Three Windsor-Essex hospitals have issued a strong warning over the current surge in COVID-19 cases — and what could happen if the trend continues.In a joint statement, they pleaded with the public to continue to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus."The scenario that our Windsor-Essex region residents have seen on TV taking place in other jurisdictions around the world, where hospital resources are stretched beyond capacity, is showing signs of occurring in our area of the province," chief executives from Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores Healthcare said Friday.Recent COVID-19 outbreaks at Hôtel-Dieu Grace and Windsor Regional risk "significant reductions" in bed capacity, while use of beds is already above 100 per cent, they said."As hospital bed capacity deteriorates, clinical teams will have no option other than to cancel scheduled surgeries and other procedures to ensure we have bed space available for emergency and other urgent cases," they stated.There are currently 27 people in hospital with COVID-19 and seven in ICU, according to the Windsor-Essex County Public Health Unit (WECHU). "There is definitely a lot of pressure on the health-care system in the region and also across Southwestern Ontario, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with WECHU, said Friday.The health unit announced 65 new cases on Friday, bringing the active case total to 424.21 outbreaks in Windsor-EssexDr. Ahmed said there's also record number of outbreaks in the region — 21 across workplaces, long-term care homes and other institutions."We have never had that many outbreaks, clearly indicating that we need to do more," Dr. Ahmed said.As of the most recent data, which Dr. Ahmed presented on Friday, Windsor's seven-day average test positivity rate is 4.3 per cent -- the fourth highest in the province behind Toronto, Peel and York regions.Analysis of the presence of the virus wastewater suggests rates of infection exceed the number of known cases, Ahmed said.Not moving to lockdown Despite the rising cases, the province did not announce a lockdown for Windsor-Essex on Friday, meaning the region remains in the red "control" zone of COVID-19 restrictions in place since Monday.Dr. Ahmed said earlier on Friday that he didn't anticipate a lockdown would be announced, though earlier in the week he said the region is at risk of heightened restrictions."We would like to see the results of us in the red zone first before we move on to any criteria at this time," he said.Snapshot of the pandemic in Windsor-EssexSince the pandemic started, 3,864 cases have been diagnosed in Windsor-Essex, 3,358 of which have been resolved.Eighty-two people have lost their lives to COVID-19, including 56 death in longterm care and retirement homes.Of the 65 cases announced across the region Friday , five are close contacts of a confirmed case, two were community acquired, 58 are still under investigation. Twenty-seven people are in hospital, with seven in the intensive care unit.There are 21 outbreaks in the community, including eight at workplaces. * Three in Leamington's agriculture sector. * One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. * One in a Leamington place of worship. * One in Leamington's finance and insurance sector. * One in Windsor's manufacturing sector. * One in Kingsville's manufacturing sectorTwo community outbreaks are still active: one at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor and another at Riverplace Residence in Windsor. There are three school outbreaks: Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School - Central Park Athletics Campus, Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School. The latter two schools have been closed for two weeks. Officials are working on a reopening plan for both schools.There are outbreaks at six long-term care and retirement homes: * Chartwell St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh with one resident case. * Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh with one staff case. * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with two staff cases. * Chartwell Royal Oak Residence in Kingsville with two staff cases. * Riverside place in Windsor with 17 resident cases and three staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases.
Après une longue saga, voilà que les communautés innues de Uashat mak Mani-utenam et Matimekush-Lac John ont signé une entente de réconciliation et de collaboration avec la Compagnie minière IOC. Depuis 2010, de nombreuses négociations ont eu lieu entre la minière et les deux communautés. Une poursuite judiciaire avait même été entamée contre IOC. Au cœur du litige se trouvait l’exploitation du Nitassinan (territoire ancestral traditionnel des Innus) qui a été exploité sans le consentement des Innus. L'entente qui a été ratifiée aujourd'hui prévoit notamment que l'entreprise minière fournira des paiements financiers, des avantages en matière d’emploi et des opportunités d’affaires aux communautés innues ainsi qu’une meilleure collaboration sur le plan environnemental. L’entente prévoit également que IOC présente des excuses. Les deux communautés se sont engagées à retirer les poursuites judiciaires qui avaient été intentées contre la compagnie. Cet accord a été baptisé « Ussiniun », ce qui signifie « renouveau » en langue innue. « Cette entente marque le début d’une nouvelle relation avec IOC, basée sur le respect et le partenariat. Les compensations et les retombées pour nos membres nous permettront de prendre encore plus en main le développement de notre communauté. Le respect démontré par IOC nous permettra de tourner la page sur un historique de conflits et de regarder l’avenir avec optimisme », a affirmé le Chef de Uashat mak Mani-utenam. De son côté, le président et chef de la direction de IOC, Clayton Walker, a déclaré : « Cette entente à long terme est une étape importante qui nous permet d'avancer ensemble et de construire des relations solides basées sur le respect, la confiance et les avantages mutuels. Nous nous engageons à travailler en collaboration avec les communautés de Uashat mak Mani-utenam et de Matimekush-Lac John afin de concrétiser les nombreux avantages de cette entente pour toutes les parties concernées. » L'entente qui a été acceptée en août par les deux communautés innues a par la suite été présentée aux membres de chacune des communautés. Un référendum a été effectué dans la communauté de Matimekush-Lac John pour approuver l'entente et l'option du oui l'a emportée à 83%.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
AL-QAYYARAH, IRAQ (Reuters) - Tuqqa Abdullah and her Iraqi family have wandered from one displaced people's camp to the next in the past three years, buying time and hoping they will one day be able to go home. Just 14 when her father took the family to the then Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Mosul, she has inherited a legacy that might take generations to overcome. When Iraqi forces captured Mosul in the dying days of the three-year-old IS caliphate in 2017, Abdullah's father and older sons were killed.
Co-Founder of the Breakfast Club of Canada, Judith Barry, talks about the increase in demand it's seeing in the use of food programs in schools.
Ontario’s justice system will continue to push forward and modernize beyond the rapid transformations forced by the pandemic, Attorney General Doug Downey told the Empire Club of Canada on Thursday. During the lunchtime virtual meeting, Downey talked about some of the advancements made in the province's justice system since emergency measures were enforced in March to ensure it could operate safely. “It wasn’t long before capacity was expanded to conduct 100 per cent of proceedings involving a person in custody” and advancing to remote hearings, said Downey, who is also the local MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. “Behind the scenes, we were making targeted investments to update technology in a sector where fax machines were still an acceptable way of doing business.” The initiatives included remote court access, the new use of digital signatures and service by email, all of which are now becoming permanent staples of the system. As a result, he said, the system has become stronger by becoming more accessible and more resilient. “We really did rely on fax machines, millions of pages of paper, and technology that was just slightly better than Morse code to share information,” he said, adding that just two days ago the word 'telegram' was replaced by 'email' in a civil rule. Within months, the old paper-based system has been modernized to allow for online filing of more than 450 different documents. As a result, 95 per cent of civil proceedings are filed online and more than 70 per cent of family matters. Information about court cases are now available online, meaning people don’t have to line up at the courthouse to gain access. And a platform to power online and in-person hearings was also adopted. Last June, the changes allowed 20,000 people to log into an online Superior Court hearing to witness a judge deliver a sentence in a high-profile case. In September, the Superior Court reported 50,000 hearings had been conducted virtually. The lesson, Downey said, was to not just address yesterday’s issues, but to look at solutions for tomorrow’s sustainability and resilience and to not be afraid of change. He also suggested adopting a design for a courthouse implementing some of the customer service elements available in an airport. Or creating an app that allows the user to schedule a court appearance from a cellphone. “The pandemic showed us, in stark terms, how far behind Ontario’s justice system had fallen,” he said. “Now we know better, and we’ll do better. In this new approach, justice accelerated means justice delivered.” During a question period, he pointed to Ontario’s tribunals, which were largely shut down after the COVID-19 crisis and prevented normal interaction. Downey said he’s struck a deal with British Columbia’s attorney general to adopt its four-year-old online tribunal system for $1, provided Ontario takes care of the updates.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has returned to work after recovering from COVID-19, his office said. Young's staff said the veteran Republican lawmaker was back at work in his congressional office in Washington, D.C., The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday. The 87-year-old announced Nov. 12 he had tested positive for the coronavirus. In March, Young referred to the coronavirus as the “beer virus” before an audience that included older Alaskans and said the media had contributed to hysteria over COVID-19. His campaign manager told the Anchorage Daily News at the time that the virus’ impact is real and that Young was trying to urge calm. After contracting the virus, Young said he had not grasped the severity of the illness. “Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time, and I am grateful to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,” Young said following his release from an Anchorage hospital Nov. 16. Young is now “preparing to fight harder than ever” for Alaskans, spokesman Zack Brown said. Voters last month reelected Young, Alaska’s lone U.S. representative, to serve his 25th term in office. Young has held his seat since 1973 and is the longest-serving Republican in congressional history. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. The Associated Press
Lawyers fought the latest round of a 16-year legal battle by video conference in the province’s top court on Tuesday and Wednesday. The long-running dispute between Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) and the Saskatchewan government aims to find whether 600 flooded acres of land near Southend is a reserve. The debate centres on whether to uphold Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Dan Konkin’s 2019 decision finding the land was never properly designated as a reserve. That decision also tossed out PBCN’s claim that the flooding meant the province and SaskPower were trespassing on the land. This week, PBCN and the federal government argued it is a reserve — a finding that would throw out the lower court’s decision and help the First Nation’s legal counsel press for compensation based off the trespassing claim. “The important thing here is the ownership of (roughly) 10,000 acres of land is at stake,” said Thomas Berger, a prominent British Columbia lawyer who has long served as PBCN’s counsel on the case. The Saskatchewan government and SaskPower argued to uphold the 2019 decision, saying the reserve was never properly designated. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on a matter before the courts. One part of the dispute centres on a surveyor’s actions almost a century ago. When the surveyor was tasked with finding Barren Lands band members at Southend in 1929, he found members of PBCN. PBCN argued he took steps to create a reserve there. A 1981 federal government cabinet order and the land’s inclusion in the 1992 Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement confirmed that designation, PBCN’s factum said. In an interview, Berger said the province’s position on its status was a reversal because “25 years later, they said, ‘we made a mistake.’ ” Saskatchewan legal counsel Mitch McAdam said that’s not necessarily the case. In a factum, he wrote that the surveyor’s “instructions were crystal clear — to survey a reserve at Southend for Barren Lands — and he carried those instructions out ‘to a T.’ ” However, McAdam said the survey was flawed and incomplete. He said the government also never confirmed it as a reserve, meaning the land passed to Saskatchewan under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement in 1930. That brings into question who owns the land that Whitesand Dam floods as it controls Reindeer River’s flow into the nearby Island Falls hydroelectric power station. Berger says his clients are owed their “fair share” of compensation for the flooding, but that partly depends on how the court sides on the question of the land’s reserve status. “If Peter Ballantyne has no interest in the (land), in other words, the (land) is not Indian reserve land, (and) Peter Ballantyne has no claim in trespass,” the SaskPower factum noted. Berger expects to hear the top court’s decision sometime in 2021. NoneNick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
The singer is perfectly at ease letting people see what he’s really going through.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit widened 1.7% in October to $63.1 billion. The politically sensitive gap in the trade of goods with China and Mexico grew.The gap between the goods and services the United States sold and what it bought abroad rose from $62.1 billion in September, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Exports rose 2.2% to $182 billion, led by sales of aircraft engines. Imports increased 2.1% to $245.1 billion on an uptick in shipments of auto parts.The deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 9% to $26.5 billion and the gap with Mexico rose 10% to $11.8 billion.So far this year, the overall gap in the trade of goods and services with the rest of the world has risen to $536.7 billion, up 9.5% from January-October 2019.President Donald Trump, who vowed to reduce the trade deficit, has imposed tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum and on $360 billion in Chinese products. It is unclear how much of Trump's aggressive trade policies will be retained by President-elect Joe Biden.The coronavirus, however, has upended trade in services such as education and travel in which the United States runs persistent surpluses. U.S. services exports are down nearly 20% so far this year, and America's trade surplus in services dropped in October to $18.3 billion, lowest since August 2012.The U.S. ran an October deficit of $81.4 billion in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances.Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
The Congress of Aboriginals Peoples (CAP) is calling on the resignation of Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell. More than 100 inmates at Saskatoon Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. “Minister Tell has fumbled the ball in her role as minster responsible to Saskatchewan correctional facilities,” said National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin Dec. 3. “This requires leadership with a level of foresight and compassion that is lacking in her public response to COVID-19.” The CAP is also calling on the federal government to intervene in Saskatchewan’s provincial jail system. They want all non-violent inmates to be released immediately. They also want testing of all inmates and staff and measures to ensure infected inmates are given separate living quarters from other inmates. "Our people are now facing a death sentence in Saskatoon Correctional Centre due to Covid-19,” said Beaudin. "These are lives being intentionally put at risk, and is nothing short of a genocidal, colonialist policy.” Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety department was contacted for comment on the situation at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre but have not responded. Earlier this week protesters – concerned for their loved ones inside - picketed in front of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. A group of Saskatchewan lawyers sent a letter Tuesday to Tell calling for the release of non-violent, low-risk inmates who are elderly and have compromised immune systems. CUPE 1949, the union that represents 130 lawyers and legal staff at Legal Aid Saskatchewan, says the outbreak at Saskatoon Correctional Centre shows the volatility of the situation. “Our jails are overcrowded with vulnerable people who have virtually no means of protecting themselves,” said Julia Quigley, President of CUPE 1949. “Once the virus gets in, our clients are at an incredible risk.” Quigley said the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan are on remand, meaning they haven’t been convicted of any crime. “In essence, these inmates have a bull’s eye on their backs, and yet they are legally innocent,” said Quigley. She said that Saskatchewan remands people at twice the national average and the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan prisons are Indigenous and medically vulnerable to COVID-19. “This virus doesn’t discriminate, but the criminal justice system does. Our Indigenous clients will bear the brunt of the Saskatoon outbreak, and any other outbreaks if we don’t contain it.” “We cleared the jails effectively in the first wave, without any discernible risk to the public. We need to do it again, now,” added Quigley. Noel Busse, director of communications for Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice/Corrections and Policing, however, told the News-Optimist in July that no prisoners were released early from Saskatchewan jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. “No sentenced offenders have been released early as a result of COVID-19,” Busse said about the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic that hit the province. In March, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing put in measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread. They used existing infrastructure and program space in correctional facilities to create additional separation between offenders and staff. They also restricted the movement and placement of offenders within a facility, and provided personal protective equipment to corrections staff and offenders. COVID-19 also prompted the province’s Crown prosecutors to rethink remanding some defendants who were charged but not yet convicted. Some non-violent inmates held on remand in Saskatchewan’s jails were released while waiting for trial. Saskatoon Correctional Centre is a provincial jail run by the province of Saskatchewan. As of Dec. 4 there are no COVID-19 positive cases in the federal penitentiaries in the province, such as the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert, the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, and Willow Cree Healing Lodge. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is adjusting the scope of his agenda to meet the challenges of governing with a narrowly divided Congress and the complications of legislating during a raging pandemic.Rather than immediately pursue ambitious legislation to combat climate change, the incoming administration may try to wrap provisions into a coronavirus aid bill. Biden's team is also considering smaller-scale changes to the Affordable Care Act while tabling the more contentious fight over creating a public option to compete with private insurers.Biden is already working on an array of executive actions to achieve some of his bolder priorities on climate change and immigration without having to navigate congressional gridlock.The manoeuvring reflects a disappointing political reality for Biden, who campaigned on a pledge to address the nation's problems with measures that would rival the scope of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. But Democrats acknowledge that big legislative accomplishments are unlikely, even in the best-case scenario in which the party gains a slim majority in the Senate.“Let’s assume my dream comes true,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said, referring to a tight majority for his party. “I think we have to carefully construct any change in the Affordable Care Act, or any other issue, like climate change, based on the reality of the 50-50 Senate.”“There’s so many areas, which we value so much that Republicans do not, that it will be tough to guide through the Senate under the circumstances,” the Illinois Democrat added.Biden's agenda hinges on the fate of two Senate runoff races in Georgia, which will be decided on Jan. 5. If Democrats win both seats, the chamber will be evenly divided, with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.In that event, Biden's agenda items stand a better chance of at least getting a vote. If Republicans maintain control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might not bring the new president's priorities to the floor.Biden's initial focus on Capitol Hill will be a multibillion-dollar coronavirus aid bill, which is certain to require significant political capital after lawmakers have been deadlocked over negotiations on Capitol Hill for months.The president-elect said Thursday on CNN that while he supports a $900 billion compromise bill introduced this week by a bipartisan group of negotiators, the bill is “a good start" but it's “not enough” and he plans to ask for more when he's in office. His team is already working on his own coronavirus relief package.People close to Biden's transition team say they're looking at that stimulus as a potential avenue for enacting some climate reforms — like aid for green jobs or moving the nation toward a carbon-free energy system — that might be tougher to get on their own.Durbin mentioned President Barack Obama’s first term as a precedent for what Biden will encounter when he takes office.Then, Obama was forced to focus much of his early energy on a stimulus package to deal with the financial crisis, and he spent months wrangling with his own party on his health care overhaul. Obama also enacted financial regulatory reform, but other progressive priorities, like cap and trade legislation and immigration reform, ultimately lost steam.And he had a significant House and Senate majority at the time.Still, some Republicans argue that if Biden approaches negotiations in good faith, there are some common areas of agreement. Rohit Kumar, the co-leader of PwC's Washington National Tax Services and a former top aide to McConnell, said it's possible to find a compromise on some smaller-scale priorities, like an infrastructure bill, addressing the opioid crisis and even a police reform bill.“There is stuff in the middle, if Biden is willing to do deals in the middle — and that means being willing to strike agreements that progressive members don’t love, and maybe have them vote no, and be at peace with that,” he said.Indeed, speaking on CNN Thursday, Biden expressed optimism about cutting deals with Republicans. He said when it comes to national security and the “economic necessity” of keeping people employed and reinvigorating the economy, “there's plenty of room we can work.”Still, he acknowledged, "I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard."But here, progressives, not Republicans, could be the roadblock. Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for the liberal Justice Democrats, said progressives are “worried and anxious” about Biden's history of making what he called “toxic compromises with McConnell."“I think progressives will probably play a key role in trying to push Democrats to have a spine in any negotiations with Mitch McConnell,” he said. “People will hold him accountable for what he ran on.”Shaheed said he believes progressives could play a role in pushing the Biden administration to embrace a more “aggressive approach” and pursue executive actions to address some Democratic priorities.And indeed, Biden’s transition team has already been at work crafting a list of potential unilateral moves he could take early on.He plans to reverse Trump’s rollback of a number of public health and environmental protections the Obama administration put in place. He’ll rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord and rescind the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries. He could also unilaterally reestablish protections for “Dreamers” who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.But some of his biggest campaign pledges require congressional action and are certain to face GOP opposition.Biden has promised to take major legislative action on immigration reform and gun control, but prior legislative efforts on both of those issues — with bipartisan support — have failed multiple times.He’s also pledged to roll back the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, forgive some student loan debt and make some public college free — all heavy lifts in a closely divided or Republican-controlled Senate.“It’s easy to be skeptical and pessimistic in this Senate,” Durbin said. “I hope that they give us a chance to break through and be constructive and put an end to some of the obstruction.”Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Miguel Algarín, poet, professor and a founder of New York City's beloved Nuyorican Poets Café performance space, has died. He was 79. Algarín died Monday at a Manhattan hospital from sepsis, said Daniel Gallant, executive director of the Nuyorican Poets Café. Born in Puerto Rico, Algarín and his family came to New York City when he was a child. After Algarín had returned to New York with degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania State University, he held gatherings with other poets in his apartment in the early 1970s, exploring Puerto Rican identity and other themes. Out of that was created the Nuyorican Poets Café, which by 1981 had moved to a building on Manhattan's lower east side where it remains. “Miguel was a brilliant poet, an influential professor and leader, and a supportive mentor who inspired and guided generations of artists," Gallant said. Algarín was a prolific writer, with multiple books of poetry to his name, and edited several anthologies as well. He spent years at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he taught classes on Shakespeare, creative writing and ethnic literature, and became a professor emeritus. Gallant said the cafe would have an online tribute for Algarín this month, and would do something in person as soon as conditions allow. The Associated Press
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has renewed his vitriolic attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron, saying he hopes France will get rid of him soon. Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Macron “trouble” for France, which he said was experiencing a dangerous time under his leadership. “My wish is for France to get rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. Otherwise, Erdogan claimed, France would not be able to overcome the Yellow Vest protest movement against social injustice in the country. Erdogan also said France has lost its credibility as an intermediary of the Minsk group, which was created in the 1990s to encourage peaceful resolution for the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. France has sided with Armenia in that conflict, and Turkey with Azerbaijan. Erdogan’s comments come amid harsh rhetoric from both leaders. Macron tried to avoid further escalation Friday, calling for “respect” after Erdogan's attack, and deflecting a question on the spat. The French leader also told Brut, a news website, that Erdogan was in the process of limiting the liberty of the Turkish people. Relations have been tense over a host of issues, including what Erdogan characterizes as French Islamopohobia, energy disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. In October, Erdogan said Macron needed his head examined for defending caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. At the time, French authorities denounced Turkish “propaganda” against France and Paris recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations. The French presidency responded to Erdogan's comments in October with unusually strong language, saying: “Excess and rudeness are not a method” and “we are not accepting insults," and called for changes in Erdogan's “dangerous” policy. The Associated Press
Niagara is now home to one of the best young spellers in Canada. Leena Jalees, 14, of St. Catharines took home the gold at this year’s Spelling Bee of Canada national championship, beating out 25 other competitors in the intermediate division (ages 12-14) across the country. Jalees, who has entered the regional competitions on two previous occasions, said this was her first time reaching the national level, after winning Niagara’s competition earlier in November. Jalees said she had always been a good speller, particularly when it came to everyday words, and thought entering a spelling bee would help her expand her spelling abilities when it came to new and unfamiliar words. “I thought it would be fun to learn new words, and become a better speller, and know the tactics of how to break down the words and be able to spell words I have never heard of before. So I decided to do a spelling bee, just to see how well I could do.” Jalees did more than okay. In her first appearance on the national stage, she was crowned the winner in the intermediate division of the Spelling Bee of Canada after correctly spelling the word “taxonomist”. For Jalees, the word was a no-brainier. “When I found out that was the word, I was so relieved because I was already familiar with that word. I already knew how to spell it, so I didn’t have to think about it.” So how does one study for a spelling bee? The competitors were given a manual of 400 words two and a half weeks prior to the competition, but that doesn’t include tiebreaker words, which are entirely new, and come down to the participants' ability to break down the word itself. Jalees said her strategy involves looking at the words as multiple units, and understanding the origin of the word itself. “One of the words was polemicist. I thought it was a medical word, but then when I knew it had to do with politics, then I decided to change the way I spelled it to ending in 'cist'. So I was very grateful I didn’t start spelling it the way I was initially going to.” Jalees, who hopes to one day be an OB/GYN said she hopes to defend her title at next year’s competition, as it may be her last year of eligibility. “I am going to try again next year, and see how well I can do again.” Also representing Niagara at the national championship were Jimmy Zhou, of Niagara Falls, who competed in the junior division (ages 9-11) and Shirley Chen, of St. Catharines, who competed in the primary division (ages 6-8).Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
LONDON — U.K. regulators went on the offensive Friday to beat back criticism that they rushed their authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, saying they rigorously analyzed data on safety and effectiveness in the shortest time possible without compromising the thoroughness of their review. The comments from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency came as the Times newspaper reported that the agency’s chief executive, Dr. June Raine, planned to give a series of radio interviews so she could speak directly to people who may be concerned about getting vaccinated. The MHRA reiterated earlier statements that the agency is conducting rolling reviews of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, allowing regulators to speed up the review process by looking at data as it becomes available. The agency gave emergency approval on Wednesday to a vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech, making Britain the first Western country to authorize a vaccine against the coronavirus. The ability to act more quickly “does not mean steps and the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been bypassed,” the MHRA said. “No vaccine would be authorized for supply in the U.K. unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.” The media blitz comes amid concerns that criticism of the approval process could undermine public confidence in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, leading some individuals to shun shots. Britain plans to begin vaccinating people within the next few days, starting with nursing home residents, caregivers and people over age 80. Britain will initially receive 800,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 400,000 people, so the first shots will go to those who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19 and those who are most likely to spread the coronavirus. America’s top infectious disease expert late Thursday apologized for suggesting that U.K. authorities had rushed their authorization of the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had told U.S. media outlets that U.K. regulators hadn’t acted “as carefully” as the Food and Drug Administration. He later clarified to the BBC that he had meant to say that U.S. authorities do things differently than their British counterparts, not better, but didn't phrase his comments properly. “I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the U.K., and anyone who knows me and my relationship with that over literally decades, you know that’s the case,” Fauci told the BBC. Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the different approaches of various regulators may be one reason Britain was first to authorize the vaccine. The FDA, for example, goes back to the raw data supplied by drugmakers and reanalyzes it to verify the findings. Virtually no other regulatory agency regularly does this, said Evans, who has worked with regulators in the U.K. and the European Union. In addition, Britain decided to take advantage of EU rules that allow individual countries to allow the emergency use of new products inside their own borders in response to public health emergencies. The EU's European Medicines Agency chose a more time-consuming authorization process that will allow the vaccine to be used in all 27 member nations. While Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31, it remains bound by the bloc’s rules and regulations until the end of December under a transition agreement designed to ease the shock of Brexit. Brexit helped the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency move faster because it is no longer involved in assessing products intended for the entire bloc as are regulators in the remaining EU countries, according to Evans. MHRA therefore had more resources to devote to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and could respond more quickly when new data was submitted, he said. “Consequently, the U.K. has almost undoubtedly had greater capacity to respond to a new application for authorization of a vaccine than any other country,” Evans said. When the MHRA announced its decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, chief executive Raine said people should be confident “no corners have been cut.” British experts reviewed more than 1,000 pages of information, including raw data, on safety, quality and effectiveness before deciding to give temporary authorization for use of the vaccine, she said. But European officials reacted sourly to the U.K. decision. The European Medicines Agency, which plans to make its own decision by Dec. 29, issued a statement saying its process was “more appropriate” than Britain’s. Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder was more pointed, suggesting U.K. authorities had acted “without even sufficient basis.” “This will reduce the readiness to get vaccinated rather than increase it, because people expect a safe immunization process,” he said. In his latest comments, Fauci rejected the idea that the U.K. skipped vital steps. The FDA has to move more slowly amid the high degree of skepticism about vaccines in the U.S., Fauci said. Because of this, U.S. regulators are reviewing all of the raw data from Pfizer and BioNTech “in a way that could not possibly have been done any more quickly,” he said. It will take the FDA at least another week to complete its review, but the U.S. and Britain will ultimately end up in the same place, Fauci said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be safe, it’s going to be effective,” he said. “The people in the U.K. are going to receive it, and they’re going to do really well, and the people in the United States are going to receive it, and we’re going to do pretty well.” ___ Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans contributed. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
MADRID — Spain’s armed forces chief has dismissed as ‘’not representative” leaked chats by retired military officers allegedly talking about shooting political adversaries and praising late dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.In a statement Friday, Air Force Gen. Miguel Villarroya Vilalta also said the remarks by the retired military members “damage the image of the Spanish Armed Forces and only confuse public opinion.’’The messages from a private Whatsapp group were published recently by Spain’s Infolibre news website. They reportedly were posted by members of the General Air Force Academy class that started training in 1963, when Franco still ruled the country.Some of them were among dozens of retired officers who wrote King Felipe VI last month to criticize Spain’s left-wing coalition government. The letters to the monarch included some of the language used by far-right politicians and expressed discontent with the “social-communist” government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and its deals with separatist parties in parliament.The royal palace has not commented on the letter.It is not clear how many people were involved in the chats.Spain’s defence minister Thursday asked prosecutors to investigate, saying both the letters and the chats were “reprehensible.”The country’s leading conservative opposition Popular party has refrained from condemning the comments while its ally, the far-right VOX party, has said it identifies with the ex-military members.Villarroya said the Spanish armed forces did not look to the past and were “always in (the) service of the Spanish people and the constitution.”According to Infolibre, one of the WhatsApp chat participants, while discussing activists advocating for the northeastern Catalonia region’s independence from Spain, wrote: “There is no other choice but to start shooting 26 million (expletive).”Another group chat member referred to Franco, who helped lead a military rebellion that led to Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War and then became the country’s dictator, as “the Irreplaceable.”The armed forces were a backbone of Franco’s regime until the dictator died in 1975. Spain’s peaceful transition to democracy didn’t lead to a widespread purge in the military ranks as happened in other countries emerging from authoritarian regimes.In 1981, a coup d’état bid by a few members of a paramilitary police force ended when then-King Juan Carlos I, Felipe’s father, condemned the plot on national television.____Associated Press writer Aritz Parra contributed to this report.CiaráN Giles, The Associated Press
While the Municipality of Powassan has received a “clean audit report,” there are dark clouds on the horizon as the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have yet to be felt. In a report to council delivered virtually, chartered professional accountant Dean Decaire of BDO Canada in North Bay said “there are no errors or irregularities” in Powassan's 2019 financial statement. But, although taxes received in 2019 amounted to $755,596, tax arrears stood at $319,302. And while Decaire said he hoped the municipality had exercised “strong collection” practices this year to rein in the late taxes, “COVID-19 happened and it may have impeded tax collections for 2020.” The municipality, Mayor Peter McIsaac told Decaire, has been “working on rectifying” that situation. “It's a priority,” McIsaac said. “We have to make sure we collect our taxes from residents and businesses.” Later in his presentation Decaire added a section dealing with the impact COVID-19 could have on the community in future. He said Powassan isn't alone and virtually all municipalities will face financial impacts from the virus. “At this time, the full potential impact of COVID-19 on the municipality is not known,” he wrote in his report. Decaire says the actual disruptions the virus has caused are expected to be temporary, but because the circumstances are dynamic in nature, the length of the disruptions and the related financial impacts can't “be reasonably estimated at this time.” Decaire also addressed the municipality's future ability to deliver essential and non-essential services as a result of COVID-19. When it comes to non-essential services, Decaire said, Powassan's ability to keep delivering these services and to continue employing the related staff will depend on what help comes from the provincial and federal governments. With regard to delivering essential services, Powassan must focus on collecting the money it's owed, continue managing its expenditures, leverage its existing reserves and access “available credit facilities,” Decaire said. He said it is “fabulous” the municipality continues to pay down on its long-term debt, which was $4.2 million at the end of 2019, or $118,000 less than 2018. Decaire also noted Powassan does a good job of controlling its operating expenses, which amount to $6 million a year. It posted a $742,000 budget surplus in 2019, in part due to government grants. Decaire commended council for making “significant” infrastructure investments. In the past two years, the municipality has spent more than $5 million to improve its infrastructure. Decaire made a point of saying residents often won't easily see the infrastructure because much of it involves water and sewer projects beneath the ground. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
A new program that looks to connect Canada’s resort communities in an effort to tackle climate change has called on the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) to become a founding partner. “We believe our love of adventure in nature demands our participation in the fight to save and protect it,” said David Erb, executive director of Protect Our Winters Canada (POW). “We're a not-for-profit organization that's really focused on aligning the outdoor industry, which includes everyday enthusiasts like myself and, and others that might visit Blue Mountain to ski or hike, professional athletes and industry brands,” he explained during a recent deputation to TBM council. POW focuses its efforts on organizing, educating and equipping businesses, social influencers and the general population to advocate for systemic policy solutions to climate change. In recent months, POW has been approaching municipalities across Canada that rely on adventure tourism in an effort to seek out partnerships for collaboration on an inter-municipal climate awareness plan. Prior to approaching TBM, POW also invited the municipality of Whistler, the Town of Banff, the municipality of Jasper, Ville de Mont Tremblant, the University of Waterloo, interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change and Hot Planet Cool Athletes Canada, to also become founding members. “The fact that we've been identified and have been invited into this group — you'll note that we're the only Ontario municipality — so I definitely think we have to put our commitment behind this and we can't just be their name, we've got to be there in actual action as well,” said TBM Coun. Andrea Matrosovs. “So much can be learned from each other, both across Canada, and the world. I was quite impressed when I did research on POW that this isn't just Canada, but it's a worldwide network,” she continued. The program strives to assist its partner municipalities in developing a Climate Action Plan blueprint by providing projections on impacts, assessment on local and tourist related CO2 emissions and identifying strategies, best practices, technology efficiencies, and engagement strategies. “We aim to increase the resilience and future viability of Canada’s adventure tourism sector by evaluating climate-change risks, developing strategies to decarbonize ski and adventure tourism destinations, and transition resort communities on climate resilient pathways,” Erb explained. POW also plans to create a Resort Municipality Climate Coalition (RMCC), which will leverage the collective experience of Canada’s resort communities to create a forum to exchange information, ideas, successes and challenges. “The intention behind this RMCC is that we can bring together other resort municipalities from across the country, no matter what stage they're at in their climate planning, and create a community where we can really forward each other's efforts,” Erb said. The program will be based out of the University of Waterloo, and is also backed by the Climate Caucus, a non-partisan network of 250-plus elected local leaders working collectively to create and implement equitable policy, which aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services science. Erb adds there is no direct cost to partner municipalities for the first year of the program, as POW is currently in the process of acquiring funding through Canadian Climate Action and Awareness Fund. In the second year of the program, POW will be asking founding partners to make a $50,000 annual contribution for two years. According to Erb, the funds can be allocated directly, indirectly or in-kind. For example, wages for staff working on climate planning or allocation of consultant fees would be considered as indirect contributions. “There's no cost to doing this. It's essentially a working committee that will come together and resource one another,” he said. “However, that would likely lead to part two, which is a commitment for in-kind matching funds. And, that can be a very flexible ask, it doesn't need to be new dollars, we just need to have the ability to point to dollars in your budget that are being allocated toward climate planning.” According to Jeffery Fletcher, manager of solid waste and environmental initiatives for TBM, the town has already begun work in some of these areas through such sub-committees, such as the sustainability advisory committee. “This is a great opportunity for the town to take advantage of some great academia and influential groups like the Climate Caucus. As well as all the other resorts that are involved. Together we can gain some real momentum,” Fletcher said. Erb adds that the threat of climate change is a stark reality for the outdoor tourism industry, pointing to the impact the climate crisis is having on the length of the winter season. “As you may know, ski operators have a magical number of 100 days. If they can operate for 100 days in a winter, that's generally their break-even point and anything above that is a surplus,” Erb said. “But, as soon as they dip below 100 days, it's really questionable if they're able to sustain their overall operations.” “A major engine of our economy is Blue Mountain Resort and the other resorts that operate in the area, not to mention the rest of the outdoor winter activities that happens here and some of our smaller tour operators. It's a big part of economic sustainability, but it's also apart of our social sustainability as well,” Matrosovs added. Following the deputation from Erb, TBM council moved a motion to join the RMCC as a founding member and also directed staff to provide a follow-up report regarding the request for a commitment to allocate in-kind matching funds to the program once federal funding is in place. “This is an important opportunity for us, whatever noise we can make will be amplified greatly by being part of an organization like this,” added TBM Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca