HHS Secretary Alex Azar says the government expects a total of about 40 million doses of two COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed throughout the U.S. by the end of December, pending approval by the FDA. (Nov. 18)
HHS Secretary Alex Azar says the government expects a total of about 40 million doses of two COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed throughout the U.S. by the end of December, pending approval by the FDA. (Nov. 18)
President Donald Trump's frantic effort in the courts to delegitimize an election he lost has come no closer in a month to reversing any results. Lawyers for Trump and his allies have asked judges in several states to take the drastic and unprecedented step of setting aside President-elect Joe Biden’s wins. They have filed new cases and vowed to press on with appeals. But the quantity of affidavits, lawsuits and claims made by Trump belies that they are spurious or often repetitive of arguments already rejected by judges and elections officials, some of them Republicans. Here is a look at where the legal action stands in several key states: ARIZONA A judge on Friday threw out a Republican bid to undo Biden’s victory in Arizona, concluding the state’s GOP chief failed to prove fraud or misconduct in her challenge of election results in metro Phoenix. The judge also noted the evidence presented at trial wouldn’t reverse Trump’s loss in the state. Judge Randall Warner dismissed Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s challenge of ballots in metro Phoenix that were duplicated because voters’ earlier ballots were damaged or could not be run through tabulators. Poll observers called to testify by Ward said they witnessed problems in the processing of duplicated ballots, but the judge said those problems were pointed out to election workers, who then fixed the mistakes. Warner wrote “there is no evidence that the inaccuracies were intentional or part of a fraudulent scheme. They were mistakes. And given both the small number of duplicate ballots and the low error rate, the evidence does not show any impact on the outcome.” Courts there had already dismissed four other cases. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, certified Arizona's results Monday. In a touch of symbolism, he declined a phone call from Trump while signing the certification papers. Lawyer Sidney Powell, who was recently kicked off Trump's legal team and has been pushing wild conspiracy theories about the election, has also filed a lawsuit there. PENNSYLVANIA Trump has lost repeatedly in Pennsylvania, collecting a series of stinging rebukes from Republican-appointed judges. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a district judge's dismissal of a key lawsuit argued in an error-filled performance by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” wrote Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, nominated by Trump. The district judge, Matthew Brann, wrote of the complaint, “One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption." Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, noted that the campaign did not provide that evidence. Trump's lawyers have vowed to ask for review from the U.S. Supreme Court anyway. MICHIGAN Six cases brought by Trump and Republican allies in Michigan have either been rejected or dropped. On Wednesday, Giuliani appeared at a public meeting with lawmakers and urged activists to pressure, even threaten, the GOP-controlled Legislature to “step up” and award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Trump despite Biden’s 154,000-vote victory. A Michigan appeals court turned down an appeal Friday from Trump’s campaign in a challenge to how absentee ballots were handled in Detroit and other issues. WISCONSIN The state’s Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear Trump's lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss in the battleground state. In a divided decision, the court didn’t rule on the merits of the claims but said the case must first wind its way through lower courts. Trump wants to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. In urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Trump’s lawyers said they didn’t have enough time to start in a lower court. 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.” Trump's campaign filed a similar lawsuit in federal court Wednesday. The Wisconsin Supreme Court also declined Friday to hear a lawsuit brought by a conservative group over Trump’s loss. ____ Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix; and Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report. Nomaan Merchant And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
An Edmonton man who was convicted for manslaughter in the deaths of an elderly couple has had his sentence increased by five years. Edward Roberts, 35, was serving a 15-year sentence for the deaths of Joao Nascimento, 93, and Maria Nascimento, 81 after he admitted to stabbing them to death in a random attack in September 2016. Roberts was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, but he instead pleaded guilty in November 2018 to two counts of manslaughter and break and enter. Last year, Roberts was sentenced to 15 years in jail for each manslaughter count and 10 years for break and enter to be served concurrently. On Friday, a three-judge panel ordered the 15-year sentence to increase on each count of manslaughter to 20 years, which was the sentence length the Crown asked for during the trial. "We are of the view an increase in sentence is warranted to properly serve the aims of deterrence and denunciation and to reflect Roberts' moral culpability," the Court of Appeal of Alberta's decision said on Friday. "We are limited to the sentence sought by the Crown below. The appeal is allowed and the sentences on each count of manslaughter are increased to 20 years, to be served concurrently." The Crown appealed the original sentence, arguing that the sentencing judge characterized the crimes as a single event and that a 20-year sentence would better reflect the loss of two lives. Roberts had confessed to breaking into Nascimentos' Queen Mary Park home and stabbing the couple while in a psychotic state. He was intoxicated by drugs and alcohol, and had binged on crystal meth in the week leading up to the killings. At the time of the Nascimentos' death, Roberts thought he was destined to become a king and believed he had to kill everyone in a house to achieve that goal. Expert consensus diagnosed Roberts with amphetamine, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine use disorders, according to the decision. They also confirmed a history of substance-induced psychosis from cannabis and methamphetamine. During the Court of Appeal hearing in September, Roberts said he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he was in a psychotic state at the time. "It wasn't exactly the drugs that led to that state of mind," Roberts said during the hearing. "It was more of an energy." Stacey Purser, Roberts' defence lawyer, argued at the Court of Appeal hearing that Roberts' psychosis lowered his moral culpability, and that he was acting under the direction of various voices telling him to kill or be killed.
Le sud-est de l'Estrie, la Beauce, le Bas-Saint-Laurent et une partie de la Gaspésie peuvent s'attendre à recevoir de 20 à 30 centimètres de neige cette fin de semaine, selon Environnement Canada. Cette première bordée importante de la saison pour ces régions est attribuable à une dépression qui remonte le long de la côte-est américaine pour traverser le golfe du Maine lors de la journée de samedi et le Nouveau-Brunswick durant la journée de dimanche. Tous les secteurs qui sont en bordure, donc tout juste au nord de la trajectoire de cette dépression, en subiront les effets principalement sous forme de neige abondante et de vents, a expliqué le météorologue Alexandre Parent, d'Environnement Canada. «Ça pourrait même dépasser les 30 centimètres de neige dans les secteurs de Kamouraska, de Témiscouata, de Rimouski et de la vallée de la Matapédia», a estimé M. Parent lors d'une entrevue avec La Presse Canadienne. La neige devrait débuter en fin de journée samedi ou dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche. Les vents se mettront également de la partie, principalement dimanche matin. M. Parent prédit que ces conditions pourraient être difficiles en première moitié de journée dans l'est du Québec et que la visibilité sera probablement nulle par endroits. Il suggère «fortement» d'effectuer les déplacements samedi plutôt que dimanche. Le Grand Montréal ne devrait rien recevoir de cette dépression. La région de Québec pourrait quant à elle recevoir de 5 à 10 centimètres. La semaine prochaine devrait être «tranquille» avec pratiquement pas de précipitations et des températures près du point de congélation. \- Texte de l'Initiative de journalisme local.Michel Saba, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
The union for blue-collar workers in Montreal says it wants to put pressure on the city to speed up negotiations and says it has issued a strike notice that will come into force in the next couple weeks. The city's 6,500 blue-collar workers have been without an employee contract since Dec. 31, 2017. In a news release sent by the union representing the workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said, "discussions are ongoing but we want to put some pressure to get things done.""Blue-collar workers want a new employment contract that is fair and respects the work they provide on a daily basis," the release said. It said in mid-November 2,846 members voted 97.2 per cent in favour of a mandate giving them the right to exercise pressure that could go as far as a general strike.The assembly was held in a temporary drive-in installed on the site of the Royalmount project, where members arrived by car. The City of Montreal says it is aware of the union's decision but that it has not been informed of the pressure tactics workers plan on taking, or which essential services they will continue to offer.
Listen to the voice of Dr. Ethlyn Trapp. That’s the message the family of the renowned doctor and patron of the arts has for District of West Vancouver's mayor and council as they prepare to vote on a new plan for Klee Wyck Park, which would see the historic house and art studio on the site demolished. The plan, which council will vote on at next Monday’s general meeting, is to enhance the 6.2-acre park that borders the Capilano River, at 200 Keith Rd., which has deteriorated over the years so it can be enjoyed and explored by the community. Trapp bought the property in 1942 and was the last owner of the site, which has a history dating back to 1925, and gifted it to the district in 1960. Klee Wyck is now one of a few remaining examples of "rustic" estate properties in West Vancouver that pre-date the Lions Gate Bridge construction. It was Trapp's home until 1972 when she passed, and then, for many years, it was a much-loved community site utilized for the arts. The property is named in honour of Trapp's close friendship with artist Emily Carr. Klee Wyck, or "laughing one," was the nickname given to Carr by an Indigenous community she worked with in Ucluelet. The site was “deeded to the district for purposes of a park, nursery garden, playground or other public recreation,” according to a report prepared for council. However, Rosina Smith, who is married to Raymond Smith, a great-nephew of Trapp, said the new plan goes against Trapp's final wishes, and the family is hoping the council will consider their views. “We feel that it’s necessary to adhere to the 1960 agreement Dr. Trapp entered into with the district that clearly stated that both the premises and the land should be ‘kept, developed, and maintained, in perpetuity,' ” said Smith, speaking on behalf of the family. “When Aunt Et gifted it to the district, she hoped that it would be something that would be embraced and enjoyed by all community members, not looked at or considered a burden. “We want to ensure that her legacy is honoured. That really is our only intent.” Smith, who lives in Calgary, said she and her husband were unaware of the site’s neglect until early 2019, and the family was involved in some consultations with the district, but her "comments weren't considered." Now, the family wants to have a complete building assessment conducted by an expert to identify whether preservation or demolition is the best course of action and to find out how much preservation would cost before the district moves ahead with its plans. Smith said the family had even offered to pay for the assessment but was denied by the district. The main house and studio continued to be a place for arts and culture until 2013. It holds special meaning for many artists and community members who have emotional ties to the properties. At the time, programs and groups which utilized the buildings were moved over to new facilities in the Ambleside area, including the Silk Purse and Music Box on Argyle Avenue. The council report highlights the main house and studio were closed as public art spaces because of their condition but has received criticism from the public for allowing the site to deteriorate. “The main house is uninhabitable in its current condition, and the district has no lifecycle cost provision for this structure,” it states. “The studio, located to the southwest of the main house, is also in poor condition and no longer in use.” After a short-term site-use review, district staff decided that demolishing the main house and studio was the most feasible action and is recommending that to council. The district said the house deteriorated to its current state because, before 2015, councils of the day allocated funding to the best of their ability on a priority basis. "In 2015, the District set up a systematic program for asset management. At the time, analysis of the assets and their condition identified a significant shortfall in what the district had been investing in asset maintenance over the years, resulting in many assets being in poor condition. The house at Klee Wyck falls into this category," said the district. However, Smith said the family feels very strongly that without assets on the property, "there’s no means by which Klee Wyck can be self-sustaining and without that sustainability have no confidence that the district can steward the property.” "The future of Klee Wyck is in the incapable hands of a district whose history demonstrates a lack of stewardship of their assets. Klee Wyck needs to be managed and directed by an external entity who will commit to stewarding the land and premises in perpetuity," said Smith. The report says the district has $150,000 reserved to support the short-term plan, but an additional $170,000 will be required to complete the site enhancement. Staff said the site will remain as a local park, and maintenance costs will continue to be included in the annual parks operation budget. On top of demolishing the main building and studio, staff’s short-term recommendations for the park include providing basic landscaping to improve and enhance the site, removing four greenhouses, creating pathways through the gardens, consultations with the community about urban agriculture and community gardens, and a review to connect the site to the Capilano Pacific Trail. The staff report also recommends installing interpretive signage to commemorate the story and history of Trapp. Smith, who describes Trapp as a “remarkable woman who left an indelible stamp on West Vancouver and in Canada,” said it is easy to see what the right thing to do is to keep her legacy intact. She said she has fond memories of visiting the site when it was beautiful and bustling with art students. “We know what it could look like – we’ve seen it with the palms and all the beautiful flowers and the home whose walls were lined with Emily Carr’s [paintings], and that was the vision, and that was the legacy that Aunt Et left to her beloved West Vancouver,” said Smith. Trapp was a medical researcher and patron of the arts who opened her own practice specializing in radiology and was the first woman to hold office in the Canadian Medical Association as president of the BC Medical Association in 1946. Among her many distinctions, she was awarded the Medal of Service of the Order of Canada in 1968. “She was a humanitarian, a philanthropist, and a physician – someone we should look up to and emulate,” said Smith. “All we need to do is listen to that voice to do what’s right for all stakeholders.” Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
JUNEAU, Alaska — A recount Friday affirmed a win by Democrat Liz Snyder over Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt for an Anchorage House seat, though her margin of victory narrowed slightly. Results certified Monday showed Snyder had defeated Pruitt by 13 votes. But Friday’s recount showed an 11-vote margin of victory, with 4,574 for Snyder and 4,563 for Pruitt. This year’s election was a rematch from 2018, when Snyder lost to Pruitt. The recount was not requested by Pruitt but by 11 others identified in their petition as voters in the Anchorage House district. State law allows a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters who believe a mistake was made in the ballot count to request a recount. Pruitt by text message Friday said the encouragement he had received “led me to believe that there was no one better to request this recount than those who kept reaching out asking how they could help. I am humbled by their continued and unwavering support!” Two attorneys representing the recount request group, Joe Geldhof and Stacey Stone, attended the recount in Juneau, as did Snyder and Holly Wells, an attorney for Snyder. The hand count was conducted by members of a bipartisan review board, said Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the state Division of Elections. More than 9,000 votes were cast in the race. Absentee ballots went through the recount process twice after the tallies during the initial recount were off from the certified results. Pruitt ultimately picked up an absentee vote and Snyder lost one in the final recount. Snyder said the goal “was making sure all valid votes got counted, and it feels like that was achieved.” Stone described the process as smooth and said she was pleased with it. She cited concern, however, with polling location changes ahead of the election, “which we believe may have impacted the vote, and we're investigating that now.” An issue of concern is whether there was any voter disenfranchisement, Stone said. Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections director, said notice was given of polling location changes, including flagging changes on the division website. Neither the House nor the Senate has organized ahead of the next regular session, which starts in January. In Alaska, the chambers don’t necessarily organize along party lines. Personalities and policy positions can also factor in. Separately, Montemayor said an audit of a statewide ballot measure that narrowly passed last month would begin Monday. The audit was sought by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections. Meyer has said the audit is intended to help put to rest questions some have raised about the validity of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment the state uses. The measure, which would end party primaries and institute ranked-choice voting for general elections, passed with 174,032 votes, compared to 170,251 no votes, according to the certified results. Meyer has said he believes the measure passed fairly. A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure has been filed. Cori Mills, a chief assistant attorney general with the Department of Law, said Friday's recount “verified that the voting equipment is accurate and the results, all the results, can be trusted.” Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
A palliative care facility in St. Albert met an act of vandalism with a renewed spirit of giving after Christmas trees and memorial plaques were damaged this week. On Sunday, the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) lit trees on the hillside outside of the the Foyer Lacombe palliative care facility. Community members were invited to tune in online or participate in a drive-by viewing. "We certainly had tears in our eyes and what a tender gentle moment ... to see all those lights coming on outside the room where my mother died," recalled donor Sharon Ryan, whose mom spent her final days there last summer. A day or two later, vandals struck — damaging memorial plaques and several trees while stripping lights off others. But Ryan said what should have felt like a punch in the gut sparked the opposite reaction. "We just rolled our eyes, and we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work immediately to rebuild those light displays," said Ryan, who has also founded an advocacy group for seniors. "It was just such an automatic reaction — nobody's going to hold us back." Joheanna Buisman, president of SASHA, said she was saddened by the incident — especially because the lights were meant to honour loved ones and caregivers. But she said the overwhelming support from the community, which included $25,000 in donations for end-of-life-care, only grew after the incident. "I can't believe the outpouring," said Buisman. "People reaching out and saying 'could we do something for you, can we help you, can we help pay for the lights, can we give you lights, can we help string lights'." Support has included donations from local business owners to buy new lights for the trees. RCMP have no leads but want to hear from anyone with information.
South Korean authorities urged vigilance on Saturday as small coronavirus clusters emerged in a third wave, centred in the Seoul area, with infections near nine-month highs. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new coronavirus infections, down from the 629 reported on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked in February and early March. This wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission, said KDCA official Lim Sook-young.
There was a death reported in the South Zone from COVID-19 reported on Friday. This marked the second consecutive day with a death reported in that zone and the third consecutive day in which at least one death was reported. The individual was in the 80-years-old and over age group. The number of deaths in the province is now 55. The province also reported another 283 cases on Friday. The current seven-day average is 262, or 21. 7 cases per 100,000 population. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 47 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 189 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 214 active cases and North Central 3 has 40 active cases. The North Central zone is third in the Active Case Breakdown with 403 active cases. Of the 9,527 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 4,116 are considered active. Of the 126 people in hospital in the province, 101 are receiving in patient care including 12 in the North Central. Of the 25 in intensive care four are in the North Central. The recovered number now sits at 5,356 after 183 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 9,527of those 1,927 cases are from the north area (692 north west, 916 north central and 319 north east) Yesterday 3,504 COVID-19 tests were processed in Saskatchewan. As of today there have been 357,142 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. In other zones there were 83 cases reported Friday in Regina, 50 in Saskatoon, 12 each in the North West and South West, 11 in the Far North East, nine each in the South East, South Central and Far North West and seven in the North East. There are 18 cases with pending residence information. Two cases, one from Nov. 15 and one from Nov. 22, with pending residence information have been assigned to the North West Of the 126 people in hospital elsewhere in the province; 36 are in Saskatoon, 21 in the South East, 20 are in Regina, seven in the North West, three in the South West and one in the North East are receiving in patient care. Elsewhere in the province in intensive care there are 11 in Saskatoon, nine in Regina and one person in the North West. The Saskatoon zone leads the Active Case breakdown with 1,324 cases. In second place is Regina with 974 active cases. Over 90 active cases of COVID-19 in youth in North Central On Thursday the province released the updated numbers on cases in youth. The total active cases in youth provincially in all locations are 834, six have no known location and 828 have a location reported. Provincially there is an 8.5 per cent test positivity rate in youth. Data on positive tests in youth is updated every Thursday. Currently in the North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, there are 96 active cases in youth. Last week there were 316 tests performed across the North Central zone. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 47 active cases in youth. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 45 active cases and North Central 3 has four active cases. Cumulative tests performed since Sept. 7 in the North Central zone is 2,933. There were 4,119 tests performed in total in the province in the last week. The cumulative number of tests performed since Sept. 7 is 44,261. Case of COVID-19 connected to Wesmor Public High School On Thursday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at Wesmor Public High School in Prince Albert. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools affected by the isolation,” the release stated. As has been the case in the past, this case was not school-acquired. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. Wesmor will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. Due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
A search continues in Haines, Alaska, for two people still unaccounted for after heavy rains this week caused landslides, washed-out roads, and widespread flooding in the small coastal community.Mayor Doug Olerud said that Alaska State Troopers were leading the search efforts for the two missing people."They've had teams out on the water, with search dogs combing the beaches, and on the beach they've got crews that are trying to remove some of the materials to get into some of the areas," Olerud said."So the efforts are ongoing."Olerud said Thursday that weather is still a concern. It was raining again on Thursday afternoon, and he said the forecast was calling for more rain or snow in the coming days."It's not stopping and giving us a break here," he said."We've got two missing individuals, but everybody else that has requested evacuation, we've gotten them out safely. We don't have any other missing individuals. And so to the best of our knowledge, everybody else in the community is safe."Olerud said local crews are doing their best to deal with the extensive damage around town, but it's been difficult to get a handle on things. "It's kind of one of those [where] we've got so many places that where do you put the crews first?" Olerud said.Alekka Fullerton, interim manager of the Haines Borough government, said there are about 50 homes that have been ordered to evacuate because of potential mudslides."Unfortunately last night we had to evacuate several other areas of town so we have a lot more people who have been displaced now and so our hotels are all full," Fullerton said.Fullerton said with all the rain, the ground is getting saturated and dangerous for residents in certain areas.A geological team from Alaska's Department of Natural Resources that was supposed to arrive Thursday to help determine the stability of the area, was weathered out and didn't arrive until Friday.They arrived by ferry as the weather made flying impossible, Olerud said."We really are discouraging people from coming to town, we do not need any more volunteers, we don't need people coming to town," Fullerton said.Olerud said the community has already received a lot of support, from within the state and beyond. He said it's been tough especially with two local residents still unaccounted for."It's hard. You know, everybody knows each other," Olerud said."I hope we get a break here. We've got a lot of talented people doing everything they can to keep everybody safe. And I have faith that they're going to do that."
NEW YORK — The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation, a federal judge ruled Friday, in vacating a memo from the acting Homeland Security secretary that had suspended it.U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the government had to post a public notice within three days — including on its website and the websites of all other relevant government agencies — that new DACA applications were being accepted.The ruling follows one from November where Garaufis said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully in his position.On Friday, the judge said that invalidated the memo Wolf had issued in July suspending DACA for new applications and reducing how long renewals were valid from two years down to one year.Wolf had issued his memo after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program.Garaufis also ordered the government to put together a status report on the DACA program by Jan. 4.An email seeking comment was sent to the Department of Homeland Security.“Every time the outgoing administration tried to use young immigrants as political scapegoats, they defiled the values of our nation. The court’s order makes clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter," said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who led a number of state attorneys general in one of the lawsuits against the administration.DACA, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allows certain young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Those who are approved for it must first go through background checks and regularly renew.The Trump administration had announced the end of the program in 2017, leading to the legal challenges that wound up in front of the Supreme Court.In making its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, saying that the particular way the administration had gone about shutting it down was improper, but that the president did have the authority to do so.About 650,000 people are currently enrolled in the program.The Associated Press
WHITEHORSE — Yukon recorded three new COVID-19 cases in Whitehorse as the territory prepared to introduce new rules for restaurants and bars. The territory says in a statement Friday that the new infections bring the total active case count to 12. There have been 54 people infected in Yukon over the course of the pandemic. Beginning Monday, the government says restaurants and bars will be required to collect information from their patrons to assist contact tracers. One patron from each party will be required to sign in, and the eating and drinking establishments must keep the daily lists for 30 days. The lists will only be shared with Yukon Communicable Disease Control if an exposure has been identified. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The island kingdom of Bahrain said it has become the second nation in the world to grant an emergency-use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.The state-run Bahrain News Agency made the announcement on Friday night, following an earlier announcement by the United Kingdom on Wednesday, making Britain the first in the world.“The confirmation of approval by the National Health Regulatory Authority of the kingdom of Bahrain followed thorough analysis and review undertaken by the authority of all available data,” the kingdom said.Bahrain did not say how may vaccines it has purchased, nor when vaccinations would begin. It did not respond to questions from The Associated Press. The Pfizer shots, a so-called “mRNA vaccine,” contain a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.Pfizer later told the AP that the details of its sales agreement with Bahrain, including the “timing of delivery and the volume of doses,” was confidential and declined to comment.“We have developed detailed logistical plans and tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring," Pfizer said. “Our distribution is built on a flexible just in time system which will ship the frozen vials to the point of vaccination.”The immediate challenge for Bahrain would be the conditions in which the vaccine must be kept. It must be stored and shipped at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit). Bahrain is a Mideast nation that regularly sees temperatures in the summer of around 40 C (104 Fahrenheit) with high humidity.Bahrain operates a state-owned carrier, Gulf Air, that could be used to transport the vaccine. In the nearby United Arab Emirates, the Dubai-based long-haul carrier Emirates has already said it is preparing its facilities to distribute vaccines at ultra-cold temperatures.The vaccine also requires two doses be given three weeks apart.Bahrain had already granted emergency-use authorization for a Chinese vaccine made by Sinopharm and has inoculate some 6,000 people with it. That vaccine, an “inactivated” shot made by growing the whole virus in a lab and then killing it, also is in use in the UAE. Pfizer's vaccine does not contain the coronavirus itself.“The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will add a further important layer to the kingdom’s national COVID-19 response, which has strongly prioritized protecting the health of all citizens and residents during the pandemic," said Dr. Mariam al-Jalahma, the CEO of Bahrain's National Health Regulatory Authority.BioNTech, which owns the vaccine, said it has so far signed deals to supply 570 million doses worldwide in 2021, with options to deliver 600 million more. It hopes to supply at least 1.3 billion in 2021.Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, is a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf.With a population of 1.6 million, it has reported more than 87,000 cases and 341 deaths, according to the government. Over 85,000 people have recovered from the COVID-19 illness that is caused by the virus.The country is also home to a large expatriate population, with many low-paid labourers from Asia living in tight housing. In July, authorities told the AP they had moved 8,000 labourers to new accommodations, disinfected housing and implemented a rule requiring no more than five labourers per room, with about 3 metres (10 feet) of space for each one.The Bahraini government says it has conducted over 2 million coronavirus tests across the island. It initially blamed its higher per-capita infection rate on that.___Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
Families with children and adults aged 18-29 reported being hardest-hit by the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data released Friday.While seniors aged 70 and older experienced the most severe health effects, younger adults and parents of young children reported the pandemic taking a higher economic, mental and emotional toll, according to the provincewide COVID-19 Survey on Population, Experience, Action and Knowledge, conducted in the spring and funded by the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health.Adults aged 18-29 were nearly twice as likely to be out of work due to the pandemic, with 27 per cent of respondents of this age group this compared with 16 per cent for the province overall.They were also more likely to report increased difficulty meeting financial needs and were more pessimistic about their financial futures than other age groups.Households with children were more likely to report worsening mental health, reduced sleep and increased alcohol consumption.The results of the survey were used to inform decisions about public health measures during the pandemic, B.C.'s deputy provincial health officer, Dr. Réka Gustafson, said in a news conference Friday."When we were opening schools, when we were prioritizing what we restrict and what we don't, one of the things that has remained at the core of our goal is to make sure that children continue to have access to schooling, to in-person schooling," she said."That's informed both by how safe schools are, because they are. And the other is the recognition that those services are absolutely critical to young families."Miranda Tracy, who lives in Langley and has two school-aged sons, said her stress levels are worse now than they were in May, when the survey was done.There was recently an exposure at her sons' school and Tracy said she worries they might bring home the virus. "It's the lack of masks, it's the lack of being able to social distance," she explained. "There's 30 kids and tiny classrooms with no real protection against COVID at all." Tracy also questioned why the results from a survey conducted in the spring are only being released in December, when conditions are different.Gustafson attributed the delay to the time it takes to clean and analyze the data and prepare it for publication.This represents the first time B.C. officials have released COVID-19 data of any kind pertaining to specific communities and ethnic groups. It is the largest-ever population health survey in Canada, with a sample size of 395,000 people, or roughly one in 10 adults in B.C.Results of the survey were weighted using census data to reflect the B.C. population.
VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver says it has reached a settlement with the owners of the Balmoral and Regent hotels to expropriate the derelict properties on the Downtown Eastside.The hotels, which had been operated as single-room occupancy buildings, were home to more than 300 of the city's most vulnerable people before they were ordered shut over safety concerns in 2017 and 2019. The city says in a news release Friday that the settlement ensures it can move forward with BC Housing to turn the buildings into safe and secure low-income housing. It approved the expropriation of the buildings for $1 in late 2019 but faced a legal challenge from the owners.The news release says the city decided to settle to lessen the financial risk posed by the upcoming judicial review and potential claims for greater compensation and to enable planning to begin on the future of the properties. It says it cannot share the value of the settlement under its terms. "Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of," Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in the release. "Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community." The settlement marks the end of many years of enforcement and legal action against the owners, who oversaw decades of underinvestment and unaddressed safety issues, the city says.Parkash Kaur Sahota, 90, and Pal Singh Sahota, 81, are identified as the owners in the petition for judicial review. They could not be reached for comment. Staff plan to report back to council, which approved the settlement, on the next steps and timeline for the revitalization of the properties early next year. Given the significance of the two properties to the Downtown Eastside community, the city says community engagement regarding their future is a priority and will also begin next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
A Vancouver home builder isn’t waiting for government regulations to change to demonstrate his idea for quickly offering emergency housing to homeless people. Bryn Davidson is putting the finishing touches on a prototype of what he calls a “tiny townhome,” a basic shed-like structure that Davidson has suggested could be an alternative for people who are homeless and live in a tent or without any shelter at all. “We’ve listened to people just talk, talk, talk for ages, and it seems like very little ever happens,” said Davidson, the owner of Lanefab Design/Build. “The ability to just jump in and do something is appealing.” Once the 100-square-foot prototype is finished Davidson hopes to put it up at a yet-to-be-determined location to give people a sense of how the idea could work. The prototype will meet the City of Vancouver’s current zoning rules for a shed, but Davidson said a bathroom and kitchen module could be added to the tiny dwelling. The basic unit Davidson is building costs around $15,000. Davidson posted a video tour of the under-construction tiny townhome on Twitter. Davidson first suggested his idea earlier this fall as the city was grappling with what to do about rising homelessness and a growing tent city at Strathcona Park. Out of several options — including trying out a tiny home village — city councillors opted to prioritize buying or leasing more hotels rooms and apartment buildings to provide housing for people who are homeless. That option provides the highest quality housing but takes time to put into place. Meanwhile, COVID-19 capacity restrictions mean Vancouver has 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter. Another city council motion from Coun. Pete Fry asked city staff to look at what zoning and building code regulations would have to change to allow tiny homes. But Davidson doesn’t expect to see any actual changes to the building code or zoning until summer 2021 at the earliest. “I feel like something needs to be done,” he said. “The city was analyzing all these options from the city’s point of view. The advantage of [the tiny homes] strategy is it’s something the private sector and private individuals can just jump in and contribute to.” Tiny home villages have sprung up in many North American cities, and range from prefabricated structures with power to very basic dwellings with no heat or electricity. City staff have expressed concerns about designs for tiny homes that don’t include heat and electricity or a private bathroom. Current zoning would also require dwellings to include a fire suppression system. But Davidson and other tiny home proponents say the idea is to provide a temporary solution that provides better shelter and security than a tent. People who store their belongings in tents often have their stuff stolen, and when tents leak in cold, wet weather it’s difficult or impossible to dry out bedding and clothing. The prototype is insulated but would need to be hooked up to electricity to allow heat and ventilation. Davidson said he’s currently talking with the city, church groups and non-profits about a location for the prototype. Davidson envisions small “villages” of 10 to 20 tiny townhomes across Vancouver, placed in vacant lots that are awaiting development, for instance. When the prototype is finished, Davidson plans to try sleeping inside with his family to see what it’s like. “I think that there should be one of these little villages in every neighbourhood in the city,” Davidson said. “It’s not just something where somebody in Dunbar thinks, ‘Oh, that’s just a Downtown Eastside problem.’ I’d like to see every neighbourhood contributing.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
A bill that will criminalize international doping conspiracies became law Friday with President Donald Trump's signature, closing out a two-year legislative process during which the only true opposition to the bill came from outside the United States.The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act had earlier passed both houses of Congress on voice votes. It passed despite lobbying efforts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said it will “disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework.”The bill is designed to allow U.S. prosecutors to go after doping schemes at international events in which Americans are involved as athletes, sponsors or broadcasters. It is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who helped uncover widespread cheating directed by the Russian government to help the country's athletes at the Sochi Olympics and other major events.It was the response to the Russian scandal from WADA, the IOC and other international sports federations that led the U.S. to pursue the law. Representatives from the U.S. drug-control office bristled at WADA's efforts to lobby for extensive changes in the bill.Rodchenkov's attorney, Jim Walden, said the law gives “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions.”The law is in line with others that have helped U.S. authorities crack down on international corruption in different areas. It calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.It is not designed to go after individual athletes.Among WADA's concerns is that this law will tempt other countries to consider similar legislation that could undermine the harmonization of the global anti-doping rules.Eddie Pells, The Associated Press
Those most at risk will be getting the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine — including health-care workers, seniors over 70 and adults in Indigenous communities. The process is expected to use all of the initial allotment and be finished by the end of March 2021.
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Gananoque kicks off its Christmas celebrations this weekend. The three-week event will start on Saturday with the Festival of Light and a stand-still parade on King Street, organized by the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. "We lit up the whole visitor centre, Town Hall, the bandshell and 20 trees today, thanks to Hydro One; they showed up today with four bucket trucks and 20 guys and they did an amazing job," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the chamber. On Saturday the parade will be a little smaller than previous years but no less spectacular. So far there are 29 confirmed floats and Kirkland says she is expecting another eight to show up on the day, bringing the total to 37 floats. "Before the parade starts at 5:30, the Gananoque Curling Club will be handing out free hot chocolate and apple cider in Town Park between 2 and 4 p.m.," said Kari Lambe, the town's manager of recreation. The 1000 Islands History Museum will also be lighting up the museum and is offering a walk-by window exhibit, "Toys of Yesteryear," on Saturday. The town is billing this year's celebrations as "A Wonderful Life in Gananoque" with a variety of festivities planned for the holiday season. "Starting on Sunday, Dec. 6, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at his grotto in Town Park, where proper social distance and safety measure have been put in place," said Lambe, adding that there will also be carolling on the front steps of Town Hall from 3 until 4 p.m. The Gananoque Fire Service will be setting up firepits in Town Park from 2 until 5 p.m. Every Wednesday just after 6 p.m., Santa will be reading children's stories on 99.9 MyFM, with the final reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas scheduled for Dec. 24, just before the man in red takes off on his big journey. The town is also hosting a Winter Lights competition, and residents are encouraged to decorate their homes for the holiday season. Lambe said a group of judges will pick a winner from each ward, North, South and West, and one award will be given to the business with the best window and/or light display. The winners will be announced on Dec. 18 on the town's Facebook page. The Christmas celebrations are the work of several community groups, including those mentioned earlier as well as a committee of council, the Municipal Accommodation Tax Tourism Advisory Panel, 1000 Islands RV, the Thousand Islands Playhouse and several town volunteers. A full schedule of events is posted on the town’s website.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times