Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, born in Sudbury, Ont., has died at 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, born in Sudbury, Ont., has died at 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
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
Calgary police and bylaw officers are cracking down on people who are "blatantly ignoring" public health rules designed to keep people safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, city and enforcement officials reaffirmed Thursday.Police announced on Wednesday that they had charged three people under the Public Health Act after a rally last weekend, and were looking for three others who are also facing charges.During the protest, hundreds of people marched through downtown Calgary to protest against mandated masks and other public health measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.On Thursday, police confirmed to CBC News that they have mailed tickets to the three who were being sought.The individuals face charges of contravening an order of the chief medical officer of health and failing to wear a face covering, with fines of $1,200 and $50, respectively."The biggest challenge that we seem to be facing right now are those that are blatantly ignoring the laws," Mark Neudeld said. "The issue is not that they're unaware and require education. The issue is more that they disagree, and these people will be charged accordingly."'This is about keeping all Calgarians safe'The protests have been a weekly occurrence in the city and across the country for months, but Saturday was the first since the province introduced new restrictions, including that outdoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people while still following physical distancing and other public health guidelines.When Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the tightened restrictions on Nov. 24, he also warned that peace officers or police can fine people who break restrictions, with $1,000 per ticketed offence and up to $100,000 through the courts. That announcement boosted calls for police and bylaw officers to start charging scofflaws.The news comes as Alberta continues to lead the country in total active COVID cases, with 17,144 active caseson Wednesday afternoon,compared with 14,526 in Ontario, a province with more than three times as many people, and 12,740 in Quebec, which has twice the population.It has also led the country in terms of new infections per capita over the past week.There are currently 6,331 active cases of COVID-19 in Calgary, 162 people are in hospital and 30 are in intensive care. Since the pandemic started, 202 in Calgary have died of the disease."We are absolutely not looking to punish people who are simply trying to get through this pandemic," Neufeld said when he announced the new charges on Thursday."This is about keeping all Calgarians safe by addressing disappointing and intentional acts of defiance that threaten our health-care system and our well-being."Calgarians are welcome to exercise their right to protest but have to follow the same restrictions as the rest of the city, Neufeld said.Police officers will continue to use their discretion when enforcing restrictions, and will work to be reasonable, focusing their attention on people who blatantly disregard the public health rules, Neufeld said."We've acknowledged people's constitutional right to gather and have their voices heard … but limits have been temporarily placed on those rights and freedoms in the interests of public safety and the health of our citizens," he said.City in process of serving two ticketsChief bylaw officer Ryan Pleckaitis also provided an update on the city's enforcement for community standards at the conference.The city is in the process of serving two tickets under the Public Health Act stemming from incidents that occurred around City Hall on Sunday and Wednesday, Pleckaitis said.There are additional fines that the city will serve in relation to these incidents, and under a number of other bylaws, Pleckaitis said.He wanted to remind citizens that a first offence is $1,200 while further offences are up to $100,000.In regards to a request the city has made, asking that the province expand more authority to enforce restrictions to Level 2 peace officers, Pleckaitis said there have been no developments."Unfortunately, I don't have much news on this front. However, we've had good dialogue with the province this week … and we hope to hear back soon," Pleckaitis said.Like Neufeld, Pleckaitis said bylaw officers would focus on those who blatantly disregard the rules.New Year's Eve fireworks cancelledMayor Naheed Nenshi and Sue Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, were also at the conference and provided brief updates.Nenshi said that the city's New Year's Eve fireworks and celebrations would be cancelled this year because of COVID-19, and said the city will have more information on alternative, safe and less expensive options for New Year's in the coming weeks."There are many ways you can mark the occasion by staying safe and, of course, we encourage you to stay home this year so you can stay safe and healthy," said Nenshi."There are opportunities to celebrate outdoors in small groups. The city has the winter fire pits program … [and] plenty of toboggan hills and cross-country skiing tracks in park and pathways. Some outdoor skating rinks will be available, including Olympic plaza." Park fire pit program 'huge success'Henry said the city's community fire pit initiative, which has set up fire pits at select parks across the city, has been such a success that additional staff will be added to manage it.They are also looking at adding additional fire pits to meet demand, she said."This program has so far been a huge success. As of this morning, we have had over 900 requests to book," Henry said.In order to support local businesses during the holidays and expand curbside pickup, the city will remove rush hour parking restrictions in three districts, Dec. 7-27."This means on a weekday at 3:30 or 4 p.m., you can remain parked if you are in one of the three participating zones where ParkPlus zones transition into a no stopping zone," Henry said.The three neighbourhoods include: * Kensington Business Revitalization Zone. * 4th Street S.W. * 17th Avenue S.W.
A new, accessible housing project was announced for Yellowknife on Thursday.The NWT Disabilities Council, which made the announcement, saysthe project would includeaccessible living spaces and units that are available at a sliding scale, aligned with people's income, according to a news release.The project was announced with the support of DeBeers Group and the NWT Housing Corporation.There were no details immediately available on the number of units or the project's completion date. However, the council says in the coming year, it will begin assessing the project and building a business case for it, according to the release.The announcement comes on the same day as the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities."The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to ensuring that more affordable housing is constructed to support the housing needs of our residents," said Paulie Chinna, the minister responsible for the N.W.T.'s housing corporation."This project supports the need for more purpose-built rental housing, especially accommodations that are appropriate for persons with disabilities."Chinna added that once the infrastructure is in place, it will be a "blueprint" for future housing development."This will be a shining example of how multiple levels of stakeholders including private industry, NGO and government and more can address housing needs in the N.W.T.," Chinna said.She said the Housing Corporation will keep working to ensure the project has "timely consideration and review."Lyndon Clark, general manager of Gahcho Kué Mine, says building inclusive communities is a "foundational objective" for De Beers Group."That means we need to find ways to provide equal opportunities for all," Clark said.
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 20, 2020 Garry Hopkins received great news two days in a row. When you’re the CEO of a long-term-care facility in the middle of a pandemic, you can use all the good news you can get. First, a COVID-19 outbreak at IOOF Seniors Home in Barrie that began Nov. 5 when a staff member tested positive was declared over Nov. 19. “Even though we did have the one case, we are very pleased because nobody else contracted the disease, which indicates we are doing a good job with our (personal protective equipment), and our hand-washing and infection-control measures,” Hopkins told Simcoe.com. The second piece of good news came Nov. 20 when the provincial government announced it would invest $30 million in the facility to create 64 long-term-care spaces and renovate 66 existing spaces. IOOF is one of 29 projects across the province that will see 30,000 new spaces created over 10 years at a cost of $1.75 billion. There are 38,500 Ontario residents waiting to access a long-term-care space. The new spaces will be built with the current pandemic in mind by ensuring fewer residents per room. The first phase of the IOOF project — 62 new beds — should be ready in about two years, with the entire project complete by 2024. Hopkins said the IOOF facility does not have any rooms with four residents, even though it was built in 1980. “They were pretty forward thinking,” he said. “Many live in separated accommodations. They may share a washroom, but have their own bedroom spaces.” Hopkins said IOOF now has workers wearing face shields, as well as face masks, to further reduce the risk of infections. “We have to be alert all the time; you can’t let your guard down,” he said. “Of course it’s stressful because you know what the case numbers are and you worry. That’s why we are extra vigilant.” Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin made the project announcement outside the IOOF facility, saying the Conservative government is focusing on long-term care, including a recent provision to provide four hours of daily care per resident. “It’s not been an easy year during COVID, but, given our government was only elected two years ago, we have done as much as we can to put our best foot forward,” Khanjin said. “Stay tuned for more.”Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
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
The future of the Wesley Gosse Memorial United Church Heritage Building in Spaniard’s Bay, which doubles as the town’s heritage museum, was a topic of discussion during the most recent meeting of council, as members of the Spaniard’s Bay Heritage Society were in the chamber to present a committee report, as well as discuss some of the concerns facing the museum. Dianne Carr, chairperson of the society, said that the Heritage Committee for the last year has just consisted of herself and vice-chairperson Mary Hutchings, who was also present at the meeting. “This has put a lot of restrictions on us, and a lot of responsibilities on us, when it comes to making decisions regarding heritage. However, having said that, Mary and I have worked really, really well together, and as a result, we’re quite pleased with the progress that we’ve made.,” said Carr. She added that, because regular summer activities had been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, the committee was able to do some upkeep on the building. Part of that included having a building assessment done. “And let’s face it, that building is heading up to 130 years old. It definitely has had problems, and will continue to have problems,” Carr said. “Most recently we have had some leaking in the belfry area, and we have continued to have problems with the front entrance door. I’m totally disappointed and frustrated with that, because council did give us a huge grant a few years back, we did get some money from Heritage Canada, but most of it was from the Town to support having the exterior of the building painted and any repairs to the doors made. The doors were not done well at all, and we’ve had a lot of difficulty accessing the doors. There’s been all kinds of problems. And we haven’t had another way to get into the building, because the exit is a fire exit.” Carr said the doors have also deteriorated with use over time. “I have complained to Heritage Canada, because they recommended, they were the ones who recommended the contractor at the time,” said Carr. A professional assessment of the building was done Nov. 6. “The engineer who came out and did the assessment was quite thorough. He went through the building top-to-bottom, inside and outside and underground,” said Carr, noting the engineer found things that need to be addressed immediately, and other things that need to be remedied in the long-term. “If we value it, and want to preserve it, then the commitment has to come to put money behind it. And at this point I have no idea how much that money will be,” Carr said. “There is some work that needs to be done, and as each year goes by, it’s only going to get worse, and worse, and worse. If we let the building go, we’re going to have to look for an alternate space for our heritage museum and all the beautiful things we have inside.” Some of the work the committee will consider doing in the near future includes repairing the front door, doing patchwork to prevent leaks, and work on the fence and wheelchair ramp. Most repairs will be paid out of the committee’s budget. To complicate some matters further, Carr reminded council that all repairs must be kept in line with heritage conservation policy, or else they could run the risk of losing heritage status for the building. Carr did note that, according to the engineer, the crawl space under the building was in surprisingly good condition, although some of the posts had rotted out. She also said it would not be wise to depend entirely on funding from other external sources, as many heritage funding grants are given in addition to a main funding base. “So, for example, with Heritage Newfoundland, they will contribute no more than 25 per cent. So that means the rest of the money has to come from the municipal government, or from fundraising,” she explained. “We have to know that down the road, that even if we do get funding from other sources, a lot of the money will have to come from here.” Carr acknowled the Town has put plenty of funds into the building already. Mayor Paul Brazil said that other groups, like the Port de Grave Peninsula Heritage Society, had received provincial funding, and he suggested reaching out to MHA Pam Parsons to inquire about how to apply for such money. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Darlene Stamp commended the work the committee had done over the summer. Carr attributed much of the progress to summer student Cara Callahan. “She’s a great example of a youth who is totally committed to her community and that sense of belonging and (wanting to) see things happen within our town,” said Carr. Deputy Mayor Stamp recommended council establish a committee to investigate the cost of repairs needed for the building, but Mayor Brazil said it would be something more fitting for the finance committee to have a look at. Meanwhile, he said he would talk with MHA Parsons about how to go about getting a grant for the Heritage Society.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 19, 2020 A 51-year-old Innisfil woman is charged with impaired driving after her vehicle collided with two parked cars, then veered off the road into a ditch Nov. 17. She was not injured. South Simcoe Police say the vehicles sustained “significant” damage in the collision on 25th Sideroad at about 11:30 p.m. The driver was arrested at the scene and taken to the North Division station in Innisfil where she was charged. Her licence was suspended for 90 days and her vehicle impounded for seven days. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
LOS ANGELES — Days after the discovery and swift disappearance of two shining metal monoliths half a world apart, another towering structure has popped up, this time at the pinnacle of a trail in Southern California.Its straight sides and height are similar to one discovered in the Utah desert and another found in Romania. Like those structures, the origin of the California edifice is also mysterious.It's at the top of a hill in Atascadero, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, KEYT-TV reported Wednesday. The tall, silver structure drew hikers to the area after photos were posted on social media.Another monolith spotted two weeks ago in Utah's otherworldly red-rock country became a beacon of fascination around the world as it evoked the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” and drew hundreds of people to the remote spot.Two extreme sports athletes said they were part of a group that tore down the hollow metal structure because they were worried about the damage the droves of visitors were causing to the relatively untouched spot. Officials said the visitors flattened plants with their cars and left behind human waste.A structure that appeared last week in Romania is also gone.The Utah creation evoked famous land-art pieces that dot the West. Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is an earthwork along the Great Salt Lake and Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels are huge concrete pieces in the desert.Like those pieces, the monolith was fascinating in part because of its context in the landscape, said Whitney Tassie, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Utah Museum of Fine Art.“That’s a big, big part of land art in general is this idea of an experience, of a journey,” she said.The intense social media reaction to the monolith against the backdrop of the punishing pandemic, along with the quick disappearance of the piece, has become a part of its story, she said. Police have said the dismantling may not be illegal since no one has claimed the structure as their property.The still-anonymous creator of the Utah monument did not follow steps taken by land artists of the 1970s to secure permission to make their works. Visitation to those remote sites is now managed and overseen to avoid too much stress on the environment. Federal and state officials in Utah had also expressed concern about the area around the monolith being overrun.“It’s good to think about our relationship with the earth, which is ultimately what these sorts of projects do,” Tassie said. “Man's impact on the environment front and centre."___Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.The Associated Press
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — OPEC and allied countries including Russia agreed Thursday to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels a day from January and said they would meet monthly to decide further output levels, gingerly adding more crude to a global economy still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.The decision followed days of wrangling over whether to increase output early next year at all after the pandemic sapped demand for energy and clouded the outlook for the industry.The OPEC members and a group of allies had made deep cuts in production last year to support prices as the pandemic sharply reduced demand for fuel. Analysts said simply extending the 7.7 million barrels per day in cuts was the course preferred by Saudi Arabia, which takes a leadership role among member countries, and also by Russia, the biggest of the non-members who have been co-operating with OPEC.But they faced pushback from countries including the United Arab Emirates, which opposed the extension and wanted countries that had overproduced their quotas to make compensatory cuts.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that participants agreed that 2 million barrels a day needed to return to the market “at some point” but that any increase would be gradual. The monthly meetings could decide in either direction, up or down, he said.Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman alluded to hopes that the recent wave of lockdown restrictions on businesses “are not hampering demand as in the first wave” but cautioned that “the jury is still out” and that “we need to be cautious” about ramping up production.He said that at the monthly meetings “we could tweak upward, we could tweak downward, we could stay put... We elected to take the cautious approach."Oil producing countries face a dilemma: producing more increases their revenues but could send prices lower, especially given still-weak demand and uncertain prospects for the speed and timing of a post-pandemic economic recovery.Energy forecasters around the world, including those employed by OPEC, have been lowering their forecasts about how much oil will be needed. Airline travel, for example, has been dramatically reduced, and is not expected to rebound for several years.The U.S. benchmark for oil traded at $45.74 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 46 cents on the day. That is down from around $63 at the start of 2020. Gasoline prices for U.S. motorists have fallen during the pandemic to below $2 in some parts of the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration; the national average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30.A barrel of benchmark crude in the U.S. had been selling for around $40 for months, well below what most producers need to break even. It has risen in the past week but current prices still leave many oil producers struggling. In the past week, oil giants Exxon and Chevron both slashed their capital expenditure budgets for the coming year.Stewart Glickman, energy equity analyst at CFRA Research, said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in many nations meant the original oil producing countries' plan - to raise production by some 1.9 million barrels per day from January - "might have sent crude prices tumbling further."He said crude inventories would be watched in coming months to see whether the “modest” production boost of 500,000 barrels per day is absorbed by markets or "whether oil demand remains too weak to sustain pricing” despite promising news regarding vaccine development.___AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York.David McHugh, The Associated Press
NIPIGON — One of four men facing several charges in connection to a September kidnapping in Nipigon will seek bail on Dec. 7. Andrew Otway, 29, is charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, and several firearm-related offences. Ontario Provincial Police arrested Otway, Billy John Thompson, 32, Jayson Lawson-Balodis, 45, and Harold Robert Sault, 29, after officers responded to a report of a man who had been kidnapped, forcibly confined and assaulted with a firearm in the town of Nipigon on Sept. 14. Following a brief court appearance on Wednesday, Dec. 2, Otway is scheduled to return to court next on Dec. 7 for a bail hearing. His three other co-accused have all been released on bail with several conditions including not to communicate with each other. At the time, OPP said the victim managed to escape his captors and received assistance from a witness who contacted police, according to a previous media release. The victim sustained serious injuries, police said. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 19, 2020 South Simcoe Police officers are asking you for help identifying three suspects following thefts at an LCBO in Innisfil. Police say “numerous” bottles of alcohol were stolen from the Innisfil Beach Road store in Alcona. Officers believe the thefts were “orchestrated” by three male suspects between 1 and 2 p.m. Nov. 7. The suspects are described as: • Small build, 5'6'', 130 lbs, brown eyes, 25-30 years old, with black hair, wearing a mask, black jacket, blue jeans, large black backpack and a white ear piece. • Medium build, 5'11'', 175 lbs, brown eyes, 30-40 years old, with black hair, wearing a mask, grey sweater and jeans. • Small build, 5'6'', 125 lbs, brown eyes, 30-40 years old, black hair, wearing a mask, track pants with red stripe down the side, and a red ball cap. Anyone who recognizes these men or has any information about this occurrence is asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Crime Stoppers. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Town of Paradise is looking for input from residents who might avail of an accessible transit system. Councillor Sterling Willis noted it is something that residents have been requesting. “We are now developing an accessible transit policy project… as a part of developing this pilot project, the Town will be hosting a focus group to seek input from potential users,” said Willis during Tuesday’s public council meeting. Participants in an upcoming focus group will be limited to Paradise residents who have disabilities or who have family members living in Paradise who have disabilities. The focus group, held over Zoom, will be held on December 10, with a real time ASL translator present. Those interested are asked to contact the Town by December 2. Though Metrobus offers some wheelchair accessible routes, the one Metrobus route which passes through Paradise is not accessible.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
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
Rapportant en moyenne sept nouveaux cas par jour et étant en zone orange, les Gaspésiens et les Madelinots pourront fêter Noël en groupes de six si la situation reste la même, annonce le premier ministre Legault. La région annonce cinq nouvelles infections jeudi. Alors qu’il annonçait à la grande majorité des Québécois que les rassemblements des fêtes étaient bel et bien interdits, le premier ministre a noté une exception pour les régions ne se situant pas en zone rouge, soit la Côte-Nord, la Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine et le Bas-Saint-Laurent. «Quand on regarde les règles pour les rassemblements actuellement, les gens en zone jaune ont le droit à 10 personnes, et les zones orange à six. Ça, ce n'est pas changé, mais pour ce qui est des zones rouges, c'est interdit», a noté le premier ministre, tout en ajoutant qu’il «fait confiance au sens des responsabilités des Québécois». La Gaspésie et les Îles semblent en bonne position pour conserver leur niveau d’alerte orangé, alors que la péninsule rapporte en moyenne «sept ou huit cas par jour» au cours des deux dernières semaines, selon la santé publique. Les autorités sanitaires invitent tout de même à la prudence, notant que «la recommandation de ne pas voyager entre les régions de couleurs différentes est renforcée», et que «si les gens des zones rouges se déplacent en Gaspésie malgré tout, ils ne peuvent pas se rassembler puisque la zone suit la personne». Jeudi, cinq nouvelles infections ont été recensées, dont une aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Deux cas s’ajoutent dans la Côte-de-Gaspé, un en Haute-Gaspésie et un dans la MRC du Rocher-Percé. Éclosion à la prison de Percé : Pas aussi inquiétante qu’à New Carlisle Alors qu’une éclosion de COVID-19 s’est déclenchée mercredi au centre de détention de Percé, la situation semble moins inquiétante que lors de l’éclosion à la prison de New Carlisle, il y a quelques semaines. L’établissement étant plus récent et mieux entretenu, le syndicat national des agents de la paix en milieu correctionnel et la santé publique reste prudent, mais mentionne que la réalité est bien différente entre les deux milieux. «Ce n’est pas des dortoirs comme à New Carlisle et il y a eu certaines rénovations. C’est sûr qu’on ne sait jamais comment ça évolue, mais pour le moment c’est moins inquiétant», note son président, Mathieu Lavoie. Pour l’instant, quatre détenus et deux agents correctionnels ont attrapé la maladie. Un agent est en isolement préventif comme il a été en contact étroit avec une personne infectée. Tous les détenus ont été testés jeudi, et les membres du personnel ont aussi été invités à le faire. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
NEW YORK — There's theatre on Broadway. You just have to adjust your sights.More than a hundred blocks north of Manhattan's shuttered theatre district but on that same famed thoroughfare, an actor recently read his lines from a huge stage.But there was no applause. Instead, all that was heard was a strange command for the theatre: “And cut!”Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays was performing multiple roles for a high-tech “A Christmas Carol” that was being filmed for streaming this month at the empty 3,000-seat United Palace.The one-man show is an example of how many who work in theatre are increasingly defying COVID-19 by refusing to let it stop their art, often creating new hybrid forms.“Because it’s such a roll-up-your-sleeves business, theatre people figure it out,” said Tony Award-winning producer Hunter Arnold, while watching Mays onstage. “Of everything I’ve ever done in my life, it’s the place where people lead from ‘how?’ instead of leading from ‘why not?’”The coronavirus pandemic shut down theatre and the TV/movie industries in the spring. Film and TV production have slowly resumed. Live theatre is uniquely tested by the virus, one reason it will be among the last sectors to return to normal. Props and costumes are usually touched by dozens each night, an orchestra is crammed into a pit, backstage areas are small and shared, and audiences are usually packed into seats. New ways are needed.Mays' “A Christmas Carol,” which was filmed on a high-tech LED set, veers much more filmic than most other streaming theatre options and is raising money for suffering regional theatres — one stage production helping others during the pandemic.Other green shoots include radio plays, virtual readings, online variety shows and drive-in experiences that combine live singing with movies. The cast of the musical “Diana” reunited on Broadway to film the show for Netflix before it opens on Broadway.The San Francisco Playhouse recently offered screenings of Yasmina Reza’s play “Art,” an onstage production captured live by multiple cameras, with a crucial wrestling scene reimagined to keep social distancing. A musical version of the animated film “Ratatouille” is being explored on TikTok.“We will conquer it. We are theatre people. By God, we will conquer it and get it done,” says Charlotte Moore, the artistic director and co-founder of the acclaimed Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City.Her company has put on a free streaming holiday production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” with a dozen cast members, each filmed remotely and then digitally stitched together. Moore directed it — appropriately enough — from St. Louis. Other theatre pros are calling to ask how she did it.The cast was mailed or hand-delivered props, costumes and a green screen. They rehearsed via Zoom and FaceTime. A masked and socially distant orchestra recorded the score, and the sets were beamed onto the actors' screens.“You learn minute by minute by minute along the way what works, what doesn’t, what to do, what not to do,” said Moore, who starred in the original Broadway run of “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1989. “It’s torture and it’s thrilling — thrilling torture.”Like many other theatrical hybrids venturing into the digital world these days, it's not clear what to call it. It's not technically live theatre, but its soul is theatrical.“It’s not definable in our current vocabulary,” Moore said. “It has to have a new definition, truly, because it’s certainly unlike anything that has been done.”One of the companies to show the way forward was Berkshire Theater Group in western Massachusetts, whose “Godspell” in August became the first outdoor musical with union actors since the pandemic shut down productions.Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire refused to entertain the notion that the company — established in 1928 — would have an asterisk beside 2020 that said no shows were produced that year.“We’re theatre makers, we’re creators, she said. ”We should be able to figure out how to create something.”So they used plexiglass partitions between each masked actor. The performers were tested regularly — at a cost of close to $50,000 — and had their own props and a single costume. Each was housed in their own living space — bedroom, living area and little kitchenette. In an open-air tent, they managed to pull off a crucifixion scene without any touching or lifting, itself a miracle.Audiences underwent temperature checks and were separated by seats. Staff were placed in three protective bubbles: artistic, production and front-of-house. And there was monitoring: Last year it was an intimacy officer; this year it was a COVID-19 one.Maguire thrashed out a 40-page agreement with the stage union Actor’s Equity Association. “We never had a positive test,” Maguire said. “We had five false positive tests,” which was “harrowing.”She thanked grants for allowing her to keep her staff on payroll, making the stress level tolerable. It was clear audiences were hungry for theatre: “I would watch people shoulders shaking as the show started because they were weeping,” she said. They're doing another outdoor show now — “Holiday Memories.”Since that first brave step, other theatre companies have plunged into the void. Play and musical licensor Concord Theatricals says theatre companies across the country are looking for flexibility in case of virus restrictions.“We’re seeing many groups applying for small cast, easy to produce, plays and musicals. They’re even seeking casting flexibility and asking for permission to perform with or without an ensemble,” said Sean Patrick Flahaven, chief theatricals executive.“There’s also a trend for groups to apply for both live performance and streaming rights. Many amateur theatres are producing single virtual performances to keep revenue flowing.”Playwright Natalie Margolin decided to write a new play during the pandemic but not a conventional one. She imagined what the world would look like when it was a given that all social life existed on Zoom.Hence “The Party Hop,” a play specifically to be performed on Zoom that's set three years into quarantine in which three college girls hit the town — online. It became her first published play, and she got stars such as Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein and Ashley Park to perform in an online version, currently on YouTube. She hopes high schools and colleges will be attracted to a play reflecting the era.“It was just exciting to take part in something where it wasn’t a placeholder or a replacement, and no one needed to imagine they were anywhere else than where they were to fully realize the piece,” she said. “It’s been exciting and heartwarming to see different ways theatre has reinvented itself during this time.”Theater makers have also leaned into the storytelling part of their craft, making The Broadway Podcast Network a hub for everything from audition advice to behind-the-scenes stories.Launched shortly before the pandemic with 15 podcasts, the theatre shutdown initially wiped out its revenue streams, advertising and sponsorship. The network has since righted itself and is growing with some 100 podcasts — from the likes of Tim Rice and Tonya Pinkins — plus benefits, show reunions and original programs, like the digital theatre-based frothy soap opera, “As the Curtain Rises” with stars Alex Brightman, Sarah Stiles and Michael Urie.“Even though we had lost all of our advertising, we just knew that this was important to our community, to keep our community connected and continue to tell stories," said Dori Berinstein, co-founder of the network and a four-time Tony-winning Broadway producer. “It’s not anything that will ever replace live theatre, but it’s an extension. It’s a different way of doing that.”___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov.8 ,2020 Police and the chief coroner continue to investigate after a dead man was found in Lake Simcoe in Orillia Nov. 7. Orillia OPP is releasing few details as authorities try to determine the cause of death. Police received a phone call at about 10 p.m. Saturday night about a body in the water near the road end of West Street South. Police know the man’s identity but are not releasing it until officers can notify the next of kin. More information will be released when it’s available. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance