NEW YORK — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.“That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.“Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said.The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said.By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year.Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn't know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort.“We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine's Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It's the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.”Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency.“That's the shortest period of time we've ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.”Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events.Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required.Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle's new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans.Country group Lady Antebellum's name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who's fond of using the word. Icon was front and centre in headlines after the deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views.Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
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 Nov. 30 ...What we are watching in Canada ...OTTAWA - The federal Liberals will provide Canadians with a long-awaited update on the health of federal finances later today, and potentially unveil a suite of new spending.Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver the fall economic statement in the House of Commons this afternoon, after markets close.The economic statement should have a full accounting of pandemic spending so far, and the depth of this year's deficit, which in July was forecast at a historic $343.2 billion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Estimates vary of how deep a deficit the Liberals will unveil today, with a Scotiabank report Friday saying a range of $400 billion to $450 billion is possible.The government is under pressure to help out industries like travel and restaurants that may take longer to recover from the pandemic.Observers are keeping a close eye on how much spending space new promises take up, which could limit the government's capacity to spend in next year's budget before deficits become permanent.The government is also expected to reveal a small step today towards a national child-care system.\---Also this ...OTTAWA - Erin O'Toole is accusing the Liberal government of putting too much emphasis on partnering with a Chinese company for a COVID-19 vaccine in what turned out to be a failed deal.The Conservative party leader say the Trudeau government only turned its attention to pre-ordering tens of millions of vaccine doses from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in August when its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine-maker CanSino finally collapsed after months of delays."I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China," O'Toole told a Sunday news conference.The government announced its major vaccine purchases in August after it confirmed the CanSino partnership had fallen through. At the time, it said its decision had come after careful consultations with its vaccine task force of health experts.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm last week when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.\---ICYMI ...SAULNIERVILLE, N.S. - A Nova Scotia First Nation says it has received a draft agreement on a "moderate livelihood" fishery, which it calls a potentially groundbreaking recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in Canada. The chief of Sipekne'katik First Nation says he is reviewing a draft memorandum of understanding he received from the office of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan late Friday.Mike Sack says the Sipekne'katik Treaty Fishery has the potential to be a "historic recognition" of treaty rights, as it would allow the Mi'kmaq community to legally sell their catch.Mi'kmaq fishers faced violence and vandalism last month after launching a rights-based fishery in southwest Nova Scotia. The attacks prompted widespread condemnation and calls for clarification on Mi'kmaq treaty fishing rights. Sack says the agreement would make good on the Supreme Court of Canada's recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in its landmark 1999 Marshall decision.The ruling affirmed the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish for a "moderate livelihood," though it was later clarified by the court that the federal government could regulate the fishery for conservation and other limited purposes.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...WASHINGTON, D.C - U.S. president-elect Joe Biden is expected in the coming days to name several of his most senior economic advisers. The group includes liberal economists and policy specialists who established their credentials during the previous two Democratic administrations. Biden is placing a premium on diversity in his selection of Cabinet nominees and key advisers.Two expected to be named are former Fed chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget. Yellen would be the first female treasury secretary, while Tanden would be the first woman of colour and the first South Asian woman to lead the agency that oversees the federal budget.Biden, meanwhile, will likely have to wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from fracturing his right foot while playing with one of his dogs. Biden's iffice says the 78-year-old suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, yesterday afternoon. Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one based on his doctor’s statement and the planned treatment.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...TEHRAN - Iran held a funeral today for a recently slain scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the early 2000s.State TV broadcast the ceremony showing the service for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Fakhrizadeh was killed in a military-style ambush Friday on the outskirts of Tehran which reportedly saw a truck bomb explode and gunmen open fire on the scientist. Iran has blamed Israel for the attack. Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has declined to comment on the killing.In response to the killing, Iran's parliament has begun a review of a bill that would stop inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Experts warn Iran now has enough low-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least two atomic bombs, if it chose to pursue them.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020The Canadian Press
Police have shut down a north-end Halifax intersection to investigate the discovery of a dead body in the bushes outside a wine and beer store.In a news release sent around 7:30 a.m. Monday, Halifax Regional Police advised of a "traffic disruption" at the intersection of Lady Hammond Drive and Robie Street, "due to an ongoing police matter."About 30 minutes later, the police force issued an update, saying they were still on the scene "for what was reported as a deceased person outside and near the intersection."Police said the investigation is in the early stages and offered no other details.As of the time of the last police update, traffic was being detoured around the scene.MORE TOP STORIES
Sweden's Ericsson on Monday raised its global forecast for 5G mobile subscriptions to 220 million by the end of this year, citing faster than expected uptake in China. The telecoms equipment maker, which had previously forecast 190 million subscriptions, said it expects China to account for almost 80% of the newly forecast total. "What has fuelled the growth is China, and that is driven in itself by a strong strategic national focus on 5G in China," Head of Networks Fredrik Jejdling told Reuters.
Wisconsin finished its two-county presidential results recount on Sunday, confirming Democrat Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump. The Dane and Milwaukee County totals found Biden adding 87 to his 20,000-plus lead over Donald Trump. (Nov. 30)
Financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin of Ann Arbor, Michigan, specializes in helping people deal with their anxieties about money. But since the pandemic started, Bryan-Podvin has been hearing more about guilt than fear.Several people who still have jobs and financial security felt guilty about having been spared while others suffered, says Bryan-Podvin, author of “The Financial Anxiety Solution.”“I would start to hear things like, ‘I shouldn’t be complaining — my partner has it so much worse,’ or ‘I can’t even believe I’m telling you this because so-and-so in my neighbourhood lost their job,’” she says.The feelings clients expressed and the language they used were almost identical to what Bryan-Podvin hears from people with post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health disorder that can be triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.“What I started to see was survivor guilt,” Bryan-Podvin says. “They feel like they somehow didn’t deserve what they have.”GUILT CAN TURN INWARDSurvivor’s guilt is a symptom of PTSD, often felt by people who wonder why they lived while others died. While financial survivor’s guilt isn’t an official psychological diagnosis, Bryan-Podvin says that recognizing the similarities has helped her treat clients who are struggling.People experiencing this kind of guilt may feel sad or even hopeless, she says. They may have obsessive thoughts, wondering why they were spared or what they might have done differently to protect others. They may feel paralyzed, numb or burned out.“Survivor guilt is like any other type of stress,” she says. “It can impact your sleep, it can impact your parasympathetic nervous system, it can impact your ability to fully rest in the present.”Recognizing what you’re experiencing can help you cope, says certified financial planner Edward Coambs, a marriage and family therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina. One reason people feel survivor’s guilt is because we’re hard-wired to want justice and fairness, he says.“That’s really what’s getting activated,” Coambs says. “Like, how is it fair that I still have my job but this segment of the market no longer has their job?”Not everyone feels bad about inequities, of course. But those who do can experience financial self-shaming, where they feel that it isn’t OK to have money, jobs or opportunities that are denied to others, Coambs says. At the extreme, they may give away too much, volunteer to be furloughed or otherwise put themselves at financial risk because they feel guilty.“It’s not your fault what’s happened to this other person,” he says. “Sometimes survivor guilt can be about taking on more responsibility than is appropriate.”COPE IN WAYS THAT HELP OTHERSA more productive approach is to look for sensible ways to help others, therapists say. That may be working at a food bank, donating to a cause, helping someone update their resume or making introductions that could help them find a job.“Some level of service, some level of giving back tends to help us feel better,” Bryan-Podvin says. “It’s about knowing that you’re taking steps and you’re taking action to help.”But be careful about going overboard. Some people may rush in with referrals and networking suggestions when a jobless friend is still in shock, for example. Maybe your friend just needs an empathetic listener right now.When your goal is to alleviate your guilt, it’s easy to miss what the other person actually needs, Coambs says.Also, resist the urge to share the setbacks you’ve experienced, Bryan-Podvin says.“It’s better to say, ‘I’m so sorry that happened. That must be really hard,’” she says.MAKE ROOM FOR GRATITUDEAnother way to cope with financial survivor’s guilt is to start noticing and appreciating the positives in your life.“Turn the ‘g’ in guilt to gratitude,” says financial therapist and CFP Preston D. Cherry of Lubbock, Texas. Research shows that writing gratitude lists, keeping a gratitude journal or just contemplating what you’re grateful for can lower stress, improve sleep and make relationships better.Feeling bummed out about layoffs and economic turmoil is normal, but experiencing sadness and guilt for weeks at a time is not, Bryan-Podvin says. If you can’t sleep, you’re too distracted to work or you keep forgetting important things, like what time your kids need to be in online classes, consider getting professional help. The Financial Therapy Association is one place to look for referrals. (Cherry and Coambs are board members.)“If your ability to function is so impacted, whether it’s financial survival guilt or just the trauma of being alive right now, therapy is not a bad idea,” she says.______________________________-This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @lizweston.RELATED LINK:NerdWallet: How to Cope With Financial Anxietyhttps://bit.ly/nerdwallet-financial-anxietyLiz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
When looking at the daily updates and numbers of COVID-19 cases in Alberta, there's a theme that's easy to spot — Calgary's northeast has a serious problem. Calgary-Upper NE is one of 132 "local geographic areas" (or LGAs) that the province uses in reporting COVID-19 cases. It covers the bulk of the northeast quadrant, including newer communities that sit north of McKnight Boulevard, as well as a portion that stretches down to where 16th Avenue N.E. meets Deerfoot Trail. Around 115,000 people call the upper northeast area of Calgary home. The number of active COVID-19 cases there surpassed 1,000 last week, a number not seen anywhere else in the province at any time during the pandemic. As of Sunday, there were 1,194 cases. That's double the numbers seen earlier in the month. For many weeks now, the northeast has secured the unenviable position of being the number one spot in Alberta for active cases. So what's driving such extreme numbers in one part of the city? On the front lines People who live and work in the northeast say there are many reasons that make their communities easy pickings for a virus that thrives on density and easy opportunities for transmission. Those opportunities vary from residents working public-facing, low-income jobs with no opportunity to work from home, to a culture of large, multi-generational households in densely populated neighbourhoods. "It is a concern. Many people in this part of the city are working multiple jobs on the front lines and they're in contact with a lot of people," said Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal. "There's a higher risk to exposure, but I think everybody's doing their best to ensure they're being safe, but more importantly keeping others safe. "Social distancing and wearing masks is important, but we've still got a lot of work to do." Many said they thought the types of jobs worked by those living in the northeast could represent the number one factor behind the high COVID-19 numbers. "The biggest reason is the majority of people are immigrants and newcomers and they are doing blue-collar jobs," said Dan Sidhu, a realtor with his own weekly Punjabi radio show who has called the northeast home for 25 years. "Lots of people work at places like Cargill and Lilydale or furniture factories. They're doing housekeeping and cleaning jobs around the city. There are also transport workers, truckers and taxi drivers." Sidhu said many people in the northeast don't have the luxury of working from home and are more exposed in their day-to-day lives. "We have to go out to work to make our living and pay our bills. We don't have much choice," Sidhu said. Multi-family households In addition to employment, there are also large multi-family households made up of South Asian immigrant families that settle around each other in northeast communities. "The majority of families here are joint families. Seniors live with them, mother-in-laws and father-in-laws, mothers and fathers and children. You can easily have six or seven family members," said Sidhu, adding that COVID-19 spreads to a greater number of people once it finds its way into a family setting. Others talk quietly about the possibility that some cultural factors unique to South Asian communities could give COVID-19 more opportunities to take hold. Some of those factors mentioned include: a stigma in the community around being sick and telling others. a deeply embedded culture of hospitality. meal sharing and inviting guests into the home. a tradition of large family gatherings and events like weddings and birthdays along with a busy calendar of religious events. in some cases, language barriers limiting information around best practices when it comes to health measures. Languages spoken commonly in the home in the northeast include Punjabi and Urdu. Filipino families speak Tagalog along with others who speak Spanish and Vietnamese at home. Some can't communicate in English at all. Worried about being blamed Some residents said they are worried about being stigmatized, criticized and blamed for the rising number of cases from people in other parts of the city and province. A few said they're embarrassed by the high case numbers and say they are victims of circumstance, and do not want to be blamed for personal negligence or for not taking the virus seriously enough. The northeast of the city is also where many newcomers and refugees settle in the days and weeks after arriving in Canada. It's where the cost of living is cheapest and where jobs and many vital supports exist, including the Centre for Newcomers. "We see a disproportionate number of newcomers working in industries where they'd have a much higher rate of being in contact with somebody that has COVID," said Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Centre for Newcomers. "They find jobs in retail, service industries, health-care and long-term care facilities and that [increases] the likelihood." Lee Yuen said newcomers tend to be around larger volumes of people, both at home and at work. "You've got people coming from cultures that are very collective in nature so the entire community is built around that," she said. "You have a more densely packed population, so even when people are adhering to the best possible safety protocols, there could still be issues." She said housing density and a reliance on transit and car sharing also need to be taken into account, along with larger family cohorts than other parts of the city. Language barriers can also make official information harder to access. "The ethno-cultural media and the settlement agencies and other agencies have done a wonderful job of getting that information out there, especially through social media," said Lee Yuen. "It does come translated from the government and it is widespread, but the bigger issue is people are confused about the rules and what they can and can't do. But that's in the general population too." Lee Yuen said the whole concept of cohorts and bubbles took time for many Albertans to understand, but for non-English speaking Albertans, it's even more challenging. Religion and worship Religion is a big part of the fabric of life in northeast Calgary's South Asian community, and with worship comes large gatherings. Throughout 2020, places of worship have been open with limited capacity, enhanced safety measures and at times closed altogether. Under the most recent measures announced by the provincial government on Saturday, churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship are allowed to operate at only one-third of their capacity with mandatory masking in place. Previously, the limit had been one-third of regular attendance. Major religious events and celebrations from Ramadan to Eid and Diwali have all looked a lot different this year. Some places of worship are now going above and beyond the requirements laid out by the province. "We're not even letting anyone sit. We're going even further in what we're doing in that they come, they pray and they go right away," said Amanpreet Singh Gill with the Dashmesh Culture Centre, a large gurdwara where thousands of northeast Sikhs go to pray. "We are trying our best and people are following it. We encourage everyone to be safe. Social interactions are dangerous and we encourage everyone to limit gatherings like weddings too." The centre is also taking prayers online for those staying away, streaming on social media. Mosques have been doing the same thing with live prayers, sermons and programs from local imams, who said Friday prayers are the only in-person worship being permitted. Prayers typically last less than 15 minutes. COVID-19 experiences More cases in the quadrant bring more stories and accounts from people who have had COVID-19. Jayanta Chowdhury contracted COVID-19 along with his family at a Christian prayer meeting in March that turned into a "superspreader" event, leading to at least 34 positive cases, all stemming from one overseas pastor from Singapore. Chowdhury spent nearly 50 days in hospital, 25 of them in a coma on a ventilator. Now he's hoping his story can help others do the right things. "Many people don't believe COVID is going to hurt them. They just think it's like a cough and a cold," said Chowdhury. "What is lacking in the northeast is people are not aware of the fact of how serious this is and how it will affect your life. They are not serious about it. They just think, 'I don't know anyone who is COVID-positive, so it won't happen to me.'" Chowdhury said he sees many people from the South Asian community not wearing masks in public or wearing them incorrectly. He's not alone, although some also point out that people make the same mistakes all over the city. Others regularly complain on social media about seeing the same thing in local stores and restaurants, along with a lack of proper physical distancing, evident in many photos posted online of gatherings and small events with people stood shoulder to shoulder, some wearing masks and others often not wearing one or wearing one incorrectly. The table may not display fully on mobile devices or small screens. In that case, you can also click here to open a standalone version in a new browser tab. "I went to a McDonald's in the northeast the other day. There were four men standing there chatting, no masks," Chowdhury said. "They wear their masks under their chin. But what about the people they are putting at risk? "Who's going to take care of them? In my case, my whole family was positive. Let's say the dad and mom dies, we don't have relatives to look after our kids. They don't understand the height and depth of the issue." Chowdhury said for more than a week he felt fine with no symptoms. He went to church, shopping malls and grocery stores, completely unaware he had contracted the virus. It wasn't until the ninth day that serious symptoms quickly started appearing and four of his group were hospitalized. One of the group died. "I walked into Peter Lougheed hospital and passed out. When I woke up I thought it was the same day. It had been 25 days and I had been on a ventilator," Chowdhury said. WATCH | COVID-19 survivor Jay Chowdhury, in an earlier interview in August, talks about how he's still recovering months after leaving hospital Chowdhury said he has good days and bad days as he continues to recover. He is back at work, but every day is an unknown. "It hurts when I see the community going to a grocery store, still picking up produce, sniffing it and putting it back. People could be carrying COVID home," he said. "Some people don't care about the community, they only think about themselves and what they believe." Seeking help and protection The community is increasingly looking to the provincial government for help and protection. Like everywhere else in the city, the majority of residents stick to the rules, but cases in the northeast continue to rise. Last week, Premier Jason Kenney appeared on the popular northeast South Asian-focused radio station RED FM, interviewed by host Rishi Nagar. Kenney acknowledged the problem with COVID-19 in the northeast, referencing big family gatherings as a particular concern. He spent time outlining news rules and guidelines, including enforcement. "Our research is clear that by far the single largest source of COVID-19 is private social functions and at-home gatherings," said Kenney, adding it wasn't about "pointing fingers." Kenney also commented on Alberta's continued snubbing of the federal contact tracing app. "Their app is not a contact tracing app," he told listeners. "All it does is to indicate if maybe you were in the vicinity of somebody with COVID at some point in the past two weeks with no additional information." Irfan Sabir, the NDP's lone MLA in the northeast representing the riding of Calgary-McCall, said the real problem in the northeast is the province's contact tracing system — which he said is completely overwhelmed and no longer functioning. "We have a government that doesn't know where 85 per cent of cases are coming from. We are left to rely on our observations and speculate," Sabir said. "Government is failing by not investing in contact tracing and not sharing recommendations from Dr. Hinshaw, not listening to Dr. Hinshaw." "They need to step up and take this seriously. Put in place evidence-based, data-based measures. It's long past due." Sabir said northeast residents were already feeling abandoned after a huge hailstorm devastated multiple communities in the summer, leaving thousands of homes with shredded siding, damaged roofs and broken windows — many of which are still unrepaired heading into winter with no meaningful financial help from the province, despite pleas from residents. "The government needs to step up and take this outbreak seriously and do everything they can to contain this spread," he said. Rajan Sawhney, Alberta's minister of community and social services and UCP MLA for Calgary-Northeast, said her government has provided some funding for community organizations to help combat the spread of COVID-19 by raising awareness of the risks among newcomer communities and seniors' groups. She addressed her constituents in Punjabi via a Facebook video over the weekend. "Clearly, we have to do more and it's going to be a multi-level government approach to this, to spread as much awareness as we can about the new measures introduced by the premier," Sawhney said. "It's important that we break those measures down step by step in different languages, and work with our community partners and faith-based institutions." Sawnhey said her main concern is northeast communities facing stigma and shaming as case numbers continue to climb. "There shouldn't be any finger pointing, blaming, stereotyping or shaming, or thinking that somehow residents in northeast Calgary are not as concerned about their health or about following these measures," said Sawnhey. "It's just a different dynamic, and a different way people live."
The Niagara Falls of news releases into any journalist's in-box attest that there is always plenty of contention for the moving spotlight of media attention.As early as March of this year, the Pew Research Institute, a think-tank that studies media trends, observed that people had become "immersed in COVID-19 news."And while other issues have occasionally nudged the pandemic and its economic impact off centre stage, it is hard to think of many subjects that have so consistently hogged the limelight for so many months in a row.According to one of Canada's leading environmental economists, that single-minded focus has both diverted and delayed attention on a subject that he expected in 2020 would finally get its moment in the sun: climate change.Shut out by pandemic"For two months or even three, people like me were shut right out because ministers were dealing with aspects of COVID in cabinet," said Mark Jaccard, one of Canada's foremost climate scientists who is often described as an architect of the pioneering carbon-pricing scheme introduced by the B.C. Liberals back in 2008.With what may have turned out to be bad timing, the Simon Fraser University professor's political manual, The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success, finally hit bookstores in February — just before the pandemic began to dominate the news agenda.While inevitably disappointed, the longtime adviser to governments on practical climate economic policy remains philosophical. Jaccard's biggest idea — one that some climate activists may find frustrating — is that the only realistic path to defeating climate change is political action to install "climate-sincere" politicians and governments and then hold their feet to the fire.While personal attempts to eat less meat, say, or buy an electric car make individuals feel good about themselves and may influence a few others, Jaccard insists that the short-term economic advantages of adding carbon to the atmosphere are so lucrative that they require concerted government action to push things the other way.And putting political pressure on governments means garnering media and public attention, something harder to do when the whole world is worried about something that seems far more pressing — namely a deep economic recession caused by a deadly health crisis that just won't go away."You have policy windows," Jaccard said, referring to those moments such as after Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005, or following the past year's devastating forest fires in Australia and the U.S. west, when the public and politicians are forced to take climate issues seriously.He said COVID-19 is just the 2020 version of a series of global events that have redirected attention away from the climate change issue just as it was beginning to take off.'We got really excited'"We got really excited about the Kyoto Protocol in the late 1990s, and then along came 9/11 — and everyone got diverted with the U.S. wanting to invade countries in the Middle East," Jaccard said, referring to terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001."And then you could say the same thing when we got excited about Hurricane Katrina, and you had Republicans and Democrats in the mid-2000s putting together policy ... and China started to say, 'Uh-oh we better get going.' And then along came the  financial crisis."As the world, and especially Canada, seemed to be getting the pandemic under control during the summer, climate advocates were hoping their issue would come to the top of the agenda. But subsequent waves of the disease once again pushed COVID-19 stories to the top of the "most read" columns, narrowing the news hole for climate coverage.While political analysts were expecting a nod to green spending in Monday's fiscal update, they say short-term allocations will mostly be diverted, quite reasonably, to bailing out parts of the Canadian economy devastated by a new round of pandemic lockdowns.Jaccard says that has added to delays, as the latest government plan — to use post-pandemic economic recovery spending to advance the green agenda in a way that will finally put Canada on a path to Paris 2030 — has meant previous policy plans and spending have been deferred.Despite the latest postponement, Jaccard remains hopeful. Conversations with conservatives have left him with the impression that even a change of government would not prevent Canada from moving forward on the climate change agenda.And while he thinks the Trudeau government remains "climate-sincere," he says media attention is essential to keep pressure on the Liberals not to spend too much money on political feel-good plans, such as tree planting, at the expense of real measures to cut carbon output. As The Economist reported recently, growing trees in one place doesn't mean they aren't being cut down elsewhere, and natural systems tend to return their carbon back to the atmosphere."If you're allowing someone to keep polluting and then you're sort of convincing yourself that you have offset that or compensated it," Jaccard said, "the careful evidence doesn't support that."Part of Jaccard's continued optimism is due to the election of what looks like a climate-sincere Democratic government south of the border that — even without the support of a Republican Senate — can begin to make greenhouse gas-limiting regulations.The election of a Joe Biden presidency may have created a new "policy window," he said, as the U.S. moves toward existing Canadian schemes such as the coal phaseout regulation, where Canada is a leader. Meanwhile, Jaccard expects a U.S. push toward such things as the clean fuel standard, which will coax Canada into following suit as manufacturers insist on one set of rules for all of North America.Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia came under renewed pressure Monday to explain the nerve agent attack on opposition figure Alexei Navalny as the annual meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog got underway amid measures aimed at reining in the spread of coronavirus.Navalny fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia, and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later. His allies accused the Kremlin of poisoning its fiercest opponent. Tests carried out by labs in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established that Navalny was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.The organization's director-general, Fernando Arias, told Monday's meeting that according to the Chemical Weapons Convention, “the poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is a use of a chemical weapon.”A group of 56 nations issued a statement as the start of the annual meeting of the OPCW's member states urging Moscow to disclose “in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack.”Russia, which denies involvement in Navalny's poisoning, reacted bullishly in its written statement to the conference.“Instead of trying to look into what had happened, Germany and its allies resorted to megaphone diplomacy, unleashed a mass disinformation campaign against Russia and started to demand some ‘independent international investigation’ under the auspices of the OPCW,” Moscow's statement said.In October, Moscow asked for OPCW experts to visit Russia to provide “technical assistance” in its investigations. Arias said talks are underway to define “all the legal, technical, operational and logistical parameters in order for this visit to take place.”The European Union has imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the poisoning. Moscow responded earlier this month by announcing that it had adopted sanctions against a number of German and French officials.The OPCW's annual meeting has been broken into two parts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Two days of talks this week will focus on approving the proposed 71.74 million euro ($86 million) annual budget for 2021. The second half of the meeting will take place next year.Mike Corder, The Associated Press
THE LATEST: * On Monday, health officials announced the deaths of 46 people from over the weekend and 2,364 new cases of COVID-19. * There are 8,855 people with active cases of the disease across B.C. * 316 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 75 in intensive care. * 441 people have died of the disease since the pandemic began. * A total of 10,139 people are under active public health monitoring and in self-isolation because of exposure to known COVID-19 cases. * There have been 33,238 confirmed cases in the province to date.B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday an unprecedented 46 deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend.A total of 2,364 new cases were added to B.C.'s total, however 277 of them were historical cases previously missed due to an error in data reporting by the Fraser Health region.There are now 8,855 people with active COVID-19 cases in B.C., 316 of whom are in hospital, including 75 in intensive care.The Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions continue to see the greatest spread of the disease, accounting for 73 per cent of the new cases announced Monday. However, 212 of the new cases over the weekend were located in the Interior Health region.Monday's update includes five new outbreaks in the health-care system. Currently, there are 57 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and five in hospitals.Health officials have told British Columbians to pause all social interactions and be vigilant applying different layers of protection, including physical distancing, washing hands and using masks.Review of PHSA spendingA review into spending by the Provincial Health Services Authority has been ordered by B.C.'s Minister of Health Adrian Dix, following allegations of misspending.On Monday, CBC News reported how whistleblowers with intimate knowledge into PHSA operations have come forward with numerous concerns.They accuse B.C.'s central health authority of squandering $7 million on the purchase of unusable face masks from China; hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary renovations to executive offices; and tens of thousands of dollars on high-end catered meals for executives and their staff."I appreciate these allegations being raised to me," Dix said in a statement to CBC News. "I have directed the deputy minister of health to assess PHSA's decisions and conduct ... and provide advice and recommendations to me." COVID-19 finesSeveral fines were issued in Vancouver over the weekend as people continued to violate provincial COVID-19 health orders.The Vancouver Police Department says it issued fines following health order violations at a pair of house parties, a birthday party and inside a limousine.In all instances, there were too many people from different households gathering together.Violation tickets ranged from $230 - $2,300.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaThere have now been more than 370,278 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.On Monday, the federal Liberal government announced it's preparing to spend up to $100 billion to kick start the post-pandemic economy as it stares down a record-high deficit projection of more than $381 billion for this fiscal year.In a long-awaited economic statement, tabled today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government's immediate priority is to do "whatever it takes" to help Canadians and businesses stay safe and solvent.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
Brothers Lou and Joe Mikail have found a way to go ahead with their annual turkey giveaway this year. The pandemic threatened to cancel it, but they've decided that instead of having people line up, they will do a drive-through event this year."We've been inundated with calls from individuals who basically rely on what we do each year. And this gets them through the holiday season," Joe said.He and Lou pondered how they can continue the annual event and still be risk-averse."We talked to the city and ... the city has approved us doing a drive-by for the turkey giveaway. And the city was generous enough to allow us to use the festival plaza," Joe said, adding that Windsor Police will be providing assistance with traffic control."So we'll have distancing, but we'll still be able to continue and offer the meals to the people that we've been doing for the past 15 years," Joe said.500 meal packages to be given awayFor the individuals who don't have a car and can't arrange a ride, the brother said they're setting up a system to deliver whatever packages remain from the event to people's homes from a safe distance.Lou added that it's been a difficult year for the community and they didn't want to disappoint those in need."The need is probably twice as much as it usually is in the previous years," he said.The family will be giving away 500 meal packages, made up of a large turkey, corn, potatoes and other trimmings.Each meal package costs about $70 and feeds about 12 people, according to the brothers.This year marks the 16th year the brothers have been running their giveaway.The giveaway will take place on Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. at the festival plaza.
WASHINGTON — The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say. Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phoney personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes. “We're all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with Homeland Security Investigations. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public." No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir. With vaccines and treatments both, it has warned about the potential for fraud. “The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm,” the agency said in a recent statement. The drug companies are to have safeguards and brand-protection features in place to help avoid fraud, but that may not be available until the second generation of vaccine because everything is operated on such an emergency basis, said Karen Gardner, chief marketing officer at SIPCA North America, a company that works as a bridge between the government, businesses and consumers. She said that makes it more important to educate health care providers on what the real thing looks like. “When you have anything in high demand and limited supply, there is going to be fraud,” she said. Desperation will drive people around normal channels. Meanwhile, investigators are learning about how the vaccine will be packaged and getting the message out to field agents, creating a mass database of information from more than 200 companies, so they can be prepared to spot fakes and crack down on dangerous fraud. They are monitoring tens of thousands of false websites and looking for evidence of fake cures sold online. Earlier this year as cases exploded, hospitals and governments grew short on masks, gloves and other protective gear. Scams grew, too. Tricksters preyed on unwitting citizens to hand over money for goods they'd never receive. Homeland Security Investigations started using its 7,000 agents in tandem with border, FDA and FBI officials to investigate scams, seize phoney products and arrest hundreds of people. The effort is headquartered at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog aimed at enforcement of its international trade laws and combating intellectual property theft. The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected as being involved in some type of COVID-19 fraud. Millions of fake or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antiviral pharmaceuticals were seized. Homeland Security Investigations made more than 1,600 seizures of products worth more than $27 million and made more than 185 arrests. Home test kits, for example, were only recently made available to the public in the past few weeks. But investigators seized tens of thousands of fake kits in the months before. On the dark web, scammers were selling domain names like “coronaprevention.org," attractive to counterfeiters. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 fake websites a day have been removed during the pandemic. A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases have topped 13 million in the U.S. and many cities have started restricting movement again as the country heads into winter. The pandemic has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, more than 266,000 of them in the U.S., according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But Francis and other investigators are worried that desperation will make Americans more susceptible. If the FDA allows emergency use of a vaccine, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Gen. Gus Perna, in charge of the government’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” the government was prepared to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. There’s a stockpile of the prospective vaccine itself plus kits of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs needed to give the dose. The secret stash is watched by armed guards. “We have taken extraordinary precaution in this area,” he said. "It’s such a commodity to us, we’re taking the full steps to make sure that the vaccine’s secure.” Who is first in line has yet to be decided. But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is that enough doses are available by the end of January to vaccinate adults over age 65, who are at the highest risk from the coronavirus, and health care workers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said it may take until spring or summer before anyone who is not high risk and wants a shot can get one. States already are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. First the shots have to arrive where they’re needed, and Pfizer’s must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures — around minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna’s vaccine also starts off frozen, but the company said it can be thawed and kept in a regular refrigerator for 30 days, easing that concern. Governments in other countries and the World Health Organization, which aims to buy doses for poor nations, will have to decide separately if and when vaccines should be rolled out broadly. Meanwhile, Homeland Security investigators and others are trying to send the message now to the public before the vaccines are approved and begin distribution. They say people should only get a vaccine from an approved medical provider. They shouldn't respond to calls seeking personal information. And they shouldn't click on social media posts purporting to sell cures. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is," Francis said. Colleen Long, The Associated Press
The European Union hopes Joseph Biden's incoming administration will clarify the U.S. position on digital taxation within two months of taking office, a French Finance Ministry source said on Monday. The EU is considering going ahead with a bloc-wide tax on digital services offered by companies such as Google and Amazon if a global deal to rewrite rules for cross-border taxation is not reached by mid 2021. Efforts at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to update the rules for the era of digital commerce stalled this year.
At least two people were injured Sunday night during three separate shootings in Montreal's Rivière-des-Prairies neighbourhood.Montreal police say it's still unclear whether the three incidents, which happened in the course of an hour, are related.Around 9:30 p.m., a 58-year-old man was shot at a home near the corner of 63e Avenue and Perras Boulevard. Police say the man had just gotten out of his car, which was parked in his driveway, when another car pulled up and someone started shooting.The victim was conscious on his way to the hospital. The suspects fled the scene.About 10 minutes later, someone walking through a residential parking lot opened fire on a man sitting in a parked car on Jean-Rainaud Avenue.The victim fled the scene in the car. Police have no information about the victim's status.And then at 10:20 p.m., another man was shot while standing on a second-floor balcony at a home on Armand-Bombardier Boulevard, near Jean-Vincent Avenue. Police say they believe the shooter was standing in the building's courtyard at the time.The victim was taken to hospital and is expected to survive. Police spokesperson Const. Raphaël Bergeron said in all three cases, there is no information about the suspects. A fourth shooting occurred earlier in the evening in Montréal-Nord. Around 5:30 p.m., police received a call about shots fired near the corner of Lapierre Avenue and Pascal Street.When they arrived, they found bullet casings but no suspects or victims.An hour later, a man showed up at an unspecified hospital with what appeared to be gunshot wounds, but it is unclear whether he was involved in the incident in Montréal-Nord.Police issued a statement Monday evening, saying they would increase their presence and visibility in the area over the next 24 hours.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is putting a call out for Islanders to find their old phones and consider donating them. The phones would go to clients of the My Place Housing First program, run by the CMHA. Some of the clients of the program had told staff that securing a reliable cellphone was a challenge for them, said Tessa Rogers, a housing support worker with the CMHA.The program works with those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, trying to get them into more secure and stable housing situations. "A big part of this is weekly meetings with our clients, getting them into stable housing, but then also connecting them with different resources in the community and, you know, potential employers, things like that," she said."In order to do this effectively, it's very beneficial typically if they have a cellphone, just so you can reach them easily." The organization sometimes has trouble contacting clients, having to call neighbours or friends to get in touch with them, said Rogers. "Some of our clients have reported to us, you know, it's very challenging to book my appointments with you folks, book my appointments with my doctor, various community resources, just because they don't have that reliable communication tool," she said. Keeping connectedAny phone can be donated, said Rogers. Anything from an old brick, all the way up to the latest and greatest — it just needs to hold a charge and not have a shattered screen, she said. "Some of them are looking for something that they can just, you know, quickly answer and have a phone conversation," Rogers said. > Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. — Tessa Rogers, CMHA"And then some of our other clients are looking for something that's more up to date that they can use their social media on and maybe play games to reduce some isolation." The ability to use the internet is important, not only for reducing isolation in the time of COVID-19, but also to be able to access resources if public health measures tighten in the province. "If something does come up with the second wave, and having to shut down, this would allow those clients to still, you know, utilize those resources, whether it be Zoom meetings, Skype, anything like that," she said. Always a needRogers said they've had a number of people already reach out and offer to donate phones. All of the phones will be cleaned, sanitized, and staff will ensure that no data is left on them before passing them on. When the client gets that phone, if the phone gets a plan and how it's paid for is decided on a case-by-case basis, said Rogers. "Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. So a few of our clients are already connected with those resources. Some have it within their budget already. If not, it might look like us advocating for them," she said. "Some of our clients might not even necessarily want a phone plan and just want a phone that they can use with Wi-Fi. So it's really just meeting that client where they are and kind of assessing their needs and working with them to meet that goal." Rogers said there's no set number of phones they're looking for, because they constantly have new clients and there's always a need. More from CBC P.E.I.
Food bank usage across Ontario was already increasing in the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report. Then came a further surge in demand as people grappled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income throughout the pandemic. Feed Ontario's annual hunger report released on Monday analyzes food bank usage across the province, makes recommendations, and also looks at the impact of the pandemic on food banks and vulnerable populations. Following a year where people made 3.2 million visits to food banks, the number of first-time food bank visitors spiked by 26.5 per cent during the first four months of the pandemic, the report says. "That means that we're seeing brand new people who have never come to our services, and those who have already accessed our services experiencing further difficulties in life than they've already had to deal with," said executive director Carolyn Stewart. "It's extremely concerning for us."Before the pandemicBetween April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the report said 537,575 people accessed food banks — an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year — and that one third of those visitors were children. Total visits amounted to 3,282,500, which is up 7.3 per cent from last year.Feed Ontario lists a lack of affordable housing, insufficient social assistance programs, and a growth in precarious employment (like part-time and casual work) as the top three drivers of food bank usage.Ontario also has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the country, Stewart added, noting precarious work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. The report says 65.7 per cent of food bank visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income. There has also been 44 per cent more employed people accessing food banks over the past four years. "As these numbers continue to grow, it really creates concerns for us that the income is not keeping up with what everyone needs to afford their most basic cost of living," Stewart said. "Things are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyone."Paying for housing means no financial cushionPrior to the pandemic, people were already living with the extreme stress that comes with living in poverty, stretching dollars and potentially being unable to make ends meet, Stewart said.Around 86 per cent of food bank visitors are rental or social housing tenants spend most of their monthly income on housing. Feed Ontario notes this makes it near impossible for low-income people to have savings or a "financial cushion" to offset losses during times of emergency.Coupled with a year that prompted further anxiety and called for additional expenses — like PPE, staying home for health reasons, and the loss of social services — "hundreds of thousands of people" were without the means to afford basic needs. The top three reasons people would skip meals was to help afford rent, utilities, and phone or Internet bills, the report says."I think it's extremely problematic. No one should have to make those choices. Those are impossible choices for anyone to have to make," said Stewart. Surge in demandDuring the first two months, access to food and meal support also became the number one reason people called Ontario 211 — the community and social services help line.Stewart said this might have been out of fear these essential services would be closed. But food banks have been working around the clock, she said, with limited resources and staff to meet pandemic guidelines. None have shut down. They've implemented new emergency food support programs, and upped the amount of food provided to reduce number of visits. Some also put in a home delivery service and opened a drive-thru service. Here's a look at how demand increased at different centres across the province once the pandemic hit: * The Daily Bread Food Bank in the GTA serviced nearly 20,000 people a week. * The Mississauga Food Bank saw a 120 per cent increase in first time users. * Ottawa Food Bank had 400 per cent more calls from people needing food support. * The Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor had double the amount of households access their services. * The Salvation Army in Owen Sound saw over 400 people in the first nine days of the pandemic, which is near the number of people it would service in a month. * Community Care West Niagara in Lincoln had a 20 per cent increase in those using their services. * A Sudbury Food Bank agency saw a 150 per cent jump in people accessing emergency food support.Eviction, financial challengesIn September alone, there was 10 per cent more visits to food banks compared to the same time last year. When Feed Ontario surveyed around 200 food bank visitors in September, it found one out of two food bank visitors said they were worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months.One participant said, "Everything is hard. Paying rent is hard, going to the doctor is hard, accessing groceries and food are hard. Everything is so much harder now."Over 90 per cent were also navigating extreme financial challenges due to the pandemic and incurring a significant amount of debt. Ninety-three per cent of respondent were borrowing money from friends and family, accessing payday loans, or using a credit card to help pay bills. Though Feed Ontario doesn't collect data related to race, immigration or refugee status, it notes that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and food insecurity, and are three times more likely to be food insecure than non-racialized households. Support from provincial and federal governments helped food banks meet an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, said Stewart. But as these supports wound down through summer and into fall, the numbers have increased again. The supports showed that "investing in income supports for individuals can provide that essential safety net that people need," she said. Stewart pointed to the 2008 recession where food bank usage went up by almost 30 per cent over two years. "It's never gone back down," she said, adding that the network is "quite fearful" that without those supports food bank use will grow "exponentially" over the coming months."While food banks do their very best with very little to meet the need in their communities, and they do incredible work, they do not replace good, public policy," she said. "We are not a solution to poverty." Feed Ontario says it's calling on the provincial government to: * Provide immediate support to low-income families, including developing a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction. * Reinstate the emergency benefit for social assistance recipients. * Align Ontario's social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB. * Develop stronger labour laws and policies, like reinstating paid sick days and quality jobs with a livable wage.
BEIJING — China on Monday said it is sanctioning leaders of U.S. government-affiliated bodies that promote democracy around the world in response to what it calls practices that “blatantly meddle in Hong Kong affairs.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the measures would cover the senior director for Asia at the National Endowment Democracy, John Knaus, the regional director for the Asia-Pacific at the National Democratic Institute, Manpreet Singh Anand, and two of the institute’s officials responsible for Hong Kong. Hua gave no details and the institute said in a news release that it had no further information but that it “remains steadfastly committed to these core principles and to continuing our work in support of democracy worldwide.” China has long accused such groups of encouraging dissidents who built grassroots movements to push for greater direct democracy in Hong Kong. Those burst out into street protests in 2014 and again last year, prompting a harsh crackdown from authorities. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials over the passage of a National Security Law that imposed strict penalties for critics of the Beijing-backed government that has ruled the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The sanctions ban the officials, including the head of Hong Kong’s local government, Carrie Lam, from travelling to the U.S. and freezes all dealings with American financial institutions. Hua told reporters Monday that “the relevant U.S. practices blatantly meddle in Hong Kong affairs, grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the international law and basic norms governing international relations." “The U.S. should immediately cease interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs and avoid going further down the wrong path," Hua said at a daily briefing. Hong Kong is just one area where tensions between Washington and Beijing have risen over recent years. The Trump administration has cut off Chinese tech giant Huawei’s access to most U.S. components and technology on security grounds, part of a feud over trade and technology that has led the White House to press the Chinese owner of video service TikTok to sell its U.S. operation, which American officials say is a security risk. U.S. accusations of Chinese human rights abuses, particularly against Muslim minority groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, have resulted in frequent angry exchanges between the sides. Frictions have also built over Washington's support for Taiwan, which China claims as a breakaway province to be recovered by force if necessary, along with China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Associated Press
MLAs both new and re-elected will begin a two-week fall sitting Monday, which will likely be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saskatchewan Party government's election promises.Monday's sitting begins with the Speaker election at 10 a.m. CST and a speech from the throne delivered by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty at 2 p.m.The speech will be debated and voted on in the days that follow.Following the Oct. 26 election, the governing Sask. Party enters the sitting with 48 members, while the NDP has 13.Pandemic responseWith the province experiencing a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past month, policy announcements by the government will likely be overshadowed by its response to the pandemic.The NDP opposition has asked for a three-week "circuit breaker" shutdown and a plan to compensate those affected.Moe said again last week he preferred targeted measures as opposed to anything that shut down portions of the economy.On Friday, the province's most recent set of restrictions went into effect, which includes suspension of sports, gathering limit restrictions and an expansion of the mask mandate.Election promisesAfter announcing his cabinet shuffle on Nov. 9, Premier Scott Moe said his government would use the sitting to introduce legislation, including bills, to keep its campaign promises.The Sask. Party made $849 million in promises during the October campaign, including: * A two-year home renovation tax credit. * A one-year 10 per cent SaskPower rebate. * A three-year tax reduction for small businesses. * Create 750 licensed home-based child care spaces. * Provide funding to kids living with autism up to the age of 12. * Cover the cost of glucose monitoring up to 18 years old. * Reduce seniors' ambulance costs by 50 per cent. * Increase the post-secondary Sask. Advantage scholarship to $750/ year.It also promised to bring back two programs cancelled in 2016, the active families benefit and the community rink grant. Speaker election The sitting will begin with the election of the Speaker. Saskatchewan Party MLA Mark Docherty has held the position since March 2018. He has put his name forward again and faces five of his caucus colleagues who are also vying for the position: Lisa Lambert, Hugh Nerlien, Greg Ottenbreit, Randy Weekes, and Nadine Wilson.The election will be conducted by secret ballot.The Sask. Party has 11 new MLAs, while the NDP has six.On Nov. 9, Moe shuffled his cabinet, with notable changes including Paul Merriman as Health Minister, Dustin Duncan as Education Minister, Lori Carr as Minister of Social Services and Gord Wyant as Minister of Justice.Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is the deputy premier and Nicole Sarauer is the NDP's deputy leader.All MLAs will have to wear a mask while inside the legislature. Plastic barriers have been erected between desks inside the chamber.
BANGKOK — Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offences of which they stand accused.The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable.The demand about the monarchy is the most radical and controversial, because by tradition the institution has been considered untouchable, the bedrock element of Thai nationalism. It is considered taboo to publicly criticize the monarch, and insulting or defaming key royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under a lese majeste law known as Article 112.The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people. They believe the king holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy."When people criticize the monarchy and they listen, people will consider them open-minded. But if they use 112 to shut our mouths, not only Thai people but also the world will know they are afraid of the truth,” Parit Chiwarak said to reporters ahead of reporting to police. “This won’t stop our movement. On the contrary, it will make more people join us.”Article 112 is controversial, because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, so it in the past had been used as a weapon in political vendettas. But it had not been employed for the past three years, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see it used. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then.But after a protest last week included crude chants and graffiti that could be considered derogatory of the king, Prayuth declared that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions, including with charges under Article 112. While protest leaders have faced dozens of charges over the past few months, they have generally been freed on bail, and none have yet come to trial.Despite Prayuth’s threat, protest leaders have continued to include strong criticisms of the monarchy at rallies.The other four who reported Monday to Bangkok’s Chana Songkhram police station were Arnon Nampha, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and Patiphan Luecha. Patiphan, a traditional folk singer also known as Patiwat Saraiyaem, served 2 1/2 years in prison after being arrested under Article 112 in 2014.Most of the protest leaders face multiple charges already, ranging from blocking traffic to sedition, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.Anon, a lawyer, said he was indifferent about being charged under Article 112, because it is an “unjust law.”“If we speak the truth and they stop us with 112, it reflects how abnormal this law and this country are,” he said.Also reporting to police Monday were Benjamaporn Nivas and Lopnaphat Wangsit, leaders of the mockingly self-named Bad Students group of secondary school students, which seeks major reforms in education and supports the broader aims of the pro-democracy movement as well.They are accused of violating a state of emergency decree that was briefly in effect in October by taking part in a rally in central Bangkok.___Associated Press journalists Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul and Grant Peck contributed to this report.Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
The Crown was to close its murder case against a Fort Liard, N.W.T., woman on Monday, but a mysterious issue that arose last week may prevent that.Selena Lomen is on trial for second-degree murder in the stabbing death of her partner, Danny Klondike, two years ago in Fort Liard.At the end of Friday's proceedings in Northwest Territories Supreme Court in Yellowknife, the judge asked the prosecutors if they intended to finish their case on Monday. Lead prosecutor Duane Praught said that had been the plan, but that the Crown had "received some information" about one of the witnesses in Fort Liard on Thursday."We're still trying to figure out what to do with this information," said Praught. He did not elaborate on what information had been received, but said he had passed it on to Lomen's lawyer, Peter Harte.RCMP forensic expert testifiesMost of Friday was spent questioning one witness, Cpl. Amy Doan, an RCMP forensic expert who photographed and examined Klondike's and Lomen's duplex, where Klondike was found dead on Oct. 28, 2018.Doan said bloody shoe prints on the floor of the duplex matched the shoes Lomen was wearing when she walked into the RCMP station later that morning and confessed to stabbing her partner to death.Lomen tried to plead guilty to manslaughter at the beginning of the trial, but the prosecutor did not accept the plea.Though Lomen has confessed, much of the Crown's case has focused on proving she is the one who killed Klondike.Doan testified for hours about photos she took of the crime scene, the technique she uses to compare footprints to the treads on shoes, and how those techniques applied in this case.Doan testified she found some injuries on Lomen. She had a bruised knee, a cut on the palm of her right hand and bruising on both forearms.She said Lomen had no recollection of how she got the injuries.The trial enters its third week on Monday in Yellowknife. One of the last pieces of evidence the prosecutors plan to present is a video Doan took of the bloody crime scene.The Crown had planned to play the video in court on Friday, but did not because it failed to get an order banning its publication.