The Democrats are looking to two run-off votes in Georgia to break the Republican domination of the U.S. Senate. If they're successful in January, the chamber would be evenly matched, leaving the vice-president in the role of tie breaker.
The Democrats are looking to two run-off votes in Georgia to break the Republican domination of the U.S. Senate. If they're successful in January, the chamber would be evenly matched, leaving the vice-president in the role of tie breaker.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The year's most played artist on Spotify? Globally speaking: Bad Bunny.The Puerto Rican superstar is the music platform’s most-streamed artist of the year with 8.3 billion streams globally. The Latin Grammy winner and hitmaker , who released a new album last week, leads a top five list that also includes Drake, J Balvin, Juice WRLD and The Weeknd.With more than 3.3 billion streams, Bad Bunny’s sophomore solo album “YHLQMDLG” tops Spotify’s list of most-streamed albums globally. The Weeknd’s “After Hours,” Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” Harry Styles’ “Fine Line” and Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” round of the top five.The Weeknd’s album is the only one in the top five to earn no Grammy nominations. The album’s single, “Blinding Lights,” is Spotify’s most-streamed song of the year with 1.6 million streams globally.“Dance Monkey” by Australian singer Tones and I is the second most-streamed song of the year, while Roddy Ricch’s “The Box,” SAINt JHN’s “Roses – Imanbek Remix” and Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” came in third, fourth and fifth, respectively.In the U.S., late rapper Juice WRLD was the most-streamed artist on Spotify. His album “Legends Never Die” was the platform’s most-streamed album in the U.S., while Ricch’s “The Box” was the country's most-streamed song.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
BEIJING — Asian stocks rose Tuesday after Chinese manufacturing improved, with investors looking ahead to U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s appearance before legislators.Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed down 0.5% overnight but ended November up 10.8% for its biggest monthly gain since April.Investors are increasingly optimistic about the expected development of a coronavirus vaccine despite caution about the short-term economic impact of rising virus cases in the United States and Europe.The future “seems incredibly bright and bullish,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report.The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.2% to 3,433.77 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 1.5% to 28.824.46. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.8% to 26,569.69.The Kospi in Seoul advanced 1.3% to 2,625.22 and the S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney was 1.4% higher at 6,608.70. New Zealand declined while Southeast Asian markets rose.An index of Chinese manufacturing released by a business magazine, Caixin, hit a decade high in November as the country’s recovery from the pandemic gained strength. A separate survey Monday by the government statistics agency showed activity at a three-year high.Strength in the Chinese economy is helping offset unease about rising virus cases in the United States and Europe and possible renewed controls on business and travel.In Washington, Powell said in a statement Monday that economic prospects are “extraordinarily uncertain” after the pace of improvement moderated. He said a full recovery is unlikely until the public is confident the disease is under control.Powell was due to appear Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The panel oversees the $2 trillion aid package approved by Congress in March.The S&P 500 declined to 3,621.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.9% to 29,638.64. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1% to 12,198.74.The slide followed reports showing the pandemic dragging down U.S. economic activity in the near future. But investors appear to be looking beyond that.Investors are encouraged by the end of uncertainty about the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. They are reassured Washington will be under divided control, reducing the chances of big changes in taxes or regulation.Markets also have been heartened by announcements from pharmaceutical companies of advances in vaccine development.One developer, Moderna, said Monday it is ready to apply for emergency approval in the United States and Britain. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are asking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 36 cents to $44.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 19 cents to $45.34 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, sank 32 cents to $47.56 per barrel in London. It dropped 59 cents from the previous session to $47.59.The dollar rose to 104.43 yen from Monday’s 104.34 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1960 from $1.1946.Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
Imperial Oil says it will write down between $900 million and $1.2 billion this quarter as it no longer plans to develop "a significant portion" of its unconventional assets in Alberta. The Calgary-based company said the assets are non-producing and undeveloped, so Imperial doesn't expect any future cash expenditures related to the impairment charge. The impairment doesn't include the high-value, liquids-rich portion of the company's unconventional asset portfolio which it said it still plans to develop. "This decision is consistent with Imperial's strategy of focusing its upstream resources and efforts on its key oilsands assets as well as on only the most attractive portions of its unconventional portfolio. As such, the decision will not impact previously provided production estimates," the company said in a Monday release. Global demand for oil plummeted earlier this year as the pandemic struck. Prices have yet to truly bounce back.Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has predicted that global demand will return more slowly next year than previously thought, but that access to a vaccine could bring less uncertainty and economic growth. That and other outlooks have seen some companies scale back development plans. Exxon Mobil, which has a majority stake in Imperial, also announced an impairment Monday — its biggest ever — saying it would write down the value of natural gas properties by $17 billion to $20 billion US, as well as slash project spending next year to its lowest level in 15 years.Last week, Imperial said it would lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees as part of a cost-cutting initiative. It has also reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year.CBC News has reached out to Alberta's energy minister for comment.
HANOI, Vietnam -- Vietnamese authorities are conducting intensive contact tracing after the country’s first confirmed local transmission of the coronavirus in 89 days. State media said Tuesday that a 32-year-old man in Ho Chi Minh City tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday after visiting a flight attendant who was undergoing self-quarantine at his home following his return from Japan two weeks ago. The flight attendant tested positive on Saturday, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said. Health authorities ordered 137 people who had been in close contact with the man to stay in a central quarantine facility and shut down an English centre where the man works as a teacher, the newspaper said. The new case ended Vietnam’s streak of 89 days without any known local transmission of the virus. Earlier, it went 99 days without local transmissions until a cluster of cases broke out at a hospital in Da Nang in central Vietnam in July. Vietnam’s borders remain closed in an attempt to keep out the virus. Only limited international flights are operating to repatriate Vietnamese nationals and transport foreign diplomats and experts. The country has reported 1,347 coronavirus cases, including 35 deaths. Nearly half of the confirmed cases were imported, according to the Health Ministry. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — Moderna asking US, European regulators to OK its virus shots — Fauci: US may see ‘surge upon surge’ of virus in coming weeks after Thanksgiving travel — U.K. stocks up on vaccines, hopes to start virus shots within days — Virus forces businesses to adapt or close down on the streets of London — New York City to reopen its schools to in-person learning, tests students more for COVID-19 ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: MANILA, Philippines — Coronavirus quarantine restrictions will remain imposed in the Philippine capital during the Christmas season this month and officials said they will ban big Christmas parties in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation to prevent new infection spikes. President Rodrigo Duterte said in televised remarks late Monday that aside from Metropolitan Manila, the bustling capital region of more than 12 million, the “general community quarantine” would be imposed in seven other cities and provinces in December. The restrictions ban large public gatherings, actual school classes and entertainment businesses but allow shopping malls, restaurants and essential shops, including barber shops, to operate with required safeguards, including the wearing of face masks and shields and social distancing. Duterte lamented that many still defy quarantine restrictions like the wearing of face masks and warned of a possible resurgence of infections like in some Western countries. “In the Philippines, it’s hard-headedness," Duterte said. The Philippines has reported more than 431,600 confirmed coronavirus infections, the second-highest in Southeast Asia, with at least 8,392 deaths. ___ SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico is moving to a county-by-county system for responding to COVID-19 that allows local communities to shed some restrictions on mass gatherings, restaurant dining, attendance at religious services and some nonessential businesses — if the virus retreats. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Monday that the colour-coded system aims to empower communities and incentivize behaviour and tactics that reduce virus transmission. At this point, only one of New Mexico’s 33 counties — Los Alamos County — would be eligible to ease tight restrictions on gatherings and resume indoor dining at restaurants. The new system will take effect Wednesday. Over the past week, one person in every 155 people in the state was diagnosed with COVID-19. The state Republican Party said the governor was stoking false hope that restrictions may be lifted. ___ UNITED NATIONS -- The head of the world’s largest humanitarian network is urging governments and institutions to combat “fake news” about COVID-19 vaccines which has become “a second pandemic” and start building trust in communities around the world about the critical importance of vaccinating people. Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a virtual briefing to the U.N. Correspondents Association on Monday that “to beat this pandemic, we also have to defeat the parallel pandemic of distrust.” He said there is “a growing hesitancy about vaccines in general, and about a COVID vaccine in particular” around the world, pointing to a recent Johns Hopkins University study in 67 countries that found vaccine acceptance declined significantly in most countries from July to October this year. In a quarter of countries, Rocca said, the study found that the acceptance rate for a vaccine against the coronavirus was near or below 50 per cent, with Japan dropping from 70 per cent to 50 per cent acceptance, and France dropping from 51 per cent to 38 per cent acceptance. He stressed that the lack of trust “is by no means a Western phenomenon,” citing the federation’s research in recent months in eight African countries -- Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya -- which showed a steady decline in the perceptions of the risk of COVID-19 infection. A growing number of people indicated the virus doesn’t affect young people or Africans, that the disease doesn’t exist now but did exist and the pandemic has ended, he said. “In several African countries, we have seen a common skepticism towards vaccines in general, with a common belief being that foreigners use Africa as a medical ‘testing ground.’” ___ MIAMI — The new mayor of Florida’s most populous county tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, officials said. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the test result on Twitter. She said her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, was exposed to COVID-19 by a patient last Wednesday. He has also tested positive. “Rob and I are quarantining at home,” Levine Cava wrote. “We both remain in good spirits and have only mild symptoms.” Spokeswoman Rachel Johnson told the Miami Herald that Levine Cava has not been in contact with county employees since Wednesday and plans to participate in Tuesday’s county commission meeting by phone. Levine Cava, 65, assumed office Nov. 17 after being elected earlier in the month. The Democrat had previously served as a county commissioner since 2014. Levine Cava’s predecessor, Congressman-elect Carlos Gimenez, tested positive for coronavirus last week. The Republican is set to assume his new office Jan. 3. —- SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California could see a tripling of hospitalizations by Christmas and is considering stay-home orders for areas with the highest case rates as it tries to head off concerns that severe coronavirus cases could overwhelm intensive care beds, officials said Monday. “The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action.” Hospitalizations have increased 89% over the past 14 days and nearly 7,800 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Monday. About 12% of Californians testing positive are likely to need hospital care within the next two to three weeks. The biggest concern is intensive care cases, which have increased 67% in the past two weeks. If that continues, it would push ICU beds to 112% of capacity by mid-December. That statistic is likely to drive state-mandated stay-at-home orders in 51 of California’s 58 counties that already are seeing the most restrictions on business activities, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health and human services. ___ ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia has tested positive for COVID-19. That makes him the third Georgia congressman to contract the virus. Scott’s chief of staff Jason Lawrence confirmed the positive test result on Monday. Scott represents Georgia’s 8th District, which stretches through the interior of south Georgia. The chief of staff’s statement did not say if Scott was experiencing any symptoms but added he was heeding his doctor’s advice. All three Georgia congressman who’ve tested positive for the virus have been Republicans. Rep. Rick Allen announced a positive test result last week. Rep. Drew Ferguson tested positive in October. ___ MINNEAPOLIS — Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that his administration plans to release details next week on when Minnesota will start getting its first doses of coronavirus vaccines and who will be the first to get them. Walz made the comments in a briefing for reporters following a conference call with several other governors, Vice-President Mike Pence; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious-diseases expert; and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on the status of the country’s plans for distributing the vaccines. The Democratic governor said he expects to hold “a very extensive briefing” for reporters and the public, possibly next Monday or Tuesday, on where Minnesota stands in the process. Details are still being worked out on the federal level about who gets priority — such as senior citizens and health care workers — and what the distribution plan will look like, he said. The governor has been critical of the Trump administration for its lack of co-ordinated federal plans for fighting the pandemic, which has put much of the onus on the states. But he had praise for the federal vaccine drive. “I believe the work around the vaccine and the plans around distribution have been incredibly well done,” Walz said. The discussion with the governors involved distributing the first doses coming from Pfizer and later Moderna. ___ SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — New cases of coronavirus illness in Illinois dropped Monday for the third day in a row, but officials fear the fallout from Thanksgiving travel and family gatherings will push the numbers back up. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said there will be no change in current restrictions on social interaction for several weeks. They ban indoor food service, limit retail-store capacity and cap gatherings at 10 or fewer. “We are still very much in a precarious place ...,” Pritzker said. “I say this as we come off of a Thanksgiving holiday when many people may have dropped their guard and gathered with people from outside of their own households. The hope now is that we can fend off the surge in the next few weeks to get to a healthier holiday time in the latter half of December.” November’s end marked a period as ghastly as April or May, when the virus first crawled through the state. Total cases rose 77% to 726,304. Deaths stood at 12,278 -- 26% higher than at the beginning of the month. ___ HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s two-month-old coronavirus exposure notification app can now be used by mobile phone users as young as 13 as health officials work to stop the virus’ spread in schools around the state, officials said Monday. The app, named COVID AlertPa, had previously been limited to people 18 and over. “By expanding the age range, middle- and high-school students will be able to add their phones to the fight and help in contact tracing that occurs in their schools if a positive case is identified,” state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said at a virtual news conference. A parent or legal guardian must approve the minor’s use of the app, she said. So far, more than 627,000 mobile phone users have downloaded it, according to the state. Some school districts continue to conduct in-person instruction, even though each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties — except for northwestern Pennsylvania’s rural Cameron County, with fewer than 5,000 residents — has passed the threshold of new cases where the state Department of Education recommended fully remote instruction. ___ TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is vowing to spend tens of billions more dollars to help the country recover from the pandemic. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the country is facing its most severe challenge since the second World War, the worst economic shock since the Great Depression and the worse health crisis since the Spanish flu over a century ago. The cost to date has the federal deficit reaching a record $381.6 billion Canadian (US$294 billion) this year, but the government says it could close in on $400 billion Canadian (US$308 billion) if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is on lockdown. The government’s fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families next year. The government is proposing $25 billion Canadian (US$19 billion) in new spending. ___ JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi is reporting a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations for a single day. The state Department of Health said Monday that 1,008 people were hospitalized with the virus Sunday, marking the first time the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the state has topped 1,000. Numbers have risen steadily since Nov. 10, when 669 virus hospitalizations were reported. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Monday on Twitter that the record comes ahead of an “anticipated Thanksgiving acceleration” in coronavirus cases. “This is truly serious,” he wrote. “Protect yourselves and your family now. We all know how.” The state Health Department said Monday that Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 153,250 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,807 deaths from COVID-19 as of Sunday evening. That’s an increase of 1,485 cases and one death from the day before. The death occurred Saturday and was identified through a death certificate. ___ KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Hospital and nursing officials fear that if COVID-19 cases continue unchecked there won’t be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds in the near future in the Kansas City metro area. Kansas health officials on Monday added 4,425 cases to the state’s pandemic tally since Friday, bringing the total to 157,446. Data showed that Kansas averaged 2,198 new confirmed and probable coronavirus a day for the seven days ending Monday. That is below the record average of 2,766 cases. The number of COVID-19 related deaths also rose by 31 to 1,560. It is too soon to see how Thanksgiving gatherings have impacted coronavirus numbers, but medical providers expect to see another rise in hospitalizations in 10 to 14 days once people begin showing symptoms. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported on Monday 87 new hospitalizations, bringing the total of hospitalizations to 5,105 since the start of the pandemic. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 227 coronavirus patients were in ICU units, with 39% of ICU capacity remaining in Kansas. ___ MIAMI — Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Monday that schools will be required to remain open despite the rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, arguing lockdowns and closures have not worked. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the spread of the virus among children “is not really very big at all” and is now advising to get children back in the classrooms. The Republican governor said schools will continue to offer online classes for families who have chosen not to physically return, but school districts will require students who have fallen behind online to return to in-person instruction. Florida has seen cases rise again, now totalling more than 990,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began earlier this year. More than 18,700 people have died with COVID-19 since March. The Associated Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden has had his first look as president-elect at the President's Daily Brief, a top secret summary of U.S. intelligence and world events — a document former first lady Michelle Obama has called “The Death, Destruction, and Horrible Things Book." Biden has already had eyes on different iterations of the so-called PDB, which is tailored to the way each president likes to absorb information. More than a decade ago, Biden read President George W. Bush's PDB during Biden's transition into the vice presidency. After that, he read President Barack Obama's PDB for eight years. Beginning Monday, after a four-year break, he's reading President Donald Trump's PDB. “The briefers almost certainly will be asking Biden what he prefers in terms of format and style,” said David Priess, author of “The President’s Book of Secrets,” a history of the PDB. “At a minimum, they’re seeing what seems to resonate most with him so that when they make the book his book, they can tailor it to him.” Obama’s PDB was a 10- to 15-page document tucked in a leather binder, which he found waiting for him on the breakfast table. Later in his presidency, he liked reading the ultra-secret intelligence brief on a secured iPad. “Michelle called it “The Death, Destruction, and Horrible Things Book,” Obama wrote in his recently released book, ”A Promised Land." “On a given day, I might read about terrorist cells in Somalia or unrest in Iraq or the fact that the Chinese or Russians were developing new weapons systems," Obama wrote. "Nearly always, there was mention of potential terrorist plots, no matter how vague, thinly sourced, or unactionable — a form of due diligence on the part of the intelligence community, meant to avoid the kind of second-guessing that had transpired after 9-11.” From now until Inauguration Day, Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will be reading the PDB crafted for Trump, who had delayed giving Biden and Harris access to it as he contests the outcome of the election. Trump, who prefers absorbing information in visual ways, likes short texts and graphics. “Trump himself said during his campaign and during the transition in 2016 that he did not like reading long documents — that he preferred bullet points,” said Priess, who has not seen any of Trump's PDBs. “It probably has charts, tables, graphs — things like that. Not the parody that people make that it's like a cartoon book ... but something that is more visual. But we don't know for sure.” The written brief, which Trump doesn't always read, often is followed by a verbal briefing with an intelligence official, although those oral briefings stopped at least for a time in October. Priess said he didn't know why they stopped or if they had resumed, but that they stopped at a time when Trump was spending much of his time on the campaign trail. Before Trump authorized Biden to get the PDB as president-elect, Biden was given some intelligence background briefings as a candidate. But they were more general and did not include the nation's top secrets. The other thing that a president-elect gets is a briefing "on CIA’s covert actions,” former acting CIA director Mike Morell said at an event hosted by the Center for Presidential Transition based in Washington. "It’s important for the president-elect to get this briefing ... because on Inauguration Day, these covert actions will become the new president’s.” In 1961, President John F. Kennedy read his first brief while sitting on the diving board of a swimming pool at his retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. President Lyndon Johnson liked to read his brief in the afternoon. President Richard Nixon relied on his national security adviser Henry Kissinger to peruse the briefs and tell him what he thought the president should know. As the laborious recount of ballots dragged on in 2000, President Bill Clinton decided that then-Gov. George W. Bush should get access to his PDB just in case he was the winner. Bush became was the first incoming president to read it before he was president-elect. Biden is getting the PDB later than usual because of Trump's ongoing protest of the election results. Trump approved the briefings for Biden last Tuesday, a day after his administration approved the formal transition process to his successor. When Biden walks into the Oval Office, he'll be inheriting nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, changing political dynamics in the Middle East, the winding down of America’s presence in Afghanistan and rising competition from China. Biden had access to the PDB in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris received it in a secure room at the Commerce Department, where the presidential transition offices are located. Even Biden, who has decades of experience in foreign policy, could be the victim of an old political adage that no matter how informed he thinks he is, he could learn otherwise from the PDB. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden wrote in his book that revelations and new insight found in the PDB are known as “aw s---” moments. As in: “Aw s---," he wrote, "wish we hadn’t said that during that campaign stop in Buffalo.” ___ Riechmann reported from Washington. Deb Riechmann And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.There are 378,139 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 378,139 confirmed cases (66,037 active, 299,972 resolved, 12,130 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,103 new cases Monday from 63,070 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 40,584 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,798.There were 66 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 609 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.27 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,475,642 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 338 confirmed cases (36 active, 298 resolved, four deaths).There was one new case Monday from 247 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.40 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 17 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 62,520 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Monday from 846 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 59,923 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,305 confirmed cases (138 active, 1,102 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 15 new cases Monday from 2,564 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.59 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 115 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 143,754 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 501 confirmed cases (120 active, 374 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Monday from 1,079 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 56 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 100,485 tests completed._ Quebec: 142,371 confirmed cases (12,138 active, 123,177 resolved, 7,056 deaths).There were 1,333 new cases Monday from 8,655 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,165 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,309.There were 23 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 214 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 31. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,186,076 tests completed._ Ontario: 116,492 confirmed cases (14,197 active, 98,639 resolved, 3,656 deaths).There were 1,746 new cases Monday from 38,117 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,991 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,570.There were eight new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 151 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,069,726 tests completed._ Manitoba: 16,825 confirmed cases (9,260 active, 7,253 resolved, 312 deaths).There were 342 new cases Monday from 9,003 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,738 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 391.There were 11 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 76 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.79 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 347,108 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 8,564 confirmed cases (3,879 active, 4,638 resolved, 47 deaths).There were 325 new cases Monday from 2,451 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,856 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 265.There were two new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is four per 100,000 people. There have been 260,818 tests completed._ Alberta: 58,177 confirmed cases (16,454 active, 41,182 resolved, 541 deaths).There were 1,733 new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,756 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,394.There were eight new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,445,984 tests completed._ British Columbia: 33,238 confirmed cases (9,686 active, 23,111 resolved, 441 deaths).There were 596 new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,831 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 833.There were 14 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 93 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.26 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 8.7 per 100,000 people. There have been 783,409 tests completed._ Yukon: 47 confirmed cases (17 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There were two new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,166 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Monday from 53 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,355 tests completed._ Nunavut: 181 confirmed cases (108 active, 73 resolved, zero deaths).There were four new cases Monday from 55 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,242 tests completed.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
Edna Lenora Perry broke stained-glass ceilings. And in doing so, she sunk a church floor — at least, that’s what attendees at Edna’s ordination ceremony whispered to one another when the wood flooring gave way at St. John’s Cathedral before she became one of the first female Anglican priests in the country. “There was some real resentment to having a woman involved,” says Sheldon Perry, Edna’s middle son, who recalls the moment catastrophe forced 300 people to evacuate the Winnipeg place of worship on March 24, 1981. It was, in fact, a combination of heavy rain, basement construction and high capacity that resulted in pews shifting on temporary floorboards sagging more than a half-metre. Edna hardly seemed fazed; she, two male deacons and their supporters simply drove to another church to complete the ceremony. The people who were close to her will say this was no outlier achievement in Edna’s 96 years. When she set her mind to something, she made it happen — sexism be damned. ● ● ● In Edna’s obituary, published shortly after she died of old age at Middlechurch Home earlier this year, her life is succinctly described as “productive.” That is an understatement. She raised three sons, John, Sheldon and Keith Perry, juggled careers as an educator and priest, and maintained an endless list of volunteer activities that earned her the honour of having a residential street in Transcona named after her: Edna Perry Way. She even made time to publish an autobiography, with help from her youngest son. As written in the introduction of A Prairie Girl’s Life: The Story of The Reverend Edna Lenora Perry, “Edna didn’t have to wait until the Dirty ’30s for life to get hard; she was born to it.” On June 30, 1923, she came into the world and met older siblings Frank, Ethel, Theo and May. Her parents, George Frank and Ethel Jenny Martens moved from The Pas to the Manitoba capital for a brief period, when Edna was born, before accepting a farmland subsidy from the province that took them to Marchand. A tight family budget meant she spent much of her childhood making up games. On the farm, she and her sister Mary would drape a large blanket over both sides of their sturdy resident plough horse and play “house” underneath the animal. Despite the early hardships, Edna looked back on those memories fondly when she reflected on her life, recalls Keith, her youngest son and the co-writer of the book about her life story. Edna and her youngest child undertook what would become an 11-year-project to compile A Prairie Girl’s Life after the love of her life, Jack Perry died in 2002. “She needed something to fill the void,” Keith says. Edna and Jack met at a dinner and dance organized for English trainees of the Royal Air Force in Carberry. She was set up with another airman, but as soon as the duo locked eyes, she knew Jack was “the one.” She promptly asked his date if they could swap seats. In 1944, Jack was recalled to the U.K. for the final big push of the Second World War. But as always, Edna was determined and found a way to England by posing as a war correspondent and hopping on a boat. A talented pianist, she played wartime songs long after the battle ended. She had married Jack in 1945 in his hometown of Devon, England, and they returned to the Prairies so Jack would have better job prospects. “One of her favourite expressions was, ‘Let’s have a party.’ She just liked getting together and playing music. She played (piano) by ear, so when she lost her sight, that didn’t affect her playing,” says eldest son John. Edna played piano during the square dance nights she organized at Transcona East End Community Centre. While raising three sons, Edna resumed her career as a schoolteacher and climbed the ranks to become a principal. Before she met Jack, she was working in a one-room schoolhouse with a limited teaching permit she received during the war. Edna was passionate about science and outdoor education, which motivated her to organize camping trips and found the Manitoba Outdoor Education Association. She also lobbied for the creation of kindergarten and eyesight clinics in the Springfield-Transcona School Division. John recalls his mother being so successful in getting students involved in science fairs that the local association of science teachers took notice. The board asked “E.L. Perry” to join the group, but rescinded the offer once they learned she was a woman. “She was truly a woman ahead of her time who didn’t let her gender define her life or ambitions,” says Shelley Hart, a family friend. Earning two degrees — in education and theology — while raising her family and taking in friends who were in need of a loving home were just some of her glass-ceiling-shattering accomplishments, Hart says. Edna was an Anglican minister at numerous cathedrals, in northeast Winnipeg and in Teulon. She was also chaplain of the Transcona Legion and the Mothers’ Union. When she suddenly lost her sight in 1989, she conducted funerals and weddings by memory. Jack read the Bible verses aloud and she taped them, so she could replay them repeatedly and write sermons from the audio. Rev. Brian Ford says Edna was always open-minded and “on the positive side” of history in the Anglican Church. She welcomed the ordination of women and gay men as priests when there was still debate about the subject, as well as allowing children to take communion without having been confirmed, Ford says. In the seven years before Edna died, Ford visited her twice every week at Middlechurch Home. He’d take a Thermos of tea and if Edna was lucky, homemade cookies from his wife. It was during these visits the friends would read together and reflect on Edna’s “productive” life — from her early days on the farm to being a war bride and beyond. Edna is survived by her three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. For Keith, her youngest child, “matriarch” is the best word to describe his mother and her legacy.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Is shopping in stores safe during the pandemic? There are ways to reduce risk, but health experts advise avoiding it when possible. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says holiday shopping in crowded stores is a “higher risk” activity and that people should limit any in-person shopping, including at supermarkets. Instead, the agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to your car. If you need to enter a store, go during off hours when there will likely be fewer people. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others. Try to spend as little time inside the store as possible, says Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University. “You just want to go in and out,” he says. “Get your shopping done and move on.” Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you leave, and then wash your hands with soap and water when you get home. Retailers have been doing all kinds of things to make shoppers feel safe, but they don't eliminate the risk. Some check shoppers' temperatures at the entrance, for example, but an infected person may not have a fever and can still spread the virus. The plastic barriers between customers and cashiers also might not block all droplets from an infected person, Weisfuse says. If the air in a store feels stuffy, he says that’s a sign of poor ventilation, and you should leave. ___ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: What does emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine mean? Is it safe to stay in hotels during the pandemic? Is it safe yet to fly during the pandemic? The Associated Press
Russia is trying to import foreign-made drugs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic due to a shortage of products at home, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Tuesday, as authorities reported a record 569 new daily deaths from the coronavirus. Russia has several vaccines against the virus in the works and produces some drugs domestically, including Coronavir and Avifavir, both of which are based on favipiravir, which was developed in Japan and is widely used there as the basis for treatment. During a meeting with senior government officials on Tuesday, Murashko said there was a problem with the supply of favipiravir in some regions.
Climate change is often relegated to simply being an environmental issue, instead of a problem that impacts every aspect of our lives, from economies to energy systems, to what food we eat — even national security. This week, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was tapped by President-elect Joe Biden to serve in his administration in a newly-minted position: climate envoy, which will be a part of the administration’s national security team. “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry said in a Twitter statement Monday. There are countless moral reasons to care about the effects of climate change and the especially devastating consequences coming first for vulnerable populations and developing nations. But if that isn’t enough of a motivator to prioritize action on climate change, there is also the argument that climate change will destabilize the world as we know it and become a national security threat to the people of North America. This isn’t a doomsday scenario from the fringes; it is the information being put forward by the U.S. and Canadian Armed Forces — and has been for two decades. In 2018, Col. Denis Boucher, then the director of capability integration for the Canadian Armed Forces, spoke at a symposium hosted by the Centre for National Security Studies. In his presentation, Boucher outlined how climate change will completely alter the security landscape going forward; everything from a more accessible Arctic as sea ice continues to melt, to projections that 40 per cent of the world will be facing water shortages by 2045. “Some oil-producing nations may become economically impoverished and could become instability hotspots,” the presentation reads. The Canadian Armed Forces declined this week to provide anyone to be interviewed on this topic. Boucher’s presentation emphasized the term most used by security officials when discussing climate change: threat multiplier. The phrase is used to demonstrate that many of the factors used to determine security threats are themselves affected by climate change — food security, poverty, not to mention extreme weather events. The idea being that magnifying these factors can have destabilizing effects. The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, was principally sparked by political and economic factors, but it is also one of the most cited recent instances where environmental factors exacerbated an already precarious situation. A drought that had begun in 2006 left the people of the country more vulnerable and more desperate as political tensions rose. In an article published by the NATO Association of Canada, the drought is identified as an often-overlooked factor in the conflict. “The drought exacerbated the already-present water crisis and food insecurity happening in the country, leaving Syria even more vulnerable. Due to the lack of proper governance and infrastructure, Syria’s government was not prepared — or perhaps not willing — to deal with the climate-related crisis and people were forced to flee,” the article states. The Syrian civil war was consequently one of the biggest factors leading to Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015 that sparked intense political standoffs across the continent and a reckoning for European leaders in how to deal with the influx of people. The World Bank has projected that within the South Asian, Latin American and sub-Saharan African regions alone, there will be 143 million people displaced by the impacts of climate change by 2050. “In terms of the ‘threat multiplier’ language, what’s implicit in that is that the thing being threatened is the United States or Canada. And what drops out of that kind of a frame — especially when the threat is something like migration — is you don’t have as much room then to humanize and empathize and understand the insecurities that those migrants are experiencing. What’s driving them to be moving in the first place,” said Will Greaves, assistant professor of international relations at the University of Victoria. Greaves researches the intersection of security studies and climate change and he isn’t terribly optimistic about a stable future as the world warms further. “So if this was just a smaller taste, and we responded by building walls and barricading people outside of our countries, and criminalizing them, and so on. I don’t see a lot of reason why we would expect a national security response to worsening climate change, and worse climate impacts, to not resemble, in general terms, what we’ve already seen,” Greaves said. North America, of course, has a different set of circumstance from Europe, with more isolation from the problems of other countries. However, Canada (and the U.S. to a lesser extent) do face another climate-sparked security concern: the threat of open waters in the Arctic. Northern parts of Canada have long been protected by an ice wall, so to speak. Sea ice is melting at unprecedented rates and completely ice-free summers could be a possibility as soon as 2035. Conventionally, if ever talked about, the possible threat on Canada’s northern border is that another country, often Russia, could encroach on sovereign waters and land. But a much more probable issue is one of being unable to address worst-case scenario situations that arise simply by nature of there being more shipping traffic in the Northwest Passage, Greaves said. “I would suggest that because of the very limited abilities that the Canadian state has to respond to a major marine disaster, or a nautical accident or something like that, that even good ships doing normal business things should be viewed as very problematic as we would not be able to effectively respond,” he said. This summer, the Royal Canadian Navy received the first of six expected ships that will be used explicitly to patrol the Canadian Arctic. The HMCS Harry DeWolf is the first step towards expanding surveillance and defence activities across the country’s northern coastline. At a conference in Ottawa in March, Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance focused more on the conventional security threats that exist as the Arctic opens. “What I am increasingly concerned about is the Arctic as an avenue of approach. The Canadian Armed Forces are mandated to deter and defeat threats to North America that would travel through the Arctic waters and airspace in the years to come,” Vance said. “This requires strengthening interagency and multinational partnerships, increasing surveillance and military capabilities, and improving our ability to base, project, and sustain forces in the North. It requires new approaches to sovereignty assurance that accounts for the very real pan-domain nature of conflict.” However, Canada’s troops are often tied up, having experienced a 1,000 per cent increase in the number of deployments to help in the case of natural disasters in just four years, according to CAF’s data. “Our force structure right now, I would say, is probably too small to be able to deal with all of the tasks,” Vance told CBC in 2019. Greaves said it is fine if Canada wants to use its military for purposes like disaster response, but that is a decision to be made, and it will mean that other priorities are left by the wayside as Canada’s military is not big enough to do all things. “I find that to be a really interesting tension,” Greaves said. “It raises these really fundamental questions about what is the purpose of the Canadian Armed Forces? What are the tasks that they’ll be assigned? And will they be able to do all of those tasks?” One thing is for certain, climate change will help shape national security discussions around the world for decades to come.Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
WASHINGTON — Major Biden is getting an early start in the spotlight as a presidential pet after a play date ended with his owner, President-elect Joe Biden, suffering a broken foot. As if that weren’t enough for one weekend, it was also confirmed that Major will have to share the White House with, of all things, a cat.It’ll get better, Major.In a few weeks, Major, fellow German shepherd Champ and the TBD feline are expected to make the move to the White House. Presidential pets provide their owners with a source of comfort, entertainment, occasional drama and generally good PR.The arrival of the Biden pets will also mark the next chapter in a long history of pets residing at the White House after a four-year hiatus during the Trump administration.“Pets have always played an important role in the White House throughout the decades,” said Jennifer Pickens, an author who studies White House traditions. “It not only provides companionship to the president and their family, but I believe it also humanizes and softens their political image.”Having a dog or cat will give some pet-loving constituents a connection with the president, added Tom Whalen, a presidential historian at Boston University.“When a president, the leader of the country, the leader of the free world really, is seen with a dog or a cat, you know, basically there is a bond that they have with their public, whether they’re Republican or Democrat," Whalen said.President Theodore Roosevelt had Skip, who is described by the White House Historical Association as a “short-legged Black and Tan mongrel terrier brought home from a Colorado bear hunt.” Warren G. Harding had Laddie Boy, who sat in on meetings and had his own Cabinet chair. And President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his beloved terrier Fala. At night, Fala slept in a special chair at the foot of the president's bed.More recently, President George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel Millie was featured on “The Simpsons” and starred in a bestseller, “Millie’s Book: As dictated to Barbara Bush.” Hillary Clinton followed Bush’s lead with a children’s book about family dog Buddy and cat Socks: “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets."When he declared victory in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama told his daughters: “You have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” Several months later, Bo joined the family, a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy. A few years later, fellow Portuguese water dog Sunny would arrive to provide companionship.Among the stranger White House pets was Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Coolidge’s raccoon named Rebecca. She was given to the Coolidge family by a supporter who suggested the raccoon be served for Thanksgiving dinner, according to the White House Historical Association. But instead she got an embroidered collar with the title “White House Raccoon” and entertained children at the White House Easter Egg Roll.Some notable pets belonged to first kids, including Amy Carter’s Siamese cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, and Caroline Kennedy’s pony, Macaroni. The Kennedy family had a veritable menagerie, complete with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters and a rabbit named Zsa Zsa.President Harry Truman famously said that “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." It should not be a surprise that many presidents have taken him up on that advice. The first President Bush once said, “There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog to help you get through the rough spots."“From a presidential perspective, you know, a dog or cat or horse, they’re great because they’re nonjudgmental. They’re going to give you their unqualified love. And they’re not going to criticize what you did in Somalia or how the economy is doing," Whalen said. “The pets are always there for you. And I think presidents, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, need that kind of reassurance from time to time, given how things are."___Associated Press video journalist Mike Householder contributed to this report from Detroit.Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
One woman has died after a fire broke out in a seventh floor unit in a Toronto Community Housing apartment for seniors. Erica Vella has details on the investigation.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd may discontinue its premium Galaxy Note phone next year, sources with knowledge of the matter said, a move that would reflect the sharp drop in demand for high-end smartphones due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Galaxy Note, known for its large screen and a stylus for note-taking, is one of two Samsung premium phone series - the other being the more compact Galaxy S which draws in consumers with its state-of-the-art parts. At present, the South Korean tech giant does not have plans to develop a new version of the Galaxy Note for 2021, three sources said, declining to be identified as the plans were not public.
Most food banks in Ontario experienced a “rapid surge in demand” during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report published by Feed Ontario. One of the Sudbury Food Bank’s agencies reported a 150 per cent increase in the number of people accessing emergency food support each day, while Manitoulin Family Resources served 1,500 clients during their busiest month – a significant increase from their regular 300 to 330 clients. “COVID-19 has compounded the already extreme challenges that are being faced by low-income Ontarians, and it has really impacted all communities,” said Carolyn Stewart, executive director of Feed Ontario. “Particularly in terms of food bank use, we are concerned about what’s to come in the winter months.” The 2020 Hunger Report released on Monday looked at data from 130 direct member food banks and 1,100 affiliate services that was gathered between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. It also included a special feature about the impact of COVID-19 on emergency food assistance services from the onset of the pandemic on March 17 to September 2020. About 1 in 8 Ontarians – or 13 per cent of Ontario households – were considered food insecure in 2018, and 537,575 individuals accessed food bank services in the province between 2019 and 2020. More than 3.2 million visits were made to food banks in Ontario during the same period, and 33 per cent of food bank visits were from children. In the last two years, the province has seen a 7.8 per cent increase in the number of people accessing support, and an 11.8 per cent increase in the number of visits being made. “Unfortunately, food bank use continues to rise and last year was no exception. We believe this continual increase in food bank use is driven by three things: an inadequate social safety net, precarious employment, and unaffordable housing,” said Stewart. “For example, over 85 per cent of those that we serve are either rental or social housing tenants who spend over 70 per cent of their monthly income on rent. The good place to be, they say, is around 30 per cent. That’s significantly more, and it leaves little room for anything else.” More than 65 per cent of individuals who visited food banks in the last year were on social assistance, many of them receiving far less than the “national standard” of $2,000 set by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). There has also been a 44 per cent increase in the number of employed people accessing food bank services over the last four years. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these pre-existing issues. From March to June, food banks saw an overall 26.5 increase in the number of first-time users. Out of 200 food bank users surveyed in September, roughly 50 per cent are worried about defaulting on a mortgage or facing eviction in the next two to six months. An additional 90 per cent are incurring a significant amount of debt just to cover their expenses. Manitoulin Family Resources, an agency that provides programming related to violence against women prevention, children’s services, and emergency food assistance to Manitoulin Island, shared its story with Feed Ontario for the purpose of the report. “While the initial days of the pandemic were very quiet for food bank requests, it caused concern that we were not even receiving requests from some of our regular visitors,” said the organization. “(Eventually), referrals began to increase, sometimes high, sometimes low, but then came a day where a worker called with 700 names of those in need. It was a turning point.” The organization decided to send prepared pallets of food for pickup instead of their regular individual baskets. The pallets were then delivered and distributed to households in the area. “For three consecutive months, our food bank provided food to over 1,000 individuals, with the highest month being over 1,500. As restrictions have eased in the province, we have seen a drop from those high numbers,” said Manitoulin Family Resources in the report. “Some have speculated that individuals have had financial stability due in large part to CERB, but as CERB evolves and COVID numbers have again started to rise at a faster rate than the earlier wave, we are attempting to prepare for what will come.” The report confirmed that according to the data, government income supports like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the moratorium on evictions and the student loan interest freeze did help relieve some of the pressure on food bank use. Community initiatives like pop-up food banks and meal programs also worked alongside government intervention to address the emergency need for food. “Food banks would like to work ourselves out of business. No food bank thinks that we are the solution to food insecurity or poverty. Rather, we are serving an emergency need in the community,” said Stewart. “The only way to address that need is good public policy. In our report, we do recommend a few key things to help move that needle forward.” These things include reinstating the CERB benefit for those who have been impacted by COVID-19 as well as rent relief for low-income tenants that are facing large rent arrears or eviction, and the overhauling of Ontario’s social assistance programs so that recipients have the means to move out of poverty. “Ontarians need access to quality employment, support services that do not perpetuate or deepen poverty, and access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing,” concluded the report. “By investing in these key solutions, the Government of Ontario will not only reduce poverty and food insecurity, but also build a more equitable and healthier province for the people and families that call it home.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has a new baby.Amanda McDougall confirmed to CBC News that she gave birth to a son on Saturday evening. McDougall said she, along with her fiancé and stepson, are brimming with love for the new addition. She first spoke of her expanding family last summer while announcing her mayoralty bid. In October, the former first-term councillor and non-profit leader defeated incumbent Cecil Clarke by nearly 4,000 votes. During her run to the mayor's seat, McDougall spoke of chauvinistic attitudes she encountered. Time away with babyEarlene MacMullin, the deputy mayor, will be stepping into McDougall's shoes as she takes time off to be with her family. "Whether it's a week, or two weeks, or a month, between myself and staff [carrying out her duties] … and she's always just a phone call away," said MacMullin."The important thing right now, really, is to give her and her family the time that they need to adjust to the new bundle."MacMullin said mom and baby were expected to leave the hospital on Monday.Advice for McDougallEmily Lutz was caring for a toddler when she decided to run in the Municipality of Kings County in 2016. Now she has a five-year-old, two-year-old and five-month-old baby.Lutz has raised a newborn as a councillor, and in her current role as deputy mayor. She admits to encountering misogynistic attitudes in balancing work and family responsibilities. "Being a young mother does not negate your ability to do your job, and in fact it enhances your ability to do your job," Lutz said. "It can certainly add a new level of complexity, but it's very much something that goes hand-in-hand."She has some advice for McDougall: Don't be afraid to delegate tasks and don't be too hard on yourself."It's OK to take time away," she said. "Folks take time away from council for a number of different reasons."'It's a wonderful thing'Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood was asked whether McDougall might be the first Nova Scotian to give birth while holding the mayor's office."I have no idea, and I actually don't think it matters," Mood said. "I think it's a wonderful thing. That's what women do. They give birth."But there's no glossing over the impact McDougall's motherhood will have on municipal politics, Mood said. "It's an amazing example that she's set. It almost gives women permission to step into politics and know that, you know, the path has been forged before them." When she announced her mayoral bid, McDougall said having a baby would be a constant reminder that council decisions must take into account future generations.MORE TOP STORIES
ATLANTA — Georgia voters on Tuesday are choosing the short-term replacement for civil rights legend John Lewis. Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall and former Morehouse College President Robert Franklin are contesting a runoff election. The men finished first and second, but no one won a majority in a first round of voting in September among seven candidates. The winner of the two Democrats will only fill the seat until Jan. 3, though. State senator and state Democratic Party chair Nikema Williams easily defeated Republican Angela Stanton King in November for a full two-year-term starting in January. Williams and King didn’t run in the special election. The 5th Congressional District includes most of the city of Atlanta, as well as some suburban areas of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. Turnout could be light, after fewer than 31,000 people voted in September. Lewis died at age 80 from pancreatic cancer in July after 34 years in Congress. He was the youngest and last survivor of the speakers at the 1963 March on Washington, when Lewis led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was best known for leading protesters in the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he was beaten by state troopers. Hall and Franklin both contend they can get something accomplished during a short stay in Congress. Voting on a temporary federal budget could be the most significant act that Hall or Franklin takes, although there are still fading hopes of additional COVID-19 relief legislation. The 49-year-old Hall touts his experience on the Atlanta City Council and the Atlanta school board, saying he will make the most of his limited time to try to focus on directing money to the district’s top concerns. “People know me as someone who has gotten something done,” Hall said of his previous positions. Franklin and Hall share similar positions on issues, but Franklin, now a theology professor at Emory University, preaches a higher cause as well. “It’s about moral leadership at a time of national crisis,” said the 66-year-old Franklin, who promises to call attention to Lewis’ legacy and to further Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the “beloved community." Franklin has raised $282,000, including $65,000 he loaned his campaign, while Hall has raised $194,000. Jeff Amy, The Associated Press
MIAMI — A 2-year-old girl is recovering after falling early Monday from a fourth-floor window of an apartment in Miami.A palm tree under the window helped slow the speed of the fall and the child landed in some bushes, Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll told WPLG.The child was being cuddled by her uncle and was crying when rescue crews arrived at the scene in Miami's Little Havana neighbourhood, Carroll told the television station.The girl was then taken to a hospital for treatment.Miami Police Cmdr. Freddie Cruz told the TV station that detectives were trying to determine what led to the fall and whether the girl’s parents bear any responsibility.No additional details were immediately available.Associated Press, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal government is proposing millions of dollars in new spending as a down payment on a planned national child-care system that the Liberals say will be outlined in next spring's budget.As a start, the Liberals are proposing in their fiscal update to spend $420 million in grants and bursaries to help provinces and territories train and retain qualified early-childhood educators.The Liberals are also proposing to spend $20 million over five years to build a child-care secretariat to guide federal policy work, plus $15 million in ongoing spending for a similar Indigenous-focused body.The money is meant to lay the foundation for what is likely going to be a big-money promise in the coming budget.Current federal spending on child care expires near the end of the decade but the Liberals are proposing now to keep the money flowing, starting with $870 million a year in 2028.The Canadian Press has previously reported that the government is considering a large annual spending increase as it contemplates how to work with provinces to add more child-care spaces while ensuring good learning environments and affordability for parents."I say this both as a working mother and as a minister of finance: Canada will not be truly competitive until all Canadian women have access to the affordable child care we need to support our participation in our country’s workforce," Freeland said in the text of her speech on the fiscal update.Calling it an element of a "feminist agenda," Freeland added that spending the money makes "sound business sense" and has the backing of many corporate leaders.Freeland has been among a group of female cabinet ministers who pushed child care as a federal priority even before the pandemic.A national system won't likely be a one-size-fits-all program, experts say, but it would be federally funded, modelled on the publicly subsidized system in Quebec.A Scotiabank estimate earlier this fall suggested that creating nationally what Quebec has provincially would cost $11.5 billion a year.A report on prospects for national daycare last week from the Centre for Future Work estimated governments could rake in between $18 billion and $30 billion per year in new revenues as more parents go into the workforce.Freeland has made a note in recent days about the need to do something on child care given how many women fell out of the workforce when COVID-19 forced the closures of schools and daycares in the spring.Many have not gone back to work.The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which has promoted a long-term plan on child care as an economic necessity, said the Liberals still need to provide immediate help to parents and daycare providers. "The rate at which women are being forced to leave the workforce because of child-care gaps continues to undermine Canada’s economic recovery and requires emergency funding," said chamber president Perrin Beatty.Dec. 7 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, which at the time called for governments to immediately get going on a national daycare system.As Freeland noted during a virtual fundraiser last week, many women who were toddlers then are mothers now and the country hasn't moved far enough on child care."Many smaller things are happening from province to province that when we look at those things, put them together, we'd have a lot of the elements for building a national system," said Monica Lysack, an early-childhood education expert from Sheridan College in Ontario."We just need to make sure that in the end every parent who needs it can get it and that it's affordable."The $420 million in to train and retain them was seen by many as a key investment toward that end to deal with what the executive director of Child Care now noted were "very low wages and difficult working conditions" in the sector. "But we must also see significant, long-term federal funding in the 2021 federal budget so that we can replace short-term repairs with robust infrastructure,” Morna Ballantyne said. Her group and others have called for an extra $2 billion in child-care funding in next year's budget, with $2 billion more added on top in each subsequent year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
COVID-19 may have altered traditional Christmas celebrations, but it hasn't made a dent in people's Christmas spirit. The drive-through River of Lights celebration and stand-still parade organized by the Rotary Clubs of Brockville working with the city, and held on Saturday, was a resounding success. "We estimate about 8,000 people went through. In the first two hours cars were filled with children. Later people said they waited two hours in line with cars backed up to Sharpe's Lane in the east, Centre Street to the west and Swiss Chalet to the north," said Dave Paul, co-chairman of the Rotarians' organizing committee. Although the event was smaller and everyone had to stay in their cars, it was no less spectacular. Santa's workshop (courtesy of Amish by Design) had been set up on Blockhouse Island, and the man in red and Mrs. Claus arrived early by sleigh. "Rudolph was the only reindeer pulling the sleigh this year, because the other reindeer are social distancing from him," said Monique Homer, Rotarian and volunteer in charge of welcoming Santa. Following a short rest after their lengthy flight from the North Pole, the Clauses were driven back to Blockhouse Island in a four-by-four led by a small contingent of Brockville re-enactors to kick off the event with the lighting of Blockhouse Island. This year, the Rotary Clubs of Brockville were astounded at the number of volunteers who came out to help. "I had more than 100 volunteers, more than I needed, people were so anxious to get out and help," said Paul. In the end the extra volunteers went a long way to ensuring traffic moved smoothly and all were clearly there to have fun and spread cheer. "I'm in the firefighting program at St. Lawrence College and I'm not from around here, so I thought I'd volunteer and see what they do around town," said Sam Cordery, who hails from Orillia. The 18-year-old was stationed near Santa's workshop directing traffic and greeting visitors, and her joyful attitude doubtless contributed to the event's success. In spite of the long wait times, people were incredibly patient and volunteers were greeted by children calling out "Merry Christmas" as they were driven by. "It's looking pretty good so far," said Cameron Ewart, a Brockville resident who was accompanied by his wife and children and was one of the early arrivals at the event. "It's a good idea especially during the pandemic, and we don't have to stand in the cold," said the Van Winckle family from Augusta, as they arrived on Blockhouse Island with their two children, nine and 11 years old. A big part of the event are the donations that various groups collect at this time of the year. All three organizations, the Kinsmen collecting snowsuits, the firefighters collecting toys, Beattie Dodge Chrysler Jeep and the Brockville Road Runners collecting food donations, reported that "donations were beyond expectations," said Paul. "It was an emotional event and an expression of gratitude both from the volunteers and visitors," he added. Although there weren't a lot of floats at the standstill parade, the ones that were there pulled out all the stops and got right into the spirit of the season, with lights, costumes, and music. The Aquatarium was out with Oscar the Otter and Justin Beaver; Dive Brockville Adventure Centre was out showcasing one of Santa's underwater workshops; and Grade 12 and Grade 9 students from Thousand Islands Secondary School took over one of Santa's land workshops while the elves were busy greeting visitors on the island so there wouldn't be any work interruptions. "Our biggest worry was that we would have to turn people away, after they'd waited for up to two hours, but as it turned out – it must have been divine intervention – the last car came down at 8:45," said Paul, and the light show was turned off at 9, as scheduled, without disappointing anyone. Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times