UNALASKA, Alaska — An Alaska city that is home to one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports has included wastewater testing among the mitigation efforts that could help maintain a low number of coronavirus infections.Unalaska began testing its wastewater in July for traces of COVID-19, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Monday.The island community of about 4,500 year-round residents located on Dutch Harbor, 800 miles (1,287 kilometres) from Anchorage, has recorded 107 coronavirus cases, including 85 from a single factory trawler.Despite the island’s first case of community spread two weeks ago, any virus in Unalaska’s waste remains below the detection level.“If somebody has COVID-19, they’re shedding this virus in fragments,” said Karie Holtermann, lab manager at Unalaska’s wastewater treatment plant. “It’s in their GI tract, they’re shedding it into their feces, into their urine. And so we’re trying to pick that up in our testing here.”The plant processes about 350,000 gallons (1,325 kilolitres) of waste and greywater daily, equating to about 70 gallons (265 litres) per Unalaska resident per day.Sewage testing has been successfully used as an early detection method for other diseases such as polio, Holtermann said.A Netherlands-based study concluded wastewater serves as an early warning system for coronavirus spread by detecting the virus in people who have not been tested or who have mild or no symptoms, Holtermann said.“What they’ve all seen is that wastewater monitoring can predict an outbreak a week before showing up at the clinic,” Holtermann said. “And once it is shown that COVID-19 is in a community, it’s able to show the beginning, the tapering and the resurgence of an outbreak.”If the virus levels increase with an influx of winter fishing season workers, the wastewater tests could pinpoint the part of town where the cases are focused, she said.Holtermann takes two to three wastewater samples during peak flow times, dipping a bucket hanging from a rope at some of the 10 lift stations on the island.“We go all around the clock,” she said. “So, at midnight, three o’clock in the morning — it’s a very interesting view of Unalaska.”For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Chuck Rosenberg makes no secret of his admiration for Robert Mueller.Keep that in mind, along with the format of Rosenberg's podcast “The Oath,” now that NBC announced Wednesday that the former special counsel who looked into Russian interference in the 2016 election has given an extensive interview that debuts next week.Mueller, the ex-FBI director, rarely speaks publicly and has been virtually silent about his special counsel experience since testifying before Congress in July 2019.In two separate podcast episodes, each nearly an hour, Mueller doesn't talk about his work as special counsel. He isn't even asked.“There are some questions that you simply don't have to ask,” said Rosenberg, who worked for Mueller as an FBI counsel. “I knew he wouldn't talk about it and I had really no intention of asking about it.”He took Mueller at his word that he wouldn't talk about his work as counsel after his testimony. Mueller made an exception in September, pushing back after one of his former prosecutors suggested in a book that the counsel's team wasn't aggressive enough.Rosenberg's stance is consistent with the format of “The Oath,” in which present and former government officials who have taken an oath to protect the Constitution are interviewed about their lives and careers, while steering clear of current events and political controversies.Rosenberg, also a former federal prosecutor, has taken the oath nine times. He's been an analyst and podcast host for NBC News since quitting as acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2017, after President Donald Trump suggested to law enforcement officers that they “don't be too nice” to suspects in custody.Even in an era of suspicion about the “deep state,” or perhaps because of it, there has clearly been a public taste for “The Oath.” The Mueller interview leads its fourth season.The show has been in the Top 200 of the Apple Podcasts charts for more than a year, said Andy Bowers, co-founder of the podcast hosting company Megaphone.Rosenberg's extensive experience helps with access, so his guest list is consistently interesting, said Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of the Lawfare blog. He's also unapologetically earnest, as are many of his guests, at a time of cynicism.“That's the winning formula on ‘The Oath,’ a serious person talking to serious people about public service at a time when people really want to remember what public service is supposed to be," Wittes said.The Mueller interview is a bookend to Rosenberg's two-parter with Mueller's successor as FBI director, James Comey, in the podcast's first season.The voluble Comey is a contrast to Mueller, who's quite comfortable with short answers. “I did OK,” Mueller said when Rosenberg was trying to draw him out about commendations he received during training with the Marines.Did you like law school? “Not particularly,” Mueller said.“Jim is a natural storyteller, so in some ways it is easier (to interview him),” Rosenberg said. “Bob also has a lot of stories to tell, you just have to let him tell them in his own way. I found that compelling — two very different styles, as our listeners will notice, but I think two men of substance.”Although there was talk after his congressional testimony that Mueller, now 76, had lost some sharpness with age, Rosenberg said “he seemed fine to me.”When coaxed, Mueller is most interesting in the first podcast talking about his experience in Vietnam. He volunteered for the Marines after a teammate on his Princeton lacrosse team was killed there, and commanded a unit that was — he found out later — essentially used as bait to draw out the North Vietnamese army.The experience inspired a lifetime of public service, primarily because Mueller was grateful to have survived.It's the type of service that's hard for the cynical to fathom. In another episode this season, Rosenberg speaks to Heather “Lucky” Penney, a former fighter pilot given the assignment on Sept. 11, 2001 of stopping United Airlines Flight 93 as it was bound for the U.S. Capitol. Since there was no time to arm the jet, her only choice was to ram the airliner; she was effectively sent on a suicide mission. Instead, the plane crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers.In the Mueller interview, Rosenberg said he relished the opportunity to get to know someone he knew only as a boss.“There's a bit of a Marine Corps officer outer shell,” he said. “He can be a little bit intimidating. But underneath all of that, he is a remarkably kind and humble and civil man. Coming up in the ranks of the Department of Justice, Bob Mueller is an icon. Everybody that I worked with knew of him and admired him, but often from a distance.”David Bauder, The Associated Press
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller confirmed today that the Liberal government will not meet its commitment to lift all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations by March 2021.At a press conference in Ottawa, Miller took full responsibility for the broken promise and pledged to spend more than $1.5 billion to finish the work."This was an ambitious deadline from the get-go," Miller said. "While there have been many reasons for the delay, I want to state as clearly as possible that, ultimately, I bear the responsibility for this and I have the ... duty to get this done."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first promised to end all long-term boil water advisories within five years during the 2015 campaign. It was the first major promise on the Indigenous reconciliation file, which became one of the central goals of the Liberals' governing agenda. At the time, the Trudeau government said it would meet the target by March 2021."What communities want is not an Ottawa-imposed deadline. It's a long-term commitment for access to clean water," Miller said.WATCH | 'We didn't appreciate the state of decay of some of the public infrastructure,' minister saysIn October, CBC News surveyed all communities on the long-term drinking water advisory list maintained by Indigenous Services Canada.More than a dozen First Nations said their projects would not be completed by the promised deadline. Five communities said a permanent fix would take years.The Trudeau government has helped lift 97 long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations since 2015, according to Indigenous Services Canada. Currently, 59 advisories are still in place in 41 communities.Miller said another 20 advisories could be lifted by the end of December and that by spring 2021, the number of advisories remaining could shrink to 12. Since forming government, the Liberals have spent more than $1.65 billion of the $2.19 billion they set aside to build and repair water and wastewater infrastructure, and to manage and maintain existing systems on reserves.The $1.5 billion proposed in Monday's fiscal update is in addition to that $2.19 billion."Today, we are providing sustained funding in the spirit of partnership," said Miller. "We're listening to communities and we want to let them know that our government is going to be there for the long run."WATCH | Singh asks why the federal government has failed Neskantaga First Nation on clean drinking waterFunding for repairs, training and ongoing maintenanceThe new money is aimed at helping First Nations in three key areas.The first area is ongoing support for daily operations and maintenance of water infrastructure on reserves, to help keep that infrastructure in good condition even after long-term drinking water advisories are lifted. The money earmarked for this — $616.3 million over six years, with $114.1 million per year ongoing — will also fund training for water treatment plant operators and help communities better retain qualified workers. The second is continued funding for water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves: $553.4 million to prevent future drinking water advisories.And finally, $309.8 million of the total will pay for work halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other project delays. The pandemic caused some First Nation communities to close their borders to contractors and temporarily stop work on improving their water systems.National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations called the proposed new funding a move in the right direction, but warned more resources may be required in future budgets to lift all water advisories."Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right," Bellegarde said."It's not right that in a rich country like Canada, you still can't turn on the taps for potable water."NDP MP Charlie Angus said the new commitment is a recognition that the government initially low-balled the amount of money it would take to address water advisories on reserves. "The government has recognized that they can't keep doing this as a publicity exercise," Angus said. "So that money will go a long way."In 2017, the parliamentary budget officer found the federal government was spending only 70 per cent of what was needed to eliminate boil water advisories in First Nations.Conservative Indigenous services critic Gary Vidal said it's clear "there is no intent to meet the 2021 target."We know this is going to be an ongoing challenge."Miller told CBC's Power and Politics he wants to see target dates for lifting long-term drinking water advisories in individual communities.He also told CBC the government is moving to give First Nations more control over solving their water problems through self-determination.Most long-term on-reserve drinking water advisories are in Ontario. RoseAnne Archibald, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for the province, said she has asked Miller to work with her team in the coming months to address the problem."Why do we have so many boil water advisories?" Archibald asked. "What barriers exist in Ontario that don't seem to exist anywhere else that we need to fix?"
Several P.E.I. appliance stores are dealing with a shortage of products to sell because COVID-19 is affecting the manufacturers of fridges, stoves, washers and dryers.P.E.I. is adding 55 new front-line positions to schools across the province to support students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.A program where Islanders share their Christmas traditions with newcomers has moved online.The collapse of the Atlantic bubble has left some Nova Scotia university students in a tough spot ahead of their end-of-semester exams and holiday break.Wednesday night's Santa Claus tour in Charlottetown was postponed to Sunday. Holiday shoppers are receiving their own gift from the City of Charlottetown this December: free parking downtown. The lack of activity at Charlottetown Airport is "surreal," the CEO says.P.E.I. has seen a total of 72 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Seventeen new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Nova Scotia on Wednesday, bringing its number of active cases to 127.In New Brunswick, six new cases were reported, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 119.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
Romantic drama "The End of the Affair" premiered in Los Angeles. (Dec. 2)
It's not going to be a very merry Christmas this year for a handicraft workshop in Islamist-run Gaza that has been an unlikely source of gifts for the holiday. Coronavirus lockdowns have made it difficult for the Zeina Cooperative Association to export its hand-crafted Christmas gifts from Gaza to Europe and to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. About 24 Palestinian Muslim women, many of them veiled, work at the facility, making miniature Christmas trees, red-and-white puppets and Santa Claus marionettes.
The chief of the Shawanaga First Nation northwest of Parry Sound says two new businesses in his community will help spur economic growth and secure a better future for his people. Chief Wayne Pamajewon says a new service centre is set to open in the spring and the territory’s long-awaited cannabis store could possibly open later this month. The cannabis store is set to open behind the community’s existing gas bar. “Over the years, one of the shortfalls that we’ve always encountered is the shortage of revenues to be able to do the things that we want to do. We’ve always had to wait with our hands open. I think we’re going to change all of that now by building in the economic development for our community,” the chief said. The territory learned back in July 2019 that the Ontario Gaming Commission awarded it a licence to operate a cannabis retail store. It is one of eight First Nations in the province to receive a licence. Chief Pamajewon said that a lot of work has already taken place in order to get the store open. “We’ve hired a manager so we have a person that’s putting it together right now. The policies to govern this will have to be worked out,” said the chief. “The supply, we don’t know what that is yet, but I’m sure the individual that we have working for us will be working with his staff to put that together. We’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen.” Chief Pamajewon said that at this point, he sees no reason why people who don’t live on the territory wouldn’t be able to shop at the store, despite COVID, as long as all the necessary precautions are taken. He said he expects the service centre to open in mid-May of next year. The foundation is laid, he said, and the fuel tanks are in the ground. He added they are working with a couple of companies to see which one will operate the service centre. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Nearly every segment of society in British Columbia is affected by food insecurity — including the province's youngest residents. One program at the Surrey Food Bank is trying to provide support for those infants and their parents. The program, called Tiny Bundles, is a lifeline for one single mom, Lindsay, whose last name CBC News has agreed to withhold. Lindsay has two children, one who is 3½ and one who is six months old."Unfortunately, I'm only on welfare so I have to go to the food bank to make sure both my young children have food every day and healthy stuff as well," she said. Every week, in addition to getting a full hamper of food for herself and her son, Lindsay gets specific items for her baby. "We get the formula. Every week we get one, and it lasts a week. So that's money I don't have to spend," she said, adding formula is "really expensive.""Now that she's six months, they're giving the jar food and the cereal, so she's set to go."Advocates across the country say children are increasingly at risk of food insecurity as parents who were already living paycheque-to-paycheque lost jobs, fell ill or had to self-isolate because of COVID-19. Many support services reported an increase in families accessing their services this year. Feezah Jaffer, the executive director of the Surrey Food Bank, says the Tiny Bundles program is unique as it is specifically tailored to pregnant moms and infant children. "We provide milk and eggs for pregnant and nursing moms, formula, diapers, baby items, food, wipes, things like that," said Jaffer.Jaffer says the program has run smoothly thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers from the Tzu Chi Buddhist Society, who have worked with the program for 14 years. "They're so helpful. They're so accommodating," she said. "They go above and beyond. They have been instrumental in the success of the Tiny Bundles program."For Lindsay, the program has proven to be a lifeline during a difficult time. "[Without it] I would be struggling — very, very much so," she said.On Dec. 4, join us virtually for special broadcasts and digital meet-and-greets with your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts, and donate to Food Banks B.C. from the comfort of your own home. For more, visit cbc.ca/openhouse
LOS ANGELES — People magazine has named George Clooney, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Selena Gomez and Regina King as the “2020 People of the Year.”The magazine revealed its list Wednesday morning as part of a year-end double issue with four covers. The four will be celebrated for their positive impact in the world during a challenging 2020.Clooney, Fauci, Gomez and King will be separately featured on the magazine covers of the issue, which is out Friday.Clooney has received some Oscar buzz for his upcoming film “The Midnight Sky,” but the actor was also in spotlight for his advocacy work. He donated $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative in wake of George Floyd’s death and $1 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in Italy, London and Los Angeles.As the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Fauci provided steady guidance during the turbulent pandemic. As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he has been one of the nation's leading sources of information about the fight against COVID-19.Gomez released her chart-topping album “Rare” and hosted the cooking show “Selena + Chef” on HBO Max. But the pop superstar also spread her message of inclusion through her makeup brand Rare Beauty, which set the goal of raising $100 million in 10 years to help give people access to mental health initiatives.King, who won an Emmy in September, used her voice to encourage people to vote. The actor also called for support of marginalized communities during the pandemic and end police brutality of unarmed Black people. Her directorial debut, “One Night in Miami,” has also been talked about as a possible Oscar contender.Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
Two men who spent time at the Edmonton Convention Centre say it's a dangerous place to be. The facility has been operating as a shelter since late October. At times, more than 300 people have been staying at the facility that's being run by four organizations that work with homeless people. "No one feels safe there," Peter Noivo told CBC News. "There was constant fighting and screaming. It's a very bad place to be. " After spending four nights at ECC a couple of weeks ago, Noivo, 52, moved to a hotel with his partner. They're hoping to get into an apartment soon. He vows to never return to the convention centre shelter. Noivo said he concerned about widespread drug use inside the 24/7 facility, even though there is a safe consumption site. "When it gets to injection hour, you can't use the washroom," Noivo said. "There's needles all over. It's normal to get into a washroom and see blood and syringes on the floor." Ben Young agreed. He was staying at the convention centre for the past week and a half, but just tested positive for COVID-19 and he was transferred to a hotel to isolate. Young, 29, was alarmed by conditions at the shelter. He's been documenting his observations for the past two weeks on Reddit. "Something needs to change because people are dying, people are overdosing, people are getting sick," Young said. "If a light isn't shown on this, it's just going to get worse and worse and worse." Young said overdoses were a regular occurrence at the facility and said he personally administered Narcan three times. He also said he saw three people die inside the shelter. "Well, the first one that I saw was an older lady who I talked with a few nights," Young said. "When I walked into the food hall, she was on her back, dead, black in the face dead." He said nurses managed to revive the woman, but he found out she died later in hospital. "I freaked out the first few times," he said. "Now I see someone overdose, it's become regular. At one point there were five overdoses in seven minutes." When asked for comment the City of Edmonton referred CBC to contact one of the organizations operating the shelter. A spokesperson for the Boyle Street Community Services confirmed the overdose situation inside the convention centre mirrors what's happening in the inner city. Elliott Tanti said an overdose prevention site (OPS) wasn't in the original plan for the facility, but was opened after the first couple of weeks. "Certainly there were concerns in the first two weeks when we didn't have the OPS around the number of overdoses taking place in the building because there simply wasn't a safe place for people to go," Tanti said. "Since the OPS has opened, we've seen a dramatic reduction in the number of overdoses on site outside of the OPS and it's had a major impact." Tanti said security staff regularly check washrooms and there is a specialized team devoted to emergency overdose response on hand during the day and through the evening until 11 p.m. Outbreak at ECC Alberta Health Services confirmed there are 60 active COVID-19 cases at the convention centre linked to the current outbreak. Young is convinced he would not have contracted the virus if he had been staying somewhere other than ECC. His case has not been officially traced to the facility. "I would be shocked if everyone in that building didn't have it at one point or right now," Young said. "It's completely unsafe there. It's horrible." Young shared a picture of overflowing garbage cans inside the facility. He claimed he never saw any surfaces being sanitized. "There's no cleaning," Young said. "We take care of the cleaning ourselves. Like I mop, I clean the bathroom. I sanitize everything." Tanti disagreed with Young's assessment. "We had very stringent cleaning and hygiene standards when it first started, but we've increased the number of cleaning in public spaces to ensure the safety of the people that we serve," Tanti said. "Since the start, we've been conducting electrostatic decontamination every 24 hours of all the public shelter spaces." Tanti added that anytime that someone tests positive, the area they were in is also immediately decontaminated. "We're taking hygiene of the facility very seriously and working quite closely with our partners at the convention centre janitorial staff to make sure that the space is safe," Tanti said. Young believes there's a strong need for a 24/7 homeless shelter in the city and he applauded the work of the staff who are trying to help. But he thinks ECC needs to make dramatic changes in order to be safe for everyone who stays there. "We're struggling in the shadows out here," Young said. "We need help. We need a lot of help and we're not getting it.".
NEW YORK — Authorities on Tuesday announced the indictment of 18 people, including New York City rapper Casanova, in connection to a litany of gang-related crimes including racketeering, murder, drugs, firearms, and fraud offences.Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss and other law enforcement officials issued a statement accusing those named in the indictment of being part of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation gang, operating in New York City and part of New York state.Authorities said 17 of the 18 named in the indictment were in custody. The FBI’s New York office issued a tweet saying Casanova, whose legal name is Caswell Senior, was still being sought.“Members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Strauss said in the statement.One of those indicted was accused in connection with the Sept. 21 killing of a minor in Poughkeepsie, New York. The others were indicted in connection to charges including assault, drug distribution and weapons possession. Two people were charged with falsely using other people's identity information to file for COVID-19 unemployment benefits.Casanova, currently signed to Roc Nation, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering; conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and firearms possession.Emails were sent to Roc Nation and the rapper's representative seeking comment.The Associated Press
This December rain in Charlottetown is feeling more like late summer than Christmas.Charlottetown recorded a record temperature early Wednesday morning, beating the mark hit in 1985."The record high today is 10.4, and we are at 13 degrees," said CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said at 6 a.m..Early morning temperatures peaked at 14.3 C at Charlottetown Airport at 4 a.m.The temperature will fall only a little over the course of the day, said Simpkin, holding steady around 12 C for much of the afternoon. Overnight the temperature will drop to about 3 C.Tuesday was almost as warm, topping out at 14.0 C, but that was well short of the 1927 record of 16.7 C.While weekend temperatures will be cooler, they will remain a few degrees above the average high of 2.5 C.More from CBC P.E.I.
VIENNA — Austria will allow skiing to start on Dec. 24, but will limit the capacity of ski lifts and keep restaurants, bars and hotels largely closed until early January, officials said Wednesday. It also will require many people entering the country over the Christmas period to go into quarantine.Tough lockdown measures took effect Nov. 17 and are due to expire on Sunday. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said a limited curfew that has applied around the clock will be eased, and from Monday will apply only between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.Schools will be reopened next week, except for older students, as will nonessential shops, museums, libraries and some other businesses. But restaurants will remain closed for all but takeout and deliveries, as will bars, and hotels will remain closed except to business travellers.Austria has been hard hit by the resurgence of coronavirus infections in Europe, though its infection rate has declined over recent weeks. It currently is recording 335 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days, down from around 600 last month — but still more than twice as many as in neighbouring Germany, which is in a milder partial shutdown.Kurz said that progress over recent weeks, and the expectation of more before Christmas, allows “cautious” reopening steps. But he said the tourism and catering sectors won’t start reopening until Jan. 7.That will effectively mean that, over the holiday season, skiing is possible in most cases only on day trips for those Austrian residents who live fairly close to the Alps. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said there will be mask-wearing and distancing requirements, and the capacity of cable cars will be limited.Kurz said that allowing skiing for locals but keeping the catering sector closed is “absolutely justified.”“Skiing is a sport that takes place in the open air, an individual sport, so epidemiologically it must be assessed differently from catering, where we know that there can time and again be infections,” he said.Kurz added that he, as a resident of eastern Austria, won't benefit but “for a large part of our population it will then be possible to go skiing at least for the day.”France and Germany, which has closed its ski resorts, are pushing for similar measures to be taken in other European countries, like Italy and Spain, for the Christmas season. Ski resorts are already open in neighbouring Switzerland, which has allowed skiing.Kurz rejected suggestions that Austria's limited reopening was a response to pressure from abroad.“We decide according to our infection situation, and our expectation is that we can push down our infections very, very strongly by Christmas,” he said.Austria also plans tougher border controls and quarantine rules in an effort to dissuade people from travelling abroad over the Christmas period. Austrian residents' summer trips to see relatives in the western Balkans, in particular, were blamed as a significant source of the resurgence of infections this fall.The quarantine rules will be imposed by mid-December and will apply “if you're coming from a country that exceeds a certain limit of infections,” Kurz said. He didn't specify that level.The requirement will be for new arrivals to go into quarantine for 10 days, which they can cut short by taking a test after five days, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.___Geir Moulson reported from Berlin.Geir Moulson And Philipp Jenne, The Associated Press
Brown paper packages, white plastic envelopes and large cardboard boxes are spilling beyond the confines of mailrooms and storage rooms at residential buildings throughout the Lower Mainland. With more people turning to online shopping since the beginning of the pandemic, and the year's biggest shopping events clustered within these final weeks of the year, one building manager says the volume of deliveries is presenting new challenges. "Generally most buildings have seen about 100 per cent increase in packages this year alone since the COVID-19 pandemic started," said Matthew Scott, an area manager with FirstService Residential, which manages more than 400 buildings in the Lower Mainland. Some buildings are receiving 70 to 100 packages a day and Scott expects that number will only go up with deliveries from Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas still to come. Scott says front-desk staff in the buildings have learned to be efficient, but processing each package still takes a few minutes. The packages have to be entered into a computer system, which tracks them and notifies residents that their deliveries have arrived. This is done on top of everything else staff have to manage, including approving visitors and overseeing tradespeople."You've got the daily machinations of running a building going on: people looking for trades, people being locked out, people moving, you know, all those other things going on, you need to get these packages out of the way," he said. He says some buildings were receiving so many packages their strata councils decided the concierge would no longer accept parcels, while others put restrictions on the size and weight of packages they will accept.Some higher-end buildings that had the budget decided to hire a dedicated staff person just to handle deliveries."That's all the person does, is receive packages and be prepared to hand them out," said Scott. Canada Post is expecting a significant increase in parcel volumes this holiday season. As a result, it's hiring 4,000 more temporary seasonal employees and adding 1,000 vehicles to its fleet.It's advising people to shop early for their own peace of mind as well as to help retailers, delivery companies, and Canada Post deliver the packages in time. As for how residents can help front-desk staff with the mountain of online shopping packages, Scott advises picking up parcels as soon as possible."Residents can be really helpful with us if they can collect their packages as soon as they get the notification or within 24 hours. You know, that just allows us to free up that space a little bit more."
While 80-year-old Ron Rudoski and his 74-year-old wife Sandra have fans of all ages, their polkas, waltzes, and country tunes are particularly popular with an older crowd.Last year, the Rudoskis played nearly 60 shows. The couple have been playing together for more than 30 years and travelled all over southern Saskatchewan sharing their blend of accordion/guitar medleys guaranteed to keep your toes tapping. The couple would frequently play seniors centres and casino shows, and they developed a following of dedicated dancers. "I remember playing six nights in seven days and 75 per cent of the people were the same people every night, and most of these people are seniors," said Ron. Like so many things in the world, those dances came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit in March. But unlike many musicians who turned to online shows or small, backyard concerts, their fans make up a segment of the population considered at higher risk for COVID-19. "It really wasn't the way we wanted to retire. We wanted to have a big gathering, you know, kind of a goodbye thing, and this just ended out of nowhere," said Sandra. > Some of them we have lost already, and it's really sad to think that maybe when we go back to playing, a lot of them will be gone. \- Sandra Rudoski Their dancers have become dear friends over the years. Sandra said she checks in with them by phone and she worries about what this isolation is doing to these once very active people. "It's got to be hard on a lot of them sitting at home. It's physical, it keeps you fit. Sometimes Ron plays his accordion and I just dance around the island for something to do. It makes me happy, music makes you happy, you know."Remembering happier timesRon's love of the accordion started when he was just a boy. He's been playing accordion for 66 years and he learned young that he liked performing in front of a crowd.His dad played fiddle in a band and used to tease him when his musical career started picking up steam. Back in the '60s, his band would charge $125 dollars for a dance. "Dad used to play for two dollars a night and he said he had to pay for lunch out of that as well," Ron said with a laugh. In the '80s, Ron was looking for a guitar player and singer for his band. He hired Sandra and ended up falling in love with more than just her voice. Sandra smiles when she talks about their courtship. "My father was German and he loved accordion music, and when I met Ron, to my dad's delight, every time we got together it was play accordion, play accordion."They started out playing in bars, but when Ron brought out his accordion, opportunities opened up. They were soon in high demand for anniversaries, weddings and cabarets.Melville and area was a hotspot for polka music, producing some of the best accordion players in Western Canada. The many German, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Polish, and Czechoslovakian descendents in the area made sure that their shows were always well attended, especially the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Ron is one of the few people left on the prairies who can repair accordions, so people from all over Canada send him their instruments. He has thousands of parts for accordions that he's collected in the more than 50 years of repairing the instruments.Ron says he'd like to pass on this skill and all his equipment to someone younger, so right now he is on the hunt for a young accordion player who wants to learn the craft. Lack of inspiration in isolationNot knowing when or if ever they'll be able to play in public again has been hard on the couple. Ron is also the treasurer of the local seniors hall and he wonders when they eventually do open again, if people will come back to the dances. "Some of them we have lost already, and it's really sad to think that maybe when we go back to playing, a lot of them will be gone," adds Sandra. The couple can play three dances without ever repeating a song, but they haven't learned anything since the pandemic started. "I have hardly touched my guitar since we quit playing," Sandra said. "I guess there's no incentive, but I guess I shouldn't think that way. I guess you should hope that there is hope."That hope includes looking forward to a day when they can end their long career on their own terms, surrounded safely by the people whose friendships have been forged over decades of performing. To hear the audio as it appeared on CBC's Morning Edition click here:CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Supreme Court of Slovakia on Wednesday increased the prison sentence of a former soldier convicted of killing an investigative journalist and his fiancée, a case that triggered a political crisis and brought down the country’s government.In April, a lower court gave Miroslav Marcek a 23-year prison term for the contract killings of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova in February 2018. The high court increased the sentence to 25 years.Marcek had pleaded guilty to fatally shooting the two but appealed as did the prosecutors.The verdict by the Supreme Court is final.In September, a court acquitted a businessman, Marian Kocner, who was accused of masterminding the slayings, and one of his co-defendants.Prosecutors appealed the verdicts but the Supreme Court has yet to rule on that.Kuciak, 27, was shot in the chest and Kusnirova, also 27, was shot in the head at their home in the town of Velka Maca, east of Bratislava, on Feb. 21, 2018.Kuciak had been investigating possible government corruption. The killings prompted major street protests and a political crisis that led to the government’s collapse.Two other defendants have been sentenced in the case.One received 25 years in prison in September for his role. The other, who had acted as a go-between, agreed to co-operate with prosecutors in exchange for a lesser sentence and received a 15-year prison term in December.The Associated Press
Albertans feeling cooped up by COVID-19, can take solace in some winter sunbathing. A high-pressure system hovering over Western Canada means the forecast across the province for the week ahead is downright balmy. By the weekend, most Alberta communities will hit double-digit highs. And the unseasonably mild temperatures will be accompanied by sunny, cloud-free skies, perfect for working on your tuque tan. A high of 10 C is expected in Edmonton on Sunday. Calgary will be even milder with a high of 17 C expected by Monday afternoon. Even northern communities like Fort McMurray will get a taste with a long-term forecast free of any icy wind chill. "This is almost tropical in a way," said Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada. "It's clearly an atmospheric gift. You don't expect weather like this." The temperatures started to thaw over the weekend, melting mountainous snow banks, turning roads into skating rinks and giving sun-loving Albertans a welcome reprieve from winter temperatures. The province is being temporarily shielded from the cold by a massive flow of pressurized, sinking air, Phillips said. "It's like putting a dome over the Prairies and it doesn't allow any kind of weather to get in. "You're squeezing in all those air molecules; they're jiggling and jaggling and creating all kinds of heat. And this is what makes it so, so unseasonably mild. "And it doesn't matter where you are. It's not just that Edmonton's getting all the good weather. The entire region is getting this gorgeous kind of weather." 'Sweater weather' The temperatures expected are about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than average for this time of year, Phillips said. He said some temperature records could be broken but the most notable thing about this mild stint of weather is its duration. The balmy temperatures are expected to stick around for more than a week. "One- or two-day wonders are usually in the offing, but not a whole week or even longer with wall-to-wall sunshine, no weather to get in the way," Phillips said. "I mean, it's going to be well, not muscle shirts and tank tops, but hey, you'll be changing. "It'll be going to sweater weather rather than leather weather." After a frigid fall marked by the stress of the pandemic, the balmy forecast is likely a welcome weather anomaly. Phillips said temperatures will begin to cool off next week but the current forecast could be a tiding of things to come. "I mean, we've never cancelled winter in Alberta and we're not going to this year, but we certainly think that December looks milder than normal. "And you know, when you can claim that winter is maybe only three months long instead of five months long, you're already ahead of the game."
Royal Bank of Canada reported a small rise in quarterly profit that beat analysts' expectations on Wednesday, driven by strength in its capital markets unit and reduced provisions to cover potential loan-losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.Canada's largest lender by market capitalization set aside $427 million in the fourth quarter, as economic disruptions from the pandemic raised the possibility of defaults. The amount was far lower than analysts' expectation of $798.75 million, and down 14 per cent from a year earlier.Net income from personal and commercial banking — RBC's biggest source of income — fell 7 per cent to $1.5 billion, largely reflecting the impact of lower interest rates.The country's banks have faced margin pressure this year from surging deposits and slower lending growth across retail and business segments.RBC's capital markets division, which includes trading, investment banking and advisory, however, saw net income soar 44 per cent to $840 million, helped by increased volatility in markets due to the health crisis.Overall profit was upTotal net income rose to $3.25 billion ($2.51 billion) for the quarter ended Oct. 31, or $2.23 per share, from $3.21 billion, or $2.19 per share, a year earlier.On an adjusted basis, the bank earned $2.27 per share, higher than analysts' average estimate of $2.05 per share, according to Refinitiv data.
A P.E.I.-born chef has launched a seafood canning business that is helping keep workers at an Island lobster-processing plant employed past the traditional season. Charlotte Langley lives and works in Toronto now, but she was born and raised in Summerside.She told Laura Chapin of CBC's Island Morning that the lightbulb that led to the business was illuminated a few years back after she couldn't find any canned chicken haddie. That is a blend of whitefish used for chowder and fishcakes, which she calls "comfort food from home." Babineau Fisheries told her they don't produce it anymore, leading her to try to make some herself."So I started experimenting with the art and history and heritage of canned food."Experienced already in the preparation and sale of seafood, Langley eventually co-founded the business Scout Canning, which launched in September. Change of focus due to pandemicThe original plan was to market the products direct to food services: restaurants, cafés, oyster bars looking to branch out into other types of seafood dishes, or "people who have seacuterie already." > Canned seafood has become more popular since the pandemic started. — Charlotte LangleyBut COVID-19 meant a pivot in focus, to the direct-to-consumer market. "Canned seafood has become more popular since the pandemic started," she said. "We've been actually quite overwhelmed with the support."P.E.I. mussels, Ontario rainbow trout and lobster are being canned for Scout at Acadian Supreme in Abram-Village, P.E.I. Langley said they were looking for a small company that "has the ability to grow with us." That means 30 workers who are usually laid off after the spring and fall lobster processing season are getting extra weeks of work. "Yeah, they're busy!" Products now on back orderDemand has been so high for Scout products they're currently on back order, but Langley told Island Morning that a shipment from P.E.I. is expected by the end of this week. "Everyone will have their products for Christmas, so that's really reassuring." They also have Pacific seafood processed by a B.C. plant to cut down on the distance West Coast seafood has to be transported before processing."It sort of is a nice little environmental touch." There aren't any Island locations selling Scout seafood at the moment, but Langley said she's working to change that. "I do think it's completely silly that it's not there," she said with a laugh, speculating that Atlantic-born people have more access to fresh product and may not be as open to a high-end canned alternative. More from CBC P.E.I.
Hanover Deputy Mayor Selwyn Hicks has been elected as Grey County's warden for 2021. “I believe that my credentials speak for themselves. I'm an early riser with a strong work ethic and I have the capacity to build relationships that promote progress,” Hicks said while addressing county councillors during the virtual inauguration session held Tuesday afternoon. The position of warden is voted on by fellow county council members and holds a one-year term. Hicks was nominated for the position by Southgate Deputy Mayor Brian Milne and seconded by Meaford Mayor Barb Clumpus. Hicks was born in South American country of Guyana and moved to Toronto when he was nine. He moved to Hanover in 2003 and he entered politics in 2006, serving as a councillor from 2006 to 2014 and then as deputy-mayor since 2015. Hicks served as warden of Grey County in 2019. He is a lawyer by trade with offices in Hanover and Walkerton, which he operates with his wife of 24 years, Barbara. They have four children: Selwyn IV, Rylee, Connor, and Chloe. At Tuesday’s meeting, Hicks defeated current Grey County Warden Paul McQueen, who is the mayor of Grey Highlands. In the coming months, Hicks says he plans to meet with each lower-tier council representative to build relationships and seek out priorities. “I will also immediately reach out to our provincial and federal representatives to schedule a minimum of one formal meeting each quarter to build relationships and plan how we can work together to address important priorities for the people of Grey County,” he said. “I'm also now a member of the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus," Hicks added. "I have strong relationships from my first year as warden and I plan to continue to build those relationships.” For the coming year, Hicks said he would like to focus on affordable housing, rural broadband programs, and regional transportation. “We've got a number of things on the go. We're still in a COVID environment and we have to figure out how we pull out of this thing together, how to keep people safe, keep our good track record in public health, and take care of our seniors,” he added.Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca