First lady Melania Trump made a solo appearance in southern Pennsylvania, where she accused Joe Biden of having a "socialist agenda," and said Democrats conducted "a sham impeachment." (Oct. 27)
First lady Melania Trump made a solo appearance in southern Pennsylvania, where she accused Joe Biden of having a "socialist agenda," and said Democrats conducted "a sham impeachment." (Oct. 27)
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
A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia will look at how many children and young people across B.C. have antibodies for COVID-19. The study will look at how many British Columbians under the age of 25 have been infected with COVID-19. Thousands of children and young adults across B.C. will be mailed antibody testing kits. Dr. Manish Sadarangani, associate professor in the UBC department of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at B.C. Children's Hospital, is leading the study. He says it will answer critical questions about the role babies, children, and young adults play in the transmission of the novel coronavirus. "What we're trying to do is fill in that knowledge gap, help the policy makers, help the public health officials, by providing additional information," Sadarangani told Michelle Eliot, host of CBC's BC Today. "We're trying to really establish the full burden of this infection on children and young adults across B.C."There have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 among children, he says. It's still not clear whether the infection rates in children are the same as in adults, with children having milder symptoms, or whether fewer children are getting COVID-19."What's been striking to me in this pandemic as a pediatric infectious disease specialist is that children haven't been really prominent, which is so different than all of the other respiratory infections that we see," he said. The study will enable researchers to identify cases that may have been already identified through testing, as well as cases that may not have been identified previously either because of a lack of testing or a lack of symptoms. The team is recruiting anybody under 25 to participate in the study. Participants — or their parents —will receive a consent form, an online questionnaire, and a home finger prick test in the mail. Once participants mail in their blood sample, researchers will test each sample and reach out to those participants who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies.Anyone interested in participating in the study can visit www.bcchr.ca/springstudy.
What happens to the state of business in a city when it loses its largest storefront in the downtown core even earlier than expected? It’s a question being mulled by commerce stakeholders and retail experts, along with the provincial and municipal government, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the Hudson’s Bay Company to close its downtown Winnipeg location two months earlier than previously announced. “In light of recent restrictions on non-essential retail by the Government of Manitoba, we have made the decision to close this location,” said HBC in a statement to the Free Press Tuesday. “We remain committed to working with partners to find opportunities for this historic location that will have a positive impact on the community.” The iconic Canadian departmental shopping chain had announced in October it would be shuttering the Winnipeg store permanently in February due to a “change in consumer behaviour.” But by late Monday, a “closed” sign could be seen outside the mammoth, 650,000-square-foot store on Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard — one of the original six stores for the 350-year-old retailer before it expanded across North America. Now, industry decision-makers and onlookers are scratching their heads about what comes next for the vacant building which has more square footage than almost all other buildings in the city. For some, it’s prime real estate smack dab at the heart of a city that’s presenting an “opportunity” for future growth. While for others, it’s a growing concern about the “sad state of affairs” for brick-and-mortar stores. For almost all of them, however, a mixed-use occupancy that combines residential and commercial aspects appears to be the most sensible direction for the building. “It’s definitely an important moment in time where we can truly shape what comes next for all our businesses in the provincial hub,” said Kate Fenske, chief executive officer of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “Of course, this closure does have an impact on several businesses nearby because of their proximity to that space and that’s something we need to prevent from escalating.” Citing statistics from a study conducted by the advocacy and marketing group last week, Fenske said while business is deteriorating downtown, investment in the area continues to rise and so does the possibility of new residents moving in. Upcoming capital projects underway have a combined construction value of nearly $1 billion, according to Downtown Winnipeg BIZ numbers, including the $400-million redevelopment of the Portage Place mall right across from the Bay planned for March, 2021. And at least 18,000 people are expected to call the downtown core their home in the next two years. “While it’s in no way surprising that the Bay chose to close, and it’s sad they’re closing even earlier than planned,” said Fenske in an interview. “How we go from here needs to use all that momentum that we still have going on here and use it for the future.” Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group in Toronto, said that’s easier said than done. “Retail shopping definitely works in clusters, I mean that’s the whole concept behind having a mall to begin with — to have several stores conveniently in one place,” she said Tuesday. “But now the real question is, where do we go from here when that concept has itself become outdated and is causing closures like this? That’s difficult to answer.” Hutcheson believes the novel coronavirus “only magnified and worsened the inevitable,” given the overall lack of foot traffic in suburban-style malls and an evolving shift to online commerce seen well before the pandemic. “I do still think that if we found a good blend of mixed-use purpose for the building, it would be of great value,” she said. “It’s just that that’s the type of project which is pretty difficult to convince someone to take on right now.” Last year a company-wide valuation of HBC’s real estate holdings valued the downtown Winnipeg building at precisely $0. Over the years, the company has closed some of the store’s six floors along with its basement, consolidating stock on just two levels. Dayna Spiring, president of Economic Development Winnipeg, said her conversations with the province and the city have given her ample reason to be optimistic. “There’s so much potential here, it’s hard not to be hopeful about what can be done with that space especially with consultation from the community at large,” she said. “The opportunity is massive.” In statements to the Free Press, provincial and municipal spokespersons said both government levels are open to hearing development proposals in the future that “include an adaptive re-use of the building and conservation of the character-defining elements.” A city spokesperson said the mayor is “currently engaged in outreach with community stakeholders in this regard.” But Spiring said she doesn’t believe the building will ever remain the way it is right now. “You’re likely looking at getting rid of the guts and almost a complete reimagination of the space for it to be successful,” she added. “We just have to get through this pandemic first to make those kind of decisions.” Hudson’s Bay Co. continues to serve Winnipeggers at its Polo Park and St. Vital locations, as well as online at thebay.com.Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
FAITS DIVERS. La Division des enquêtes sur la criminalité financière organisée a procédé le 27 novembre à l’arrestation de trois hommes de Montréal en lien avec le vol d’identité de personnes œuvrant dans le domaine de l’enseignement, de la fraude, de la possession de documents contrefaits, de l’utilisation non autorisée de données relatives à une carte de crédit et de l’utilisation non autorisée d’un ordinateur. Les crimes auraient été commis par Frédéric Lapointe, 41 ans, Rath Pak, 41 ans et Jimmy Saintelien, 39 ans, au printemps 2018 dans plusieurs régions du Québec. Notons qu’au moment des faits, des centaines de vols d’identité de personnes reliées au domaine de l’éducation avaient été signalés aux autorités. L’enquête menée en collaboration avec le Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur avait permis de découvrir que des individus utilisaient les informations volées afin de commettre des fraudes un peu partout au Québec. Rappelons que La Division des enquêtes sur la criminalité financière organisée a notamment pour mandat d’enquêter, en collaboration avec ses partenaires, sur les organisations criminelles qui commettent des crimes envers les marchés financiers et s’adonnent à des stratagèmes frauduleux dans le but de priver le gouvernement d’importants revenus. Elle intervient selon les objectifs du programme gouvernemental d’actions concertées contre les crimes économiques et financiers. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Le Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish reçoit un don de 25 000 $ de la part de Rio Tinto. Le centre fait partie des 12 refuges pour femmes et organismes locaux choisis par la multinationale, qui leur fait don d’un total de 360 000 $. La Maison des femmes de Sept-Îles et le centre d’hébergement Tipinuaikan d’Uashat mak Mani-utenam récoltent aussi 25 000 $ chacun. La contribution de Rio Tinto permettra à ces organismes de continuer à fournir différents services de soutien aux femmes et à leurs familles, dont des refuges sûrs, des conseils, des ateliers et des activités pour les enfants, entre autres. La coordonnatrice du Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish, Francine Blais, se réjouit de ce don. « On est très heureux d’avoir été reconnus. Ça va nous donner un coup de pouce pour la poursuite de nos activités dans le milieu. » L’organisme n’a pas encore décidé de la répartition du montant entre les points de service d’Aguanish et d’Havre-Saint-Pierre ni de ce à quoi l’argent servira. L’annonce du don de Rio Tinto a été faite le 25 novembre, soit la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
The Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change (SRSC) allows students to have a seat at the board table. At the school board’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 30 they welcomed a new trustee to the group and updated the board on how the block system is working. Remotely, the board affirmed SRSC trustees Kelly Lam of Carlton, who is entering another term and Emily Zbaraschuk from Meath Park Public School, who is in her first term. “They had a great update both on the change to the constitution that they had proposed and also on the feedback around the high schools that are doing the block system,” director or education Robert Bratvold said. “It’s practical and I appreciate it and I noted that they each of the student trustees brought a slightly different experience,” The block system can be difficult because of workload, Lam said. “The students at the SRSC wanted to ask the board’s advice as to how to approach teachers in our schools to let them know that we appreciate your efforts in teaching all of this course material in the shorter time. We understand it’s very hard to teach us as well. We want to figure out a way because sometimes the course load can be too much,” Lam said. Lam shared some common experiences from both Carlton and the SRSC students that the block system was cumbersome for work. She explained that the pace is faster because of condensing five months into 17 weeks is a significant decrease in time. Lam likes to work in the block system because she works faster while others find it difficult. “Something that we very consistently mentioned throughout our SRSC was the science and math classes have been extremely intense. From my personal experience, I took pre-calculus 30 in the first block and we were pretty much having a test every single day to get through all of the matters we need to get through,” Lam said. As well she has heard that science classes such as biology and physics are intense to get through source material. “Something that could be related to that and possibly causing that issue is that some of the teachers, at least in Carlton, in my opinion, it feels like they are giving the same amount of homework even though we have a significant decrease in time to get all of that work done,” Lam said. Zbaraschuk had a similar experience with other subjects. “I was just going to add that personally, for myself, since my school is on the block system the English and History classes were the ones where the workload was like semester condensed into it, math was as much as you would normally get,” Zbaraschuk said. Bratvold noted that there was a slightly different experience for Zbaraschuk and Lam He also explained that both students emphasized a tough workload and that teachers were also doing the best that they could with the new conditions. During the meeting Bratvold appreciated hearing from the students’ perspective and observed that administration has heard similar things from principals. A number of trustees offered feedback on the matter.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
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
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
The Opposition Liberals say a tax that pays for tires to be recycled off-Island is no longer needed because the work is being done on P.E.I.Interim Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant said he noticed the tax after he purchased new tires himself.The charge is $4 per new tire with a rim size of 17 inches or less, and $11.25 per tire with a rim size greater than that."Why are we still charging the tax?" said Gallant.This spring, the province stopped sending tires off-Island for shredding.In the past, these tires were picked up, trucked to Quebec and shredded.Now, a local business picks up and shreds the tires at no cost to the province.Finance Minister Darlene Compton said the program shredding tires on the Island is a pilot project. She wants to make sure it's viable before she'll look at dropping the tax. Compton said she'd like to see the program operate for the next year or so. "The taxes that we charge go back into government programs and services and we want to ensure that the tires that are on the road are looked after when it's time for them to be put aside," Compton said from the floor of the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday."We will definitely take into consideration the tax being paid by Islanders."The province said it is not only saving money on the pickup and shredding of tires, it is also saving money on the finished product.Transportation Minister Steven Myers said the province purchases those shredded tires to help build new roads.The shredded tires replace class D gravel, the gravel used for the base of new roads."I think it's 60 per cent cheaper than gravel, notwithstanding the fact that we don't import it either," Myers said in June.More from CBC P.E.I.
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers. The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B's in recent years would be denied under the new rules. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn't follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October. “The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” White wrote. The U.S. issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas each year in sectors including technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they’re issued for three years and renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China. The H-1B rules announced weeks before the election were part of President Donald Trump's wider agenda to curb nearly all forms of immigration. In June, he issued an order temporarily suspending the H-1B program until the end of the year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities including the California Institute of Technology sued in California, arguing there wasn’t adequate notice or time for the public to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly related to requiring a prevailing wage for visa-holders, would have a drastic impact on new hires and “sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States." The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee seeking renewal was paid an $80,000 salary but would have to be paid $208,000 under the new rule. The judge agreed that the federal government didn’t make a case for implementing the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes agencies accountable to the public by requiring a detailed process for enacting regulations. “Defendants failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provided by the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” White wrote. The rule on wages, proposed by the Department of Labor, took effect in October, while the Homeland Security rule on occupations and other issues was supposed to take effect Monday. It also would have placed limits on “offsite” firms that employ and contract out H-1B visa holders to other companies; their visas would have been limited to one year at a time. "This is incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This ruling enables those individuals to maintain their jobs and their families in the United States.” The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having "the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.” Messages left Tuesday for spokespeople with the Labor and Homeland Security departments weren’t immediately returned. The wage rule has prompted at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. ___ Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen. Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
The Deh Gáh Got’îê Koe seniors' complex has reopened in Fort Providence following renovations. Seven additional units for seniors have been created. In a news release on Tuesday, the N.W.T. government said a local contractor and local workers had completed the project, which is designed to help more Elders remain in their home community. “Seniors are a key part of our community. Ensuring that seniors have housing in the community is important to us,” Fort Resolution’s mayor, Danny Beaulieu, was quoted as saying. “This renovation means that more of our seniors can reside in our community and spend time with family and friends.” Ensuring seniors can age in place is a stated priority of Caroline Cochrane's government. Paulie Chinna, the housing minister, said that was "a crucial part of ensuring the health and wellbeing of our Elders."Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
L’Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ) a présenté à la mi-novembre sa 12e édition du Panorama des régions du Québec. Parmi les faits saillants pour la Côte-Nord, l’ISQ indique un déclin marqué de la population depuis 2016, la croissance du produit intérieur brut (PIB) et une baisse du taux de chômage. D’une part, la Côte-Nord est la région québécoise qui a enregistré le déclin le plus marqué de sa population entre 2006 et 2019 avec un taux de -7,3 pour mille. Qui plus est, des six municipalités régionales de comté (MRC) qui composent la région, aucune ne comptait plus d’habitants en 2019 qu’en 2016. Au cours de cette période, la Minganie est passée de 6592 à 6445 résidents. La démographie négative de la Côte-Nord se chiffre à environ 6000 individus qui ont quitté le territoire depuis 2006. Le rapport note une perte de population chez les 64 ans et moins, dont une perte accentuée chez les 0-19 ans (23 423 versus 19 134 personnes). La région connaît cependant une hausse du nombre de 65 ans et plus. En 2019, un Nord-Côtier sur cinq est âgé de plus de 65 ans. De plus, l’âge moyen est passé de 38,8 ans en 2006 à 43,3 ans en 2019. L’amalgame de ces données laissent entrevoir que la région est bel et bien vieillissante. D’autre part, l’ISQ constate une hausse significative du taux d’emploi pour le regroupement Côte-Nord/Nord-du-Québec avec + 7,5 points entre 2009 et 2019. Le regroupement des deux régions fait partie des territoires qui ont enregistré la plus forte hausse du taux d’emploi pour cette période. Par ailleurs, le taux de chômage pour le regroupement a baissé de moitié depuis 2009, passant de 10 % à 4,8 % (2019). Le revenu disponible par habitant de la Côte-Nord augmente régulièrement depuis 2015, pour atteindre 29 426 $ en 2018, tout juste sous la moyenne québécoise (29 924 $). À l’échelle de la province, c’est dans la MRC de Caniapiscau que le revenu disponible par habitant est le plus élevé avec 40 385 $. En Minganie, il s’élève à 30 335 $. Pour une seconde année consécutive, le PIB nord-côtier est en croissance. Après + 3,7 points en 2017, le rapport signale une hausse de 6,1 points en 2018. La Côte-Nord est notamment la région qui enregistre la plus forte augmentation du PIB par habitant pour la même année (6,9 %). La région se distingue également par sa croissance de 15,3 % de production dans l’industrie d’extraction minière, de l’exploitation en carrière et de l’extraction de pétrole et de gaz. À noter que l’activité minière provinciale se concentre principalement en Côte-Nord, en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (+ 13,8 %) et dans le Nord-du-Québec (+ 9,4 %). La Côte-Nord est d’ailleurs passée au second rang des régions administratives en termes de valeur des livraisons minérales avec 2,61 milliards de dollars, soit le quart de la valeur totale de la province (10,73 G$). La valeur des livraisons minérales nord-côtières a bondi de 41,2 % par rapport à 2017. En ce qui a trait à l’éducation, un tiers de la population de 25 à 64 ans du regroupement Côte-Nord/Nord-du-Québec (28,7 %) détient un certificat ou un diplôme d’une école de métiers comme plus haut niveau de scolarité en 2019. Un peu moins d’un quart possède un certificat ou est diplômé au niveau collégial, et 17,5 % sont des diplômés universitaires. Le rapport précise aussi que plus d’hommes que de femmes ont fréquenté une école de métiers (35,6 % vs 20,4 %), mais que plus de femmes que d’hommes ont un certificat ou diplôme universitaire (11,6 % vs 24,6 %). Le taux d’obtention du diplôme d’études secondaires (DES) est similaire entre les deux sexes : 15,4 % pour les hommes et 14,6 % pour les femmes. Le Panorama des régions du Québec de l’ISQ dresse chaque année un portrait socioéconomique des 17 régions administratives de la province et des MRC qui les composent.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Depuis sa participation au spectacle de la relève Nikamu Mamuitun à la Place des Arts de Montréal à l’automne 2019, Scott-Pien Picard profite de riches expériences comme le show de la rentrée au Centre Bell, son passage à la semaine des 4 Julie, sans oublier sa nomination au Gala de l’ADISQ 2020 dans la catégorie « Artiste autochtone de l’année ». Plusieurs supporteurs de la région, mais certainement de plusieurs endroits seront rivés devant leur téléviseur afin de le voir chanter Makusham, un mot tellement rempli de sens dans la culture autochtone. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
SALT LAKE CITY — New clues have surfaced in the disappearance of a gleaming monolith in Utah that seemed to melt away as mysteriously as it appeared in the red-rock desert — though it's no longer the only place where a strange structure has come and gone.A Colorado photographer told KSTU-TV that he saw four men come to the remote Utah site Friday night and push over the hollow, stainless steel object.“Right after it had fallen over and made a loud thud, one of them said, ‘This is why you don’t leave trash in the desert,’” Ross Bernards told the Salt Lake City TV station.The group broke down the structure into pieces, loaded it into a wheelbarrow and left.“As they were loading it up and walking away, they just said, ‘Leave no trace,’” he said.The sheriff’s office in San Juan County has said it's not planning an investigation into the disappearance of the monolith, which had been placed without permission on public land. But authorities also said they would accept tips from any of the hundreds of visitors who trekked out to see the otherworldly gleaming object deep in the desert.The sheriff and the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land where the object appeared, didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment on whether they are investigating the removal that Bernards' group photographed.Visitors have left behind a mess of human waste, cars parked on vegetation and other debris, the land agency said. The mysterious structure that evoked the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” generated international attention and drew plenty of speculation about otherworldly origins, though officials said it was an earthly creation of riveted plates of stainless steel.For Bernards, the visitors' damage to the environment convinced him that the remote area was better off without the structure.“Leave the art to places where art should be and let Mother Nature have her space for art,” he said.Utah isn’t the only place a monolith emerged. A similar metal structure was found on a hill in northern Romania, in the city of Piatra Neamt but has since disappeared, according to Robert Iosub, a journalist with the local publication ziarpiatraneamt.ro.Like the Utah structure, whoever placed the object didn’t follow the proper steps and get a building permit, Mayor Andrei Carabelea said in a Facebook post over the weekend. Still, he took it in stride, joking that some “cheeky and terrible” alien teenagers were likely putting them up around the world.“I am honoured they chose our city,” he said.___Associated Press photographer Vadim Ghirda in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this story.The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government has signed a pay agreement that will allow nurses to be shifted to priority areas in the fight against COVID-19. It says the agreement with the Manitoba Nurses Union will allow nurses to be redeployed in personal care homes, intensive care units and designated COVID-19 units. Health Minister Cameron Friesen says it will allow for changes to work assignments, locations, schedules and shifts to support the changing needs of hospital patients and care home residents. He says nurses affected by these changes, including those already working in facilities dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, will get extra pay. The agreement also establishes a COVID-19 northern allowance for staff redeployed to the north, as well as an allowance for current northern nurses who work in one community but pick up additional shifts elsewhere in the region. Union president Darlene Jackson says the deal will help keep nurses on the job and give them some security and recognition. "Nurses have played a critical role on the front line of Manitoba's pandemic response and they have stepped up to the challenge, working countless long hours to provide quality care for patients and residents," Jackson said Tuesday in a release. Friesen said the government’s top priority is ensuring patients and care home residents are provided with the best possible care. "Thousands of nurses working in personal care homes and hospitals across the province are making an enormous difference in our province's fight against COVID-19," he said in a release. "This agreement also recognizes many nurses on the front line of the COVID-19 response for their dedication, commitment and compassion at a critical time." Details of the agreement, which is to be in place for the duration of the pandemic, were not released.The union says it has 12,000 members and represents registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners and operating room technicians. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020 The Canadian Press
Alberta’s top doctor is telling residents to prepare for a “much different holiday season” this year due to COVID-19. On Tuesday afternoon, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said while it is still unknown what restrictions will be in place over Christmas, Albertans should still be preparing gatherings with as few people as possible. “It's been a long, hard year, and I know how important these holidays are,” Hinshaw said. The doctor said Albertans should be forgoing office parties, open houses and large gatherings this year, no matter what the restrictions look like over the Christmas holidays. Holidays with many people gathering together have accelerated the spread of COVID-19. Hinshaw said the province is still feeling the impacts of Thanksgiving and the cases that were diagnosed as a result of many people gathering indoors in groups. “It only takes one person to start an outbreak,” Hinshaw said. “I am encouraging Albertans to begin preparing for a much different holiday season and begin thinking of creative ways to celebrate safely.” She added people can get together virtually or safely outdoors while social distancing. Hinshaw said the lowest risk for spread is to celebrate with your own household and as few other people as possible. Hinshaw's recommendations come as Alberta outpaces every other province for COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. On Tuesday, the province identified 1,307 new cases of COVID-19 after conducting 15,800 tests. The provincial positivity rate sits at 8.4 per cent. There are currently 16,628 active cases with 479 people in the hospital and 97 of those in intensive care. There were 10 more deaths reported in the past 24 hours. “I know this is a difficult time to grieve,” Hinshaw said.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a defence policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users.On Twitter Tuesday night, Trump took aim at Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.Trump called Section 230 “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” adding, “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”Trump has been waging war against social media companies for months, claiming they are biased against conservative voices.In October he signed an executive order directing executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies.Since losing the presidential election, Trump has flooded social media with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Twitter has tagged many such Trump tweets with the advisory, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”Tuesday's veto threat is another potential roadblock for the passage of the annual defence policy measure, which is already being held up in Congress by a spat over military bases named for Confederate officers. The measure, which has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis, guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.The Associated Press
Mask-wearing is becoming mandatory in more and more parts of the territory as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. Though the N.W.T. has been little affected by the pandemic in comparison to most southern regions of Canada – there is one active COVID-19 case in the territory at present – towns are proactively implementing more protective measures. In Fort Smith, masks became mandatory in municipal buildings on November 26. “As the rate of infection continues to rise across Canada, we encourage all businesses and retail stores in Fort Smith to incorporate a mandatory mask-wearing policy in their place of business,” read the town’s notice. “This added protection will help reassure the community that businesses are safe to access and continue to support local businesses.” Meanwhile, in Inuvik, local businesses like grocery stores have made masks mandatory in recent weeks. As first reported by the CBC, Fort Simpson last week unanimously passed a council resolution on November 23 to make masks more present in the village. Sean Whelly, the mayor of Fort Simpson, said the village was recommending masks specifically in retail environments, which he called the village’s “main points of contact.” “At five o’clock everyone goes out and starts shopping, and it was impossible to maintain that six-foot distance," Whelly said. "We really wanted to highlight the importance of people putting those masks on." Masks in Fort Simpson are not yet mandatory but are strongly encouraged. The council resolution states: “Personal preference is not a valid reason to not wear a mask.” Signs in place at Fort Simpson's Northern Store and Unity Store state the village highly recommends the use of masks. Masks have been mandatory at the village's liquor store since October 16. Whelly said he believed the number of people wearing masks had increased by 40 to 50 per cent since the resolution was enacted. Free masks will now be given out, which he expected to lead to a further increase in mask-wearing.Sarah Pruys and Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19 over the weekend. An employee tested positive for the virus on Saturday, and has been in isolation at the mine since November 22. “This is the first positive COVID case we have experienced at Cigar Lake. Contact tracing for the individual was completed through the Northern Population Health Unit,” Cameco spokesperson Jeff Hryhoriw told the Prince Albert Daily Herald on Monday. “Cigar Lake continues to operate safely, and we are monitoring the situation very closely. We recognize developments around the pandemic are fluid, and will move quickly to adjust our plans should circumstances warrant.” Hryhoriw said that Cameco has maintained steady communication with employees throughout the pandemic and since the positive case was confirmed, to keep everyone well-informed. “The health and safety of our workers, their families and communities is Cameco’s top priority, and that certainly isn’t changing,” Hryhoriw said. A Cameco employee who works underground on the production team at Cigar Lake, was informed of the positive case by the company. He said he hadn’t heard of anyone else experiencing symptoms since. “We do have one case here. I think the individual flew in about a week ago. The health and safety team on site had isolated that individual into a separate wing that they opened up for people with potential symptoms,” the employee told the Prince Albert Daily Herald on Sunday. “We have an abundance of masks, hand sanitizers and disinfectants. There are stations set up throughout the whole mine site. Cleaning staff is constantly wiping tables, chairs and doing all they can do to help keep us safe and protected here on site. Masks are required boarding the plane and everywhere we go throughout this whole mine site.” Cameco’s Cigar Lake mine reopened in September along with partner Orano Canada’s McClean Lake mill, where uranium from Cigar Lake is processed. McClean Lake saw its first case of the virus on Sept. 20 not long after restarting production. “It’s a difficult situation, but our employees are handling this calmly and with the common good in mind,” said Jim Corman, President and CEO of Orano Canada. “We will get through this challenge, with lessons learned, and it’s a good reminder of why COVID safety protocols must be respected.” Cross-contamination between the two operations has not been identified as an issue and no further cases have been announced at McClean Lake. The mine and mill had temporarily stopped producing uranium in March in order to mitigate risks associated with employees living in close quarters while flying in and out of vulnerable communities during the pandemic. Roughly 50 per cent of 320 employees and another 240 contractors at Cigar Lake are from communities in northern Saskatchewan “These realities would greatly compound the problems a COVID-19 outbreak would present, so we need to take every precaution to ensure we don’t inadvertently become a point of transmission into these communities,” Hryhoriw said in March. The active workforce at Cigar Lake dropped to 75 during the closure and was reduced from 160 to 50 at McClean Lake. Meanwhile uranium stocks climbed globally because of the halt in production. “While health and safety are the primary considerations for the timing of our Cigar Lake mine restart decision, there were also commercial considerations, including market-related factors and the impact on our cost structure,” Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said in July, announcing plans to reopen. The mining giant reported a third quarter adjusted net loss of $78-million in November. “As expected, our results continue to be impacted by the pro-active operational decisions taken earlier this year,” Gitzel said. “We believe that the actions we have taken to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus are prudent and reflect our values – placing priority on the health and safety of our employees, their families and their communities. However, our decisions do come with near-term costs.” So far Hryhoriw said two others at Cigar Lake were found to be close contacts of the positive case. Both tested negative as of Tuesday morning. “We are following our Exposure Control Plan to prevent the risk of spread of infection to other personnel at Cigar Lake. This includes isolating the individual with a positive diagnosis in the designated isolation wing of the camp until public health authorities advise they can be released,” Hryhoriw said. “We also continue to follow the significant measures already in place at site, including screening for our inbound and outbound flights, and heightened controls on food service. We continue to stay in close contact with public health authorities and follow all government guidelines in order to limit the risk posed by COVID-19 across our facilities.” The employee who spoke to the Herald said that workers are being diligent to prevent the spread of the virus. “It’s up to the individuals here on site just to do their due diligence and to continue working together to make sure that we don’t experience an outbreak,” he said. Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 656 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials urged residents not to bend public health rules. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that an additional 16 people have died, pushing B.C.'s death toll to 457. The new positive tests bring the total confirmed cases in the province since the pandemic began to 33,894, while about 70 per cent of those are considered recovered.The statement says there are 8,796 active cases in the province and another 10,123 people exposed to known cases are under active public health monitoring. There are 336 people are being treated in hospital and 76 are in intensive care. The majority of new cases are in the Fraser Health region, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health. "Without exception, follow the provincial health officer's orders in place," Henry and Dix say in the statement. Any events that gather people are not currently allowed, whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, they say. This includes religious, cultural or community events. "Do not gather at home with anyone other than your household or core bubble," the statement says."Let's make today a day to slow community transmission and continue to protect everyone in our province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press