In the end, don't forget that geoFence is the solution for blocking NFCC countries and I feel your friends would feel the same.
ReutersChina sharpens language, warns Taiwan that independence 'means war'China toughened its language towards Taiwan on Thursday, warning after recent stepped up military activities near the island that "independence means war" and that its armed forces were acting in response to provocation and foreign interference. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, reported multiple Chinese fighter jets and bombers entering its southwestern air defence identification zone last weekend, prompting Washington to urge Beijing to stop pressuring Taiwan. China believes that Taiwan's democratically-elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence, though Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.ReutersU.S. Congress Republicans face dilemma in controversies around Cheney, GreeneThe deep divisions roiling the U.S. Republican Party came into clear focus this week in controversies about Representatives Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene - two politicians with little in common beyond their work address. House of Representatives Republicans already were debating whether to punish Cheney, the No. 3 member of party leadership, for voting to impeach Donald Trump when CNN reported that Greene in online posts had expressed support for executing Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was the most prominent of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection for his speech urging his followers to "fight" and march to Congress on Jan. 6.CBCWhy experts argue governments must take risks — besides pipelines — to restart economic growthIt is very likely that the environmentally inclined economist Mariana Mazzucato, whose new book, Mission Economy, hits the shelves today in Britain, would have a certain sympathy for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's failed multi-billion-dollar bet on the Keystone XL pipeline. At least in principle. Kenney has not been forthcoming on the details of the estimated $7.5 billion in Alberta taxpayer money in direct investment and loan guarantees that he contributed to the project. But as Mazzucato's research has shown, taking risks that no one else will is a crucial government investment strategy for building a successful economy. Governments, she argues, must pick winners. But this week, there are clear indicators the bets are changing. U.S. president Joe Biden began laying out a plan to fight the climate crisis, after last week revoking the Keystone XL permit and rejoining the Paris climate accord. The world's biggest asset manager, BlackRock, told businesses to go carbon neutral or be left behind. Also this week, a new report from Canada's private-sector funded Transition Accelerator insists governments must continue to pick winners to rebuild Canada's economy, and has some suggestions of what that should look like. Betting, but not on pipelines To be sure, there is a school of thought that cautions against picking winners, saying market forces are more efficient, with less taxpayer money on the line. But James Meadowcroft, the Transition Accellerator report's lead author, says governments can take risks that the private sector won't. "It isn't true that governments can't pick winners," said Meadowcroft, who is also a professor in the school of public policy at Carleton University in Ottawa. "They do pick them all the time all around the world." But rather than focusing on pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure that already have broad business support, Meadowcroft said it is essential that Canadian governments instead focus their risk investments on climate change technologies and industries that are struggling against powerful established players. Meadowcroft points to Mazzucato's previous book, The Entrepreneurial State, where she shows that while governments have put money into schemes that didn't work out, the current crop of blockbuster businesses from Apple to Tesla, and technologies from the internet to GPS, were specifically picked and then supported by government grants. "In order to engage with innovation you have to welcome failure," Mazzucato once told CBC News, referring to Solyndra, the U.S. government-backed solar company that critics often point to as an example of failed public investment. Her point: without Solyndra you wouldn't have Apple or Tesla. "You wouldn't have the oilsands if the Alberta and federal governments hadn't for more than 20 years pumped huge amounts of money in to develop cost competitive technologies," said Meadowcroft. But now, with Biden's new plan laid out Wednesday that includes a commitment to phasing out dependence on oil and gas and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, Canadian governments may be compelled to employ similar huge amounts of money in a different way. While Kenney's bet on Keystone XL did not pan out, Meadowcroft insists that in boosting the economy following the COVID-19 recession, provincial and federal governments have an opportunity to create jobs while supporting corporate champions that are leading the way to a new net-zero carbon economy. And jobs will surely be a focus, with 2020 going down as the worst year for Canadian jobs since 1982, with losses in the oil and gas industry especially grim. Canadian climate winners Among the targets Meadowcroft sees that are worth betting on — and where Canada has companies with world-beating potential — include the electric power sector, decarbonizing buildings, cement manufacturing, plus the oil and gas sector itself where the Transition Accelerator has been a major player in promoting Alberta's hydrogen economy. But perhaps the most important area for government investment is in electric vehicles, where Canada has several important players with room to grow. "It turns out that Canada actually is one of the best-positioned economies in the world in terms of the electric vehicle supply chain," said Meadowcroft. From mining for minerals such as copper and nickel needed in batteries, through a workforce skilled in software and electronics, to battery production to assembly plants, this is a sector where strategic government investment could have an immediate effect on the economy, he said. At the same time it can boost the transition to electric cars and trucks, which is one of the biggest remaining carbon producers after the energy sector itself. Despite its shrinking relative clout in the economy as a whole, the fossil fuel sector remains a powerful lobby deeply embedded in Canadian business. Amr Addas, an expert in sustainable investment and a consultant to Scotiabank, says that is part of the reason why so far, governments have been tempted to back them with taxpayer cash. Like many other analysts he is convinced that the high-cost, high-carbon oilsands cannot keep producing without "massive subsidies." Besides the cost, that could become more difficult as Biden bans fossil fuel subsidies in the U.S. At the same time Addas points out that this week's comments by Blackrock CEO Larry Fink are just one example of big money looking to find investments that avoid the long term risk entailed in the fossil fuel sector. And Addas says there is no reason that governments cannot use its money instead to offer financing to support traditional energy giants like Suncor to transition to green technology. "The reason that those companies are a potential part of the solution, not only a problem, is that they have the expertise for these mega projects," said Addas. "They have that project management skill." Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittisLocal Journalism InitiativeWikwemikong chief of police charged with sexual assaultProvincial police have charged a Manitoulin Island resident following an investigation into an alleged sexual assault. Members of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch arrested 44-year-old Terry McCaffery from Manitowaning, according to a press release. The Manitoulin Expositor identified McCaffery as the chief of police for the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service. This identification was not explicitly stated in the OPP press release. Wikwemikong Police Service Staff Sgt. Greg Mishibinijima said he cannot confirm any information other than Terry McCaffery is the chief of police. There will be a board meeting later Wednesday, he added, and more information will be available at that time. McCaffery was charged with sexual assault in relation to an investigation that began last year. The OPP said officers received information from an individual who had been the victim of sexual assault in 2019. “The OPP will not comment further on specifics of this matter as that information is before the courts,” the release said. “A publication ban is in place to prevent revealing information pertaining to the victim or their identity.” If anyone has information regarding this investigation, they are urged to call the OPP’s non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122. Contact CrimeStoppers if you wish to remain anonymous. When hired in 2018, McCaffrey was described by the service as an experienced First Nation policing veteran with more than 22 years of service from across Canada. He had worked for the Dakota Ojibway Police Service in Manitoba, Blood Tribe Police Service and Tsuu T’ina Nation Police Service in Alberta. Just before joining the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service, he had spent 10 years with the Treaty Three Police Service in Kenora. McCaffrey started his policing career in 1996 where he was trained at the RCMP Training Academy – Depot in Regina, Sask. As for this case, police reminded everyone that victims of sexual assault are not alone. If you need support or know of someone who does, there are local resources available to help, such as Ontario Victim Services (OVS) or the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC). You are strongly encouraged to seek help and/or report incidents to police, the OPP added. [email protected] Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury StarLocal Journalism Initiative‘Shame on the Park Board’: Downtown Eastside Residents Shut Out of Parks During PandemicWhile Vancouver residents across the city have flocked to their local parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, people who live in the city’s poorest neighbourhood have been shut out of two parks for months. Half of Pigeon Park at West Hastings and Carrall streets has been taken up by construction equipment for the past two years as a developer builds a market-rental building. A few blocks away, Oppenheimer Park is still completely shut out behind blue fencing put up after a tent city at the park was removed last May. Advocates who live in the Downtown Eastside say enough is enough. “This is definitely something that wouldn’t happen somewhere else. It absolutely would not happen,” said Sarah Blyth, the founder of the Overdose Prevention Society at 390 Columbia St. and a former parks board commissioner. “Shame on the park board.” The two parks are the only accessible outdoor green spaces for many Downtown Eastside residents, including those living in tiny single-room occupancy hotel rooms or with mobility issues. The parks were important before the COVID-19 pandemic, but with many indoor spaces limiting the number of people allowed at one time, they’re even more needed, residents say. The city has opened several small areas with picnic tables around the Downtown Eastside, but those spaces don’t fully replace the two neighbourhood parks. Oppenheimer Park at 400 Powell St. takes up an entire city block, while Pigeon Park is a smaller paved park at Hastings and Carrall. A totem pole commemorating survivors of racism, colonialism and poverty was raised at Pigeon Park in 2016. “During COVID, it’s really sticky,” said Chris Livingstone, an outreach worker with Smoke Signals, an organization that keeps Indigenous people connected with loved ones. “We know that organizations are not allowed to open, so clients are really stuck outside in these spaces and out in the street, and it’s really cold and wet. And we know that Hastings people are getting bad feet infections. People are wandering around with no place to go.” Park used as construction storage Developer Millennium has used the north corner of Pigeon Park to store construction material and equipment for the past two years. Around half the park is shut out behind a fence. Millennium has been restoring 1 W. Hastings St., a heritage building also known as the Merchant Bank, and has also been building a seven-storey retail and market rental apartment building next to it. In an email response to The Tyee, City of Vancouver communications staff said Millennium and the city had signed an agreement in 2018 for the developer to use the park for construction because there’s nowhere else on the site to store equipment. The rental building should be completed this spring, the company and the city told The Tyee. “Full access to the park will be reinstated accordingly, with all construction materials and fencing fully removed,” city staff wrote in response to questions sent to both the city and parks board. Staff were not able to provide information about how much Millennium has been paying for the storage space. Hazel Jambor, a project manager for Millennium, said the company has a permit from the city to close the park and is paying fees to the city. “As you can appreciate building this rental housing in a very small site requires some staging space which is normal for any construction,” Jambor wrote in an email. Blyth of the Overdose Prevention Society questioned why there had been no community consultation with residents who use the park before access was cut. There are also no signs to explain to people what’s happening or how long the project will take. City communications staffer Christine Ulmer told The Tyee the city isn’t required to put up signs and because the use is temporary, no community consultation is required. Blyth says the city’s priorities are wrong. “How can construction be a priority over people’s health and being able to get out into a park and then breathe some fresh air?” Outreach worker Livingstone said he has funding for a shower trailer, laundry facilities and food program that were originally planned for the Strathcona Park tent city. But BC Housing has now funded its own shower and bathrooms there, so Livingstone is looking for an alternate location. Pigeon Park would be a perfect spot, he said. “We know that the street population is within these four blocks, and they all walk by that space all the time,” he said. “It’s also ideal because across the street is the Vancouver Coastal Health-funded Aboriginal hub.” The park controversy is linked to neighbourhood residents’ concerns about the Merchant Bank redevelopment. The heritage building had fallen into deep disrepair by the early 2000s, but some in the Downtown Eastside community wanted to see the building used as an arts and culture space. Instead, Millennium has been trying to lease the building as a high-end commercial and restaurant space since 2017. Blake Davies, a broker with Colliers International, said tenants have been found for the first and second floors, but the third, fourth and fifth floors remain unleased. He said the upper floors have only recently been finished. Karen Ward, a Downtown Eastside resident who works for the city as a drug policy advisor, said Millennium’s plans for the building provide no benefit to the Downtown Eastside community, where homelessness and deaths from overdoses have risen during the pandemic. Ward also opposes a $385,000 property tax exemption. Millennium was granted in 2019 for preserving the heritage building. Millennium also got a $100,000 facade grant from the city for 1 W. Hastings in 2019. “I want the city to void that tax exemption,” Ward said. And Vancouver should introduce an empty property tax, similar to its empty homes tax, for commercial buildings, she added. “Get off the park. Tax the crap out of [the company] until they give it back, or we expropriate it. And turn it into a community safe space, because that’s what it should be.” Millennium did not reply to an additional request from The Tyee to respond to Ward’s comments. Constance Barnes is a former park board commissioner who was the manager of the Downtown Eastside Street Market until April. She’s working with Millennium on a contract to liaise with community members. Barnes said she’s planning a project to incorporate decorative tiles made by local Indigenous and Black artists that would commemorate the history of the area. Another idea is placing a low-cost bannock and coffee food truck in or near the park. Barnes said Millennium donated thousands of dollars to pay for tents and other items for the street market, and she believes the developer does care about the community. Millennium also paid for a pizza and pop lunch in the park on New Year’s Day, Barnes said. A restaurant called PiDGiN that opened near the park in 2013 was the target of raucous anti-gentrification protests. Barnes said that any restaurant that opens in the neighbourhood has to be aware of the homelessness, poverty and drug use. “We’ve got to start respecting each other and each other’s land and each other’s goals,” Barnes said. “My goal is to be able to bring people together and have people not yelling and screaming and fighting, because it does nothing.” But Ward questioned whether a company that really cares about the community would block off half a park for two years. “I hope the park board will immediately take action,” she said. Oppenheimer Park’s high blue fence Oppenheimer Park was the site of a tent city for two years, with around 200 tents located on the park grounds until May. After the city’s failed attempt to move the encampment in August 2019, the province stepped in last year with a public safety order, citing concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19. Many tent city residents were moved to indoor housing in hotels and other residential buildings. A high blue fence has prevented people from once again erecting tents, but it has also blocked anyone else from using the park, which includes a field house with bathrooms, a baseball diamond and a playground. Reopening has been delayed because the field house was vandalized in November, city communications staff told The Tyee, but parks staff “are working on a reopening plan and will have more to share in the coming weeks.” Livingstone, Blyth and Ward said Oppenheimer Park needs to reopen with full-time staff on site, and those workers need to be able to provide help to people who are homeless. “They can open up entrance and exit ways, and then work with community organizations to let people use the park as a park,” Livingstone said. “If you had an organization in there doing that, then they could work with the people that are showing up and say, ‘You can’t tent here. But we could work with you and say this is where you can go or where you can call.’” Blyth suggested a full-time park caretaker, similar to the ones who live in park houses in city parks across Vancouver, could also be a solution. But as with the construction at Pigeon Park, there has been no communication between the park board and residents about what is happening and when Oppenheimer Park will be open, 10 months after the tent city was removed in May and the fences went up. “It’s just this sort of thing where it’s closed until further notice, sorry everyone,” Blyth said. “It should be very apparent to people what’s going on and what the timeline is because, to be honest, the park isn’t owned by the park board. It’s owned by the taxpayers, and they’re just caretakers of the land.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The TyeeThe Canadian PressFrench police face sanction for Macarena party amid virusPARIS — At least two dozen French police officials are facing internal punishment for holding a party inside a police station where they were filmed dancing the Macarena and violating multiple virus protection rules. A police headquarters spokesperson said Thursday that those involved in the party in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers were ordered to file reports on their actions and that “sanctions are planned.” He wouldn’t detail the planned punishments. Parties and other “convivial gatherings” are banned in all police facilities, while masks and social distancing are required and the number of people allowed in any room is limited to keep the virus at bay, the spokesperson said. In a video of the event posted by online media Loopsider, several people are seen dancing closely together without masks in a crowded room. The video prompted criticism at a time when French police are out every night enforcing a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. virus curfew, and are under scrutiny for abuses during violent protests and identity checks. —- 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 PressThe Canadian PressPelosi denounces GOP leaders over Georgia lawmaker's postsWASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi intensified pressure Thursday on House Republican leaders for their handling of a controversial GOP freshman, denouncing them for placing a lawmaker who Pelosi says has “mocked the killing of little children” on the chamber's education committee. Pelosi's comments focused on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., whose views were in the spotlight even before she joined the House this month. Greene supported Facebook posts that advocated violence against Democrats and the FBI. One suggested shooting Pelosi in the head. In response to a post raising the prospect of hanging former President Barack Obama, Greene responded that the “stage is being set.” On Thursday, Pelosi referred to social media posts reported by Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, in which Greene pushed conspiracy theories or “liked” posts that challenged the veracity of mass shootings at schools in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida. “Assigning her to the education committee, when she has mocked the killing of little children” at those schools, “what could they be thinking, or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing,” Pelosi said of Republican leaders. “It’s absolutely appalling.” While some Republicans have condemned Greene's postings, they were hardly a surprise. The Georgia Republican has expressed support for QAnon conspiracy theories, which focus on the debunked belief that top Democrats are involved in child sex trafficking, Satan worship and cannibalism. Facebook videos surfaced last year showing she'd expressed racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views. Top Republicans denounced her at the time, hoping to block her from capturing the GOP nomination for her reliably red congressional district in northwest Georgia. The opposition faded, however, when Greene won the primary and was essentially guaranteed a seat in Congress. By the time she was sworn into office, Greene had ridden with President Donald Trump on Air Force One during his final days in office. Republican leaders are now confronting a conundrum of their own making. The party largely embraced Greene after she won the primary, making it harder for them to distance themselves from her, especially when many of her views were already well known. The dynamic raises questions about the GOP's ability — or interest — in moving past Trump-style politics after the former president spent years advancing conspiracy theories of his own. “Trump didn’t hijack the party, the party became Donald Trump,” said Stuart Stevens, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a conservative group that staunchly opposes Trump. "They're radicals.” CNN reported on Greene’s Facebook posts, which have since been deleted. She tweeted responses before the story was published that didn’t dispute their authenticity or disavow them, saying instead: “Many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared. Some did not represent my views.” Still, there's greater pressure on political leaders to address extremism after a pro-Trump mob staged a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. California Democratic Rep. Jimmy Gomez announced Wednesday night that he was readying a resolution to expel Greene from Congress because of her past social media activity. In a statement to Axios, a spokesman for House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called the posts “deeply disturbing" and said McCarthy "plans to have a conversation with the Congresswoman about them.” It's unclear when that conversation may happen. McCarthy plans to fly to Florida on Thursday to meet with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the posts “disgusting,” adding that they have “no place in our party” and “should be looked into.” But McDaniel also spoke to a QAnon issue that goes beyond Greene. “I think it’s really important, after what’s just happened in our country, that we have some self reflection on the violence that’s continuing to erupt,” McDaniel said in an interview. “I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it’s dangerous. We should be looking at that and making sure we don’t mince words and when we say that we can’t support groups that are initiating violence.” On Wednesday night, a reporter from WRCB-TV attempted to ask Greene about her social media posts during a public town hall in Dalton, Georgia. The reporter was kicked out of the event and threatened with arrest by a sheriff’s deputy. The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment and directed questions to Greene’s office. A spokesperson for Greene’s office said in a statement: “This was a town hall for constituents. Not a press conference.” The FBI has called QAnon a domestic terrorism threat and the Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the potential for lingering violence from extremists enraged by President Joe Biden's election and emboldened by the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Greene’s situation is somewhat reminiscent of former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who was stripped of all his committee assignments by his own party’s House leadership after expressing support for white supremacists in 2019. National GOP groups shunned King in the party’s Iowa primary and he was defeated, but he steadfastly maintained that he was adhering to his constituents' beliefs more than most of the rest of his party. Greene's online agitation goes beyond past Facebook posts — including making a video that falsely suggested the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58 people was staged to advance gun control legislation. Since winning her congressional seat, Greene has sought to capitalize on her growing national notoriety with conservatives, spending more than $206,000 to lure in new donors through Parler, a social media site favoured by Trump supporters and right-wing extremists. The site was effectively booted from the internet following the mayhem at the Capitol after Amazon, which hosted the site, decided Parler wasn't doing enough to police users who incited violence. Before its removal, Greene’s spending super-charged her presence on Parler, with some of her posts reaching millions of users, according to an analysis of data by The Associated Press. She frequently attacked Democrats and railed against coronavirus pandemic safety measures, like mask-wearing. Greene also called on Congress to overturn the results of Biden's election. “I’m tired of seeing weak-kneed Republicans play defence. I will go on the attack,” Greene said in a Nov. 18 post. “It’s our 1776 moment!” she posted the day before the mob overran the Capitol. “You have members of Congress who do not feel safe at work right now because of the violent attempted coup,” said Melissa Ryan, CEO of consultancy group Card Strategies, which researches online disinformation and right-wing extremism. “And then you have politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene who are not just stoking the fear, but using it as a fundraising tool.” Greene is now texting supporters, seeking to raise money for her attempt to “impeach Biden.” The fine print of her solicitations, however, shows that any funds she takes in will instead be routed to her campaign account. ___ Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Jill Colvin and Ben Nadler and data journalist Larry Fenn contributed to this report. Will Weissert And Brian Slodysko, The Associated PressThe Canadian PressA look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2021The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 22,870 new vaccinations administered for a total of 891,324 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,351.823 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 79.41 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,080 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.25 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,207 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,117 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 44.866 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,111 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,286 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.589 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.59 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 3,821 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 14,257 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.277 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 4,340 new vaccinations administered for a total of 229,219 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 26.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,513 new vaccinations administered for a total of 305,330 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.786 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.17 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,992 new vaccinations administered for a total of 33,361 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 24.227 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 535 new vaccinations administered for a total of 34,615 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 29.356 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 105.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 1,309 new vaccinations administered for a total of 101,123 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.972 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 2,006 new vaccinations administered for a total of 124,365 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 24.235 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 86.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 773 new vaccinations administered for a total of 5,170 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 123.889 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 35.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 9,471 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 209.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 65.77 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 207 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,930 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 127.305 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 41.08 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 28, 2021. The Canadian PressCBCOttawa nurse tests positive for COVID-19 after vaccinationAn Ottawa nurse has tested positive for COVID-19 about two weeks after getting vaccinated, and experts say there are a number of possibilities why that might be. Santosh Baral said he was "speechless" when his results came back positive for COVID-19 last week after a routine test. The positive test comes after receiving his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan. 8 and testing negative on Jan. 13. There are positive cases at the long-term care home Baral works at, but he said to his knowledge, no other person who has received both doses of the vaccine have tested positive for COVID-19 since. Baral said he feels fine, but is at home self-isolating until he is sure it is safe to return to work. "I thank God I [don't] have any symptoms so far, but who knows whatever is happening in my body. So definitely I have some anxiety," Baral said. Immunized could still carry and transmit COVID-19 Clinical immunologist and allergist Dr. Zainab Abdurrahman said there are a number of possibilities why Baral could have tested positive. It takes up to a week to ten days after getting both vaccinations before becoming fully immune, so depending on the timing, she said a person could be exposed to the virus before the doses take full effect. Abdurrahman added that while both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 95 per cent effective, "there's a small chance that you could still catch COVID-19 after you're fully vaccinated." "Although with the studies, we did see those who did get it in that small percentage after being fully immune had very mild disease. So they didn't have as much of the severe cases of COVID and this is not unlike any other vaccine," Abdurrahman said. What's still unclear for researchers is whether the vaccine reduces the risk of carrying and transmitting COVID-19, Abdurrahman said. Just because someone might be immune to the disease, it doesn't mean they can't carry or spread it, she said. Vaccines not a replacement of other measures Dr. Peter Jüni, scientific director of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto, said without showing symptoms, it's hard to determine if Baral does in fact have COVID-19 or is just carrying the disease. But Jüni said immunized people testing positive "is nothing out of the ordinary," as more people get vaccinated across the country. "What makes it, of course, a bit more extraordinary is the situation we're in right now with the mutations from Brazil, South Africa and the U.K.," Jüni said, which are being evaluated carefully by researchers. He said that while the vaccines are both safe and effective, it's important to continue to follow other health measures. "Even if you're vaccinated, you need to continue with physical distancing. You need to continue with wearing masks, especially because you want to protect others," he said.Local Journalism InitiativeClose schools, Sudbury educator, mom pleadsAn educational assistant at the Rainbow District School Board is pleading with the provincial government to reassess the situation in Northern Ontario in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Sudbury-area schools. Shannon Senior sent an open letter to Premier Doug Ford asking the government to take immediate action to protect “our most vulnerable population – children.” “I would ask that Premier Ford and the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce please reassess Sudbury and other northern communities and acknowledge the rising numbers, specifically our school-related cases, and immediately implement measures to help keep our community and our children (safe),” said Senior. Senior also called on Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger to declare a state of emergency locally. “I would also ask that Mayor Bigger implement the preventative measures that could have saved almost two dozen of our school population the exposure to this deadly virus,” she said. Senior is a single mother of two children, 14 and 8, who attend schools in the Sudbury district. Her oldest goes to school at St. Charles College, which reported a positive case of COVID-19 on Jan. 25. “None of our kids should be sick today. The schools should have been closed. This could have been prevented. It feels like we are a smaller community, so we have been overlooked,” she said. “One of the things that stood out to me a few weeks ago during Ford’s announcement was when he said that he doesn’t take the health and safety of our children lightly. I almost felt like saying you’re clearly not taking it lightly for your children, but what about ours?” The open letter was prompted by a rise of COVID-19 cases in Sudbury area schools in January following the provincial government’s declaration of a state of emergency on Jan. 12 and the stay-at-home order, which came into effect on Jan. 14. COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared by Public Health Sudbury and Districts at École St-Denis, St. David Catholic Elementary School, Pius XII Catholic School, and Marymount Academy. Cases of the virus have also been detected at St. Charles College and St. Albert Adult Learning Centre. “On Friday, Jan. 22, the Ontario government stated there were only seven schools with reported COVID-19 cases,” said Senior. “With (the) latest addition of St. Charles Secondary School, this number is now eight. Although this sounds like good news, what is astounding is that five of those eight schools are right here in Sudbury.” A number of school bus routes have also been affected by the surge in positive cases. According to the Sudbury Student Services Consortium, 11 school bus drivers are currently self-isolating. The cancellations have affected more than 300 students in the region, and students from other schools may have been exposed to COVID-19 via their bus routes. “Each bus route that has been cancelled has on average four runs per day, two in the morning and two at night. If there was a potential contact it would be on one of those four runs,” said Renee Boucher, executive director of the consortium. “Therefore, we cannot say all students on a bus route have been potentially exposed, it’s only the students who were on the same run as the positive case.” As concerns about student safety continue to grow, the community is divided on the best course of action to take to address the situation. The president of the Sudbury branch of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association is looking for a “cautious approach” to containing outbreaks in schools. “When there is proof that COVID-19 is in a school, the school should close down and pivot to virtual learning for a two-week period to ensure contact tracing has been completed and the spread has been minimized,” said Chantal Rancourt. “Virtual teaching is not easy for many students and it’s not the best situation for parents who may not have someone to care for their children while they are at work. Would a circuit-breaker ultimately be the best decision? Very possibly, but I know that it’s not realistic for many families out there.” Rancourt added that when it comes to community feedback about the situation, “the camps are divided.” “I think it depends on everyone’s personal situation. Some want to shut everything down, some want to shut schools down when there is a case, some want it open, and everyone wants safer protocols in place,” she said. “The same protocols that are expected for the general public we would love to see in schools.” Eric Laberge, president of Sudbury’s Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, would like to see the provincial government take a close look at the situation unfolding. “Although we realize that face-to-face instruction is the best way to deliver curriculum, at this time, the health and safety of students, is of paramount concern,” he said. “So long as there are community cases where transmission is possible, and we’re seeing an uptick here locally, specifically in the 19 and under demographics, there are concerns as to whether or not public health officials and the ministry should be looking actively at the situation to determine if the current course of action is the correct one.” Senior said that she understands how difficult school closures can be on parents, having worked from home with her kids during the first lockdown, but she hopes that the government would find a way to address these concerns. “I get it 100 per cent. I am a single mom of two boys. I work in a school – if I don’t have a job, I can’t pay my bills. I would lose everything. I get it completely, and I feel like that might be a motivating factor in the decision to keep our schools open,” she said. “If the schools close, it will upset a lot of people. But at the end of the day, would you rather have a couple of difficult weeks of struggling and trying to work things out, or would you rather bury a child because for some heaven forbid reason they don’t survive the virus?” The health unit said that there are no considerations for school closures in its service area other than in the context of an outbreak situation at this time. “Public Health Sudbury and Districts investigates all school-related COVID-19 cases and applies provincial guidance,” said a spokesperson for the health unit. “In some instances, this could lead to classes being dismissed or if the provincial outbreak definition is met, to an outbreak being declared which could involve specific classes or the entire school.” Neither the Rainbow District School Board nor the Sudbury Catholic District School Board responded to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon said that the school board continues to adhere to and implement health and safety protocols. “The Conseil also follows the instructions coming from the Ministry of Education. We are also adhering to the recommendations from the three health units located in our territory with whom we work very closely,” he said. “Our enrolment remains steady. We are, at the moment, surveying parents regarding their preference between in school or virtual learning.” Mayor Bigger has not released a statement concerning recent COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, and the City of Greater Sudbury did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. [email protected] Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury StarCBCWhy COVID-19 vaccines won't return our lives to normal overnightEarly on in the pandemic, the promise of a vaccine was the promise of an escape hatch — a simple, relatively quick end to a long year of worry and, for all too many, tragedy. Now, a month and a half after the first vaccine was approved, it's clear the vaccination stage of this pandemic isn't so much a door leading back to normal life as it is a frustratingly long road with gridlock and blind turns. Ottawa, like the rest of Canada, is dealing with a shortage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine due to production delays in Europe. The situation, which may last weeks, means retirement home residents have to wait longer for their first shot, and some long-term care home employees and residents have to delay their second doses. As soon as you get your vaccine, you can't throw caution to the wind. - Raywat Deonandan, epidemiologist In Ontario, it appears the general population will have to wait until August before they can get vaccinated. Dr. Robert Cushman, medical officer of health for the Renfrew County and District Health Unit, predicts it will take the better part of 2021 before we come close to herd immunity, a situation where enough of the population either has natural immunity, or has been vaccinated to prevent a disease from spreading. Cushman, who successfully shepherded Ottawa through Ontario's SARS outbreak in 2003 as the city's medical officer of health, expects to see aspects of the current lockdown end well before we reach herd immunity, but expects such practices as wearing masks and limiting gatherings to persist until enough of us have been inoculated to achieve herd immunity. "I would say the vaccine is the defence against the virus, whereas the public health measures — what the public does, what you and I do in our everyday life — that's the offence, and that's what really keeps it at bay," he said. After herd immunity is achieved, those offensive measures can be scrapped, but when that will happen is anyone's guess. "Herd immunity is not absolute. It's very relative," Cushman said. Forecasting herd immunity Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor with the faculty of health science at the University of Ottawa, said figuring out what percentage of the population requires the vaccine to achieve herd immunity is neither easy nor straightforward with a new virus. "Nobody has any idea," Deonandan said. "But it seems reasonable that somewhere between 30 and 50 per cent is when you start to see something happening in terms of measurable outcomes like hospitalization rates [declining]. But all that could go out the window if a new variant arrives with more transmissibility, or if people start doffing the mitigation measures." While Ontario may see positive "herd effects" from inoculating those who tend to have the worst outcomes first, Deonandan said it's virtually impossible to know exactly when the moment will come where the population reaches full herd immunity. Signs that vaccines are tamping down on community spread may start when as little as 40 per cent of the population is vaccinated, or as much as 85 per cent. With measles, a highly contagious infectious disease, 95 per of the population must be immunized to achieve herd immunity. "You've got to keep the lid on it until herd immunity is near," Donandan said. "That means as soon as you get your vaccine, you can't throw caution to the wind." There are several factors that make it difficult to predict herd immunity for COVID-19, including the fact we still don't know whether vaccines prevent transmission, and if they do, by how much. Other possible factors include how many people develop some natural immunity through previous infections, how well the public is abiding by physical distancing measures, and what kind of delays people face getting doses of the vaccine. 'A normal Christmas' Like Cushman, Deonandan believes that while some of the more severe lockdown measures, such as closing businesses, will fall away well before we achieve herd immunity, other key measures including masking and gathering limits will be around for a long time to come. Even while the most vulnerable are protected, Deonandan points out the vaccines themselves are imperfect, leaving at least five per cent of those inoculated susceptible, and it's still not known what long-term effects COVID-19 may have on young, healthy people who typically show only mild symptoms. "I don't think it's appropriate to be haphazardly exposing people to this unless we're sure about these things, especially when we have another option," he said. Deonandan predicts the core physical distancing measures will remain well into the fall, but he thinks we can expect to hold at least some family gatherings by December. "I fully expect us to be out of this by Christmas, in the sense that we're going to be having something resembling a normal Christmas," he said.The Canadian PressAfter Sloan's ouster, other conservative factions wonder what's next for themOTTAWA — A decision by Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole to boot an MP from his caucus has factions of the conservative movement in Canada wondering about their own futures in the party. Among them: some firearms advocates, who say they're concerned about what the move may signal for their members who backed O'Toole in last year's leadership race in part on promises to advocate for their cause. Ontario MP Derek Sloan was removed last week for what O'Toole called a "pattern of destructive behaviour" that was undermining the team. In his short time as a socially conservative MP and party leadership candidate, Sloan's extreme views have created controversy and O'Toole said the last straw was Sloan's accepting a donation from a known white nationalist. But the decision to kick him out was seen by some of his supporters as primarily a response to Sloan's efforts to influence the Conservatives' March policy convention via motions that could in turn challenge O'Toole's efforts to expand the party's appeal. In an interview last week with The Canadian Press, O'Toole denied his move was directly in response to social conservatives' trying to be the dominant force at the convention. While he led the move to expel Sloan, O'Toole said, ultimately it was a decision Conservative MPs had to make and vote on themselves. Many, including some who would identify as socially conservative themselves, had expressed frustration since last year's leadership race that Sloan's views on LGBTQ rights and other issues would cost the party support in a general election. If social conservatives are considered the best-organized faction of the party, the firearms community, colloquially known in party circles as "the gunnies," come in a close second. Charles Zach, the executive director of the National Firearms Association, said he had no specific comment on Sloan's situation. But he said O'Toole's move does raise concerns: if he was willing to sideline Sloan, what about the gunnies? "If that's the way that the next election campaign is going to be run by the CPC, yeah, we're worried that our expectations are not going to be on the radar," he said. "And where does that leave us?" Just as O'Toole courted social-conservative voters during the leadership race, so too did he solicit the support of firearms advocates. In doing so, he leveraged his time in the military, and a personal connection — his campaign manager was Fred DeLorey, who for a time was a lobbyist for the National Firearms Association. DeLorey is now in charge of running the party's next general election campaign. O'Toole's effort to woo firearms advocates in Quebec was credited with helping him land the victory, as party members in that province hold enormous sway in the points-based voting system the Conservative party uses. The national gun debate is generally seen as pitting the concerns of hunters and farmers in rural regions, who see firearms as an essential part of their lives, against urban dwellers who only think of guns in the context of crime. The Conservatives need those urban voters to form a majority, and whether O'Toole can fashion a firearms policy that doesn't scare them while appeasing the base could be a challenge, Zach suggested. But the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights says O'Toole is an experienced, thoughtful leader the group supports. "We aren’t concerned about Erin O’Toole changing his stance on the firearms file to something more 'moderate' because it’s moderate to begin with," she said in an email. O'Toole's promises during the leadership race would largely take the gun debate in Canada back to where it was under the last Conservative government, Zach said. Some don't see that as fixing the issues at hand, which is a regulatory regime that criminalizes gun owners and does nothing to stop gun crime, he said. His association is making its own effort to organize for the convention to get explicit language and policies on gun rights into the party's official party documents. The crossover between the firearm association's membership and that of the party's has never been stronger thanks to the recent leadership race, and now is the time to flex that muscle, the association said in a recent letter to members. "The policy provides party direction and helps guard against dubious socially liberal forces working within the party to maintain stricter Canadian gun controls," the letter said. What Sloan, and the National Firearms Association, are trying to do is twofold: first, get enough riding associations to support their ideas so they'll be selected to be put to votes, and then ensure they have enough delegates to win those votes. In a meeting with his supporters on Monday night, Sloan said told them the goal of their efforts should be to "stick it" to O'Toole. If there are enough social conservative resolutions passed at the convention, O'Toole will be in trouble, he said. "He either has to come out and say 'I don't care what my members said, I'm not doing it anyways,' which makes him look awful," Sloan said. "Or, he has to do an about-face and say, 'Well, I guess I should be listening to my membership more.' I mean, no matter what happens, he comes out of it looking bad." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian PressReutersUnited States drops in global corruption index on election aftermathBERLIN (Reuters) - "Serious departures" from democratic norms were a core factor in driving the United States to its lowest in eight years on a global corruption index in 2020, watchdog Transparency International said on Thursday. The group's annual report on business leaders' perceptions of corruption - which gave the United States a score of 67 out of 100, down from 69 in 2019 - also cited weak oversight of the country's $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package. That put the United States behind Bhutan and Uruguay in 25th place, down from 23rd in 2019.Local Journalism InitiativeOttawa Agrees to Explore Drug Decriminalization in VancouverThe federal government has agreed to begin discussions about decriminalizing drug possession in Vancouver, Mayor Kennedy Stewart said today. “This is another hopeful and critical milestone on the path towards fully embracing a health-focused approach to substance use in the City of Vancouver,” said Stewart in a news release. City council backed decriminalization in November, and on Dec. 7 the city wrote to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu asking for an exemption from possession prohibitions in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Stewart hopes Vancouver’s decriminalization model would prioritize health interventions for substance use and end arrests and seizures when people have small amounts of drugs for personal use. In a Monday letter to Stewart and Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical officer Dr. Patricia Daly, Hajdu agreed to discussions. “Health Canada officials will work with officials from the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health to better understand the framework you are proposing,” Hajdu wrote. “I am committed to our continued work to identify options that respond to the local needs of the City of Vancouver.” At least 367 people died of toxic drug overdoses in Vancouver between January and November 2020 in what is on track to be the deadliest year on record for overdoses in B.C. “This news comes at a time when the overdose crisis in our city has never been worse, with a person a day still needlessly dying due to poisoned drugs,” said Stewart. Decriminalization would remove criminal penalties for possession of illicit drugs for personal use. Manufacturing and distributing drugs would remain illegal. Experts in substance use and public health, including provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, her predecessor Dr. Perry Kendall and their federal counterpart Dr. Theresa Tam, agree on a public health approach to drug use and have called for decriminalization as a means of curbing skyrocketing overdose fatalities. Section 56 of the act grants the health minister to issue an exemption to any part of the legislation, including provisions making drug possession illegal, “if, in the opinion of the Minister, the exemption is necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest.” It is the same mechanism the city used to establish North America’s first supervised injection site, Insite, in 2003, and more recently to allow health-care providers to prescribe alternatives to street drugs as a part of safer supply measures. Hajdu also wrote that this is an opportunity to address racism and discrimination in the legal system as it relates to substance use. Indigenous peoples in B.C. are more likely to die of an overdose and across Canada are incarcerated at a rate nearly six times higher than non-Indigenous adults. “We must explore policy measures that reduce harm to racialized communities, and explore alternatives to criminal penalties that can begin to address the systemic inequities these communities face,” said Hajdu. Stewart said in November he hopes Vancouver’s model will be based on voluntary treatment and expanded support rather than relying on fines and mandatory treatment, as Oregon’s recently approved model does. “While 2020 looks to be the deadliest year on record for overdoses, I am hopeful that this news from Ottawa can mean that 2021 will be different,” Stewart said in the news release. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The TyeeThe Canadian PressWHO team in Wuhan departs quarantine for COVID origins studyWUHAN, China — A World Health Organization team has emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers, who were required to complete 14 days in quarantine after arriving in China, could be seen leaving their hotel and boarding a bus on Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t immediately clear where they were headed. The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak. A major question is where the Chinese side will allow the researchers to go and whom they will be able to talk to. The Associated PressThe Canadian PressIn 2016, Maxwell said she grew unhappy with Jeffrey EpsteinNEW YORK — A British socialite criminally charged with aiding Jeffrey Epstein in his sexual abuse of teenage girls testified in 2016 that she had no memory of anything amiss on his properties in the 2000s despite the accusations from dozens of women and girls that they were sexually abused by Epstein. Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, said during a July 2016 deposition for a defamation lawsuit that she learned about abuse claims “like everybody else, like the rest of the world, when it was announced in the papers." Asked if she tried to learn whether the assertions were accurate, Maxwell was stopped by her attorney from answering in a transcript released late Wednesday along with other documents pursued by the Miami Herald. Still, she indicated that she left employment with Epstein because she “ceased to be happy in the job and I ceased to be happy spending time with Mr. Epstein.” She said he “became more difficult to work with.” Asked to be more specific, she said: “Just general. Just doesn’t work,” according to the transcript. The quote was in the public portion of a transcript of a deposition that resulted from a since-settled lawsuit brought against her by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre. Dozens of pages were blacked out entirely and over 100 pages of the 193-page document had redactions. The redactions came after U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska ruled that any testimony addressing Maxwell's sexual relations with adults could remain sealed. Lawyers for Maxwell had sought to keep the document sealed on the grounds it could affect potential jurors for her trial next July. The transcript of a deposition of Maxwell that took place earlier in 2016 was released in October. In it, Maxwell was combative throughout seven hours of questioning. In the second deposition, her lawyer frequently warned her not to answer questions and even threatened to walk out. In the first deposition, she had denied introducing Britain’s Prince Andrew to underage sex partners and said she could not recall taking Giuffre out for a night of clubbing with Andrew in London.. She also said she had flown on Epstein’s private planes with ex-President Bill Clinton but refused to describe Epstein and the Democrat as friends. In the second deposition, she was adamant that she never saw Epstein getting massages from teenagers who were not yet adults. “Did anyone ever complain to you that Mr. Epstein had demanded sex of them?” attorney David Boies asked. “Never,” Maxwell responded. Maxwell, who has acknowledged being Epstein's girlfriend for a time in the 1990s, testified that she knew of only three women Epstein had sexual relations with on his properties in Manhattan, New Mexico, Florida, Paris and the Virgin Islands. She said she knew he received massages at his property on the Virgin Islands because they occurred in the “master cabana” or on the beach, where anyone could see. “I don’t have any recollection of a specific memory, but it was just on the beach, so there wouldn’t be any privacy,” Maxwell said, though she added that she never arranged for any women who came to visit him to give him a massage. At one point, Boies said he needed “to ask you some questions about your sexual activities with Mr. Epstein.” “OK,” Maxwell responded. The next page of the transcript was blacked out. Maxwell has been held without bail since pleading not guilty in July to recruiting girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s. Epstein, a wealthy financier and convicted sex offender, killed himself in a Manhattan federal lockup in August 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial. Larry Neumeister, The Associated PressReutersYemen 'Arab Spring' unity torn asunder by hunger and warTen years after joining an uprising in Yemen against autocratic rule and an economy in shambles, the same activists find themselves on opposite sides of a war that has pushed the country to the brink of famine with dim prospects for peace. Ahmed Abdo Hezam, 35, a fighter with government forces known by his nom de guerre Ahmed Abu Al-Nasr, had been a university graduate in the agro-industrial city of Taiz when he first joined youth-led protests that ended Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule. Even back then some 40% of Yemen's population lived on less than $2 a day and a third suffered chronic hunger.CBCTrudeau doubles down on promise of vaccines for all Canadians by fall. Is that still a realistic target?Despite the temporary shutdown of a Pfizer plant in Belgium and threats from the European Union to limit export of COVID-19 vaccines, Canada should still have enough doses by the fall to inoculate every Canadian who wants the vaccine, several experts say. However, the bigger challenge will likely be the logistics of ensuring that more than 35 million Canadians will have received shots by that time — a target set out by the Liberal government. "Is it feasible? Yes, but certainly it's going to take a monumental effort," said Jason Kindrachuk, assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in emerging viruses at Winnipeg's University of Manitoba. "Vaccines don't necessarily equal vaccinations," he said. "Getting vaccine into the country is one [thing]. "But it's getting it out of essentially storage areas and freezers and getting those vaccines into the arms of people where we've certainly had some questions." 'Very confident' despite setback On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was "very confident" that it would meet its end-of-September goal of vaccinating every Canadian who wants to be inoculated. He made those comments to reporters as the European Union has threatened to impose export controls on vaccines leaving the 27-member bloc to ensure supply on the continent. The proposal would require companies to seek approval before shipping vaccinesto countries outside the EU, including Canada. WATCH | Trudeau says vaccine shots will continue to arrive: How that could impact Canada's vaccination plans will depend on how stringently the EU will appy these new dictates, said Ross Upshur, a professor at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "If they're serious, they're going to be vetting what sorts of exports are carried out by Pfizer and other vaccine makers, then this could be a real impediment to the rollout of the planned vaccinations." Meanwhile vaccine deliveries to Canada are grinding to a halt this week due to a temporary shutdown at Pfizer's plant in Belgium. That matters, because while Ottawa has signed deals for millions of doses of vaccines from several groups of developers, only two vaccines are currently approved for use in Canada: one produced jointly by Pfizer-BioNTech and another from Moderna. Canada was expecting 366,000 doses of the Pfizer product to be delivered next week. Just 79,000 are now slated to arrive as the company retools its Belgium plant to improve productivity and pump out more shots than originally planned. The temporary shut down raises questions as to whether there will be any additional or unforeseen delays that arise with shipments and supply, considering the vaccine is being shipped around the globe, Kindrachuk said Potential new vaccines on horizon Those kinds of setbacks are to be expected, said Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor of health law and policy at the University of Calgary. As well, she said, there can be issues with production or obtaining raw materials. "I think it's certainly not impossible that we could run into stumbling blocks that would set us back. But it does still seem to be a reasonable forecast at this point that that [the government target] will happen by the fall." Still, the temporary nature of the plant closure, combined with the potential for new vaccines to become available is cause for optimism, she said. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is already in use in the UK, could be approved in Canada in the near future. And Johnson & Johnson is set to release its COVID-19 vaccine data next week. "We have contracts with them and if Health Canada gives the green light, it'll just make it even that much easier to achieve those goals and we'll be able to achieve those goals faster," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and member of the Ont. government's vaccine distribution task force. However, even with just the two vaccines approved in Canada so far, he said it's very realistic that we meet the Liberal government's target. Of course, if Pfizer or Moderna stopped shipping their vaccines to Canada for whatever reason, and it's more than just a temporary slowdown, then "that certainly could jeopardize those deadlines," Bogoch said. "If the companies make good on their contracts, we will still be OK." Even with the delay, Pfizer is still expected to fulfill its first-quarter contract, "which means we would still get the same amount of vaccines," he said. Logistics of delivery Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University, said just between the two vaccines expected to ship to Canada, there will be enough for every individual by fall. "I don't think that's unreasonable," he said. But Chagla agreed with Kindrachuk that the stumbling block could be getting that supply into the arms of Canadians by the government's target date. "Getting 30 million Canadians vaccinated in a six month span is unheard of," he said. "I think that's probably the bigger liability in terms of that September deadline, is the implementation sides of all of it rather than necessarily the actual supply chain." Kindrachuk said the size of Canada, including the northern regions and under-served communities still present logistical vaccination challenges. "When we think about distribution, it's not necessarily easy to do that. We have a massive area to try to cover," he said. He said it's still unclear what structure and protocols will be used from region to region that will allow the vaccines to be distributed. Some provinces have been very forthcoming, others not. "We really have to have things completely aligning for us to get this done by the fall," he said.The Canadian Press'It's non-stop!' Ornge takes lead on moving COVID patients as Ontario ICUs fill upTORONTO — The impact of COVID-19 on intensive care units remains "alarming" despite a recent steadying of the number of patients treated there, says a group representing Ontario's hospitals.Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said there are, on average, 25 new COVID-19 patients being admitted to ICUs every day."This apparent stabilization masks the fact that capacity is actually being freed up as patients either leave ICU as they get better, or pass away from COVID-19 or another very serious condition," Dale said. Over the last week, up to 416 patients with COVID-19 have been treated in ICUs, according to data provided by the Ontario Hospital Association.On Jan. 15, Ontario recorded an all-time high of 420 patients with COVID-19 in ICUs - about a quarter of all intensive care patients."The rate of transmission appears to be decelerating, but we cannot declare victory," Dale said. "We must remain extremely cautious and keep up the fight against community spread to keep up our progress and prevent a third wave, especially when we see the new variant's impacts in the United Kingdom."The province warned at the outset of the most recent lockdown that ICUs were on the verge of being overrun with COVID-19 patients, at which point physicians would be in the difficult position to choose who received critical care and who did not.There were 595 patients transferred out of the worst-hit regions from November 2020 to January 2021, the association said. There were nearly 200 transfers planned for last week.Many Toronto-area hospital ICUs are at or above capacity and have been transferring patients for months. Ornge, the not-for-profit organization providing air ambulance and critical care transport services in Ontario, has taken the lead on transfers along with help from local paramedic services.There have been 188 patients transferred by Ornge from ICUs to create capacity between Dec. 1, and Jan. 24. They are also transferring ICU patients between regions for the first time, sending some patients from Toronto as far as Kingston, Ont."It's busy, it's non-stop," said Dr. Bruce Sawadsky, chief medical officer of health for Ornge. “Ornge has performed a significant increase in ICU-to-ICU transports over the last two weeks to support hospital ICUs at capacity."But Sawadsky said the volume of patient transports has decreased over the last five days as ICU admission rates have decreasedThe province has said a new hospital in Vaughan, Ont., set to open in February, will be able to help ease the burden by adding 35 ICU beds, with the ability to add 24 more.Much has changed for Ornge during the pandemic. Andrew Burns, a critical care paramedic for the organization, said he is doing a lot of things for the first time because of COVID-19. Just last week, for example, Burns said he transported his first intubated COVID-19 patient face down in his land ambulance. It's a relatively new approach to treat the most severely affected COVID-19 patients, to allow for better oxygenation.But it also makes for trickier patient transfers."That's a very new thing for us, we would have never done that before," Burns says."Everything in medicine has always been designed for the patient to be on their back. Our stretcher is designed to be on your back, the ventilators are designed to be on your back, all the monitoring equipment ... so when we flip people onto their stomach, it brings a whole risk of challenges."Burns said over five shifts last week, he and his partner transferred nine critical care patients, largely from the Toronto area, to more outlying areas. Eight of those patients had COVID and the other was moved to make room for a patient with the disease, he said."Back in April, it seemed like all the regular calls that we were doing kind of disappeared," Burns says. "COVID really became, not the only thing we were seeing, but very close to the only thing that we were seeing."Back then, most of the transports of COVID-19 patients came from outlying areas to the big hospitals in Toronto, he said. Now, it's going the opposite way.The pace is frantic."It's not uncommon for us to be in an ICU now and as we're taking a patient out of there to make room, they're wheeling the next patient in," Burns said.Despite working with hundreds of patients with the disease, only one Ornge employee has had COVID-19, Sawadsky said. They've implemented strict personal protective equipment protocols and the paramedics clean the trucks and helicopters down after each transfer, he said. Burns is waiting for the pandemic to ease."I'd like for one day to go into an ICU and take a patient out and the nurses say there is nobody coming to fill this bed right away," he said."Unfortunately that's not the case right now."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
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