As anxious Americans await a winner in the presidential election, election offic ials in many states are coming forward to defend the security and integrity of vote counting process. (Nov. 6)
As anxious Americans await a winner in the presidential election, election offic ials in many states are coming forward to defend the security and integrity of vote counting process. (Nov. 6)
WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,? the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,? Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.Matthew Daly, Zeke Miller And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The provincial governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, announced Monday morning that anyone arriving to the provinces from other regions in the Maritimes will have to self-isolate for 14-days, breaking down the Atlantic bubble.
Global aviation body IATA is developing a set of mobile apps to help passengers to navigate COVID-19 travel restrictions and securely share test and vaccine certificates with airlines and governments, it said on Monday. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents many of the world's major airlines, plans to pilot the Travel Pass platform by year-end and deploy it for Android and Apple iOS phones in the first half of next year. Airlines are pressing governments to replace traffic-stifling quarantine requirements with systematic COVID-19 testing, with some success.
Bruce, the fiberglass shark made from the “Jaws” mould, is ready for his close-up. The 1,208 pound, 25-foot-long, 45-year-old shark, famous for being difficult to work with on the set of Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller, on Friday was hoisted up in the air above the main escalator of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles where he will greet guests for the foreseeable future. And this time, he co-operated.It is the culmination of years of planning, including a seven-month restoration by special effects and makeup artist Greg Nicotero. The shark is expected to be a major draw for the museum, which plans to open its doors to the public on April 30, 2021.Super fans know that the “Jaws” crew started calling the shark Bruce after Spielberg’s lawyer Bruce Ramer. They’ll also know that the Bruce that will greet guests in the museum wasn’t technically in “Jaws.” He's a replica and it’s the last of his kind. The three mechanical Great Whites designed by art director Joe Alves were destroyed when production wrapped. But once the film proved to be a box office phenomenon, a fourth shark was made from the original mould. For 15 years he hung at Universal Studios Hollywood as a photo opportunity for visitors until he wound up at the Sun Valley junkyard he would call home for the next 25. Nathan Adlan, who inherited his father’s junkyard business, donated him to the museum in 2016.But Bruce wasn’t quite camera ready. A quarter century in the California sun, plus all the years of being re-painted at Universal had taken its toll on the poor creature, who badly needed care and attention. Nicotero, who has worked on “Day of the Dead” and “The Walking Dead,” said he got into the business because of “Jaws” and volunteered for the task of bringing him back to life.“One of the great things about being the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is that we have access to Academy members in all craft areas of the industry,” said Academy Museum Director Bill Kramer. “We can call on our members and other members of the film industry who have either worked on the film that the artifact is from or know enough about the provenance and work that had been done to help us restore it. We’re in an incredibly privileged position.”Restoration was one thing, but loading Bruce into the museum proved to be another ordeal. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano made sure to account for large-scale objects in his restoration of the Saban Building, which was originally the May Company department store. But Bruce is their biggest piece to date and everyone soon realized that he wouldn't be able to get into the building with his fins attached.Last week Bruce was transported from a storage facility on a 70-foot flatbed to the museum at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard where engineers, construction workers and art handlers removed two panels of glass three stories up to get him into the building. Once inside with fins reattached and a final touching up, Bruce was hooked onto five cables, each of which could hold his weight if any were to fail, and hoisted up on a truss by remote control to get into position in the building’s “spine” where he faces East and is visible from Fairfax.Shraddha Aryal, Vice-President of Exhibition Design and Production, described the years of painstakingly detailed modeling and work that went in to preparing for this moment, including full scale mock-ups and light tests to ensure that all of Bruce’s 116 teeth would be visible to tourists.Seeing him lifted into the building was “such an exciting moment,” she said.Kramer said they expect Bruce to be a huge draw for visitors, which is why he’ll be hanging in a public area where people can see him without having to pay for a museum ticket. Almost a half century after Bruce made generations of kids and adults scared to get in the water, he's now beckoning film lovers into a museum.“We plan on having Bruce greet our visitors for as long as we can keep him up there,” Kramer said. “It’s a free space and a free moment for our visitors to bring delight and hopefully inspire them to learn more about the movies, the history of visual effects and how this prop was made.”Curious visitors can come and check out the massive great white, the restaurant and the Spielberg Family Gallery to see a 10-minute film on the history of cinema before even committing to purchasing a ticket.There will also be a public programming series on conservation and restoration drawing on items from the collection that have been restored including the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” the Aries-1B from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the extra-terrestrial from “Alien” and, of course, Bruce.“There are so many stories that can take you places just through this one object,” Kramer said.___Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
HURON COUNTY – Gift giving just got easier in Huron County with the release of an online wish book on Nov. 12. Highlighting local businesses, the Wish Book provides plenty of gift ideas from retailers and companies across Huron County. Whether looking for a handcrafted one-of-a-kind item or popular brand name products, everyone can find great gift-giving ideas available right in their backyard. According to a press release from Huron County, Canadians spent an average of $1,593 on holiday gifts last year. Not only does shopping locally keep those dollars in Huron communities, but purchasing gifts from local merchants is also the most convenient choice to avoid crowded malls, unexpected delivery delays from online retailers, and making unnecessary trips out of town. There will be daily gift-giving inspiration posts between now and Dec. 24. A weekly draw for $100 in gift certificates from local merchants on Ontario’s West Coast Facebook and Instagram pages. You can view the Huron County Wish Book at https://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/wishbook and scroll through all of the gift ideas to show support for Huron County businesses and communities this holiday season. The County of Huron developed the Huron County Wish Book in partnership with the Blyth BIA, Central Huron BIA, Community Futures Huron, Goodrich BIA, Huron County Chamber of Commerce Seaforth BIA, Municipality of Bluewater, South Huron Chamber of Commerce, Town of Goderich, Wingham BIA and the Zurich District Chamber of Commerce.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
NORTH HURON – A new investigator was appointed by North Huron to look into livestock and poultry incidents, when they have been injured or killed as a result of wildlife predators. The current municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer, Keith Black, notified the township of his resignation recently and was thanked for his many years of service. Following Black’s resignation, the township initiated a public recruitment process to fill the position. According to Carson Lamb, who prepared the report for council, at the closing date of the advertisement, no applicants expressed interest in the position. Randy Scott expressed his interest after the township reached out to other area municipalities to see if any individual would be interested in the position. Scott brings his knowledge and experience to North Huron. He will be enlarging his present territory of Howick Township, where he currently holds the investigator position. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture administers the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP). They provide compensation to eligible applicants whose livestock, poultry, or honeybees have been damaged or killed due to wildlife. The OWDCP stipulates that municipalities must appoint a municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer to investigate incidents of damage that have been reported to the clerk of the municipality. Under the OWDCP, the municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer is responsible for: · Carrying out a full and impartial investigation within 72 hours of receiving the notification of the injury or death of livestock or poultry. · Taking three to six colour photos per eligible kill/injury incurred and collecting all necessary information to complete the application accurately. · Providing a completed program application to the owner and the clerk of the municipality within seven business days of completing an investigation.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
LONDON — Google faces fresh regulatory scrutiny in Britain over plans to revamp its ad data system, after an industry lobbying group complained to the competition watchdog that the changes would cement the U.S. tech giant's online dominance. Marketers for an Open Web, a coalition of technology and publishing companies, said Monday that it's urging the U.K. competition watchdog to step in and force Google to delay the rollout of its “privacy sandbox” scheduled for early next year. The new technology would remove so-called third party cookies that allow users to be tracked across the internet by storing information on their devices, replaced by tools owned by Google. That means login, advertising and other features would be taken off the open web and placed under Google’s control, the group said. The Competition and Markets Authority confirmed it received the complaint. “We take the matters raised in the complaint very seriously, and will assess them carefully with a view to deciding whether to open a formal investigation under the Competition Act,” it said in a statement, adding that if the concerns need urgent attention, it would consider using “interim measures" to stop any suspected anti-competitive conduct pending a full investigation. The complaint follows up on concerns about Google's new system that the watchdog raised in a July report about online platforms and digital advertising. The report recommended the British government adopt a new regulatory approach to governing digital giants making big money from online ads. Google said the new technology will increase privacy for users while also supporting publishers. “The ad-supported web is at risk if digital advertising practices don’t evolve to reflect people’s changing expectations around how data is collected and used," the company said. Google's Chrome is the world's dominant web browser, and many others like Microsoft's Edge are based on its Chromium technology. Google controls more than 90% of the U.K.’s 7.3 billion-pound ($8.8 billion) search advertising market, the CMA said in its July report. Third-party cookies allow ad buyers to more effectively target their ads to web users. Privacy sandbox will deny publishers access to the cookies they use to sell digital ads, which will crimp their revenues by up to two-thirds, Marketers for an Open Web said. The group said Google’s changes will move the digital ad business “into the walled garden of its Chrome browser, where it would be beyond the reach of regulators.” It wants a delay until authorities come up with long term remedies to mitigate Google's dominance over key parts of the web. ___ For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology ___ Follow Kelvin Chan at www.twitter.com/chanman Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press
LONDON — Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world.The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said at a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in one of the dosing regimens tested; it was less effective in another. Earlier this month, rival drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective.While the AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), the Pfizer and Moderna products must be stored at temperatures approaching minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 Fahrenheit).The AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper.AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.AstraZeneca applied for approval of its vaccine candidate in Canada on Oct. 1, under a special process that is allowing Health Canada to review COVID-19 vaccines for use at the same time as the vaccines are finishing their final clinical trials. Pfizer and Moderna have also applied for the rolling-review process.Canada signed a deal with AstraZeneca at the end of September to secure 20 million doses of the highly touted vaccine. The federal government has not said when those doses would be available to Canadians, but they can't be distributed here until Health Canada gives the vaccine the green light for use.Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed they weren’t competing with other projects and said multiple vaccines would be needed to reach enough of the world’s population to end the pandemic.“We need to be able to make a lot of vaccine for the world quickly, and it’s best if we can do it with different technologies so that if one technology runs into a roadblock, then we’ve got alternatives, we've got diversity,'' professor Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford team, told The Associated Press. “Diversity is going to be good here, but also in terms of manufacturing, we don’t want to run out of raw materials.”AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective.That means that, overall, when both ways of dosing are considered, the vaccine showed an efficacy rate of 70%.Gilbert said researchers aren't sure why giving a half-dose followed by a larger dose was more effective, and they plan to investigate further. But the answer is probably related to providing exactly the right amount of vaccine to get the best response, she said.“It's the Goldilocks amount that you want, I think, not too little and not too much. Too much could give you a poor quality response as well ...,'' she said. "I’m glad that we looked at more than one dose because it turns out to be really important.”The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated with a given supply of the vaccine.“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Of those, 11,636 people received the vaccine — while the rest got a placebo.Overall, there were 131 cases of COVID-19. Details on how many people in the various groups became ill weren’t released Monday, but researchers said they will be published in the next 24 hours.Late-stage trials of the vaccine are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.Researchers said they expect to add the half dose-full dose regimen to the U.S. trial in a “matter of weeks.’’ Before doing so they must discuss the changes with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The AstraZeneca trials were paused earlier this year after a participant in the U.K. study reported a rare neurological illness. While the trials were quickly restarted in most countries after investigators determined the condition wasn’t related to the vaccine, the FDA delayed the U.S. study for more than a month before it was allowed to resume.AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said.British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.From the beginning of their collaboration with AstraZeneca, Oxford scientists have demanded that the vaccine be made available equitably to everyone in the world so rich countries can't corner the market as has happened during previous pandemics.Leaders of the world's most powerful nations on Sunday agreed to work together to ensure “affordable and equitable access" to COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines.“If we don’t have the vaccine available in many, many countries, and we just protect a small number of them, then we can’t go back to normal because the virus is going to keep coming back and causing problems again," Gilbert said. “No one is safe until we’re all safe.”___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakDanica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopia’s government is again warning residents of the besieged capital of the embattled Tigray region as the clock ticks on a 72-hour ultimatum before a military assault, saying “anything can happen.”Senior official Redwan Hussein told reporters Monday that the Tigray regional leaders are “hiding out in a densely populated city; the slightest strike would end up losing lives.”Human rights groups and others were alarmed over the weekend when Ethiopia’s military warned civilians in the Tigray capital, Mekele, that there would be “no mercy” if they don’t “save themselves” before the offensive to flush out defiant regional leaders. Amnesty International warns that deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects “is prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitutes war crimes.”Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister, issued a 72-hour ultimatum Sunday for the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, to surrender.Redwan said that Mekele, a city of around 500,000 people, is now encircled at a distance of about 50 kilometres (30 miles), and with rougher terrain left behind “what remains is the plain land, easier for tanks.”He added, “by providing a brute fact, it is letting people to understand the reality and make the right choice.” Ethiopia’s government is urging Mekele residents to separate themselves from the TPLF leaders in time.Cara Anna, The Associated Press
TORONTO – The Government of Canada has launched a new initiative to modernize its radioactive waste policy. Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan launched the inclusive engagement process on Nov. 16. and asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to lead the process. A press release from NWMO said all of Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is “safely managed today in interim storage.” An integrated strategy will ensure the material continues to be managed in accordance with international best practices over the longer-term. Building on previous work, the NWMO says this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning while looking further into the future. “This is important work, and we look forward to lending our expertise to make informed and practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy for low- and intermediate-level waste,” said Laurie Swami, president and CEO of the NWMO. “I want to thank Minister O’Regan for entrusting us to lead this process.” The Government of Canada will engage interested Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, waste producers, owners, and other government levels. Their objective is to elaborate on the existing policy to provide greater leadership on radioactive waste management and ensure that they continue to meet international best practices. A letter sent to Swami by O’Regan said, “I am requesting the NWMO to lead this dialogue and to develop Canada’s Integrated Strategy for radioactive waste for my review and consideration. I believe that the NWMO is uniquely positioned to lead this work as a leader in used nuclear fuel management and public engagement.” O’Regan said the integrated strategy should build on the plan developed by NWMO for the long-term management of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. The strategy, he said, should include: • A description of the current waste management situation in Canada in terms of current and future volumes, taking into account potential small modular reactor waste, characteristics, locations, and ownership of the waste. • An update on current plans and progress in advancing long-term management and disposal solutions for Canada’s wastes as well as the gaps that must be addressed. • Conceptual approaches for dealing with our current and future radioactive waste inventory, including technical options for long-term management or disposal of the various waste types and options for the number of long-term waste management facilities in Canada. • Considerations regarding the staging, integration, establishment, and operation of long-term waste management facilities. O’Regan stressed the importance that the NWMO carry out this important task in a manner that is open, transparent, and inclusive. He added that it must be built on a solid foundation of trust, integrity, and respect for all Canadians. “The dialogue should not detract from the NWMO’s current mandate to implement Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, known as Adaptive Phased Management. That mandate is clear, and your progress to date is commendable,” O’Regan said. “This work needs to continue to progress in an effective and efficient manner. I would also emphasize that this dialogue and the resulting Integrated Strategy are not intended to replace other projects currently in progress.” Karine Glenn, strategic project director for the NWMO, said that the organization looks forward to the process. “For more than 50 years, Canadian nuclear technology has been in our lives – powering our homes, making life-saving medical treatments, and bringing safe food to our tables,” said Glenn. “I look forward to this being a process of informed, balanced dialogue about what we must do to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the remaining hazards of this material long after we are gone.” More details regarding the process will be shared in the coming weeks. Interested individuals and organizations will have various ways to participate while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested parties are invited to sign up for updates at nwmo.ca/radwasteplanning.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
BROCKTON – Mayor Chris Peabody said Tuesday, “There’s a lot of anxiety about rising numbers of COVID-19.” He said that while Grey-Bruce is still Green, looking at the numbers, a move to Yellow will probably happen. He was pleased to note that all the people he saw at the Hometown Christmas Market event in Walkerton on the weekend were following the safety guidelines, including wearing masks. While there’s no meeting of Brockton council this week, Bruce County council is holding a number of committee meetings. Among the topics on the various agendas are development fees.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state, another setback for President Donald Trump. (Nov. 23)
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.MOVIES— The Christmas movie, that yuletide evergreen, is subtly changing. “Happiest Season,” which premieres Wednesday on Hulu, has many of the genre's comforting standards — a homecoming trip, family discord, a secretly planned engagement — but it opens the holiday comedy to a fresh cast of characters, and comes away all the more charming for it. Writer-director Clea DuVall's film — originally planned as a theatrical release by Sony Pictures — stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as Harper and Abby, a couple who travel to Harper's Waspy family for the holidays. Just before they arrive, Harper confesses she isn't out to her family. The spirited supporting cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Levy.— “Superintelligence,” too, is a studio film uprooted to a streaming service by the pandemic. The Melissa McCarthy comedy, her latest with director-husband Ben Falcone ("Tammy," “The Boss"), had been headed to theatres but will instead debut Thursday on HBO Max. In it, an artificial-intelligence supercomputer voiced by James Corden tasks McCarthy's unemployed character with saving the world.— Ironically, the week's top Netflix release is the one that's been playing in theatres. After two weeks in select cinemas, Ron Howard's “Hillbilly Elegy” begins streaming Tuesday. The adaptation of J.D. Vance's much-talked-about 2016 bestseller hasn't been a hit with critics ( including this one ), but it's also a kind of regular feature to the season: a big 'ol helping of awards bait, with a handful of big performances by elite actors (Glenn Close, Amy Adams).—AP Film Writer Jake CoyleMUSIC— Miley Cyrus is ready to rock ‘n’ roll on her new album. The pop star recruited some famous rock stars to help on her seventh studio release “Plastic Hearts,” including Stevie Nicks, Billy Idol and Joan Jett. And Mick Rock, the iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographer who has shot everyone from David Bowie to Debbie Harry, photographed the “Plastic Hearts” cover art. But pop fans shouldn’t worry too much about Miley’s rock sound, the album – out Friday – also features a collaboration with hitmaker Dua Lipa and includes producers like Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars) and Louis Bell (Post Malone).— Speaking of Dua Lipa, the Brit has had a major year in music thanks to the success of her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia” and the smash hit single “Don’t Start Now.” She’ll celebrate her big year on Friday with “Studio 2054,” a multidimensional live experience where Lipa is promising fans “a night of music, mayhem, performance, theatre, dance and much more.” The singer said there will be “surprise superstar guests” at the event, and standard tickets costs $11.99.— Grammy-winning Chicago-based rockers Smashing Pumpkins will release a double album on Friday. “CYR” features 20 tracks produced by founding member and frontman Billy Corgan. The band’s 11th album also features founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin as well as guitarist Jeff Schroeder. “CYR” is the follow-up to 2018’s “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN” – Corgan, Iha and Chamberlin’s first collaborative album in 18 years.— AP Music Editor Mesfin FekaduTELEVISION— If you like “Bones” and “CSI” but just need more French accents, your best bet is the terrific NOVA special “Saving Notre Dame.” The hour-long PBS documentary airing Wednesday shows the incredible lengths architects, engineers and craftspeople have gone to restore the iconic Paris cathedral stricken by 2019's fire. There is detective work — where did the original limestone come from? — and painstaking efforts to reclaim the building’s glory, like stained glass specialists using cotton swabs to remove toxic lead. Everyone wears wear full hazard protection gear as they navigate a “giant house of cards.”— Can you have a “Saved by the Bell” without Screech? Peacock is hoping fans won't notice that character's absence when its sequel to the popular TV series brings back members of the original cast — Elizabeth Berkeley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar — but not Dustin Diamond, who played the quirky Screech. In this sequel kicking off Wednesday, Gosselaar is California governor who has a son at Bayside High, Berkeley is a guidance counsellor and Lopez is once again A.C. Slater, now a gym teacher.— It happens all the time: You wake up next to a dead body in a Bangkok hotel. In the case of HBO Max’s adaptation of “The Flight Attendant,” the comedy and darkness work simultaneously. Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” plays an air hostess with a drinking problem whose looney attempts to cover up her part in the death place her in the crosshairs of the FBI. The first three episodes of the limited series premier Thursday, with the first one free now if you're willing to give HBO Max your email.— AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy___Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.The Associated Press
Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared two Peel police officers of wrongdoing in the Sept. 10, 2019, death of a 34-year-old Mississauga man who died after he was Tasered at a Malton home. According to a Friday news release, Special Investigations Unit director Joseph Martino determined “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s death.” The man, who has not been named by police or the SIU, died after he was Tasered during an interaction with police after two officers went to the home following multiple calls from family members inside. “Soon after arriving, officers became involved in an interaction with a 34-year-old and shortly after apprehended him,” the SIU report of the incident said. The man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival. According to the SIU, two Peel officers were called to the home on Morning Star Drive near Cambrett Drive around 9 p.m after a man complained that his brother was acting erratically. After entering the home, the officers found the man agitated, and one of the officers deployed his Taser twice in succession, the SIU said in its report on the case. The Taser appeared to have no effect, and the man then removed its wires and ran toward the front door “yelling and flailing his arms,” the report said. Near the door, the same officer grabbed the man, and during an attempt to arrest him the other officer also deployed his Taser. According to the SIU, the officers were eventually able to overpower the man on the ground outside and handcuffed him with this hands behind his back. Another officer arrived while the man was restrained and, according to the SIU, he continued to yell, kick and struggle until the officers called for paramedics. They arrived around 9:30 p.m. to find the man prone, held down by one or two officers, the SIU said. According to the report, the man appeared to lose consciousness after he was placed on a stretcher, and he was pronounced dead in hospital. Following an autopsy, a pathologist determined the Tasering likely “did not play a major role, if any,” in the man’s death. The pathologist found his cause of death to be from “excited delirium (cocaine and ethanol toxicity) during restraint,” saying “the cumulative effects of agitation and struggles, position with impaired respiratory movements and cocaine likely all contributed to cause sudden cardiac arrest.” Neighbours told the Star the man lived at the home with his mother, and that his father had died recently. The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. This ruling comes at a time when the SIU is under increasing pressure from advocates and the relatives of several Peel residents shot or killed by police since 2019. Those cases include: The Nov. 20, 2019, death of Clive Mensah, a 30-year-old mentally ill who died after Peel police Tasered him near his home. The Jan. 7, death of Jamal Derek Jr. Francique, a 28-year-old Mississauga man who was shot and killed by a Peel officer. The April 6 death of D’Andre Campbell, 26, who was shot and killed in his home by a Peel officer. The Mother’s Day shooting of Chantelle Krupka, who continues to undergo physiotherapy after she was shot in the abdomen. The June 20 shooting of 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry, who killed inside his Malton apartment, sparking public uproar and a series of protests. The SIU has been criticized for the length of its investigations and perceptions of low transparency and poor communications with victims’ families. Of those outstanding cases, the SIU has completed its investigation into only Krupka’s case — for which a rookie Peel officer was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm. In a rare move, the accused officer, Valerie Briffa, resigned soon after she was charged. According to the SIU’s recent annual report, the watchdog took an average of 136 days to close a case in 2019 — or about four-and-a-half months per case. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpicJason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
The number of COVID-19 cases among Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and older is surging far more rapidly than in any other age group as health officials grapple with a growing list of outbreaks in care homes. According to the latest provincial update on Sunday, the cumulative number of cases among people aged 80 and over is 213. That's a 69 per cent increase from only one week before, when cases among that age group numbered 126.By comparison, the average week-over-week increase in the four younger age groups measured by health officials was 30 per cent. On Monday, the number of seniors 80 and older in the province with known COVID-19 infections increased to 231.This surge among the population most vulnerable to COVID-19 comes as health care workers deal with active outbreaks in seven long-term care homes.The latest long-term care home added to the province's daily list of active outbreaks, Parkside Extendicare, is in Regina. When other care homes (including privately owned ones), seniors residences, assisted living facilities and group homes are factored in, 20 homes are now dealing with active outbreaks.34 residents, 4 staff at Luther Special Care Homes infectedThe largest known outbreak at a long-term care home is at the Luther Special Care Home, nestled in Saskatoon's Varsity View neighbourhood.According to an email update sent to families on Sunday night, 34 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 28 on Saturday. Four staff members are also infected and a total of 23 staff members are self-isolating, a care home spokesperson said Monday."Staffing at the care home has become strained, however, we are working with our partners within the health system and our staff as we strive to maintain our high standard of quality care," Ivan Olfert, the home's operations lead, said in an emailed statement. Staffing ratios was already raised as a concern by a family member during a 2019 inspection of the facility. Seniors complex connected to homeLuther Special Care Home is connected to the residential Luther Tower seniors complex.Allan Grundahl, head of the tenants board at Luther Tower, said no tower residents have tested positive for the virus and movement between the tower and Luther Special Care Home is restricted.According to the 2019 inspection, Luther Special Care Home is a spacious facility that includes a secure unit for 49 residents in an older building dating back to 1955 and more than 100 other residents in a newer, three-floor addition. What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
With COVID-19 health restrictions putting a hold on public gatherings, there is still some Christmas fun to be had at the Festival of Trees. While the event is usually a three-day festival including the Ladies Holiday Luncheon and the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Cindy Amerongen, executive director of the Northern Lights Health Foundation (NLHF), said planning the auction alone was a complex task. “At first, we didn’t see how we were going to do it,” said Amerongen. “We knew we couldn’t have the community come in how they’re used to doing.” With health restrictions in mind, the NLHF began exploring larger locations which would allow for social distancing. They settled on the north terminal of the Fort McMurray airport, which fits up to 40 people at a time. People entering the event after booking timeslots online. “Our goal this year was giving people a place to go to and a place to feel like there’s happening for Christmas,” said Amerongen. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for mental health services in the community, said Amerongen, as people struggle with delayed surgeries and isolation. “As time wears on, that loneliness is really setting in for a lot of people,” she said. “It’s something that plays with your mind.” This year, Amerongen hopes this event will help break the cycle of isolation people have felt. The trees can be viewed at the airport’s north terminal until Nov. 28. On Friday, the NLHF announced a drive-through light display called Bright Nights at Abram’s Landing. The event is also a fundraiser for the NLHF and will include a series of Christmas-themed light-up displays. Bright Nights runs from Dec. 6 to 9 and visitors can book a timeslot online. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
It’s no secret that many rural and remote Indigenous communities suffer with lower-quality internet or no connectivity at all. COVID-19 restrictions have shone a light on broadband inequity which limits the ability to work from home, attend school online, or access services such as healthcare virtually. The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), announced by the federal government recently with additional funds, is looking to rectify some of those concerns. But it remains unclear how, or if, Indigenous communities will really benefit. The fund, which contributes $1.75 billion to “advance large, high-impact projects, which will leverage partnerships including with the Canada Infrastructure Bank broadband initiative,” was originally announced in the 2019 budget as a $1 billion investment, with an addition of $750 million added this month in the wake of the pandemic. “Today's investments will help make progress on the Government of Canada's commitment to create over one million jobs, and its work to support Canadians living in rural, remote, and northern communities,” a media release on the project said. "High-speed Internet access is more than just a convenience,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of Health and Liberal MP in the riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North. The Government of Canada website states that the “goal is for all Canadians to have access to high-speed Internet of at least 50 Megabits per second download and 10 megabits per second upload speeds.” But not everyone in the House of Commons believes it’s time to celebrate. “One thing I’ve learned about broadband promises is that I wait until I see the money out the door,” said Charlie Angus, the NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay. “I’ve seen multiple big ticket promises that they’re going to connect everybody within two or three or four years and yet we still see that we’re in the same situation.” The broadband fund announcement states it will allocate $50 million of the total budget for “mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples.” “This investment will help connect 98 per cent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026 so that they can better participate in the digital economy,” the release states. “These mobile projects are expected to extend 4G LTE coverage or better mobile services to unserved areas. Projects must target Indigenous communities, roads within or leading to Indigenous communities, or highways and roads where the deployment of mobile network coverage would benefit Indigenous peoples. Unserved sections of roads that would be deemed strategic for the socio-economic development or public safety of Indigenous peoples could also be eligible,” the government website reads. But Angus says he’s unsure of exactly whether that’s enough funding to help out an impactful number of Indigenous communities. “The fact that they’re talking about $50 million set aside for First Nations… That seems to be a very small amount for regions that are among the most isolated in the country, and there’s no clear timeline which is concerning,” he said. “In the first wave of the pandemic when so many people had to work from home and students had to work from home — in isolated or even just rural communities — people were being shamelessly gouged by the telecom giants. This was a moment where the government did nothing.” Angus also raised a concern that the projects in Indigenous communities might be investing only in older satellite technology, rather than more modern fibre optic initiatives. “If you want communities to participate in the modern economy, you’re going to need to invest in fibre. To me, it’s a stopgap, not a solution,” he said. Angus drew parallels with the ongoing issues with boil water advisories in 61 Indigenous communities that the Trudeau Liberals promised would be resolved by 2021. “Broadband is another huge promise,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem to have the same levels of accountability mechanisms to make sure government actually delivers.” Windspeaker.comBy Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Here’s a collection of 2020 holiday albums reviewed by The Associated Press.____________Carrie Underwood, “My Gift” (Capitol Nashville)Carrie Underwood takes fans to church with her first holiday album “The Gift,” a set of hymns and traditional Christmas classics that invoke the spiritual and religious themes of the season.Underwood’s interpretations of songs like “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” are simply produced with lush strings, allowing her to showcase her vibrato as she soars to the top of her range. You could imagine yourself in a pew, head bowed as you listened to her sing “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” and all would be missing is a children’s choir and the smell of incense.But while Underwood could probably sing the Bible and sound great, the album’s more interesting tracks are original songs, including “Let There Be Peace,” a song she co-wrote where she’s backed by a choir on a rousing R&B gospel track.On one of the album’s 11 tracks, Underwood is joined on “Little Drummer Boy” by her 5-year-old son Isaiah, whose singing about “pah-wump-pah-pah-pump” and “dwums” is adorably cute, but it borders on saccharine.But the best song is her duet with John Legend on an original called “Hallelujah,” which Legend co-wrote. These two Grammy winners push each other to new and impressive heights as they raise their voices to the heavens. More of that please.— Kristin M. Hall____________Dolly Parton, “A Holly, Jolly Christmas” (Butterfly Records)Leave it to Dolly Parton to know just how to brighten up pandemic blues with a full dose of cheery holiday nostalgia.Her first Christmas album in 30 years sounds like it could have been made decades ago — even if she recorded it masked, gloved and appropriately socially distanced this past summer.Despite touches of pop culture — Jimmy Fallon and Miley Cyrus are among her duet partners — the feeling is more Sinatra and Nat King Cole.The first track, “Holly Jolly Christmas,” sets the tone with a “ding, dong, ding” choral opening, honky-tonk undertones and Dolly’s folksy banter.“All I Want for Christmas Is You” delivers a flirty duet with Fallon as the two playfully trade gushy confessions and Parton teases at the end: “Oh, you sexy boy.”Several tunes are Parton originals, including “Christmas on the Square,” also the title of her new Netflix holiday musical. It’s a delightfully hokey offering, a vision of friends and families gathering for singing, dancing, snowball fights and other nostalgic fare. That may all be off the table this holiday season, but Parton at least gives us a welcome taste.— Lindsey Tanner____________Meghan Trainor, “A Very Trainor Christmas” (Epic)Put down that eggnog and go to Spotify right now: The winner of the best Christmas album of 2020 is clearly Meghan Trainor.The 18-track “A Very Trainor Christmas” is a marvel, a multi-textured triumph led by Trainor’s warm, retro and soulful voice — perfect for a holiday album.It boasts six excellent originals alongside smart covers of such songs as “Last Christmas” by Wham! and a ukulele-led “Winter Wonderland.” Trainor has somehow infused new energy and verve to old chestnuts. Her ‘60s-meets-2020 “Sleigh Ride” is like hearing a new song and her “Silent Night” is churchlike, respectfully glorious.Trainor has her family join her for some songs — cousins and her dad — and Earth, Wind & Fire stop by to help on an old-school, propulsive funky “Holidays.” (Seth MacFarlane is the album’s only odd note, taking himself far too seriously in a version of “White Christmas”).Of the clutch of new songs, there’s the gloriously funky-EDM “I Believe in Santa,” the trop-pop “Naughty List,” the sad violin ballad “Christmas Got Me Blue” and the gleeful “Christmas Party.”America, rejoice: We just got a great early Christmas present.— Mark Kennedy____________Leslie Odom, Jr., “The Christmas Album” (S-Curve/BMG)What is one thing you can count on when a Broadway star creates a holiday album? The vocals will not disappoint.Tony and Grammy winner Leslie Odom, Jr. has delivered a vibrant melting pot of holiday classics and original songs with “The Christmas Album.”Odom’s voice lends itself well to multi-genre music, making him an ideal candidate to bring forth some holiday cheer. From his jazzy rendition of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” to the pop-forward “Last Christmas,” his album is — simply put — easy listening.Among the traditional yuletide tunes, Odom’s personally penned songs hold their own. “Snow” is a cold weather earworm, while “Winter Song” finds Odom’s smooth falsetto complimented by Cynthia Erivo’s sultry pipes.While most of his holiday covers are close in sound to their predecessors, the “Hamilton" star brings a unique South African influence to “Little Drummer Boy” with the help of the Mzansi Youth Choir and strips down the New Year’s Eve classic “Auld Lang Syne” to create tenderness.Not exclusively limited to Christmas songs, Odom delivers a brilliant, intimate performance of “Ma’oz Tzur,” accompanied by his wife, Nicolette Robinson, and a piano.“The Christmas Album” celebrates diversity and comfort in a year when both are sorely needed.— Ragan Clark____________Jamie Cullum, “The Pianoman at Christmas” (Blue Note)The title is misleading, because Jamie Cullum is more of a big band crooner than piano player on this set of 10 tunes he wrote in lockdown this spring.The arrangements are pandemic-defying, with 57 musicians by Cullum’s count, and they make “The Pianoman at Christmas” swing and soar. Horns and string orchestra trade off and blend beautifully, providing a broad canvas for Cullum to explore a range of holiday moods.Included are two tunes each about Santa, Christmas lights and the holiday blues. There’s also a cuddle song, and the topical, timely opener “It’s Christmas,” where a merry Cullum sings, “Shove your petty differences right up the chimney, please.”All of the songs are secular. “Don’t care about a saviour,” Cullum sings on the title cut. “Just want to hold onto you.”A few lyrics could have benefited from more time in the workshop. “The Jolly Fat Man” is jazzy fun, but Cullum tries unsuccessfully to rhyme hat with dispatch and relax with back.Nonetheless, he captures the spirit of the season. More than once Cullum belts a long note, and it’s easy to visualize him, head back and arms outstretched, happy to embrace the end of this awful year.— Steven Wine____________Tori Kelly, “A Tori Kelly Christmas" (Capitol/Schoolboy)Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds is easily one of the greatest music producers and songwriters of all time. So him in the producer’s chair plus Grammy-winning vocalist Tori Kelly in the vocal booth equals STUNNING, SENSATIONAL, EXTRAORDINARY and PHENOMENAL.Kelly is a top notch performer throughout “A Tori Kelly Christmas,” which features traditional classics like “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night” and “Joy to the World,” where her vocals will instantly transport you to a church that people not only attend to praise and worship, but to also hear beautiful and exquisite music.Even the original tracks are cute and pleasant, including “Gift That Keeps on Giving” and “25th,” where Kelly sings sweet lyrics like “no more silent nights/I’ll be by your side” and “got nothing on my list/don’t you know my only wish is to hold you on the 25th?”She closes the album with an excellent and clean cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and it is so good we’re sure Cohen is smiling from above with his approval.— Mesfin Fekadu____________Goo Goo Dolls, “It’s Christmas All Over” (Warner)It’s hard to write a Christmas song and it’s doubly hard writing about a bad kid on Christmas, but Goo Goo Dolls have done it.The rockabilly “You Ain’t Getting Nothin’” is an unexpected and super step on the band’s solid first holiday record, “It’s Christmas All Over.”“You picked Santa’s pocket/And you stole his reindeer/You’re only 8 years old/I caught you drinking beer,” frontman John Rzeznik sings about someone who should be getting coal in their stocking.It’s one of two originals — and one reworking — on a 10-track album filled with jazzy covers of iconic holiday songs such as “Let It Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The title comes from a Tom Petty tune, which is respectfully covered.The other original is “This Is Christmas,” which has that beautiful melancholy the Goo Goo Dolls are known for. It earns its right to be a holiday classic of its own.The reworked song is “Better Days,” a wistful ode to peace from the band's 2006 album “Let Love In.” Here, it has been rebuilt with a child’s voice (the daughter of Jimmy McGorman, the band’s longtime collaborator). It’s powerfully affecting — revealing strong songwriting topped by a delicate voice.— Mark Kennedy____________Keedron Bryant, “The Best Time of Year" (Warner)Passionate is Keedron Bryant’s forte.At just 12 years old, he turned heads with his fiery plea “I Just Wanna Live,” a song about being a young Black man in America. Written by his mother Johnnetta Bryant after she watched the painful death of George Floyd, the song helped Bryant inspire and connect with people around the world. It even landed him a record deal.He’s 13 now and has released a Christmas EP that features a passionate and mature vocal performance from the budding superstar.Bryant tackles Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and adds his own wonderful spin to the song. And he and his sister, Aiyanna Bryant, are epic on their soulful version of Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight’s holiday classic, “Let It Snow.”The four-song EP closes with the original track “This Year,” an upbeat adventure promising that 2021 will be better than 2020 — a message we all need to hear, especially from the youth. After all — the children are our future.— Mesfin Fekadu____________Davy Jones, “It’s Christmas Time Once More” (Not Too Late Records)Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without reindeers, turtle doves, a partridge — and a Monkee.“It’s Christmas Time Once More,” a reimagined collection of traditional holiday songs from The Monkees’ late frontman Davy Jones, is a welcome and warm addition to the season. His gentle and expressive voice often got overshadowed by the goofy goings-on in his made-for-TV rock band. Here it is centre stage.Jones tackles songs like “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night” with English-accented aplomb. For a jazzy “White Christmas,” his voice is joined by his youngest daughter, singer-songwriter Annabel Jones, in a pretty duet that hits all the right notes.The songs have some miles on them. They were originally released in 1991 on cassette then on CD in 1997 and released again in 2005 as “Christmas Jones.” Producer Chip Douglas has given them new arrangements and added background vocals from former Monkees bandmate Micky Dolenz and his sister, Coco Dolenz. Douglas leans into rockabilly with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and banjo with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”One of the two bonus tracks is an original recording of Jones singing “White Christmas” with Douglas on guitar, recorded in 1967 in Douglas’ home in L.A.’s famed Laurel Canyon. It is wistful and blissed out.— Mark KennedyAssociated Press, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A new study suggests people who visit a hospital emergency room at least twice in 12 months because of alcohol are more likely to die within a year.Researchers at ICES and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found one in 20 people who ended up in hospital two or more times in a 12-month period for mental and behavioural issues related to alcohol died within a year of their first visit.The risk of death was double for those who went to hospital five or more times.The study looked at nearly 26,000 people in Ontario over the age of 16 who landed in the ER at least twice within a 12-month period between January 2010 and December 2016. Of those, two-thirds went to hospital twice, 22 per cent went three or four times, and 12 per cent had five or more visits.More than two-thirds of those with five or more visits were male, almost half were aged 45 to 64 years, and nearly 90 per cent lived in urban centres, with 40 per cent of those coming from the lowest-income neighbourhoods. Senior author Dr. Paul Kurdyak, a scientist at CAMH and the non-profit research institute ICES, says frequent visits should signal the need to screen patients for problematic drinking and unmet social and health-care needs.The majority of deaths were from accidental poisoning, suicide and trauma, as well as diseases of the digestive system. The study was published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press