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Premiers' popularity during pandemic and giant jade returned: In The News for Dec. 29

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 29 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 29 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests Prairie premiers are lagging their counterparts when it comes to how voters feel they are managing the pandemic.

The poll from Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies finds 30 per cent of respondents in Alberta were satisfied with the job  Premier Jason Kenney was doing when it comes to COVID-19.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister followed at 31 per cent and Saskatchewan's Scott Moe at 39 per cent.

Just over half of respondents in Ontario felt Premier Doug Ford was doing a good job with the pandemic, while 55 per cent of Quebec respondents felt the same about Francois Legault.

Premiers in the Atlantic provinces fared the best, with 78 per cent of Nova Scotians in the poll approving of Premier Stephen McNeil's performance.

The online poll of 3,801 Canadians was conducted Dec. 4 to Dec. 20, but cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered truly random.


Also this ...

TORONTO — COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario are expected to return to full operations today after being scaled down over the holidays.

The province says five vaccination clinics were open on Sunday, 10 were back in action Monday and all of them are set to resume immunizations today.

The latest numbers released show more than 11,000 shots have been administered in Ontario since the province received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine mid-month.

The drug's storage requirements mean it will be used primarily in hospitals, while the more recently approved Moderna vaccine will go to long-term care homes, congregate settings and more rural communities.

Critics have taken issue with the pause in vaccinations over the holidays, saying the province can't afford to delay immunizations.

The province did not release its daily tally of new COVID-19 cases and deaths on Monday, meaning today's numbers will cover two days.

On Sunday, the province recorded 2,005 new infections and 18 new deaths related to the novel coronavirus.

Ontario's chief medical officer of health is expected to provide an update on the pandemic this afternoon.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — The stage is set for the first veto override of Donald Trump's presidency. 

The House voted 322-87 on Monday to override Trump's veto of the defence policy bill, a margin well above the two-thirds required. 

The Senate is expected to consider overriding the veto sometime this week. 

Trump says the bill fails to limit social media companies he claims were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign. 

And he opposes language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honour Confederate leaders. 

The defence bill authorizes more than $740 billion in military programs and construction, and it affirms 3 per cent pay raises for U.S. troops.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

SEOUL — The United States has started vaccinating its troops based in South Korea, as its Asian ally reported its highest daily COVID-19 fatalities amid surging cases in the country. 

The United States Forces Korea says it started inoculating military and civilian health-care workers, first responders and the USFK command team with the Moderna vaccine today. 

Gen. Robert B. Abrams, chief of the 28,500 American troops in South Korea, was among those getting the vaccine. 

The South Korean government has faced domestic criticism that it has been too slow in working out vaccine procurement plans. 

The government plans to begin inoculating the South Korean public in February.


On this day in 1967 ...

Parliament abolished the death penalty, except for the killing of prison guards or police officers, for a five-year trial period. The legislation was renewed in 1973, before hanging was totally abolished in 1976. Canada's last executions were in 1962.


In entertainment ...

"Full House" actor Lori Loughlin was released from prison Monday after spending two months behind bars for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get her two daughters into college. 

Loughlin was released from the federal lockup in Dublin, Calif., where she had been serving her sentence for her role in the college admissions bribery scheme, the federal Bureau of Prisons said. 

Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, is serving his five-month sentence at a prison in Lompoc near Santa Barbara, Calif.  

Giannulli is scheduled to be released on April 17, the Bureau of Prisons says. Prosecutors said Giannulli deserved a tougher sentence because he was “the more active participant in the scheme."  

Loughlin and Giannulli were among the highest-profile defendants charged in the scheme, which revealed the lengths to which some wealthy parents will go to get their children into elite universities. 

Authorities said parents funnelled bribes through a fake charity run by an admissions consultant to get their kids into top schools with fake athletic credentials or rigged test scores.  

The famous couple admitted in May to paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl was a rower. 

Their guilty plea was a stunning reversal for the couple, whose lawyers had insisted for a year were innocent and accused investigators of fabricating evidence against them.



CACHE CREEK, B.C. — The owner of a gift shop in British Columbia's southern Interior says a jade boulder stolen from outside the store earlier this month has been found.

Heidi Roy says the nearly 1,300-kilogram slab of jade stolen from outside Cariboo Jade and Gifts in Cache Creek was spotted by a member of the public who recognized it from the publicity the theft received.

Roy says in an email the slab has a few scars from its "adventure," but she's thrilled to have it back in once piece.

A photo provided by Roy shows the jade slab covered in dirt, lying in a tangle of brush and snow in the location she says it was found. 

Roy says details are sparse so far and the RCMP are expected to release a statement Tuesday about their investigation into the theft.

Previously, an older grey and gold Dodge pickup truck pulling a trailer with an excavator was captured on surveillance video carrying the boulder off.

Police later found the trailer abandoned, without the jade, and the truck thought to have been used in the theft was found empty in another location.  

Roy says the metre-wide slab has been displayed in front of Cariboo Jade and Gifts since she bought the store in 1985, and while it's become a tourist attraction, it is low-grade jade and worthless as semi-precious stone. 

Roy is thanking people who sent words of encouragement from across the country, saying it's clear "this stone meant a lot to many more than we realized."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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