WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
NIPIGON — One of four men facing several charges in connection to a September kidnapping in Nipigon will seek bail on Dec. 7. Andrew Otway, 29, is charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, and several firearm-related offences. Ontario Provincial Police arrested Otway, Billy John Thompson, 32, Jayson Lawson-Balodis, 45, and Harold Robert Sault, 29, after officers responded to a report of a man who had been kidnapped, forcibly confined and assaulted with a firearm in the town of Nipigon on Sept. 14. Following a brief court appearance on Wednesday, Dec. 2, Otway is scheduled to return to court next on Dec. 7 for a bail hearing. His three other co-accused have all been released on bail with several conditions including not to communicate with each other. At the time, OPP said the victim managed to escape his captors and received assistance from a witness who contacted police, according to a previous media release. The victim sustained serious injuries, police said. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 7, 2020 A 22-year-old driver faces a stunt driving charge after his vehicle was clocked at 176 km-h Nov. 7. An Orillia OPP officer pulled over the vehicle, which was travelling at 76 km-h over the 100 km-h speed limit, on Hwy. 400 north of Barrie. The driver allegedly told an officer he was speeding because he was late for work in Sudbury. “A court date, 7-day license suspension and vehicle impoundment will make you more late,” an OPP Tweet said. “Keep the speed down increases your chance of making it to your destination safely.” A stunt driving charge is laid if a vehicle is travelling more than 50 km-h over the speed limit. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 4, 2020 Molded Precision Components is putting out the word. The Oro-Medonte company has produced millions of face shields designed to protect front-line workers against COVID-19. “We currently have a supply of two million face shields, and we have the capacity to produce up to five million a month. If you have a PPE shortfall, or anticipate you will soon have one, we should talk as soon as possible,” said David Yeaman, co-owner and president of Molded Precision Components. The Shield-U face shields were created with the help of Sterling Industries, a medical supply company. More than 27 million face shields will have been sold through federal and provincial government contracts by the end of the fall. The company is reaching out to help more customers as the second wave of the pandemic takes hold around the world. “Our face shields are available in high quantities and right now we’re able to deliver them fast. This product can help a lot of people during these times of crisis, and we're looking for partners to help,” said Andrew Bird, director of Strategic Business Development. Shield-U face shields are based on 40 years of medical device success. They are: • Manufactured in an FDA/Health Canada Registered facility. • A one-size-fits-all solution that will comfortably fit anyone from a child to an adult. • Suitable for all-day use. • Allows for additional PPE (safety glasses, goggles, N95 masks, etc). • Fog-resistant. • 100 per cent recyclable. Since 2006, when Yeaman and Thomas Woegerer purchased the assets of MPC, the company has grown from a small plastic injection moulding prototype shop with two employees in an 8,000-square-foot facility to 26,000 square feet of manufacturing space, offering solutions to automotive and medical injection moulded precision plastic with all services in house. When the COVID-19 global pandemic struck in March 2020, orders from the automotive sector essentially stopped for MPC. However, MPC saw an opportunity to collaborate with leading medical equipment contract manufacturer Sterling. Any organization with an urgent, or pending, need for large quantities of PPE and face shields is invited to contact Mark Smith, VP Global Sales, MPC at MSmith@mpccomponents.com.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver. A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1. A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat. The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors. The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence. Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay. A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King announced Thursday afternoon in the province's legislature that the Island will not re-enter the Atlantic bubble until at least Dec. 21.The news came as P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison's office confirmed one new case of COVID-19 on the Island. P.E.I. left the bubble that included the Atlantic provinces of P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador on Nov. 23, as case numbers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick rose.On that day, P.E.I. closed its borders to everything but essential travel, as did Newfoundland and Labrador. Three days later, New Brunswick pulled out of the agreement, ending what remained of the bubble.Starting on July 3, residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I and Newfoundland and Labrador were able to travel relatively freely across each other's borders without quarantining. But that began to change in mid-November.Situation 'neutralizing a little bit'"I've had conversations in the last couple of days with Dr. Morrison, and the epidemiology around the region seems to be neutralizing a little bit but certainly not to the extent where we feel comfortable moving beyond that," King said. That's why he authorized a two-week extension on the withdrawal from the bubble, which was set to expire Dec. 7 at midnight.Border restrictions will remain in place until Dec. 21, including the requirement for 14 days of isolation for most people if returning from off-Island travel.Around the region on Thursday: * Newfoundland and Labrador had no new cases Thursday, and that province now has 29 active cases.Rotational worker in 20s is latest caseKing's announcement came shortly before Morrison's office announced one new case of COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island. The person is a rotational worker in his 20s who has been self-isolating since his arrival on the Island from outside the Atlantic region. He tested positive during "routine testing."Contact tracing is complete, Morrison said in a news release.The new case means there have been 73 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed on Prince Edward Island since the pandemic began. Of those, five are considered active, with the rest recovered. More from CBC P.E.I.
LOS ANGELES — Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, are forming a film production company that they say will tell the stories of people whose voices are often overlooked.Their first project of their HiddenLight company is to be a documentary series called “Gutsy Women,” which Apple TV+ said in a separate announcement Thursday it plans to air at an unspecified future date.Mother and daughter, who will host the series, say it was inspired by the 2019 book they co-authored: “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience."“For too long, attention has been paid only to the loudest voices in the room. There have been generations of change-makers who have shaped and will continue to shape our world — often quietly, flying under the radar,” Hillary Clinton said in a statement. She added that the stories of those often-unheralded change-makers are the ones they plan to tell.The Clintons join former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in the film and TV production business; the Obamas' Higher Ground company has supported several projects, including the Oscar-winning documentary “American Factory.”The pair partnered with Sam Branson in forming HiddenLight. The son of business tycoon Sir Richard Branson is an actor and also founder of the boutique production company Sundog Pictures.HiddenLight says it also has plans to produce other documentaries as well as scripted and unscripted entertainment for TV, film and digital platforms.“The stories we tell and the experiences we share shape the way we see each other and help us understand our own unique place in the world," said Chelsea Clinton.The Associated Press
The Yukon government is closing its flu shot clinic at the Whitehorse Convention Centre two weeks ahead of schedule, as demand for the vaccine subsides.More than 14,000 Yukoners got the flu shot this year, the government said. That's the highest number since 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic, according to Pat Living, director of communications for Yukon Health and Social Services."While we saw tremendous uptake at the very beginning of the flu clinic, the number of people showing up has slowed dramatically in the last little while," Living said.The clinic will end on Friday at 4:30 p.m. local time.People can still get the flu shot at Whitehorse pharmacies, however. There will also be two final clinics for children under five on Dec. 9 and 16.Flu shot clinics in rural communities will continue as planned.This is the first year Yukon has tried having one centralized flu shot clinic in Whitehorse, instead of moving between locations.Living said government is still working on its COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan, but she said they wanted to see if a mass, centralized clinic would be a good vaccination method.After closing the clinic, Living said staff will be redeployed to help with the COVID-19 response, such as contact tracing, follow-up calls or giving other staff a break."In anticipation of any kind of COVID[-19] vaccine clinics that may come, we want to make sure that people have a bit of a rest before then," said Living.Living encouraged people to get their flu shot if they have not yet done so.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 23, 2020 Simcoe County first responders, including dozens of police officers, lined bridges over Hwy. 400 Nov. 23 to salute Const. Marc Hovingh, who died following a shoot out on Manitoulin Island last week. Hovingh died Nov. 19 after an incident that also caused the death of a civilian. Hovingh's body was taken to Toronto for an autopsy and transported back to Manitoulin Island in a hearse, accompanied by two police cruisers. The OPP encouraged supporters to follow the procession’s live Twitter feed. “Because we’re in this pandemic, we’re on lockdown, we’re in a different situation here right now,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “There’s not a lot of opportunity for paying of respects and for gatherings.” Hovingh was one of the officers who responded to a call about an “unwanted man’’ on a property in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. According to the Special Investigations Unit – Ontario’s police watchdog – Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after exchanging gunfire. Hovingh was a 28-year veteran of the force. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 29, 2020 Medical masks are being added to the annual Barrie police mitten tree this year to help people stay warm and keep safe. The annual campaign was started by retired Const. Janet Schefter 20 years ago. If you would like to donate to the campaign, visit Barrie Police Service Headquarters at 110 Fairview Rd. A tree donated by Sommerville Nurseries is located in the lobby. Thousands of hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves will go to: • Youth Haven • David Busby Centre / Out of the Cold • The Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre Cancer Care • CARAH House • Salvation Army Barrie • Hospice Simcoe Many families, including seniors, are faced with low income, high rent, and everyday living expenses, making it a struggle to make ends meet. For health reasons, all donated items must be newly purchased or made. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 20. All inquiries can be directed to 705-725-7025, ext. 2907.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 12, 2020 A 31-year-old Barrie man who unknowingly gave a friend a deadly synthetic opioid instead of cocaine was sentenced to 18 months in jail for manslaughter. Justice Jonathan Bliss released his reasons for the sentence Oct. 30, saying while Robert Rodgers was remorseful for the overdose death of Darci Beers on Aug. 18, 2017, he failed to help her when she needed it most. Bliss said there’s no doubt Rodgers believed the white powdery substance he shared with Beers and her neighbour was cocaine. When Beers ingested a substance she believed was cocaine but was actually U-47700, known as “Pinky” on the street, it had a fatal effect. While Beers died in her apartment, Rodgers and the neighbour were both rendered unconscious, the sentencing report says. When the neighbour awoke, he tried to perform CPR on Beers, who was on the kitchen floor. The neighbour yelled at Rodgers to call 911, but instead he called his mother to come pick him up, Bliss wrote. Other neighbours came to help, speaking with dispatchers on the phone until paramedics arrived. “All the while Mr. Rodgers did nothing. Mr. Rodgers was certainly emotional and remorseful during his interview with police, but when he needed to act, when he needed to demonstrate concern and empathy for someone other than himself, for something he was responsible for, he failed,” Bliss said. Beers was the mother of a three-year-old boy. Rodgers pleaded guilty after being charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death in November 2017. Rodgers told police he only knew his drug dealer as “Josh” and provided officers with the dealer’s phone number. However, police were unable to track the dealer down. Bliss said despite Rodgers believing he was providing cocaine, he should have been wary of possible opioid substitutes. Rodgers did not test the drug when he purchased it, and ended up suffering a small stroke when he consumed it, the court heard. “It could not have been lost on him that cocaine is still a dangerous drug that alone could have been fatal, and, even in 2017, was being adulterated with other drugs with fatal consequences.” Rodgers was sentenced last February. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
We may not be able to gather to attend or participate in major sporting events right now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, however the Town of Paradise, along with the City of St. John’s and other communities in the metro region, are looking ahead to 2025, when hopefully, large events are a reality once again. “The City of St. John’s, along with the region, is bidding to host the Canada Summer Games in 2025. A bid committee is determining host locations for various sports taking place as part of the games,” said councillor Patrick Martin during Tuesday’s meeting of council. “Critical to this submission is to identify partners. Paradise has been selected by the committee to host volleyball, male and female. This is one of the most exciting venues of the games filled with music, action-packed competition, and an overall festival atmosphere. The committee has advised the park will need one million dollars in upgrades before 2025.” Martin concluded by saying the committee requested confirmation from Paradise on whether it would be willing to make the necessary financial and operational commitments. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie said that it would be an incredible opportunity for the town, and would bring great economic benefit to the region, which she heard might be as high as $100 million. She also noted it would be an opportunity to upgrade facilities in Paradise Park, and, on top of that, staff would likely explore funding options so that the full cost of upgrades did not fall to the Town. Councillors Kimberly Street and Sterling Willis echoed several of those sentiments. Councillor Alan English, however, served up a different take on the situation. “I’m taking a slightly different track. I can’t support this. I think it’s wonderful to assist the City of St. Johns with their bids for the summer games, but I can’t see us making a commitment of this amount, given all the things we need to do in the town,” English said. “We’ll be discussing the budget later on, and we know the constraints we have. I know a million dollars is probably not going to solve all these problems, but we need a water tower, we need water and sewer, road improvements. And I realize this is over a four year period, but I just don’t see the return of investment here for the town.” English allowed it was too bad the Town has not been asked to host soccer, as they already have a sufficient facility. CAO Lisa Nibock said the upgrades have more to do with seating than the playing grounds. “None of the facilities that we currently have would meet the requirements for the seating,” she said. Niblock also noted, as Laurie had said earlier in the meeting, that grants and funding would likely become available. Councillors Deborah Quilty and Patrick Martin then outlined their support for the motion, for reasons iterated by other councillors. Still, English was not convinced, and voted against the motion to commit to the project, the lone councillor to do so.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — OPEC and allied countries including Russia agreed Thursday to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels a day from January and said they would meet monthly to decide further output levels, gingerly adding more crude to a global economy still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.The decision followed days of wrangling over whether to increase output early next year at all after the pandemic sapped demand for energy and clouded the outlook for the industry.The OPEC members and a group of allies had made deep cuts in production last year to support prices as the pandemic sharply reduced demand for fuel. Analysts said simply extending the 7.7 million barrels per day in cuts was the course preferred by Saudi Arabia, which takes a leadership role among member countries, and also by Russia, the biggest of the non-members who have been co-operating with OPEC.But they faced pushback from countries including the United Arab Emirates, which opposed the extension and wanted countries that had overproduced their quotas to make compensatory cuts.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that participants agreed that 2 million barrels a day needed to return to the market “at some point” but that any increase would be gradual. The monthly meetings could decide in either direction, up or down, he said.Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman alluded to hopes that the recent wave of lockdown restrictions on businesses “are not hampering demand as in the first wave” but cautioned that “the jury is still out” and that “we need to be cautious” about ramping up production.He said that at the monthly meetings “we could tweak upward, we could tweak downward, we could stay put... We elected to take the cautious approach."Oil producing countries face a dilemma: producing more increases their revenues but could send prices lower, especially given still-weak demand and uncertain prospects for the speed and timing of a post-pandemic economic recovery.Energy forecasters around the world, including those employed by OPEC, have been lowering their forecasts about how much oil will be needed. Airline travel, for example, has been dramatically reduced, and is not expected to rebound for several years.The U.S. benchmark for oil traded at $45.74 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 46 cents on the day. That is down from around $63 at the start of 2020. Gasoline prices for U.S. motorists have fallen during the pandemic to below $2 in some parts of the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration; the national average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30.A barrel of benchmark crude in the U.S. had been selling for around $40 for months, well below what most producers need to break even. It has risen in the past week but current prices still leave many oil producers struggling. In the past week, oil giants Exxon and Chevron both slashed their capital expenditure budgets for the coming year.Stewart Glickman, energy equity analyst at CFRA Research, said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in many nations meant the original oil producing countries' plan - to raise production by some 1.9 million barrels per day from January - "might have sent crude prices tumbling further."He said crude inventories would be watched in coming months to see whether the “modest” production boost of 500,000 barrels per day is absorbed by markets or "whether oil demand remains too weak to sustain pricing” despite promising news regarding vaccine development.___AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York.David McHugh, The Associated Press
Health officials say another 12 Manitobans have died from COVID-19 and 368 have been infected with the virus. Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said a previously reported COVID-19 death has been removed from the province’s list of deaths due to a data entry error.
NEW YORK — There's theatre on Broadway. You just have to adjust your sights.More than a hundred blocks north of Manhattan's shuttered theatre district but on that same famed thoroughfare, an actor recently read his lines from a huge stage.But there was no applause. Instead, all that was heard was a strange command for the theatre: “And cut!”Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays was performing multiple roles for a high-tech “A Christmas Carol” that was being filmed for streaming this month at the empty 3,000-seat United Palace.The one-man show is an example of how many who work in theatre are increasingly defying COVID-19 by refusing to let it stop their art, often creating new hybrid forms.“Because it’s such a roll-up-your-sleeves business, theatre people figure it out,” said Tony Award-winning producer Hunter Arnold, while watching Mays onstage. “Of everything I’ve ever done in my life, it’s the place where people lead from ‘how?’ instead of leading from ‘why not?’”The coronavirus pandemic shut down theatre and the TV/movie industries in the spring. Film and TV production have slowly resumed. Live theatre is uniquely tested by the virus, one reason it will be among the last sectors to return to normal. Props and costumes are usually touched by dozens each night, an orchestra is crammed into a pit, backstage areas are small and shared, and audiences are usually packed into seats. New ways are needed.Mays' “A Christmas Carol,” which was filmed on a high-tech LED set, veers much more filmic than most other streaming theatre options and is raising money for suffering regional theatres — one stage production helping others during the pandemic.Other green shoots include radio plays, virtual readings, online variety shows and drive-in experiences that combine live singing with movies. The cast of the musical “Diana” reunited on Broadway to film the show for Netflix before it opens on Broadway.The San Francisco Playhouse recently offered screenings of Yasmina Reza’s play “Art,” an onstage production captured live by multiple cameras, with a crucial wrestling scene reimagined to keep social distancing. A musical version of the animated film “Ratatouille” is being explored on TikTok.“We will conquer it. We are theatre people. By God, we will conquer it and get it done,” says Charlotte Moore, the artistic director and co-founder of the acclaimed Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City.Her company has put on a free streaming holiday production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” with a dozen cast members, each filmed remotely and then digitally stitched together. Moore directed it — appropriately enough — from St. Louis. Other theatre pros are calling to ask how she did it.The cast was mailed or hand-delivered props, costumes and a green screen. They rehearsed via Zoom and FaceTime. A masked and socially distant orchestra recorded the score, and the sets were beamed onto the actors' screens.“You learn minute by minute by minute along the way what works, what doesn’t, what to do, what not to do,” said Moore, who starred in the original Broadway run of “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1989. “It’s torture and it’s thrilling — thrilling torture.”Like many other theatrical hybrids venturing into the digital world these days, it's not clear what to call it. It's not technically live theatre, but its soul is theatrical.“It’s not definable in our current vocabulary,” Moore said. “It has to have a new definition, truly, because it’s certainly unlike anything that has been done.”One of the companies to show the way forward was Berkshire Theater Group in western Massachusetts, whose “Godspell” in August became the first outdoor musical with union actors since the pandemic shut down productions.Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire refused to entertain the notion that the company — established in 1928 — would have an asterisk beside 2020 that said no shows were produced that year.“We’re theatre makers, we’re creators, she said. ”We should be able to figure out how to create something.”So they used plexiglass partitions between each masked actor. The performers were tested regularly — at a cost of close to $50,000 — and had their own props and a single costume. Each was housed in their own living space — bedroom, living area and little kitchenette. In an open-air tent, they managed to pull off a crucifixion scene without any touching or lifting, itself a miracle.Audiences underwent temperature checks and were separated by seats. Staff were placed in three protective bubbles: artistic, production and front-of-house. And there was monitoring: Last year it was an intimacy officer; this year it was a COVID-19 one.Maguire thrashed out a 40-page agreement with the stage union Actor’s Equity Association. “We never had a positive test,” Maguire said. “We had five false positive tests,” which was “harrowing.”She thanked grants for allowing her to keep her staff on payroll, making the stress level tolerable. It was clear audiences were hungry for theatre: “I would watch people shoulders shaking as the show started because they were weeping,” she said. They're doing another outdoor show now — “Holiday Memories.”Since that first brave step, other theatre companies have plunged into the void. Play and musical licensor Concord Theatricals says theatre companies across the country are looking for flexibility in case of virus restrictions.“We’re seeing many groups applying for small cast, easy to produce, plays and musicals. They’re even seeking casting flexibility and asking for permission to perform with or without an ensemble,” said Sean Patrick Flahaven, chief theatricals executive.“There’s also a trend for groups to apply for both live performance and streaming rights. Many amateur theatres are producing single virtual performances to keep revenue flowing.”Playwright Natalie Margolin decided to write a new play during the pandemic but not a conventional one. She imagined what the world would look like when it was a given that all social life existed on Zoom.Hence “The Party Hop,” a play specifically to be performed on Zoom that's set three years into quarantine in which three college girls hit the town — online. It became her first published play, and she got stars such as Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein and Ashley Park to perform in an online version, currently on YouTube. She hopes high schools and colleges will be attracted to a play reflecting the era.“It was just exciting to take part in something where it wasn’t a placeholder or a replacement, and no one needed to imagine they were anywhere else than where they were to fully realize the piece,” she said. “It’s been exciting and heartwarming to see different ways theatre has reinvented itself during this time.”Theater makers have also leaned into the storytelling part of their craft, making The Broadway Podcast Network a hub for everything from audition advice to behind-the-scenes stories.Launched shortly before the pandemic with 15 podcasts, the theatre shutdown initially wiped out its revenue streams, advertising and sponsorship. The network has since righted itself and is growing with some 100 podcasts — from the likes of Tim Rice and Tonya Pinkins — plus benefits, show reunions and original programs, like the digital theatre-based frothy soap opera, “As the Curtain Rises” with stars Alex Brightman, Sarah Stiles and Michael Urie.“Even though we had lost all of our advertising, we just knew that this was important to our community, to keep our community connected and continue to tell stories," said Dori Berinstein, co-founder of the network and a four-time Tony-winning Broadway producer. “It’s not anything that will ever replace live theatre, but it’s an extension. It’s a different way of doing that.”___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Another person in Saskatchewan who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.The person was from the south zone and was in their 80s. As of Thursday, 54 people diagnosed with COVID-19 had died in Saskatchewan.The province reported 259 new cases of the disease on Thursday.The seven-day daily average of new cases is 269 — 22.2 new cases per 100,000 population. Of the 9,244 reported cases in the province, 4,017 are considered active. Nine of the new cases on Thursday are located in the far north west, one is in the far north east, 21 are in the north west, 25 are in the north central, two are in the north east, 50 are in the Saskatoon area, three are in the central east, 112 are in the Regina area, 21 are in the south west, 10 are in the south central and six are in the south east. Four cases that previously had pending residence information have been assigned to the north west (two) and north central (two) zones and three Saskatchewan residents tested out-of- province were added to the north west zone.There are currently 128 people in hospital, 104 of whom are receiving in-patient care. One person is in the far north west, eight are in the north west, nine are in the north central, one is in the north east, 41 are in the Saskatoon zone, two are in the central east, 20 are in the Regina zone, two are in the south west and 20 are in the south east zones. Twenty-four people are in intensive care, with one in the north west, three in the north central, 11 in the Saskatoon area and nine in the Regina zone.To date a total of 5,173 people have recovered in the province. As of Dec. 1, 2020, when other provincial and national numbers were available, Saskatchewan's per capita rate was 224,447 people tested per million population. The national rate was 310,004 people tested per million population.