Firefighters were able to rescue a barn owl from the flames of the Silverado fire in California. He’s safe and sound and currently with animal control. Credit to 'Orange County Fire Authority'.
Firefighters were able to rescue a barn owl from the flames of the Silverado fire in California. He’s safe and sound and currently with animal control. Credit to 'Orange County Fire Authority'.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — When the Quebec government tells English schools they cannot hire women wearing the hijab, it violates the rights of the English-speaking minority to manage its educational institutions, a lawyer argued Tuesday in a case challenging the province's secularism law. The law, known as Bill 21, forbids the wearing of religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and hijabs for certain employees of the state deemed to be in positions of authority, including police officers and school teachers. Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard, who is presiding over the trial, has set aside 14 days to hear closing arguments, which began on Monday. Constitutional rights lawyer Julius Grey argued on behalf of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Quebec Community Groups Network, which are both challenging the law. Grey invoked Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right of Quebec's anglophone minority to be educated in English. Over time, jurisprudence has interpreted this right as giving management power to English schools, which Grey argued includes the right to hire whom they choose as teachers, including those who wear religious symbols. While Bill 21 invokes the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to shield it from most charter challenges, including those based on freedom of religion, Grey argued it can't be used to override the language-rights protections in Section 23. Grey argued Section 23 is essential to the protection and preservation of the language and culture of the English-speaking minority in Quebec. And included in the culture of the English-speaking community is the protection of cultural minorities, he said. Grey also argued that Bill 21 infringes Section 28 of the charter, which provides for gender equality and isn't subject to the notwithstanding clause. A lawyer for Amnesty International argued that the law is too vague and that it doesn't include a definition of "religious symbols." School administrators can't all become theologians to manage their schools, Marie-Claude St-Amant said. Like Grey, she argued that it is not the government's objective in adopting the law that is important but rather the effects of the legislation. Those are disproportionately felt by Muslim women, she said, arguing that the stated goal of the law is a pretence. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
The Daily Bread Food Bank has cancelled its holiday food drive this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Toronto but it is appealing to the public to continue to donate items and to give in other ways.Neil Hetherington, Daily Bread's CEO, told reporters on Tuesday that families need help more than ever in Toronto because of massive increases in food insecurity.Hetherington said public health and safety concerns prompted the food bank to change its operations this holiday season. He said the food bank has to respect public health measures in place in Toronto and did not want to encourage people to gather in any way."We have had to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 holiday food drive events. A lot of thought and consideration went into this decision," he said at a news conference."But we are prioritizing the health and safety of our supporters, volunteers and staff, even if that means risking not achieving our food raising goals."Hetherington said Daily Bread still hopes to raise 400,000 pounds of food, the equivalent of 17 tractor-trailer loads.In addition, the food bank is also asking for $1 million in financial aid. He acknowledged that goal is ambitious."Despite the challenges, the food bank remains committed to ensuring everyone's right to food is realized this holiday season and beyond," he said.Toronto residents can drop off food donations safely at local grocery stores or fire halls. The food bank will pick up the donations, he said.Food that is suitable is anything that people would put on their own kitchen tables, he added. That includes food highly nutritious and high in protein, he said. Peanut butter, tuna, canned meats, pasta sauce — "these are the things that many of our families enjoy at this time of year," he said.Residents can also place online orders from local grocery stores and have those orders delivered directly to Daily Bread at 191 New Toronto St., Toronto, ON, M8V 2E7.Hetherington said residents can do the following: * Make a financial donation that will allow Daily Bread to buy food that it will not be able to collect from its holiday public drive. For every dollar donated, the food bank said it can provide one balanced meal for someone experiencing hunger. * Give the gift of food by buying from the food bank's online store. The "symbolic gift" in the name of a loved one can provide enough to feed a family of four or help a senior fill his or her cupboard. * Bring family and friends together "in the spirit of giving" and organize an online fundraiser in support of the food bank. * Advocate for systemic change to end the root cause of hunger, which is poverty. The food bank suggests the residents contact municipal, provincial and federal government officials to let them know that they want to see poverty and food insecurity eliminated in Toronto.Hetherington said the cancellation of the holiday food drive means non-essential workers can continue to stay at home and venture out for only essential activities.He added the food bank had already cancelled its "public food sort," which involves families sorting food in a parking lot, because of the pandemic.WATCH | CBC Toronto's Dwight Drummond talks to Neil Hetherington about food insecurity:Hetherington said the food bank had planned to hold a "contactless" food drive, similar to its Thanksgiving food drive in its receiving dock, where hundreds of cars pulled up and had food removed from their trunks, but decided such an event was too risky, given high case counts in Toronto."This cancellation, however, does not change the food insecurity of the hundreds of thousands in the city each day," he said.Food bank visits 'spiked dramatically' during pandemicHetherington said food bank visits increased by five per cent in Toronto last year from previous year. Unstable employment, insufficient incomes and a lack of affordable housing have combined to create a food insecurity crisis, he said."COVID-19 has only exacerbated that crisis," he said. "And food bank visits have spiked dramatically."Food bank visits have increased by 51 per cent this year, year over year. In September, the food bank saw more than 104,000 client visits, a number greater than it has ever seen before.He said the food bank is delivering 52 per cent more food to Toronto this year, over 1.1 million pounds in the next four weeks alone.During the holidays, the food bank depends on the community to meet its food and fundraising goals that will determine distribution in the following months.He said December draws about 50 per cent of annual donations to the food bank.
November was the worst month of the pandemic for the Grey-Bruce health region, an area that until then had largely avoided the spikes in COVID-19 cases that had plagued much of the province. Grey-Bruce Public Health logged 159 new infections last month – nearly doubling its case count – bringing the total to 337 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Nov. 30. The region continues to defy the odds and has had zero deaths nine months into the pandemic. “It has been the worst month, but nothing that is not manageable so far,” said Ian Arra, medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce. “The underlining principle to all these cases is COVID fatigue.” In early November, about half the cases in Grey-Bruce were linked to travel within health regions, he said. Most of these cases were either from locals visiting family and friends in other regions or “hot spots” and contracting COVID-19. A smaller portion was from out-of-towners visiting those who live in Grey and Bruce counties. The other half of cases were then attributed to spread within households to friends and family. “People lower their guards and the pandemic is there,” Arra said. “As soon as people relax, the virus will transmit.” As the month continued, Arra said the second category – locally transmitted cases between friends and families – rose in the region. Along with that, so did the number of close contacts of cases. Grey-Bruce Public Health publicly posts the number of high-risk close contacts it is currently working with. As of Nov. 30, that number sat at 216, with 50 active cases. “In March and April, we used to see with each case two or three close contacts,” Arra said. “In November, we saw an average of about 10, maybe more.” Another factor in November’s spike is cases among Mennonite and Amish communities. Arra said the large size of Amish and Mennonite families often leads to more transmission within one household but stressed it would be wrong to “point the finger” at these communities, adding they have been working well with the health unit. Meanwhile, schools and workplaces in his region have remained mostly free of COVID-19 transmission. Although there have been cases in schools, there have been zero outbreaks. “Schools are safe, so kids, who are less reliable than adults, by following the recommendations, are being safe,” he said. “So, there is no excuse for any of us.” In long-term care settings, Grey-Bruce has seen few outbreaks; although some cases have been detected, Arra said there has been only one instance of secondary transmission occurring, which was back in March. One long-term care home is currently considered in outbreak, with one positive staff case. As of Dec. 1, the area doesn't have any people being treated in hospital for COVID-19. Arra said he is beginning to see the region buck the second-wave trend of skyrocketing case counts. “We see the numbers right now in Grey Bruce levelling, they have not kept going up,” he said. Mid-month, Bruce Power launched Be A Light: Beating COVID-19 Together, a $1 million campaign to boost public health communication and provide more resources to the community. Arra said that campaign – with increased messaging on billboards, radio ads, TV stations and local papers – helped shift public attitudes about following public health guidelines to fight against COVID-19. “Within one week, not surprisingly, there was a change in the level of concern from the public and that really is what we need." Grey-Bruce is in the yellow-protect zone of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework, but Arra said if residents continue to follow public health protocols like hand washing, proper mask-wearing, and avoiding unnecessary gatherings, that could change before the holidays. “Everyone asks for a white Christmas, but we will be asking for a green one,” Arra said, referencing the lowest coloured tier on the restriction framework. Even with a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, Arra said residents must stay vigilant in safeguarding against the novel coronavirus. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel … it is around the corner,” he said. “We need to double down.” MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
If you’re looking for some exercise in the great outdoors, rest assured that cross country skiing options will be available aplenty this winter. And really, how can one social distance any better than in serene nature? SPIN has prepared a list of what’s open and what’s about to open. If you’re looking to get hyped for the winter, we recommend checking out this video of Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club produced by Tourism Kamloops, it’s sure to get you stoked for the winter. Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club Located in Chase, the area is now open to the public for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. All ski trails are “packed and tracked,” with the exception of Sunflower Trail, which is closed due to a lack of snow There are some hazards to be aware of, but overall it’s good to go. Sun Peaks Nordic Centre Sun Peaks Resort LLP’s (SPR) nordic trail system is open for business. The resort asks the public to ski with caution and respect terrain closures that are in place. Sun Peaks Nordic Centre is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. STAKE LAKE (25 km south of Kamloops) The Stake Lake Trails are accepting registration for the 2020/2021 season, but the trails are not yet open. On its website the Overlander Ski Club, which operates the 60km trail system, said they’re waiting for more snow and sustained colder temperatures. Give them a follow on Facebook (search Overlander Ski Club) for more updates. HARPER MOUNTAIN Harper Mountain has a tentative opening date of Dec. 12 for its operations. The mountain offers a three kilometre groomed trail that meanders through a forested area, and is great for both traditional cross country skiing and skate skiing. TELEMARK NORDIC CLUB The Telemark Nordic Club, located in West Kelowna, has an anticipated opening date of Dec. 5. The club recently delayed its opening due to a lack of snow, saying in the following: “We have a good base of snow, things are currently looking pretty white, and some people are already skiing and snowshoeing,” states the club’s website. “However, the base is too thin for us to do regular grooming of the trails without damaging them and making them unsafe. We just need one more good snowfall and we’ll be ready to open. Skiing and snowshoeing are possible right now but grooming will be limited and we will not have rentals or day passes available until Dec 5th.” They provided the following update at the start of the week: “We received two good snowfalls this week and we will be starting to pack the trails and do our final preparations for the coming winter. There is not enough snow yet to open officially but if this cool and snowy weather holds we anticipate being open and ready for member and public skiing by Saturday.” KELOWNA NORDIC This nordic skiing area got off to an early start, having opened on Nov. 11. They provided the following update on its website. “There has been a fair amount of snow over the past week and we have groomed approx 55 per cent of our trails. The ski tracker system has not been activated yet by the host so there is no live reporting. All car parks are plowed. Some of the lowest trails will not be re-groomed in order to preserve snow and avoid bringing up dirt. The upper trails are good but may be soft for skating. Watch for sticks, rocks, dirt and open water. The groomer will be on the trails in daylight hours in order to see any hazards. Watch and listen for it. Snowshoeing is good.” Sovereign Lake Sovereign Lake, located near SilverStar Resort, is open. You can see a full list of the trail that are open here. Rates for skiing can be found here. Big White Nordic Big White’s nordic trails are open for business.Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal more help for health-care systems and strained provincial coffers in its new spending plans, setting up a potential showdown next week between the prime minister and premiers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Dec. 10 with the country's premiers, who have been demanding a meeting since September to talk about the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.The fiscal update released Monday, which proposed some $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries, did not detail a bump in health-care spending beyond increases planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.Federal health transfers to provinces will rise to $43.1 billion next year from $41.9 billion this year, as part of a prearranged three per cent annual increase.Provinces say the proposal still falls well short of what is needed to properly fund their systems, not including the added costs associated with COVID-19.They want the federal government to boost its share of health-care funding by an extra $28 billion this year with annual increases of $4 billion thereafter. "The primary objective of the premiers to to see a structural change in how health care is funded," Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday in an interview. "And I think they're going to be successful because it is the No. 1 thing that Canadians are interested in right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is making sure we have stable, long-term health-care funding."The Liberals argue they've sent plenty to the provinces for pandemic-related measures, totalling $24 billion to support health-care systems across the country.On Tuesday, Trudeau said he planned to hear out the provinces about their needs during and after the pandemic, but wouldn't commit to added spending.His Liberal government's fall economic statement must first survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Failure to gather the necessary support would mean the minority government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election."I am reasonably confident that none of the opposition parties wants an election right now. We certainly don't want one," Trudeau told reporters outside his Ottawa residence."We want to get these supports out to Canadians. And there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians."Spending to date is putting the federal deficit on track to reach $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Pandemic-related spending has sent total federal transfers this year to $99.7 billion. Next year, the amount falls to $82.1 billion, near where it was before the pandemic, based on figures in the fall economic statement.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals' spending binge pre-pandemic has blown the margin now to increase transfers to lower levels of government."There's not a lot of room left for other commitments because of (Trudeau's) irresponsible and insatiable appetite for spending other people's money," Poilievre said.Rebekah Young, Scotiabank's director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote in an analysis that one-off transfers to provinces were necessary under the circumstances, but there should be a structural shift in the long term to make the country's finances sustainable."And the discussion should be broader than expenditure-shifting, as provinces have been reluctant to take up revenue capacity given up at the federal level in recent years," she wrote.The Liberals are proposing extra help through a revised fiscal stabilization program that sends money to provinces facing a year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.The economic statement looks to lift funding capped now at $60 per resident up to $170.Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said his province expects to receive $750 million under the new limits, which falls well short of what Alberta could use. He said he was disappointed the Liberals didn't eliminate the cap as provinces have asked."We're going to continue to seek support from other provinces and we're disappointed in what I would call is really not even a half measure," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the province still wouldn't qualify for help through the stabilization fund this year despite a 45 per cent drop in offshore oil revenues.She added the increase in the cap is unlikely to be a big benefit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Shawn Jeffords in Toronto, and Dean Bennett in EdmontonJordan Press, The Canadian Press
SAN RAMON, Calif. — Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against longtime industry powerhouse Microsoft. The acquisition announced Tuesday is by far the largest in the 21-year history of Salesforce. The San Francisco company was one of the first to begin selling software as a subscription service that could be used on any internet-connected device instead of the more cumbersome process of installing the programs on individual computers. Salesforce’s flamboyant founder and CEO Marc Benioff hailed the “cloud computing” concept as the wave of the future to much derision initially. But software as a service has become an industry standard that has turned into a gold mine for longtime software makers. Microsoft for one has developed its own thriving online suite of services, known as Office 365, which includes a Teams chatting service that includes many of the same features as Slack’s 6-year-old application. Slack in July filed a complaint in the European Union accusing Microsoft of illegally bundling Teams into Office 365 in a way that blocks its removal by customers who may prefer Slack. Microsoft also has been posing a threat to Salesforce’s main products, a line-up of tools that help other companies manage their customer relationships. “For Benioff, this is all about Microsoft,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said of Tuesday's deal. “It’s just clear Microsoft is moving further and further away from Salesforce when it comes to the cloud wars.” Benioff left no doubt he considered the deal to be a major coup, after losing out to Microsoft in 2016 when the two companies were both vying to buy the professional networking service LinkedIn. “It's a match made in heaven," Benioff said during an ebullient conference call. “We see in Slack a once-in-a-generation company and platform. It’s a central nervous system for so many companies." Salesforce has been building on its success in recent years to diversify into other fields, largely through a series of acquisitions that included its previous largest deal, a $15.7 billion purchase of data analytics specialist Tableau Software last year. Many of the deals have been financed with Salesforce’s stock, which is worth nearly seven times more than it was a decade ago to lift the company's current market value to $220 billion. Salesforce is using its stock to pay for roughly half of the Slack purchase, with the rest being covered with some cash, with some of the money being borrowed during a time of extraordinarily low interest rates. Slack, on the other hand, hasn’t proven as popular with investors, even though its service that publicly launched in 2014 is being increasingly used by companies and government agencies looking for more nimble alternatives than email. Before news reports of a potential deal with Salesforce surfaced last week, Slack’s stock was still hovering around its initial listing price of $26 when the company went public nearly 18 months ago. “This is a stellar exit strategy for Slack,” said Kate Leggett, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Microsoft Teams is eating Slack’s lunch.” Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield will be hoping this sale works out better than when another company he started, photo sharing service Flickr, was sold to Yahoo 15 years ago. Flickr got lost in the shuffle at Yahoo amid years of turmoil before it was finally sold again in 2018 to SmugMug. In his next act after leaving Flickr, Butterfield decided to focus on gaming with a startup called Tiny Speck that launched in 2009. A few years later, he shifted to the instant messaging service whose name was an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge." Leggett predicted Salesforce would benefit from owning Slack because it will add a popular collaboration tool to its own software suite, which is focused on managing customer relationships for businesses and government agencies. She said the need for customer-relations agents and other Salesforce users to swarm around a topic and collaborate remotely has only grown with the coronavirus pandemic that has sent so many office workers home and got many hooked on new online tools. If all goes smoothly, Salesforce hopes to take control of Slack sometime from May to July next year. Slack, which is free for people who use the basic version, found quick adoption in the tech industry for its ease of use and its fostering of a more casual mode of conversation than email. The company stopped releasing its daily user count after topping 12 million last year, focusing instead on paid customers, which Butterfield said in March have shown a “massive outpouring of interest” because of the way the pandemic has forced people to work from home. “I think the pandemic’s played a massive role" in paving the way for the deal, Ives said. “The Zooms, the Slacks, the Microsoft Teams, that’s going to be a new part of the workforce.” Ives said Benioff was also running out of time to catch up to Microsoft, which remains a secondary player in Salesforce’s core customer-relations-management business, known as CRM, but way ahead in providing a broader array of cloud-based services. Slack and Salesforce are headquartered about a block away from each other in San Francisco. Slack's office is in the shadow of the 62-story Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in Northern California. “I get to look right out my window and you know what I see? Slack," Benioff said. ___ O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island. Michael Liedtke And Matt O'Brien, The Associated Press
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Sen. Joseph McCarthy is censured; Scientists demonstrate the world's first artificially-created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction; Enron files for Chapter 11 protection; Colombian drug lord is shot and killed. (Dec. 2)
TORONTO — DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. says sales of cars and trucks fell in November as COVID-19 restrictions returned.The consultancy says 128,351 cars and trucks were sold last month, down 10.4 per cent from a year ago. DesRosiers says the November decline marks a pull back from strong performances in September and October.DesRosiers managing partner Andrew King says the auto market is still relatively strong compared with this spring, after sales fell nearly 75 per cent from their year-ago levels in April.But the consultants say auto sales are still set to be down about 20 per cent this year compared with 2019, between spring's lockdowns and new COVID-19 restrictions.DesRosiers now estimates that 2020 auto sales will total slightly more than 1.5 million for the full year.“It was always apparent that the recovery in the market was never going to be a straight line," said King in a statement. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Greg Vanney says he was "handed the keys to what was a Ferrari in development" when he took over Toronto FC in August 2014.In truth, then-Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment boss Tim Leiweke and GM Tim Bezbatchenko led him to a car crash and told the first-time head coach to build something out of it.Vanney was Toronto's ninth coach in eight years. At the time, TFC was a bumbling franchise that had never made the playoffs and had an all-time MLS record of 60-114-72. Barring the Canadian Championship, the only thing TFC had won was scorn.He inherited a club that was 9-9-6 in the standings under fired coach Ryan Nelsen and had won just one of its six games and three of its last 13. Star striker Jermain Defoe, Mr. Bloody Big Deal, wanted out."I know we can get more out of this group of guys," said Bezbatchenko, who essentially engineered the firing of Nelsen by taking his complaints to the media and then watching the Kiwi coach snap back in public.Hired by TFC in December 2013 as the club's assistant general manager and academy director, Vanney had been the coach in waiting.Given the job, the welcome mat was hard to find."The first game that I walked out for Toronto FC as the coach I remember implicitly a fan behind me … yelled out 'Hey Vanney, I hope you're renting,'" he recalled Tuesday after announcing he was stepping down."That was, I think, the first voice I heard in my stretch as a coach at TFC. I remember thinking 'I am renting but I'm going to be renting for a long time.'"Vanney finished out the season with a 2-6-2 record. Then the turnaround started.Six years later, Toronto's trophy case contains everything there is to capture other than the CONCACAF Champions League spoils and Vanney took the team to a penalty shootout in the final of that competition.Toronto has gone from the league's doormat to a model franchise, one that Vanney is now reluctantly leaving behind.But the 46-year-old father of four is leaving on his own terms, albeit in the wake of a painful 1-0 loss to expansion Nashville SC in the first round of the playoffs after a difficult pandemic-rejigged 2020 season.Vanney's departure was not expected, although delays in sorting out a new contract had raised questions. His current deal expires at the end of the 2020 season.An emotional Vanney thanked his players, staff and TFC's ownership, saying it was the right time to move on."I'm a builder. I like to build things and I like projects and I like big things," he told reporters. "And this club is in a really really good place. There's not a lot of building to do. It is an incredible club that is positioned, from where we started to where we are, to be great." He said his departure had nothing to do with money or other contract terms, calling it a "personal family decision." He praised the club for its patience "while I worked through this entire process."Vanney, team president Bill Manning and GM Ali Curtis painted the picture of a painful prolonged deliberation.Manning said talks dated back to May, with a particularly emotional session in July. While he said they "didn't want to push Greg or stress him," he acknowledged the team asked Vanney for an answer as the regular season came to an end. After finally being able to spend some time with his family at home ahead of the playoffs, Vanney came to his decision, which was delivered Sunday."When he notified us, I was not totally taken by surprise," said Manning, who said one of his best decisions was not firing Vanney after becoming president in October 2015. "I respected him for the decision that he made."But it was sad in a way because we obviously have great respect for Greg and wanted him to continue here. But we now have to move forward."Vanney said he had no immediate plan "other than to regroup, spend some time with the family and figure out what's next." But it doesn't sound like he will remain idle for long."I do need to catch my breath, I do need to regroup a bit. But anyone who knows me knows I don't sit still very well so it won't be a long thing. But at the same time, I do know that this has been an exhausting year emotionally." There are openings, including the Los Angeles Galaxy.The search is already on for his replacement with Manning saying MLS experience is not a requirement given his and Curtis' experience in the league."We're going to try to have the best coach possible, whether it's an international coach or it's a domestic-based coach," said Manning.The hope is to hire somebody sooner than later, to have the new coach involved in personnel decisions. Finding a new designated player, an attacking player who can generate goals, is top of the listAs a coach, Vanney's trademark was his preparation, commitment and even hand. His teams were able to shift on the fly and he was able, at least on the surface, to manage the many egos that make up a pro soccer team.He put in long hours, somehow finding time to check up the academy where his twin boys played — his youngest boy was in the TFC Junior program. At home he was rarely away from a laptop, working on his own team or watching what others were doing.Anything to get better."Thank you for the trust and support and being there with me every step of the way," Toronto captain Michael Bradley said in a social media post. "I'll miss you and your commitment and knowing that you were spending every waking moment trying to push us forward."Vanney and his coaching staff go back decades. He played with Dan Calichman and Robin Fraser, now head coach at Colorado, with the Galaxy. Jim Liston, Toronto's director of sport science, was the strength and conditioning coach for the Galaxy during the 1999, 2001 and '02 Cup final run.Vanney played at UCLA with Nick Theslof, another TFC assistant coach. When Vanney went home to Arizona during college, he met Michael Rabasca, now TFC's director of cognitive development.Chances are they will be reunited with Vanney at his next stop. The ripple effect of Vanney's departure will spread wide.Together with front office help from Bezbatchenko, then Manning and Curtis, they have built an organization where winning and trophies are expected.Away from the field, Vanney is courteous and decent with immense patience, although there were limits. Constant questions over Jozy Altidore's health in the run-up to the 2019 MLS Cup produced rare moments of testiness.He leaves as the longest-tenured coach in TFC history, holding every coaching record, including games coached (250) and wins (112). He has a regular-season record of 87-68-48.A finalist for coach of the year, Vanney led Toronto to the second-best regular-season record at 13-5-5 in a challenging 2020 campaign. Forced to play all but four games away from BMO Field because of travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, injury-plagued Toronto limped into the playoffs losing three of its last four games.The post-season ended quickly in a 1-0 extra-time loss to Nashville. Vanney took the club into the post-season in his first full season at the helm in 2015 and went on to guide TFC to the MLS Cup final in 2016, 2017 and 2019, winning the title in '17 on home soil.He coached Toronto to the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship in 2017, becoming the first MLS club to win a domestic treble. He was named MLS and CONCACAF coach of the year that season.Toronto qualified for the playoffs under Vanney five of the past six seasons and captured three Canadian championships since 2016."My objective when I arrived here … was to leave the club in a better place than I picked it up," he said.Mission accomplished.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on TwitterThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian PressNote to readers: q
TORONTO — The cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies like Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, experts said Tuesday.Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years.Sometimes labelled a "Netflix tax," the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it's only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef said it's likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals."Right now, the way in which they're delivering their services, they're not responsible for the collection," Micallef said."And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices."A regular monthly subscription for a streaming service that delivers video or music would be a simple calculation, with the tax rate applied to the purchase price.But Micallef said it is be more difficult to estimate how much additional tax individual consumers, or businesses, will pay for other types of digital purchases, he said.Something like gaming software might cost little or nothing itself, but offer the option for subsequent charges to add features that make the experience better."How many times? How many transactions? It adds up," Micallef said.Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. "I mean, this is really not a very substantial amount, when we're talking about corporate finances," said Winseck, who is a professor of journalism and communication.He said that the term "Netflix tax" has become highly politicized and is often used as "code" for levelling the playing field between U.S.-based digital media companies and traditional Canadian broadcasters."And if the idea is to create a level playing field between those two services, then that by all means that makes great sense," Winseck said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.David Paddon, The Canadian Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Enbridge Energy began construction on its Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement in Minnesota on Tuesday, a day after state regulators approved the final permit for the $2.6 billion project amid legal challenges from local activist and Indigenous groups.Spokeswoman Juli Kellner said Enbridge began construction in several locations around the state in the morning. Enbridge spent years pursuing permits for the project before the last one, a construction stormwater permit, was granted Monday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.“Line 3 can now begin to be an economic boost for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members,” Kellner said in a statement. “The workforce will ramp up as construction continues eventually creating over 4,000 family-sustaining, mostly local construction jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and additional tax revenues at a time when Northern Minnesota needs it most.”Two tribes — the Red Lake and White Earth Bands of Chippewa — asked the PUC last week to stay its approval of the project, saying the influx of construction workers would put residents along the route at higher risk of COVID-19. A consolidated appeal by environmental and tribal groups is also pending before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.Several activists and Indigenous groups filed a lawsuit Monday evening challenging the MPCA’s permit approval, citing the pipeline’s threat to waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice and negative effect on climate change.Enbridge said replacing the deteriorating pipeline, which was built in the 1960s and runs at only half its original capacity, is the best option for protecting the environment while meeting the region’s energy needs.Kellner said Enbridge has enacted strict guidelines to guard against spread of the coronavirus, including testing workers regularly and repeatedly, requiring mask-wearing and social distancing and sanitizing work areas regularly.In a statement on Tuesday, Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said Enbridge will continue to see legal challenges from activists and Indigenous groups to “prevent this tar sands pipeline from ever being completed.”“As construction begins, some big questions need to be asked: What if the Appeals Court sides against Enbridge in the legal cases before it? What if the new Biden administration squashes this pipeline? What is Enbridge’s plan if its workforce gets corona?" LaDuke said. "Its ‘safety’ plan doesn’t address what its workers do or where they go when they’re not on the job.”Line 3 begins in Alberta, Canada, and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing Minnesota on its way to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The replacement segments in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin are already complete, leaving only the 337-mile (542-kilometre) stretch in Minnesota. Altogether Enbridge expects to spend $2.9 billion on the U.S. portion.___Mohamed Ibrahim is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.Mohamed Ibrahim, The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:50 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 656 new cases of COVID-19 today, with 8,796 active cases across the province.There have been 16 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 457 since the pandemic began.In a joint statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say 336 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, and 76 of them are in intensive care.Another 10,123 people are being monitored after they were exposed to a known case of the novel coronavirus.\---2 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19.Public health officials say all the new cases were found in the central zone, bringing the province's total active case count to 142.Rapid testing was administered at pop-up sites Monday in both Wolfville and Halifax and no cases were found at either site.A total of 4,138 COVID-19 tests were administered in the province Monday.\---1:50 p.m.Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 in the province Tuesday.Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are four new cases in the Saint John zone and three new cases in the Fredericton zone.There are currently 116 active cases in the province, and there have been 508 cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began.There have been seven deaths and no one is in hospital.\---1:35 p.m.Manitoba is reporting 282 new COVID-19 cases and a record 16 deaths. The test positivity rate remains high at 13 per cent, and Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on business openings and public gatherings may have to remain in place for some time.\---1:10 p.m.Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government will decide in 10 days whether the province's COVID-19 situation will allow for multi-household gatherings at Christmas.He says an increase in hospitalizations is straining the health-care network, and some hospitals are nearing the limit of how many COVID-19 patients they can treat.The premier says the situation in hospitals and the toll on health-care workers will be the most important factors in determining the plan for Christmas, adding that things are not headed in the right direction.Legault had announced last month that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed between Dec. 24 and 27.\---1 p.m.Another measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 took effect in Yukon today, as masks are now mandatory in all indoor, public spaces.Yukon's chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley says everyone over the age of five who does not have a medical exemption will be required to wear a mask.The order imposed under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act carries a fine of up to $500 but Hanley says Yukon residents will first be given a chance to adapt before any enforcement begins.Premier Sandy Silver reports eight new cases of COVID-19 in the territory since the briefing last Tuesday, bringing the total number to 47 since the start of the pandemic.Seventeen cases are still considered active, but none related to community transmission.\---12:55 p.m.Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says when looking at people experiencing the most severe illness, older Canadians are more at risk than younger Canadians with pre-existing conditions.She says that suggests after the initial round of vaccines goes to people in high-risk living or work situations, like long-term care centres and hospital staff, the next round of immunizations should be done by age, with the oldest Canadians at the front of the line.\---12:52 p.m.Manitoba handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week.The provincial government brought in restrictions three weeks ago to deal with surging COVID-19 case numbers that set strict limits on public gatherings and require non-essential businesses to close.Two churches that held services recently are among the establishments that have been ticketed.\---12:50 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19.The case affects a man in his 50s who returned to the province from work in British Columbia.Health officials say the man is self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.Newfoundland and Labrador has 33 active COVID-19 cases, with 339 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on public gatherings and business openings could continue into the winter.Pallister says with cold weather ahead, there's a risk of greater COVID-19 transmission as more people stay, and perhaps gather, indoors.Manitoba's daily rise in cases has levelled off somewhat after spiking last month, but health officials say it is still straining the health-care system.\---12:25 p.m.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal to get doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.She says it was also the fourth to sign a deal with Pfizer, and the first country without the ability to mass produce the vaccine domestically to sign with AstraZeneca.Anand says there has been "significant misinformation" about the doses procured and when they will arrive.\---11:50 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is taking on billions of dollars in more debt to protect Canadians from having to do the same thing.Trudeau says the average credit card interest rate is more than 19 per cent, and that it makes more sense for Ottawa to shoulder more of the burden through the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn because it can borrow at rates now close to zero.The prime minister also says his government has no intention to start cutting spending at this time, saying now is not the time for austerity.The fall economic update released Monday proposed $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter promised tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.\---11:40 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is launching efforts to support two more northern communities that are struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases.The Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, where Trudeau says they will provide health services and support elders.\---11:35 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 80 per cent of the money spent to support and protect Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic has come from the federal government.The prime minister says that includes tens of millions of rapid tests that are starting to be distributed across the country, as well as billions of doses of yet-to-be-delivered COVID-19 vaccines.Trudeau says Canada is guaranteed to receive some of the first doses of the vaccine produced by U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna once it has been approved by Health Canada.The Moderna vaccine candidate is one of four currently being reviewed by the department.\---11:30 a.m.Prince Edward Island's chief health officer says she expects the COVID-19 vaccine to begin arriving in her province in January 2021.Dr. Heather Morrison says discussions are continuing between the federal and provincial governments around vaccine allocation, distribution, procurement and logistics.She says P.E.I. will be following the national recommendations for priority groups to be immunized, but all Islanders who want the vaccine will receive it over time.Morrison says it will take many months for all Islanders to be immunized.She said the arrival date and the actual number of doses will be made public once the details are known.\---11:05 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,177 new cases of COVID-19 today and 28 additional deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.According to public health authorities, three of those deaths took place during the past 24 hours and the rest occurred earlier.The Health Department says 719 people are currently in hospital, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people are in intensive care, an increase of four from the previous day.Quebec has reported 143,548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 7,084 deaths associated with the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
L’artiste de Baie-Johan-Beetz Chantal Harvey et le Festival du conte et de la légende de l’Innucadie recevront un soutien financier de 33 000 $ de l’Entente de partenariat territorial en lien avec la collectivité de la Côte-Nord. La graveure Chantal Harvey empoche 17 000 $ pour la réalisation de son projet Suite lichen, un assemblage de gravures qui formeront des espaces et des compositions évoquant des lichens dans la nature. Le Festival Innucadie, qui se tient généralement chaque été à Natashquan, récolte 16 340 $ pour Escales Innucadie, un projet qui cherche à faire rayonner des artistes de l’événement partout sur la Côte-Nord. L’Entente de partenariat territorial en lien avec la collectivité nord-côtière, conclue en 2020, réunit le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), le ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH), Culture Côte-Nord ainsi que les six municipalités régionales de comté (MRC) de la région. Pour le premier appel de projets, les partenaires offrent un total de 149 340 $ à huit artistes et trois organismes artistiques. Ce montant provient d’une enveloppe de 400 000 $, investis par les partenaires, destinée à soutenir des projets de création, de production ou de diffusion favorisant des liens entre les arts et la collectivité.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Students in Niagara are not writing exams to close out courses this fall. District School Board of Niagara’s secondary school students and Niagara Catholic board students will all be taking part in “culminating activities” instead of the usual sit-down testing regime. Helen McGregor, superintendent of secondary school curriculum and student achievement, said, “Students are learning differently this year, with many learning in-person for part of the week, and others learning exclusively online. “To ensure all our students are supported to find success this year, whether they are learning in-person or online, in October we made the decision to cancel exams,” said McGregor. “Schools have already let students know that they will not have exams and, instead, they will have culminating activities.” Niagara Catholic District School Board is following a similar path. “Schools are not administering exams,” said superintendent Ted Farrell, whose responsibilities include overseeing secondary schools. “Upon completion of the course, a broad range of culminating activities will be used as part of the final evaluation in determining a student’s mark. These activities may include essays, student performances, independent study projects or other suitable activities for students to best demonstrate their learning.” In October, the Ministry of Education told school boards they have the option to remove designated exam days from their school year calendar and use them for in-class instructional time. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the use of essays or report-based assessments in the place of final exams should be allowed “given the circumstance.” “I don’t want to increase the anxiety of our students. An essay, an extended report, these are all ways in which an educator can credibly assess the performance of a student.” The holiday break for students is to begin Dec. 21 and will last until students return to the classroom on Jan. 4. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
NEW YORK — “Papa!” screams a hospital worker, covered from head to toe in a Hazmat suit and PPE, in the opening moments of the documentary “76 Days." This is in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, back in January and February when the city of 11 million went into a 2 1/2-month lockdown and hospitals were overrun. The health worker's father has just died, and her agony at not being able to sit by his side is overwhelming. Her colleagues restrain her as she sobs, moaning, “Papa, you'll stay forever in my heart.” “76 Days," shot in four Wuhan hospitals, captures a local horror before it became a global nightmare. Given the constraints at the time on footage and information from Wuhan, it's a rare window into the infancy of the pandemic. The film is directed by the New York-based filmmaker Hao Wu, who worked with two Chinese journalists — one named Weixi Chen, the other is remaining anonymous — to create of a portrait of the virus epicenter. Some of the images document the fear and confusion of those early days: A group of patients mill outside the hospital doors, pleading to be let in. Others are by now more familiar: Solitary deaths followed by phone calls to family members. “There has been so much news coverage and commentary about the pandemic but most of that has primarily been about statistics and our political divide," Wu said in an interview. “What I think is missing is the human stories, the human faces of the pandemic.” That may be especially true for stories of the pandemic from China, which President Donald Trump and his supporters have been highly critical of, blaming it for the “Wuhan virus.” Wu's film, though, consciously avoids politics to concentrate on the humanity inside the hospitals — even if the workers are so obscured by their Hazmat suits that they're only identifiable by the names penned in sharpie on their backs. “I feel like right now there is such a toxic background to a lot of the discussions around the virus,” Wu says. “The virus is an enemy that doesn’t care about your nationality.” “76 Days," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is being released Friday by MTV Documentary Films is more than 50 virtual cinemas. Last month, it was nominated for best documentary by the IFP Gotham Awards. It's among the first in a coming surge of coronavirus documentaries. A handful have already arrived, some — snapshots in an ongoing drama — hurriedly edited even as the scope of the pandemic has continued to expand. In October, Alex Gibney released “Totally Under Control," a two-part indictment of the federal U.S. response to the virus. In August, the artist-activist Ai Weiwei debuted “Coronation,” a documentary he directed remotely with dozens of volunteers to capture the lockdown experience for ordinary Chinese people. For some, the films are too harsh a reminder of an all-consuming reality. But “76 Days" feels like a vital early draft of history. Wu's first instinct had been to create a more straightforwardly journalistic film examining what happened in Wuhan. But Wu — a Chinese native who lives in New York with his partner and two children (he depicted his journey as a gay man in a traditional Chinese family in the 2019 Netflix documentary “All in My Family” ) — soon recognized the difficulty of access and the rapidly changing situation would make such a film either very difficult or potentially stale by the time it was finished. “The images coming out of Wuhan were so harrowing. Everyone was scouring social media, trying to find out what happened in Wuhan, how it got so bad. A lot of us were so angry,” he says. “I started getting away from wanting to assign blame." The journalists, working with press passes, would have typically been closely watched by Communist party minders but in the chaos were given more free rein. Wu leaned into a more observational approach without talking heads, and urged his collaborators to focus on the people and the details. One poignant shot shows the ziplocked cellphone of a deceased person quietly ringing. Wu's last trip to China was in January and February. Right after he came back, his grandfather was diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. He would die a month later. Wu, unable to visit because of travel restrictions and busy on the film, wasn't able to say goodbye in person. “For me, I was compelled to tell the story. It’s almost like a tribute to my grandfather,” says Wu. “The shots that attracted me were those that showed the details of people willing to be nice to each other. I guess it was guilty about not being able to say goodbye to my grandfather, to hold his hand.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting. The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native. Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last. “I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website. A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro. Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection. Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District. That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP. The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year. Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race. A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run. Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture. Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us." His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.” Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary. Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before. Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
It's a trend line that Jason Kenney can't seem to reverse. Yet another public opinion survey that shows a growing number of Albertans disapprove of the job he's doing. Kenney's approval rating has dropped from a high of 61 per cent in June 2019, a few months after he won the election, to 40 per cent this past week.Pollsters and political observers say it's a reflection of how Kenney's UCP government has managed the COVID-19 pandemic, that he's been unable to placate those who would like to see more restrictions to rein in record cases of the coronavirus. "You've got, politically, a premier that is really, you know, pleasing neither side and is being punished by both ends," said Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, which conducted the survey during the last week of November.The survey shows Kenney's disapproval rating at 58 per cent — second only to Manitoba's Brian Pallister, whose disapproval rating is 64 per cent.B.C.'s John Horgan, who won a majority government in October, enjoys the country's highest approval rating at 64 per cent, tied with Quebec's François Legault. In Alberta, 40 per cent those who were asked say they approve of Kenney's job performance, while two per cent were undecided. Kurl says Kenney is walking a tightrope trying to appease his base of supporters in rural Alberta by avoiding a provincewide mandatory mask mandate, while at the same time facing criticism that new restrictions meant to bend the curve of new infections did not go far enough.In a Facebook chat with UCP supporters last week, Kenney said his government is resisting calls for mandatory mask use in public places because people in rural Alberta would defy the order."Why would we do something that becomes counterproductive?" he said.Alberta continues to set new daily COVID-19 infection records and leads the country in the number of active cases per capita.Political analysts say it's not a coincidence that case numbers are rising and Kenney's popularity is falling."I would say the majority of Albertans believe he hasn't gone far enough," said political science professor Duane Bratt, referring to COVID restrictions."And if you combine the limited action with rising case counts, rising hospital counts, rising death counts, people start to make those connections."Bratt says the premier may be paying the price for a pandemic response that contains mixed messages and contradictions. "How much of this came out of last week's sort of, semi-response?""Where, yes, he sent the kids home from school, but you can still go to a casino.""Yes, you have to wear a mask if you're in Calgary, but you don't have to wear a mask if you're in Two Hills," said Bratt, who teaches at Mount Royal University.Kurl says if those new restrictions announced last week manage to slow the virus's spread, Kenney could just as well see a reversal in his sagging job satisfaction numbers."Let's not overstate the fact that while he is the second least popular premier in the country at the moment, 40 per cent approval is not exactly something that is catastrophic for him politically," said Kurl.'No easy answers'The premier's office sent a statement in response to the Angus Reid survey. "We are focused squarely on protecting both lives and livelihoods from the devastating impacts of COVID-19, not public opinion polling," said spokesperson Christine Myatt. "These are difficult decisions and there are no easy answers to navigating this pandemic, but we will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect Albertans from this unprecedented dual crisis," she said.Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.
NEW YORK — Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, the star of “Juno," “Inception” and “The Umbrella Academy,” came out as transgender Tuesday in an announcement greeted as a watershed moment for the trans community in Hollywood. “I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer," Page said in a statement on social media. Page, the 33-year-old actor from Nova Scotia, said his decision to come out as trans, which also involved changing his first name, came after a long journey and with much support from the LGBTQ community. “I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self,” Page wrote. “I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.” “The more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive,” added Page, who said his pronouns are “he" and "they.” Page signed his statement with the words, “All my love, Elliot.” The announcement was celebrated widely on social media by LGBTQ rights advocates and many in the film industry. Netflix, maker of the comic book series “The Umbrella Academy," said, “So proud of our superhero! We love you Elliot!” "Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media. “He will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. We celebrate the remarkable Elliot Page today.” Page broke out in Jason Reitman's 2007 film “Juno” in a performance as a pregnant teenager that earned him an Academy Award nomination. Page has frequently worked to bring the lives of LGBTQ characters to screen, including the 2015 film “Freeheld,” which he produced and starred in as the partner of a dying New Jersey police detective who had been denied pension benefits. Last year, he made his directorial debut with the documentary “There's Something in the Water,” about environmental damage on Black and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press