Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci explains to Power & Politics's Vassy Kapelos why Trump's argument about voter corruption is 'the biggest bunch of bunk' he has ever seen from him.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci explains to Power & Politics's Vassy Kapelos why Trump's argument about voter corruption is 'the biggest bunch of bunk' he has ever seen from him.
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
Jennifer Heywood's mother is 94 and trying to bounce back from a recent bout with COVID-19.Her adult children are anxious to know if they will be able celebrate Christmas as a family, in person — possibly for the last time."I would like very much just to see her," Heywood said, fighting back tears. "I'm sorry. I would just like to see her."The province is expected to announce guidelines this week for holiday gatherings involving seniors living in long-term care homes.Making matters more complicated, Heywood lives in Toronto. Her bags are packed. But she's hoping the spread of COVID-19 will have stabilized enough in Quebec and Ontario to allow her to come to Montreal.Her mother contracted the virus last month at the Vigi Reine-Élizabeth in NDG, and it's taken a physical toll on her, according to Heywood.Heywood and her siblings weren't even sure their mother would make it to Christmas.Two of her siblings visit their mother regularly, but never at the same time. Heywood is hoping that will change, and bring much needed joy to the elderly patient."Christmas is a big deal to Mum," Heywood said. "She always celebrated it joyously. She always made it beautiful for us. So we've always wanted to make it beautiful for her when she's been in a hospital bed."Risk of outbreaks 'always hanging over our heads'Quebecers are being allowed two get-togethers with a maximum of 10 people in each between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.But there's a quid pro quo.Premier François Legault has asked people to self-isolate in the week leading up to that four-day window and for a week following it. He calls it a "moral contract."Dr. Élise Boulanger, who works at CHSLD Father Dowd, says there is a need for balance when it comes to letting residents celebrate the holidays with family."There is a great proportion [of residents] that are at the end of their life, and this Christmas may be every important for them," said Boulanger. For the most part, she believes people who visit loved ones in long-term care homes are careful about not bringing the virus into the facility, but she stresses the importance of ditching large family gatherings prior to visiting a loved one. "It's always a risk, and it's happening. You still have some outbreaks that are happening in the centres, right now," said Boulanger. "It's always a concern. It feels like it's always hanging over our heads."
SpaceX will continue beta testing its satellite-based broadband service Starlink into next year, the company said late Tuesday, indicating commercial service would not likely be offered in 2020 as previously planned. Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, Elon Musk's private space exploration company, has launched nearly 900 Starlink satellites to orbit since 2019 with the goal of offering high-speed Internet to rural locations globally. Musk has said the Starlink service will be a crucial source of funding for his broader plans, like developing the super heavy-lift Starship rocket to fly paying customers to the moon and eventually trying to colonize Mars.
During November, best friends and entrepreneurs Kara Anderson and Jewell-Ihea Jensen officially opened the doors to their enchanted beauty studio in downtown Belleville. On Tuesday, November 24th, city councillor Bill Sandison and executive director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA Marijo Cuerrier welcomed the new business at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located at 1 Bridge St. East, Bewitched Beauty Studio is now open for clients seeking non-surgical beauty treatments and body modifications. This dynamic duo had a goal of opening a salon that makes body contouring services attainable for everyone, with pricing reflecting the attainable vision, and decided that the Downtown District in Belleville was the perfect place to plant their roots. “We choose downtown because it has a strong community of businesses and we feel very passionately about collaboration,” said Anderson. “We hope to work with other businesses downtown to support and promote each other.” After launching the business six months ago from their homes, Jensen and Anderson quickly experienced increasing demand and sought out a larger, professional space better fit for their clients’ needs. “We wanted to create a studio that offered affordable and attainable beauty treatments for all,” explained Jensen. “We knew there was a gap in the market for these types of treatments being accessible to a wider group of women, so it was important to us to make these enhancements accessible for women to feel good.” Anderson and Jensen are independent young women with a passion for helping other women love themselves, and are committed to continuing to expand their range of knowledge in the aesthetics field. The two entrepreneurs strive for professionalism and excellent customer service, offering an array of services including body contouring, teeth whitening, eyelash extensions, and jade healing treatments and facials. The studio performs non-surgical body modifications such as skin tightening, fat reduction, micro-blading, spray tan and butt lifting. Residents interested in learning more about Bewitched Beauty Studio can visit bewitchedbeautystudio.ca for more information about their services.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A mine in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia's coast near Yemen exploded and damaged an oil tanker Wednesday, authorities said, the latest incident targeting the kingdom amid its long war against Yemen's Houthi rebels. The blast happened before dawn and struck the MT Agrari, a Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed oil tanker near Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia. “Their vessel was attacked by an unknown source,” a statement from the Agrari's operator, TMS Tankers Ltd., said. “The Agrari was struck about 1 metre above the waterline and has suffered a breach. It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries.” The ship was still floating off the coast and had been boarded by Saudi officials, the company said. Shuqaiq is some 160 kilometres (100 miles) north by sea from the Yemeni border. Ambrey, a British security firm, reported the blast and attributed it to a mine. It said the Agrari had cargo from Rotterdam, Netherlands, that it had discharged at the Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant. “The explosion took place in port limits and punctured the hull of the vessel,” Ambrey said. The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, an information exchange overseen by the British royal navy in the region, acknowledged a ship had “experienced an explosion,” without elaborating. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, responsible for patrolling the waterways of the Mideast, said it was aware of the incident. Saudi state television later aired a report claiming a military coalition led by the kingdom destroyed a bomb-laden Houthi drone boat and that a merchant ship sustained light damage. The report offered no details and it wasn't immediately clear if the report was the same incident at Shuqaiq. Saudi-owned channels later aired reports about Houthi mining in the Red Sea. The explosion comes after a cruise missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels struck an oil facility early Monday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition reported Tuesday that it removed and destroyed five Iranian-made naval mines planted by the Houthis in the southern Red Sea, condemning the attempted attacks as posing “a serious threat to maritime security in the Bab al-Mandab strait.” The strait is some 585 kilometres (363 miles) south of Shuqaiq. The Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iranian-backed Houthis since March 2015. Houthi military officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but they've been blamed for other mining incidents during the course of the war. A United Nations panel in 2018 found the Houthis used both improvised and what appear to be Iranian-manufactured “bottom” mines, explosives that could be live in the water for as a long as a decade. “Sea mines are low cost, easy to deploy, tactically very effective, difficult to detect and thus are a potent threat to both naval and commercial vessels,” that report warned. "Relatively small quantities present a threat out of proportion to their numbers." Iran repeatedly has denied arming the Houthis, though experts say Iranian weapons ranging from small arms to missiles have been smuggled to the rebels. The Red Sea is a vital shipping lane for both cargo and the global energy supplies, making any mining of the area a danger not only to Saudi Arabia but to the rest of the world. Mines can enter the water and then be carried away by the currents, which changed by the season in the Red Sea. The Red Sea has been mined previously. In 1984, some 19 ships reported striking mines there, with only one ever being recovered and disarmed, the U.N. panel said. ___ Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre contributed to this report. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
ESKASONI, N.S. — An Eskasoni Red Tribe boxing card has been postponed until further notice because of the recent rise in COVD-19 cases in the province. “Things can be moved around and rescheduled, but a life can’t be rescheduled, we have to look out for our safety,” said Barry Bernard, Eskasoni Red Tribe boxing owner and coach. The card was originally scheduled for Dec. 5 at the Sarah Denny Cultural Centre in Eskasoni and would have featured 14 amateur bouts with fighters from across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Because of the increase in active COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Bernard thought it best to reschedule. The card would have excluded audience members but would have been streamed on YouTube and the Eskasoni television channel. The main event fighters would have been Oromocto Boxing Club’s Josh Melvin and Eskasoni’s Israel Regalado. The 20-year-old Regalado made his boxing debut in October during the Lights Out drive-in boxing card which saw audience members watching the fights from the safety of their cars while the fights streamed on a 30-foot screen. Regalado won that fight against Crandall University boxer Jacob MacCallum. Headlining a card would have been special but Regalado understands safety comes first. “In the beginning, I was kind of sad but then when I thought about it, it was the best option we had,” said Regalado. The young man identifies as half-Aboriginal and half-Spanish and grew up in both Eskasoni and Guatemala. He spends most of his days training and says it has been his focus. He trained for an entire year before making his amateur debut and was glad to display his skills. Regalado spends most of his time training and with his girlfriend and he thinks boxing in Eskasoni helps keep people grounded. “I feel like it helps young people that don’t know what to do,” said Regalado. And he said he will keep training until the next card is scheduled. It is that drive that impresses his coaches, like Bernard. Bernard says Regalado has a strong character and work ethic and believes headlining a card will mean a lot for his future, something he hopes will happen sooner rather than later. Ideally, he’d like to have the next boxing card in January, but it all depends on the pandemic. “We have to take care of our community first,” said Bernard.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
The Goulds Lions Arena bears the Lions name, so it’s only appropriate that its warm room also bear a Lion’s name. During a short ceremony on November 19 attended by family and fellow Lions, the Lion Ron Whitten Room was unveiled. “A few months ago, one of our Lions came to me with a suggestion. He said, ‘We always honour Lions with a plaque or something, after they pass away. Why not do something for our Lions while they’re still alive?’” Goulds Lions Club President Charlie Phillips said to those gathered. So, when Phillips announced that they would be naming the warm room after Lion Ron Whitten, Whitten jokingly asked if that meant he was going to die soon. “Without Ron, I’m not sure if, or when, there would have been a Lion’s Club,” said Phillips. “It was the vision of Lion Ron when he returned from Labrador back in 1975. He had a notion of starting up the Lions Club, which, he did, in March of 1976. He is a well-respected member of our community, and also a well-respected member of our Lions Club. Ron is a strong supporter of the Lions Club and of it’s activities. I’m sure most of you, if we went around the room, could add another 10, 20, 40, maybe a hundred reasons why we should name this room after Lion Ron.” Whitten was grateful for the gesture. “I appreciate this, it’s very nice,” he said. “It’s important to help out the community where you’re from.” During the ceremony, the Goulds Lions Club also presented a $6000 cheque to the Arena Association.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Trying to make sense of the shakeup at city hall? It's a bit of a puzzle, but a comparison of the old and new organizational charts - aided by a memo from acting city manager Walter Babicz that was leaked to CKPG - provides a certain amount of clarity. In essence, one half of a department has been scrapped and another has taken on a significantly bigger workload under a COVID-induced revamping at city hall. At its centre, the infrastructure and services department is being eliminated and replaced, in part, with a new civic operations department that will take on five divisions largely related to the public works side of its predecessor: transportation and technical services, project delivery (previously named infrastructure delivery), parks and solid waste, roads and fleet, and utilities. With the move, the old department's general manager, Dave Dyer, has gone into retirement and public works director Gina Layte Liston and infrastructure services director Adam Homes are no longer on the payroll. In turn, the planning and development department has been renamed the planning, development and infrastructure services department and has taken on two divisions previously under infrastructure and services - asset management and infrastructure and planning and engineering. As well, Babicz said in the memo that the environmental services division, previously part of infrastructure and services, has been reduced and split between civic operations through its utilities division, and the development services division within the planning, development and infrastructure services department. The bylaw services division, meanwhile, has been moved to the community services and public safety department from planning, development and infrastructure services department, while the financial services department has taken on the financial management functions for both the community services and public safety department and the old infrastructure services department. In an email, city spokesperson Mike Kellett confirmed that in addition to their roles as acting city manager and acting deputy city manager, Babicz and Ian Wells will continue as the heads, respectively, of the administrative services and planning, development, and infrastructure services departments. Blake McIntosh, who has been manager of the roads and fleet division, is acting director of the civic operations department, while Kris Dalio remains head of finance, Adam Davey head of community services and public safety and Rae Ann Emery head of human resources, now known as human resources and corporate safety. And strategic Initiatives and partnerships, which is led by Chris Bone, now reports to Wells in planning, development, and infrastructure services. Babicz has said the changes were made to reduce costs in the face of a major hit to revenue due to the pandemic. He has declined to say publicly who has lost their jobs as a result but in an emailed statement to the Citizen early this month, he did say six management and four unionized positions were eliminated. One of the management positions was to be refilled and one of the unionized jobs was vacant prior to the changes. Exactly how much savings they will deliver will be known as part of a bigger presentation staff will make to council's finance and audit committee meeting on December 7 at city hall.Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
This holiday season, The Station Belleville is getting into the festive spirit and is hoping to bring joy to families of the Belleville community. Located in the Bayview Mall, the Station is a cultural, recreational and educational centre for children from the ages of 6-14 that offers classes, after-school programs and private events. Described as a kids’ clubhouse for boys and girls to keep their minds and bodies active, The Station Belleville is encouraging families to take part in fun activities at the Station or to drop their kids off while they do holiday shopping. With his experience in the health care sector and understanding the restrictions and regulations put in place by COVID-19, owner Joe Tambasco assures residents that COVID-19 measurements are in place to ensure the safety of all staff, families and children visiting the centre. Visitors will have their temperature taken by a wall-mounted thermometer, questioned about potential symptoms, interactions or increased risk of COVID-19 and will be asked to use the provided hand sanitizer. Children are mandated to wear a mask while at The Station and hand sanitizing stations have set up throughout the facility. The QBOT gift cards make an excellent holiday gift and are good for 1 admission into the Quinte Belleville Obstacle Training (QBOT) area. The QBOT gift cards are easy to register online with the number on the back of the card, and kids can coordinate with their friends to schedule times to go together. QBOT Gift Cards are now available for purchase at The Station Belleville. Gift cards are $15 plus tax and are a great gift for children and their friends this holiday season. “It may be getting cold outside but everyone inside The Station is burning up with excitement from the activities we have to offer,” added Tambasco. The Station is available for booking online and will enforce COVID-19 policies and asks that residents showing any symptoms do not visit The Station. Residents looking for more information about The Station, programs, fees, waiver and booking times can visit thestationbelleville.com NoneVirginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
"Strained" and "challenging" are among the words being used to describe contact tracing efforts as Saskatchewan experiences a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases. Modelling released by the province last week said the source of exposure for 2,190 cases of COVID-19 was still "pending." Of those, 1,062 were for the period of Nov. 9 to 15. The source of exposure for another 285 of the total number of cases to date was labelled "unknown." At the time there had been 5,001 total known cases in the province. As of Tuesday there had been 6,883. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and the provincial Ministry of Health have not yet provided responses to questions sent by CBC News on Friday. Those questions included a request for the definition of "pending" in the provincial modelling. The SHA also did not confirm the length of contact tracing delays in a response to previous questions earlier this month. > If the numbers get to a point where they're so out of hand and literally you have a week or a week and a half go by then, yeah, it probably actually does make sense to let them go. \- Dr. Alexander Wong, infectious disease specialistSchool documents last week revealed the SHA now requires all classmates of students who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate for 14 days. Previously only certain students that were considered close contacts had to self-isolate. "In the attempt to manage the increased cases along with the challenges of contacting everyone in a timely manner, the SHA has updated its procedures with regards to positive cases in classrooms," the document said.Data shows testing, contact tracing 'critical'Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease specialist in Regina, said the public health system is strained, with some workers doing 16- to 18-hour days. He said there is a "huge push" to increase the amount of contact tracing capacity, but he expects there will be ongoing challenges. "Contact tracing is absolutely critical … along with testing, to really help to mitigate the ongoing transmission of COVID-19," said Wong. "We have very, very clear data and clear modelling that shows that these two components are the most critical pieces, along with all of the various measures in terms of physical distancing, wearing a mask and so forth."He said Saskatchewan's situation with the virus is not far behind Manitoba and Alberta, which have the second and third-highest COVID-19 transmission rates in Canada. Alberta gives up on contact tracing 3,000 casesStarting Tuesday, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is temporarily giving up on investigating contacts for people who received their positive test result more than 10 days ago.There are currently 11,500 people on the waitlist and about 3,000 of them will not be investigated due to the backlog.Wong said a similar approach could be worthwhile in Saskatchewan if required. "If the numbers get to a point where they're so out of hand and literally you have a week or a week and a half go by then, yeah, it probably actually does make sense to let them go because most of those patients will have likely recovered and probably not be infectious any longer," said Wong.Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said last week that contact tracing is becoming "challenging."Sask. getting federal helpThe province said the number of provincial staff working on contact tracing has increased from 60 to 400. It is not clear over what period of time that increase occurred.Health Minister Paul Merriman said more than 20 provincial staff have been redeployed for contact monitoring and another 40 have been made available to assist with negative result notification and data entry.Merriman said every confirmed case of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan has an average of 11 close contacts. The SHA is working with the federal government to get more contact tracing resources, including approximately 30 to 40 staff from Statistics Canada. CBC has requested more information about this agreement.What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Former Saskatchewan music teacher convicted of sexually assaulting students will be sentenced in January 2021. Gerard Loehr, 57, was found guilty in Wynyard Provincial Court Nov. 13 on three counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference. In 2019 Loehr was charged with five counts of sexual assault and six counts of sexual interference related to incidents involving students in the 90s. The court heard that the victims encountered Loehr when he was a teacher in Wynyard and Foam Lake schools when he worked in the Shamrock School Division. During a trial in Wynyard court in July 2020, five former students testified. The students ranged in age from 12 to 14 at the time of the incidents. Judge Lloyd Stang found Loehr not guilty on four counts of sexual interference because the girls were 14 at the time and according to the law in the 90s, the age of consent was 14. The age has since been raised to 16 and today, the Criminal Code Section 151 charge of sexual interference now states, “Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years… is guilty.” Judge Stang also found Loehr not guilty on two counts of sexual assault because he had concerns about the reliability of the witness’ memory. One charge of sexual interference was dismissed in July. Wynyard RCMP launched an historic sexual assault investigation against Loehr in February 2019 after a woman contacted them to report an assault that occurred in the 90s. Five others later came forward to police with sexual assault allegations against Loehr. Loehr left Saskatchewan in 1996 and taught in Ottawa schools. In 2019 Ottawa Police Service charged Loehr with sexual assault and sexual interference against 11 students. Ottawa Police say Loehr taught middle school level music in the west end of Ottawa between 2000 and 2003. He also taught privately in his home. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board removed him from the classroom. His trial on those charges is scheduled in November in Ontario. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
LATCHFORD – The Latchford arena will be closed to the public this winter. The decision on whether to open it or not was discussed at Latchford council’s regular meeting November 19. Councillor Perry Livingston noted that public works foreman Roger Clark had some questions for council in his report, one of them being whether or not they were going to open the arena this winter. Livingston expressed his concern that the town didn’t have any safeguards in place and that the hallway in the arena was “too congested to allow for social distancing.” Councillor Mike Brooks commented that the community is still safeguarding against COVID-19 and that with case numbers “moving in the wrong direction,” that it would be best to keep the arena closed to the public. Councillor Scott Green agreed with what both Livingston and Brooks said, adding “I would say no (to opening the arena) at this point. I mean, we have zero safeguards in place for this.” Green suggested Latchford could visit the idea of having an outdoor rink for the public to use come January instead. He also reasoned that if they were to open the arena, then residents would say, “you opened the rink, why don’t you open the gym?” Councillor Francine Blowe brought up the issue of keeping the bathrooms cleaned and sanitized, keeping in line with COVID protocols, which would put more pressure on town staff. Mayor George Lefebvre, who was participating in the meeting via teleconference, commented he didn’t feel opening the arena this winter would be feasible. “I would think that clearing a rink on the lake would be a much better option, but that’s just my thoughts,” he said. Livingston added that Clark had talked about creating an outdoor rink on the lake and having skating out there, which council agreed would be in the town’s best interest.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
BANGKOK — Pro-democracy demonstrators in Thailand took to the streets of the capital again on Wednesday as the government escalated its legal battle against them, reviving the use of a harsh law against defaming the monarchy.Their rally was peaceful, but less than two hours after it was declared over and many in the crowd were lingering, a man was shot and wounded, according to initial reports of emergency service personnel and witnesses' accounts and photos posted on social media.Although it wasn't clear whether the attack involved a personal dispute or politics, it was a reminder that the threat of violence is attached to the passions involved in the protests.On Tuesday, police issued summonses for 12 protest leaders to answer charges of lese majeste, or defaming or insulting key members of the royal family. The offence is punishable by up to 15 years in prison per incident. Most of the protest leaders are already facing various other charges ranging from blocking traffic to sedition.The lese majeste law is controversial because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, and it has been used in the past as a weapon in political vendettas. But it has not been employed for the past three years after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see its use. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then.The protesters want the monarchy reformed to make it more accountable. They also want Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down and for the military-implemented constitution to be amended to make it more democratic.Several of the leaders wanted by the police were present Wednesday as protesters gathered in a carnival-like atmosphere next to the headquarters of a bank controlled by the country’s royal family. About 3,000 had joined by the time the rally was declared over shortly after 9 p.m., with the crowd singing and dancing.Many in the monthslong protest movement, spearheaded by students, believe the monarchy holds too much power for a constitutional monarchy. Their challenge is fiercely opposed by royalists, including many in the army, who consider the royal institution an untouchable bedrock of national identity.Food and souvenir vendors set up tables on a long stretch of sidewalk along the rim of a park-like compound occupied by the Siam Commercial Bank. Items featuring the image of a yellow rubber duck, a movement icon, could be seen almost everywhere. One protest leader gave a fiery speech from a truck-bed stage while wearing a duck costume.The ducks became a symbol of resistance last week when human-size inflatable ducks were brought to a rally outside Parliament and satirically dubbed the protesters’ navy. When police turned water cannons on them, the ducks served as makeshift shields.At a ceremony at a park in another part of Bangkok, at least 600-700 supporters of the monarchy gathered for an appearance by the king, dressed in a white formal uniform. He and Queen Suthida took part in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 1925 death of King Vajiravudh, whose statue is in front of Lumphini Park. In the past month, the royal couple have been making similar appearances where members of the public can see them face to face, an evident attempt to shore up support for the royal institution.The site of Wednesday’s pro-democracy rally was changed late Tuesday night by the protesters. It was earlier announced that it would be held outside the offices of the Crown Property Bureau, which manages the fortune controlled by the king, estimated to be worth more than $40 billion.The target was switched to the Siam Commercial Bank, a publicly held company in which the king is the biggest shareholder. The bank’s headquarters are in a different area of Bangkok, far from the district hosting the Crown Property Bureau and other royal and government offices.The protest movement announced that the change of venue was to avoid a confrontation with police and royalist counter demonstrators, which it feared could trigger a declaration of martial law or a coup by the military.Barbed wire had already been installed around the Crown Property Bureau offices and the government had declared a no-go zone of 150 metres (500 feet) around the property. Massive shipping containers were deployed by cranes to block off streets.A protest rally outside Parliament last week turned chaotic as police fired water cannons and tear gas at the protesters. At least 55 people were hurt, including six reported to have had gunshot wounds. Police denied firing live rounds or rubber bullets.The next day, several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the national headquarters of the police in central Bangkok to protest the force used against them. That rally was nonviolent but fueled royalist outrage at the protest movement as demonstrators defaced the “Royal Thai Police” sign outside its headquarters and scrawled graffiti and chanted slogans that could be considered derogatory of King Vajiralongkorn.Protest leaders remained defiant even after being told they were facing lese majeste charges. They declared they would have four more days of rallies to pressure the government.One of them, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, posted his response to his summons on Twitter, saying: “I am not afraid anymore. The ceiling (of our demands) is destroyed. Nobody can stop us now.”A statement issued Wednesday by Free Youth, the driving force in the coalition of protest groups, called Thailand a failed state whose people “are ruled by capitalists, military and feudalists.”“And under this state, the ruling class oppress the people who are the true founders and heirs of this country,” said the statement, the most strident issued so far in the name of the group.Grant Peck And Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, The Associated Press
CALGARY — A Canadian company developing new control products to improve efficiency and performance in electric motors and powertrains is aiming to raise between $30 million and $36.5 million through a public offering of its shares.Exro Technologies Inc., which closed a lab in Victoria and opened a new innovation centre in Calgary over the summer, says it has priced the shares at $3.25 each.The offering is to be conducted on a “best efforts” basis by a syndicate led by Raymond James Ltd. and Gravitas Securities Inc., with an overallotment option of up to 15 per cent. The offering is to close on or about Dec. 8.The news comes a few days after Exro reported the engineering validation of its 100-volt coil driver, which it said was a "key milestone" for its entry into supplying commercial products to manufacturers in the electric car market.It said it is on schedule to deliver a prototype to Potencia Industrial, S.A. DE C.V., a Mexican manufacturer of electrical motors and generators.In a recent interview, CEO Sue Ozdemir said the company relocated to Calgary because of its relatively low cost industrial space and availability of engineers, some of whom are former oil and gas workers, as employees. She said the company has doubled its staff count to about 20 since last year and is still hiring. “We’re a publicly traded company so we were on a tight budget. We wanted a large space to be able to welcome in customers and shareholders to be see our tech and how it works," she said.“Calgary had that opportunity with commercial rates that are less than Vancouver and Victoria and we knew there was a big engineering base here so we thought we would be able to pull in and train people and so far so good.”The proceeds from the offering are to be used for research and development of the company’s battery management system and electric vehicle programs, as well as other corporate purposes.Exro says its coil driver controller makes electric motors "smarter" by enabling multiple power settings in a single motor and can potentially be used in a wide variety of applications including electric bicycles, buses, generators, appliances, elevators and fans.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020Companies in this story: (TSXV:EXRO)The Canadian Press
The Northern B.C. Crisis Centre could use some help when it comes to helping others. In the time since the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold, the centre has seen a 25-per-cent increase in calls to its phone lines from people feeling anxious, depressed and suicidal. The jump has translated into about 600 calls per month from people in the Northern Health region plus a further 400-500 calls per month the centre fields from the national suicide prevention line. "Things really ticked up in March and they haven't really stopped. We've been very busy," Sandra Boulianne, the centre's executive director, said. She said there have been similar upticks in the past, such as during the two major wildfire seasons, but nothing as sustained as this. Adding to the trouble, Boulianne said the centre is short-staffed. The centre works on a hybrid model with trained volunteers taking calls during the days and evenings and paid staff working the overnight shift. The roster of volunteers has waivered between 25 and 30. Ideally, Boulianne said the count should be over 40. As it stands, the centre's call answer rate averages about 70 per cent. "So we're missing 30 per cent of our calls," Boulianne said. "It's not good." Moreover, the volunteers are typically university students looking for some practical experience while pursuing their degrees. While she welcomes them, Boulianne said she would like to have a broader representation of the community not only because they may be able to better relate to some of the callers but they may last longer than the two to three years a student typically does. "Sometimes it feels like we're training people as fast as we're losing people," she said. Retired folks and stay-at-home mothers with some spare time are among the kinds of people Boulianne said she is seeking, adding the centre also has a youth-serving-youth line. Newcomers go through 70 hours of training, delivered online, and once completed, they're asked to put in one four-hour shift per week, either from home or at the centre. "It's difficult work but it's very rewarding," Boullianne said. She added that she joined the centre after earning a social work degree as a mature student at UNBC and had intended to stay for just two years. That was eight years ago. "I can honestly say I've fallen in love with the work," Boullianne said. "I love the authenticity of people when they're calling anonymously and confidentially and I love the skills that we use to help people open up." On the bright side, the centre was one of 10 across B.C. to receive a $10,000 from Pacific Blue Cross. Boulianne said it has made a difference to the non-profit which relies largely on funding from Northern Health and the United Way of Northern B.C. "We're very, very grateful," she said. Pacific Blue Cross provided the funding after a survey indicated two-thirds of British Columbians predict their mental health will deteriorate in the coming months. "We know that those who engage early support through crisis lines, are less likely to require acute care later," said Jim Iker, Chair of the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation. "With BC now facing its second wave of the pandemic, supporting our community and our health care system has never been more critical.” Boulianne attributed a significant amount of the jump in calls to people stuck in quarantine or other forms of isolation brought on by the virus. For some, it's also meant they have been unable to access face-to-face counselling in a timely manner and just need someone to talk to while they're waiting. "The beautiful thing about crisis lines is you can talk to somebody right away," Boulianne said. "We are not counsellors because our service is anonymous and we don't have a therapeutic relationship with our callers but we're able to diffuse a situation in the moment." Even if the centre needs more volunteers, Boulianne said those in need of help should still call. "You don't need to be suicidal to call a crisis line," she said. "We take any kind of distress call. If anything is worrying or distressing an individual, we want to be there to support them and so, no issue is too small," she said. "It's really anything, all the way from social isolation and loneliness to suicidal ideation and everything in between." Those interested in volunteering can get more information at crisis-centre.ca. If you need help, call 1-888-562-1214. There is also a suicide prevention line at 1-800-SUICIDE and youth crisis line at 1-888-564-8336. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
We picked out some amazing gifts from talented artisans and makers across Canada.
It's been a long time coming, but the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) is building a hut in the Robson Pass area at the end of the Berg Lake trail. The site has been cleared and, if all goes to plan, the dorm-style hut will be built by next summer and usable by the fall. It will be open seasonally and accommodate 16 overnight guests: four bunks of four. Matt Reynolds, a professional mountaineer and president of the Jasper/Hinton section of the ACC, said the location is sought by "hikers and mountaineers alike”. "It's a really popular hiking destination for people who don't want to camp in the elements,” he said “It really will be quite a good thing for the community as a whole." The ACC got word of their permission to build the hut on Oct. 6 and the next day, a crew of ACC volunteers and two McElhanney survey technicians flew up to the site armed with chainsaws, fuel and other equipment to prepare and clear the area, which had already been marked with tape. Claire Levesque, a mountaineer and a Jasper/Hinton section member said she dropped everything when she found out the hut was a go-ahead and was happy to help. She said the crew worked all day. "There was a lot of work,” she said. The hut at Robson Pass will be the first one to be maintained by the ACC in B.C. Provincial Parks, though the club has had a presence in that area for more than 100 years - The first ascent of Mt. Robson was on an ACC camp. Lawrence White, ACC executive director in Canmore, and an avid mountaineer and backcountry skier, said the bid to get permission to build the hut started in 2005. The process was a three-way consultation between B.C. Parks, First Nations groups and the ACC. It's a World Heritage site. "We have a great partnership with B.C. Parks,” White said. “This seemed like the next natural step.” Next, the ACC will be working with the province and avalanche specialists to categorize the access route. The Jacques Lake cabin The ACC is now about a year into its 16-month trial agreement to manage the Jacques Lake patrol cabin, formerly managed by Parks Canada. As a not-for-profit operator, the ACC operates a number of cabins throughout the mountain national parks including four in Jasper. Steve Young, communications officer for Jasper National Park, said, "The addition of the Jacques Lake cabin provides an introductory level winter backcountry experience to novice visitors who may not otherwise experience Jasper’s backcountry at this time of year. The cabin offers visitors rustic accommodation along a moderate non-technical trail." Young said Parks Canada’s backcountry operations in Jasper National Park have changed over the years, reducing the frequency of use of patrol cabins such as Jacques Lake. The cabin was identified as a viable option to be used for public enjoyment as it is no longer required for operations during the winter months. Parks Canada retains ownership of the cabin while the ACC is responsible for the booking, management and maintenance of the cabin during the winter months. Established in 1906, the ACC head office is in Canmore and there are 25 local sections across the country, including the Jasper/Hinton section. The ACC promotes alpine experiences, knowledge and culture, responsible access and excellence in mountain skills and leadership. Currently there are 35 backcountry huts maintained by the ACC across the country.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on Tuesday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying on it a new batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit for the Starlink internet satellite constellation system. (Nov. 25)
St. John's city councillors are finally speaking about recent municipal job cuts and a reduction in Metrobus service — both which have put people out of work or will see their shifts reduced. A week ago, the city outlined its plan to eliminate 16 full-time positions within municipal operations, and an additional five full-time jobs at St. John's Sports and Entertainment, in addition to two part-time ones. Few details were provided.One day later, CBC News reported Metrobus was paring back service levels due to an $800,000 budget cut from the City of St. John's. "This decision has me torn up honestly. I don't like that we are doing [this] … but there are a lot of challenging decisions that have to be made," Coun. Dave Lane, who chairs the finance committee, told reporters Wednesday. After the cuts and Metrobus reduction were announced last week, no member of council, including Mayor Danny Breen and Lane, would do an interview or answer questions on ether of those topics, city spokesperson Kelly Maguire told CBC News. Now several are speaking out. Lane said routes, 1, 2, 3 and 10 will be most impacted, with longer wait times between rides, analogous to the usual summer schedule.He said moving to a reduced schedule seemed like a better option than another proposal, which was to raise fares. However, he warned that a network-wide review would be needed next September, to see where ridership levels end up. Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary told The St. John's Morning Show that cuts are necessary, since municipal governments can't run a deficit. "So that means that in every single department, everybody has to look for efficiencies. And I think that that's, you know, a common goal of everybody. Nobody wants to see their taxes raised. However, services are really important, especially at this point in time," she said. Not all councillors support Metrobus service reductionCoun. Maggie Burton also said she doesn't support the changes, particularly because they "will have a real impact on some of the most vulnerable residents in the city."She said retail and food industry jobs are usually shift-based and people will have fewer options to get to and from work, and will have to wait longer for a bus. "I hope that people can use this time before Dec. 7 to let council know whether or not they support a permanent reduction of $800,000 in the annual budget to Metrobus," Burton told CBC News on Wednesday afternoon. Coun. Ian Froude tweeted Tuesday that he doesn't support the cuts to Metrobus service. Lane said he respected dissenting opinions, but ultimately, a financial plan needs to be approved."I don't like everything in the budget, but we need to pull something together that balances the budget, [that] doesn't have undue pressure on the public," he said. Other councillors were asked to comment by CBC Radio's On The Go on the cuts, including Jamie Korab, Debbie Hanlon and Breen. They either didn't respond or said they were not available. Missed money from OttawaIn July, the federal government earmarked $19 billion to assist provinces and territories, including municipalities, with restarting their economies amid COVID-19.At the time, it was stated N.L. would receive $146 million of that amount, to be funnelled into everything from COVID-19 testing to personal protective equipment to child-care spaces, and to municipalities in need.However, there was an exception: provinces and territories could also apply for extra money destined for public transit, to offset pandemic losses.Newfoundland and Labrador did not apply for that money. Though it was a provincial government decision, at the time, Breen said any transit losses it experienced were minimal compared with larger cities."We wouldn't have a significant enough loss to make value of that," he said in July. Breen has not responded to recent interview requests from CBC. In July, the city had collected $18 million less in taxes than in the same month in 2019. The monster blizzard that stalled the city for over a week in January also dealt a massive blow to the city budget, leaving an estimated $7-million bill in its wake.Metrobus ridership downSince September, ridership levels have hovered at about half of what they normally are, according to Metrobus manager Judy Powell, who also refused to do an interview. While regular service was reinstated this past September, a combination of people working from home, plus Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic moving to online classes, added up to fewer people taking the bus. Uncertainty will persist for drivers. Those who don't have a shift effective Jan. 4 will get a record of employment so they can file for employment insurance."However you will remain on the recall list and called to work on an as needed basis," Powell wrote in a letter to drivers obtained by CBC News.The municipal budget will be tabled Dec. 7. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. — It's barely a town anymore, battered by time on the windswept prairie of northwest Kansas. COVID-19 still managed to find Norcatur. Not much remains of the rural hamlet, save for a service station, a grain elevator, a little museum, and a weekend hangout where the locals play pool, eat pizza and drink beer. The roof has collapsed on the crumbling building that once housed its bank and general store. Schools closed decades ago and the former high school building is used for city offices. But for the 150 or so remaining residents, the cancellation of the beloved Norcatur Christmas Drawing has driven home how the coronavirus pandemic has reached deep into rural America. “Due to individuals who have COVID and refuse to stay home and quarantine it has been determined it is not safe for the citizens of Norcatur and the area to proceed,” read the notice tucked in the town’s newsletter and posted on its Facebook page. It blamed “negligent attitudes of lack of concern for others” for the cancellation. In a decades-old tradition that evokes Norman Rockwell nostalgia, the whole town typically gathers for a potluck dinner at Christmastime. Its namesake drawing features a plethora of donated meats, crafts and other goodies so every family can go home with prizes. The local 4-H Club puts on its bake sale. Santa Claus comes riding the firetruck. Decatur County has fewer than 3,000 people scattered across farms and small towns like Norcatur. As of Wednesday, the county had reported 196 coronavirus cases and one death, although medical providers say there have been at least four more local deaths that have yet to be added to the official toll. Carolyn Plotts, a 73-year-old Norcatur resident who never had symptoms and only found out she was positive for COVID-19 when tested for a medical procedure in October, said two of her former high school classmates who live in the county died because of the virus. Her husband also tested positive. “It's been very real to me,” she said. Plotts wondered whether the cancellation notice was maybe “talking about me.” During her quarantine she would only leave her house — with her doctor's permission and wearing a mask, she said pointedly — to care for a housebound friend who still believes the pandemic is a hoax. Carl Lyon, the Norcatur mayor who takes on the annual Santa role, said while most residents are “pretty good” about social distancing and wearing a mask, some have caught the virus. “I know a couple of people had it and they were still kind of running around and whatnot,” Lyon said. “Didn't seem to bother them that they infected everybody else.” Decatur County Sheriff Ken Badsky estimated that 5% of county residents who should quarantine violate the restrictions and go out. His office has called some and “insisted they do what they are supposed to do,” but has taken no legal action. “I have so much other stuff to do. I don’t have time to follow people around,” Badsky said. “We have 900 square miles, we have three full-time officers and a part-time to take care of that and we are busy with everything else.” Medical providers have been growing increasingly concerned, as coronavirus cases are surging and it's getting more difficult to find beds for their sickest patients at hospitals across the state. “We need some backing to stop this virus and we are looking to people that need to do their job to do it, and so otherwise this thing is going to run rampant and it is going to put more pressure on our hospital,” Kris Mathews, the administrator of Decatur Health, a small critical access hospital in Oberlin, just 19 miles (30 kilometres) west of Norcatur. Stan Miller, the announcer for the Christmas Drawing for more than 25 years, has mixed emotions about the decision to forgo it this year. The 63-year-old Norcatur resident said he understands there are elderly people who you don't want to get the virus. But it's also disappointing. “I like to see all the joy, especially the little kids,” Miller said. “We have Santa Claus after the drawing is over and to see them sit on Santa's lap and tell them what they want for Christmas, you know, always puts a smile on my face." Roxana Hegeman, The Associated Press