HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
President Donald Trump's frantic effort in the courts to delegitimize an election he lost has come no closer in a month to reversing any results.Lawyers for Trump and his allies have asked judges in several states to take the drastic and unprecedented step of setting aside President-elect Joe Biden’s wins. They have filed new cases and vowed to press on with appeals.But the quantity of affidavits, lawsuits and claims made by Trump belies that they are spurious or often repetitive of arguments already rejected by judges and elections officials, some of them Republicans.Here is a look at where the legal action stands in several key states:ARIZONAA judge was holding a trial beginning Thursday brought by state Republican Party chair Kelli Ward alleging irregularities in signature verification on mail-in ballots. The judge let Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities. Ward’s lawyers found two problems: One person's vote for Trump was ultimately recorded as a vote for Biden, and another person's Trump vote was cancelled because the ballot had votes for both Trump and a write-in candidate.Courts there have already dismissed four other cases. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, certified Arizona's results on Monday. In a touch of symbolism, he declined a phone call from Trump while signing the certification papers. Lawyer Sidney Powell, who was recently kicked off Trump's legal team and has been pushing wild conspiracy theories about the election, has also filed a lawsuit there.PENNSYLVANIATrump has lost repeatedly in Pennsylvania, collecting a series of stinging rebukes from Republican-appointed judges. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a district judge's dismissal of a key lawsuit argued in an error-filled performance by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” wrote Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, nominated by Trump.The district judge, Matthew Brann, wrote of the complaint, “One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption." Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, noted that the campaign did not provide that evidence.Trump's lawyers have vowed to ask for review from the U.S. Supreme Court anyway.MICHIGANSix cases brought by Trump and Republican allies in Michigan have either been rejected or dropped. On Wednesday, Giuliani appeared at a public meeting with lawmakers and urged activists to pressure, even threaten, the GOP-controlled Legislature to “step up” and award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Trump despite Biden’s 154,000-vote victory.WISCONSINThe state’s Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear Trump's lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss in the battleground state. In a divided decision, the court didn’t rule on the merits of the claims but said the case must first wind its way through lower courts. Trump wants to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. In urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Trump’s lawyers said they didn’t have enough time to start in a lower court.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”Trump's campaign filed a similar lawsuit in federal court Wednesday. Two other lawsuits filed by conservatives are still pending with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Powell has also filed a lawsuit seeking an order to decertify the election results in the state.____Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.Nomaan Merchant And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
QUEBEC — An all-party committee is recommending the Quebec government make the fight against the sexual exploitation of minors a priority.The report released Thursday by a group of 13 members of the legislature makes 58 recommendations to the government aimed at targeting pimps and customers and protecting young victims.It notes that the vast majority of the victims are girls, and some are only 12 or 13 years old.The committee, which studied the issue for 18 months, recommends that the province give police more money to fight the problem so they can track down abusive clients.The report recommends that clients convicted of buying sex from minors should have their names included on the national sex offender registry. It also calls on Quebec to ask Ottawa for changes to the Criminal Code, so pimps who exploit minors are required to serve sentences consecutively.The committee found exploitation is a lucrative business, with pimps pulling in up to $300,000 a year, while the girls themselves earn nothing.It estimates there are some 600 establishments in Quebec where a man seeking sexual services from a teen could find them, particularly in large cities, at businesses in the sex industry such as strip clubs, massage parlours and escort agencies.The report recommends the girls be officially recognized as victims of crime so they would have access to compensation that could help them from relapsing into prostitution.It also advocates for better training for those who work with youth, such as teachers and nurses, so they can identify a teen who has would up in the sex trade or could be at risk.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) has expressed that Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has been fear-mongering over the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Pallister noted during a media availability on Monday that he was worried First Nations living off-reserve will spread the virus to those living on-reserve if an approved vaccine is prioritized for First Nations. “It’s unfathomable that those words would come from the mouth of a leader in a province where First Nation people are in the midst of a modern-day health crisis,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “Instead of creating an environment of empathy and cooperation, this premier is stoking the fires of division.” The latest data has shown that First Nations across Canada have to be a priority for an approved vaccine. According to Indigenous Services Canada, the number of new and active COVID-19 cases is steadily increasing within First Nations with 1,713 active cases. “I hope the premier did not have an ulterior motive with his inflammatory words,” said Daniels. “Anyone should be able to see why First Nation people need to be at the front of the line for a vaccine. To think or advocate otherwise sets a dangerous and potentially life-threatening precedent.” In a COVID-19 rapid testing update on Thursday, Pallister said that he has been advocating for a nationally coordinated distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccine, including a national strategy for the vaccine to Indigenous people. “As you know, we have the largest percentage of Indigenous people in our province. Unfortunately, the rate of infection among Indigenous Manitobans is higher than non-Indigenous people,” said Pallister. The federal government has told the province that they will be holding back a portion of Manitoba’s vaccine which will be allocated to Indigenous communities. Pallister said that this would mean Manitobans that do not live in Northern and Indigenous communities would be the least likely to be able to get the vaccine in the country. “This puts Manitobans at the back of the line. This hurts Manitobans, to put it mildly. We will have the least amount of vaccines available for everyone else in the province,” he said. “This is unfair, and this is not what our Indigenous leaders want. I will be meeting with them next week to discuss this important issue, and I welcome their input, but I do not believe this approach is helpful or healthy.” First Nation people in Manitoba constitute 11.4% of the general population, but account for approximately 19% of current COVID-19 cases, 25% of the province’s hospitalizations, and 38% of Intensive Care Unit patients. In response to the SCO’s concerns, Pallister said that if talking honestly and openly about how getting the vaccine to people is fear-mongering then he is guilty of that action. “What’s fearful for Manitoba is not knowing when they get the vaccine and how the rollout is going to occur. We are trying to do our best to get that clear,” said Pallister. “I am trying to address fear and replace it with certainty and understanding of when we get the vaccine. I think that is what Manitobans want me to do, and that is my job.” Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
In the Spring of 2019, Town Council decided to develop a Recreation Strategic Plan to identify strategic priorities. As a result of that Plan, at its Planning Meeting of September 22, 2020, Council directed its Administrative Officers to allocate $1 million of capital spending in the 2021 CY budget to the construction of a community Recreation Facility. Since that time, the Facility, and its financing, have occupied a prominent line item on Council’s Agendas; however, as of this reporting, it would seem that progress toward the end objective is halting and confused at best. It would also seem that by the tone of their comments and their body language Councillors are feeling frustrated and a lack of collegiality is creeping into the proceedings. It is apparent that factions have developed. Part of the frustration can be attributed to the fact the pace of decision-making is proceeding so slowly and part of that, it would seem, can be attributed to the fact there has been no one individual who has been charged with complete oversight of the project. Council can be blamed for not providing direction in that regard. The result is well-intentioned individuals have been providing volunteer advice and consultation independent of Town officials; in fact, it could be said that they are working at odds with one another. Put another way, the old adage that “there are too many hands in the soup” may apply. Volunteers have focussed on using local contractors providing less-than-market costs. Administration has been concerned, among other things, with liability, insurance etc. and have been uncertain about building design. The result of this organizational confusion is that there is still much uncertainty concerning such fundamental issues as costs, conceptual drawings, site layout, building code compliance, occupancy and partner participation. It is anticipated that the County of Cardston and the Westwind School Division will make significant contributions to the project but both organizations are loathe to declare their respective commitments until the Town has indicated its final decision. Similarly, delays imperil public fundraising efforts which are best conducted near year end to take advantage of tax credits. The Town has enlisted the services of a professional engineer who will address some of the fundamentals listed above. It is hoped that this will serve to expedite some of the decision making which is necessary for further progress. In the meantime, Council will have to provide its direction on the building’s features and uses which heretofore seem to have been driven by interested third parties. Before committing to construction, Council has pledged to conduct a survey to gauge the degree of public support for the Project and its long term implications. To conduct such a survey without all necessary details would be ill-advised but Council has begun to formulate the questions which it would contain. William Hill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
Aunt Leah's Place is struggling to find enough volunteers to staff its Christmas tree lots in Metro Vancouver as many people choose to stay home during the pandemic.Aunt Leah's Christmas lots are a social enterprise where all the funds raised support programs for children and youth connected to the foster care system including housing, food security, education and employment resources."A lot of our returning volunteers feel more comfortable staying home this year," said Hope Rayson, volunteer coordinator.Leading up to the holiday season, the charity was concerned business would be down at its three lots this year due to the pandemic.But fortunately, Rayson says business is up 500 per cent. "We could just really use a hand to help support foster youth, moms and babies this holiday season," she said.This year, Rayson says volunteers are paired with customers — in a COVID-friendly way — to help them pick out a tree, measure it and even help them carry it to their vehicles.Rayson says the tree lot is an outdoor activity, but everyone is still required to wear a mask in the lot. They are also maintaining a maximum limit of customers allowed in the lot at any point.In 2019, the Christmas tree lots raised more than half a million dollars for the charity."That's why it is so critical for our organization," said Rayson.
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday some Americans could be just days away from getting a coronavirus vaccine. But CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield fears there are some people who may not want it. (Dec. 3)
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Quatsino First Nation members are headed to the polls on Friday for the second time this year. The original election for chief and the five councillors was held in September, but mail-in ballots were mistakenly returned to sender due to an error at the post office. Electoral Officer Marcus Hadley decided with Quatsino Council and Indigenous Services Canada that the best way to remedy the error was to hold an entirely new election. About a third of Quatsino members were sent mail-in voting packages. Polls are open at the Quatsino gym from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 for in-person voting, with precautions taken for COVID-19 safety. The current leaders of the northern Vancouver Island nation are Chief James Nelson and Councillors Patricia (Speck) Hall, Percy Nelson Sr., James Wallas, Richard Nelson and Dawn Willie. Willie was nominated to run for chief and councillor positions, but has since withdrawn her name, along with Nelson Sr. who was nominated to run for councillor, but has withdrawn his name. Chief Nelson and councillors Hall, Wallas and Richard Nelson are running again. Five people are running for chief, and 20 people running for the five councillor positions. The candidates were confirmed in a meeting in October. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the ballots will be counted on a Zoom-broadcast video after the polls close, offering a unique opportunity for more participation, Hadley said. Typically the ballot counting would be open for people to view, so the online format is a safe and transparent alternative to meeting in person. COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into many other First Nations elections that Hadley is the electoral officer for. He said the last six months have been an incredible learning curve, but said it does provide an opportunity for greater participation. “I’m interested in leveraging the technology to make things more transparent and more engaged,” he said. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.comZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Chatham-Kent’s top doc wants to reassure residents that there is no reason to fear the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine despite the speed at which it was developed. On Thursday, the United Kingdom officially approved the Pfizer vaccine which will be distributed to its residents shortly. Several vaccines are expected to be approved by Health Canada later this month. “The notion that vaccines are not safe is really not a genuine worry in most instances,” said Dr. David Colby. Colby said one vaccine, Moderna’s, was developed in 48 hours. “And all of the rest of the time has been taken up by these rigorous testing protocols that are very robust. So I don't think that people should be hesitant at all about having the vaccines as soon as they are approved,” he said. Colby said the vaccine testing program is a multiphase “rigorous” program. Phase 1 tests immune responses and in Phase 2 it is given to volunteers for a comprehensive safety study that ensures the vaccine is safe for individuals to take. Phase 3 determines whether the vaccine works to decrease the risk of disease. “But the safety data collection not only continues on in Phase 3 to get a lot higher numbers and more robust data but it continues after the vaccine has been approved. There is a very robust adverse effects reporting System in both Canada and the United States,” he said. Colby did say he would like to have received the vaccine sooner rather than later. It is still unclear at this point how distribution will happen and if local health units will get any say in the priorities. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, has suggested that local needs do need to be taken into account when coming up with a distribution plan. “But I think everybody agrees that the people who are at the highest risk of mortality if they get COVID-19 should be first in line. And then we start thinking about people that have the greatest potential to actually spread it,” he said. Colby said hospital staff would be a very high priority, especially after looking at what happened at University Hospital, London, where 124 cases, infecting both staff and patients, were reported. Nine patients reportedly died from the outbreak. “Whether this is going to be dictated at a provincial level with a policy across Ontario, or whether there's going to be local discretion... those principles will be adhered to because they just make sense.”Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
WATERLOO — Support for reallocation of police funding may come from Waterloo council. Coun. Jen Vasic has tabled a motion, which will be voted on Monday, encouraging members of provincial parliament and the provincial and federal governments to work with the Waterloo Region Police Services Board and Region of Waterloo to evaluate police legislation and consider alternative models of community safety. The motion also calls for more substantial investments in areas such as health and mental health, affordable and mixed-use housing, anti-racist and decolonizing education, harm reduction, and drug legalization. Vasic wrote in an email that at its core “the motion is about shifting resources to programs that will give more people a fair chance to live full and meaningful lives, on their own terms and by their own leadership.” With the police commanding about 20 per cent of the regional budget, Mayor Dave Jaworsky noted that police resources are not proportional to funding in other areas. With a lack of early intervention programs, as well as generations impacted by racism, Jaworsky said this leads to a lot of social issues that get mishandled. “So who ends up dealing with all of this? The one group, the police, and it’s really time for us to recognize that using the police as a catch-all is the wrong end of the stick to be holding. You need to be working on the other end of the stick in terms of helping people along.” Vasic said she was encouraged to table this motion after reading conversations on Twitter that there is nothing stopping municipalities from advocating for their communities on this issue. “When I started throwing this idea by the mayor he rightly encouraged me to also begin looking at what the City of Waterloo needs to do in-house,” Vasic said. The motion includes a call for the city to advance equity, anti-racism and truth and reconciliation internally, reporting back to council on progress by March 2021. Vasic, who drafted the motion in collaboration with city staff and community members, wrote that she sees this as a positive step forward for Waterloo in its efforts to address anti-racism, reconciliation, and issues of equity and inclusion. “I hope other municipalities — local and otherwise — are encouraged to put forth similar motions and I hope that our local MPPs take this advocacy to the province on our behalf.” Fitsum Areguy’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @fitsumareguyFitsum Areguy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
November 24th - Alberta entered a second state of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The targeted restrictions implemented by the provincial government means new rules for social gatherings, worship services, businesses, and schools. Local town, village, and county councils are once again facing decisions on how to adapt their meetings to reduce transmission while balancing the need to be open and transparent to the public who should be able to attend. Technically it is not against restrictions for a council to meet in person, but there has been an ask from the province that everyone do their part to reduce possible contacts. Ten municipalities in the area have responded to questions regarding how their council meetings will proceed during this unique time, and various approaches are being implemented by the different councils. Village Councils of Glenwood and Hillspring do not have the capacity to change meetings over to virtual sessions easily and instead have decided to simply restrict the number of attendees to be in accordance with Alberta Health Services guidelines. There are a maximum of ten individuals allowed to be present, most of those seats being taken by council and administration with only a few spots left for interested residents. Masks are required when coming and going but can be taken off once situated six feet away from others in the room. The meetings in these municipalities have been moved from council chambers into the community centres to accommodate physical distancing guidelines. Hillspring and Glenwood council meetings, like most municipalities, do not typically have a large turnout so their respective administrations believe that there will not be a big issue having to turn people away who would like to attend. The towns of Cardston, Magrath, and Fort Macleod have also opted to continue in person meetings using the same mask and physical distancing tools as the villages, but are attempting to improve virtual access through technology. Fort Macleod and Magrath are still looking into their options for virtual meetings and improving their procedure bylaw to allow for them, whereas Cardston already has been recording and posting videos to YouTube a few days later. Cardston councillors are given the option to attend virtually and some have already taken this option in order to limit their exposure. Cardston, Magrath, and Fort Macleod also do not tend to have large attendance at regular council and committee meetings, so these measures of social distancing and masks should not be an issue unless there is an abnormal amount of residents wishing to attend. Stirling, Cardston County, and Raymond are relying more heavily on virtual meetings. Stirling began doing zoom meetings back when the first shutdown happened in the Spring and slowly transitioned back to in person meetings with physical distancing measures in place. Councillors have at times opted to access meetings virtually and the village of Stirling is open to allowing remote access to residents who request this due to the pandemic. Cardston County is meeting in person, but because of the dimensions of their room residents who show up to attend live will be able to access the meeting via zoom in a different room in the building that allows for proper social distancing. Raymond has completely restricted public access to their meetings. While the councillors are attending in person, residents may only access through live streaming. Over the last few months some committee meetings had still allowed for public access but that has been tightened up due to the latest restrictions announced by the province. Pincher Creek and Coalhurst have both gone completely virtual with their meetings. Coalhurst uses the Star Leaf platform and citizens can dial in by phone to access the meeting while councillors and delegates are able to view in real time. Pincher Creek Council has opted to use the GoToMeeting platform which allows them to have a dedicated url that residents can use to access meetings, including budget deliberations and Committees of the Whole. At first Pincher Creek was using a mixed system where some residents could access in person, but once those spots were filled in chambers everyone else had to access remotely. Economic Development officer Marie Everts noticed that the mixed meetings were harder to navigate than moving things completely in person or online. Pincher Creek began to move meetings online when COVID first hit in the spring and made sure each councillor was set up with a laptop, headphones, and training if needed. Everts says “It’s amazing how quickly people can adapt” referencing councillors who had a steep learning curve in the beginning. And isn’t adaptation one of the biggest themes of these unprecedented times? Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Human interactions are the leading cause of untimely death among B.C.’s killer whales, a new study suggests. A team of marine mammal and orca specialists analyzed pathology reports of 52 killer whales stranded in Hawaii and the northeast Pacific, including the southern resident killer whales regularly spotted off the B.C. coast, finding the animals face a variety of threats, but the reemerging theme was human-caused in every age class. “In British Columbia, we lost nine southern resident killer whales — two adults, two subadults and one calf died from trauma. One was a confirmed propeller strike, with one adult and two subadults from suspected ship strikes,” said lead author Stephen Raverty, a veterinarian pathologist with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia stated in a press release. “One of these iconic species passed away from an infection secondary to satellite tagging. Another death was due to natural causes and the other two undetermined. Half of the southern killer whale deaths identified in this study were caused by human interactions.” The study was based on orca deaths between 2004 and 2013, led by the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, and coordinated through the SeaDoc Society, a Washington-based program of the University of California. Raverty and coauthor Dr John Ford are adjunct professions at UBC’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries and Department of Zoology, respectively. The report may offer one of the most comprehensive looks yet at the multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales, and help inform strategies to better protect them. While human interactions play a key role, the researchers cautioned the findings indicate an understanding of each threat is critical for conserving orca populations. “The results from systematic necropsies of dead killer whales in this review is unique and will establish critical baseline information to assess future mitigation efforts,” Raverty said. “This work contributes to a better understanding of the impacts that ongoing human activities and environmental events have on killer whales.” Overall, of the 52 whales studied, the cause of death was determined for 42 per cent. Other causes include sepsis following a halibut hook injury, starvation from a congenital facial deformity, infectious disease and nutritional deficiencies. “Nobody likes to think we’re directly harming animals,” said co-author and SeaDoc Society Director Joe Gaydos. “But it’s important to realize that we’re not just indirectly hurting them from things like lack of salmon, vessel disturbance or legacy toxins. It’s also vessel strikes and fish hooks. That humans are directly killing killer whales across all age classes is significant; it says we can do a better job.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
From Sammy Davis Jr. to Snoop Dogg, the list of performers who have graced the stage of the Commodore Ballroom on the Granville Strip is as varied as the musical tastes of Vancouverites.Which could be why, on the 90th anniversary of the day the notorious nightclub first flung open its doors to late night revelers, it's hard to find a local who does not have a tale from a time spent twirling on the famous dance floor or watching a big star perform while they were still on the way up.Modelled after Art-Deco British ballrooms of the 1920s, with plush carpets and walls draped with floor-length curtains, the Commodore Ballroom opened on Dec. 3, 1930 and quickly became the place to party.It was not, however, a place where you could get a drink. Legally that is.According to Aaron Chapman, author of Live at the Commodore: The Story of Vancouver's Historic Commodore Ballroom, nightclubs at that time were liquor-free and people would have to smuggle their hooch in.When the local police would make their rounds, the doorman would signal the band leader on stage who would immediately rally the band to play a tune called Roll Out the Barrel. This system let all the patrons know to hide their booze until the coast was clear."Police were there on off nights themselves and did the same thing, everyone knew," said Chapman Thursday on CBC's The Early Edition.Decades passed, liquor laws and musical preferences changed and still The Commodore remained a mainstay of the music scene.Originally a place where orchestras and big bands got the dance floor going, many, many well-known names have lit up the stage in the years since.Some mentioned by Chapman include: The New York Dolls in 1974, Kiss in 1975 and Tom Petty in 1978. The Clash also played their first-ever North American show there in the winter of '79."You can walk into that place and feel that energy in the room and that's a very special thing," said Chapman.There are also not many cross-generational venues remaining in the city where grandchildren can twerk where their grandparents once did the twist.For musician Alan Doyle, who has performed on the stage many times both solo and with the band Great Big Sea, it holds a very special memory.It is there, where in 2017, Doyle and about 50 other musicians came together to show support for John Mann, frontman of the local folk rock band Spirit of the West who had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.Doyle rallied talent that night, both vocal and instrumental, and recorded a song especially for Mann in the second floor men's washroom that Doyle converted into a makeshift studio.WATCH | Celebrated Canadian musicians perform at The Commodore to help a dear friendMann passed away in 2019 but had been in attendance at the event."The greatest night I ever had there, " Doyle told CBC Thursday.The venue has won numerous awards recognizing its importance as a local landmark and was named Most Influential Club in Canada by Billboard Magazine in 2011.To mark its 90th anniversary, the City of Vancouver declared Dec. 3 Commodore Ballroom Day.And while the pandemic may be preventing people from cutting loose on the dance floor this year, venue owners Live Nation threw a virtual birthday party featuring B.C. blues musician and Commodore regular Colin James.James, who hasn't seen his bandmates since March because of pandemic restrictions, says while playing to an empty house is weird, it's great to be playing at the venue."We just did a whole show and we couldn't take the smiles off our faces," James said. "You know, I'm not one to talk a whole lot between songs so we just had a great time playing and it felt oddly normal."James, who has played at The Commodore 33 times before says the venue is unique for allowing bigger shows but still retaining an intimate mood. "Some cities have gotten rid of their iconic venues," he said. "I've played it so many times over the years and it's still really great to be here."
WATERLOO REGION — In a cold living room with just a few pieces of furniture, Francois and his family sit anxiously reading a response from Immigration Canada. After almost seven years of laying roots here, their application for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds has been denied. As undocumented people they are not eligible for support from local immigration service providers and have no protections as essential low-wage workers. Living in a Kitchener neighbourhood that has been hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic, Francois and his family face constant stress. “If we get the virus,” Francois trailed off, pressing his temples. “I really don’t want to get sick.” Without a Social Insurance Number, Francois is not able to access the Canada Recovery Benefit, and must pay upfront for health care. Francois said that he and his wife endure chronic back pain, and are not able to afford to go to a walk-in clinic. The Record has chosen not to use Francois’ last name. The family didn’t plan on being undocumented when they first arrived in Canada. Their precarious position comes after a string of broken promises from an employer who said they would help Francois and his family get permanent residency, but didn’t. “We are here but we aren’t visible,” Francois says. “No one cares about us.” Francois and his family are just part of the many undocumented people navigating a system that doesn’t track them well, and those lost in its maze feel doesn’t care about them. It is unknown how many undocumented people might be living here, according to Tara Bedard, executive director of Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership. “We do not have very good or really any data on this for the region,” Bedard wrote in an email. Francois, a fluent French speaker from East Africa, came to Canada in March 2014 under the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program to work at a plant, first in Quebec and then in Kitchener. He said he brought his family with him because recruiters and the Kitchener-based company that hired him made a verbal promise to assist with his application for permanent residency. He said that promise was not fulfilled. He’s not willing to name the company, as he is worried about creating trouble for his friends who still work there. “If you’re drowning, you don’t want your friends to drown,” Francois said. Melanie Grant, a licensed immigration consultant and founder of Canadian Connection Immigration, said that TFWs like Francois who are hired for low-skilled positions run into these kind of problems at the end of their permits. Grant said that while most TFWs do not plan to overstay, they are told, as Francois was, that if they stay they can get their papers. “But when they actually pursue that option, it doesn’t happen and they lose out on the period to leave.” Grant said Francois did all the right things, including applying for an extension on his work permit. However, the person who initially submitted their extension mistakenly changed their status to ‘visitors’, which only permits them to stay in Canada for six months. By the time Grant met Francois to explain that a study or work permit would have given them more time, it was already too late; the window to apply for these permits had closed. Francois was able to get some information and support from the Working Centre, YMCA, and the KW Multicultural Centre. But it can be challenging for local immigration service providers to work with people who don’t fit the eligibility criteria for services they are funded to provide. Francois and his family’s last resort was to ask to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Their application was rejected by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada. One of the categories Immigration evaluates to establish ties to the community is employment. For the last four years Francois, who was trained as a machinist, has been working as a line cook or dishwasher in kitchens. His wife is a housekeeper for a family in Waterloo. His daughter, recently graduated from high school and found work cleaning for a local construction company. Francois and his wife were reprimanded for working without a valid permit and were criticized for lacking tax assessments or pay stubs to show for their work. Immigration said their inability to provide evidence of an extensive employment history weighed heavily against them. Francois said when he was honest with prospective employers about being undocumented, he would get paid $9 to $10 an hour, “because they know they can get away with it.” He learned to keep his status hidden and to ask only to be paid in cash. “Here even dogs are treated better than us,” Francois said. As they continue to apply for permanent residency, the family fears the government will find them and force them to leave. “At this point, if they were to be detained, the next course of action would be removal,” Grant said. Jenna Hennebry, associate director of the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, said that the TFW program’s shifting rules and complicated paperwork create conditions for some employers to exploit vulnerable workers. “Having to juggle different administrative systems is something that employers aren’t keen on, and they say it becomes a kind of administrative barrier.” Hennebry said that because relationships between local companies and recruiters who facilitate the flow of TFWs into the country are not well regulated in Ontario, there is no guarantee that incentives and promises made to TFWs will be honoured. Francois said that he and his family are regular church goers and volunteer with the Working Centre. He said he is always willing to help his network of neighbours and friends. “Whether that is moving, painting, making food, whatever it is, if my community needs me for help I will be there,” Francois said. Although there was acknowledgement of the family’s social ties in Canada, the Immigration decision argued that “relationships are not bound by geographical locations” and that Francois and his family could “maintain their friendships via alternate means such as telephone, Skype, or emails.” Hennebry said that the TFW program’s deepest flaw is how it reduces people to just workers. “These are people that have relationships and family members and connections to communities that are part of the substance and fabric of our communities.” While our region has become increasingly aware of migrant farmers, Hennebry said there is a gap in knowledge about TFWs like Francois in other industries, and undocumented workers are missing in the data completely. She said that while the system that supports permanent residents and refugee families works well, it reflects an outdated understanding of how people are coming into the country. “Now most people come here as students, or they come here as temporary foreign workers. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Canada, more than the numbers of permanent resident entries. Yet, when they’re stuck in limbo, we have no services to support them.” Francois wants to stay in Canada, as he said it offers a better, safer future for his kids. “Back home we don’t have many opportunities, here there are so many more possibilities,” he said. His oldest daughter has been admitted to York University, the only Canadian university that offers young people without legal status an opportunity to study and earn a degree. Drawing on her own experiences, she hopes to pursue a career in law and human rights. Hennebry said that immigration service providers should be given more support to help people without status clear administrative hurdles instead of criminalizing them through detention and deportation orders. “I think that there needs to be a broader conversation about how the temporary foreign worker program and the international student system links up with our permanent migration system, because currently it does not.” Fitsum Areguy’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Email email@example.com Twitter @fitsumareguyFitsum Areguy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
TORONTO — The man who drove a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk and killed 10 people said his actions are "99 per cent irredeemable" after turning to the bible in jail, court heard Thursday.Alek Minassian made the comment on Dec. 12, 2019, to Dr. Alexander Westphal, a psychiatrist retained by the defence."I think it would be considered probably extremely irredeemable, like 99 per cent chance irredeemable," Minassian said in his orange jumpsuit while in a Toronto jail.Crown attorney Joe Callaghan argued the 10-minute video clip should be put into evidence as it shows a different side of Minassian than the one portrayed thus far by psychiatrists who say he lacks empathy, shows no emotion and has no insight into the minds and feelings of others.Callaghan said the clip shows Minassian engaged in conversation while answering questions at length and shows insight into the thoughts of others.Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder. He argues he should be found not criminally responsible due to autism spectrum disorder.After admitting to planning and carrying out the attack, his state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial.Justice Anne Molloy, presiding over the case without a jury, allowed the video into evidence.Molloy said this appears to show a different Minassian, not baffled and unresponsive and stuck in a concrete way of thinking as others have previously testified."This is not concrete, this is very esoteric, philosophical almost — not almost, it is," the judge said.Minassian, an atheist, told Westphal he began reading the bible while under suicide watch at the Toronto South Detention Centre.He said the bible gives him a "sense of hope." During breaks at the trial, which is being held by videoconference due to the pandemic, Minassian can be seen flipping through a red bible in the small room at the jail where he watches the proceedings.He told Westphal he reads it every day. He said he can see how the bible can be used to help change people's lifestyles as a path to redemption. "A preacher, let’s say he tells his nephew God is very disappointed about what you're doing and the nephew might realize he's saying, really, your family is disappointed," Minassian said to Westphal.The Crown said that passage shows Minassian's insight into the perspective of others. Westphal disagreed."I don't think him expressing an analogy the man is controlling his nephew by God is saying anything Mr. Minassian's overall understanding of morality," Westphal said.Minassian's lawyer had said Westphal would be the only expert to say the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., should be found not criminally responsible for his actions, but the psychiatrist has stopped short of making that conclusion. Westphal said Minassian does not truly understand the moral wrongfulness of killing 10 people, but said criminal responsibility is a legal opinion, not a psychiatric one.Earlier, court heard that Minassian said he had a strong desire to commit the attack. "I felt a strong desire to want to especially as the time ... approached, but I didn't feel compelled to do it, I didn't really feel I had to do it," Minassian said.While Minassian said he didn't feel he had to do it, the prosecution said those words seemed at odds with a report by Westphal that said Minassian felt he "had to go through with it" after making the decision to go forward with his plan. Under questioning from the Crown, Westphal said Minassian was not compelled to commit the attack. The Crown repeatedly asked why that was not in the report, a question Westphal seemed confused by."You only included facts that fit your narrative, you're not interested in an objective view," Callaghan said, his voice raised."I think I accurately captured that aspect I don't think he was compelled to do it," Westphal said.Court has heard that Minassian booked the rental van weeks earlier with the idea to use it as a weapon to strike people. He told Westphal that he knew it was wrong by "society’s moral standards, the most important one being that it is extremely wrong to kill people."He has told various people different reasons why he committed the attack including anxiety around a software development job that was to start a week after the attack.Westphal asked Minassian why he did it."An extreme desire to want to do it, the fact I already booked (the van) and was so close to going through with my plan, feeling social isolation and the nervousness about the job, socially and performance-wise," Minassian said.The Crown also pointed out all of Minassian's successes to the psychiatrist. He graduated from high school with a 76 per cent average and completed a software engineer degree at Seneca College. In his last year of college, Minassian achieved a 4.0 grade point average, the highest mark possible.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
Indigenous rights advocates say the Liberal government's draft legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) is better than expected.Justice Minister David Lametti tabled Bill C-15 in the House of Commons on Dec. 3. The bill would chart a path toward implementing the rights affirmed in the declaration."I don't think it's perfect by any means but from the draft that they were discussing with us across the country, it's come some ways," said Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in B.C., who took part in the consultation on the bill."Changing the laws of Canada is going to take some time. I think the biggest issue is going to be how they will work with Indigenous people across the country to change those laws."UNDRIP was passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007 after 25 years of negotiations to affirm the rights of Indigenous peoples to their language, culture, self-determination and traditional lands. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as Quebec's Viens Commission all called for the implementation of the declaration at all government levels.'Long-overdue'After the shooting of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member Chantel Moore by police in New Brunswick during a wellness check in June, Sayers said she is happy to see that the draft legislation addresses injustices like systemic discrimination but she has concerns about the proposed timeline outlined.If passed, the bill would require the federal government to prepare an action plan within three years of the bill's passage to achieve the declaration's objectives. Sayers would like to see meaningful consultation and an interim action plan that addresses the top priorities in Canada, something she acknowledges is not an easy task."That's going to be difficult, talking to 633 First Nations and determining that, but I really think that waiting for three years on action that may or may not be complete at that time is too long, way too long," she said."We need a change yesterday to many laws."Amnesty International Canada welcomed the legislation, stating it is "much-needed" and "long-overdue.""Because the core purpose of the new bill provides a framework for implementation, Amnesty International strongly urges the Canadian government to pass this legislation quickly," said Ana Collins, Amnesty International's Indigenous rights campaign advisor in a statement.Limitations on self-determinationIf the bill is passed, the federal government must ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP. While Canada is not the first country to legislate UNDRIP, Kenneth Deer said if the draft is passed as is, it would put Canada in the forefront of applying the declaration inside its borders."I'm cautiously optimistic that this could be beneficial for Indigenous people in Canada," said Deer, who is Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawake, Que., and was involved with the development of UNDRIP. He said it's important that Canada make legislation to implement the declaration, to move it from being aspirational to binding. He added the legislation has its limits when it comes to Indigenous self-determination by being a Canadian law."You can't have true self-determination and be limited by the Canadian constitution but Indigenous people can go a long way until we hit that wall," he said."Anything that the UN passes or Canada passes does not take away our right to self-determination or does not take away our sovereignty. Our sovereignty is inherent, and will always be there."
At least 2752 people came out to vote for chief and council at the recent blood tribe election last Thursday. Incumbent Roy Fox won with 628 votes, only 22% of the vote compared to the 20% of runner up Vernon Joseph Chief Moon Jr, making it a fairly even race with vote distribution quite spread between many candidates. Twelve Councillors were also elected on Thursday, with less of a spread of votes amongst the 88 candidates. The most well-liked candidate was Traveller Plaited Hair, who took the lead with a total of 931 votes, far ahead of the next favourite, Clarence Black Water who won his seat with 584 votes. The other 10 councillors who have been elected received between 397 to 582 votes each. Of the 12 incumbent councillors who ran, only 3 were re-elected: Dorothy First Rider, Martin Heavy Head, and Marcel Weasel Head. New councillors include Traveller Plaited Hair, Clarence Blackwater, Piinaakoyim Tailfeathers, Floyd Big Head, Mickey Day Rider, Winston Day Chief, Diandra Bruised Head, Richard Red Crow, and Maria Russell. Former councillors Lance Tailfeathers, Tim Tailfeathers, Floyd Big Head, Kyla Crow, Joanne Lemieux, Robin Little Bear, Kirby Many Fingers, Hank Shade, and Franklyn White Quills did not get enough votes to remain in their seats this term. Polls were extended one hour at all polling locations due to an overwhelming turnout. The swearing in ceremony took place at 11am on December 2 and was live-streamed on the Blood Tribe website. There were so many interested voters that the polls at each station had to be extended for an hour to 8pm. Even then voters had to be turned away so that the vote could be counted. Police were called to an off-reserve voting station in Lethbridge where security guards had been worried that those being turned away at 8 were getting aggressive. Once the bylaw was read out-loud to the crowd and it was explained that the polls were not being shut down early, the crowd dispersed without incident. Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce Friday a new target that he says would reduce the U.K.'s greenhouse gas emissions “faster than any major economy.” The target aims to cut the U.K.'s emissions by at least 68% from 1990 levels by 2030 and to set the country on the path to net zero by 2050. The goal is more ambitious than the one the European Union, which the U.K. left earlier this year, is expected to set next week. The U.K.'s is co-hosting the Climate Ambition Summit with the United Nations and France on Dec. 12, which coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, a global pact aimed at averting catastrophic climate change. Under the terms of the Paris accord, which the United States formally withdrew from last month but President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin, countries agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), ideally no more than 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century, compared with pre-industrial levels. It was left up to each participating country to determine at what pace emissions would be reduced. The only binding requirement was that each country had to update the U.N. on its plans and progress. The aim of the summit is to get countries to submit ambitious targets before the U.K. hosts the 26th global U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in 2021, a year later than planned due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Today, we are taking the lead with an ambitious new target to reduce our emissions by 2030, faster than any major economy," Johnson said. “But this is a global effort, which is why the U.K. is urging world leaders as part of next week’s Climate Ambition Summit to bring forward their own ambitious plans to cut emissions and set net zero targets," he added. The U.K.'s move was praised by Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think-tank based in Nairobi, Kenya. “This is the kind of leadership we want to see from the hosts of the crucial U.N. summit next year, and it will put pressure on other countries to follow suit," he said. “This welcome move by the U.K. ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement must now trigger a race to the top for a safer and cleaner world," Adow added. ___ Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP's climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate Pan Pylas, The Associated Press