TEST BULLETIN (AP) — The following is a TEST. Dan Sullivan, GOP,
elected U.S. Senate, Alaska.
AP Elections 10-27-2020 13:45
The Associated Press
TEST BULLETIN (AP) — The following is a TEST. Dan Sullivan, GOP,
elected U.S. Senate, Alaska.
AP Elections 10-27-2020 13:45
The Associated Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — After a weekend that saw 24 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, health officials reported 16 more on Monday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 138.Fifteen of the latest cases were reported in the central zone, which includes Halifax.The other case is connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre high school in Canning, N.S. The school will remain closed for the week, and students will be learning remotely. Public health is investigating to determine whether the new case is connected to one previously reported in the school.In a news release Monday, Premier Stephen McNeil said there has been strong public interest in the province's pop-up rapid testing for people without COVID-19 symptoms. "These are important pieces of our collective effort to contain the virus," McNeil said.Health officials said 628 tests were administered at the pop-up site in Dartmouth on Sunday, yielding six positive results. The individuals involved were directed to self-isolate and have been referred for a standard test.Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Health Authority issued a public exposure notice concerning a bar and restaurant in downtown Halifax. People are asked to book a COVID-19 test if they were at the Highwayman on Barrington Street on Nov. 19 between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.Anyone who visited the Bluenose II Restaurant on Hollis Street on Nov. 23, Nov. 24, or Nov. 25 between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. is asked to do the same. New Brunswick reported six new cases on Monday after 20 cases were confirmed on the weekend. Five of the province's six new cases are in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton regions, which remain under heightened public health restrictions including restricted travel and mandatory masks in public.Health officials say the remaining case is in the Bathurst area. Newfoundland and Labrador is ramping up its traveller scrutiny as health officials announced one new case of COVID-19 Monday.The province pulled out of the so-called Atlantic bubble last week, closing travel to all non-residents except those arriving for purposes deemed essential. Starting Tuesday, all essential travellers will have to submit a form and obtain a reference number to show border officials when they arrive, according to a news release Monday.Newfoundland and Labrador has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed across the province since the onset of the pandemic.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.— Written by Sarah Smellie in St. John's, N.L.The Canadian Press
CALGARY — An environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta's inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry until there is a ruling on whether it is legal. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Horner dismissed the application with costs on Friday. “The court’s decision, while disappointing, won’t stop Ecojustice from continuing to challenge the Kenney government’s inquiry into ‘anti-Alberta’ activities and expose it for the sham that it is," executive director Devon Page said in a statement Monday. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative government contend foreign interests have long been bankrolling campaigns against fossil fuel development. In 2019, forensic accountant Steve Allan was tapped to lead the $2.5-million inquiry. Allan's report was initially due in July, but after two extensions and a $1-million budget increase, it is now expected by Jan. 31. Energy Minister Sonya Savage must publish the final report within 90 days of receiving it. “The Government of Alberta is pleased to see the courts strike down a nuisance injunction application by Ecojustice designed to slow down the Public Inquiry into Foreign Funded Campaigns," Alberta Energy spokesman Kavi Bal said in a statement. Ecojustice filed a lawsuit last November alleging the inquiry is politically motivated, biased and outside provincial jurisdiction. "Its purpose really was to shut up opponents to Alberta oil and gas and it was something that was driven directly by the premier," Page said in an interview Monday. Ecojustice wanted Allan's work paused because if his findings were to be released before a court ruled on the lawsuit, environmental groups could suffer reputational harm in the meantime. Horner said in her decision that Ecojustice had to prove there is a serious issue to be tried, it would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction isn't granted and it would suffer greater harm than its opponent if the injunction is refused. The judge ruled Ecojustice satisfied the first test but failed the other two. "Mr. Page suggests that a risk of harm exists in the 'possibility' of being called to respond to the inquiry that may have no legal foundation. However, I am not convinced that a mere 'possibility' amounts to evidence of irreparable harm that is both clear and not speculative," Horner wrote. "The allegations of improper purpose, bias, and lack of jurisdiction are issues to be examined and resolved in the upcoming judicial review."The lawsuit was scheduled to be heard in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic put in on hold. Page said December or early-February hearing dates are now being discussed. Page, who has criticized the inquiry for its lack of transparency, said he's recently heard from groups who have received letters from Allan requesting clarification on publicly available tax information. "It just makes us more confused about what's going on."One Nov. 6 letter to a group, whose name had been removed because Page did not have their permission to publicize it, requested written or oral responses by Dec. 4. "Basically it looks like (Allan is) on a fishing expedition to get the information that he's had 18 months to accumulate," said Page."So what's he been doing?"This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 30, 2020.Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
CANOE COVE – For three-year-old Jake Kislingbury, it sure is good to be home from the hospital. "He was just petrified for such a long time," his mother Verity said. The Canoe Cove boy started having bad headaches in May. He was soon airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which had spread so rapidly from his sinuses it's left him permanently blind. Jake, the son of Verity and Dave Kislingbury, had to stay at the hospital from May to October, and he and his family still have a long road ahead. So, in support of the Kislingburys, the community is using its annual Christmas event to raise funds for their neighbours this December. "That's what the community is here for," neighbour Chrys Jenkins said. This marks Chrys and Doreen Jenkins' 10th year hosting the Drive-Thru Living Nativity at their farmhouse in Canoe Cove. Organizers welcome everyone to witness the Jenkins' Christmas light display and nativity scene – complete with farm animals and in-character volunteers – from the comfort of their vehicles Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Plans for the drive-thru nativity started in September and there will be a few differences from past years, such as the addition of Santa and his sleigh. "Instead of the (usual) choir," Doreen said, "because of COVID." Jake and Verity got to check out the sleigh in advance of the event. Jake would often hold his mother's hand while walking around, and he had a fun time meeting the Jenkins' animals, playing with his toys and chatting it up as any three-year-old would. "He's gained his character back," Verity said. "We lost that for a while." During his time in the hospital, there were many nights where she would have to sleep in his bed to help comfort him. He clutched to his parents' promise that they would get him and his brother, William, a dog after treatment, which they'd train as a service dog, Verity said. "That's what got him through," she said. "It was tough." "But we got through," Jake said, unprompted, in response to his mother. The Kislingburys had volunteered with the drive-thru nativity for several years before and are grateful for the Jenkins' generosity in hosting it. All freewill donations will go toward general expenses incurred from Jake's treatment, and possibly toward a trust fund for his future. "It's a whole life change for all of us, really," Verity said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
An outbreak of COVID-19 cases, compounded by repeat power outages and abysmal weather, has forced an isolated Vancouver Island Indigenous community into lockdown.The Ehattesaht First Nation, home to about 100 people, is located on the northwest coast of the island near Zeballos, B.C. On Nov. 14, one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the community following a four day power outage. Within a week, there were 16 cases and now half the residents are in isolation."We are learning some hard lessons and the best advice we can give to communities like ours is just to stay home — it's the only way we can keep people safe," said Chief Simon John in an interview on CBC's On The Island.John says while no one has been hospitalized yet, some people have been moved into hotels to be closer to medical services if they should need them.The North Island Hospital in Campbell River is almost three hours away by car. And the road in and out of Ehattesaht territory, which, John says, is well-maintained by the Ministry of Forests, can still easily be blocked by a downed tree or two.And it's a distinct possibility right now, as the region has been repeatedly battered by high winds and stormy weather in recent days, causing the community to already lose power twice while people are dealing with the impact of the virus.Environment Canada issued another wind warning for B.C.'s north coastal region Monday, warning that winds of up to 100 km/h are a possibility until Tuesday.COVID-19 exposing other issuesJohn said people in the community have rallied to provide food and what care they can for people isolated at home. He said the current situation may have a silver lining in that the pandemic is exposing issues the nation has been up against for years."It's a really good time to move a lot of our situations forward. Like, our health or even our connectivity to the world could change because of this," said John, adding he hopes the B.C. and Canadian government take notice and help.That help, he said, could include improving hydro and internet connections, as well as access to health services.John said the nation would also like to look at options to expand its land base so it can add more housing for its members. At present, he said many people are isolating in close quarters together.Four people in the community have recovered from COVID-19 so far, according to John.To hear the complete interview with Chief Simon John on CBC's On The Island, tap the audio link below:
Fire Departments across Canada remind homeowners to be vigilant this holiday season as; statistically, more fires and fire-related deaths occur over the winter holidays than any other time of the year. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), most fires occur between December 15 to December 31. While going all out using powered ornaments to decorate and piggybacking large quantities of Christmas lights to string across the house, fence and trees to make your property stand out, there are precautions to consider when adding more lighting equipment and power cords. The NFPA has indicated on their website a 27 percent increase in fires related to electrical issues. The leading causes are frayed cords, overloaded circuits and power bars. The majority of homes are equipped with circuit breakers as a safety measure. If too much electricity is getting drawn, the breaker trips, shutting down the power. As it is a safety feature, there is still the risk of it failing to trip and, in other cases, will continue to trip over and over. Overloaded circuits carry too much electricity, which generates heat, and if undetected, the heat can cause wear on the wiring system, which can ignite a fire. Some holiday safety tips provided by the Office of the Fire Commissioner recommend having no more than 1400 watts on a circuit. Periodically check the light strings to ensure they are not warm to the touch. LED lighting is recommended because it produces very little heat, which reduces the risk of fire. Check all cords to ensure they have a good connection and any plug-in ends don’t get buried in the snow. Above all, turn off all holiday lighting before going to bed or out for the evening. Another fire source to consider being mindful of over the holidays is the Christmas tree. While percentages of house fires from trees have gone down, it still accounts for 29 percent of holiday fires. The majority of homeowners use artificial trees because they are safer, not as messy and quicker to set up. However, many people enjoy the traditional real tree for Christmas as it’s just that, a real tree and gives off a pleasant pine scent throughout the home. The danger of having a real tree is it becomes flammable. Dried-out Christmas trees cause more than 29 percent of home fires in January. To show how dangerous these trees can be, the Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study showing just how fast a dried-out Christmas tree burned. Flashover occurred in less than one minute after being in contact with a small flame. As for other festive decorations, candles accounted for 57 percent of home decoration fires. Candles get placed in the middle of decorative greens or as a table ornament. As the holiday can be hectic, people often forget they are still burning before turning in for the night. As the candle burns down, it ignites the combustible materials surrounding it, which can then spread. During the winter months, the chances of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning also increases. According to Statistics Canada, CO is the leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in Canada and North America. The spike in poisoning occurs in the winter as more heat devices are getting used. Carbon monoxide is an odourless and colourless poisonous gas found in fumes from vehicle exhaust, fireplaces, furnaces or any other appliances that burn solids such as wood, liquids such as oil or gasoline and fuels such as propane or natural gas. As indicated by the Office of the Fire Commissioner, “no fuel burns 100 percent. It is the incomplete burning of fuels that produces carbon monoxide”. Safety prevention tips include installing a carbon monoxide detector in the home, maintain all appliances and ensure they are vented outside. Also, check to ensure all vents are clear of debris, including the chimney. When starting the vehicle in a garage, always open the door for adequate ventilation, and it’s safest to pull the vehicle out of the garage to prevent any buildup of CO which can seep into the home. Keeping these safety tips in mind will go a long way to having a happy holiday. Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press
VANCOUVER — A legal battle over a missing diamond-encrusted eagle statue valued at nearly $1 million will continue, more than four years after the artwork was stolen during a robbery in Delta, B.C.In a unanimous ruling issued Monday, the B.C. Court of Appeal has sided with Lloyd's Underwriters and agreed that a default judgment against the insurer should be set aside.Ron Shore, president of a company called Forgotten Treasures International, won the judgment in 2018 requiring Lloyd's to pay a claim for the loss of the sparkling statue.Court documents show Lloyd's denied Shore's claim, arguing he violated conditions of the insurance policy, including that the statue be constantly safeguarded by two people.The eight-kilogram gold creation studded with 763 diamonds and appraised at $930,000 was going to be the final prize in an international cancer fundraiser.Justice Peter Voith agreed with a B.C. Supreme Court decision that set aside the default judgment, saying the insurer appears to have solid evidence to oppose the claim.On its website, the Supreme Court says default judgments can be filed against defendants if they fail to respond to the notice of a civil lawsuit, do not comply with the rules or a response to a civil claim is withdrawn.With the default judgment set aside, the matter may return to Shore's civil claim filed in May 2018, alleging breach of contract and failure to investigate the insurance claim in a timely manner, among other things.The statue remains missing after Shore reported it was taken in May 2016 by what the court describes as "unknown assailants'' as he placed a knapsack carrying the statue in the trunk of his car.Shore made an emotional plea for the return of the statue at a news conference shortly after it was taken, saying two men ambushed him, hit him over the head with a large flashlight and stole the eagle, plus a less-valuable decoy.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
One man was killed in an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C., on Saturday, according to RCMP.Two people were snowmobiling in the Power King/Bijoux Falls area when the avalanche happened just before 2 p.m. PT. One of the snowmobilers was buried in the snow, according to a statement Monday.A search and rescue team, as well as avalanche-trained searchers from Prince George, B.C., later found the man dead.RCMP said he was 35 years old and originally from Dawson Creek, B.C. The second sledder was unhurt.The B.C. Coroner's Service is investigating the man's death. RCMP did not release any further details.A "significant" storm left up to 70 centimetres of fresh powder in the area on Saturday. Avalanche Canada said there were "very dangerous avalanche conditions" in the treeline and alpine at the time.
Local businesses are frustrated and exhausted as they weather the storm in Toronto’s second lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. The province announced Nov. 20 that Toronto and Peel were going into its Lockdown/Grey level of its pandemic response framework as of Nov. 23. The regions had seen continuous spikes of cases of COVID-19 since the end of summer, and hospitalizations and ICU admittance had drastically increased. But as the lockdown aims to reduce the spread of the virus, business owners in East Toronto are asking why big box stores are still permitted to remain open. “It’s just another hammer on the head,” Skaut Design owner Inese Korbs said. Her store on Kingston Road sells home decor, furniture, and other design products. Korbs doesn’t have the staff to move her inventory online for customers as a lot of her products are vintage pieces. “It’s another full-time job,” she said. Instead Korbs relies on “virtual visits” where people can phone in via video conference and she’ll walk them through the store. She said before the lockdown, while there were fewer visitors than normal years, individuals were buying more per visit. That came to a grinding halt last week. “The most difficult part is knowing that big box stores are allowed to operate,” Korbs said. “It’s kind of like they have different rules.” Walmart and Costco are some of the bigger chains permitted to open, while Amazon still remains ever popular for online shopping. It’s difficult to compete with bigger chains as it is, let alone if you can’t even stay open, Korbs said. Lita Yiu owns and operates the clothing store Set Me Free on Queen Street East. She expressed the same frustration that Korbs did about big box stores staying open. “If you really want to control the spread, shut down big box stores,” Yiu said. “I’m happy to have one or two customers allowed in the store at a time, we don’t have the same clout as big businesses, we can’t absorb the shock.” Yiu said she and her staff are uploading their inventory on e-commerce platforms online, but between all the clothing, accessories, and gifts, it’s a lot of work. “It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and you don’t make much money. It’s not the same as walk-in.” However, Yiu and Korbs have been overjoyed by the local community’s support of their businesses. Before the lockdown, both business owners were receiving many local customers who were eager to support their neighbourhood businesses. “People came in, they expressed condolences, supported our store,” Korbs said of the weekend before the lockdown began. “The people in this neighbourhood are very supportive, and they’re going out of their way to help us.” It’s been the case throughout the pandemic, Yiu said. From the beginning to now, local customers have supported her. “They’re amazing,” she said. “They always try to shop local, especially after the first lockdown.” Like many small businesses across Canada, Yiu and Korbs have taken advantage of the federal government COVID-19 supports for businesses. It’s helped them with expenses such as rent and wages, but nothing will recover the loss of revenue in December and the anticipated holiday shopping seasons that so many retail businesses rely on. “The vast majority of small businesses adhere to the restrictions equally if not better than large chains,” Beach Village BIA executive director Anna Sebert said. “Most of the businesses on Queen Street can make a go of it with one or two people in the store at a time.” “Just because there are some bad apples, doesn’t mean all businesses should suffer,” she added. Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford agrees the “rules around some of the closures haven’t always made sense” regarding big box stores, but warns that the virus remains a threat. “There’s no doubt about it, the lockdown is taking a toll on all of us but we have to push through. It’s the only way out of this,” he said. “We’re all seeing the news of the businesses staying open in protest and people rallying against the closures. That’s concerning as it puts us all at risk, especially gathering in the way we’ve seen.” Bradford has received calls from local businesses asking if it is possible to ease up bylaw enforcement to allow some businesses to remain open. “I can understand the way they’re feeling,” he said. “We’re all tired, we’re hurting, but we have to follow the guidelines.” Cases have been among the lowest in the city for the Beach area, an achievement Bradford applauded as the community “is looking out for each other.” He said he’s making efforts to get relief for businesses from the federal and provincial governments. “What we need to focus on is getting the full weight of financial support possible for local businesses,” he said. “We also need clearer, fairer and more evenly applied rules if and when closures continue. City council doesn’t get to make these decisions – but we can elevate the voice of the impact they’re having on our communities and main streets.” Business owners say they understand the severity of the pandemic, and agree with most public health measures, but worry about local businesses in the community – especially restaurants, bars, and cafes. “I feel horrible for the restaurants,” Korbs said. “If they all survive that would be a miracle, their hands and feet are tied.”Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
Brock will extend its upcoming holiday break by delaying the start of the winter term by one week. Classes will start on Jan. 11. An announcement was made Monday in a letter from Lynn Wells, provost and vice-president academic, who said the decision comes after two weeks of consultations with students, staff and faculty members. The extension of the holiday break will require changes to the academic calendar. The winter term will now end on April 9. Exams will take place April 13 to 23. The exam period for the winter term will be shortened by two days. The spring/summer term will start as scheduled and the dates for reading week will also remain the same. The calls for change also came at the hands of four Brock students — Celeste Lynette, Emma Allan, Riley Monaghan and Jack Allan. Lynette created an online petition urging the university to consider the change. “Due to the pandemic, this school year has been undoubtedly challenging and tolling on university students and our mental health,” said Lynette. “We, the students of Brock University, are asking for an extension to our winter break like many other Canadian universities have granted their students.” The petition garnered nearly 6,000 supporters. Leaders of Brock’s graduate and undergraduate student organizations welcomed the decision. “The partnership between student associations and the University remains strong, collaborative and results-oriented,” said Christopher Yendt, president of Brock’s graduate students’ association. “We are excited that this student-centred approach has resulted in meaningful action to address some of the challenges students are facing.” Students’ union president Asad Jalib also applauded the move. “The leadership at Brock University continues to demonstrate that it is receptive to student needs and in touch with the student body,” said Jalib. Said Wells: “We have heard from many students, staff and faculty members that this extension will provide valuable time to rest and, in many cases, to catch up and better prepare for the winter term. “For those who are travelling or who are coming to Brock from abroad, this extra time will facilitate the completion of the mandatory self-isolation period,” she added. Niagara College had already planned to have a three-week holiday break. “Under the college’s existing schedule, fall term classes end Dec. 18, and winter term classes begin on Jan. 11,” said corporate communications manager Michael Wales “This provides students with a three-week break between terms, which we hope will give them the opportunity for a safe and restful holiday season before resuming their studies.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
No matter what's been thrown their way, organizers of this year's Jasper Santas Anonymous program are doing their best to see that families have food and gifts to enjoy this Christmas season. This year, more families than ever will be accessing Santas Anonymous due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to more unemployment, isolation and financial stress. Pattie Pavlov, general manager of Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, said this year, as many as 100 families are participating. In years past, it has hovered around the 70, 80 point. She and Ashley Chorley, operations manager with Chamber, are working with "the new and different nuances" that have been presented by the COVID pandemic. With COVID as one of the primary concerns, they wondered how they would get items to families safely, Pavlov said. "It's very important that we adhere to COVID (protocol), in collecting and distributing the items donated," she said. "We did consult with the Edmonton Santas Anonymous group. We were on the right track. We just wanted to confirm we were doing this properly. It was a learning experience." Chorley some items, including fabric, plush items, plastics and toys have to be put in isolation to discourage COVID transmission. For example, she said, plastic items have to sit for about 72 hours and plush items for a week, which complicates packaging them. Fortunately, with a list of families in the program already started, she and Pavlov can organize items by group. Some of the usually-held get-togethers have been cancelled, including Skate with Santa at Mildred Lake, and a photo opportunity with Santa at Bearhill Lodge. Pavlov said, “With the (allowable) gathering of 10, how are you going to restart the number of families? Pieces of the puzzle just don't come together." But other plans are coming together: the Mitten Line fundraiser at TGP, for example. At the grocery store, mittens are available at the cash registers with values of $10, $20, $50 and $100 with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. "Some people have already purchased mittens and we're excited about that,” Pavlov said. Shoppers at TGP can also designate a portion of the money paid for groceries to the campaign at the time of purchase. Then there's The Snowball Fight. "We cut out a quantity of snowballs and we are giving them to banks specifically, and encouraging them to compete against others - a friendly competition," Pavlov said. "We're asking them to be creative with their displays." Folks can purchase a snowball for whatever amount they choose, with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. The pastry team at Jasper Park Lodge has also added to the festive mix of fundraisers. Pavlov said they created an “absolutely unbelievable” gingerbread cottage to be raffled off. The detail in the house is something to behold - there are books on bookshelves, the inside of the log cabin lights up, and there's a pond outside with cattails along the shore. “It's big and so beautiful," Pavlov said. The masterpiece is on display at the Santas Anonymous Facebook page and tickets can be purchased at $5 apiece from Jasper Community Team Society board members. "As has been the tradition since Santa's Anonymous started," Pavlov noted, "there have been collection boxes placed throughout town. Anything you want to support Santas Anonymous with can be done through donations - toys, toques, mitts." Sites include Pharmasave, IDA Rx Drug Mart, Jasper General Store, Ransom, the Jasper Library and Nesters Market. Pavlov said the Chamber will also accept donations at Robson House. "Give us a call and we'll grab it (where it has been safely left),” she said. “I'd also encourage people to bring gift cards.” Another way to donate in a contactless way is via e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winning ticket for the gingerbread house will be drawn on Dec. 17. Proceeds from the Snowball Fight and Mitten Line fundraisers will be announced on Dec. 22.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
MONTREAL — As experts mull recommendations regarding ventilation and COVID-19 transmission ahead of the winter, Quebec health officials said Monday that air quality tests carried out in long-term care homes and hospitals earlier this month revealed satisfactory readings. Health Minister Christian Dube said an analysis of carbon dioxide levels was done at his request between Nov. 19 and 23 in about 70 establishments, mostly in the Quebec City area and in central Quebec. The Health Department said CO2 levels are considered a good indicator of ventilation efficiency, and authorities carried out tests in different settings including bathrooms, waiting areas and patients rooms. The results come as a group of experts examining the link between air quality and COVID-19 spread is set to issue recommendations in early December, with particular attention to schools and health-care facilities. The World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have both said aerosol transmission and spread of COVID-19 is a concern. "The expert group will therefore have to look in particular at the additional preventive and, if necessary, mitigation measures that could be put in place, if necessary," the Health Department said in a statement. Concern about indoor air quality has been heightened in the province, which on Monday reported 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 additional deaths linked to the virus, along with an increase in hospitalizations and patients in intensive care. The results announced Monday were from tests done mostly in so-called cold zones without COVID-19 patients, but some were in hot zones, and the testing covered different kinds of ventilation systems, including just open windows. The results for Quebec City came back at 651 parts per million and at 707 parts per million in central Quebec — both below the maximum target of 1,110. But one Montreal health official questioned whether the ventilation systems in place in long-term care centres are adequate to deal with a disease as contagious as COVID-19. Francine Dupuis is associate CEO of the Montreal regional health authority that on Sunday had to transfer 20 COVID-19 patients from a long-term care home, the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, to local hospitals. “We are waiting for the recommendations of public health, but probably too many people at the same place is not a good idea for the ventilation system,” Dupuis said in an interview Sunday. “These ventilation systems have been created for long-term care facilities, not acute care facilities like hospitals." In some cases, authorities are emptying wards to air them out before bringing patients back, but Dupuis says the cost of upgrading ventilation systems in long-term care would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. On Tuesday, Quebec's schools will also have their air quality tested. Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge, in announcing tests last week, said any necessary improvements would be made over the Christmas break. Last week, a group of doctors and experts concerned about air quality in schools and the transmission of COVID-19 unveiled the results of a clandestine project where teachers measured air quality in 25 classrooms, finding that 75 per cent had CO2 levels that exceeded acceptable levels. Authorities did not hold a briefing on Monday as Montreal led the way in new infections, reporting 400 new confirmed cases, followed by the Monteregie, the greater Quebec City region, Saguenay Lac-St-Jean and Lanaudiere. "The situation of the last days is worrying," Dube said via his Twitter account on Monday. "I would remind you that we must continue to respect all measures and limit our contacts for (a reduction in) the number of cases." Eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours while 14 others were from the last week. The province has now reported 142,371 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7,056 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, adding another 1,108 recoveries for a total of 122,014. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. — With files from Jillian Kestler-D'Amours in Montreal. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
PHOENIX — Arizona officials certified the state's election results on Monday, formalizing Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump even as the Republican president's attorneys continued to make baseless claims of fraud about the state's vote count.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump's claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona's laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3 per cent of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast. Eleven Democratic electors will meet Dec. 14 to formally cast Arizona’s electoral votes for Biden.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.A judge in Phoenix has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state.The lawsuit against Biden’s 11 electors in Arizona asks for an inspection of mail-in ballot signatures and duplicated ballots in metro Phoenix, home to 61 per cent of Arizona’s voters.Judge Randall Warner is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities.Hobbs’ office has said there was no factual basis for such a review. Under questioning from Warner, Ward’s attorney, Jack Wilenchik, said Congress would decide the presidential contest if the results are annulled by the court.Last week, another judge in Phoenix rejected the Arizona Republican Party’s bid to postpone the certification of election results in Maricopa County — which encompasses Phoenix and is the state's most populous — and dismissed the party’s legal challenge that sought a new audit of a sampling of ballots.The certification also paved the way for Democrat Mark Kelly to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, formalizing his victory in a special election to finish the last two years of the term of John McCain, who died in 2018. Kelly is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday in Washington.The GOP's Senate majority will fall to 52 members when Kelly replaces Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to McCain's seat but lost to Kelly in the election.Control of the next Senate will come down to two runoff elections in Georgia. If Democrats win both, the Senate would be split 50-50, and incoming Vice-President Kamala Harris would cast tie-breaking votes.___Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
Despite a "significant outbreak" of COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre, there are reports of inmates being triple-bunked, according to defence lawyers sounding the alarm on conditions at the northwest facility. During her afternoon update, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw identified 41 cases at CRC, up from just three last Tuesday.According to a report prepared last week, the CRC has capacity for 34 infected inmates.The CRC is now on total lockdown. Inmates who are mid-trial — including one murder trial — are not allowed to leave the CRC for court and even CCTV appearances have been cancelled. CRC is a secure holding facility for those awaiting trial or a bail hearing. Many, if not all, of the inmates there have not been convicted of the charges they are facing. "It's grossly negligent," said Tom Engel, an Edmonton defence lawyer and president of the Canadian Prison Law Association."It's disturbing to hear about a client triple-bunking and someone tests positive, and they just leave them in that situation. I don't know how they could think this is appropriate."Engel called it a "significant outbreak" taking place in several units. Hinshaw said AHS is working to ensure strict protocols are maintained with aggressive testing underway.Masks are just now being provided to inmates. Previously, only those leaving the facility would have access to a mask.Defence lawyer Chad Haggerty says he has a client who is triple-bunked with new protocols only allowing inmates allowed to leave their cells for 1.5 to 2 hours a day.Alberta Health Services has previously stated provincial facilities are complying with COVID-19 safety protocols but some inmates say that's not the case. "I keep hearing from prisoners that what the government and AHS are saying about compliance with COVID protocols in Alberta jails is just completely false."New transfers to the Calgary Remand Centre spend 14 days on a quarantine unit. If they develop symptoms, they're moved to an isolation unit.The director of the Calgary Remand Centre was scheduled to meet with the Health Ministry Monday afternoon.
The government unveiled a record deficit of $381 billion in its fiscal update, along with spending plans for more pandemic relief and a huge stimulus plan to jolt the economy post-pandemic.
WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials are reporting more COVID-19 deaths among younger patients and ongoing high case numbers, more than two weeks after strict measures were enacted on public gatherings and businesses.A man in his 30s and a woman in her 40s were among the 11 deaths announced Monday. The death of the youngest person to date — a boy under 10 — was announced Saturday."We continue to announce many deaths every day," said Dr. Brent Roussin, the province's chief public health officer."I think we all know we can't continue along these lines. We have to bring these numbers down. We can't keep losing this many Manitobans."Roussin did not reveal details about the boy who died or his age. Roussin did say the child had underlying health conditions and the case was not acquired in a school.So far, 312 people have died from COVID-19 in Manitoba.About 80 per cent of deaths recorded up to Nov. 21 have involved people 65 and over, provincial data charts indicate. Roussin has previously said that while severe outcomes occur predominantly among older people, the novel coronavirus can affect people of any age.The province reported 342 new COVID-19 cases Monday. It said 44 people with COVID-19 were in intensive care and there were only five beds available. Health officials were looking at opening up a new 14-bed intensive care unit in a Winnipeg hospital."Our health system is at risk of being overwhelmed if we can't reduce these daily case counts," said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer with Manitoba Shared Health.In an effort to turn the tide, the government forced many non-essential retail outlets to close and banned public gatherings of more than five people on Nov. 12.That has prevented the daily number of new COVID-19 cases count from rising higher, Roussin said, citing projections of up to 1,000 cases a day by early December. But the number has remained steady rather than dropping. The percentage of people testing positive has also remained very high at 13 per cent."We need to decrease the number of contacts we have, and that's just a given," Roussin said."We have a fairly consistent secondary attack rate … about 14 per cent of contacts will develop COVID. And so if we decrease the amount of total contacts, we're going to decrease the amount of cases."The ban on gatherings has faced challenges from a couple of churches. One in a rural area outside of Steinbach was fined for hosting a service earlier in the month. RCMP were stationed at the church's parking lot entrance on Sunday to turn away people arriving by car.A church in Winnipeg hosted four drive-in services on the weekend and asked people to remain in their cars while a pastor spoke from a stage.Drive-in services were allowed during the first COVID-19 wave in the spring, but have been banned during the recent spike in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus."The more people you have coming together at the same time, the more likely you're going to have some sort of gathering, some sort of transmission go on there," Roussin said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
RAINY RIVER — Ontario Provincial Police is asking for the public’s assistance with a break and enter investigation of two cabins over the weekend. Police in Rainy River District responded on Nov. 28 after receiving complaints of a break and enter on Big Sawbill Road, according to a police news release issued Monday, Nov. 30. Officers learned suspects had forced entry into two cabins and stolen multiple firearms, hunting equipment, knives and fishing rods. Police continue to investigate the incident with the assistance of the Rainy River District Crime Unit and Forensic Identification Unit. Police are also recommending anyone with seasonal properties in the Rainy River District to make efforts to have it checked on and report any suspicious activity. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Rainy River District OPP at 807-274-3322 or 1-888-310-1122.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation Chief Bart Tsannie welcomed 20 Canadian Rangers to his remote northeast community on the weekend. Tsannie said the First Nation asked for the rangers’ assistance to help its COVID-19 response efforts as case numbers climbed in the far north. “The cases are right on our doorstep” as they emerge in other remote communities like Fond du Lac, Tsannie said. As of Sunday, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority reported 284 active cases of COVID-19 in its communities. In a prepared statement, a Department of National Defence spokeswoman said the rangers deployed on Saturday. Their role is to help make and distribute supports like food, firewood and care packages. They will also help spread information on health measures and precautions, the spokeswoman said. The request for help covers 30 days, after which the deployment will be assessed depending on the community’s needs. “(The rangers) will support the community of Hatchet Lake until the emergency has abated and the province along with other federal and private sector resources are able to effectively support the community without (Canadian Armed Forces) intervention,” she said. The rangers previously deployed in April to assist communities like Wollaston Lake, Île à la Crosse, Fond du Lac and Lac La Ronge with their response efforts, she said. That work included wellness checks, transportation, and assisting local officials. Other efforts included hunting, gathering, and fishing for local residents and helping elders with harvesting, cutting and delivering firewood. They also delivered medication and groceries and refilled and hauled water for residents. Similarly, they helped set up local clinics, transport humanitarian goods and work as information runners for command centres, she said. She added the four ranger patrols in northern Saskatchewan tasked with operation LASER, which aims to assist with COVID-19 responses, stood down on July 17. As of Monday morning, Tsannie said there were no COVID-19 cases in his community. He said the First Nation nevertheless responded to increasing regional case counts with tightened restrictions on Nov. 27. He said some residents have avoided taking those precautions, and some have continued to travel out of the community, “which is really, really tough. So the rangers will be extra help.” He said the First Nation has a positive relationship with the rangers. “If there’s ever COVID in Hatchet, we’re going to utilize them a lot.”Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
Saudi Arabia agreed on Monday to let Israeli airliners cross its airspace en route to the United Arab Emirates after talks between Saudi officials and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, a senior Trump administration official said. Kushner and Middle East envoys Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook raised the issue shortly after they arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks.
Quinte Conservation announced plans to build a new state of the art storage facility at Potter’s Creek Conservation Area on Thursday. With support from the John M. & Bernice Parrott Foundation, the new facility will replace the old storage barn that was deemed a health and safety hazard to store Quinte Conservation’s maintenance and monitoring equipment. “We are extremely thankful for the support we have received from the John M. & Bernice Parrott Foundation and look forward to having a safe and accessible space for our staff to work in,” said CAO Brad McNevin. “We hope to incorporate a variety of green infrastructure initiatives into the design and use the area as a way to demonstrate the different opportunities that are available for stormwater management.” The new facility will provide a secure, heated location at the main office, as well as running water and proper drainage so staff can effectively clean equipment to help prevent the spread of invasive species throughout the watershed. Demolition and removal of the barn at Potter’s Creek Conservation Area is scheduled to take place from late 2020 into early 2021. Construction of the new storage facility is set to begin in the spring of 2021. The trails at Potter’s Creek Conservation Area will remain open during construction but may be modified for pedestrian access. Visitors are advised to be cautious of construction activities and follow posted information. “We understand the cultural relevance of this building for the local community and are investigating options that will allow us to create a small parkette in the same location as a way to pay homage to the history of the site,” said McNevin. McNevin explained that the preliminary design for the parkette will include a portion of the stone foundation, a seating area, and a plaque memorializing the barn. Residents interested in learning more about Quinte Conservation can visit www.quinteconservation.ca for more information.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer