Quebec's COVID-19 fatality numbers are spiking again and that's raising concerns. The province has reported that 700 people have died since September.
Quebec's COVID-19 fatality numbers are spiking again and that's raising concerns. The province has reported that 700 people have died since September.
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
Bay Roberts mayor Phillip Wood has received a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for his work with the Branch 32 Legion. Having taught for over 30 years in schools across the province, and acting as current mayor of Bay Roberts, Philip Wood is a well-known in Conception Bay North. And anybody who knows Wood knows that he’s passionate about his work with the Legion. Now, Wood has received national recognition for his long-time work, something he said he was rather surprised to receive. “It’s an honour to receive this,” Wood said about the award. “I’m very surprised, because you don’t apply for theses awards, someone has to nominate you, and as a part of the nomination process, you’re also not supposed to tell the nominee that you’ve nominated them. So, to receive it was quite a surprise…When you go into any service organization, you don’t go in it to win awards, but it’s also nice to receive a little nod of approval, and it’s humbling also.” But for those who know about his work it should come as little surprise. Wood has been a member of The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32 for over 26 years, holding various positions on the board, including secretary and president. Currently, Wood holds the position as 2nd vice-president of Provincial Command, Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s been a lengthy career of service in the Legion for Wood. He was part of the original committee that planned and developed the Veterans Quay Marina in Bay Roberts, and was involved in the recent refurbishment of the Bay Roberts cenotaph. Wood also served as liaison between the Legion and Heritage Society during the installation of the military exhibit in the Cable Building. Wood’s work with the Legion follows a military career which began when he completed his basic officer training in Chilliwack, BC. In the late 70’s he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Mlitary service is a tradition deeply established in Wood’s family. His son, Paul, is currently serving with the PPCLI Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and has done a number of duty tours over seas, while his father, Eric, served in WWII. It means that, for Wood, honouring the sacrifices of those who have served is of the utmost importance. Following Wood’s retirement as an educator, he visited the battlefields of Europe, and has walked the Trail of The Caribou as a student chaperon. Wood said he is grateful that someone recognized him for his work with the Legion and nominated him. “I would certainly like to thank them,” he said. “It’s a great honour to know that they would take the time to fill out the nomination forum. And that’s why its humbling, because you don’t go out and solicit someone to do this. So, when someone takes the time to go out of their own initiative and say, ‘Philip Wood would be a very worthy recipient of this,’ it’s very humbling.” Like all organizations, Legions have had to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions and have had to cancel a number of events, Wood noted. “They’ve been struggling. Some branches haven’t opened up. Other branches are rebounding; however they are working very hard to keep everything going,” he said. Perhaps the most difficult decision made by the Legion across the country was to limit the number of attendees at remembrance ceremonies, or, in some case, to cancel them altogether. “It was very sad, July 1 and Nov. 11, to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremonies without the crowds this year,” said Wood. “But it’s all you can do. Hopefully next year we’ll be back. But the different legions have done an excellent job, and people working hard and doing the best they can.” Initial reports for the Poppy campaign, both from Branch 32 and the province as a whole, are positive, Wood, said, though numbers seem to be down slightly. “There were far more bills put in the cans then in previous years, versus coins, which was good to hear, because all funds collected go towards supporting veterans and their families,” Wood said.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 29, 2020 Medical masks are being added to the annual Barrie police mitten tree this year to help people stay warm and keep safe. The annual campaign was started by retired Const. Janet Schefter 20 years ago. If you would like to donate to the campaign, visit Barrie Police Service Headquarters at 110 Fairview Rd. A tree donated by Sommerville Nurseries is located in the lobby. Thousands of hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves will go to: • Youth Haven • David Busby Centre / Out of the Cold • The Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre Cancer Care • CARAH House • Salvation Army Barrie • Hospice Simcoe Many families, including seniors, are faced with low income, high rent, and everyday living expenses, making it a struggle to make ends meet. For health reasons, all donated items must be newly purchased or made. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 20. All inquiries can be directed to 705-725-7025, ext. 2907.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 8, 2020 Barrie has been downgraded from green to yellow under Ontario’s new colour-coded system for pandemic protection measures after seven new COVID-19 cases were reported in the city Nov. 6. Under the new system, areas with the lowest case counts, positivity rates and community transmission are in a green category, with the most permissive rules. Red is the “control” level and means returning to modified Stage 2 restrictions, as are seen in Toronto. Barrie was moved to yellow based on an increase in weekly cases, the speed at which the virus is spreading and how much capacity there is at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s intensive-care unit. Five of the seven new cases are due to workplace transmissions, one is still under investigation and the other is due to close contact. The cases involve people aged 18 to 64. There are currently about 157 active cases in the Simcoe-Muskoka district, with 50 deaths since the pandemic began. Six people are in hospital with COVID-19. This is what Barrie’s yellow rating means: • Gatherings are still limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, but the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit strongly advises that people only have close contact with their direct household. • Workplace screening questions must take place. • Face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces, at workplaces and where physical distancing is not possible. • City restaurants and bars have additional restrictions, including closing at midnight, only selling liquor between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., requiring contact information for all seated patrons, limiting seating to six people per table and limiting the volume of music so people don’t have to shout to hear each other. • Non-essential travel should be restricted and outings limited as much as possible. • Monitor for symptoms and stay home if you are sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested. The yellow code is known as the “protect level” and means a local health unit will enforce upgraded restrictions for businesses and organizations that remain open. Health units at this level are required to have a weekly rate of 10 to 39.9 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of one to 2.5 per cent.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. 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
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 23, 2020 Simcoe County first responders, including dozens of police officers, lined bridges over Hwy. 400 Nov. 23 to salute Const. Marc Hovingh, who died following a shoot out on Manitoulin Island last week. Hovingh died Nov. 19 after an incident that also caused the death of a civilian. Hovingh's body was taken to Toronto for an autopsy and transported back to Manitoulin Island in a hearse, accompanied by two police cruisers. The OPP encouraged supporters to follow the procession’s live Twitter feed. “Because we’re in this pandemic, we’re on lockdown, we’re in a different situation here right now,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “There’s not a lot of opportunity for paying of respects and for gatherings.” Hovingh was one of the officers who responded to a call about an “unwanted man’’ on a property in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. According to the Special Investigations Unit – Ontario’s police watchdog – Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after exchanging gunfire. Hovingh was a 28-year veteran of the force. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
Fueled by hatred, misogyny and transphobia, there is still a lot of gender-based violence says the Violence Is Preventable Committee in Williams Lake. This year’s Purple Ribbon Campaign is well-underway and aims to raise awareness on this very topic which has been occurring in situations where it was previously unheard of or with people nobody would have ever expected. This is due, in large part, to increased stress, according to Women’s Contact Society family law advocate Kelsey Borgfjord. “2020 has been an exceptional year for stress due to the once-in-a-lifetime event of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Early on, everyone was panicking due to the fear surrounding the unknown which has since morphed into stress and exhaustion as we enter nearly nine months since the state of emergency was declared.” Because of the novel coronavirus, there have been a lot of extra challenges for everyone. “For anyone in a stressful relationship, be it at home, at work, or in the schools, the uncertainty and changes in the way we are supposed to behave when in public can cause additional tension that turns into violence,” noted committee chair Tamara Garreau. To help support and increase awareness of this phenomenon, Garreau encourages everyone to support the campaign, which runs in Williams Lake from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, by wearing a purple ribbon, noticing the banners, starting discussions on the topic and speaking out when one sees bullying or gender-based slurs. As the pandemic presses on, Borgfjord believes it is more important than ever to not only bring awareness to this cause but also mental wellness. “Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help,” she said, listing the Women’s Contact Society, Cariboo Friendship Society, Canadian Mental Health, Three Corners Health Services Society, RCMP Victim Services, Aboriginal Victim Services and Crisis Line as valuable resources.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
Air Design location, Ballon Design et les Gâteaux MB se réuniront sous le même toit à compter de janvier. Une préouverture ponctuelle est prévue dès jeudi, afin de permettre aux gens de se procurer décorations et cadeaux juste avant le début du temps des Fêtes. Les trois entreprises voulaient, en se réunissant, offrir aux clients la possibilité de ne faire qu’un seul arrêt pour l’organisation de leur événement spécial. Selon Jennifer Fournier, propriétaire de Ballon Design, ce partenariat est unique dans la région et très rare dans la province. « On s’est rendu compte qu’avec des ballons, des jeux gonflables, des gâteaux et des petits cadeaux, ça faisait vraiment un beau ‘mix’. Le concept qu’on a voulu créer, c’est vraiment d’avoir tout pour un événement, sous un même toit », s’est réjouie la propriétaire de Ballon Design. En parlant avec Mélina Dubé-Boily, de Gâteaux MB, les deux femmes ont remarqué qu’elles partageaient beaucoup de clients en commun. L’ouverture est prévue jeudi. Pour débuter, le commerce n’ouvrira que ponctuellement. L’ouverture complète à temps plein avec l’arrivée de la pâtissière n’est à l’horaire qu’au retour des Fêtes. Jennifer souhaite tout de même ouvrir dès le début du mois afin de faire profiter les clients des cadeaux et des ballons pour les préparations du temps des Fêtes. Le commerce d’Air Design location est ouvert, et il est possible pour les intéressés de voir l’inventaire en ligne. Pour ce qui est des Gâteaux MB, même si l’arrivée de la pâtissière à temps plein n’aura lieu qu’en janvier, les clients pourront venir chercher leurs gâteaux précommandés sur place. De tout en boutique Chaque entreprise qui s’installera dans ce nouveau local situé au 1247 boulevard Ste-Geneviève, à Chicoutimi-Nord, dispose d’une impressionnante gamme de produits. Air Design location a dans son inventaire plus de 125 structures gonflables, de toute sorte. Pour Gateaux MB, on comptera évidemment des gâteaux, mais aussi de gros biscuits, des cupcakes, et bien plus. Ballon Design se spécialise dans les bouquets de ballons et les petits cadeaux. Son créneau est le ballon personnalisé. « Je voulais faire quelque chose de différent de ce qu’on retrouvait déjà. Avec les ballons personnalisés, je peux écrire des prénoms, des phrases ou même recréer des dessins sur des ballons, ce qui est vraiment apprécié des clients », souligne Jennifer. Elle est fière d’amener ce concept ici dans la région et encore plus à Chicoutimi-Nord. Impacts de la Covid Bien évidemment, les derniers mois ont été difficiles pour tous ceux qui oeuvrent dans l’événementiel. L’annulation des fêtes, des mariages, des partys de bureau a difficilement touché le commerce de Jennifer. La jeune femme de 30 ans a dû se réinventer. « Nous nous sommes vraiment tournés vers les livraisons. Nous sommes allés livrer des petites touches de bonheur chez les gens. Plus ça allait, plus les gens me demandaient si j’avais des petits items cadeaux, qu’on pouvait joindre aux ballons », explique-t-elle. C’est ce qui fait que depuis environ un mois, on retrouve dans la boutique en ligne des cadeaux de tout genre : jouets pour enfants, produits pour le corps, items pour la maison, et bien plus. Certaines de ces surprises peuvent même être mises dans des ballons ! Ces produits seront bien sûr mis en valeur dans la nouvelle boutique. Pour tout savoir sur les heures d’ouverture et sur les items que l’on retrouve en boutique, les personnes intéressées peuvent visiter le site Internet ou la page Facebook de Ballon Design.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
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
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 27, 2020 A Barrie man who drove his truck into his best friend in a fit of jealousy faces a sentencing hearing Dec. 4. Isidoro Pacheco pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The court heard Pacheco had suspected his wife and friend were having an affair during the summer of 2018. On Sept. 18, Pacheco’s pickup truck struck his estranged friend while he was helping his wife pack up her belongings on Pacheco’s Baker Crescent driveway. The court heard Pacheco’s truck jumped the curb as he returned home early from work at about 11:30 a.m. to see his ex-friend carrying “something” from the house. “At about that same moment, his truck veered left, jumped the curb and drove diagonally across a driveway, a boulevard, a sidewalk, and his next-door-neighbour’s front lawn,” a court document states. “It struck (the victim), causing him to fly through the air and make a hard landing, face down, some distance away.” Although Pacheco pleaded guilty, he testified that he did not intend to run over his former friend. Pacheco told the court he lost control of his truck when he stuck his head out the window to get a better look at the “person” he saw at his front door. But Justice Cary Boswell ruled the evidence showed the crash was intentional. “I do not believe or accept Mr. Pacheco’s version of events leading up to the collision,” Boswell said in a written decision. “Indeed, I consider his account impossible to accept.” After the collision, Pacheco’s wife knelt beside the victim and said, “Oh my God, you’ve killed (him).” When Barrie police officers arrived, they found Pacheco hiding under a pool cover in the backyard holding a steak knife. He was arrested without incident. Barrie police were also at Pacheco’s home the night before the crash, when officers told him to stop throwing his wife’s belongings onto the front lawn. The case resumes Dec. 4 in Barrie Superior Court of Justice. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 26, 2020 When a single mother was struggling to afford a bed for her and her kids, Mike the Mattress Guy stepped up. Owner Mike Rudkins dropped off bunk beds for the children and a queen-size bed for Mom. That’s the kind of charitable gesture that helped Rudkins and his wife, Krista, earn the provincial Small Businesses, Big Hearts Award. The Barrie entrepreneur also helps the community by offering free delivery for donations to the Barrie Food Bank or the Women’s and Children’s Shelter of Barrie. Last May, Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria created the award, which was designed to recognize businesses that help their community during COVID-19. Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin presented the award at the Barrie store. “Mike the Mattress Guy helped our community by donating services, resources and time to help others so that the vulnerable can be in a better position to rebound from the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19,” she said in a media release. If you know a small business that has stepped up to help the community, send their story to firstname.lastname@example.org Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Here are the highlights from Arrow Lakes School District 10 Superintendent Terry Taylor’s report to trustees at the November 17 board meeting. • COVID-19 has been hard on all aspects of the education system, but it’s put extra pressure on staff who clean facilities to ensure they’re safe. To meet new, higher cleaning regulations, the school district added additional cleaning hours to the schedules of custodians and bus drivers, and changed schedules to have custodians start during the school day. “Though intended to solve the emergent problem, the change of hours to during the school day has caused some unintended consequences for our custodians: additional workload and stress to get to cleaning floors and other regular maintenance/ cleaning tasks done while students and staff are in buildings,” Taylor reported to the board. After a review of the issue, the district has put in place some steps to help overloaded custodians: some workers’ hours will be changed back to after school, while additional staff will be hired to clean ‘high touch’ areas during the day; misting devices have been purchased to support high-touch area cleaning in schools and busses; PPE (personal protective equipment) is being provided for use voluntarily by cleaning staff; and staff and students will help by stacking chairs after class to help make disinfection faster and easier. The district will continue to monitor how the tweaks to the system are helping staff keep the facilities safe and clean. • It’s the final 1% of the job that takes up the other 99% of the time. A few “last moment hiccups” have stalled the opening of the new Goat Mountain Child Care Centre in New Denver. While almost complete for more than two months now, licencing officials still have small concerns that needed addressing. Taylor says she’s confident, however, the building will finally be open on November 30. A grand opening with all the dignitaries, COVID permitting, is planned soon. • As work wraps up with one daycare, plans on the second one are underway. The Nakusp Child Care Centre, planned for the local elementary school, is set to open in May 2022. Right now design plans are being finalized, as are plans for demolition of two portables at the school to make way for the daycare. Demolition should take place early in the new year, and a safety assessment has found only “small and isolated amount of asbestos” around one sink, and lead in the portables’ exterior paint. • The school district is proud of its work getting students to learn outdoors, and it’s been noticed by its peers. SD 10 was recognized by other West Kootenay districts for having the most students per capita who’ll be learning outside this year. A Nakusp Elementary teacher who signed up for an outside learning conference also has reason to celebrate. Marsha Roberts won a $500 prize from the Take Me Outside for Learning (TMOL) program. The money can be used at the new online Outdoor Learning Store to enhance her class’ outdoor experience. • Ottawa continues to support local school districts adjust to the world of teaching during a pandemic. Superintendent Taylor says federal Safe Return to Class Funding - $150,000 now and further $150,000 in new year – can be spent on learning resources and supports, health and safety, transportation, and before- and after-school childcare. Taylor says the money has been allocated for an additional Distance Learning teacher and clerical time to manage the larger number of students taking distributed learning courses this year. Some of the money will go to additional mental health supports for students, enhanced cleaning supplies and equipment, routing software for more efficient bussing, and for arts and recreation activities for before- and after-school care. John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
The Town of Bay Roberts will be getting a new fire truck. Council unanimously accepted a tender on a new vehicle during the November 24 public meeting. The Town had received two bids, one from Metalfab Ltd,. at a cost of $344,328 and the other from Micmac Fire & Safety Source Ltd., at $299,248 (both prices are quotes before HST). Director of Protective Services Justin Parsons and Fire Chief Doug Mercer recommended that council approved Micmac Fire & Safety Source’s bid. Councillor Geoff Seymour inquired about the expected delivery time on the new vehicle, and Mayor Philip Wood said that he believed it would be delivered by next fall. The company building the truck is based out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
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
A small plane crash-landed and hit a vehicle on a Minnesota interstate, with no injuries reported. A portion of the highway in suburban Minneapolis was closed for several hours. (Dec. 3)
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 24, 2020 OPP detectives have charged a 19-year-old Severn Township man with first-degree murder in the death of 34-year-old Derek Simmerson of Orillia. Police arrested Justice Snache at about 11 a.m. Nov. 22. Simmerson was found lying on Coldwater Road near Emily Street with serious injuries Nov. 19. He was taken to Soldiers' Memorial Hospital at about 8:30 p.m., where he died. Police say the man was found by a member of the public. When paramedics arrived, he was suffering from serious trauma. The accused has been held for a bail hearing and is set to appear in Barrie court Nov. 23. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Town of Bay Bulls has approved mil rate increases for residents and business operators as part of its 2021 budget, but Mayor Harold Mullowney says very few people should actually see a hike in what they pay. The new tax structure, along with the municipal budget, was approved during a special meeting of council called for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30. The Town gave several hours notice on its Facebook page that it would be tabling the budget. Residential property is up from 4.25 mils to 4.5 mils, while commercial property tax has increased from 14.0 mils to 14.75 mils. All business-related mil rates increased by half a mil. Annual fees, including the controversial home-based business tax of $450 which was applied earlier this year to residents who felt they ought to be thought of as crafters and hobbyists instead of businesses, as well as permits remain largely unchanged. The Operation of a Business permit has dropped from $250 to $50. Mayor Harold Mullowney said the mil rate increases were necessary, but remains optimistic residents and business operators will not see a big impact on their tax bills. “The (property value) assessments this year are lower this year then they were last year,” said the mayor. “Every where, you have your property assessments done. And this year, those assessments came in lower. So, we have to make up the same amount of revenue every year because our own source revenue is mandated by the province per capita. We can’t let that drop. So, when our assessed values drop, if the mil rates stay the same, then our source revenue would drop. My plan was to make sure that everybody would be pretty well the same as they paid last year, especially during this difficult COVID year. So, what had to happen, was we had to bump up the mil rate across the board. I’m thinking 80 to 90 percent of residents should see their tax bill very close to what they paid last year.” He reckoned that, because the assessed values have gone down, even with the mil rate increase, the town will bring in roughly the same amount of tax revenue as last year. As for property values, Mulowney said it is closely related to the general ‘boom-and-bust’ of the economy. “Everyone, I think, across the province, has seen a small decrease in their assessed values this year,” said Mullowney. “Everyone is seeing a bit of an increase (in mil rates). But we tried to do it as fair and equitable as possible, without hitting any one group or sector overly hard. So, the game plan, when we sat down and put together this budget, was to try to keep our income from all sources very close to what it was last year. With that said, I think we’ve been fairly successful in doing that.” As to the sudden revision of the agenda to include the budget and tax structure Monday night, Mulowney said it was a matter of finding the right date and time that worked for everyone, which proved to be a challenge. The Irish Loop Post requested a copy of the budget document approved for submission by council during the November 30 meeting, but Town Manager Jennifer Aspell said it would only be provided once it has been signed and submitted to the Department of Municipal Affairs for review. Meanwhile, Mullowney said despite the troubles of 2020, he is content with the budget drafted by council. “We didn’t see any big increases for any of the residents. If we can keep 80-90 percent of the residents pretty well in the same ballpark of taxes as they paid last year, that’s a good news story, I think. Ovbiously, there will be some who have seen an increase they’re not happy with,” he said. “But then again, who likes paying taxes? None of us. And at the end of the day, we’re trying to be as fair and equitable as possible, while trying to bring in the amount of money needed to run the town effectively.”Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
MONTREAL — An Indigenous engineering student is this year's recipient of the Order of the White Rose from Polytechnique Montreal in memory of the victims and survivors of the 1989 anti-feminist attack on the school.Brielle Chanae Thorsen, 22, says the lives of the 14 women cut short by the massacre at what was then known as Ecole polytechnique must never be forgotten, but real work remains in achieving full equality. “We all need to remember the women who came before us, especially the victims and survivors of the Polytechnique tragedy," Thorsen, a Cree woman, said in an interview."We must all have an equal opportunity to pursue a rewarding career without being the targets of discrimination or violence, regardless of our gender, race, sexuality, or religion.”That wasn't the case for the 14 women — mostly students — gunned down. Thirteen others — nine women and four men — were injured by Marc Lepine during a 20-minute shooting rampage at the Montreal engineering school on Dec. 6, 1989.At a virtual ceremony held Thursday to announce the scholarship, Thorsen revealed that she had been the victim of a sexual assault in her dorm two days before beginning university. "This award has special significance to me, because I am a survivor of on-campus violence," she said.She added that the assault made her university experience a struggle. "I learned the hard way that we don't all have an equal opportunity to succeed in university," she said. "How can you be a perfect student when you're undergoing a significant life-altering event?"On the same day her award was announced, members of the House of Commons observed a minute of silence to honour the lost lives ahead of the 31st anniversary of the killings on Sunday.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is our duty to never forget the misogynistic, anti-feminist nature of the attack that struck at the very heart of society's values.In May, the government outlawed some 1,500 types of assault-style firearms, including the Ruger Mini-14 used by the killer in Montreal. And Trudeau said the government would be introducing legislation to follow through on his government's commitment to protect against gun violence."Canadians know that there is no place in our country for weapons designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. They know that these weapons were not designed to hunt deer," he said in reference to the banned assault-style firearms.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole did not mention gun control but called for a recommitment to ending violence towards women and vulnerable people."And in a pandemic, when worry and mental health is touching every corner of our country and every family within the Canadian family, let's make sure that no one is isolated, no one is forgotten, and that there is a zero tolerance towards violence in our society," he said.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh noted that Indigenous women and girls are more likely to face violence and more likely to be killed. He said action on calls for justice from the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women has been "too slow in coming."Thorsen, a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in central Alberta, intends to pursue a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., where she obtained her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and mathematics.Although she was born after the tragic events of 1989, Thorsen is well aware of what happened that day. And she knows that this $30,000 scholarship, awarded to a Canadian female engineering student looking to pursue graduate studies in the field, carries a special weight and significance.Remembering the victims and survivors is important, because "their efforts and their lives have enabled me and my classmates to study safely,” she addedBut more than 30 years later, barriers remain, Thorsen said.Women remain a minority in engineering classes, although combined between engineering and mathematics, they account for 50 per cent of students."And although there is more work to do to move towards equality and equity in the profession . . . our representation is increasing, which is really promising for the next generation of female engineers,” she said."Engineers are designing solutions for the world. So why would we only have a small fraction of this population designing solutions for everyone?”Thorsen intends to specialize in sustainable energy by using her knowledge to work with Indigenous communities in the North on projects aimed at energy sovereignty.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Jim Bronskill in Ottawa.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press