ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports on a major religious liberty case coming before the Supreme Court next week, over Catholic Social Services not working with same-sex foster parents in Philadelphia.
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports on a major religious liberty case coming before the Supreme Court next week, over Catholic Social Services not working with same-sex foster parents in Philadelphia.
Prince Wong was still in her mother's womb when the Chinese government reclaimed control over Hong Kong from the British in the summer of 1997. For her 23rd birthday this year, Wong posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a pastel-striped paper hat trimmed with pink pompoms. On a recent day, Wong spun a gold ring on her finger in continuous circles as she spoke quietly about the past year of her life.
A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news.Independent experts are leery because key test results have not been published and the test has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — it's being sold under more general rules for commercial labs. But they agree that a simple test that can be done in a doctor’s office has long been needed.It might have spared Tammy Maida a decade of futile trips to doctors who chalked up her symptoms to depression, anxiety or menopause before a $5,000 brain scan last year finally showed she had Alzheimer’s.“I now have an answer,” said the 63-year-old former nurse from San Jose, California.If a blood test had been available, “I might have been afraid of the results” but would have “jumped on that” to find out, she said.More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more around the world have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. To be diagnosed with it, people must have symptoms such as memory loss plus evidence of a buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain.The best way now to measure the protein is a costly PET brain scan that usually is not covered by insurance. That means most people don’t get one and are left wondering if their problems are due to normal aging, Alzheimer’s or something else.The blood test from C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis aims to fill that gap. The company's founders include Drs. David Holtzman and Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, who headed research that led to the test and are included on a patent that the St. Louis university licensed to C2N.ABOUT THE TESTThe test is not intended for general screening or for people without symptoms — it’s aimed at people 60 and older who are having thinking problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s. It’s not covered by insurance or Medicare; the company charges $1,250 and offers discounts based on income. Only doctors can order the test and results come within 10 days. It's sold in all but a few states in the U.S. and just was cleared for sale in Europe.It measures two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. These factors are combined in a formula that includes age, and patients are given a score suggesting low, medium or high likelihood of having amyloid buildup in the brain.If the test puts them in the low category, “it’s a strong reason to look for other things” besides Alzheimer’s, Bateman said.“There are a thousand things that can cause someone to be cognitively impaired,” from vitamin deficiencies to medications, Holtzman said.“I don’t think this is any different than the testing we do now” except it’s from a blood test rather than a brain scan, he said. “And those are not 100% accurate either.”ACCURACY CLAIMSThe company has not published any data on the test’s accuracy, although the doctors have published on the amyloid research leading to the test. Company promotional materials cite results comparing the test to PET brain scans — the current gold standard — in 686 people, ages 60-91, with cognitive impairment or dementia.If a PET scan showed amyloid buildup, the blood test also gave a high probability of that in 92% of cases and missed 8% of them, said the company’s chief executive, Dr. Joel Braunstein.If the PET scan was negative, the blood test ruled out amyloid buildup 77% of the time. The other 23% got a positive result, but that doesn't necessarily mean the blood test was incorrect, Braunstein said. The published research suggests it may detect amyloid buildup before it's evident on scans.Braunstein said the company will seek FDA approval and the agency has given it a designation that can speed review. He said study results would be published, and he defended the decision to start selling the test now.“Should we be holding that technology back when it could have a big impact on patient care?" he asked.WHAT OTHERS SAYDr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said the government funded some of the work leading to the test as well as other kinds of blood tests.“I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said of the company’s claims. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work but we want to see results.”Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said it won't endorse a test without FDA approval. The test also needs to be studied in larger and diverse populations.“It’s not quite clear how accurate or generalizable the results are,” she said.___Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP.___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.Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
Georgian Bay’s Honey Harbour Public Library is reopening at their new location, but only for curbside pickup, on Tuesday, Dec. 1 following its pandemic-related closure earlier this year. They’ll be open four days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Currently, the library is only handling drop-ins and contact-free pickups at their other locations in Georgian Bay, at the MacTier and Port Severn branches. On Dec. 1, all their locations will transition into curbside service only. The new library is located inside the Honey Harbour Public School at 2586 Honey Harbour Road. Tracey Fitchett, the library’s CEO, said she’s “really excited” to finally be operating out of the new facility, even though the public can’t come in. Official talks about relocating to the public school from their old location began last year. Fitchett said renovations began in fall 2019. Staff were in the midst of moving their things to the new location when public schools were closed provincewide on March 14. Until Friday, Nov. 27, their plan was to open the facility to the public, but they changed their plans out of fear of contributing to the spread of the coronavirus. “The numbers are so high every day and with other areas being in lockdown and potentially a lot of people from the red and grey zones will be coming here to stay at their cottages,” she said. “It’s just added risk to the staff and the people that come into the library.” Georgian Bay falls under the jurisdiction of the Simcoe Muskoka Public Health Unit, currently in the orange zone. No more than ten people can gather indoors under these rules. Curbside pickup will operate the same way it does at the other library locations in Georgian Bay. People can reserve books or movies online or over the phone, then the library will take either a day or up to two weeks to acquire the materials. Renters can then come pick up the materials during open hours and drop them off at the drop box. “It’s a beautiful space,” Fitchett said about the new library. “It’d be nice to have the community be able to come in again.” Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
NEW YORK — In the land of lexicography, out of the whole of the English language, 2020's word of the year is a vocabulary of one. For the first time, two dictionary companies on Monday — Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com — declared the same word as their tops: pandemic. A third couldn't settle on just one so issued a 16-page report instead along the same lines, noting that a world of once-specialized terms entered the mainstream during the COVID-19 crisis. The year, Oxford Languages said in the report last week, “brought a new immediacy and urgency to the role of the lexicographer. In almost real-time, lexicographers were able to monitor and analyze seismic shifts in language data and precipitous frequency rises in new coinages." Its Oxford English Dictionary and others found themselves madly updating well beyond routine schedules to keep up. Such publication updates are usually planned far in advance. Because the coronavirus pandemic brought on gargantuan language changes, according to Oxford Languages, “2020 is a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single `word of the year.'” Not so at Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com, both of which also noted enormous shifts toward many other related words but announced just one nonetheless. Pandemic “probably isn’t a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement. “Often the big news story has a technical word that’s associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It’s probably the word by which we’ll refer to this period in the future,” he said. John Kelly, senior research editor at Dictionary.com, told the AP before breaking the news that searches on the site for pandemic spiked more than 13,500% on March 11, the day the World Health Organization declared an outbreak of the novel coronavirus a global health emergency. The daily spike, he said, was “massive, but even more telling is how high it has sustained significant search volumes throughout the entire year." Month over month, lookups for pandemic were more than 1,000% higher than usual. For about half the year, the word was in the top 10% of all lookup on Dictionary.com, Kelly said. Similarly, at Merriam-Webster.com, searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than spikes experienced on the same date last year, Sokolowski said. Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population, he said. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski said. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said. That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said. He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn’t know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort in the knowing. “We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine’s Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It’s the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.” The pandemic, Kelly said, made us all worthy of watercooler chatter with Dr. Anthony Fauci as our knowledge grew about all things pandemic, aerosols, contact tracing, social distancing and herd immunity, along with the intricacies of therapeutic drugs, tests and vaccines that can help save lives. “These were all part of a new shared vocabulary we needed to stay safe and informed. It’s incredible,” said Kelly, who works with a team of lexicographers to come up with words of the year based primarily on site traffic. Merriam-Webster began designating a word of the year in 2008, with “bailout.” The company's word of the year for 2019 was “they,” when a shifting use of the personal pronoun was a hot subject and lookups increased by 313% in 2019 over the previous year. Dictionary.com has been in the word of the year game since 2010, with “change.” Its word of the year in 2019 was “existential" in a year that climate change, gun violence, the very nature of democracy and an angsty little movie star named Forky from Disney's “Toy Story 4” helped propel search spikes. Oxford went with two words last year: climate emergency. Kelly, Sokolowski and Oxford Languages noted other worthy search trends beyond the pandemic. After the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, words around racial justice experienced spikes, including fascism, anti-fascism, defund and white fragility, Kelly said. “There was no way for us to leave that out of the conversation this year,” he said. Oxford included a range in its report, from “karen” to “QAnon.” But it was all things pandemic that ultimately won the annual word sweepstakes. Jennifer Steeves-Kiss, chief executive for Dictionary.com, said one key ingredient in the hunt for the site’s word of the year is sustained interest over time. Pandemic met that standard. “This has affected families, our work, the economy,” she said. “It really became the logical choice. It’s become the context through which we’ve had dialogue all through 2020. It’s the through line for discourse.” Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
Un dessinateur d’Alma, Charles Lapointe, se lance un impressionnant défi. Le jeune homme de 20 ans, reconnu sur les réseaux sociaux pour ses portraits très réalistes de célébrités, veut établir le nouveau record du monde du plus gros dessin réalisé au crayon de bois. Il a d’ailleurs déjà choisi sa muse pour ce défi, l’Américaine Kylie Jenner, qui a déjà partagé une oeuvre de l’artiste régional à ses 200 millions d’abonnés. Charles Lapointe a commencé le dessin il y a bientôt six ans. Les seuls cours qu’il a suivis sont des cours d’arts plastiques à l’école. Au secondaire, il a dû réaliser une reproduction à l’échelle du jeu Grand Theft Auto (GTA), ce qu’il a adoré. Il a ensuite étudié en art et en technologie de l’informatique au Collège d’Alma, avant de quitter pour la métropole, il y a un an, avec l’ambition de vivre un jour de son art. Son créneau est le photoréalisme au crayon de bois. Si, au début, il prenait des commandes pour faire des portraits de tout un chacun, il s’est rapidement lassé et préfère se concentrer sur ce qui l’inspire vraiment : les célébrités. Charles Lapointe partage de nombreuses photos et vidéos de ses oeuvres, en plus de montages illustrant le temps investi à la création, sur les réseaux sociaux. Il est particulièrement actif sur Facebook (Charles Lapointe Art), Instagram (@charleslapointeart) et TikTok (@charlesdrawings). Sur Instagram, il rejoint environ 6400 personnes, alors que son TikTok compte plus de 57 000 abonnés. Certaines de ses vidéos, sur cette plateforme, ont été visionnées à plus d’un million de reprises. C’est d’ailleurs un récent dessin de Kylie Jenner, vedette de la téléréalité, femme d’affaires et influenceuse, réalisé au cours des derniers mois qui a le plus retenu l’attention sur ses différentes plateformes. L’Almatois y a consacré plus de 1200 heures, soit un an et demi de travail. Lorsque la jeune femme d’affaires a partagé l’œuvre de Charles Lapointe sur son compte Instagram, ses réseaux ont été inondés. L’Américaine est tout de même la cinquième personne la plus suivie sur Instagram, avec plus de 201 millions d’abonnés. Comment a-t-il pu se faire remarquer par l’entrepreneure ? Il admet compter sur le soutien d’admirateurs de Kylie Jenner et animateurs de comptes lui étant dédiés, en profitant de l’engouement autour de ses œuvres. « J’ai vraiment voulu augmenter la hype autour de mon oeuvre. Ça m’a pris un an et demi avant de la publier. Je dévoilais toujours des petits détails à mes abonnés et j’ai gardé la couronne, un élément important du dessin, qui m’a pris le plus de temps, pour la fin. Mes abonnés avaient hâte de voir le dessin complété. Plus le temps avançait, plus leur nombre montait », a-t-il indiqué, dans un entretien par visioconférence avec Le Progrès. Kylie Jenner n’est pas la seule vedette qui a été dessinée par Charles Lapointe. De nombreuses vedettes québécoises et américaines sont passées sous sa mine. Entre autres, il a réussi à attirer l’attention avec ses œuvres de l’influenceuse Lysandre Nadeau, de l’animateur et humoriste Jay Du Temple et du rappeur XXXTentacion. Des dessins de l’Almatois ont également été présentés à l’émission Vlog, et la mère de Paris Hilton l’a même contacté pour des commandes personnelles ! Cinq ans de travail ! Charles Lapointe se lance dans un nouveau défi : de réaliser un défi ultra réaliste de Kylie Jenner, d’une hauteur de neuf pieds. « Je suis assez fou. Le record Guinness du plus gros dessin au crayon de bois de couleur est de sept pieds. Quand j’ai vu ça, je me suis tout de suite dit que j’allais en faire un, mais de neuf pieds ! », raconte-t-il. Il a choisi de refaire Kylie Jenner, un choix qui en surprendra peut-être plusieurs, mais qui est très réfléchi pour l’Almatois. « Je n’ai pas le choix de la refaire sous un autre angle. J’ai eu beaucoup de demandes », affirme-t-il. Le dessin n’est pas commencé, mais les démarches de création le sont. Charles Lapointe a dû faire affaire avec le photographe de la vedette de téléréalité pour recevoir sa photo de référence. Il est aussi à la recherche de commanditaires pour ce projet qui prendra, selon lui, environ cinq ans à compléter ! Amélie LegendreLe Progrès vous a présenté une collègue d’école de Charles Lapointe, Amélie Legendre, il y a deux semaines. Les deux jeunes, qui se connaissent assez bien, ont tous les deux une passion pour le dessin de célébrités. À la suite de la parution de l’article du Progrès, le compte Instagram de la jeune femme a eu plus de 4000 nouveaux abonnés, en seulement quelques jours. « Je ne m’attendais vraiment pas à autant d’attention. Je suis vraiment contente », a-t-elle indiqué au Progrès. Elle a également reçu plusieurs demandes de dessins et, à son tour, a été contactée par l’équipe de l’émission Vlog.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, a woman in the Eastern Health region between 20 and 39 years old and a close contact of a travel-related case.Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald also announced that public health officials can now say a case announced Sunday with an unknown source was in fact travel-related.The province's total number of cases is now 338, with 36 active cases, as there has been a new recovery in the Eastern Health region. It's the first day since Nov. 18 the province's active caseload hasn't gone up. Premier Andrew Furey said the daily increase of cases in Newfoundland and Labrador over the last two weeks, as well as in other parts of the country, may increase anxiety."But it's going to be OK. Please don't panic. Take a deep breath and stay calm," he said."We are focused on avoiding a full lockdown here in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is where you come in and have a big part to play. You have to follow the rules, no matter who you are, and you have to focus on what you and your family are doing as opposed to what others are doing. That's how we avoid turning into a COVID-19 hot spot."Tuesday marks the beginning of December, and Fitzgerald said her countdown to Christmas is "a little more apprehensive" as residents begin to return home for the holidays."Inevitably we expect to see more cases of COVID as a result of travel into the province," she said. "For travellers and their families welcoming them home, please remember that travellers must adhere to the 14-day self-isolation requirement."Watch the full Nov. 30 update:Fitzgerald once again warned the public this holiday season should be very different. Christmas parties and New Year's Eve parties can set up the "perfect condition" for community spread to happen in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fitzgerald said employers need to do their part by not having staff parties, but should instead find another way to recognize workers.Government regulations for gatherings are set at 50 people for informal gatherings, if space allows, and 100 people for organized events. However, over the last number of weeks Fitzgerald has said groups should be limited to 20.Asked if official changes will come for gathering sizes, Fitzgerald said more information will be provided in the coming days. To date, 62,521 people have been tested for the virus across the province, an increase of 359 in the last 24 hours. There have now been 298 recoveries and four deaths. "We continue to hold steady and avoid the COVID trajectory that has taken a hold across our country. This is not luck. It's a result of layers of protection that we've built from travel restrictions, self-isolation requirements, distancing, masking, staying home if you're sick and following personal public health measures," said Fitzgerald. New forms for travelThe provincial government says clarifications for travel will be available to people on its COVID-19 website on Tuesday, with the site outlining the reasons someone may enter Newfoundland and Labrador, and what documentation they'll be required to have. Essential workers will also have to provide more information, including what sector they work in, their worksite and contact information for their employer.Fitzgerald said they're the same criteria the province has been applying all along, but moving the forms online will make things easier for travellers, as well as the provincial government's exemption team and the border officials meeting people at entry points."I think it facilitates the whole process for everybody, and it helps us keep track of things in a very efficient way." Isolation with othersFitzgerald also noted the recommendation has always been for rotational workers to isolate away from members of their household, but under some circumstances it's not possible. If a worker isolates at home with family members, she said, the whole family must isolate for the full 14 days. Provinces such as Nova Scotia have similar guidelines in place. "I think in some situations people weren't isolating because they weren't required to, and then in other situations sometimes people weren't aware that they needed to isolate," said Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald said people isolating in a house that includes other people should use a separate bathroom and bedroom if possible. If using a separate bathroom is not possible it must be disinfected after each use, she said. Common touchpoints, such as doorknobs, should also be disinfected after each use. Those in isolation must also stay six feet apart from those not in isolation with them. "Ideally you should be in a completely separate area of the home, and not be in common areas of the home. This may mean having meals delivered to your door," said Fitzgerald. "No visitors should enter a home where someone is self-isolating, and if someone in the house becomes symptomatic everyone in the house must self-isolate."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes fell for the second consecutive month as lack of available homes continues to stifle house hunters.The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its index of pending sales fell 1.1%, to 128.9 in October, down from a reading of 130.3 in September. An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001.Thanks to a red-hot summer, contract signings are still 20.2% ahead of where they were last year after lagging in spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Contract signings are a barometer of finalized purchases over the next two months.Three out of four regions saw declines in contract signings, with only the South logging a small gain.Historically low interest rates are drawing prospective buyers into the market, but home prices have risen significantly the past year as supply remains near all-time lows.Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac reported last week that the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan remained at a record low 2.72%.The median price for an existing single-family home reached $313,000 in October up almost 16% from October 2019. The median price of a new home sold in October was $330,600, according to the Commerce Department.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Kawartha Dairy Limited is recalling certain ice cream products in Ontario due to "possible presence of pieces of metal," Health Canada says. The Kawartha Dairy flavours affected by the recall are: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in both 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages, and Mint Chip ice cream in 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages. Health Canada says consumers should not eat the four recalled products, and retailers, restaurants, and institutions should not sell or use them. Recalled ice cream should be thrown out or returned to the location where it was purchased. Health Canada says the recall was triggered by the company on Sunday, adding the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other items. There have been no reported injuries associated with eating the recalled flavours as of Sunday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
BROCKTON – Mayor Chris Peabody, like his counterparts throughout Bruce County, is concerned about rising COVID-19 numbers. “The number one cause is social gatherings with family and friends,” he said. “No one’s to blame. The virus is highly contagious, and is most contagious just before people develop symptoms.” Peabody said it’s essential we “knock it down” in order to avoid other measures – the kind of measures we’re seeing in Toronto. Once again, the big box stores are remaining open, while small retailers are locked down, something he, as mayor of a community with a lively downtown filled with small businesses, finds disturbing. While he doesn’t anticipate this area getting to the point where a similar lockdown is needed, people can’t let their guard down. “I hope we get it knocked down,” he said. There’s a lot happening at council that isn’t related to COVID-19 right now. The focus is on planning – the county’s memorandum of agreement (MOA) and Brockton’s own planning review. The latter recommends additional staff, and he’s interested in seeing where that goes. He’d prefer to see redeployment of existing staff from areas such as tourism, which doesn’t generate a lot of money for Brockton, unlike subdivisions, which do. Peabody noted planning is a key issue in a municipality that’s seeing millions of dollars in subdivisions being developed. Another area of interest that’s on the council agenda is a change in provincial legislation that would require municipal officials serving on other boards to be responsible to the electorate, not the board. An example is the conservation authority.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
A new COVID-19 case was confirmed in Whitehorse on Sunday, bringing the territory's current number of active cases to 16.Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley confirmed the latest case in a news release. The territory has now confirmed a total of 46 cases since the pandemic began.The most recent case is still under investigation. The territory also added a new public exposure notification: Baked Café and Bakery on Nov. 21 between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.Anyone experiencing any symptoms and who was at this location is asked to self-isolate immediately and call the COVID-19 testing and assessment centre at 867-393-3083. People can also drop in at the drive-thru testing centre located at Centennial Motors on the Alaska Highway across from the airport in Whitehorse.People who are now outside of Whitehorse should contact their community health centre.People are considered a "secondary contact" if they were in contact with someone who was at a location listed in the public exposure notices. Those people should also monitor for symptoms but they do not need to self-isolate.Anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms, is asked to self-isolate and arrange for testing immediately: * Fever. * Chills. * Cough. * Difficulty breathing. * Shortness of breath. * Runny nose. * Sore throat. * Loss of sense of taste or smell. * Headache. * Fatigue. * Loss of appetite. * Nausea and vomiting. * Diarrhea. * Muscle aches.Starting Tuesday, the territory is requiring masks in all indoor public places in Yukon.
NEW YORK — General Motors will not be taking a stake in the electric vehicle company Nikola, and the company said Monday that it was scuttling one of its marquee vehicles, an electric and hydrogen-powered pickup, after GM pulled technological support from the project.Shares of Nikola plunged 24%.Nikola on Monday released updated terms between the companies for a supply agreement related to GM's fuel-cell system, replacing an agreement signed in September. That deal would have given GM an 11% stake in Nikola.The early agreement would also have allowed Nikola to use GM’s new battery electric truck underpinnings for its electric and hydrogen-powered pickup called the Badger, and its fuel cell and battery technology as well. That is no longer part of the agreement, essentially gutting Nikola's plans for the Badger.Nikola said Monday that it will begin refunding deposits made by customers who wanted first dibs on that pickup.“In a nutshell, the signing of GM as a partner is a positive but ultimately no ownership/equity stake in Nikola and the billions of R&D potentially now off the table is a major negative blow to the Nikola story," said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. “This went from a game changer deal for Nikola to a good supply partnership but nothing to write home about."There were hints that the partnership was going sideways in late September as a deadline for an binding agreement approached. GM said then that negotiations about its $2 billion role were ongoing, sending shares of Nikola sliding.That announcement came just days after Nikola founder and Chairman Trevor Milton resigned after Hindenburg Research, a company that’s betting Nikola stock will drop, accused Nikola of Fraud.Hindenburg said Nikola’s success was an “intricate fraud,” including a video showing a truck rolling downhill to give the impression it was cruising on a highway, and stenciling the words “hydrogen electric” on the side of a vehicle that was actually powered by natural gas.Nikola denies the allegations and called them misleading. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are reportedly investigating.On Monday, GM spokesman Jim Cain said the revised agreement is more focused. He said the new memorandum of understanding will help Nikola produce its commercial trucks, and help GM commercialize its fuel cell technology.Nikola said Monday that its work on heavy trucks will continue. GM will still be part of a global supply agreement that would integrate GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell system into Nikola’s commercial semi-trucks.“Heavy trucks remain our core business and we are 100% focused on hitting our development milestones to bring clean hydrogen and battery-electric commercial trucks to market," said CEO Mark Russell.Nikola is based in Phoenix.The Associated Press
VAUGHAN, Ont. — York Region has confirmed 11 cases of COVID-19 linked to a soccer game at a sports facility in Vaughan, Ont. The public health unit says about 25 people played at TRIO Sportsplex and Event Centre on Nov. 11 and 15. It says the players wore masks during the game but not while they were in the change rooms. Most of the cases were Toronto residents, with some from surrounding areas. Team sports were allowed in York Region at the time but screening of patrons was required. The region moved to stricter pandemic restrictions on Nov. 16, prohibiting team sports except for training. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The U.S. Embassy in Budapest on Monday condemned an article published by a Hungarian official that drew parallels between American-Hungarian billionaire George Soros and Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.The embassy posted on its Twitter account that it “strongly condemns” statements made in an article equating a debate over the European Union’s bid to bolster democratic standards within its member countries “with the horrific murder of millions of people during the Holocaust.”On Saturday, Szilard Demeter, a ministerial commissioner for culture and the head of the Petofi Literary Museum in Budapest, wrote an opinion piece in pro-government news site Origo referring to Europe as “George Soros’ gas chamber,” and calling Soros “the liberal Führer (whose) liber-aryan army deifies him more than did Hitler’s own.”In the piece, Demeter also noted the conflict over the European Union’s next budget, which Hungary and Poland are holding up over provisions that could block payments to countries that do not uphold democratic standards. He referred to the two countries, both of which are under EU investigation for undermining judicial independence and media freedom, as “the new Jews.”Soros, who was born in Hungary and is a Holocaust survivor, is a frequent target of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who opposes Soros’ philanthropy which favours liberal causes.The statements prompted strong reactions from several Hungarian Jewish groups and Hungarian opposition politicians while the Israeli Embassy condemned the article. More than 12,000 people including numerous Hungarian public figures like Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony have so far signed a petition demanding Demeter’s resignation.Demeter retracted the article on Sunday following the backlash and said he would delete his Facebook account.In Hungary’s parliament on Monday, several opposition lawmakers inquired how long Demeter would be permitted to remain in his position while others demanded his dismissal. But deputy prime minister Mihaly Varga, who is also finance minister, said that Demeter would remain in his position since he had “admitted his mistake.”“He retracted his article, and he even deleted his Facebook account. He wrote that (his article) could harm the memory of the victims, so he admitted his mistake,” Varga said, and accused the opposition members of parliament of “applying a double standard.”Justin Spike, The Associated Press
Le Ministère de l’environnement recense encore, en date du 20 octobre dernier, 50 terrains qui sont considérée comme contaminés, à divers degrés, sur le territoire de la Ville de Boucherville. Des terrains de station-service, des terrains d’entreprises du parc industriel mais également des terrains de quelques écoles et plusieurs terrains privés. La listes des terrains considérés comme contaminés compte 86 sites à Boucherville mais 36 d’entre eux ont été complètement réhabilités au fil des 20 dernières années ayant fait l’objet de travaux d’excavation pour y retirer la terre contaminée. Dans plusieurs cas, la contamination se limite à la présence d’hydrocarbure parce qu’un réservoir d’huile ou d’essence a, un jour, laissé écouler plusieurs litres de liquide, contaminant du même coup le terrain. Au nombre des 50 terrains inclus dans le répertoire du ministère de l’Environnement, quatre d’entres eux contaminent également les eaux sous-terraines avec des matières diverses. Par exemple, le terrain des Promenades Montarville écoule des hydrocarbures, le 500 Mortagne, contamine l’eau sous-terraine en raison de la présence de benzène, du toluène et de l’éthylbenzène. Au 1270 Nobel, ce sont des hydrocarbures, du pétrole entre autres qui coulent dans le sous-sol du terrain. Enfin, le parc des Iles de Boucherville est aussi dans la liste car le terrain laisse écouler du bisphénol poly chloré et du phosphore dans la nappe d’eau sous terraine. Au nombre des autres terrains qui présentent des traces de contamination, selon le même répertoire, on note de nombreux terrains dans les parcs industriels ainsi que d’anciens sites de station-service. Dans la majorité des cas ce sont des hydrocarbures qui ont été identifiés par le ministère, comme contaminent. Sur d’autres sites on note la présence de cuivre, de trichloréthylène des métaux, du benzène de l’éthylène, du nickel, du cadmium, du plomb, de l’arsenic, du chrome et du zinc. La fameuse carrière Landreville sur le rang d’Anjou y figure bien sur mais le club nautique aussi tout comme les écoles Antoine-Girouard, Pierre-Boucher et Oriente Impact, dans le Vieux Boucherville. Au chapitre des terrains résidentiels, on note trois cas, par exemple, sur la rue Nicolas-Lemaire, un sur la rue Benjamin-Sulte, un sur la rue De Grosbois, un sur Louis-Joseph-Lafortune, un sur la rue De Muy et un autre sur de Touraine. La liste complète des terrains considérés comme contaminé, à Boucherville peut être consultée sur le site internet du ministère de l’Environnement et de la lutte aux changements climatiques au www.environnement.gouv.qc.ca . Et à simple titre de comparaison, la situation n’est guère mieux à Longueuil ou on recense plus de 300 terrains contaminés dont ceux des hôpitaux Pierre-Boucher et Charles-Lemoyne ainsi que plusieurs autres dans le secteur du Parcours du Cerf. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
The problem has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Save The Children. View on euronews
The number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Ontario’s schools is lower per capita than in the province’s general population and in the schools of neighbouring Quebec, the government says. But is Ontario doing enough testing and contact tracing to stop possible spread of COVID-19 in schools? Stephen Lecce, the province’s education minister, has boasted in recent weeks that the Progressive Conservatives’ back-to-school strategy is working, but epidemiological studies and experts suggest it’s difficult to make that claim without more testing. A study from Alberta released last week added to mounting evidence that younger people infected with COVID-19 either show mild symptoms or none at all, meaning they could potentially be silently spreading the virus in schools and then taking it home. “I think to say schools are the safest place for kids in terms of this virus is not a statement that is backed by the evidence at this point,” said Gabrielle Brankston, a PhD student at the University of Guelph who has been compiling data on COVID-19 in Canada. Just under 36 per cent of the almost 2,000 young people who tested positive for COVID-19 during a first test in Alberta did not have any symptoms associated with the virus, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last Tuesday. That proportion of asymptomatic cases among young people is much higher than the 15 to 20 per cent range estimated in previous pediatric reviews, said Dr. Nisha Thampi from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and other medical experts who reviewed the findings. The discrepancy may be due to Alberta’s strategy of testing close contacts of known cases since early April, the study noted, but probably still doesn’t capture all the asymptomatic transmission. “It is important to note that this is likely an underestimation of the true prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection, as those without symptoms are much less likely to seek testing than those with symptoms,” authors James King, Tara Whitten, Jeffrey Bakal and Finlay McAlister wrote in the study. The Alberta research follows a massive contact tracing study of two states in India done by Princeton and other U.S. universities that warned in September children may be key spreaders of the virus. Ontario recorded a record number of cases (1,855) on Friday as the province’s labs processed more than 58,000 tests the previous day, or nearly 10,000 more than the previous busiest day of the year. There have been a total of 1,180 cases in Ontario schools reported in the last 14 days, the province says, while its overall count is just under 1,400 new cases each day on average over the last week. (Around 1.5 million students are in Ontario classrooms currently, while the province has a population of about 14.5 million people.) Six Ontario schools are currently closed and 14 per cent (or 671 of 4,828 sites) have a reported case. Public health officials say that’s not too bad. “Parents should have a fair bit of confidence in schools being as safe as possible,” said Dr. Brent Moloughney, the associate medical officer of health at Ottawa Public Health, which fought off a sharp spike in cases in the capital in late September and early October. He said that public health is aiming for constant improvement, though, and that with where we are now in the outbreak, “we need to be spending a bit more time trying to further break chains of transmission, and I think schools are one of those settings.” Moloughney said that means upping testing in schools, with a focus on the highest-risk contacts of known cases. “Let's get them tested, or more of them tested, and let’s see what that tells us so that can inform the next step,” he said. That’s exactly what the government just said it will do, launching a targeted voluntary test campaign to reach asymptomatic students and staff where COVID-19 is running rampant, including in Toronto and Ottawa, so as to more easily track and prevent its spread in classes. Tracing contacts of known cases has long been a challenge, but the University of Guelph’s Brankston said she and several peers responded to a call for volunteers to help with contact tracing early in the pandemic, but none had been called up for the labour-intensive task of trying to map transmission pathways. “I was quite willing to offer my time to do it,” she said. “And I know several graduate students in epidemiology who (volunteered and) haven’t been called,” she said. “There’s an untapped resource there.” Marit Stiles, the Opposition NDP’s education critic, said the report out of Alberta adds to her party’s concerns about the Ontario government’s handle on COVID-19 transmission in schools. “It confirms the lack of confidence educators and parents have in Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce's totally inadequate plan to protect kids, teachers and staff and lessen the virus's spread from schools to the wider community,” she said. Stiles said an NDP government would have capped class sizes and moved quickly to spend billions of dollars available to increase testing and improve contact tracing and screening in schools. But while acknowledging the paucity of available data, other public health experts say Lecce is likely correct to assume low-level or modest transmission. “We simply are not seeing widespread outbreaks in schools,” said Barry Pakes, the director of the public health and preventive medicine residency program at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “There are many single cases, some with two cases, but if the numbers of students who have COVID-19 were much larger than we know of, we would actually be seeing more related morbidity and mortality inside and outside of the schools,” he said. Pakes advised against diverting recently approved rapid tests to schools, noting the high false positive rates in low-prevalence settings as well as logistical challenges and possible stigma. “It would really take away critical infrastructure and resources from other areas,” he said.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
For Norma and Darren Dingwell, Wednesday mornings are spent with a handful of volunteers, peeling and chopping vegetables in the kitchen of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Montague, P.E.I.The couple has been hosting a weekly Wednesday night meal for people in the area for several years now. This spring, COVID-19 restrictions put that weekly tradition on hold temporarily, but the couple has found a way to keep it going, while adhering to public health measures."It's something that people had looked forward to for almost four years," said Norma."So then when COVID hit and everything had to stop, you know, we'd run into people that would come and they'd be like, 'Can you do it again? Can you tell us if you're going to do it again?' So, yeah, it was nice to start back up again."Before the pandemic, people would gather in person to enjoy the weekly dinner together. When that was no longer an option, Norma reached out to the Chief Public Health Office to find a way to make it work. > It's the best part of my week. — Darren DingwellNow, the meal is served in compostable takeout containers for people to enjoy at home. Masks are worn and hand sanitizer is used. And people come in one door, and go out another. 'Feeling of community'Norma said many people in her community struggle to pay for food, or go without so that their children have enough. She said the need for this meal has only grown — and it was important to find a way to keep offering it. "It saddens us that so many people rely on something like this," Norma said, adding that 80-90 people usually show up for the weekly meal. "But then we are very blessed that we are able to provide even just one good meal a week for people. It's something that they don't have to worry about, a Wednesday meal. They know that they can get one here." The meals are prepared entirely by volunteers, with food paid for entirely through donations. "It's the best part of my week," said Darren, who comes up with the meal plans — everything from spaghetti and meatballs to roasted vegetables served with pork gravy and homemade biscuits. "We still want to make sure that people have that feeling of community, that there is somebody there for them … Even though we can't dine in and share a meal together, we can still look after one another this way. And this, we felt it was very important." People asked to book ahead for Christmas mealThe couple plans to host a Christmas meal, as they usually do, but with some changes: It'll be a take-out dinner, and this year, the pair is offering to deliver it anywhere in the Montague area. "We want to get the word out to people that we're here on Christmas Day," Darren said."And don't go without. We're going to have all kinds." The couple asks that anyone interested in having a meal on Christmas Day contact them by Dec. 17, so that they know how much food to purchase and prepare. More P.E.I. news
The Downtown Windsor Winter Market has been cut short as the region enters the province's red-control COVID-19 measures. This weekend was the last for the city's winter market as Windsor-Essex adopted new restrictions Monday under the red-control COVID-19 provincial category. The market was an extension of the summertime Downtown Windsor Farmers' Market and was expected to run until Dec. 12 on the ground floor of the Pelissier Parking Garage. "The severity of circumstances that have caused our region to be moved to red means we are left with no option but to close the Winter's Market," Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association chair Brian Yeomans said in a news release. "On the grounds of public safety, and in an effort to protect our visitors, vendors, volunteers and staff and to contain the virus, we are unable to proceed with the market at this time."Under the new restrictions, only 25 people are allowed to gather for outdoor events.A full breakdown of COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario's red level can be found on the province's website here. More from CBC Windsor
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business.COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office.The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others.Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet.Top items for December's lame-duck session:___KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPENAt a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year.That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding.Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much.At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and tax provisions and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program.___COVID-19 RELIEFDemocrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice.The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits.Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments.Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic.At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year.___Defence POLICYA spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure.Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up.Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
New Zealand's workplace regulator has filed charges against 13 organizations or individuals over safety issues a year after a volcanic explosion killed 22 people.