'Unreported Truths' author Alex Berenson tells 'The Story' which candidate is taking the right approach to pandemic
'Unreported Truths' author Alex Berenson tells 'The Story' which candidate is taking the right approach to pandemic
Prince Wong was still in her mother's womb when the Chinese government reclaimed control over Hong Kong from the British in the summer of 1997. For her 23rd birthday this year, Wong posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a pastel-striped paper hat trimmed with pink pompoms. On a recent day, Wong spun a gold ring on her finger in continuous circles as she spoke quietly about the past year of her life.
WROXETER – Proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act have the board members of Maitland Conservation (formerly Maitland Valley Conservation Authority) concerned. At the MC meeting on Nov. 18, the members agreed that they must get loud and push back, making “as much noise as possible” to make sure the government hears their concerns. Among their concerns is “the glaring omission” of watershed management as a core service of conservation authorities. “Watershed management is the main reason that conservation authorities were formed,” according to a summary report prepared by the MC. “The province, municipalities and conservation groups realized that the best way to conserve forests and rivers was to undertake conservation stewardship on a watershed basis.” MC’s chairs and vice-chairs made this point to Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s minister of environment, conservation, and parks, and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson when they met at MC’s office last August. Yurek did say that he could add watershed management services as a core service by regulation, according to a report presented to the MC board members. “Tacked on to the recent Government of Ontario omnibus Budget Bill 229 is Schedule 6, a proposal for significant changes to the Conservation Authorities Act. Schedule 6 has set off alarm bells amongst Conservation Authorities and our partners across the province,” a press release dated Nov. 22 from MC said. “The proposed changes will severely curtail the role of Conservation Authorities in watershed planning and management. This will negatively impact our efforts to build watershed resiliency and deliver stewardship, monitoring and flood and erosion safety services to our member municipalities and watershed residents.” Dave Turton, chair of MC, said that the government surveyed the 36 Ontario conservation authorities in 2019. They provided feedback to the province on flood and erosion safety, watershed stewardship, funding, severe weather events other than spring thaws, and water quality. He said they would like Schedule 6 removed, “as it goes against a lot of our thoughts to the province last year.” Yurek sent a letter to conservation authorities on Nov. 5 outlining the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act. These updates, according to the letter, would “improve the consistency and transparency of the programs and services that conservation authorities deliver.” Yurek added that the updates would provide additional oversight for municipalities and the province. They would also streamline conservation authority permitting and land use planning reviews to increase accountability, consistency, and transparency. The anticipated changes are exempt from the public consultation requirements set out by the Environmental Bill of Rights because they are part of a budget. Once the province approves that budget, it will support the Conservation Authorities Act’s changes. During the discussion at the meeting, the board’s opinion was that the Ford government was again trying to change the greenbelt designation in Vaughn. “The government seems to be bending to the developers in and around the Toronto area,” said Turton. “The land development is so vast that all the non-conservation land is used up, and now where do you build?” Added Turton, “We understand that some environmentally-friendly areas are being filled in with dirt for housing construction, etc. This is not right. The Conservation Authorities have used science-based collaborative strategies in decision making and will continue this path.” The greenbelt has been a controversial subject since 2019, when landowner Lucia Milani of Rizmi Holdings approached the provincial government, intending to get the protected status lifted off a 60-acre piece of land in northeast Vaughan. The CBC reports that the campaign has since been closed. The MC encouraged watershed residents to “take a moment to read the material developed by Ontario Nature and the Canadian Environmental Law Association and sign their petition.” You can find it at Ontario Nature Petition. The campaign asks the Ontario government to retain the current mandate of the province’s 36 Conservation Authorities. An excerpt from the campaign letter said, “Ontario’s Conservation Authorities are a unique and widely- respected innovation. They provide a much-valued bridge across municipal boundaries to understand and address environmental concerns, such as flooding. They are ideally positioned to encourage science-based collaborative strategies and decision-making because they operate at the watershed level. “The changes proposed in Schedule 6 will reduce or constrain the mandate of Conservation Authorities, and are therefore contradictory to the interests of the people of Ontario, who are facing enormous risks and costs as a result of climate change and ongoing biodiversity loss.” In a statement on its website, Ontario Nature says, “The vital role of our Conservation Authorities in watershed-based land use planning and permitting must be retained to prevent unchecked development, that puts communities at risk from flooding and other climate change impacts through the loss of wetlands, woodlands, and farmland.” Conservation Authorities’ core role has been under review since 2019 when Ontario committed to its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to ensure that conservation authorities focus and deliver on their core mandate. The roles of preparing and protecting against the impacts of natural hazards, maintaining and managing conservation lands, and drinking water source protection are the focus of the review. According to a notice posted on Ontario.ca, consultations have been held with “conservation authorities and a diverse group of stakeholders, including municipalities, the agricultural and development sectors, environmental and conservation organizations, and landowners,” on the appropriate role for conservation authorities. Phil Beard, general manager of MC, said, “I attended the consultation session in London. The majority of presentations were supportive of conservation authorities and their present mandate and services. “However, the government did not release the results of the consultation sessions,” he added. “So, they are the only ones who know what was actually submitted for comments.” “If the government would reveal the results of the consultation sessions, then it would be transparent to everyone that they have or have not taken the consultation sessions into account,” added Beard. Conservation Ontario (CO) recommends the province repeal Schedule 6 because the changes being proposed will create more red tape and higher costs for Ontario taxpayers, as well as threaten the independent watershed-based approach used by conservation authorities in land-use planning, it said in a press release dated Nov. 18. CO is encouraging residents and watershed partners to reach out to the Premier, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as their local MPPs to request them to repeal Schedule 6 of the Bill 229: Protect, Support and Recover from COVID- 19 Act (Budget Measures Act).Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
VAUGHAN, Ont. — York Region has confirmed 11 cases of COVID-19 linked to a soccer game at a sports facility in Vaughan, Ont. The public health unit says about 25 people played at TRIO Sportsplex and Event Centre on Nov. 11 and 15. It says the players wore masks during the game but not while they were in the change rooms. Most of the cases were Toronto residents, with some from surrounding areas. Team sports were allowed in York Region at the time but screening of patrons was required. The region moved to stricter pandemic restrictions on Nov. 16, prohibiting team sports except for training. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
A new COVID-19 case was confirmed in Whitehorse on Sunday, bringing the territory's current number of active cases to 16.Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley confirmed the latest case in a news release. The territory has now confirmed a total of 46 cases since the pandemic began.The most recent case is still under investigation. The territory also added a new public exposure notification: Baked Café and Bakery on Nov. 21 between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.Anyone experiencing any symptoms and who was at this location is asked to self-isolate immediately and call the COVID-19 testing and assessment centre at 867-393-3083. People can also drop in at the drive-thru testing centre located at Centennial Motors on the Alaska Highway across from the airport in Whitehorse.People who are now outside of Whitehorse should contact their community health centre.People are considered a "secondary contact" if they were in contact with someone who was at a location listed in the public exposure notices. Those people should also monitor for symptoms but they do not need to self-isolate.Anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms, is asked to self-isolate and arrange for testing immediately: * Fever. * Chills. * Cough. * Difficulty breathing. * Shortness of breath. * Runny nose. * Sore throat. * Loss of sense of taste or smell. * Headache. * Fatigue. * Loss of appetite. * Nausea and vomiting. * Diarrhea. * Muscle aches.Starting Tuesday, the territory is requiring masks in all indoor public places in Yukon.
LONDON — British singer Rita Ora apologized Monday for breaking lockdown rules by holding a birthday party, saying it was “a serious and inexcusable error of judgment.” The Sun newspaper ran photos of Ora and others, including models Cara and Poppy Delevingne, arriving at the Casa Cruz restaurant in London’s Notting Hill area on Saturday. Under lockdown rules that end Wednesday, all pubs and restaurants in England must close except for takeout and delivery, and people are barred from meeting indoors with members of other households. Ora said on Instagram that she had held “a small gathering with some friends to celebrate my 30th birthday.” “It was a spur of the moment decision made with the misguided view that we were coming out of lockdown and this would be OK,” she wrote. Ora, whose hits include “Anywhere” and “I Will Never Let You Down,” said she now realized “how irresponsible these actions were and I take full responsibility.” Reports of the party attracted widespread criticism. Asked about the event, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, said it was “important that everybody in society sets an example by following the rules. That is for every member of the public, including celebrities.”(backslash) Britain has Europe's worst coronavirus death toll, at over 58,000 people. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Homicide investigators have identified the man who was shot and killed in front of a busy mall in the Fleetwood area of Surrey, B.C., on Sunday evening.The RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation team said Riyad Rasheed, 29, was shot in front of the Evergreen Mall at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway just after 7:40 p.m. PT. He died of his injuries on scene.The mall was open at the time of the shooting, with shoppers having dinner or running errands when shots were fired. The bullets left holes in the front windows of a Shoppers Drug Mart, which was open at the time."Part of what makes this crime egregious ... this was a risk to the public as it unfolded," said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko said during a news conference Monday."To have a shooting like this take place in such a public place at a time where there were individuals in the area shopping, going about their day, is very disturbing," Sturko continued. "Not only did a person lose their life last night, but it also damaged people's feeling of safety and security in their neighbourhood."RCMP said one of Rasheed's family members was with him when he was shot.IHIT Sgt. Frank Jang said Rasheed was known to police. His death is believed to be targeted and "linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict," Jang said.Officials believe there was more than one suspect involved.Around 9 p.m., a vehicle was found burning near Cambie Road and No. 7 Road. Jang said the car, a dark-coloured sedan, is considered to be the vehicle the suspects used to escape after the shooting.Anyone who saw the shooting or who has relevant video or dashcam footage is asked to call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Georgian Bay’s Honey Harbour Public Library is reopening at their new location, but only for curbside pickup, on Tuesday, Dec. 1 following its pandemic-related closure earlier this year. They’ll be open four days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Currently, the library is only handling drop-ins and contact-free pickups at their other locations in Georgian Bay, at the MacTier and Port Severn branches. On Dec. 1, all their locations will transition into curbside service only. The new library is located inside the Honey Harbour Public School at 2586 Honey Harbour Road. Tracey Fitchett, the library’s CEO, said she’s “really excited” to finally be operating out of the new facility, even though the public can’t come in. Official talks about relocating to the public school from their old location began last year. Fitchett said renovations began in fall 2019. Staff were in the midst of moving their things to the new location when public schools were closed provincewide on March 14. Until Friday, Nov. 27, their plan was to open the facility to the public, but they changed their plans out of fear of contributing to the spread of the coronavirus. “The numbers are so high every day and with other areas being in lockdown and potentially a lot of people from the red and grey zones will be coming here to stay at their cottages,” she said. “It’s just added risk to the staff and the people that come into the library.” Georgian Bay falls under the jurisdiction of the Simcoe Muskoka Public Health Unit, currently in the orange zone. No more than ten people can gather indoors under these rules. Curbside pickup will operate the same way it does at the other library locations in Georgian Bay. People can reserve books or movies online or over the phone, then the library will take either a day or up to two weeks to acquire the materials. Renters can then come pick up the materials during open hours and drop them off at the drop box. “It’s a beautiful space,” Fitchett said about the new library. “It’d be nice to have the community be able to come in again.” Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Un dessinateur d’Alma, Charles Lapointe, se lance un impressionnant défi. Le jeune homme de 20 ans, reconnu sur les réseaux sociaux pour ses portraits très réalistes de célébrités, veut établir le nouveau record du monde du plus gros dessin réalisé au crayon de bois. Il a d’ailleurs déjà choisi sa muse pour ce défi, l’Américaine Kylie Jenner, qui a déjà partagé une oeuvre de l’artiste régional à ses 200 millions d’abonnés. Charles Lapointe a commencé le dessin il y a bientôt six ans. Les seuls cours qu’il a suivis sont des cours d’arts plastiques à l’école. Au secondaire, il a dû réaliser une reproduction à l’échelle du jeu Grand Theft Auto (GTA), ce qu’il a adoré. Il a ensuite étudié en art et en technologie de l’informatique au Collège d’Alma, avant de quitter pour la métropole, il y a un an, avec l’ambition de vivre un jour de son art. Son créneau est le photoréalisme au crayon de bois. Si, au début, il prenait des commandes pour faire des portraits de tout un chacun, il s’est rapidement lassé et préfère se concentrer sur ce qui l’inspire vraiment : les célébrités. Charles Lapointe partage de nombreuses photos et vidéos de ses oeuvres, en plus de montages illustrant le temps investi à la création, sur les réseaux sociaux. Il est particulièrement actif sur Facebook (Charles Lapointe Art), Instagram (@charleslapointeart) et TikTok (@charlesdrawings). Sur Instagram, il rejoint environ 6400 personnes, alors que son TikTok compte plus de 57 000 abonnés. Certaines de ses vidéos, sur cette plateforme, ont été visionnées à plus d’un million de reprises. C’est d’ailleurs un récent dessin de Kylie Jenner, vedette de la téléréalité, femme d’affaires et influenceuse, réalisé au cours des derniers mois qui a le plus retenu l’attention sur ses différentes plateformes. L’Almatois y a consacré plus de 1200 heures, soit un an et demi de travail. Lorsque la jeune femme d’affaires a partagé l’œuvre de Charles Lapointe sur son compte Instagram, ses réseaux ont été inondés. L’Américaine est tout de même la cinquième personne la plus suivie sur Instagram, avec plus de 201 millions d’abonnés. Comment a-t-il pu se faire remarquer par l’entrepreneure ? Il admet compter sur le soutien d’admirateurs de Kylie Jenner et animateurs de comptes lui étant dédiés, en profitant de l’engouement autour de ses œuvres. « J’ai vraiment voulu augmenter la hype autour de mon oeuvre. Ça m’a pris un an et demi avant de la publier. Je dévoilais toujours des petits détails à mes abonnés et j’ai gardé la couronne, un élément important du dessin, qui m’a pris le plus de temps, pour la fin. Mes abonnés avaient hâte de voir le dessin complété. Plus le temps avançait, plus leur nombre montait », a-t-il indiqué, dans un entretien par visioconférence avec Le Progrès. Kylie Jenner n’est pas la seule vedette qui a été dessinée par Charles Lapointe. De nombreuses vedettes québécoises et américaines sont passées sous sa mine. Entre autres, il a réussi à attirer l’attention avec ses œuvres de l’influenceuse Lysandre Nadeau, de l’animateur et humoriste Jay Du Temple et du rappeur XXXTentacion. Des dessins de l’Almatois ont également été présentés à l’émission Vlog, et la mère de Paris Hilton l’a même contacté pour des commandes personnelles ! Cinq ans de travail ! Charles Lapointe se lance dans un nouveau défi : de réaliser un défi ultra réaliste de Kylie Jenner, d’une hauteur de neuf pieds. « Je suis assez fou. Le record Guinness du plus gros dessin au crayon de bois de couleur est de sept pieds. Quand j’ai vu ça, je me suis tout de suite dit que j’allais en faire un, mais de neuf pieds ! », raconte-t-il. Il a choisi de refaire Kylie Jenner, un choix qui en surprendra peut-être plusieurs, mais qui est très réfléchi pour l’Almatois. « Je n’ai pas le choix de la refaire sous un autre angle. J’ai eu beaucoup de demandes », affirme-t-il. Le dessin n’est pas commencé, mais les démarches de création le sont. Charles Lapointe a dû faire affaire avec le photographe de la vedette de téléréalité pour recevoir sa photo de référence. Il est aussi à la recherche de commanditaires pour ce projet qui prendra, selon lui, environ cinq ans à compléter ! Amélie LegendreLe Progrès vous a présenté une collègue d’école de Charles Lapointe, Amélie Legendre, il y a deux semaines. Les deux jeunes, qui se connaissent assez bien, ont tous les deux une passion pour le dessin de célébrités. À la suite de la parution de l’article du Progrès, le compte Instagram de la jeune femme a eu plus de 4000 nouveaux abonnés, en seulement quelques jours. « Je ne m’attendais vraiment pas à autant d’attention. Je suis vraiment contente », a-t-elle indiqué au Progrès. Elle a également reçu plusieurs demandes de dessins et, à son tour, a été contactée par l’équipe de l’émission Vlog.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news.Independent experts are leery because key test results have not been published and the test has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — it's being sold under more general rules for commercial labs. But they agree that a simple test that can be done in a doctor’s office has long been needed.It might have spared Tammy Maida a decade of futile trips to doctors who chalked up her symptoms to depression, anxiety or menopause before a $5,000 brain scan last year finally showed she had Alzheimer’s.“I now have an answer,” said the 63-year-old former nurse from San Jose, California.If a blood test had been available, “I might have been afraid of the results” but would have “jumped on that” to find out, she said.More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more around the world have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. To be diagnosed with it, people must have symptoms such as memory loss plus evidence of a buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain.The best way now to measure the protein is a costly PET brain scan that usually is not covered by insurance. That means most people don’t get one and are left wondering if their problems are due to normal aging, Alzheimer’s or something else.The blood test from C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis aims to fill that gap. The company's founders include Drs. David Holtzman and Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, who headed research that led to the test and are included on a patent that the St. Louis university licensed to C2N.ABOUT THE TESTThe test is not intended for general screening or for people without symptoms — it’s aimed at people 60 and older who are having thinking problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s. It’s not covered by insurance or Medicare; the company charges $1,250 and offers discounts based on income. Only doctors can order the test and results come within 10 days. It's sold in all but a few states in the U.S. and just was cleared for sale in Europe.It measures two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. These factors are combined in a formula that includes age, and patients are given a score suggesting low, medium or high likelihood of having amyloid buildup in the brain.If the test puts them in the low category, “it’s a strong reason to look for other things” besides Alzheimer’s, Bateman said.“There are a thousand things that can cause someone to be cognitively impaired,” from vitamin deficiencies to medications, Holtzman said.“I don’t think this is any different than the testing we do now” except it’s from a blood test rather than a brain scan, he said. “And those are not 100% accurate either.”ACCURACY CLAIMSThe company has not published any data on the test’s accuracy, although the doctors have published on the amyloid research leading to the test. Company promotional materials cite results comparing the test to PET brain scans — the current gold standard — in 686 people, ages 60-91, with cognitive impairment or dementia.If a PET scan showed amyloid buildup, the blood test also gave a high probability of that in 92% of cases and missed 8% of them, said the company’s chief executive, Dr. Joel Braunstein.If the PET scan was negative, the blood test ruled out amyloid buildup 77% of the time. The other 23% got a positive result, but that doesn't necessarily mean the blood test was incorrect, Braunstein said. The published research suggests it may detect amyloid buildup before it's evident on scans.Braunstein said the company will seek FDA approval and the agency has given it a designation that can speed review. He said study results would be published, and he defended the decision to start selling the test now.“Should we be holding that technology back when it could have a big impact on patient care?" he asked.WHAT OTHERS SAYDr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said the government funded some of the work leading to the test as well as other kinds of blood tests.“I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said of the company’s claims. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work but we want to see results.”Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said it won't endorse a test without FDA approval. The test also needs to be studied in larger and diverse populations.“It’s not quite clear how accurate or generalizable the results are,” she said.___Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
Wilbert Cook says if someone like him can do it, anyone can.The executive director of the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation marked national addictions awareness week by sharing how a woman from his home town of Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. turned his life around about 20 years ago. "I was homeless. I was the type of guy passed out on the side of the road," he said in an interview with Loren McGinnis, host of CBC's The Trailbreaker.When he was in the midst of his additions, he woke up one morning looking for something to drink. He didn't have a phone, so went over to his neighbour's home to call a bootlegger."She started talking to me. She never got mad at me. She never gossiped. She never complained. She never put me down," he said.The elder was Alphonsine McNeely, a Sahtu Dene translator and women's advocate."She talked about herself, how she overcame alcohol, how she turned to the creator, turned her life around. "And I never forgot that. That's the first time that anyone has really spoken to me, like as a person, instead of just being a drunk."McNeely passed away last November. But her memory lives on in Cook, who now, through the foundation, helps others to heal.> "Healing is not a destination, it's a journey." \- Wilbert CookSince their cup of tea, Cook said he has spent a lot of time with elders, attending traditional ceremonies. He said it helps him release whatever feelings he has.Helping othersWhen asked once by someone why he keeps going, he said, it's because he needs it."I go to ceremonies because I'm weak. I need help. I always need help, healing is not a destination, it's a journey," he said. His journey included going back to school, studying political science and economics, which at first, he felt, didn't necessarily qualify him to head up the wellness foundation.He was approached about working for it while at a ceremony. He was interviewed and offered the job. "I'm a small part of the team. The real backbone of the foundation is executing. They're just a wonderful, beautiful group of people to work with," he said.What makes it even more special, he said, is the healing camp the foundation runs in Yellowknife.Cook said over the past few months, the number of people who can attend has been restricted to 15, including staff. He said there's been a slight decline in local clients coming out, but there's also been a huge increase of clients who want to come in from out of town."I don't know whether it's due to the fact that there's a lot more isolation in the communities because of limited travel south, so it probably weighs heavy on people. And it gives people more time at home maybe to reflect upon their lives," he said. "And, you know, they come to the realization that maybe they need help and they want come get help, and thankfully our name has really gotten out there in a positive way."It makes our heart swell with pride when they say we're going to recommend your camp to other people."
A man in Pond Inlet, Nunavut is facing charges after police found alcohol being made and sold within the community.Pond Inlet RCMP say a distiller and a small amount of homemade liquor was found in a home in the community on Nov. 23 when police were investigating an unrelated matter. It launched an investigation into the discovery with the help of the V Division Federal Serious and Organized Unit, according to a news release issued Monday morning.Police found the liquor was being produced for sale within the community.The 29-year-old Pond Inlet man is facing multiple charges under the Nunavut Liquor Act.He is set to make his first appearance in court on March 15, 2021.People struggling with alcohol or substance abuse or who have a friend or a family member who is, are encouraged to call the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line at 1-800-265-3333, or visiting their website.
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the military alliance is grappling with a dilemma over its future in Afghanistan, as the United States starts pulling troops out while attacks by the Taliban and extremist groups mount. More than 17 years after taking the lead on international security efforts in Afghanistan, NATO now has around 11,000 troops from dozens of nations there helping to train and advise the national security forces. Most of the personnel are from Europe and other NATO partner countries. But the alliance relies heavily on the United States armed forces for air support, transport and logistics. European allies would struggle even to leave the country without U.S. help, and President Donald Trump’s decision to pull almost half the U.S. troops out by mid-January leaves NATO in a bind. “We face a difficult dilemma. Whether to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists. Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence,” Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers. Under a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban — without the involvement of other NATO allies or the Afghan government - all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan by May 1 if security conditions on the ground permit. “Whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a co-ordinated and deliberate way,” Stoltenberg said, on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers where the organization’s most ambitious operation ever will be high on the agenda. Trump’s unilateral decision to leave only 2,500 U.S. troops with the mission had allied military planners scrambling, as they tried to work out whether NATO could continue to operate in Kabul, and other major cities. NATO diplomats say that for now they have enough “enablers” to get the job done. Afghan officials also fear that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the Taliban’s negotiating position. NATO defence ministers are likely to make a final decision about the future of the Resolute Support Mission in February, after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. European diplomats expect the tone to change under Biden, but probably not the U.S. intention to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. The uncertainty comes amid a sharp rise in violence this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against the beleaguered Afghan security forces since the start of peace talks in September. Islamic State militants have also struck this month, notably in a horrific attack on Kabul University that killed 22 people, most of them students. “We have seen over the last months and weeks several attacks,” Stoltenberg said. “Some are conducted by Taliban, some attacks ISIS claimed responsibility for. But what we know is that the Taliban is responsible for attacks and the level of violence is far too high.” Even U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said: “We do not think the Taliban is keeping its word under the agreement. The violence is too high, and the Afghan people and the Afghan soldiers have paid a heavy price.” But despite the surge in violence, and deep uncertainty cause by the U.S. drawdown, the peace agreement appears to be an opportunity too good for NATO to miss. “We now see an historic opportunity for peace. It is fragile, but it must be seized,” Stoltenberg said. “We see an unpredictable and difficult military and political situation. But at least there are now talks.” Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
Nearly 4,000 BC Hydro customers on the South Coast and Vancouver Island are still without power at the tail end of a rainy, windy overnight storm that brought gusts of up to 100 km/h to coastal areas of B.C.The outages affect customers across the southern and northern ends of Vancouver Island, in the Lower Mainland and on the Sunshine Coast. Earlier Monday, the number of customers without power had approached 20,000.Wind warnings were in effect for much of the day in Greater Victoria, which has been bearing the brunt of a Pacific coastal front. Winds between 70 and 90 km/h were in the forecast for areas of southern Vancouver Island near the Juan de Fuca Strait.At the Sand Pebbles Inn in Qualicum Beach, the wind caused heavy branches and an overhang in the parking area to collapse, crushing the roof of Todd Milligan's car.Weather warnings for other parts of the island were lifted early Monday afternoon, though a special weather statement remains in effect for Metro Vancouver. Gusts sent a large tree crashing into Vancouver's Commercial Drive late Monday morning, downing a number of power lines as it went.BC Ferries cancelled several early morning sailings between the mainland and Vancouver Island due to the weather. Normal ferry sailings have since resumed.Simon Fraser University announced it was closing some buildings and cancelling some services due to the power outage.Earlier wind warnings for western Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast were lifted before 10 a.m. PT.The weather is expected to ease Monday except for Haida Gwaii and the North Coast, where high winds are expected to continue through Tuesday night.
Waterloo Region — Charlie, Nandita, Mat and Melissa all have ties to Waterloo Region. Each of them is also daily connected to Lake Erie. All of them are subjects in Colin Boyd Shafer’s latest documentary project. Shafer is a Kitchener-based photographer known for his human interest works, like Cosmopolis Toronto, that highlights people from every country in the world now living in Toronto. The project called “North of Long Tail: A documentary photo series celebrating Lake Erie,” is a compilation of 20 photo essays to highlight the human connection to Lake Erie. Nandita Basu researches how people’s land use changes Lake Erie’s water quality. Charlie Lalonde is an agriculturalist finding ways to reduce the amount of nutrients, particularly phosphorus, that makes its way to Lake Erie via run-off. Mat and Melissa Vaughan began their lives together in Kitchener-Waterloo, but moved to Norfolk County to start a vineyard next to Long Point. Lake Erie has a complicated history. “I definitely didn’t visit Lake Erie often,” says Shafer. “It’s considered to be not the nicest of the Great Lakes. It’s got that reputation.” “Through doing this, I understood how that came to be. Lake Erie is an industrial lake and the towns around it are industrial.” Leading up to the 1960s, Lake Erie was very polluted from industrial pollution, nutrient-loaded sewage from cities and agricultural run-off. The increased phosphorus and nitrogen resulted in algal blooms that used up too much oxygen. Dead fish started to line its shores. Maclean’s Magazine declared the lake to be nearly dead in 1965, calling it an “odorous, slime-covered graveyard.” Even Dr. Seuss referenced how polluted Lake Erie was in his book, “The Lorax.” The United States and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972 to reduce the pollutants getting into the lake. Governments in both countries worked to improve municipal sewage treatment plants, and to reduce the amount of phosphorus in household detergents. It worked. By the 1980s, Lake Erie’s phosphorus levels were less than half of 1970s levels, and the water quality was much better, according to the International Joint Commission, the official body of binational Great Lakes governance. One 2014 report states, “Lake Erie’s recovery was a globally recognized success story.” Dr. Seuss took the Lake Erie reference out of his book. But today the future of the lake is in question again. Since the 2000s, severe algal blooms are happening again, and frequently. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been monitoring algae blooms in Lake Erie since 2012. Toxic algae temporarily shut down drinking water for Toledo and Pelee Island in 2014. Algae blooms “have become the new normal in that lake,” says Keith Brooks, the Program Director for Environmental Defence. Scientists agree accumulated phosphorus run-off in the Lake Erie Basin, largely from agriculture, is the source of the algal blooms, and deteriorating the lake’s health. To raise awareness, the Environmental Defence organization commissioned Shafer to highlight the human connection to the lake. “I’ve learned this lake has an incredible history and its versatile and the people rely on it,” says Shafer. “They refer to it with terms like ‘lifeblood’ or that it’s alive. It’s like it’s their best friend.” This project highlights how everything is interconnected. Shafer says he grew up in Kitchener’s Chicopee neighbourhood with the Grand River nearby. Agriculture, dumping, sewage — if it gets into the Grand River, it ends up in Lake Erie, he says. Shafer says some of the towns on the lake’s north shore, like Port Stanley, are trying to encourage tourism as a viable source of income. But, “if the lake’s not nice, then people aren’t going to go there.” Governments have said they are going to reduce nutrients and phosphorus in the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan, which was released in 2018. The plan’s outline says it contains 120 actions to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie. The plan is in keeping with Canada and Ontario’s 2016 agreement with the United States to reduce phosphorus levels by 40 per cent of 2008 levels. Ontario set itself a goal of reducing the phosphorus loadings to the western and central basins of Lake Erie by 2025 in the Great Lakes Protection Act. In 2018, Ontario established an implementation team to carry out the Lake Erie Action Plan. The first meeting was held in January of 2019. Brooks feels the implementation of promises from varying levels of government is too slow. “The main point we wanted to make [with this project] is to shine a light on Lake Erie, and to get people to stand up for Lake Erie,” says Brooks. “We need to tell our elected officials that we care about our lake.” “North of Long Tail” contains 20 stories, including the youngest person to swim across the lake, a woman who, after a divorce, began her life again by opening a bed and breakfast near Point Pelee National Park, and a woman whose ancestors crossed Lake Erie to build a new life and leave slavery behind. Originally the exhibit was planned to show in Toronto’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. For now, anyone can explore the project on Environmental Defence’s website at environmentaldefence.ca/northoflongtail/ “I hope more people will give Lake Erie a thought,” says Shafer. “It’s a gem.” Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email firstname.lastname@example.orgLeah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
OTTAWA — Kawartha Dairy Limited is recalling certain ice cream products in Ontario due to "possible presence of pieces of metal," Health Canada says. The Kawartha Dairy flavours affected by the recall are: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in both 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages, and Mint Chip ice cream in 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages.Health Canada says consumers should not eat the four recalled products, and retailers, restaurants, and institutions should not sell or use them.Recalled ice cream should be thrown out or returned to the location where it was purchased.Health Canada says the recall was triggered by the company on Sunday, adding the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other items.There have been no reported injuries associated with eating the recalled flavours as of Sunday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
A Penetanguishene councillor wants staff to draw out a timeline to be included in the new graffiti removal policy. "I congratulate Andrea (Betty) for the report on the graffiti policy," Coun. Brian Cummings said at a recent meeting. "But the problem I still have is that our Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) policy and procedure manual has no timelines in it. We can do whatever we want to make these bylaws, but we have no timelines involved in correcting the graffiti or any of our bylaws. "I did ask for a timeline to remove graffiti, because it's very important that it gets removed immediately so it doesn't encourage more graffiti in town," he added. Betty, director of planning and community development, said the policy for the bylaw enforcement department does not have timelines, however, the property standards bylaw has some strict standards and rules. "There are some timelines for the removal of graffiti once the notice has been given from the town," she said, not specifying what the timelines were, and later admitting it requires clarity. "Each occurrence and complaint can vary and rely on outside sources." Having said that, Betty added that staff could take a look at that policy procedure on that bylaw, since it's about eight years old and worth a review. "We should have some sort of timeline on this," said Cummings. "I agree with the procedure, but there should be a timeline to the procedure." A quick look at the MLE policy and procedures document available online shows there are no timelines around notices of contravention issued under bylaw. CAO Jeff Lees said it would be useful to refer the item for review.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
BLYTH – A survey will be coming to mailboxes in North Huron soon to seek input on expanding the North Huron Childcare Services to Blyth. Outgoing Manager of Children’s Services, Valerie Watson, presented her final report to council on Nov. 16, responding to the possible need for expanded childcare services in the town. She suggested a survey would be an excellent way to get more information from residents about the subject. When they completed their 2020-2023 Strategic Planning, the report was requested by council to “explore the feasibility of expanding daycare services in Blyth.” In the report, Watson said that before the COVID-19 closure of childcare programs in March, North Huron’s children programs were consistently full. The electronic waitlist (OneHSN) regularly had numbers in the 70-80 range of children looking for care. The waitlist includes many infants, often put on the list well in advance of needing care, some as soon as they are born. North Huron continues to have approximately 80 children on the waitlist, four of which live in the Blyth area, Watson told council. She suggested the following factors to take into consideration: the number of children requiring care, a suitable location that satisfies the ministry’s licencing requirements, staffing, and funding opportunities. Childcare services are currently available in the Walton, Wingham, Seaforth, Clinton, and Goderich areas. When calculating break-even costs for staffing purposes, the minimum number of children to cover staffing costs would be approximately 16 children. Staff is considering the Blyth Community Centre auditorium as a possible location, saying that it could be utilized as a childcare centre with significant renovations. Childcare staff reviewed that space and offered the following information to council: This space contains a large commercial kitchen area, including a mandatory commercial dishwasher. There is ample floor space to divide up into suitable rooms as required by the Ministry of Education. It has open space around the building that could be developed into the necessary outdoor fenced play space. There are already defined rooms that could be renovated to provide the required staff break area, office, and storage areas. The space being located on the second storey is not ideal. However, clients can access the elevator, and there are appropriate fire evacuation doors and steps. It is also noted the space has a sound heating system and necessary plumbing. Council approved the motion to send out the survey and will consider the results at a future council meeting after completing the study.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
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The number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Ontario’s schools is lower per capita than in the province’s general population and in the schools of neighbouring Quebec, the government says. But is Ontario doing enough testing and contact tracing to stop possible spread of COVID-19 in schools? Stephen Lecce, the province’s education minister, has boasted in recent weeks that the Progressive Conservatives’ back-to-school strategy is working, but epidemiological studies and experts suggest it’s difficult to make that claim without more testing. A study from Alberta released last week added to mounting evidence that younger people infected with COVID-19 either show mild symptoms or none at all, meaning they could potentially be silently spreading the virus in schools and then taking it home. “I think to say schools are the safest place for kids in terms of this virus is not a statement that is backed by the evidence at this point,” said Gabrielle Brankston, a PhD student at the University of Guelph who has been compiling data on COVID-19 in Canada. Just under 36 per cent of the almost 2,000 young people who tested positive for COVID-19 during a first test in Alberta did not have any symptoms associated with the virus, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last Tuesday. That proportion of asymptomatic cases among young people is much higher than the 15 to 20 per cent range estimated in previous pediatric reviews, said Dr. Nisha Thampi from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and other medical experts who reviewed the findings. The discrepancy may be due to Alberta’s strategy of testing close contacts of known cases since early April, the study noted, but probably still doesn’t capture all the asymptomatic transmission. “It is important to note that this is likely an underestimation of the true prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection, as those without symptoms are much less likely to seek testing than those with symptoms,” authors James King, Tara Whitten, Jeffrey Bakal and Finlay McAlister wrote in the study. The Alberta research follows a massive contact tracing study of two states in India done by Princeton and other U.S. universities that warned in September children may be key spreaders of the virus. Ontario recorded a record number of cases (1,855) on Friday as the province’s labs processed more than 58,000 tests the previous day, or nearly 10,000 more than the previous busiest day of the year. There have been a total of 1,180 cases in Ontario schools reported in the last 14 days, the province says, while its overall count is just under 1,400 new cases each day on average over the last week. (Around 1.5 million students are in Ontario classrooms currently, while the province has a population of about 14.5 million people.) Six Ontario schools are currently closed and 14 per cent (or 671 of 4,828 sites) have a reported case. Public health officials say that’s not too bad. “Parents should have a fair bit of confidence in schools being as safe as possible,” said Dr. Brent Moloughney, the associate medical officer of health at Ottawa Public Health, which fought off a sharp spike in cases in the capital in late September and early October. He said that public health is aiming for constant improvement, though, and that with where we are now in the outbreak, “we need to be spending a bit more time trying to further break chains of transmission, and I think schools are one of those settings.” Moloughney said that means upping testing in schools, with a focus on the highest-risk contacts of known cases. “Let's get them tested, or more of them tested, and let’s see what that tells us so that can inform the next step,” he said. That’s exactly what the government just said it will do, launching a targeted voluntary test campaign to reach asymptomatic students and staff where COVID-19 is running rampant, including in Toronto and Ottawa, so as to more easily track and prevent its spread in classes. Tracing contacts of known cases has long been a challenge, but the University of Guelph’s Brankston said she and several peers responded to a call for volunteers to help with contact tracing early in the pandemic, but none had been called up for the labour-intensive task of trying to map transmission pathways. “I was quite willing to offer my time to do it,” she said. “And I know several graduate students in epidemiology who (volunteered and) haven’t been called,” she said. “There’s an untapped resource there.” Marit Stiles, the Opposition NDP’s education critic, said the report out of Alberta adds to her party’s concerns about the Ontario government’s handle on COVID-19 transmission in schools. “It confirms the lack of confidence educators and parents have in Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce's totally inadequate plan to protect kids, teachers and staff and lessen the virus's spread from schools to the wider community,” she said. Stiles said an NDP government would have capped class sizes and moved quickly to spend billions of dollars available to increase testing and improve contact tracing and screening in schools. But while acknowledging the paucity of available data, other public health experts say Lecce is likely correct to assume low-level or modest transmission. “We simply are not seeing widespread outbreaks in schools,” said Barry Pakes, the director of the public health and preventive medicine residency program at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “There are many single cases, some with two cases, but if the numbers of students who have COVID-19 were much larger than we know of, we would actually be seeing more related morbidity and mortality inside and outside of the schools,” he said. Pakes advised against diverting recently approved rapid tests to schools, noting the high false positive rates in low-prevalence settings as well as logistical challenges and possible stigma. “It would really take away critical infrastructure and resources from other areas,” he said.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Global News reporter Caryn Lieberman talks about getting an exclusive interview with the ‘bathtub girl’ who murdered her mother with her younger sister in Mississauga, Ont.