B.C. has suddenly implemented its most stringent restrictions in some areas to battle COVID-19 since it reopened in May, but there are concerns they aren't strong enough, or long enough, to make a real impact.
B.C. has suddenly implemented its most stringent restrictions in some areas to battle COVID-19 since it reopened in May, but there are concerns they aren't strong enough, or long enough, to make a real impact.
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
WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge has agreed to hold a special hearing Saturday to determine whether a Winnipeg church can hold drive-in services despite a ban under the province's COVID-19 restrictions. Springs Church and two of its pastors have already been fined $32,000 for allowing people to gather in the church's parking lot and remain in their vehicles while one of the pastors speaks from an outdoor stage. The church says it has taken precautions to keep congregants safe. "This is a church which is not anti-maskers, they're not COVID disbelievers," Kevin Williams, the church's lawyer, told court Thursday. The church says the province is violating religious and association rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is seeking a temporary stay of the province's public health order that would allow drive-in services to resume this weekend and continue until the case can be heard. The government said its health order, which forbids public gatherings of more than five people and requires church services to be held online only, is needed to stem a rising tide of COVID-19 cases. Government lawyer Denis Guenette also said the church is being allowed to hold services, just not in-person. "The service is going on, it is being telegraphed remotely," Guenette said. "What's not being permitted is the gathering in cars on the parking lot." Manitoba's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, would not comment on the matter Thursday as it was before the courts. He has previously said the ban on in-person religious services, even drive-in ones, is aimed at keeping people home as much as possible and reducing public gatherings. Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Court of Queen's Bench agreed Thursday to hear the church's application for an interim order Saturday morning — hours before the church's first scheduled service of the weekend. Manitoba has had a surge of COVID-19 cases this fall. Health officials reported 367 new cases Thursday and 12 additional deaths. Roussin has repeatedly said intensive care units are being stretched close to capacity. The province has enacted a series of tightening restrictions on public gatherings and business operations. The most recent rules forbid in-store sales of non-essential items and have forced restaurants to offer food only for pickup or delivery. Another church, outside of Steinbach in southeast Manitoba, has gone further in its defiance by holding in-person services indoors and has also been fined. Premier Brian Pallister urged Manitobans Thursday to take the pandemic seriously. At the end of a news conference — after reporters had finished asking questions — Pallister offered harsh words for people who don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat. "If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," the premier said. "You need to understand that we're all in this together." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
Après d’importantes précipitations qui ont mené à des inondations, le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie se préparent à recevoir leur première tempête hivernale de la saison. Quelque 30 centimètres de neige sont attendus samedi soir et dimanche, alors que de la pluie verglaçante pourrait s’abattre sur certains secteurs. Environnement Canada a émis un bulletin météorologique spécial, jeudi midi, mettant les résidents de l’Est-du-Québec en garde contre «une intense dépression» prévue pour samedi soir et dimanche. La tempête hivernale risque d’apporter «d'importantes quantités de neige, de forts vents, de la poudrerie généralisée et même de la pluie verglaçante» sur les secteurs allant de Rivière-du-Loup jusqu’à Gaspé, prévient l’organisme. «Bien qu’il soit encore tôt pour prévoir avec certitude les quantités de neige et les régions les plus touchées, le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie pourraient recevoir jusqu’à 30 centimètres de neige», note Environnement Canada, tout en invitant la population touchée à «composer avec des conditions routières changeantes qui se détériorent rapidement dans la neige forte et dans la poudrerie.» Au cours des derniers jours, d’importantes quantités de pluie sont tombées sur les secteurs de la pointe gaspésienne et dans la Baie-des-Chaleurs, où plusieurs routes et résidences ont été inondées. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
Irish budget airline Ryanair said Thursday it is ordering 75 more Boeing 737 Max jets, a boost for Boeing just before its most important plane returns to flying after two deadly crashes.The order would be worth more than $9 billion at list prices, although airlines routinely receive deep discounts. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.Boeing shares soared nearly 7% in afternoon trading.The announcement was a huge lift for Chicago-based Boeing, which has suffered cancelled orders for the plane since it was grounded nearly 21 months ago and while demand for new jets plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic.So far this year, customers have cancelled orders for 448 Max jets and Boeing has raised doubt about another 782 orders because of the airlines’ pandemic-weakened financial health. The company has reported only five Max orders in 2020.Boeing CEO David Calhoun said he was confident that the Ryanair move was the beginning of the company's bid to rebuild its Max order book.Airlines usually get deep discounts off list prices for planes. Calhoun dismissed the idea that Boeing may be under more pressure to cut prices because of a pandemic that is causing massive losses at its airline customers and the Max's own troubled past. The company is trying to resell planes covered by previous deals that were later cancelled.“We don't feel a need to discount our way into the marketplace,” he said.The new deal would push Ryanair’s total orders for the Max to 210 planes. CEO Michael O’Leary said that with the additional 75 planes, Max jets will make up one-third of Ryanair’s fleet in five years, up from 6% now.O’Leary said the planes offer lower fuel consumption and quieter flying than other aircraft. He expressed confidence that travel will recover next year as virus vaccines become widely available and that customers will get back on the Max.“The one issue that's going to come up here today is safety, so let's let it out front,” O'Leary said on a call with reporters. “This is the most scrutinized, most audited aircraft in history. It's also going to be one of the safest.”Max jets were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia just five months apart killed a total of 346 people. Last month the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and regulators in Europe cleared the way for the plane's return by prescribing new flight-control software and other changes.With its previously bestselling plane grounded, Boeing has lost $3.5 billion so far this year and announced deep jobs cuts to reduce costs. Boeing expects the pandemics to cast a pall over demand for airline jets for several years.David Koenig, The Associated Press
Stunning footage captured the collape of a huge, already damaged radio telescope in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. The telescope has played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century. (Dec. 3)
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
The Town of Bay Bulls has approved mil rate increases for residents and business operators as part of its 2021 budget, but Mayor Harold Mullowney says very few people should actually see a hike in what they pay. The new tax structure, along with the municipal budget, was approved during a special meeting of council called for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30. The Town gave several hours notice on its Facebook page that it would be tabling the budget. Residential property is up from 4.25 mils to 4.5 mils, while commercial property tax has increased from 14.0 mils to 14.75 mils. All business-related mil rates increased by half a mil. Annual fees, including the controversial home-based business tax of $450 which was applied earlier this year to residents who felt they ought to be thought of as crafters and hobbyists instead of businesses, as well as permits remain largely unchanged. The Operation of a Business permit has dropped from $250 to $50. Mayor Harold Mullowney said the mil rate increases were necessary, but remains optimistic residents and business operators will not see a big impact on their tax bills. “The (property value) assessments this year are lower this year then they were last year,” said the mayor. “Every where, you have your property assessments done. And this year, those assessments came in lower. So, we have to make up the same amount of revenue every year because our own source revenue is mandated by the province per capita. We can’t let that drop. So, when our assessed values drop, if the mil rates stay the same, then our source revenue would drop. My plan was to make sure that everybody would be pretty well the same as they paid last year, especially during this difficult COVID year. So, what had to happen, was we had to bump up the mil rate across the board. I’m thinking 80 to 90 percent of residents should see their tax bill very close to what they paid last year.” He reckoned that, because the assessed values have gone down, even with the mil rate increase, the town will bring in roughly the same amount of tax revenue as last year. As for property values, Mulowney said it is closely related to the general ‘boom-and-bust’ of the economy. “Everyone, I think, across the province, has seen a small decrease in their assessed values this year,” said Mullowney. “Everyone is seeing a bit of an increase (in mil rates). But we tried to do it as fair and equitable as possible, without hitting any one group or sector overly hard. So, the game plan, when we sat down and put together this budget, was to try to keep our income from all sources very close to what it was last year. With that said, I think we’ve been fairly successful in doing that.” As to the sudden revision of the agenda to include the budget and tax structure Monday night, Mulowney said it was a matter of finding the right date and time that worked for everyone, which proved to be a challenge. The Irish Loop Post requested a copy of the budget document approved for submission by council during the November 30 meeting, but Town Manager Jennifer Aspell said it would only be provided once it has been signed and submitted to the Department of Municipal Affairs for review. Meanwhile, Mullowney said despite the troubles of 2020, he is content with the budget drafted by council. “We didn’t see any big increases for any of the residents. If we can keep 80-90 percent of the residents pretty well in the same ballpark of taxes as they paid last year, that’s a good news story, I think. Ovbiously, there will be some who have seen an increase they’re not happy with,” he said. “But then again, who likes paying taxes? None of us. And at the end of the day, we’re trying to be as fair and equitable as possible, while trying to bring in the amount of money needed to run the town effectively.”Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
The Ojibway and Cree Cultural Centre celebrated its 45th anniversary this October. The non-profit organization, located at 150 Brousseau Ave., provides language, resource and education services. The centre was established in 1975 under the Grand Council Treaty 9, now known as Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN). The organization, funded by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, is governed by a board of directors who represent each tribal council of the NAN territory. Dianne Riopel, the centre’s executive director, has been with the organization since the beginning. “I like working with the people. They’re funny, their culture is interesting. We always learn every day,” Riopel said. “It’s fun to work here, too. And what I like also is we work as a team. We work together.” It used to be a busy, large organization with more than 30 employees and people like writers coming in for research and reference work, she said. The organization's Resource Centre started as a private research library for Grand Council Treaty 9. It features a variety of collections ranging from materials for young readers and periodicals to rare books and video and DVD collections. There are also vertical files, which are now being digitized. About 6,500 titles are currently available for loan to NAN and non-NAN members as well as organizations, non-profits and students. “Now, with the new technology and all kind of research you can do on the Internet, it’s not as busy as before but there’s a lot of information here that is not on the Internet and this is the place where they can find it,” Riopel said. Currently, there are five employees left at the centre. “We try as much as we can to have different projects on the go. But we have to make sure that within the staff, we’re able to take care of these projects. And I don’t want the staff to be overwhelmed,” Riopel said. In partnership with a Toronto-based Multicultural Historical Society of Ontario, the organization is now working on a project to transcribe and translate over 300 video interviews with Elders from NAN communities. “At that time, they were only cassettes. Now, they’re all digitized and are being translated in English and some of them are in Cree, Oji-Cree and Ojibway,” Riopel said. One of the centre's projects this year included NAN Songbooks with some Christmas songs. The language department developed one songbook in Cree and another in Oji-Cree/Ojibway languages. Another finished project includes terminology booklets, which contained terms and definitions in Cree, Oji-Cree and Ojibway on political, electronic, education, mining and environment subjects. The language department also developed about 500 booklets for older people living at care homes. “Sometimes you have a nurse and the old person, and he’s trying to tell you how he feels and she’s trying to ask him what he needs. So, there is a lack of communication because of the language,” Riopel said. “So what we did, we made a booklet of different kind of words, translated in English or Cree, so that they could communicate with each other. That was a good project.” Some booklets were distributed to the hospital and care homes, including Golden Manor and Extendicare Timmins, as well as to Northern College. “It’s all kind of stuff: about how you’re feeling, medication, position, bathroom,” the organization’s executive secretary Kim Piche explained. “It’s like a little resource book.” Some of the major projects, that Riopel and Piche say they’re proud of, include creating the Omushkego Cree app and the Promises, Promises board game. The app is available for both Android and iOS users, while the game can also be played online. “I find a lot of high school students are playing this game. It’s cool for them,” Piche said. Each week, Piche and Angela Shisheesh, a Native language coordinator, also post short Cree lessons on Facebook. As for the centre’s education program, it helps develop curriculum and resource materials for NAN schools. “We work a lot with the teachers up north,” Riopel said. “That’s our main target for services. We also service schools in town here, French school boards and English school boards. Kim does a lot of show-and-tell presentations to the schools.” In the past, the centre staff used to travel and host education conferences or display and give away resources to teachers and educators. “That’s how we got in touch with a lot of people from the NAN territory," Piche said. "That was a way to go but now with COVID, we haven’t travelled." Although the number of workers at the centre has decreased and the non-profit has experienced funding cutbacks, it is “still surviving,” Piche said. “It’s never the same,” she said about her experience working at the centre for 32 years. “You come in the morning thinking you’re going to do something and then, it’s never the same … We’re a family.” For more information about the centre, visit occc.ca.Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
NEW YORK — There's theatre on Broadway. You just have to adjust your sights.More than a hundred blocks north of Manhattan's shuttered theatre district but on that same famed thoroughfare, an actor recently read his lines from a huge stage.But there was no applause. Instead, all that was heard was a strange command for the theatre: “And cut!”Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays was performing multiple roles for a high-tech “A Christmas Carol” that was being filmed for streaming this month at the empty 3,000-seat United Palace.The one-man show is an example of how many who work in theatre are increasingly defying COVID-19 by refusing to let it stop their art, often creating new hybrid forms.“Because it’s such a roll-up-your-sleeves business, theatre people figure it out,” said Tony Award-winning producer Hunter Arnold, while watching Mays onstage. “Of everything I’ve ever done in my life, it’s the place where people lead from ‘how?’ instead of leading from ‘why not?’”The coronavirus pandemic shut down theatre and the TV/movie industries in the spring. Film and TV production have slowly resumed. Live theatre is uniquely tested by the virus, one reason it will be among the last sectors to return to normal. Props and costumes are usually touched by dozens each night, an orchestra is crammed into a pit, backstage areas are small and shared, and audiences are usually packed into seats. New ways are needed.Mays' “A Christmas Carol,” which was filmed on a high-tech LED set, veers much more filmic than most other streaming theatre options and is raising money for suffering regional theatres — one stage production helping others during the pandemic.Other green shoots include radio plays, virtual readings, online variety shows and drive-in experiences that combine live singing with movies. The cast of the musical “Diana” reunited on Broadway to film the show for Netflix before it opens on Broadway.The San Francisco Playhouse recently offered screenings of Yasmina Reza’s play “Art,” an onstage production captured live by multiple cameras, with a crucial wrestling scene reimagined to keep social distancing. A musical version of the animated film “Ratatouille” is being explored on TikTok.“We will conquer it. We are theatre people. By God, we will conquer it and get it done,” says Charlotte Moore, the artistic director and co-founder of the acclaimed Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City.Her company has put on a free streaming holiday production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” with a dozen cast members, each filmed remotely and then digitally stitched together. Moore directed it — appropriately enough — from St. Louis. Other theatre pros are calling to ask how she did it.The cast was mailed or hand-delivered props, costumes and a green screen. They rehearsed via Zoom and FaceTime. A masked and socially distant orchestra recorded the score, and the sets were beamed onto the actors' screens.“You learn minute by minute by minute along the way what works, what doesn’t, what to do, what not to do,” said Moore, who starred in the original Broadway run of “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1989. “It’s torture and it’s thrilling — thrilling torture.”Like many other theatrical hybrids venturing into the digital world these days, it's not clear what to call it. It's not technically live theatre, but its soul is theatrical.“It’s not definable in our current vocabulary,” Moore said. “It has to have a new definition, truly, because it’s certainly unlike anything that has been done.”One of the companies to show the way forward was Berkshire Theater Group in western Massachusetts, whose “Godspell” in August became the first outdoor musical with union actors since the pandemic shut down productions.Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire refused to entertain the notion that the company — established in 1928 — would have an asterisk beside 2020 that said no shows were produced that year.“We’re theatre makers, we’re creators, she said. ”We should be able to figure out how to create something.”So they used plexiglass partitions between each masked actor. The performers were tested regularly — at a cost of close to $50,000 — and had their own props and a single costume. Each was housed in their own living space — bedroom, living area and little kitchenette. In an open-air tent, they managed to pull off a crucifixion scene without any touching or lifting, itself a miracle.Audiences underwent temperature checks and were separated by seats. Staff were placed in three protective bubbles: artistic, production and front-of-house. And there was monitoring: Last year it was an intimacy officer; this year it was a COVID-19 one.Maguire thrashed out a 40-page agreement with the stage union Actor’s Equity Association. “We never had a positive test,” Maguire said. “We had five false positive tests,” which was “harrowing.”She thanked grants for allowing her to keep her staff on payroll, making the stress level tolerable. It was clear audiences were hungry for theatre: “I would watch people shoulders shaking as the show started because they were weeping,” she said. They're doing another outdoor show now — “Holiday Memories.”Since that first brave step, other theatre companies have plunged into the void. Play and musical licensor Concord Theatricals says theatre companies across the country are looking for flexibility in case of virus restrictions.“We’re seeing many groups applying for small cast, easy to produce, plays and musicals. They’re even seeking casting flexibility and asking for permission to perform with or without an ensemble,” said Sean Patrick Flahaven, chief theatricals executive.“There’s also a trend for groups to apply for both live performance and streaming rights. Many amateur theatres are producing single virtual performances to keep revenue flowing.”Playwright Natalie Margolin decided to write a new play during the pandemic but not a conventional one. She imagined what the world would look like when it was a given that all social life existed on Zoom.Hence “The Party Hop,” a play specifically to be performed on Zoom that's set three years into quarantine in which three college girls hit the town — online. It became her first published play, and she got stars such as Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein and Ashley Park to perform in an online version, currently on YouTube. She hopes high schools and colleges will be attracted to a play reflecting the era.“It was just exciting to take part in something where it wasn’t a placeholder or a replacement, and no one needed to imagine they were anywhere else than where they were to fully realize the piece,” she said. “It’s been exciting and heartwarming to see different ways theatre has reinvented itself during this time.”Theater makers have also leaned into the storytelling part of their craft, making The Broadway Podcast Network a hub for everything from audition advice to behind-the-scenes stories.Launched shortly before the pandemic with 15 podcasts, the theatre shutdown initially wiped out its revenue streams, advertising and sponsorship. The network has since righted itself and is growing with some 100 podcasts — from the likes of Tim Rice and Tonya Pinkins — plus benefits, show reunions and original programs, like the digital theatre-based frothy soap opera, “As the Curtain Rises” with stars Alex Brightman, Sarah Stiles and Michael Urie.“Even though we had lost all of our advertising, we just knew that this was important to our community, to keep our community connected and continue to tell stories," said Dori Berinstein, co-founder of the network and a four-time Tony-winning Broadway producer. “It’s not anything that will ever replace live theatre, but it’s an extension. It’s a different way of doing that.”___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
The Nova Scotia government is giving boat builders until next week to submit bids for a new 18-car ferry to carry passengers and vehicles between Blandford and the Tancook Islands.Although some are opposed to the new vehicle ferry and others have questioned its size, John Majchrowicz is convinced this is the right boat for the job."I have years of studies on all the volumes and people that we collect on the ferries," he told CBC News recently. As manager of marine services at Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation, Majchrowicz has crunched the numbers and determined an 18-car ferry and 11 crossings per day are what islanders need.According to figures supplied by Majchrowicz, ferry traffic is highest in June, July and August. In 2019, the number of passengers increased from 3,600 to 4,300 to 6,700 during those three summer months. Majchrowicz used a two-passenger-per-vehicle model to determine how many vehicles a ferry might carry per trip during those peak summer months. In June and July, he estimated seven to eight vehicles per crossing and closer to 11 or 12 in August. That's based on a projected 11 crossings per day, not the current four."For example, on a sailing at 10:20, you could average up to 90 people per voyage," said Majchrowicz. "So if you look at 90 people, two people per car, I would need 45 cars."Because we would be running more runs, I could now distribute those cars over so many runs. So an 18-car ferry would cover the load, so to speak."Current ferry has 1-car capacityThe ferry now in service, the William G. Ernst, has become old and unreliable. It can carry one passenger vehicle at a time and only during crossings when the tide is high enough.Having an 18-car ferry would also allow for truck traffic on the island, another major consideration for the province."Right now there are no service trucks, delivery trucks of any type, that go to the island," said Majchrowicz. "In the future, you will have the school bus, the delivery trucks, the septic tank pumpers, you know, all that type of traffic."Because right now it's all carried by hand, virtually."Ward Carson and his wife have been residents of Big Tancook Island for 4½ years. He acknowledged there are pros and cons to the proposed replacement ferry, but said he believes the benefits outweigh the disadvantages."Well, personally, for my wife and myself, I think they do, but I recognize that a number of people we know are less than happy about it," he said. "I think they recognize there will be benefits, but they like the existing system that we have."Simplifying oil, firewood deliveriesWhat he was sold on was the possibility of having door-to-door delivery."People can get oil delivered to their houses," he said. "We can get firewood delivered directly to our house.... It's complicated now. I know we have, over the years, had to get firewood either in crates or cattle boxes into our pickup truck on the island."He said it has taken multiple trips to bring it from the dock to his island home.About a month ago, the province announced it would spend almost $10 million to replace the William G. Ernst. The tender call ends Dec. 8.Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said the province would need to spend about $20 million more on building ramps and a new docking facility in Blandford, and on changes to existing docks on Big Tancook and Little Tancook islands.MORE TOP STORIES
Almost one month after his Nov. 9 surgery, Evan Paterson is reportedly “progressing well with his therapies and, slowly but surely, his incision is healing and looking better.” In late October, the Cosmos featured a story on young Evan Paterson, a three-year-old who required brain surgery. Evan’s family had started a campaign to raise funds to support his recovery journey, which would include physical therapy, and medical aid devices. The GoFundMe has now raised almost $17,000, and is still growing. Three weeks post-op, Samantha Bishop, Evan’s mom, reports that the young boy is doing well. “This week he started to use a stander to help build his strength, with support, in order to one day start walking again. I was in a bit of shock when his physiotherapist said that’s what we were doing - I didn’t realize he was making THAT much progress!” says Bishop. Evan’s surgeon reports that he is confident Evan will heal well with time. Bishop says the Holland Bloorview rehab hospital has been a wonderful place for the beginning of Evan’s recovery and, again, she wishes to thank the community members who have helped support their cause. “We could not be more thankful.” “This week we find out how long they think Evan will need to be in the hospital. We have hopes that it will only be for a couple of months and then we can continue therapies at home,” says Bishop. Earlier this year, in July, after a series of seizures, a lesion was found on Evan’s brain. Doctors decided that the best way to stop the seizures and ensure that Evan continued to develop in a regular pattern, the left and right sides of his brain would need to be disconnected. It was predicted that, after the surgery, Evan would be extremely weak on one side, have no peripheral vision, and would have to learn how to do fundamental tasks again. “We are over the moon excited that he’s already in a stander!” says Bishop. To follow along with the family’s updates, or to make a donation, visit the Hope For Evan GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/agzcs-hope-for-evan Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos
HALIFAX — As the number of new COVID-19 infections showed signs of stabilizing in two Maritime provinces Thursday, the chief of a First Nation in Nova Scotia confirmed two cases on his reserve.In an interview, Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said the band had been notified of the positive results by public health officials on Wednesday. He said initial findings suggested the first infection was contracted outside the community and the virus was then passed on to the second person. He said contact tracing was underway, but the news has put the community on edge."I understand and respect privacy, but the community is going a little crazy wondering who it is," Sack said. "We have a small and tight-knit community, so everyone is wondering whether they came in contact or not."Nova Scotia reported 11 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, and the number of active cases dropped to 119 from 127. Nine of the new cases were in the central health zone, which includes Halifax, while the others were in the northern zone. "It is important to recognize that although our cases numbers are not as high as we expected them to be, we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 every day," Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a news release. "Now is not the time to let our guard down."Stepped up testing has continued since the outbreak that forced the implementation of new restrictions in the Halifax area one week ago. Provincial labs completed 2,047 tests on Wednesday, while 338 tests were administered at a rapid-testing pop-up site in Halifax and 148 tests were done at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Wolfville. Health officials reported no positive test results at either site. In New Brunswick, health officials reported six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the number of active cases to 111.There was one case was in the Moncton region, three in the Saint John region and two in the Fredericton area. Those zones remain under an orange alert level, but chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the Fredericton and Moncton zones would be reassessed on Sunday. Russell said Saint John won't be reassessed until later because officials there are still dealing with an outbreak at a seniors' residence. She said another Parkland Saint John employee, who is in self-isolation, had tested positive for the virus. That brought the total number of cases at the facility to 16 — six staff and 10 residents.Russell urged residents not to travel during the holiday season or to have people visit from other provinces. "If you do decide to travel, be aware that case counts in other jurisdictions are much, much higher than here in New Brunswick," she said. Premier Blaine Higgs urged residents to help get all of the province back to the less restrictive yellow level."We know that vaccines are just around the corner, so we just have to be diligent," Higgs said. "Let's prepare for Christmas but let's not get impatient. Let's make sure we can get back to yellow."Higgs said Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, would lead the province's plan with the Department of Health and a working group to co-ordinate the deployment of a vaccine.In Prince Edward Island, health officials announced one new COVID-19 case Thursday. It involves a rotational worker in his 20s who recently travelled to the Island from outside the Atlantic region and has been in self-isolation since arriving.Prince Edward Island currently has five active cases of the disease.Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases for the first time in more than two weeks as its number of active cases fell to 29.Late Thursday, Nova Scotia health officials said they had identified a case at Citadel High School in Halifax. The school was already closed because of a professional development day and officials said it would remain closed on Friday and on Monday for cleaning.In Sipekne'katik, Sack said band officials don't anticipate the need to close off the community, located about 70 kilometres north of Halifax, although he said that would be a difficult choice to make in any event. "Our community doesn't have a grocery store or anything like that, so people need to leave our community regardless," he said. The chief said the band council was monitoring the situation closely and working directly with provincial health officials. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Kevin Bissett in FrederictonKeith Doucette, The Canadian Press
The Town of Paradise is looking for input from residents who might avail of an accessible transit system. Councillor Sterling Willis noted it is something that residents have been requesting. “We are now developing an accessible transit policy project… as a part of developing this pilot project, the Town will be hosting a focus group to seek input from potential users,” said Willis during Tuesday’s public council meeting. Participants in an upcoming focus group will be limited to Paradise residents who have disabilities or who have family members living in Paradise who have disabilities. The focus group, held over Zoom, will be held on December 10, with a real time ASL translator present. Those interested are asked to contact the Town by December 2. Though Metrobus offers some wheelchair accessible routes, the one Metrobus route which passes through Paradise is not accessible.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 23, 2020 Simcoe County first responders, including dozens of police officers, lined bridges over Hwy. 400 Nov. 23 to salute Const. Marc Hovingh, who died following a shoot out on Manitoulin Island last week. Hovingh died Nov. 19 after an incident that also caused the death of a civilian. Hovingh's body was taken to Toronto for an autopsy and transported back to Manitoulin Island in a hearse, accompanied by two police cruisers. The OPP encouraged supporters to follow the procession’s live Twitter feed. “Because we’re in this pandemic, we’re on lockdown, we’re in a different situation here right now,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “There’s not a lot of opportunity for paying of respects and for gatherings.” Hovingh was one of the officers who responded to a call about an “unwanted man’’ on a property in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. According to the Special Investigations Unit – Ontario’s police watchdog – Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after exchanging gunfire. Hovingh was a 28-year veteran of the force. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Federal officials provided more information on Canada’s vaccine distribution plan, once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for immunization in the country.
The Crown has thrown a curve into efforts to retry a Halifax-area man on a charge of second-degree murder.Randy Riley is one of two men accused of killing Donald Chad Smith outside an apartment building in north-end Dartmouth in October, 2010.Smith was killed by a single shotgun blast to the chest. He had been lured to the area to deliver a pizza for the restaurant where he had just started working.Nathan Johnson was charged along with Riley in Smith's murder. Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.Conviction quashedRiley was convicted of second-degree murder in a separate trial. But the Supreme Court of Canada quashed that conviction last month and ordered a new trial.On Thursday, the process for starting that second trial was already underway when Crown prosecutor Peter Craig told a Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice that the Crown wants Riley's lawyer removed from the case.Halifax defence lawyer Trevor McGuigan represented Riley at his first trial and was preparing to represent him at the second.In a highly unusual move, Craig said McGuigan should not be allowed to continue on this case because of a potential conflict of interest.Hearing set for later this monthWhen contacted by CBC News, Craig would not elaborate. A hearing has been set for later this month when the Crown will make the case for McGuigan's removal.McGuigan wants to press ahead with a bail hearing for Riley, pointing out that Riley has spent 7½ years behind bars so far.Craig responded that Riley has already had two bail hearings and was denied both times. McGuigan said the Supreme Court ruling makes those earlier bail decisions irrelevant.Once the issues of McGuigan's status and the bail hearing are resolved, Riley's case will join a long list of matters that are scheduled to be heard by a judge and jury.All such trials in the Halifax area were suspended because of COVID-19 and they will not resume until courtrooms in compliance with public health rules are ready for operation. That won't be until March, 2021.MORE TOP STORIES