ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
À 11 mois du scrutin municipal, Action Laval confirme la candidature d’un second nouveau candidat en l’espace d’une semaine. Il s’agit de Yanie Langevin Charbonneau qui briguera les suffrages dans le district Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, actuellement représenté par le chef de Parti Laval et opposition officielle, Michel Trottier. Comptable professionnelle agréé, Mme Langevin Charbonneau agit présentement à titre de conseillère en matière de finances publiques et comptabilité municipale auprès de la cheffe du parti, Sonia Baudelot, et du caucus. Dans un communiqué publié le 2 décembre, elle dit souhaiter apporter ses «connaissances» et son «expertise» pour une «meilleure gestion des finances publiques». Diplômée de l’École des hautes études commerciales HEC Montréal, la nouvelle recrue de 28 ans est à la tête de son «propre cabinet de comptable dont les bureaux sont à Laval», souligne-t-on. Yanie Langevin Charbonneau succède ainsi à Francine LeBlanc, qui avait défendu les couleurs du parti lors de l’élection partielle du 24 novembre 2019 dans Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. L’ex-candidate d’Action Laval avait mené une chaude lutte, obtenant 1251 voix et 29,4 % des suffrages dans une course à trois remportée à l’arrachée par Michel Trottier. Mme LeBlanc devait toutefois rompre tous ses liens avec cette formation politique l’hiver dernier. Une décision qu’elle avait communiquée au chef intérimaire Achille Ciffeli au début du mois de mars 2020, quelques semaines après que les conseillers David De Cotis, Isabella Tassoni et Paolo Galati eurent annoncé leur retrait du caucus alors qu’ils étaient sous enquête à la Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) relativement à ders omissions en lien avec leur Déclaration d’intérêts pécuniaires. Précisons que l’enquête administrative menée en vertu de la Loi sur l’éthique et la déontologie en matière municipale s’était soldée sans qu’aucune accusation ne soit portée. Les trois élus ont depuis réintégré le caucus du parti.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation demonstrated outside the Giant Mine site Wednesday demanding a federal apology, compensation and a formal role in the remediation of their traditional lands — lands mined without consent, and left poisoned with arsenic trioxide."Our land is spoiled. It's not like what it was. We are fearful of harvesting anything near Giant. We are fearful of fishing in Yellowknife Bay and gathering berries close by. We must travel far to harvest safe foods and exercise our treaty rights. Even after all this, Canada has yet to offer an apology to us," said Dettah Chief Edward Sangris. Yellowknives Dene were displaced from the western part of Yellowknife Bay, a culturally and spiritually significant area for harvesting. The displacement has never provided real economic benefits, Sangris said, even in the remediation stage. Two weeks ago, YKDFN sent a letter to the federal government outlining its demands, but has yet to receive a reply. The First Nation wants a set-aside contract arrangement — one that would make it the only eligible bidder on contracts — that includes water treatment, long-term environmental consulting and monitoring of the project.They're looking for a contract similar to what the Mi'kmaq received for the clean-up of the Sydney Tar Ponds in Nova Scotia. YKDFN launched a website – GiantMineMonster.ca — which links to a petition to the Government of Canada that is sent out by email when visitors subscribe to email updates.Johanne Black, YKDFN's director of treaty, rights, and governance says Canada has to come to the negotiation table to honour their nation-to-nation relationship. "To this day, Canada does not accommodate the depth of our rights and our responsibilities here. Its meagre and frustrating set-aside process for contracts offers us no pathway for creating the skilled workforce we need and the tangible benefits we deserve," she said. According to the website, Giant Mine produced seven million ounces of gold and the companies that controlled the mine made more than $1 billion in profits over the life of the mine, receiving millions in subsidies from Canada.The effect of cultural displacement on YKDFN has wreaked havoc on community and culture, said Black."It still haunts our communities in the social effects that spiralled out from this poisoning of our lands: food insecurity, displacement, intergenerational poverty, loss of meaning, despair, misery, alcoholism, homelessness, suicide. This is Giant Mine's toxic legacy." she said. Black said Canada can put itself on the path to reconciliation with an apology, compensation and by setting a path to economic benefits to the First Nation.Treaty obligations central to YKDFN demands on federal governmentOn their newly launched website, YKDFN outlines the history of how Canada undermined their treaty rights, and eventually poisoned their lands without consent. In 1900, the Yellowknives Dene signed Treaty 8, understanding it to be a peace and friendship agreement that would not affect ownership or control of their traditional lands. It did not include Yellowknives Dene lands on the North of Tı Ndeè (Great Slave Lake). When Canada imposed hunting restrictions, YKDFN led a boycott of the treaty over infringement on their rights and way of life, the website states.This boycott led to the creation of a 70,000 square-mile hunting preserve for the exclusive use of Indigenous harvesters, and to protect harvesting rights from encroachment.Despite this, the federal government removed areas on Yellowknife Bay's western shores, opened it to non-Indigenous hunters and then removed the area, which includes Giant Mine, from the Yellowknife Preserve entirely. The preserve was finally transferred to the Northwest Territories Council and abolished in 1955, with no record of consultation with Yellowknives Dene. Roasting ore on-site caused harmful levels of arsenic trioxide to be released into the air and to seep from tailings ponds, causing at least one documented death, multiple episodes of arsenic poisoning, and the mass death of nearly an entire herd of cattle, according to the website.Yellowknives Dene had always drawn their water from the lake since time immemorial, but were not adequately warned of the risks, said Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina."The Government of Canada remediation … should invest in a high degree of training and capacity building for our people to monitor the Giant Mine," he said. "The time is now long overdue for our voices to be heard. We want commitments to reconciliation and economic development after what we have suffered from this mine, and we want results," he said. Bobby Drygeese is a councillor in Dettah and chair of the board of directors for Det'on Cho, the First Nation's economic development arm.As a young person, elders and his parents always warned him not to go in the area of Giant Mine because it would make you sick.Now that the mine is closed, Drygeese says it's critical that YKDFN get a "fair share on contracts.""We're going to make sure because we live here, that it's clean and done the right way, because we're the ones that are going to live here. Everybody else, they get contracts, do the job then they leave. We're going to be cleaning it and making sure it's safe for our families, our kids, grandkids and future generations."
LRT service on Ottawa's Confederation Line will be suspended between Blair and Hurdman stations this weekend for more work on the track's switch heaters.That eastern section of the line will close Saturday and Sunday. Similar work led to closures over the last two weekends.Last winter, snow accumulation appeared to cause switches on the eastern leg of the Confederation Line to malfunction, one of the key causes of the delays that beset the transit system.The Trillium Line has switch heaters powered by propane and natural gas, whereas the newer Confederation Line's were originally electric. The new heaters being installed will be powered by natural gas.Replacement buses will run in place of trains on that part of the line, while trains will continue to run between Hurdman and Tunney's Pasture stations.
MIAMI — Brad Six becomes Santa Claus, pulling his black boots over his red pants in the office of a Miami outdoor supply company. It's hot, so he forgoes the traditional heavy jacket for a lightweight vest and grabs his Santa hat.But before sliding it on, the gray-bearded 61-year-old dons a plastic face shield and then takes his chair positioned behind a plexiglass sheet."Getting paid is nice, but to get your battery recharged and to really get something lasting out of it requires interacting with the kids — you don’t get a lot of that this year,” said Six, who first portrayed Santa 35 years ago.This is Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age, where visits are conducted with layers of protection or online. Putting hundreds of kids daily onto Santa's lap to talk into his face — that's not happening for most. The physical attributes that make the perfect Santa align perfectly with those that make COVID-19 especially deadly.“Most of us tick all the boxes: We are old, we are overweight, we have diabetes and if we don’t have diabetes, we have heart disease,” said Stephen Arnold, the president of IBRBS, an association formerly known as the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas.That has spurred creativity in Santa's workshops. Santas conducting in-person visits are using some combination of masks, the outdoors, barriers and distance for safety. Others are doing virtual visits, where children chat with Santa online for prices typically ranging from $20 to $100, depending on the length and extras, such as whether customers want a recording. Some Santas are taking the season off.“Santa safety is our No. 1 concern” and negotiated into every contract, said Mitch Allen, president of HireSanta, one of the nation's largest agencies. He said the pandemic initially dried up his business, but it bounced back, especially online.The average Santa makes $5,000 to $10,000 during a normal season, Allen said. That's a welcome bonus for men often retired on a fixed income, but many Santas say revenue is down as corporate parties and other lucrative gigs evaporated.Jac Grimes, a Santa in Greensboro, North Carolina, gave up home visits, about a third of his business. He did it not just for his own health, but to prevent becoming a superspreader, fearing he'd pass the virus from one family to the next.At a farmers market he annually works, Grimes and his wife dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and sit in a parking lot where they to talk to people who remain inside their cars. Some homeowners associations are moving their annual Santa-visitation parties outdoors; Grimes will arrive in his red convertible to greet the crowds from afar.One of the hardest adjustments Santas have made is wearing masks that hide their painstakingly grown beards.“Santa performers are fairly vain people — if they are good,” Grimes said.The virus has many Santas and parents turning to virtual visits, which are booked through each Santa's personal website or agencies like Allen's. That often has Santas turning to their children and others for help mastering the computer skills needed.“It has been a challenge,” said Christopher Saunders, a Santa performer in Tool, Texas, a small town near Dallas.But Saunders and others say virtual sessions are a good if imperfect substitute for in-person visits. Parents fill out questionnaires, allowing performers to personalize their patter, and a side benefit is that the sessions aren't rushed. Many Santa mall visits last no more than two minutes to keep the line moving.“You get a different energy,” Saunders said of the virtual visits. “You can see the child’s expressions, as pure as they are.”Jim Beidel, a Santa performer near Seattle, said knowing the children's personal stories, such as their friends and school, helps Santas sell their Christmas magic.“It really enhances the engagement, the suspension of disbelief, especially among the older children," he said.But even Santas with the best gigs are hurting. Howard Graham usually portrays Santa in the grand foyer of New York's Radio City Music Hall during its Christmas show featuring the Rockettes. That's gone, so he's doing virtual visits and five days with a historic railroad in Pennsylvania. Still, he's taking a financial and emotional hit.“I love what I do ... bringing them (children) a little bit of smiles and hope,” said Graham, who has played Santa at Radio City for eight years. “I am going to do what I can not to change that.”That was also Six's goal as he settled recently into Santa's throne for a three-hour shift at Miami's Bass Pro Shops.As families sat in front of the plexiglass for photos, Six tilted his head so his face shield didn't reflect the camera's flash. He cheerfully waved children around the plexiglass so they could tell him their wish list, keeping them 6 feet (1.8 metres) back. As he wished them a Merry Christmas, an elf swooped in with disinfectant, wiping the plexiglass and bench before the next group sat.Six said the arrangement is “a little easier physically on Santa's back because he doesn't have to pick anybody up, but it's not as enjoyable because Santa doesn't get the interaction he normally gets.”But for families, sitting with Santa, even if behind a shield, is a bit of normalcy in abnormal times.Paul and Sarah Morris and their children, 5-year-old Theo and Sophy, 4, were among the first to visit Six that night. An Air Force family visiting from Hawaii, the Morrises cajoled their children into hugging for their photo. “Stop wiggling,” Theo said, scolding his sister before each sibling told Santa their Christmas wish. Sophy wanted candy; Theo, a remote control Ford Mustang.“This is definitely different," Sarah Morris said of the setup, “but the kids are excited and that's what matters.”Terry Spencer, The Associated Press
From a young age, Sierra Sparks has been passionate about math and science. First, it led her to pursue a biomedical engineering degree at Dalhousie University. In her four years spent at the school, she says some people have doubted her abilities because of the fact that she’s a Black woman — only motivating her to continue following her passion and to prove them wrong. Her persistence has led her to achieve a near-perfect GPA, multiple awards and hold various leadership positions with Dalhousie’s Engineering Society and the Dalhousie Women in Engineering Society. As a student leader, she’s strived to pave the way for more people of colour and women to pursue engineering and other fields that have historically lacked diversity. Sparks’ academics, extracurriculars, leadership and community impact have now led her to her next journey: a fully paid Rhodes Scholarship covering travel, study and expenses for two years at the University of Oxford in England next fall. She is one of 11 students from across Canada to be named a Rhodes Scholar this year and Dalhousie’s 92nd Rhodes Scholar. Here is her conversation with The Chronicle Herald about the opportunity. How does it feel to be named a Rhodes Scholar? It still feels really surreal. I found out late Saturday night and ever since I haven’t been able to stop smiling. It’s just such a dream come true and it’s been an amazing whirlwind of a few days. I’m just very, very excited to be starting my studies next fall at Oxford and to have this really amazing opportunity. The Rhodes Scholarship looks beyond students’ academics and at their overall contributions to their schools. Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve gotten involved at Dalhousie over the past four years? For me, one of the biggest ways that I’ve been involved is with the engineering community at Dalhousie. One of my now best friends convinced me to join the Engineering Society in the first week of school, so ever since then, I’ve really enjoyed being involved with the engineering community and being able to meet with high school students and really talk to them, especially students from underrepresented backgrounds, that’s been a passion of mine, telling them about engineering and telling them it's something they can do because it’s very much a male-dominated field and it’s something I’ve been passionate about, working with the Women in Engineering Society, to increase the number of women in engineering and in science, technology and math as well. In your time at Dalhousie, you’ve been a strong advocate for diversity in engineering. What do you hope the field will look like in the next, let’s say five or 10 years? I do believe that change does take a while to happen, but what I’d like to see is that more from an institutional level, at a lot of these Canadian universities and really across the world as well that are teaching engineering and teaching all of these typically not very diverse fields, I really want them to be making their schools and their classrooms as welcoming as possible. I think that it’s really important that we communicate all of the amazing things that you can do as an engineer or as an engineering student. I know that for me, personally, it’s been some of the best four years of my life and I just really hope that everyone who’s even thinking about maybe doing engineering feels that they’re welcome in that community. And I think in five or 10 years, I would love to see more people from underrepresented backgrounds, such as people of colour and women in the profession, and it’s really great to see whenever there’s more diversity in the profession, because I think that really strengthens the profession and strengthens the classroom as well. You’re able to get the best ideas when you have the most diverse teams. What are you looking forward to most when you head off to England? I’m definitely really, really excited to get to meet with the other Rhodes Scholars. I’ve been reading some of their bios and I’ve been so inspired by some of the things they’re doing at their communities and at their schools and all across the world. It’s going to be really, really cool to get to meet with them and bounce ideas off of them and really learn from their leadership. And I’m really hoping to continue to develop my skills as a leader and as a focused thinker in engineering. Lastly, do you have any advice for other students? My advice would be to keep your doors open, but do what you want to do. As a Black woman in engineering, that’s not something that you always see and it’s one of the underrepresented groups in engineering, and so along the journey, there’s been some prejudices and people maybe not believing that it’s something that I could do or people in my same situation would be able to do. And so I would say to anyone who is thinking about doing engineering or anything at large, if someone tells you not to do something, use that as your motivation to just prove them wrong. That’s kind of been my philosophy throughout this whole journey and all the people who maybe didn’t think I would be able to do this, here I am now, really enjoying my studies and just really blessed with this opportunity and to be able to work with such an amazing university community at Dalhousie and just have such an amazing support from my family and my community. So definitely, whenever someone tells you you can’t do something, don’t let that stop you. This Q&A; has been edited for length and clarity.Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
ESKASONI, N.S. — The provincial government announced Wednesday it was committing more than $700,000 to help with the transportation needs of multiple communities and as a result, Eskasoni First Nation will receive $117,685 for transit funding. “We’re excited, this is something the community members have been asking for and we got it,” said Chief Leroy Denny. In Eskasoni, the money will go toward purchasing a nine-passenger van for door-to-door service within the Mi’kmaq community and a 20-person bus offering routes to Sydney and Membertou First Nation. The province will contribute $67,685 for the van and $50,000 for the bus. Funding for the initiative was provided through the accessible transportation program and covers 75 per cent of the vehicle cost. Other funding announcements for Cape Breton communities includes: $17,353 for a five-passenger van for La Cooperative de Transport de Cheticamp; $55,385 for an eight-passenger van for Strait Area Transit, and $50,000 for a 16-passenger bus for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Denny says the transit service is something the community has advocated for in the past and the system will address some of the barriers the residents face. Eskasoni is about 44 km from Sydney and Denny says some community members on a fixed income must pay money for rides into town so the bus will be a cost-saving tool. Bus service will come at a small fee, but the price will not be fixed until bus drivers are hired and more is known about the operating fees. “Public transportation allows people to more fully participate in their communities and better access work, schools, shopping and important services,” said Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, minister of communities, culture and heritage in a news release. Denny expects the transit system to be operational in early 2021 but will adhere to strict safety guidelines as the province deals with the second wave of COVID-19. He believes reliable transportation may lead to more employment for some community members. “Transportation is very important if you want to get to school or work,” said Denny. In October, the Eskasoni health department launched a bus system to help ease transportation concerns when accessing health care. The recent announcement is separate from that initiative. But both are expected to help residents without vehicles travel around the large reserve. Eskasoni has more than 4,500 residents and spans more than 100 hectares of land. Denny says the population continues to grow and the transit system is another way to help the community. “It’s a really good thing and we’re excited for it,” said Denny.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
A police union on Thursday urged prosecutors to charge a Black music producer with resisting arrest, six days after President Emmanuel Macron said the arrest and beating of the man, which was caught on film, was unacceptable and shameful for France. The beating of Michel Zecler by police officers inside his music studio was captured on closed circuit television and mobile phone footage. It was circulated widely online and sparked new criticism over police violence in France.
Parents and grandparents can't pile into the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre this December to snap a picture of their little ones on stage this Christmas, but as COVID-19 rules cancel the annual tradition, some artists — both big and small — are finding a workaround."We will miss it, because the little ones are just so special," said manager Krista Hansen-Robitschek."Even up to Grade 6 ... You see the same children year after year, and you see them grow."During a regular year, the stage would be blocked with school concerts during weekdays in November and December, with other Christmas concerts taking up every weekend. But she says some local entertainers have found ways to pull off a holiday show on the local stage, following the health guidelines.Spaced apart"We will put three seats between you and the next group of people. And every second row is blocked off," she said."You will be required to wear a mask when you enter the theatre. All staff and patrons, when moving through the theatre, have a mask on. And when you are seated you can take your mask off and watch the show."> 'We just want to make a safe and enjoyable atmosphere' \- Krista Hansen-RobitschekHansen-Robitschek says groups must book their seats within their bubble. There is no intermission, and shows are around an hour long, with the theatre aiming to keep capacity at 100, including performers.WATCH | Colleen Connors reports on a workaround in Corner Brook to replace some school Christmas concerts: "We just want to make a safe and enjoyable atmosphere," she said.Most entertainers are booking multiple nights to accommodate the new, limited seating situation.COVID workaroundOne group that offers private music lessons in Corner Brook discovered a COVID-19 workaround, so all their young students can take part in their upcoming Christmas show on Dec. 18.Graham Academy's youngest performers, who are four and five years old, will record their song and air it during the concert."It gives the children an opportunity to perform and be out there," said instructor Ian Locke. "Christmas is such a performing highlight for many young students."Students practice their Christmas songs and plays wearing masks, standing six feet apart. After months of online performances, Locke is just delighted to return to the stage, even though it's on a smaller, safer scale."We are so happy to be back, because we haven't been there since last Christmas," he said.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a lower federal court to reexamine California restrictions on indoor religious services in areas hard hit by the coronavirus in light of the justices' recent ruling in favour of churches and synagogues in New York.The high court's unsigned order, with no noted dissent, leaves the California restrictions in place for now. But it throws out a federal district court ruling that rejected a challenge to the limits from Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state.Last week, the Supreme Court split 5-4 in holding that New York could not enforce certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues.With a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put most of the state under heightened restrictions, which include a ban on indoor singing and chanting.The Associated Press
Seven classrooms have been shut down at Diamond Trail Public School in Welland after an individual there tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” District School Board of Niagara said in a news release. Whether the individual who contracted the coronavirus is a student or staff member was not publicly known Wednesday. “The preventative COVID-19 practices that Diamond Trail has been following since the beginning of school, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue,” DSBN said. The same day DSBN reported the case at Diamond Trail, Niagara Catholic District School Board confirmed that the case count at St. Martin Catholic Elementary school in Stevensville had climbed to double digits. The province’s database is indicating that three of the school’s10 cases have been resolved. Of the remaining cases, four have been identified as students and three as staff. The Niagara Catholic website indicated these seven cases are the only active cases for the board. An outbreak was declared at St. Martin on Nov. 19. For DSBN, there are seven active cases from six schools; two at Prince Philip and one case at Martha Cullimore in Niagara Falls, two cases at Eden High School in St. Catharines, one at Port Colborne High School and one at Diamond Trail. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Parents of students with special needs are struggling to adapt as states decide whether to close schools again as a second wave of COVID-19 hits the country. (Dec. 3)
Les femmes de Cowansville pourront obtenir une subvention pour leurs produits d’hygiène féminine durables. À partir du 1er janvier, en même temps que Brigham, la Ville deviendra l’une des rares au Québec à offrir ce genre de programme pour aider à payer les frais de protections féminines lavables. Cette initiative s’inscrit dans le plan d’action de développement durable de Cowansville. Elle a été adoptée par le conseil municipal mardi soir. Une citoyenne de 12 ans et plus pourra recevoir un maximum de 50 $ par an pour ces achats. Ceux-ci devront être réalisés après le 1er janvier 2021. Elle devra présenter la facture originale de l’achat et une preuve de résidence avec le formulaire. Un budget de 5000 $ est prévu pour 2021. La Ville évaluera s’il en vaut la peine d’augmenter le budget alloué au programme. L’organisme cowansvillois Collective par et pour elle sera mandaté par la Ville pour gérer la subvention. Elle recevra un montant de 20 $ par dossier pour couvrir les frais. Cet argent n’est pas calculé dans les 5000 $ dégagés pour ce programme. Des milliers de serviettes en moins «Dans une vie, une femme peut utiliser entre 10 000 et 15 000 serviettes hygiéniques, a souligné la mairesse Sylvie Beauregard. On a des subventions pour les couches lavables, maintenant on en a une pour les serviettes hygiéniques lavables.» Les serviettes hygiéniques jetables peuvent prendre jusqu'à 500 ans pour se décomposer. La subvention pourra s’appliquer également pour les coupes menstruelles et toute autre protection réutilisable et durable, tels que des serviettes hygiéniques ou des sous-vêtements absorbants lavables. Cette initiative vient de suggestions reçues par des citoyens et le comité vert. «Pourquoi pas sortir du cadre régulier et de subventionner les articles d’hygiène féminine ? C’est de plus en plus dispendieux, alors s’il y a deux ou trois filles dans une famille, la facture monte vite», souligne Mme Beauregard. «Et on sait que ça a un impact sur l’environnement. Si on peut contribuer de cette façon-là, on le lance. On va voir si les gens y adhèrent.» Elle rappelle au passage qu’une telle subvention existe déjà pour les couches lavables. Mme Beauregard ne détenait pas de données sur la quantité de protections jetables qui se retrouvent à l’enfouissement annuellement. À Brigham aussi Grâce à la suggestion de la conseillère municipale Stéphanie Martin-Gauthier, le village de Brigham a lui aussi décidé de donner un coup de main aux femmes pour l’achat de tels produits en les incluant à la subvention déjà existante pour les couches lavables pour enfants. La Municipalité accordera 50 % du coût d’acquisition, avec la facture, pour un maximum de 100 $ par personne, pour des produits d’hygiène féminine durables et des produits réutilisables de protection contre l’incontinence. Un budget annuel de 1000 $ est alloué à ce programme, somme qui pourra être ajustée au besoin. «Le budget du programme n’a pas été changé puisque, pour les couches, on n’a jamais eu plus de deux ou trois demandes par année, indique le maire Steven Neil. En donnant 50 %, ça nous permet d’aider plus de monde, mais on n’a aucune idée de ce que ça peut avoir comme popularité.» Une trentaine de municipalités et arrondissements montréalais offrent un tel programme au Québec. Granby prévoit en adopter un dans les prochains mois.Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
SHEET HARBOUR – The Sheet Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce is on a mission to spread a little joy this holiday season to help make up for the numerous let-downs of the past year. Chamber director Meryl Atkinson is working with a committee to raise community spirit, provide opportunity and spread happiness. An idea for an outdoor Christmas event has evolved, taking all government protocols into consideration to keep participants safe from the coronavirus. The first call Atkinson made before any advertising was to the RCMP. “We will not be stopping any traffic, we will follow all public health guidelines and participants will be expected to social distance,” she said. “This is a community event and there are lots of people involved. We’ve tried to capture as many people and activities as we can, while having safety foremost in mind. “We are calling the event ‘Christmas on Main Street’,” Atkinson told The Journal. “We had a $1,100 grant we couldn’t use on Canada Day and so we are moving it to the Christmas season.” Taking all the restrictions into account, the event – slated for Dec. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. – will have 22 vendors organized in separate locations along a 2.5-kilometre stretch of Main Street. Vendors, who would have normally sold their wares at indoor markets and craft sales, will supply their own tables and other necessities. “We will market the event,” Atkinson said. “What we are offering is opportunity and we have vendors selling their products, including Christmas ornaments, jewellery, preserves, mats, Scentsy – and so much more.” Vendors will set up in assigned vacant spaces, parking lots and empty areas on Main Street – between the bridges – West River Bridge to East River Bridge. Each vendor will supply sanitizer and those attending will be expected to wear masks. “There is so much more planned,” explained Atkinson. “We have a trackless train set up over by St. James Church in that large lot. It will be free and the operator, dressed as an elf, will sanitize after every child. Local photographer Robert Moser will be taking photos.” Residents have been asked to participate by adopting one of the 71 trees along the business district. “Let Rhea Snow know if you are interested in decorating one of the trees along the route,” Atkinson said, “… and you can make it in memory of someone special if you’d like. The more lights and colour the better.” Several businesses have donated cash to cover expenses and the Lions Club will serve free hot tea, coffee and individually wrapped cookies at MacPhee House. Sheet Harbour Radio will broadcast live music provided by local musicians Nathalie Ladouceur and Dan and Sherrie Goodsell. Chamber members have put up the annual LED wreaths on the light poles throughout the business district and MacPhee House will have the community tree lit. Ground search and rescue will be there with a food truck – hoping to raise some cash, with their annual fundraising events cancelled due to COVID-19. “Carollers will be singing next to Foodland and Santa and the Mrs. will be in the NSLC vacant lot. We have people selling hot chocolate to raise funds for the Gerald Hardy Society and a bonfire and hot apple cider will be offered in the farmers’ market lot,” continued Atkinson. “Lily’s Hill is hosting a ‘Slap Out 2020’ contest, where participants will shoot hockey pucks into an open dryer. The library is packaging individual grab-bags for the children, and others are putting out their Christmas inflatables.” A map of where vendors will be located and parking along the route will be on the Sheet Harbour Facebook page, with printed copies on notice boards. Vendors will also have copies. “There is lots of space, lots of vendors and lots of events…. Be mindful, follow guidelines and be safe,” said Atkinson. “Now… let’s hope for good weather … and let’s spread joy.”Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The position of County warden will be contested this year as both incumbent Liz Danielsen and Coun. Brent Devolin are vying for the position. The two councillors delivered speeches at the Nov. 25 council meeting about their candidacy for the role. Deputy warden Andrea Roberts and Coun. Cec Ryall backed Devolin’s nomination, while councillors Carol Moffatt and Dave Burton backed Danielsen’s. The election by councillors and swearing-in will occur Dec. 15. Danielsen is attempting to break recent historical precedent. Hers was the first multi-year warden term since Murray Fearrey in 2011-2012, and there has not been a three-year warden since at least 2004. Danielsen said her attempt may seem extraordinary but argued for the need for continuity in a time such as this. “I just have tried to remain steadfastly available every single day since the pandemic began,” she said. “I believe that continuity is vital. We do remain under a state of local emergency and I’ve been working closely with a lot of the department heads since early March. And continuity in such times brings consistency in decision making.” Danielsen went unchallenged for the position last year and beat out Burton for the role in 2018. Before that, there had been a one-year cycle for warden since 2013. Devolin, who served as warden for one year in 2017, said the County would face significant changes in the second part of council’s term, with COVID-19, population growth, and diminishing upper government funding. “Changes that will need to occur in Haliburton will involve municipal, County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Eastern Ontario governing bodies to achieve the best possible outcomes. I have a keen interest in nurturing these relationships to achieve outcomes that cannot be achieved alone,” Devolin said. He added he is not an unknown quantity to anyone on council. “By now, all of you pretty well know my strengths and weaknesses that I would bring to the position of warden,” Devolin said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve as you know and I’ll put time and energy to fulfill the role.” Danielsen also recognized the change to come with the County services delivery review. “I can honestly say that I have no preconceived bias or thoughts on the outcome of the services delivery review other than a willingness to work hard to see improvements made,” Danielsen said. “I’d be proud to continue as your warden. I believe I have good community support and a good rapport with all of you.”Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
CORNWALL – The COVID-19 infection curve is going back up after two weeks of bending in the right direction, downward. Overall infection numbers in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region have increased with 39 cases added since this weekend. As of the December 1st statistics update from the EOHU, there were 123 active cases of the virus in the region. More than half (65) of the active cases were in the Prescott-Russell area of the health unit, while Cornwall had 29 active cases and SDG Counties had 27. There have been 874 infections in the region since the beginning of the pandemic in February. The region remains at the Yellow level according to the Ministry of Health guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions. The rolling seven-day-average for the region is 19.9 cases per 100,000 people, which is considered moderate. A high level of infection is 25 or more cases per 100,000 people. The EOHU region peaked on October 13-19 with a rolling average of 53.5 cases. No information was given by the EOHU about the increased infection rate since the weekend. Most of the new infections that have occurred since October have had an “epi-link” meaning it is from a known source like a close contact. South Dundas has zero active cases while North Dundas has one new case, the first in nearly four weeks for that municipality. Including the new case, North Dundas has had 20 COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, South Dundas has had fewer than five. The EOHU does not report exact overall numbers of cases until the case count reaches five. North Stormont has its first COVID-19 infections of the pandemic with four new cases over the weekend, while South Stormont has 14 active cases. The Upper Canada District School Board issued a notice on Sunday that one case of the virus was confirmed at Tagwi Secondary School in Avonmore. “The EOHU is working closely with the school and is actively communicating with all individuals who have been identified as possible close contacts through high-risk exposures,” the board said in a release adding that the school was taking steps to “prevent spread in the school and community.” There was no change in school operations as of Tuesday and it was not disclosed if it was a staff member or a student who tested positive. The school is not considered in an outbreak situation currently. No response to questions by The Leader was received by press deadline as the EOHU has moved to a new schedule for media briefings. The EOHU now hosts a twice-weekly media availability on Tuesday and Friday. Tagwi is one of four schools with active cases of COVID-19. Only the French-Catholic school in Casselman, Sainte-Euphémie, is closed due to several classes having contact with an individual who later tested positive. No schools in Dundas County have had any known cases.Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
NEW DELHI — Indian movie superstar Rajinikanth said Thursday he plans to launch his own political party in southern India in January, ending years of speculation by millions of his fans on his political future.He said in a tweet that he will make an announcement on Dec. 31, apparently in relation to legislative elections in Tamil Nadu state expected around June next year. He started taking an active part in politics in 2017.Rajinikanth, 69, is one of India’s most popular stars with more than 175 films since 1975, mostly in the Tamil and Telugu languages.“In the upcoming Assembly elections, the emergence of spiritual politics will happen for sure. A wonder will happen,” he tweeted. An announcement on matters connected to the party's launch will be made Dec. 31, he said.His political prospects appear bright following a vacuum created by the deaths of Jayaram Jayalalithaa, an actor-turned politician with the governing party in the state, and Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the leader of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party.Cinema has always influenced Tamil politics by turning actors into popular politicians.C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi were scriptwriters who went on to become chief ministers. M.G. Ramachandran, a top actor-turned-politician, also had a strong following.Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor for three years before joining an acting school. He started in small roles as a villain in Tamil cinema and worked his way up, landing roles in Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai.Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan also tried his hand in politics as a member of India’s Parliament, representing the Congress party in support of his friend, then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in the 1980s. He resigned after three years following allegations that he accepted bribes in the purchase of artillery guns. His name was later cleared in the scandal.Ashok Sharma, The Associated Press
La maison inhabitée de Pointe-Parent qui devait être démolie en raison de l’érosion qui mettait en danger la structure a été complètement détruite par un incendie dans la nuit du 26 au 27 novembre. Il s’agit du second bâtiment à être la proie des flammes en l’espace de deux mois dans le village. Jeudi matin, Pauline Dupuis ne savait plus comment réagir devant les décombres fumantes du 57 rue Parent. « C’est vraiment désolant. Il n’y a pas d’autre mot pour décrire ça. » C’est une résidente de Pointe-Parent, Madeleine Hounsell, qui lui a téléphoné vers minuit et demi pour lui dire que « le feu était pris dans la maison ». À son arrivée sur les lieux, il était déjà trop tard. La résidence inoccupée devait être démantibulée le matin même. Les vagues et les vents forts de la tempête du 16 novembre avaient accéléré l’érosion du terrain, mettant en danger l’intégrité de la structure. La démolition de la maison éprouvait déjà Mme Dupuis, qui y a vécu avec sa famille pendant près de 30 ans. « C’est détruire des souvenirs des enfants, du conjoint, de la famille », regrettait-elle en entrevue la semaine précédente. La maison n’était plus assurée depuis au moins un an et l’électricité avait été coupée en janvier 2020. Le Service des incendies de la communauté innue de Nutashkuan n’a pas été en mesure de déterminer la cause de l’incident. La Sûreté du Québec (SQ) a confirmé qu’une enquête était en cours et qu’elle avait été avisée d’une entrée par effraction et de méfaits survenus la même nuit que le feu dans une maison voisine. Les actes de vandalisme sont décriés depuis longtemps par la dizaine de villageois qui habitent encore dans le hameau de Pointe-Parent. Un second incendie en deux mois est loin d’atténuer le sentiment d’inquiétude qui règne chez les résidents. La mairesse de Natashquan, Marie-Claude Vigneault, évoque un « climat de terreur ». « Les gens sont tristes et ont peur, c’est la tristesse et la rage, constate-t-elle. Ils ont peur que le feu prenne dans leur maison quand ils y sont. » Un premier incendie avait ravagé une autre maison inhabitée dans la nuit du 22 au 23 septembre. L’enquête de la SQ n’a pas abouti, faute de preuve. L’érosion gruge la patience des résidents En plus du vandalisme, l’érosion des berges constitue un enjeu pressant pour le village de Pointe-Parent. Au fil des années, les résidences situées sur la berge de la rivière Natashquan ont perdu des dizaines de mètres de terrain. C’est le cas de Jean-Guy Landry, qui habite rue du Moulin. « Quand j’ai pris la maison il y a de cela une vingtaine d’années, j’avais un bon 70-80 pieds en avant. Tout est parti. » L’homme de 72 ans a dû déplacer sa fosse septique et sa corde à linge pour éviter qu’elles ne tombent dans la rivière. Pauline Dupuis savait que l’érosion finirait par signer l’arrêt de sa mort de sa propriété de Pointe-Parent. « Depuis qu’on a quitté [en 2013], je dirais qu’on a perdu un bon 40 pieds certainement. Il y avait beaucoup de terrain dans le temps, il y a déjà eu un moulin à scie en avant à quelques centaines de pieds. » Si elle a loué la maison jusqu’en 2017, elle refusait d’accueillir des locataires depuis. « Vu l’érosion à chaque année, c’était trop dangereux d’après moi. » Au cours de l’été dernier, Mme Dupuis a reçu une lettre du ministère de la Sécurité publique l’avisant que sa propriété représentait un « danger imminent » et qu’elle devait soit la déplacer, soit la démolir. Elle a soupesé les options, mais la tempête du 16 novembre l’a forcée à entamer le processus de démolition de la maison. Elle s’inquiète de la situation des autres résidents qui vivent au bord de la berge. « Les deux autres qui sont plus à l’est, il leur reste du terrain comme moi il m’en restait au mois d’août, évalue-t-elle. Du mois d’août à aujourd’hui, je suis rendue à la démolition. » Jean-Guy Landry a aussi reçu l’avertissement de la Sécurité publique. L’idée de quitter sa demeure l’attriste. « Ce n’est pas évident. Quand tu as passé ta vie ici et que tu es habitué à tes affaires… Mais je n’ai pas le choix. » Au moment de rencontrer notre journaliste, cinq mètres séparaient le côté est de sa maison de la berge érodée. M. Landry affirme que, par le passé, des représentants de la sécurité civile étaient déjà venus lui indiquer que sa résidence était « très à risque ». « Ils m’ont laissé les documents, mais je n’ai pas pris la décision parce que le village était supposé se vendre. Vu que le village était censé se vendre, je ne voulais pas entamer des démarches pour rien. » « [La situation] aurait été évitée si le dossier de Pointe-Parent* avait été réglé », soutient-il. « Ça ne peut plus durer » La mairesse de Natashquan abonde dans le même sens que Jean-Guy Landry. « Si les actions avaient été prises avant pour relocaliser les gens, Mme Dupuis n’aurait pas eu à s’occuper de sa maison et de tous les frais encourus », estime Marie-Claude Vigneault. Le ministère de la Sécurité publique peut accorder une aide financière aux propriétaires qui doivent déplacer ou stabiliser leur résidence menacée par l’imminence de l'érosion, mais Pauline Dupuis n’entrait pas dans cette catégorie parce qu’elle ne louait plus sa propriété. Elle devait donc défrayer l’entièreté des coûts de la démolition de la maison, entre 10 000 et 15 000 $. Cette situation est « aberrante », estime Mme Vigneault, « inacceptable » renchérit la députée de Duplessis, Lorraine Richard. Les deux élues entendent exiger que le Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones (SAA), responsable du dossier de la relocalisation du village de Pointe-Parent, paie à Mme Dupuis la somme à laquelle avait été évaluée sa propriété, au moins à ce « qu’elle ait accès à une compensation », indique Mme Richard. « En venant évaluer les maisons de Pointe-Parent [en 2018], on a dit aux propriétaires “dans quelques mois, vous allez avoir des nouvelles et ça va être réglé”, mais ça n’a jamais été fait. Je n’accepterai plus qu’on se fasse niaiser comme ça », prévient Marie-Claude Vigneault. « C’est la santé physique et psychologique des gens qui est en danger. Il va arriver des drames si on attend trop », déplore-t-elle. Une rencontre avec la mairesse, le préfet de Minganie, Luc Noël, la députée de Duplessis et des représentants du Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones est prévue le 4 décembre. Pour l’instant, Lorraine Richard a demandé une présence accrue d’agents de la SQ à Pointe-Parent « pour faire en sorte de sécuriser les gens ». Les résidents du hameau continuent toutefois de vivre dans la crainte. Une question tourmente Pauline Dupuis : « La prochaine, ça va être laquelle? » *Le dossier de relocalisation du hameau de Pointe-Parent est un enjeu de longue date. Le village est de plus en plus enclavé par la communauté innue de Nutashkuan, qui désire acquérir le territoire pour agrandir la réserve. Les discussions entre les résidents, la municipalité de Natashquan et le Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones durent depuis près de 30 ans. La plupart des résidents ont quitté le hameau au fil des années, laissant la majorité des maisons inhabitées. Des actes de vandalisme y sont régulièrement commis, ce qui accentue les inquiétudes des habitants restants. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
EASTERN SHORE – Former Moser River resident Marie Turner entered Northwood Continuing Care facility last November. While it was her first placement, it was not her first choice. When she applied, she selected Harbourview Lodge (HVL) in Sheet Harbour as her first choice, to allow her to live in the same community as her family. Turner’s sister, former Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey, is unhappy her sister has not, after a year, been transferred back to her home. McCluskey looked into the policy posted on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) website. “The policy reads ‘as soon as a vacancy becomes available – you are transferred to your first choice’ – but that’s not true. She’s housed now – they have no compassion. There have been vacancies in HVL over the past year but no transfer for Marie,” she says. Turner contracted COVID-19 last spring as a Northwood resident and spent months unable to have any visits from family members, especially while she was ill. “Marie was in a room with another woman and they didn’t even move her,” complains McCluskey. “She suffered from pains in her legs and headaches. She was lucky and did not become extremely ill – and she survived.” The former politician with a 23-year history in municipal government stresses long-term care facility workers are underpaid for the work they do. “They work hard. Administration undervalues the work they do so they can have a lower pay scale. They’ve dropped the ball. COVID should never have been in there [Northwood].” Turner will turn 93 on Dec. 6 and her sister says she should have been given the opportunity months ago – before the pandemic – to transfer to HVL to spend these years near her children and grandchildren. “They don’t care,” McCluskey tells The Journal by phone. “They have such little empathy for seniors. The dear soul has already had COVID, she could have been transferred before this second wave.” McCluskey does not feel there is any hope her sister will get moved now. “They’ve closed the facilities again. They had given false hope and now there is no solution – they are not going to move anybody now,” she said. McCluskey and Turner are two of the four sisters left from a family of nine. “How little do our seniors mean? They seem to think seniors only die anyway. They built our country and deserve dignity,” McCluskey says. Arthur Turner, Marie’s son, tells The Journal how difficult it was for his family when his mom was diagnosed with coronavirus. “I feel frustration about her being there – and not here – as her choice was. The system should be in place that puts her where she chooses to live.” The last time Arthur saw his mother, in person, was this fall at Northwood. “I had all the COVID gear on and was able to hug her – but only for a second.” When Turner heard of his mother’s COVID diagnosis he felt there had been no consideration for either his mother or her family. “We might never see her again. She was quite low and we couldn’t visit and maybe had seen her for the last time….” Communication with his mother, while she lives in a facility 90 kilometres away from him, has proven to be a challenge. “We try to reach her by phone – but we usually can’t get a hold of her. It’s always an ordeal,” Arthur says. “We have to wait until the nurses are available to help us set it up and get Mom to the phone. She is in her room a lot.” Arthur remains hopeful his mother will ultimately get the transfer she desires and become a resident at Harbourview Lodge. “It would be so good for her to return to her home community. I feel she deserves it, really. You know, she taught school down here and worked for the Guild faithfully,” he shares. “She was a real good person – she was a member of the Eastern Star and helped raise a lot of money for her community. She set a good example.” Arthur’s sister, Ann Martin, is a registered nurse at HVL. “It would be wonderful for Mom to be here and have my sister so close – helping to care for her. We could all see her. I know during COVID they were not moving anybody but there have been quite a few openings here – but there always seems to be red tape,” she says. The Journal contacted NSHA to inquire about the transfer and placement policy, but did not receive a reply by press time.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Russia has revoked the residence permit of a U.S. human rights worker on national security grounds and ordered her to leave within two weeks, a spokeswoman for the organisation she heads said on Thursday. Vanessa Kogan, director of the Justice Initiative rights group, an organisation that provides legal assistance to rights victims, particularly from the turbulent North Caucasus region, has lived in Russia for 11 years, Ksenia Babich, the spokeswoman, told Reuters.