Andy Behrens recommends adding these two picks to your roster before the new week even begins.
Andy Behrens recommends adding these two picks to your roster before the new week even begins.
The head of a U.S. biotechnology company that is developing one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates says Canada is not far behind other countries when it comes to receiving doses of its vaccine, despite criticism of the government's procurement plan from the Conservative opposition. "Canada is not at the back of the line," Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, told CBC's Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday. Afeyan said because Canada was among the first countries to make a pre-order with Moderna, the country is guaranteed to receive a certain portion of the company's initial batch of doses as long as the vaccine proves safe and effective and is given regulatory approval. "The people who were willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to," Afeyan said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. "Nothing that happened subsequently can affect that." Moderna's mRNA vaccine is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials and preliminary data released two weeks ago show it appears to be 94.5 per cent effective. Millions of doses procured The federal government secured an agreement on Aug. 5 with Moderna for 20 million doses of its vaccine, with the option to procure an additional 36 million doses. The U.S. announced a deal for up to 500 million doses just days later while the U.K. and European Union inked deals with Moderna only in the past two weeks. In total, Canada has procured some 358 million doses from seven companies — the most per capita of any country in the world, according to research from Duke University's Global Health Institute. WATCH | Federal government pressured on when Canadians will get COVID-19 vaccine Despite that promising news, the Liberal government came under intense pressure this week to lay out a timeline for when Canadians will begin receiving an inoculation as countries like the U.S., U.K. and Germany have all announced plans to begin vaccinating their populations in December. Opposition politicians and some premiers argued Canada was falling behind other countries in its planning after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians would have to wait to get vaccinated because the first doses of any vaccine will go to people in the countries where the vaccines are being manufactured. Federal officials said on Thursday that if all goes well as many as three million Canadians — mainly those in "high-priority groups" — could be vaccinated in early 2021. One day later, Trudeau said that Canada is on track to vaccinate nearly every person who wants a shot by September 2021. But officials have provided few details about the government's plan to roll out a vaccine once Health Canada gives one the green light. Conservative critiques At a press conference on Sunday, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole repeated his view that Canada is behind other countries in procuring a vaccine. "While the Americans and the British are talking about mass vaccination throughout December and January, our government is now talking about getting Canadians vaccinated by September," O'Toole said. "We need to show Canadians that there is a plan for the vaccine." O'Toole said the Trudeau government only turned its attention to pre-ordering tens of millions of vaccine doses from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in August after its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine maker CanSino collapsed following months of delays. "I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China," O'Toole said. Regulatory approval pending Companies have compressed the time it normally takes to develop a vaccine by initiating the manufacturing of doses even before studies into their efficacy are completed as part of a global effort to develop COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible to bring the pandemic to an end. Moderna is in the process of applying for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Once the company obtains that authorization, Afeyan said it will begin shipping doses to countries that have made pre-orders, including Canada. Afeyan said he expects to start shipping the vaccine to Canada in the first quarter of 2021 and the quantity of shipments should increase through the second quarter and throughout the rest of the year. The company expects to be able to produce a total of 20 million doses by the end of 2020 and between 500 million and 1 billion doses throughout 2021. Moderna submitted early safety and pre-clinical data from Phase 1 and 2 trials with Health Canada last month as part of the regulator's rolling regulatory review process. Health Canada must approve any COVID-19 vaccine before it can be distributed to Canadians. Experts say Moderna's vaccine — which requires two shots taken 28 days apart — will be relatively easy to store and distribute because the vaccine can remain stable at normal fridge temperatures of 2 C to 8 C for 30 days. By contrast, another leading candidate manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer must be shipped and stored at -70 C. WATCH | Health Minister on how the federal government should address vaccine hesitancy: Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it's difficult to nail down a delivery date at the moment for any of the leading vaccine candidates because of the long list of uncertainties stemming from unfinished clinical trials, ongoing regulatory reviews, and manufacturing and logistical challenges related to distribution. "We're all anxious to get out of this mess as a world, but certainly as a country as well," Hajdu said. "As Canada's health minister, I'm staying focused on Canadians and on our own process, making sure our delivery plans are well laid out and that we have what we need in terms of being able to deliver on the variety of different kinds of vaccines." Hajdu added that her top priority is ensuring that Health Canada has what it needs to make sure the regulatory process proceeds smoothly so that any vaccines that are approved are safe and effective.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his team are headed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week for talks in a region simmering with tension after the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist. A senior administration official said on Sunday that Kushner is to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Neom, and the emir of Qatar in that country in the coming days.
OPEC and allies led by Russia have yet to find a consensus on oil output policy for 2021, after an initial round of talks on Sunday and ahead of crucial meetings on Monday and Tuesday, four OPEC+ sources told Reuters. OPEC+, a grouping comprising members of the of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, plus Russia and others, had been due to ease production cuts from January 2021, but a second coronavirus wave has reduced demand for fuel around the world. OPEC+ is now considering rolling over existing cuts of 7.7 million barrels per day, or around 8% of global demand, into the first months of 2021, sources have said.
* Ottawa Public Health confirmed two new deaths linked to COVID-19 Sunday and 79 new cases. * Active cases have increased since yesterday to 343. * The Hastings Prince Edward Public Health region will move to yellow on Monday.Today's Ottawa updateOttawa Public Health is reporting two new COVID-19 deaths and 79 newly confirmed cases on Sunday. Health officials have confirmed 8,458 cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic, with 7,741 of those considered resolved. Numbers to watch23.9: Ottawa's rate of new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, which has increased slightly since Saturday.343: The known active cases in Ottawa, also higher than in Saturday's report.28: The number of active outbreaks in Ottawa. Nine outbreaks continue at long-term care homes throughout the city.>1: The number of people infected by each confirmed case, or R(t).1.3: Ottawa's test positivity percentage, the same as the previous update. A percentage at or below 1.2 per cent is one factor that could move a region into the yellow zone. Ottawa is currently in orange.Across the regionWestern Quebec reported 30 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.Hastings Prince Edward Public Health in the Belleville, Ont., area is moving from green to yellow on Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale on Monday.No other local health units are slated to move.
COVID-19 case numbers are continuing their slow but steady rise across most of Atlantic Canada. New Brunswick reported 14 new cases today, with health officials saying the bulk are located in the Saint John Region. The area around the city accounted for nine of the province's new diagnoses, with four in and around Moncton and one in the Bathurst area. In Nova Scotia, all 10 of the province's new cases are in the central zone, which includes Halifax, and the total number of active cases is 125.Newfoundland's four new cases, all in the Eastern Health region, bring the provincial total number of active cases to 36. Health officials in Prince Edward Island held a rare weekend news conference, but reported no new COVID-19 cases. Instead, officials said they have not been able to confirm the source of one of the new cases of COVID-19 announced the day before.They said it's unclear how a 15-year-old male student at Charlottetown Rural High School who also plays on a local hockey team contracted the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. "The investigation is ongoing and at this point we are unable to identify a single source of infection," P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters on Sunday. "We have been fortunate with all our previous cases in being able to identify a source or linkage giving us confidence that all our previous cases were related to out of province travel."Still, she said given the amount of testing completed in P.E.I., including 3,000 tests in the past week alone, Morrison said she is reassured the province does not have widespread community transmission.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. Previously released figures from Nova Scotia indicated nine out of 10 new cases were located in the central zone. The province later updated its figures to say all 10 were identified there.
LOS ANGELES — George Clooney is just like us, maybe. The star said he does his own haircuts with a device famously touted in infomercials. In an interview on “CBS Sunday Morning,” the Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker said he's been cutting his own hair for more than two decades. “My hair is really like straw,” Clooney said of his thick, salt-and-pepper thatch. “So it's easy to cut, can't really make too many mistakes. So years ago, I bought a thing called a Flowbee." “You did not,” said skeptical interviewer Tracy Smith. “The thing with the vacuum cleaner and clippers, yeah. I still have it," Clooney replied. “My haircuts take, literally, two minutes. ” Flowbee sales surged when the coronavirus pandemic limited access to salon and barber shops in some areas, Fortune magazine reported in late March. But as Clooney told CBS News correspondent Smith, he's been cutting his hair “for 25 years” and relies on the Flowbee. The product's Texas-based maker didn’t immediately respond Sunday to a request for comment. The device, first marketed in the late 1980s, has become entrenched in popular culture: It was spoofed in the movie “Wayne's World" and served as a punchline in TV's “Glee" and “The Nanny.” Stan Rosenfield, Clooney's longtime publicist, said Sunday he didn't know if Clooney tends his own hair. Although the actor is famed for pranking his co-stars, Rosenfield said it seemed unlikely this was one of his practical jokes. ___ AP Business Writer Sarah Skidmore Sell contributed from Portland, Oregon. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin finished a recount of its presidential results on Sunday, confirming Democrat Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump in the key battleground state. Trump vowed to challenge the outcome in court even before the recount concluded.Dane County was the second and last county to finish its recount, reporting a 45-vote gain for Trump. Milwaukee County, the state's other big and overwhelmingly liberal county targeted in a recount that Trump paid $3 million for, reported its results Friday, a 132-vote gain for Biden.Taken together, the two counties barely budged Biden's winning margin of about 20,600 votes, giving the winner a net gain of 87 votes.“As we have said, the recount only served to reaffirm Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin," Danielle Melfi, who led Biden's campaign in Wisconsin, said in a statement to The Associated Press.Trump campaign spokeswoman Jenna Ellis said in a statement that the Wisconsin recounts have “revealed serious issues” about whether the ballots were legal, but she offered no specific details to validate her claim.“As we have said from the very beginning, we want every legal vote, and only legal votes to be counted, and we will continue to uphold our promise to the American people to fight for a free and fair election,” Ellis said.With no precedent for overturning a result as large as Biden's, Trump was widely expected to head to court once the recount was finished. His campaign challenged thousands of absentee ballots during the recount, and even before it was complete, Trump tweeted that he would sue.“The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally, and that case will be brought after the recount is over, on Monday or Tuesday,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “We have found many illegal votes. Stay tuned!”The deadline to certify the vote is Tuesday. Certification is done by the Democratic chair of the Wisconsin Election Commission, which is bipartisan.The Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a conservative group, has already filed a lawsuit against state election officials seeking to block certification of the results. It makes many of the claims Trump is expected to make. Gov. Tony Evers’ attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss the suit. Evers, a Democrat, said the complaint is a “mishmash of legal distortions” that uses factual misrepresentations in an attempt to take voting rights away from millions of Wisconsin residents.Another suit filed over the weekend by Wisconsin resident Dean Mueller argues that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted.Trump’s attorneys have complained about absentee ballots where voters identified themselves as “indefinitely confined,” allowing them to cast an absentee ballot without showing a photo ID; ballots that have a certification envelope with two different ink colours, indicating a poll worker may have helped complete it; and absentee ballots that don’t have a separate written record for its request, such as in-person absentee ballots.Election officials in the two counties counted those ballots during the recount, but marked them as exhibits at the request of the Trump campaign.Trump’s campaign has already failed elsewhere in court without proof of widespread fraud, which experts widely agree doesn’t exist. Trump legal challenges have failed in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.The Associated Press
The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for "essential" reasons.In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today's change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.Both have been regularly extended since March."The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe," the release said."The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers."Exemption for amateur sports eventsThe release also said the government will begin accepting applications from "high-performance amateur sport organizations" seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don't qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they're essential workers.
It's cold, it gets dark early, and we're in the midst of a pandemic.In these tough times, food is one of the few things we can take comfort in.That's why at All Points West we have been doing the leg work to find some of the best comfort food in Greater Victoria — to help us all get through what looks to be an arduous winter ahead.Initially, the classic staples like chowders and curries sprung to mind. But as the journey continued, a burning question emerged: What is comfort food?The adventure started with a trip to Chinatown for a visit to a place called Noodle Fans, famed for its beef noodle soups.Owner Chris Lee says he wanted to serve food that people eat at home in China. "The kids like it, the friends like it, so we can copy it in the restaurant," said Lee.Mini He works at Noodle Fans. She says there are several good reasons why noodle soups are a breakfast comfort food in China."It's fast, it warms you up, it fills you and gives you energy to start your day; that's why it's super popular," said He.Noodle Fans initially had a lot of customers wanting to order the westernized Chinese food they were familiar with, like stir-fried noodles. "A lot of Canadians, they refuse to try anything with the soup. A lot of time they will ask for something dry or fried," said He. But customers who are more open-minded often come around, she said. "After they try our classic dish, the beef soup, they say, 'Oh, you were right, the broth is really rich!" 'This food changed them'Trying to expand people's idea of comfort food is a challenge faced not only by Noodle Fans. Trini to D Bone is a Trinidadian restaurant in Victoria that All Points West listener Yoni Bremner recommended. "The rotis fill your mouth and belly with warm, succulent, tender, excellently spiced ingredients wrapped in the most fresh and delicate flatbread wrap," Bremner wrote in an email.Jeffrey and Nirmala Singh are the husband and wife duo behind Trini to D Bone. The restaurant was born out of necessity when Jeffrey was laid off from his roofing job in 2008. The couple made the bold decision to open an authentic Trinidadian restaurant in a city with a very small Caribbean population."It was hard in the beginning because nobody on the Island had known about Trini cuisine," said Jeffrey.But Nirmala refused to compromise the authenticity of their food."I told Jeffrey off the bat, I am not westernizing my food," said Nirmala. "If you were to go into my mom's kitchen, this is exactly what you would get."After years of developing a small devoted following, word of mouth spread beyond the Trinidadian community and into the general public. And taste buds began to shift."At first when we started off, a lot of my customers would eat mild. Now, 10 years after, I can't even supply them with enough hot sauce ... this food changed them, they actually went out of their comfort zone," said Nirmala. Despite the huge amount of work involved in running a restaurant on their own, Jeffrey says the customers' reactions make it worthwhile."We have some customers that hug this [roti] wrap, put it next to their face as they're walking out, it brings a good feeling to your heart seeing this," said Jeffrey.
Saskatchewan's seven-day average of daily COVID-19 case numbers has reached 250 and there are now 20.9 new cases per 100,000 population in the province.This comes after the province announced 351 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the number of active cases to 3,605.Regina reported 120 new cases today while Saskatoon reported 94. The total number of active cases in the cities are 733 and 1,196 respectively.The north west region of the province reported 28 new cases, the south west reported 19, the south east reported 18 and the central east reported 15. The north east part of the province reported 12 new cases.The north central, far north west and south central all reported 10 new cases of COVID-19, while the far north east reported eight. The central west part of the province reported two and the far north central reported one new case Sunday.There were four new cases of the virus that needed residence information.There were 115 people who tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital; 92 were receiving inpatient care and 23 were in intensive care as of Sunday.The province announced amendments to the public health measures regarding movie theatres.People in movie theatres are allowed to consume food and beverages during the movie as long as they are seated and maintaining physical distance from others outside of their household.Yesterday, there were 3,826 tests processed in Saskatchewan.
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole accused the Liberal government Sunday of putting too much emphasis on partnering with a Chinese company for a COVID-19 vaccine in what turned out to be a failed deal.O'Toole said the Trudeau government only turned its attention to pre-ordering tens of millions of vaccine doses from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in August when its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine-maker CanSino finally collapsed after months of delays.The Council had issued CanSino a licence to use a Canadian biological product as part of a COVID-19 vaccine. CanSino was supposed to provide samples of the vaccine for clinical trials at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University, but the Chinese government blocked the shipments."I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China," O'Toole said at a morning news conference."If you look at the timeline, that's when Canada started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options," he added, saying he was concerned that "the Trudeau government was willing to almost double down on partnering with China" earlier in the pandemic.The government announced its major vaccine purchases in August after it confirmed the CanSino partnership had fallen through. At the time, it said its decision had come after careful consultations with its vaccine task force of health experts.The CanSino partnership with Dalhousie predated the deep freeze in Canada-China relations that occurred after the People's Republic imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in apparent retaliation for the RCMP's arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou nearly two years ago on an American extradition warrant.This past week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.As questions grew about the CanSino deal, Trudeau continued to defend his government's vaccine procurement policy, which he says has secured multiple options for the country. Trudeau also appointed a Canadian Forces general to lead the logistics of an eventual vaccine rollout with the Public Health Agency of Canada. The chairman of American vaccine maker Moderna told the CBC on Sunday that Canada is near the front of the line to receive 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it pre-ordered.Noubar Afeyan was asked on CBC's Rosemary Barton Live whether the fact that Canada committed to pre-purchase its doses before other jurisdictions means it will get its supply first. Afeyan confirmed that was the case."The people who are willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to," he said.O'Toole said with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland poised to deliver the government's long-awaited fiscal update on Monday, the Liberals need to do two things to spur economic recovery: offer a better plan on how it will rollout vaccines for Canadians and step up the distribution of rapid tests."There can't be a full economy, a growing economy, people working, people being productive without the tools to keep that happening in a pandemic. Those two tools are rapid tests, and a vaccine."Freeland's fall economic statement is expected to give a full accounting of the government’s record spending on programs to combat the pandemic. In July, the deficit was forecast to be at a record $343.2 billion but some estimates say it could easily top $400 billion.The government could announce new spending such as taking steps towards a national child-care system, and relief for battered industries such as travel and restaurants that will face an uphill struggle to recover from the pandemic.NDP finance critic Peter Julien sent Freeland a three-page letter urging her to take action on a variety of fronts to help struggling Canadian families during the pandemic.They included taking concrete action on establishing a national pharmacare plan to help Canadians pay for soaring prescription drug costs, and establish a national day-care strategy to help women who have been disproportionately hindered by the pandemic. Julien also urged Freeland to help Indigenous communities and abandon the government's plans to pay for the Trans-Mountain Pipeline and ramp up its fight against climate change.Green party Leader Annamie Paul called on Freeland to deliver "a positive vision for a green recovery" to accelerate Canada's transition to a carbon-neutral economy."We are optimistic that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available next year and so we must be prepared for what comes next," Paul said in a statement.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — She's fended off protesters who made a run at her husband. She's moved him farther from reporters during the coronavirus pandemic. She's supported his presidential ambitions again and again — except in 2004, when she deployed a novel messaging technique to keep Joe Biden from running. “No,” Jill Biden, then clad in a bikini, wrote in Sharpie across her stomach and then marched through a strategy session in which advisers were trying to talk her husband into challenging Republican President George W. Bush. Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden's many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband's career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama's vice-president. She's a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster. Now, with her husband on the brink of becoming the 46th president, Jill Biden is about to become first lady and put her own stamp on a position that traditionally is viewed as a model of American womanhood — whether that means hewing to old ways or finding new, activist ones, in the manner of Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, for example. She intends to keep working as a college professor, which would make her the only first lady to keep her day job outside the home. And if four decades in the public eye are any indication, she'll continue being Biden's chief protector. The role isn't completely unfamiliar territory for Jill Biden. She's been a political wife the entire time she's been married to Joe Biden. Plus, she had a bird's-eye view of what a first lady does during Obama's two terms. But the scrutiny level will change. And all eyes are on the incoming Biden administration to deliver what both Joe and Jill have promised — getting the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country under control. Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and the author of several books about first ladies, recalled Barbara Bush telling her: “You know, when I was second lady, I could say anything I wanted, and no one really paid much attention. But the minute I became first lady, everything became newsworthy.” Still, Jill Biden won’t have the learning curve most other new first ladies faced. “She’s been in the public eye for a long time," Gutin said. “She’s going in eyes wide open.” The coronavirus has killed more than 260,000 Americans and upended much of daily life. The Bidens offered themselves as agents of comfort at a time of loss and grief, experiences they know well particularly after their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. From the start, she brought comfort to the Biden family. Joe Biden's first wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. Jill Biden helped raise his surviving young sons, Beau and Hunter, before giving birth to their daughter, Ashley, in 1981. She refers to all of them as her children. As Joe Biden commuted from Delaware to Washington while serving as a senator, Jill Biden built a career as a teacher, ultimately earning two master’s degrees and then a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007. Throughout, Jill Biden's protective streak was notable. There she stood at his side, when Joe Biden withdrew from his first presidential bid under accusations of plagiarism. She says she emulated her mother's stoic style. Jill Biden's mother, she said, didn't even cry when her own parents died. She saw that as strength. “I decided early that I would never let my emotions rule me,” she wrote in her memoir, ”Where the Light Enters.” “As a political spouse, I’ve found that my stoicism often serves me well,” Jill Biden wrote. “In 1988, when Joe’s first presidential campaign started to look bleak, people were constantly looking for cracks in our team. We all felt scrutinized, but I refused to show weakness.” It showed early in the 2020 race when several women accused Biden of inappropriate touching. The candidate denied acting inappropriately but acknowledged that social norms had changed. He pledged that he would change, too. Jill Biden defended him. “I think what you don’t realize is how many people approach Joe — men and women, looking for comfort or empathy,” she told ABC’s ”Good Morning America." “But going forward, I think he’s gonna have to judge — be a better judge — of when people approach him, how he’s going to react. That he maybe shouldn’t approach them.” She recalled a time in her life when she had been treated inappropriately and didn't speak up. “I can remember specifically — it was in a job interview," Jill Biden said. "If that same thing happened today, I’d turn around and say, ‘What do you think you’re doin’?” She's quick to rally to her husband's side, sometimes physically. In New Hampshire in February, a man tried to cross into the roped-off area near Joe Biden. In a flash, Jill Biden crossed behind her husband and put her arms around the man, turned him around and helped push him away. A month later in Los Angeles, she similarly blocked one protester, then a second one, who had stormed the stage while Joe Biden was delivering his Super Tuesday victory speech. When the first one approached waving an anti-dairy sign and yelling, Jill Biden stepped between the protester and her husband. She did the same with the second one, this time putting her arms up to block the intrusion. Both were removed without coming in contact with the candidate. After the 27-second confrontation, Jill turned around saying, “We're okay,” and encouraged Joe to keep the event going. The Bidens then said it might be time for Secret Service protection, and they got it soon after. “I worry about Jill,” Joe Biden said. She's been protective during the pandemic. On Oct. 5 at New Castle Airport in Delaware, she moved her husband back from members of the media as he spoke outside his campaign plane before a trip to Miami. Like many American families, the Bidens spent Thanksgiving differently this year. They stayed at their house in Rehoboth, Delaware, rather than their usual “Nana-tucket,” as her grandchildren have called the Massachusetts island where the Bidens started going early in their marriage to establish a new holiday tradition. In 2020, instead of the usual sprawling family tableau, their daughter and her husband were the only Biden visitors to the house in Delaware. A Zoom call with the larger group was on the evening's agenda. Look, too, for Jill Biden to try to keep things light. “She's not your average grandmother,” granddaughter Naomi said on a video shown at the Democratic National Convention, recalling that Jill Biden once woke her up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning to go “soul cycling.” “She’s a prankster, she’s very mischievous,” Naomi added with a grin. “When she goes on a run, sometimes she'll find, like, a dead snake and she’ll pick it up and put it in a bag and use it to scare someone.” —- Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman Laurie Kellman, The Associated Press
Aiden Farrow is a lactation consultant who works to help maintain the breastfeeding bond between birthing parents and apprehended infants. “A large number of the children in our program are in foster care, many removed soon after birth and this is obviously a huge barrier to breastfeeding,” Farrow says. They work for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, as a lactation and infant feeding consultant, with newborns and children under the age of six. Aiden came into the lactation consultant role with over ten years of experience supporting breastfeeding parents and their babies. “I have a special interest in helping babies achieve one of their first developmental milestones, which, after breathing, is breastfeeding,” Farrow says. The right to breastfeed one’s baby should be upheld in the same way harvesting rights and traditional foods are protected, Farrow argues. “Human milk provides all the food and water a baby needs in their first six months of life and continues to be an important part of their diet until age two or beyond,” Farrow explains. “Breastfeeding is a traditional food that should be protected.” Breastfeeding can be really difficult for new parents, in many different ways — from the judgement others impose in public spaces, to the baby having trouble latching, Farrow adds. For Indigenous peoples, mothers, Two-spirit, transgender, or gender diverse peoples, this experience can be even more difficult, they add, due to the impacts of colonization, systemic racism, and a loss of connection to traditional breastfeeding and birthing practices. “Child removal interrupts social, cultural, and emotional bonds between parents, their children, and their Indigenous heritage. Supporting breastfeeding for babies in care needs to take a holistic view of what child removal means to the baby, the mother or parent, the family and the community,” says Farrow. B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), together with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), published a joint report in 2018, ‘Promoting Access to Breastfeeding in Child Welfare Matters.’ The report, which examines policies and practices to enhance and support access to breastfeeding, came after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of an Indigenous mother whose baby was removed from her care by MCFD three days after birth. In this particular case, the community’s lawyer petitioned for the mother to have daily access to her baby for breastfeeding and bonding. Soon after, the Court ordered MCFD to return the baby to the mother’s care. In the report, MCFD committed to producing guidelines for social workers regarding breastfeeding after child removal. Until those guidelines are established, social workers make decisions about breastfeeding babies who are in care, often without proper guidance, Farrow says. 57 percent of apprehended newborns in B.C. are Indigenous. The removal of children from their families can be devastating in more ways than one. “Child removal interrupts social, cultural, and emotional bonds between parents and their children and their Indigenous heritage. Indigenous children are grossly overrepresented in the care system in BC, removed primarily from their families for issues related to poverty,” Farrow adds. Consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and Bill C92: An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, Farrow believes child removal should be the “last resort.” A baby or child should have access to their family and community, as much as possible, Farrow argues. “Allowing for breastfeeding is part of that,” they add. “Giving the mother or parent a breast pump without adequate emotional support and little time with the baby at supervised visits in ministry office spaces, or busy playgroups, doesn’t create adequate conditions for parental bonding and successful breastfeeding.” Farrow wants to see social workers and parent support workers strategizing together on ways to help protect the important breastfeeding bond between parent and child. Jessie Hemphill, from the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, is a first time parent of 18 month-old Ida, named after her grandmother and great grandmother. For Hemphill, breastfeeding happened fairly easy, but she says she understands that’s not always the case. “Breastfeeding is so much harder than you would expect,” Hemphill says. “Those first few days or weeks, as my body got used to it, were a big struggle but at the same time, the connection was so profound. I was so happy that I was able to feed her.” Even now, at 18 months, Ida still nurses to get to sleep every night, Hemphill explains, and through the day to keep the connection going. “The depth of pain and grief that would come from being separated from your baby when you wanted to breastfeed, to not be able to do that, must feel like death,” she says. “It’s one of the most horrific punishments I can think of imposing on a mother and especially the child.” Breastfeeding is a fundamental part of how a new person comes into the world, Hemphill says. “There’s such a feeling of power that my body, this mother body, is able to produce the food that nourishes my baby, even after she’s come out of the womb,” Hemphill says. “To continue to provide for her that way made me feel powerful and connected, and just feels like such a universal experience, or near universal experience, that generations of women in my family experienced.” There was a time when breastfeeding in public was shamed, but Hemphill says that she hasn’t felt public pushback. In fact, she says she was supported in her workplace. Hemphill, who lives in Cowichan, is an instructor at UBC and Vancouver Island University, and has brought her baby to work with her and nursed her while lecturing. “There’s something about breastfeeding and the way that it connects our own well being so directly to our children. The better I take care of myself the better I am able to take care of my little one,” says Hemphill. “I just wish that any person that wishes to breastfeed their child, it’s important for them to have the right to do so.” Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced.Catherine Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
SYDNEY – Digital Mi'kmaq continues to find ways to help Indigenous students access e-learning in Atlantic Canada by donating over 700 laptops to Indigenous communities across the Atlantic region. Chris Googoo, Ulnooweg’s chief operating officer, says the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the systemic barriers Indigenous students face while accessing education. The company first helped with personal protection equipment but as the pandemic continued they switched gears to meet the needs of online learners. And the organization listened to the communities. Digital Mi’kmaq‘s “Backyard Science” programming is as an educational tool that balances modern science with Indigenous knowledge. Googoo sees it as an educational resource that helps Indigenous students see the link between the study of oceans, ecology and Indigenous knowledge. Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation also contributed $100,000 in grant funding to assist Indigenous communities to increase their educational capacity. Googoo says the laptops they donated cost between $800 to $900 each and were best-suited to run the special Digital Mi’kmaq programming it offered such as 3D tech, animation and robotics. About 250 of those laptops were donated to Nova Scotia with the majority headed to Eskasoni First Nation. “Nova Scotia still has accessibility issues,” says Googoo. He took part in a meeting that discussed the internet access challenges rural communities face in the province. Googoo says the province is committed to meeting those barriers by 2025. Both We’koqma’q and Eskasoni First Nation face internet accessibility issues because of their geographic locations and he knows communities are working to try to fix those problems. Eskasoni is still developing its own telecommunications company. But Digital Mi’kmaq did what they could by donating Chromebooks and laptops. Googoo said he was happy to help but he knows more issues need to be addressed. He thinks the Mi’kmaq education authority, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, is still chronically underfunded. Another issue laid bare by COVID-19 was access to food and food insecurity in Indigenous communities. And a partnership with the United Way helped five communities across the Atlantic provinces begin breaking ground on community food programs like food centres, community gardens and greenhouses. Potlotek First Nation is one that has already started on its greenhouse. The other communities include Lennox island, Eel River Bar, Annapolis Valley and Miapukek. Googoo says he's excited to find out what knowledge and stories on food security issues elders will pass on to younger Indigenous people.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
Switzerland has rejected measures that would have stiffened penalties against Swiss companies that violate human rights or harm the environment.View on euronews
Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade – Y aura-t-il des petits poissons des Chenaux à Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade cette année? C'est la question que plusieurs se posent, dont l'Association des pourvoyeurs de la rivière Sainte-Anne, alors que l'hiver débute tranquillement et que l'événement, lui, approche à grands pas. «On attend des réponses», souligne Jessika Lessard-Voisard, la directrice générale. Ces réponses, elle doivent venir de la santé publique régionale, qui doit notamment statuer sur le nombre de personnes qui seraient autorisées dans les chalets de pêche. «On souhaite pouvoir offrir une activité aux gens. On a pensé à des bulles familiales pour les chalets et on pourrait garder la patinoire ouverte aussi, il y aurait moyen de faire les choses», explique la DG. Il y a également toujours le risque que des pourvoyeurs lancent la serviette pour cette saison, une situation difficile à prévoir, soutient Mme Lessard-Voisard. «Souvent, c'est difficile d'avoir les éléments en main pour se faire un plan. On doit avoir plusieurs scénarios, des plans A, B, C, D, E, F, G... On essaie de rassurer tout le monde à travers de ça.» Bien qu'elle souhaite sauver la saison, Jessika Lessard-Voisard est réaliste : ce sera une année bien différente des autres. «On le sait que ça ne sera pas pareil, c'est pourquoi on va se concentrer sur la pêche particulièrement. On n'aura pas de festival ou ce genre d'activités pour s'assurer de respecter les consignes de la santé publique», ajoute-t-elle. Son collègue à l'Association et pourvoyeur lui-même, Steve Massicotte, s'avoue confiant de voir l'événement avoir bel et bien lieu dans les dates habituelles. «Je suis positif. Les pourvoiries sont ouvertes. On ne peut pas être mieux isolé qu'une famille dans une cabane de pêche», sourit-il. Une rencontre doit avoir lieu d'ici la fin de la semaine avec les autorités de santé pour déterminer la suite. «Vendredi, on devrait être fixé. On a hâte de savoir, c'est certain. Nous sommes bien positionnés avec la députée Sonia LeBel, qui porte bien le dossier à Québec. C'est vraiment la santé publique qui va décider, cependant», concède celui qui précise qu'une proposition de six personnes d'une même famille par cabane est actuellement étudiée. Amenée à se prononcer sur la question, la principale intéressée a réitéré l'importance de l'événement pour elle. «J’ai rencontré l’Association des pourvoyeurs de la rivière Ste-Anne il y a deux semaines pour discuter des enjeux entourant leurs activités cet hiver. Depuis, nous sommes en soutien aux démarches qu’ils effectuent auprès de la Santé publique afin de trouver un protocole sanitaire convenable pour encadrer adéquatement la pêche aux petits poissons des Chenaux pour cette saison-ci. Les discussions se poursuivent et il me fait plaisir de les soutenir à ce niveau», relate la députée de Champlain. Chez Tourisme Mauricie, le président Donald Desrochers confie que l'annulation de cette tradition mauricienne ferait «très mal», surtout sur le plan touristique. «C'est gros. Ça draine beaucoup de gens de l'extérieur. Tout le monde connaît ça, la pêche aux petits poissons.» «C'est l'une de nos activités hivernales très importante. Je reste optimiste que ça se tienne et j'ai bon espoir que les cabanes soient louées», exprime-t-il. En plus du maintient de l'événement lui-même, Mme Lessard-Voisard affirme qu'il faut par ailleurs réfléchir à l'avenir de l'Association des pourvoyeurs. «Il faut planifier la survie de l'association et pour ce faire, il faut qu'on puisse se voir en personne, dans le respect des mesures. C'est pourquoi on a demandé à la santé publique de pouvoir avoir une permission spéciale pour tenir une rencontre en ce sens. On a 18 pourvoyeurs, donc 18 façons de penser pour la pérennité des choses.»Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Nick Folk kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired, and the New England Patriots rallied in the second half to beat the Arizona Cardinals 20-17 on Sunday.James White rushed for two touchdowns for the Patriots (5-6), who earned seventh victory in their past eight meetings with the Cardinals. It was the second time this month that Folk hit a last-second game-winning field goal. His 51-yarder beat the New York Jets 30-27 on Nov. 9.Arizona (6-5) hasn’t beaten New England since 2012.Cam Newton struggled, finishing 9 of 18 for 84 yards and two interceptions. New England won the game despite finishing with 179 yards by taking advantage of Cardinals mistakes.But New England’s defence was solid, holding Arizona’s top-ranked offence, which entered the game averaging 414 yards, to 298 yards. Kenyan Drake rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns for Arizona.Kyler Murray finished 23 of 34 for 170 yards and an interception. Murray had 31 rushing yards and was held without a touchdown pass for the first time this season.Trailing 10-0 early, New England used a turnover in the third quarter to take its first lead of the game.Facing third down, Murray’s pass intended for DeAndre Hopkins was deflected at the line of scrimmage by Adam Butler and intercepted by Adrian Phillips at the Arizona 31.Six plays later, White scored on a 1-yard run to make it 17-10.Following a Patriots’ punt, Arizona tied it up again in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Drake with 8:02 remaining.A promising drive by New England was then halted when Dre Fitzpatrick intercepted Newton’s short pass intended for Damiere Byrd with 4:37 remaining.Arizona had a chance to take the lead, but Zane Gonzalez missed wide right on 45-yard field-goal attempt with 1:47 left.Newton’s streak of four consecutive games without an interception ended just three plays into the Patriots’ opening drive.Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks was unblocked on a blitz and hit Newton as he threw, allowing Markus Golden to come up with the easy pick.Arizona took over on the New England 23 and used a 19-yard pass from Murray to Andy Isabella to set up a 1-yard TD run by Drake two plays later.The Cardinals increased their lead to 10-0 in the second quarter when facing fourth-and-2 on the 7, White found the end zone on an option pitch from Newton.Arizona appeared to increase its lead just before halftime on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Murray to KeeSean Johnson. But a review showed Johnson’s knee was down before he crossed the goal line.The Cardinals went for it on fourth-and-1, but Drake’s run was stopped short by Akeem Spence and Ja’Whaun Bentley as time expired.OFF THE BOARDGunner Olszewski appeared to give the Patriots the lead early in the third quarter when he fielded Andy Lee’s short punt and returned it 82 yards for a touchdown. The score was nullified, though, after rookie Anfernee Jennings was called for an illegal blindside block.New England drove to the Arizona 4 after the penalty, but had to settle for Folk's 22-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.BLANKED AGAINNew England was held without a first-quarter TD for the ninth time this season.The Patriots entered the game having been outscored 46-21 in the opening period this season. Only two of those were offensive scores, with the other coming on a pick-6 by Devin McCourtyINJURIESCardinals: Defensive lineman Zach Allen left the game in the third quarter.UP NEXTThe Cardinals host the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.The Patriots visit the Chargers on Sunday for their first of two consecutive games in Los Angeles.___Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/khightower___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLKyle Hightower, The Associated Press
Jolly old St. Nick made an appearance in Cornwall, Ont., this weekend for a physically-distanced Santa Claus parade — a celebration that's become a rarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The "reverse" parade — which had the blessing of local public health officials — featured stationary floats which spectators drove past in their own vehicles, all part of a plan to keep people safe and crowds to a minimum.At the front of the line was the big man himself, Santa Claus, alongside his wife, Mrs. Claus."It's been a difficult year," Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement said. "And children and teachers in particular have been troopers as they've gone back to school." "And we want to make sure that they have family time, that they enjoy Christmas and Santa." Health unit ensured rules were followedThe Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), which covers Cornwall, is currently considered to be a yellow zone, the second-lowest level on Ontario's pandemic alert scale. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the top doctor for the EOHU, made sure the proper protocols were followed, Clement said. Other cities in eastern Ontario have chosen not to host parades during the pandemic. In Ottawa, the organizers of the annual Help Santa Toy Parade — one of a number held each year in the nation's capital — decided in September to call off this year's event.Kingston, Ont., chose to cancel its annual parade as well.Clement said her city felt it was important to still honour the tradition, as long as it was done safely and with the health unit's approval.'We are celebrating Christmas' While Santa Claus likely travelled the longest distance to make the event, he wasn't alone. Sue Torrance came from Prescott, Ont., about an hour's drive away, to see the floats decorated with lights."Our community doesn't have one," she said. "And we're doing it. We are celebrating Christmas." Torrance said she felt the parade kept people protected, with attendees bubbled within their vehicles. According to Clement, the parade's organizers held a similar event for Halloween and could be trusted to host Saturday's gathering safely. "[Children] might get a candy cane, which is delivered in a very safe way," the mayor said. "It was important to continue to celebrate, even though it's different [this year]."
Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and both leaders set high hopes that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will revive peace talks over a two-state solution to the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict, officials said. In a palace statement after meeting with Abbas in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, the monarch, who in recent months said Israeli policies and Trump's Middle East peace plan would lead to conflict, said he fully backed Palestinian statehood.
CHICAGO — Public health officials in Illinois on Sunday reported 57 more deaths from COVID-19, as well as 7,178 new confirmed and probable cases.There have been 720,114 COVID-19 cases in Illinois since the pandemic began. The death toll has reached 12,193 people.The state reported 62,740 tests in the past 24 hours with more than 10.4 million tests overall.Currently, 5,858 people in Illinois are being hospitalized for COVID-19, with 1,185 people in intensive care units.___HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:—Fauci: US may see ‘surge upon surge’ of virus in coming weeks—U.K. stocks up on vaccines, hopes to start virus shots within days— Federal judges uphold Kentucky governor's virus school order—When Turkey changed the way it reports COVID-19 infections, it confirmed what many long suspected: The country faces an alarming surge of cases—The European plazas where people gather at Christmas are new just empty squares due to the pandemic.—COVID-19 is causing havoc in the NFL: The Denver Broncos have no quarterbacks. The San Francisco 49ers have no home stadium. And the Baltimore Ravens may not have enough players available for their next game.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:NEW YORK -- New York City will reopen its school system to in-person learning and increase the number of days a week many children attend class even as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies in the city.Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that some elementary schools and pre-kindergarten programs will resume classes Dec. 7. Others will take longer to reopen their doors. The announcement marks a major policy reversal for the nation’s largest school system.It comes just 11 days after de Blasio announced that schools were shutting down because of a rising number of cases. The plan for reopening middle and high schools is still being developed.Some elementary schools and pre-kindergarten programs will resume classes Dec. 7, a week from Monday, the mayor said. Others will take longer to reopen their doors.___INDIANAPOLIS: Public health officials in Indiana say 24 more people have died from the new coronavirus for a total of 5,418 deaths in the state.The Indiana Department of Health reported 4,335 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The overall number of cases in the state is 333,312.Public health officials say there are another 267 people who likely died from COVID-19 based on clinical diagnoses but for whom there’s no positive test on record.___BEIRUT — The recorded coronavirus death toll in Lebanon has topped 1,000, just as the small Mediterranean country of about 6 million plans to ease a two-week nationwide lockdown.Lebanon’s Health Ministry reported 13 new deaths on Sunday, raising the toll to 1,004. An additional 1,266 new infections have brought registered infections to 126,903 since February.Health Minister Hassan Hamad said the government plans to ease a two-week lockdown that ends Monday. Hamad said the lockdown has given the battered health sector some breathing room, allowing the government to expand ICU capacity in the country.The lockdown included a curfew from sunset to sunrise.Lebanon is facing a crippling financial and economic crisis which had preceded the coronavirus restrictions and was only deepened by a massive explosion in Beirut’s port. The damage from the blast has further strained limited resources, particularly in the health sector.___ISTANBUL— Turkey’s COVID-19 fatalities continued to rise Sunday, hitting another record with 185 new deaths.The death toll has reached 13,558, according to health ministry statistics. The number of critically ill patients has climbed over 5,000.The ministry said 29,281 people had tested positive in the past 24 hours. The Turkish government resumed reporting all positive cases this week after only reporting symptomatic patients for four months.Nighttime curfews over the weekend are in effect for a second week across the country but media reports show packed public spaces during the day.___ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities announced 1,193 new coronavirus cases Sunday, a significantly lower daily figure than recently.The total number of cases since the pandemic began is 104,227.There were also 98 deaths over the past day, pushing the total number of fatalities to 2,321.Despite the drop, the public health system remained close to capacity, as far as the number of specialized intensive care units go. There are 603 patients on ventilators, authorities said.In the northern city of Thessaloniki, where most of the new cases have occurred recently, patients are now being transferred to private clinics requisitioned for the purpose. The first transfers took place Sunday.___BERLIN — Austria’s defence minister has tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the second member of the country’s Cabinet to be infected.The Austria Press Agency reported that her ministry said Sunday Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner is doing well and will work from home. She had already been in quarantine for 10 days because she had been in contact with another person who tested positive.Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg tested positive for the virus in mid-October and returned to his ministry later that month after showing no symptoms.Austria on Nov. 17 deepened lockdown measures in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. They are due to run though Dec. 6.Infection rates have declined in the Alpine country, but Chancellor Sebastian Kurz cautioned in an interview with Sunday’s edition of the Kleine Zeitung newspaper that Austrians will still have to live with “massive restrictions” after that.___ROME — For a second straight day, the number of additional deaths of COVID-19 patients dropped considerably in Italy, according to Health Ministry statistics released Sunday.Also lower were the number of beds occupied by hospitalized COVID-19 patients.There were 541 deaths of persons with confirmed coronavirus infections since Saturday, compared to 686 on the previous day and 827 on the day before that.Since the pandemic began, Italy has tallied 54,904 known deaths. Daily new caseload numbers also dropped considerably – 20,648 on Sunday, compared to 26,323 on Saturday -- but as often happens on weekends, there were far fewer COVID-19 swab tests performed since the previous day. Italy’s total of confirmed cases in the pandemic rose to 1,585,178.Doctors and other health experts are urging the Italian government to maintain most of the current anti-COVID-19 restrictions in the run-up before Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. They fear that crowds of travellers, shoppers and revelers would trigger another surge in contagion.___HONOLULU -- A group of Hawaii leaders launched a campaign Sunday to promote the islands as an appealing location for a remote office with a view.Now that many companies, especially in the tech industry, allow employees to work from anywhere during the pandemic, they hope Hawaii will be alluring.They’re also throwing in roundtrip tickets to Honolulu for the first 50 approved applicants.Some say high-paid workers will bolster an economy decimated by dramatically fewer tourists.Others worry what those with Silicon Valley money will mean for housing, especially when there’s already a crunch for affordable places to live.___PRAGUE — The Czech government said Sunday it is easing measures imposed to contain the new coronavirus due to falling numbers of new confirmed cases.Health Minister Jan Blatny said all stores, restaurants and bars can reopen on Thursday and a ban on Sunday sales is lifted.Restaurants can be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., though they are limited to 50% of their capacity. Stores and shopping centres also must limit the number of customers.Hair salons, fitness centres and gyms are allowed to reopen, as are zoos, museums and galleries.The Czech Republic was among the hardest hit by a new wave of infections in the fall, but the number of new cases has been on a decline since Nov 4.The country of almost 10.7 million had 518,649 confirmed cases with 8,054 fatalities. The day-to-day increase of new cases reached 2,667 on Saturday.___PARIS — France’s highest administrative court on Sunday ordered a rethink of a 30-person attendance limit for religious services put in place by the government to slow down the spread of coronavirus.The measure took effect this weekend as France relaxes some virus restrictions, but it faced opposition by places of worship and the faithful who called it arbitrary and unreasonable. Even before the ruling, several bishops had announced they would not enforce the restrictions and some churches were expected defy it.The Council of State has ordered that Prime Minister Jean Castex modify the measure within three days.French churches, mosques and synagogues started opening their doors again to worshippers this weekend — but only a few of them, as France cautiously starts reopening after its latest virus lockdown.Many people expressed irritation outside several Paris churches where priests held services for groups that numbered over 30.___BAGHDAD — Iraq has reopened its schools amid a raging pandemic that has claimed more than 12,000 lives across the country, with kids returning to socially-distanced classrooms and other safety measures Sunday.Students will be attending school only one day per week according to a rotation system meant to prevent crowding and the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the Education Ministry.Iraq, like much of the rest of the world, has resorted to distance learning after schools closed in February due to the virus outbreak. But online education is out of reach for many in a country with poor infrastructure that has suffered decades of war.Iraq has the second-highest outbreak and number of deaths in the Middle East region after Iran, with more than 500,000 confirmed cases, according to Health Ministry figures.Daily infection rates average 2,400 cases per day — a slower rate than in previous weeks — but health workers say the number may be higher as many Iraqis with symptoms choose to stay home and avoid hospitals to get tested.___ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has recorded 43 more deaths and 2,829 new COVID-19 cases.With the new figures, Pakistan's tally of COVID-19 deaths is now 7,985.___HONG KONG — Hong Kong has reported 115 new coronavirus infections, the first time it has seen cases in the triple digits since Aug. 2.The government on Sunday also announced that classes at kindergarten, primary and secondary schools will be shut for the rest of the year in light of the worsening coronavirus situation in the city.Of the 115 infections reported Sunday, 24 were untraceable. Another 62 were linked to recent outbreaks in dance studios across the city, taking the total number of infections in that cluster to 479, health officials said.Employees and recent guests at three restaurants in the city have also been ordered to undergo compulsory testing after multiple positive cases had been linked to the venues.Hong Kong has reported 6,239 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, with 109 deaths.___SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is shutting down indoor gyms offering intense workout classes and banning year-end parties at hotels in the greater Seoul area to fight the virus.Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Sunday authorities will also ban the operation of private music institutes teaching singing and wind instruments and saunas at public bath houses in the capital area. He said fitness centres, cafes and libraries operating inside apartment complexes will also be closed. The new steps will be effective from Tuesday.The country reported 450 new cases on Sunday. South Korea on Thursday registered more than 500 new virus cases for the first time in eight months.—-PHOENIX — University of Arizona researchers say the current surge in the coronavirus outbreak will present the state with a hospital crisis that could become a disaster unless the state takes steps such as ordering a three-week stay-home shutdown and implementing a statewide mask mandate.Members of the university’s COVID Modeling Team said failing to take such steps would be like facing a major forest fire without evacuation orders. It also recommends providing economic aid to affected small businesses and families and preventing evictions and foreclosures.The team has tracked the outbreak since last spring and made its recommendations in a letter Friday to the state Department of Health Services.Many local governments have imposed mask mandates since Gov. Doug Ducey last summer lifted a prohibition on such orders. The local mandates cover an estimated 90% of the state’s population but enforcement is lax or nonexistent in some places.Arizona on Saturday reported 4,136 additional known COVID-19 cases and 36 more deaths.The Associated Press