Families gathered in Toronto to protest a bill that would make it harder to hold long- term care homes responsible for illness or death stemming from COVID-19. Miranda Anthistle reports from Queen’s Park on the proposed legislation and reaction.
Families gathered in Toronto to protest a bill that would make it harder to hold long- term care homes responsible for illness or death stemming from COVID-19. Miranda Anthistle reports from Queen’s Park on the proposed legislation and reaction.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
A number of projects will be moving forward next year as council has approved the capital portion of the city’s 2021 budget. Building repairs and upgrades, park redevelopments, and new vehicle acquisitions were hot button topics during the hours-long discussion of council’s first budget deliberation meeting. Repairs and upgrades to roads, sidewalks, street lights and traffic lights will also be conducted across the city. In total, the city’s capital budget comes in at $33.59 million. In terms of new vehicles and equipment, the city will be acquiring three new ice resurfacers, in which Councillor Rosemary McConkey questioned why all three needed to be replaced at once. While the life cycle of these vehicles is about 10 years, McConkey notes two of them are only eight years old, adding a staggered approach to acquiring new vehicles would be better. “Having three replaced all at once will put pressure on another council’s budget year down the road,” she says. However, according to city staff, two of the vehicles have multiple issues, which would cost more in the end to fix rather than to replace. “We go through a whole process of identifying total cost to upkeep equipment,” says city staff. “If it’s on the list, it’s costing us too much or there are safety issues related to the units.” A number of other vehicles will be added to the city’s fleet as part of a scheduled replacement program, including a couple of Chevrolet Silverado trucks, two vacuum sweepers, three front mowers, and a pumper, to name a few. A new Hazmat vehicle will be added to Fire Hall 1 to provide Oshawa Fire Services with a fully operational rapid response vehicle, as well as a new vehicle for the assistant deputy chief. Phase 3 of the city’s downtown streetscape redevelopment program is also moving forward, which includes the widening of sidewalks on the north side of King Street West from Simcoe to Prince Streets, “to enhance pedestrian amenities and increase accessibility.” Parks to see improvements this year include Raglan Park, Kingside Park, Crimson Court Park, Deer Valley Park, Conant Park, and Sunnyside Park. Some of the redevelopment in these parks include the replacement of playground equipment, playground resurfacing, the replacement of existing site furnishings, new park pathways, a parking lot and the addition of tree plantings and naturalization areas. As part of the city’s capital budget, council also endorsed a number of anchor and partnership grant requests to community organizations. The city’s Anchor and Partnership Grant programs are part of council’s commitment to work with Oshawa-based, not-for-profit volunteer community organizations that provide beneficial programs and services to the community. Organizations receiving anchor grants this year include Boys and Girls Club of Durham, Friends of Second Marsh, Motor City Car Club, Oshawa Children’s Community Fair, Oshawa Folk Arts Council, Oshawa Rotary Ribfest, Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, and Santa’s Parade of Lights. Council also approved partnership grant requests for Hearth Place, Bawaajiigewin Aboriginal Community Circle, and Durham Alliance. However, there were a number of organizations that did not receive funding grants in next year’s budget, including Canadian Automotive Museum, Feed the Need in Durham, Oshawa Art Association, Oshawa Firefit, Royal Canadian Legion Branch and the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre. Council’s next budget deliberation meeting is on Friday, Dec. 4 when council will continue with the 2021 operating budget. According to city staff, with the pandemic came several unexpected costs to the city, and as a result, council is looking at a 2.39 per cent tax levy increase for 2021. According to Commissioner of Finance Stephanie Sinnott, this means a $47.88 increase to the city portion of the property taxes for a property assessed at $356,000 – the average assessment by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Final approval of the 2021 budget is expected on Friday, Dec. 11.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
Regina– When the COVID-19 vaccine comes, Saskatchewan will be ready. That’s according to Minister of Health Paul Merriman, who started the Dec. 2 COVID-19 update talking about upcoming vaccines, the first of which, made by Pfizer, received emergency approval in the United Kingdom on that very day. “Near the start of this pandemic, I remember Premier Moe saying, ‘This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon,’” Merriman said. “That is still true today. And we still have a long way to go in this marathon. Even marathons have a finish line. And now we know where that finish line is. “The finish line is when we have delivered a safe, effective vaccine to a significant number of Saskatchewan residents. That's where life can truly start getting back to normal. “Saskatchewan Health and the SHA (Saskatchewan Health Authority) have already done a lot of work, getting ready to deliver this vaccine. They will have a more detailed presentation on that plan sometime next week. For now, I want everybody to know: We in Saskatchewan are ready to go. “As soon as the federal government is able to start delivering the vaccine to us, we will be ready to deliver that to Saskatchewan people quickly and safely. “This is a huge undertaking involving thousands of healthcare workers, and other support staff, transportation, storage, and many other logistical issues. But let me assure you, we will be ready. Healthcare workers, elderly first Merriman continued, “Premier Moe and I have directed all necessary resources be directed to this effort. Based on the advice of public health officials, we will be prioritizing who will receive it first. There'll be more detail on this presentation next week. But it's no surprise that we expect healthcare workers, and the residents in our long-term care and personal care homes to receive the first vaccines. “We do not yet have an exact timeline on when we will be receiving these vaccines. The federal government is now saying the first deliveries will be early in the new year. Saskatchewan’s per capita share that we should be receiving in the first quarter of 2021 is about 180,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 90,000 people. This is just based on the deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna, who have applied for their vaccine approvals. In the last few days two more companies, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have also applied to have their vaccines approved. This could result in more vaccines being delivered, even quicker. When that occurs, we will be ready to start receiving the shipments. And we will also be ready to go. “This is how we get back to normal in Saskatchewan. This is how our health system will get back to normal. This is how our economy will get back to normal. This is how our lives will get back to normal. It is quite literally the shot in the arm that Saskatchewan needs. And be ready to deliver that shot in the arm, as soon as the federal government starts getting us that vaccine. Until then, we all have to keep following the public orders and guidelines to protect ourselves and others. Keep physical distancing. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Limit your close contacts and stay home, if you're not feeling well. And follow the other good practices that we know to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It's how we keep ourselves, and those around us safe,” Merriman said. New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili told reporters, “I was concerned that the minister didn't understand his responsibility yesterday. This government should be talking about vaccine readiness and encouraging people to learn about the vaccine and get ready to take it, ready to protect each other. “They failed when it came to masks, getting people ready and promoting that early. They helped create this anti-mask pushback that we see in the in the province, with their mixed messages. They need to be ready and be promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, because it is essential, if we're going to get past this. And we're going to need more than the vaccine. It's not enough to wait to the vaccine and have a terrible December and January, and who knows when we actually get it. We need to act now. But we also need to act now, to get people ready for when the vaccine is here.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is urging the province to take a look at the evidence-based data for COVID-19 to help save local communities from further hardship. In just a matter of days, Durham Region was moved from the Orange zone to the Red zone of the provincial framework for fighting and stopping the spread of the virus. Carter says this means there’s been a lot of significant changes in regards to public gatherings and how retail locations have operated. He’s urging the community to continue to follow the advice of the health care professionals and continue to “stay apart, mark up, lather up, and if you can work from home stay at home.” “That’s one of the ways we can stop the spread.” Carter is also calling for the community to support local. “If there’s a way that we can support local, like I always say, ‘Oshawa loves local,’ let’s find a way of supporting our local economy,” he says. Carter is also calling on the province to consider the “true data” and where the spread is coming from, when making decisions in regards to moving the different regions to different stages. “Our retailers, our service industry, our local economy has done an incredible job in investing in PPE and making sure they’ve taken all the right steps to make sure that your safety, your well-being, is their number one priority,” Carter continues. He says any decisions the province makes impacts communities locally, adding the province needs to take into consideration where the spreads are happening and take a look at the data, and make a decision based upon that. “The province must take a close look at the region’s COVID-19 active case numbers to identify the sources of transmission,” he says. “It is critical the data be used to make sector-specific restrictions and to determine if local restrictions – especially those that are having a huge impact on our restaurants and local businesses – can be reduced.” The City of Oshawa continues to post updates to its webpage. Visit www.oshawa.ca/coronavirus for the latest updates on changes to services and programs, as well as frequently asked questions and resources.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
Guillaume Carlier, un jeune cinéaste francophone de Calgary, nous amène sur les traces de jardins japonais en Alberta et en Colombie-Britannique, symboles de résilience de la population nippono-canadienne déportée durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Borrowed from Nature, un documentaire qui vient de sortir en partenariat avec Radio-Canada, à Vancouver. La première fois que Guillaume Carlier a posé son regard sur le jardin japonais de New Denver, en Colombie-Britannique, il n’était alors qu’un enfant. En dépit de son jeune âge, il avait déjà entendu parler de l’histoire douloureuse relatant la déportation de la population nippono-canadienne durant la Seconde Guerre. « Depuis que je suis jeune, je connaissais ce jardin, mais je ne m’étais jamais demandé qui l’avait créé », explique-t-il, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit parvenu à l’âge adulte et que cette question commence sérieusement à l’interpeller. Plus tard, il apprend que c’est le Canadien-Japonais, Roy Tomomichi Sumi qui l’avait conçu de ses propres mains. Le maître jardinier avait été déporté comme l’environnementaliste canado-japonais David Suzuki dans les camps d’internement durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Roy Tomomichi Sumi est depuis décédé. Aujourd’hui, il est considéré comme une sommité en Alberta et en Colombie-Britannique dans l’art du jardin japonais, et devient le fil d’Ariane du jeune cinéaste francophone qui lui permettra de se plonger dans un chapitre de l’Histoire canadienne aussi douloureux que méconnu. Ces jardins sont des métaphores qui racontent le passé, mais ils sont aussi le moyen de faire la paix avec le présent et d’avancer vers le futur. L’Histoire en héritage L’immigration japonaise a commencé vers 1860 dans la province de la Colombie-Britannique et représentait juste avant le début de la Seconde Guerre mondiale une population de 22 000 personnes. Après l’attaque en 1941 du Japon contre Pearl Harbor, le Canada, allié des États-Unis, décide de prendre des mesures draconiennes. La loi sur les mesures de guerre permet alors des actions de grande envergure comme la confiscation de bateaux, des entreprises, des biens fonciers et finit par transférer vers des camps d’internement la population canado-japonaise . Ces Canadiens d’origine japonaise durent y rester durant toute la Seconde Guerre, n’emmenant avec eux que deux valises et un simple sac. Au vu du contexte historique, « il y avait un fort sentiment anti-asiatique au Canada et aux États-Unis, ils craignaient qu’il y ait de l’espionnage », explique le jeune cinéaste alors qu’ils étaient citoyens canadiens. Un vrai traumatisme pour des gens venus initialement au Canada pour embrasser une vie meilleure, et qui perdirent du jour au lendemain tout ce qu’ils avaient mis si longtemps à bâtir. Une situation injuste qui, à la fin de la guerre, a mis la population nippono-canadienne face à un second choix cornélien : partir vers l’est, ou bien retourner au Japon selon la volonté des autorités canadiennes. Certains décidèrent d’aller en Alberta, notamment du côté de Lethbridge. C’est en 1967 que la petite ville des Prairies accueillera son premier jardin japonais, le jardin de Nikka Yuko. Des jardins et des hommes Transmuter sa peine en un magnifique jardin japonais, c’est la façon dont les rescapés de ces camps ont décidé d’exorciser les mauvais souvenirs. Un signe de réconciliation en somme. « Dans la culture japonaise, c’est très difficile de parler de cette période dans l’histoire du Canada », explique le cinéaste de 31 ans. Ce documentaire a été filmé durant l’été 2020 dans trois de ces jardins japonais : le jardin de Nikka Yuko à Lethbridge, en Alberta, et construit en 1967, le jardin d’Heiwa Teien à New Denver, en Colombie-Britannique, construit en 1994, et le jardin de Nitobe, à Vancouver, situé lui aussi en Colombie-Britannique et construit en 1960. « Ce jardin [de Roy Tomomichi Sumi créé dans les années 1980], est un geste pour tout le monde, c’est aussi pour enseigner aux Canadiens ce qui s’est passé », explique Guillaume Carlier. Le documentaire a pu être livré à Radio-Canada Vancouver en septembre et aura pris un mois de tournage entre les deux provinces pour raviver la mémoire de cette partie de l’histoire, mais aussi « questionner l’identité de la culture canadienne », met de l’avant le cinéaste. Guillaume Carlier et son épouse Gillian McKercher ont sorti ce documentaire avec leur maison de production Kinosum qui signifie littéralement en japonais « on aime les films ». Si le film reste l’exclusivité de Radio-Canada pendant une année, « tous les Canadiens peuvent déjà voir ce documentaire de 45 minutes sur le site de CBC GEM », explique le cinéaste. Le film a déjà été vendu à l’international et sera distribué par la suite en France, au Japon et aux États-Unis.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 3 ...What we are watching in Canada ...The Liberal government is set to introduce long-awaited legislation today to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the 2019 election campaign to introduce such a bill, developed with Indigenous people, by the end of this year.The bill is expected to echo a private member's bill introduced by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, which the House of Commons passed two years ago.That bill stalled in the Senate, where Conservative senators argued it could have unintended legal and economic consequences, and then died when Parliament dissolved.The UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands.It also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.\---Also this ...The trial of a teen boy accused of sexually assaulting two fellow students at a renowned Toronto high school is set to continue today.The teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon in connection with two incidents at St. Michael's College School in the fall of 2018.Earlier this week, court viewed part of a video in which one of the complainants, also a teen boy, told police about an October 2018 incident in the school's locker room.In the video, the complainant recalled hearing a group of students laugh as they held back his arms and sexually assaulted him with a broom handle after football practice.The role of the accused was not specified in the portion of the video played in court, and the complainant did not mention him by name in that part of the footage.More of the video is expected to be shown in today's hearing, which is taking place in court and over video conference.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...Advocates and lawyers anticipate a flurry of clemency action from U.S. President Donald Trump in the coming weeks that could test the limits of presidential pardon power.Trump is said to be considering a slew of pardons and commutations before he leaves office, including potentially members of his family, former aides and even himself. While it is not unusual for presidents to sign controversial pardons on their way out the door, Trump has made clear that he has no qualms about intervening in the cases of friends and allies whom he believes have been treated unfairly, including his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.The list of potential candidates is long and colourful: Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, imprisoned for financial crimes as part of the Russia investigation; George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, just like Flynn; Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a.k.a. “Joe Exotic," who starred in the Netflix series “Tiger King”; and former contractors convicted in a Baghdad firefight that killed more than a dozen civilians, including women and children.Trump, long worried about potential legal exposure after he leaves office, has expressed worry to confidants in recent weeks that he, his family or his business might be targeted by president-elect Joe Biden’s Justice Department, although Biden has made clear he won't be part of any such decisions.Nonetheless, Trump has had informal conversations with allies about how he might be able to protect his family, though he has not taken any steps to do so. His adult children haven't requested pardons nor do they feel they need them, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the UN General Assembly’s special session starting Thursday on the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic which has claimed 1.5 million lives, shattered economies, and left tens of millions of people unemployed in countries rich and poor.Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said when he took the reins of the 193-member world body in September that it would have been better to hold the high-level meeting in June. Nonetheless, he said Wednesday it "provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat COVID-19.""With news of multiple vaccines on the cusp of approval, and with trillions of dollars flowing into global recovery efforts, the international community has a unique opportunity to do this right," he said. "The world is looking to the UN for leadership. This is a test for multilateralism."When financial markets collapsed and the world faced its last great crisis in 2008, major powers worked together to restore the global economy, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been striking for the opposite response: no leader, no united action to stop the pandemic that has circled the globe.\---On this day in 1970 ...The "October Crisis" ended when British Trade Commissioner James Cross was released by his FLQ kidnappers in Montreal. Cross was seized from his home in October, and another FLQ cell later kidnapped and murdered Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte on Oct. 17. \---In entertainment ...William Shatner, the Canadian who played the iconic commander Capt. James T. Kirk in "Star Trek," has taken to Twitter to urge Alberta use the federal COVID-19 app rather than its own.Shatner writes, “you just need to get Alberta on board,” adding that the province cannot go its own way in a world interconnected by travel.Shatner writes Alberta’s approach is, “bizarre and dangerous,” but also says “what do I know? I’m just an actor.”Premier Jason Kenney’s government has avoided signing onto the federal app, saying it’s not as effective because Alberta’s app is connected to contact tracing rather than simply delivering notifications of close contacts.Alberta’s app has tracked down just a handful of cases in six months, but the government says the program will be more effective as more people sign on.\---ICYMI ...Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams is accusing the City of St. John's of taking Christmas away from the residents of a subdivision he developed on the city's outskirts.Williams says that just as he did last year, he recently installed a 10-metre Christmas tree in the centre of a traffic roundabout in the Galway subdivision, which was developed by his company DewCor.But this year, he says the city took issue with the tree, requiring that he take out an insurance policy and asking him to keep it unlit due to traffic concerns.In a statement emailed Wednesday, city staff in the transportation engineering department say they're open to considering other locations for the tree in Galway that don't interfere with an intersection.Kevin Breen, the St. John's city manager says the tree went up last year without a permit.Meanwhile, the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl has offered to give the tree a proper home with lights, and Williams says the tree will be delivered there within the next two days."All's well that ends well," Williams said in an interview. "It's going to the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl, and to be quite honest with you, if Galway could be part of Mount Pearl, that would be my choice."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020The Canadian Press
This holiday season is going to look different for everyone, but as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, seniors across the Durham Region are especially at risk of significant challenges associated with isolation. In years past, Home Instead has lifted the spirits of seniors, making them feel remembered and cherished, with its Be a Santa to a Senior program, in which the community can purchase gifts for seniors. Community members would grab an ornament from Christmas trees located in retailers, purchase a gift and return it to be wrapped and gifted to a senior. However, due to the pandemic, Cathy Dow, owner of Home Instead for Oshawa and the surrounding area, says they had to pivot the program and offer the program in a virtual capacity by partnering with Amazon Business. “Recognizing the program’s importance, and particularly this year, and with the need to keep everyone safe, Home Instead partnered with Amazon for the first time,” she says. “We have still developed great relationships with local non-profits and organizations to facilitate the purchasing and distribution of gifts on the wish list – which is all done virtually.” She says this year’s focus is on older adults who are living in long term care, as most are with restrictions and accessibility is very limited. “It spreads holiday cheer and brightens the lives of our older adults who are alone or financially challenged during this season,” Dow adds, noting through this global pandemic, the feelings of isolation are amplified. “Providing gifts and sense of community… that has always been there and so I think this year particularly will be very comforting to many.” To help a senior this season, members of the community can visit the BeASantatoaSenior.com website and enter their postal code to view wish lists for local seniors on Amazon. A personalized greeting can be included with the gift which will be shipped directly to the senior. Since the program began in 2003, Be a Santa to a Senior has provided approximately 2.1 million gifts and brightened the holiday season for more than 750,000 seniors nationwide. “We need the community’s help more than ever to make sure seniors feel connected this year,” Dow says. “This year we knew we had to find a way to spread holiday cheer to seniors, and we are grateful for the community’s participation.”Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand authorities have approved tech billionaire Sean Parker’s purchase of a one-third stake in film director Peter Jackson’s visual effects studio.Parker needed special permission from the Overseas Investment Office because he isn’t a New Zealand resident and the Weta Digital studio is worth more than 100 million New Zealand dollars ($71 million).In a decision published on its website this week, the office said Parker and his business associates had the relevant experience and were “of good character.” It said Weta Digital was raising money to grow its business.Parker, who co-founded the file-sharing service Napster and is a former president of Facebook, said in June there was a huge, unmet demand for high-quality animated content.“I have been a Weta superfan for the past two decades — I recall my sense of wonder when I first saw the character of Gollum brought to life, and later the surreal feeling of being transported to the alternate reality of Pandora," Parker said, referring to the work Weta did on Jackson's “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and James Cameron's “Avatar."Parker's representative said Wednesday he had no further comment on the purchase.Weta employs about 1,550 people and is based in New Zealand's capital, Wellington. Company records indicate Jackson and collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens own just over two-thirds of the company. Weta will issue new shares for Parker, diluting Jackson's stake.Jackson could not be reached for comment.In June, Weta appointed Parker's business associate Prem Akkaraju as chief executive and said it would begin producing original content for the first time in its 25-year history.In 2016, Parker and Akkaraju founded a video-on-demand startup called Screening Room, which this year relaunched as SR Labs.Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Scotland just passed a law to make sanitary products free for all. What have other countries done for women around the world?
Do “self-cleaning” elevator buttons really work? Without rigorous independent studies, experts say it’s hard to verify claims of “self-cleaning” or “antiviral" surfaces that have popped up during the pandemic. But they also say you shouldn’t worry too much about how well such features really work. COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Research suggests it would be difficult to catch the virus from surfaces like an elevator button. “You get it through what you breathe, not through what you touch,” said Emanuel Goldman, who studies viruses at Rutgers University. Studies showing the virus can survive several hours on plastic or metal surfaces do not mimic real-life conditions, said Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford Health Care. Companies are selling antibacterial and antiviral elevator button or door handle covers. But building or office managers looking to protect employees or tenants would be better off buying hand-sanitizing stations instead, Winslow said. And anyone wanting to avoid the virus should continue taking regular public health precautions: mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding indoor events, bars, dining and gyms. Routine hand washing is also recommended, whether there's a pandemic or not, Goldman said. ___ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic? Do masks with antiviral coating offer more protection? Will social distancing weaken my immune system? The Associated Press
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s disaster authority and the U.S. Geological Survey say a 5.0 magnitude earthquake has struck Siirt in southeastern Turkey.The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, or AFAD, said Thursday there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quake that hit at a depth of 20 kilometres (12 miles) at 8:45 a.m. (0545 GMT).Turkey is crisscrossed by fault lines and was hit by two strong tremors this year -- one that hit the western port city of Izmir last month, killing 117 people, and another in Elazig province, killing 41 people.At least 17,000 people died in a powerful earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999.The Associated Press
With two old rivals facing off in Ghana's presidential election on Dec. 7 amid familiar economic woes, many voters are paying more attention to a new element in the political mix - the first ever female vice-presidential candidate for a major party. Former education minister Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman hopes that the decision of Ghana's main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to nominate her as its candidate for vice-president will inspire other women to enter politics.
Two Rohingya told Reuters their names appeared on lists compiled by government-appointed local leaders without their consent, while aid workers said officials used threats and enticements to pressure people into going. Mohammad Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said the relocation was voluntary. Police escorted the first group of 1,000 refugees in buses from Ukhiya in Cox's Bazar for the journey to Chittagong port and then on to Bhasan Char – a flood-prone Bay of Bengal island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A mysterious object temporarily orbiting Earth is a 54-year-old rocket, not an asteroid after all, astronomers confirmed Wednesday. Observations by a telescope in Hawaii clinched its identity, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The object was classified as an asteroid after its discovery in September. But NASA’s top asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, quickly suspected it was the Centaur upper rocket stage from Surveyor 2, a failed 1966 moon-landing mission. Size estimates had put it in the range of the old Centaur, which was about 32 feet (10 metres) long and 10 feet (3 metres) in diameter. Chodas was proven right after a team led by the University of Arizona's Vishnu Reddy used an infrared telescope in Hawaii to observe not only the mystery object, but — just on Tuesday — a Centaur from 1971 still orbiting Earth. The data from the images matched. “Today’s news was super gratifying!,” Chodas said via email. “It was teamwork that wrapped up this puzzle.” The object formally known as 2020 SO entered a wide, lopsided orbit around Earth last month and, on Tuesday, made its closest approach at just over 31,000 miles (50,476 kilometres). It will depart the neighbourhood in March, shooting back into its own orbit around the sun. Its next return: 2036. ___ 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. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
Tesla surged 5% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to "buy" in the run-up to the electric car maker's addition to the S&P 500 index. Tesla was Wall Street's most traded stock by value, with about $25 billion worth of shares exchanged, according to Refinitiv data, more than double Boeing, in second place.
CORNWALL – The COVID-19 infection curve is going back up after two weeks of bending in the right direction, downward. Overall infection numbers in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region have increased with 39 cases added since this weekend. As of the December 1st statistics update from the EOHU, there were 123 active cases of the virus in the region. More than half (65) of the active cases were in the Prescott-Russell area of the health unit, while Cornwall had 29 active cases and SDG Counties had 27. There have been 874 infections in the region since the beginning of the pandemic in February. The region remains at the Yellow level according to the Ministry of Health guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions. The rolling seven-day-average for the region is 19.9 cases per 100,000 people, which is considered moderate. A high level of infection is 25 or more cases per 100,000 people. The EOHU region peaked on October 13-19 with a rolling average of 53.5 cases. No information was given by the EOHU about the increased infection rate since the weekend. Most of the new infections that have occurred since October have had an “epi-link” meaning it is from a known source like a close contact. South Dundas has zero active cases while North Dundas has one new case, the first in nearly four weeks for that municipality. Including the new case, North Dundas has had 20 COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, South Dundas has had fewer than five. The EOHU does not report exact overall numbers of cases until the case count reaches five. North Stormont has its first COVID-19 infections of the pandemic with four new cases over the weekend, while South Stormont has 14 active cases. The Upper Canada District School Board issued a notice on Sunday that one case of the virus was confirmed at Tagwi Secondary School in Avonmore. “The EOHU is working closely with the school and is actively communicating with all individuals who have been identified as possible close contacts through high-risk exposures,” the board said in a release adding that the school was taking steps to “prevent spread in the school and community.” There was no change in school operations as of Tuesday and it was not disclosed if it was a staff member or a student who tested positive. The school is not considered in an outbreak situation currently. No response to questions by The Leader was received by press deadline as the EOHU has moved to a new schedule for media briefings. The EOHU now hosts a twice-weekly media availability on Tuesday and Friday. Tagwi is one of four schools with active cases of COVID-19. Only the French-Catholic school in Casselman, Sainte-Euphémie, is closed due to several classes having contact with an individual who later tested positive. No schools in Dundas County have had any known cases.Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
France will on Thursday start investigating dozens of mosques suspected of fomenting Islamist ideology to combat the rising threat of religious extremism, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. The government has launched what it calls an unprecedented action against "separatism" following several Islamist attacks in France this autumn, including the beheading of a teacher who had shown his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. Darmanin said 76 mosques out of the more than 2,600 Muslim places of worship had been flagged as possible threats to France's Republican values and its security.
TORONTO — Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's giant kitchen is open again.MLSE and its partners, who combined to donate 500,000 meals to front-line workers and community agencies from April to June, are reintroducing the 'Bringing Toronto Back to its Feet" program.Starting this week, the goal is to distribute more than 130,000 meals in early December.Scotiabank Arena will again be used to assemble the meals, which can be stored and frozen. They will later be distributed to community agencies and families who are struggling. MLSE’s chefs and food and beverage staff, along with other company employees, will prepare the meals for distribution.MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum. calls this holiday season "one of the most challenging that we have known."“This program will play a small part in helping our neighbours enjoy their holiday season as we all look forward to a better year ahead in 2021,” he said in a statement.Solidarity Kitchens, created by La Tablee des Chefs and financially supported by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada emergency fund, has given grants to Canadian initiatives, including Bringing Toronto Back To Its Feet, with a goal of creating two million meals for those in need across the country.“As the pandemic continues to impact our communities and we approach the holiday season, there is no better time to come together to support those in need and we want to thank everyone who is helping to make a return of this important program possible, including MLSE’s ownership group and our founding corporate partners,” said MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl.Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada, along with a network of local suppliers and sponsors, are supplying fresh ingredients daily to the MLSE team.The chefs will then turn those supplies, along with other food purchased or donated to the program, into ready-to-heat meals meeting a variety of dietary needs. The meals will delivered five days a week.The meal donation program sees MLSE chefs spread out in Scotiabank Arena kitchens, physically distanced as they cook using giant 120-litre pots. Routes have been set up in the arena to control the flow of traffic and food, from the loading dock to kitchen to meal assembly line.The chefs stay in the kitchen. Others take the food from the kitchen to an open space in the arena to be assembled and packaged into meals. Earlier this year, that was the arena floor. This time, the meals are being put together in the concourse.Once cooked, the food is cooled in fridges, then assembled quickly and covered, wrapped and refrigerated again to await distribution and reheating.At its peak, the MLSE-led program produced 13,000 meals per day, providing meals to more than 75 community agencies and front-line health-care workers and their families at 25 hospitals and health-care facilities in the Greater Toronto Area.“We have heard first-hand about the incredible impact these prepared meals have on the lives of people struggling with hunger and limited access to food programs,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. MLSE is working with food hygiene experts and Toronto Public Health to ensure the safety of the meals and of the people preparing them.MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts, Marlies and Toronto FC.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
More than 50 people who live in the western P.E.I. community of Forestview have signed a petition calling on the provincial government to move high-voltage power lines away from their homes.The lines run along Howlan Road and carry electricity generated at the West Cape wind farm.The province did remove three-quarters of the lines in 2008, says local resident Clyde Penney, and promised at that time to move the rest once future wind turbines were established in that area."We're asking now for government to live up to that responsibility and to remove the lines," said Penney.After more than a decade of lobbying, the residents of the area say the time to move the lines is now, as the province plans a $44 million project to establish a 106-kilometre transmission line to transport energy from a future 40-megawatt wind farm in Skinners Pond to a substation in Sherbrooke, near Summerside. It's planned for 2025.Penney said 52 impacted residents have signed the petition.He said they're not against the turbines, just against the lines running by their homes."In some cases they're only 25 feet from the houses," said Penney, adding that the lines devalue their properties and pose a potential health risk."The birds won't even land on them."'Just devastated'The residents want to see the lines relocated away from homes on the road.Juanita Gallant told CBC News when they rerouted the other lines back in 2008, she and her neighbours thought all the lines would be moved."But they stopped about a quarter of a kilometre from our house. That was it. We were just devastated," she said."They rerouted everything from here right through to Summerside, but they didn't reroute this bunch of homes right here," said her husband, Ricky."They should've done that from the start."Their MLA, Robert Henderson, has asked the government to follow through on its commitment, suggesting it use the poles, wire and insulators along the new route of its wind energy corridor."They're right in their front yards," he said. "The community has been very patient."Penney wrote to Energy Minister Steven Myers in August, but said he has not heard back yet.In the legislature Tuesday, Myers said he doesn't know where the new power corridor will be located, but he's willing to meet with residents to discuss their concerns.A spokesperson with Maritime Electric said the company was not aware of any recent issues or concerns in that area, and it would be up to the province to decide whether to move the lines.More from CBC P.E.I.
SHEET HARBOUR – The Royal Canadian Legion Courcelette Branch 58 is hurting like other non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. During good times the legion was self-sufficient, sponsoring ongoing fundraisers – such as bingos, 50/50 draws, hall rentals, dances and darts – to cover operating costs and ongoing maintenance. After 10 months of an unprecedented pandemic affecting many aspects of the economy, legion members are looking at their budget and reaching out to the community for continued support. A member of the fundraising committee, Barby Cochrane has a message for residents who rely on the legion and the services it offers. “We need the community's help and support. When we open back up in two weeks, we need those who feel safe to come out on Friday night, even if it is just to have one drink or buy a strip of tickets [Chase the Ace]. We need those who cannot come out to reach out to us and we'll arrange to get tickets for you or you can support the 50/50 online,” says Cochrane. “Our numbers for Chase the Ace usually increase week by week, but this year they did not. We had our steady 30 or so participants weekly. “The legion is the only place in the community to gather and it would be a loss to the community, if we had to shut the doors permanently,” Cochrane tells The Journal in an email. “We'll continue to promote the 50/50. We'll hopefully get some of the Covid-19 relief funds from the government. Hopefully, we'll be able to open again after these two weeks, and we'll be able to start Chase the Ace again and community events. But, none of this will matter unless we get the support from our community,” Cochrane says. Past President Vance Thompson adds, “We have helped 25 different organizations within our community over the past few years with Chase the Ace – paying out more than $150,000. We also have a benevolent fund to help people in need – not only vets, but also community members…. The income is used to keep our aging hall going – roof repairs, plumbing repairs, new accessible washroom, new kitchen, new bar fridge, wheelchair ramps, general upkeep of exterior. All these help customers access the building and feel welcome.” Yearly dues are $40 per member, with the local legion receiving a small percentage of that income. Fundraising efforts are the main source of income, although the legion does rely heavily on grants. “We also support community groups, such as the Lions Club, Lily's Hill, GSAR, ATV club, HYGGE [Travel Club], the Sheet Harbour and Area Heritage Society and St. James Church by partnering with them for our Chase the Ace fundraiser,” Cochrane says. “In the past we have helped individual community members when we were able. We also provide rent free space to any and all fundraisers in the community. It is our way of contributing to the fundraiser.” The building is in need of a new roof. The expected expenditure will be in excess of $40,000. Cochrane says they have applied for grants to cover approximately $30,000, but the fundraising committee and legion members will need to work to raise the balance. “The pandemic has hit us hard,” Thompson says. “We had to close our hall in mid-March and we re-opened in mid-September – only now to be closed again for the next few weeks. All events and rentals we had going on are now cancelled until further notice.” There will be about $2,000 in lost income due to the cancellations. “Our membership is primarily made up of elderly residents who are now not able to visit our branch,” Cochrane says. “They cannot come out for Muffin Morning or Chase the Ace or bingo. The reduction in the number of people attending events has impacted our income substantially … yet the building must still be maintained and the expenses must still be paid.” The legion’s service officer supports veterans by providing a confidential service. The officer liaises with other organizations on behalf of the veteran to ensure that they receive everything to which they are entitled. “The branch provides a place for the veterans to gather, services to honour them, and a place where they can remember,” says Cochrane. “We support our veterans through our service officers and poppy campaign, helping them with any requirements they require. As for the community, the legion has always been there for them – even more now that we are the only hall open in the area,” Thompson says. The legion faces membership challenges as most branch members are elderly. “The legion won't continue to operate, if younger people in the community don't get involved. We have to hire maintenance, such as cleaning and sanitizing after events, and shoveling and snow clearing,” Cochrane says. Sometime after Dec. 7, a new Chase the Ace license will start and the Rafflebox 50/50 online draw will continue weekly. Bingo has been closed for the winter and the hall will be open to rentals or community fundraisers. Muffin Morning, dart league and pool will continue to be offered. “The government protocols allow half the normal allowance; 84 people can be accommodated downstairs, with 150 upstairs. Tables are arranged to allow for six-feet spacing. Masks are required and hand sanitizer is provided. We do have a sign-in procedure in case contact tracing is necessary,” says Cochrane.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal