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Inflation numbers, COVID rates peaking in some provinces : In The News for Jan. 19

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. 19 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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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. 19 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Statistics Canada is scheduled this morning to release its December inflation figure.

The consumer price index in November showed the annual rate of inflation held steady at 4.7 per cent for a second consecutive month, its highest reading in 18 years.

TD economist Ksenia Bushmeneva says the Omicron-driven wave of the pandemic is likely to exacerbate supply-chain issues and push up prices in the near-term.

The Bank of Canada is scheduled to make a rate announcement next week and update its outlook for the economy.

Survey data released by the central bank on Monday suggests that consumers are expecting inflation rates to be elevated for longer.

RBC senior economist Nathan Janzen says the Bank of Canada's commentary next week will be watched closely for signals about whether it plans to raise its key policy rate in March or April from its rock-bottom level of 0.25 per cent.

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Also this ...

The Omicron-fuelled fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be peaking in some provinces, while others say the worst is likely still to come.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is bracing for a tide of COVID-19 hospitalizations and absenteeism among workers until mid-February, while Alberta says hospitalization rates are rising to levels not seen since mid-October.

The growing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Prince Edward Island has prompted the province to reduce gathering sizes and close gyms and restaurant dining rooms until at least the end of the month.

Even as they both set new records for hospitalizations, officials in Ontario and Quebec say the daily rate seems to be decreasing slightly, although they caution the health-care system remains under tremendous pressure.

There are 3,417 COVID patients in Quebec hospitals, while Ontario has 4,183, including 580 people in intensive care.

B.C. recorded 1,975 cases of COVID-19 with 854 people in hospital, as the province's top doctor described her decision to allow the reopening of gyms and other fitness facilities Thursday as a "cautious step'' in lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said a proof-of-vaccination card will still be required to use gyms, and the facilities will need to operate under capacity limits and provide seven metres square for every person who is exercising.

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And this ...

The former lawyer of an airman disciplined for refusing to take an anthrax vaccine says military members who won't get inoculated against COVID-19 are in for a tougher fight.

Jay Prober defended Michael Kipling who, in 1998, was charged with disobeying an order for refusing to take an anthrax vaccine while serving in Kuwait; he was eventually acquitted.

At the time, Kipling argued the vaccine was not licensed in Canada, that he had felt ill after an earlier shot and feared the vaccine could be connected to an unexplained sickness other veterans reported experiencing.

Prober says there's a big difference between his former client's case and military members who are refusing today to get vaccinated against COVID-19: Kipling's decision affected only himself.

The lawyer says that's unlike vaccinations against COVID-19, which help prevent the spread of the disease to other people.

For that reason Prober says it will be more of an uphill battle for members today to justify their refusal to get vaccinated.

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

NEW YORK _ The New York attorney general's office late Tuesday told a court that its investigators had uncovered evidence that U.S. President Donald Trump's company used ``fraudulent or misleading'' asset valuations to get loans and tax benefits.

The court filing said state authorities haven't yet decided whether to bring a civil lawsuit in connection with the allegations, but that investigators need to question Trump and his two eldest children as part of the probe.

In the court documents, Attorney General Letitia James' office gave its most detailed accounting yet of its investigation into allegations that Trump's company repeatedly misstated the value of assets to get favorable loan terms or slash its tax burden.

The Trump Organization, it said, had overstated the value of land donations made in New York and California on paperwork submitted to the IRS to justify several million dollars in tax deductions.

The company misreported the size of Trump's Manhattan penthouse, saying it was nearly three times its actual size _ a difference in value of about $200 million, James' office said, citing deposition testimony from Trump's longtime financial chief Allen Weisselberg, who was charged last year with tax fraud in a parallel criminal investigation.

James' office detailed its findings in a court motion seeking to force Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. to comply with subpoenas seeking their testimony.

Investigators, the court papers said, had ``developed significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.''

Trump's legal team has sought to block the subpoenas, calling them ``an unprecedented and unconstitutional maneuver.'' They say James is improperly attempting to obtain testimony that could then be used in the parallel criminal investigation, being overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

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

MOSCOW — Russian officials say Moscow is sending an unspecified number of troops from the country’s far east to Belarus for major joint military drills.

The deployment will dramatically bolster an estimated 100,000 Russian troops already amassed near Ukraine in what the West fears could be a prelude to an invasion. Russia has denied that it intends to attack.

But Moscow has demanded guarantees from the West that NATO won't expand to Ukraine or other ex-Soviet nations or place weapons there. Those demands were rejected last week by Washington and its allies.

The U.S. again stressed its concern Tuesday, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki describing the Russian forces' move into Belarus as part of as “extremely dangerous situation.”

A series of talks last week between Russia, the U.S. and NATO failed to quell the tensions over Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday in another attempt to defuse the crisis.

Ukraine's Defence Ministry said Tuesday it has received a shipment of anti-tank weapons from the U.K., noting that they will help “strengthen our defence capability.”

Russia's Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin said the joint drills with Belarus would involve practising a joint response to external threats. Fomin said it would take through Feb. 9 to fully deploy weapons and personnel for the Allied Resolve 2022 drills, which are expected to take place Feb. 10-20.

Amid the tensions, Ukraine's Defence Ministry said Tuesday that it was speeding up efforts to form reserve battalions that would allow for the rapid deployment of 130,000 recruits to expand the country's 246,000-strong military.

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On this day in 1943 ...

Princess Margriet of the Netherlands was born in an Ottawa hospital. Crown Princess Juliana, who became queen in 1948, and her two oldest daughters, fled from the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 and eventually came to Canada.

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In entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES — The 2022 Grammy Awards will shift to an April show in Las Vegas after recently postponing the ceremony due to growing concerns with the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 3, according to a joint statement released Tuesday from the Recording Academy and CBS, which broadcast the ceremony.

The show postponed its original date on Jan. 31 at the newly renamed Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles after organizers’ voice said there were “too many risks” over the variant case surge.

The Grammys’ move has created another shift for upcoming awards shows — the CMT Awards will move from its originally scheduled ceremony date from April 3 to a later date that month.

The Grammys were attempting a back-to-normal show with a live audience, but the decision to postpone the ceremony came after “careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners.”

This is the second consecutive year the Grammys has been rescheduled due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Last year, like most major award shows, the Grammys were postponed because of virus concerns.

The show was moved from late January to mid-March and held with a spare audience made up of mostly nominees and their guests in and around the Los Angeles Convention Center, next door to its usual home, the arena then known as Staples Center.

The multitalented Jon Batiste is the leading nominee for this year’s honours, grabbing 11 nods in a variety of genres including R&B, jazz, American roots music, classical and music video. Canadian Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and H.E.R. are tied for the second-most nominations with eight apiece.

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ICYMI ...

NEW YORK (AP) _ Andre Leon Talley, the towering former creative director and editor at large of Vogue magazine, has died. He was 73.

Talley's literary agent David Vigliano confirmed Talley's death to USA Today late Tuesday, but no additional details were immediately available.

Talley was an influential fashion journalist who worked at Women's Wear Daily and Vogue and was a regular in the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe. At 6-feet-6 inches tall, Talley cut an imposing figure wherever he went, with his stature, his considerable influence on the fashion world, and his bold looks.

In a 2013 Vanity Fair spread titled ``The Eyeful Tower,'' Talley was described as ``perhaps the industry's most important link to the past.'' Designer Tom Ford told the magazine Talley was ``one of the last great fashion editors who has an incredible sense of fashion history. He can see through everything you do to the original reference, predict what was on your inspiration board.''

Designer Diane von Furstenberg praised Talley on Instagram, writing: ``no one saw the world in a more glamorous way than you did, no one was grander and more soulful than you were.''

His relationship with Vogue started at Duke University, where his grandmother cleaned dorms; Talley would walk to campus in his youth to read the magazine.

After stints with Interview magazine and Women's Wear Daily, Talley was hired at Vogue in 1983 by Editor in Chief Anna Wintour and was appointed its creative director in 1988.

Talley was also a familiar figure to TV audiences, serving as a judge on ``America's Top Model'' and appearing on ``Sex and the City'' and ``Empire.''

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2022.

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