Calls to scrap carbon capture tax credit, COVID treatments : In The News for Jan. 20


Published January 20, 2022 at 4:31 am

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 Jan. 20 …

What we are watching in Canada …

More than 400 Canadian climate scientists and other academics are pleading with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to scrap her plan to create a tax credit for companies that build carbon capture and storage facilities.

Freeland floated the idea of the tax credit in last year’s federal budget and consultations to design it ended just before Christmas.

A letter sent to Freeland today asks her to ditch the idea altogether, calling it a massive subsidy to the oil and gas industry that directly contradicts Canada’s pledge to eliminate such subsidies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

University of Victoria geography and civil engineering professor Christina Hoicka is the lead signatory on the letter and says carbon capture and storage is expensive, unproven and would prolong the use of fossil fuels rather than work toward replacing them with clean energy.

Carbon capture, storage and utilization systems trap and isolate carbon dioxide emitted mostly from large-scale industrial operations, and then either permanently store it deep underground, or use it to help produce more oil.

Freeland has made clear only projects that permanently store the trapped carbon dioxide would be eligible, but the academics want her to go further and limit its use only to industries that have no other options for reducing emissions and not allow fossil fuel, plastic or petrochemical companies to qualify for it.

Also this …

With COVID-19 hospitalizations in Canada still threatening to overwhelm the health-care system, officials hope two antiviral treatments could help ease the strain.

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests the antiviral medication remdesivir could have a “modest but significant effect” on COVID-19 patient outcomes, including decreasing the need for mechanical ventilation by approximately 50 per cent.

Billed as the largest single-country trial of remdesivir reported to date, the Canadian research is part of a larger study called the World Health Organization Solidarity, a randomized, controlled trial evaluating the medication’s impact on COVID-19 patients in several countries.

Meanwhile, provinces and territories are to receive their shipments of the antiviral drug Paxlovid, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cautions the pill that can prevent COVID hospitalization is not a replacement for vaccinations.

Health officials in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba are expressing optimism that the Omicron-fuelled fifth pandemic wave is peaking or will be soon.

However, hospitalizations in Saskatchewan have increased by 95 per cent over the last month, while New Brunswick has a record 123 people in hospital with COVID-19.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital to protecting democracy collapsed when two senators refused to join their own party in changing Senate rules to overcome a Republican filibuster after a raw, emotional debate.

The outcome Wednesday night was a stinging defeat for US President Joe Biden and his party, coming at the tumultuous close to his first year in office.

Despite a day of piercing debate and speeches that often carried echoes of an earlier era when the Senate filibuster was deployed by opponents of civil rights legislation, Democrats could not persuade holdout senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to change the Senate procedures on this one bill and allow a simple majority to advance it.

“I am profoundly disappointed,” Biden said in a statement after the vote.

However, the president said he is “not deterred” and vowed to “explore every measure and use every tool at our disposal to stand up for democracy.”

Voting rights advocates are warning that Republican-led states nationwide are passing laws making it more difficult for Black Americans and others to vote by consolidating polling locations, requiring certain types of identification and ordering other changes.

Vice President Kamala Harris briefly presided over the Senate, able to break a tie in the 50-50 Senate if needed, but she left before the final vote. The rules change was rejected 52-48, with Manchin and Sinema joining the Republicans in opposition.

The nighttime voting brought an end, for now, to legislation that has been a top Democratic priority since the party took control of Congress and the White House.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says face masks will no longer be mandatory in public places and COVID-19 passports will be dropped for large events as infections level off in most parts of the country.

Johnson told lawmakers Wednesday that the restrictions are being eased because government scientists think it’s likely the Omicron wave “has now peaked nationally.” Johnson says hospital admissions and intensive care use in most parts of England are stabilizing or falling.

The government is no longer advising people to work from home, and compulsory face masks will be scrapped in secondary school classrooms starting Thursday.

Starting Jan. 27, face masks or passes to attend large events won’t be required anywhere in England.

“We will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one,” Johnson said.

While hospitals in northern England still are getting pressed by high caseloads and infections were still rising in schools, Johnson said hospital admissions and patients in intensive care units elsewhere in England were stabilizing or falling.

The restrictions were introduced in December to slow the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and buy time for the population to get their booster vaccine shot. Johnson said more than 90 per cent of those over age 60 in the U.K. have had booster shots.

Official figures showed that COVID-19 infections have dropped in most parts of the U.K. for the first time since early December. The government reported 108,069 new cases on Wednesday, about half the daily number recorded over the holidays.

On this day in 1850 …

Capt. Robert McClure sailed from Britain to search for survivors of the Franklin Expedition in the Canadian Arctic. He eventually discovered the Northwest Passage.

In entertainment …

The 44th annual Sundance Film Festival is back, and entirely online once more.

The festival starts Thursday with nine packed days of high profile documentaries about everyone from Kanye West to Lucille Ball, buzzy first films from knowns and unknowns, virtual gatherings and filmmaker Q&As.

The experience of 2021 taught the programmers that not only could they run a successful festival online, but that films could still break through.

The festival also boasted a record acquisition too as Apple TV Plus paid US$25 million for the heartwarming “CODA.” The price was at least partially fuelled by streamers needing fresh entertainment — a demand that has only intensified during the pandemic.

Opening night selections include “Emergency,” a darkly comedic look at issues like race and assault, as well as Eva Longoria’s documentary “La Guerra Civil,” about Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez’s 1996 fight.

The festival had planned to return to the mountains this year, but two weeks before thousands were set to gather in Park City, Utah, organizers decided to pivot instead of cancelling or postponing, as many have done amid the COVID-19 Omicron surge.


LOS ANGELES _ “What is Prince Edward Island?”

Apparently, the brainiac competitors on Wednesday’s airing of “Jeopardy!” and its all-time winningest champion host have no idea.

The American TV quiz show’s current long-running champ Amy Schneider chose a category within the Double Jeopardy round entitled Local Nicknames.

With $2,000 up for grabs, the answer was “A Spud Islander is a resident of this Canadian province, known for its potatoes.”

Then crickets, as neither Schneider, nor her two challengers could come up with the question, which was “Prince Edward Island.”

Even host Ken Jennings appeared to admit not knowing the question as he relayed the correct response.

Island potato farmers are already feeling the sting of a temporary Canadian ban on exporting P.E.I. spuds to the U.S. due to the discovery of two cases of potato wart.

For the record, Schneider won the day’s match to stretch her winning streak to 36 shows, and added another $17,800 to her total of $1,181,800.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020

The Canadian Press

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising