Britney Spears’s bid to remove her father, James Spears, from the conservatorship of her estate has been declined by a Los Angeles court.
Britney Spears’s bid to remove her father, James Spears, from the conservatorship of her estate has been declined by a Los Angeles court.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald Despite more COVID-19 crackdowns in the past week, local vendors were still able to showcase their wares Friday and Saturday at the Lethbridge Exhibition Pavilion. And this year’s Big Christmas Farmers’ Market was for the little guy as local businesses did their part to keep the local economy pumping despite a year hindered by the pandemic. “It’s tremendous to be out here today,” said Dylan Lowry of Beyond Hot, a local business that gave shoppers an impressive array of hot sauces. “It’s very important because what gives Lethbridge a lot of uniqueness is the small mom-and-pop shops. We don’t have a lot of big-box, corporate stores. They don’t really care about local, they care about the bottom line. When you look around here, everybody is an independent vendor and we count on those smaller sales to get our families through those months. So for us it’s very important and we look forward to being social with the people out here. It gives them something to shop for and just to talk and be friendly.” Lowry noted the importance of getting out, but still being safe and following all protocols strictly set out for vendors and shoppers alike for the two-day market. “Everybody is cautious because of COVID,” said Lowry. “We’re going to have the attitude of don’t be a hermit, don’t stay at home, be protective, be cautious, but still enjoy your life. So I’m glad the market was still able to be held. Obviously, all of us are going to have lower sales and lower numbers, but that’s OK. It still gives us something to do. A lot of us are local, so we do count on this to pay some bills.” Over the course of the weekend, all attendees, families and cohorts were required to fill out a COVID-19 screening form within 24 hours prior to attending the event. Those who couldn’t complete the form online prior to arrival were required to complete a screening form before entering the venue. “We have approximately 180 local businesses, artisans and entrepreneurs that are showcasing their goods here at Exhibition Park,” said Mike Warkentin, chief operating officer at the Lethbridge and District Exhibition. “They’re from all over southern Alberta. It’s kind of a unique mix and we’re happy to support them here.” Warkentin said their farmers’ markets — both at the Exhibition Pavilion and downtown — are Alberta Agriculture and Forestry approved. “The other caveat is that we are at the maximum of 25 per cent of our posted Alberta fire code and we are well below that because we are maintaining an occupancy of 500 guests between all of our pavilions,” he said. “So 500 is the occupancy we are allowing in at any given time. Beyond that, people are being screened as they drive into the parking lot and are being temperature checked and screened as they come into the building. We are maintaining social distancing and, lastly, (have) masks or face shields for people who can’t necessarily wear masks.” Lowry said sales have actually been better this year. “Because everybody is forced to be at home and spend more family time at home, I think they’ve taken more notice to what the family enjoys. For us being a hot sauce retailer, a lot of people have started to explore that option. Could sales be better? One hundred per cent they could be better. But I’m just thankful for what we have and thankful to be a part of it.” Like each vendor, Beyond Hot came equipped to operate under COVID rules. “We have our masks and we also have face shields depending on the different clientele,” said Lowry. “We have hand sanitizer that anybody can use and we also have Lysol wipes. We have a display we’ve had to change. Usually, we have bottles and samples and everything else. Unfortunately, that is no longer. So clients, if they touch a bottle, that’s the one they buy. If not, I grab one from behind the table. It’s just some precautionary items.” The market followed a smaller Christmas Market Nov. 13-14. “A couple of weeks ago we did the pre-event in conjunction with the other market that was going on here,” said Warkentin. “This weekend, the attendance is actually up. People are coming out and we obviously didn’t know what to expect with last week’s (provincial) announcement. But the consumer confidence we’ve seen is still very strong and supportive of local businesses. “Obviously, it’s been a tough year for everybody. Small businesses in particular. When everything happened on Tuesday we wanted to make sure we were following all the guidelines and could prove that and, secondly, that we could still provide this opportunity. So many of our vendors depend on our markets to be able to showcase their products and actually sell their goods.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
WHITEHORSE — A mask order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 is now in effect across Yukon, but the territory's top doctor says enforcement of the regulation is not the first priority. Dr. Brendan Hanley said Tuesday people will be given a chance to adapt to the order, which was announced last week as cases of the virus mounted. At a regular weekly briefing, Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in Yukon since last Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 17 and the total number of cases to 47 since the start of the pandemic. The mask order requires everyone over the age of five to wear a non-medical face covering in all indoor public spaces or face a fine of up to $500, but Hanley says people will first be given a chance to adapt and he expects the new rule will be accepted quickly. He says 200,000 masks are being made available to ensure everyone has access to them. A 14-day quarantine period remains in place for all those entering or returning to Yukon, but as the holiday season approaches, Silver says children can be assured that Santa is still welcome. "I know many kids around the territory are wondering how their gifts might get here in light of the self-isolation requirements and I have good news on that front," he told the news conference. "I can confirm that Santa is a critical worker and I know that Dr. Hanley and his team have been working very closely with (Santa's) counterparts at the North Pole." Hanley also reminded children that the Elf on the Shelf will be monitoring their handwashing and physical distancing efforts throughout the festive season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
The newly-formed Rotary Ignite Club is looking to spread Holiday cheer this December. The club is holding its first events in the city on Dec. 10 and 17. Both days will play host to Christmas-themed drive-by parades. Club member Karen Blewett says the convoys will spread cheer to those who need it most. “Both of these are Thursdays and we’re going to be primarily going to seniors’ residences,” she said. “We’re also going to be going by the hospital. We’re going to be starting at 6 p.m. each night. “Seniors are cooped up and can’t see much of their family and friends, so we wanted to focus this on them primarily.” Each night’s convoy will feature vehicles dressed up in a Christmas theme. “When the pandemic first hit people started those drive-by birthday celebrations and this will be very similar to that,” she said. “Instead of birthday themes, our convoy will feature Christmas decorations and lights on the cars. “I know some of the members are going to get really creative with this.” Blewett says members of the community are encouraged to join the convoy each night. “People, businesses, organizations, everyone is welcome to drive with us and make this bigger and better,” she said. “We know communities around North America have done something similar and they have been quite popular.” The Rotary Ignite Club’s convoy is its first event in the city, with more planned as the club grows. “This is a new club in town,” said Blewett. “We’re still going through the process with Rotary Canada to become officially sanctioned. “This isn’t a fundraiser or anything for us, we just want to raise community spirit and get as many people involved as possible.” The club is finalizing the driving routes and will be posting them on its social media pages when finished.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local): 2:10 p.m. The committee raising money for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take contributions from individual donors of as much as $500,000 and from corporations of as much as $1 million. That’s according to an inaugural official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the work of the committee, which started raising money on Monday for the Jan. 20 festivities. The committee won't accept contributions from lobbyists or the fossil fuels industry, including companies and executives whose “primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal.” The prohibition applies to political action committees run by fossil fuels interests. The contribution limits for Biden are far lower than those of President Donald Trump in 2017. Trump raised a record $107 million for his inauguration and accepted massive checks from individuals, including $5 million from Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. — By AP writer Brian Slodysko ___ HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE: President-elect Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a substantial and somewhat divisive figure in Democratic Party politics, to serve as his transportation secretary. Read more: — Trump headed to Georgia as a turnout driver, but also a threat — It’s Major: Pets poised for a return to the White House — Top secret: Biden gets access to President’s Daily Brief — Biden names liberal economics team as pandemic threatens workers ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: 1:55 p.m. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris says there is a “hunger crisis in America now” due to the COVID-19 pandemic but promised quick action to address the challenge when in office. Harris said that dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic “could not be more urgent,” noting the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases as the weather has gotten colder. She also says that in addition to the loss of hundreds of thousands of Americans, “the toll of this recession continues to mount across America.” Harris referenced the significant number of American adults with children saying their families are going hungry, and the even higher rate of adults saying they’re having trouble paying their “essential” bills. She says the Biden administration’s economic team, which was unveiled Tuesday, would put “working people front and centre” to pursue reforms to make the economy work better for all Americans, and would “hit the ground running on day one.” ___ 1:45 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the White House budget office says social programs helped her family when she was a young girl being raised by a single mother in a Boston suburb. Neera Tanden would help prepare Biden’s federal budgets as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Word of her expected nomination has encountered early disapproval from some Republican senators who will vote on whether she becomes the first woman of Indian descent to lead the office. Tanden says her mother faced hard choices after divorce left her to raise two young children. She says her family survived on food stamps and federal housing vouchers until her mother got a job and eventually bought a house. Tanden says she wants to give people the same chance at a fair shot. ___ 1:35 p.m. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen is describing the economic crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic as an “American tragedy” and warning that without quick action to address it, the damage will get worse. Introducing herself during a Joe Biden transition event where the president-elect unveiled his economic team, Yellen spoke about the “historic crises” of the pandemic and the economic fallout resulting from it, as well as the “disproportionate impact” it has had on “the most vulnerable among us.” Speaking about a pandemic that has cost 268,000 American lives, Yellen referenced the “lost lives, lost jobs” and struggles Americans face “to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.” She went on to say that “it’s essential that we move with urgency” because “inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.” She pledged to Americans that the Treasury would be “an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you.” ___ 1:25 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says his economic team is “first rate” and will help build an economy that works for all Americans. Biden introduced key members of the team Tuesday in Delaware, including former Fed chair Janet Yellen to become Treasury secretary. Biden described Yellen as one of the “most important economic thinkers of our time.” She would be the first female Treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate. Biden also introduced Neera Tanden as his choice to run the White House budget office. Tanden’s nomination, however, has encountered early disapproval from some Senate Republicans, who will vote on her nomination. Biden also named his chair and members of the Council of Economic Advisers. He says the CEA chair will serve in the Cabinet. Biden also named a deputy for Yellen. ___ 1:15 p.m. Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass a “robust package for relief” to address the economic and public health crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic. The president-elect made the comments introducing his economic team in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Congressional leaders have been locked in a stalemate over a COVID relief package, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on the price tag or content of a potential bill, though a team of bipartisan lawmakers released their own compromise legislation on Tuesday. Biden said, however, any package passed during the lame duck session of Congress would be “at best just a start” and that his team is already working on his own proposal for the new Congress “to address the multiple crises we’re facing.” He said the team of economic advisers he announced Tuesday would play a “critical role” in shaping the Biden administration’s plan to revive the economy. ___ 1:10 p.m. Joe Biden is wearing a boot publicly for the first time, after fracturing his foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend. The president-elect wore the boot at an event where he introduced his economic team Tuesday afternoon, walking with no obvious limp onto the stage. His doctor said Sunday that he suffered small fractures to his right foot from the incident and would likely have to wear a walking boot “for several weeks.” Arriving to the event, Biden pointed to the boot and raised his leg as if to show it off. He walked gingerly, telling reporters his foot was “good.” The event was set up with chairs and tables, allowing Biden to sit when he wasn’t speaking before a podium in the centre of the stage._ The Associated Press
When one door closes another door opens, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly closed a lot of doors this year. Dr. David Rosen, a marine mammal researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Fisheries and Oceans, should be spending his time with animals at the Vancouver Aquarium, or delving into lab research somewhere else, but when the pandemic forced travel restrictions and cut into funding and resources, it forced him to see opportunities in his own back yard, with the hopes of answering some neglected questions of what role our cities play in the behaviour of marine mammals, and why it appears so many are returning to Vancouver waterways. “Researchers tend to think about going to exotic locations and isolated areas, and can be sort of blind to local opportunities. Thinking about it I realized that [Burrard Inlet] has fantastic research opportunities,” Rosen said. “Vancouver is a really interesting place because we love our nature, but we also love our development, so we’re getting a couple studies off the ground looking at what that urbanization means to our local marine mammal populations.” Burrard Inlet is largely neglected scientifically but provides a curious avenue of research by comparing the two arms of the inlet. They each have the historic capacity to host an equal array of sea life, due to their geographical proximity, but one heads east to Port Moody past highly developed areas, and the other turns north into undeveloped territory in Indian Arm. Rosen also plans to look closely at the increase number of harbour seals, the emergence of fur seals and California sea lions, and increased sightings of transient killer whales and dolphins in Vancouver waterways, surprising new behaviour as the metro area undergoes behavioral changes of its own during the pandemic. “We think this is new, but the question is, ‘who was paying attention to this before the pandemic?’ But things like transient killer whales, the public always notices that,” Rosen said. Harbour seals is especially important, as the animals were once hunted to critically low numbers to protect commercial fisheries. As debates heat up over their reemergence, during the worst salmon returns on record, Rosen said its important to establish the human impacts on the animals while the opportunity exists. A reemergence of a “whole suite” of marine mammals have also been observed in Burrard Inlet prior to the closure of a UBC field station last year, but the resources and time wasn’t available to probe the reasons why the animals were returning. It’s too early for Rosen to anticipate any conclusions or possible implications to his research. Right now he only wants to know what is happening, and why. “You can’t make management decisions if you don’t know what’s out there,” Rosen said. From a conservation perspective, he added British Columbians are acutely aware of the major marine issues at sea, but there’s too little known about our marine life in this context, in relation to the cities, pollution and marine traffic. Rosen is hoping to find research funding in the industrial sector in the area, which he said has regularly proven its readiness to adapt for the betterment of marine mammals. Maybe those efforts are paying off for the sea life. Maybe changing ocean temperatures, acidity and food supply are forcing behavioural changes, or maybe its the growing number of salmon hatcheries attracting more mammals to the Inlet. “There’s lots of questions and lots of opportunity for improving our knowledge,” Rosen said. “No doubt, the biggest challenge for the marine ecosystem is climate change, but it’s very difficult for people to get their head around that, to think they can do anything to help. So in some ways, finding local issues is a great way to make people aware of the human impact on the environment.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
A fire in a commercial building in Vancouver on Monday night has claimed the life of one man and sent a second man to hospital.The Vancouver Police Department says two officers were driving near Kingsway and Victoria Drive around 9 p.m. PT when they noticed heavy smoke billowing from a second floor suite at 2127 Kingsway. The officers notified Vancouver Fire Services who attempted to enter the building but were driven back by the fire."The fire occurred in an illegal suite which did not have sprinklers or smoke alarms," said Capt. Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services. "Fire Investigators have determined smoking to be the cause of this fire."A man between 30 and 40 years old was pronounced dead at scene. Another man was taken to hospital with significant injuries, according to Gormick."This tragic loss is a reminder for everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms; Fire Code requires one per occupancy," said Gormick, adding that smoking is a leading cause of fire fatalities.Vancouver Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Richard Craven said the two-alarm blaze was fought by 15 firefighters.
Three Oaks Foundation will be remembering victims of the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal with a pre-recorded virtual vigil on December 6th, in honour of this year’s annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On December 6th of 1989, a lone gunman entered the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where many students take classes in affiliation with the Université de Montréal. After entering a classroom telling men to leave, he proceeded to express his hatred of feminism to the women he held inside, saying that women were to blame for his inadequacies. The gunman began shooting and roaming the halls, leaving 14 innocent women dead and many others wounded. “There has been an alarming rise in the incidents of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Three Oaks Foundation executive director Sandy Watson-Moyles. “This has not gone unnoticed and has raised serious questions about the safety of women both locally in the Quinte community and worldwide.” In 2019, the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability reported that 136 women were murdered in Canada, and these numbers continue to rise in 2020. “Last year, it was the Toronto van slayings that brought violence against women to the headlines again, and this year the Nova Scotia massacre,” stated Watson-Moyles. “It is not just the obvious victims who can fall prey to an abuser but any one of us. Maybe realizing that will help make people realize just how awful the acts are and how far the perpetrators will go.” Although community members cannot physically come together this year, the pre-recorded virtual event page can be found on Facebook by searching for the December 6th Virtual Vigil Quinte & PEC. The vigil will read off the list of the 14 women whose lives were taken during the L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre. 14 red roses will be laid under the three oak trees on Keegan Parkway in memory of each woman. “We would think 31 years after the Montreal Massacre and hundreds of murders of women before and after that tragic date we would have made some movement towards ending this most insidious crime,” said Watson-Moyles. “Yet, each year more lists of murdered women in Ontario and Canada continue to be published with astounding numbers. Once we all take this matter seriously, we will see violence come to an end, or at least reduce significantly. When the most unsafe place for a woman to be is her in her own home, we need to pay better attention.” Residents looking for more information about the local National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women event are encouraged to contact Three Oaks’ training and education coordinator Kristin Farrell at 613-242-6524 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
As communities grow and expand, the needs of those they serve continue to evolve. Orangeville, and by extension Dufferin County, continues to become more diversified, resulting in a need for greater understanding and development of inclusive policies, activities, and actions. Following the Town of Orangeville’s commitment to building that kind of inclusive committee, they have developed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. The committee will consist of one representative from town council, Coun. Lisa Post, and a number of volunteers from the community. “I’m excited that we are moving forward towards inclusion in our community,” Post told the Banner. “The involvement of our citizens is so crucial to effectively do this.” Along with providing recommendations and advice to council, the EDI Committee will also be mandated to work with town staff and the community, focusing on liaising with groups who have historically experienced discrimination. On Nov. 26, the Town announced they are now seeking volunteers to serve on the committee. These volunteers will represent the diversity of Orangeville’s community across national origins, ethnicity, language, race, colour, sexual orientation, gender identity and age. It is expected the committee will work actively during its first year to move critical work ahead, meeting formally at least three times per year or at the call of the committee chair. Initial areas of focus may include: · Identification of issues and matters related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in Orangeville. · Identifying best practices · Raising awareness in the community about EDI · Identifying systemic and institutional barriers in Town processes, services, programs, and/or facilities. · Identifying barriers that impact the social, health, and/or economic well-being of members of the community, then proposing solutions. · Providing advice on programs, services, and processes from an equity, diversity, and inclusion perspective. “I hope anyone who has knowledge or experience to lend will consider applying to share that with us,” said Post. Application forms are available on the Town’s website and must be received by the Clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2021.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
NEW YORK — Geoffrey S. Berman, the ousted federal prosecutor in Manhattan who led several investigations into President Donald Trump's allies, has been hired by a white-shoe law firm in New York. Berman will provide criminal defence in white-collar cases and work on complex commercial litigation at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, the firm announced Tuesday. The firm is “well known for its cutting-edge counsel to top tier companies and high-profile individuals,” Berman said in a statement. Fried Frank described Berman as “one of the most respected prosecutors in the United States.” Berman was pushed out in June as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he led several investigations with tentacles into Trump's orbit, including one involving the business dealings of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney. The same office prosecuted former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen for campaign finance crimes and two Giuliani associates tied to the investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment investigation. Giuliani has not been charged. Berman later told the House Judiciary Committee that Attorney General William Barr “repeatedly urged” him to step aside and take a new job heading up the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “I told the attorney general that I was not interested,” Berman told the panel. “There were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion.” Berman’s removal was decried by some critics as a “Friday night massacre” and fueled longstanding concerns among Democratic lawmakers that the Justice Department had become politicized under Barr. Berman's new role as head of Fried Frank's white-collar practice was previously held by Audrey Strauss, Berman's successor in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office. Berman only agreed to step down over the summer after being assured Strauss would be in charge of the office. Between jobs, Berman has taught as a visiting professor at Stanford Law School. “It’s been great teaching at my alma mater, even if by Zoom, and as soon as things return to normal, I hope to lecture in person on campus,” he told The Associated Press. __ Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report. Jim Mustian, The Associated Press
A photo shared on social media shows two EMS workers in Chatham-Kent putting a pool table into an ambulance.According to Jacqueline Zonneville with Medavie EMS Ontario, the company is looking into the incident that happened on Nov. 29.Medavie EMS is a company that supplies Chatham-Kent with paramedic staff. "We are proud of the work our paramedics do, every day, to deliver critical health care services — especially given the additional challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic," reads the statement.Medavie continued to say that they understand and share the disappointment expressed by those in the community and that they take these matters very seriously."We are formally reviewing the details surrounding this incident to ensure appropriate actions are taken," reads the statement.Zonneville said the matter is a personnel one and would not be able to comment further on the matter.
Canada is readying a new tax on foreign home buyers to help tamp down on speculative purchases from overseas, cited as a factor behind sharp rises in housing prices in some markets that have left many Canadians unable to afford homes. "Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians," the government said in its Fall Economic Statement. "The government is committed to ensuring that foreign, non-resident owners, who simply use Canada as a place to passively store their wealth in housing, pay their fair share."
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, will spend Christmas at Windsor Castle instead of their Sandringham estate for the first time in decades.Buckingham Palace officials said Tuesday that the monarch and her husband may see some members of their family briefly in accordance with guidelines, but Christmas celebrations will likely involve just the couple.“Having considered all the appropriate advice, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor,” a spokeswoman said.The queen is not expected to attend church on Christmas Day to avoid large crowds of well-wishers gathering.The royal family spent many Christmases at Windsor Castle when the queen’s children were small, but since the 1980s the royal family has celebrated Christmas and New Year at the queen’s country estate, Sandringham, in Norfolk, eastern England.Hundreds of people typically gather near the historic church at Sandringham on Christmas Day to greet the royal family as they arrive for their morning service.Officials in the U.K. say coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed for five days over the festive season to allow people to travel to see friends and family. Three households can form a “Christmas bubble” and socialize from Dec. 23 to 27.___Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
People should expect a slippery rush hour drive Tuesday night, and even Wednesday morning's commute might be snowy, according to Environment Canada.Meteorologist Peter Kimbell told CBC News the City of Toronto can expect two to four centimetres of snow during the day, and another two to four this evening.That's not "earth shattering" accumulation, he said, but it will be steady, alongside temperatures below zero."It's not great for driving conditions," he said, adding that because it's early in the season, people are not used to driving in snow."You have to be really extra cautious because of that fact," Kimbell said.Conditions will likely be worse north of the city, he added, in areas like York Region and Newmarket.The system is slow moving, so it will be "with us for some time," Kimbell said.Environment Canada's forecast is calling for the return of sunny skies on Thursday.
A co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden's pandemic task force says addressing racial disparities cannot be an afterthought in the fight against the coronavirus. (Dec. 1)
Nothing about us, without us: the idea that no policy should be decided, by any representative, without the full and direct participation of those affected by that policy. It’s the main issue that Lisa Long has with the Downtown Task Team, a group hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bigger to tackle the myriad social challenges, from drugs and crime to homelessness, facing the city’s downtown core. The task team has been criticized by some social services organizations for excluding groups that actually work with the homeless. “I believe representation from our vulnerable populations should also be made available,” said Long. “The ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ philosophy that emphasizes people, our vulnerable population, being valued as integral and essential contributors. “It seems fitting, as the (Downtown) BIA has a seat.” If there is representation on the mayor’s team from the business community, Long wonders why the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to organizations that actually work with vulnerable and marginalized downtown populations. Long is the executive director of The Samaritan Centre and, together with partner agencies the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission, works with individuals facing multiple social barriers including homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, mental health and addictions, in downtown Sudbury. She, like other downtown community service groups, were not invited to be a part of the mayor’s task team. She first heard of its creation in October from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc. “He asked me why I wasn’t on it,” she said. Long said not only does she want to ensure a more equitable perspective on the team, one that “represents those who call the downtown core their home,” but that the Samaritan Centre would offer valuable insight. “These are our neighbours,” she said. “This is our neighbourhood.” Prior to the pandemic, The Samaritan Centre would receive a daily average of 300-400 people. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. Though they have been forced to change their methods, the Samaritan Centre still offers meal services, showers, laundry and other grooming opportunities, as well as a weekly nurse practitioner clinic – all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Additionally, Long said that while maintaining all safety protocols, she is consistently interacting with clients who are waiting for services, as well as moving through the downtown to check in and distribute items like granola bars, vitamins, socks, and winter wear. “I have regular, direct contact with the individuals we serve through the Samaritan Centre, and I’m aware of their needs, challenges and stories.” The most recent meeting of the Downtown Task Team took place Nov. 25. In an interview with Sudbury.com, Mayor Brain Bigger said he was pleased with the progress the task team is making, but he does recognize the need for expert advice. The most recent meeting of the task team focused on hearing more from experts. “Our conversation was: how do we engage effectively with the large number of smaller service organizations? They’re working with the people that are experiencing these challenges and crises in the downtown.” He said the focus now is “trying to understand how we can be strategic, and really drive that value for money from the resources that we do have.” He also said there is a misconception in terms of the knowledge that council already possesses. “Many people seem to have this impression that if you’re a member of council, people think we’re completely unaware of what’s happening,” he said. “That’s far from the truth.” He said that because city councillors are interacting with citizens from their wards on a regular basis, “we’re continually involved in trying to resolve challenges in the community, and looking for opportunities to help people navigate and find support.” Mayor Bigger said this is the impetus for a public engagement forum that the city plans to hold “as soon as possible.” He said it will be a chance to hear from those who have a vested interest: community groups, business owners, those with lived experience, and the general public. But as the mayor himself noted, a pandemic-world does make this a challenge. He said it will be “essentially, a listening experience, and an opportunity to hear the ideas and the solutions — to hear about the challenges, about some of the gaps that we might not think of.” Still, despite the criticism the task team can’t really address issues it doesn’t understand, the mayor said he is “proud of what we’ve accomplished.” Long, however, isn’t quite sure it will be enough to shape the view that is required, one that is built upon the idea of nothing about us, without us. “If you look at issues from the perspective of privilege and power, the perspective will be subject to tunnel-vision, and limited in scope and purpose” she said. “If the objective of the Task Force is to install LED lights downtown, then I am sure they will have a measure of success,” said Long. “If they want to gain an understanding of the people and social issues in our downtown, then I think the framework from which they are problem-solving needs to be reconsidered.”Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist