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
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said Tuesday efforts to resolve Cyprus’ ethnic division should start fresh and aim to achieve a two-state deal, because decades of negotiations for a federation-based agreement have got nowhere. Tatar said a regional “new state of affairs” that takes into account the discovery of significant gas deposits off Cyprus creates the need for a two-state accord, under which equally sovereign Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live “side by side.” The Greek Cypriots reject the two-state idea. Tatar spoke after meeting United Nations envoy Jane Holl Lute, who arrived on the island nation to scope out chances of resuming peace talks that have remained dormant since 2017. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he’s willing to host an informal conference bringing together the two sides as well as Cyprus’ “guarantors” — Greece, Turkey and former colonial ruler Britain — in hopes of resuscitating peace talks. The approach by Tatar, a right-wing hardliner who defeated a leftist incumbent in Turkish Cypriot leadership elections in October, threatens to upend a 1977 agreement for the two sides to negotiate a federation. Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup aimed at union with Greece. The island’s internationally recognized government is seated in the Greek Cypriot south. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the north. The majority Greek Cypriots reject a two-state deal or any other arrangement legally sanctioning the country’s division by lending recognition to a breakaway entity. Lute met late Tuesday with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades who expressed his willingness to take part in the conference in hopes of resuming peace talks where they left off in 2017, according to government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos. Lute will travel to Greece on Wednesday and to Turkey later this month for more talks. The Associated Press
GENEVA — The U.N. humanitarian office says needs for assistance have ballooned to unprecedented levels this year because of COVID-19, projecting that a staggering 235 million people will require help in 2021.This comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and global challenges including conflicts, forced migration and the impact of global warming.The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, expects a 40% increase in the number of people in need of such assistance in 2021 compared to this year — a sign that pain, suffering and torment brought by the coronavirus outbreak and other problems could get worse even if hopes of a vaccine are rising.OCHA made the projections in its latest annual Global Humanitarian Overview on Tuesday, saying its hopes to reach 160 million of those people in need will cost $35 billion. That’s more than twice the record $17 billion that donors have provided for the international humanitarian response so far this year — and a target figure that is almost certain to go unmet.“The picture we’re painting this year is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs we’ve ever set out, and that’s because the pandemic has reaped carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet,” said U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who heads OCHA.“For the first time since the 1990s, extreme poverty is going to increase, life expectancy will fall, the annual death toll from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is set to double,” he said. “We fear a near doubling in the number of people facing starvation.”Lowcock told a U.N. briefing in New York on the overview that he thinks the U.N. appeal will probably raise a record $20 billion by the end of the year -- $2 billion more than last year. But he said the gap between needs and funding is growing and the U.N. is looking to “new players” coming on the scene in 2021, including U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration.The U.N. aims to reach about two-thirds of those in need, with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations trying to meet the rest, Lowcock explained.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said humanitarian aid budgets are now facing dire shortfalls as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, and said extreme poverty has risen for the first time in more than a generation.“The lives of people in every nation and corner of the world have been upended by the impact of the pandemic,” he said in a video statement. “Those already living on a knife’s edge are being hit disproportionately hard by rising food prices, falling incomes, interrupted vaccination programs and school closures.”The overview, which is billed as one of the most comprehensive looks of the world’s humanitarian needs, has put together nearly three dozen individual response plans for a total of 56 “vulnerable” countries.Lowcock said the biggest problem is in Yemen where there is danger of “a large-scale famine” now, saying a prime reason is lack of funding from Gulf countries that were major donors in the past which has led to cuts in aid and the closing of clinics.He said the biggest financial request is for the Syrian crisis and its spillover to neighbouring countries where millions of Syrians have fled to escape the more than nine-year conflict.OCHA said other countries in need include Afghanistan, Congo, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. Newcomers to this year’s list are Mozambique, where extremist activity has increased in the north, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.Lowcock said it’s not the pandemic, but its economic impact that’s having the greatest effect on humanitarian needs.“These all hit the poorest people in the poorest countries hardest of all,” he said. “For the poorest, the hangover from the pandemic will be long and hard.”Lowcock told the launch of the overview, speaking virtually from New York, that the world faces a clear choice.“We can let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal – the unravelling of 40 years of progress – or we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic,” he said.___Lederer reported from the United NationsJamey Keaten And Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled their annual gala back in April, but that’s not going to stop Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre from celebrating its 40th birthday. The drop-in centre on the northside is making the festivities virtual with its Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction, which launches Monday at noon and goes to Dec. 9 at 9 p.m. “We’re making the best of it and this online auction is just one way we want to get back some fundraising dollars we’ve lost so much on,” said Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre executive director David Ng. “Right now, we have 32 items and we’re going to be adding about three or four more. It ranges from eight or nine designer purses and some men’s fashion attire like wallets and some sunglasses. Most of it was donated through our sponsors. “We have some great items such as some outdoor furniture and local businesses donated some gift cards. We have something for everybody and we’re hoping to supplement some Christmas shopping. Most of the stuff came local. A lot of the businesses that sponsored us are supporting local and when you support local you’re supporting Lethbridge and seniors in our community.” Due to COVID-19 restrictions Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre had to cancel its third annual Under Northern Lights Gala and live and silent auction to raise funds for programming. “It was scheduled for April 25 and our 40th anniversary was April 22,” said Ng. “That’s where we really wanted to highlight where we came from and all the people who made it who we are. The gala was going to be big this year, but COVID came. We were forced to close our doors to the public. We still had some staff here and we started rolling out some modified, limited programming around August. But we’re still not fully operational.” Ng said Nord-Bridge has lost $15,000 to $20,000 in fundraising revenue and is losing more revenue by not being fully open. They hope to raise around $10,000 with the auction. “COVID has impacted everyone in different ways and we’ve definitely felt it quite a bit,” said Ng. “We’re really trying to make the best of the situation and we’re hoping we can come out of COVID with the same type of programming. We just want to be able to offer seniors a place to come and socialize. That’s one of the biggest things, because being locked in or isolated is one of the key things even before COVID happened. An isolated senior is probably the most detrimental thing that can happen to a person.” The online link for the Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction can be found at https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/UnderNorthernLights2020OnlineAuction-17182. For more information, visit the Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nordbridgeseniorslethbridge or their website at http://nordbridgeseniors.com/. Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
People returning from non-essential travel outside the N.W.T. will soon be required to pay for their own stay at one of the territory's isolation centres, Premier Caroline Cochrane announced in a press conference Tuesday.All travellers and returning residents are currently required to immediately self-isolate for 14 days. Following an outbreak of COVID-19 in Nunavut, this month a new public health order also required residents of the same household to self-isolate for the same period.Residents and travellers who have a private home where they can isolate in either Hay River, Fort Smith, Inuvik, or Yellowknife are allowed to isolate at home.Those who don't, end up at one of the territory's isolation centres — hotels in each of those four communities — where the bill for a 14-day stay can reach up to $4,000 per person, according to the territory.Until now, that bill has usually been footed by the territorial government, which says isolation centre costs account for more than half of the territory's COVID-19 spending to date.But starting Jan. 5, 2021, only certain essential travellers will have that cost covered. That includes people travelling for medical or compassionate reasons, like visiting a terminally ill relative or travelling for a funeral.Cochrane also said "anyone who is required to stay at an isolation centre because of the government of the Northwest Territories' policies" will have their stay paid, though it was not immediately clear who that would cover.Other exemptions will be determined by the chief public health officer, Cochrane said Tuesday."Many of us miss the opportunities to go south in the winter," she said — but "we need residents to consider whether their trips out of the territory are really necessary." Calls to replace surveys for isolation plan check-insFollowing Cochrane's announcement, Health Minister Julie Green emphasized the importance of sticking to self-isolation plans, which require that households in isolation maintain strict distance from others for 14 full days.Currently, individuals self-isolating report possible symptoms of COVID-19 mostly via an online form. Green said that process would be changing, with government staff calling isolating people directly to check-in.Green said the change would help "encourage compliance" and "follow up on wellness checks during the isolation period."Green said the change is expected to happen in the next two weeks.At Tuesday's press conference, Green, Cochrane and the chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, all spoke to the dangers of "pandemic fatigue," which has left fewer people taking public health measures seriously."As we head toward the season of celebration, pandemic fatigue is real," said Kandola. "But … right now, we have a choice to make — we can give into the fatigue and risk the sacrifices we've made so far to keep our territory strong, or we can commit ourselves to the healthy habits we know work, and together we can stop COVID-19 in its tracks."Changes prompted by surveyCochrane said the changes were tied directly to engagement sessions held on the government's COVID-19 response to date.Last week, the government published results from those sessions which showed that most Indigenous, business and community leaders wanted to see reduced spending on isolation centres.Those responses included calls for the territory to stop covering isolation centre stays for elective travel and allow residents to self-isolate at home outside of the four "hubs" designated by the government.While those communities will still be the only place where travellers can isolate, Cochrane did say the government would be spreading the wealth by putting more pandemic services out to tender.Cochrane said local bed-and-breakfasts could bid on contracts to provide accommodation, and other requests for proposals had been posted seeking providers for catering, security and transportation.Missed the live update? Watch it here:Tuesday's announcement came just hours after federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the Canadian government has given the territory $30 million for its isolation hubs, calling it "money well spent."In Tuesday's news conference, Cochrane said that money would not necessarily be spent by the COVID-19 secretariat, which manages the isolation hubs, though she said "health is the first priority" for that spending.Speaking on CBC's The Trailbreaker Tuesday morning, Freeland said, "I think those isolation hubs, while obviously causing a lot of difficulty in people's lives, are keeping people alive and healthy and safe."The N.W.T.'s review of its approach to isolation centres also comes as Nunavut recovers from an outbreak of COVID-19 that appeared to originate in an isolation centre in Winnipeg. Unlike Nunavut, the N.W.T. requires travellers to isolate after travel, not before.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s auditor general says the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for more robust cybersecurity and anti-fraud measures as government employees are forced to work remotely.However, he says the provincial government isn't working fast enough to manage those risks.Acting auditor general Terry Spicer notes in a report released Tuesday that the federal government's Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity has warned of an increase in attempts to access and attack networks used by remote workers.The audit finds that 10 provincial government departments, nine public service units and 19 government organizations have not completed fraud risk assessments.It adds that Service Nova Scotia, which helps citizens access government programs and services, is lagging behind on finalizing its regulations around cybersecurity.The auditor general cautions that fraud in the public sector can result in the loss of taxpayer funds and erode the public’s confidence in government if the risk isn’t properly handled.Tim Houston, leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, said in a statement that the auditor general's findings reveal the province is failing to protect the information of residents."As governments around the world find themselves increasingly at risk of cyberattacks, Nova Scotia has shown that it doesn’t place a high importance on keeping our health and other records safe from improper access," Houston said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. \- - - This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News FellowshipThe Canadian Press
BERLIN — A man zig-zagged an SUV at high speed through a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on Tuesday, killing five people, including a 9-month-old child, and seriously injuring more than a dozen, officials said.The driver, identified as a 51-year-old German man born in Trier, was arrested at the scene and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police said.The suspect, whose name was not released in line with German privacy laws, had no fixed address and had been living in recent days in the Land Rover that a friend had loaned him, which was used in the attack, said prosecutor Peter Fritzen, who was heading the investigation.He was being interrogated by police and was to undergo a psychiatric examination, Fritzen said, adding that a doctor had recently reached the preliminary conclusion the man could be suffering from mental illness.“We have no indication that there was any kind of a terrorist, political or religious motive that could have played a role,” he told reporters.The suspect had also consumed a “not insignificant” quantity of alcohol before the incident and was well above the legal limit, he added.Mayor Wolfram Leibe, who was brought to tears during the day talking about the horrific scene, said it was difficult to come to grips with what had happened.“I can't understand how someone gets the idea to drive through the city centre with an SUV to kill people,” he said. “Kill people — a baby, 9 months old to a woman 72 years old; what did these people do? They just wanted to go to the city, shop, and now they are dead.”Four people were still in life-threatening danger in the hospital and five others suffered serious injuries, while another six had less serious injuries, state Interior Minister Roger Lewentz said. Police later said one of the injured succumbed, but provided no further details.The others killed were identified as a 25-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man from Trier; the baby's mother was among those hospitalized. Police said the oldest victim was aged 73.“This incident has shaken all of Germany,” Lewentz said.Police were called shortly before 2 p.m. with reports of the attack.Lewentz commended security forces on their reaction, saying that they had located the car, which had stopped at the side of the street, and taken the suspect into custody within four minutes of receiving the first call.The driver, who was alone in the car, resisted arrest but was overpowered by police, authorities said.In a video posted by a local media outlet purportedly showing the arrest, police could be seen pinning a man down on the sidewalk next to a car with Trier license plates. The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified and it was taken down shortly after police tweeted a request that people do not share photos and videos of the scene.Footage from the scene showed people outside a shop apparently helping someone on the ground lying among scattered debris.Rhineland-Palatinate state governor Malu Dreyer, who comes from Trier, condemned the attack as a “brutal act.”“It was a really, really terrible day for my hometown,” Dreyer told reporters after visiting the scene.Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, tweeted that the incident was “shocking.”“Our thoughts are with the relatives of those killed and with the numerous injured, and with everyone currently on duty caring for them,” he said.Trier is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of Frankfurt, near the border with Luxembourg. The city of about 110,000 people is known for its Roman gate, the Porta Nigra, which is near the scene of the incident, and as the birthplace of Karl Marx.___Geir Moulson contributed to this report.David Rising, The Associated Press
* Ottawa has 34 more COVID-19 cases and one more death. * At least one key indicator is verging on red zone levels. * Renfrew County is down to zero known active cases.Today's Ottawa updateOttawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 34 new cases of COVID-19 and the death of another retirement home resident. OPH has declared a 26 more cases resolved.Numbers to watch26.8: Ottawa's per capita rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days is slightly down from Monday, but still above the rate of 25 — the difference between yellow and orange on Ontario's pandemic scale.1.19: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t), remains above one, suggesting the coronavirus is spreading faster than it can be controlled. The threshold between orange and red is 1.2.9: The number of long-term care homes with active COVID-19 outbreaks.Researchers measuring levels of the coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater continue to report a slight upward trend. Across the regionFifteen more western Quebec residents have tested positive and one more has died of COVID-19.Renfrew County now has no known active COVID-19 cases.
The pandemic hasn't seemed to have hurt bank profits, yet thanks to consumer spending on credit, experts warn a wave of insolvencies and bankruptcies may still be coming once the post-pandemic recovery is underway.
SASKATOON — Community associations in Saskatoon are being urged to take away nets at outdoor rinks to avoid groups from playing hockey. The provincial government and public-health officials recently suspended all team sports until Dec. 17 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. In a letter to community associations dated Nov. 30, the city says it sought clarification from the province about how the restriction applied to outdoor rinks. The city's letter says it was told that the ban on team sports applies to both indoor and outdoor rinks. It cites the province's public-health order that says organized or pickup hockey games during public skating times are not allowed and asks that hockey nets be removed. As a result, the city is strongly recommending that its community associations not leave out hockey nets that could be used while rinks are unsupervised. "These are recommendations and guidelines to protect the community and to try to address the spread of COVID," said Andrew Roberts, the city's director of recreational and community development. "We realize it's not a normal winter and that there (are) some sacrifices being made." Roberts noted that the public-health order is in place for three weeks and that the city's recommendation around outdoor hockey nets isn't mandatory. Even though team sports are prohibited, the province says athletes 18 and younger can still practise in groups of eight but must take precautions such as wearing masks. The Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association says on its website it checked with the city and nets will remain in place for practices. Health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and said 123 people were in hospital. The Ministry of Health has said team sports were suspended for three weeks because the activities were leading to COVID-19 cases in schools and workplaces. Recently, health officials warned that nine players and one coach on a teenage hockey team tested positive for COVID-19, and other teams were self-isolating. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — By Stephanie Taylor in Regina The Canadian Press
BUCKHORN — Banners have been placed on each of the eight lampposts on the Buckhorn lock bridge to help enhance tourism in the region as small businesses continue to struggle through the pandemic. As an initiative through the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), Trail Town has made the Trent-Severn Waterway Canada’s first waterway trail, says Leslie Clarkson, vice-chair of the RTO8 board and co-chair of the Buckhorn Trail Town committee. The trail currently connects a total of nine communities on the system, including Buckhorn, Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Hastings and Campbellford, Clarkson said. The concept was taken from the Great Allegheny Passage in the United States; a biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Buckhorn, Clarkson said. “Buckhorn is one of the busiest locks on the entire Trent Severn system, and our welcome centre is generally the busiest in the region,” she said. Buckhorn is one of the only towns of the nine communities that has municipal funding, so some of the funding was used for the banners, Clarkson said. “The main thing really is to get visitors to come to the area and to stay in the area and to stay in the region, and then to get them to want to come back and spend more time in the region,” said Clarkson. Trail Town is a great opportunity to help attract visitors to the area and to let them know that there’s a variety of different things that they can do in the region, said Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s coming at a time when the tourism industry is facing some challenges,” he said. “Hopefully we can position ourselves as we move forward, particularly in the spring and summer when, from a public health perspective, things will be much better to welcome visitors from across the province and across the world." With boaters travelling down the Trent Severn Waterway as well as cars crossing the bridge, the banners will be seen by many, Clarkson said. However, the banners are just the first step in the Trail Town initiative, Clarkson said. “As we move forward to year two and year three, we will continue to capitalize on the relationship with Parks Canada and look at those other gyms that a visitor would stumble across and develop those as well,” she said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
TORONTO — DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. says sales of cars and trucks fell in November as COVID-19 restrictions returned.The consultancy says 128,351 cars and trucks were sold last month, down 10.4 per cent from a year ago. DesRosiers says the November decline marks a pull back from strong performances in September and October.DesRosiers managing partner Andrew King says the auto market is still relatively strong compared with this spring, after sales fell nearly 75 per cent from their year-ago levels in April.But the consultants say auto sales are still set to be down about 20 per cent this year compared with 2019, between spring's lockdowns and new COVID-19 restrictions.DesRosiers now estimates that 2020 auto sales will total slightly more than 1.5 million for the full year.“It was always apparent that the recovery in the market was never going to be a straight line," said King in a statement. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
A fourth route for the Town of Orangeville’s transit system will be delayed thanks to a decision to nix the transfer hub plans on Broadway. The route was set to be established in order to serve an area of town that currently does not have transit service. “(It’s) so frustrating,” Coun. Todd Taylor told the Orangeville Banner. “We are losing precious time to serve all of our community.” He added that Veteran’s Way and the west end of town are two examples. “We currently have entire neighbourhoods not served by transit,” said Taylor. The fourth route would allow the transit service to operate on a four-quad system. Each quad would serve a different area of the town and meet with the rest at a central location, allowing riders to transfer to reach their destination. Council reversed their decision on the Broadway hub in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 23, after hearing numerous concerns from businesses in the downtown core and the BIA. Taylor, along with Councillors Lisa Post and Grant Peters, felt that sufficient work had been completed to prove the safety and benefits of a Broadway transfer point, which would have been located between First and John Street. Instead, several members of council would like to see staff investigate the possibility of using the Edelbrock Centre, an idea which was favoured until more recently. “I am disappointed in the decision,” said Taylor. “The Edelbrock site will cost over $300k to implement, while downtown was minimal.” Until council settles on a location, any work on the transit project, which includes the fourth route, has been put on hold. Taylor added that part of the reasoning behind a centralized station is to improve challenges deterring ridership, such as reliability and access to certain parts of town. “Our buses are underutilized today; this is a fact,” said Taylor. “Why would anyone want to ride a bus that is frequently late and does not get you close to a desired location?” Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to revisit the idea of using the Edelbrock Centre at its Dec. 14 meeting.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown. In “Let Us Dream,” published Tuesday, Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.” The 150-page book was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers. At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits. But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour. At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini. “But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013. The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world. At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies. “Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.” People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.” Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.” But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue. “Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote. Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!” He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem. “You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.” He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state." “There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them." In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course. The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order. “I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote. The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it. The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country. “I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote. But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.” “Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote. Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour. “We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting. The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native. Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last. “I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website. A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro. Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection. Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District. That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP. The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year. Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race. A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run. Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture. Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us." His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.” Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary. Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before. Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed concerned Tuesday about the impact of siding with food giants Nestle and Cargill and ending a lawsuit that claims they knowingly bought cocoa beans from farms in Africa that used child slave labour.The court was hearing arguments in the case by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic. If the court were to accept Nestle and Cargill's arguments, that could further limit the ability of victims of human rights abuses abroad to use U.S. courts to sue. But both liberal and conservative justices asked questions that were skeptical of arguments made by the companies' attorney.“Many of your arguments lead to results that are pretty hard to take,” conservative Justice Samuel Alito told attorney Neal Katyal, who was arguing on behalf of Nestle and Cargill. The court's three liberal justices were particularly critical of Katyal's position, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor at one point saying it “boggles my mind.”The case before the justices has been going on for more than 15 years. It involves six adult citizens of Mali, referred to only as John Does, who say that as children they were taken from their country and forced to work on cocoa farms in neighbouring Ivory Coast. They say they worked 12 to 14 hours a day, were given little food and were beaten if their work was seen as slow.The group says that Minneapolis-based Cargill and the American arm of Switzerland-based Nestle “aided and abetted” their slavery by, among other things, buying cocoa beans from farms that used child labour. The group is seeking to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and what they say are thousands of other former child slaves.Both Nestle and Cargill say they have taken steps to combat child slavery and have denied any wrongdoing.The case involves a law enacted by the very first Congress in 1789, the Alien Tort Statute, which permits foreign citizens to sue in U.S. courts for human rights abuses. The justices are being asked to rule on whether it permits lawsuits against American companies.Justice Brett Kavanaugh was among the justices with tough questions for Nestle and Cargill's attorney. “The Alien Tort Statute was once an engine of international human rights protection,” Kavanaugh said before quoting a brief that argued that the companies' position would “gut the statute.” “So why should we do that?” he asked.Alito, for his part, was also skeptical about this particular case against Nestle and Cargill. “You don't even allege that they actually knew about forced child labour,” Alito told attorney Paul Hoffman.“We do contend that these defendants knew exactly what they were doing in that supply chain,” Hoffman responded.The case had previously been dismissed twice at an early stage, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revived it. The Trump administration is backing Nestle and Cargill.The high court in recent years has limited the use of the Alien Tort Statute. Most recently, in 2018, the court ruled that foreign businesses cannot be sued under the law. In that case, the court rejected an attempt by Israeli victims of attacks in the West Bank and Gaza to use U.S. courts to sue Jordan-based Arab Bank, which they said helped finance the attacks. Cargill and Nestle are asking the court to take another step and rule out suits against U.S. companies.A decision is expected by the end of June.Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
AMOS-Les maires d’une quinzaine de municipalités de la MRC d’Abitibi font front commun pour dénoncer la décision du Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue de fermer la plupart des points de service situés dans les petites municipalités de la région. En point de presse, les maires de la MRC ont qualifié d’«unilatérale» la décision du CISSAT. «Ils nous ont mis devant le fait accompli, a déclaré le maire de Preissac, Donald Rheault. On a rencontré la PDG du CISSSAT, Caroline Roy, qui nous a désignés comme partenaires pour le maintien des services de santé dans la région. Sauf que normalement, un partenaire a son mot à dire dans les circonstances.» Des citoyens lésés M. Rheault dit comprendre que le contexte est difficile dans le domaine de la santé, et qu’il y a des choix à faire. Dans ce cas particulier, pour lui, les décisions viennent carrément léser les citoyens des petites municipalités. «Ça nuit à nos citoyens à plus d’un chef, dit le maire de Preissac. Les gens doivent faire plus de 40 km pour des services de suivi, des prises de sang, etc. De plus, la plupart de ces municipalités réservent des locaux dans leurs infrastructures pour offrir ces services. Est-ce qu’on jour, ces services vont revenir dans nos localités? Parfois, la pandémie et la pénurie de main-d’œuvre ont le dos large.» M. Rheault voit aussi une certaine contradiction entre les décisions du CISSS et ses recommandations. «Cette situation pénalise de nombreuses personnes avec des besoins spécifiques, notamment nos aînés et les gens avec des problèmes de santé. En raison de la pandémie, ceux-ci doivent éviter le plus possible les déplacements et les contacts physiques. Devoir se déplacer à l’hôpital, à Amos, loin de leur demeure, représente un immense risque pour eux.» Des discussions Les maires estiment que s’ils avaient été consultés, ils auraient pu amener des solutions qui auraient eu des impacts moins lourds dans les municipalités rurales de la région. «Tout ce que cette réorganisation a pu donner comme récupération, ce sont deux postes ÉTC (équivalent tems complet), affirme le maire d’Amos, Sébastien D’Astous. Nous connaissons bien nos municipalités, et en ce sens, peut-être aurions nous pu apporter des solutions qui n’auraient pas mené à des coupures aussi drastiques.» Le CISSS-AT souffre toujours d’une pénurie criante d’infirmières sur son territoire. Actuellement, 20% des postes d’infirmière sont à pourvoir pour l’ensemble du territoire, et on a de plus en plus recours à des employées en agence, ce qui provoque un déficit anticipé avoisinant les 30 M$ pour l’exercice budgétaire actuel. La décision de l’instance régionale a aussi reçu un accueil plutôt tiède sur le territoire du Témiscamingue, qui compte lui aussi plusieurs petites municipalités éloignées des grands pôles.Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
OTTAWA — Canadians may wish to forget the year 2020 ever happened, but across the country, museums and archives are working furiously to ensure a full record of the COVID-19 pandemic is in place. "If it happens 50 years from now, again, we want to be able to have information to give the perspective of the challenges," said Sylvain Belanger, a director general at Library and Archives Canada. But figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges. One is the ephemeral nature of where so much of people's experiences are taking place: the internet. Social media posts come and go, news headlines change hourly, and new sources of information and disinformation appear or disappear, Belanger said. At Library and Archives Canada, a team of six people hoover up as much of the official record as possible. The amount of data they've currently collected is the equivalent to the data a person would use up if they streamed more than 2,000 movies on Netflix. At the Canadian Museum of History, and similar institutions, the work is broader. Capturing the language of the pandemic is one part: words like "social distancing," the lockdown cocktail known as the "quarantini" and the "you're on mute" uttered in nearly every single video conference call. Saving photos and videos is another element, whether it is Canadian musicians streaming impromptu concerts from their living rooms, teachers wearing masks in the classroom, soldiers entering long-term care homes or portraits of what isolation looks like in the Northwest Territories. Then there are the physical artifacts: homemade masks, crafts made from toilet paper rolls, colourful rocks painted by children to be strewn along paths, even the little sticky signs on sidewalks asking people to keep their distance. What among those will become as iconic to the pandemic as the photo of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square at the end of the Second World War remains to be seen, said Dean Oliver, the museum's director of research. Knowing what to collect and how much of it evolves over time, Oliver said. "There isn't a checklist that says here's the magic number," he said. Documenting the pandemic is difficult because Canadians are still living through it, said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada, which among other things runs "The Memory Project" to record the stories of war veterans. "It'll take awhile for people to come out the other end, much like post-traumatic stress disorder, where, when it's too immediate, you can't talk about it at all," he said. But he said that what people will want to know decades from now is what they ask veterans today: how did you feel? What was it like? Oliver suggests Canadians who want to make a record document those feelings. "Many of the other aspects of your experience — where you moved, what you bought, your tax return, your census record — the future historian or your descendant will be able to get at in an impersonal way," he said. "But they will not be able to see you and feel you and understand how you saw and felt unless you tell them." One emerging issue is figuring out how to reflect the experiences of those whose lives have been disproportionately impacted, including racialized communities and women. "There are a lot of data sets, but the voice of women is missing in numeric data sets," said Yoo Young Lee, the interim head of information technology at the University of Ottawa, who also works on digital initiatives for the school's library. "We need the stories." She and her colleagues have launched an archive specific to women's experiences, but it is a slow process. One challenge is that a reliance on using what people post online means those who don't have access or choose not to use social media are missed. The other reality, said Michelle Gewurtz, supervisor of arts and culture at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives, is that people tend to only post the lighthearted moments online. Her region, just outside Toronto, is currently in the midst of second lockdown, due to a rise in cases. There, multi-generational families are locked down in cramped quarters, and getting a sense of what that looks and feels like is difficult, she said. It's become clear, she and others said, that what initially began as a project to document COVID-19 in the year 2020 will stretch far beyond. "This isn't going away." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press