In 2004, Madonna and Robbie Williams were among the stars to be inducted at the first UK Music Hall of Fame ceremony. (Nov. 11)
In 2004, Madonna and Robbie Williams were among the stars to be inducted at the first UK Music Hall of Fame ceremony. (Nov. 11)
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — Insurance companies in British Columbia have agreed to end a pricing practice that has been identified as one of the key factors in skyrocketing property insurance premiums for condominiums. Earlier this year, the B.C. Financial Services Authority said premiums have gone up by 40 per cent on average for a number of reasons. Finance Minister Selina Robinson says an agreement to end so-called best terms pricing on Jan. 1 is a positive step. Insuring multi-unit properties in B.C. often sees many insurers submit bids. Under best terms pricing, the final premium paid by owners is usually based on the highest bid, even if most quotes were lower. Blair Morrison, CEO of the financial services authority, says the change is an important step for long-term stability in the property insurance market. Robinson was the housing minister in June when she introduced legislation to change the Strata Property Act and the Financial Institutions Act to bring more transparency to the insurance market. The Insurance Council of B.C., the regulatory body for insurance agents in the province, says it will work with the industry to address the practice. Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility. A financial authority report released in June says price pressures will continue on buildings considered to be higher risk and the insurance market for so-called strata properties was "unhealthy." It says insurers were accumulating losses mostly from minor claims, especially for water damage due to poor building maintenance and initial construction. It says new building construction, building material changes and rising replacement costs have put added strain on the industry's profitability. Insurers are also reducing the amount of insurance they offer in B.C. because of excessive exposure to earthquake risk, it says. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Modest upticks in COVID-19 case numbers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick prompted guarded optimism from one health official Tuesday, while another gave an example of how quickly the situation can change.Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases, which brought its total active case count to 142, while New Brunswick identified seven, bringing its total of ongoing cases to 116.Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said the relatively low numbers seen over the last week in his province were a "positive sign" considering the announcement of 37 cases and sweeping new restrictions for the Halifax area that was made one week earlier."That's certainly much better than I expected," Strang said of the numbers. "That is a good sign that we are relatively stable, but it's much too early to relax yet."He cautioned that more concerning is the number of close contacts for each new case, which has now grown on average to eight, as compared to three close contacts per case during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring."So you can see why I keep saying we need to reduce our social contacts," Strang said.In New Brunswick meanwhile, the chief medical officer of health confirmed a super-spreader event in the Saint John area was responsible for more than 80 per cent of that region's current active cases. "We have determined that 34 people that attended this super-spreader event have since contracted COVID-19 and a further 26 cases were contracted indirectly when attendees infected others that they came into contact with," Dr. Jennifer Russell told a news conference in Fredericton. Russell provided no other details, except that the event occurred at two venues in the course of one evening. She said a super-spreader event occurs when a large number of cases are traced to a single gathering or event, with COVID-19 being transmitted from one individual, or a relatively small number of individuals who were in attendance while infectious.Like her counterpart in Nova Scotia, Russell stressed the importance of people maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks.New Brunswick's new cases include four in the Saint John area and three in the Fredericton area.Back in Nova Scotia, all of the new cases were identified in the Halifax area, which has accounted for the majority of the province's cases in the current outbreak.As a result, Atlantic Canada's largest city has been under increased restrictions since Thursday that have seen the closure of in-person dining at restaurants and of public libraries, museums, gyms, yoga studios and casinos. The outbreak led to the withdrawal from the Atlantic regional bubble of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick last week.Strang was asked why there hadn't been an explosion of cases like those seen elsewhere in the country, and he said it was partly due to messaging weeks before about the growing trends in other provinces."I think a lot of people thankfully, listened to that and started to adjust behaviours," he said. "So I think there was some adjustment . . . even prior to us putting the restrictions in place."Elsewhere in the Atlantic region, Prince Edward Island announced no new cases and has just four active cases. However, the province's chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said her office still didn't know how a student from Charlottetown Rural High School who was diagnosed on the weekend was infected with the novel coronavirus.Morrison said extensive testing on about 70 close contacts has not turned up a source, although it's likely the student had contact with someone who had travelled off the Island. She said 102 people were in self-isolation as a result of being a positive case or a close contact of a case. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Health officials said the travel-related case involved a man in his 50s in the eastern health region who had returned to the province from work in British Columbia. The province has 33 active cases with no one in hospital due to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Kevin Bissett in FrederictonKeith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Holiday shoppers are receiving their own gift from the City of Charlottetown this December: free parking downtown. The city approved the free parking at downtown meters at a special council meeting Monday. Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said letting shoppers park for free fits in with the Love Local P.E.I. campaign currently on. "It sends out a signal that, you know, we're in this bubble, but let's stick to our local merchants," said Brown. "They're going to need the help, just like we're going to need the help as we get through this pandemic."> We're in this bubble, but let's stick to our local merchants. They're going to need the help. \- Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown The idea for the free parking came from the P.E.I. government, which offered $15,000 to replace some of the lost revenue. Brown said the City of Charlottetown will cover the rest of that loss, another $45,000. City officials have had to cancel some holiday activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so Brown said some of the money that would have been used for those activities will help cover the revenue lost from parking meters. "This is a small effort, but I think it'll go a long way," he said. Brown added that he's not worried about people who work downtown taking advantage of the free spots.More from CBC P.E.I.
The community for SilverStar Mountain Resort is moving forward with its plan to become a resort association. The designation—not to be confused with a resort municipality designation—will provide the community of about 1,000 homeowners more of a say in how money is spent in the community, according SilverStar realtor Don Kassa. Kassa co-chairs the SilverStar Task Force, which initiated the process. He said things are moving forward, and that the next step will be to elect a board of directors. There is already an 11-member board in place. Five of the positions will be elected in the near term, with the remaining positions to be elected in two years. “The biggest benefit I would suggest is we have a cohesive body which now is mandated to negotiate with all levels of government for the betterment of the community,” he said, explaining the importance of the association. Kassa added the association will have the ability to fund and apply for funding for projects that will support the development of the resort community. It will also be used to market the resort as a year-round destination. Resort associations, such as Tourism Sun Peaks, collect a fee from property owners who use their property for rental, business or commercial purposes. The association will have access to the hotel tax as well as a fee, known as a resort management fee, paid by some homeowners in the area. Gaining association status has been a long process for the task force, which is currently made up of individual property owners, businesses, hotels and the resort operator. The Regional District of North Okanagan, which oversees the resort, had to agree to set it up, and then at least 50 per cent of the landowners within the resort association boundaries (representing 50 per cent of the property value) had to sign a petition in favour of it. Kassa said that the group is happy with the level of services provided by the regional district. “Many of the needs for services are being met very well currently,” said Kassa. There has, however, been some opposition to the plan. In an interview with CBC in March 2020, a homeowner said he worried that bookings would be centralized and homeowners would be forced to pay fees. According to Kassa, there is no plan to centralize the reservation system, but under the new framework, all homeoneers will have to pay the resort management fee, which he said would be between $400 and $800 a year per home. “The feeling of the current board was that if you are renting a property and making a substantial return on your property….then you should, in fact, be part and parcel of the cost to make that resort go forward.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
While many B.C. restaurants have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions by offering home delivery, it is not likely a customer's first thought to dial up a dozen half shell oysters.Normally the providers of a delicacy enjoyed at seafood restaurants and special events, oyster farmers in the province have collectively lost millions of dollars in sales since the spring when the pandemic changed the way people live.According to the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association, it is possible some of those farmers will not survive the current situation they find themselves in."At the lowest point, we estimated that our members were losing about $2.4 million a month, so that's pretty grim," said Jim Russell, the association's executive director, Tuesday, on CBC's On The Island."Basically, people are just fighting to survive right now," he added.Some members, said Russell, are trying to access new export markets or are packaging product for retail sales, but local sales of fresh oysters, and particularly half shell oysters, have "basically collapsed."Federal wage subsidy extension wantedThe challenge facing many farmers is they currently have live oysters growing and, according to Russell, there is a short window of about 18 to 24 months when an oyster is at its prime market value before that price begins to diminish.He worries that without an extension of the federal wage subsidy program, which expires Dec. 19, larger sized operations will simply not be able to pay staff to maintain and harvest oysters — even just to shuck and sell them by the gallon at a lower price point than selling them whole as preferred.While some farmers have been able to fall back on sales of shucked products and other shellfish, such as clams, not all members have the ability to diversify.Russell said the bleak situation has caused an increase in members trying to sell their farms."A number of folks have said they are considering exiting the industry," he said.The Association is a non-profit organization that represents approximately 70 per cent of shellfish farmers in B.C., as well as processors, industry suppliers and service providers related to the industry.To hear more on the state of the industry with BC Shellfish Association Executive Director Jim Russell on CBC's On The Island, tap the audio link below:
The RCMP says one man is dead after a fishing vessel with a crew of eight ran aground on Eagle Island near Cox's Cove Tuesday morning. Seven other members of the crew were reported to be uninjured, according to police, who were alerted to the incident at 6:45 a.m. The vessel was carrying a crew of eight and is based out of Curling, about five kilometres west of Corner Brook. According to police, the Maritime Rescue Sub-Center in St. John's dispatched the Canadian Coast Guard ship Cape Fox, from Lark Harbour, which attended the scene. A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from Gander was prepared to be deployed to the scene, but due to the speediness of local fishers who assisted the distressed vessel, it was called down.The RCMP said the crew on board the vessel were transported onto another boat and removed from the area. Transport Canada, Occupational Health and Safety Division of Service NL and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are involved in the ongoing investigation.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Indigenous communities continue to grapple with COVID-19 outbreaks across Saskatchewan, and a doctor leading the pandemic response says they have reached an "intense phase" in the fight.Research indicates that Indigenous people in Saskatchewan are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying because of complications from the virus.As of Monday evening, there had been almost 1,160 cases of COVID-19 reported across Saskatchewan's First Nations communities, including 17 active outbreaks and 531 known active cases.Dr. Ibrahim Khan, Saskatchewan's regional medical officer with Indigenous Services Canada, said the increasing numbers represent a critical juncture."We are in the very intense phase of this COVID-19 pandemic," Khan said."We are seeing quite a surge in the number of cases. So there is one big factor that we know by now: that the virus moves with us wherever we move. If we lower our guard down and we are not mindful of masking and distancing, that's what happens."The progression of the virusThe first wave of the virus was most prominent in Saskatchewan's northern First Nations communities, Khan said, but over the summer and into the fall, it began to spread."We're seeing the progression of the virus, the movement of the virus from the northern community to the central communities," Khan said. "Now we see quite intense transmission in the southern First Nations communities. So certainly, that is concerning." Travel between urban centres and rural centres is part of the issue. Khan said it's how the virus comes into Indigenous communities."We have very large family systems, in some households there are 10 to 15 people," Khan said. "It really gets hard to stop the spread in families like that, and particularly within the community."Proactive moving forwardOne southern community that has recently been impacted by COVID-19 is Cega'kin (Carry The Kettle) First Nation.Chief Brady O'Watch said the community has a larger population of vulnerable people and this led him to call a 14-day lockdown on Nov. 30 after an outbreak of eight cases."We have a lot of elders in our community, a lot of children, some people with … medical complications, so it was in our best interest to, I guess, call a lockdown," O'Watch said.Khan said half of the Indigenous people in the province have chronic medical conditions that makes COVID-19 an even greater threat for them, so there is a lot of pressure on families and communities to take quick action.Luckily, he said that Saskatchewan's First Nations are constantly communicating and collaborating with each other."Communities are working very closely together, taking every possible step you can imagine to intervene and to stop the spread and to stop the influx of the virus from urban centres to the rural," Khan said. Khan said chiefs have also been very proactive. For O'Watch, this means actively working to keep people informed within using Facebook and newspapers. He also engages with different levels of government to keep himself up to date."We're always communicating with … Dr. Khan, the province, across Canada, Justin Trudeau, when they have updates," O'Watch said. "I, myself, always make it a priority to be on these calls, to educate myself, so I can educate my membership."Combating COVID fatigueAnother factor that has led to COVID-19 gaining a foothold among Saskatchewan's Indigenous communities — like the rest of Canada — is fatigue.This experience has felt prolonged, Khan said, and as it has continued, resolve has been worn away."The overwhelming majority are observing the COVID precautions," Khan said. "But … there is a complacency, and certainly there is a time that people would want to go out and about."For the holiday season, Khan said he is working with community leaders to remind people that the risk remains extremely high."We are asking everybody to be mindful of this intense transmission, and take all steps to reduce the risk of transmission within the communities, within the households, almost every setting you can imagine — traveling, shopping, everywhere," Khan said. "If you are sick, we are asking everybody to stay home."
The emergency department at Fishermen's Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg, N.S., will begin using a new protocol next week whenever the site hits overcapacity near closing time.Under the protocol, which comes into effect Monday, priority will go to the most emergent or urgent health issues. Anyone else will be offered options, including coming back when the department reopens, going to the nearest open emergency department in Bridgewater, or waiting to see a primary-care provider the next day."Safety is our priority. Fishermen's emergency is supposed to close at 10:30 p.m. Our doctors and nurses are frequently working into the wee hours to see patients, and that makes it difficult for them to do their work safely and efficiently," said Dr. John Jenkins, the emergency department's physician leader."This becomes even more problematic when those same nurses and physicians are scheduled to work in the emergency department or a family practice office the next day. We need to prevent burnout."The protocol will be triggered if the number of patients triaged, but not seen, is greater than the number of patients who could be seen before the emergency department shuts its doors for the night.Jenkins said more and more patients have been arriving at the site close to closing time in recent months."I think people had been holding back coming to [the emergency department] during the lockdown and people with chronic conditions got worse," Jenkins said."Many of them were very ill people who just waited a long time to come in because they were fearful of getting COVID."A trickle of additional patients soon "became a flood," said Jenkins, as people became more comfortable going to the hospital during the pandemic.With nurses and doctors often following an evening shift with a day shift, it became an issue of safety."When you're basically awake until almost when the next shift starts, it starts to present some problems with fatigue and burnout or people start to cut back on their shifts," he said.The late-night deluge of visitors to the emergency department has been less of a problem recently and Jenkins said the hope is the new protocol won't have to be triggered very often. It follows similar models to what's used at hospitals in Lower Sackville, Glace Bay and North Sydney.The changes were developed after consultation with clinical leaders, staff, and doctors who provide coverage at the hospital's emergency department.MORE TOP STORIES
NEW YORK — Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, the star of “Juno," “Inception” and “The Umbrella Academy,” came out as transgender Tuesday in an announcement greeted as a watershed moment for the trans community in Hollywood.“I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer," Page said in a statement on social media.Page, the 33-year-old actor from Nova Scotia, said his decision to come out as trans, which also involved changing his first name, came after a long journey and with much support from the LGBTQ community.“I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self,” Page wrote. “I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.”“The more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive,” added Page, who said his pronouns are “he" and "they.”Page signed his statement with the words, “All my love, Elliot.”The announcement was celebrated widely on social media by LGBTQ rights advocates and many in the film industry. Netflix, maker of the comic book series “The Umbrella Academy," said, “So proud of our superhero! We love you Elliot!”"Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media. “He will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. We celebrate the remarkable Elliot Page today.”Page broke out in Jason Reitman's 2007 film “Juno” in a performance as a pregnant teenager that earned him an Academy Award nomination.Page has frequently worked to bring the lives of LGBTQ characters to screen, including the 2015 film “Freeheld,” which he produced and starred in as the partner of a dying New Jersey police detective who had been denied pension benefits.Last year, he made his directorial debut with the documentary “There's Something in the Water,” about environmental damage on Black and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia.Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
Pandemic times—and specifically the months-long shutdown we experienced earlier this year—led many to take up or double down on hobbies. There was a run on yeast, skateboarding blew up, and people spent all sorts of time making inane Tik Tok videos. For amateur photographer Tim Fitzgerald, COVID-19 has caused him to focus more on photographing his own surroundings. Earlier this month, he shared some of his recent shots of SilverStar Mountain Resort with the community’s Facebook page. “The mountain and of course the village was completely deserted,” he said, in the caption of his photos. “Glad to see things starting to come around again.” Fitzgerald told Sun Peaks News this year he will likely be spending a lot of time up at the hill taking photos. He’s currently awaiting a knee surgery, so he can’t ski. Overall, he said that the pandemic has forced him to focus his photography close to home. “Normally, we would travel somewhere,” said Fitzgerald, who works as an electrician. “This year, we made a point of going out and camping, and seeing things that we haven’t seen before. It’s been really eye opening.” He’s done trips to Wells Gray Provincial Park, Rosebery Provincial Park, and he recently returned from a trip to the town of Princeton, where he shot a section of the Kettle Valley Railway. “We went down there a couple weeks ago and got some great shots,” he said. “There’s some really really, rugged and beautiful terrain there.” You can see more of his photos here.Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Regina police responding to a call about an injured person found a woman lying dead in the snow on 23rd Avenue Tuesday morning.Police said when they arrived at the 1300 block of 23rd Avenue around 7:30 a.m., they found the woman unresponsive.EMS responders confirmed the woman was dead at the scene.Police have confirmed the woman's identity and are now trying to notify her out-of-town next of kin.They are not releasing any further other details.The police and Saskatchewan Coroners Service have begun an investigation.Anyone who has information that could assist police and the coroners service in this investigation is asked to contact Regina police at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
As coronavirus cases surge in California, county officials are issuing new COVID-19 restrictions, imposing curfews and closing museums and other businesses after the state broke a record with more than 7,400 coronavirus hospitalizations. (Dec. 1)
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Republicans attempting to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to take up their lawsuit, three days after it was thrown out by the highest court in the battleground state. In the request to the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the 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. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court on Saturday night threw out the lawsuit, including an order by a lower court judge blocking the certification of any uncertified races. 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 the state's courts, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law — most of them by Democrats — 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
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault warned Tuesday that the province's plan to allow gatherings for four days around Christmas is at risk as the number of hospitalizations in the province reached its highest point since June. "We're not going in the right direction," Legault said at a news conference in Quebec City. "If hospitalizations continue to increase, it will be difficult to take that risk." According to public health authorities, 719 people were in hospital due to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people were in intensive care, an increase of four. According to data from Quebec's national public health institute, the last time more than 700 people were hospitalized in Quebec due to the virus was June 15. With "the number of hospitalizations growing day after day," Legault said some hospitals are approaching their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients. More than 6,500 health-care workers in Quebec are currently on medical leave or can't work as a preventive measure, Legault said. Among those are 1,310 workers who have confirmed cases of COVID-19, the premier said, as well as 1,045 who are waiting for test results. Legault said the government will announce its final decision on whether gatherings will be allowed on Dec. 11, but he prepared people for disappointment. "I want to tell the truth to the population, right now the trend is not good," he said. "I hope that it will decrease in the next 10 days." Gatherings are currently banned in Quebec's "red zones," the highest level of the province's COVID-19 alert system, which now covers much of the province. Those rules have been in place in Montreal and Quebec City since Oct. 1. On Nov. 19, Legault proposed what he called a "moral contract" that would allow gatherings of up to 10 people from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27. A few days later, the so-called contract was updated to specify that only two gatherings would be allowed during that period. Quebec's public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said Tuesday there isn't a specific number of hospitalizations that would lead the government to cancel its Christmas plan, but rather it would depend on the overall impact on the health-care system. Quebec reported 1,177 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 28 additional deaths associated with the novel coronavirus. According to public health authorities, three of those deaths took place during the previous 24 hours with the rest occurring earlier. Legault said he's also worried about the situation in private seniors residences. According to public health authorities, there are 120 private seniors residences with at least one active case of COVID-19. Of those, 20 facilities have active cases in more than 25 per cent of their residents. Health Minister Christian Dube said that in Quebec City, some of those facilities, which don't normally have nurses on staff, are now seeking help from the public health system. That's forcing the government to send staff to residences and postpone procedures and appointments at hospitals, he said. "The system is already at its limit," Dube said. Quebec has been told by the federal government that it can expect to receive 700,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines by March 31, Legault said, but he added that the province still has questions about the federal government's plan to buy and distribute vaccines. The province has reported 143,548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7,084 deaths associated with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies like Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, experts said Tuesday.Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years.Sometimes labelled a "Netflix tax," the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it's only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef said it's likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals."Right now, the way in which they're delivering their services, they're not responsible for the collection," Micallef said."And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices."A regular monthly subscription for a streaming service that delivers video or music would be a simple calculation, with the tax rate applied to the purchase price.But Micallef said it is be more difficult to estimate how much additional tax individual consumers, or businesses, will pay for other types of digital purchases, he said.Something like gaming software might cost little or nothing itself, but offer the option for subsequent charges to add features that make the experience better."How many times? How many transactions? It adds up," Micallef said.Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. "I mean, this is really not a very substantial amount, when we're talking about corporate finances," said Winseck, who is a professor of journalism and communication.He said that the term "Netflix tax" has become highly politicized and is often used as "code" for levelling the playing field between U.S.-based digital media companies and traditional Canadian broadcasters."And if the idea is to create a level playing field between those two services, then that by all means that makes great sense," Winseck said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.David Paddon, The Canadian Press
Inoccupé depuis 10 ans, l’ancien centre communautaire Saint-Noël-Chabanel a finalement croulé sous le pic du démolisseur à la fin du mois de novembre. L’administration Demers est à réfléchir quant à la vocation qu’elle entend donner à ce site, alors qu’à 1,5 kilomètre à l’ouest s’amorcent les travaux préliminaires à la réalisation du centre de services de proximité de l’Est (CSPE). «Différents scénarios que l’on ne peut dévoiler pour l’instant sont à l’étude, précise le conseiller municipal de Saint-François et membre associé du comité exécutif, Éric Morasse, dans un communiqué publié le 1er décembre. D’ici à ce qu’une décision soit prise, le terrain en question situé à l’angle du boulevard Lévesque et de la montée du Moulin sera gazonné, mentionne-t-on. «On peut maintenant affirmer que Saint-François est en route vers un meilleur avenir», se réjouit M. Morasse, fier de constater que «le secteur est plus que jamais en effervescence». Par ailleurs, le 10 novembre dernier, le futur centre de services de proximité de l’Est a fait l’objet d’une présentation en ligne où les croquis du futur bâtiment de quelque 4400 mètres carrés ont été dévoilés. Ce centre, qui s’élèvera sur l’ancien site industriel que BASF Canada a occupé de 1969 à 1986, abritera des espaces communautaires, une salle de diffusion, le poste de police de quartier ainsi que la bibliothèque Marius-Barbeau qu’on y relocalisera en 2023. La mise en chantier est prévue en 2021. Plus de détails à venir.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
BUCKHORN — Banners have been placed on each of the eight lampposts on the Buckhorn lock bridge to help enhance tourism in the region as small businesses continue to struggle through the pandemic. As an initiative through the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), Trail Town has made the Trent-Severn Waterway Canada’s first waterway trail, says Leslie Clarkson, vice-chair of the RTO8 board and co-chair of the Buckhorn Trail Town committee. The trail currently connects a total of nine communities on the system, including Buckhorn, Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Hastings and Campbellford, Clarkson said. The concept was taken from the Great Allegheny Passage in the United States; a biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Buckhorn, Clarkson said. “Buckhorn is one of the busiest locks on the entire Trent Severn system, and our welcome centre is generally the busiest in the region,” she said. Buckhorn is one of the only towns of the nine communities that has municipal funding, so some of the funding was used for the banners, Clarkson said. “The main thing really is to get visitors to come to the area and to stay in the area and to stay in the region, and then to get them to want to come back and spend more time in the region,” said Clarkson. Trail Town is a great opportunity to help attract visitors to the area and to let them know that there’s a variety of different things that they can do in the region, said Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s coming at a time when the tourism industry is facing some challenges,” he said. “Hopefully we can position ourselves as we move forward, particularly in the spring and summer when, from a public health perspective, things will be much better to welcome visitors from across the province and across the world." With boaters travelling down the Trent Severn Waterway as well as cars crossing the bridge, the banners will be seen by many, Clarkson said. However, the banners are just the first step in the Trail Town initiative, Clarkson said. “As we move forward to year two and year three, we will continue to capitalize on the relationship with Parks Canada and look at those other gyms that a visitor would stumble across and develop those as well,” she said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
TORONTO — New England Revolution sophomore Tajon Buchanan and Canadian under-20 stalwart Jade Rose have been named the 2020 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year.The two were recognized for their performances and progress as part of Canada Soccer’s national teams program, albeit in a pandemic-affected 2020.For 2020, the women's award was drawn from players who took part in the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in February and March in the Dominican Republic. The men's award was drawn from under-23 players, given that no international youth competitions took place because of COVID-19.Buchanan was one of 20 players selected to represent Canada at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in March before the tournament was postponed.The 21-year-old from Brampton, Ont., made his mark during the MLS season, leading all Canadians by appearing in all 23 regular-season games. Buchanan scored his first MLS goal on Sept. 12 and his first MLS playoff goal Nov. 24, both against league-leading Philadelphia.He was one of only two Revolution players to appear in every regular season game for the Revolution, and has also started all three of New England’s playoff wins to date.Buchanan also started 10 of New England's last 12 regular-season games. While normally a forward, he has thrived at right back to meet team needs in the regular-season stretch drive.Rose, runner-up for the youth award in 2019, anchored the Canadian defence at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. A centre back, she was the only player to start in all five of Canada’s matches at the tournament.The 17-year-old from Markham, Ont., led Canada, playing 446 minutes through to the quarterfinals when the team was eliminated by the eventual champion Americans.A member of Canada Soccer’s youth program since 2017, Rose previously played at the CONCACAF U-15 and U-17 championships as well as the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.She took part in two senior camps in 2019 and featured in an exhibition training match against Japan. Previous youth award winners were Jayden Nelson and Olivia Smith (2019) and Derek Cornelius and Jordyn Huitema (2018). This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020The Canadian Press
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest drugmakers developing a vaccine against COVID-19, on Tuesday began the process of applying for emergency approval of its vaccine from the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada.In what’s called a rolling submission, J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutical business sent regulators in the EU and Canada early testing data from its experimental one-dose vaccine for preventing COVID-19. Rolling submissions are used to speed up evaluation of crucial drugs by giving regulators data as it becomes available, and while human testing is still ongoing, rather than submitting reams of data at once after testing ends.Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that the European Medicines Agency allowed the rolling submission mainly due to positive results from laboratory testing, which showed the vaccine triggered a robust immune response, creating antibodies that could fight the virus.The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company also talking with regulators in other countries around the world about starting rolling reviews with them.J&J is now in the final phase of testing its one-dose vaccine on human volunteers. Meanwhile, it recently began a second study looking at whether two vaccine doses work better than just one.The company has said it will provide its vaccine on a not-for-profit basis throughout the pandemic emergency.___THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:— U.S. panel to decide who should get the first COVID-19 shots— BioNTech and Pfizer ask European regulator for expedited approval of coronavirus vaccine— Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving— At tiny rural hospitals, exhausted medical workers t reat friends and family— Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton tests positive for coronavirus— A pop-up school has blossomed to teach reading, writing, math and art to Central American children living in a camp of asylum seekers stuck at America’s doorstep___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:MIAMI — Florida joined Texas and California in surpassing 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday as the governor has vowed not to adopt any further restrictions or impose closures like those enacted in the spring and summer.Hospitalizations have also climbed in the state with 4,261 COVID-19 patients, up from 4,139 tallied on Monday.The figure is still less than half what hospitals saw in late July, but it has steadily climbed since October after plateauing at about 2,000 hospitalizations daily for weeks following the summer surge of the virus.The state’s health department on Tuesday reported 82 new virus deaths, raising the toll in the third-most populous state to at least 18,942 since the beginning of the pandemic.While vaccines could arrive as early as this month, officials say it will be spring at the earliest before most people can receive the treatment.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday on Twitter that the priority for the allocation of the new vaccines should be to residents of long-term care facilities who are “by far the most likely demographic to die with COVID.”___SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco officials said Tuesday that they are considering more stringent restrictions on businesses and private gatherings as cases continue to spike.Mayor London Breed said the speed with which the city’s rate climbed showed “how fast (COVID-19) can move.”She acknowledged the sacrifices people have already made to tamp down two spikes in the spring and summer.“If I’m honest, as someone who basically lives alone, it’s been a tough year for me personally. ... I was so happy to tell everyone just a month ago that San Francisco has done such a good job with COVID that we were in the yellow” tier the state uses to measure case rates.The city’s health director, Dr. Grant Colfax, said new orders could come as soon as Wednesday that may further limit outdoor dining, reduce capacity at local businesses and gyms and potentially impose a quarantine order like the one Santa Clara County adopted.___DENVER -- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis joined the nation’s top infectious disease expert and urged people to wear masks and socially distance to prevent stay-at-home orders and overwhelmed hospitals as cases of the coronavirus surge during the holidays.Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that Colorado isn’t alone in seeing a spike in cases. He pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.He said the country will likely see “a surge upon a surge” of cases, based on the number of people who travelled for Thanksgiving. About one in 41 Colorado residents is believed to be contagious with the virus.___RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that North Carolina will soon receive nearly 85,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine from the federal government.Frontline healthcare workers at hospitals will be the first to get vaccinated, followed by other health workers and vulnerable populations, such as people with at least two comorbidities.Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, says North Carolina will receive a weekly allocation of vaccine doses from the federal government. Its first allotment of 84,800 doses could come as soon as Dec. 15.Cooper said every resident in the state will be able to receive a free vaccine, regardless of whether they have health insurance.___BATON ROUGE, La. — The number of COVID-19 patients in Louisiana’s hospitals continues to grow, intensifying worries that coronavirus cases from Thanksgiving holiday gatherings will balloon the number further and could overwhelm hospitals.Louisiana’s health department said 1,280 people in Louisiana were hospitalized Tuesday because of COVID-19. That’s an increase of more than 200 over the last week and more than double the 596 COVID-19 patients hospitalized a month ago.Though hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients remain below Louisiana’s peak of nearly 2,000 in April during the first of the state’s three coronavirus surges, they have been steadily and sharply increasing since mid-October.This prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards to toughen Louisiana’s coronavirus restrictions on businesses and gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving.His chief public health adviser Dr. Joe Kanter warned that the strong uptick in Louisiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations was happening at a rate “that our hospitals simply cannot stand” without running out of the staff needed to treat patients.___DENVER — Colorado’s Democrat-led Legislature is plowing ahead on special session legislation to provide limited state relief to businesses, students and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic.Democrats have overcome Republican objections to the scope of the aid and GOP attempts to limit the Democratic governor’s ability to decree public health orders.The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed bills to direct $5 million to help residents to pay utility bills; $50 million to assist landlords and tenants; and $100 million to the governor’s office for use in the public health emergency. The bills were immediately taken up by the House.___BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota lawmakers decided to require masks at the state capitol. for the three-day organizational session.The vote Tuesday is supported by legislative leaders but opposed by far-right members of the Republican-controlled Legislature.House Majority Leader Chet Pollert and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner told reporters Tuesday they support a mask mandate at Capitol legislative spaces to help protect lawmakers and the public.Lawmakers are expected to finalize the rules Thursday for the upcoming session it convenes Jan. 5.___BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A health official says Alabama hospitals treating a record number of COVID-19 patients are bracing for a “tidal wave” of additional cases linked to holiday gatherings.Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo of the University of Alabama at Birmingham says health care systems could be overwhelmed within two or three weeks. The Alabama Hospital Association says only 11% of the state’s intensive care beds were available Monday. The remaining spaces could be filled as more patients are admitted than leave hospitals.A statewide order requiring face masks in public expires Dec. 11, but it could be extended by Gov. Kay Ivey for additional weeks as in the past.Nearly 253,000 people have contracted the coronavirus and more than 3,600 have died in Alabama.___JOHNSTON, Iowa — Public health data in Iowa shows the coronavirus infection rate is slowing, but the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains high.Iowa’s positivity rate declined in the past two weeks but remains third in the nation at 41%, according to Johns Hopkins University.Some of the ease in case positivity could be from reduced testing around the Thanksgiving holiday. Hospital officials were bracing for another surge in positive tests and illness because of Thanksgiving family gatherings.Iowa posted 24 deaths and 1,906 new confirmed cases on Tuesday. Hospitals reported 1,172 patients with COVID-19, up 10 from the previous day.___HELENA, Mont. — A new counselling hotline is available to help Montana residents struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus crisis.Gov. Steve Bullock announced the new hotline will be available for at least the next nine months. It’s funded by a $1.6 million federal grant.The governor’s office says the new service is meant to aid health care workers, first responders, school officials, veterans, the elderly, Native Americans, and farmers and ranchers but is available to all residents.More than 1,000 new coronavirus cases were reported Tuesday in Montana, bringing the confirmed total to more than 63,000.___CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has returned to his office after he was diagnosed with the coronavirus in mid-November.He announced his return on Twitter. Sisolak, a Democrat, was isolating at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City.He announced on Nov. 13 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Three days later, he said he was only experiencing mild head congestion.___NEW YORK — An influential scientific panel is set to tackle one of the most pressing questions in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic: Who should get the first vaccines when they become available?The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet in an open-to-the-public, virtual meeting to vote on a proposal that would give priority to health care workers and patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The two groups together represent around 23 million Americans out of a population of about 330 million.About 2 million people live in nursing homes and other U.S. long-term care facilities. Those patients and the staff members who care for them have accounted for 6% of the nation’s coronavirus cases and a staggering 39% of the deaths, CDC officials say.Later this month, the Food and Drug Administration will consider approval of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.Experts say the vaccines will probably not become widely available in the U.S. until the spring. There’s been more than 13.6 million confirmed cases and nearly 270,000 deaths in the U.S., the highest tallies in the world.___PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron says France’s coronavirus vaccination program will likely start in early January on a focused population.A French public health watchdog recommended the first vaccines go to nursing home residents. No vaccines have been approved yet.Macron says the larger population is expected to get a potential vaccine between April and June.France has 2.2 million cases, fifth highest in the world, and more than 52,000 deaths.___PHOENIX — Arizona reported a record 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, which included delayed reporting because of the holiday weekend.The state’s coronavirus dashboard reported 10,322 coronavirus cases and 48 deaths. Arizona’s previous single-day high was 4,878 on July 1.Arizona’s latest seven-day rolling average of daily new cases was 3,499 on Monday.Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 continued to increase, reaching 2,594 on Monday, with 597 patients in intensive care unit beds.___TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada won’t lift restrictions at the U.S.--Canada border until the coronavirus is significantly under control throughout the world.Canada has limited border crossings to essential travel since March. Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that Canada is fortunate that trade in essential goods like agriculture products and pharmaceuticals is still flowing back and forth.Trudeau says it’s critical that people not travel. He says while President-elect Joe Biden has an “obvious” different approach on the pandemic than President Donald Trump, the situation in the U.S. remains serious. The United States leads the world with 13.6 million coronavirus cases and nearly 270,000 deaths.About 400,000 people crossed the world’s longest international border each day before the pandemic closed it to nonessential travel nine months ago.___BERLIN — Germany’s health minister toured a new vaccination centre in Duesseldorf on Tuesday, preparing for possible mass vaccinations against the coronavirus in the coming weeks.Vaccinations in Germany will be free, voluntary and people will receive letters about when it’s their turn for the shot, Health Minister Jens Spahn says.The first shots will be given either in vaccination centres around the country or by mobile medical teams who will go to nursing homes to vaccinate the most vulnerable people. Later next year, doctors will vaccinate people at their local practices, the health minister says.Spahn expects Germany to receive five to eight million doses of vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech as well as by Moderna.There will be 53 centres opened in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with 18 million people, where Duesseldorf is based. In Berlin, home to 3.6 million people, six centres are being prepared.In Germany, there were 13,604 confirmed cases and 388 deaths in the last 24 hours.___PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island has opened two field hospitals with a combined 900 beds to deal with an expected increase of COVID-19 patients.Care New England opened a field hospital with more than 300 beds in Cranston on Monday, the same day the state sent an emergency alert saying conventional hospitals had reached their coronavirus capacity.A facility with nearly 600 beds opened Tuesday at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. It is run by Lifespan, the state’s largest hospital group.There were 365 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals on Saturday, according to the state Department of Health. That’s down from a high of 381 on Nov. 23.___ISLAMABAD — A top Pakistani health official says Islamabad plans to procure a COVID-19 vaccine in the first quarter of next year.The announcement Tuesday by Faisal Sultan came hours after Pakistan registered 67 more deaths and 2,458 new coronavirus cases.Pakistan has allocated $150 million to acquire vaccine, which first will be administered to frontline health workers and elderly people.The government has imposed a partial lockdown in many areas across Pakistan. Authorities have asked people to adhere to social distancing rules to avoid stricter measures.Pakistan’s death toll stands at 8,091 and more than 400,000 confirmed cases.deaths.The Associated Press