A pretty big sinkhole has developed at the Morganton post office in North Carolina. Check it out! Full credit to: @ScottyPowell_WX on Twitter
A pretty big sinkhole has developed at the Morganton post office in North Carolina. Check it out! Full credit to: @ScottyPowell_WX on Twitter
Penetanguishene council could approve an interim 2021 property tax levy this week. Staff is bringing forward the request at Wednesday's meeting and recommending that council approve a temporary tax levy, which can be paid in two installments, one at the end of February and the other at the end of April. The report does not specify the levy amount but it does state that the sum cannot exceed 50% of the total amount of taxes for municipal and school purposes levied on the property in the previous year. The move, says the report, will help with cash management and provide tax revenues in February and April, whereas the final tax levy will provide revenues in July and September. Also on the committee of the whole agenda is a staff report on the extension of the sidewalk on the west side of Peel Street, between Main Street and Simcoe Street, to enable a sidewalk snowplow to remove the snow from that area. The costs associated with the extension of the sidewalk would be approximately $15,000. The extension would also mean existing parking signs within this area will be removed and relocated with pavement markings will be added to define the new sidewalk and parking area. There is sufficient width within this one-way section of Peel Street to accommodate the expansion. Council will also be looking at amendments to the bylaw that governs its contract with the Penetanguishene Curling Club, which has requested some changes to the agreement. The current terms require that the club to provide the town with audited financial statements on an annual basis. As a cost savings measure, the club has requested that the town reconsider that requirement and change it to a review engagement. Staff are supporting the amendment and want to include wording that reflects expanded town use of the facility during the summer. Currently the clause details town use of the facility with reference to day-camp operations. The language will be changed to reflect use of the facility for town programming in general, as opposed to being specific to day-camp use. The committee of the whole meeting begins immediately after the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. and can be viewed online via the town's YouTube channel.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
U.S. stocks rallied on Tuesday and the Dow breached the 30,000 level for the first time, as investors anticipated a 2021 economic recovery on coronavirus vaccine progress and the formal clearance for President-elect Joe Biden's transition to the White House. Of the 11 major S&P sectors, 10 gained ground, led by economically sensitive stocks such as financials, materials and energy, while industrials hit a record. President Donald Trump finally gave the green light for the formal transfer of power to begin on Monday, a process that was delayed for weeks despite Democrat Joe Biden emerging as the clear winner in the U.S. elections.
The approval of a zoning bylaw amendment could allow for a fire fighting academy to be built in a Tay Township hamlet. The application coming forward for public consultation this Wednesday evening is seeking to add “private career college” as a site-specific permitted use on the property located at 36 Hazel St., which is presently zoned institutional. The new use is to facilitate the land to be used for a firefighting training and education facility by Southwest Fire Academy (SFA). The application is also seeking some accessory uses for the college building, specifically allowing for overnight accommodations for a maximum of 15 consecutive nights. Other site-specific uses include one detached accessory building, outdoor parking and storage of a vehicle to be used for training purposes, the outdoor use of a decommissioned railroad car for the purpose of training, and a minimum of 37 off-street parking spaces for the college. The application also specifically states that no live fires are proposed for the site. The 2.18 acres of land is surrounded by low-density residential areas and backs onto 175 m of Trans Canada Trail. The site was the former Waubaushene Elementary School and had been vacant since 2015. The submitted application also includes comment from the Severn Sound Environmental Association, which has written in saying that no environmental impact study is required for the land in question. The letter also states that there are no woodlands, wetlands, or areas of natural and scientific interest on the property. The SSEA also recommends that property owners are responsible for ensuring that activity being undertaken on the property does not contravene with any applicable legislation or regulations under the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act, and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The presentation included in the agenda also answers a question asked by the township's chief administrative officer around mitigating noise for surrounding houses. The presentation states that strategic landscaping to supplement privacy and screening from abutting residential areas. Residents with questions and comments can contact Steven Farquharson, general manager, protective and development services via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (705)534-7248 ext. 225. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and can be viewed online via Zoom or via the township's website. An audio-only version of the meeting can be accessed via telephone by calling (705)999-0385 and entering meeting ID number 851 7203 4877 followed by .Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Thousands of Albertans caught in a COVID-19 contact tracing backlog will no longer have their cases investigated.The province's contact tracing system has grown increasingly overwhelmed as Alberta's case counts spike.Starting Tuesday, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is temporarily giving up on investigating contacts for people who received their positive test result more than 10 days ago.There are currently 11,500 people on the waitlist and about 3,000 of them will not be investigated."This is not good, this is not optimal, but this is, I think, choosing the lesser of two evils," said University of Calgary infectious disease expert Dr. Craig Jenne.He says focusing on the most recent cases is the best thing to do given the circumstances."We will have a significant absence of data from those cases, but instead of having that problem continue to move forward into the future I think this is a matter of accepting some loss of data, some loss of understanding of transmission," he said.The temporary measure comes less than three weeks after AHS was forced to limit contact tracing to Albertans connected to high priority settings such as hospitals or schools.Currently, roughly 85 per cent of active cases in the province have no identified source.With such a large gap in data, Jenne says broader restrictions will likely be necessary to rein in surging numbers since health officials don't really know where transmission is occurring.Commenting Tuesday on the situation in Alberta, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said the inability to complete contact tracing is like fighting blind."When you don't have the data, you have no clue what direction you are headed and how to pivot or point, and where to point your public health measures," he said."It's very, very challenging. You need good surveillance data, good contact tracing, good diagnostic tests to really help inform and steer the public health response."
A Fort St. John, B.C. man is earning praise for driving an American family in need from northern B.C. to the Alaskan border near Beaver Creek, Yukon.The roughly 1,700-kilometre trip up the Alaska Highway in winter didn't deter him from volunteering to help out, said Gary Bath.Bath said he noticed an online plea for help last week from an American woman driving to Alaska who was overwhelmed by the winter driving conditions and couldn't drive any farther."I didn't care how far it was, I just knew they needed help and they had a few short days to hit the border before they were going to get in trouble, so," Bath said, referring to the four-to-six day period Americans are given by Canada to drive from the lower 48 states to Alaska.He said the stranded woman, Lynn Marchessault, is a former member of the U.S. military and was driving herself and her two children to Alaska to join her husband, a current member of the military.Bath is a Canadian Ranger, and he said that was an added incentive for him to get involved.Marchessault said she had never driven in snow before when she and her two children left Georgia to drive north.She was driving a pickup and towing a large U-Haul trailer. As soon as she hit snowy roads she began having trouble with traction on hills.Marchessault believed the tires on the truck were rated all-weather, but shortly after leaving Fort St. John a woman told her they were actually summer tires and helped Marchessault find a set of studded winter tires.Marchessault continued on, but the driving stress was too much and she pulled over at a highway lodge for temporary workers at Pink Mountain, B.C.The staff there let her and her two children stay the night while she went online to see if she could find somebody to take over. Her husband would not be allowed to come to their aid because of COVID-19 restrictions.Bath and his wife Selena showed up with extra winter clothing for the Marchessaults and Gary volunteered to drive them in their vehicle to the American border."I had to make the hard choice — were my children safer in my own hands in these conditions, or in the hands of a kind stranger who was willing to get us to where we needed to be, safely," said Marchessault.Bath said the trip was mostly uneventful and they reached the Alaskan border on Thursday where Marchessault's husband was waiting.He said they all wore face masks the entire time they were in the vehicle.While they were on the road, Bath's friends, his provincial MLA and strangers were working to find a way to get him back home. An RCMP officer in Beaver Creek gave him a ride from the American border back to Beaver Creek and found him a ride to Whitehorse. Donations from the public paid for Bath's airfare from Whitehorse to Fort St. John.'Forever grateful'Bath is downplaying his good deed, but said he was struck by the kindness he was shown by various people, including women working at the highway lodge at Pink Mountain and the motor inn at Beaver Creek.Marchessault has similar comments."We are forever grateful to Gary and I'm thankful to his wife for bringing him up and loaning him out. I met her that morning when she drove him up to the inn. And so we just had a good time," she said.She said she hopes they can all meet up again when her family eventually moves back south.Marchessault said Canadian drivers were also kind toward her on several occasions."There's a lot of road rage in my life, especially in America, but there were several times where I was driving pretty slow and I never experienced not one, not one interaction of road rage or anything," she said.
WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices jumped in September as strong demand, low interest rates and the smallest number of available homes on record combined to push up housing costs. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, showed that home prices rose 6.6% in September from a year earlier, much higher than its 5.3% increase in August. That is the biggest increase since April 2018. The viral pandemic disrupted the spring home buying season, pushing many sales into the late summer and fall. Home sales jumped to the highest level in 14 years in September, a sign that the increased ability of some Americans to work from home and the desire for more space is spurring greater demand. Prices skyrocketed 11.4% in Phoenix compared with a year earlier, the biggest gain nationwide. Seattle reported the second highest increase, at 10.1%, followed by San Diego at 9.5%. The number of homes for sale sank in September to the lowest level since records began in 1982, according to the National Association of Realtors. And last week mortgage rates fell to a record low of 2.72%, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Home prices are rising broadly across the country. In September, 19 cities in the S&P 20-city index reported bigger price gains compared with a year ago than in August. The 20th city, Detroit, has reported delays at its recording office because of the pandemic and did not have enough data to calculate price changes. Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press
HOUSTON — The U.S. government has agreed temporarily not to deport detained immigrant women who have alleged being abused by a rural Georgia gynecologist, according to court papers filed Tuesday.In a motion that must still be approved by a federal judge, the Justice Department and lawyers for several of the women agreed that immigration authorities would not carry out any deportations until mid-January.Dozens of women have alleged that they were mistreated by Dr. Mahendra Amin, a gynecologist who was seeing patients from the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general is investigating as well. Amin has denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer.Several women say they have faced retaliation by immigration authorities for coming forward. One woman has said that hours after she spoke to investigators, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified her that it had lifted a hold on her deportation. Another woman was taken to an airport to be placed on a deportation flight before her lawyers could intervene.The agreement filed in court Tuesday proposes that no deportations would take place until at least mid-January for women who have “substantially similar factual allegations.”Elora Mukherjee, a Columbia University law professor working with several of the women, said the agreement gives the women "a measure of protection for trying to expose the abuses there.”“ICE and others at Irwin thought they could silence these women,” she said. “They thought they could act with impunity and nothing would ever happen. But the women have organized and had the audacity to speak out.”ICE said Tuesday that it “complies with all binding court orders.” The agency has previously denied allegations that it tried to deport women to silence them, saying in a written statement: “Any implication that ICE is attempting to impede the investigation by conducting removals of those being interviewed is completely false.”Scott Grubman, a lawyer for Amin, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.The allegations were originally revealed by a whistleblower complaint. Further investigations have found several examples of Amin performing surgeries on women who later said they didn't consent to the procedures or didn't fully understand them.Grubman has denied any wrongdoing by the doctor and previously described Amin as a “highly respected physician who has dedicated his adult life to treating a high-risk, underserved population in rural Georgia.”Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press
BERLIN — A court in Berlin heard Tuesday how witnesses alerted police after seeing a man dump a wig, clothes and a bicycle in a river last year, allowing officers to swiftly arrest the suspect in an alleged Russia-ordered political assassination.Testimony by the two men is central to the trial of the man German authorities have identified as Vadim Krasikov, a 55-year-old Russian citizen whose alleged killing of a Georgian man in broad daylight in downtown Berlin has fueled frictions between Germany and Russia.German prosecutors allege there is ample evidence indicating Russian officials ordered the killing of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, who had fled to Germany with his family. Russia has accused Khangoshvili of killing scores of people during fighting in the Caucasus, but denied being behind his slaying.German news agency dpa reported that the two witnesses told the Berlin regional court they became suspicious when they saw the suspect disappear into bushes by the banks of the Spree River on Aug. 23, 2019. They moved to a bridge to get a better view and called police.When the suspect emerged from the bushes, his dark locks were gone and he was wearing completely different clothes, the witnesses testified.The suspect appeared to realize that he was being watched by the men, turning around to look at them repeatedly, but he was apprehended by police before he could flee on an electric scooter.No pleas are entered in the German trial system, and the defendant made only a short statement at the start of the trial, saying that he had been misidentified.The Associated Press
Traffic on the Confederation Bridge was steady but not record-breaking Monday night as Islanders hurried home following the announcement that P.E.I. would be leaving the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks. "We immediately saw at midnight that a couple of cars were turned around already," Michel LeChasseur, the bridge general manager, told Island Morning's Mitch Cormier. "P.E.I. was applying the rules to the letter."The announcement that the province would be opting out of the bubble, at least temporarily, came during an unscheduled COVID-19 briefing just 13 hours prior to the new rule taking effect.Meaning, people had little time to get back into the province before 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. 'More a weather issue'But for those scrambling to return home, Premier Dennis King said that he would allow for some flexibility."The restrictions were put into place at 4:30 this morning," said LeChasseur. However, according to LeChasseur, on Monday night the main concern was not the influx of vehicles. "Overnight was more a weather issue than a traffic issue," he said. "The winds are howling."'Commercial traffic has been resilient'LeChasseur said he expects car traffic on the bridge will dwindle to what it was in the winter — which was about 10 per cent of the traffic the bridge would regularly have. As for commercial trucks, LeChasseur said this November saw more commercial activity than last November."We don't expect that to change much because of these new rules," he said. "Commercial traffic has been resilient throughout the pandemic."More from CBC P.E.I.
The Daily Show host and comedian Trevor Noah has been tapped to host the 2021 Grammy Awards.The Recording Academy made the announcement hours before the nominees for the upcoming show are revealed. It would mark Noah's first time hosting the Grammys, which are currently scheduled to be held Jan. 31.Earlier this year, Noah competed for his first Grammy Award: The 36-year-old Emmy winner was nominated for best comedy album with Son of Patricia, but lost to Dave Chappelle."Despite the fact that I am extremely disappointed that the GRAMMYs have refused to have me sing or be nominated for best pop album, I am thrilled to be hosting this auspicious event," Noah said in a statement."I think as a one-time GRAMMY nominee, I am the best person to provide a shoulder to all the amazing artists who do not win on the night because I too know the pain of not winning the award! (This is a metaphorical shoulder, I'm not trying to catch Corona). See you at the 63rd GRAMMYs!"Harvey Mason Jr., interim president and CEO of the Recording Academy, said: "With a knack for keeping viewers engaged and entertained, Trevor is the perfect choice to lead us through what's sure to be an incredible evening full of music, unforgettable moments, unity and inspiration. He is a dynamic host, comedian and personality, and we're thrilled to welcome him to the Grammy stage as host of Music's Biggest Night for the first time."Alicia Keys was the most recent Grammys host. Past hosts include James Corden and LL Cool J.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam talks to The National’s Andrew Chang about the holiday season and getting to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the province, the Alberta government is expected to introduce further measures to slow the spread of the disease.A meeting of the priorities implementation cabinet committee was scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss options, according to the premier's office. The committee normally includes Premier Jason Kenney and the ministers of environment, finance, energy, innovation, health, justice, and children's services.Monday's meeting also included the ministers of municipal affairs, labour, and education.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, cut her COVID-19 update short on Monday to attend the meeting but said little about what could be in store for Albertans."My role, again, is simply to provide recommendations," she told reporters.Speaking outside the legislative assembly, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the cabinet would look to Hinshaw's advice for direction."I can say this, that we are taking these rising numbers very seriously," he said.COVID-19 cases have continued to rise rapidly, with new daily cases passing the 1,500 threshold for the past two days. As of Monday, Alberta had 13,166 active cases. more than any other province in Canada.The Official Opposition has hounded the government in recent weeks to introduce further measures.On Nov. 12, the government introduced measures in major population centres that require bars and licensed restaurants to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. and to close an hour later. It also prohibited group fitness programs.Businesses would struggle through shutdownBusinesses are bracing for new restrictions. When Pigs Fly has sold gifts and trinkets from its storefront on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue for more than 25 years.Decorations are already up at the store in preparation for the Christmas season. Manager Tara Chekowski said the next few weeks are crucial for revenue to carry through the slower months of January through March."This is our time of the year that we need to be open and we need to be selling items," she said.With the possibility of new restrictions, Chekowski said the business is at least better prepared than it was at the beginning of the pandemic last spring. She intends to enter more items into the online store and hopes curbside pickup and delivery will be allowed."Unfortunately, if there is a shutdown we're going to have to take that in stride," she said.Kyle Murray, vice dean of the University of Alberta's Alberta School of Business, said many retailers are already struggling to find a way forward through the pandemic."If we can shut down for a short period of time, and as a result of that save lives … that's a good outcome," he said. "And I think most businesses are OK with that."But long-term shutdowns spurred by an increasingly dire pandemic could make things much worse, Murray warned."Any kind of shutdown is difficult. There's no easy decision here."Alberta announced on Monday it would open applications for a second round of its Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. The payment will be available to businesses in areas on the provincial watch list that have health restrictions.Community spread in schoolsA report from the Edmonton Public School Board on the impact of COVID-19 on the first quarter showed 10,500 students and 1,075 staff were recommended or required to self-isolate. Cases were found in 111 of the division's 215 schools."It's clear the same COVID numbers that are happening in the community are happening in our schools," said trustee Michael Janz, who requested the report in October. He said staff are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the virus within schools.Janz was critical of the government's communication about its future plans."We need as much notice as possible for whatever they are deciding," he said. "And it's not fair to 100,000 students, staff and families in Edmonton public schools to make them wait. "Tell us now. Get us the information as soon as possible."Colin Aitchison, press secretary for Education Minister Adrianna LaGrange, said in an emailed statement that the ministry was following Hinshaw's advice and was ready to make changes based on that advice."We are in regular contact with education partners, including school boards across Alberta, to deal with the challenges that arise during learning in a COVID-19 environment," he said.Hinshaw said Monday there were active alerts or outbreaks in 304 Alberta schools — about 13 per cent of the total."I am confident that because of the diligence of our schools, parents, guardians and students, the number of cases in schools will remain stable," she said.
When Canadian trade negotiators begin talks with the United Kingdom next year on a permanent bilateral trade deal, their hands could be tied when it comes to offering any future dairy, egg or poultry concessions — if Parliament passes a new private member's bill that saw its first hour of debate on Tuesday.Bloc Québécois MP Louis Plamondon's legislation, Bill C-216, would amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act to state that the minister "must not make any commitment ... by future trade treaty or agreement" that would increase the tariff rate quota (TRQ) applicable to dairy products, poultry or eggs, or reduce the tariff applicable to those goods when they are imported in excess of that quota.Canada protects its agriculture supply management system for these commodities by carefully controlling access to its domestic market. Only small quantities of imports are allowed under strict international quotas — TRQs — with high tariffs keeping any extra imports above and beyond these quotas from being cost-competitive.But the three major trade deals implemented by the Liberal government over the last four years — the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with 10 other Pacific Rim markets and, most recently, the revised North American Free Trade Agreement (the new NAFTA) — all offered new access to Canada's domestic market, among other concessions required to land these deals."Something very important for milk and egg and poultry production is given away as a token and nothing comes back for those producers, so we say in the law that this should not happen anymore," Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet told CBC News last week."[The Liberal government says,] 'Oh, we will will compensate you. And you know what? They don't."No word on NAFTA compensationA few weeks before the 2019 general election, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced compensation for dairy farmers to cover their anticipated losses from CETA and CPTPP, which were already both in effect at the time. That financial assistance rolled out last winter.Help has also been pledged to compensate for the even larger concessions in the new NAFTA but nothing further has been announced. American farmers got access to a greater share of Canada's starting July 1 — and the new NAFTA also dictates how dairy ingredients can be priced and slapped strict export limits on sensitive global commodities like skim milk powder and baby formula.Blanchet slammed Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland for taking so long to present her fall economic update and said her spending plan must include the NAFTA compensation farmers anxiously anticipate."This money is owed, is expected [and] is terribly late," he said.Freeland announced Monday that she'll present her update on Nov. 30.Bill could block British demandsIf Plamondon's legislation garners enough support to pass in this Parliament before the next election, the first trade negotiation it could affect is talks between Canada and the United Kingdom to reach a permanent, comprehensive deal to liberalize their bilateral trade post-Brexit.On Saturday, prime ministers and trade ministers from both sides announced they'd reached agreement on a transitional deal to offer continuity for businesses by continuing most of the terms of the CETA past Jan.1, when it was otherwise set to expire because the U.K. is no longer an EU member.The government won't release details of exactly what's in that transitional agreement until the legal text is ready, which usually takes another two to four weeks. But Doug Forsyth, Canada's lead negotiator in the talks, confirmed previously that the British were seeking additional tariff-free access to Canada's cheese market."I want to be very clear that there is no new market access for cheese here in this transition agreement," International Trade Minister Mary Ng told CBC News at Saturday's announcement.But yesterday at the Commons trade committee, Ng's parliamentary secretary, Rachel Bendayan, said that language in the transitional deal commits both sides to returning to the table to reach what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a "bespoke" bilateral deal by 2024.That means the British could make another play to get more U.K. cheeses into Canada."By 2024, Canada will have transferred 18 per cent of its domestic dairy production to dairy farmers in other countries ... that will displace our domestic products on the grocery shelves," said Pierre Lampron, the president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, in a statement sent to CBC News last weekend. "Another concession as part of a trade agreement with the U.K. would have been dramatic for the industry."Officials had told us there would be no further concessions, and they followed through, but we must remain vigilant as this is a provisional agreement."Vote unclearBased on remarks made during Tuesday's first hour of debate, it appears Conservative MPs may not support this bill, but a party spokesperson has yet to comment on it or confirm how the Official Opposition will vote.In an email to CBC News, party spokesperson Melanie Richer said New Democrats agree with the Bloc that compensation has been slow to roll out, adding that "the Liberals added insult to injury by bringing CUSMA into effect several weeks earlier than promised, robbing Canadian dairy farmers of a full year to prepare for the change in their local markets.""New Democrats have consistently decried the damage done to Canada's dairy sector in successive trade deals and we have said we would not do the same," Richer said. "This bill would add legal force to that position."Youmy Han, a spokesperson for Trade Minister Ng, said the government is still studying the bill and would not say how Liberal MPs might vote."We have been clear: our government will not grant any further market access in our supply-managed sectors in any future trade negotiation," Han said.MPs will vote on the bill at second reading after its second hour of debate, expected later this winter.
LOS ANGELES — The Elton John AIDS Foundation and TikTok are teaming up to raise awareness about the disease through a campaign and live event for World AIDS Day. John’s foundation and the social networking service announced their collaboration Tuesday for a live show on Dec. 1. The event will air on John’s TikTok channel featuring the singer and husband-filmmaker David Furnish along with performances by Sam Smith, Sam Fender and Rina Sawayama. The campaign kicks off Wednesday with an HIV/AIDS Education & Awareness quiz to test TikTokers’ knowledge of the disease. The campaign is also expected to help educate TikTokers about the prevention and own sexual health. The hope is to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. “We all need to care about HIV and end the discrimination around this disease,” John said in a statement. “There’s a great lineup for our TikTok Live to break down the myths around HIV, talk about safe sex and ensure that young people know how to protect themselves and others.” The Associated Press
WESTWOOD, Mass. — “Parting is such sweet sorrow” — especially for a theatre troupe hoping to stage a live performance of “Romeo & Juliet” in the middle of a pandemic that has closed schools and required social distancing. The solution, at least for high school students in the Boston suburb of Westwood? Make a movie version instead. This fall, the Westwood Stage cast has been recording themselves reciting lines from William Shakespeare's timeless story of star-crossed lovers. The audio tracks will then be set to images from a graphic novel version of the play. Producing an animated film meant students didn’t have to worry about memorizing lines, costume changes or many of the other things that go into a live theatrical performance. But it was still an interesting challenge to focus almost completely on their voice work, said Lucy Vitali, a 16-year-old junior who plays Juliet. “This was definitely a good one to do Shakespeare for,” agreed Ryan Kaplan, a 15-year-old sophomore who plays the friar. “The focus is much more on the words and the terminology, which is what Shakespeare is all about.” For Cassidy Hall, a 17-year-old senior who plays the nurse, the chance to remain active in theatre, even in a modest way, has been a welcome dose of normalcy. She’s among the students who have opted to study at home rather than attend in-person classes this year, so her interaction with peers has been limited. “It’s something I really look forward to,” she said. “Just to be able to rehearse with everyone.” Cast members said there was never any doubt they’d find a way to perform this fall. After all, their musical production of “The Addams Family” last spring was cancelled following its opening night performance because the state shuttered schools, businesses and many other institutions for weeks during the initial wave of the virus. Jim Howard, the school’s drama teacher, said he turned to the animated film idea after it became clear that performing the play live wouldn’t be possible under the state’s current guidelines, which require 6 feet (two meters) of separation between performers. “How do you do Romeo and Juliet at 6 feet?” he said. “It’s a love story. They dance. There’s fighting. There’s a lot of physical interaction.” Howard said he found an illustrated version of the play by Classical Comics, a British imprint, while searching online, and the creators readily agreed to let the students use the images for their project. Over the last few months, the cast has spent three days a week rehearsing their lines and getting acclimated to the quirks of the Bard's English before laying down audio tracks in the school’s closet-sized, soundproof music rehearsal rooms. They wrapped up recording last week, but not before a small setback: The school was forced to close for in-person classes recently after some students — none in the cast — contracted COVID-19. Howard said he’ll now send the best of the audio tracks to a technician who will merge them with the comic book images. He expects the finished product will run about an hour long and be ready sometime next month. Since a proper premiere isn’t possible under pandemic restrictions, the cast of 20 is planning to gather in the school’s auditorium for a viewing. The film will also be posted on the troupe's website, where Howard hopes it can replicate some of the joy and community of live theatre. “There's a great opportunity, at a time that is so difficult, to have some pride in our town and smile a little,” he said. “Because we all need that. Even if it's behind our masks." ___ “One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing. Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says a preliminary estimate shows manufacturing sales rose 0.6 per cent in October.The agency says the growth came due to higher sales in the petroleum and coal products, paper, primary metals and wood products industries.The flash estimate for October follows a rise of 1.5 per cent to $53.8 billion in September.Statistics Canada cautioned that it is continuing to collect October data and that the early indicator is subject to a higher revision rate than its regular monthly release.The early estimate was calculated based on a weighted response rate of 57.8 per cent.It says the average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 89.8 per cent.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
For the first time in its 45 years, a grocery store in downtown Nelson, B.C., has hired a security guard — and it's not to watch out for shoplifters.Their job is to head off a growing increase in aggressive behaviour among some shoppers who refuse to wear a mask in the store, since the province announced last Thursday that face coverings are now mandatory in all retail spaces in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19.Ari Derfel, store manager of the Kootenay Co-op, says while most customers have followed the new regulations, about 10 to 20 per cent of them are refusing to wear a mask and become confrontational when asked to do so."Their way of expressing [their argument] can be really aggressive, confrontational and mean to the point that they sometimes try to force themselves into the store without a mask," Derfel told CBC reporter Bob Keating. "They speak in really demeaning, negative, critical ways to some of our staff and our cashiers."Some members of staff have broken down in tears and even quit as a result of the vitriol, he said.Leannah Fidler, who has worked at the Kootenay Co-op for five years, says she has never seen her workplace like the pressure-cooker environment it is now. "We're getting a lot of pushback from folks that either don't really believe that [COVID-19] is a real thing, or don't believe that masks are an appropriate way to combat it," she said."People are just waiting for an altercation."Assistant manager Shannon McAllister is pleading with customers to end the verbal abuse toward her staff."At the end of the day, we're all just people and we're all trying to do our best and do our jobs," she told Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South."Especially people that are working in retail and grocery stores and restaurants ... [they're] doing so at their own risk to provide that service for our community."Most shoppers like regular customer Reiko Fujibayashi, who worked at the store for 10 years, have no problem masking up."I don't understand why people would personalize something that's a mandate," she said.Derfel hopes the presence of a security guard will mean some people think twice about trying to get into the store without a mask or abusing staff when they're denied entry.Listen to Bob Keating's conversation with Kootenay Co-op's staff and customers on Radio West:Listen to Shannon McAllister's interview on Daybreak South:
GENEVA — The European Union and other donors offered new funding for Afghanistan on Tuesday, as a U.N. official declared now is “not the time to walk away” from years of hard work in trying to build peace and stability in a poor country where Taliban fighters have made inroads against the internationally-backed government.A largely virtual, one-day pledging conference in Geneva, co-hosted by Finland, drew representatives from over 70 countries in the first such event in four years. It comes as the COVID-19 crisis has commanded worldwide attention, and the virus outbreak in Afghanistan has compounded persistent ills like corruption and extremist violence.Countries like Britain, the Netherlands and Canada stepped forward with hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of pledges for Afghanistan as the session got under way, after speeches from top officials like Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who hailed the country's “ambitious agenda for development and reform.”"The United Nations stands with the people of Afghanistan on the path toward peace, development and self-reliance," Guterres said, expressing hope that donor pledges will "translate into real progress and concrete improvements for the people of Afghanistan.”The European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in assistance to Afghanistan over the next four years, but like many others made its support conditional on the strife-torn country’s commitment to democracy, the rule of law, human rights and gender equality.“Afghanistan’s future trajectory must preserve the democratic and human rights gains since 2001, most notably as regards women’s and children’s rights,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. "Any attempt to restore an Islamic emirate would have an impact on our political and financial engagement.”The conference came amid a complex situation in Afghanistan, 19 years after an international coalition led by the United States toppled the Taliban government that supported al-Qaida. Taliban rebels and the Afghan government are currently taking part in peace talks in Doha, Qatar, and the Trump administration recently announced a further drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.Deborah Lyons, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for Afghanistan, said the country was facing “a time of unprecedented opportunity but also deep uncertainty and rising anxiety,” and said Afghans were committed to preserving the gains of recent years."But they will need the ongoing support of the international community: political, financial, and technical,” Lyons said. “Now is not the time to walk away.”Ghani touted a strategic plan for Afghanistan.“A new Afghanistan has emerged over the past two decades, and with it, an entirely new set of expectations from our citizens,” he said, acknowledging “lessons learned” from abroad and the development of a robust civil society and free press.“The main theme of our development agenda is to meet these new expectations by doing much more with much less in the face of daunting challenges,” he said.Statistics in Afghanistan are still grim after decades of international help. The poverty level during the pandemic has shot up to 70% — up from 54% last year. Despite billions of dollars that have poured into the country in the last two decades, more than half the population lives on $1.14 a day.A U.S. watchdog said over $19 billion of U.S. money alone had been lost to abuse, fraud and waste.Lyons has said that despite some progress, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places in the world to be a woman or a child. She has criticized a sharp rise in casualties in fighting, both from Taliban assaults and U.S. and Afghan bombing raids.___Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
Campbellford Memorial Hospital (CMH) is stepping in to help run the Trent Hills COVID-19 Assessment Centre. Beginning Nov. 23, CMH will provide clerical and operations support to the assessment centre, the hospital announced in a news release. Northumberland County Paramedics and the Trent Hills Family Health Team have been managing the centre so far throughout the pandemic. With the transition, there will be no changes in location, contact number or hours of operation for the Trent Hills COVID-19 Assessment Centre but only patients who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by phone moving forward. The hospital is reminding residents to be vigilant with safety measures including hand-washing, wearing a mask and practising physical distancing. “We are actively in wave two of the COVID-19 pandemic,” CMH said. Provincially, the number of new cases reported daily are up to over 1,000 and these cases are appearing closer to home, the hospital noted. Outbreaks have been announced in the Peterborough and Cobourg areas. “We urge you to revisit your daily practices and ensure that you are taking all steps necessary to keep you, your loved ones and your community safe.” CMH said the Trent Hills Family Health Team was instrumental in establishing the assessment centre and co-ordinating processes that included registering patients, sending specimens to the lab, providing follow-up instructions and completing daily reporting to the Ministry of Health. CMH also thanked Campbellford’s two walk-in clinics for helping communicate test results with those who received COVID-19 swabs. CMH said it aims to provide a seamless transition with as few changes as possible to existing services. About the Trent Hills COVID-19 Assessment Centre: -The assessment centre is located in the old paramedic bay at CMH -Tests continue to be provided by appointment only -Appointments can be booked by calling 705-395-1801 -The centre is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. -Northumberland County Paramedics continues to provide staffing support to assess and swab patients requiring a COVID-19 test \- Moving forward, results will be managed slightly differently. Only those who have a positive test result will be contacted by phone by an infection control team member. \- Residents are asked to check their results online at http://covid-19.ontario.ca/ -For help on days the assessment centre is not open, contact the local health unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 or visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
Les propriétaires d’immeubles commerciaux et industriels de Lac-Brome auront un répit fiscal en 2021. La Ville a décidé d’abaisser leur taux de taxation grâce au surplus anticipé de 3 M$. Les propriétaires d’une résidence, eux, auront droit à un gel du taux de taxation. Quelque 225 entreprises, commerces et industries situées à Lac-Brome pourraient profiter d’une baisse de taxes de l’ordre de 33,6% pour les propriétaires de locaux commerciaux et de 29% pour le secteur industriel. Une économie de près de 400 000$ pour ces secteurs d’activités. « Les élus étaient unanimes concernant la nécessité de fournir une aide directe et immédiate sous forme d’allègement fiscal aux contribuables les plus touchés par les conséquences de la pandémie de COVID-19, indique le maire de Lac-Brome, Richard Burcombe. À présent, le conseil compte sur les propriétaires d’immeubles pour que cette aide se rende jusqu’aux locataires commerciaux. » Les propriétaires recevront une lettre leur expliquant cet allègement d’un an et pour leur demander d’appliquer cette diminution de taxation au prix des loyers commerciaux. Cette façon de faire permet d’aider les citoyens corporatifs sans faire des évaluations à la pièce et d’agir en toute objectivité, note le directeur général Gilbert Arel, qui tient à rappeler qu’il s’agit d’une mesure unique à 2021. «On vit une période instable et on ne sait pas quand ça va se terminer, évoque-t-il. Les mois d’hiver ne seront pas faciles. Alors les élus voulaient donner de l’air.» Gel de taxes Quant aux résidences, le taux de taxation sera gelé à 0,665$ par 100$ d’évaluation. «Normalement, depuis que l’administration Burcombe est en place, la Ville augmente le taux de taxation selon l’IPC [indice des prix à la consommation]. Cette l’année, l’IPC est négligeable.» L’année 2021 est la dernière du présent rôle d’évaluation foncière. Un tout nouveau rôle sera déposé l’an prochain et appliqué en 2022. Le barrage Blackwood toujours une priorité Malgré le contexte actuel, la rénovation du barrage Blackwood demeure une priorité pour les élus et l’administration pour 2021. Tous les documents et études nécessaires ont été soumis au ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) afin d’obtenir les autorisations requises. L’objectif est de commencer le chantier en août prochain. La réfection des routes sera également au coeur du budget, qui sera présenté en séance spéciale, disponible en ligne, le soir du 14 décembre.Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est