Current plans would have the full House take up the bill as soon as the first week of February. The Senate Rules Committee would then consider a companion bill introduced in the Senate, and a tie vote there could allow it to move out of committee and to the floor as early as next month, said Klobuchar, who is expected to become the committee’s next chair. A quick vote would be remarkable considering the Senate also is likely to be juggling Trump’s impeachment trial, confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet choices and another round of coronavirus relief. While states have long had different voting procedures, the November 2020 election highlighted how the variability could be used to sow doubt about the outcome. The bill’s supporters, which include national voting and civil rights organizations, cited dozens of pre-election lawsuits that challenged procedural rules, such as whether ballots postmarked on Election Day should count. They also pointed to the post-election litigation Trump and his allies filed to try to get millions of legitimately cast ballots tossed out. Many of those lawsuits targeted election changes intended to make voting easier. That included a Pennsylvania law the state’s Republican-led legislature passed before the pandemic to make absentee ballots available to all registered voters upon request. Government and election officials repeatedly have described the election as the most secure in U.S. history. Even former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump ally, said before leaving his post that there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would overturn the result. “The strategy of lying about voter fraud, delegitimizing the election outcome and trying to suppress votes has been unmasked for the illegitimate attack on our democracy that it is, and I think that it opens a lot more doors to real conversations about how to fix our voting system and root out this cancer,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute. Along with the election reform bill, the House two years ago introduced a related bill, now known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in honour of the late civil rights activist and congressman. House Democrats are expected to reintroduce it soon after it had similarly stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. That bill would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties. A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling set aside the method used to identify jurisdictions subject to the provision, known as preclearance, which was used to protect voting rights in places with a history of discrimination. In general, state election officials have been wary of federal voting requirements. But those serving in states led by Democrats have been more open and want to ensure Congress provides money to help them make system upgrades, which the bill does. “If you still believe in what we all learned in high school government class, that democracy works best when as many eligible people participate, these are commonsense reforms,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat who oversaw California’s elections before being appointed to the seat formerly held by Vice-President Kamala Harris. But Republican officials like Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill remain opposed. Merrill said the federal government’s role is limited and that states must be allowed to innovate and implement their own voting rules. “Those decisions are best left up to the states, and I think the states are the ones that should determine what course of action they should take,” Merrill said, noting that Alabama has increased voter registration and participation without implementing early voting. “To just say that everything needs to be uniform, that’s not the United States of America,” Merrill said. In the Senate, a key question will be whether there is enough Republican support for elements of the voting reform bill to persuade Democrats to break off certain parts of it into smaller legislation. For now, Democrats say they want a floor vote on the full package. Edward B. Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said Democrats should consider narrow reforms that could gain bipartisan support, cautioning that moving too quickly on a broad bill runs the risk of putting off Republicans. “It would seem to me at this moment in American history, a precarious moment, the right instinct should be a kind of bipartisanship to rebuild common ground as opposed to ‘Our side won, your side lost and we are off to the races,’” Foley said. ___ Cassidy reported from Atlanta. Christina A. Cassidy, The Associated Press
More than a month after the crew of a scallop dragger from Nova Scotia disappeared on the Bay of Fundy, the RCMP are calling off their search for the five men suspected of going down with the vessel, citing "significant" risk to the lives of divers. The body of one crew member was found the day the boat was last seen. The loved ones of missing crew members received a glimmer of hope last weekend when the sunken boat was located on the ocean floor, about two kilometres from Delaps Cove and more than 60 metres below the surface. The RCMP said at the time that their crews were not equipped to dive to the necessary depths to look inside, but they said they were studying their options. On Saturday, they announced in a news release that those options had been exhausted. Too risky for Canadian Armed Forces divers "The RCMP approached the Canadian Armed Forces to determine whether their divers may be able to assist," the RCMP news release said. "Upon conducting a thorough risk analysis, the CAF determined that the risk to the lives of their divers was too significant and unfortunately, were unable to support the request." With that, the RCMP said they were putting an end to all search operations, but they will continue to support investigations by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) and the provincial Department of Labour. In a statement, the TSB said it is conducting a Class 3 investigation into the incident. According to its website, this kind of investigation would result in a detailed report, which could include some recommendations. These investigations would usually be completed within 450 days. "This investigation is ongoing. It is too early to draw conclusions," the emailed statement said. "In this particular investigation, we have been able to collect significant information without access to the vessel itself. Should the vessel be recovered at a future date, we would examine the wreckage for additional information." The statement said the TSB is not responsible for wreckage recovery or search and rescue missions. "The TSB investigation team is mindful of the families who want answers rapidly. Throughout the investigation, we will be in direct contact with the next of kin," it said. The province's Department of Labour did not immediately respond to CBC's request for comment about the status of the investigation. Family members grapple with end of search The Chief William Saulis was last seen early on Dec. 15 heading toward shore after a week-long fishing trip. No mayday call was issued by the six-man crew, but an automated emergency beacon sounded at about 5 a.m. in the same area where the boat would eventually be found. An extensive search of the shoreline and water was mounted that day, which led to the discovery of two empty life-rafts and the body of one crew member — Michael Drake of Fortune, N.L. Family and friends of the other five crew members — Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes, Eugene Francis and the captain, Charles Roberts — have said they suspect the men were asleep in their bunks when something catastrophic caused the vessel to sink. Laura Smith, the sister and next of kin of Gabriel, said she's satisfied that the RCMP have done everything in their ability to find the men, but she thinks some other government entity should continue the search. She said no expense should be spared, "providing it's safe enough that we don't lose any other men doing the search.... I don't want to lose anybody else's family member trying to bring mine home." Smith said she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life wondering if her brother might eventually wash up on shore. The RCMP have not been able to confirm that the missing fishermen are inside the vessel, but Lori Phillips — the mother of crew member Cogswell — said she's confident they are. She feels there must be some way to bring them up. "They can send divers down to the Titanic to bring up artifacts ... realistically I'm having a hard time comprehending it. I think it comes down to the almighty dollar," Phillips said. But even if there is a way to recover the men, Phillips said she's torn about whether it should be done. "Right now you've got five people who are obviously together in their final resting place, all doing what they love doing. We [would be] bringing them up for our own selfish reasons." The company that owns the Chief William Saulis, Yarmouth Sea Products, has been raising money for the families, including through a GoFundMe campaign that as of Saturday had amassed more than $73,000. Phillips said there's been some talk among the families about putting that money toward an independent recovery effort. "Personally I'm torn, again. I know Aaron is where he would want to be. And the money that could be spent doing that could be put into trust funds for the nephews and nieces that he loved so much and give them a better chance at life so they don't have to go out and risk their lives out on the ocean," Phillips said. Nova Scotia RCMP said they'll continue to offer support and updates to family of the crew.
Recently, the Town of Langenburg completed the work on a new sewage station. The lift station is used to move raw sewage out of town to the lagoon. The sewage station is state of the art and fully automatic. Sewage enters the station through the sewage pipes that come from each and every building in town. First, the sewage passes through a Muffin Monster, which is a device that mulches and grins up anything that happens to pass through the sewage system. Looking down the wet sewage well located just outside the sewage station. Muffin Monster is located at the bottom of the wet sewage well. Next, the sewage is pumped to the lagoon through two high-speed pumps that alternate between the two pumps installed (to extend the life of the pumps that can be costly to replace or repair). All of these pumps are controlled by the brains that make sure the station runs at peak performance, switching from SaskPower electricity to an emergency generator if the power happens to cut out for less than a few minutes. The brains behind the sewage station, including the control panel. Diesel generator changed to propane as a backup generator. The backup generator was converted to propane for direct and constant power if and when needed. The total cost for this project was $1,788,156.00 which was shared by the Federal and Provincial Governments as well; just over ⅓ of the cost covered by the Town of Langenburg. The 2 impeller pumps that move the raw sewage through the pumps. While the new facility equipment is state of the art, residents can do their part to help by making sure they only flush what is intended to go down the sewers. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s health minister, who has faced criticism for consuming and endorsing a herbal syrup made by a sorcerer, has tested positive for COVID-19. A Health Ministry official on Saturday confirmed that Pavithra Wanniarachchi became the highest-ranking official to be infected with the virus. She and her immediate contacts have been asked to self-quarantine. Doctors have said there is no scientific basis for the syrup as remedy for the coronavirus. It's said to contain honey and nutmeg. Thousands of people gathered in long queues in December in the town of Kegalle, northeast of the capital Colombo, to obtain the syrup, just days after Wanniarachchi and several other government officials publicly consumed it. The maker of the syrup said he got the formula through his divine powers. In local media, he claimed the Hindu goddess Kaali appeared to him in a dream and gave the recipe to save humanity from the coronavirus. Sri Lankans are used to taking both the regular medicine and indigenous alternative drugs to cure ailments. Meanwhile on Saturday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that Sri Lanka will receive the first stock of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India on Jan. 27. He said India is giving this stock free of charge and his government is making arrangements to purchase more vaccines from India, China and Russia. On Friday, Sri Lanka approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid warnings from doctors that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to prevent the medical system from collapsing. The vaccine was the first to be approved for emergency use in Sri Lanka. The Health Ministry says the inoculation will begin by mid-February. Sri Lanka has witnessed a fresh outbreak of the disease in October when two clusters — one centred on a garment factory and the other on the main fish market — emerged in Colombo and its suburbs. Sri Lanka has reported 52,964 cases with 278 fatalities. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the town where people lined up for the syrup was Kegalle. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Bulgaria will ease some coronavirus restrictions from February 4 though restaurants will remain closed for now due to concerns about the new coronavirus variant, officials said on Saturday. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said secondary school students will be allowed to attend classes under a special regime as of next month and will also be able to attend extracurricular sport and dance activities. Bulgaria reopened primary schools and kindergartens in early January - a move that has not led to a spike in infections.
WASHINGTON — When Joe Biden took the oath of office as the 46th president, he became not only the oldest newly inaugurated U.S. chief executive in history but also the oldest sitting president ever. Biden was born Nov. 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was 78 years, two months and one day old when he was sworn in on Wednesday. That’s 78 days older than President Ronald Reagan was when he left office in 1989. A look at how the country Biden now leads has changed over his lifetime and how his presidency might reflect that. BIGGER, MORE DIVERSE PIE The U.S. population is approaching 330 million people, dwarfing the 135 million at Biden's birth and nearly 60% greater than when he was first elected to the Senate in 1972. The world population in Biden’s lifetime has grown from about 2.3 billion to 7.8 billion. More striking is the diversity in Biden’s America. The descendant of Irish immigrants, Biden was born during a period of relative stagnant immigration after U.S. limitations on new entries in the 1920s, followed by a worldwide depression in the 1930s. But a wave of European immigration followed World War II, when Biden was young, and more recently an influx of Hispanic and nonwhite immigrants from Latin America, Asia and Africa has altered the melting pot again. In 1950, the first census after Biden’s birth counted the country as 89% white. Heading into 2020, the country was 60% non-Hispanic white and 76% white, including Hispanic whites. So, it’s no surprise that a politician who joined an all-male, nearly all-white Senate as a 30-year-old used his inaugural address 48 years later to promise a reckoning on racial justice and, later that afternoon, signed several immigrant-friendly executive orders. BIDEN, HARRIS AND HISTORY Biden took special note of Vice-President Kamala Harris as the first woman elected to national office, and the first Black woman and south Asian woman to reach the vice presidency. “Don’t tell me things can’t change,” he said of Harris, who was a student in the still-mostly segregated Oakland public elementary school when Biden became a senator. The first time Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, there will be two women behind a president, another first: Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. But change comes slowly. Harris was just the second Black woman ever to serve in the Senate. When she resigned Monday, the Senate was left with none -- and just three Black men out of 100 seats. Black Americans account for about 13% of the population. MONEY MATTERS Minimum wage in 1942 was 30 cents an hour. Median income for men according to the 1940 census, the last before Biden's birth, was $956, with women earning about 62 cents for every dollar a man earned. Today, the minimum wage is $7.25. The federal government's most recent weekly wage statistics reflect a median annual income of about $51,100 for full-time workers. But the question is buying power, and that varies. The month Biden was born, a dozen eggs averaged about 60 cents in U.S. cities -- two hours of minimum wage work. A loaf of bread was 9 cents, about 20 minutes of work. Today, eggs can go for about $1.50 (12 minutes of minimum-wage work); a loaf of bread averages $2 (16 minutes). College tuition is another story. Pre-war tuition at Harvard Business School was about $600 a year -- roughly two-thirds of the median American worker’s yearly wages. Today, the current Harvard MBA class is charged annual tuition of more than $73,000, or a year and almost five months of the median U.S. salary (and that’s before taxes). Biden proposes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour -- a move already drawing opposition from Republicans. He’s called for tuition-free two-year community and technical college and tuition waivers for four-year public schools (so, not Harvard) for students from households with $125,000 or less in annual income. DEBT National debt has soared in Biden’s lifetime, from $72 billion to $27 trillion. But it’s a recent phenomenon. Biden finished 36 years in the Senate and became vice-president amid the fallout from the 2008 financial crash, when the debt was about $10 trillion. Now he takes office amid another economic calamity: the coronavirus pandemic. To some degree, this is a biographical bookend for Biden. He was born when borrowing to finance the war effort generated budget deficits that, when measured as percentage of the overall economy, were the largest in U.S. history until 2020, when emergency COVID spending, the 2017 tax cuts and loss of revenue from a lagging economy added trillions of debt in a single year. Reflecting how President Franklin Roosevelt approached the Great Depression and World War II, Biden is nonetheless calling for an additional $1.9 trillion in immediate deficit spending to prevent a long-term economic slide. PLANES, TRANES AND AUTOMOBILES As part of his proposed overhaul of the energy grid, Biden wants to install 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030, a move analysts project could spur the sale of 25 million electric vehicles. For context, federal statistics counted 33 million cars in the U.S. altogether in 1948, as Biden began grammar school. A FIRST FOR THE SILENT GENERATION Biden is part of the Silent Generation, so named because it falls between the “Greatest Generation” that endured the Depression and won World War II, and their children, the Baby Boomers, who made their mark through the sweeping social and economic changes of the civil rights era, Vietnam and the Cold War. True to the stereotypes, Biden’s generation looked for decades as if it would never see one of its own in the Oval Office. The Greatest Generation produced John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Then Boomers took over. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump were born in a span of 67 days in 1946, the first of the Boomer years. Barack Obama, born in 1961, bookended their generation as a young Boomer. If his inaugural address is any indication, Biden seems eager to embrace the characteristics of his flanking generations. He ticked through the “cascading crises” -- a pandemic and economic fallout reminiscent of the Depression and subsequent war effort, a reckoning on race that’s an extension of the civil rights era -- and summoned the nation “to the tasks of our time.” PLENTY OF FIRST-HAND LEARNING Biden lived through 14 presidencies before beginning his own, nearly one-third of all presidents. No previous White House occupant had lived through so many administrations before taking office. Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
It's not out of the ordinary for it to be windy in southern Alberta. However, these days, it's been above average with gusts climbing to over 100 km/h. All of this prompted some questions on Alberta@Noon about the province's windy reputation. Kyle Brittain, Alberta bureau chief for The Weather Network, says he has felt its power many times, especially this year. For example, on Tuesday, Brittain was on Nakiska Ridgetop, where he was blown over by the 193 km/h wind gusts, he says. "I did not expect it to be that strong.… It looked like conditions were favourable," he said. "Let me tell you, it swept me right off my feet and I did a little bit of a roll there. I was literally hugging the ground at times." This particular spot, Brittain says, has hit over 200 km/h at least 50 times since recording started in 1994. And because Albertans are used to some windy days, especially those living in the Pincher Creek area, it makes for some interesting history. For example, Brittain says there are stretches of highway that are notorious for strong winds tipping over trucks. Strong crosswinds occur south of Stavely on Highway 2 and south of Maycroft Road on Highway 22, stretching down to the Crowsnest Highway. "Those two stretches are just infamous for trucks tipping over because they are really busy thoroughfares and strong crosswinds come across those roads," he said. "So if the truck has got a light load or no load at all, they can go down." "When you enter that area, there's a sign that literally will tell you, like, 'Here's the wind speed,'" he said. Why is it so windy in Alberta? Brittain says the main reason Alberta gets so much wind in the winter is due to the position of the jet stream over the region. "Which can result in strong downslope winds along the lee of the Rockies. Both the steep east slopes, as well as large gaps in the mountain chain — such as Crowsnest Pass, that funnel winds through and accelerate them — result in strong winds to the east of the mountains," he said in an email to CBC News. He adds that this also lends to the type of chinook conditions we see during this time of year. "We basically can picture the wind coming across the mountains across southern B.C. and then suddenly dropping down that steep east slope in southern Alberta. And that can lead to very strong winds in the immediate reach of these Rocky Mountains," he said. "So basically, the combination of steep slopes and those openings in the terrain is what gives us so much wind in southern Alberta in the winter." How does this help renewable energy? Tim Weis, a professor for mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta, says roughly six per cent of Alberta's annual electricity comes from wind. "So we're just above the average in Canada. On average, Canada is about just under six per cent, and it varies pretty widely from province to province," he said. However, down in the States, some places quadruple that statistic for overall wind energy. "When you look directly south of us, every single state from here to Texas has a higher percentage of wind [power]," he said. "Texas has about 23 per cent of their annual power come from the wind. So Texas is a huge wind energy boom. In fact, there's more wind turbines in Texas than all of Canada combined." He says Alberta's wind resources are still excellent and that there's lots of opportunities in store. "We could definitely catch up to where a lot of our American cousins are at," he said. "We obviously have more wind farms, but there might actually be less wind turbines in some cases because you can replace some of those old wind farms [that have] smaller machines with these new big guys." He says that lots of wind-powered projects are being built in the next bit, and expects by 2023 the fleet will be twice the size of what it was a couple of years ago. Winds connection to First Nations Cowboy Smithx, a Blackfoot filmmaker from the Piikani and Kainai tribes of southern Alberta, says wind has always felt nostalgic to him. "It's very comforting to me. I've got a very different relationship with the wind," he said. "Growing up in southern Alberta, I went to school in Pincher Creek.… The wind was prominent. It dominated our daily lives. We had to basically, you know, adjust our schedules based on how windy it was going to be on a particular day." He says he's learned from elders that the wind also dictated how seasonal changes would happen. "When the chinook would come through and melt certain parts of the snow, the Blackfoot had drive lanes to push these buffalo into certain coulees where the snow was deeply drifted, where the buffalo would actually get trapped," he said. "So that relationship with the wind, from the Blackfoot perspective, was deeply informing how we adapted to the seasons and came out of our winter camps." He adds that a number of ancestors have wind attached to their name, which means there is some sort of story connected to their lineage. Melanie Daniels from Wetaskiwin, Alta., says last year she was given her Cree name and that it means Old Lady Wind. "I participated in a sweat ceremony and the ceremony host will, you know, they receive our name through spirit and through ancestors," she said. "It definitely gave me a new perspective on the wind." Daniels says that before, she found wind incredibly annoying, but now she tries to listen to it more. "I've noticed that wind often means that something's changing. And I know I'm starting to become more in tune to those changes." With files from Alberta@Noon.
A decision to waive vision tests and other screening typically required to renew driver's licences for Ontarians aged 80 and older during the pandemic has some in the medical community raising concerns about the risks the move poses to those on the road. Residents aged 80 and older need to renew their licence every two years. The process involves a vision test, an education session, a review of driving records, a screening exercise, and, if needed, a road test. Last March however, in an effort to limit gatherings during the pandemic, Ontario paused licence renewal sessions for drivers aged 80 and older, and waived vision testing requirements. Seniors can currently renew their licences online with no testing needed. Dr. Hall Chew, an ophthalmologist at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Toronto, said the situation is a difficult one. "On the one hand, our seniors are the people who are at risk of getting sick from COVID, so any unnecessary appointments or exposure puts them at high risk," he said. "However, we know it is harder for patients over 80 to drive. They have more medical co-morbidities and vision problems, which we see quite commonly, and this is why renewal requirements exist in the first place." Chew said the suspension of renewal requirements for those 80 and older could lead to some being behind the wheel when they shouldn't be, posing a risk to everyone on the road. He also noted that seniors are likely paying fewer visits to eye doctors during the pandemic, which means some may not yet have been told they should no longer be driving. Chew suggested that vision testing, at minimum, be considered an essential renewal requirement. He said it could be done through virtual consultations or at Service Ontario sites with minimal contact and physical distancing. Dr. Barry Goldlist, a geriatrician at the University Health Network and a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, said licence renewals for those 80 and older should be seen as an essential service. "Why did the government sites close down completely, while others are trying to find ways to provide safe essential services,” he said. Goldlist said masking and physical distancing could at least help vision tests and and the education sessions that are part of senior licence renewals take place. He also suggested that licences renewed online during the pandemic be extended only for six months, as opposed to the typical two years. Several seniors said they wanted to ensure they could keep driving safely and hoped the pause on renewal requirements would not lead to any issues in the future. Anita Longe, an 87-year-old retired nurse, said being able to drive has been particularly useful during the pandemic. “I’ve always enjoyed driving. During COVID we are inside so much, at least we can go for a drive,” she said. Longe, whose licence will expire in September, said she was a careful driver and appreciated the independence the skill brought. She said she was eager to be able to keep driving. Hiroshi Ono, an 84-year-old vision science researcher at York University, recently renewed his license online and said he only learned about being able to do so from a friend. "There was a good reason for having those tests and they are not doing them now,” he said. Meanwhile, some seniors said they've been told by customer service agents that they can keep driving without renewals during the pandemic. John Roce, an architect who turned 82 in September, said he had last been through the renewal process in 2018 and had not yet renewed his licence again. He said he wasn't sure how to do so. "I was told by the licencing bureau to sit tight until I heard from the government," he said. Michael O’Morrow, a senior advisor at the Transportation Ministry said the renewal requirements were suspended “in order to support public health guidance to limit gatherings and encourage self- isolation.” He said licences that had expired from March 1, 2019 onward could be renewed online. "We strongly encourage everyone to renew their driver’s licence," he said. The ministry did not provide statistics on the number of seniors who had their licences revoked since 2018. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021. Radha Kohly is an eye physician and surgeon and vice-chair in her department at the University of Toronto. She is currently a fellow in global journalism at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Radha Kohly, The Canadian Press
What does it take to build a nation? It takes vision, confidence and bringing together everyone in that nation as one for the betterment of that whole nation. How does a person take a nation such as Canada, back in its early beginning, and make it one nation? There were not only citizens of countries in Europe emigrating, there as well as the original residents of the nation the Indigenous, Inuit and Metis. This was the challenge faced by the first Prime Minister of Canada. Beginning in the 1870s, both the federal government and Plains Nations wanted to include schooling provisions in treaties, though for different reasons. Indigenous leaders hoped Euro-Canadian schooling would help their young to learn the skills of the newcomer society and help them make a successful transition to a world dominated by strangers. With the passage of the British North America Act in 1867 and the implementation of the Indian Act (1876), the government was required to provide Indigenous youth with an education and to assimilate them into Canadian society. The federal government supported schooling as a way to make First Nations economically self-sufficient. Their underlying objective was to decrease Indigenous dependence on public funds. The government, therefore, collaborated with Christian missionaries to encourage religious conversion and Indigenous economic self-sufficiency. This led to the development of an educational policy after 1880 that relied heavily on custodial schools. These were not the kind of schools Indigenous leaders had hoped to create. Beginning with the establishment of three industrial schools on the prairies in 1883, and through the next half-century, the federal government and churches developed a system of residential schools that stretched across much of the country. Most of the residential schools were in the four Western provinces and the territories, but there were also significant numbers in northwestern Ontario and in northern Québec. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had no schools, apparently because the government assumed that Indigenous people there had been assimilated into Euro-Canadian culture. At its height around 1930, the residential school system totalled 80 institutions. The Roman Catholic Church operated three-fifths of the schools, the Anglican Church one-quarter and the United and Presbyterian Churches the remainder. (Before 1925, the Methodist Church also operated residential schools; however, when the United Church of Canada was formed in 1925, most of the Presbyterian and all the Methodist schools became United Church schools.) ( Canadian Encyclopedia - Residential Schools in Canada) Were the ideals of the first prime minister of Canada wrong? Was it wrong of Indigenous Leaders to want to teach their youth the skills of the newcomer to better assimilate into the new country being developed? The atrocities of the residential schools were definitely wrong. There were the atrocities of many of the boarding schools of the era such as St. Vincents and many other religious residential schools. We know our early politicians had a role to play in residential schools in Canada. Is it ok to tear down a statue commemorating a public figure who united us as one nation early in our beginning? Sir. John A Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada, and served 19 years; only William Lyon Mackenzie King served longer. Among his many accomplishments, he acquired territory that made Canada the second-largest country in the world. The National Post reported a quote from 1880 where Macdonald disparaged his forebears for the awful plight of Canada’s first peoples. “We must remember that they are the original owners of the soil, of which they have been dispossessed by the covetousness or ambition of our ancestors,” Macdonald wrote in a letter proposing the creation of the Department of Indian Affairs. “At all events, the Indians have been great sufferers by the discovery of America and the transfer to it of a large white population.” While there are many who hold different beliefs regarding Sir John A. Macdonald, it is important to have discussions regarding the context and events that took place, versus performing destructive acts on historical statues. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
The only thing Margaret Marilyn DeAdder loved more than tea and toast — was reheating tea and toast. "She burned many a teapot and caused smoke damage countless times, leaving her kids with the impression that fanning the smoke alarm was a step in brewing tea." That's a sneak peak into the life of 78-year-old Marilyn DeAdder — the "clipper of coupons, baker of cookies and terror behind the wheel," who died this week. In the obit, her son, Michael DeAdder, pokes fun at his mom's ability to give the finger as well as her inability to put her car in reverse. 'A champion of the underdog' DeAdder said his mom, who he refers to as Marilyn, was also "a champion of the underdog, ruthless card player, and self-described Queen Bitch." She also loved the spotlight and was the life of every party. So when her obituary went viral this week, DeAdder knew his mother would've been pleased. "My mother was a ham," he said. "She liked to be the centre of attention, not in a bad way, as a joking way." I doubt I'd be a cartoonist without the mom I had. - Michael DeAdder In her obituary, the award-winning cartoonist described his mom as a lifelong volunteer at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, "which her sons suspected was her way of seeing all the shows for free." She was also a trained hairdresser and enjoyed styling people's hair in her kitchen, "so much so her kitchen smelled of baking and perm solution." She loved her three sons, except when they weren't clean shaven. "At least one of them would ruin Christmas every year by coming home with facial hair, and never forgot that one disastrous Christmas in which all three sons showed up with beards." And she adored her granddaughters, feeding them mountains of sugary snacks. "While her sons committed unspeakable crimes against humanity, her granddaughters could do no wrong," the obituary said. And she was also funny — a trait the New Glasgow native passed onto her three sons. "I doubt I'd be a cartoonist without the mom I had." Mom's obituary needed 'a splash' of humour Before writing his mother's obituary, DeAdder perused through a few others for inspiration. But none of them were Marilyn. "The standard obituary is depressing and cold," he said. He knew Marilyn's write-up would need "a splash" of humour — and a dig or two about how she always found time in her busy life to run her children's lives. Then the story wrote itself. "It seemed like every line had a punch line … it took off in a strange direction naturally." The eldest of three said the obituary felt more like a Christmas homecoming, where he and his brothers would spend the holidays teasing their mom — which she loved, of course. After the obit was posted, hundreds of people who knew Marilyn and people who didn't, were coming out of the woodwork sharing condolences, fond memories and many more laughs. "It sort of got out of hand." A different kind of spotlight DeAdder said his mom died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease Tuesday. "Marilyn, ever the penny-pincher, decided to leave this world on the day Moncton went into red-alert, her sons believe, to avoid paying for a funeral." During an interview with Information Morning Moncton on Friday, DeAdder said he wasn't ready for his mom to go this week. "We sort of think she bowed out." But he said Marilyn would've been thrilled about the prospects of being talked about on CBC radio. "This is a different spotlight," DeAdder said. "She wouldn't expect this." In honour of their mom, Marilyn's family asks that people do something nice for someone else unexpectedly, and without explanation.
WASHINGTON — The heads of three federally funded international broadcasters were abruptly fired late Friday as the Biden administration completed a house-cleaning of Donald Trump-appointees at the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Two officials familiar with the changes said the acting chief of the USAGM summarily dismissed the directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks just a month after they had been named to the posts. The changes came a day after the director of the Voice of America and his deputy were removed and the chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting stepped down. The firings follow the forced resignation of former President Donald Trump’s handpicked choice to lead USAGM only two hours after Joe Biden took office on Wednesday. Trump’s USAGM chief Michael Pack had been accused by Democrats and others of trying to turn VOA and its sister networks into pro-Trump propaganda machines. Pack had appointed all of those who were fired on Thursday and Friday to their posts only in December. The two officials said the acting CEO of USAGM, Kelu Chao, had fired Middle East Broadcasting Network director Victoria Coates, Radio Free Asia chief Stephen Yates and Radio Free Europe head Ted Lipien in a swift series of moves late Friday. It was not immediately clear if any of those removed would try to contest their dismissals. The White House appointed Chao, a three-decade VOA veteran journalist, to be the agency’s interim chief executive on Wednesday shortly after demanding Pack’s resignation. Chao did not respond to phone calls seeking comment about her actions. The two officials familiar with the dismissals were not authorized to publicly discuss personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. Coates, Yates and Lipien, along with former VOA director Robert Reilly and former Cuba broadcasting chief Jeffrey Shapiro were all prominent conservatives chosen by Pack to shake up what Trump and other Republicans believed was biased leadership in taxpayer-funded media outlets. Reilly and his deputy Elizabeth Robbins were removed just a week after coming under harsh criticism for demoting a VOA White House correspondent who had tried to ask former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a question after a town hall event. Pack had created a furor when he took over USAGM last year and fired the boards of all the outlets under his control along with the leadership of the individual broadcast networks. The actions were criticized as threatening the broadcasters’ prized editorial independence and raised fears that Pack, a conservative filmmaker and former associate of Trump’s onetime political strategist Steve Bannon, intended to turn venerable U.S. media outlets into pro-Trump propaganda machines. Biden had been expected to make major changes to the agency’s structure and management, and Pack’s immediate dismissal on inauguration day signalled that those would be coming sooner rather than later. Pack had not been required to submit his resignation as his three-year position was created by Congress and not limited by the length of a particular administration. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
It's made from infused pine needles, mixed with cardamom and lemon peel and the end result is a delicate bitter-sweet soda.View on euronews
A naked Florida man stole what news footage showed to be a marked police vehicle and crashed it in a wooded area, officials said. Joshua Shenker, 22, was arrested after Thursday's crash on charges including theft of a motor vehicle, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, depriving an officer of means of communication or protection and resisting an officer without violence, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report. Officers responded to reports of a naked man running along Interstate 10 in western Jacksonville shortly before noon Thursday. Shenker was lying in the the roadway when an officer stopped on the opposite side of the route, the report said. Shenker then ran across the highway lanes toward the officer, officials said. The redacted report didn't say how Shenker stole the vehicle. Authorities confirmed only that a vehicle belonging to the City of Jacksonville was stolen. First Coast News footage of the scene showed the crashed vehicle to be a marked patrol car. According to the police report, about $10,000 worth of damage was done to the vehicle. Officers noticed Shenker had road rash after the crash and he was taken to a hospital to be checked out, authorities said. Shenker was being held on $4,011 bail. Jail records didn't list an attorney for him. The Associated Press
An Edmonton man who admitted stabbing his stepfather with scissors at a Christmas Day family gathering three years ago has been acquitted of second-degree murder. Stephan Kody was found not guilty this week in the Dec. 25, 2017 death of Eddie Melenka at a home near 73rd Avenue and 77th Street. In his decision, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Adam Germain said the Crown "has not negated Mr. Kody's plea of self-defence" so the homicide "will have to remain a non-culpable homicide." The Crown had argued that Kody should have been convicted of "at least" manslaughter, Germain said. But he said he didn't need to consider a manslaughter finding because he concluded that Kody "is entitled to the benefit of the doubt about self-defence." The stabbing occurred on Christmas Day. A family gathering fuelled by alcohol, drugs and karaoke had started the night before. Kody, who was 22 at the time, and Melenka, 48, had been drinking alcohol "all day" and snorting cocaine. The cocaine belonged to Melenka, who was sharing it with Kody in the master bedroom. Kody admitted that he did at least three or four lines of cocaine and that a dispute arose over whether he could count on his stepfather to leave him another line. According to Germain's decision, the two men got into a fight. Melenka pushed Kody over a couch. Kody grabbed a pair of scissors from the kitchen table and ran back to the bedroom. Kody said Melenka followed him into the room and attacked him. Kody fought back with the scissors. "One of the wounds entered Mr. Melenka between his top second and third rib and proceeded downward into his heart which led to bleeding into the chest cavity and despite prompt, competent and aggressive medical intervention, Mr. Melenka succumbed to his wounds," Germain said. The Crown had argued for Kody to be convicted of at least manslaughter because the stabbing stemmed from Kody's anger that his stepfather had stopped him from continuing to use his cocaine. The Crown had also said that picking up a pair of scissors and stabbing someone near the heart reflects an intention to kill, and that there wasn't enough evidence to show that Kody was not in full control of his faculties at the time. The defence lawyer argued that his client's evidence should be believed as being "reasonable, logical, and consistent with all of the background facts," Germain said. The judge noted that Kody gave evidence indicating that he was afraid of being beaten by Melenka, a larger man who was a more capable and experienced fighter. Photos taken of Kody following his arrest revealed that he had been subject to a beating. The stabbing was not witnessed by the other five people who were in the house. "Given the amount of alcohol and cocaine consumed that night and the circumstances of this homicide, I could not, under any basis, conclude that the requirements for second-degree murder have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Germain said. "Therefore, if I am wrong about the Crown's failure to prove that self-defence did not apply, Mr. Kody would've been convicted only of manslaughter. "In the event of successful appellate review by the Crown which does not result in a retrial, arrangements to sentence Mr. Kody on the basis of manslaughter should be considered."
When COVID-19 first swarmed the United States, one health insurer called some customers with a question: Do you have enough to eat? Oscar Health wanted to know if people had adequate food for the next couple weeks and how they planned to stay stocked up while hunkering down at home. “We’ve seen time and again, the lack of good and nutritional food causes members to get readmitted" to hospitals, Oscar executive Ananth Lalithakumar said. Food has become a bigger focus for health insurers as they look to expand their coverage beyond just the care that happens in a doctor’s office. More plans are paying for temporary meal deliveries and some are teaching people how to cook and eat healthier foods. Benefits experts say insurers and policymakers are growing used to treating food as a form of medicine that can help patients reduce blood sugar or blood pressure levels and stay out of expensive hospitals. “People are finally getting comfortable with the idea that everybody saves money when you prevent certain things from happening or somebody’s condition from worsening,” said Andrew Shea, a senior vice-president with the online insurance broker eHealth. This push is still relatively small and happening mostly with government-funded programs like Medicaid or Medicare Advantage, the privately run versions of the government's health program for people who are 65 or older or have disabilities. But some employers that offer coverage to their workers also are growing interested. Medicaid programs in several states are testing or developing food coverage. Next year, Medicare will start testing meal program vouchers for patients with malnutrition as part of a broader look at improving care and reducing costs. Nearly 7 million people were enrolled last year in a Medicare Advantage plan that offered some sort of meal benefit, according to research from the consulting firm Avalere Health. That’s more than double the total from 2018. Insurers commonly cover temporary meal deliveries so patients have something to eat when they return from the hospital. And for several years now, many also have paid for meals tailored to patients with conditions such as diabetes. But now insurers and other bill payers are taking a more nuanced approach. This comes as the coronavirus pandemic sends millions of Americans to seek help from food banks or neighbourhood food pantries. Oscar Health, for instance, found that nearly 3 out of 10 of its Medicare Advantage customers had food supply problems at the start of the pandemic, so it arranged temporary grocery deliveries from a local store at no cost to the recipient. The Medicare Advantage specialist Humana started giving some customers with low incomes debit cards with either a $25 or $50 on them to help buy healthy food. The insurer also is testing meal deliveries in the second half of the month. That's when money from government food programs can run low. Research shows that diabetes patients wind up making more emergency room visits then, said Humana executive Dr. Andrew Renda. “It may be because they’re still taking their medications but they don’t have enough food. And so their blood sugar goes crazy and then they end up in the hospital,” he said. The Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem connected Medicare Advantage customer Kim Bischoff with a nutritionist after she asked for help losing weight. The 43-year-old Napoleon, Ohio, resident had lost more than 100 pounds about 11 years ago, but she was gaining weight again and growing frustrated. The nutritionist helped wean Bischoff from a so-called keto diet largely centred on meats and cheeses. The insurer also arranged for temporary food deliveries from a nearby Kroger so she could try healthy foods like rice noodles, almonds and dried fruits. Bischoff said she only lost a few pounds. But she was able to stop taking blood pressure and thyroid medications because her health improved after she balanced her diet. “I learned that a little bit of weight gain isn’t a huge deal, but the quality of my health is," she said. David Berwick of Somerville, Massachusetts, credits a meal delivery program with improving his blood sugar, and he wishes he could stay on it. The 64-year-old has diabetes and started the program last year at the suggestion of his doctor. The Medicaid program MassHealth covered it. Berwick said the non-profit Community Servings gave him weekly deliveries of dry cereal and premade meals for him to reheat. Those included soups and turkey meatloaf Berwick described as “absolutely delicious.” “They’re not things I would make on my own for sure,” he said. “It was a gift, it was a real privilege.” These programs typically last a few weeks or months and often focus on customers with a medical condition or low incomes who have a hard time getting nutritious food. But they aren't limited to those groups. Indianapolis-based Preventia Group is starting food deliveries for some employers that want to improve the eating habits of people covered under their health plans. People who sign up start working with a health coach to learn about nutrition. Then they can either begin short-term deliveries of meals or bulk boxes of food and recipes to try. The employer picks up the cost. It's not just about hunger or a lack of good food, said Chief Operating Officer Susan Rider. They're also educating people about what healthy, nutritious food is and how to prepare it. Researchers expect coverage of food as a form of medicine to grow as insurers and employers learn more about which programs work best. Patients with low incomes may need help first with getting access to nutritional food. People with employer-sponsored coverage might need to focus more on how to use their diet to manage diabetes or improve their overall health. A 2019 study of Massachusetts residents with similar medical conditions found that those who received meals tailored to their condition had fewer hospital admissions and generated less health care spending than those who did not. Study author Dr. Seth Berkowitz of the University of North Carolina noted that those meals are only one method for addressing food or nutrition problems. He said a lot more can be learned “about what interventions work, in what situations and for whom.” A lack of healthy food “is very clearly associated with poor health, so we know we need to do something about it,” Berkowitz said. ___ Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy ___ 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. Tom Murphy, The Associated Press