Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton
Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton
Le Centre d’entrepreneuriat et d’essaimage de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (CEE-UQAC) bénéficie d’une aide financière de 795 000 $ provenant de Développement économique Canada (DEC). Élizabeth Brière, députée de Sherbrooke et secrétaire parlementaire de la ministre du Développement économique, Mélany Joly, en a fait l’annonce, vendredi, lors d’une visioconférence en compagnie de Gilles Déry, président du CEE-UQAC, et de Louis Dussault, directeur général. L’entente, d’une durée de trois ans, permettra à l’organisation de poursuivre ses activités de sensibilisation et de promotion de l’entrepreneuriat auprès des étudiants collégiaux et universitaires du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. Ce montant permettra de stimuler l’esprit entrepreneurial, le transfert technologique et de connaissances ainsi que le développement de projets innovateurs au sein des petites entreprises régionales. La rectrice de l’UQAC, Nicole Bouchard, a souligné l’apport de l’organisation en ce qui a trait à la vitalité entrepreneuriale dans la région. « Les réalisations de Louis Dussault et de son équipe rejaillissent sur l’ensemble de la région. En donnant le coup de pouce nécessaire à la concrétisation d’idées toutes plus intéressantes les unes que les autres, le CEE-UQAC donne des ailes aux nouvelles générations d’entrepreneurs qui contribuent à façonner le visage économique de notre région. » Elle a, entre autres, mentionné des ouvertures nouvelles pour des étudiants faisant des études dans le secteur bioalimentaire, en produits naturels. Selon elle, l’UQAC a toujours renouvelé les ententes de partenariat avec le CEE-UQAC parce que l’organisme livre la marchandise. Pour sa part, Gilles Déry a choisi d’emprunter les paroles d’Antoine Riboud, fondateur et président de Danone, pour la philosophie des interventions du CEE-UQAC : « L’innovation est une alliance entre recherche, marketing, instinct, imagination, produit et courage industriel. Voilà ce qui illustre bien ce que nous valorisons au quotidien. » Fondé en janvier 1998, le CEE-UQAC a pour mission de promouvoir l’entrepreneuriat et de soutenir la création d’entreprises auprès des communautés universitaire et collégiale du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. Après 23 ans d’existence, le bilan du CEE-UQAC comprend 440 projets technologiques avec 160 PME, ce qui a permis l’embauche, par les entreprises d’accueil, de 179 candidats stagiaires. Il inclut la création de quatre centres de transfert technologique, le Centre de développement technologique en jeux vidéo et en informatique (CDT), le Centre de soudage par friction-malaxage (CSFM), le Centre de transfert en extrusion (CTE) et le Centre de transformation et de valorisation de bioproduits (CTVB), qui constituent des investissements de plus de 25 000 000 $. Des startups comme la Clinique Courte Échelle, LUM Design, Jack & Phil Musique, Distillerie du Fjord, PhytoChemia, Emploi Retraite, Clinique podiatrique Justine Leduc, Moulin à Cie, Miel des montagnes, Clinique santé du Saguenay, Savana Centre d’amusement, Bois Spécialité, Mobile Expert, Imago Structures, Productions Zan, Clinique d’ergothérapie Les mains ludiques et Morille Québec figurent dans la liste.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning people about a "large number" of COVID-19 cases linked to curling clubs in Regina.A news release sent on Sunday said anyone who visited the Highland Curling Club between Nov. 13 to 23, or the Caledonian Curling Club between Nov. 16 to 24, must immediately self-isolate and call HealthLine 811 if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms.The release also said anyone who was at either club when the exposures occurred should consider getting tested, even if they don't have symptoms.SHA also said on Saturday there's an increased risk of COVID-19 exposures at curling clubs in Christopher Lake and Shellbrook.Letter sent to club membersThe Highland Curling Club has paused its season after a COVID-19 outbreak at a bonspiel held at the club, according to a letter on the rink's website.The outbreak happened at a seniors and masters bonspiel held at Highland Curling Club in Regina from Nov. 13 to 15. The tournament included divisions for senior men and women in the 50 and up category, as well as a masters division for men aged 60 and older.In the letter, general manager A.J. Scott said it was an "extremely isolated" event. "The rink was closed to the public and kept exclusively for the athletes competing in the event," the letter said. "We only ran two sheets at any single time, as well as made sure to run only the men's or women's divisions at one time. The teams all respected our safety protocols we have here at the rink and routine scheduled cleaning was done more than every 60 minutes as well as after every draw."In the middle of the tournament, a team pulled out due to flu-like symptoms. Scott wrote that the club asked the remaining teams "if they felt safe and confident enough to want to continue play," and all the teams said they did, so the tournament finished as planned.Shortly after the bonspiel, the club was notified that members of the team that pulled out had COVID-19.The club's website says curling has been postponed until Dec. 7 while the facility gets a "professional deep cleaning."
OTTAWA — Kawartha Dairy Limited is recalling certain ice cream products in Ontario due to "possible presence of pieces of metal," Health Canada says. The Kawartha Dairy flavours affected by the recall are: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in both 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages, and Mint Chip ice cream in 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages. Health Canada says consumers should not eat the four recalled products, and retailers, restaurants, and institutions should not sell or use them. Recalled ice cream should be thrown out or returned to the location where it was purchased. Health Canada says the recall was triggered by the company on Sunday, adding the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other items. There have been no reported injuries associated with eating the recalled flavours as of Sunday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
The number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Ontario’s schools is lower per capita than in the province’s general population and in the schools of neighbouring Quebec, the government says. But is Ontario doing enough testing and contact tracing to stop possible spread of COVID-19 in schools? Stephen Lecce, the province’s education minister, has boasted in recent weeks that the Progressive Conservatives’ back-to-school strategy is working, but epidemiological studies and experts suggest it’s difficult to make that claim without more testing. A study from Alberta released last week added to mounting evidence that younger people infected with COVID-19 either show mild symptoms or none at all, meaning they could potentially be silently spreading the virus in schools and then taking it home. “I think to say schools are the safest place for kids in terms of this virus is not a statement that is backed by the evidence at this point,” said Gabrielle Brankston, a PhD student at the University of Guelph who has been compiling data on COVID-19 in Canada. Just under 36 per cent of the almost 2,000 young people who tested positive for COVID-19 during a first test in Alberta did not have any symptoms associated with the virus, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last Tuesday. That proportion of asymptomatic cases among young people is much higher than the 15 to 20 per cent range estimated in previous pediatric reviews, said Dr. Nisha Thampi from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and other medical experts who reviewed the findings. The discrepancy may be due to Alberta’s strategy of testing close contacts of known cases since early April, the study noted, but probably still doesn’t capture all the asymptomatic transmission. “It is important to note that this is likely an underestimation of the true prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection, as those without symptoms are much less likely to seek testing than those with symptoms,” authors James King, Tara Whitten, Jeffrey Bakal and Finlay McAlister wrote in the study. The Alberta research follows a massive contact tracing study of two states in India done by Princeton and other U.S. universities that warned in September children may be key spreaders of the virus. Ontario recorded a record number of cases (1,855) on Friday as the province’s labs processed more than 58,000 tests the previous day, or nearly 10,000 more than the previous busiest day of the year. There have been a total of 1,180 cases in Ontario schools reported in the last 14 days, the province says, while its overall count is just under 1,400 new cases each day on average over the last week. (Around 1.5 million students are in Ontario classrooms currently, while the province has a population of about 14.5 million people.) Six Ontario schools are currently closed and 14 per cent (or 671 of 4,828 sites) have a reported case. Public health officials say that’s not too bad. “Parents should have a fair bit of confidence in schools being as safe as possible,” said Dr. Brent Moloughney, the associate medical officer of health at Ottawa Public Health, which fought off a sharp spike in cases in the capital in late September and early October. He said that public health is aiming for constant improvement, though, and that with where we are now in the outbreak, “we need to be spending a bit more time trying to further break chains of transmission, and I think schools are one of those settings.” Moloughney said that means upping testing in schools, with a focus on the highest-risk contacts of known cases. “Let's get them tested, or more of them tested, and let’s see what that tells us so that can inform the next step,” he said. That’s exactly what the government just said it will do, launching a targeted voluntary test campaign to reach asymptomatic students and staff where COVID-19 is running rampant, including in Toronto and Ottawa, so as to more easily track and prevent its spread in classes. Tracing contacts of known cases has long been a challenge, but the University of Guelph’s Brankston said she and several peers responded to a call for volunteers to help with contact tracing early in the pandemic, but none had been called up for the labour-intensive task of trying to map transmission pathways. “I was quite willing to offer my time to do it,” she said. “And I know several graduate students in epidemiology who (volunteered and) haven’t been called,” she said. “There’s an untapped resource there.” Marit Stiles, the Opposition NDP’s education critic, said the report out of Alberta adds to her party’s concerns about the Ontario government’s handle on COVID-19 transmission in schools. “It confirms the lack of confidence educators and parents have in Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce's totally inadequate plan to protect kids, teachers and staff and lessen the virus's spread from schools to the wider community,” she said. Stiles said an NDP government would have capped class sizes and moved quickly to spend billions of dollars available to increase testing and improve contact tracing and screening in schools. But while acknowledging the paucity of available data, other public health experts say Lecce is likely correct to assume low-level or modest transmission. “We simply are not seeing widespread outbreaks in schools,” said Barry Pakes, the director of the public health and preventive medicine residency program at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “There are many single cases, some with two cases, but if the numbers of students who have COVID-19 were much larger than we know of, we would actually be seeing more related morbidity and mortality inside and outside of the schools,” he said. Pakes advised against diverting recently approved rapid tests to schools, noting the high false positive rates in low-prevalence settings as well as logistical challenges and possible stigma. “It would really take away critical infrastructure and resources from other areas,” he said.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The first two vaccines against the novel coronavirus could be available to Americans before Christmas, Health Secretary Alex Azar said on Monday, after Moderna Inc became the second vaccine maker likely to receive U.S. emergency authorization. The Food and Drug Administration's outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to consider authorizing Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine. "So we could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people's arms before Christmas," Azar said on CBS' "This Morning."
A Penetanguishene councillor wants staff to draw out a timeline to be included in the new graffiti removal policy. "I congratulate Andrea (Betty) for the report on the graffiti policy," Coun. Brian Cummings said at a recent meeting. "But the problem I still have is that our Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) policy and procedure manual has no timelines in it. We can do whatever we want to make these bylaws, but we have no timelines involved in correcting the graffiti or any of our bylaws. "I did ask for a timeline to remove graffiti, because it's very important that it gets removed immediately so it doesn't encourage more graffiti in town," he added. Betty, director of planning and community development, said the policy for the bylaw enforcement department does not have timelines, however, the property standards bylaw has some strict standards and rules. "There are some timelines for the removal of graffiti once the notice has been given from the town," she said, not specifying what the timelines were, and later admitting it requires clarity. "Each occurrence and complaint can vary and rely on outside sources." Having said that, Betty added that staff could take a look at that policy procedure on that bylaw, since it's about eight years old and worth a review. "We should have some sort of timeline on this," said Cummings. "I agree with the procedure, but there should be a timeline to the procedure." A quick look at the MLE policy and procedures document available online shows there are no timelines around notices of contravention issued under bylaw. CAO Jeff Lees said it would be useful to refer the item for review.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
LONDON — Dave Prowse, the British weightlifter-turned-actor who was the body, though not the voice, of arch-villain Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has died. He was 85.Prowse died Saturday after a short illness, his agent Thomas Bowington said Sunday.Born in Bristol, southwest England, in 1935, Prowse was a three-time British weightlifting champion and represented England in weightlifting at the 1962 Commonwealth Games before breaking into movies with roles that emphasized his commanding size, including Frankenstein’s monster in a pair of Hammer Studios horror films.Director George Lucas saw Prowse in a small part in “A Clockwork Orange” and asked the 6-foot-6-inch (almost 2-meter) actor to audition for the villainous Vader or the Wookie Chewbacca in “Star Wars.”Prowse later told the BBC he chose Darth Vader because “you always remember the bad guys.”Physically, Prowse was perfect for the part. Yet his lilting English West Country accent was considered less than ideal and his lines were dubbed by James Earl Jones.Prowse donned Darth Vader's black armour and helmet for “Star Wars” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi" (1983).He expressed some regret that, thanks to Vader's mask, “I can walk around with complete anonymity."“All actors crave recognition and I’d like to have some like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo,” he told The Associated Press in 1980. “Fortune tends to follow fame.”Lucas said Prowse “brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character.”“He made Vader leap off the page and on to the big screen, with an imposing stature and movement performance to match the intensity and undercurrent of Vader’s presence," the director said in a statement on the official “Star Wars” website.“David was up for anything and contributed to the success of what would become a memorable, tragic figure. May he rest in peace.”Prowse also worked as a trainer for other actors, helping Christopher Reeve prepare to be the Man of Steel in hit 1978 film “Superman.”Prowse was also known to a generation of British children as the Green Cross Code Man, a superhero in road safety advertisements during the 1970s and '80s.Prowse suffered from arthritis for many years and campaigned to raise money for research into disease. In 1999 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to charity and road safety.He was a regular at “Star Wars” fan events but was banned from official conventions by Lucas in 2010 after the pair fell out.Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” films, tweeted that Prowse was “a kind man & much more than Darth Vader.” Hamill said the actor "loved his fans as much as they loved him. RIP.”“Shaun of the Dead” director-writer Edgar Wright also paid tribute to Prowse on Twitter.“As a kid, Dave Prowse couldn’t be more famous to me; stalking along corridors as evil incarnate in the part of Darth Vader & stopping a whole generation of kiddies from being mown down in street as the Green Cross Code man,” he wrote. “Rest in Peace, Bristol’s finest.”Prowse is survived by his wife Norma and their three children.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Homicide investigators have identified the man who was shot and killed in front of a busy mall in the Fleetwood area of Surrey, B.C., on Sunday evening.The RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation team said Riyad Rasheed, 29, was shot in front of the Evergreen Mall at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway just after 7:40 p.m. PT. He died of his injuries on scene.The mall was open at the time of the shooting, with shoppers having dinner or running errands when shots were fired. The bullets left holes in the front windows of a Shoppers Drug Mart, which was open at the time."Part of what makes this crime egregious ... this was a risk to the public as it unfolded," said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko said during a news conference Monday."To have a shooting like this take place in such a public place at a time where there were individuals in the area shopping, going about their day, is very disturbing," Sturko continued. "Not only did a person lose their life last night, but it also damaged people's feeling of safety and security in their neighbourhood."RCMP said one of Rasheed's family members was with him when he was shot.IHIT Sgt. Frank Jang said Rasheed was known to police. His death is believed to be targeted and "linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict," Jang said.Officials believe there was more than one suspect involved.Around 9 p.m., a vehicle was found burning near Cambie Road and No. 7 Road. Jang said the car, a dark-coloured sedan, is considered to be the vehicle the suspects used to escape after the shooting.Anyone who saw the shooting or who has relevant video or dashcam footage is asked to call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Members of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation are electing a chief and council today.The first thing voters will encounter at the polling centres will be COVID-19 stations meant to prevent the spread of the virus, said Chief Electoral Officer Raelina Jobin.She said that includes a package with latex gloves, a disposable mask and a pencil to mark their ballot. Hand sanitizers will be available, said Jobin, and voters will put their names down on a list in case contact tracing is needed later.The voting process is set up to encourage physical distancing and voters will leave by a different door, she said.There are polling stations at the Heritage Hall in Carmacks, Jobin said, and in the Fireside Room at the Yukon Inn in Whitehorse.She said citizens can also arrange to cast a special ballot at a different location such as their home if they choose. CandidatesThe polling stations are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.There are two people, Edward Skookum and Nicole Tom, running for chief.Two people, Shirley Bellmore and Willian Van Fleet are running for elder councillor.Terry Billy, Chantelle Blackjack, Toni Blanchard and Joseph O'Brien are running for one of the two Crow clan councillors.Six people, Veronica Burgess, Cody Cashin, Calvin Charlie, Bill Johnnie Jr., Jo-lene Mullett and Tanya Silverfox are in the race for one of the two Wolf clan councillors.
A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news. Independent experts are leery because key test results have not been published and the test has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — it's being sold under more general rules for commercial labs. But they agree that a simple test that can be done in a doctor’s office has long been needed. It might have spared Tammy Maida a decade of futile trips to doctors who chalked up her symptoms to depression, anxiety or menopause before a $5,000 brain scan last year finally showed she had Alzheimer’s. “I now have an answer,” said the 63-year-old former nurse from San Jose, California. If a blood test had been available, “I might have been afraid of the results” but would have “jumped on that” to find out, she said. More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more around the world have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. To be diagnosed with it, people must have symptoms such as memory loss plus evidence of a buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain. The best way now to measure the protein is a costly PET brain scan that usually is not covered by insurance. That means most people don’t get one and are left wondering if their problems are due to normal aging, Alzheimer’s or something else. The blood test from C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis aims to fill that gap. The company's founders include Drs. David Holtzman and Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, who headed research that led to the test and are included on a patent that the St. Louis university licensed to C2N. ABOUT THE TEST The test is not intended for general screening or for people without symptoms — it’s aimed at people 60 and older who are having thinking problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s. It’s not covered by insurance or Medicare; the company charges $1,250 and offers discounts based on income. Only doctors can order the test and results come within 10 days. It's sold in all but a few states in the U.S. and just was cleared for sale in Europe. It measures two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. These factors are combined in a formula that includes age, and patients are given a score suggesting low, medium or high likelihood of having amyloid buildup in the brain. If the test puts them in the low category, “it’s a strong reason to look for other things” besides Alzheimer’s, Bateman said. “There are a thousand things that can cause someone to be cognitively impaired,” from vitamin deficiencies to medications, Holtzman said. “I don’t think this is any different than the testing we do now” except it’s from a blood test rather than a brain scan, he said. “And those are not 100% accurate either.” ACCURACY CLAIMS The company has not published any data on the test’s accuracy, although the doctors have published on the amyloid research leading to the test. Company promotional materials cite results comparing the test to PET brain scans — the current gold standard — in 686 people, ages 60-91, with cognitive impairment or dementia. If a PET scan showed amyloid buildup, the blood test also gave a high probability of that in 92% of cases and missed 8% of them, said the company’s chief executive, Dr. Joel Braunstein. If the PET scan was negative, the blood test ruled out amyloid buildup 77% of the time. The other 23% got a positive result, but that doesn't necessarily mean the blood test was incorrect, Braunstein said. The published research suggests it may detect amyloid buildup before it's evident on scans. Braunstein said the company will seek FDA approval and the agency has given it a designation that can speed review. He said study results would be published, and he defended the decision to start selling the test now. “Should we be holding that technology back when it could have a big impact on patient care?" he asked. WHAT OTHERS SAY Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said the government funded some of the work leading to the test as well as other kinds of blood tests. “I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said of the company’s claims. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work but we want to see results.” Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said it won't endorse a test without FDA approval. The test also needs to be studied in larger and diverse populations. “It’s not quite clear how accurate or generalizable the results are,” she said. ___ Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
LONDON — Britain’s culture minister thinks the Netflix TV series “The Crown” should come with a disclaimer: It’s a work of fiction.Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden weighed in amid criticism of the historical liberties taken by the drama about the British royal family.“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction. So as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” Dowden told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. “Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”Dowden is expected to write to Netflix this week to express his view. Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.Questions of historical fidelity were not a major issue during earlier seasons of the show, which debuted in 2016 and traces the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, which began in 1952.But the current fourth season is set in the 1980s, a divisive decade that many Britons remember vividly. Characters include Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose 11-year tenure transformed and divided Britain, and the late Princess Diana, whose death in a car crash in 1997 traumatized the nation.Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter has called the series a “hatchet job” on Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and his first wife Diana. The troubled relationship of the couple, played by Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin, is a major storyline in the series.Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, has also said the show should carry a notice that “this isn’t true but it is based around some real events.”“I worry people do think that this is gospel and that’s unfair,” he told broadcaster ITV.Some Conservatives have criticized the program’s depiction of Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson. Britain’s first female prime minister, who died in 2013, is portrayed as clashing with Olivia Colman’s Elizabeth to an extent that some say is exaggerated.“The Crown” creator Peter Morgan, whose work also includes recent-history dramas “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon,” has defended his work, saying it is thoroughly researched and true in spirit.In a 2017 discussion of “The Crown,” Morgan said “you sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.”Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, said the suggestion that “The Crown” carry a disclaimer was “reasonable and yet pointless.”“It invariably doesn’t have an effect,” he said. “There are studies that show that people believe fiction when it’s presented as fact — even if you tell them it’s not fact.”Fielding said it was no surprise that Charles and his allies were annoyed with the heir to the throne’s depiction as “a bit of an idiot.” But he said making a fuss about it only amplifies the attention.Historians are used to railing at inaccuracies in dramas such as the Academy Award-winning “Darkest Hour,” which included an invented scene of Winston Churchill meeting ordinary Londoners on an Underground Tube train during World War II.“Mixing historical fact and fiction has been around since Shakespeare. This is not new to films, it’s not new to TV,” said Fielding, co-author of “The Churchill Myths,” which examines Britain’s wartime leader in popular culture.“I don’t recall the culture secretary complaining about the ridiculous presentation of Winston Churchill in ’Darkest Hour,” he said. “Because it went with the myth, with the idea of Churchill the hero, nobody complained."“Nobody’s bothered if fact and fiction are all mangled up, so long as it’s saying nice things,” he added.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the military alliance is grappling with a dilemma over its future in Afghanistan, as the United States starts pulling troops out while attacks by the Taliban and extremist groups mount.More than 17 years after taking the lead on international security efforts in Afghanistan, NATO now has around 11,000 troops from dozens of nations there helping to train and advise the national security forces. Most of the personnel are from Europe and other NATO partner countries.But the alliance relies heavily on the United States armed forces for air support, transport and logistics. European allies would struggle even to leave the country without U.S. help, and President Donald Trump’s decision to pull almost half the U.S. troops out by mid-January leaves NATO in a bind.“We face a difficult dilemma. Whether to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists. Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence,” Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers.Under a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban — without the involvement of other NATO allies or the Afghan government - all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan by May 1 if security conditions on the ground permit.“Whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a co-ordinated and deliberate way,” Stoltenberg said, on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers where the organization’s most ambitious operation ever will be high on the agenda.Trump’s unilateral decision to leave only 2,500 U.S. troops with the mission had allied military planners scrambling, as they tried to work out whether NATO could continue to operate in Kabul, and other major cities. NATO diplomats say that for now they have enough “enablers” to get the job done.Afghan officials also fear that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the Taliban’s negotiating position.NATO defence ministers are likely to make a final decision about the future of the Resolute Support Mission in February, after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. European diplomats expect the tone to change under Biden, but probably not the U.S. intention to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.The uncertainty comes amid a sharp rise in violence this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against the beleaguered Afghan security forces since the start of peace talks in September. Islamic State militants have also struck this month, notably in a horrific attack on Kabul University that killed 22 people, most of them students.“We have seen over the last months and weeks several attacks,” Stoltenberg said. “Some are conducted by Taliban, some attacks ISIS claimed responsibility for. But what we know is that the Taliban is responsible for attacks and the level of violence is far too high.”Even U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said: “We do not think the Taliban is keeping its word under the agreement. The violence is too high, and the Afghan people and the Afghan soldiers have paid a heavy price.”But despite the surge in violence, and deep uncertainty cause by the U.S. drawdown, the peace agreement appears to be an opportunity too good for NATO to miss.“We now see an historic opportunity for peace. It is fragile, but it must be seized,” Stoltenberg said. “We see an unpredictable and difficult military and political situation. But at least there are now talks.”Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — With nothing on their agendas for months to come, music festival organizers in Belgium want to use their know-how to help the country's coronavirus vaccination campaign.The Belgian government has set a goal of vaccinating about 70% of the country's population, about 8 million people, when approved COVID-19 vaccination shots become available.As the vaccines are expected to arrive in multi-dose vials for shots to be administered all on the same day, Belgium health authorities are planning to vaccinate people in groups as much as possible. The task will pose many logistical challenges, including the creation of vaccination centres that festival organizers say they can help set up.Enjoying a strong reputation in the music world, Belgian festival experts have proven experience in both building huge pop-up structures and in crowd management.With the music industry hit hard by the pandemic's economic, several festivals in the French-speaking region of Wallonia and the Brussels area have created a federation to better defend their interests. They have a large network of technicians who are currently unemployed and are ready to help out.“Our sector has been at a standstill for many months, and our many staff are eager to bring their creativity and dedication to the fight against coronavirus," said federation president Damien Dufrasne.One of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, Belgium has reported some 577,000 confirmed cases and more than 16,500 deaths linked to the virus.Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said COVID-19 vaccinations could start in the European Union's 27 nations before the end of December. The commission, the EU’s executive arm, has agreements with six potential vaccine suppliers and is working on a seventh contract. The deals allow it to purchase over 1.2 billion doses, more than double the population of the EU.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
Edward Blake Rudkowski was a member of Nunatsiavut, and before that the Labrador Inuit Association, for 34 years. He ran successfully to represent Labrador Inuit living outside the land claim as an ordinary member in 2017, was re-elected in 2018 and was named the Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly, the legislative branch of the Inuit government. That was, until Nov. 20, when Blake Rudkowski was told he was no longer a member of Nunatsiavut, his status as a beneficiary was revoked and he could no longer hold the political office he had been elected to. Blake Rudkowski told SaltWire Network he was told he didn’t meet the eligibility requirements and was just over 17 per cent Inuit. According to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, there are a number of requirements that can lead to a person being a beneficiary, including that a person is one-quarter Inuit, is a descendant of someone who settled permanently in the land claim area prior to 1940 with no Inuit ancestry or is adopted by a beneficiary. “To be clear, they didn’t tell me I wasn’t Inuit,” he said. “They said I wasn’t Inuit enough.” He says he would like to know what formula they use to come up with that determination, and what factors were taken into account to determine it. He’d also like to know why that number matters more than what was determined when he was first accepted as a member of the Labrador Inuit Association 34 years ago. His status as a beneficiary of Nunatsiavut had been challenged two years ago and he’d been going through the process ever since. “Immediately after the election, literally the day after, there were two challenges to my membership eligibility,” he said. “I’d been dealing with this behind the scenes since then.” He said the two people who challenged his membership were political rivals — one a person he had beaten in an election and another a former politician — and the timing of it seemed curious to him. “It felt like membership was being used as a tool of political retribution,” he said. Having Nunatsiavut beneficiary status challenged is like coming in as a new applicant and is a daunting task that, successful or not, can take up a lot of time. In 2013 an amendment was made to the Nunatsiavut Beneficiaries Enrolment Act that allows any member to challenge the membership of another. Blake Rudkowski said this allows people to try to use membership as a tool to try to harm their enemies. “What this does is it allows someone who is a malcontent or has a beef with someone else a vehicle to exact some sort of retribution. At minimum, even if it's not successful, it can cause someone a significant amount of mental anguish.” What this has created, Blake Rudkowski said, is a climate where some people are afraid to speak up about issues they have with the government for fear they may have their rights as a beneficiary stripped away, or at the very least have it challenged. When he was in government, it appeared there were an increasing number of memberships being challenged, he said, to the point where people were asking whether a full review was underway. He said he also heard complaints that the process was inconsistent, which he believes to be the case. “You have a lot of cases where it’s one brother in, one sister out, one cousin in, one cousin out, so there’s an inconsistency across the board which speaks to the fact that maybe there’s a problem with the process. That’s been a long-standing critique of many beneficiaries, there’s an inconsistent application of the rules.” Blake Rudkowski said he doesn’t know what steps he’ll take next, and while it appears his career as a politician in Nunatsiavut has come to an end it won’t be the last time people see him the political arena. The Nunatsiavut Government put out a statement Monday about Blake Rudkowski’s removal, saying he was removed from the government once his eligibility as a beneficiary had been revoked. “First Minister Tyler Edmunds reminds beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement that the Nunatsiavut Government plays no role whatsoever in determining the membership of any individual,” the statement read. “The beneficiary enrolment process is independent from the Nunatsiavut Government.” SaltWire asked to speak to someone with the Nunatsiavut Government about the requirements and the process, but an interview was not available before deadline.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Eight inmates were killed and 59 others were injured when guards opened fire to control a riot at a prison on the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital, officials said Monday. Two guards were critically injured, they said. Pandemic-related unrest has been growing in Sri Lanka’s overcrowded prisons. Inmates have staged protests in recent weeks at several prisons as the number of coronavirus cases surges in the facilities. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said inmates created “unrest” Sunday at Mahara prison, about 15 kilometres (10 miles) north of Colombo, and officials attempted to control the situation. But “the unrest situation turned into a prison riot,” he said, adding that prisoners tried to take control of the prison and hundreds attempted to escape. The inmates “reportedly destroyed most of the property including offices inside the prison,” Rohana said. The guards opened fire, and the clash left eight inmates dead and 59 injured, he said. Two prison officers were critically injured. He said hundreds of additional police were deployed to help the guards and strengthen security around the prison. An inmate was killed in similar unrest at another prison last week. Another died in March. More than a thousand inmates in five prisons have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least two have died. About 50 prison guards have also tested positive. Senaka Perera, a lawyer with the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, said the inmates at Mahara prison had been frustrated because their pleas for coronavirus testing and separation of infected prisoners had been ignored by officials for more than a month. On Monday, about 500 relatives of inmates gathered in front of the prison and urged the authorities to provide information about the prisoners and ensure their safety. Sujeewa Silva said her son has been detained at the facility for seven months after being arrested on drug charges. “I want to know whether he is safe. I asked the officers, please tell me the condition of my son," she said. Sri Lankan prisons are highly congested with more than 26,000 inmates crowded into facilities with a capacity of 10,000. Sri Lanka has experienced an upsurge in the coronavirus since last month when two clusters — one centred at a garment factory and other at a fish market — emerged in Colombo and its suburbs. Confirmed cases from the two clusters have reached 19,449. Sri Lanka has reported a total number of 22,988 coronavirus cases, including 109 fatalities. Bharatha Mallawarachi, The Associated Press
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, a woman in the Eastern Health region between 20 and 39 years old and a close contact of a travel-related case.Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald also announced that public health officials can now say a case announced Sunday with an unknown source was in fact travel-related.The province's total number of cases is now 338, with 36 active cases, as there has been a new recovery in the Eastern Health region. It's the first day since Nov. 18 the province's active caseload hasn't gone up. Premier Andrew Furey said the daily increase of cases in Newfoundland and Labrador over the last two weeks, as well as in other parts of the country, may increase anxiety."But it's going to be OK. Please don't panic. Take a deep breath and stay calm," he said."We are focused on avoiding a full lockdown here in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is where you come in and have a big part to play. You have to follow the rules, no matter who you are, and you have to focus on what you and your family are doing as opposed to what others are doing. That's how we avoid turning into a COVID-19 hot spot."Tuesday marks the beginning of December, and Fitzgerald said her countdown to Christmas is "a little more apprehensive" as residents begin to return home for the holidays."Inevitably we expect to see more cases of COVID as a result of travel into the province," she said. "For travellers and their families welcoming them home, please remember that travellers must adhere to the 14-day self-isolation requirement."Watch the full Nov. 30 update:Fitzgerald once again warned the public this holiday season should be very different. Christmas parties and New Year's Eve parties can set up the "perfect condition" for community spread to happen in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fitzgerald said employers need to do their part by not having staff parties, but should instead find another way to recognize workers.Government regulations for gatherings are set at 50 people for informal gatherings, if space allows, and 100 people for organized events. However, over the last number of weeks Fitzgerald has said groups should be limited to 20.Asked if official changes will come for gathering sizes, Fitzgerald said more information will be provided in the coming days. To date, 62,521 people have been tested for the virus across the province, an increase of 359 in the last 24 hours. There have now been 298 recoveries and four deaths. "We continue to hold steady and avoid the COVID trajectory that has taken a hold across our country. This is not luck. It's a result of layers of protection that we've built from travel restrictions, self-isolation requirements, distancing, masking, staying home if you're sick and following personal public health measures," said Fitzgerald. New forms for travelThe provincial government says clarifications for travel will be available to people on its COVID-19 website on Tuesday, with the site outlining the reasons someone may enter Newfoundland and Labrador, and what documentation they'll be required to have. Essential workers will also have to provide more information, including what sector they work in, their worksite and contact information for their employer.Fitzgerald said they're the same criteria the province has been applying all along, but moving the forms online will make things easier for travellers, as well as the provincial government's exemption team and the border officials meeting people at entry points."I think it facilitates the whole process for everybody, and it helps us keep track of things in a very efficient way." Isolation with othersFitzgerald also noted the recommendation has always been for rotational workers to isolate away from members of their household, but under some circumstances it's not possible. If a worker isolates at home with family members, she said, the whole family must isolate for the full 14 days. Provinces such as Nova Scotia have similar guidelines in place. "I think in some situations people weren't isolating because they weren't required to, and then in other situations sometimes people weren't aware that they needed to isolate," said Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald said people isolating in a house that includes other people should use a separate bathroom and bedroom if possible. If using a separate bathroom is not possible it must be disinfected after each use, she said. Common touchpoints, such as doorknobs, should also be disinfected after each use. Those in isolation must also stay six feet apart from those not in isolation with them. "Ideally you should be in a completely separate area of the home, and not be in common areas of the home. This may mean having meals delivered to your door," said Fitzgerald. "No visitors should enter a home where someone is self-isolating, and if someone in the house becomes symptomatic everyone in the house must self-isolate."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Toronto’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa responded to questions about the COVID-19 outbreak at Swansea Junior and Senior Public School, saying “there is very little that demonstrates transmission within the school,” adding that what they are seeing is COVID-19 cases “that are associated with cases from their own household.”
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes fell for the second consecutive month as lack of available homes continues to stifle house hunters.The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its index of pending sales fell 1.1%, to 128.9 in October, down from a reading of 130.3 in September. An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001.Thanks to a red-hot summer, contract signings are still 20.2% ahead of where they were last year after lagging in spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Contract signings are a barometer of finalized purchases over the next two months.Three out of four regions saw declines in contract signings, with only the South logging a small gain.Historically low interest rates are drawing prospective buyers into the market, but home prices have risen significantly the past year as supply remains near all-time lows.Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac reported last week that the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan remained at a record low 2.72%.The median price for an existing single-family home reached $313,000 in October up almost 16% from October 2019. The median price of a new home sold in October was $330,600, according to the Commerce Department.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
Les skieurs et planchistes se sont rués vers les abonnements de saison aux stations de ski Mont Sutton et Bromont, montagne d’expériences. Alors que la saison est encore loin de se dessiner, les abonnements tout temps, pour les deux destinations, se sont écoulés. À Bromont, il reste seulement quelques abonnements pour les soirées tandis qu’à Sutton les seuls abonnements encore disponibles sont les Passes 5 jours. Par prudence, ne sachant pas comment se déroulerait la saison avec la pandémie de COVID-19, les deux stations ont choisi de vendre une quantité limitée d’abonnements et elles ne rendront disponibles que quelques billets journaliers. «C’est une question de choix d’entreprise. Si on vend trop d’abonnements, ce n’est pas mieux, on va être obligé de rembourser les gens», souligne Charles Désourdy, président de BME, qui espère que les premières pistes soient ouvertes à la mi-décembre. L’entreprise a mis de 10 à 15 % moins d’abonnements en vente, mais se garde l’option d’en vendre davantage une fois la saison bien lancée, selon le déroulement des activités. «On avait un bon rythme de prévente par rapport à l’an passé, mais avec la distanciation et les restrictions aux remontées mécaniques qui limitent nos capacités, on doit mettre fin à la vente d’abonnements pour se garder un peu de marge de manœuvre pour la saison, confie Jean-Michel Ryan, PDG de Mont-Sutton. Il faut commencer la saison correctement. Ensuite, on verra.» «Un privilège d’avoir une saison» «C’est un phénomène qu’on retrouve dans la plupart des stations, note M. Ryan. On sent que les gens veulent être dehors, qu’ils veulent skier et profiter de l’hiver. C’est un privilège cette année de pouvoir avoir une saison, alors il faut en profiter.» Il n’y aura donc pas d’excès de prudence cette année pour éviter tout risque de fermeture en raison de la pandémie de coronavirus. Les usagers seront mis à contribution pour que la saison se déroule rondement. «On parle de responsabilité conjointe. Il faut tout faire pour avoir une belle saison tout le monde ensemble», ajoute le PDG de Mont Sutton. Au jour le jour Le nombre de billets journaliers dépendra de l’achalandage à la station. Il se pourrait qu’il n’y en ait pas du tout à Bromont au début de la saison. Chose certaine, il faudra l’acheter en ligne en choisissant la date de visite. Pour rendre l’expérience plus agréable et peut-être accueillir plus de détenteurs de billets journaliers, les deux stations ouvriront le plus de versants possible au début de la saison, même si ce ne sont que quelques pistes qui seront skiables. Ainsi, les usagers seront dispersés dans les différentes remontées mécaniques. En temps normal, un versant ouvre lorsqu’un nombre précis de pistes sont prêtes. Manger dehors En plus de limiter les remontées mécaniques à une bulle familiale ou une personne par chaise, les stations doivent prévoir une capacité d’accueil de 50 % dans les chalets. Ceux-ci seront uniquement utilisés pour se réchauffer. Il ne sera pas permis d’y manger ni d’y laisser des effets personnels. Les bottes devront être chaussées à la voiture. Les skieurs et planchistes pourront tout de même se sustenter... en restant dehors. À Bromont, des camions de rues seront disposés sur le site pour offrir nourriture et boissons chaudes. À Sutton, un service de restauration extérieure se prépare. Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner will travel to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week as part of negotiations to end a longtime boycott of Qatar.Kushner, along with Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz and former special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, will try to negotiate with Gulf leaders over the dispute, a White House official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the official was not authorized to publicly discuss the trip.Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut ties to Qatar in June 2017 as part of a wider political dispute over Doha's support of Islamists, its relationship with Iran and other matters. The four countries also launched an economic boycott, stopping Qatar Airways flights from using their airspace, closing off the small country’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia and blocking its ships from using their ports.Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The country is also home to the sprawling Al-Udeid Air Base, which hosts some 10,000 American troops and the forward headquarters of the U.S. military's Central Command.This may be Kushner's last trip to the region as President Donald Trump has only a few more weeks in office. President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated Jan. 20.Matthew Lee, The Associated Press