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 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
Regina– On Nov. 19, the Ministry of Health released updated modelling information which provided four possible forecasts of what could happen in the coming months as COVID-19 spread across Saskatchewan. Several slides referenced Nov. 29 as part of a 14-day forecast. So what actually happened? Generally speaking, even with regularly climbing daily case counts in Saskatchewan, reality has been much less harsh than those models were predicting. While Saskatchewan has continued to show exponential growth in its 7-day average new case count, reality turned out to be much lower than the projected forecast. The “14 Day Forecast of Lab Confirmed Cases (to Nov. 29, 2020)” slide shows a band of possibilities, with a “50 per cent Forecasted Value” line, the “Upper Credibility Interval (97.5 per cent),” and the “Lower Credibility Interval (2.5 per cent).” The chart also says “*Interpret with caution.” The forecasted 50 per cent value was roughly 1,400 cases per day on Nov. 29, with the upper number coming in around 2,100 and the lower number at 660. In actuality, Saskatchewan’s new case count on Nov. 29 was 351, one of its highest days, but its 7-day average on that day was 250 cases per day. Three days earlier the average case count of 243 cases per day exceeded the 240 case per day level – a doubling from 120 average cases per day reached 16 days earlier on Nov. 10. Saskatchewan had been seeing a doubling of average cases per day roughly every 14 days since Oct. 10. Similarly, the “14 Day Forecast of Acute Hospital Admissions (to Nov. 29, 2020)” was also substantially off the mark. It’s 50 per cent forecast line came in at 90 new admissions per day, with the high mark at 130 and the low mark at 40. The daily COVID-19 updates from the province do not speak of new admissions per day, but rather provide how many people are in hospital, overall new cases, recoveries and deaths. So while the total number of people in hospital may increase by eight, as it did on Nov. 30, there will be churn within the number for people recovering and going home, and new admissions coming in. Thus, in reality, on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan had 123 people in total hospitalized throughout the province, the highest level to date. That was an increase from 115 the day before. On Nov. 30, the 325 new cases also came with were 49 recoveries. There were two deaths reported on Nov. 30, and 23 people were in intensive care. Manitoba and North Dakota compared With 325 new cases announced on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan’s 7-day average is now 262.9 cases per day. That number shows a continuing growth pattern, but perhaps not as sharply as the previous two months had been, and it may no longer be on the same exponential curve that it had been on from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. In comparison, Manitoba has remained relatively flat since Nov. 13, when its 7-day average case count hit 400.4. Since then there have been fluctuations in the daily count, but the average has remained in a narrow band between 371.6 and 422.7 average cases per day. On Nov. 30, Manitoba’s 7-day average was 392.4 cases per day. Prior to mid-November, Manitoba had been undergoing exponential growth at a rate almost exactly the same as Saskatchewan, but roughly 16 to 18 days ahead of Saskatchewan’s curve. By Dec. 1, that had stretched to 30 days, as Saskatchewan’s growth rate slowed and Manitoba’s flattened out. North Dakota, which received national headlines as one of the worst affected states in the union, has not only flattened its curve, but bent it substantially down in the last two weeks of November. North Dakota, too, had been seeing exponential growth of new COVID-19 cases for the two months leading up to mid-November, albeit at a lower rate of growth than either Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Its overall numbers were much higher, however. North Dakota’s 7-day average crested on Nov. 18, at 1,415.7 average cases per day. Its highest individual case count for a day was 2,278 on Nov. 14. But in the two weeks since, that 7-day average case count made a steady decline, falling to 1035.7 by Nov. 27, and 848.1 on Nov. 30. On an individual day bases, Nov. 30 was the best day North Dakota had seen in over a month, with 598 new cases. The last time the state had a number in the 500s, it was Oct. 26, at 527. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
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
Santa will be able to make his visit to P.E.I. on Christmas Eve, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison informed Islanders at her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning that Santa had been pre-approved for travel."I received a special alert this morning to tell me there is no COVID-19 in the North Pole. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, the elves and the reindeer are all safe and healthy. They know that COVID-19 has been very hard for children and families around the world," said Morrison.Santa is still asking his elves to practise physical distancing and wash their hands regularly, she said.As for Elf on the Shelf, Morrison noted that the annual visitor arrived at her house Tuesday morning, having qualified as a rotational worker who is to become part of her family bubble. Other families' elves will be treated the same way.Holiday guidelinesThe Chief Public Health Office will be posting guidelines for Islanders celebrating Christmas and New Year's later this week, Morrison said.With the Atlantic bubble suspended, Morrison said Islanders need to avoid unnecessary travel."I urge Islanders to not travel off-Island over the holidays," she said."I urge families, including students who live off-Island, to consider not coming home for the holidays, and that's hard to say."For those who do wish to come to the Island, pre-travel approval will be required and arrivals will need to be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days.Morrison is recommending levees not be held this year. As with any gathering, any levee that is held will require an operational plan.More from CBC P.E.I.
TORONTO — Canadian bank executives say an economic rebound is on its way after months of governments and financial institutions working to offset turmoil with loans, deferrals, interest rate cuts and subsidies.The chief executives of Bank of Nova Scotia and BMO Financial Group said Tuesday that they are starting to see signs of improvement and are feeling reassured by countries like Canada, the U.S., Chile and Peru, which have spent on average 17 per cent of their gross domestic product on relief measures. "We are seeing clear evidence that the stimulus is having the desired impact," Scotiabank's Brian Porter said on a conference call to discuss the bank's latest financial results."In Canada, retail spending has reached pre-pandemic levels, the housing market is experiencing robust growth and auto sales have largely recovered." Porter, who called himself "cautiously optimistic" about 2021, hadn't factored in the potential rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, but if Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca get the go-ahead to inject people with their early vaccine candidates, he said his optimism would grow even more.Meanwhile, BMO chief executive Darryl White was also feeling positive about 2021, but warned that troubles are still lingering as many countries, including Canada, plunge into a second wave of COVID-19."While the path of the pandemic and the economic recovery remains uncertain, we now know that vaccines will be available relatively soon, and there's good reason to be optimistic about the associated economic recovery accelerating as 2021 progresses," he said.The remarks came as their companies started to see the expiration of consumer relief programs they launched to help Canadians hit hard by the pandemic. Scotiabank offered $120 billion worth of relief for customers throughout the pandemic, while BMO said it granted payment deferrals to more than 256,000 retail accounts in Canada and the U.S. since March. Both spent much of the pandemic stowing away cash to protect themselves from bad loans, but were able to ease up in recent months.Scotiabank's provisions for credit losses in its latest quarter totalled $1.1 billion, up from $753 million a year ago, but down from nearly $2.2 billion in the third quarter.BMO's amounted to $432 million, up from $253 million a year ago, but down from nearly $1.1 billion in its third quarter.BMO also looked to protect itself further by winding down its non-Canadian investment and corporate banking business in the energy sector — a move White said would help better allocate resources in places where they can deliver strong returns now and in the future."Going forward, BMO Capital Markets' energy business will be focused on the Canadian energy market, where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest and where we will continue our deep and long-standing commitment to supporting clients," he said.BMO reported a fourth-quarter profit of nearly $1.6 billion or $2.37 per share, up from nearly $1.2 billion or $1.78 per share a year ago.On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned $2.41 per share, down from an adjusted profit of $2.43 per share in the same quarter last year.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.90 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled nearly $6 billion, down from almost $6.1 billion in the same quarter last year.The results pushed BMO's stock up by 3.6 per cent or $3.33 to reach $96.66 in late morning trading.Meanwhile, Scotiabank reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.9 billion or $1.42 per diluted share, down from $2.3 billion or $1.73 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier.On an adjusted basis, the bank earned $1.45 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from an adjusted profit of $1.82 per diluted share last year.Analysts on average had expected Scotiabank to earn an adjusted profit of $1.22 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled $7.5 billion, down from nearly $8 billion in its fourth quarter last year.Scotiabank's stock climbed by 2.9 per cent or $1.83 to reach $65.03 in late morning trading.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BNS, TSX:BMO)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
CENTRE WELLINGTON – A heritage study in Centre Wellington has identified 18 areas of importance and recommends prioritizing urban areas for further study. At a special committee of the whole meeting on Monday, a Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) study draft report was presented to Centre Wellington council. Mariana Iglesias, senior planner with the township, said with recent development pressures in the township they’ve found the need to protect larger areas that are historically and culturally significant. These areas are called CHLs, which the presentation to council identifies as a grouping of heritage features such as buildings, structures, spaces, views, archaeological sites or natural elements valued together. This study was commissioned as a starting point to identify the most significant CHLs in collaboration with the public, Indigenous groups and stakeholders. Annie Veilleux, consultant from Archaeological Services Inc., said the township is known as a scenic area with the Grand River being the backbone of influencing development in the township. “The significant CHLs are spread out throughout the township but are concentrated on the Grand River corridor,” Veilleux said. The study further identified higher priority areas that are more likely to have adjacent development, risk of altering heritage attributes or with more economic and tourism benefits. The report prioritizes the following urban areas for technical studies: Veilleux said CHLs in rural areas tend to be more stable. Also, those owned and managed by the Grand River Conservation Area have existing regulations and protections. These lower priority areas include: Council was very receptive to this report with councillor Kirk McElwain saying it should be part of the local school curriculum. He asked if a CHL designation provides any additional protection and noted that GRCA properties could be threatened by recent proposed changes to conservation authority mandates. Veilleux clarified that this report does not give protections to the CHLs but provides recommended priority areas for further study. “Following this study, the township may take on additional technical studies that are CHL specific and those studies would have the opportunity to develop protection measures for these places,” Veilleux said, adding that these measures could come from the heritage, planning, zoning. The CHL study is open for comments from the public until Jan. 29 where it will be later finalized and approved by council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
HARDCOVER FICTION 1. “Rhythm of War” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor) 2. “Daylight” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing) 3. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday) 4. “The Law of Innocence” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown) 5. “All That Glitters” by Danaielle Steel (Delacorte) 6. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) 7. “The Sentinel” by Child/Child (Delacorte) 8. “Fortune and Glory” by Janet Evanovich (Atria) 9. “Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon” by Marc Cameron (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 10. “Piece of My Heart” by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster) 11. “Marauder” by Cussler/Morrison (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 12. “Batman: Three Jokers” by Johns/Fabok (DC) 13. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 14. “Three Women Disappear” by Patterson/Serafin (Little, Brown) 15. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria) HARDCOVER NONFICTION 1. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown) 2. “Dungeons & Dragons: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything” (Wizards of the Coast) 3. “Forgiving What You Can't Forgive” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson) 4. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown) 5. “Dolly Parton, Songteller” by Dolly Parton (Chronicle) 6. “A Wealth of Pigeons” by Martin/Bliss (Celadon) 7. “Frontier Follies” by Ree Drummond (William Morrow) 8. “Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter) 9. “No Time Like the Future” by Michael J. Fox (Flatiron) 10. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House) 11. “The Answer Is...” by Alex Trebek (Simon & Schuster) 12. “Guinness World Records 2021” (Guinness World Records) 13. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial Press) 14. “The Forgiveness Journal” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson) 15. “HHR: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style” by Elizabeth Holmes (Celadon) MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS 1. “Wyoming True” by Diana Palmer (HQN) 2. “Leopard’s Rage” by Christine Feehan (Berkley) 3. “The River Murders” by Patterson/Born (Grand Central Publishing) 4. “When You See Me” by Lisa Gardner (Dutton) 5. “The Night Fire” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing) 6. “Spy” by Danielle Steel (Dell) 7. “A Christmas Message” by Debbie Macomber (Mira) 8. “Spirit of the Season” by Fern Michaels (Zebra) 9. “A MacGregor Christmas” by Nora Roberts (Silhouette) 10. “The Museum of Desire” by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine) 11. “A MacCallister Christmas” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 12. “The Vanishing” by Jayne Ann Krentz (Berkley) 13. “The Christmas Backup Plan” by Lori Wilde (Avon) 14. “The Devil's Boneyard” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 15. “One Touch of Moondust” by Sherryl Woods (Harlequin) TRADE PAPERBACKS 1. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrew McMeel) 2. “Texas Outlaw” by Patterson/Bourelle (Grand Central Publishing) 3. “Redefining Anxiety” by John Delony (Ramsey) 4. “No One Asked for This” by Cazzie David (Mariner) 5. “The 19th Christmas” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing) 6. “Forgiving What You Can't Forget Study Guide” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson) 7. “The Truths We Hold” by Kamala Harris (Penguin Books) 8. “Una tierra prometida” by Barack Obama (Debate) 9. “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart (Grove) 10. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee) 11. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious) 12. “Air Fryer Cookbook” by Jenson William (Jenson William) 13. “Interesting Stories for Curious People” by Bill O'Neill (LAK) 14. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) 15. “Burnout” by Nagoski/Nagoski (Ballantine) 5. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) The Associated Press
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. construction spending jumped 1.3% in October, again on the strength of single-family home building.The October gain follows a downward revision in September to a 0.5% decline from a previous estimate of a 0.3% gain, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. August's number was also revised significantly upward and spending in October was stronger than economists had expected.Single-family home building has been a consistent bright spot for months as a lack of new homes has pushed builders to ramp up projects. Single-family home construction rose 5.6% in October, helping to boost a 2.9% increase in total private residential construction for the month.Nonresidential private construction fell 0.7%, with the category that includes hotels and other lodging falling 3.1%.Spending on government construction projects increased 1% after generally lagging for months, possibly due to budget restraints by state and local governments as the pandemic wiped out large amounts of tax revenue. Construction of roads, schools and public safety projects all increased.During the first ten months of 2020, construction spending is up 4.3% over the same period last year.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
CALGARY — Shares in Imperial Oil Ltd. were rising after it announced late Monday it would write down up to $1.2 billion on Canadian assets it doesn't think it will ever develop.In a brief news release, it said it has reassessed the long-term development plans of its unconventional natural gas portfolio in Alberta and no longer plans to develop a "significant potion" of those assets.It says that will result in a non-cash writedown of between $900 million and $1.2 billion in the current quarter.In Toronto, Imperial shares rose by as much as 94 cents or 4.2 per cent to $23.42 on Tuesday morning, despite falling benchmark U.S. oil prices.Imperial said the exploration lands it is shelving haven't been developed and aren't producing, adding the move doesn't include natural gas prospects that are also rich in petroleum liquids.Last week, the Calgary-based company said it would lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees across Canada as part of a cost-cutting initiative due to low oil prices, adding it has reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year."We did not expect the company to allocate much to its unconventional assets in 2021 (or beyond) given its focus on the oilsands as well as cash returns to shareholders," said CIBC analyst Dennis Fong in a report.He added he expects Imperial's move to be "immaterial" to his financial estimates.Imperial is 69.6 per cent owned by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp., which said in October it would cut its global workforce by about 15 per cent, equating to about 14,000 jobs.Exxon announced Monday it would take an after-tax impairment of US$17 billion to US$20 billion thanks to removing certain natural gas assets from its development plan.Imperial committed in March to cut spending by $1 billion, including a $500 million reduction in capital spending plus $500 million in lower operating expenses, due to lower energy demand caused by lockdowns to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)The Canadian Press
FRANKFURT — The OPEC oil producers' cartel was to push ahead with a new round of discussions Tuesday about how much to pump next year as countries wrestled over whether to extend the production cuts that have been supporting prices depressed by the pandemic.Members adjourned a videoconference after a first day of deliberations Monday ended without an agreement. They also put off from Tuesday to Thursday a meeting with non-OPEC oil producers like Russia, who have been co-ordinating their actions with the cartel in recent years to increase their influence.Oil producing countries face a difficult situation. The pandemic has sapped demand for fuel across the economy, which induced them to cut back production this year to keep prices from sagging even more than they have. Yet the lower production means less revenue for governments that depend on oil sales to fill state coffers.And the outlook for demand is mixed across the globe; economies in the U.S. and Europe have been disrupted by a second upsurge in coronavirus infections, while activity and travel in China have rebounded more strongly.Oil traded 19 cents lower at $45.15 per barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is off from $63 at the start of 2020.The sag in demand has been reflected in lower prices to consumers for auto fuel in the U.S. Gasoline prices at the pump dipped well below $2 per gallon in many parts of the country in May as the pandemic took hold, and have remained flat after a mild rebound. The U.S. average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30, down 45 cents from the same week a year earlier but little changed from this summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.Analysts at UniCredit bank said the oil producing countries were likely to agree to extend this year's production cuts of about 7.7 million barrels a day.“In our view, the delay should not be a concern and we still expect the current curbs to be extended into the first quarter of 2021,” they said, adding that it is not unusual for OPEC meetings to last longer than scheduled and virtual discussions slow the negotiation process.“Moreover, both Saudi Arabia and Russia – the two leaders of the group – favour an extension of the cuts and this should be enough to square the circle and finalize the deal on Thursday.” Saudi Arabia tends to take a leadership role within OPEC, while Russia is the biggest non-OPEC country to co-ordinate with the cartel.David McHugh, The Associated Press
Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday. Trudeau's comments were a clear indication that the border restrictions will last well into 2021. The two countries have highly integrated economies and Canada sends 75% of its goods exports to the United States every month.
Director Julia Hart couldn’t stop thinking about Tuesday Weld. She had just watched Michael Mann’s 1981 thriller “Thief” and Weld’s character Jessie had taken over her imagination. Where did she and the baby go? What was going through her mind?In some ways, Jessie is just the girlfriend. She’s there to up the stakes for the main character and exits the frame when the action begins. It’s not uncommon in the genre. Just think of Michael Corleone closing the door on Kay at the end of “The Godfather.”But, Hart thought, what if we followed the woman instead of the man? It wouldn't be revisionist or corrective, just a different path. And it was the beginning of the yearslong process of creating “I’m Your Woman,” which turns the lens on the suburban housewife who has to go on the run with a new baby when her criminal husband disappears. The film starring Rachel Brosnahan opens in select theatres Friday and will be available on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 11.“It’s not like I want ‘Thief’ to have followed Jessie,” Hart said. “The movie was so good that I couldn’t stop thinking about this character and the story of all these women. In these crime dramas, even though the women weren’t the main characters, they were amazing characters. They were complex and flawed and interesting and well performed and well written. They just didn’t get their own movie...That’s what inspired me to create Jean.”Hart and her husband, producer Jordan Horowitz, got to work writing the script. And when Amazon Studio heads, who had been impressed with her superhero drama “Fast Color," asked what they wanted to make next, they had this ready to go.And after a meeting with Brosnahan, she knew she’d found her Jean.“She’s such a chameleon,” Hart said. “And she feels like a real woman. I think a lot of the women in the 70s movies did as well — not like someone who had been airbrushed and made to look perfect.”The “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star was all in. Despite her successes over the past few years, she’d been frustrated by the “one-dimensional” roles that were coming her way. Jean was a refreshing departure from that.“Jean is a quiet woman’s action hero. That’s something that I’ve never seen before,” Brosnahan said. “And it’s a really nontraditional look at motherhood. Motherhood is more often than not, not the picture perfect journey we see on Instagram.”The shoot was going to be hard. Hart knew she’d have her work cut out for herself directing her first car chase and big club scene with hundreds of background actors. But the biggest challenge would be the fact that they’d decided to work with real babies, who in the process of the chronological shoot would go from 6 to 8 months in age.“I am constantly frustrated by how people treat babies like they’re not people both in real life and on film — like it’s fine to have a fake baby or it’s fine to have four different babies playing the same character,” Hart said. “We knew it was a big risk, but we felt like it was one worth taking. We wanted to commit to making the baby a character in the film who you could connect to and know.”It added stress and time restrictions but also beauty and spontaneity to the shoot.“There were times when things happened with those babies that we never could have expected,” Brosnahan said. “And that added a layer of magic to certain scenes.”In one tense scene where Jean’s home is broken into and she has to hide in the closet and make a desperate phone call, the baby unexpectedly fell asleep in her arms.“It added this layer of urgency,” Brosnahan said.And although Hart is proud of the action sequences, the mother of two does not remember feeling more joy and exhilaration than knowing that they got a shot of the baby sleeping.“Getting a baby to fall asleep in its period costume, in its period crib at the time when you’re scheduled to shoot it is a bit of a miracle,” Hart said.There are exactly two of those miracle shots in the finished film.Brosnahan also took on a different kind of role in “I’m Your Woman:" as producer. She’d been thinking about it for some time, “looking for a way to carve out a path for myself.” And she’s immensely grateful to Hart and Horowitz for giving her the opportunity.“This is such a literal example, but most of the time you show up on the set as an actor having never seen what could be your house, the character’s house that they have lived in 30 years. And you’re showing up on day one and trying to pretend you’ve lived there for 30 years,” she said.As a producer, she was involved in everything from script development to location scouting. When she showed up to her character’s house this time, she knew it already.“It made me a better actor,” she said.Hart has spent most of her career as a writer and filmmaker trying to convince studios that stories about women are worth telling. After years of fighting, she's finally starting to see the change.“The studios are starting to really take female filmmakers and filmmakers of colour more seriously,” Hart said. “It’s not just lip service anymore.”—-Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says Albertans should assume that this holiday season will not be spent with people outside of their households and suggests they start thinking creatively.
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry. The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.” The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke. “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.” Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group. Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9. “Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.” Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry. Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified. “We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.” Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders. He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations. The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey. Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations. During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.” Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.” ___ Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco. Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
The COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for many to find and afford menstrual products. It also gave Isabela Rittinger and scores of other volunteers in and around Toronto time to do something about it. Rittinger, a first-year student at Queen’s University in Kingston stuck attending virtual classes from home in Pickering, jumped into the fray by creating an international chapter of a U.S.-based period movement in March. By the summer, she and a group of others, including many students, had split off to create Bleed the North and declare Canada’s first ever National Period Day, part of a campaign to fight menstrual stigma and period poverty, the inability to afford pads and tampons, which can cost between $75 and $150 a year. The group, now numbering 80 people, has since collected and distributed more than 10,000 period products, in kits of 11 pads and 7 tampons, enough to cover a typical menstrual cycle. It was all Rittinger could do to feel useful at a time of massive upheaval, and the community and team-building helped get her through the worst of those early days. “I don't know what I would have done with my time and how I would have faced the COVID lockdown if not for the people I had met at Bleed the North,” she said in an interview. “Those few months at the beginning were really, really dire and it was just like, if I didn't have this to pour all my time and my heart into I don't know where I would be.” Bleed the North started off collecting donated pads and tampons and delivering them to shelters and individuals in need in Durham Region outside Toronto, but has since eyed getting student trustees on school boards across Ontario to pitch for them to make period products freely available in all secondary school bathrooms. “We hear all the time from menstruators afraid to go to the bathroom holding a pad or a tampon,” said Mia Medic, who takes a lead on Bleed the North’s advocacy efforts. “That's stigma, that's period stigma.” “No one in school, no teacher, has ever told me to not be ashamed to have a period,” she added, noting the group plans to create a sex education toolkit for teachers in the coming months and recalling her experience learning the biological basics in grades 5 and 6. She said it was important to get products into all bathrooms “so every student who menstruates has access to products,” pointing out that “not all women menstruate and not all those who menstruate are women.” Independent of their efforts, Peel District School Board recently said it would provide free period products after a student trustee push, but there is no provincewide legislation. “Even sparking conversations within school boards and within authority figures is super, super important,” Medic said. “I would love to hear (Education Minister) Stephen Lecce talk about periods and talk about menstruation, even if we don't get anywhere, just to hear people in power speak about it is a win for us, because it's a start.” One-third of the under-25s in a Plan Canada survey of 2,000 cisgender women conducted in early 2018 said they struggled to afford menstrual products. (It did not include the specific experiences of trans men and non-binary menstruators.) Those in Indigenous and rural communities suffer acutely from a lack of affordable access, with a box of tampons costing between $16 and $40 in rural Indigenous communities that Bleed the North is trying to reach. “I think one for us coming into 2021 is figuring out how we can support communities that we don't necessarily live near because obviously a lot of us are young 17, 18-year-olds who in their cars go to different communities and drop off products to shelters,” Rittinger said, noting it might make more sense to fundraise and e-transfer to remote shelters and other sources. Bleed the North itself has largely subsisted on small individual donations of cash and goods to distribute, including a contactless drive-thru drop-off where it raised $500. A peer organization called Menstruation REDefined hosted a virtual art auction and sent them half the proceeds. The federal government proposed to make federally regulated workplaces provide workers with free menstrual products in May last year, while in Ontario a bill tabled by the opposition NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche at around the same time to declare a provincial menstrual hygiene day has stalled at first reading. British Columbia's government issued a first-in-Canada ministerial order requiring all public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms last April. Bleed the North’s monitoring of legislative efforts elsewhere show little to no movement. The group said it has received interest from advocates on university campuses and other sites in other provinces (it has a couple in Quebec already) and is looking to expand across the country next year. “We're hoping to expand nationally next year and having contacts all across the country that we can rely on to start this in their own communities and hopefully reach as many people as possible.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
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.
Speaking at the company's annual re:Invent conference, executive Andy Jassy announced Amazon Connect Voice ID, which uses machine learning software to authenticate customers who dial into call centers. Jassy, who runs the firm's cloud computing division Amazon Web Services, said AWS builds a voice print for customers who opt in to save time on calls.
Nonfiction1\. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)2\. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)3\. Unf—k Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD LPC-S ACS ACN, narrated by the author (Blackstone Audio, Inc. )4\. The Art of War by Sun Tzu, performed by Aidan Gillen (Audible Studios)5\. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio)6\. Mind Power Mixtape by Common, performed by the author (Audible Originals)7\. Smokey Robinson: Grateful and Blessed by Smokey Robinson, performed by the author (Audible Originals)8\. Habits for Happiness by Dr. Tim Sharp, performed by the author (Audible Original)9\. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)10\. Be Calm by Jill P. Weber, PhD, narrated by Bernadette Dunne (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)Fiction1\. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio)2\. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, narrated by Amy Landon (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)3\. The Awakening by Nora Roberts, narrated by Barrie Kreinik (Macmillan Audio)4\. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer (Macmillan Audio)5\. Dead Acre by Rhett C. Bruno & Jaime Castle, performed by Roger Clark (Audible Originals)6\. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)7\. The Weirdies by Michael Buckley, performed by Kate Winslet (Audible Originals)8\. A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry by Charles Dickens, performed by Tim Curry (Audible Studios)9\. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle & Stephen Fry - introductions, performed by Stephen Fry (Audible Studios)10\. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (A Full Cast Production) by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes & full cast (HarperAudio)The Associated Press