There was mixed reaction from Canadians to the lack of a U.S. election result Tuesday night, with some voicing concern for the deep political divide south of the border.
There was mixed reaction from Canadians to the lack of a U.S. election result Tuesday night, with some voicing concern for the deep political divide south of the border.
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
The final decision lies with the Ministry of Health, but Grey Bruce Health Services has made its recommendation for the contractor for the new Markdale hospital. That name has not been released. The call for tenders from pre-qualified bidders was earlier this summer, and the bids have been reviewed locally. The Ministry of Health is expected to approve the bid within a few months, when the name will be made public. Site preparation should begin this spring, a press release from GBHS said. “We are checking off the milestones for this project, and getting ready to transition from the years of planning to physically building our new hospital,” said Gary Sims, GBHS President and CEO. Teams are working through the transition plans to co-ordinate the two-year project. The $70 million build will be about 68,000 sq. ft. with inpatient beds, a palliative care bed, 24/7 emergency care, lab and diagnostic imaging, as well as outpatient services. Two ambulance bays will be housed at the hospital. The community in the central and south Grey area was deeply involved in the project from the time of the public fundraising campaign in 2004. The hospital will replace an aging existing facility. Over more than 15 years since then, advocacy by locals including MPP Bill Walker has supported the new build, which is now close to seeing shovels in the ground. GBHS operates six hospitals in the Grey Bruce region. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
When Nikita Toms hears a knock on the front door of her King’s Point home, there are a couple of things it could mean. The first is that it could be the courier dropping off a Christmas gift. The second thing it could be is another courier delivering a piece of her four-year-old daughter Peyton’s Make-A-Wish bedroom makeover. Sometimes, the courier shows up with a mixture of both. When that happens, Nikita is always sure to separate gifts from makeover items. Either way, they’re both equally welcomed by the youngest Toms. “It’s exciting to her,” said Nikita. Pieces for the bedroom renovation have been coming for the past month. The makeover includes a new bedroom set, the repainting of walls with a giant rainbow — Peyton’s aunt and uncle are painting her room — and a host of other upgrades to reflect her love of unicorns and rainbows. Make-A-Wish Canada breaks wishes down into three categories. There are travel wishes, celebrity wishes and item wishes. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, the travel and celebrity wish categories became impossible to fulfill. Some of the children making those wishes chose to wait until they could travel again to make them happen, while others switched their wishes to item wishes. “Some of the wishes have been reimagined,” said Dave Walsh, development co-ordinator with Make-A-Wish Canada in St. John’s. The pandemic meant a shift in the way Make-A-Wish Canada does things. Normally, the foundation would have a team that would assemble and makeover a gift like Peyton’s. However, for safety reasons, the foundation has been sending the items to the family and having them assemble it themselves. “We’ve been forced to do things at a distance,” said Walsh. Make-A-Wish Canada is fulfilling three other wishes in addition to Peyton’s in the province. The other three are all video game-related. All are currently receiving pieces of their gifts. “It’s kind of nice, too,” said Walsh. “They feel like Christmas wishes.” Peyton was one of those who decided to reimagine her wish. A big Disney fan, she had originally wished to visit Disneyland, but that wasn’t possible under current conditions. With travel a no-go, the young girl gave it some thought and decided she wanted a bedroom makeover with an emphasis on two things in particular. “She wanted anything to do with rainbows and unicorns,” said Nikita. Peyton finished two years of chemotherapy to shrink a benign tumour on her jaw that was the size of a baseball in February 2018. Then, her parents Nikita and Jake, marvelled at her strength as she did three chemo sessions a month and 72 treatments over the two years. “She was a lot stronger than we were,” said Nikita. Seeing the bedroom slowly come together with the help of the family has been great for her parents. And, obviously, for Peyton. As pieces of the room continue to trickle in, the family hopes to have everything assembled in the next couple of weeks. “(Peyton) well deserves it,” said Nikita. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
“Eddie’s Boy,” by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)The hitman known as the butcher’s boy is back, forced out of retirement at age 61 to confront an implacable old enemy who wants him dead.Thomas Perry first introduced him 38 years ago in his Edgar Award-winning debut novel, “The Butcher’s Boy,” but until now, the character has reemerged only twice — in “Sleeping Dogs” in 1992 and “The Informant” in 2011.The new novel, “Eddie’s Boy,” finds him in England, posing as retired American businessman Michael Shaeffer. He’s enjoying life with a charming yet spunky aristocratic British wife until someone discovers his secret and sends a small army of killers to snuff him out.Shaeffer flees to Australia, only to discover that his unknown enemy has managed to track him there. So, he jets to America to find out who has put a contract out on him and to put a stop to it. In his wake, he leaves a trail of dead bodies across much of the English-speaking world. Perry breaks the action-packed narrative with reminiscences about the protagonist’s early life, when a small-town Pennsylvania hit man named Eddie, who spent his off hours operating a fine butcher shop, taught the boy both trades.If fans of Perry’s novels think the plot of “Eddie’s Boy” closely resembles the last two butcher’s boy books, they’d be right, but the saving grace is in the differing details, including how Shaeffer confronts the challenge of engaging in combat with a fit but aging body.Although the butcher’s boy is not — and never been — a likeable character, Perry expects us to admire the skill and meticulous care with which he works. And there is certainly much to admire in the skill with which Perry works, from his flawless plotting to his tight and muscular prose style.___Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
Social determinants of health – such as discrimination, proper housing and occupation – are critical factors for public health officials when considering how to target resources at those whose risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is highest. As health interventions aim to address these social liabilities in the short-term, the pandemic is also exposing how environmental determinants of health are often overlooked. Air pollution, for example, produces worse health outcomes and occurs more intensely in areas with poorer social and economic conditions, according to research cited in a study published earlier this month by health data non-profit ICES and the University of Toronto. The paper notes that previous studies “have also implicated environmental pollution as having a biological relationship to the risk and severity of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.” Environmental factors affecting local public health may emerge as a larger discussion in the coming weeks, as Mississauga’s climate plans resurface during budget committee presentations which resumed Monday. Estimated to cost more than $460 million in the next decade, or about $46 million per year, the City is slow to commit funding in its first year of budgeting for a greener future in Mississauga. In June 2019, following the lead of several other Canadian cities, Mississauga’s Council passed a motion to declare a climate change emergency and approved an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan six months later. In the summer, as the 2021 budget document was being considered by City staff, The Pointer asked Mayor Bonnie Crombie about the ambitious goals she championed in the Climate Action Plan just prior to the pandemic, including some $160 million that would be needed in the short term for hybrid and electric buses. "Certainly, the greening of our economy is the right direction to move and I think we all agree with that," she said at the time. "We are very hopeful that the impact of COVID will be contained to the next three-year horizon and that we will still move forward with our Climate Action Plan. It is very dependent on the ICIP money (Ottawa's Invest In Canada Plan for infrastructure) – money coming from the provincial and federal government – to assist us to green our fleet and implement many of the recommendations that you found in that report." Now, implementing the climate plan is a highlight of the City’s 2021 budget. The two-pronged climate change solution universally advocated by scientists – mitigation and adaptation – is reflected in the City’s strategy to promote green energy, and retrofit or build resilient infrastructure. The plan sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next ten years and by 80 percent ahead of 2050, with the long-term goal of reaching zero emissions. The second pillar is to “build resilience” against the effects of climate change, including severe weather damage to City infrastructure. Next year’s ‘pandemic’ budget, has leaned out capital project funding to help weather the City’s major revenue losses in transit and recreation due to the ongoing public health emergency. Parks, Forestry and Environment staff are proposing a net $37.5 million operating budget, or a $1 million increase from last year, to maintain service levels, support higher fleet costs and kick-off climate protection goals. “Now, having a bold plan is very different than action. This is where the City now has to try and follow through on that, and I don't see that in this year's budget yet,” said Marc Johnson, Director of the Centre for Urban Environments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He cited urbanization data that shows 82 percent of Canadians live in cities, with significant greenhouse-gas emissions and resource extraction linked to oil, lumber and other materials that support urban development. Though projects including infrastructure lifecycle maintenance, tree planting, stormwater drainage, trail upkeep, parks construction and pedestrian bridge replacement may relate to climate change, the budget does not directly connect these developments to the City’s climate strategy. “I want to see earmarked in [the budget] which of these investments in staff, in green technology, and infrastructure refurbishment are aligned with their Climate Action Plan,” he said. Perhaps the clearest funding link to execute the Climate Change Action Plan is the addition of another full-time staffer, a climate change specialist, in next year’s operating budget, with a salary of $92,000, and $121,000 forecast in 2022. No funding has been allocated until 2023 for the Climate Change Plan Implementation in corporate buildings, with budget documents recommending about $216,000 be set aside. In budget presentation documents, staff acknowledged the City requires resources to fulfill its climate plan and parkland growth expansion. However, parkland growth is not funded until 2022, with a recommended $291,000 budget. Capital projects in the Parks, Forestry and Environment departmental budget will also face deferrals, with an overall budget of about $32.3 million for 2021, forecast to more than double in 2022 to $66 million, and drop slightly to $51 million the following year. There is also a modest budget for parkland acquisition in 2021, at $120,000, compared to $26 million forecast for 2022. Corporate building retrofits as part of the climate plan are also being set aside, not being requested in the budget until 2023, with staff forecasting $216,000. More than 40 percent of parks and related infrastructure will need capital funding for replacements and maintenance over the next decade. Funding in other service sectors will affect Mississauga’s climate change goals, most prominently in transit, which accounts for about 70 percent of the City’s emissions. MiWay Director Geoff Marinoff said, during Tuesday’s transit presentation to the committee, that 40 percent of the fleet would be turned over to hybrid energy buses in the next four years. MiWay is proposing $440.6 million to replace 409 buses over the next 10 years. However, staff are proposing only a small fraction of the annual investment needed if 40 percent of a new hybrid fleet is to be acquired in the next four years. The bus replacement budget for 2021 is just $2 million, even though MiWay reaffirmed its commitment to “no longer purchase any conventional diesel buses, and will be required to purchase hybrid-electric and zero emission vehicles.” The budget does not specify if the bus replacement budget will be solely for hybrid-electric vehicles. (The City currently has 36, and the remaining 475 buses run on ultra-refined diesel.) The federal government, as Crombie highlighted in the summer, could provide a significant contribution, as clean energy infrastructure is one of the priorities in its infrastructure investment policy and Ottawa has already approved large sums to municipalities and provinces for clean transportation since the plan was adopted under the Liberals in 2015. The budget also notes the City’s training program for fleet operation will be amended to train drivers in reducing idling and fuel consumption to align with climate goals. Initiatives linked to fighting climate change can also be found in the increased stormwater tax. Mississauga has seen its share of extreme weather in the past decade, with heavy rain and flash floods last spring and fall. Human activity connected to climate change is leading to more extreme rainfalls in North America, according to a study published this June. A stormwater tax raise, which will range from $2.20 to $3.68 per year, is slated to help generate $43.5 million toward the City’s stormwater reserve funds for unpredictable weather caused by changing environmental conditions. Natural disasters and severe weather events demand crucial consideration when making urgent local policy shifts, said Lauren Latour, a coordinator at Climate Action Network Canada. “A lot of the time when we talk about climate policy, we're talking about federal level policy, but the effects are going to have to be dealt with by municipal governments,” Latour said. “They become those frontline protectors for their communities.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results in favour of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.Biden’s victory in Wisconsin was certified Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory as states around the country certify results.Earlier Monday, Arizona officials certified Biden’s narrow victory in that state.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump’s claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Trump berated Ducey on Twitter Monday night, asking, “Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now.”Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.___Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.; Cooper and Tang reported from Phoenix.Scott Bauer, Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A-list actors including Jude Law, Julia Stiles, David Oyelowo, more, share their plans for the festive season. (Dec. 1)
Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 today, and seven new deaths due to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says 727 new cases are in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region, and 168 cases in York Region.The province also reported 299 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 253 among students.Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 737 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools.In the province's long-term care homes, 743 residents currently have COVID-19 and six new deaths have been reported today. The province says 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
Weather is getting cooler and beards are getting bushier as some Canadian men look to add an extra layer of warmth to their faces this winter.Others, motivated by lockdown measures and extended work-from-home terms, may view this as a perfect time to see how unruly those whiskers can get before a trim is needed.But as long as mask-wearing is encouraged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, should they worry about facial hair interfering with the effectiveness of face coverings?Some experts say men should shave their beards in order to obtain the best mask fit, but others say it depends how long the stubble gets, and if their job requires a tighter-fitting respirator.The CDC has an infographic on facial hair and N-95s on its website, outlining styles that are safe, including handlebar mustaches and soul patches. Other looks — like extended goatees, muttonchops and Van Dykes — cross the seal of the mask and need to go. Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal-based physician, says that advice is fine for health-care workers, but when it comes to regular cloth masks, breaking a seal isn't as much of a concern."If it's covering your mouth and nose, it's doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "Whether there's a gap on the side isn't really here or there because there's always a gap." Dr. Jane Wang, a clinical instructor at UBC who has studied face masks extensively, disagrees.Wang's recent research suggests men with beards experience more leakage — droplets expelling through gaps in the mask — than those without. Leaky areas of masks are most prominent around the nose, chin and the cheeks, and pleated masks tend to leak more than other styles.Having facial hair jutting out of a mask increases that leakage zone, she said. So the most effective way to ensure a cloth mask fits around the face is to remove the beard."Having more leaks decreases the filtration," Wang said, adding that research on mask fit and leaks date back to the 1990s. "So the air we breathe will go through the leak and not the filter of the mask."Dr. Lisa Bryski, an emergency-room physician in Winnipeg, has seen many colleagues shave off their beards in order to properly wear masks in the health-care field. While a cloth covering doesn't provide the same level of protection as an N-95, Bryski suggests men outside front-line work settings might want to pick up the razor too."It's a personal choice, but anything you do to increase your own protection and protection of others is appropriate in these times," she said. "Where shaving is not an option, keeping the beard groomed and trimmed may reduce the amount of hair and help with mask seal."Bryski acknowledged that for some men, like those in the Sikh community, beards may be an integral part of religious identity.Sukhmeet Sachal, a second-year medical student at UBC, recognized that and is offering a solution. Sachal is part of a group that has been handing out modified face masks to Sikh men at gurdwaras, or places of assembly and worship. The masks, made by volunteers, wrap around beards and tie over turbans, offering Sikh men a better alternative than a regular face mask they could buy at a store.Sachal said he got the idea when he walked into a gurdwara with his father and saw hardly anyone wearing a mask. While he says there may have been a combination of reasons for that, the beards played a part."We heard from people directly that there were no masks available for them," Sachal said. "When they went to the store, they didn't find any."Sachal says hair, whether it's on your face or head, is seen in Sikhism as a gift from God. Turbans are wrapped around hair to protect it, and most Sikh men refrain from cutting their hair or shaving their beards."That's why these masks are important," Sachal said. "They allow people to practise their religion while being safe."Colin Furness, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, looks at beards as a "variable" in how well a mask fits, but "not a determiner."A mask can be ill-fitting whether you have a beard or not, he explained. And while the length of facial hair will impact fit further, he says mask-wearing is only one safety precaution we should be practising."I don't think beards should be demonized, because it's not just about wearing a mask," he said. "You're also maintaining physical distance, you're also not doing large crowds... "It's when you start thinking that masks protect you completely that beards become more risky."Wang says those keeping their beards should still wear face masks."It'll be less effective, but it's better than nothing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — American factories grew at a slower pace last month and there are concerns that surging coronavirus infections will endanger an economic recovery. The Institute of Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday that its manufacturing index dipped to 57.5 in November from 59.3 in October. Any reading above 50 signals that manufacturing is expanding. The ISM index plunged in the spring but has since bounced back and now shows factories on a six-month winning streak. New orders and production grew more slowly last month. Hiring actually dropped, reversing a gain in October. New export orders grew faster. Sixteen of 18 industries surveyed reported growth last month, led by apparel and mineral manufacturers. The U.S. economy collapsed from April through June and has since been recovering. But a sharp increase in infections is raising fears that the recovery will lose momentum as state and local governments issue lockdown orders and Americans stay home on their own to avoid infection. “For now, the manufacturing sector appears to be weathering another round of virus outbreaks fairly well,? Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note. “However, the outlook is uncertain given targeted restrictions and shutdowns, at home and abroad, could disrupt activity and weigh on demand.? Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
KYIV, Ukraine — Belarus' opposition will compile a register of law enforcement officers accused of abuses against peaceful demonstrators protesting the reelection of the country's authoritarian leader, an opposition leader said Tuesday.Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in Belarus' August presidential vote, said in a video call from Vilnius, Lithuania, that the “book of crimes” will include accounts of police abuse that will be verified by independent lawyers.“Impunity will not last forever,” said Tsikhanouskaya, who was pressured by Belarusian authorities to leave for neighbouring Lithuania after the vote. “No one will be able to deprive hundreds of thousands of people who are striving for justice from speaking out."Belarus has been swept by mass protests that were triggered by President Alexander Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth term in office by a landslide in the Aug. 9 election that the opposition said was riddled with fraud.Police have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, using stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse protesters. Thousands of people have been detained — and many of them badly beaten — since the protests began, human rights advocates say.The rallies, the biggest of which drew up to 200,000, have continued despite the increasingly tough police response.The United States and the European Union have introduced sanctions against Belarusian officials accused of involvement in vote-rigging and the post-election crackdown.Tsikhanouskaya said that the opposition will use the register of law enforcement officers accused of abuses to push for Western sanctions against them.___Read all AP stories about the protests in Belarus at https://apnews.com/BelarusThe Associated Press
While COVID-19 numbers in the Prairie Mountain Health region remain at a plateau, as with the rest of the province, two deaths were reported Monday linked to the Fairview Personal Care Home. That brings the region’s pandemic-related death toll to 16. A spokesperson with Prairie Mountain Health reported that there are 26 residents who have tested COVID positive at Fairview, as well as 12 staff. Six deaths are now associated with the Fairview outbreak. As well, two schools in the Brandon School Division announced over the weekend there are cases of COVID-19 — Vincent Massey High School and J.R. Reid School. The public letter related to J.R. Reid School does not contain the usual line, "The infection was not believed to be acquired at school." Nevertheless, the province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, continues to maintain there isn’t "much transmission in schools." Because Roussin has never divulged statistics, The Brandon Sun followed up with a question to Manitoba Health. We asked for those numbers, but they were not available by deadline. Meanwhile, Roussin is telling Manitobans to obey public health orders to bring fatality numbers down. Saturday’s daily provincial bulletin announced the death of a child under the age of 10, and Monday saw two deaths also unrelated to the elderly — a man in his 30s and a woman in her 40s, both from the Winnipeg health region. "We continue to announce many deaths every day. Today, again into the double digits. I think we all know that we can’t continue along these lines. We have to bring these numbers down," Roussin said. Roussin acknowledged the restrictions the province has instituted are hard. "We’ve heard from a number of Manitobans that they want these restrictions lifted. Again, it’s not a matter of wanting these restrictions. I don’t think anyone wants these restrictions in place," he said. "It’s what the consequences of lifting them ... the consequence of lifting these restrictions right now is a much longer page of Manitobans that we lose with this virus, overwhelming of our health-care system, more strain on our health-care workers." He said while all Manitobans don’t want the restrictions, none want the consequences. Manitoba numbers appear to have reached a plateau, with daily numbers lingering between 300 to 400 for days. These numbers indicate the worst-case scenario — with no restrictions and no buy-in by Manitobans – won’t come to pass. Modelling predicted the province could reach a peak of 1,000 COVID-positive cases per day by Dec. 6. So far, it seems that model won’t become reality, but Roussin said it’s not enough to plateau. The numbers still need to come down. Contacts still need to be kept to only essential contacts.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
In a regulatory filing, Airbnb set a target price range of between $44 and $50 apiece to sell 51.9 million shares, which would pull in $2.6 billion. Of the shares being sold, Airbnb founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk will together sell nearly $100 million worth of shares in the IPO launch. The San Francisco-based firm also gained from increased interest in renting homes away from major cities.
CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is forecasting higher spending and production in 2021 based on benchmark U.S. oil prices staying near their current levels of around US$45 per barrel.It says it predicts daily oil and gas production between 740,000 and 780,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2021, an increase of about 10 per cent compared with this year driven by higher bitumen output from its oilsands operations.It expects capital spending of between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, including sustaining capital of $2.9 billion to $3.4 billion, an increase of about nine per cent over 2020's expected spending of $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion.The Calgary-based company forecasts refinery throughput of 415,000 to 445,000 barrels per day based on a utilization rate of between 90 and 96 per cent.Suncor says it expects to repay between $500 million and $1 billion of debt and will introduce a $500-million share repurchase program.In reports, analysts said the guidance was in line with what they were expecting.Credit Suisse analyst Manav Gupta pointed out that Suncor cut capital and operating spending earlier this year and lowered its dividend payments."Suncor almost broke even in the third quarter of 2020, and now is getting ready to pay down portion of the debt it took on to navigate the crisis," he added.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SU)The Canadian Press
Si la voiture électrique est bien partie pour devenir le moyen de locomotion du futur proche, être un « électromobiliste » n’est toutefois pas une sinécure dans l’Est-du-Québec en 2020. Nicolas Falcimaigne en sait quelque chose : propriétaire d’une Chevrolet Spark 2015, soit un des véhicules les plus abordables sur le marché, il dispose d’une autonomie qui ne dépasse pas les 100 km. Lorsqu’il est en déplacement, ce résident de Trois-Pistoles est donc dépendant des bornes de recharge éparpillées sur le territoire, plus précisément des bornes rapides qui lui permettent de recharger sa batterie en une vingtaine de minutes (contre plusieurs heures pour les bornes classiques). Or, il lui arrive régulièrement de tomber sur une borne qui ne fonctionne pas bien, ce qui a des conséquences importantes pour lui : « Depuis trois ans, ça m’est arrivé plusieurs fois, même en hiver, de devoir passer une soirée à Rimouski avec les enfants, voire d’y dormir, parce que la borne rapide était défectueuse… » En ce mois de novembre, l’unique borne rapide de Rimouski a même eu un problème pendant plus d’une semaine : elle fonctionnait à débit réduit. « Il a fallu une heure à ma conjointe pour charger sa Nissan Leaf de 15 à 89 %, contre 20 minutes normalement », explique M. Falcimaigne. Face à ces impondérables, difficile de planifier des déplacements sur de longues distances. « Les bornes rapides, c’est pour les trajets interurbains, rappelle celui qui est aussi propriétaire du Caveau des Trois Pistoles. Les bornes lentes, c’est pour quand on reste dans sa propre ville : on se branche pendant qu’on se promène ou qu’on va au magasin, juste pour entretenir la charge. » M. Falcimaigne regrette que le grand public ne fasse pas la différence entre ces deux types de bornes, ce qui mène parfois à des incompréhensions. « À Trois-Pistoles, il y a eu des travaux à la station-service où se situe la borne rapide, ce qui a bloqué son accès. J’ai parlé au contracteur, il m’a répondu d’aller à la borne de l’aréna (qui n’est pas rapide). Il ne comprenait pas que la borne rapide représente une étape indispensable d’un trajet. » La plupart des propriétaires de voiture électrique ne peuvent pas se permettre d’en sauter une, étant donné la faible autonomie dont ils disposent. Doubler les prises Mais la contrariété majeure pour les électromobilistes est l’absence de redondance de bornes de recharge rapide dans l’Est-du-Québec. En d’autres termes, il y a la plupart du temps la place pour brancher une seule voiture. Si elle est prise par quelqu’un d’autre, il faut attendre patiemment son tour, parfois plus d’une heure s’il s’agit d’un véhicule à grande autonomie. Hydro-Québec est en train d’installer des bornes rapides doubles dans six sites du Bas-Saint-Laurent (Saint-Pascal, Rivière-du-Loup, Le Bic, Rimouski, Pohénégamook et Causapscal) et trois de Gaspésie (Cap-Chat, Rivière-au-Renard et Carleton-sur-Mer, en plus d’une borne simple à Murdochville). Ces stations qui font partie du réseau Circuit électrique devraient toutes être opérationnelles d’ici février, dit le porte-parole Louis-Olivier Batty. « Dans notre stratégie de déploiement, c’est clair qu’on favorise une distance de 50 à 80 km entre chaque station de recharge », précise-t-il. Deux bornes rapides ont aussi été inaugurées à Mont-Joli. Cet été, l’achalandage des bornes rapides a augmenté de 53 % au Bas-Saint-Laurent et en Gaspésie, contre 40 % pour l’ensemble du Québec. Ces nouvelles zones de recharge sont donc bienvenues. Reste que certaines zones seront encore mal desservies : par exemple, entre Cap-Chat et Rivière-au-Renard (presque 200 km), on ne trouvera que des bornes simples – à Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Mont-Louis et Grande-Vallée. Louis-Olivier Batty conseille aux électromobilistes d’utiliser le planificateur de trajet du Circuit électrique, qui permet d’optimiser ses arrêts et ses recharges en fonction de l’achalandage des bornes, pour gagner du temps. Mieux localiser les bornes Si le réseau va finir par se compléter, la localisation de certaines bornes fait cependant sourciller Nicolas Falcimaigne. Par exemple, les deux qui vont être inaugurées à Rimouski sont situées dans une station-service en face du parc Beauséjour, alors que « la nouvelle tendance, c’est de les mettre près de l’autoroute, et non pas dans des centres-villes. Ce n’est pas du tourisme qu’on fait, on se déplace! » Le choix des sites se fait en considérant plusieurs paramètres, répond Louis-Olivier Batty. « On veut que ce soit le plus près des axes routiers, pour ne pas que les gens aient à faire un grand détour, mais on veut aussi qu’il y ait des services à côté. » Des ententes doivent être prises avec des commerçants, qui réservent une place de stationnement et permettent aux électromobilistes l’accès aux toilettes. Mais là encore, il y a loin de la coupe aux lèvres : toujours à Rimouski, à la borne rapide située près de l’accueil touristique, on n’a pas accès à des toilettes dès que ce dernier est fermé. « Plusieurs bornes sont mal situées, surtout pour le soir, confirme un autre propriétaire de véhicule électrique de Trois-Pistoles, Éric Dubois. Il y a clairement un enjeu d’urbanisme. Le choix des lieux où sont installées les bornes devrait revenir aux municipalités. » En attendant, des acteurs privés ont bien compris qu’il y avait beaucoup à gagner en fournissant de l’électricité : IGA va installer une centaine de bornes électriques rapides devant ses magasins, dont quatre dans l’Est-du-Québec.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
Le 26 novembre, l’Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) soumettait son mémoire lors des audiences publiques du Comité consultatif sur la réalité policière. Parmi les grands enjeux abordés, l’importance pour le gouvernement de se doter d’une stratégie proactive afin de faire face au problème grandissant de la gestion des cas de santé mentale dans la province. La présidente de l’UMQ et mairesse de Sainte-Julie, Suzanne Roy, était en ondes à Radio-Canada pour discuter des principaux points soulevés dans le document soumis. « C’est une constatation que l’on fait depuis plusieurs années, a expliqué la mairesse lors de son entretien avec l’animateur Patrick Masbourian. Avec le désengagement du gouvernement en matière de santé mentale, on se retrouve avec des corps policiers qui doivent faire de plus en plus d’interventions. De 2016 à 2019, on parle d’une augmentation de 20% des appels qui sont liés à des enjeux de santé mentale, que ce soit une question de détresse de suicide ou de schizophrénie. Ce sont souvent des situations de crise qui demandent des interventions lourdes et prennent beaucoup de temps. » À titre d’exemple, la présidente de l'UMQ mentionne le cas de Sherbrooke où les policiers consacrent 17 heures de travail au quotidien à la gestion de situations impliquant des citoyens aux prises avec de potentiels ennuis de santé mentale. « Et ça ne touche pas que les grandes villes, a ajouté Mme Roy. Je pense entre autres à la Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu/Saint-Laurent. On y reçoit 2 000 appels par année qui sont liés à la santé mentale. C’est vraiment un phénomène qui croît. Les policiers doivent remplacer le filet de sécurité social depuis le désengagement des dernières années dans le milieu de la santé. Et ce, sans avoir nécessairement tous les outils pour pouvoir intervenir. » La mairesse a également profité de l’occasion pour rappeler l’importance de tenir compte également du bien-être des agents qui doivent intervenir dans des situations parfois délicates et éprouvantes. « Il faut penser à la santé psychologique de nos policiers. Nous croyons qu’il pourrait vraiment y avoir une campagne ayant pour but de valoriser leur métier. Question notamment de renforcer le lien de confiance qui existe avec la population. Cela permettrait par ailleurs d’augmenter le bassin de candidats et candidates au niveau du recrutement. Ce sont des éléments qu’il nous semble important de soulever à ce moment-ci de l’histoire de nos corps policiers. »Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Roger Mandle, an internationally renowned art scholar and the former longtime president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has died, RISD said Tuesday. He was 79.Mandle died over the weekend, the school said in a statement, without elaborating. A cause of death was not given.Mandle served as president of RISD from 1993 to 2008. He was credited with helping modernize the school, one of America's most prestigious four-year art colleges, and quadrupling its endowment to over $400 million. He previously served as deputy director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.A former member of the National Council on the Arts appointed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Mandle helped shape and guide the U.S. art and design agenda.“My mission, my vision, is to contribute to our humanity and quality of life and to make Providence and the Rhode Island School of Design a globally recognized centre of art, design and right-brained thinking,” he once said.From 2008 to 2012, Mandle was executive director of the Qatar Museums Authority, overseeing more than a dozen museums, including the Museum of Islamic Art, the Qatar Natural History Museum and the National Museum of Qatar.Later, he launched a consulting firm dedicated to assisting museums and universities in strategic planning, board and senior staff development and mentoring, and advice during important transitions.He was a former director of the Toledo Museum of Art, a former associate director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and a member of the Ohio Arts Council.“The American arts and higher education communities have lost a giant," Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement, calling Mandle “an extraordinary man and a great civic leader.”“His influence on generations of artists and others whose lives were made better through the arts will live on,” RISD President Rosanne Somerson said in a statement.Mandle is survived by his wife, the abstract painter and acclaimed mixed media artist Gayle Wells Mandle; son Luke Mandle; daughter Julia Mandle; and five grandchildren.Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday.William J. Kole, The Associated Press
The Nasdaq stock exchange is seeking U.S. authority to require more diversity in the boardrooms of Nasdaq-listed companies, or for those companies to explain why they can not.It is the first major exchange to pursue such a requirement.The proposal filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, if approved, would require all companies listed on the exchange to publicly disclose consistent, transparent diversity statistics about their board of directors.It would require most Nasdaq-listed companies to have, or explain why they don’t have, at least two diverse directors. This includes having one board member who self-identifies as female and one who self-identifies as either an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ. Foreign companies and smaller reporting companies would have additional flexibility.Corporate boards are overwhelmingly white and male.According to the 2018 Board Diversity Census from the Alliance for Board Diversity and the consulting firm Deloitte, women held just 22% of Fortune 500 seats in 2018, compared to 20% a year earlier and 16 per cent in 2010. White men held 66% of Fortune 500 board seats in 2018. Blacks held nearly 9% of seats in 2018, compared with nearly 8% in 2010."We’re taking the leadership here because there has been so little action on this front, and we do think it’s an important thing for us to do, to create a more inclusive capitalist society and we think this is a step forward,'" said CEO Adena Friedman on CNBC. “But we would welcome the opportunity for for the New York Stock Exchange and for the SEC to take an active role here as well.”Companies that do not meet the diversity requirement will not be delisted from Nasdaq, Friedman said, but they will have to outline the obstructions to doing so.The Nasdaq contains all of companies that trade on the exchange, more than 3,300 of them. It is dominated by technology companies, but there are a lot of financial, biotech and industrial companies as well. It is the second largest exchange by market capitalization, behind the New York Stock Exchange.Nasdaq said the proposal's goal is to give stakeholders a better understanding of a company's current board composition and to bolster investor confidence that all listed companies are considering diversity when the look for new board members.The proposal would require all Nasdaq-listed companies to publicly disclose board-level diversity statistics through Nasdaq’s proposed disclosure framework within one year of the SEC’s approval of the listing rule.All companies will be expected to have one diverse director within two years of the SEC’s approval of the listing rule. Companies listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and Nasdaq Global Market will be expected to have two diverse directors within four years of listing rule approval. Companies listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market will be expected to have two diverse directors within five years of the SEC’s approval.Companies that can't meet the board composition objectives within the required timeframes won't be subject to delisting if they provide a public explanation of their reasons for not meeting the objectives.Nasdaq began in 1971 with the world's first electronic stock market. It currently has more than 4,000 company listings on its exchange. The Nasdaq has been a destination for many tech companies, including Apple, which launched its initial public offering on the exchange in 1980. Some other tech companies its drawn in include Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon and Google, which is now part of Alphabet.Nasdaq named Adena Friedman as its CEO in 2016, the first woman to lead a major U.S. exchange.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
Along with bread-baking and closet reorganizing, another nesting trend on the home front is “cottagecore” style.“The cottagecore esthetic swarmed the internet this year with its revival of traditional ideals and the glorification of a simple yet charming cottage lifestyle,” says Amanda Brennan, trend expert for Tumblr.Engagement on the social platform for cottagecore began spiking in early spring and hasn't abated, she reports.Now it's flowing into the holiday season, she says, “with posts of farmhouse-inspired holiday decorations, homestyle seasonal recipes, warm winter décor, and knitting.”Etsy.com trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson agrees: “The nostalgia-inspired movement is all about bringing back pastoral esthetics and activities.”Characterized by romantic, nature-oriented themes and homespun design elements, cottagecore started around the mid-2010s. But it’s taken off this year as the pandemic kept people at home.“It’s no surprise that the trend’s extending into the holidays,” says Isom Johnson. “Shoppers are opting for décor that’s reminiscent of a time that was filled with simpler pleasures in life, from baking to crafting.”Etsy saw an increase in early fall in searches for crocheted, knitted and embroidered ornaments, as well as holiday quilts, she says. They’ve seen a nearly 200% increase in searches for DIY kits.Kits come at all levels, for kids, beginners and skilled crafters, and with a variety of holiday-friendly themes. For instance, Fancy Tiger’s felting kits offer alpacas, squirrels and sheep, and cross-stitched mini holiday ornaments. Stitchery.com has simple kits for making embroidered tree table-runners, tiny stockings and snow globes.Many Etsy shops, like Lark Rising, Rene Creates and Barmy Fox, offer templates of designs for download. Creativity for Kids has holiday snow globe kits, while Paper Source has kits to craft dog nutcrackers and Hanukkah bears in winsome sweaters.Lorna Aragon, home editor for Martha Stewart Living, suggests some easy holiday projects for home and gifting that fit the esthetic:“Think about stenciling or stamping a tablecloth, runner or napkins with a simple geometric motif. You can make a tree skirt the same way," she says. "Create some homemade stockings from simple dishcloths. Use baskets under the tree to hold gifts. You can also get some quilting squares at the craft store and make sachets to gift friends. I’m loving simple fabrics like ticking, gingham, denim, muslin and calico small florals and prints.”The magazine’s team created some items for the December issue based on quilt designs and folk-art motifs, evocative of the cottagecore look.Minted’s Founder Mariam Naficy likes ‘furoshiki’, the Japanese technique of gift wrapping with fabric. She says it’s a great way to wrap oddly-shaped items, and re-purpose fabric scraps or old scarves.She’s also making garlands this year out of various materials, including fragrant dried orange slices. “You can display them on a mantle, bookcase, or drape one on your dining table surrounded by tea candles for a simple, aromatic centerpiece,” she says.Naficy also suggests making garlands out of last year’s holiday cards and scraps of wrapping paper.Wreath frames from garden centres and art stores offer crafting parties the opportunity to make indoor or outdoor décor.“Eucalyptus doesn’t scream Christmas, and will work all winter,” says Stephanie Pollard of Hello Nest.Dried or faux greenery, pompoms, cotton balls, or colorful ornaments and a primed hot glue gun are all you need. To get the cottagecore look, add burlap or velvet ribbon, or wrap the wreath in cloth.Ashley Martin, a sixth-grade teacher and mom of two who lives in Green Township, New Jersey, transformed a scrounged vintage wooden Coke crate into a rustic succulent garden to decorate her home through the holidays and beyond.Martin says she’s always loved arts and crafts projects, but became obsessed with cottagecore décor when she and her husband bought an 1850s farmhouse. Turning her ideas into custom art and signs became a side gig, and she’s working on holiday orders now.“I really enjoy working on something creative any time that I can,” she says.Other ideas for DIY holiday decorations with a cottagecore feel:Gather a stack of blank cards, markers and essential oils and make aromatherapy cards. Clear glass or acrylic ball ornaments can be jazzed up with a coating of Mod Podge and a dip in a bowl of snowy glitter. (Keep a lint roller handy to clean up the sparkles. ) Use a glue gun to seal seams on cut-out felt mittens, trees or stars, then stuff the open end with a gift card or small treat.Kim Cook, The Associated Press