Former CIA station chief Dan Hoffman weighs in on Iran and Russia making attempts to interfere with the 2020 election.
Former CIA station chief Dan Hoffman weighs in on Iran and Russia making attempts to interfere with the 2020 election.
HURON COUNTY – Residential development proposals will soon have a comprehensive document to ensure that housing developers understand the community’s goals and expectations. Andrea Sinclair, urban designer for MHBC Planning Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, presented the final Residential Intensification Guidelines (RIGS) to Huron County council on Nov. 4. The motion was approved to accept the guidelines, and staff will distribute copies to local municipalities for information. These guidelines will help when evaluating development proposals and provide the community with more housing choices. The document mainly focuses on multi-unit development and will apply to all residential intensification projects in the county. The guidelines also address residential conversions and Additional Residential Units (ARUs). The RIGS are intended to be used by the builder and development community to guide residential developments. The guidelines address a full range of design considerations, including site layout, building design, parking, and landscaping. The guidelines, not meant to add more red tape to the process, are expected to streamline the process by setting out the design expectations early on and avoiding the development community and planning staff’s back-and-forth. By setting clear design objectives and priorities early in the process, the development community will understand what staff will be looking for when reviewing applications. The RIGS will ensure that neighbourhoods continue to be diverse while maintaining the need to accommodate a growing community. The County of Huron’s website states, “single detached dwellings meet many residents’ needs – but not all of them. When housing takes a wide range of forms, it can better meet the diverse needs of community members: those who rent, families requiring multiple bedrooms, seniors who are interested in downsizing, first time home buyers who can afford a house provided they can rent out the basement unit. “Neighbourhoods are dynamic places; the shifts anticipated in the next 20 years will bring about a renewal of our housing stock and the introduction of more dense forms of housing. This document is a tool to help manage that change and ensure that housing is available – and affordable – for all who call the county home.” For more information or to see the Residential Intensification Guidelines visit the Huron County website at www.huroncounty.ca.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta Health Services posted a heart-wrenching on Twitter after the province confirmed more than 460 people have died from the virus.
WALKERTON – Despite an icy wind and requests for people to stay home because of COVID-19, a small group of people went to the Walkerton cenotaph to view an abbreviated Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Most people remained safe at home and viewed the ceremony on Facebook. Brief though they were, the ceremonies in Walkerton and Mildmay were fitting and dignified. Although there were no parades, there were many wreaths set in place prior to the ceremony. There was a solemn two-minute silence. And there were heart-felt words from all levels of government. In Walkerton, representatives of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 102 were joined by members of the Ontario Provincial Police, MP Ben Lobb, MPP Lisa Thompson and Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody. The Legion and government representatives gave short speeches thanking those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and who continue to do so – members of the Armed Forces, police, emergency services and volunteers. Thompson spoke about a 97-year-old veteran who told her he hopes no one ever has to go through what he did. Peabody summed it up by stating, “Thank you for your service.” The poppies carefully placed beside many of the names on bricks in the walkway said the same thing. We will not forget. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
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.
These weren’t the piano lessons of my youth. Quite the opposite.Gone was the septuagenarian teacher crowding me on a piano bench at my grandmother’s house, extolling the importance of Christian hymns. “Old Rugged Cross,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “How Great Thou Art." Grandma finally accepted my resignation after a few solid years of protest.Then last spring, as the pandemic droned on, I’d lost my job, and our schools in the Boston area remained closed, I decided to start taking piano lessons again.It had been 30 years. The grand staff was a foreign language and the only key I could recognize was middle C.The first day, I propped up my phone, clicked a Zoom link for our lesson and found an energetic college student staring back at me.I’d been thinking about returning to piano for a while, but never had the free time required for learning a skill until the shutdown in March. It was rainy and frigid in New England, and I needed an antidote for the monotony of pandemic life. Some were tending sourdough starters, others binge-watched Netflix. I started piano lessons.I wasn’t the only one who chose music.NEW WAYS TO PASS TIME“I knew nothing about the ukulele community before COVID,” said Pat Adamson-Waitley, 64, of Edina, Minnesota.Adamson-Waitley had played the ukulele a handful of times, but in March, she said, “I started playing it every day.”She joined Zoom jams with other players, and bought two ukuleles and two songbooks. Summer's warm weather took her away from the ukulele a little, but she still averages 30 minutes of playing time a day.Clubs like the Twin Cities ukulele club, an informal group of about 300 people, have welcomed many people discovering music for the first time, or finding it again. Tom Ehlinger, 69, of Bloomington, Minnesota, leads the club’s weekly Zoom jams.“One thing that’s different about the Zoom jam is that it’s much easier to get to than an in-person jam,” he said. “There’s no traffic.”Since March, Ehlinger has received inquiries from people as far away as New York City wanting to join.“It brings people together solely for the purpose of doing something enjoyable,” he said.NEVER A BETTER TIMEAs for formal lessons, Andrew Geant, co-founder of Chicago-based Wyzant, an online marketplace for private tutors, said music has become one of the company’s fastest growing areas. Cello tutors in April experienced a 450 per cent increase in students and a 400 per cent rise in lessons from last year, he said. By October, the number had grown to a 4,500 per cent increase in students and a 4,730 per cent increase in lessons.The cost of online lessons is lower than in-person instruction, Geant noted. And if the student and teacher don’t match well, it’s easy to find a new instructor.“Online, you can find the right instructor because you’re no longer bound by geography,” he said.Rashida Bryant, 44, is an Atlanta-based voice instructor through Wyzant who saw her client roster double from April to June, when she had 30 students.Her students range in age from early teenagers to people in their late 60s.“Everybody has different reasons for doing it, but if you’re going to be at home, then this is a better time than any,” she said.A SENSE OF CONTROLTurning to music during bleak times has a long history, said Joy Allen, chair of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston.“It gives us choice and control, and we don’t have a lot of that right now,” she said.Music also provides social connection, Allen said, and a link to the familiar.During lockdown, private piano lessons for Andrea Cordero Fage’s two teenage sons in Harrison, New York, stopped, but something new happened. The brothers, whose interest in music has waxed and waned over the years, “came into their own musically,” she said. “I would have never imagined it.”They started playing piano for hours a day. They researched movie soundtracks, like the one to the 2014 science fiction epic “Interstellar,” by Hans Zimmer, and learned the score on their own with the assistance of sites like YouTube.“After dinner, one would play and the other would watch. Then they’d switch,” Cordero Fage said. “I think they fed off each other, saw it as a challenge.”Studying or listening to music can harness our focus, said Melita Belgrave, associate dean and professor of music therapy at Arizona State University.Throughout the pandemic, many people have been watching concerts at home but retaining a semblance of the shared experience. The millions of people who streamed the movie version of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” is an example.“People are finding themselves drawn to the arts and crafts,” Belgrave said. “We are learning new ways to connect with each other.”I haven’t figured out whether my Zoom piano lessons will continue past the pandemic. I've gone from knowing middle C to playing cusp chords, eight-key scales and Mozart.But even if returning to regular life interrupts my lessons, piano will always be one of my best pandemic memories.Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press
Ontario health minister Christine Elliott told Sudbury MPP Jamie West this past week that while many parts of Ontario do not have all the mental health resources that many people need right now, there is a plan in place to have provincewide mental health and addictions services. Elliott was responding to West's plea for the government to take action to immediately increase funding for mental health services in Sudbury. “Sudburians are suffering,” said West during question period at the Ontario Legislature. “Family members are mourning and local health resources are overwhelmed," he added. West described how he had met with Denise Sandul of Sudbury, the mother of 22-year-old Myles Keaney, who died of an opioid overdose earlier this year. He also told the legislature that a cross had been erected in downtown Sudbury close to where Keaney died, as a memoriam to a young life lost. West said the number of crosses had increased dramatically to the point where it is expected more than 50 crosses will be in place before too long. “Will the premier commit to immediate increased funding to help Sudburians like Denise and her family?” asked West in the legislature. Health Minister Elliott stood to respond and offered her sympathies. "First, let me express my condolences to Myles’s family and all of the other families who have lost anyone through an overdose, through addictions of any kind. That is something none of us want to see happen in the province of Ontario," said Elliott. She added that Ontario has a plan in place to address mental health concerns across the province. "That is why we brought forward our Roadmap to Wellness, to make sure that across Ontario — that includes Northern Ontario, southern, eastern and western Ontario — we can have that core basket of addictions and mental health treatments," said Elliott. The Roadmap to Wellness is a joint federal-provincial 10-year action plan to address several concerns that include too long wait times, barriers to access, fragmented services, uneven quality of services and lack of data. Elliott said the addictions and mental health crisis is similar to what existed several years ago with the shortfalls in cancer care in Ontario. Elliott said it took time and money before cancer care was improved significantly. She said work is underway, costing billions of dollars, to ensure that all parts of Ontario get better mental health and addictions support. In his comments in the Legislature, West also stated the opioid overdoses are involved in as many as 50 to 80 deaths per week in Ontario. In a study published earlier this year by Public Health Ontario (PHO), it was stated that opioid deaths were quickly outpacing the number of deaths that occurred in Ontario in 2019 and the increase might be as much as 50 per cent higher by the end of this year. "If the number of opioid-related deaths continues to increase at the weekly pandemic rate for the rest of 2020, it is anticipated that there will be 2,271 opioid-related deaths in the province by the end of the year. This would represent a 50-per-cent increase from the year prior (1,512 opioid-related deaths in 2019)," said the PHO report. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
A petition calling for stricter laws and tougher penalties for drunk and reckless drivers has amassed nearly 100,000 signatures in the wake of a pair of deadly Peel Region crashes. Jillian McLeod launched the change.org petition, aimed at lobbying the different levels of government, in the wake of a horrific Brampton crash that claimed the lives of Caledon East elementary teacher Karolina Ciasullo and her three daughters, Klara, 6, Lilianna, 4, and Mila, 1. “We have signatures in almost every province now,” McLeod said this week. “It’s sending a message that citizens have had enough with the lenient sentences. Our justice system is broken.” As the number of signatures grew, so have the number of motor vehicle-related fatalities across Peel Region — 38 to date, up from 23 all of last year. Since 2010, only two full years have recorded more motor vehicle-related fatalities: 41 in 2018 and 40 in 2016. Police confirmed that six of the deaths to date in 2020, including the Ciasullos and 19-year-old Jagrajan Brar, who was killed after his car was hit head-on in an Oct. 10 crash, were the result of alleged impaired driving. “I snapped and said that’s enough,” said McLeod, who has lost two close friends to impaired driving. She’s not alone. Brar’s family has also rallied to her cause, using the Lorne Park Secondary School student’s story to amplify McLeod’s initiative. Peter Simms, 46, the man charged with impaired driving causing death, had two prior impaired driving convictions, Peel police said last month. “This man should not have been behind the wheel of a car,” Rob Brar, the teen’s father, said. The petition is pushing for tougher sentences for serious driving convictions including: impaired driving causing bodily harm, impaired driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation causing bodily harm On Wednesday, about 40 protesters once again rallied outside a Brampton courthouse to demonstrate against Simms’ effort to get bail. Family and friends also rallied at the courthouse for Simms’ last hearing in October. His case was adjourned until Dec. 16. Police last month charged a second driver who they allege engaged in dangerous and aggressive driving behaviour with Simms and contributed to the collision. They’re calling on Premier Doug Ford to endorse their initiative, and for Ottawa to review the existing penalties. The group is also opposing bail for Brady Robertson, 20, of Caledon, who faces four counts of dangerous driving causing death in the collision that killed Ciasullo and her daughters. Robertson’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 2. Robertson was also charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle in connection with a separate incident that occurred at Dougall Avenue and Kennedy Road in Caledon, two days before the fatal crash. Peel police are separately warning about a rise in street racing and stunt driving amid the pandemic. As of Oct. 31, the service had laid 599 charges for these offences in 2020, up from 332 over the same time frame in 2019. 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: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpicJason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Indigenous illustrator Kyle Charles says hundreds of people have reached out to congratulate and thank him for his creations in a new Marvel anthology that tells the story of an Aboriginal mutant. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old from Edmonton to be one of the artists for Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1.
LONDON — Cineworld, which last month closed its cinemas in the U.S. and the U.K., has secured more than $750 million of new financing that it hopes will see it through the coronavirus pandemic.In a statement released Monday, the company said its finances will be bolstered over over the coming months largely from a new debt facility as well as an extension of an existing credit facility.Cineworld closed around 660 cinemas in the U.S. and Britain last month due to a lack of blockbusters as producers postpone releases because of the pandemic, including the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”“We look forward to resuming our operations and welcoming movie fans around the world back to the big screen for an exciting and full slate of films in 2021,” said Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld’s chief executive.The group's base case scenario assumes a reopening of cinemas no later than May. In the event of a further delay, it said it expects to retain sufficient liquidity for a number of months longer, but said that may require support from lenders.Despite that caveat, news of the new financing arrangements sent shares shares in the company soaring 17% in London.The hope is that the new money will help the company ride out the pandemic until vaccines are available. Over recent weeks, a number of vaccine candidates have shown promising results.“With vaccine development progressing, this should give investors significantly greater confidence in Cineworld emerging from the crisis, allowing the company to capture demand as it returns with a robust slate of postponed films," analysts at Investec.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
BROCKTON – Council had the opportunity to look at and discuss the recommendations in the review of committees of council, presented by Clerk Fiona Hamilton. The matter had been tabled from the Oct. 27 meeting. The review was completed at council’s request, stemming from meetings for the 2020 municipal budget, in response to financial pressures. As stated in the report, COVID-19 meant many committee meetings were delayed during the spring months. When they resumed, staff were unable to consult directly with committee members. However, as Hamilton noted, the pandemic caused additional financial pressures and “highlighted the importance of finding efficiencies and streamlining processes for minimal effect on residents.” Staff reviewed the number of committees of council with a view towards consolidating or eliminating some of them and thus reducing staff overtime and other expenses. As of March 2020, the municipality had more than 15 committees of council. Among the recommendations made by staff were reduction of each committee to seven members, term limits for committee members, and proper succession planning. Staff also had recommendations on reducing the number of meetings. “It’s important we get this right,” commented Mayor Chris Peabody. Among the items discussed by council was the recreation committee and whether it should be for Brockton or remain Walkerton. It would have an impact on the volunteers who serve on the committee. Also discussed was the mandate for the childcare committee, the possible need for a roads committee, the use of sub-committees and the number of meetings. Council passed a motion to hold a public information session and allow time for committee members to comment. A further report will be brought back to council Dec. 8.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The Atlantic bubble is no more.Both Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I are exiting the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks as COVID-19 cases rise in parts of the region.Newfoundland Premier Andrew Furey said the province will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the other Atlantic provinces to see if the two-week break needs to be extended. Travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador will only be for essential reasons, he said."The Atlantic Bubble has been a source of pride ... but the situation has changed," Furey said at a news conference.P.E.I. Premier Dennis King delivered a similar message during a nearly simultaneous news conference, saying his government would re-evaluate over the next two weeks.King said the changing epidemiology in the region was concerning, "and it forces us to use what I believe are the tools in our limited toolbox to do everything we can to avoid an outbreak here in P.E.I."He said that given the province's small size, it wouldn't take much for its health-care system to become overwhelmed.Atlantic bubble established July 3Newfoundland's heightened travel restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, and P.E.I.'s come into effect Monday at midnight.Since July 3, residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I and Newfoundland and Labrador were able to travel relatively freely across each other's borders without quarantining.COVID-19 case numbers in all the Atlantic provinces were low throughout the summer and fall, but that began to change last week in parts of the region.New Brunswick tightened restrictions in Moncton and Saint John last week as cases rose, and the province reported its highest ever single-day case count on Saturday with 23 new cases. As of Monday, that province had a total of 89 active cases. Nova Scotia also started recording a spike in cases last week and public health confirmed there is community spread, with most transmission happening in the Halifax area. As of Monday's reporting, the province had a total of 51 known active cases.Newfoundland and Labrador is currently reporting 23 active cases — including two new cases announced Monday — and P.E.I has two, with the latest one reported at Monday's news conference.No plans to burst N.S.-N.B. bubbleIn a news conference Monday afternoon, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said the change will not affect New Brunswick's rules.He said he and the other Atlantic premiers held a teleconference last night when they discussed the decision."We certainly understand the situation that Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. are in, and their concerns with our current situation in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia," he said.Still, Higgs said he and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil have decided not to burst the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick bubble for now.He said most cases in Nova Scotia are in the Halifax region. He said there has been a focus on testing there, and people in the Halifax area are being encouraged to not travel outside of the region.WATCH | P.E.I. and N.L. to exit Atlantic bubble for at least 2 weeks:Higgs said enforcing an isolation requirement for Nova Scotia would not be a good use of resources."We want to keep our resources deployed along our northern borders between New Brunswick and Quebec, and to enhance our activity along the border between Maine and New Brunswick," he said."We're aligned in containing this in Nova Scotia and in New Brunswick independently, and I think we're best served to ensure that we each follow our own protocols."He said any New Brunswickers travelling to P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador, including for work, should contact the government in the two provinces to see how the changes will affect them.Higgs also said the change does not affect New Brunswickers coming home after working in P.E.I. or Newfoundland and Labrador.While the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border remains open, Higgs still urged New Brunswickers to avoid non-essential travel. That message was also in a news release from the Council of Atlantic Premiers on Monday morning, which advised caution while travelling within the Atlantic bubble.The office of Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed Monday that travellers from all other Atlantic provinces can still enter Nova Scotia without quarantining. MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — The murder trial for the man who killed 10 people after driving a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk has been delayed until Thursday.The judge has given the Crown and its experts a few days to review a defence-hired psychiatrist's interviews with Alek Minassian.The 28-year-old Minassian faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.He argues he should be found not criminally responsible due to autism spectrum disorder for his actions on April 23, 2018. Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack and his state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial.Another psychiatrist has testified that Minassian's autism spectrum disorder left him fixated on mass killings and vulnerable to the ramblings of an American mass murderer.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees.A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty.The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year.This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage.Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years.“We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson.Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost.Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them.Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before.The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.”“This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said.The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents.Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle.“The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager.The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way.That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July.The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said.“It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said.Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to.“You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices.Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache.“Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees.New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan.“I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.”___Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
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
It’s been just over a year since Nalcor Energy impounded the reservoir at Muskrat Falls. How much methylmercury that would release into the water downstream and subsequently the impact it would have on the food chain in central Labrador has been the topic of much debate over the years, and that debate is still going on. Ryan Calder, an assistant professor of environmental health and policy in the department of population health science at Virginia Tech, and the lead author of the 2016 Harvard paper "Future Impacts of Hydroelectric Power Development on Methylmercury Exposures of Canadian Indigenous Communities," took to social media recently to express his concern over the methylmercury readings for the first year following impoundment. Calder said the increased levels showing at a station downstream from Muskrat Falls, N5, are more in line with what his group at Harvard estimated, and exceed the projections made on behalf of Nalcor Energy. He said he wishes they were wrong in their predictions, but based on what he’s seen so far it doesn’t appear to be so. “Nalcor and the government of Newfoundland claimed that there was no possibility for risk to people or the environment, spent years claiming up and down there was nothing to worry about, and now monitoring is coming out showing that the peak levels are still increasing and are within the range that was forecasted,” he said. Data from the last four years available online shows that the recorded levels in the water exceeded the Nalcor predicted peak of 0.1 namograms per litre a couple times in the last year and does show an increased overall level of methylmercury. Calder said it’s common for levels to increase in the first year after impoundment and stay higher for a few years before levelling off, but any increase corresponds to an increase in risk. “It’s known that when you flood a reservoir there are increased methylmercury levels. Nalcor doesn't deny that creation of the reservoir accelerates the production of methylmercury. They accept that there are impacts on water, they accept that people eat the fish, but they don’t accept there’s any risk to the people and that’s logically inconsistent.” It’s too early at this point to assess any risk to people, he said, and that would require more data on methylmercury in fish, which has not been released yet for 2019, but increased methylmercury levels in the water are the first signal. When asked by SaltWire Network about the levels, Nalcor Energy said the measured values in water are very similar to those predicted and are within safe limits. James McCarthy, senior associate biologist with Wood, the firm that handles the monitoring for Nalcor, said he doesn’t see anything in the levels that would cause concern from a human health perspective. “Ultimately, it’s the fish concentration that matters, that’s the interaction with people. Even though water is an early indication it’s really the fish that matter most to people. We just finished the sampling for 2019, so that’s a full year of flooding, but had three years of head pond formation, and we’ve seen nothing really in the fish.” McCarthy said the increased levels are in line with projections made for Nalcor in 2018, which did differ from lower predictions in previous years, and so far everything appears to be on track. The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities told SaltWire Network methylmercury levels are below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines for aquatic life and at no time have levels presented a risk to public health.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book, due out Dec. 1, was ghost-written by Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, and at times the prose and emphasis seems almost more Ivereigh’s than Francis.’ That's somewhat intentional — Ivereigh said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Victory is always sweet in municipal politics, said Mayor Duane Favel, and this year, victory has meant starting his fifth term as leader of the Northern Village of Île-à-la-Crosse. Duane defeated fellow mayoral candidate Peter Durocher with 323 votes to 257, with 580 total votes cast. This will be a long four years of council, Favel said, with many challenges facing northern Saskatchewan communities and with COVID-19 those challenges are going to get bigger, he said. In a previous interview before the election, Duane said physician retention and high water levels have been a challenge for the community for years. Joining Duane at the council table will be incumbents Vincent Ahenakew, Bodean Desjarlais, Myra Malboeuf, and Gerald Roy, and new councillors Noel McLean and Kevin Favel. Having a mix of old and new councillors is good to have for both continuity and bringing new voices to the table, Duane said. “It's nice to have a council who clearly has a good background on some of the things we've been working on and to bring those two councillors up to speed. Certainly, their voices will be heard as well.” Mentoring the new councillors will be an important step in the coming term, Duane said. Duane said he would like to thank the outgoing councillors who have stepped away from the table, including Durocher, who decided to run for mayor. The open spots allowed for two new voices to join the conversation and Duane said he is excited to work with this new council. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WALKERTON – PJ Mack, known outside music circles as Pat McNinch, has been entertaining his neighbours all fall (in good weather), putting on impromptu concerts in his Walkerton driveway. The popular local singer and songwriter had about 100 bookings at the beginning of the year, and played regularly until COVID-19 hit. Then everything stopped – except the music. Mack’s style is deeply personal, with a country-folk sound and words that mean something – songs like “The Message” that he wrote with Tom Traversy and performed to considerable acclaim at the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 102 hall last year. Apart from a few concerts such as Music by the Gazebo at Victoria Jubilee Hall, this year Mack’s stage has mostly been his driveway. It all started when he got together with his old bandmates from Yesterday’s Wine and did a driveway concert for about 50 people. But now Mack is moving to the recording studio. “It will be all original songs,” said Mack. He’s already made at least one sale – a neighbour asked if the CD would feature the songs the musician has been playing in the driveway – and if so, he wanted one. “The CD is something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years,” said Mack. He hopes it will be ready for Christmas. After that, a lot of what happens depends on COVID-19. Mack said, “Who knows how long it will last?” In all likelihood, he’ll be resuming his driveway concerts in the spring, for one simple reason. “People love it,” the musician said.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
SOUTH BRUCE – Sixty-four per cent of South Bruce residents would vote ‘no’ to a deep geological repository (DGR) if a vote were held today, according to results from an independent survey held in October. Sixteen per cent of respondents indicated they would vote for the proposal while 20 per cent said they were not sure. A total of 284 adult residents participated in the survey. The survey intended to represent the adult population of South Bruce. Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste (POW-NNW) commissioned Mainstreet Research, one of Canada’s top public opinion and market research firms, to ask residents of South Bruce “if a community vote were held today would you vote for or against creating a deep underground storage facility in South Bruce for high-level radioactive nuclear waste?” Residents were also asked how informed they felt about the issues. Sixty-four per cent answering they feel either very informed or somewhat informed. Only 13 per cent said they felt not informed at all. “This is a clear and resounding rejection of the proposed DGR,” Michelle Stein, president of POW-NNW said, “and residents feel informed enough to make the decision that they are not a willing host.” These findings echo the Municipality of South Bruce’s smaller poll from September 2020, which indicated that 74 per cent of residents want a referendum to vote on the project and 81 per cent of residents disagree with the municipality’s 36 principles for determining the community’s willingness to host the project. “Mayor Buckle and council have said repeatedly they are ‘willing to listen,’” added Ron Groen, a board member for POW-NNW. “I expect Mayor Buckle to listen to this message from a clear majority of the community and tell the NWMO our community is not a willing host.”Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times