WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Kroger's sales surged in the third quarter as COVID-19 infections rose rapidly in the fall and Americans restocked pantries in anticipation of spending more time at home.The grocer boosted its full-year outlook believing that families will continue to try to reduce their risks to exposure.Revenue climbed to $29.72 billion, from $27.97 billion and online sales more than doubled. That was a little shy of the $29.98 billion Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research, and shares fell almost 5% at the opening bell Thursday.More people did appear to get food or drinks outside the home the during the three-month reporting period, whether that was restaurants, hotels or airports, said Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData. But he said the dining at home trend isn't going anywhere soon.“While the trends have unraveled somewhat, they are still very much present, and we believe that consumers will continue to dine more at home as we move into 2021,” Saunders said. “This is both because going back to offices will be a prolonged process and because economic pressures will deter some households from eating out.”On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 712,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the latest sign that the U.S. economy and job market remain under stress from an intensifying viral outbreak.That, as well as a significant surge in COVID-19 infections, has pushed more people to devote more of their dining budget toward the home.Kroger's comparable-store sales rose 10.9% excluding fuel sales, which topped projections, and its profit was better than analysts had expected.Kroger Co. earned $631 million, or 80 cents per share, for the three months ended Nov. 7. Adjusted earnings were 71 cents per share, easily beating the 66 cents Wall Street was looking for. And it dwarfed last year's quarterly profit of $263 million.For the full year, the Cincinnati grocer now anticipates adjusted earnings per share growth of between 50% and 53%. It expects comparable-store sales to be up around 14%. That's up a point from earlier same-store sales forecasts, but it broadened its earnings-per-share growth to the lower side.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Some leaders and health professionals say they are facing a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic of persuading Indigenous people to trust a health system that has a history of experimenting on them.“There have been some deceitful and terrible things that have been done to our communities historically,” said Arlen Dumas, the Assembly of Manitoba Chief's grand chief. Dumas looked directly into the camera of his computer during the First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team's last online update on Friday. He reassured those listening that Indigenous leaders would not allow horrific experiments of the past to be repeated.“As far as I’m involved, things of that sort are never going to happen.”Many watching the online update commented with concerns about COVID-19 health advice, while others speculated about the use of a vaccine. Similar worries are echoed on social media pages for Indigenous communities.Dumas said he understands why there is so much mistrust among Indigenous people. His own family members have reached out with concerns that a COVID-19 vaccine will be just another experiment.The skepticism is grounded in real historical wrongs, said Ian Mosby, an assistant professor at Toronto's Ryerson University.There are many examples in Canadian history of scientists sponsored by the federal government or the government itself doing medical experiments on Indigenous people, he said.“The problem is trying to solve it in the middle of an emergency, in the middle of a pandemic, and trying to gain that trust,” Mosby said.“These solutions needed to start 20, 30, 50 years ago.”Mosby’s research uncovered a long-standing, government-run food experiment on deliberately malnourished Indigenous children in the 1940s. In one residential school, milk rations were held back for two years. In another, a special flour that was illegal elsewhere in Canada was given to Indigenous children.Indigenous children were also the subject of a tuberculosis vaccine trial in Saskatchewan that began in the 1930s. Research has shown that so-called Indian Hospitals, which were created to treat Indigenous people with tuberculosis, were rife with medical experimentation. In recent years, there have been lawsuits over the forced sterilization of Indigenous women and skin grafts performed on Inuit people.Melanie MacKinnon, who leads the First Nations pandemic response team, has warned that the consequences for not trusting public health orders can by catastrophic. “It’s not a game. We need to take this serious and it is at a critical, critical juncture," she told last week's briefing.Indigenous Services Canada says that, as of Tuesday, there were 4,069 COVID-19 cases on reserves in Canada. Of those, 1,564 were active.In Manitoba, infections of Indigenous people living on and off reserve have surged in recent weeks. First Nations people are also experiencing more severe outcomes, the response team's data shows.As of Wednesday, there were more than 1,713 active cases among First Nations people on and off reserves in Manitoba. First Nations patients made up 26 per cent of hospitalizations and 45 per cent of people in intensive care.So far, 45 First Nations members in the province have died from COVID-19 — the vast majority in the last couple of weeks. The average age of death was 66, while it was 83 for Manitoba's overall population. An Indigenous boy under the age of 10 died last weekend.Federal officials have said the initial distribution of a vaccine could begin in the new year. First Nations leaders across the country has been advocating for their communities to be a priority.Dr. Marcia Anderson, who is also on the pandemic response team, recalled how H1N1 flu outbreaks in 2009 also had a disproportionate impact on First Nations in Canada. Most Indigenous people were eventually open to taking the H1N1 vaccine, she added.She hopes there will be a similar acceptance for the COVID-19 inoculation."There are rigorous ethical standards and protocols in place," Anderson said.“The eyes of the world are on this vaccine.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Premier Blaine Higgs and Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, are holding out hope of returning to the yellow phase soon for two zones in the province.The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions are all in the more restrictive orange phase of recovery.At a news conference on Thursday, Russell noted that the Moncton region and Frederiction region, Zone 1 and Zone 3, will be undergoing a risk assessment on Sunday to evaluate the effectiveness of measures that were announced when they were rolled back to the orange phase last month."We are seeing some progress, people are following Public Health advice and measures," Russell said.The Saint John region, Zone 2, is a bit further behind, Russell said.Higgs also spoke about the hoped-for return to yellow and urged New Brunswickers not to let their guard down."We got complacent, and that's why we wound up back in the orange zones," he said.He said he understands and shares the longing to return to "some semblance of normal family get-togethers, noting that he won't see his daughters or grandchildren at Christmas. "My mother will celebrate her 100th birthday, and a lot of that will be online celebrations for my family members," he said. "So I'm excited to get back to yellow too ... but every one of us must play a role. It's urgent right now that we don't lose focus."6 new cases reported on ThursdayDr. Jennifer Russell announced six new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick on Thursday.The cases break down this way: * One new case in the Moncton region (Zone 1), age 30 to 39 * Three cases in the Saint John region (Zone 2), including one person under age 19, one 30 to 39, and one 60 to 69, and * Two cases in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), both in people in their 60s.Russell also declared the COVID-19 outbreak in Zone 5, the Campbellton region, officially over.It has been 28 days, which is two COVID-19 incubation periods, since the last confirmed case within Zone 5.Russell thanked the community and health-care workers for the role they played in bringing the outbreak to a close."It really was a collective effort, everyone who self-isolated when directed, wore masks, practised physical distancing, it really helped us bring this outbreak under control quickly," she said.Shorter quarantine period will be reviewedDr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, says she's aware of a U.S. move to reduce the recommended quarantine time for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case by up to a week, but it isn't likely to happen in New Brunswick soon.The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday it had shortened the recommended length of quarantine after exposure from 14 days to 10 — or seven days with a negative test result.Asked about the U.S. move, Russell said her team is "studying that right now.""It's not a new concept," she said, "but thus far in New Brunswick we haven't really felt confident that we could reduce that, although other jurisdictions have." Russell said New Brunswick has continued to err on the side of caution to be "as safe and secure as we possibly can."While it is possible to catch the majority of people by the 10-day quarantine timeline, "we do find there are people who come back positive on day 10 and later.""It really is a numbers game," Russell said. "So we are going to review that information, but I don't see a move to making any changes at this point in time."Higgs addresses enforcement complaints Premier Blaine Higgs devoted a portion of his address at the COVID-19 briefing Thursday to "frustration" with enforcement of rules in orange phase zones.The issue has been in the spotlight in recent days, particularly in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), where videos and photos of enforcement of mask rules have made headlines."I know this surveillance has been challenging, for all of us," Higgs said. "And I know it's frustrating but it's a small price to pay to get back into yellow and get back to enjoying our families."Higgs said that while "I've got complaints too" about enforcement officials and mechanisms, the officers are "just trying to do their jobs.""I want you to put yourself in their shoes," he said. "They're out there every day, they're taking abuse." Asked about whether enforcement officials were directed to hand out tickets or to hand out warnings first, Higgs said he didn't give any instruction related to specific infractions.He noted that in the three orange zones — Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions — a total of 2,500 sites were visited, and 120 tickets were issued."What we have asked our public safety officers to do is ensure that the orange zone rules are being followed," he said. "It's what they do every day, they're well-trained to be looking at infractions."In doing so, he said, they are helping to keep New Brunswick safe."I'm pleased to say thus far that's the situation we're in," Higgs said. "The pandemic is not out of control and people are being protected, because everyone's doing their job."Head of N.B.'s vaccine rollout planning announcedGreg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, will lead the province's vaccine rollout, Premier Blaine Higgs announced Thursday.MacCallum will be working with federal officials and the military to plan the logistics, including determining locations for administering the vaccine in New Brunswick."However, before we can do any of that we need to know the quantities we'll be receiving, and when," Higgs said at the COVID-19 briefing. "And we don't know any of that."Higgs said he has a call with the prime minister and premiers Thursday night, and another with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc on Friday, "so maybe that will be answered."Longer Christmas holiday rejectedPublic school students and teachers won't get a longer holiday break this year, Education Minister Dominic Cardy said Thursday. Cardy said he consulted Public Health before deciding against extending the break, which will run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1. Some teachers have complained of feeling worn out by the challenges of teaching during the pandemic and hoped for a few more days of rest over the holidays.But Cardy said other teachers disagreed, and there is no health reason for extending the holidays beyond Jan. 1."I've heard from a lot of teachers who have said they are completely ready to start their work," Cardy told Radio-Canada.Teen with autism barred from stores without a maskA Moncton woman says she's too afraid to go out in public with her autistic son, who's exempt from wearing a mask.Christine Roberts says her 16-year-old son, Jayden Moore, received a doctor's note for his exemption, as he's been diagnosed as moderate to high-functioning on the autism spectrum, with sensory processing disorder and high anxiety.If he were forced to wear a mask, Jayden would have a breakdown or refuse to leave the house, Roberts said. "He will just stop moving or sit down on the floor wherever he's at," she said. "If it's bad enough, he'll start crying."Roberts said it's making her life very difficult because she doesn't drive. She and her son can't take the bus because masks are required."I'm fearful, I'm anxious and it's not over a virus," she said. "It's over getting fined when I can't afford it."Masks are required in public spaces indoors and outdoors under the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery, where Moncton sits as part of the Zone 1 region health zone.According to the New Brunswick government website, medical exemptions for masks are allowed.When the Moncton region was in the yellow phase, Roberts would rush into a store and find the manager or staff right away to let them know of Jayden's exemption. But it didn't do much good. "We're kind of jumped on by every employee."Earlier this week, a woman in Woodstock was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice after an encounter with police after she didn't show a store proof of a medical exemption from wearing mask.Education Minister Dominic Cardy told Information Morning Moncton on Wednesday that store owners are free to insist that masks are worn on their premisesRoberts said she's frustrated and saddened by this."It's not business owners' responsibility to uphold my son's human's rights. It's my government."She has written letters to Premier Blaine Higgs and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, but she hasn't heard back.Roberts said she's still hopeful she will be able to shop for basic needs or to take her son outside for a walk, just to get some exercise."I really don't know what to do."One new case at Shannex in Saint JohnResults of testing done Tuesday at Shannex Parkland facility's Tucker Hall unit in Saint John have been processed and confirmed one new case of COVID-19 in an employee, Shannex said in a statement on its website Thursday.The employee has been out of the workplace and self-isolating since Nov. 24 for being a close contact of a previously confirmed case, the statement said.Test results for all of the residents of Tucker Hall were negative."At this time, we currently have a total of 16 confirmed cases: 10 residents and five employees at Tucker Hall, and one employee at Carleton Hall," Shannex said in the statement. It noted that the residents who tested positive continue to be cared for in a special area located on Simms Court, and that they are in discussion with Public Health about re-testing.Potential public exposure warnings for Saint John, MonctonPublic Health has warned of the following possible exposures to the virus in the Saint John and Moncton areas, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.Saint John area * Churchill's Pub on Nov. 20, at 8 Grannan St., between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saint John. * Picaroons on Nov. 21, at 30 Canterbury St., between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Saint John. * Thandi's Restaurant on Nov. 21 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. 33 Canterbury St., Saint John * Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., 47 Clark Rd., RothesayMoncton * GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Flights into Moncton: * Air Canada Flight 8372 onNov. 28 from Fort McMurray to Calgary, departed 6:10 a.m * Air Canada Flight 144 onNov. 28 from Calgary to Toronto, departed at 11:15 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 onNov. 28 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:30 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 178 on Nov. 19 from Edmonton to Toronto, arrived at 5:58 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 404 on Nov. 19 from Toronto to Montreal, arrived at 10:16 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8902 on Nov. 19 from Montreal to Moncton, arrived at 4:17 p.m.What to do if you have a symptomPeople concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: * A fever above 38 C. * A new cough or worsening chronic cough. * Sore throat. * Runny nose. * Headache. * New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. * Difficulty breathing.In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.People with one of those symptoms should: * Stay at home. * Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. * Describe symptoms and travel history. * Follow instructions.
Two men charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Braden Richard Bull of Little Pine First Nation appeared in Lloydminster court Dec. 2 and their matters were adjourned. Twenty-four-year-old Vega Bear was arrested in September and twenty-six-year-old Branden Dillon was arrested in October. Bull’s body was found near a highway on Onion Lake Cree Nation Jan. 21, 2020. Bull was last seen on Jan. 7 and he was reported missing on Jan. 20. Bull’s death was one of three murders in a span of two months that prompted Onion Lake Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency. Conrad Mooswa’s body was found Oct. 23, 2019, at a residence on Onion Lake Cree Nation. Marvin Stanley was arrested in October 2019 and charged with second-decree murder. Braeden Sparvier’s body was found Jan. 1, 2020, along a road in the R.M. of Frenchman Butte, which borders Onion Lake Cree Nation. Shari Heathen, 27, was arrested in July and charged with second-degree murder. “The Nation has now experienced three deaths directly related to drugs and gang activity within the last two months, along with numerous high speed chases and violent crimes,” said Onion Lake Cree Nation when declaring a state of emergency Jan. 24, 2020. If anyone has any information that could assist investigators, please contact Onion Lake RCMP at 306-344-5550. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com. Onion Lake Cree Nation borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and is located about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster. Bear and Dillon remain in custody. They are both scheduled to appear next in Lloydminster Provincial Court Jan. 6, 2021, to speak to their matters. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
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
There are no new cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday, marking the first day the province has gone without a new case in more than two weeks The last day without a new case was Nov. 16.Thursday also saw a new recovery from the virus in the Western Health region, according to a news release from the Department of Health, bringing the active number of cases in the province to 29.The start of December has brought with it a continued drop in overall cases in the province, with four recoveries noted on both Wednesday and Tuesday of this week.The province's overall caseload since the pandemic reached N.L. in March remains at 340, with 307 recoveries and four deaths.Health Minister John Haggie has found himself at the eye of a social media storm, centred around his headlining of a fundraiser for his district's Liberal Association the night before at a country club in St. John's.Haggie attended the reception hours after warning against some holiday gatherings, and despite a barrage of online criticism, has maintained his event followed all proper public health guidelines and procedures.In an interview with CBC News Thursday afternoon, Haggie offered an apology.He will speak to the province's pandemic situation again at the week's final live briefing Friday.Some 63,527 people in the province have been tested for the virus, an increase of 364 in the last 24 hours.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The Town of Caledon is preparing for the winter season by rebranding the annual Winterfest event into a series of activities and programs to get residents outdoors. Reimagining Winterfest consists of five components that revolve around enjoying the winter season while in a pandemic. These components include a Winterfest At-Home Kit, Winterfest calendar of community activities, Winterfest Caledon Lights competition, Winterfest Community Rink program and, lastly, Winterfest community enhancements. “To keep residents active this winter and throughout the colder months, staff have developed a winter strategy, which is not an uncommon type of strategy in larger municipalities where winter months predominately take up the calendar year, and in the wake of a pandemic, we know that the virus spreads slower outdoors. So, to try to entice people to get outside, we have capitalized on the Winterfest branding,” said Heather Hare, Director of Community Services. The annual event will look a little different this year. What is usually an event of skating, arts and crafts, and other winter activities, will be separated to follow proper safety guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Town is working alongside a series of parks, and rinks in order to organize activities and programs for the community. “We would also look at partnering with businesses and non-profit organizations locally,” said Hare. “There’s already a lot of programs in place; we think we could enhance them, develop them and move them outside through this winter strategy program.” The Town will be hosting a Caledon Lights Competition, to get the community in the festive spirit. Residents are required to create a display at their home or business, share photos online and Caledon Councillors will choose the best displays where prizes will be delivered. Under the Grey level lockdown restrictions, 10 people are allowed outdoors within the same area while social distancing with each other. Council is hopeful that with community participation, the holiday season will look a little brighter under these difficult and unprecedented times. “It’s exactly what the community needs,” remarked Ward 5 Area Councillor Tony Rosa. For further information, please visit Caledon.ca/winterfest. Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen
Famine-like conditions have re-appeared in parts of Yemen and almost half the population is experiencing high levels of food insecurity, new United Nations data showed on Thursday, with aid agencies warning time is running out to prevent mass starvation. Around 45% of Yemen's population is facing high levels of acute food insecurity, according to the U.N.'s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.
MONTREAL — Two months after the death of Joyce Echaquan in a Quebec hospital, the head of the regional health authority that runs the hospital has been removed from his post.The departure of Daniel Castonguay was announced Wednesday evening in a news release issued by the provincial health minister. The decision was approved after the provincial cabinet saw a report by Lise Verreault, who was appointed in mid-November to study allegations of racism against Indigenous people at the hospital in Joliette, Que., northeast of Montreal.The hospital and its management came under scrutiny in late September after Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, filmed two staff members at the Joliette hospital insulting her as she lay dying, and other Indigenous people came forward with stories of abusive treatment.Wednesday's press release says Verreault interviewed 18 people as part of her mandate to establish whether the bond of trust had been broken between the health authority's management and the Indigenous communities it serves.Castonguay has been reassigned to aid in the preparation of Quebec COVID-19 vaccination campaign and will be replaced on an interim basis by Caroline Barbir, who is also head of a Montreal's Ste-Justine children's hospital.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser said Thursday that she was deposed for more than five hours by attorneys alleging that the president's 2017 inauguration committee misused donor funds — an inquiry Ivanka Trump claimed is a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”The Washington, D.C., attorney general's office has filed a lawsuit alleging the committee made more than $1 million in improper payments to the president’s Washington, D.C., hotel during the week of the inauguration in 2017.Trump’s inaugural committee spent more than $1 million to book a ballroom at the Trump International Hotel as part of a scheme to “grossly overpay” for party space and enrich the president’s own family in the process, the District of Columbia’s attorney general, Karl Racine, alleges.Ivanka Trump, who was deposed on Tuesday, tweeted that she gave attorneys from the D.C. attorney general’s office an email she wrote on Dec. 14, 2016, where she instructed the Trump hotel to charge a “fair market rate," which she said the the hotel did.“This ‘inquiry’ is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars,” she tweeted.Her deposition on Tuesday was first reported by CNN.As part of the suit, the attorneys have subpoenaed records from Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Thomas Barrack Jr., a close friend of the president who chaired the inaugural committee, and others. Barrack was deposed last month.Racine has accused the committee of misusing non-profit funds and co-ordinating with the hotel’s management and members of the Trump family to arrange the events.“District law requires nonprofits to use their funds for their stated public purpose, not to benefit private individuals or companies,” Racine has said. “In this case, we are seeking to recover the non-profit funds that were improperly funneled directly to the Trump family business.”The committee raised an unprecedented $107 million to host events celebrating Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, but its spending has drawn continued scrutiny.In a statement, Alan Garten with the Trump Organization said that “Ms. Trump’s only involvement was connecting the parties and instructing the hotel to charge a ‘fair market rate,’ which the hotel did.”The Associated Press
Protesters in the central Indian city of Bhopal formed a human chain on Thursday to demand justice for people suffering cancer, blindness, respiratory, immune and neurological problems from the world's worst industrial disaster 36 years ago. Thousands of survivors have said they, their children and grandchildren are struggling with chronic health problems as a result of the leak and toxic waste left behind and face hefty medical bills at a time when the pandemic is making their health even more fragile. Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, has denied liability, saying it bought the company a decade after Union Carbide settled its liabilities to the Indian government in 1989 by paying $470 million.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says Canadians need the hope that will come with details on how and when they’ll receive a vaccine for COVID-19. He says government transparency on the issue is important to reassure Canadians about the vaccines themselves.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris has named Tina Flournoy, a veteran Democratic strategist and aide to the Clintons, as her chief of staff, the transition team announced Thursday. Flournoy's appointment as Harris' top staffer adds to a team of advisers led by Black women. Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian heritage, is the nation's first female vice-president. Flournoy joins Ashley Etienne as Harris' communications director and Symone Sanders as her chief spokeswoman. Flournoy has served as chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton since 2013. That follows a career that took her to top posts at the Democratic National Committee, in the presidential campaigns of former Vice-President Al Gore and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and with the American Federation of Teachers. Bill Clinton called her appointment “great news for our country." “Tina Flournoy is incredibly smart, strong, and skilful, with deeply rooted values. She’s done a wonderful job as my chief of staff for nearly 8 years, and I will miss her—but I’m thrilled about VP-elect Harris’ choice," he tweeted. Harris also announced Rohini Kosoglu as her domestic policy adviser and Nancy McEldowney as her national security adviser. Kosoglu had served as Harris’ top adviser during the general election campaign. McEldowney is a former ambassador to Bulgaria and has 30 years of service in various diplomatic and foreign affairs jobs. “Together with the rest of my team, today’s appointees will work to get this virus under control, open our economy responsibly and make sure it lifts up all Americans, and restore and advance our country’s leadership around the world,” Harris said in a statement. Former colleagues describe Flournoy as a no-nonsense operative who has both policy and political chops. Matt McKenna, who was Bill Clinton’s spokesperson from 2007 to 2015, noted the historic nature of Harris' candidacy and said Flournoy will skillfully manage competing demands for her time. “(Harris) represents so many things to so many people, and they’re all going to want some of her time. She needs someone who can honour the historic nature of her candidacy and her victory and her place in the world," he said. Harris has regularly joined President-elect Joe Biden and offered remarks at briefings on the economy, the coronavirus and health care since the two won the November election. The transition team has yet to announce whether she'll focus on any specific issues or initiatives. Flournoy has never held a position with Harris. But Minyon Moore, another former Clinton aide and close friend of Flournoy's, is assisting Harris with staffing during the transition. It's unclear if any of Harris' former Senate staff or longtime political advisers will join the vice-president's office. Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
Chatham-Kent council supported the opportunity to hire a dedicated recruitment and retention co-ordinator to focus on physician recruitment for the community. “We are proposing that Chatham-Kent fund a part-time recruitment co-ordinator. Our rationale is based on the pressing needs for additional family physicians and the economic benefit a successful program will bring to the area,” said Denise Waddick, co-chair of the Chatham-Kent Physician Recruitment and Retention Task Force. Waddick gave council an update on the one-time $100,000 funding for physician recruitment approved for the 2020 budget. Currently there are 60 family physicians in Chatham-Kent, with each roster averaging 1,500 patients. Of the more than 104,000 health card holders that live in Chatham-Kent, 78,000 have a family physician and about 6,000 are enrolled into a Chatham-Kent community health centre. “So when you do the math and you look at the formula, it looks as though there's about just under 20,000 patients that do not have primary care. And when you base it off of the average patient roster that looks as though we need about 13 additional physicians to address our current needs,” Waddick said. “ We do not have sufficient family physician coverage to provide the Comprehensive Primary Care to its population.” Waddick said her statistics do not include residents that are seeking care outside of Chatham-Kent that may return if a provider is located locally. Chatham-Kent could need up to 25 new physicians in the coming years. Forty per cent of patients are currently patients of a doctor who is over the age of 60. An additional 18 would be needed to fill those roles once the physicians retire. The process to replace one doctor could take up to a year, Waddick explained. The recruitment position will officially be set in stone once the next yearly budget is approved. The recruitment task force was formed in January 2020 as an independent community committee, with representation from the Thamesview, Chatham-Kent and Tilbury District family health teams, the Chatham-Kent community health centers, and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. Waddick said because of the pandemic, not all the planned work for the task force could be completed, resulting in the use of only $52,000 of the funds. To date, the task force recruited two new physicians who took over existing practices and one solo family physician who was able to take on new patients. Waddick and her team also lobbied to have Tilbury District Family Health Team designated as an underserved area which gives it the power to add more doctors to its group. The funds are also used to pay a physician's site visits, attend conferences, and used as a start-up subsidy for moving expenses. “The task force also developed unique and creative strategies to mark market practice opportunities in Chatham Kent, with a stronger online presence by developing a website and a social media campaign,” Waddick said about some of the other highlights in their first year. “We established a brand, and an image for recruitment with our community.” Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
LOS ANGELES — MTV Entertainment Group says it's making a $250 million commitment to spur reality production over the next three years by companies owned and operated by women and people of colour.ViacomCBS' MTV Entertainment, which includes MTV and VH1, will provide funding, staff and other support to foster new ideas that will “fuel the unscripted content needs" of now and in the future, according to an announcement Thursday.Advocates of increasing diversity in the entertainment industry say progress requires more women and people of colour in decision-making positions.The initiative builds on MTV Entertainment’s unscripted record, including early reality show “The Real World," by creating ownership opportunities “for its diverse partners,” the company said.Lashan Browning and Adam Gonzalez, reality producers who were tapped last year to steer the initiative, will form their own production ventures with a MTV Entertainment equity investment, according to the announcement.Browning was part of the start-up team for Oxygen and was a producer for “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” and “Cartel Crew.” Gonzalez was a producer on VH1’s “Teyana & Iman” and “America’s Next Top Model.”The Associated Press
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The U.S. services sector, where most Americans work, registered its sixth consecutive month of expansion in November.The Institute for Supply Management reported Thursday that its index of services activity declined slightly to a reading of 55.9 last month, from a reading of 56.6 in October. Readings above 50 represent expansion in services industries such as restaurants and bars, retail stores and delivery companies.Although broadly viewed as a good report, it was the second straight month that growth in the service sector slowed. That could be worrisome as COVID-19 infections rise and the weather turns colder.Many restaurants, whose indoor capacities have been eliminated or reduced greatly, could be facing a make-or-break winter if fewer people take tables at the hastily assembled outdoor dining areas that popped up over the summer. A new surge in COVID-19 cases has already led many mandatory restaurant closures until case numbers decline.But the U.S. is moving in the other direction.On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring, while the number of Americans hospitalized with the virus eclipsed 100,000 for the first time. And new cases have begun topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released Thursday.“While the recent string of positive vaccine news is encouraging, services, particularly consumer-facing firms, will not be on a stable footing until broad swathes of the population are immunized and the health crisis is fully over," analysts from Oxford Economics wrote in a note to clients.Respondents to the November ISM survey were anxious about the current business climate.“Conflicting national, regional and local guidelines/requirements for COVID-19 issues are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate, leading to a lot of just-in-time-type purchases,” said a respondent from the hotel and food services sector.Several respondents, including one from the health care sector, reported continued difficulty in procuring personal protective equipment due to rising COVID-19 cases.Thursday's report showed that business activity declined slightly as did new orders, although both remained in expansion territory. The index measuring employment increased to 51.5, from 50.1, which was very close to contraction last month. The gauge for prices also increased from October.Out of the 18 service sector categories, 14 reported growth in November, including transportation and warehousing, management and support services, health care and social assistance, hotel and food service, construction and retail trade.The services sector had been growing for 122 consecutive months — more than a decade — before contracting in April and May as the coronavirus outbreak forced many businesses to close and people to stay home.Matt Ott, 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
When Tanya Talaga thinks of Indigenous innovation, she thinks about moving into uncharted territory. “[It’s about] moving into areas where we haven’t traditionally been, but we have every right to be,” she says. “We can be there strongly and with an absolutely beautiful different perspective of many different nations and many different people.” Talaga is an award-winning author, a columnist and — now — the CEO of an Indigenous production company called Makwa Creative. She will be giving a keynote speech at the first annual Indigenous Innovators Gathering hosted by Victoria-based digital agency Animikii which aims to drive social innovation through “Indigenous technology.” The gathering will be held virtually on Dec. 3. In her keynote, Talaga says she will incorporate the Seven Anishinaabe Grandfather Teachings that have guided much of her work and life — humility, truth, honesty, wisdom, respect, courage and love. Talaga recently wrote and produced a seven-episode Audible Original podcast with the title “Seven Truths,” with each episode delving into different stories around each teaching. “We think a lot about those seven truths and we think a lot about how people today are really looking for something to hold onto and something to believe in,” she says. “The seven grandfather teachings are just that really. You don’t have to be Anishinaabe to believe in the seven teachings. Many different nations have different variations of the teachings.” As Talaga moves forward to new projects — including a new book that’s in the works — she says she is grateful to be part of a community of Indigenous innovators who are blazing trails in their own respective fields. “It makes the work that we do so much more meaningful and true,” she says. Talaga says that talent is exemplified by the second speaker at the Indigenous Innovators Gathering: Teara Fraser. Fraser is the first Indigenous woman to start an airline in Canada — Iskwew Air. “She is a pilot, she owns her own business, she owns her own airline. How incredible is that? I think she is so incredibly inspiring,” Talaga says. Event co-facilitator Samantha Vanderdonck, a project coordinator with Animikii, and Tyler McLeod, Business Development Strategist, say the purpose of the three-hour gathering is to highlight the innovation that’s happening across Turtle Island. “[It] isn’t solely just about technology and software development,” McLeod says. “It spans across arts, communication, culture, health, education … It’s about inspiring the next generation.” At the gathering, there will also be a performance by hoop dancer Notorious Cree, who has gained hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok and Instagram, as well as facilitated breakout sessions where participants can ask questions. The event will be recorded for those who aren’t able to attend live. Vanderdonck says this is the first Indigenous Innovators Gathering of many, as Animikii plans to host similar events four times per year going forward. “Highlighting the fact that there are so many incredible people already working in the industry … helps for others to know that they can do it too,” she says.Catherine Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
LOS ANGELES — Mark Cuban, Anthony Anderson and Skylar Diggins-Smith will take part in a series of panel discussions on YouTube that are focused on racial justice. The video-sharing platform announced the lineup on Thursday for “Bear Witness, Take Action 2.” The two-hour special featuring the various panels and musical performances will premiere Saturday at 6 p.m. EST on the YouTube Originals channel. Common and Keke Palmer return as hosts of the forum, which will include sports figures, entertainers and activists. The first event took place in June. Patti LaBelle, Rapsody and SAINt JHN will perform. “I’m excited to return for the second installment to continue these necessary discussions centred around racial injustices in order to nurture, enhance and protect Black lives,” Common said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to the talented and intelligent people we have joining us this time around for more compelling and impactful conversations that we believe will lead to action.” The panels will venture into several topics including criminal justice reform, dealing with mental health during the pandemic and the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality. Some of the highlighted panels include a discussion between Cuban and New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. The Dallas Mavericks owner and Jenkins are expected to talk about what happens when a team owner holds a conversation with a player about white privilege, civil responsibility and political activism. Diggins-Smith will appear on panel with reporter Jemele Hill and activist Harry Edwards about athletes’ impact on today’s political movement. Famed author Isabel Wilkerson will talk with Soledad O’Brien about making society more equitable. “It is so important that we keep a dialogue about racial justice going beyond any particular moment,” Palmer said. “I want to encourage my peers to continue to have thoughtful and powerful conversations that will lead us to change. Let’s talk about it, take action, and see change realized.” Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press