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.
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.
New HIV infections are at their lowest rate since the disease first hit British Columbia, according to top researcher Dr. Julio Montaner.Last year, on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, Montaner declared the epidemic of HIV/AIDS over in B.C. because infection rates had fallen so low. This year, despite concerns that COVID-19 restrictions would get in the way, the spread of HIV has declined even further. Montaner is the executive director and chief physician at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the head of the HIV/AIDS Program at St. Paul's Hospital.He was instrumental in turning HIV infections from a death sentence to a manageable condition. Now, he is concerned the success he has helped create in B.C. is not happening elsewhere. "The rest of the country and the rest of the world are falling behind," said Montaner. In April, after pandemic restrictions came into place, Montaner and others were concerned. HIV testing rates fell and people struggled to access health care. After four decades of hard work on the AIDS pandemic, to Montaner, it was "unthinkable."Now, he worries, we squandered the opportunity to prepare for the second wave of COVID this past summer, when new COVID infections were low. "We wasted the summer celebrating our success without taking responsibility collectively that we need to be cautious," he said. "I am very concerned that the way things are going with shutdowns and lockdowns and competition for health-care resources."Montaner worries B.C. is not up to speed on contact tracing, hasn't managed to expand testing and implement rapid testing, approaches he calls "game-changers" in controlling HIV."We don't seem to learn from the past," he said. "It's very frustrating."Fight against HIV/AIDS 'in peril'Montaner is hopeful incoming U.S. President Joe Biden will show leadership internationally on HIV/AIDS.He blames the lack of leadership under President Donald Trump, the financial crisis, and now COVID, for stalling the global effort. "We have the threat of COVID today that, unfortunately, has taken all of the oxygen out of the room and made it so HIV services are in jeopardy." said Montaner. He says the next step is to "recapture the imagination" of world leaders who have let HIV/AIDS fall off the agenda. "We know what to do. All we have to do is implement it." To hear the complete interview with Dr. Julio Montaner on CBC's The Early Edition, tap the audio link below:
Trade union Verdi on Sunday called on workers at a German Amazon warehouse to strike for the second time in a week to disrupt the processing of orders following the 'Black Friday' discount shopping sales on Nov. 27. Scheduled to begin on Monday's night shift and finish at the end of Tuesday's late shift, the strike follows a three-day walkout between Thursday and Saturday last week in which more than 500 workers took part, Verdi said.. Verdi has been organising strikes at Amazon in Germany - the company’s biggest market after the United States - since 2013, along with other unions hoping to force the e-commerce company to recognise collective bargaining agreements that apply to retail employees at other firms.
New stop signs written in traditional Indigenous languages were installed in Fort Chipewyan this week. The signs were installed on Thursday, and are written in Cree, Denesuline and English. This makes Fort Chipewyan the first community in Wood Buffalo to have multilingual signs. Alice Rigney, a Fort Chipewyan elder, helped the municipality with the Dene translation for the stop signs. She added that the community is on the verge of losing this language. "In my First Nation in Fort Chip, there's under 25 of us that can speak fluently the Dene language," Rigney said. "It's a very serious situation." Having stop signs written in Dene can help get more people interested in learning the language, Rigney said, adding this is a step towards reconciliation. "It's about time we started taking back our culture and keeping it alive by doing something as putting up stop signs." Rigney said she lost her language during her time in residential schools, and she worked hard to regain that skill. "That was the window to me getting my identity back," said Rigney. "I'm proud to speak my language. I know who I am." The municipality is planning to install 60 multilingual stop signs in Anzac, Janvier, Fort McKay and Conklin in 2021, pending the budget approval. The municipality is also planning to install the signs in Fort McMurray, but there is still more planning needed for that part of the project. Mayor Don Scott said the idea came from Fort Smith, N.W.T. who installed stop signs with Indigenous languages in 2018. "We think it's an important effort rooted in truth and reconciliation," said Scott. "I'm very proud of it." He added the municipality is open to any suggestions on other efforts to include Indigenous languages on Wood Buffalo signage. "We should reflect our history and reflect those that live here," Scott said. Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation chief Allan Adam said it's important to have the languages displayed around the town, and he'd like to see more. For example, Adam said he doesn't know the Dene translation for hockey arena or youth centre. But "if you get the elders to write those out, then you get to understand that." Adam said despite losing most of his language in residential school, he's managed to retain some Dene. "Information is power. Language is power," said Adam. "I'm all for reconciliation." Jessica Croucher is the founder of the Pawâmiw Creative, a company she started to celebrate Indigenous arts and culture. Croucher, a member of the Fort McMurray 468 First Nation, said having Indigenous languages on signage is empowering, and that she'd like to see the signs installed in Fort McMurray. "It's a great step in acknowledging the first people and first languages of our region." Croucher said she'd like to see other names in and around the region to return to their traditional Indigenous names. For example, she said Fort McMurray was originally called Nistawâyâw. "The rivers have different names, the landmarks have different names… and I would really love to see that returned."
If citizens disbelieve the institutions that count ballots and the organizations that accurately report on those results, it will impossible to agree on what a legitimate election looks like.
A poet and creative writing instructor from Vancouver Island University has chronicled her experience of being Black in Nanaimo in a song, as part of a project called Re-Imagine Nanaimo. Sonnet L'abbe was asked how she would like to see the city of Nanaimo in 20 years and, as part of her response, she said she'd like it to include more people who look like her. "When Nanaimo asked what my vision would be for the next 20 years, I just want to encourage more people of colour and more Black people to come. Join me," L'abbe said to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West. L'abbe has performed her song Nazaneen as part of the city's ongoing Re-Imagine Nanaimo project, which envisions what the city will look like in 2040. While the project is looking at sustainability, transit and housing, L'abbe said she wanted to open up the conversation to include the texture of the community."It felt like an opportunity to keep conversations about Black lives front and centre and to remind people about the Black community on the island while also just expressing my love for Nanaimo," she said. Listen to Nazaneen:L'abbe, who describes herself as a mixed race Black person of colour, moved to the mid-island city from Toronto a few years ago. Nazaneen addresses a fictitious Black woman who is considering making a similar move. While the song gushes over the affordability of Nanaimo's real estate and cedar-lined trails, it also notes there is no "good jerk chicken" and that "when I went to the Queens/for the reggae scene/all the dreadlocked rastas were white.""I think they're hearing the humour. I think they're hearing the love, and I think they're also hearing the opportunity, or to hear a part of a conversation that they might not have heard before," said L'abbe.L'abbe says observing that smaller towns don't have the same diversity as larger cities isn't "striking," but her own experiences of Nanaimo have been largely welcoming."The openness of people and peoples' willingness to talk, and my own exposure to, I don't know, the Chicago Blues, has been warm and surprising and it has changed me a lot, too," she said. "It has been so welcoming here."Listen to the interview with Sonnet L'abbe on CBC's All Points West:For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Ontario reported another 1,708 cases of COVID-19 and 24 more deaths due to COVID-19 on Sunday. The new cases include 503 in Peel Region, 463 in Toronto and 185 in York Region. There are 1,443 more cases marked as resolved. The Ontario health ministry says another 53,959 tests were completed in the last 24 hours. Labs are reporting that 3.7 per cent of the tests processed are positive.Public health officials said this week that they hope to build capacity in the system for up to 100,000 tests daily.Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: * Ottawa: 79. * Durham Region: 73. * Waterloo: 63. * Hamilton: 60. * Windsor-Essex: 37. * Halton: 31. * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 30. * Simcoe Muskoka: 30. * Niagara Region: 28. * Middlesex-London: 20. * Thunder Bay: 19. * Southwestern: 17. * Eastern Ontario: 10. * Brant County: 10.(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry's COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)The seven-day average for the number of new cases reported per day has reached a new high of 1,548, the highest it has been since the pandemic began. There are also 586 people in hospital, nine fewer than on Saturday. However, Saturday's hospitalization data saw an increase of 54 over a single day. Those hospitalizations are also nearly double what they were a month ago. There are 155 people in intensive care units as of Sunday and 99 of those individuals are on a ventilator, the same number as Saturday.The number of deaths in Ontario since the pandemic began has reached 3,648. A total of 503 of those deaths occurred this month.Of Sunday's deaths, one person was in his or her 50s, four people were in their 60s, three people were in their 70s and there were 10 people in their 80s and six in their 90s, respectively. 11 infections linked to Vaughan sports centreYork Region Public Health says that 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been linked to indoor soccer games at a Vaughan sports centre in mid-November.The public health region issued a notice on Sunday to alert the public about a cluster of confirmed cases that emerged after a group of 20 to 25 people played soccer at the TRIO Sportplex and Event Centre, 601 Cityview Blvd., on Nov. 11 and Nov. 15. "While the group wore masks during play, masks were not worn in the change rooms," the public notice said.Everyone who played soccer over both days are considered high-risk and have been told to isolate for 14 days. York Region was moved to the province's red control zone on Nov. 16, which prohibits the playing or practising of team sports except for training. York Region continues enforcement blitzOfficials also continued an enforcement blitz at businesses to make sure they were following public health protocols for the province's "red" zones. The rules limit indoor dining to 10 customers at a time with physical distancing in place. Gyms, meanwhile, can only have 10 patrons inside at once, while 25 people can attend outdoor classes.Officers inspected 256 businesses on Sunday and issued tickets at 16, a news release said.An L.A. Fitness location in East Gwillimbury, Ont., and the Trio Sportsplex in Vaughan, Ont., are among those facing charges.Authorities have inspected 867 businesses since Friday, laid 32 charges and completed 1,151 "compliance education activities," the release said.New regions moving into more restrictive zones MondayOn Friday, Ontario announced that five more regions would be moved into more restrictive zones on Monday at 12:01 a.m.They include: * Red-Control * Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. * Orange-Restrict * Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. * Yellow-Protect * Hastings Prince Edward Public Health. * Lambton Public Health. * Northwestern Health Unit.
P.E.I. has no new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.P.E.I. announced two cases unrelated to one another on Saturday, and potential exposure sites. One of the cases announced Saturday was a student at Charlottetown Rural High School. Schools are open on Monday.P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said the student should not be seen simply as P.E.I.'s 72nd case, but rather someone who deserves the province's love and support.City Cinema is scrambling to fill its December schedule after a studio pulled three films.Face coverings will be mandatory for everyone at the Mark Arendz Ski Park in Brookvale, P.E.I., this winter, officials say. The rule will apply even when on the ski hill. On the hill, those coverings can be a knit balaclava.Starting this coming Monday, masks will be mandatory for staff and students in grades 10-12 at all times inside a school building, including while sitting at their desks. Exemptions will be made for when students are eating or drinking, and certain other situations.P.E.I. has seen a total of 72 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the province's total active cases to 125.New Brunswick announced 14 new cases, bringing its total of active cases to 114.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentine police searched the home and office of Diego Maradona's personal doctor on Sunday as part of investigations into the death of the 60-year-old soccer star, which caused a wave of grief across the country.Reporters saw several police officers stationed at the door of the offices of neurologistDr. Leopoldo Luque in Buenos Aires' Belgrano neighbourhood.Court investigators have been taking declarations from Maradona's relatives, according to a statement from the San Isidro prosecutor's office, which is overseeing a probe into the medical attention Maradona received prior to his death on Wednesday.It said investigators were trying to secure Maradona's medical records.Maradona was buried Thursday in a private ceremony attended by only two dozen people following a vigil at the presidential palace where tens of thousands of weeping fans lined up to filed past his coffin.Maradona died of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation Nov. 3. He had suffered from a long series of medical issues, some related to overindulgence in drugs and alcohol.The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Bishop Reginald Jackson stepped to the microphone at a drive-in rally outside a church in southwest Atlanta as his voice carried over a loudspeaker and the radio to people gathered in, around and on top of cars that filled the parking lot.“Let’s keep Georgia blue," Jackson said. “Let’s elect Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock to the United States Senate.” The presiding bishop of more than 400 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia added a pastoral flourish as horns honked and supporters cheered: “If I have a witness, somebody say amen!"As Georgia becomes the nation’s political hotspot this winter before twin runoff elections Jan. 5 that will determine control of the Senate, faith-based organizing is heating up.Conservative Christians are rallying behind Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, while Black churches and liberal-leaning Jewish groups are backing Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. The Democrats' fates are seen as intertwined in a state that this year turned blue in the presidential election for the first time since 1992 by a razor-thin margin.“These runoffs are critically important,” Jackson said. “We want to make sure there is no decrease in turnout.”Across Georgia, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is implementing a program designed to ensure its members, and Black voters overall, cast ballots in the runoff — focusing on votes by mail and early in-person voting. Pastors at each church remind tens of thousands of congregants every week to apply for an absentee ballot and of early voting dates, Jackson said in an interview. Each local church also follows up with congregants to make sure they have a plan to vote.The New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan voter mobilization group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor in 2018, is also preparing to tap the influence of faith communities in stoking turnout.Rev. Billy Honor, director of faith organizing at the group, said the conservative Christian Faith & Freedom Coalition — founded by former Georgia GOP chairman Ralph Reed — has long positioned Georgia “as the home of evangelical fundamentalist types when it comes to the political space."“But the truth is, for a very long time, there has been an active, effective movement of progressive-minded, justice-centred clergy” who have worked in the state on voting rights, health care and other issues, Honor added. He said Warnock was part of that work before his candidacy. Warnock is senior pastor at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, the congregation led by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.Meanwhile, Loeffler and Perdue can expect to benefit from a conservative Christian base that has long boosted the state’s Republicans. Faith & Freedom made Georgia one of its top three spending targets in a $50 million get-out-the-vote program during the general election and plans increased organizing for the runoffs.The reach of "the evangelical vote in Georgia is very large and very strong,” Timothy Head, the group’s executive director, said in an interview.Head noted that while President Donald Trump kept a strong hold on white evangelical voters this year, Perdue out-performed Trump in Georgia during the general election. President-elect Joe Biden may have won over some evangelicals by contrasting his character with that of Trump, Head said, but he argued that the same sort of case would be harder for Democrats to make against Loeffler and Perdue.Another faith-focused conservative group, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, is holding trainings and pastor briefings before the runoffs. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, whose president advised Trump’s reelection campaign on Catholic outreach, has announced a $4.1 million plan to boost Loeffler and Perdue through a partner political action committee.Religious issues already have become a campaign flashpoint in the runoff. The GOP has resurfaced excerpts from past Warnock sermons to assail him as insufficiently supportive of the military as well as anti-Israel. The Democrat signed a letter last year comparing Israel's policy toward Palestinians to “previous oppressive regimes" and criticized it in a 2018 sermon, while also calling for a two-state solution in the region.Warnock pushed back in a recently released television ad, saying the attacks are “trying to scare people by taking things I’ve said out of context from over 25 years of being a pastor.”One group criticizing Warnock as too left-leaning on Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition, is also mobilizing on behalf of the GOP incumbents.Jewish Democrats in Georgia predicted that the GOP attack on Warnock’s Israel record would fall flat, citing his record of friendship with the Jewish community through his pulpit at Ebenezer.Sherry Frank, president of the Atlanta section of the National Council of Jewish Women, said she sees “no doubt in the Jewish community about (Warnock’s) stance on Israel and anti-Semitism.” Frank's group is conducting nonpartisan voter turnout work for the runoffs.Georgia’s Jewish Democrats also see, in Ossoff and Warnock, candidates whose joint push for the Senate harkens back to a tradition of Black and Jewish leaders working together during the civil rights movement. Warnock has a bond with a prominent Atlanta rabbi whose predecessor at the synagogue was close with King.Warnock is viewed “as the inheritor" of King’s legacy, said Michael Rosenzweig, co-chair of the Georgia chapter of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, which has endorsed both Democrats. “And to the extent that Jews were supportive of the civil rights struggle and supportive of (King), I think they look supportively on Rev. Warnock.”Ossoff, who is Jewish, has defended Warnock against GOP criticism over Israel and fondly recalled his own connection to the late Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia civil rights leader who endorsed Ossoff before his death in July. In October, Ossoff said he and Lewis talked during their first meeting about “the bond between the Black and Jewish communities, marching alongside rabbis and young Jewish activists in the mid 1960s ... and how important it was that these communities be brought together."___Schor reported from Washington.___Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.Elana Schor And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
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 for being arbitrary and unreasonable. Even before the ruling, several bishops had announced they would not enforce the restrictions and some churches were expected to 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. “People respected social distancing perfectly, each to his place and with enough space so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about here,” Laurent Frémont told The Associated Press on his way home after Mass. To attend Mass, they had to book tickets online and give their names on their way in. However, the church’s protocol didn’t seem to help limit the number of people inside the building. Asked whether they would stay if the crowd was too large, most said they would. “I really think you couldn’t do better from a sanitary point of view,” said Humbline Frémont. For some, the new rules stirred up fears. French Catholics were sharing rules and recommendations on social media for how to behave if the police arrive at a church for a head count. Farid Kachour, secretary general of the group running the mosque of Montermeil, a heavily immigrant suburb northeast of Paris, says that his mosque simply wouldn’t open with too few people permitted. “We can’t choose people” allowed to enter for prayer. “We don’t want to create discontent among the faithful,” he said. Kachour noted that Muslims pray five times a day, further complicating the situation. To respect the rules, the mosque would need 40 services a day to allow all the faithful to pray, he said. Places of worship were allowed to continue during France’s latest nationwide lockdown, which is coming to an end in December, but regular prayer services were banned due to health concerns. Around the world, some religious services have been linked to coronavirus clusters, including superspreading events. France has reported over 52,000 virus-related deaths, the third-highest pandemic death toll in Europe after Britain and Italy. “Non-essential” shops reopened in France on Saturday, museums and cinemas will reopen on Dec. 15 but bars and restaurants will stay closed for indoor dining until Jan. 20. ___ Alex Turnbull and Elaine Ganley contributed to this report. __ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Switzerland has rejected measures that would have stiffened penalties against Swiss companies that violate human rights or harm the environment.View on euronews
When Kelly Lopes learned back in the spring that the Ontario government was ordering her teenaged children to stay home from school for their own safety but expected them and their parents to continue going to work, fear and anger set in almost immediately. In the seven months since then, however, the grocery store cashier said those emotions have given way to a numbness she said is sustaining her as she battles through the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario's hardest-hit region.She said that as the second wave has swelled to shocking heights in Brampton, Ont., her job has gotten harder and customers have gotten more combative. "A lot of us are burnt out," Lopes said Friday. "I get that we're not paramedics or first responders, but we're still a huge essential to a country that needs to eat. Without us being here, how do you get your food?"Peel Region, just west of Toronto, has led the province in COVID-19 cases per capita for weeks now, with upwards of 180 new weekly cases per 100,000 residents — nearly triple the rate of the province as a whole. Brampton makes up less than half of Peel's population, but accounts for more than 60 per cent of its COVID-19 cases. Lopes said the fear she feels working on the front lines is compounded by customers who push back when she reminds them to keep a distance or wear a mask. "We're tired. We're numb. We're overworked. We're frustrated, because it's not our rules," she said. "We're just trying to keep everybody else safe."And data from Peel suggests that workplaces like Lopes' have some role to play in the virus's spread. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, a public health expert involved in preparing the province's COVID-19 projections, said Thursday that the virus is hardest to control in regions such as Brampton where households are larger and there's a higher proportion of essential service workers. "These are long-standing structural factors here," he said. "These are not transient things related to the pandemic that drive these much higher rates of infection."A quarter of all households in Brampton consist of five or more people, compared to less than 10 per cent of households provincewide, according to the latest census. And just 12 per cent of Bramptonians live alone, the census data shows, compared to nearly a third of Torontonians. Meanwhile, Peel Public Health said there have been 137 workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 in the region since the pandemic began. A full third of those were in manufacturing or warehouse settings, while 14 per cent were in retail and 11 per cent were in food processing. Brampton has a disproportionately large number of people who work in the manufacturing industry, said Gagandeep Kaur, an organizer with the Warehouse Workers Centre. The city is home to numerous Amazon "fulfilment centres" and other large-scale warehouses. Kaur said she's heard from workers that it's hard to maintain physical distance while moving around some of those warehouses. But she said seeking safer employment isn't a simple matter, noting many workers are new immigrants to Canada trying to get on their feet. "If you are a new hire in that facility, and you are a new immigrant in this country, your priority at that time is not the working conditions or what the employer is offering, because you have a family to feed or you have bills to pay," she said. Dr. Farah Mawani, a social and psychiatric epidemiologist, said that's the sort of systemic racism that has put racialized people — and particularly new immigrants — at greater risk during this pandemic. "We know that there's a very high portion of racialized immigrants who are highly trained and skilled, but very underemployed. So they're forced to work in manufacturing because they can't get other jobs," she said."She said the issue is even worse for temporary foreign workers, whose migration status is tied to their employment at a certain company. If they complain about poor working conditions, Mawani said, they risk losing not only their income but their place in Canada. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he feels his city has been unfairly maligned by those who grouse about high rates of COVID-19 without examining the root causes. "There needs to be a bit of appreciation for the sacrifice that a lot of our essential workers are taking on," he said. "When you think about it, if you go to a grocery store, wherever you are in Canada, the likelihood is that someone from Brampton has helped process that food."He said essential workers in the city need greater support from the provincial and federal governments, while the city itself requires its own COVID-19 isolation centre. Ottawa announced Thursday that it would open such a facility in Mississauga, Ont., another part of Peel Region.But Brown said that's a 40 minute bus ride away for some of Brampton's more vulnerable residents, many of whom don't have cars. "An isolation center is useful when people can't afford to rent a hotel room for 14 days, or they don't have a place where they can safely isolate," he said. "So I want to make sure that we have that support."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
COVID-19 continues to force school divisions to make changes in how they deliver education.On Saturday and Sunday, multiple schools in different divisions announced changes ranging from classroom shutdowns to outright school closures. In Regina, one case of COVID-19 was reported in a person at Grant Road School, which will now be closed until Dec. 7. Regina Public Schools said close contacts were informed and given information about isolation.COVID-19 cases were found at École Elsie Mironuck School, Dr. L.M. Hanna School, Ruth M. Buck School and Thom Collegiate. Affected students at École Elsie Mironuck School and Ruth M. Buck School will begin remote learning and will not return to school until Dec. 10. Affected students at Dr. L.M. Hanna School will begin remote learning and will not return to school until Dec. 8. Affected students at Thom Collegiate will begin remote learning and will not return to school until Dec. 4.Two cases in Regina Catholic SchoolsRegina Catholic Schools announced a case of COVID-19 at Miller Comprehensive Catholic High School and a case at Archbishop M.C. O'Neill Catholic High School.The affected classrooms at Miller Comprehensive were closed and students in those classrooms will begin learning remotely. All other classrooms remain open.At O'Neill, the person who tested positive for COVID-19 attended class two days before the school switched to the hybrid model. Students in the affected classrooms were told to isolate until 11:59 p.m. Dec. 2. Classmates of the individual in the hybrid model are to isolate until 11:59 p.m. Dec. 10.All other classrooms at O'Neill remain open.To the north, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools announced two positive cases at Bishop James Mahoney High School, two cases at Bethlehem Catholic High School, one cases at École Sister O'Brien School and two cases at Holy Cross High School.Saturday evening, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools announced one more positive case at the Holy Cross High School and one at St. Joseph High School. The affected cohorts are to switch to online instruction as of Monday.
The NFL has fined the New Orleans Saints US$500,000 and stripped them of a 2021 seventh-round draft pick for violating league COVID-19 protocols.A source told the The Associated Press of the move Sunday as well as the New England Patriots being fined $350,000 for similar violations. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the teams have announced the fines or loss of draft pick.New Orleans was fined as a repeat offender; Sean Payton previously was docked $150,000 and the team $250,000 because the head coach failed to properly wear a face covering during a Week 2 game against the Raiders.The more recent issue with the Saints came after a Week 9 win over Tampa Bay when the team's celebrations included players not wearing masks while in close proximity to one another. The celebrations were captured on video by some players and posted to social media.The Saints are expected to appeal the discipline, which ESPN first reported Sunday morning.New England, which had a mini-outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this season that included positive tests for quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, was fined for not following protocols at that time.Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions around the NFL all week, again calling into question the league’s plan to play a full schedule after several weeks that went relatively smoothly.The Denver Broncos will be without their four quarterbacks when they host the Saints on Sunday. Starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad veteran Blake Bortles were deemed high-risk close contacts with No. 3 quarterback Jeff Driskel on Wednesday, the day before Driskel tested positive for COVID-19.A source said the four quarterbacks weren’t wearing their masks the whole time they were together as required by the league’s pandemic protocols. The individual also spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the Broncos revealed that information.The Baltimore Ravens have 20 players on the COVID-19 list, which is for players who’ve either tested positive for the virus or had close contact with an infected person. Baltimore had already disciplined an unidentified staff member for violating COVID-19 protocols, and the outbreak — the worst on any team this season — left the Ravens with three defensive linemen and one quarterback available for Tuesday night’s game at Pittsburgh.That game originally was scheduled for Thursday night, then moved to Sunday and finally to Tuesday. It’s uncertain if it will be played then as well.The Steelers placed starting running back James Conner on the COVID-19 list Saturday.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLBarry Wilner, 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
TORONTO — Independent reviews of the hundreds of inmates placed in segregation over the past year found only a handful were inappropriate, new government data indicate.According to the previously unpublished information from Correctional Service Canada, only two per cent of reviews by independent external decision-makers resulted in inmates moved out of isolation, and then not always right away."There can be rare cases where the removal may not be immediate, for example, if the inmate refuses to leave or a transfer is pending for a suitable placement," the service said. "Our goal is to ensure they can be safely returned to a different environment, which in most cases is to a mainstream population." The data, viewed with skepticism by critics, indicate that external reviewers weighed in 1,475 times as of Nov. 1. Of those, 905 were triggered by inmates isolated for longer than the legally allowed stretches.One year ago, after the courts had repeatedly struck down administrative segregation used to isolate prisoners who posed a threat to themselves or others, the government implemented a new system called structured intervention units.Key changes included allowing inmates out of their cells for at least four hours a day, giving them a daily minimum of two hours of meaningful interaction with others, and putting an external oversight mechanism in place that can result in binding directives. Since then, reviewers have looked at the confinement conditions of about 740 individual inmates. The aim was to see whether authorities were abiding by the new rules, such as giving prisoners a chance to be out of their cells and interact with others.Overall, the reviews concluded authorities took all reasonable steps to meet their obligations in 79 per cent of the cases, the service said.Critics, however, have called the new system rebranded solitary confinement. For example, criminologist Anthony Doob, who led a government advisory committee on the issue, and colleague Jane Sprott, concluded the government was failing to live up to the legislated requirements.Among other things, their analysis found a sizable percentage of inmates had spent more than two months in confinement and few had received the mandated four hours daily out of their cells and two hours of human contact.Dr. Adelina Iftene, an assistant law professor at Dalhousie University, said the new data raise questions about the review process or IEDMs."Either there is a lack of clarity on what exactly are the role and powers of the IEDMs, or the IEDMs are tigers without teeth, or the IEDMs are not fulfilling their role," Iftene said. "The implication remains that there may still be no effective oversight of placements in the SIUs."The tiny number of reviews resulting in directives to move an inmate from confinement also raises questions about the quality of the information fed to reviewers, Iftene said. "Did they know that so many people were effectively experiencing solitary confinement?" she said. "If so, how is it possible that they recommended removal from the SIUs only in two per cent of cases?"Whether individuals’ rights are being upheld is a yes or no question, Iftene added. There are no “reasonable steps.”Correctional Service Canada defended its approach, saying the new system is part of a "historic transformation" that can't happen overnight."It takes time to instill cultural and transformational change," the service said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — An intoxicated driver slammed into Washington Square Park's landmark marble arch on Sunday, injuring a police officer who was parked there to protect it, police said.A Nissan Altima driven by 25-year-old Jeremy Molina, of Queens, crashed into the arch at the northern entrance to the Greenwich Village park shortly before 1:30 a.m., a police spokesperson said.The Nissan then hit a police car that was parked near the arch, police said. The officer in the car was taken to a hospital with neck and back pain. The arch was not damaged.Molina was arrested on charges including reckless endangerment, driving while intoxicated and refusing to take a breath test. It's not clear whether he has an attorney who could comment on the charges.The arch, designed by architect Stanford White and installed in 1892, commemorates the centennial of George Washington’s 1789 inauguration as president.It has been guarded by police officers since June, when its two statues of Washington were vandalized with red paint during weeks of protests against racial injustice.It is a familiar sight to audiences of movies including “When Harry Met Sally" and is a popular tourist attraction.The Associated Press
A Sherwood Park teacher is being recognized for an unusual classroom project he created at Salisbury Composite High School. Kristian Basaraba teaches what he calls a "sk8trepreneur" course and one of his recent projects, Exploring Colonialism, Creativity and Reconciliation with Skateboards, combines skateboard design with Indigenous history. The project has just won him the Governor General's History Award for Excellence. "I'm super honoured, it's not really about the award, although, you know it's nice to be recognized," Basaraba said. "I'm more excited about the fact that this project has the potential to bring some of these issues to light on a national stage." Basaraba asked his students to create their own skateboard brands including a logo and purpose for their brand, all with an Indigenous theme. "Then they had to create brand assets, so they had to handmake a skateboard," he said. Basaraba recruited Edmonton-based Cree artist Jon Cardinal and Cree professional skateboarder Joe Buffalo from Maskwacis for their expertise and experience. "My goal was for my students to work with the artist and create skateboard graphics that looked at Canadians' colonial past," Basaraba said. Cardinal has experience as a skateboard designer and Buffalo had attended a residential school so the pair were able to pass on their perspectives to the students, some of whom are indigenous. "We had students whose grandparents attended residential schools and dealt with the effects of that and so they shared some of that story with us," Basaraba said. One design that really stuck out for him was by student Georgia Lantz. "Her image was of a group of Indigenous youth in a classroom being watched over by a clergy person and all of their eyes are blanked out," Basaraba said. "It's a really powerful image." Lantz said she and her fellow students were given creative freedom, even if their design was controversial. "I could really do what I thought was best and most meaningful," the Grade 12 student said. "I wanted to show the loss of identities that kids faced in residential schools and the religious trauma that was forced upon them." Lantz is happy to hear her teacher is being recognized for the unorthodox project. "It's pretty cool," she said. "I know he put a lot of hard work into the class and it really showed." As an added bonus, Basaraba arranged to have the students' designs displayed at Edmonton skateboard shop Local 124. "We had an actual kind of art exhibit and we had it there for five weeks," Basaraba said. "So that was kind of neat, the fact that they actually had their art out in the community." Basaraba believes it's important for everyone to be aware of Canada's past, including the wrongs that were committed, and he's happy to play a role in that. "I think we see with regard to Indigenous culture, a lot of systemic racism that exists and it continues to exist," he said. "By studying the past, we tend not to make those mistakes in the future and so that's in the hands of the youth. "I want people to not sugarcoat it and not push all of those issues under the rug. I wanted to bring them to the forefront and have my students kind of engage in them, and I wanted them to have a voice with regard to where that path to reconciliation will go." The award-winning teacher hopes to keep it rolling into the future. "I think this project is something that can be done annually with a new group of students and just continue that conversation."