Baby Edward greets the girls and the alpaca babies in this adorable clip. So precious!
Baby Edward greets the girls and the alpaca babies in this adorable clip. So precious!
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov.8 ,2020 Police and the chief coroner continue to investigate after a dead man was found in Lake Simcoe in Orillia Nov. 7. Orillia OPP is releasing few details as authorities try to determine the cause of death. Police received a phone call at about 10 p.m. Saturday night about a body in the water near the road end of West Street South. Police know the man’s identity but are not releasing it until officers can notify the next of kin. More information will be released when it’s available. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Craft cannabis growers in the Slocan Valley are banding together to overcome one of the biggest obstacles they face to entering the legal market. Nearly 50 growers are forming a co-op to build and operate a central processing facility for their crops. “The whole idea that appeals to me is having a local co-op helping growers with all aspects of entering the legal market, whether they are legacy growers, or someone who has never grown cannabis before,” says Gary Krempl, an early recruit to the co-op from Winlaw. “I’m very, very excited by this. It’s very important to me.” Krempl will be selling his outdoor-grown cannabis to refine into a concentrate for edibles and other products, rather than smokeable ‘flower.’ He also has a hemp licence, and says the processing plant might be able to prepare that crop for market as well. “That makes it a perfect fit for my business plan,” he says. Damon Kessell is another Valley outdoor grower with a micro-licence who’s joined the co-op, as a founding member of the board. He says the co-op is good for Kootenay growers. “It fits with the Kootenay way of doing things,” he says. “People in the Kootenays don’t want to be supporting big corporations. They want to shop local. They want quality products. It’s what we’re all about.” The processing facility, planned for Playmor Junction (at the site of an old cement company), will see up to 10,000 kilograms of bud processed in its first year, and 20,000 by its second, says Paul Kelly of the Cannabis Business Transitions Initiative, a branch of Community Futures Central Kootenay. “This will help legacy growers in the West Kootenay achieve legal status,” Kelly told the Valley Voice. The West Kootenay is estimated to have had more than 2,000 people who grew cannabis pre-legalization, setting up the region to become a production powerhouse. But small growers face huge obstacles to enter the legal market. One of the biggest is how to get their world-class product into market. Any cannabis grown in Canada has to meet strict federal regulations for growing, quality control, and packaging. A facility to get local weed market-ready will cost about $3 million to set up, and hundreds of thousands more annually to operate. That’s well beyond the scope of the majority of individual farmers – especially since banks won’t lend money to such enterprises. “You have got to use a processor; there’s no way to get to market without one,” says Krempl, who emphasizes he’s speaking as an individual grower, and not a co-op official. “You can’t package it up yourself and send it to your local store; it’s not that simple.” And processing itself has proven to be a tough business. “Early processors from the Lower Mainland who had contracted to purchase and process Kootenay bulk cannabis have disappeared due to poor financial management or failed operational strategy,” Kelly says. Relying on Lower Mainland processors for the first two years of legalization has proven a “precarious sales strategy, and puts the emerging local cultivation sector at risk,” he adds. A grower-owned, regional processing cooperative for cannabis, “would bring the supply chain dollars and jobs back to the region,” Kelly says, estimating up to 30 full-time jobs by the second year of operation. “It would ensure packaging and processing is managed in the best interest of local growers and in line with co-operative principles.” “By doing this project we’re trying to continue the service of supplying the Kootenays with locally grown cannabis products,” adds Kessell. “One of our board members is a store owner. And he says people are asking for local weed, and they can’t supply it. So that’s our mission.” The co-op’s planned building is 4,800 square feet, and can easily be upgraded to meet or beat federal security and odour-mitigation regulations, proponents say. If all goes well, the co-op will be able to get product to distributors by next spring. The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative is lending money to the co-op to get started, and shepherding the group of traditionally independent growers through establishing the co-op, financing, and business practices. That’s why Kelly wrote to the RDCK board in November, seeking local political support for the initiative. “At a buildout cost of approximately $3 million and initial operating expense before revenue of $1 million, the facility does need broad political and financial support to start up,” Kelly wrote to the RDCK board. “Your letter of support will help in approaching funders to help make this needed project a reality. “ The board passed a motion to support the project, which also has the endorsement of the local area director, Walter Popoff. In the meantime, Krempl says he’s looking forward to helping others rise out of the grey or black market economy. “We’re all at the spearpoint of the industry, we’re all learning the ropes, and the goal is community economic viability,” says Krempl. “To me it’s got a wide-open future. Getting the building, the licence and the equipment is just the first step. I think we can be a national brand, an international brand, and revive the economy here. “And it’s helping people transition from being quasi-legal growers to something they can be proud of and make a decent living with – that is one of the biggest things to me.” The co-op will also work to build diversity and respect in the white male-dominated industry, says Kessell. Women now make up a third of the board of directors and will be well-represented in its future workforce, and space is being provided for Indigenous representation on the board as well. “We’re going to be educating ourselves and our business is going to run with respect to the land we’re on, the land of the Sinixt,” he says. “Hopefully we’ll succeed,” Kessell adds. “We’ve got a good group of people working towards this, we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and we’ll keep plugging away here.” The co-op is planning a formal membership drive in the near future. Anyone interested should get hold of Paul Kelly at Community Futures Central Kootenay. John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
We may not be able to gather to attend or participate in major sporting events right now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, however the Town of Paradise, along with the City of St. John’s and other communities in the metro region, are looking ahead to 2025, when hopefully, large events are a reality once again. “The City of St. John’s, along with the region, is bidding to host the Canada Summer Games in 2025. A bid committee is determining host locations for various sports taking place as part of the games,” said councillor Patrick Martin during Tuesday’s meeting of council. “Critical to this submission is to identify partners. Paradise has been selected by the committee to host volleyball, male and female. This is one of the most exciting venues of the games filled with music, action-packed competition, and an overall festival atmosphere. The committee has advised the park will need one million dollars in upgrades before 2025.” Martin concluded by saying the committee requested confirmation from Paradise on whether it would be willing to make the necessary financial and operational commitments. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie said that it would be an incredible opportunity for the town, and would bring great economic benefit to the region, which she heard might be as high as $100 million. She also noted it would be an opportunity to upgrade facilities in Paradise Park, and, on top of that, staff would likely explore funding options so that the full cost of upgrades did not fall to the Town. Councillors Kimberly Street and Sterling Willis echoed several of those sentiments. Councillor Alan English, however, served up a different take on the situation. “I’m taking a slightly different track. I can’t support this. I think it’s wonderful to assist the City of St. Johns with their bids for the summer games, but I can’t see us making a commitment of this amount, given all the things we need to do in the town,” English said. “We’ll be discussing the budget later on, and we know the constraints we have. I know a million dollars is probably not going to solve all these problems, but we need a water tower, we need water and sewer, road improvements. And I realize this is over a four year period, but I just don’t see the return of investment here for the town.” English allowed it was too bad the Town has not been asked to host soccer, as they already have a sufficient facility. CAO Lisa Nibock said the upgrades have more to do with seating than the playing grounds. “None of the facilities that we currently have would meet the requirements for the seating,” she said. Niblock also noted, as Laurie had said earlier in the meeting, that grants and funding would likely become available. Councillors Deborah Quilty and Patrick Martin then outlined their support for the motion, for reasons iterated by other councillors. Still, English was not convinced, and voted against the motion to commit to the project, the lone councillor to do so.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 12, 2020 A 31-year-old Barrie man who unknowingly gave a friend a deadly synthetic opioid instead of cocaine was sentenced to 18 months in jail for manslaughter. Justice Jonathan Bliss released his reasons for the sentence Oct. 30, saying while Robert Rodgers was remorseful for the overdose death of Darci Beers on Aug. 18, 2017, he failed to help her when she needed it most. Bliss said there’s no doubt Rodgers believed the white powdery substance he shared with Beers and her neighbour was cocaine. When Beers ingested a substance she believed was cocaine but was actually U-47700, known as “Pinky” on the street, it had a fatal effect. While Beers died in her apartment, Rodgers and the neighbour were both rendered unconscious, the sentencing report says. When the neighbour awoke, he tried to perform CPR on Beers, who was on the kitchen floor. The neighbour yelled at Rodgers to call 911, but instead he called his mother to come pick him up, Bliss wrote. Other neighbours came to help, speaking with dispatchers on the phone until paramedics arrived. “All the while Mr. Rodgers did nothing. Mr. Rodgers was certainly emotional and remorseful during his interview with police, but when he needed to act, when he needed to demonstrate concern and empathy for someone other than himself, for something he was responsible for, he failed,” Bliss said. Beers was the mother of a three-year-old boy. Rodgers pleaded guilty after being charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death in November 2017. Rodgers told police he only knew his drug dealer as “Josh” and provided officers with the dealer’s phone number. However, police were unable to track the dealer down. Bliss said despite Rodgers believing he was providing cocaine, he should have been wary of possible opioid substitutes. Rodgers did not test the drug when he purchased it, and ended up suffering a small stroke when he consumed it, the court heard. “It could not have been lost on him that cocaine is still a dangerous drug that alone could have been fatal, and, even in 2017, was being adulterated with other drugs with fatal consequences.” Rodgers was sentenced last February. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Crown has withdrawn a criminal charge against a Lethbridge police constable charged with assault earlier this year.Const. David Easter was charged with one count of assault in August and was relieved from duty without pay.The charge was laid after the Lethbridge Police Service said there was an "altercation" in its short-term holding facility between Easter and a male prisoner on Feb. 9.Police said the prisoner was not injured in the incident.Following an investigation, police said the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service decided it would proceed with a criminal charge.This week, the Crown decided to withdraw the charge against Easter, Lethbridge police said Thursday in a news release.Easter remains relieved of duty, now with pay, pending an internal review under the Alberta Police Act.The police service said no further details would be provided.
WINNIPEG — Some leaders and health professionals say they are facing a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic of persuading Indigenous people to trust a health system that has a history of experimenting on them.“There have been some deceitful and terrible things that have been done to our communities historically,” said Arlen Dumas, the Assembly of Manitoba Chief's grand chief. Dumas looked directly into the camera of his computer during the First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team's last online update on Friday. He reassured those listening that Indigenous leaders would not allow horrific experiments of the past to be repeated.“As far as I’m involved, things of that sort are never going to happen.”Many watching the online update commented with concerns about COVID-19 health advice, while others speculated about the use of a vaccine. Similar worries are echoed on social media pages for Indigenous communities.Dumas said he understands why there is so much mistrust among Indigenous people. His own family members have reached out with concerns that a COVID-19 vaccine will be just another experiment.The skepticism is grounded in real historical wrongs, said Ian Mosby, an assistant professor at Toronto's Ryerson University.There are many examples in Canadian history of scientists sponsored by the federal government or the government itself doing medical experiments on Indigenous people, he said.“The problem is trying to solve it in the middle of an emergency, in the middle of a pandemic, and trying to gain that trust,” Mosby said.“These solutions needed to start 20, 30, 50 years ago.”Mosby’s research uncovered a long-standing, government-run food experiment on deliberately malnourished Indigenous children in the 1940s. In one residential school, milk rations were held back for two years. In another, a special flour that was illegal elsewhere in Canada was given to Indigenous children.Indigenous children were also the subject of a tuberculosis vaccine trial in Saskatchewan that began in the 1930s. Research has shown that so-called Indian Hospitals, which were created to treat Indigenous people with tuberculosis, were rife with medical experimentation. In recent years, there have been lawsuits over the forced sterilization of Indigenous women and skin grafts performed on Inuit people.Melanie MacKinnon, who leads the First Nations pandemic response team, has warned that the consequences for not trusting public health orders can by catastrophic. “It’s not a game. We need to take this serious and it is at a critical, critical juncture," she told last week's briefing.Indigenous Services Canada says that, as of Tuesday, there were 4,069 COVID-19 cases on reserves in Canada. Of those, 1,564 were active.In Manitoba, infections of Indigenous people living on and off reserve have surged in recent weeks. First Nations people are also experiencing more severe outcomes, the response team's data shows.As of Wednesday, there were more than 1,713 active cases among First Nations people on and off reserves in Manitoba. First Nations patients made up 26 per cent of hospitalizations and 45 per cent of people in intensive care.So far, 45 First Nations members in the province have died from COVID-19 — the vast majority in the last couple of weeks. The average age of death was 66, while it was 83 for Manitoba's overall population. An Indigenous boy under the age of 10 died last weekend.Federal officials have said the initial distribution of a vaccine could begin in the new year. First Nations leaders across the country has been advocating for their communities to be a priority.Dr. Marcia Anderson, who is also on the pandemic response team, recalled how H1N1 flu outbreaks in 2009 also had a disproportionate impact on First Nations in Canada. Most Indigenous people were eventually open to taking the H1N1 vaccine, she added.She hopes there will be a similar acceptance for the COVID-19 inoculation."There are rigorous ethical standards and protocols in place," Anderson said.“The eyes of the world are on this vaccine.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Bay Roberts mayor Phillip Wood has received a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for his work with the Branch 32 Legion. Having taught for over 30 years in schools across the province, and acting as current mayor of Bay Roberts, Philip Wood is a well-known in Conception Bay North. And anybody who knows Wood knows that he’s passionate about his work with the Legion. Now, Wood has received national recognition for his long-time work, something he said he was rather surprised to receive. “It’s an honour to receive this,” Wood said about the award. “I’m very surprised, because you don’t apply for theses awards, someone has to nominate you, and as a part of the nomination process, you’re also not supposed to tell the nominee that you’ve nominated them. So, to receive it was quite a surprise…When you go into any service organization, you don’t go in it to win awards, but it’s also nice to receive a little nod of approval, and it’s humbling also.” But for those who know about his work it should come as little surprise. Wood has been a member of The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32 for over 26 years, holding various positions on the board, including secretary and president. Currently, Wood holds the position as 2nd vice-president of Provincial Command, Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s been a lengthy career of service in the Legion for Wood. He was part of the original committee that planned and developed the Veterans Quay Marina in Bay Roberts, and was involved in the recent refurbishment of the Bay Roberts cenotaph. Wood also served as liaison between the Legion and Heritage Society during the installation of the military exhibit in the Cable Building. Wood’s work with the Legion follows a military career which began when he completed his basic officer training in Chilliwack, BC. In the late 70’s he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Mlitary service is a tradition deeply established in Wood’s family. His son, Paul, is currently serving with the PPCLI Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and has done a number of duty tours over seas, while his father, Eric, served in WWII. It means that, for Wood, honouring the sacrifices of those who have served is of the utmost importance. Following Wood’s retirement as an educator, he visited the battlefields of Europe, and has walked the Trail of The Caribou as a student chaperon. Wood said he is grateful that someone recognized him for his work with the Legion and nominated him. “I would certainly like to thank them,” he said. “It’s a great honour to know that they would take the time to fill out the nomination forum. And that’s why its humbling, because you don’t go out and solicit someone to do this. So, when someone takes the time to go out of their own initiative and say, ‘Philip Wood would be a very worthy recipient of this,’ it’s very humbling.” Like all organizations, Legions have had to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions and have had to cancel a number of events, Wood noted. “They’ve been struggling. Some branches haven’t opened up. Other branches are rebounding; however they are working very hard to keep everything going,” he said. Perhaps the most difficult decision made by the Legion across the country was to limit the number of attendees at remembrance ceremonies, or, in some case, to cancel them altogether. “It was very sad, July 1 and Nov. 11, to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremonies without the crowds this year,” said Wood. “But it’s all you can do. Hopefully next year we’ll be back. But the different legions have done an excellent job, and people working hard and doing the best they can.” Initial reports for the Poppy campaign, both from Branch 32 and the province as a whole, are positive, Wood, said, though numbers seem to be down slightly. “There were far more bills put in the cans then in previous years, versus coins, which was good to hear, because all funds collected go towards supporting veterans and their families,” Wood said.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)
Air Design location, Ballon Design et les Gâteaux MB se réuniront sous le même toit à compter de janvier. Une préouverture ponctuelle est prévue dès jeudi, afin de permettre aux gens de se procurer décorations et cadeaux juste avant le début du temps des Fêtes. Les trois entreprises voulaient, en se réunissant, offrir aux clients la possibilité de ne faire qu’un seul arrêt pour l’organisation de leur événement spécial. Selon Jennifer Fournier, propriétaire de Ballon Design, ce partenariat est unique dans la région et très rare dans la province. « On s’est rendu compte qu’avec des ballons, des jeux gonflables, des gâteaux et des petits cadeaux, ça faisait vraiment un beau ‘mix’. Le concept qu’on a voulu créer, c’est vraiment d’avoir tout pour un événement, sous un même toit », s’est réjouie la propriétaire de Ballon Design. En parlant avec Mélina Dubé-Boily, de Gâteaux MB, les deux femmes ont remarqué qu’elles partageaient beaucoup de clients en commun. L’ouverture est prévue jeudi. Pour débuter, le commerce n’ouvrira que ponctuellement. L’ouverture complète à temps plein avec l’arrivée de la pâtissière n’est à l’horaire qu’au retour des Fêtes. Jennifer souhaite tout de même ouvrir dès le début du mois afin de faire profiter les clients des cadeaux et des ballons pour les préparations du temps des Fêtes. Le commerce d’Air Design location est ouvert, et il est possible pour les intéressés de voir l’inventaire en ligne. Pour ce qui est des Gâteaux MB, même si l’arrivée de la pâtissière à temps plein n’aura lieu qu’en janvier, les clients pourront venir chercher leurs gâteaux précommandés sur place. De tout en boutique Chaque entreprise qui s’installera dans ce nouveau local situé au 1247 boulevard Ste-Geneviève, à Chicoutimi-Nord, dispose d’une impressionnante gamme de produits. Air Design location a dans son inventaire plus de 125 structures gonflables, de toute sorte. Pour Gateaux MB, on comptera évidemment des gâteaux, mais aussi de gros biscuits, des cupcakes, et bien plus. Ballon Design se spécialise dans les bouquets de ballons et les petits cadeaux. Son créneau est le ballon personnalisé. « Je voulais faire quelque chose de différent de ce qu’on retrouvait déjà. Avec les ballons personnalisés, je peux écrire des prénoms, des phrases ou même recréer des dessins sur des ballons, ce qui est vraiment apprécié des clients », souligne Jennifer. Elle est fière d’amener ce concept ici dans la région et encore plus à Chicoutimi-Nord. Impacts de la Covid Bien évidemment, les derniers mois ont été difficiles pour tous ceux qui oeuvrent dans l’événementiel. L’annulation des fêtes, des mariages, des partys de bureau a difficilement touché le commerce de Jennifer. La jeune femme de 30 ans a dû se réinventer. « Nous nous sommes vraiment tournés vers les livraisons. Nous sommes allés livrer des petites touches de bonheur chez les gens. Plus ça allait, plus les gens me demandaient si j’avais des petits items cadeaux, qu’on pouvait joindre aux ballons », explique-t-elle. C’est ce qui fait que depuis environ un mois, on retrouve dans la boutique en ligne des cadeaux de tout genre : jouets pour enfants, produits pour le corps, items pour la maison, et bien plus. Certaines de ces surprises peuvent même être mises dans des ballons ! Ces produits seront bien sûr mis en valeur dans la nouvelle boutique. Pour tout savoir sur les heures d’ouverture et sur les items que l’on retrouve en boutique, les personnes intéressées peuvent visiter le site Internet ou la page Facebook de Ballon Design.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
PORT HOPE, Ont. — A southern Ontario community is grieving the loss of a 12-year-old boy who died after a vehicle struck him as he was waiting for a school bus. Ontario Provincial Police said the collision happened Wednesday morning just after 8 a.m. on a country road in Port Hope, Ont. The boy died at the scene and his 10-year-old sister was airlifted to a Toronto trauma centre to be treated for injuries. Const. Kimberly Johnson with the OPP's Northumberland County detachment said Thursday that the siblings were waiting for a school bus when a passing vehicle hit them. Johnson said the tragedy has been difficult for entire community to grapple with. "The family, schools, first responders, the community, it's a very difficult one all the way around," she said. Police are still investigating the incident and said they are looking factors such as poor road conditions after a snowfall. "It's going to take time and patience on everyone's part to determine the cause of the crash," Johnson said. In a Wednesday letter to parents, the principal of St. Anthony Catholic Elementary said the school was grieving the "tremendous loss" of a student in the tragedy. The injured girl is also a student at the school. "Words cannot adequately express our profound shock and deep sorrow over this terrible event. The family has asked for your prayers at this time," Karen McCormack wrote. McCormack said the school board's crisis response team, including social workers, would remain at the school this week to support students and staff. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
BOSTON — The rapper G Herbo, his promoter and others have been charged in a scheme to use stolen credit card information to pay for trips on private jets, exotic car rentals, luxury vacation rentals and designer puppies.G Herbo, who was named this week to Forbes' 30 under 30 list; Antonio Strong, a Chicago music promoter and manager; and several associates were charged in federal court in Massachusetts with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and identity theft.Strong, whom a judge called the ringleader of the $1.5 million fraud scheme, also faces a wire fraud charge.Others charged include Joseph Williams — another Chicago rapper known as “Joe Rodeo" and “Rockstar Rodie.”Court documents were unsealed this week, less than a month after G Herbo, whose real name is Herbert Wright III, appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon to perform the song “PTSD” with Chance the Rapper.An email seeking comment was sent to a lawyer for G Herbo on Thursday. No lawyers were identified in court documents for the other defendants. No hearings have been scheduled.Authorities say Strong, G Herbo and the others used text messages, social media messages and emails to share account information taken from dark websites in order to bankroll a lavish lifestyle.In one case, Strong ordered two designer puppies for G Herbo using a stolen credit card and fake Washington state driver's license, according to the indictment.When the Michigan pet shop asked to confirm the purchase with G Herbo, Strong directed him to do so through an Instagram message, and he did, authorities said. The stolen credit card information was then used to arrange for a car service to pick up the puppies from the pet shop and take them to Chicago, according to the indictment.Strong also used stolen account information to pay for chartered jets to fly G Herbo and others from Chicago to places like Austin, Texas, and a private villa in Jamaica for G Herbo, authorities said. The scheme also included fraudulent payments for commercial airline flights, private chef and security guard services and and limousine rides, authorities said.G Herbo released his debut mix tapes “Welcome to Fazoland” and “Pistol P Project” in 2014, both of them named for friends who had been killed in Chicago.Over his career, G Herbo has detailed his experiences on the far east side of Chicago in a neighbourhood dubbed “Terror Town,” covering topics including post-traumatic stress, gun violence, drug use and sales, and most recently fatherhood.G Herbo recently started a program in Chicago called Swervin' Through Stress aimed to give urban youths tools to navigate mental health.___Associated Press writer Joshua Housing in Munster, Indiana, contributed to this report.Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
TORONTO — November brought a sense of urgency to the Toronto real estate market, where COVID-19 has people buying and selling homes for "completely different reasons" than before the pandemic, according to Peel-based broker Bethany King. With schools restarting in January and many children and parents home for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers were willing to push their budgets to get a more spacious home in place for the new year, says King, a team leader at Century 21 Millennium Inc. brokerage. "A huge draw to being in the city was all of the things that happen in the city,: the festivals, the nightlife, parties and gatherings. But all of that is gone now," says King. "A lot of people don't see the value in living in a place with so little square footage." Pockets of listings have also cropped up from sellers facing down lingering unemployment from the COVID-19 pandemic, as the period for deferring mortgages draws to a close, said King."It's a mixed pot. In regards to new listings, I do believe that our new listings are driven by financial need," says King. "But regardless, our inventory is still low. In our suburban areas, we're still seeing bidding wars. It's highly competitive and our properties are not sitting for too long." King's comments reflect new data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, which showed that November home sales in the Greater Toronto Area were up 24.3 per cent compared with last year, as demand for single-family homes continued to surge ahead of condos. There were 8,766 homes sold in the month, up from 7,054 in November 2019, the board said on Thursday. The average price was $955,615, up 13.3 per cent from $843,307 a year earlier.Board president Lisa Patel says homebuyers continued to take advantage of very low borrowing costs in November, especially those looking to buy some form of single-family home.While detached home prices rose to an average of $1,202,281, up 15.2 per cent from November 2019, average condo prices fell two per cent to $605,863. Compared with November 2019, average prices were also rising more quickly in the suburbs than in the city's core, with detached home prices up 19.2 per cent, townhouse prices up 14.9 per cent, and condo prices up 4.8 per cent in the suburbs. In the city centre, detached home prices rose 8.7 per cent, townhouses were 7.3 per cent pricier, and condo prices fell three per cent from Nov. 2019.Even as news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine mounted in November, Toronto-based broker Jasmine Lee says many buyers have their minds made up to leave the downtown core."Torontonians are exploring more outside of their city. We have clients who said things like, 'We don't travel north of Bloor,' and now they're travelling to Ajax or Oshawa," says Lee. "I think this is going to be a big trend we're seeing now and in the future."Low-rise, suburban homes have been increasingly popular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as telecommuting and stay-at-home restrictions have left buyers seeking space over the convenience of downtown.So far this year, sales of detached homes in the Toronto area are up 13.1 per cent from 2019 despite a near-shutdown of sales this spring, while condo sales are down 10 per cent so far this year.The number of condos that hit the market this November was almost double that of November of last year."My buyers … are comfortable with abandoning their downtown Toronto condos, to get something big — more substantial — in the suburbs," says King, although she noted that could change with the government's plan to add 401,000 permanent residents to Canada's population next year."This so-called condo crash may just be a short blip in our 2020 COVID-19 real estate market."The board said 11,545 homes were listed for sale in November, up from 8,651 in November last year, as the market catches up from spring's slowdown. There have been 150,913 listings in the Toronto area so far this year, compared with 149,241 at this time last year. Although there was an uptick in condo listings, Lee says that the harried summer and fall in the real estate market is in part due to a shortage of homes on the market, even dating back to the beginning of 2020.Homes are spending about 20 per cent fewer days on the market this year compared with last year, the board said. "It seems like something bigger than a pandemic would have to happen in order to shut down the real estate market," says Lee.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
The Town of Paradise is looking for input from residents who might avail of an accessible transit system. Councillor Sterling Willis noted it is something that residents have been requesting. “We are now developing an accessible transit policy project… as a part of developing this pilot project, the Town will be hosting a focus group to seek input from potential users,” said Willis during Tuesday’s public council meeting. Participants in an upcoming focus group will be limited to Paradise residents who have disabilities or who have family members living in Paradise who have disabilities. The focus group, held over Zoom, will be held on December 10, with a real time ASL translator present. Those interested are asked to contact the Town by December 2. Though Metrobus offers some wheelchair accessible routes, the one Metrobus route which passes through Paradise is not accessible.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Fear of the spread of COVID-19 seems to have led to the cancellation of another Christmas parade in Newfoundland and Labrador — but this time, it's the participants rather than organizers who were reluctant.Happy Valley-Goose Bay's town council was prepared to throw their annual Santa Claus parade on Saturday, according to Coun. Jackie Compton Hobbs.There was only one problem: they couldn't find enough floats."The number was very, significantly low. I can tell you that," she said. "In the past, we've had 20, 30, 40 floats,""I'm assuming people didn't enter this year because of COVID, and the gathering … I'm assuming people were nervous with COVID, and that's why the numbers were low on entries."The cancellation was announced on Friday evening, a little over a week from the parade. The town had the theme picked out, and was preparing a social distancing plan to keep participants safe.Compton Hobbs said many of the usual participants were still reluctant, a fear she understands. While the event was planned as a static, drive-thru parade, some people may have felt they needed to gather to create and decorate the floats themselves, and perform on the floats if required.'We would have been all over it'She said the parade had become a yearly tradition in the community, and could not recall a cancellation. She said it usually drew hundreds if not thousands of people.But this year, she said, "It wouldn't make much sense to set up a section of the road, and have a drive-by static Santa Claus parade with a very low number of floats."It's out of our control," she concluded. "We would have been all over it."WATCH | Garrett Barry reports on how COVID has thwarted Happy Valley-Goose Bay's plans: Business booming for photographerWhile interest in float-making has cratered, other bubble-aligned activities have seen a big boost this season.Rebecca Willcott, a photographer in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, says her Christmas bookings are up about 30 per cent since last year."I feel like there's more appreciation now, more than ever, for really nice family pictures," she said. "I don't know if that has to do with Zoom calls or COVID or whatnot, but I just feel like people are appreciating really beautiful quality family photos."COVID-19 has brought changes to her business, too. Earlier this year she invested in longer zoom lenses, so she could stand further away from clients. She's also moved out of her home studio into a commercial space in the community, so as to avoid too much contact inside her personal space.And she believes the travel restrictions and precautions brought by COVID-19 has led to a small boost in her clientele."I feel it's also, like, a wanting to connect with their families from away, too," she said. "A lot of people are getting pictures done so they can send them to their families, you know, across Canada and anywhere else. We've got people who we know that are shipping pictures to England, for instance."Other groups are trying to push ahead with their Christmas traditions — with many modifications — in light of what they describe as a challenging year."Something so simple as going to the store and sitting on Santa's lap, obviously that's not going to happen," said Jill Elson, a community service worker at the Labrador Friendship Centre. "So It's very important to at least try to get some of our children out at...a different Christmas party."It will look quite different: Santa will be protected by a barrier and six feet of distance from the children at the party, but Elson said she hopes it provides a bit of support to families during a strange year.It's a similar story for the centre's annual senior social, which usually draws between 200 and 300 people. The party has been split up into separate events, to make sure the gathering limit is not breached.The centre is also going to ensure people are seated in their own bubbles, with sufficient social distancing.'It's isolating enough' as it isMegan McLean, who is organizing the seniors' dinner for the Labrador Friendship Centre, said she had had 100 registrations, but people are "cancelling by the day." However, she's committed to seeing it through, if it's allowed."I think it's very important, this year of all years," she said. "Mental health really. When it comes to seniors as well, like they're just stuck in the house. I'm not referring to all, but for the most part, it's isolating enough."Happy Valley-Goose Bay's town council has organized other Christmas events, too, which Compton Hobbs now hopes will supplement the loss of the Santa Claus parade.On Thursday night, it will hold a tree-lighting ceremony by Facebook. The town council is also planning to re-open the outdoor skating loop that it had launched in March, just before the COVID-19 outbreak forced its closure.In Kinsmen Park, opposite the town hall, the public will be wowed by the lights, Compton Hobbs said."That's going to be lit up like the Griswolds," she said with a laugh, referring to the family in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. "I'm hoping the community is really going to enjoy it."To us, it's unfortunate we didn't get the entries...but we're going to do our very very best to keep the spirit in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the Christmas spirit alive."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
TransLink says customers can return to using credit cards and debit cards at ticket vending machines and fare gates after three days of being unable to do so because of a ransomware attack on the Metro Vancouver transit authority.CEO of Translink Kevin Desmond issued a statement Thursday afternoon to apologize for the inconvenience and provide more information about the mysterious cyberattack."We are now in a position to confirm that TransLink was the target of a ransomware attack on some of our IT infrastructure. This attack included communications to TransLink through a printed message," said Desmond.TransLink disabled several of its systems "out of an abundance of caution" on Tuesday after strange network activity affected some systems that morning. The transit authority would not release further information about the nature of the network activity, citing an ongoing police investigation.At the time, a spokesperson did not answer a question about whether the activity involved customers' personal information.Ransomware is a type of malicious software that disables part of a computer system or access to data until a ransom is paid.However, TransLink said Thursday that upon detection, the transit authority took immediate steps to shut down key IT systems to reduce the impact to its infrastructure and operations. TransLink said a forensic investigation is underway to determine how the incident occurred and what information was affected.The transit authority is trying to reassure customers and said it does not store fare payment data and uses a secure third party to process payments for fare transactions.Metro Vancouver Transit Police confirmed in an email Wednesday it is investigating "in partnership with local and national cyber crime experts."For days, TransLink passengers were able to use cash at vending machines and staff were on site to help customers having problems buying fares. The authority had warned stored value could take longer than usual to load onto a Compass Card but those systems are now back to normal.TransLink's Trip Planner tool had also been disabled. As of Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m., TransLink said it was working to resume normal operations as quickly as possible.