CBC medical contributor Dr. Peter Lin stresses the need to make sure hospitals are equipped to deal with the resurgence in coronavirus cases.
CBC medical contributor Dr. Peter Lin stresses the need to make sure hospitals are equipped to deal with the resurgence in coronavirus cases.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — OPEC and allied countries including Russia agreed Thursday to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels a day from January and said they would meet monthly to decide further output levels, gingerly adding more crude to a global economy still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.The decision followed days of wrangling over whether to increase output early next year at all after the pandemic sapped demand for energy and clouded the outlook for the industry.The OPEC members and a group of allies had made deep cuts in production last year to support prices as the pandemic sharply reduced demand for fuel. Analysts said simply extending the 7.7 million barrels per day in cuts was the course preferred by Saudi Arabia, which takes a leadership role among member countries, and also by Russia, the biggest of the non-members who have been co-operating with OPEC.But they faced pushback from countries including the United Arab Emirates, which opposed the extension and wanted countries that had overproduced their quotas to make compensatory cuts.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that participants agreed that 2 million barrels a day needed to return to the market “at some point” but that any increase would be gradual. The monthly meetings could decide in either direction, up or down, he said.Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman alluded to hopes that the recent wave of lockdown restrictions on businesses “are not hampering demand as in the first wave” but cautioned that “the jury is still out” and that “we need to be cautious” about ramping up production.He said that at the monthly meetings “we could tweak upward, we could tweak downward, we could stay put... We elected to take the cautious approach."Oil producing countries face a dilemma: producing more increases their revenues but could send prices lower, especially given still-weak demand and uncertain prospects for the speed and timing of a post-pandemic economic recovery.Energy forecasters around the world, including those employed by OPEC, have been lowering their forecasts about how much oil will be needed. Airline travel, for example, has been dramatically reduced, and is not expected to rebound for several years.The U.S. benchmark for oil traded at $45.74 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 46 cents on the day. That is down from around $63 at the start of 2020. Gasoline prices for U.S. motorists have fallen during the pandemic to below $2 in some parts of the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration; the national average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30.A barrel of benchmark crude in the U.S. had been selling for around $40 for months, well below what most producers need to break even. It has risen in the past week but current prices still leave many oil producers struggling. In the past week, oil giants Exxon and Chevron both slashed their capital expenditure budgets for the coming year.Stewart Glickman, energy equity analyst at CFRA Research, said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in many nations meant the original oil producing countries' plan - to raise production by some 1.9 million barrels per day from January - "might have sent crude prices tumbling further."He said crude inventories would be watched in coming months to see whether the “modest” production boost of 500,000 barrels per day is absorbed by markets or "whether oil demand remains too weak to sustain pricing” despite promising news regarding vaccine development.___AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York.David McHugh, The Associated Press
The Thornhill Volunteer Fire Department responded to a semi truck engine fire on Hwy 16 Thursday morning. “The engine compartment had caught fire, the owner-operator had put a couple extinguishers on it, was unable to get it under control and then we responded to facilitate the full extinguishment of the engine compartment,” said Rick Boehm, fire chief. The fire did not extend into the cab. Boehm said the owner-operator suffered a minor, small burn to a finger during extinguishment. The fire department used a compressed air and foam solution to put out the fire and placed absorbent socks on the road to collect any potential oils, which will be collected by the end of the day (Dec. 3). Hwy 16 did not need to be closed except for during the time the fire was being extinguished. The semi was parked safely on the wide shoulder of the highway clear of the roadway and had to be towed. The Terrace Fire Department responded to a similar situation Thursday, Nov. 26, when a semi truck engine caught fire on Hwy 16 in Terrace.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
"It's Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries" will make you glad you're not seeing your family this year.
A Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled against a former Hasidic couple who claimed the Quebec government didn't do enough to ensure they received an adequate education.In a decision issued Thursday, Justice Martin Castonguay opted against issuing a declaratory judgment against the province.Such a judgment could have forced the government to take additional steps to oversee children attending religious schools.Yohanan and Shifra Lowen alleged they received almost no secular education while growing up in Tash, an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community in Boisbriand, Que., a suburb north of Montreal. Yohanan, who first launched the legal action, testified that the secular education he received as a boy was particularly limited, leaving him with no knowledge of basic subjects such as science, math or geography.He said he was ill-equipped to get a job when he left Tash and moved to Montreal with Shifra, whose legal name is Clara Wasserstein, and their four children.In his ruling, Castonguay expressed "profound empathy" for what the Lowens went through before and after they left Tash. But he concluded that the problems with the schools had already been addressed with a 2017 law that gives the government greater powers to track children in religious schools and gives school boards the authority to oversee their secular education.The current Coalition Avenir Québec government further strengthened the law last year, requiring that students learn a subject in the same year as their peers in public school and take part in mandated provincial exams.Plaintiffs 'remain concerned' about Hasidic childrenThe trial shone a spotlight on the cloistered community of Tash, which was founded in 1962 by a group of Montreal Hasidic Jews seeking to escape the influences of the city. About 3,000 people now live there.Abraham Ekstein, the head of Quebec's Jewish Association for Homeschooling, was the sole witness called by the lawyer defending schools in Tash, which were also named in the lawsuit.He testified that Hasidic schools "strive to maintain our culture, to transmit our culture to our children, to survive as a people.""I'm convinced that we are going in the right direction and that children will succeed much better," he said.In a statement Thursday, Clara Poissant-Lespérance, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said her clients "remain concerned about the future of Hasidic children."She said the fact that many children in Hasidic communities still attend religious schools on a full-time basis, as noted in the judgment, is a point of concern for the Lowens, "who see it as a barrier to the education of these children.She said they will review the judgment before deciding whether to appeal.
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Many health-care workers at nursing homes like Shannex's Tucker Hall in Saint John, where there is a COVID-19 outbreak, work at more than one facility, even during the pandemic, because they can't afford not to, says the national CUPE representative for Local 5446."Some of them hold jobs in multiple nursing homes. Some of them hold jobs in nursing homes and hospitals," said Tamara Elisseou.Under provincial regulations, health-care workers cannot work at any facility where there's an outbreak and another facility at the same time, said Public Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane."It is not recommended" they work between long-term care facilities without outbreaks, he said.But it does happen, according to Elisseou."Many of the members that work at Shannex do work more than one job at more than one facility," she said, blaming "precarious" work in the province.The Department of Social Development would not agree to an interview with CBC News, but a spokesperson said in an email that staffing is a human resource issue and not its responsibility.The workers can range from recreation assistants, who are at the bottom of the pay grade, earning $19.44 an hour, to licensed practical nurses, who are at the top, earning $27.16 an hour, she sad.If they can't get permanent work in one facility, they have to look for work in multiple facilities to ensure they get the hours they need to pay their bills and support their families, Elisseou said."That's not unusual."There are 16 confirmed cases at the Shannex Parkland community in Saint John, as of Thursday evening. The cases include five employees and 10 residents at Tucker Hall and one employee at Carleton Hall, an independent-living retirement building.Another 25 employees are self-isolating because of the outbreak, which was declared on Nov. 20.Employees and residents were retested Monday and Tuesday. Shannex said tests for all residents returned negative, with only one additional employee testing positive, according to a statement from the company.CUPE is calling for the provincial government to provide administrative leave pay for health-care workers who are asked to self-isolate.Elisseou said "a number" of its Shannex members have been isolating since Nov. 18, using up their sick pay, despite having "multiple" negative COVID-19 tests."What happens when they're cleared to return to work and they've used up all of their sick time in their sick leave bank and they get sick and they have no sick time left?"They don't know how they're going to pay their bills if they can't go to work and they have no sick time. So that's concerning to many of our members," she said.It's also "of grave concern" to the union. It wonders what will happen when a worker facing financial hardship begins to experience COVID-19 symptoms and has to make a choice between hiding their symptoms and going to work and being able to pay their bills or reporting their illness and staying home with no pay.Offering the leave pay would prevent those sorts of circumstances from arising, said Elisseou."It affords protection to everybody in the province," she said.
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole blamed the Liberal government Thursday for the fact some Canadians are casting doubt on the science behind the COVID-19 vaccine. Over 24,000 Canadians have signed a petition headed for the House of Commons that raises doubts about the safety of vaccines, suggesting among other things that they are being rushed without appropriate safeguards and that the program amounts to "human experimentation."O'Toole said the petition speaks to the need for more information from the government about how exactly the vaccine will be rolled out. "A plan will actually help provide details and help educate Canadians on the research and approvals of vaccines, how they'll be stored so that can be used effectively, how they can be rolled out first to the most vulnerable, and then to to other Canadians," he said."This is why information is a tool just as important as rapid tests and vaccines." To be presented in the House of Commons, a petition must first be sponsored by an MP, who in the case of the vaccine e-petition is Conservative Derek Sloan.He told reporters Wednesday he has not read it recently and so could not say whether he agreed with every point, but people should be allowed to have their concerns brought forward via petitions in the Commons. Sloan is one of many Conservatives who've been criticized in the past for appearing skeptical of the science behind the novel coronavirus. Recently, one MP likened it to little more than the flu, while another questioned the severity of the death toll in Alberta.The Liberals have accused the Conservatives of trafficking in conspiracy theories, but O'Toole shied away Thursday from directly addressing whether he supports or believes the fears being raised by the petition. He said Canadians have questions because the government has been wrong on its COVID-19 response too many times already. "You wonder why Canadians are worried?" he said."It's the secrecy and incompetence of the Trudeau government."Dr. Theresa Tam, the country's chief public health officer, has been raising concerns about misinformation circulating around both COVID-19 and the vaccine.On Wednesday, she told the Canadian Immunization Conference there needs to be as much transparency as possible about the vaccine, including making people aware of why the COVID-19 vaccine was developed so much faster than others. The answer, she suggested, is the rounds of funding normally needed for vaccine development, which can take time to access, flowed far faster in this case, thanks to unprecedented global collaboration. With that, came the ability to redesign approaches for clinical trials and allow those to move more quickly, she said. As the vaccine is rolled out, she said, transparency is also paramount when it comes to reporting back on how effective it is, and any adverse impacts. "We haven't heard of any serious adverse events during these clinical trials," she said."But I think transparency on that front, will also go along with increasing public confidence."The Conservatives put a motion before the House of Commons Thursday that calls on the Liberals to present specific details on their vaccine rollout strategy by Dec. 16. Among other things, the Tories want to know how each type of vaccine will be delivered, by when, and to whom. During debate on the motion, International Development Minister Karina Gould pressed O'Toole on Sloan's petition, and asked Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner whether she believed in science. Rempel in turn accused the Liberals of playing political games instead of answering questions. The Liberals have been reticent to share information on the procurement and rollout of vaccines, especially when compared to other countries. The United States has released contracts with specific vaccine suppliers, though some information, such as delivery timelines, is blacked out. Australia has a 12-page plan that lists everything involved in the vaccine procurement and delivery program.Canada has refused to release contracts, won't say how much it is paying any individual company, and refuses to say when or how many doses are arriving until after any individual vaccine is officially approved by Health Canada.While the military said Thursday it had been involved in developing a vaccine rollout strategy since the spring, the extent of their involvement was largely kept under wraps until details were leaked to the media this week.Health and military officials provided a briefing Thursday that detailed some of the logistics needed to get the vaccines across the country, taking into account the complexities of cold storage and reaching remote populations. "The government is taking every step necessary to authorize safe and effective vaccines quickly and to distribute them to everyone who wants them," Health Minister Patty Hajdu said."We will be ready, but until then, we have to stay focused and steadfast in our public health measures, because, together, we will see a brighter future; one where everyone is protected from COVID-19."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— with files from Mia RabsonStephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
Stunning footage captured the collape of a huge, already damaged radio telescope in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. The telescope has played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century. (Dec. 3)
Craft shows. They’re an opportunity for one-of-a-kind artists and makers to display the works they’ve created, but with cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have had to do without the key events that play a large part in supporting their business each year. “For me, everything, basically my whole thing hinges on showing it and how it works in person,” Neill Nucifora tells the Free Press. Nucifora is the owner and creator of Baker Street Creations, a local Shelburne company that makes wooden gramophones. A woodworker for over a decade, and a life-long enthusiast of gramophones, Nucifora launched his company in 2018, and has since been selling wooden gramophones that he designs and builds online, in stores, and at craft shows. “Even though we’re in a bunch of stores, which has been very helpful, when you can do the craft shows, you have that one-on-one interaction,” said Nucifora. “Where you can show them exactly how the product works, they can sort of see it in-person, and then it’s fun too, because you get the reaction once people see how it works.” When he launched his company two year ago, Nucifora started taking part in both smaller craft shows and larger ones such as the Niagara Handmade Market and Kempenfest in Barrie. Nucifora says that each year he typically does around six to 10 craft shows. “I was doing a few smaller shows and then I started getting into the bigger ones,” explains Nucifora. “Once I did the bigger shows I didn’t do as many per year, but I did like them sort of once a month or so.” While some craft shows have adapted to a virtual format over the months, Nucifora said a virtual format doesn’t work well for his “in-person product.” “It’s definitely been hard, I know a lot of people are sort of in the same boat, and we’re just trying everything at this point,” he noted. Nucifora will be taking part in his first craft show this year, as one of the 56 vendors at the Museum of Dufferin’s (MOD) annual Holiday Treasures craft show. Speaking to the Holiday Treasures event, and what is means for his business after months of restrictions, Nucifora said: “It’s huge. It gives that ability to be able to show your product to a wider audience.” The MOD is booking free tickets in advance of the event and according to the MOD website, will be offering online shopping with curbside pickup and local delivery options. Holiday Treasures starts Dec. 1 and runs until Dec. 12. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
QUEBEC — An all-party committee is recommending the Quebec government make the fight against the sexual exploitation of minors a priority. The report released Thursday by a group of 13 members of the legislature makes 58 recommendations to the government aimed at targeting pimps and customers and protecting young victims. It notes that the vast majority of the victims are girls, and some are only 12 or 13 years old. The committee, which studied the issue for 18 months, recommends that the province give police more money to fight the problem so they can track down abusive clients. The report recommends that clients convicted of buying sex from minors should have their names included on the national sex offender registry. It also calls on Quebec to ask Ottawa for changes to the Criminal Code, so pimps who exploit minors are required to serve sentences consecutively. The committee found exploitation is a lucrative business, with pimps pulling in up to $300,000 a year, while the girls themselves earn nothing. It estimates there are some 600 establishments in Quebec where a man seeking sexual services from a teen could find them, particularly in large cities, at businesses in the sex industry such as strip clubs, massage parlours and escort agencies. The report recommends the girls be officially recognized as victims of crime so they would have access to compensation that could help them from relapsing into prostitution. It also advocates for better training for those who work with youth, such as teachers and nurses, so they can identify a teen who has would up in the sex trade or could be at risk. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — As the number of new COVID-19 infections showed signs of stabilizing in two Maritime provinces Thursday, the chief of a First Nation in Nova Scotia confirmed two cases on his reserve.In an interview, Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said the band had been notified of the positive results by public health officials on Wednesday. He said initial findings suggested the first infection was contracted outside the community and the virus was then passed on to the second person. He said contact tracing was underway, but the news has put the community on edge."I understand and respect privacy, but the community is going a little crazy wondering who it is," Sack said. "We have a small and tight-knit community, so everyone is wondering whether they came in contact or not."Nova Scotia reported 11 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, and the number of active cases dropped to 119 from 127. Nine of the new cases were in the central health zone, which includes Halifax, while the others were in the northern zone. "It is important to recognize that although our cases numbers are not as high as we expected them to be, we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 every day," Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a news release. "Now is not the time to let our guard down."Stepped up testing has continued since the outbreak that forced the implementation of new restrictions in the Halifax area one week ago. Provincial labs completed 2,047 tests on Wednesday, while 338 tests were administered at a rapid-testing pop-up site in Halifax and 148 tests were done at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Wolfville. Health officials reported no positive test results at either site. In New Brunswick, health officials reported six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the number of active cases to 111.There was one case was in the Moncton region, three in the Saint John region and two in the Fredericton area. Those zones remain under an orange alert level, but chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the Fredericton and Moncton zones would be reassessed on Sunday. Russell said Saint John won't be reassessed until later because officials there are still dealing with an outbreak at a seniors' residence. She said another Parkland Saint John employee, who is in self-isolation, had tested positive for the virus. That brought the total number of cases at the facility to 16 — six staff and 10 residents.Russell urged residents not to travel during the holiday season or to have people visit from other provinces. "If you do decide to travel, be aware that case counts in other jurisdictions are much, much higher than here in New Brunswick," she said. Premier Blaine Higgs urged residents to help get all of the province back to the less restrictive yellow level."We know that vaccines are just around the corner, so we just have to be diligent," Higgs said. "Let's prepare for Christmas but let's not get impatient. Let's make sure we can get back to yellow."Higgs said Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, would lead the province's plan with the Department of Health and a working group to co-ordinate the deployment of a vaccine.In Prince Edward Island, health officials announced one new COVID-19 case Thursday. It involves a rotational worker in his 20s who recently travelled to the Island from outside the Atlantic region and has been in self-isolation since arriving.Prince Edward Island currently has five active cases of the disease.Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases for the first time in more than two weeks as its number of active cases fell to 29.Late Thursday, Nova Scotia health officials said they had identified a case at Citadel High School in Halifax. The school was already closed because of a professional development day and officials said it would remain closed on Friday and on Monday for cleaning.In Sipekne'katik, Sack said band officials don't anticipate the need to close off the community, located about 70 kilometres north of Halifax, although he said that would be a difficult choice to make in any event. "Our community doesn't have a grocery store or anything like that, so people need to leave our community regardless," he said. The chief said the band council was monitoring the situation closely and working directly with provincial health officials. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Kevin Bissett in FrederictonKeith Doucette, The Canadian Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La santé publique de l’Ontario rapporte jeudi 1 824 nouvelles infections à la COVID-19, mais plus d’une centaine de ces infections ont été dépistées au cours des trois derniers jours. Le bilan provincial de plus de 1 800 nouveaux cas serait donc le résultat d’une erreur de traitement des données au Bureau de santé de Middlesex-London, indique le ministère de la Santé, où 127 cas rapportés jeudi ont été signalés sur une période de trois jours. Depuis le début de la pandémie, l’Ontario a enregistré 121 746 infections au coronavirus. Jeudi, la province déplore 14 nouveaux décès liés à la COVID-19, portant le bilan total des décès à 3 712, dont 2 342 résidents de foyers de soins de longue durée et huit employés de ces établissements. Au cours de la dernière journée, 666 Ontariens atteints du virus étaient hospitalisés, dont 195 aux soins intensifs et 107 sous respirateur. Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
L’aménagement du bois de la Source, dans Fabreville, sera au cœur d’une soirée d’information et d’échanges virtuelle le mercredi 9 décembre sur la plateforme Teams. La Ville, qui souhaite en faire un parc municipal à vocation de conservation, dressera d’entrée de jeu un portrait de ce vaste boisé de 50 hectares avant de dévoiler différentes composantes d’un projet d’aménagement. Les participants seront ensuite invités à poser leurs questions en direct. Cette présentation maquera le coup d’envoi d’une consultation en ligne qui se poursuivra jusqu’au 3 janvier 2021 afin de valider, voire bonifier les propositions présentées. Celles-ci ont pour objectif «d’offrir une expérience de découverte récréative et artistique des milieux naturels en toutes saisons» à la faveur «d’aménagements permettant de profiter de la nature tout en assurant la pérennité des différents écosystèmes», indique l’administration Demers. D’une superficie équivalente à celle du Centre de la nature, le bois de la Source est une propriété municipale identifiée parmi les bois d’intérêt dans le Plan de conservation et de mise en valeur des milieux naturels, déposé en septembre dernier. Ce plan stratégique, qui prévoit protéger 14 % du territoire lavallois, fait partie intégrante de la Trame verte et bleue de Laval, également composée des plans directeurs de foresterie urbaine et des parcs et espaces publics. Quant au bois de la Source, il avait fait en 2006 l’objet d’une entente de conservation et de mise en valeur entre la Ville et le Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) dans le cadre de la délivrance de certificats d’autorisation en vertu de l’article 22 de la Loi sur la qualité de l’environnement. En clair, cette entente frappait ces 50 hectares de milieux naturels et d’espaces boisés d’un statut de protection sous la désignation de zone de compensation. Les citoyens intéressés à participer à la rencontre virtuelle mercredi le 9 décembre entre 19het 20h30 peuvent s’inscrire dès maintenant.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
The office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has launched an investigation into the policy surrounding the use of body cameras worn by municipal enforcement and animal control officers in the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.The provincial information and privacy commissioner told CBC News communication with the town has not always been easy. Now, eight months after the initial review began, he still has questions regarding the town's policy. "This week I decided it would be best if I moved our interactions into a formal investigation, and that gives a clear legal framework for our interactions," said Michael Harvey. "We have been giving advice to the town, but in an investigation my recommendations can, depending on what they are about, take on a greater legal force," he said. "Do they have all the safeguards in place in order to do that? Those are the questions we need answered."> I am not saying the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay can't do this, I am just saying that you really need to be careful. \- Michael HarveyHarvey said his concerns around the town using two body cameras on municipal enforcement and animal control officers is whether or not the expected benefits of the camera outweigh the impact on an individual's privacy. He said privacy laws in Canada use a principle that states the minimum necessary information that should be used for legal purposes. However, Harvey said he hopes when people hear the word "investigation," they don't automatically assume the town did something wrong."We are concerned the program is not compliant with the act but ... there is no [allegation] of malicious behaviour or anything like that, that is not the nature of what is happening here."With the ability to buy these body cameras online, Harvey said it's not as easy as strapping them on and recording. Rather, there's a careful and deliberate process that needs to be followed in order to protect people's privacy. CBC News has reached out to the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay regarding the investigation and is awaiting a response. However, last October the town revealed confrontations between municipal officers and residents, pointing to body cameras as a way to ensure any incidents are recorded as they happen."By doing this, it protects our workers and it protects the people," Mayor Wally Andersen told CBC's Labrador Morning.There are only a handful of police agencies in Canada that use body cameras.Harvey said it tends to be implemented in larger centres where the municipality has the capacity to thoroughly develop the policy. "I am not saying the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay can't do this," he said. "I am just saying that you really need to be careful."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
The pandemic is taking a brutal toll on children and youth with special needs and their families, according to a new report by B.C.'s representative for children and youth."Families are just hanging on by a thread, they are absolutely spent," said Jennifer Charlesworth. "Can you imagine providing 24 hour care to children … who have lost all supports?"The report, Left Out: Children and Youth with Special Needs in the Pandemic, calls for urgent government action and collaboration with families and community organizations to address a segment of the population that has been neglected during the COVID-19 pandemic.The report includes a survey of over 500 families that paints a picture of the crisis many are facing.The closure of community services and suspension of in-class learning has hit these families the hardest, leaving them without vital services for children with complex medical, physical, behavioural and cognitive needs.Making matters worse, respite arrangements and community programs have also been cancelled or suspended because of the need for physical distancing.Meanwhile, wait-times for assessments and diagnoses have grown longer.Charlesworth said she is concerned that some families, pushed to their breaking point, will be left with no alternative other than to put their child or teen into foster care."That would be a tragedy," she said. The executive director of Inclusion B.C. said the pandemic has amplified frailties and fractures in the system that existed before COVID-19 hit."The pandemic has revealed a system that fails children with disabilities," said Karla Verschoor. "It's simply unjust and inexcusable to leave their families alone and unsupported, which is what we've done for far too long."The report makes the following recommendations: * More and better communication between the Ministry of Children and Family Development and families, community providers, family networks and advocates. * A one-year extension to fall 2021 of all pandemic-related benefits and processes for families with children and youth with special needs. * Creation of a special working table bringing together families, community organizations, advocates and funding ministries for regular check-ins and problem solving. * Funding support for community organizations to help families find alternative services. * A review of virtual service provisions delivered in the first months of the pandemic. * Streamlined processes for emergency benefits and approvals that minimize the paperwork and administrative burden for families. * Exploration of the concept of support "bubbles" for in-home services to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both family members and service providers.
The songs in his new album are deeply personal, as he explores the themes of relationships and family, during a time when people are learning more about both. Devin Hentsch, an English teacher at Centre Dufferin District High School (CDDHS), released his sixth album under Devin and the Dark Light called “Brideland,” earlier this month. The album, which features eight original songs written by Hentsch throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, expresses what he calls the “spiritual domestic.” “I think people are dealing with living together a lot more closely, and they’re learning to deal with conflict within their families, and also how to accept each other a lot more,” explains Hentsch to the Free Press. “The album kind of touches on that.” Originally from Orangeville, Hentsch formed Devin and the Dark Light, back in 2005 as a music project, bringing in other artists to add their own parts to his songs. Since its formation, Devin and the Dark Light have played at venues in Toronto, Collingwood, Guelph, and Orangeville. As an English teacher at Shelburne’s local high school for the last 15 years, Hentsch said he used song writing and music as a way to create outside his career as a teacher but over the years has brought it into his teaching. “Teaching English is great for song writing, because you’re dealing with themes all the time, and you have to be very descriptive,” said Hentsch. “If you’re teaching poetry, you’re dealing with rhyme, and you’re dealing with imagery; these are all the things that I do in my music, and then bring them into the classroom.” From the psychedelic sounds of harmonicas and synthesizers in the first song “Cellphone Light” to the indie rock drum loops in the last “Throwin’ Candy,” Hentsch said he tries to keep the music as experimental as possible. “I get bored when I record so I try to, use all of the instruments I have available to me to create something new,” said Hentsch. “That’s always the attempt, instead of falling back into old patterns of rock and pop.” While writing the album through COVID-19, a time when family and relationships have become increasing important, and with the recent release of “Brideland” both on CD and digitally, Hentsch will be donating the proceeds from sales to Shelburne’s local food bank, Shepherd’s Cupboard, until Dec. 21. “I was sitting on the album and I didn’t know how I was going to release it. I thought this made the most sense since it’s an album about family and relationships,” he said. “Brideland” is available for purchase online on the Devin and the Dark Light website, as well as at Aardvark Music in Orangeville.Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
From Sammy Davis Jr. to Snoop Dogg, the list of performers who have graced the stage of the Commodore Ballroom on the Granville Strip is as varied as the musical tastes of Vancouverites.Which could be why, on the 90th anniversary of the day the notorious nightclub first flung open its doors to late night revelers, it's hard to find a local who does not have a tale from a time spent twirling on the famous dance floor or watching a big star perform while they were still on the way up.Modelled after Art-Deco British ballrooms of the 1920s, with plush carpets and walls draped with floor-length curtains, the Commodore Ballroom opened on Dec. 3, 1930 and quickly became the place to party.It was not, however, a place where you could get a drink. Legally that is.According to Aaron Chapman, author of Live at the Commodore: The Story of Vancouver's Historic Commodore Ballroom, nightclubs at that time were liquor-free and people would have to smuggle their hooch in.When the local police would make their rounds, the doorman would signal the band leader on stage who would immediately rally the band to play a tune called Roll Out the Barrel. This system let all the patrons know to hide their booze until the coast was clear."Police were there on off nights themselves and did the same thing, everyone knew," said Chapman Thursday on CBC's The Early Edition.Decades passed, liquor laws and musical preferences changed and still The Commodore remained a mainstay of the music scene.Originally a place where orchestras and big bands got the dance floor going, many, many well-known names have lit up the stage in the years since.Some mentioned by Chapman include: The New York Dolls in 1974, Kiss in 1975 and Tom Petty in 1978. The Clash also played their first-ever North American show there in the winter of '79."You can walk into that place and feel that energy in the room and that's a very special thing," said Chapman.There are also not many cross-generational venues remaining in the city where grandchildren can twerk where their grandparents once did the twist.For musician Alan Doyle, who has performed on the stage many times both solo and with the band Great Big Sea, it holds a very special memory.It is there, where in 2017, Doyle and about 50 other musicians came together to show support for John Mann, frontman of the local folk rock band Spirit of the West who had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.Doyle rallied talent that night, both vocal and instrumental, and recorded a song especially for Mann in the second floor men's washroom that Doyle converted into a makeshift studio.WATCH | Celebrated Canadian musicians perform at The Commodore to help a dear friendMann passed away in 2019 but had been in attendance at the event."The greatest night I ever had there, " Doyle told CBC Thursday.The venue has won numerous awards recognizing its importance as a local landmark and was named Most Influential Club in Canada by Billboard Magazine in 2011.To mark its 90th anniversary, the City of Vancouver declared Dec. 3 Commodore Ballroom Day.And while the pandemic may be preventing people from cutting loose on the dance floor this year, venue owners Live Nation threw a virtual birthday party featuring B.C. blues musician and Commodore regular Colin James.James, who hasn't seen his bandmates since March because of pandemic restrictions, says while playing to an empty house is weird, it's great to be playing at the venue."We just did a whole show and we couldn't take the smiles off our faces," James said. "You know, I'm not one to talk a whole lot between songs so we just had a great time playing and it felt oddly normal."James, who has played at The Commodore 33 times before says the venue is unique for allowing bigger shows but still retaining an intimate mood. "Some cities have gotten rid of their iconic venues," he said. "I've played it so many times over the years and it's still really great to be here."