ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Regina– When the COVID-19 vaccine comes, Saskatchewan will be ready. That’s according to Minister of Health Paul Merriman, who started the Dec. 2 COVID-19 update talking about upcoming vaccines, the first of which, made by Pfizer, received emergency approval in the United Kingdom on that very day. “Near the start of this pandemic, I remember Premier Moe saying, ‘This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon,’” Merriman said. “That is still true today. And we still have a long way to go in this marathon. Even marathons have a finish line. And now we know where that finish line is. “The finish line is when we have delivered a safe, effective vaccine to a significant number of Saskatchewan residents. That's where life can truly start getting back to normal. “Saskatchewan Health and the SHA (Saskatchewan Health Authority) have already done a lot of work, getting ready to deliver this vaccine. They will have a more detailed presentation on that plan sometime next week. For now, I want everybody to know: We in Saskatchewan are ready to go. “As soon as the federal government is able to start delivering the vaccine to us, we will be ready to deliver that to Saskatchewan people quickly and safely. “This is a huge undertaking involving thousands of healthcare workers, and other support staff, transportation, storage, and many other logistical issues. But let me assure you, we will be ready. Healthcare workers, elderly first Merriman continued, “Premier Moe and I have directed all necessary resources be directed to this effort. Based on the advice of public health officials, we will be prioritizing who will receive it first. There'll be more detail on this presentation next week. But it's no surprise that we expect healthcare workers, and the residents in our long-term care and personal care homes to receive the first vaccines. “We do not yet have an exact timeline on when we will be receiving these vaccines. The federal government is now saying the first deliveries will be early in the new year. Saskatchewan’s per capita share that we should be receiving in the first quarter of 2021 is about 180,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 90,000 people. This is just based on the deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna, who have applied for their vaccine approvals. In the last few days two more companies, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have also applied to have their vaccines approved. This could result in more vaccines being delivered, even quicker. When that occurs, we will be ready to start receiving the shipments. And we will also be ready to go. “This is how we get back to normal in Saskatchewan. This is how our health system will get back to normal. This is how our economy will get back to normal. This is how our lives will get back to normal. It is quite literally the shot in the arm that Saskatchewan needs. And be ready to deliver that shot in the arm, as soon as the federal government starts getting us that vaccine. Until then, we all have to keep following the public orders and guidelines to protect ourselves and others. Keep physical distancing. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Limit your close contacts and stay home, if you're not feeling well. And follow the other good practices that we know to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It's how we keep ourselves, and those around us safe,” Merriman said. New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili told reporters, “I was concerned that the minister didn't understand his responsibility yesterday. This government should be talking about vaccine readiness and encouraging people to learn about the vaccine and get ready to take it, ready to protect each other. “They failed when it came to masks, getting people ready and promoting that early. They helped create this anti-mask pushback that we see in the in the province, with their mixed messages. They need to be ready and be promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, because it is essential, if we're going to get past this. And we're going to need more than the vaccine. It's not enough to wait to the vaccine and have a terrible December and January, and who knows when we actually get it. We need to act now. But we also need to act now, to get people ready for when the vaccine is here.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand authorities have approved tech billionaire Sean Parker’s purchase of a one-third stake in film director Peter Jackson’s visual effects studio.Parker needed special permission from the Overseas Investment Office because he isn’t a New Zealand resident and the Weta Digital studio is worth more than 100 million New Zealand dollars ($71 million).In a decision published on its website this week, the office said Parker and his business associates had the relevant experience and were “of good character.” It said Weta Digital was raising money to grow its business.Parker, who co-founded the file-sharing service Napster and is a former president of Facebook, said in June there was a huge, unmet demand for high-quality animated content.“I have been a Weta superfan for the past two decades — I recall my sense of wonder when I first saw the character of Gollum brought to life, and later the surreal feeling of being transported to the alternate reality of Pandora," Parker said, referring to the work Weta did on Jackson's “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and James Cameron's “Avatar."Parker's representative said Wednesday he had no further comment on the purchase.Weta employs about 1,550 people and is based in New Zealand's capital, Wellington. Company records indicate Jackson and collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens own just over two-thirds of the company. Weta will issue new shares for Parker, diluting Jackson's stake.Jackson could not be reached for comment.In June, Weta appointed Parker's business associate Prem Akkaraju as chief executive and said it would begin producing original content for the first time in its 25-year history.In 2016, Parker and Akkaraju founded a video-on-demand startup called Screening Room, which this year relaunched as SR Labs.Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Do “self-cleaning” elevator buttons really work?Without rigorous independent studies, experts say it’s hard to verify claims of “self-cleaning” or “antiviral" surfaces that have popped up during the pandemic.But they also say you shouldn’t worry too much about how well such features really work.COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Research suggests it would be difficult to catch the virus from surfaces like an elevator button.“You get it through what you breathe, not through what you touch,” said Emanuel Goldman, who studies viruses at Rutgers University.Studies showing the virus can survive several hours on plastic or metal surfaces do not mimic real-life conditions, said Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford Health Care.Companies are selling antibacterial and antiviral elevator button or door handle covers. But building or office managers looking to protect employees or tenants would be better off buying hand-sanitizing stations instead, Winslow said.And anyone wanting to avoid the virus should continue taking regular public health precautions: mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding indoor events, bars, dining and gyms.Routine hand washing is also recommended, whether there's a pandemic or not, Goldman said.___The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org.Read previous Viral Questions:Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?Do masks with antiviral coating offer more protection?Will social distancing weaken my immune system?The Associated Press
A number of projects will be moving forward next year as council has approved the capital portion of the city’s 2021 budget. Building repairs and upgrades, park redevelopments, and new vehicle acquisitions were hot button topics during the hours-long discussion of council’s first budget deliberation meeting. Repairs and upgrades to roads, sidewalks, street lights and traffic lights will also be conducted across the city. In total, the city’s capital budget comes in at $33.59 million. In terms of new vehicles and equipment, the city will be acquiring three new ice resurfacers, in which Councillor Rosemary McConkey questioned why all three needed to be replaced at once. While the life cycle of these vehicles is about 10 years, McConkey notes two of them are only eight years old, adding a staggered approach to acquiring new vehicles would be better. “Having three replaced all at once will put pressure on another council’s budget year down the road,” she says. However, according to city staff, two of the vehicles have multiple issues, which would cost more in the end to fix rather than to replace. “We go through a whole process of identifying total cost to upkeep equipment,” says city staff. “If it’s on the list, it’s costing us too much or there are safety issues related to the units.” A number of other vehicles will be added to the city’s fleet as part of a scheduled replacement program, including a couple of Chevrolet Silverado trucks, two vacuum sweepers, three front mowers, and a pumper, to name a few. A new Hazmat vehicle will be added to Fire Hall 1 to provide Oshawa Fire Services with a fully operational rapid response vehicle, as well as a new vehicle for the assistant deputy chief. Phase 3 of the city’s downtown streetscape redevelopment program is also moving forward, which includes the widening of sidewalks on the north side of King Street West from Simcoe to Prince Streets, “to enhance pedestrian amenities and increase accessibility.” Parks to see improvements this year include Raglan Park, Kingside Park, Crimson Court Park, Deer Valley Park, Conant Park, and Sunnyside Park. Some of the redevelopment in these parks include the replacement of playground equipment, playground resurfacing, the replacement of existing site furnishings, new park pathways, a parking lot and the addition of tree plantings and naturalization areas. As part of the city’s capital budget, council also endorsed a number of anchor and partnership grant requests to community organizations. The city’s Anchor and Partnership Grant programs are part of council’s commitment to work with Oshawa-based, not-for-profit volunteer community organizations that provide beneficial programs and services to the community. Organizations receiving anchor grants this year include Boys and Girls Club of Durham, Friends of Second Marsh, Motor City Car Club, Oshawa Children’s Community Fair, Oshawa Folk Arts Council, Oshawa Rotary Ribfest, Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, and Santa’s Parade of Lights. Council also approved partnership grant requests for Hearth Place, Bawaajiigewin Aboriginal Community Circle, and Durham Alliance. However, there were a number of organizations that did not receive funding grants in next year’s budget, including Canadian Automotive Museum, Feed the Need in Durham, Oshawa Art Association, Oshawa Firefit, Royal Canadian Legion Branch and the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre. Council’s next budget deliberation meeting is on Friday, Dec. 4 when council will continue with the 2021 operating budget. According to city staff, with the pandemic came several unexpected costs to the city, and as a result, council is looking at a 2.39 per cent tax levy increase for 2021. According to Commissioner of Finance Stephanie Sinnott, this means a $47.88 increase to the city portion of the property taxes for a property assessed at $356,000 – the average assessment by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Final approval of the 2021 budget is expected on Friday, Dec. 11.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
With two old rivals facing off in Ghana's presidential election on Dec. 7 amid familiar economic woes, many voters are paying more attention to a new element in the political mix - the first ever female vice-presidential candidate for a major party. Former education minister Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman hopes that the decision of Ghana's main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to nominate her as its candidate for vice-president will inspire other women to enter politics.
Guillaume Carlier, un jeune cinéaste francophone de Calgary, nous amène sur les traces de jardins japonais en Alberta et en Colombie-Britannique, symboles de résilience de la population nippono-canadienne déportée durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Borrowed from Nature, un documentaire qui vient de sortir en partenariat avec Radio-Canada, à Vancouver. La première fois que Guillaume Carlier a posé son regard sur le jardin japonais de New Denver, en Colombie-Britannique, il n’était alors qu’un enfant. En dépit de son jeune âge, il avait déjà entendu parler de l’histoire douloureuse relatant la déportation de la population nippono-canadienne durant la Seconde Guerre. « Depuis que je suis jeune, je connaissais ce jardin, mais je ne m’étais jamais demandé qui l’avait créé », explique-t-il, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit parvenu à l’âge adulte et que cette question commence sérieusement à l’interpeller. Plus tard, il apprend que c’est le Canadien-Japonais, Roy Tomomichi Sumi qui l’avait conçu de ses propres mains. Le maître jardinier avait été déporté comme l’environnementaliste canado-japonais David Suzuki dans les camps d’internement durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Roy Tomomichi Sumi est depuis décédé. Aujourd’hui, il est considéré comme une sommité en Alberta et en Colombie-Britannique dans l’art du jardin japonais, et devient le fil d’Ariane du jeune cinéaste francophone qui lui permettra de se plonger dans un chapitre de l’Histoire canadienne aussi douloureux que méconnu. Ces jardins sont des métaphores qui racontent le passé, mais ils sont aussi le moyen de faire la paix avec le présent et d’avancer vers le futur. L’Histoire en héritage L’immigration japonaise a commencé vers 1860 dans la province de la Colombie-Britannique et représentait juste avant le début de la Seconde Guerre mondiale une population de 22 000 personnes. Après l’attaque en 1941 du Japon contre Pearl Harbor, le Canada, allié des États-Unis, décide de prendre des mesures draconiennes. La loi sur les mesures de guerre permet alors des actions de grande envergure comme la confiscation de bateaux, des entreprises, des biens fonciers et finit par transférer vers des camps d’internement la population canado-japonaise . Ces Canadiens d’origine japonaise durent y rester durant toute la Seconde Guerre, n’emmenant avec eux que deux valises et un simple sac. Au vu du contexte historique, « il y avait un fort sentiment anti-asiatique au Canada et aux États-Unis, ils craignaient qu’il y ait de l’espionnage », explique le jeune cinéaste alors qu’ils étaient citoyens canadiens. Un vrai traumatisme pour des gens venus initialement au Canada pour embrasser une vie meilleure, et qui perdirent du jour au lendemain tout ce qu’ils avaient mis si longtemps à bâtir. Une situation injuste qui, à la fin de la guerre, a mis la population nippono-canadienne face à un second choix cornélien : partir vers l’est, ou bien retourner au Japon selon la volonté des autorités canadiennes. Certains décidèrent d’aller en Alberta, notamment du côté de Lethbridge. C’est en 1967 que la petite ville des Prairies accueillera son premier jardin japonais, le jardin de Nikka Yuko. Des jardins et des hommes Transmuter sa peine en un magnifique jardin japonais, c’est la façon dont les rescapés de ces camps ont décidé d’exorciser les mauvais souvenirs. Un signe de réconciliation en somme. « Dans la culture japonaise, c’est très difficile de parler de cette période dans l’histoire du Canada », explique le cinéaste de 31 ans. Ce documentaire a été filmé durant l’été 2020 dans trois de ces jardins japonais : le jardin de Nikka Yuko à Lethbridge, en Alberta, et construit en 1967, le jardin d’Heiwa Teien à New Denver, en Colombie-Britannique, construit en 1994, et le jardin de Nitobe, à Vancouver, situé lui aussi en Colombie-Britannique et construit en 1960. « Ce jardin [de Roy Tomomichi Sumi créé dans les années 1980], est un geste pour tout le monde, c’est aussi pour enseigner aux Canadiens ce qui s’est passé », explique Guillaume Carlier. Le documentaire a pu être livré à Radio-Canada Vancouver en septembre et aura pris un mois de tournage entre les deux provinces pour raviver la mémoire de cette partie de l’histoire, mais aussi « questionner l’identité de la culture canadienne », met de l’avant le cinéaste. Guillaume Carlier et son épouse Gillian McKercher ont sorti ce documentaire avec leur maison de production Kinosum qui signifie littéralement en japonais « on aime les films ». Si le film reste l’exclusivité de Radio-Canada pendant une année, « tous les Canadiens peuvent déjà voir ce documentaire de 45 minutes sur le site de CBC GEM », explique le cinéaste. Le film a déjà été vendu à l’international et sera distribué par la suite en France, au Japon et aux États-Unis.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Two Rohingya told Reuters their names appeared on lists compiled by government-appointed local leaders without their consent, while aid workers said officials used threats and enticements to pressure people into going. Mohammad Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said the relocation was voluntary. Police escorted the first group of 1,000 refugees in buses from Ukhiya in Cox's Bazar for the journey to Chittagong port and then on to Bhasan Char – a flood-prone Bay of Bengal island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago.
This holiday season is going to look different for everyone, but as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, seniors across the Durham Region are especially at risk of significant challenges associated with isolation. In years past, Home Instead has lifted the spirits of seniors, making them feel remembered and cherished, with its Be a Santa to a Senior program, in which the community can purchase gifts for seniors. Community members would grab an ornament from Christmas trees located in retailers, purchase a gift and return it to be wrapped and gifted to a senior. However, due to the pandemic, Cathy Dow, owner of Home Instead for Oshawa and the surrounding area, says they had to pivot the program and offer the program in a virtual capacity by partnering with Amazon Business. “Recognizing the program’s importance, and particularly this year, and with the need to keep everyone safe, Home Instead partnered with Amazon for the first time,” she says. “We have still developed great relationships with local non-profits and organizations to facilitate the purchasing and distribution of gifts on the wish list – which is all done virtually.” She says this year’s focus is on older adults who are living in long term care, as most are with restrictions and accessibility is very limited. “It spreads holiday cheer and brightens the lives of our older adults who are alone or financially challenged during this season,” Dow adds, noting through this global pandemic, the feelings of isolation are amplified. “Providing gifts and sense of community… that has always been there and so I think this year particularly will be very comforting to many.” To help a senior this season, members of the community can visit the BeASantatoaSenior.com website and enter their postal code to view wish lists for local seniors on Amazon. A personalized greeting can be included with the gift which will be shipped directly to the senior. Since the program began in 2003, Be a Santa to a Senior has provided approximately 2.1 million gifts and brightened the holiday season for more than 750,000 seniors nationwide. “We need the community’s help more than ever to make sure seniors feel connected this year,” Dow says. “This year we knew we had to find a way to spread holiday cheer to seniors, and we are grateful for the community’s participation.”Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s disaster authority and the U.S. Geological Survey say a 5.0 magnitude earthquake has struck Siirt in southeastern Turkey.The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, or AFAD, said Thursday there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quake that hit at a depth of 20 kilometres (12 miles) at 8:45 a.m. (0545 GMT).Turkey is crisscrossed by fault lines and was hit by two strong tremors this year -- one that hit the western port city of Izmir last month, killing 117 people, and another in Elazig province, killing 41 people.At least 17,000 people died in a powerful earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999.The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 3 ...What we are watching in Canada ...The Liberal government is set to introduce long-awaited legislation today to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the 2019 election campaign to introduce such a bill, developed with Indigenous people, by the end of this year.The bill is expected to echo a private member's bill introduced by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, which the House of Commons passed two years ago.That bill stalled in the Senate, where Conservative senators argued it could have unintended legal and economic consequences, and then died when Parliament dissolved.The UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands.It also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.\---Also this ...The trial of a teen boy accused of sexually assaulting two fellow students at a renowned Toronto high school is set to continue today.The teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon in connection with two incidents at St. Michael's College School in the fall of 2018.Earlier this week, court viewed part of a video in which one of the complainants, also a teen boy, told police about an October 2018 incident in the school's locker room.In the video, the complainant recalled hearing a group of students laugh as they held back his arms and sexually assaulted him with a broom handle after football practice.The role of the accused was not specified in the portion of the video played in court, and the complainant did not mention him by name in that part of the footage.More of the video is expected to be shown in today's hearing, which is taking place in court and over video conference.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...Advocates and lawyers anticipate a flurry of clemency action from U.S. President Donald Trump in the coming weeks that could test the limits of presidential pardon power.Trump is said to be considering a slew of pardons and commutations before he leaves office, including potentially members of his family, former aides and even himself. While it is not unusual for presidents to sign controversial pardons on their way out the door, Trump has made clear that he has no qualms about intervening in the cases of friends and allies whom he believes have been treated unfairly, including his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.The list of potential candidates is long and colourful: Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, imprisoned for financial crimes as part of the Russia investigation; George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, just like Flynn; Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a.k.a. “Joe Exotic," who starred in the Netflix series “Tiger King”; and former contractors convicted in a Baghdad firefight that killed more than a dozen civilians, including women and children.Trump, long worried about potential legal exposure after he leaves office, has expressed worry to confidants in recent weeks that he, his family or his business might be targeted by president-elect Joe Biden’s Justice Department, although Biden has made clear he won't be part of any such decisions.Nonetheless, Trump has had informal conversations with allies about how he might be able to protect his family, though he has not taken any steps to do so. His adult children haven't requested pardons nor do they feel they need them, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the UN General Assembly’s special session starting Thursday on the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic which has claimed 1.5 million lives, shattered economies, and left tens of millions of people unemployed in countries rich and poor.Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said when he took the reins of the 193-member world body in September that it would have been better to hold the high-level meeting in June. Nonetheless, he said Wednesday it "provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat COVID-19.""With news of multiple vaccines on the cusp of approval, and with trillions of dollars flowing into global recovery efforts, the international community has a unique opportunity to do this right," he said. "The world is looking to the UN for leadership. This is a test for multilateralism."When financial markets collapsed and the world faced its last great crisis in 2008, major powers worked together to restore the global economy, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been striking for the opposite response: no leader, no united action to stop the pandemic that has circled the globe.\---On this day in 1970 ...The "October Crisis" ended when British Trade Commissioner James Cross was released by his FLQ kidnappers in Montreal. Cross was seized from his home in October, and another FLQ cell later kidnapped and murdered Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte on Oct. 17. \---In entertainment ...William Shatner, the Canadian who played the iconic commander Capt. James T. Kirk in "Star Trek," has taken to Twitter to urge Alberta use the federal COVID-19 app rather than its own.Shatner writes, “you just need to get Alberta on board,” adding that the province cannot go its own way in a world interconnected by travel.Shatner writes Alberta’s approach is, “bizarre and dangerous,” but also says “what do I know? I’m just an actor.”Premier Jason Kenney’s government has avoided signing onto the federal app, saying it’s not as effective because Alberta’s app is connected to contact tracing rather than simply delivering notifications of close contacts.Alberta’s app has tracked down just a handful of cases in six months, but the government says the program will be more effective as more people sign on.\---ICYMI ...Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams is accusing the City of St. John's of taking Christmas away from the residents of a subdivision he developed on the city's outskirts.Williams says that just as he did last year, he recently installed a 10-metre Christmas tree in the centre of a traffic roundabout in the Galway subdivision, which was developed by his company DewCor.But this year, he says the city took issue with the tree, requiring that he take out an insurance policy and asking him to keep it unlit due to traffic concerns.In a statement emailed Wednesday, city staff in the transportation engineering department say they're open to considering other locations for the tree in Galway that don't interfere with an intersection.Kevin Breen, the St. John's city manager says the tree went up last year without a permit.Meanwhile, the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl has offered to give the tree a proper home with lights, and Williams says the tree will be delivered there within the next two days."All's well that ends well," Williams said in an interview. "It's going to the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl, and to be quite honest with you, if Galway could be part of Mount Pearl, that would be my choice."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020The Canadian Press
Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is urging the province to take a look at the evidence-based data for COVID-19 to help save local communities from further hardship. In just a matter of days, Durham Region was moved from the Orange zone to the Red zone of the provincial framework for fighting and stopping the spread of the virus. Carter says this means there’s been a lot of significant changes in regards to public gatherings and how retail locations have operated. He’s urging the community to continue to follow the advice of the health care professionals and continue to “stay apart, mark up, lather up, and if you can work from home stay at home.” “That’s one of the ways we can stop the spread.” Carter is also calling for the community to support local. “If there’s a way that we can support local, like I always say, ‘Oshawa loves local,’ let’s find a way of supporting our local economy,” he says. Carter is also calling on the province to consider the “true data” and where the spread is coming from, when making decisions in regards to moving the different regions to different stages. “Our retailers, our service industry, our local economy has done an incredible job in investing in PPE and making sure they’ve taken all the right steps to make sure that your safety, your well-being, is their number one priority,” Carter continues. He says any decisions the province makes impacts communities locally, adding the province needs to take into consideration where the spreads are happening and take a look at the data, and make a decision based upon that. “The province must take a close look at the region’s COVID-19 active case numbers to identify the sources of transmission,” he says. “It is critical the data be used to make sector-specific restrictions and to determine if local restrictions – especially those that are having a huge impact on our restaurants and local businesses – can be reduced.” The City of Oshawa continues to post updates to its webpage. Visit www.oshawa.ca/coronavirus for the latest updates on changes to services and programs, as well as frequently asked questions and resources.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
EASTERN SHORE – Former Moser River resident Marie Turner entered Northwood Continuing Care facility last November. While it was her first placement, it was not her first choice. When she applied, she selected Harbourview Lodge (HVL) in Sheet Harbour as her first choice, to allow her to live in the same community as her family. Turner’s sister, former Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey, is unhappy her sister has not, after a year, been transferred back to her home. McCluskey looked into the policy posted on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) website. “The policy reads ‘as soon as a vacancy becomes available – you are transferred to your first choice’ – but that’s not true. She’s housed now – they have no compassion. There have been vacancies in HVL over the past year but no transfer for Marie,” she says. Turner contracted COVID-19 last spring as a Northwood resident and spent months unable to have any visits from family members, especially while she was ill. “Marie was in a room with another woman and they didn’t even move her,” complains McCluskey. “She suffered from pains in her legs and headaches. She was lucky and did not become extremely ill – and she survived.” The former politician with a 23-year history in municipal government stresses long-term care facility workers are underpaid for the work they do. “They work hard. Administration undervalues the work they do so they can have a lower pay scale. They’ve dropped the ball. COVID should never have been in there [Northwood].” Turner will turn 93 on Dec. 6 and her sister says she should have been given the opportunity months ago – before the pandemic – to transfer to HVL to spend these years near her children and grandchildren. “They don’t care,” McCluskey tells The Journal by phone. “They have such little empathy for seniors. The dear soul has already had COVID, she could have been transferred before this second wave.” McCluskey does not feel there is any hope her sister will get moved now. “They’ve closed the facilities again. They had given false hope and now there is no solution – they are not going to move anybody now,” she said. McCluskey and Turner are two of the four sisters left from a family of nine. “How little do our seniors mean? They seem to think seniors only die anyway. They built our country and deserve dignity,” McCluskey says. Arthur Turner, Marie’s son, tells The Journal how difficult it was for his family when his mom was diagnosed with coronavirus. “I feel frustration about her being there – and not here – as her choice was. The system should be in place that puts her where she chooses to live.” The last time Arthur saw his mother, in person, was this fall at Northwood. “I had all the COVID gear on and was able to hug her – but only for a second.” When Turner heard of his mother’s COVID diagnosis he felt there had been no consideration for either his mother or her family. “We might never see her again. She was quite low and we couldn’t visit and maybe had seen her for the last time….” Communication with his mother, while she lives in a facility 90 kilometres away from him, has proven to be a challenge. “We try to reach her by phone – but we usually can’t get a hold of her. It’s always an ordeal,” Arthur says. “We have to wait until the nurses are available to help us set it up and get Mom to the phone. She is in her room a lot.” Arthur remains hopeful his mother will ultimately get the transfer she desires and become a resident at Harbourview Lodge. “It would be so good for her to return to her home community. I feel she deserves it, really. You know, she taught school down here and worked for the Guild faithfully,” he shares. “She was a real good person – she was a member of the Eastern Star and helped raise a lot of money for her community. She set a good example.” Arthur’s sister, Ann Martin, is a registered nurse at HVL. “It would be wonderful for Mom to be here and have my sister so close – helping to care for her. We could all see her. I know during COVID they were not moving anybody but there have been quite a few openings here – but there always seems to be red tape,” she says. The Journal contacted NSHA to inquire about the transfer and placement policy, but did not receive a reply by press time.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Scotland just passed a law to make sanitary products free for all. What have other countries done for women around the world?
COVID-19 patients from northern British Columbia are being sent to Victoria for care, as both case counts and hospitalizations in the Northern Health region surge to unprecedented levels.Since mid-November, northern B.C. has seen a sharp spike in positive test results, with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising from 96 between Nov. 1 and 15 to 343 between Nov. 16 and 30.The number of patients requiring hospitalization, meanwhile, is happening at rates higher than anywhere else in the province. With just six per cent of the province's population, Northern Health patients now account for as many as 20 per cent of the critical care patients on any given day — and health-care providers are feeling the strain."I think the last time I had any days off was August," said Dr. Lovedeep Khara, an intensive care doctor at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George, where the majority of the region's COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care wind up.The current situation in northern B.C. is a sharp contrast to the spring and summer, when the region went weeks without any new infections, or even spring, when there were only one or two new cases at a time.Now, Khara said, hospital staff are going "at full speed," foregoing holidays and regular downtime to handle the influx of new patients. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact COVID patients remain in intensive care for days or weeks at a time, requiring specialized teams, rooms and equipment to keep everyone safe from infection."Everybody is pretty strained and stressed," said Dr. Simon Rose, another ICU specialist in Prince George. "Not just doctors and nurses, but support and cleaning staff."Near-surge capacityNorthern B.C. has 41 critical care beds, 24 of which were occupied on Dec. 1. But what's more important, health-care workers say, is the number of people available to staff them.Fort St. John, for example, is able to look after patients with relatively mild symptoms, but once they need a ventilator or ICU care, they will likely be sent to Prince George where there are more doctors and respiratory therapists to support them. And this past week, at least two patients were sent to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria to try to take some of the strain off hospitals in the north.Courtenay Kelliher, who is in charge of Northern Health's pandemic response, said health-care workers in the region are reaching their limits and expressed hope cases will start to decline soon."A surge should be like a tidal wave," she said. "It comes in and it goes out, and you hope not to see a big one like that again." But the fear, Kelliher said, is that even though they've been operating at near-capacity for weeks, it's still unclear whether the wave has peaked or if it will continue to grow.Adding to the stress is what some health-care workers view as a growing backlash to not just public safety measures, but the very notion of whether COVID-19 is even a concern. "When you get to the end of your day ... and post after post and article after article is people complaining that the guidelines are too much and the orders are too much and this is a conspiracy … it leaves you feeling, just, defeated," Kelliher said."We went from in the springtime where the public held these pot-clanking parades and honking parades [for] frontline workers … And now it's almost been a 180 where there's sort of a hostility towards us.""It just adds to that emotional exhaustion that already exists."To hear more on how hospitals in the north are handling the surge in COVID-19 patients, and how it is impacting healthcare professionals in the region, tap the audio below.Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A 39-year-old man was shot and killed Wednesday in Laval. The provincial police major crimes unit has taken over the investigation due to the shooting's possible link to organized crime. The shooting happened around 9 p.m. on De la Fabrique Street in the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul neighbourhood.As of this morning, investigators are still at the scene and a large security perimeter has been set up. There have been no arrests.It is Laval's third homicide of the year.
ESKASONI, N.S. — The provincial government announced Wednesday it was committing more than $700,000 to help with the transportation needs of multiple communities and as a result, Eskasoni First Nation will receive $117,685 for transit funding. “We’re excited, this is something the community members have been asking for and we got it,” said Chief Leroy Denny. In Eskasoni, the money will go toward purchasing a nine-passenger van for door-to-door service within the Mi’kmaq community and a 20-person bus offering routes to Sydney and Membertou First Nation. The province will contribute $67,685 for the van and $50,000 for the bus. Funding for the initiative was provided through the accessible transportation program and covers 75 per cent of the vehicle cost. Other funding announcements for Cape Breton communities includes: $17,353 for a five-passenger van for La Cooperative de Transport de Cheticamp; $55,385 for an eight-passenger van for Strait Area Transit, and $50,000 for a 16-passenger bus for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Denny says the transit service is something the community has advocated for in the past and the system will address some of the barriers the residents face. Eskasoni is about 44 km from Sydney and Denny says some community members on a fixed income must pay money for rides into town so the bus will be a cost-saving tool. Bus service will come at a small fee, but the price will not be fixed until bus drivers are hired and more is known about the operating fees. “Public transportation allows people to more fully participate in their communities and better access work, schools, shopping and important services,” said Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, minister of communities, culture and heritage in a news release. Denny expects the transit system to be operational in early 2021 but will adhere to strict safety guidelines as the province deals with the second wave of COVID-19. He believes reliable transportation may lead to more employment for some community members. “Transportation is very important if you want to get to school or work,” said Denny. In October, the Eskasoni health department launched a bus system to help ease transportation concerns when accessing health care. The recent announcement is separate from that initiative. But both are expected to help residents without vehicles travel around the large reserve. Eskasoni has more than 4,500 residents and spans more than 100 hectares of land. Denny says the population continues to grow and the transit system is another way to help the community. “It’s a really good thing and we’re excited for it,” said Denny.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
The push to buy local this holiday season is overwhelming some Manitoba business owners, who are struggling to keep up with the avalanche of online and curbside orders. While the business is welcome, it's pushing many to the limit and for some, including McNally Robinson Booksellers, it still won't pull them out of the red this year."The amount of labour that this style of selling requires is two, maybe three, times higher than normal," co-owner Chris Hall said. "On the other side of that, this a fraction of the sales we would be normally getting — so we're earning much less [and] working much harder."Inside the normally bustling Grant. Avenue bookstore, phones are ringing off the hook, online orders are surging and staff are working tirelessly to process and package hundreds of parcels for pickup and delivery. One of the biggest challenges, Hall says, is that the business isn't set up to operate as online retailer."We're reaching our physical limit," he said. "We don't have enough space to literally stage the items that need to be picked up; we don't have enough computers to put more people on; we don't have more phones to answer more phone lines."He is warning customers new orders may face delays of seven to 14 days.Meanwhile, with revenue almost halved due to the shutdown of in-person shopping, the company is staying afloat thanks to pandemic wage and rent subsidies."By the time the week before Christmas comes we would be about twice as much [volume] as this week," he said. "But we can't get to twice as much of what we're doing right now, so we're going to be way down."Winnipeg candle-company Coal and Canary, is feeling the heat too.Online sales have skyrocketed much to the surprise of owner and creative director Amanda Buhse — who is first to admit you can't smell her candles online.Candle company fielding over 500 orders a day"We basically are working around the clock to try and keep up with the demand in the orders," she said.Buhse has tripled her team, added night and weekend shifts and is working 16-hour days herself just to keep up. The business is averaging 500 to 1,000 orders per day, she said, adding they sell across Canada and the United States.Trade shows and in-person shopping, the company's biggest drivers of revenue, have evaporated with pandemic restrictions so the record online sales success has been a happy surprise.The company has already exceeded last year's sales by 50 per cent, Buhse said, adding she attributes much it of it to Canadians' commitment to buy local."It's crazy," she said. "We have just been so blown away by the incredible support, of people that had never even shopped local before the pandemic happened and now they're looking at local options."At Toad Hall Toys, in Winnipeg's Exchange District, staff have turned off the phones as they work to process the volume of online orders as fast as they can."Between that and answering the door for pickup orders, it is all the seven of us can handle," said a note from the shop's staff posted to Instagram. Small business owners face burnout: CFIBThe Canadian Federation of Independent Business found small business owners are feeling the pressures of the pandemic and facing burnout as they enter the holiday shopping season.A recent national survey found close to half of small business owners said their mental health has suffered during the pandemic and 45 per cent said they have worked significantly more hours."It's been a very rocky start for a lot of retailers and other businesses too, that rely on the holiday season," said Jonathan Alward, director of the Prairie region."Even though the buy local in Manitoba surge has been very helpful, a lot of businesses still aren't anywhere near normal."In Manitoba, 48 per cent of the province's businesses are fully open, 35 per cent are fully staffed and just 24 per cent are making normal sales, Alward said.The challenges vary widely depending on the sector, he said, adding some are faring better than others."Think of any boutique — if you miss this season, your next season is going to be spring or summer," he said. "You're flush with inventory you've paid for and you can't move. It's a big concern."For many businesses, the pivot to online and curbside also comes with a price. "There's so many added costs, whether you're looking at more labour costs to do curbside pickup or delivery or, you know, you have a lot of costs associated with trying to keep your staff and any customers that can come in as safe as possible," he said. "I think we're going to see a lot of sales missed out on because of that lack of in-person interaction."In an effort to drive consumers to buy local, Winnipeg business owner Obby Kahn launched GoodLocal.ca, a one-stop online shop with dozens of Manitoba vendors."Think of Amazon and Etsy, but local," he said. "Everything good, everything local we want on our platform, you order it, we package it for you on one nice box."Since launching in September, the site was averaging 20 orders a week. Sales gradually started to pick up as Manitoba moved to orange and then red on the pandemic response scale.Last week, the site pulled in more than 700 orders forcing Khan to shut it down to catch up and increase capacity."It was panic," he said. "We weren't set up for that. We've had to move warehouses twice already. So we said, you know, we have to hit a little bit of a pause, kind of figure out our systems."He said the site will be up and running again shortly and he is grateful for the support.He hopes Manitobans continue to be mindful of where they spend their money this season and the year ahead."Think about that," he said. "Think of how that can help a family and have an immediate impact on our Winnipeg and our economy and everything going on in this great city."
Seven classrooms have been shut down at Diamond Trail Public School in Welland after an individual there tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” District School Board of Niagara said in a news release. Whether the individual who contracted the coronavirus is a student or staff member was not publicly known Wednesday. “The preventative COVID-19 practices that Diamond Trail has been following since the beginning of school, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue,” DSBN said. The same day DSBN reported the case at Diamond Trail, Niagara Catholic District School Board confirmed that the case count at St. Martin Catholic Elementary school in Stevensville had climbed to double digits. The province’s database is indicating that three of the school’s10 cases have been resolved. Of the remaining cases, four have been identified as students and three as staff. The Niagara Catholic website indicated these seven cases are the only active cases for the board. An outbreak was declared at St. Martin on Nov. 19. For DSBN, there are seven active cases from six schools; two at Prince Philip and one case at Martha Cullimore in Niagara Falls, two cases at Eden High School in St. Catharines, one at Port Colborne High School and one at Diamond Trail. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
The pandemic is preventing Pearl Harbor survivors from attending an annual ceremony remembering victims in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack. WWII veteran Mickey Ganitch, 101, has attended before, but will mark the anniversary this year from California. (Dec. 3)