At least 20 Alberta schools have reported cases of COVID-19 since students across the province started returning to classrooms a week ago.Support Our Students Alberta, a non-partisan, non-profit public education advocacy group, has a COVID-19 tracker for kindergarten to Grade 12 schools on its website.It suggests 23 schools have had cases — including eight in Calgary and four in Edmonton — based on recent letters and emails sent to parents."We get parents to send us a screenshot of correspondence from principals, school districts or directly from Alberta Health Services," Wing Li, communications director for the advocacy group, said Tuesday."We are seeing this explosion of case reports."Some of those reports include a positive case at Bowness High School in Calgary last week and a student from Saint Francis High School in Calgary whose COVID-19 test result was revealed this week.At Ross Sheppard School in Edmonton, a letter posted online Tuesday noted that students in three Grade 10 classes need to be tested and must self-isolate at home for 14 days."If your child is required to isolate, you will have received a call from the school," said the letter from principal Rick Stanley. "A deep clean of the school was completed before students returned to class today."No outbreaks have been declared at the schools and all remain open at this time.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical health officer, said officials have counted 11 cases at 11 schools but none of the infections were acquired at the schools.There may be reports of more school cases, she said, but those people may not have been in school while infectious.Officials are taking all school cases seriously, Hinshaw added.She said she's concerned with the rise in case numbers across the province. There were 619 new cases over the long weekend and 1,692 active cases on Tuesday — the highest active infection count since May 9.But overall, with the majority of Alberta's 750,000 students and 90,000 staff back in school, the infection rate in the school community is low, Hinshaw said."We need to remember that there are no risk-free options when it comes to COVID and that we must support every aspect of our children's health. We need to be nimble and continue adapting our approaches bases on emerging evidence and the needs of schools and students."Masks are mandatory in schools for students in grades 4 to 12 when there cannot be physical distancing. But Hinshaw said she has allowed an exemption for the Fort Vermilion School Division in the northern part of the province with six of its schools.Those schools have a detailed physical-distancing plan that includes having only one cohort in a hallway at one time.Hinshaw said she may amend rules for other schools, and schools with more than five COVID-19 cases will be listed on a health website.Opposition NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said the United Conservative government needs to bring in daily online reporting of cases in schools and provide more resources to schools to keep students safe."This is a very disturbing trend just days into the school year," Hoffman said."We knew kids would be back in schools for months and the government has done nothing to plan for it."This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 8, 2020.The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Several of the 28 women a Calgary neurologist sexually assaulted over three decades told a judge Tuesday that what happened during their 15-minute appointments led to years of anxiety, shame, self-doubt and fear of doctors.Court heard 20 victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing of Keith Hoyte, 72, who pleaded guilty to the charges in January.Prosecutor Rosalind Greenwood read half of the statements on behalf of victims in the Calgary Courts Centre's spacious ceremonial courtroom, where those in the gallery could adhere to COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines.One by one, the rest stood or sat behind Plexiglas, removed their face masks and detailed the pain their assaults caused.Greenwood and defence lawyer Alain Hepner jointly suggested Hoyte serve three years behind bars.Queen's Bench Justice Jim Eamon questioned whether that was a harsh enough punishment, given the number of victims and the vulnerable position in which each found themselves.But Eamon said he was bound by legal precedent to accept the proposed sentence."They rightly hoped you could relieve their suffering," Eamon said of the women, as Hoyte stood in the prisoner's dock."You used them as sexual objects."He called Hoyte's harm to his former profession a "sorry state of affairs.""You brought dishonour upon the medical system."An agreed statement of facts described how the victims, between the ages of 17 and 46, were seeking help for brain ailments such as migraines or seizures. The assaults took place between the early 1980s and 2013, when Hoyte retired.Yet the victims described how Hoyte fondled their breasts and pricked them with pins, while he made little eye contact or conversation."I carried this dirty secret with me, letting it destroy me," said one woman who, for 14 years, only told four people about the assault.Many of the women who spoke out said they refuse to refer to Hoyte as doctor, because he broke his oath to do no harm.Virtually all described how the assaults sowed a sense of mistrust in the medical profession and fear of seeing doctors.One woman told the courtroom she was uncomfortable with male doctors even before she was assaulted by Hoyte."I couldn't avoid you. You wore the armour of the specialist. You knew we had nowhere else to go," she said."You caused this sense of betrayal."She said she felt like "a desperate soul seeking help reduced to nothing more than a plaything."Another woman, who described Hoyte as a "monster," said she relives her assault like a video playing in slow motion in her head."Every little detail is highlighted, from the chairs in the waiting room to the pictures on the wall. "I'm on guard all the time and the feeling of being vulnerable never goes away."The woman said she can't forgive Hoyte."We are here because he got caught, not because there's any remorse for his actions."Hoyte told court that his sense of remorse is "palpable.""I wish I had a magical power to help you heal from the memories. I don't," he said in a prepared statement."I do not expect forgiveness, but I am truly sorry."Court heard one victim went to police in 1991, another in 2008 and a third in 2018. Police charged Hoyte with three counts of sexual assault in June 2018. After media reports, 25 more women came forward.Some complainants said they did not report Hoyte sooner because they thought they wouldn't be believed, would be judged or would be thought of as difficult patients.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2020.Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Organizations representing family physicians and teaching staff say there's an uptick in the number of Ontario teachers requesting medical exemptions from work amid growing concerns over potential COVID-19 transmission in schools.Those inquiries have prompted the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) — which represents more than 12,500 family doctors across the province — to provide new guidance to its members on how to handle work accommodation requests from people coping with chronic illnesses.Family physicians are "increasingly" getting the requests, including many from teachers, said Dr. Jennifer Young, president of the OCFP."The guidance is if you have a chronic disease that is severe, a chronic disease that's not well controlled, a chronic disease that requires immuno-suppressants ... the severity of the disease requires more than average accommodation," Young said.That could mean requests for an in-class work exemption or other accommodations for someone with severe asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, for instance, or patients taking drugs that suppress their immune system for a variety of conditions ranging from cancer to inflammatory bowel disease."We have educators who were able to work in a classroom pre-pandemic, but have underlying conditions that now make being in that face-to-face situation too great a risk," said Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF).Bischof said the union's members are making a rising number of requests, while a spokesperson for the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) also confirmed its members are hearing of an increase "anecdotally."While the organizations CBC News contacted don't have hard data on the spike, numbers from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) show roughly one in five returning permanent staff members may have some kind of accommodation request for the new school year.Out of more than 24,000 permanent staff members who completed a survey from the board, roughly 95 per cent said they are returning to work, with 20 per cent of those requiring some form of accommodation, according to figures provided by the TDSB.Meanwhile, in the Peel District School Board, more than 440 teachers have so far asked for personal medical accommodations for the start of the school year. Of those, 366 teachers have been offered online assignments as a medical accommodation, said spokesperson Kayla Tishcoff.Boards 'directed' to prioritize medical exemptionsAccording to the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), there are typically no "cookie cutter" accommodations, which can also be either temporary or permanent. A member with a vascular condition might be excused from yard duty in extreme weather, or someone with diabetes might require coverage when carrying out necessary blood testing or going for snacks, examples ETFO offers from before the onset of the pre-pandemic."When an accommodation is being sought, the employer is entitled to request documentation from a medical professional, and will usually do so," the union explains on its website.As for who actually grants those accommodations — it's not family doctors."Family physicians are expected to use their clinical judgment and knowledge of their patients as it relates to any potential requirements for that individual to be exempt from working in person, or to work remotely," said David Jensen, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, in a statement."It is not up to the family physician to determine the necessary accommodation."WATCH: Province pauses any further reopening for four weeks:Instead, it's "up to the employer based on the Human Rights Code to make the accommodation for their employee," notes the guidance for family physicians from their college.In this case, that means school boards. And so far, teachers' requests are typically being granted across the province."School boards have been directed to prioritize those with medical exemptions when granting COVID-19 workplace accommodations," noted T.J. Goertz, a spokesperson for the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, in a statement."We are not aware of any boards having trouble managing the current volume of workplace accommodation requests."Speaking for the Peel board, Tishcoff said a medical accommodation to work out-of-school has not been offered in the past for teaching staff, but that's changed this year."Given the significant number of students who will be moving to fully-online learning, the board will be able to offer online assignments in the PDSB Online School to teaching staff who requested the accommodation within the specified time period and that demonstrate a need to be accommodated by working remotely," she explained.Bischof said when it comes to teacher requests across the province, things are "going pretty well."The safety issue at hand, he added, isn't boards accommodating teachers, but provincial officials implementing proper policies to protect staff and students who will be in class this year.While the government maintains safety is at the forefront of back-to-school plans, Bischof maintains the province has "failed" to ensure there is safe ventilation or physical distancing in many Ontario schools.
Multiple Chinese fighter jets entered airspace to Taiwan's southwest on Wednesday, said the island's defence ministry, describing it as a destabilising action which threatened regional peace. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has repeatedly complained of Chinese military activities near the island, including regular air force patrols. China says such drills demonstrate its resolve to protect its sovereignty.
Vancouver is the epicentre of an overdose crisis that is claiming the lives of 175 people a month in British Columbia.The benchmark price for a detached home in Greater Vancouver is $1.5 million, up seven per cent this year and 81 per cent in the last decade. A global pandemic has forced politicians to make tough decisions on a regular basis on health and safety protocols, many of which currently centre around schools. And yet, at least for the moment, the most acrimonious political debate in the city is not about any of those things. "The conflict over streets and street cleanliness and order: It's definitely top of mind for lots of Vancouverites. It's probably the single issue we hear [most] about, and for good reason," said Councillor Pete Fry. "Certainly, we see a lot more garbage on the street, we see a lot more human waste on the streets, we see a lot more needles, more violence, more folks who are in the throes of psychosis or other crisis, and it's scary for a lot of folks."It's caused Mayor Kennedy Stewart to call an emergency council meeting for Sept. 11, after months of growing rhetoric over a growing homeless population, which includes the city's third tent encampment this year. The reason for the tension is clear: an increase of hundreds of homeless people that the city and province attribute mostly to COVID-19 shelter policies enforcing physical distancing; a summer of highly visible homeless camps in the province's two biggest cities; and a noticeable increase in petty crime and theft in neighbourhoods like Yaletown and the West End, causing some residents to worry about a tipping point. One can debate whether the issue is overblown, or over-focused on the anxieties of homeowners at the expense of the most marginalized. What's clear is the city has decided it's a top priority — whether the city has the capacity to solve the issue is a different matter.From friendly neighbours to concerned citizensIn the same way that the rising home prices galvanized regular citizens into concerned activists, so too has the increase in crime."In Strathcona we've been used to dealing with a certain level of petty crime … but in the last 10 weeks, we've seen an incredible shift in our neighbourhood, and it's just not sustainable," said Katie Lewis, vice-president of the Strathcona Residents' Association. That timeline coincides with the arrival of the Strathcona Park encampment, along with the traffic through the neighbourhood from the park to the Downtown Eastside. It took 19 months to end the Oppenheimer Park encampment — complete with endless buck-passing and emergency motions from politicians that changed little — and Lewis and others in Strathcona worry of a repeat. "Government hasn't learned its lesson from the Oppenheimer experience," said Jamie MacLaren, a lawyer leading a movement by residents in the area to withhold their property taxes next year unless the encampment is closed and more social housing is created throughout the city. "It needs to happen immediately. Modular housing in the spring of next year won't do the trick; winter is coming and they have real safety needs in the camp."Fry is a long-time Strathcona resident and politician, not known for stigmatizing the homeless or prioritizing "tough on crime" policies. But he believes the anxieties of residents — not just in Strathcona, but in Yaletown, the West End, Crosstown and other neighbourhoods where there's been an increase in crime — are warranted. "What we're doing right now is not working, and we're all dreading the inevitable second wave of the pandemic that might make this crisis more extreme."Managing, not endingBut what short-term changes are possible?The province has already committed to 450 more units of modular and social housing, but they won't start coming online until next spring — and for its part, the province is adamant that its approach to the issue has been effective. "People are witnessing more [homelessness] than they have historically, but we also used to have the [Surrey] Strip, we used to have Sugar Mountain," said Housing Minister Selina Robinson."We have some work to do, but we're working hard."Mayor Stewart asks people for compassion, but he's also aware the public wants concrete movement more than before."I agree there has been a change in public tone, and it's our job as politicians to move resources to where they're most needed," he said."It's about trying to build these partnerships that are delivering, rather than lots of talk. I can understand the frustration, and that's how I'll be judged when the next election comes along: how well did we tackle this?"It's why Stewart's motion for Friday's meeting calls on staff to come back with solutions by early October that haven't been seriously considered before, including an emergency relief encampment.However, with an independent park board that permits continuous overnight camping and a section of the population leery of social housing guidelines, he's trying not to overpromise."Cities, it's never about ending anything, it's about managing it better. When I talk to mayors around the world, those kinds of promises, they shouldn't be made, because you can't keep them."One might remember the city's last mayor, Gregor Robertson, making a bold promise on the cusp of the 2010 Olympics that he would end street homelessness. Now, the city is promising to manage the issue rather than end it. It might be pragmatic. It might be pessimistic. But it's definitely a sign of how the city's mood has changed.
The Chinese government accused Australia on Wednesday of "blatant irrational behavior", harassment and violation of the rights of its journalists by searching and seizing items from the homes of four Chinese state media reporters. Relations between the two major trading partners have become increasingly strained, and Beijing's revelation that Australia had conducted the raids in late June came as a well known Chinese academic confirmed that his Australian visa had been canceled on security grounds. A day earlier, two Australian journalists flew home from China with the help of consular officials, having been questioned by China's state security ministry, and initially barred from leaving the country.
OTTAWA — A new survey suggests that while Canadians are divided over removing monuments to politicians who harboured racist views or pushed racist policies, many oppose the "spontaneous" toppling of statues of Canada's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald.The online poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies follows the controversial tearing down and vandalism of a Macdonald statue in Montreal last month by activists angry over his anti-Indigenous views and policies.The incident, which was condemned by political leaders of various stripes, occurred during an anti-racism protest Aug. 30. Video showed a group of activists chanting and cheering as the statue was pulled to the ground before its head snapped off. The episode represented the latest chapter in a growing debate about what to do with such statues, given Macdonald's legacy as an architect of both Canada and the country's residential school system, where thousands of children suffered abuse, or even death, during efforts to stamp out Indigenous culture.Half of respondents to the survey said they oppose the idea of removing statues or monuments to politicians who espoused racist views or implemented racist policies, while 31 per cent said they support such moves and 19 per cent did not know.The divide was smaller when it came to streets, schools and other public institutions bearing the names of historic figures shown to have been racist, with 47 per cent against renaming them and 34 per cent in favour.Yet 75 per cent of respondents to the poll were against the Montreal-style "spontaneous" tearing down of Macdonald statues by activists while only 11 per cent said they were in favour.The numbers suggest Canadians are more supportive of a deliberate process of dealing with such statues — but take a critical view of activists taking matters into their own hands, said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque."If it was not through vandalism, would that number be different? Most likely. Because fully a third of Canadians say they would support removing a monument or statue if it were for the reasons described there," Bourque said."But support for doing so through vandalism or some form of illegal action is not supported. In the context that it was done in Montreal, it doesn't get support from anybody."The results show respondents are also divided over how they see Macdonald.Forty-four per cent said they considered him first and foremost as the architect of Canadian confederation while 15 per cent viewed him as having set in motion policies that attacked the rights of Indigenous Peoples and sought to assimilate them.Yet 37 per cent said they did not know enough about him to say either way, while in another question, only 15 per cent said they had a positive view of Macdonald while 47 per cent were neutral, 12 per cent were negative and 26 per cent did not know.The online survey of 1,529 Canadians took place Sept. 4-6. An internet poll cannot be given a margin of error because it is not a random sample.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A new report finds immigrants, refugees and other newcomers accounted for nearly 44 per cent of Ontario's COVID-19 cases in the first half of the year.That's despite the fact overall testing rates were lower for those groups, and that they comprised just one-quarter of the population.The non-profit research institute ICES examined provincial health administrative data collected between Jan. 15 and June 13, 2020.Immigrants and refugees who worked in health-care, especially women, accounted for a disproportionate number of cases.The report's lead author, Dr. Astrid Guttmann, notes many immigrants and refugees face systemic inequities including lower pay and precarious employment that may not offer sick leave.She adds many also face language barriers and are more likely to live in crowded and multigenerational households, making it more difficult to isolate when cases occur."We know that there are higher rates of COVID in lower-income neighbourhoods but actually when we looked at it, we showed that this was much more of an issue for immigrants and refugees," says Guttmann."So when you look at how rates of cases goes up by neighbourhood income, there's a much, much steeper gradient for immigrants and refugees than for (those) Canadian-born."Guttmann says the findings underscore the need to make COVID-19 tests easier to obtain for newcomers, suggesting mobile testing units that can target at-risk communities.She also suggests financial help for people who can't safely quarantine in their homes or are homeless, and income supplements for those who don't get sick leave from their employer.The study, released Wednesday, excludes long-term care residents and those not eligible for provincial health coverage, such as asylum seekers awaiting refugee hearings.Provincial COVID-19 test results were linked to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada involving people who landed in Ontario from 1985 to 2017.The data also drills down into the large numbers of female immigrants and refugees who work in health-care — a job category that itself carries greater risk of COVID-19 exposure."When we look at adult females who are positive for COVID, just over a third of them are health-care workers but almost half of them are immigrants and refugees and they come from a few distinct countries — the Philippines, Jamaica, Nigeria, India," says Guttmann. Of all women from Nigeria who tested positive, 76 per cent were health-care workers.Meanwhile, 64 per cent of female Jamaicans who tested positive were health-care workers, 53 per cent of all Filipinas who tested positive were health-care workers, and 38 per cent of female Indians were health-care workers.Guttmann adds that it's not clear whether immigrant health-care workers are more likely than non-immigrant health-care workers to contract COVID-19.While the findings only relate to Ontario, she suspects "the dynamics are probably fairly similar" nationally, although the pandemic has not hit some parts of Canada as hard as others."This really relates quite heavily to immigrants and some of the work that they do and some of the risks that are associated with those occupations."Of those who were tested, refugees had the highest per cent positivity at 10.4 per cent versus 7.6 per cent in other immigrants, while the rate was 2.9 per cent among Canadian-born/long-term residents.Immigrants and refugees from Central, Western and East Africa, South America, the Caribbean, South East Asia and South Asia had the highest rates of positivity when examined by world region.ICES is a non-profit research institute based in Toronto that studies population-based health information for insight into a broad range of health-care issues.This article by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2020.Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
A federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday that had been filed by 50 former pro wrestlers, many of them stars in the 1980s and 1990s, who claimed World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from repeated head injuries, including concussions that led to long-term brain damage. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City agreed with a federal judge in Connecticut who tossed the lawsuits two years ago, saying many of the claims were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations expired. Among the plaintiffs were Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Chris “King Kong Bundy” Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, known as Mr. Fuji.
RED DEER, Alta. — A man accused of killing a family doctor at a medical clinic in central Alberta made a second bizarre court appearance Wednesday as he was ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam.Deng Mabiour is charged with first-degree murder in last month's slaying of Dr. Walter Reynolds at the Village Mall Walk-In Clinic in Red Deer.Mabiour, 54, went on several tirades at provincial court Judge Bert Skinner, who asked the accused several times whether he understood the charges against him."I refuse to say because my case is bigger than this," said Mabiour, who wore a blue inmate jumpsuit and insisted on sitting on the floor of the video room at the Red Deer Remand Centre claiming his knee hurt."Why do you not ask me why I killed my family doctor? I killed him for good reason," Mabiour told the judge."I don't want a lawyer. I want to talk about why I killed my family doctor. It is a very, very long story."Reynolds, a 45-year-old father of two, was attacked with a weapon while working at the clinic on Aug. 10. He died later in hospital.One witness told media that she was in the waiting room when she heard cries for help and that a man in the clinic had a hammer and a machete.RCMP have said the crime was not random and the two men knew each other through the clinic, although they have not said if Mabiour was a patient of Reynolds.Mabiour is also charged with assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer.He first appeared in court one month ago and appeared confused."Listen to me. I don't remember anything because I'm sick. I want a doctor,'' Mabiour told court on Aug. 12.Police have released few details about the man accused of killing Reynolds. An acquaintance of Mabiour has said he came to Canada from South Sudan.On Wednesday, Mabiour said he is worried about the justice system in Canada."I don't know how you carry out justice in Canada. Canada lawyer is not good for me," he told court."Here there is corruption."Mabiour did not have a lawyer in court but a duty counsel said the accused had applied for legal aid then cancelled his request.The judge ordered a five-day psychiatric evaluation and put the case over to Sept. 14."This court has no authority to take a plea from you," Skinner said."I am going to request an assessment of you ... to verify if you are fit to stand trial. I'm not so satisfied."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2020.Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
A New York–based lobster company's Grand Manan expansion plans are on hold while the New Brunswick and Canadian governments review a potential violation of the company's lease of provincial propertyAqua Best buys lobsters from Grand Manan fishermen and operates a tank-house, a land-based lobster storage facility, on the island. Documents shared with CBC show the company also leases inter-tidal land for a lobster holding pound, essentially a pen on the sea floor in the zone between the low and high tide area, in Woodward's Cove.Photos show the pound area was extensively filled in starting in the fall of 2018 with heavy rock to create a pad for the expansion.A couple of photos found on Facebook show New Brunswick Southwest MP, John Williamson standing on the filled in area in July of 2019.Williamson tagged the photos: "Looking at Aqua Best's expansion plans on Grand Manan."Williamson could not be reached Tuesday for comment.Frank Longstaff owns an adjacent property in the cove.He said the company is preparing to build on provincial government land it leases under very specific conditions."The lobster pound is governed by a lease the company took out with the province," said Longstaff. "And one of the terms of the lease is that it is to be used as a lobster pound solely. And so to fill it in is a breach of that term, certainly to build something on it is a breach of that term."Longstaff said he's not sure how the company can even be issued a building permit for the site because it doesn't have title to the land. Reached by CBC, Jimmy Lam, Aqua Best's manager of Canadian Operations said he had no comment and is waiting for word from the federal and provincial governments before determining if the work can proceed.Grand Manan Mayor Dennis Greene said the issue does not directly involve the village and is before the two other levels of government. "There's quite a few jobs that's involved there and they have great plans for the future and we'd like to see it proceed," said Greene. "But, again, it's a provincial and federal matter."Longstaff said he understands the importance of the lobster industry to the island's economy.But he's concerned that if the company is allowed to go ahead with expansion of the tank house after constructing the pad on land it doesn't own it would set a dangerous precedent for other coastal areas in the province.He says neighbours were not notified about plans for construction on the site and there have been no public notices about destruction of fish habitat in the inter-tidal zone.in a brief statement a spokesperson for New Brunswick's Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries confirmed a stop work order was issued after the infill was discovered in the Aqua Best case. The statement said the department is working with "federal counterparts" on the file.A spokesperson said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans could not immediately comment on the case TuesdayAndrea Anderson Mason, elected MLA for Fundy the Isles in 2018, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Russia summoned Germany's ambassador on Wednesday to accuse Berlin of using the case of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to discredit Moscow and demanded that Germany immediately hand over medical data about his illness. Navalny, an opponent of President Vladimir Putin, was airlifted to Berlin for treatment after falling ill in Russia.
PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Kanye West’s bid to appear on the state’s Nov. 3 ballot as an independent presidential candidate, just hours before eight of the state’s 15 counties faced a deadline for printing ballots.The decision marked the end of the rapper’s attempt to run in Arizona. He had appealed a lower-court decision last week that barred him from the ballot.The Supreme Court concluded West’s electors — who would have cast Electoral College votes if he had won the most votes of any candidate in Arizona— failed to file an election document stated their names and political parties. The justices said any nominating signatures collected before presidential electors filed their “statements of interest” are invalid.West has qualified to appear on the ballot in several states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Tennessee, Utah and Mississippi. He didn’t qualify in Ohio, Montana, West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin and other states.Maricopa, Pima, Apache, Mohave, Pinal, Cochise, Coconino and La Paz counties face a late Tuesday afternoon deadline for printing ballots. The deadline for the remaining counties is late Wednesday afternoon.A message left Tuesday for Tim LaSota, an attorney representing West, wasn't immediately returned. The attorneys who challenged West's candidacy said in a statement that they were pleased that the court prevented "a candidate who didn’t follow Arizona’s election laws from getting on the ballot at the last minute.”Last week, West’s campaign turned in nearly 58,000 nominating signatures, well over the 39,000 needed to appear on the Arizona ballot.Over the last two weeks, more than 140 people living in other states have registered in Arizona as paid signature gatherers for West, who announced his presidential campaign on July 4. His campaign has spent more than $1 million in Arizona.State resident Rasean Clayton filed a lawsuit seeking to bar from appearing on the ballot, accusing the rapper of serving as an election spoiler and argued that state law barred him from running as an independent candidate because West is a registered Republican.West’s lawyers said their client’s status as a registered Republican in Wyoming was irrelevant to getting on the Arizona ballot. They said when West filed federal election paperwork, he listed his political party as “BDY,” an abbreviation for Birthday Party.Despite those claims, Clayton’s attorneys said West remains a registered Republican. They also said nearly all of West’s electors were Republicans until they changed registrations to independent last week.It’s unclear whether Clayton has any connections to the Democratic Party. He said in a statement that he filed the legal challenge to West’s campaign because he didn’t want voters to be confused by seeing unqualified candidates on the ballot.Attorneys for West brushed aside criticism that West was trying to be a spoiler aimed at hurting Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s chances in Arizona. They said Clayton’s lawsuit was aimed at denying voters a choice.Jacques Billeaud, The Associated Press
France accused the United States on Wednesday of seeking to undermine international talks to update cross-border taxation for the digital age and urged Europe to prepare an EU tax if the negotiations fail. With a blueprint for a deal due from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) next month, the aim of reaching an agreement by a year-end deadline is looking increasingly challenging. Washington called for a pause in the talks earlier this year after suggesting any deal should include a voluntary opt-in mechanism for U.S. companies and raising qualms about the scope of the tax.
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor ordered nightclubs and banquet halls to close on Tuesday to control the spread of COVID-19 and placed new restrictions on the sale of alcohol at pubs, lounges and restaurants.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she amended the orders after recent spikes in cases linked to establishments where alcohol is sold.The revised health orders also include a 10 p.m. cut-off for alcohol sales at bars and restaurants, and they must close at 11 p.m. unless they provide full food service.Henry said the province needs to make adjustments now that the summer is coming to a close."We had a bit of a grace period in the summer, we were able to manage the cases," she told a news conference.Health Minister Adrian Dix said the measures taken by the province reflect "an assessment of the evidence, as they have from the beginning."The province has adjusted its approach to COVID-19 since the pandemic began to protect the public, he said."And these measures are ... part of the same effort," he added.Henry said as the summer ends, people need to change the way they are socializing."We're moving from the summer where we all needed a break, but we are now at the point where we're seeing cases continue to increase," she said. "As we get back to work for many people and back to school for many people, it is the time for all of us to cut back on our social interactions."Henry said there have been 429 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. since Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 6,591 cases.The province also recorded two additional deaths, both of them in long-term care homes. The two deaths bring B.C.'s COVID-19 death total to 213 people.She said the new restrictions also place noise limits on pubs, lounges and restaurants to limit close contacts between people. Henry said the lower volumes will make it easier for people to communicate without raising their voices."And that means music or other background sounds, such as from televisions in bars, lounges and pubs and restaurants, must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation," she said.Henry said the province must focus on getting students back to school and people back to work."We now need to put our focus and attention on the important things," Henry said. "This is what we all need to do now to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19 for ourselves and for everyone else."Henry said the stricter health restrictions are necessary because COVID-19 cases were linked to clubs and halls, especially in Metro Vancouver."Yes, I do think these are necessary actions right now," she added. "We do it for things we think will make a difference. It became apparent that some venues were really high-risk environments."This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 8, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan's education minister said he expects the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a need for more substitute teachers but funding for those staff isn't an immediate priority.On Tuesday, as thousands of students were back in school for the first time in almost six months, Gord Wyant said officials don't yet know what the impact will be."We do anticipate that there will be a demand on substitute teachers, an increased demand over what likely is in the budgets of school divisions," Wyant told a news conference."But we don't know what that number's going to be."At the elementary school in Indian Head, a town east of Regina, all students started the year with online learning because a staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus.The Prairie Valley School Division said other staff at the school have to isolate for 14 days and the plan is to start in-person classes next week.Wyant said COVID-19 cases in schools are inevitable and divisions have processes in place to respond when there are infections.Terri Leniuk sent her 14-year-old daughter to her first day of high school in Regina on Tuesday. The mother said her daughter felt apprehensive about going, and the regular back-to-school excitement was missing because of all the changes to routines."We were nervous, we didn't really know what to expect," Leniuk said."Am I planning on pulling her out if we have a case there or two? No. We need to give this some time and see how it goes."On Tuesday, the government outlined how it would spend about $40 million in provincial funding to help divisions safely reopen schools, and that's on top of $10 million boards can spend to cover pandemic-related costs from their own savings.Wyant said priority for funding was given to sanitization supplies and helping immunocompromised students. Some staff are also to be hired — 190 custodial staff, 150 teachers to assist those students with weaker immune systems and 102 staff to help with distance learning.Elya Lam, one of the mothers behind a community group pressing the province to bring in tighter safety measures in schools, said her family chose online learning for her kids going into Grade 2 and kindergarten because they have some immunocompromised relatives."We know that is not an option for a lot of families."In terms of support, Wyant said the province has yet to receive $75 million in federal money pledged to safely reopen schools. He added it will be accepting more funding requests from school divisions.Money for supplies like yoga mats and pencil cases, as well as paying for substitute teachers, were things that didn't make the cut this time around, Wyant said.Opposition NDP education critic Carla Beck said the Saskatchewan Party government should have announced the teacher positions earlier and it's foreseeable that divisions will need more money to pay for substitutes."I've heard from a number of substitute teachers that they're fully booked for the first week," she said.For many parents taking first day of school photos, their children's smiles were shielded by masks, as nearly all school divisions are requiring them to be worn in certain circumstances, such as on buses.Six million masks were ordered by the province and distributed to school divisions.Stacey Wempe is part of a group of parents behind an effort against mandatory masks in the South East Cornerstone Public School Division, which requires they be worn by grade 9 to 12 students when staying far enough apart isn't possible and they are outside their assigned cohorts.As of Tuesday afternoon, an online petition against masks in the division had more than 2,000 signatures.Wempe said her daughter starts Grade 12 at Estevan Comprehensive School on Wednesday and has been informed that if she doesn't wear a mask, she will be sent home.Parents weren't involved in deciding the mask policy, said Wempe, and she doesn't understand the rationale behind it when the rate of transmission of COVID-19 remains low in Saskatchewan.The province reported seven new COVID-19 cases and 58 active infections Tuesday."All we want actually is the dialogue with the school division. That's all we really want," Wempe said. "They're not giving us choices here. We have a right to have our own say and make our own decisions."Wyant says when it comes to masks, parents should follow the rules of their school divisions and any exemption to wearing one should be granted in "exceptional" circumstances.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2020Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
A nasal swab isn't the only way to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 — scientists around the world have been able to track the presence of the novel coronavirus in sewage.Now, a team of researchers at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ont., is monitoring wastewater in Durham Region with the aim of giving public health units around the province a COVID-19 early warning system. "We think it's important and obviously timely," said Denina Simmons, an assistant professor at Ontario Tech. On a tour of her lab, Simmons demonstrated scientific equipment that can detect the proteins specific to SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness."When human beings are sick, they shed the viral particle through their breath, and through their urine and feces," she said. "When that goes down the drain, down the toilet and into the wastewater catchments, we can detect the virus." One key feature of monitoring wastewater is that it can detect the virus before people show the symptoms that would prompt them to get tested.Such a finding from a particular sewage treatment plant could show the local public health unit which part of its community is seeing evidence of infections. In turn, that could help officials decide where to direct testing resources in an effort to track down individual COVID-19 cases. The team at Ontario Tech is collaborating on the project with colleagues around the province, including at Ryerson University in Toronto and the universities of Ottawa, Waterloo, Guelph and Windsor. "We are all working on very small dribs and drabs of funding," said Simmons. "We would love to see there be an organized provincial plan." She said the researchers would like to develop their methods and pass them on to the public health units and municipalities to conduct the testing more frequently.Currently, engineers at four of Durham Region's 11 wastewater plants take samples every few hours and currently send a week's worth of samples to the researchers' labs at once. "We just thought it was a fantastic opportunity to partner with the university on something that will eventually help our our health department in terms of COVID tracking and tracing," said Sandra Austin, director of strategic initiatives for Durham Region. "It's almost like an early detection system," said Austin in an interview. "It gives us a much better indication of where we might have outbreaks in the future, because there's actually the ability to test for the virus within wastewater up to five days before symptoms would start to appear." The equipment used by Ontario Tech for detecting the virus in Durham's wastewater samples includes a thermal cycler, also known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine. It analyzes the samples for the genetic material of the coronavirus and can find out not only whether there is COVID-19 in the sample, but how much. "This is probably the most sensitive experiment to do, where we can actually detect really low levels," said post-doctoral fellow Golam Islam as he ran the device in a basement lab at the university's science building. It's a similar process to testing individual samples from nasal swabs taken at one of Ontario's COVID-19 assessment centres. The province is currently testing around 25,000 such samples per day. The researchers contend that sampling conducted from wastewater collection sites around the province could screen many times that number of people daily. They say the cost of testing one sewage sample from an entire neighbourhood is comparable to the cost of testing one person with a nasal swab. The wastewater method could also be used at the level of a large building or institution, such as a university campus or school, to monitor for early signs of an outbreak.The applicability of this was borne out last month at the University of Arizona, which detected the presence of COVID-19 during daily monitoring of wastewater from a student dormitory. A follow-up testing blitz in the dorm found two cases, and university officials say that quick response prevented the infections from spreading.
For months, President Donald Trump has tried to convince Americans that the Nov. 3 election will be “rigged,” claiming without evidence that mail voting will open the door to mass cheating. “The greatest Election Fraud in our history is about to happen,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 23. In making these claims, Trump has seized upon the idea that U.S. elections are vulnerable to rampant fraud.