Here's the latest for Sunday, October 25: Senate votes to advance SCOTUS nominee Barrett; Italy imposes new virus restrictions; Protesters mark one year of anti-government rallies in Iraq; Pope Francis names 13 new cardinals in surprise address.
Here's the latest for Sunday, October 25: Senate votes to advance SCOTUS nominee Barrett; Italy imposes new virus restrictions; Protesters mark one year of anti-government rallies in Iraq; Pope Francis names 13 new cardinals in surprise address.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
You should expect to see a lot fewer people gathered around the tree this Christmas. According to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby, celebrating the holidays with people outside your household is a recipe for disaster. “I know many people are looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We’re asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating. Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season.” Those who live alone are encouraged to celebrate the holidays with only one additional household. As well, any post-secondary students living away from home are asked to consider a self-quarantine for 10 to 14 days before returning home. Dr. David Colby echoed Ford’s message, adding he doesn’t want people looking for loopholes in COVID-19 rules. The 10-person limit isn’t an excuse to invite over friends or relatives if you have a small household. Colby said a household and family members are two separate things. He defined a household as the people you live with. They are the ones who reside at the same address. They are your household and within your own living space. “I think it’s time to get away from rules. I mean, rules are helpful, but whenever there are rules, people are sort of saying, ‘Well, if I do this, can I circumvent the rules?’” said Colby. He added you not only have to look at the letter of the law but the spirit of the rule. “The spirit of the rule is to keep everybody safe,” said Colby. “Rather than worrying about whether the rules are being followed, we all have to ask ourselves, ‘What is the safest course of action for all concerned in this particular scenario?’ We’ve talked about that endlessly.” Additionally, Colby said people travelling from jurisdiction to jurisdiction is a big problem. He said when he does contact tracing, the trails always lead outside of Chatham-Kent. According to Chatham-Kent’s top doctor, smaller household parties mean less risk of catching and spreading the virus. Colby said this is something he has been “hammering away at for the last few weeks”. “There is clear evidence that the more people that you assemble, the higher the risk,” said Colby. “Indoor gatherings are riskier than outdoor gatherings, so having a large number of people, especially people who have travelled from a higher-prevalence jurisdiction, this is potentially a recipe for disaster.”Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
LONDON — Britain’s government said Monday that it has decided against holding a public inquiry into the murder more than three decades ago of a Belfast attorney who specialized in defending Irish Republican Army suspects.Patrick Finucane, a 39-year-old attorney, was shot 14 times at his Belfast home by gunmen from the paramilitary group Ulster Defence Association in February 1989. His family has campaigned for years for a public inquiry into allegations that Northern Ireland police and the British army colluded with the killers.Several investigations have concluded that there was state collusion in Finucane’s murder, and the British government has apologized to the family. But last year, the Supreme Court said that all previous examinations into the death were inadequate.Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he met the Finucane family on Monday and told them authorities decided “not to establish a public inquiry at this time.” He added that this was because investigations by Northern Irish police and the police ombudsman needed to finish first.Finucane’s son, John, said the British government’s announcement was “nothing short of insulting” after the family waited three decades for an effective investigation into their father’s murder.“The British government at every opportunity will continue to make the wrong decision and put all their efforts into ensuring that the truth of what happened to my father will not see the light of day and they are intent on suppressing that,” he said.Lawmaker Tony Lloyd, with the opposition Labour party, said “it was collusion by agents of the state and … we still need to find out how far that collusion went.”The Associated Press
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Liberals plan a stimulus program of up to $100 billion once the COVID-19 pandemic is on the run, but until then attacking the virus and helping those who need support is their top priority. Reducing that aid as the economy recovers will depend on measures the government hasn't devised yet, but Freeland says the number of hours Canadians are working will be a key element.
IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut is to start lifting a two-week lockdown on Wednesday as more people infected with COVID-19 recover. The lockdown that shuttered all schools and non-essential businesses was put in place on Nov. 18 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that first appeared in the territory early this month. Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory's chief public health officer, said Monday that 73 people had recovered from COVID-19 and 108 cases remained active. There were also four new cases, bringing Nunavut's total to 181. No one who contracted COVID-19 in Nunavut has been hospitalized. Patterson said that's partly because more than half of the infections have been in residents under the age of 40. Only Arviat, which had 86 active cases, will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks, said Paterson. Travel to the community will still be restricted. "Until we can be absolutely certain that there is no community transmission of COVID-19 in Arviat, restrictions will remain in effect for that community," Patterson told a news conference. Arviat is experiencing "an infectious disease outbreak in crowded housing," so cases might continue to rise for a bit longer, he added. "There is a chance that it will continue to spread for a little bit even within the houses that we've identified." There were still eight active cases in Rankin Inlet and 14 in Whale Cove, but Patterson said there has been no community transmission in either community, so restrictions can be eased. "We've identified all the houses that have cases of COVID-19 and all recent transmission in those two communities has been related to the people living in those houses," he said. "The risk of it spreading elsewhere is small and less than the harms associated with the very strict measures that are in place." Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove are all coastal communities in the Kivalliq region on the western edge of Hudson Bay and have borne the brunt of the outbreak. Schools will be allowed to open in both Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, but elementary school students will attend three days a week and high school students will attend two days weekly on staggered schedules. Government offices and all businesses will be allowed to open, but physical distancing will have to be maintained. Travel to and from Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet will also be allowed starting Wednesday, but Patterson said his office still strongly advises against non-essential travel. Outdoor gatherings in the two communities will be restricted to 50 people, while gatherings in homes will have to stick to household members plus 10 others. Arenas have to remain closed, as well as hair salons and barber shops. Restaurants can only be open for takeout. Gyms will only be able to offer space for solo workouts. In communities with no COVID-19 cases, students will attend school two to three days a week on staggered schedules. Restaurants will be allowed to open at half capacity. Businesses will be able to operate as long as people maintain physical distancing. Outdoor gatherings will be restricted to 50 people and gatherings in homes will be limited to the household plus 15 people. Arenas and personal services will also be able to resume. Patterson warned that if another outbreak were to occur, restrictions would be reintroduced. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president on Monday announced the country's most widespread lockdown so far amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, extending curfews to weeknights and putting a full lockdown in place over the weekends. Speaking after a Cabinet meeting Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a curfew would be implemented on weekdays between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am. He also announced total weekend lockdowns from 9:00 pm on Friday to 5:00 am on Monday. After strong pressure from the medical community and the public, Turkey last week resumed reporting all positive tests for the virus, after releasing only the number of symptomatic cases for four months. That caused daily cases to shoot up to around 30,000 and put Turkey among the hardest-hit nations in Europe during the pandemic. Health Ministry statistics on Monday showed 31,219 confirmed new infections and 188 new deaths. Daily fatalities in Turkey have hit record numbers for eight consecutive days, bringing the country's acknowledged virus death toll to 13,746. The new curfews begin Tuesday. Grocery stores and food delivery services are exempt from the lockdowns within certain hours. In the spring, Turkey instituted temporary weekend and holiday lockdowns to fight the spread of COVID-19, but current infections and deaths have surged beyond the spring numbers. Weekend night curfews for the past two weeks have done little to curb people’s movements, with Turkish media showing packed public spaces. The Turkish Medical Association, which has been critical of the government’s policies and has called for more transparency since March, said 20 health care workers died in one week from COVID-19 complications. ICU bed occupation was around 71%, according to the health ministry. Erdogan also announced that people above 65 or younger than 20, who are allowed out for only three hours a day, would not be allowed to use public transport, mall-goers would have to use a contact tracing code, and weddings and funerals would be limited to 30 people. He also urged people to quit smoking, open their windows, abide by mask-wearing guidelines and social distancing. The president also promised that 50 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine would be administered free of charge, starting with health care workers next month, following an agreement with the Chinese pharmaceutical company SinoVac. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Zeynep Bilginsoy, The Associated Press
The provincial government confirmed to the East Central Alberta (ECA) Review this week that the Minister of Municipal Affairs will make a decision on how the Village fo Morrin will be governed after two of the three elected councillors recently quit. A few weeks ago both Mayor Howard Helton and Melissa Wilton tendered their resignations; Wilton in fact resigned a few times before coming to a final decision. At the organizational meeting in October, remaining Coun. M’Liss Edwards was elected mayor. Since there’s no quorum for the village council, it was unclear to the community and media how or if regular council meetings would proceed. The ECA Review newspaper contacted the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Nov. 23 to find out how and if regular council meetings would proceed and how taxpayers could get information about their village government. Justin Marshall, press secretary for the Minister of Municipal Affairs, responded via email by Nov. 30. “Right now, two of the three Village of Morrin councillors have resigned leaving council with no quorum and therefore, the village is unable to conduct business or hold regular council meetings,” stated Marshall in the email. “A decision will be made in the coming weeks and Minister (Tracy) Allard is quickly reviewing the situation as local government is important to our democracy. “When the number of councillors is less than a quorum due to resignations, the Minister of Municipal Affairs may appoint an official administrator who has the powers of the council or ordering that the remaining councillors constitute a quorum. “The MGA clearly states that the meetings have to be public, press has to be allowed in the council chambers and they must to be able to record. The only time this is different is when council goes into camera.” Morrin council had a regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 18, but no information was posted on how or if the meeting would be held. The ECA Review sent a text message to Village of Morrin Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner Nov. 18 which went unanswered, this was followed by an email to Mayor Edwards the same day. Edwards responded at about 7:30 p.m. that night, half an hour after the meeting was supposed to have started. "There was no council meeting as we don’t have a designated councillor from Municipal Affairs,” stated Edwards in an email. "Maybe follow the Morrin Discussion Facebook page. Information gets posted there usually.” Several ECA Review staff members follow the social media page in question, and no information could be found about Morrin council meetings. However, it should be noted that Nov. 19 Edwards posted an explanation why the 2019 Financial Statements apparently still remain under review. During the discussion dated Nov. 19 Edwards stated, “To clarify some issues. The auditor is not only preparing the regular audit but has also been tasked with making sure all the tracking of expenses is up to date. “The old computer crashed and could no longer be upgraded. A new computer was purchased at an excellent price from a local source. "Now the auditor has made sure that the proper programs are in place and that the CAO is up to date on the software. “When we have a councillor in place appointed by Municipal Affairs we can then publish the finances of the Village and minutes, etc.” The next regular council is scheduled for Dec. 18.Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
VAL-D’OR, secteur DUBUISSON-Une collision entre trois véhicules a fait deux blessés graves vers 13h00 lundi sur la route 117, entre le secteur Dubuisson, de Val-d’Or, et Malartic. Selon les informations fournies par la Sûreté du Québec, l’accident implique un camion semi-remorque, un camion de déneigement et une minifourgonnette. «On ne connaît pas les circonstances exactes de l’accident, indique le Sergent Hugues Beaulieu, porte-parole de la Sûreté du Québec. Une manœuvre de dépassement serait à l’origine de l’accident. Sous la force de l’impact, le poids lourd s’est retrouvé en travers du chemin. Un reconstitutionniste est sur place pour tenter d’expliquer comment s’est produit l’accident.» Selon la SQ, le conducteur de la déneigeuse aurait été éjecté de son véhicule et aurait subi des blessures graves. Il a été transporté à l’hôpital, et on craint pour sa vie. On craint aussi pour la vie du conducteur de la minifourgonnette, qui lui aussi a été transporté à l’hôpital. La route 117 est complètement bloquée pour encore quelques heures entre Val-d’Or et Malartic. Les automobilistes doivent donc faire un détour d’une centaine de kilomètres et passer par Amos pour se rendre à Val-d’Or. Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
OTTAWA — Canada's International Trade Minister Mary Ng was unable to offer a firm guarantee that MPs will see a bill to ratify the new provisional Canada-Britain trade agreement before Parliament is due to break for Christmas on Dec. 11. Ng also revealed that officials in both countries are still working on the final text of the agreement. The update by Ng to the House of Commons trade committee on Monday left opposition members across party lines surprised and pressing for answers on how a delay would affect Canadian exporters who could face new British tariffs if the deal isn’t finalized by a Dec. 31 deadline. Canada's current agreement with Britain under its European Union trade pact expires when Britain's divorce from the EU takes effect at the start of the new year. Without a new deal to replace it, a series of new British tariffs on Canadian exports such as seafood, beef and automobiles would be triggered. Ng said both countries are working on "mitigation measures" to provide stability to businesses and prevent new tariffs. But she offered no specifics after being repeatedly pressed by opposition MPs. At one point she didn't want to make policy "on the fly." "I don't want to provide uncertainty. What I want to do is provide certainty for businesses," Ng said in response to one of several questions on the topic. "I would be pleased to talk about them once that work … is concluded." Ng's testimony came nine days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his British counterpart Boris Johnson announced with great fanfare a new interim trade deal between their two countries had been struck. Their announcement came in a hastily-called Saturday morning teleconference with no accompanying briefings for journalists about the content of the deal, as was the case when the original Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, between Canada and the EU was struck. Conservative trade critic Tracy Gray was one of several MPs to press Ng on Monday for more specifics on what could be done to paper over problems that Canadian exporters might now be facing on Jan. 1. Gray chided Ng for not laying out a timeline for when a bill would be tabled in the Commons and the Senate. "I don't understand how we can have certainty and continuity when we don't have a plan when this will be coming to Parliament," Gray said. "It sounds like you haven't plotted out a plan over the nine days since this splashy announcement, when this would play out." New Democrat trade critic Daniel Blaikie asked Ng to walk the committee through "scenarios" in the event the deal is not finalized by Dec. 31. "What kinds of contingencies are you putting in place? And what does supporting Canadian business in the event that a deal isn't enacted by Dec. 31 look like?" he asked. Ng thanked him for the question and replied: "We are looking at a range of options that will mitigate the impact of any delays that may occur." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
(ANNews) – Senator Murray Sinclair, the first Indigenous judge to serve on the bench in Manitoba and only the second Indigenous judge appointed in Canada, has announced that he will officially leave the Red Chamber on Jan. 31, 2021. He was appointed to the Senate on April 2, 2016 and has been working in the justice system in Manitoba for more than 25 years, serving as the co-chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in Manitoba and as chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “Since working on the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission], we have seen a shift in how our country understands and speaks of residential schools and Indigenous issues in Canada,” Sinclair said in a media statement. “I leave the Senate feeling happy with how things are progressing and knowing that reconciliation will take a long time. I will continue to work on this for the rest of my life.” “My tenure as senator has been a remarkable opportunity to serve the people of Manitoba, which I have striven to do with pride and humility for the last five years,” Sinclair wrote in a letter to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette last week. In an interview with CBC radio, Sinclair said of his decision to focus his time on writing his memoir that, “The year before my granddaughter was born, I had suffered a minor stroke.” “It took about a year to get back to normal,” continued Sinclair. “When she was born, I was visiting with her and with her parents and I remember thinking that I may not be around when she grows up. My granddaughter may have questions that only I can answer. She doesn’t know my family — my grandmother, my grandfather, my father — or where we came from. I decided I was going to start writing things down for her.” Sinclair has already announced a significant book deal with McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. The book will be titled Who We Are, and it will look at his vision for reconciliation in Canada and how his experiences and the experiences of his family have shaped his perspective on the matter. The Senator also revealed that he will be joining Cochrane Saxberg LLP, which is Manitoba’s largest Indigenous law firm, in order to mentor up-and-coming Indigenous lawyers. “The challenge of the courts is going to be to figure out a way to reconcile the current laws of Canada with the pre-existing legal rights of Indigenous Peoples,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “Everybody’s now scrambling to figure all this out.” Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said, “To my friend, Senator Murray Sinclair (@SenSincmurr), thank you for your service to Canada. With your retirement announced today, I know that you’ll go on to do great things. Thank you for being a beacon of hope for First Nations and a champion for humanity.”Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
Cory Gaudette grew up in the small Greater Sudbury community of Chelmsford. When he thinks back on his childhood, he remembers feeling awkward and misunderstood. Moving through the world, he says, being an openly gay teen presenting strong feminine qualities brought on a host of challenges. So much so, that it often felt like a balancing act, he said, trying to stand upright in a world he felt didn't always accept him. Grappling with his identity and sexuality was fraught with difficulties which, he said, eventually led him to abusing drugs and even spending about five months at Penetanguishene's Central North Correctional Centre for robbing a store. It was there, that Gaudette says he met rock bottom. "That got out of hand really quickly. I really lost the person that I was and the person that I wanted to be," he said, "I was really just like a shadow of myself." But it was also the place he found hope and self-expression in poetry. 'I decided I was going to turn my life around'"This was where I decided I was going to turn my life around," he said, "I wanted to journal, I wanted to write diary entries ... but I couldn't formulate these sentences and describe how I was feeling and then, it all just started coming out as poetry." Now, Gaudette is aiming to get others excited about poetry with a new self-published poetry anthology called Feminine Grit. The anthology has been published under his drag name, Emma Daniels.Together with a host of local contributors, the book explores what it means to be femme or display feminine qualities in a world charged with toxic masculinity.> We have all these really strong voices kind of coming out that weren't really heard before who were put on the side burners for a really long time. — Cory Gaudette, editor of Feminine Grit"It's a very feminine act to write poetry, you're putting all these vulnerabilities onto the page and I find that's why a lot of people don't share their poetry. But that's how I turned to poetry and it was a very big healing process." The anthology gives voice to 27 local contributors in northern Ontario, who belong to a range of diverse communities including LGBTQ, BIPOC and Indigenous people. The anthology features 62 poems and a mosaic of vibrant art. So far, Gaudette said, he's managed to sell out of the first 200 copies and is in the process of getting another 200 in the coming days. "I think with everything going on in the world now, we have all these really strong voices kind of coming out that weren't really heard before who were put on the side burners for a really long time," he said, "And those voices need to be heard." Raising money for women escaping violenceWhat's more is that, $1 from each copy sold goes toward the Genvera House, an emergency shelter for women escaping abuse from their intimate partners (including same sex partners), as well as women 50 years and over who are escaping abuse from their live-in caregiver, in Sudbury.To print the book Gaudette set up a GoFundMe account, where he raised about $900 to be able to pay contributors and afford printing fees. Bay Used Books in Sudbury ,where the anthology is being sold, matched that amount totalling $1800 to help with the costs of creating the book. So far, Gaudette has raised about $200 from the book to go toward the Genevera House but his ultimate goal is to raise about $1,800 to go to the shelter. However, if that number should be more, that would an added bonus. For the next group of copies, he said he's hoping to find more vendors who will sell the book. But for now, people can find it at Bay Used Books. Have a listen
Pastor Dereje Haileyesus is watching the situation unfold in his native Ethiopia with concern. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled conflict in the country to search for safety in neighbouring countries. Haileyesus would like to help these, and all, people fleeing conflict but is unable to do so. Despite his church, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Ottawa, being a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, he is unable to help. “Personally, I’m very very sad about the situation,” Haileyesus told NCM. “Canada values all lives, even dogs and pets. But human beings [around the world] are dying.” Haileyesus, who himself fled to Sudan in the 90s, started sponsoring refugees in 1998. He became a Sponsorship Agreement Holder in 2015. He tried to help refugees, regardless of ethnic background or regional loyalties through his organization as well as in partnership with other organizations as best he could, but he found the process too difficult due to financial constraints and the slow pace of approvals. “The process time is very long. You submit the application, after three or four years the [refugees] are coming [to Canada],” the pastor told NCM. “As a church, we can’t afford help… For example for one person, the government asks around $12,000 for one year commitment for the shelter and other things. When we sponsor 10 people, that means $120,000.” He implored the federal government to find ways to ease the financial burden by sharing half the cost between the government and the sponsorship holder. He also wants the government to increase quotas so that his church can help more people with a lightened monetary cost. NCM reached out to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for comment. None was provided by deadline. Tensions between the Ethiopian central government in Addis Ababa and the regional government in Tigray have boiled over into open conflict. One that could suck in other countries in the region like Eritrea, who fought a bloody conflict with Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000. The country is divided into 10 semi-autonomous regions roughly divided along ethnic lines. Tigray, the northernmost region which borders Eritrea, is home to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This party ran the national politics through a coalition for close to three decades despite the Tigrayan people only being 6 percent of the population. The current Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, froze out the TPLF when he came to power in 2018. He also brokered a peace with Eritrea, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize. Last March, Ahmed postponed the country’s national elections citing COVID-19. The TPLF in their home region went ahead with their election anyway. Ahmed refused to recognize the legitimacy of that election and the TPLF responded by not recognizing Ahmed’s premiership. The government troops were sent into Tigray, who clashed with TPLF militias. “We call upon the people of Mekelle (regional capital of Tigray) to play a key role in bringing this treasonous group to justice by standing in solidarity with the national defence force in this law enforcement action,” read a Nov. 22 statement by PM Ahmed. “We’re inflicting heavy defeats on all fronts against the forces that came to attack us,” said TPLF Chairman Debretsion Gebremichael on Nov. 18. “I call upon all the Tigrayan people to go out en masse to drive out the invaders.” With civil war on the lips of world media and Ethiopians, a refugee crisis has broken out. It was reported on Nov. 21 that over 30,000 refugees from the Tigray region have crossed into neighbouring Sudan. As of the end of 2019, there were 95,000 Ethiopians who have had to flee their country for various reasons. Since 2013, the earliest available data, 2,201 Ethiopians have claimed refugees status with Canada. That number peaked in 2019 with 456 claimants. Between January and June of this year, 241 people have made the claim. Currently, all Haileyesus and his flock can do is pray. Inspired by the biblical Prophet Daniel, his church has been holding 21 days of prayer from Nov. 1 to Nov. 21 for the past seven years. Those prayers have included refugees of all nations, general peace around the world, the Canadian people and government etc. “A person can be given refugee protection in Canada if they meet the United Nations (UN) definition of a Convention refugee, or if they are a person in need of protection,” Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada told NCM. Refugees are defined by the United Nations as some with “a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” More up to date definitions can include sexual orientation, gender identity and women fleeing domestic violence. “A claim for refugee protection can be made by speaking to an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at any port of entry upon arrival in Canada, or to an officer from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or CBSA at an inland office,” the IRB also said.Mansoor Tanweer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.MOVIES— Film history fans will get a meal out of David Fincher’s “Mank,” about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz who is masterfully played by Gary Oldman. Shot in gorgeous black and white, “Mank” transports you into the depression era studio system, Upton Sinclair’s bid for governor, William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies’s elegant parties and to that bungalow in Victorville where the first draft of the classic Orson Welles film was composed. Available on Netflix on Friday, “Mank” is one of the year’s very best films and both a tribute to and searing critique of Hollywood’s golden age. Amanda Seyfried, as Davies, is one of the great performances of the year.— Another film full of excellent performances is “Sound of Metal,” starring Riz Ahmed as a punk metal drummer who experiences sudden severe hearing loss. The film, which is captioned in English, dives into the world of the deaf community with Ruben (Ahmed) in a way you’ve never seen or heard before. It’s the directorial debut of Darius Marder (a writer on “The Place Beyond the Pines”), who assembled an crack team of sound mixers and editors to create a unique auditory experience to simulate what Ruben is going through as he loses his hearing entirely.— If $30 was a little steep for your tastes to rent the new live-action “Mulan,” it’ll finally be free for Disney+ subscribers Friday. From director Niki Caro, this adaptation of the Chinese folk tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the army, is breathtakingly beautiful, from the stunning landscapes to the colorful costumes. Although it may fall short on the kind of intoxicating story magic that the Disney label signifies, it is worth a watch and may just inspire some curious young viewers to delve into more Asian cinema classics. Also, if you find yourself missing the songs and Eddie Murphy, the animated 1998 version is also available on the service.— AP Film Writer Lindsey BahrMUSIC— A house is not a home during the holiday season if Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is not blasting – daily! During a normal, non-pandemic year, Carey and her Christmas craziness would be on a holiday tour, bringing joy to fans and lambs in-person. Because live shows aren’t really a thing in 2020, she’s launching a holiday TV special on Apple TV+ on Friday. “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” will includes a mix of musical performances and dancing with amination. Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Misty Copeland and Carey’s 9-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, will make special appearances.— Shawn Mendes released his debut album in 2015 and he’s dropping his fourth effort Friday. “Wonder” continues to showcase Mendes’ growth as a singer, songwriter and performer. The album features the singles “Wonder” and “Monster” with Justin Bieber, which debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot chart this week. Along with the album is the Netflix documentary called “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder,” which is available for streaming and follows Mendes’ rise and journey over the last few years.— Christmas came early when Carrie Underwood released her first holiday album in September, and on Thursday she’ll debut a musical TV special to accompany the album. On HBO Max’s “My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood” — conducted by award-winning musical director Rickey Minor — the country superstar is backed by a live orchestra, choir and her band. John Legend makes a special appearance and viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at Underwood’s 5-year-old son, Isaiah, recording his vocals for their version of “Little Drummer Boy.”— AP Music Editor Mesfin FekaduTELEVISION— “Selena: The Series” is described by Netflix as a coming-of-age drama that follows Selena Quintanilla from talented youngster to musical phenom, aided by her family. A breakthrough star in male-dominated Tejano music, the singer was just shy of her 24th birthday in 1995 when she was fatally shot by a former business associate. The two-part series debuts Friday with Christian Serratos (“The Walking Dead”) as Selena and Gabriel Chavarria (“East Los Angeles’) and Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) among the cast members.— The 11th and final season of the Showtime dramady “Shameless” debuts 9 p.m. EST Sunday, weaving the pandemic, urban gentrification and personal pressures into the lives of the Gallaghers of Chicago’s South Side. Aging patriarch Frank (William H. Macy) is facing the toll of longtime alcohol and drug abuse, while and Ian and Mickey (Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher) struggle as newlyweds. Deb (Emma Kenney) stands ready to give her all to single motherhood and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) feels the same about his nascent law enforcement career.— Two respected veterans are behind “A Suitable Boy,” a limited series directed by filmmaker Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake”) and written by Andrew Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “House of Cards”). An adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1,300-plus page novel of the same name, the 1950s, India-set drama revolves around a university student who’s shaping his identity as his newly independent country does the same. The all-Indian lead cast includes Tabu (“The Namesake,” “Life of Pi”) and Tanya Maniktala. The series debuts Dec. 7, on Acorn TV.— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber___Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.The Associated Press
A trial date in Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench for a man accused of killing Cody McAdam is yet to be set. A preliminary hearing held in October 2020 in Prince Albert Provincial Court determined there was enough evidence for Bryce Bird, 20, to stand trial on second-degree murder charges. Bird elected to be tried by judge alone in Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench. Bird was arrested in March 2020 and charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of McAdam, 27. A badly injured McAdam was found in an alley in the 200 Block of 12 Street East in Prince Albert on Feb. 9, 2019. He was taken to a Saskatoon hospital where he died on Feb. 16, 2019. McAdam left behind two children. Bird’s case wasn’t on recent pre-trial lists and it isn’t known yet if it will be on the next pre-trial list scheduled for Jan. 8, 2021.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A small farm located south of Strathmore is providing sanctuary to hundreds of abused, neglected and unwanted animals. Misfit Farms started because its owner, Savannah Ross, “really wanted to get out of the city. “My plan when I first came here was to have a few small farm animals for ourselves, but I’m a bit of a sucker and I have a soft heart,” said Ross. The numbers grew from there. Currently, there are about 300 animals at the farm. “We have llamas, quail, chickens, ducks, geese, goats and potbellies (pigs),” she said. The farm is not a registered charity or official animal rescue, and does not adopt out animals or charge fees for rehoming. It also does not rescue cats or dogs, but partners with some rescues that will take larger animals. “We don’t take cows and horses here, so I send them off to my foster home,” said Ross. Many of the animals there would not win best-in-show, she added. “We have a lot of animals that are handicapped, some are blind, missing a wing, missing a leg. A lot of them are just unproductive – small farmers just can’t afford to keep animals that are not producing, so typically they end up getting killed.” But that doesn’t mean they are not valuable. “I just love being around them and can tell that they are thriving in this environment,” said Ross. “They let you give back in a way that you’re not really getting any kind of recognition – the animals don’t say thank you every morning when you’re out there feeding them.” The animals are fed through a “loop program” where once a week, groceries from Save On Foods are transported to the farm. “We get half a truckload, which takes us about 10 hours to go through it all,” she said. These donations allow the animals to eat things other than commercial feed. “They get to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, which they really love.” Ross said she appreciates the donations because they would be able to keep fewer animals without them. “It’s a very expensive project; there is no funding and we’re not part of any kind of rescue organization. It’s all dependent on the generosity of others, and we’ve had some lovely people donate a lot of items, like hay and bedding,” she said. Previously, the farm provided learning opportunities for families. “We really love to be able to put together a program to educate children on ways to care for animals and give them an opportunity to connect with them.” The farm has been challenged by COVID-19, noted Ross. “Obviously, it’s a lot of work, and because of the pandemic, we haven’t had any volunteers here for the last year.” Donations have also been down, she added. Misfit Farm is planning a membership campaign so they can continue to welcome animals. The campaign will allow people to visit the farm on family days and sponsor some animals. “We’re going to offer opportunities for people to just get a little bit more involved.”Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The new Strathmore municipal building is nearing completion, with the town finding solutions for a few remaining pieces. An update on the project was presented to town council on Nov. 18 by Michael Stamhuis, the town’s special projects manager. The project is now in its “substantial completion” stage, meaning the building and work site are sufficiently completed such that they can now be handed over to, and occupied by, the town. The cost of the building has been updated to total $14.48 million, $130,000 less than the cost projected in mid-October. The final project costs will be more than $400,000 below the funding allocated for the project, reported Stamhuis. A report will be forthcoming presenting suggestions for how this surplus may be allocated. One of the options would be to set aside an amount for any issues that may arise, he said. Some uncertainties remain for the project. “While the project is substantially completed, it is not totally complete; there are some outstanding items,” said Stamhuis, who added these include the installation of audio-visual equipment, signage and furniture. All tenders for furniture and audio-visual equipment have been received, the cost of which is less than the $850,000 allocated for these components. The cost estimate for soft costs and furniture, fixtures and equipment decreased by $21,000, to $2.325 million. The audio-visual equipment was to be stored in a closet within the council chambers, but the consultant said it would generate too much heat to be stored there safely. So, the town is considering either installing a ventilation system for the closet or moving the equipment to the server room. The estimated cost for site servicing and rehabilitation has been revised to $2.599 million, representing a decrease of $16,000 from previous estimates. This reduction is due to a decrease in staff salary allocation (by $6,000) and reconciliation of consultant fees ($10,000). The total cost of the Strathmore Commons and north Kinsmen improvements is $1.675 million, equaling a reduction of $92,000 from prior estimates. The town saved money on soil disposal because the soil from site clearing was used on-site and hauling costs were minimal, resulting in a $92,000 cost reduction. Also during the meeting, a report was presented to council illustrating how the municipal building project resulted in improvements to several of the town’s assets beyond the new building itself. This assessment determined that of the approximately $14.5 million spent on the municipal building project, about $3.1 million can be attributed to Kinsmen Park and other site improvements. As such, about $11.3 million can be attributed to the building itself. According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, this second report gives a more accurate picture of the cost of the new town hall building. “Obviously, some of those assets are tied to the new building, but some of them benefit and are tied to other parts of that project,” he said. The town is planning on having staff move belongings into the new building in late December and begin working there in the new year.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
An array of seabirds will enjoy safe refuge along B.C.’s West Coast after a quartet of American brothers gifted their family’s private island to protect its natural habitat. “It’s a wonderful story of cross-border conservation,” Jasper Lament, CEO of the Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC), said of the Whitridge family’s donation. The new Breton Island-Whitridge Reserve is a 12.6-acre island located in the Discovery Islands archipelago that is wedged between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island. The island’s habitat is exceptional because it’s undeveloped and provides a perfect haven for birds, Lament said. “One important element is the island provides foraging for a really diverse community of migratory birds.” For example, the figure-eight-shaped island falls right along the migratory path for harlequin ducks, Lament noted. Formerly at risk, the ducks are noted for the male’s striking plumage and their habit of breeding in turbulent mountain streams during the spring. But they make their way to the West Coast’s rocky shores to overwinter, and the island reserve is a perfect habitat for the plucky bird, Lament said. “British Columbia has about 10 per cent of the continental population of harlequin ducks, so the reserve is significant from a conservation standpoint,” he said. “And, it’s worth noting, we share these magnificent birds with our southern neighbours, so the island will protect them and other wildlife that depend on it.” The reserve also boasts distinct ecosystems: a mature coniferous forest, a herbaceous rocky shoreline and shallow marine habitat perfect for feathered visitors, Lament said. Other birds expected to shelter in the reserve include the threatened marbled murrelet and three species of special concern — the ancient murrelet, Cassin’s auklet and the great blue heron. But the island reserve’s habitat is ideal for any number of sea ducks and shore and water birds, including bald eagles, black oystercatchers, common loons, common mergansers and double-crested cormorants. Beyond birds, the Breton Island-Whitridge Reserve contributes to the protection of some very valuable regional ecosystems, Lament said. The reserve falls within the eastern, very dry maritime coastal western hemlock area (CWHxm1), a subzone within the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) system, he said. These BEC zones are geographic areas sharing similar climate and vegetation. The reserve’s ecological zone encompasses temperate forests on the B.C. coast and its mountain flanks. As well as the western hemlock, the zone includes other coniferous trees, including Douglas fir and cedars, and big leaf maple trees in drier regions. Wetlands, estuaries and many important salmon streams also fall into the zone. Only six per cent of the ecological subzone where the island is located is protected in parks or conservation lands, Lament said. “This zone is a really high priority for most conservation plans in B.C.,” he said. The four Whitridge brothers — with numerous adult children and grandchildren of their own — inherited Breton Island from their parents, who purchased the property for $40,000 in 1968, said Jes Hovanes, the nature trust's communications manager. At various times over the decades, members of the extended Whitridge family visited the island by boat or kayak, enjoying picnics or exploring its forest and tidal pools. “I think all of us at one time or another have found it to be a magical and peaceful place to go for restoration and reflection,” said one brother, Dave Whitridge, in an email. However, the family hasn’t had the opportunity to visit the island in a number of years, he added. But rather than putting it up for sale on the open market, which would inevitably lead to its development with homes or docks, the family opted to protect the serenity and magic of the island and its natural habitat. The family initially worried the trust might not be interested in acquiring such a small island, said Whitridge. But they were delighted to discover such interest in the island’s conservation, he said. “It’s reassuring to know that the island and all its wonders will be protected in perpetuity by the NTBC for the enjoyment of future generations,” Whitridge said. “And I hope to visit again myself someday.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Information disclosures and other billing issues continued to be at the root of most complaints, Canada's telecom ombudsman said Monday in its 2019-20 annual report which recorded a 19 per cent drop in complaints compared with a year earlier.The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services said the reduction for the 12 months ended July 31 was the first year-over-year decline since 2015-16.Four of the top five issues and most of the top 10 issues raised for the 12 months ended July 31 were related to billing problems, rather than service quality.CCTS chairman Howard Maker said his team wondered if the COVID-19 pandemic would increase the number of service issues after people were told to stay home about midway through the organization's reporting period."And the answer was, we didn't get a great deal of movement in the numbers," Maker said after the CCTS released its 2019-20 report.The top issue raised by customers of all types of service continued to be about the disclosure of information to the customer.Disclosure issues — including the terms of promotional deals — accounted for 6,066 issues raised, or 14 per cent of the total, which was up 10 per cent from last year.The No. 2 issue raised with the CCTS was incorrect charges on monthly plans at 13 per cent of the total raised, but the number of times it was raised fell by 20 per cent The No. 3 issue was intermittent or inadequate quality of service, which accounted to eight per cent of the total — about the same as last year.Maker said the CCTS received slightly more complaints about the quality of home internet between March and July than a year earlier, but "not nearly what we would have seen if the networks not been able to manage the load."The CCTS can't say with certainty what caused an overall decline in complaints, but Maker suggested one factor was relaxed conditions and payment schedules put in place by some carriers in the early months of the COVID-19 closures."There was waiving of fees for data overages, and removing of data caps and some disconnections were halted, and so forth," Maker said.But the CCTS doesn't have any insight about what steps are taken by providers to resolve complaints directly with their customers, before they go to the ombudsman service, he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:T)David Paddon, The Canadian Press
A Sipekne'katik band councillor has been charged with unsafe operation of a vessel during the September confrontation over the Mi'kmaw fishery in the waters off Saulnierville, N.S., CBC News has learned.Brandon Alexander Maloney was band fisheries manager at the time of the incident, which occurred on Sept. 17 — four days after the band launched its moderate livelihood lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay.He has since been elected a councillor and resigned the fisheries position.The RCMP charged Maloney on Nov. 26 under Section 15 of the federal Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations.The Mounties also charged another person, Shaquest India Miller, of Yarmouth County, with the same offence in connection with a separate incident in the area on Oct. 12.Many commercial fishermen in the area have been opposed to the Sipekne'katik fishery. In the days following its launch, boats belonging to non-Indigenous fishermen circled the harbour in Saulnierville, Mi'kmaw traps were hauled up or cut, and there were allegations flares were shot toward First Nations vessels.A Sipekne'katik official said Monday the band will defend Maloney."Brandon was protecting our fishermen when they were attacked. He was acting in his capacity as fisheries manager," the official said.On Monday, Maloney posted a video on Facebook with his reaction to the charge."I'm going to frame that charge, consider it a medal, almost like a diploma ... That's the day we tried to get the traps back off a few commercial vessels and it was just a way of them bullying us more and trying to scare me not to talk or press charges against other people or whatever," he said.The charges laid against Maloney and Miller are not the only ones related to the lobster tensions in St. Marys Bay this fall.On Monday, the RCMP said in a news release that on Nov. 27 it charged 42-year-old Dale Richard Wagner of Digby County with disobeying the interim court injunction obtained by Sipekne'katik to prohibit interference and threats against band members fishing in southwest Nova Scotia.The RCMP said on Oct. 23, police received a report from earlier that day of a vessel steaming toward another vessel that had to manoeuvre to avoid a potential collision. Wagner is scheduled to appear in Digby provincial court on Feb. 15.On Sunday, Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said the Oct. 21 Supreme Court of Nova Scotia injunction protecting Mi'kmaw fishing operations has had a positive effect."It's been a lot calmer. I think the injunction had a big part to do with that," he said.Previously, police have laid assault and arson charges in connection with the unrest that erupted after Sipeknetkaik launched its moderate livelihood fishery.MORE TOP STORIES
A retired Kemptville College teacher of sewing and fashion design has made more than 50 parkas from recycled wool blankets since the pandemic started in March. “Creativity is a strength, it gives you value. I like making something out of nothing,” Janet Stark said. A coat maker and a trained tailor, Stark explained that she wanted to keep busy, to “keep out of trouble” during the lockdown. When her husband started working from home in March, Stark started sewing in her workshop as well, and showed her creations to her husband at the end of the day. “I didn’t realize how many pieces I had done (until I looked) at the racks and they were full. It’s almost like the project was given to me. It didn’t seem hard. They just came out of my hands one after another,” she said. Using blankets, scarves, shawls and afghans, Stark sources her materials from thrift shops and gives them new life by adding embroidery, appliqué, fur, leather and fancy buttons and trims to make each piece unique. She laughed when she said her collection seems to be growing “and having babies.” Stark has been using a Linda MacPhee pattern for her parkas, one that she has used since 1984. An intricately appliqued, hand-stitched adult parka takes her up to 15 hours to make, while a child’s coat takes about four to five hours. Her parkas sell from $100 up to $500. “I really think that if people are spending that kind of money, they need to feel them, try them on and see them,” she said. Stark will be selling and displaying her parkas at the Brockville Christmas Market held at 125 Stewart Boulevard in Brockville on Dec. 5 from 12 to 5 p.m. She’s already looking forward to making more coats, as she has already started collecting blankets and shawls from Scotland, Ireland and Canada. “I have 12 kits ready to go again. Sewing is a great stress relief,” Stark said. For more information, call 613-258-3323 or visit www.facebook.com/JanetsArtisanCoats This story is part of a series, COVID-19 Hobbies, featuring hobbies and unique projects people have taken on locally during the pandemic.Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News