Disneyland is expected to remain closed until the end of the entertainment and media conglomerate’s fiscal first quarter, which falls on Dec. 31, Walt Disney CFO Christine McCarthy announced on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call on Thursday.
Disneyland is expected to remain closed until the end of the entertainment and media conglomerate’s fiscal first quarter, which falls on Dec. 31, Walt Disney CFO Christine McCarthy announced on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call on Thursday.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 14, 2020 To trick-or-treat or not to trick-or-treat? That is the question popping up online as parents balance the need to stay safe during a pandemic while ensuring their children don’t miss out on a traditional celebration. Popular Facebook page, Barrie Families Unite, recently weighed in on the touchy subject, with members suggesting alternative methods to keep their kids from missing out. A backyard candy search — the spooky version of the Easter Egg hunt — was favoured by many parents, as was an at-home Halloween party. “We have chosen to stick to our bubble and do a massive candy hunt in our own yard. I know it’s not the same as trick-or-treating, but the end result is the same, too much candy and crazy littles,” Patty Anne posted on Barrie Families Unite. Holly McDaniel said her family is sticking to its household bubble. “My family and I will be celebrating at home with our own treats,” she posted. “I'm going to make a bunch of delicious spooky snacks, dress up, and have a fire in the backyard while projecting scary movies under a starry sky.” Both Premier Doug Ford and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman have said door-to-door trick-or-treating may not be advisable, but neither have suggested cancelling Halloween altogether. “We’ve got to be so, so careful,” Ford told reporters last month. “It just makes me nervous, kids going door to door with this. I’d prefer not to.” The Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit has laid out several considerations: • Try virtual visits for costumed children to avoid large gatherings. • Trick-or-treaters and people handing out candy should wear face coverings. A costume mask is not a substitute; instead consider building a proper face covering into the design. • Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps. Line up two metres apart while waiting. • Don't leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab. • Go door to door only as a “bubbled” family unit, or don’t go out at all. But there are those who say they will still offer treats from their homes, albeit with a twist. “You could make a candy chute from something like a wrapping paper tube decorated in Halloween paper and just send the candy down the chute to each child’s bag,” Krista Zvanitajs posted. Others have suggested using salad tongs to give out the candy to maintain social distancing or simply placing the treats on a table on the front lawn, with hand sanitizer nearby. Some parents will allow their children to trick-or-treat, arguing it’s no different than sending them to school or allowing them inside a store. “Mine are going trick-or-treating. They are in school, so I don’t see a difference. If the kids can go to school, they can go trick-or-treating,” Cassandra Hall posted. “It would be like telling someone they can’t go grocery shopping. Or work. Or get takeout or Timmies.” But other parents argued COVID-19 controls are more enforceable at schools and businesses, but not at private residences, where candy is handed out. “No guarantee that people handing out candy or those taking candy from a bowl on a porch are following those same rules. I'm sure some are, but some likely aren't,” Alanna Coombs posted. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Almost one month after his Nov. 9 surgery, Evan Paterson is reportedly “progressing well with his therapies and, slowly but surely, his incision is healing and looking better.” In late October, the Cosmos featured a story on young Evan Paterson, a three-year-old who required brain surgery. Evan’s family had started a campaign to raise funds to support his recovery journey, which would include physical therapy, and medical aid devices. The GoFundMe has now raised almost $17,000, and is still growing. Three weeks post-op, Samantha Bishop, Evan’s mom, reports that the young boy is doing well. “This week he started to use a stander to help build his strength, with support, in order to one day start walking again. I was in a bit of shock when his physiotherapist said that’s what we were doing - I didn’t realize he was making THAT much progress!” says Bishop. Evan’s surgeon reports that he is confident Evan will heal well with time. Bishop says the Holland Bloorview rehab hospital has been a wonderful place for the beginning of Evan’s recovery and, again, she wishes to thank the community members who have helped support their cause. “We could not be more thankful.” “This week we find out how long they think Evan will need to be in the hospital. We have hopes that it will only be for a couple of months and then we can continue therapies at home,” says Bishop. Earlier this year, in July, after a series of seizures, a lesion was found on Evan’s brain. Doctors decided that the best way to stop the seizures and ensure that Evan continued to develop in a regular pattern, the left and right sides of his brain would need to be disconnected. It was predicted that, after the surgery, Evan would be extremely weak on one side, have no peripheral vision, and would have to learn how to do fundamental tasks again. “We are over the moon excited that he’s already in a stander!” says Bishop. To follow along with the family’s updates, or to make a donation, visit the Hope For Evan GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/agzcs-hope-for-evan Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos
Local business owners want customers to know that they can shop online this Christmas, and still support Slocan Valley stores. And there’s an ever-growing choice of local shops whose wares are available online. From clothing and gourmet foods, to jewellery or knitting supplies, more businesses popping up in the Slocan are counting on locals buying online this season. “There’s a lot of social media action for shopping local, there’s a lot of energy that way this year,” says Beth Campbell, who runs the Lemon Creek-based Viva Cacao! “You don’t need to go to Amazon, you can shop here.” Campbell started Viva Cacao! about 18 months ago, though the chocolatier operated at a smaller scale for several years before that. She’s been having success getting her product into local groceries and convenience shops, but says the more she can sell direct, the better it is for her company. “I’m excited to be able to sell retail, for one, because now I can’t sell at markets,” she says. “It’s a good platform to talk about my product and what we do here, and it’s hopefully a place where I can talk about issues in our industry, things I care about and am passionate about.” Campbell says after a slow summer start, orders began coming in steadily in November. For customers who go to her website (https://vivacacao.ca), it’s a simple process to buy her products, and ship them to whomever you want. “I definitely ship anywhere, and I just figured out how to have a local pickup option so people can pick up and not pay shipping. People can contact me, and we can work out pickup. If it’s in Nelson or the valley, I can bring it in when I come in.” Brendan Murray-Nellis just started his Raven Roast business this year in Slocan, after the pandemic shut down his acupuncture practice. His online business – marketing his own herbal coffee substitute – is also just getting off the ground, and he has invested heavily in building his sales online. “It’s always interesting to see where our customers come from,” says Murray-Nellis. “We’ve been getting orders from across the United States and Canada.” Murray-Nellis says with so many people staying home and avoiding crowds, it’s important to support local creators online. “This year it’s absolutely critical to go out of our way to support local businesses. There’s a lot of small businesses that are suffering, and it’s this moment we can decide as a community whether we are going to give our money to all these online companies to do our Christmas shopping, or work with local people,” he says. While distant orders help, Murray-Nellis hopes locals will reach out and support companies like his. Raven Roast (https://ravenroast.com/) is offering free shipping anywhere for anyone ordering online in the Valley Voice readership area. “We’re going out of our way to make it easy to shop local,” he says. “We don’t have to give our money to big companies. We’re trying our best to be an easy interface you can both support local and have all the convenience of online.” Online Christmas market The loss of Christmas markets in most communities due to COVID restrictions has been one of the latest hurts caused by the pandemic, affecting both buyers and sellers. But soon there’ll be a way to enjoy the fun and excitement of a Christmas Market from your laptop. Morgen Badarti is an artist in New Denver who’s started ‘Handmade Heart,’ a virtual online market, planned for December 5-13 on Facebook Events. She’s spent years helping organize real-world craft fairs in the area, and decided to use her connections in the community to try to help craftspeople sell their products. At first she said people she contacted about an online event were reticent. “That’s because we love selling in person, don’t we? That’s why we do it, why we participate in festivals and markets and shows, because we love selling our own work, and meeting people in person. And people like that too. But unfortunately we can’t do that right now.” The Homemade Heart Market will encourage people to come to the Facebook Event, browse that page and visit individual seller’s sites. There’ll be prizes and treasure hunts and other side events to generate visits. “I really hope that people support this, it’s so important to these artisans,” she says. “They have nowhere else to sell their stuff. It’s difficult to sell in stores, it’s not easy to make your craft and sell in a store. And I worry about their survival as artistans. They’re making useful and beautiful, functional things.” And if you buy online from one of the vendors, Badarti has arranged for a delivery day after the event, when a vehicle will drive from the Junction to Nakusp, delivering products to buyers’ doors. “And you get free shipping that way,” she says. Depending on how everything works, Badarti says they’ll keep the market page open after Christmas, and perhaps have an ongoing place for local artisans to connect with buyers. See the ad for the market on page 11 and follow the links we’ve added on the Valley Voice Facebook page to learn more about the market, the participating companies, and more.John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Cannabis has been legal in Canada for two years, but several police raids on illegal grow-ops show the illicit market continues to thrive. The OPP said it seized more than 122,000 illegally grown plants, valued at about $143 million on the street, following 52 raids across the province since July 1. “There is still a huge demand for illegal cannabis here in Ontario and in Canada,” Det.-Inspt. Jim Walker told Simcoe.com. “A great deal of the illegal cannabis we are seeing is being exported into the United States and it’s coming back in the form of U.S. currency, but also in harder drugs like cocaine, meth, fentanyl and in some cases firearms.” The provincewide investigations ended with 195 arrests, the seizure of 36 firearms, $76,000 in cash and $514,000 in property obtained by crime. Twenty-five of the 52 search warrants were conducted in central region, which includes Simcoe County, where more than 7,000 illegal plants were discovered in a Midland industrial building last month. Walker said illegal grow-ops are being operated by “opportunistic” individuals who are using loopholes in Health Canada’s medical cannabis licences and diverting cannabis to the illicit market. Suspects allegedly “stack” personal and designated cannabis grow applications onto one address, Walker said. “So you are getting cannabis grown in these large-scale illegal cannabis production sites with no intention of it every going to a medical patient,” he said. Walker said those who purchase cannabis illegally should know they are supporting criminal groups involved in human trafficking, weapons offences and dealing hard drugs. “When you are buying it from the black market, those funds are going to the pocket of criminals.” The illegal grow-ops are also impacting the quality of life of residents who live near a large facility. “Municipalities are getting complaints about them not abiding by the bylaws and even building codes,” Walker said. Earlier this month, New Tecumseth town council placed a hold on new applications related to the production and cultivation of cannabis until a study has been completed. A grow operation popped up near Tottenham earlier this year without town approval, creating noxious odours for nearby residents.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 19, 2020 South Simcoe Police officers are asking you for help identifying three suspects following thefts at an LCBO in Innisfil. Police say “numerous” bottles of alcohol were stolen from the Innisfil Beach Road store in Alcona. Officers believe the thefts were “orchestrated” by three male suspects between 1 and 2 p.m. Nov. 7. The suspects are described as: • Small build, 5'6'', 130 lbs, brown eyes, 25-30 years old, with black hair, wearing a mask, black jacket, blue jeans, large black backpack and a white ear piece. • Medium build, 5'11'', 175 lbs, brown eyes, 30-40 years old, with black hair, wearing a mask, grey sweater and jeans. • Small build, 5'6'', 125 lbs, brown eyes, 30-40 years old, black hair, wearing a mask, track pants with red stripe down the side, and a red ball cap. Anyone who recognizes these men or has any information about this occurrence is asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Crime Stoppers. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Bay Roberts mayor Phillip Wood has received a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for his work with the Branch 32 Legion. Having taught for over 30 years in schools across the province, and acting as current mayor of Bay Roberts, Philip Wood is a well-known in Conception Bay North. And anybody who knows Wood knows that he’s passionate about his work with the Legion. Now, Wood has received national recognition for his long-time work, something he said he was rather surprised to receive. “It’s an honour to receive this,” Wood said about the award. “I’m very surprised, because you don’t apply for theses awards, someone has to nominate you, and as a part of the nomination process, you’re also not supposed to tell the nominee that you’ve nominated them. So, to receive it was quite a surprise…When you go into any service organization, you don’t go in it to win awards, but it’s also nice to receive a little nod of approval, and it’s humbling also.” But for those who know about his work it should come as little surprise. Wood has been a member of The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32 for over 26 years, holding various positions on the board, including secretary and president. Currently, Wood holds the position as 2nd vice-president of Provincial Command, Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s been a lengthy career of service in the Legion for Wood. He was part of the original committee that planned and developed the Veterans Quay Marina in Bay Roberts, and was involved in the recent refurbishment of the Bay Roberts cenotaph. Wood also served as liaison between the Legion and Heritage Society during the installation of the military exhibit in the Cable Building. Wood’s work with the Legion follows a military career which began when he completed his basic officer training in Chilliwack, BC. In the late 70’s he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Mlitary service is a tradition deeply established in Wood’s family. His son, Paul, is currently serving with the PPCLI Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and has done a number of duty tours over seas, while his father, Eric, served in WWII. It means that, for Wood, honouring the sacrifices of those who have served is of the utmost importance. Following Wood’s retirement as an educator, he visited the battlefields of Europe, and has walked the Trail of The Caribou as a student chaperon. Wood said he is grateful that someone recognized him for his work with the Legion and nominated him. “I would certainly like to thank them,” he said. “It’s a great honour to know that they would take the time to fill out the nomination forum. And that’s why its humbling, because you don’t go out and solicit someone to do this. So, when someone takes the time to go out of their own initiative and say, ‘Philip Wood would be a very worthy recipient of this,’ it’s very humbling.” Like all organizations, Legions have had to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions and have had to cancel a number of events, Wood noted. “They’ve been struggling. Some branches haven’t opened up. Other branches are rebounding; however they are working very hard to keep everything going,” he said. Perhaps the most difficult decision made by the Legion across the country was to limit the number of attendees at remembrance ceremonies, or, in some case, to cancel them altogether. “It was very sad, July 1 and Nov. 11, to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremonies without the crowds this year,” said Wood. “But it’s all you can do. Hopefully next year we’ll be back. But the different legions have done an excellent job, and people working hard and doing the best they can.” Initial reports for the Poppy campaign, both from Branch 32 and the province as a whole, are positive, Wood, said, though numbers seem to be down slightly. “There were far more bills put in the cans then in previous years, versus coins, which was good to hear, because all funds collected go towards supporting veterans and their families,” Wood said.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
SURREY, B.C. — Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a 30-year-old woman in Surrey, B.C. Police say officers responded to what they were told was a single-vehicle crash in an alleyway on Thursday morning. Instead, police found a woman with an apparent gunshot wound. Despite the efforts of first responders, police say in a statement the woman died of her injuries. RCMP say they've since learned that a second vehicle was involved and the shooting doesn't appear to have been random. Police say the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been called in to help with the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 29, 2020 Medical masks are being added to the annual Barrie police mitten tree this year to help people stay warm and keep safe. The annual campaign was started by retired Const. Janet Schefter 20 years ago. If you would like to donate to the campaign, visit Barrie Police Service Headquarters at 110 Fairview Rd. A tree donated by Sommerville Nurseries is located in the lobby. Thousands of hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves will go to: • Youth Haven • David Busby Centre / Out of the Cold • The Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre Cancer Care • CARAH House • Salvation Army Barrie • Hospice Simcoe Many families, including seniors, are faced with low income, high rent, and everyday living expenses, making it a struggle to make ends meet. For health reasons, all donated items must be newly purchased or made. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 20. All inquiries can be directed to 705-725-7025, ext. 2907.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 23, 2020 Simcoe County first responders, including dozens of police officers, lined bridges over Hwy. 400 Nov. 23 to salute Const. Marc Hovingh, who died following a shoot out on Manitoulin Island last week. Hovingh died Nov. 19 after an incident that also caused the death of a civilian. Hovingh's body was taken to Toronto for an autopsy and transported back to Manitoulin Island in a hearse, accompanied by two police cruisers. The OPP encouraged supporters to follow the procession’s live Twitter feed. “Because we’re in this pandemic, we’re on lockdown, we’re in a different situation here right now,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “There’s not a lot of opportunity for paying of respects and for gatherings.” Hovingh was one of the officers who responded to a call about an “unwanted man’’ on a property in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. According to the Special Investigations Unit – Ontario’s police watchdog – Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after exchanging gunfire. Hovingh was a 28-year veteran of the force. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
FRANKFURT — OPEC and allied countries including Russia agreed Thursday to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels a day from January and said they would meet monthly to decide further output levels, gingerly adding more crude to a global economy still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.The decision followed days of wrangling over whether to increase output early next year at all after the pandemic sapped demand for energy and clouded the outlook for the industry.The OPEC members and a group of allies had made deep cuts in production last year to support prices as the pandemic sharply reduced demand for fuel. Analysts said simply extending the 7.7 million barrels per day in cuts was the course preferred by Saudi Arabia, which takes a leadership role among member countries, and also by Russia, the biggest of the non-members who have been co-operating with OPEC.But they faced pushback from countries including the United Arab Emirates, which opposed the extension and wanted countries that had overproduced their quotas to make compensatory cuts.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that participants agreed that 2 million barrels a day needed to return to the market “at some point” but that any increase would be gradual. The monthly meetings could decide in either direction, up or down, he said.Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman alluded to hopes that the recent wave of lockdown restrictions on businesses “are not hampering demand as in the first wave” but cautioned that “the jury is still out” and that “we need to be cautious” about ramping up production.He said that at the monthly meetings “we could tweak upward, we could tweak downward, we could stay put... We elected to take the cautious approach."Oil producing countries face a dilemma: producing more increases their revenues but could send prices lower, especially given still-weak demand and uncertain prospects for the speed and timing of a post-pandemic economic recovery.Energy forecasters around the world, including those employed by OPEC, have been lowering their forecasts about how much oil will be needed. Airline travel, for example, has been dramatically reduced, and is not expected to rebound for several years.The U.S. benchmark for oil traded at $45.74 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 46 cents on the day. That is down from around $63 at the start of 2020. Gasoline prices for U.S. motorists have fallen during the pandemic to below $2 in some parts of the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration; the national average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30.A barrel of benchmark crude in the U.S. had been selling for around $40 for months, well below what most producers need to break even. It has risen in the past week but current prices still leave many oil producers struggling. In the past week, oil giants Exxon and Chevron both slashed their capital expenditure budgets for the coming year.Stewart Glickman, energy equity analyst at CFRA Research, said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in many nations meant the original oil producing countries' plan - to raise production by some 1.9 million barrels per day from January - "might have sent crude prices tumbling further."He said crude inventories would be watched in coming months to see whether the “modest” production boost of 500,000 barrels per day is absorbed by markets or "whether oil demand remains too weak to sustain pricing” despite promising news regarding vaccine development.___AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York.David McHugh, The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
The Town of Bay Bulls has approved mil rate increases for residents and business operators as part of its 2021 budget, but Mayor Harold Mullowney says very few people should actually see a hike in what they pay. The new tax structure, along with the municipal budget, was approved during a special meeting of council called for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30. The Town gave several hours notice on its Facebook page that it would be tabling the budget. Residential property is up from 4.25 mils to 4.5 mils, while commercial property tax has increased from 14.0 mils to 14.75 mils. All business-related mil rates increased by half a mil. Annual fees, including the controversial home-based business tax of $450 which was applied earlier this year to residents who felt they ought to be thought of as crafters and hobbyists instead of businesses, as well as permits remain largely unchanged. The Operation of a Business permit has dropped from $250 to $50. Mayor Harold Mullowney said the mil rate increases were necessary, but remains optimistic residents and business operators will not see a big impact on their tax bills. “The (property value) assessments this year are lower this year then they were last year,” said the mayor. “Every where, you have your property assessments done. And this year, those assessments came in lower. So, we have to make up the same amount of revenue every year because our own source revenue is mandated by the province per capita. We can’t let that drop. So, when our assessed values drop, if the mil rates stay the same, then our source revenue would drop. My plan was to make sure that everybody would be pretty well the same as they paid last year, especially during this difficult COVID year. So, what had to happen, was we had to bump up the mil rate across the board. I’m thinking 80 to 90 percent of residents should see their tax bill very close to what they paid last year.” He reckoned that, because the assessed values have gone down, even with the mil rate increase, the town will bring in roughly the same amount of tax revenue as last year. As for property values, Mulowney said it is closely related to the general ‘boom-and-bust’ of the economy. “Everyone, I think, across the province, has seen a small decrease in their assessed values this year,” said Mullowney. “Everyone is seeing a bit of an increase (in mil rates). But we tried to do it as fair and equitable as possible, without hitting any one group or sector overly hard. So, the game plan, when we sat down and put together this budget, was to try to keep our income from all sources very close to what it was last year. With that said, I think we’ve been fairly successful in doing that.” As to the sudden revision of the agenda to include the budget and tax structure Monday night, Mulowney said it was a matter of finding the right date and time that worked for everyone, which proved to be a challenge. The Irish Loop Post requested a copy of the budget document approved for submission by council during the November 30 meeting, but Town Manager Jennifer Aspell said it would only be provided once it has been signed and submitted to the Department of Municipal Affairs for review. Meanwhile, Mullowney said despite the troubles of 2020, he is content with the budget drafted by council. “We didn’t see any big increases for any of the residents. If we can keep 80-90 percent of the residents pretty well in the same ballpark of taxes as they paid last year, that’s a good news story, I think. Ovbiously, there will be some who have seen an increase they’re not happy with,” he said. “But then again, who likes paying taxes? None of us. And at the end of the day, we’re trying to be as fair and equitable as possible, while trying to bring in the amount of money needed to run the town effectively.”Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Air Design location, Ballon Design et les Gâteaux MB se réuniront sous le même toit à compter de janvier. Une préouverture ponctuelle est prévue dès jeudi, afin de permettre aux gens de se procurer décorations et cadeaux juste avant le début du temps des Fêtes. Les trois entreprises voulaient, en se réunissant, offrir aux clients la possibilité de ne faire qu’un seul arrêt pour l’organisation de leur événement spécial. Selon Jennifer Fournier, propriétaire de Ballon Design, ce partenariat est unique dans la région et très rare dans la province. « On s’est rendu compte qu’avec des ballons, des jeux gonflables, des gâteaux et des petits cadeaux, ça faisait vraiment un beau ‘mix’. Le concept qu’on a voulu créer, c’est vraiment d’avoir tout pour un événement, sous un même toit », s’est réjouie la propriétaire de Ballon Design. En parlant avec Mélina Dubé-Boily, de Gâteaux MB, les deux femmes ont remarqué qu’elles partageaient beaucoup de clients en commun. L’ouverture est prévue jeudi. Pour débuter, le commerce n’ouvrira que ponctuellement. L’ouverture complète à temps plein avec l’arrivée de la pâtissière n’est à l’horaire qu’au retour des Fêtes. Jennifer souhaite tout de même ouvrir dès le début du mois afin de faire profiter les clients des cadeaux et des ballons pour les préparations du temps des Fêtes. Le commerce d’Air Design location est ouvert, et il est possible pour les intéressés de voir l’inventaire en ligne. Pour ce qui est des Gâteaux MB, même si l’arrivée de la pâtissière à temps plein n’aura lieu qu’en janvier, les clients pourront venir chercher leurs gâteaux précommandés sur place. De tout en boutique Chaque entreprise qui s’installera dans ce nouveau local situé au 1247 boulevard Ste-Geneviève, à Chicoutimi-Nord, dispose d’une impressionnante gamme de produits. Air Design location a dans son inventaire plus de 125 structures gonflables, de toute sorte. Pour Gateaux MB, on comptera évidemment des gâteaux, mais aussi de gros biscuits, des cupcakes, et bien plus. Ballon Design se spécialise dans les bouquets de ballons et les petits cadeaux. Son créneau est le ballon personnalisé. « Je voulais faire quelque chose de différent de ce qu’on retrouvait déjà. Avec les ballons personnalisés, je peux écrire des prénoms, des phrases ou même recréer des dessins sur des ballons, ce qui est vraiment apprécié des clients », souligne Jennifer. Elle est fière d’amener ce concept ici dans la région et encore plus à Chicoutimi-Nord. Impacts de la Covid Bien évidemment, les derniers mois ont été difficiles pour tous ceux qui oeuvrent dans l’événementiel. L’annulation des fêtes, des mariages, des partys de bureau a difficilement touché le commerce de Jennifer. La jeune femme de 30 ans a dû se réinventer. « Nous nous sommes vraiment tournés vers les livraisons. Nous sommes allés livrer des petites touches de bonheur chez les gens. Plus ça allait, plus les gens me demandaient si j’avais des petits items cadeaux, qu’on pouvait joindre aux ballons », explique-t-elle. C’est ce qui fait que depuis environ un mois, on retrouve dans la boutique en ligne des cadeaux de tout genre : jouets pour enfants, produits pour le corps, items pour la maison, et bien plus. Certaines de ces surprises peuvent même être mises dans des ballons ! Ces produits seront bien sûr mis en valeur dans la nouvelle boutique. Pour tout savoir sur les heures d’ouverture et sur les items que l’on retrouve en boutique, les personnes intéressées peuvent visiter le site Internet ou la page Facebook de Ballon Design.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Fueled by hatred, misogyny and transphobia, there is still a lot of gender-based violence says the Violence Is Preventable Committee in Williams Lake. This year’s Purple Ribbon Campaign is well-underway and aims to raise awareness on this very topic which has been occurring in situations where it was previously unheard of or with people nobody would have ever expected. This is due, in large part, to increased stress, according to Women’s Contact Society family law advocate Kelsey Borgfjord. “2020 has been an exceptional year for stress due to the once-in-a-lifetime event of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Early on, everyone was panicking due to the fear surrounding the unknown which has since morphed into stress and exhaustion as we enter nearly nine months since the state of emergency was declared.” Because of the novel coronavirus, there have been a lot of extra challenges for everyone. “For anyone in a stressful relationship, be it at home, at work, or in the schools, the uncertainty and changes in the way we are supposed to behave when in public can cause additional tension that turns into violence,” noted committee chair Tamara Garreau. To help support and increase awareness of this phenomenon, Garreau encourages everyone to support the campaign, which runs in Williams Lake from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, by wearing a purple ribbon, noticing the banners, starting discussions on the topic and speaking out when one sees bullying or gender-based slurs. As the pandemic presses on, Borgfjord believes it is more important than ever to not only bring awareness to this cause but also mental wellness. “Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help,” she said, listing the Women’s Contact Society, Cariboo Friendship Society, Canadian Mental Health, Three Corners Health Services Society, RCMP Victim Services, Aboriginal Victim Services and Crisis Line as valuable resources.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune