WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Sickle Point is likely to be sold to a private buyer this week, but for those fighting to conserve the undeveloped land in Kaleden, the decades-long fight is far from over. The sale of Sickle Point out of receivership to a private buyer is to be decided by the courts Thursday, but a local community association, the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) are still intent on keeping the environmentally-sensitive land free of development. Sale conditions were dropped last week on the 4.8-acre parcel in Kaleden between the Kettle Valley Rail trail on the west and Skaha Lake on the east. With the sale conditions dropped, a judge has to approve the sale which is reportedly happening Dec. 3. Developers seeking to build on one of few remaining wetland and semi-natural habitats along the western shores of Skaha Lake would face some stiff opposition as they have in the past according to Randy Cranston, chair of the Kaleden Community Association who heads up the Save Sickle Point committee. “My gut would say that given the news media we’ve had, and given the statements from the Penticton Indian Band, if I was thinking of making a sealed bid, I would be thinking really seriously about whether I wanted to do that or not from the point of view of the community concerns and the statements made by the Penticton Indian Band,” Cranston said. “I would be asking the question ‘do I think I would ever get to build on this property?’” In a letter sent to Premier John Horgan in November, the committee asks the provincial government to use the Environment and Land Use Act to stall development to conduct an environmental assessment of the area and suggests the RDOS could expropriate the land. That would be a last resort should the regional district approve that course of action, according to Karla Kozakevich, RDOS board chair. “Expropriation is always an option to local government. It’s not something that the board likes to do. It’s often seen as not a nice thing to do, but we have to look at what’s in the best interest of our citizens and the community and that could be the case,” Kozakevich said. “But once again that would be a board decision. We certainly wouldn’t enter into that lightly. We would want to see if there were other options. If we have the money then we would want to have talks with the new owner and see if we could get somewhere with them that was mutually agreeable.” The RDOS board has recently approved a public consultation process asking area taxpayers whether or not the regional district should borrow the funds to purchase the property, although that process takes time and won’t be completed until February 2021. “We’re sort of in a holding pattern right now. We know that there was an offer made on the property and apparently it goes to a court, to a judge (Dec. 3) is what I’m hearing. Where other bids can go in, sealed bids, to a judge,” Kozakevich said. “We’re not part of this process because we don’t have the funds available at this time. So, we can’t go be a part of that bid without having approval from the electorate to borrow that kind of money.” The public consultation ends on Feb. 8, and after that, should the public approve borrowing money, the RDOS would likely attempt to make an offer to the new owners. “My assumption right now is somebody else other than the current owner will own that property at that time. We don’t know who, obviously, and we don’t know what they will be paying either,” Kozakevich said. “So, whether the board decides to go to that new owner and make them an offer, that’s going to be discussed and a decision of the board — if the public approves the money. It’s all hinging on that.” “We just have to wait and watch and then try and make a decision after Feb. 8 as to how we want to try and move forward on that property.” The Penticton Indian Band has been opposing development in the area for years, and says the band has right and title to the land. The PIB is engaged in discussions with the RDOS on exploring options going forward, according to James Pepper, director of natural resources for the PIB. “This is a title and rights issue from the Penticton Indian Band perspective. PIB Chief and council have been meeting to discuss what all the available options are and ensuring that they’re all followed up on and exhausted,” Pepper said. “The actions the regional district are taking are good, but there’s also actions the band is taking from a title and rights perspective the council is initiating. That’s broader, that’s reaching out to the different government entities and making sure they understand what title and rights means and how it applies in this particular circumstance.” The Save Sickle Point committee, which has fundraised and advocated to keep the area clear of development, is not going anywhere after the sale. “Even if this sale goes through, and there is still the possibility it won’t go through … that doesn’t mean the community is going to lay down and roll over,” Cranston said. He believes developing the property would prove difficult due to it’s proximity to the KVR trail. “There is road access to this property if someone was going to build there, that road access Kettle Valley Railway. That means that construction vehicles and then after that individual homeowner vehicles are going to be driving on the same KVR that thousands of people bike on and hundreds of people walk and run on.”Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Purolator has teamed up with emerging Canadian artists to help spread a little holiday cheer this year. The shipping company has selected 13 artists from across the country – one from each province and territory – to design a unique and festive shipping box that will be made available at Purolator shipping centres and Michaels craft stores for anyone looking to send a little extra cheer along with their gifts to their friends and families this holiday season. With the country boasting a population of more than 37 million people, choosing one artist from each province and territory in Canada could have proved to be quite daunting, but Patrick Hunter, a Two Spirit Ojibwe artist, said he thinks the online community he has already amassed helped to secure him the spot as Ontario's representative. “I have a pretty nice following of people on Instagram, and I think that's how they reached out when they were trying to find diverse artists to be a part of this project,” Hunter explained. “It was a quick turnaround to get the project off the ground, I think we started in November or the end of October, but with really cool emails like that, 'Purolator wants to work with you on such-and-such,' it's a pretty quick response. I think it took me all of ten seconds to say 'yes, I'm in.'” While he is currently working out of Toronto, Hunter is originally from Red Lake. His art in the Woodland style takes inspiration from his hometown and the work of famed Woodland artist Norval Morrisseau, and he brought the same sensibilities he brings to his painting to the art he was inspired to create for Purolator's box, along with his own wishes for the holiday season. “It's all digital artwork, so you have to know how to use some graphic design-y programs,” Hunter explained. “We were given a template to work within the edges and back and top sides. Why I chose the imagery I chose, which is Ojibwe florals, is because it's a holiday season, it's one of my favourite gifts to give, and one of the best gifts First Nations folks give their friends are beaded moccasins or gloves, so my hope for these boxes is when someone gets a box that they have that feeling of 'oh my god, beautiful box' but then 'what's inside?'” Being chosen by Purolator to be the representative for Ontario also carries added heft for Hunter. Knowing the boxes have the potential to wind up almost anywhere in the world, Hunter said that it was like a personal responsibility to answer Purolator's call for his art. “I'm a First Nations gay man from Red Lake, Ontario,” he explained. “When things like this come along you have an obligation to the people that are coming behind you to try and illuminate the path. So my goal with this is to show other First Nations kids and gay artists can have opportunities like this too and not be afraid of them. As well, to bring some visibility. I don't think First Nations culture is always put in the forefront in a mainstream way and Purolator has done a good job of asking not just me but other diverse people in Canada to come up with box designs.” Laurie Weston is the director of retail for Purolator who was on the team searching for artists to take part in the campaign. She noted that part of trying to find emerging artists to design a box was ensuring they were a good fit for both where they came from and the peoples and cultures they represented. “What's really interesting about this is we actually went grassroots and we scoured social media,” Weston explained. “We went through social media and we narrowed it down to the ones that we felt their artwork represented not only the province but their culture. I think with Patrick, we were so incredibly lucky he wanted to do this with us because I think his floral motif and his indigenous background and what it represents for Ontario is pretty special. So it resonated with us. So that's why we picked him.” In a year when the shipping company expects far more packages to be delivered over the holiday season – Weston said their busy season began in August this year, when it usually starts to pick up in November – the drive to showcase original Canadian art on special holiday boxes was to help spread that sense of community and Christmas spirit that might otherwise be hard to come by in 2020. “People are not able to travel, and what's happened with us is the increase in shopping online, but people are coming in and shipping packages to loved ones,” Weston explained. “They're not able to travel and see their loved ones this holiday season so we really wanted to share some of the Christmas spirit from a Canadian lens. Purolator does support small businesses and entrepreneurs, but this is a different evolution of that. We just really wanted to showcase these new artists.” As part of Purolator's partnership with Michaels craft stores, the companies are also holding a Design-A-Box Sweepstakes. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Michaels website in order to download a box template they can then design, photograph and submit for the chance to win a $1,000 Michaels gift card and free shipping with Purolator for a year. Hunter has been doing his work professionally for the past six years, and in the near future he's also looking at moving out of Toronto to be a little bit closer to home, and begin producing more items in his line of houseware products. He noted the opportunity to be a part of Purolator's holiday campaign helped to confirm in his mind that pursuing the career path he did was a good choice and hopefully help to spread awareness of Indigenous artists even further abroad. “It makes me feel like I'm on the right path and I did choose a good career in graphic design,” he said. “To have [the art] put on these boxes in such a public way, it means a lot and I'm so thrilled just to be a part of the project, but then to have this kind of message of like 'hey, we're Indigenous people, we haven't gone anywhere, we're still here' I think it's great to illuminate the path for people to ask questions.” For more information on Purolator's holiday boxes visit their website and to take part in the Design-A-Box sweepstakes, visit the Michael's website. For more information on Patrick Hunter and his artwork, visit his website at patrickhunter.ca or follow him on Instagram @patrickhunter_artKen Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Growing up in Canada as a young woman from India, Sheetal Vemannagari struggled with embracing her name. The now 20-year-old Ivey Business School student went through what thousands of Canadians experience when their name is deemed "tough" to pronounce for the average anglophone — from accepting a shortened version to trying to anglicize it in an attempt to avoid embarrassment."I hated the way that my culture hindered me from sort of connecting with my peers, especially my name, because I feel like everyone would just call me just 'shit-all' ... [When mispronounced], my name sounds harsh, kind of unfeminine and so that further dissociated me from my identity."In Hindi, Vemannagari's name, pronounced as 'SHEE-thul,' means 'cool breeze' and was chosen by her grandmother.It wasn't until a trip to India two years ago when Vemannagari started to reclaim her name after receiving many compliments for it. The remaining challenge is getting people to pronounce it correctly, but Vemannagari is hopeful that a new online tool will help with that problem, at least in the classroom setting.Western University's Ivey Business School in London, Ont. is one of four Canadian post-secondary institutions, along with Ryerson University, the University of Guelph and Simon Fraser University, to adopt NameCoach, according to the company's CEO Praveen Shanbhag .The auto-name pronunciation tool allows people to make an audio recording of their name which is then made available on their academic profile, allowing classmates and professors to play the recording and learn how to pronounce the person's name correctly.Why it's important to get names right"The name is really a symbol of your identity. It's a kind of stand-in for the person, so if I'm calling your name, I'm really calling you ... so getting it right has to do with that level of respect for the person," said Karen Pennesi, a linguistic anthropologist and associate professor at Western University. Pennesi said people with uncommon names tend to have different relationships with their names throughout their life, including changing it and then coming back to it at a later point in life, but regardless of where people are at it's important to get their preferred name right."It's a kind of a challenge to their sense of self [when you start anglicizing or shortening their name]. That makes them not be in control of their own identity, their own self." For marginalized people the mistreatment of their name can have long-term implications, Pennesi added. "They're constantly being made to feel that they don't belong or that they shouldn't be here and that their contributions aren't worthwhile."After reclaiming her name, trying to ensure it was pronounced right caused Vemannagari frustration, embarrassment and even made her feel like she was asking for too much."I didn't want to make a big deal of it, especially in a class, but one day I corrected my professor. Ever since I did that, every time they called on me, I don't think they meant to do this, but they just made it a really big deal and would be like, 'oh, wait, what's your name?,' 'It'll be the end of the year and I still have to pause to say your name' ... It made me feel like I was being demanding." Vemannagari said her professor eventually stopped asking for her input and it led to her not wanting to try to participate either, which impacted her mark at the end of the term.It was feedback similar to Vemannagari's experience that prompted Ivey to make a $10,000 annual investment in NameCoach this October, said Stephanie Brooks, the school's chief administrative officer."It matters that we get the most personal aspect of a student right, which is how to pronounce their name. When you take the time to get it right it confirms to a student that they matter and that they belong here. When you don't, it's easy to see how it can unintentionally signal the opposite," she said. Respect for a person's name an important step toward inclusivity, students sayWestern University's Ethnocultural Support Services (ESS), a group that advocates for the appreciation of different cultures on campus, highlighted the issue of the mispronunciation of names at the beginning of the school year through its own social media campaign."We've heard from an overwhelming influx of students speaking about the importance and significance of their name and how it connects them to their culture, their heritage and their ancestors," said Matthew Dawkins, a second-year student and the ESS coordinator. "I think if we started to view names as this badge of honour, then I think we can go along with respecting that a lot more and to make the conscious effort to pronounce it right and to learn it right." > It's these little things about cultural and racial sensitivity that teaches other students and staff how to be cognizant of people who are from different backgrounds. \- Mubasshira Khalid, Ivey Business School Master's student.Allan Muriuki, the third-year student who led the campaign, said getting a person's name right is one of the first steps to creating an inclusive campus."When we talk about inclusively we talk about using the correct pronunciation of people's name because we know those names mean something to people," he said. "Not using their name correctly leads them to feel belittled or not included when going about their lives." Mubasshira Khalid, a Master's student at Ivey who is often asked by people if they can shorten her name, said that while institutions often look for radical ways to address racism and discrimination, it's meaningful and necessary to address smaller items like names."Often it's these little things about cultural and racial sensitivity that teaches other students and staff how to be cognizant of people who are from different backgrounds, so I think addressing the need to get names right is an excellent step forward."
Midland Coun. Bill Gordon has found his way onto the 'wall of shame' --- again. This time, the elected official is being brought to the stand for inappropriate decorum, messaging that amounts to abuse, bullying or intimidation, and interfering in the operations of the town, thereby, undermining staff's capability in the field, an integrity commissioner's report found "This is just proving my whole weaponization of the code of conduct argument," Gordon said, adding he wasn't shocked by the move. "They didn't speak to me about any of this. "I'm not arguing any of these things didn't happen. I take full responsibility for it. But taken without context, anything can be found to be insulting and inflammatory." The three complainants this time are Deputy Mayor Mike Ross and councillors Jim Downer and Jon Main. However, in the integrity commissioner's report, which will be discussed at next week's council meeting, only an exchange between Main and Gordon has been mentioned. The report says that in the email exchange with Main, Gordon said, "Please don’t mistake my assertiveness for aggression. I have little to no personal respect for many of you or a couple of our senior team. I come by that honestly and have the bills to prove it. "I have to work with you and have managed to keep most of my contempt for many of you at bay preferring to simply ignore the public attacks on my integrity and carry on with my work despite everything that’s gone on this term." In a second exchange between the two, Gordon calls Main a 'snowflake.' The report says, in a Facebook direct message, Gordon said, "That is far from bullying Jon. Don’t be such a snowflake. The truth may not be a defence in the CoC [Code of Conduct] – which is absurd – but I will do politics my way just as you do it your way. "We are polar opposites it seems. That is actually quite healthy for democracy. As for decorum I think I toe that line with grace and dignity considering the despicable way you treat me. I have no respect for most of you as a result. Should not be a shock to you." Moreover, Gordon has also been accused of interfering with the operational aspects of the town staff's responsibility by asserting 'influence' on a developer responsible for clean up on Taylor Drive. The report details that, on Aug. 28, 2020, the developer emailed Gordon that following their discussion and for the developer to avoid a notice of motion, the developer would undertake grass cutting on the town parkette as a courtesy to the town and Taylor Drive clients/homeowners. Further, the developer also promised, relocation of masonry materials and reduction in the slope of stockpiled sand. In the report, Gordon defends his intervention with the developer as simply availing himself of the process. He denies that he engaged in any threats or intimidation, but merely pointed out that the town might be compelled to draw on the letter of credit to rectify performance issues. In a conversation with MidlandToday, Gordon said he wasn't willing to divulge his entire defence. "I don't want to give a statement because it gives them 'yeah, but...' arguments," he said. "The reason I don't want to do that in this case is because they didn't recommend any monetary sanctions, which I'm kind of shocked about. What I suspect to happen is that the three complainants, especially Jon Main, will be argue for monetary sanctions. I want to let that happen organically." Addressing the snowflake comment, Gordon said, it was during a private Twitter back and forth that occurred in March. "(Main) sat on it all this time and decided to advance it now," he said. "Basically, they were just collecting evidence." Gordon adds that if he had been approached about the issue 'like adults' there would definitely not have been this conflict. "I can only speak for Jon, because I never said this to Mike Ross or Jim Downer," he said. "If he'd contacted me or even during that interaction we had, I would have apologized and told him what I'd actually been meaning to say instead of the word snowflake." Gordon said he uses the word snowflake because it's a quicker way of spelling out someone who is indecisive or can't handle pressure and make decisions. As for interfering with the operational side of the corporation of the Town of Midland, he said, at its core, that's what people expect from their councillors. "They can come to them with whatever their tale of woe is...if they're having an issue with a lack of performance by the town," said Gordon. "Your elected official doesn't have a lot of influence. The only influence, which I promised during my Zoom chat, is that I would bring it forward to council as a notice of motion." And this is where it gets sticky, he added. "I didn't reach out to the developer," said Gordon. "The developer watched my Zoom meeting and called me to say if we do these things, would you bring the notice of motion to council. And why would I, if they were doing what was being asked?" He said he welcomed the integrity commissioner's report and findings and looked forward to speaking to council. "For me, the real tell is which councillors will argue that simply scolding me publicly and putting me on the wall of shame is not enough and they want to see their pound of flesh," Gordon said.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
TORONTO — Canada's main stock index rose with help from energy sector while the loonie hit a two-year high. The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 61.28 points to 17,358.21. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 59.87 points at 29,883.79. The S&P 500 index was up 6.56 points at 3,669.01, while the Nasdaq composite was down 5.74 points at 12,349.37. Hurting U.S. markets was Salesforce.com Inc., whose shares dropped 8.7 per cent on the S&P 500 and the Dow, after it agreed to buy workplace messaging app Slack Technologies Inc. for US$27.7 billion."Obviously, it was not very well-received by the market in general, so it's having a negative effect on the markets," said Michael Currie, vice-president and investment adviser at TD Wealth.With U.S. markets generally flat, investors focused largely on the U.K. becoming the first country to green light Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine."The big talk seems to be all about the U.K. getting ready to do the vaccine next week … faster than a lot of people expected and it's having an effect on pretty much everything," Currie said in an interview.Approval by the large G7 country reinforces the belief that it has a very good chance of passing in other major countries, he said.Vaccine optimism helped to lift oil prices despite negatives from dissent among OPEC plus Russia about extending supply cuts and a surprise buildup in U.S. oil inventories."Oil prices are up a little bit because they figure if this vaccine works then we'll get back to normal quicker and the economy will get back on track," Currie said.The January crude oil contract was up 73 cents at US$45.28 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down 10 cents at US$2.78 per mmBTU. The energy sector gained two per cent on the day with Canada's large producers Vermilion Energy Inc., Husky Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. seeing their share prices climb 5.6, 4.8 and 4.2 per cent, respectively.The Canadian dollar reached its highest level since October 2018 on the back of weakness from the U.S. greenback. It traded for 77.32 cents US compared with 77.21 cents US on Tuesday. Gold also rose because of the inflationary impact of a stimulus package after U.S. Democratic leaders were supportive of a bipartisan US$900-billion stimulus proposal.Although initially smaller than expected, the fiscal package is viewed as a basis for negotiations on a larger deal once Republicans concede that Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump, said Currie.The February gold contract was up US$11.30 at US$1,830.20 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 0.4 of a cent at US$3.49 a pound. That helped the materials sector to rise slightly.Health care gained 3.6 per cent on the TSX with Aurora Cannabis Inc. increasing 11.3 per cent. And technology got a lift from a 10.4 per cent increase in Lightspeed POS shares following its second U.S. acquisition in a month.Financials was also up even as shares of National Bank and Royal Bank fell 1.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively, after reporting quarterly results."Coming on the heels of very good reports out of Scotia and BMO, (it was) a little bit disappointing."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Companies in this story: (TSX:VET, TSX:HSE, TSX:CVE, TSX:NA, TSX:RY, TSX:ACB, TSX:LSPD, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
The future of health education is here, and it's at Seven Generations Education Institute (SGEI). SGEI campuses in Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout are rolling out their brand-new Health Disciplines Simulation Labs in order to provide their students in various programs like nursing, paramedics and support worker with a top of the line and state of the art learning facility. The tools and technologies at their disposal will help to ensure each student hits the ground running when they get a job in their desired field, whether in a hospital or at the helm of an ambulance. In Fort Frances, the simulation lab takes up the entire back half of a classroom, purposely designed to simulate a real hospital setting with lifelike patients to get students comfortable with some of the things they will be doing on the job, according to SGEI Health Disciplines Coordinator Taylor Noble. “It's very unique and it's such a good learning experience for the students,” Noble said of the lab and tools within. “It helps because it gives [students] that ability to try to critically think and decide on the spot, in that moment, but also be in a stable controlled environment where they have that support from an instructor... but also prepares them for a real-life situation in the hospital.” The simulation lab contains three medical-grade hospital beds that each feature a Laerdal mannequin that is designed to be as life-like as possible. Each mannequin has several fully articulated joints and areas on the body that can be swapped out for different wounds or conditions. The lab also has an infant/child mannequin for modified procedures. The mannequins are so advanced that students will be able to check their pulse and blood pressure, listen to their heart and lungs for irregularities and administer mock medication through real syringes and IV needles. Taking things up another notch, the mannequins also have the ability to cough, wheeze and scream at the behest of an instructor who controls all of their functions via a tablet, ensuring the students can hone their skills in a safe but ultra-real environment. “We can monitor the carbon dioxide saturation, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure,” Noble explained. “We can actually connect fake blood concentrate in there, so they can actually inject the needles and get bloodflow back so they know they've hit the veins. Students are able to use the exact same equipment they would have access to in the hospital to practice.” In a room full of impressive and cutting edge tech, however, one item reigns above all. Tucked away in the far corner of the simulation lab is an unassuming white table that hides a staggering secret. The table, called the Anatomage Virtual Dissection Table, is like something out of Star Trek, a futuristic learning tool that turns anatomy lessons from the textbook into a 3D render right at their fingertips. Giving a demonstration, Noble showed how the table, functioning like a human-length iPad, can take a realistic image of a human body, with options to modify body type and gender, and strip off layers of skin, muscle, bone and more to display or highlight different parts of the body, like internal organs, the nervous system or more than 1,500 other systems the table is programmed for. It's a high definition look inside the human body and the level of detail that can be explored, along with some of the options for doing that exploring, might make it a tough sell for the squeamish. Staff at the school are still learning how to use all of the functions of the Anatomage, but even with their current understanding of what it can do, it gives SGEI students the opportunity to see and explore parts of the human body that wouldn't be possible outside of a morgue setting, a donated cadaver or other specialized education materials.“This provides more of that visualization aspect for the students” Noble said. “So for students who learn more visual, hands-on, they can come to this table and they can learn. They can cut, look at all the different organs. Anatomy and physiology is a huge concept, there's just so much content for them to have to learn, so for them to be able to learn not only the muscular-skeletal system but all the nerve pathways, lymphatic system, and so many students go throughout their schooling not actually being able to have that visualization piece, so they have this right at their fingertips to be able to utilize.” The Anatomage table is also fairly unique in the region, with only the SGEI's Kenora and Sioux Lookout campuses being the other two education facilities that have one in northwestern Ontario, according to Noble. Taken as a whole unit, the Health Disciplines Simulation Lab sets SGEI's health programs leaps and bounds apart from other health programs. The ability to practice in a hospital-like setting on “patients” who can give realistic feedback gives students a chance to get comfortable with their skills and knowledge in a safe place, long before ever setting foot in a professional medical building. “It allows Seven Generations Education Institute to enhance that learning experience and to give the most optimal experience, with all the equipment that we have, to make sure it's high functioning for students to be able to really learn,” Noble said. “And again, just to help them use this equipment to build that confidence, to feel comfortable, we tried to have the simulation lab really mimic the healthcare settings with the same types of equipment just to build that confidence and security for when they go into the clinical setting.” Currently SGEI has a cohort of seven students enrolled in its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program here at the Fort Frances campus, but the school will also begin taking applications from students for its Paramedic, Practical Nursing and Personal Support Worker programs “very soon,” according to Noble. Each of those programs are scheduled to begin in September 2021 and will also make use of the simulation lab to enhance their learning. For more information on Seven Generations Education Institute or any of the programs they offer, visit their website at www.7generations.org. Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the priority list for the first COVID-19 vaccines is being refined because there won't be enough doses available in the first round to cover the initial groups recommended.
OTTAWA — Amanda Sully had tried to get pregnant for six years, but she's grateful that her "miracle" son arrived six days after Ontario became the only province to start a newborn screening test that revealed he had a progressive and irreversible disease.In January, Aidan Deschamps became the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as part of a new test added to Ontario's newborn screening program.Sully said she and her husband, Adam Deschamps, were surprised to get a call from Newborn Screening Ontario advising them that their son, who was 10 days old at the time, had tested positive for the genetic neuromuscular condition, which is the most common cause of death in childhood due to an inherited condition."If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different," Sully said Wednesday on a Zoom call from the family's home in Ottawa as Aidan squeezed out of his mom's arms before his dad took over and tried to keep up with the energetic child."As terrible as the news was we were so fortunate to find out early because delaying treatment would have meant long-term irreversible consequences for him," Sully said.Sully said she was initially worried that her baby may not be able to roll over if he had the illness, but at 10 months, Aidan is healthy and quite the dancer who loves to throw and chase balls after starting early treatment.The couple had never heard of spinal muscular atrophy but the morning after the call they were in the office of Dr. Hugh McMillan, a neurologist at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, a pediatric health and research centre based in Ottawa.Adam Deschamps said he and his wife held their breath a few days later as their little boy was given an injection of the drug Spinraza just below his spinal cord. The first medication to treat children with spinal muscular atrophy administered through repeated spinal taps was approved by Health Canada in 2017.McMillan said the drug, which is paid for to varying degrees in different provinces, increases the amount of an essential protein in order to keep motor neurons and motor nerves alive and without it the progression of the disease is irreversible.He also applied for and was granted use of a gene replacement therapy on compassionate grounds for Aidan when the boy was five weeks. The one-time intravenous treatment worth millions of dollars is one of two medications that Health Canada is considering for approval, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks, said McMillan, who is also a clinical investigator at the CHEO Research Institute.It's too early to tell what the little boy's future holds but he is meeting all of his developmental milestones, McMillan said.Dr. Pranesh Chakraborty, chief medical officer of Newborn Screening Ontario, said the province started the program, which tests for 28 conditions, in 1965 and includes all babies born in Ontario and most of Nunavut.Chakraborty said each province decides on its own whether to screen for certain conditions but the cost for the test that helped Aidan was low because Ontario already had the technology to add it to its existing program."I can say from speaking with my colleagues across the country that every province is looking at this and we're hoping that they'll be making decisions soon," he said.The severity of spinal muscular atrophy depends on when symptoms appear and some children may start showing signs early on when they cannot roll over. British Columbia's newborn screening program tests for 24 disorders, a spokeswoman at the Provincial Health Authority said.The provincial Health Ministry did not respond to requests on whether it would include testing for spinal muscular atrophy as part of its newborn screening program.Susi Vander Wyk, executive director of Cure SMA Canada, said the organization is working to get all provinces to test for the condition and that Aidan's story based on Ontario's lead should compel all jurisdictions to act.\-- By Camille Bains in VancouverThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
There were fewer people present in person as the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board of education met on Monday. The first meeting with the new format came after the division procured some new technology, including Chromebooks and a microphone and camera system to insure a secure remote meeting format. “It worked well. I was quite nervous about how the technology would work but it seemed to be really effective. We will work on it and we will make it smoother, it wasn’t perfect yet,” director of education Robert Bratvold said. The room was cut in half from the setup they had previously used beginning in June. The board moved from the board room to the Seminar Room which made social distancing possible in the larger space. “It’s bigger than the board room for sure,” Bratvold said. He explained that a survey was being sent out on Tuesday to trustees to see if any changes needed to be made. “Last week we had it set in a way and we made some slight adjustments and changes, refinements to it. So it was slightly different today in terms of cameras, but process was a little better,” Bratvold said. He gave credit to the school division’s IT department for the work that they had done to prepare since the board’s last meeting on Nov. 16 in their new form. Trustees Bill Gerow, Arne Lindberg, Alan Nunn, Michelle Vickers, Bill Yeaman and vice chair Darlene Rowden were present. Board chair Barry Hollick, Cher Bloom and Jaimie Smith-Windsor attended the meeting remotely. The idea to create a method for remote meetings was discussed by the board earlier this year. As well, Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change trustees Kelly Lam and Emily Zbaraschuk, attended the meeting remotely. “We had all of the admin council just in their offices so we could have trustees closer. I mean they are still six feet apart but closer,” Bratvold said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
BRUSSELS — The European Union is grasping the imminent arrival of the Biden administration as a key moment to reset relations with the United States after four years of trans-Atlantic acrimony. With a series of initiatives, the 27 nation bloc is seeking to rekindle the spirit of co-operation that has long defined global diplomacy. But the EU but also acknowledges that future relations will have to adapt to a multi-polar world where China is an ever bigger player. EU partners are seeking a change from Trump’s go-it-alone credo and back a multilateral approach to better deal with global crises. The EU has already invited President-elect Joe Biden to visit Brussels at the earliest opportunity next year.Raf Casert, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A psychiatrist testifying for the defence of the man who killed 10 people in Toronto's van attack stopped short Wednesday of saying Alek Minassian should be found not criminally responsible for his actions. Dr. Alexander Westphal said Minassian was incapable of "rational choice" at the moment of the attack on April 23, 2018, based on his irrational thoughts due to autism spectrum disorder. But when asked directly by the prosecution if Minassian is not criminally responsible for what occurred, Westphal said he does not have the insight to make that determination. "I think he didn't understand the moral wrongfulness of his actions, but that's not my determination to make," Westphal said under cross examination. "I think it's a legal opinion, not a psychiatric one." Minassian's defence lawyer previously told the judge-alone trial that Westphal, a psychiatrist practicing in the U.S., would be the only expert to say the 28-year-old is not criminally responsible for his actions that day. Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, leaving his state of mind the sole issue at play. He has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder, and has asked to be found not criminally responsible for his actions due to autism spectrum disorder. Westphal, who specializes in autism, said Wednesday that he is not very familiar with the Canadian laws surrounding criminal responsibility. Earlier, he explained that Minassian does not truly understand what he did was wrong, despite the young man telling the doctor repeatedly he did. Minassian views people as objects and does not comprehend the devastation of his actions, Westphal said. "It just doesn't matter to him because he doesn't understand that ... because he has a really substantial defect in social development and a defect in empathic understanding of other people, that there is real human consequences, relatable human consequences to his actions," he said. Crown attorney Joe Callaghan pointed out that Minassian told Westphal numerous times he understood killing people was morally wrong. "I certainly have committed the act of murder and there isn't any moral justification for it so, for the public eye, it would be extremely upsetting and immoral," Minassian told Westphal, according to a transcript read in court. Minassian also told Westphal he'd consider carrying out the attack again if he were let out of jail to better his "kill count." Westphal said Minassian, due to his autism spectrum disorder, did not develop what's called "theory of mind" – the ability to understand that other people have their own way of thinking, their own beliefs, feelings and desires. "To not recognize that, to see people as objects in the way that Mr. Minsassian clearly did, to me, reflects a very substantial breakdown of this entire process," Westphal said. Minassian was heavily influenced by horrific material he consumed online, including a focus on a website that ranked mass murderers by "kill counts," akin to a leaderboard in video games or sports, Westphal said. Minassian was also drawn to the notoriety other mass killers had, Westphal said. Westphal said there is no good explanation from Minassian about why he committed the attack. Court has previously heard that Westphal found Minassian was not psychotic but had an autistic way of thinking that was "severely distorted in a way similar to psychosis." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) has dismissed two cohorts of students because of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the two schools.In an email, WECDSB communications coordinator Stephen Fields said that the board dismissed one class of 23 students at St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School in Tecumseh, and another class of 10 at St. Anne Catholic High School in Lakeshore.According to the board's COVID-19 information page, each school has one active case of COVID-19, and both cases are students. Both schools remain open."We learned of these confirmed cases this morning and have notified the affected students that they are not to attend school tomorrow," the email reads."We have been working with the health unit by providing list of students and staff who may have been directly affected. The health unit is contacting any individuals, both students and staff, who may have been affected, and will give directions for them to follow."Earlier on Wednesday, the health unit declared an outbreak in a cohort of students at Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School.The board said it has sent a voice message to both school communities, and that if parents have not been contacted by the health unit, their children may continue to attend school."We want to assure parents that we are cooperating with the health unit and doing everything we can to make sure that we continue to provide safe and healthy learning environments for their children," the email said.
As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to an end, the head of the United Nations challenged world leaders to make 2021 the year that humanity ends its “war on nature” and commits to a future free of planet-warming carbon pollution.With new reports highlighting 2020’s record-breaking weather and growing fossil fuels extraction that triggers global warming, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered yet another urgent appeal to curb climate change. It was tinged with optimism but delivered dire warnings, as the UN gears up for a Dec. 12 virtual climate summit in France on the 5th anniversary of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.“The state of the planet is broken,” Guterres said in a speech at Columbia University. “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal.”“Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal,” he said.In a report, the World Meteorological Organization said this year is set to end about 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the last half of the 1800s, which scientists use as a baseline for warming caused by heat-trapping gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Most trapped heat goes into the world’s seas, and ocean temperatures now are at record levels. It also means 2020 will go down as one of the three hottest years on record.“There is at least a one-in-five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2024,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said. The Paris climate accord set a goal of not exceeding 1.5-degree (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming since pre-industrial times.A new analysis by Climate Action Tracker scientists who monitor carbon pollution and pledges to cut them said public commitments to emission cuts, if kept, would limit warming to about 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and possibly as low as 2.1 degrees Celsius.Guterres saw hope in promises by more than 100 countries that by mid-century they will not be adding more heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere than trees and technology can remove, along with shorter term pollution cuts. China and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden have pledged net zero carbon emissions.“I firmly believe that 2021 can be a new kind of leap year — the year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality,” Guterres said.But he said the two U.N. reports Wednesday “spell out how close we are to climate catastrophe.”When countries spend trillions of dollars to recover from the pandemic-triggered economic slowdown, Guterres said they must to do so in a way that emphasizes clean energy.Nations should stop funding and subsidizing fossil fuels, he said. And countries need to fulfil their Paris promise to spend $100 billion annually to help poorer countries develop cleaner energy.Guterres said there’s no way the world can curb the climate change “without U.S. leadership” and urged students and other Americans to do “everything you can” to get their governments to curb emissions more quickly.One of the new reports found countries would need to cut production of oil, coal and natural gas by 6% each year by 2030 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Instead, a review of eight major fossil-fuel producing nations showed they plan to increase production by 2% annually. That means twice the amount of carbon-based fuel would come onto the market than feasible to keep the Paris goal within reach.Governments in the Group of 20 major and emerging economies have so far committed more money to prop up fossil fuel sectors than to boost the rollout of renewable energy, the report found.Co-author Ivetta Gerasimchuk of the International Institute for Sustainable Development said investing in oil, coal and gas no longer makes economic sense because renewable energy is becoming cheaper than fossil fuels. But, she said, “We see that instead of governments letting these fossil fuel projects die they resurrect them from the dead.”The WMO’s report found global warming is worsening in all seven key climate indicators, but the problem is increasing human suffering in an already bad year.“In 2020, over 50 million people have been doubly hit: by climate-related disasters (floods, droughts and storms) and the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ the report said. ”Countries in Central America are suffering from the triple-impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota, COVID-19 and pre-existing humanitarian crises.”Among the dozens of extremes the report highlighted:\-- A record 30 Atlantic named tropical storms and hurricanes.\--Death Valley, California, hit 129.9 degrees (54.4 degrees Celsius), the hottest the world has seen in 80 years.\--Record wildfires struck California and Colorado in the western United States, following a major fire season and record heat in Australia.\--The Arctic had record wildfires and a prolonged heat wave culminating in a 100-degree mark (38 degrees Celsius) in Siberia in June.\--Record low Arctic sea ice was reported for April and August and the yearly minimum, in September, was the second lowest on record.\--More than 2,000 people died in record summer rains and flooding in Pakistan and surrounding nations.While these events can’t solely be blamed on climate change, “these are the types of events scientists fear will increase due to climate change,” said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, who wasn’t part of the report.“Human activities are at the root of our descent towards chaos,” Guterres said. “But that means human action can solve it.”___Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://www.apnews.com/Climate___Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . Follow Frank Jordans on Twitter at @wirereporter .___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Seth Borenstein And Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
Great Enlightenment Buddist Institute Monks at the campus in Heatherdale received more requests for food box donations this month than ever before. “They really pulled through,” said Venerable Dan about the group of monks who spearheaded the project. Enough funds were raised to offer 332 food boxes compared to the usual 200. Venerable Dan said the monks were unsure if they would be able to roll out so many boxes, each filled with 10 of their signature puffy rolls, an assortment of dried goods and organic vegetables. To raise funds they got creative. On top of fresh baked buns, they sold homemade apple sauce and eloquently decorated pen holders to support the initiative. In the end the group was able to bake about 1,000 extra fresh rolls and provide a full box to each Islander who requested one. Venerable Dan noticed more people seemed to reach out this year because they were impacted by the pandemic. He also saw more young people and single families requesting food boxes. The monks have been donating and delivering food boxes for about two years now. They try to offer food boxes every one or two months through the winter as Islanders seem to struggle a bit more this time of year. Venerable Dan said the group is looking to offer more food boxes this December. Anyone looking to request a box should fill out an application which will be posted on the Facebook page ‘About Monks’ in December. Venerable Dan said, after delivering so many this month, some additional funds or donations will be needed to support the December deliveries. The monks were unsure if they would be able to go ahead with the project at all this year as they have, for the most part, been in a form of lockdown following strict policies to mitigate possible spread of COVID-19 within their residences. Thanks to about 40 local volunteers they were able to organize the initiative without breaking their contact and isolation policies. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
Residents of a Lambton County township dealing with a massive outbreak of gypsy moth caterpillars will be left on their own to fight the tree-destroying critters. Lambton Shores, located along Lake Huron, won’t spray private properties to control the pests next summer but has agreed to take “control measures” on some municipal land. Council voted unanimously to support a contentious gypsy moth action plan Tuesday night, adding a new recommendation that funds be included in the 2021 budget to undertake spraying on municipal land adjacent to private properties. “Where the people are going to spray theirs, we'll spray ours,” said Coun. Jeff Wilcox, who proposed the added recommendation. “It’s a good first step.” Other approved recommendations include creating a webpage to advise residents of resources to tackle gypsy moths, a $10,000 mail-drop to create awareness and not objecting to any spraying on private property. The gypsy moth citizens' action group, a coalition of some 4,000 residents across 12 subdivisions, lambasted the plan, arguing it doesn’t go far enough to protect the region’s trees and environment and calling it a “do-nothing approach.” They were pushing for the municipality to take the lead on a targeted aerial spray, as has been done in other municipalities, such as Sarnia and Pelham, and parts of Toronto and Hamilton. Romayne Smith-Fullerton, a group spokesperson, said their option wasn’t considered and felt the report wasn’t fully discussed at council. “The appearance of (our group) being heard wasn’t even met,” she said. “How many people need to speak up?” Wilcox called the added recommendation a compromise, adding staff will need to monitor how well this approach works next year and adjust for any future outbreaks. “It’s a tough situation . . . I can see why some people would be upset. They have every right to be,” he said. “We’re at least trying to get something done, and at least council now has acknowledged that we are responsible for our property.” The gypsy moth report was originally sent to council Nov. 10, but was deferred until Dec. 1 to receive more public feedback. More than 300 pages of correspondence were submitted to council, most advocating for more municipal involvement in tackling the outbreak. Smith-Fullerton was denied a presentation request to council, with officials citing COVID-19 safety protocols. Lambton Shores’ procedure bylaw disallows public presentations at electronic meetings. Tuesday night, councillors and staff met in person in Thedford. A written delegation was accepted, but not read aloud at the meeting. “I was honestly disappointed that they couldn’t come and speak,” Wilcox said. “I’m a firm believer that we need to listen to the people. In a democracy, you may not get your way, but you need to get your say.” Wilcox said he's submitted a motion for the next council meeting to consider amending the procedure bylaw to allow some form of public delegations at future meetings. In the months leading up to council’s report, many neighbourhoods already had been planning to spray their properties with a bacterium — bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, referred to as Btk — but said that was their fallback approach. “That is what we are going to have to do because we have no choice,” Smith-Fullerton said. Gypsy moths are an invasive species, the larvae of which can cause rapid defoliation. An environmental assessment on the extent of the damage the insects caused this year was never ordered by the municipality. The 2020 outbreaks were most severe in the Port Franks, Deer Run and Pinery Provincial Park areas of Lambton Shores, a region that’s home to some rare ecosystems, such as oak savanna and pine barren. Many residents said beyond destroying trees, the moth larvae devastated their quality of life this summer, with the sheer volume of caterpillars making it impossible to be outdoors. “It’s like head lice in a public school. It spreads like wildfire,” Smith-Fullerton said. “Why are we not caring about this as a community?” MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
NEW YORK — The dramatic conclusion to “The Undoing,” HBO's whodunit starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, proved how it's still possible to bring people together in today's fragmented television world.Three million people tuned in Sunday to find out who really killed the girlfriend of Grant's adulterous character in one of three showings on HBO and on the streaming service HBO Max, the Nielsen company said.That's likely to be a fraction of who eventually sees it, given how television is consumed today. The premiere of the six-episode series was seen by 1.4 million people the night it first aired, and by now has been seen by 9 million and counting.“It's a good example of how you can still have a water-cooler hit,” said Casey Bloys, HBO Programming president. “I will always point to good acting, writing and directing. It was a good story.”It was the most-watched night for HBO since the finale of “Big Little Lies” last year, which also featured Kidman and creator David E. Kelley.HBO also said it was the first time in network history that each episode of a series was seen by more people than the previous one, a powerful signal of how people were drawn into the mystery.“The Undoing” has generated more conversation on social media than any other new scripted television series this year, Nielsen said. Coupled with the streaming-only series “The Flight Attendant,” HBO Max had its biggest week since the service was launched.“The Undoing” was always designed as a limited series, but it attracted the type of interest that would make any television executive naturally wonder if the story could be extended in some way.“I don't know,” Bloys said. “I do think these things are lightning in a bottle. It could always be difficult to try that again.”But he pointed to the network's productive relationship with Kidman and Kelley.“We'll find something great to do,” he said. “Who knows what it will be?”In other ratings news, CNN finished November with its most-watched month in the network's 40-year history, showing growth in the aftermath of the election compared to rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC.NBC was the top-rated broadcast network in prime time for Thanksgiving week, averaging 3.64 million viewers. CBS had 3.55 million, ABC had 2.4 million, Fox had 1.6 million, Ion Television had 930,000, Univision had 890,000 and Telemundo had 530,000.ESPN was the most-watched cable network, averaging 2.95 million viewers. Hallmark hit 2.53 million, Fox News Channel had 2 million, MSNBC had 1.59 million and CNN had 1.41 million.ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race with an average of 9.5 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million.For the week of Nov. 23-29, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewerships:1\. NFL Football: Chicago at Green Bay, NBC, 16.48 million.2\. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 13.78 million.3\. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 13.32 million.4\. NFL Football: L.A. Rams at Tampa Bay, ESPN, 13.14 million.5\. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 11.42 million.6\. “NFL Post-Game” (Sunday), Fox, 11.11 million.7\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:55 p.m.) NBC, 10.78 million.8\. “NCIS,” CBS, 10.16 million.9\. “FBI,” CBS, 8.4 million.10\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:30 p.m.), NBC, 7.38 million.11\. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 7.08 million.12\. “The Voice” (Tuesday) NBC, 7.07 million.13\. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 6.42 million.14\. “Monday Night Kickoff,” ESPN, 6.22 million.15\. “I Can See Your Voice,” Fox, 6.07 million.16\. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.66 million.17\. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.46 million.18\. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 4.9 million.19\. “Bull,” CBS, 4.68 million.20\. “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 4.49 million.David Bauder, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says the priority list of people who will get vaccinated first against COVID-19 has to be refined because the initial six million doses set to arrive in the first batch will not be enough to cover them all. Health Canada is in the final stages of reviewing the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The regulator anticipates decisions on approving both before the end of December. Vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are also being studied, with no suggestion yet of when those reviews might be done. Canada has contracts for three more vaccines in late-stage clinical trials but has not starting rolling reviews on any of them yet. Dr. Theresa Tam said the variety of vaccines on Canada's docket and the expectation that several will eventually be approved "means we will have more flexibility as time goes on, and more and more vaccines come on board." "We're expecting that in the second quarter, depending on the approvals of the vaccines, we will have different amounts, but that is when the supply will become more and more plentiful," she said Wednesday in a virtual speech at the 2020 Canadian Immunization Conference. Most vaccine makers are just starting to ramp up production now. Initial production lots are much smaller, and are in high demand everywhere in the world. At the moment, Canada is on track to get four million doses from Pfizer and two million from Moderna between January and March. With both vaccines needing two doses to be effective, that's only enough to vaccinate three million people. "So we have to do further refinements to these priority groups in order to know exactly how we're going to sequence the delivery of the vaccines," Tam said. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said having to pare down the list is a massive Liberal government failure. "There is no clear plan who is going to receive the vaccine," he said Wednesday. "The government has not provided these details." The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued a preliminary priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine last month, with four subsets of people based on risk of serious illness or death, and risk of exposure or outbreaks. The list included older Canadians, those with pre-existing conditions like liver and heart disease or diabetes, and people who live in the same household as those people. Long-term care workers, people who live in Indigenous communities, and front-line essential workers such as first responders or grocery store employees are also included. But that list of people is far longer than three million. There are nearly seven million Canadians over the age of 65 alone. Provincial governments will ultimately decide their own priorities but the national list is intended to guide those decisions. Long-term care homes are widely expected to be the highest priority for both workers and residents. In the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Canada, more than eight in 10 people who died from COVID-19 were associated with long-term care. The tragedy has continued in the second wave, with outbreaks in hundreds of facilities countrywide, and more residents dying every day. Ontario reported 35 deaths from COVID-19 Wednesday and 22 of them were residents in long-term care. More than 400,000 Canadians live in a long-term care setting or a retirement residence, according to the 2016 Census by Statistics Canada. Approving the vaccines is only the first step in what Tam called one of "the most complex operations ever taken in public health." Getting it to provinces to administer and convincing Canadians to take it could prove to be even more difficult. Tam appealed to the medical experts in the audience to help combat growing rhetoric that COVID-19 vaccines aren't safe. From a petition sponsored by Conservative MP Derek Sloan that warns these vaccines are "effectively human experimentation," to a van driving around Ottawa with a digital display claiming the vaccine "will destroy your DNA" there is evidence of some campaigns to convince Canadians not to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it comes. Tam said disinformation campaigns are not new but "because of the social media and its internet age, we've got even more of a challenge on our hands than anyone else in tackling pandemics of the past." "So it is a significant aspect of the response that we have to deal with," she said. She said the Public Health Agency of Canada is developing a series of webinars about the vaccines, how the regulatory and approval process works, and how the different types of vaccines work, so medical professionals can become influencers in their communities. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge wrongly blocked North Carolina's latest photo voter identification law, an appeals court ruled Wednesday, deciding she erred when declaring the requirement was tainted by racial bias largely because a previous voter ID law had been struck down on similar grounds.The unanimous opinion by a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel reversing a December 2019 preliminary injunction by District Judge Loretta Biggs doesn't mean the 2018 voter ID requirement can now be carried out. But the decision improves the position of Republican lawmakers, who for years have sought IDs for voting, to require it for the 2022 elections. Biggs' ruling had essentially blocked the ID requirement for the 2020 elections.The mandate “must be implemented for the next election cycle in our state,” Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said in a release praising the ruling.The 4th Circuit ruling puts aside many arguments by civil rights groups that sued over the law. They contend, in part, that the current voter ID rules are but a “barely disguised duplicate” of a 2013 voter ID law that other 4th Circuit judges previously declared Republicans enacted with intentional racial discrimination in mind. Leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature have said there was no such intent while approving either law.“The outcome hinges on the answer to a simple question: How much does the past matter?” Circuit Judge Julius Richardson, a nominee of President Donald Trump to the court, wrote in the opinion. While citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision, he added: “A legislature’s past acts do not condemn the acts of a later legislature, which we must presume acts in good faith."Richardson wrote Biggs' injunction must be overturned “because of the fundamental legal errors that permeate the opinion” and “irrevocably affected its outcome.” Circuit Judges Pamela Harris, a nominee of former President Barack Obama, and Marvin Quattlebaum, a Trump nominee, joined in the opinion.Trials are still expected before Biggs and in state court in 2021 in separate lawsuits challenging the law implementing a 2018 amendment to the state constitution that required the use of photo ID to vote in North Carolina elections. And a state appeals court ruling that blocked the ID requirement from being imposed remains in place.Leaders for the state NAACP and several local NAACP chapters that sued in federal court said Wednesday they were reviewing appeals options but were confident they would win at trial. “Our fight continues no matter the makeup of any court or any one decision, good or bad, on the journey to free and fair political participation,” state NAACP president the Rev. Anthony Spearman said in a release.Biggs wrote last Dec. 31 that many of the same GOP leaders and legislators who passed the 2018 law were in the legislature five years earlier, when they had received data that broke down voter behaviour by race. She suggested that racial data was still in the minds of many legislators in 2018. Biggs, who is Black and an Obama appointee, also pointed to the state's “sordid history of racial discrimination and voter suppression” continuing to present times.But Richardson wrote there were differences compared with 2013. A majority of voters had approved a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID in November 2018. Legislators weeks later approved supplemental laws to carry it out.“The people of North Carolina had interjected their voice compared into the process,” Richardson wrote.The supplemental laws also expanded the types of qualifying IDs and how registered voters without IDs could have their votes counted. Richardson pointed out the legislation received votes from a handful of Democrats following several days of debate and approved changes sought by bill opponents.“The 2018 Voter ID Law is more protective of the right to vote than other states’ voter ID laws that courts have approved,” Richardson wrote.The three-judge panel does not doubt that “there is a long and shameful history of race-based voter suppression in North Carolina,” wrote Richardson, but Biggs “considered the North Carolina General Assembly’s past conduct to bear so heavily on its later acts that it was virtually impossible for it to pass a voter ID law that meets constitutional muster.”More than 30 states require some form of voter ID. Supporters of the photo ID mandate say it builds confidence in election results. But data shows voter impersonation is rare. Voter ID opponents, which include Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, have said the mandate puts needless obstacles in the way of people otherwise legally qualified to vote.Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
Chinese spacecraft lands on the moon to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (Dec. 2)