Hundreds turned out in Turin, Milan and other towns and cities on Monday night to vent their anger, sometimes violently, at the latest restrictions on bars, restaurants and other leisure centres.
Hundreds turned out in Turin, Milan and other towns and cities on Monday night to vent their anger, sometimes violently, at the latest restrictions on bars, restaurants and other leisure centres.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is adjusting the scope of his agenda to meet the challenges of governing with a narrowly divided Congress and the complications of legislating during a raging pandemic.Rather than immediately pursue ambitious legislation to combat climate change, the incoming administration may try to wrap provisions into a coronavirus aid bill. Biden's team is also considering smaller-scale changes to the Affordable Care Act while tabling the more contentious fight over creating a public option to compete with private insurers.Biden is already working on an array of executive actions to achieve some of his bolder priorities on climate change and immigration without having to navigate congressional gridlock.The manoeuvring reflects a disappointing political reality for Biden, who campaigned on a pledge to address the nation's problems with measures that would rival the scope of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. But Democrats acknowledge that big legislative accomplishments are unlikely, even in the best-case scenario in which the party gains a slim majority in the Senate.“Let’s assume my dream comes true,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said, referring to a tight majority for his party. “I think we have to carefully construct any change in the Affordable Care Act, or any other issue, like climate change, based on the reality of the 50-50 Senate.”“There’s so many areas, which we value so much that Republicans do not, that it will be tough to guide through the Senate under the circumstances,” the Illinois Democrat added.Biden's agenda hinges on the fate of two Senate runoff races in Georgia, which will be decided on Jan. 5. If Democrats win both seats, the chamber will be evenly divided, with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.In that event, Biden's agenda items stand a better chance of at least getting a vote. If Republicans maintain control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might not bring the new president's priorities to the floor.Biden's initial focus on Capitol Hill will be a multibillion-dollar coronavirus aid bill, which is certain to require significant political capital after lawmakers have been deadlocked over negotiations on Capitol Hill for months.The president-elect said Thursday on CNN that while he supports a $900 billion compromise bill introduced this week by a bipartisan group of negotiators, the bill is “a good start" but it's “not enough” and he plans to ask for more when he's in office. His team is already working on his own coronavirus relief package.People close to Biden's transition team say they're looking at that stimulus as a potential avenue for enacting some climate reforms — like aid for green jobs or moving the nation toward a carbon-free energy system — that might be tougher to get on their own.Durbin mentioned President Barack Obama’s first term as a precedent for what Biden will encounter when he takes office.Then, Obama was forced to focus much of his early energy on a stimulus package to deal with the financial crisis, and he spent months wrangling with his own party on his health care overhaul. Obama also enacted financial regulatory reform, but other progressive priorities, like cap and trade legislation and immigration reform, ultimately lost steam.And he had a significant House and Senate majority at the time.Still, some Republicans argue that if Biden approaches negotiations in good faith, there are some common areas of agreement. Rohit Kumar, the co-leader of PwC's Washington National Tax Services and a former top aide to McConnell, said it's possible to find a compromise on some smaller-scale priorities, like an infrastructure bill, addressing the opioid crisis and even a police reform bill.“There is stuff in the middle, if Biden is willing to do deals in the middle — and that means being willing to strike agreements that progressive members don’t love, and maybe have them vote no, and be at peace with that,” he said.Indeed, speaking on CNN Thursday, Biden expressed optimism about cutting deals with Republicans. He said when it comes to national security and the “economic necessity” of keeping people employed and reinvigorating the economy, “there's plenty of room we can work.”Still, he acknowledged, "I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard."But here, progressives, not Republicans, could be the roadblock. Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for the liberal Justice Democrats, said progressives are “worried and anxious” about Biden's history of making what he called “toxic compromises with McConnell."“I think progressives will probably play a key role in trying to push Democrats to have a spine in any negotiations with Mitch McConnell,” he said. “People will hold him accountable for what he ran on.”Shaheed said he believes progressives could play a role in pushing the Biden administration to embrace a more “aggressive approach” and pursue executive actions to address some Democratic priorities.And indeed, Biden’s transition team has already been at work crafting a list of potential unilateral moves he could take early on.He plans to reverse Trump’s rollback of a number of public health and environmental protections the Obama administration put in place. He’ll rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord and rescind the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries. He could also unilaterally reestablish protections for “Dreamers” who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.But some of his biggest campaign pledges require congressional action and are certain to face GOP opposition.Biden has promised to take major legislative action on immigration reform and gun control, but prior legislative efforts on both of those issues — with bipartisan support — have failed multiple times.He’s also pledged to roll back the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, forgive some student loan debt and make some public college free — all heavy lifts in a closely divided or Republican-controlled Senate.“It’s easy to be skeptical and pessimistic in this Senate,” Durbin said. “I hope that they give us a chance to break through and be constructive and put an end to some of the obstruction.”Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Had the ATAC mining access road in the Beaver River watershed been built, it would have constituted a “breach of the honour of the Crown” and betrayed First Nations people, according to a decision document released by the Yukon government after inquiries by The Narwhal. The document provides insight into the territorial government’s Nov. 27 decision to reject the proposed all-access road by Vancouver-based ATAC Resources, a mining exploration company with gold and copper claims in the region. The document also sheds light on concerns raised by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, on whose territory the claims are located. The rejected road was given a conditional green light by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in 2017 but was awaiting a final decision from the Yukon government. The new route would have opened access to a 65-kilometre portion of the company’s three mineral claims that form the Rackla gold property and connected Keno City to the Tiger gold deposit, the site of a planned ATAC Resources’ open-pit gold mine. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun was “strongly opposed” to the project going ahead, the decision document reveals. The document contains a list of concerns raised by the nation, including fears the road would have caused “significant adverse impacts” on treaty rights such as hunting, fishing and trapping in traditional territory. That list also noted concerns the road would have prevented Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens from adequately exercising treaty rights in “one of the few remaining wilderness areas in its traditional territory.” The road would have “fundamentally alter[ed] an untouched portion of” the nation’s territory and would have “alienated” citizens from their lands. “Approving the application would permanently impair the process of reconciliation that the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, the Yukon government and Canada have been engaged in for more than 30 years,” the document states. Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn did not return a request for comment. Andrew Carne, ATAC Resources’ vice-president of corporate and project development, told The Narwhal this week that the company is seeking legal counsel on the Yukon government’s decision and that, as a result, there’s little else he can state at this time. “ATAC does not agree with many material aspects of the government’s decision,” Carne said in an email to The Narwhal. In an ATAC Resources’ press release, president and CEO Graham Downs said the road’s cancellation suggests Yukon isn’t open for business. “We are extremely disappointed with and surprised by this decision,” he wrote. The Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has warned that roads such as the one ATAC Resources’ proposed can fragment wildlife habitat, interrupt migratory patterns and lead to an increase in mining activity and hunting pressure. The Beaver River watershed, northeast of Mayo, is a vast expanse of relatively intact wilderness that’s home to moose, grizzly bears and wolves. According to the Yukon government’s decision document, ATAC Resources’ plan for the road didn’t adequately consider cumulative effects on the region’s ecosystem — particularly on wildlife. Todd Powell, director of mineral resources at the Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told The Narwhal the company did not review wildlife impacts “in a meaningful way.” “The bigger the project, the bigger the effects are. In this case, a road into an area like that was going to have fairly significant effects.” The company’s plan to mitigate effects on wildlife “simply didn’t go far enough,” he said. According to ATAC Resources’ draft management plan, mitigation efforts included building the road in the Rankin Creek valley, where fewer wildlife are present, reducing or suspending traffic during calving and rutting and making the route private to prevent hunting. The company also said it would conduct road patrols to further deter hunting. The decision document notes there were baseline data “deficiencies” that would have affected environmental monitoring efforts. In its draft management plan, ATAC noted Lebarge Environmental Services conducted eight aerial and three ground surveys of wildlife between 2010 and 2013 that noted the project area is home to species that are considered of “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada including woodland caribou, grizzly bear, wolverine, collared pika, horned grebe, rusty blackbird, peregrine falcon and dolly varden. Threatened species that are found in the project area, according to ATAC, include the common nighthawk and the olive-sided flycatcher. Without adequate monitoring, Powell said there was little hope potential impacts could be mitigated in the future, which contributed to the Yukon government pulling the plug on the project. The Beaver River watershed is largely roadless and the ATAC road would have set a new “precedent” for mineral exploration in the territory, the document states. No roads longer than 50 kilometres have been built for operations that, like ATAC Resources’, are purely exploratory over the past decade, the document notes. “Far more typically, existing access routes and new access routes have only been upgraded or constructed once mine development and production has been authorized.” ATAC Resources is not currently operating any mines in the region and is not permitted to. The company is only permitted to conduct exploratory work until 2024, which raised questions about the need for the access road and concerns the company wouldn’t have long enough to successfully build and decommission the road as proposed. “The nearness of the expiration date doesn’t suggest that they would have a reasonable timeframe to get all of that work done,” Powell said. A sub-regional land use plan for the Beaver River watershed was recently launched by the Yukon government and the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation. Work on the plan is set to continue, regardless of the ATAC road cancellation, Powell said. “Everybody recognizes that this is a highly mineralized area with lots of potential,” he said. “The commitment remains in place to finalize [the land use plan] as soon as we can.” Randi Newton, conservation manager with CPAWS Yukon, recently told The Narwhal she hopes that the sub-regional land use plan will be replaced with a much broader plan that encapsulates the entire Beaver River watershed. CPAWS recently released a report that cautioned the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board against approving road projects before land use plans are completed. “Land use planning can take that broader view of how much development is allowable in an area, which areas should we keep remote and free of roads,” Malkolm Boothroyd, the report’s author and campaigns co-ordinator at the Yukon chapter of CPAWS, told The Narwhal in a previous interview. Powell said that while the sub-regional land use plan won’t be scrapped, it could help inform a region-wide plan in the future, so the intention now is to finish what has already been started. Lewis Rifkind, mining analyst at the Yukon Conservation Society, told The Narwhal his organization has been highlighting concerns associated with the ATAC road since its inception. While he questions why it took the Yukon government so long to cancel the project, he’s hopeful environmental protection is coming to the region through land use planning. “It does give us a chance to protect or manage a pretty large-scale landscape,” he said. “Now we can do the planning without having the road dictate certain land uses.”Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have hired former New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch and ex-Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela as assistant coaches for Nick Nurse's staff. Raptors assistant coach Patrick Mutumbo will take over as coach of Raptors 905, a G League team.Raptors assistants Brittni Donaldson and John Bennett also will join the Raptors 905 staff.Finch spent the past three years in New Orleans. Previously, he was an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16).Prior to his time in the NBA, Finch guided Rio Grande to two consecutive appearances in the G League final, including a championship in 2010.Finch also was head coach of the British men's national team at the 2012 Olympics, with Nurse serving as one of his assistants.Mahlalela was an assistant coach with the Raptors for five seasons (2014-18) prior to becoming head coach for Raptors 905 the past two year. A native of Swaziland, Mahlalela grew up in the Greater Toronto Area.The Raptors open training camp this weekend in Tampa, Fla. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has returned to work after recovering from COVID-19, his office said.Young's staff said the veteran Republican lawmaker was back at work in his congressional office in Washington, D.C., The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.The 87-year-old announced Nov. 12 he had tested positive for the coronavirus.In March, Young referred to the coronavirus as the “beer virus” before an audience that included older Alaskans and said the media had contributed to hysteria over COVID-19. His campaign manager told the Anchorage Daily News at the time that the virus’ impact is real and that Young was trying to urge calm.After contracting the virus, Young said he had not grasped the severity of the illness.“Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time, and I am grateful to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,” Young said following his release from an Anchorage hospital Nov. 16.Young is now “preparing to fight harder than ever” for Alaskans, spokesman Zack Brown said.Voters last month reelected Young, Alaska’s lone U.S. representative, to serve his 25th term in office.Young has held his seat since 1973 and is the longest-serving Republican in congressional history.For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.The Associated Press
The Congress of Aboriginals Peoples (CAP) is calling on the resignation of Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell. More than 100 inmates at Saskatoon Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. “Minister Tell has fumbled the ball in her role as minster responsible to Saskatchewan correctional facilities,” said National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin Dec. 3. “This requires leadership with a level of foresight and compassion that is lacking in her public response to COVID-19.” The CAP is also calling on the federal government to intervene in Saskatchewan’s provincial jail system. They want all non-violent inmates to be released immediately. They also want testing of all inmates and staff and measures to ensure infected inmates are given separate living quarters from other inmates. "Our people are now facing a death sentence in Saskatoon Correctional Centre due to Covid-19,” said Beaudin. "These are lives being intentionally put at risk, and is nothing short of a genocidal, colonialist policy.” Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety department was contacted for comment on the situation at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre but have not responded. Earlier this week protesters – concerned for their loved ones inside - picketed in front of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. A group of Saskatchewan lawyers sent a letter Tuesday to Tell calling for the release of non-violent, low-risk inmates who are elderly and have compromised immune systems. CUPE 1949, the union that represents 130 lawyers and legal staff at Legal Aid Saskatchewan, says the outbreak at Saskatoon Correctional Centre shows the volatility of the situation. “Our jails are overcrowded with vulnerable people who have virtually no means of protecting themselves,” said Julia Quigley, President of CUPE 1949. “Once the virus gets in, our clients are at an incredible risk.” Quigley said the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan are on remand, meaning they haven’t been convicted of any crime. “In essence, these inmates have a bull’s eye on their backs, and yet they are legally innocent,” said Quigley. She said that Saskatchewan remands people at twice the national average and the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan prisons are Indigenous and medically vulnerable to COVID-19. “This virus doesn’t discriminate, but the criminal justice system does. Our Indigenous clients will bear the brunt of the Saskatoon outbreak, and any other outbreaks if we don’t contain it.” “We cleared the jails effectively in the first wave, without any discernible risk to the public. We need to do it again, now,” added Quigley. Noel Busse, director of communications for Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice/Corrections and Policing, however, told the News-Optimist in July that no prisoners were released early from Saskatchewan jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. “No sentenced offenders have been released early as a result of COVID-19,” Busse said about the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic that hit the province. In March, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing put in measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread. They used existing infrastructure and program space in correctional facilities to create additional separation between offenders and staff. They also restricted the movement and placement of offenders within a facility, and provided personal protective equipment to corrections staff and offenders. COVID-19 also prompted the province’s Crown prosecutors to rethink remanding some defendants who were charged but not yet convicted. Some non-violent inmates held on remand in Saskatchewan’s jails were released while waiting for trial. Saskatoon Correctional Centre is a provincial jail run by the province of Saskatchewan. As of Dec. 4 there are no COVID-19 positive cases in the federal penitentiaries in the province, such as the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert, the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, and Willow Cree Healing Lodge. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Venezuela will hold parliamentary elections this Sunday in a vote that the United States, European Union and many citizens view as a fraudulent effort by the ruling socialist party to seize control of the last institution in opposition hands. The opposition, led by National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, is boycotting the vote on the grounds that it will be rigged in favor of President Nicolas Maduro's allies. Sunday's vote will likely see Maduro's allies win a majority, strengthening his grip on power, despite a nearly two-year U.S.-led campaign of sanctions and diplomatic pressure and an economic collapse that has prompted a humanitarian crisis.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off the inaugural meeting of a global council on artificial intelligence on Friday by warning of the danger of unbridled digital technology, despite its potential to change the world for the better. The virtual summit marks the latest step in the slow march toward international co-operation on digital governance.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations communities must be a priority once it becomes available. FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said access to the vaccine is a matter of treaty rights."First and foremost … we come from that inherent and treaty right aspect, that Treaty Right to Health," he said. "In there, there's what we call the Medicine Chest Clause. When our ancestors signed treaties in the eighteen and nineteen-hundreds, that guaranteed us health and medicine chest supplies and services."The FSIN has spent the last seven months lobbying the federal government on this topic. Cameron said this is an important way of keeping Indigenous people at the forefront of policy decisions. "Obviously, the priority is that First Nations people are going to be safe and taken care of and live a long, happy, healthy life," he said. FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt has argued that ensuring First Nations communities' priority access to the vaccine will be good public health policy."Our First Nations communities have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other health conditions that put them at an even higher risk of serious complications or even life-threatening problems if they contract COVID-19," he wrote in a news release. "These elders and vulnerable community members must be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination."Every day they go without this vaccine, their lives and the lives of their [community's] most vulnerable are at exceptional risk."Cameron said has found that federal ministers are receptive to these arguments so far. "I had a conversation with the federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and the Indigenous Services of Canada Minister Mark Miller last week," he said. "And the comment we got is that they are going to make sure First Nations are a priority when vaccines are available."Cameron said that when the government begins distributing vaccines, the doses intended for Indigenous communities must go directly to the First Nations, not be handled by an intermediary."We need the vaccine directly to us," he said. "We don't need anybody else to deliver it for us - we can do it. We have the capacity, we have the knowledge, we have the manpower, and we're ready. We're ready to deliver once the vaccines become available."As of earlier this week, almost 1,160 cases of COVID-19 and 17 active outbreaks had been reported across First Nations communities in Saskatchewan.
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe.“DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively.“I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami.Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest.It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine.“Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot.“I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.”Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet.For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets.What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island.After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way.Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live.“I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.”___Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
Après une longue saga, voilà que les communautés innues de Uashat mak Mani-utenam et Matimekush-Lac John ont signé une entente de réconciliation et de collaboration avec la Compagnie minière IOC. Depuis 2010, de nombreuses négociations ont eu lieu entre la minière et les deux communautés. Une poursuite judiciaire avait même été entamée contre IOC. Au cœur du litige se trouvait l’exploitation du Nitassinan (territoire ancestral traditionnel des Innus) qui a été exploité sans le consentement des Innus. L'entente qui a été ratifiée aujourd'hui prévoit notamment que l'entreprise minière fournira des paiements financiers, des avantages en matière d’emploi et des opportunités d’affaires aux communautés innues ainsi qu’une meilleure collaboration sur le plan environnemental. L’entente prévoit également que IOC présente des excuses. Les deux communautés se sont engagées à retirer les poursuites judiciaires qui avaient été intentées contre la compagnie. Cet accord a été baptisé « Ussiniun », ce qui signifie « renouveau » en langue innue. « Cette entente marque le début d’une nouvelle relation avec IOC, basée sur le respect et le partenariat. Les compensations et les retombées pour nos membres nous permettront de prendre encore plus en main le développement de notre communauté. Le respect démontré par IOC nous permettra de tourner la page sur un historique de conflits et de regarder l’avenir avec optimisme », a affirmé le Chef de Uashat mak Mani-utenam. De son côté, le président et chef de la direction de IOC, Clayton Walker, a déclaré : « Cette entente à long terme est une étape importante qui nous permet d'avancer ensemble et de construire des relations solides basées sur le respect, la confiance et les avantages mutuels. Nous nous engageons à travailler en collaboration avec les communautés de Uashat mak Mani-utenam et de Matimekush-Lac John afin de concrétiser les nombreux avantages de cette entente pour toutes les parties concernées. » L'entente qui a été acceptée en août par les deux communautés innues a par la suite été présentée aux membres de chacune des communautés. Un référendum a été effectué dans la communauté de Matimekush-Lac John pour approuver l'entente et l'option du oui l'a emportée à 83%.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
Ontario reported another 1,780 cases of COVID-19 and 25 more deaths from the illness on Friday, as the provincial government announced the members of its vaccine distribution task force.The province also said three more regions are moving into new levels of the province's colour-coded restrictions framework for at least 28 days. York Region continued to avoid being placed in lockdown despite being among the hardest hit regions after Toronto and Peel.As of Monday, Middlesex-London and Thunder Bay will be in the orange "restrict" tier, while the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will move into the yellow "protect" category."Over the last seven days we have seen the trends in key public health indicators continue to go in the wrong direction in these three regions," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a news release.The new cases reported Friday include 633 in Toronto, 433 in Peel Region, 152 in York Region and 94 in Durham Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: * Windsor-Essex: 68 * Halton Region: 51 * Hamilton: 43 * Simcoe Muskoka: 41 * Waterloo Region: 40 * Middlesex-London: 39 * Ottawa: 36 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 25 * Niagara Region: 21 * Southwestern: 20 * Thunder Bay: 13 * Brant County: 11 * Huron Perth: 10Also included in today's new cases are 129 that are school-related: 102 students and 27 staff members. Some 776 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 16 per cent, currently have at least one case of COVID-19, while eight schools are currently closed because of the illness.(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry's COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)Given today's figures, the seven-day average of new daily cases dropped slightly to 1,759.There are currently 14,997 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, the most at any point since the outbreak began in late January.They come as Ontario's network of labs processed 56,001 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Another 62,400 tests are in the queue waiting to be completed. Moreover, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness climbed to 674. Of those, 207 are being treated in intensive care, though an internal Critical Care Services Ontario report puts the current total at 214 as of Friday morning. Some 116 are on ventilators.The 25 additional deaths pushes the province's official toll to 3,737. Vaccine task force members announcedMeanwhile, the province has appointed nine people to its vaccine panel, including the province's top coroner.The panel, headed by retired chief of national defence staff Rick Hillier, will oversee distribution of the vaccine when available.Health Minister Christine Elliott said it will be up to the panel to ensure effective and ethical delivery of a vaccine.WATCH | Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of the vaccine task force, details his priorities:Key tasks include delivery, logistics and administration, clinical guidance as well as public education and outreach.The panel includes Chief Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer, former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders, and Linda Hasenfratz, head of car parts giant Linamar.LTC commission recommends annual inspectionsOntario's Long-Term Care Commission released its second interim report Friday morning, making seven more recommendations to the Progressive Conservative government. The interim report, which comes amid surging cases, notes 100 homes have seen an outbreak in the last six weeks, with 300 more deaths.Among them is a call to reintroduce comprehensive annual inspections, known as Resident Quality Inspections (RQI), which were eliminated by the province in the fall of 2018. The process required a minimum of one thorough, unannounced inspection each year. Only 27 homes were inspected last year, far fewer than in previous years, the report states. Inspectors looked at only 11 of the province's 670 nursing homes proactively from March 1 after the pandemic hit to Oct. 15.Inspectors issue mandatory orders only in "extreme circumstances," the report says, noting only 21 were handed out between January 2019 and August 2020. Fines or prosecutions are "rarely applied," resulting in a "lack of urgency" from home operators to address violations.CBC Marketplace reported in September that an analysis commissioned by the Ministry of Long-Term Care in 2015 concluded that RQIs were up to five times more effective than other types of inspections.In a statement, Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton didn't specifically mention the issue of inspections but said the government has already moved to address many of the commission's ongoing recommendations."We have invested over $750 million to protect residents, caregivers, and staff in long-term care homes during the pandemic, and we will continue to act on the commissioners' recommendations to protect our most valuable.
While the Municipality of Powassan has received a “clean audit report,” there are dark clouds on the horizon as the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have yet to be felt. In a report to council delivered virtually, chartered professional accountant Dean Decaire of BDO Canada in North Bay said “there are no errors or irregularities” in Powassan's 2019 financial statement. But, although taxes received in 2019 amounted to $755,596, tax arrears stood at $319,302. And while Decaire said he hoped the municipality had exercised “strong collection” practices this year to rein in the late taxes, “COVID-19 happened and it may have impeded tax collections for 2020.” The municipality, Mayor Peter McIsaac told Decaire, has been “working on rectifying” that situation. “It's a priority,” McIsaac said. “We have to make sure we collect our taxes from residents and businesses.” Later in his presentation Decaire added a section dealing with the impact COVID-19 could have on the community in future. He said Powassan isn't alone and virtually all municipalities will face financial impacts from the virus. “At this time, the full potential impact of COVID-19 on the municipality is not known,” he wrote in his report. Decaire says the actual disruptions the virus has caused are expected to be temporary, but because the circumstances are dynamic in nature, the length of the disruptions and the related financial impacts can't “be reasonably estimated at this time.” Decaire also addressed the municipality's future ability to deliver essential and non-essential services as a result of COVID-19. When it comes to non-essential services, Decaire said, Powassan's ability to keep delivering these services and to continue employing the related staff will depend on what help comes from the provincial and federal governments. With regard to delivering essential services, Powassan must focus on collecting the money it's owed, continue managing its expenditures, leverage its existing reserves and access “available credit facilities,” Decaire said. He said it is “fabulous” the municipality continues to pay down on its long-term debt, which was $4.2 million at the end of 2019, or $118,000 less than 2018. Decaire also noted Powassan does a good job of controlling its operating expenses, which amount to $6 million a year. It posted a $742,000 budget surplus in 2019, in part due to government grants. Decaire commended council for making “significant” infrastructure investments. In the past two years, the municipality has spent more than $5 million to improve its infrastructure. Decaire made a point of saying residents often won't easily see the infrastructure because much of it involves water and sewer projects beneath the ground. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
LONDON — U.K. regulators went on the offensive Friday to beat back criticism that they rushed their authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, saying they rigorously analyzed data on safety and effectiveness in the shortest time possible without compromising the thoroughness of their review.The comments from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency came as the Times newspaper reported that the agency’s chief executive, Dr. June Raine, planned to give a series of radio interviews so she could speak directly to people who may be concerned about getting vaccinated.The MHRA reiterated earlier statements that the agency is conducting rolling reviews of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, allowing regulators to speed up the review process by looking at data as it becomes available. The agency gave emergency approval on Wednesday to a vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech, making Britain the first Western country to authorize a vaccine against the coronavirus.The ability to act more quickly “does not mean steps and the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been bypassed,” the MHRA said. “No vaccine would be authorized for supply in the U.K. unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.”The media blitz comes amid concerns that criticism of the approval process could undermine public confidence in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, leading some individuals to shun shots. Britain plans to begin vaccinating people within the next few days, starting with nursing home residents, caregivers and people over age 80.Britain will initially receive 800,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 400,000 people, so the first shots will go to those who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19 and those who are most likely to spread the coronavirus.America’s top infectious disease expert late Thursday apologized for suggesting that U.K. authorities had rushed their authorization of the vaccine.Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had told U.S. media outlets that U.K. regulators hadn’t acted “as carefully” as the Food and Drug Administration. He later clarified to the BBC that he had meant to say that U.S. authorities do things differently than their British counterparts, not better, but didn't phrase his comments properly.“I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the U.K., and anyone who knows me and my relationship with that over literally decades, you know that’s the case,” Fauci told the BBC.Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the different approaches of various regulators may be one reason Britain was first to authorize the vaccine.The FDA, for example, goes back to the raw data supplied by drugmakers and reanalyzes it to verify the findings. Virtually no other regulatory agency regularly does this, said Evans, who has worked with regulators in the U.K. and the European Union.In addition, Britain decided to take advantage of EU rules that allow individual countries to allow the emergency use of new products inside their own borders in response to public health emergencies. The EU's European Medicines Agency chose a more time-consuming authorization process that will allow the vaccine to be used in all 27 member nations.While Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31, it remains bound by the bloc’s rules and regulations until the end of December under a transition agreement designed to ease the shock of Brexit.Brexit helped the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency move faster because it is no longer involved in assessing products intended for the entire bloc as are regulators in the remaining EU countries, according to Evans. MHRA therefore had more resources to devote to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and could respond more quickly when new data was submitted, he said.“Consequently, the U.K. has almost undoubtedly had greater capacity to respond to a new application for authorization of a vaccine than any other country,” Evans said.When the MHRA announced its decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, chief executive Raine said people should be confident “no corners have been cut.” British experts reviewed more than 1,000 pages of information, including raw data, on safety, quality and effectiveness before deciding to give temporary authorization for use of the vaccine, she said.But European officials reacted sourly to the U.K. decision.The European Medicines Agency, which plans to make its own decision by Dec. 29, issued a statement saying its process was “more appropriate” than Britain’s.Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder was more pointed, suggesting U.K. authorities had acted “without even sufficient basis.”“This will reduce the readiness to get vaccinated rather than increase it, because people expect a safe immunization process,” he said.In his latest comments, Fauci rejected the idea that the U.K. skipped vital steps.The FDA has to move more slowly amid the high degree of skepticism about vaccines in the U.S., Fauci said. Because of this, U.S. regulators are reviewing all of the raw data from Pfizer and BioNTech “in a way that could not possibly have been done any more quickly,” he said.It will take the FDA at least another week to complete its review, but the U.S. and Britain will ultimately end up in the same place, Fauci said.“At the end of the day, it’s going to be safe, it’s going to be effective,” he said. “The people in the U.K. are going to receive it, and they’re going to do really well, and the people in the United States are going to receive it, and we’re going to do pretty well.”___Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans contributed.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Ontario’s justice system will continue to push forward and modernize beyond the rapid transformations forced by the pandemic, Attorney General Doug Downey told the Empire Club of Canada on Thursday. During the lunchtime virtual meeting, Downey talked about some of the advancements made in the province's justice system since emergency measures were enforced in March to ensure it could operate safely. “It wasn’t long before capacity was expanded to conduct 100 per cent of proceedings involving a person in custody” and advancing to remote hearings, said Downey, who is also the local MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. “Behind the scenes, we were making targeted investments to update technology in a sector where fax machines were still an acceptable way of doing business.” The initiatives included remote court access, the new use of digital signatures and service by email, all of which are now becoming permanent staples of the system. As a result, he said, the system has become stronger by becoming more accessible and more resilient. “We really did rely on fax machines, millions of pages of paper, and technology that was just slightly better than Morse code to share information,” he said, adding that just two days ago the word 'telegram' was replaced by 'email' in a civil rule. Within months, the old paper-based system has been modernized to allow for online filing of more than 450 different documents. As a result, 95 per cent of civil proceedings are filed online and more than 70 per cent of family matters. Information about court cases are now available online, meaning people don’t have to line up at the courthouse to gain access. And a platform to power online and in-person hearings was also adopted. Last June, the changes allowed 20,000 people to log into an online Superior Court hearing to witness a judge deliver a sentence in a high-profile case. In September, the Superior Court reported 50,000 hearings had been conducted virtually. The lesson, Downey said, was to not just address yesterday’s issues, but to look at solutions for tomorrow’s sustainability and resilience and to not be afraid of change. He also suggested adopting a design for a courthouse implementing some of the customer service elements available in an airport. Or creating an app that allows the user to schedule a court appearance from a cellphone. “The pandemic showed us, in stark terms, how far behind Ontario’s justice system had fallen,” he said. “Now we know better, and we’ll do better. In this new approach, justice accelerated means justice delivered.” During a question period, he pointed to Ontario’s tribunals, which were largely shut down after the COVID-19 crisis and prevented normal interaction. Downey said he’s struck a deal with British Columbia’s attorney general to adopt its four-year-old online tribunal system for $1, provided Ontario takes care of the updates.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
Three Windsor-Essex hospitals have issued a strong warning over the current surge in COVID-19 cases — and what could happen if the trend continues.In a joint statement, they pleaded with the public to continue to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus."The scenario that our Windsor-Essex region residents have seen on TV taking place in other jurisdictions around the world, where hospital resources are stretched beyond capacity, is showing signs of occurring in our area of the province," chief executives from Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores Healthcare said Friday.Recent COVID-19 outbreaks at Hôtel-Dieu Grace and Windsor Regional risk "significant reductions" in bed capacity, while use of beds is already above 100 per cent, they said."As hospital bed capacity deteriorates, clinical teams will have no option other than to cancel scheduled surgeries and other procedures to ensure we have bed space available for emergency and other urgent cases," they stated.There are currently 27 people in hospital with COVID-19 and seven in ICU, according to the Windsor-Essex County Public Health Unit (WECHU). "There is definitely a lot of pressure on the health-care system in the region and also across Southwestern Ontario, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with WECHU, said Friday.The health unit announced 65 new cases on Friday, bringing the active case total to 424.21 outbreaks in Windsor-EssexDr. Ahmed said there's also record number of outbreaks in the region — 21 across workplaces, long-term care homes and other institutions."We have never had that many outbreaks, clearly indicating that we need to do more," Dr. Ahmed said.As of the most recent data, which Dr. Ahmed presented on Friday, Windsor's seven-day average test positivity rate is 4.3 per cent -- the fourth highest in the province behind Toronto, Peel and York regions.Analysis of the presence of the virus wastewater suggests rates of infection exceed the number of known cases, Ahmed said.Not moving to lockdown Despite the rising cases, the province did not announce a lockdown for Windsor-Essex on Friday, meaning the region remains in the red "control" zone of COVID-19 restrictions in place since Monday.Dr. Ahmed said earlier on Friday that he didn't anticipate a lockdown would be announced, though earlier in the week he said the region is at risk of heightened restrictions."We would like to see the results of us in the red zone first before we move on to any criteria at this time," he said.Snapshot of the pandemic in Windsor-EssexSince the pandemic started, 3,864 cases have been diagnosed in Windsor-Essex, 3,358 of which have been resolved.Eighty-two people have lost their lives to COVID-19, including 56 death in longterm care and retirement homes.Of the 65 cases announced across the region Friday , five are close contacts of a confirmed case, two were community acquired, 58 are still under investigation. Twenty-seven people are in hospital, with seven in the intensive care unit.There are 21 outbreaks in the community, including eight at workplaces. * Three in Leamington's agriculture sector. * One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. * One in a Leamington place of worship. * One in Leamington's finance and insurance sector. * One in Windsor's manufacturing sector. * One in Kingsville's manufacturing sectorTwo community outbreaks are still active: one at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor and another at Riverplace Residence in Windsor. There are three school outbreaks: Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School - Central Park Athletics Campus, Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School. The latter two schools have been closed for two weeks. Officials are working on a reopening plan for both schools.There are outbreaks at six long-term care and retirement homes: * Chartwell St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh with one resident case. * Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh with one staff case. * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with two staff cases. * Chartwell Royal Oak Residence in Kingsville with two staff cases. * Riverside place in Windsor with 17 resident cases and three staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has renewed his vitriolic attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron, saying he hopes France will get rid of him soon. Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Macron “trouble” for France, which he said was experiencing a dangerous time under his leadership. “My wish is for France to get rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. Otherwise, Erdogan claimed, France would not be able to overcome the Yellow Vest protest movement against social injustice in the country. Erdogan also said France has lost its credibility as an intermediary of the Minsk group, which was created in the 1990s to encourage peaceful resolution for the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. France has sided with Armenia in that conflict, and Turkey with Azerbaijan. Erdogan’s comments come amid harsh rhetoric from both leaders. Macron tried to avoid further escalation Friday, calling for “respect” after Erdogan's attack, and deflecting a question on the spat. The French leader also told Brut, a news website, that Erdogan was in the process of limiting the liberty of the Turkish people. Relations have been tense over a host of issues, including what Erdogan characterizes as French Islamopohobia, energy disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. In October, Erdogan said Macron needed his head examined for defending caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. At the time, French authorities denounced Turkish “propaganda” against France and Paris recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations. The French presidency responded to Erdogan's comments in October with unusually strong language, saying: “Excess and rudeness are not a method” and “we are not accepting insults," and called for changes in Erdogan's “dangerous” policy. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit widened 1.7% in October to $63.1 billion. The politically sensitive gap in the trade of goods with China and Mexico grew.The gap between the goods and services the United States sold and what it bought abroad rose from $62.1 billion in September, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Exports rose 2.2% to $182 billion, led by sales of aircraft engines. Imports increased 2.1% to $245.1 billion on an uptick in shipments of auto parts.The deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 9% to $26.5 billion and the gap with Mexico rose 10% to $11.8 billion.So far this year, the overall gap in the trade of goods and services with the rest of the world has risen to $536.7 billion, up 9.5% from January-October 2019.President Donald Trump, who vowed to reduce the trade deficit, has imposed tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum and on $360 billion in Chinese products. It is unclear how much of Trump's aggressive trade policies will be retained by President-elect Joe Biden.The coronavirus, however, has upended trade in services such as education and travel in which the United States runs persistent surpluses. U.S. services exports are down nearly 20% so far this year, and America's trade surplus in services dropped in October to $18.3 billion, lowest since August 2012.The U.S. ran an October deficit of $81.4 billion in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances.Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
Trois organismes de la Côte-Nord ont procédé au lancement d'un nouvel outil qui permettra aux entreprises d'être plus en mesure de réagir face à une situation de violence conjugale en milieu de travail. Disponible en ligne, cette trousse permettra aux employeurs d'être mieux outillés face aux situations de violence conjugale qui peuvent affecter certains employés. Comme le mentionne Nadia Morissette du Centre Femmes aux 4 Vents, la violence conjugale n'a pas juste lieu au sein du domicile conjugal. Avec les moyens technologiques notamment, le harcèlement peut se poursuivre alors que la victime est à son lieu de travail. Mis en place par le Centre Femmes aux 4 Vents, le CAVAC Côte-Nord et la Maison des Femmes de Baie-Comeau , le site Web s'inspire d'actions pour prévenir la violence familiale à partir du milieu de travail ayant eu lieu dans d'autres provinces canadiennes. Les différents outils disponibles sur le site ont été réalisés par des ressources externes spécialisées œuvrant en violence conjugale. Pour Isabelle Fortin du CAVAC Côte-Nord, cette trousse va permettre aux employeurs d'avoir l'information nécessaire pour savoir comment réagir face à une situation de violence conjugale. Elle ajoute : « Si un employeur affiche clairement la politique contre la violence conjugale en milieu de travail, cela peut inciter une victime à aller chercher de l'aide.» Dans le combat contre la violence conjugale, le rôle des collègues est aussi important selon Hélène Millier de la Maison des Femmes de Baie-Comeau. Pour elle, les collègues de travail sont parfois capables de ressentir un malaise ou de percevoir des signes que quelque chose ne va pas chez une personne qui pourrait être victime de violence conjugale. Dans ces cas, la trousse pourrait permettre aux gens de savoir comment réagir. Les trois porte-parole rappellent que le but de cette trousse n'est pas de faire des employeurs des intervenants en violence conjugale, mais avant tout de bien les outiller face à ce type de situation. La trousse d'accompagnement a été réalisée grâce au soutien financier du ministère de la Justice. Les trois organisations documentent depuis une dizaine d'années la problématique de la violence conjugale sur la Côte-Nord. Pour illustrer la gravité du problème, Hélène Millier affirme qu'en 2015, la Côte-Nord était la région qui avait connu le plus haut taux d'infraction contre la personne commise dans un contexte conjugal selon les données de la Sécurité publique. Protection des travailleuses victimes de violence conjugale en milieu de travail Parallèlement au lancement de la trousse d'accompagnement, les trois organismes travaillent en collaboration avec le comité d'encadrement « Vers une politique de travail en violence conjugale » à faire reconnaître une obligation de protéger la travailleuse victime de violence conjugale en milieu de travail dans les lois du travail. D'ailleurs, le ministre du Travail, de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, Jean Boulet, s'est montré favorable aux démarches du comité dans le cadre du dépôt du projet de loi 59 qui reconnaîtrait une telle obligation.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
Firefighters battling a blaze in a Southern California canyon made some progress toward containment but were up against more high winds and low humidity on Friday, which threatened to stoke the flames that forced thousands to evacuate. The Bond Fire, which was about 10% contained on Friday afternoon, broke out around on Wednesday night on the road for which it is named and quickly engulfed much of Silverado Canyon, egged on by strong Santa Ana winds. "Firefighters worked through the night extinguishing hot spots, mopping up around structures and stopping the forward spread of this fire," Captain Paul Holaday of Orange County Fire Authority said in a video posted to Twitter on Friday.