WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Along with bread-baking and closet reorganizing, another nesting trend on the home front is “cottagecore” style. “The cottagecore esthetic swarmed the internet this year with its revival of traditional ideals and the glorification of a simple yet charming cottage lifestyle,” says Amanda Brennan, trend expert for Tumblr. Engagement on the social platform for cottagecore began spiking in early spring and hasn't abated, she reports. Now it's flowing into the holiday season, she says, “with posts of farmhouse-inspired holiday decorations, homestyle seasonal recipes, warm winter décor, and knitting.” Etsy.com trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson agrees: “The nostalgia-inspired movement is all about bringing back pastoral esthetics and activities.” Characterized by romantic, nature-oriented themes and homespun design elements, cottagecore started around the mid-2010s. But it’s taken off this year as the pandemic kept people at home. “It’s no surprise that the trend’s extending into the holidays,” says Isom Johnson. “Shoppers are opting for décor that’s reminiscent of a time that was filled with simpler pleasures in life, from baking to crafting.” Etsy saw an increase in early fall in searches for crocheted, knitted and embroidered ornaments, as well as holiday quilts, she says. They’ve seen a nearly 200% increase in searches for DIY kits. Kits come at all levels, for kids, beginners and skilled crafters, and with a variety of holiday-friendly themes. For instance, Fancy Tiger’s felting kits offer alpacas, squirrels and sheep, and cross-stitched mini holiday ornaments. Stitchery.com has simple kits for making embroidered tree table-runners, tiny stockings and snow globes. Many Etsy shops, like Lark Rising, Rene Creates and Barmy Fox, offer templates of designs for download. Creativity for Kids has holiday snow globe kits, while Paper Source has kits to craft dog nutcrackers and Hanukkah bears in winsome sweaters. Lorna Aragon, home editor for Martha Stewart Living, suggests some easy holiday projects for home and gifting that fit the esthetic: “Think about stenciling or stamping a tablecloth, runner or napkins with a simple geometric motif. You can make a tree skirt the same way," she says. "Create some homemade stockings from simple dishcloths. Use baskets under the tree to hold gifts. You can also get some quilting squares at the craft store and make sachets to gift friends. I’m loving simple fabrics like ticking, gingham, denim, muslin and calico small florals and prints.” The magazine’s team created some items for the December issue based on quilt designs and folk-art motifs, evocative of the cottagecore look. Minted’s Founder Mariam Naficy likes ‘furoshiki’, the Japanese technique of gift wrapping with fabric. She says it’s a great way to wrap oddly-shaped items, and re-purpose fabric scraps or old scarves. She’s also making garlands this year out of various materials, including fragrant dried orange slices. “You can display them on a mantle, bookcase, or drape one on your dining table surrounded by tea candles for a simple, aromatic centerpiece,” she says. Naficy also suggests making garlands out of last year’s holiday cards and scraps of wrapping paper. Wreath frames from garden centres and art stores offer crafting parties the opportunity to make indoor or outdoor décor. “Eucalyptus doesn’t scream Christmas, and will work all winter,” says Stephanie Pollard of Hello Nest. Dried or faux greenery, pompoms, cotton balls, or colorful ornaments and a primed hot glue gun are all you need. To get the cottagecore look, add burlap or velvet ribbon, or wrap the wreath in cloth. Ashley Martin, a sixth-grade teacher and mom of two who lives in Green Township, New Jersey, transformed a scrounged vintage wooden Coke crate into a rustic succulent garden to decorate her home through the holidays and beyond. Martin says she’s always loved arts and crafts projects, but became obsessed with cottagecore décor when she and her husband bought an 1850s farmhouse. Turning her ideas into custom art and signs became a side gig, and she’s working on holiday orders now. “I really enjoy working on something creative any time that I can,” she says. Other ideas for DIY holiday decorations with a cottagecore feel: Gather a stack of blank cards, markers and essential oils and make aromatherapy cards. Clear glass or acrylic ball ornaments can be jazzed up with a coating of Mod Podge and a dip in a bowl of snowy glitter. (Keep a lint roller handy to clean up the sparkles. ) Use a glue gun to seal seams on cut-out felt mittens, trees or stars, then stuff the open end with a gift card or small treat. Kim Cook, The Associated Press
The Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences recently awarded scholarships to 32 students at three Maritime universities in support of the growing bioscience sector.A recent study by the alliance found about 2,000 Islanders working in the sector, and that there was a need for more."There is definitely a labour challenge in the sector, in particular on P.E.I.," said alliance executive director Christopher Gillis."The biosector here has seen unprecedented growth."The recipients of the $5,000 scholarships are second-year students in co-op programs at UPEI, Acadia and Université de Moncton.Bioscience has become an important sector of the P.E.I. economy, said Gillis. There is a high demand currently for production and manufacturing technicians. About 65 per cent of positions advertised recently are in this area, he said. The industry is also looking for quality control analysts and research scientists.The Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences is a partnership between industry, governments and post-secondary institutions, which came together to ensure that the industry has the talent pool it needs to grow into the future.Funding for the scholarships came from the federal government, including ACOA, and the provincial government on P.E.I.More from CBC P.E.I.
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office still doesn't know how a high school student diagnosed with COVID-19 on the weekend caught the disease.Extensive testing has been done on the contacts of the Charlottetown Rural student but no source has been found, according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.At her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning, Morrison said she believes the student was likely in direct contact with someone who had travelled off P.E.I."I would encourage all teachers and students in P.E.I. schools with smartphones to download the free national COVID Alert app," she said.The student was one of two cases announced on the weekend. The other person had travelled off-Island.There are now a total of 102 people in self-isolation on P.E.I. who have been connected to recent cases.Sharp decrease in travelSince the Atlantic bubble was suspended last Tuesday, personal vehicle traffic has dropped by about 80 per cent, said Morrison.During the first weeks of November an average of 1,120 personal vehicles crossed Confederation Bridge every day. Since the bubble was suspended last week that fell to 220 a day.It is still possible for Islanders to travel to the mainland under some circumstances and not self-isolate when they return.If the travel is for medical, child custody, airport dropoff or student pickup purposes, Islanders can be exempt from self-isolation. They are not allowed to stay overnight and interactions while travelling should be brief, physically distant, and be kept to a minimum. No stops in public places or visits with family or friends are allowed as part of the trip.P.E.I. has had 72 cases of COVID-19, with four currently considered active. There have been no deaths and no hospitalizations.More from CBC P.E.I.
“Eddie’s Boy,” by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)The hitman known as the butcher’s boy is back, forced out of retirement at age 61 to confront an implacable old enemy who wants him dead.Thomas Perry first introduced him 38 years ago in his Edgar Award-winning debut novel, “The Butcher’s Boy,” but until now, the character has reemerged only twice — in “Sleeping Dogs” in 1992 and “The Informant” in 2011.The new novel, “Eddie’s Boy,” finds him in England, posing as retired American businessman Michael Shaeffer. He’s enjoying life with a charming yet spunky aristocratic British wife until someone discovers his secret and sends a small army of killers to snuff him out.Shaeffer flees to Australia, only to discover that his unknown enemy has managed to track him there. So, he jets to America to find out who has put a contract out on him and to put a stop to it. In his wake, he leaves a trail of dead bodies across much of the English-speaking world. Perry breaks the action-packed narrative with reminiscences about the protagonist’s early life, when a small-town Pennsylvania hit man named Eddie, who spent his off hours operating a fine butcher shop, taught the boy both trades.If fans of Perry’s novels think the plot of “Eddie’s Boy” closely resembles the last two butcher’s boy books, they’d be right, but the saving grace is in the differing details, including how Shaeffer confronts the challenge of engaging in combat with a fit but aging body.Although the butcher’s boy is not — and never been — a likeable character, Perry expects us to admire the skill and meticulous care with which he works. And there is certainly much to admire in the skill with which Perry works, from his flawless plotting to his tight and muscular prose style.___Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results in favour of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.Biden’s victory in Wisconsin was certified Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory as states around the country certify results.Earlier Monday, Arizona officials certified Biden’s narrow victory in that state.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump’s claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Trump berated Ducey on Twitter Monday night, asking, “Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now.”Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.___Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.; Cooper and Tang reported from Phoenix.Scott Bauer, Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
When Johnny Beach was just six years old, something caught his eye."On YouTube, I found a 14-year-old boy playing the Orange Blossom Special and it just moved me and I really wanted to do it," he said.His mother, Jamie O'Donnell, said it was love at first sight."He was captivated by it. He begged us for six months to get him a fiddle, so we got him a fiddle and he took right to it," she said.Now eight, the Riverview boy is passionate about fiddling, takes lessons and practises at least 30 minutes a day.Johnny joined some young fiddle players called the Plucky Pizzicatos, who perform for seniors and take part in some fundraising benefits.JohnnyBut when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that all stopped. Johnny decided to keep on playing."He was just practising in front of our house and as people were walking by on the street they were cheering for him and we even had a few people that ran up and gave him a little tip, so he got this idea to street perform," O'Donnell said. ""It was just a way that he could share his gift with others."And Johnny made a decision about what to do with the money."I just want to help people that need the money, and I don't really need it for anything, so I just like to give it to people that need it," he said.Johnny's first donation was $300 to Riverview P.R.O. Kids, which provides financial assistance to help kids take part in sports, and artistic and recreational activities. The organization has helped Johnny qith his fiddle lessons.O'Donnell said Johnny's next donation was to an organization near and dear to the whole family's heart: Friends of the Moncton Hospital.Johnny received life-saving surgery at the Moncton Hospital at the age of three.Johnny has made two donations of $200.Now with the holidays approaching, he's turned his attention to the Albert County Food Bank."He knows that turkey dinner is something everybody likes to enjoy at Christmastime," O'Donnell said. "Not every family has that opportunity, so he knows that the Albert County Food Bank gives Christmas boxes and turkey dinners to families, so that's his focus right now … to see how much money he can raise for them in time for their Christmas boxes."Donations are also coming in online.With the weather turning colder, O'Donnell hopes they can find some place indoors where Johnny can continue playing and raising money."With COVID, it's really difficult because businesses — there's a lot of guidelines and a lot of restrictions and businesses definitely don't want to be doing anything that could potentially draw any kind of a crowd, and he tends to draw a little bit of a crowd wherever he is."So it's been really hard to find somewhere indoors."But that was far from Johnny's mind as he chose a tune from his songbook and picked up his fiddle. He played with joy, tapping his foot along to the beat.Johnny said he'll keep raising money. And he hopes to become a professional fiddler someday.His mother gets emotional watching him play."I have those happy cries, like, a few times a week. Just the amazing things that people say and seeing that's my little boy — that's just motivating and inspiring people and bringing so much joy everywhere he goes. Proud would be an understatement."
Dec. 1 marks Giving Tuesday, the follow-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday that encourages people to consider where they can make a charitable donation or find some other way of giving back to the community.With the COVID-19 pandemic this year, however, there's a renewed focus on the needs of the most vulnerable, says Kate Bahen, the managing director at Charity Intelligence, a non-profit that evaluates the Canadian charity sector."We're putting the basic necessities back to the forefront. The women's shelters. The food banks," Bahen said on CBC's B.C. Today. "We're hearing from a lot of donors who used to give to, you know, symphonies, art museums, etc., and we're seeing a real rotation in giving back to the community and back to the essential services." Bahen has a few tips for those interested in giving back this season. Do your research and give with intention. It's important to know what impact your donation is having in the community, says Bahen, especially at a time when dollars need to be stretched. Bahen says Canadians give $17 billion to charities each year, but early estimates show that giving is likely going to be down by about 37 per cent due to hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. "When you're giving at this time, we need donations to do the most good possible," she said, pointing out that Charity Intelligence has research and analysis available on its website that can help inform a giving decision. She said going through previous statements can help you judge whether a charity needs help this year, or whether another one might be better served."Just like some people are very well off and are going to be fine and some people are really struggling, there are some charities that are really well off. They have tens of millions of dollars in the bank, they'll be able to come through COVID fine, absolutely fine," she said. "There are lots of other charities that are really trying to keep their lights on."Sometimes, cash is best. Bahen says pay attention to what people need. She notes that food banks would much rather have cash than items purchased at a grocery store and then donated. "A local food bank ... has its purchasing power. It can buy four times as much food with that dollar as you could spending it retail. It knows its clients. It knows what it needs," she said. The same goes for gift cards or cash vouchers for families in need. "Giving cash has dignity with it. It's a trust, it's a respect. It's saying to them … get what you need, rather than what we think you should have," she said.It's a tough year. Take care of yourself, too.Finally, Bahen said, not everyone will be able to give in the same capacity as previous years — and that's perfectly fine."When you've lost your job, when you've faced financial uncertainty, you cannot make a charitable donation. You have to take care of yourself," she said. "[For] those who are in a position to give, it's time for us to dig deep and help out our neighbours."On Dec. 4, join us virtually for special broadcasts and digital Meet and Greets with your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts, and donate to Food Banks B.C. from the comfort of your own home. For more, visit cbc.ca/openhouse
Canada's third quarter annualized growth soared by a record 40.5%, rebounding from a historic plunge in the second quarter, as businesses and stores reopened from COVID-19 lockdowns, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday. "There was a big import drag that knocked almost six percentage points off GDP growth ... it reflects positive developments but in GDP accounting it acts as a drag on top line GDP growth." "The quarterly increase in GDP in Q3 as a whole was a little bit smaller than expected earlier on but it's still pretty large."
Indonesia may still pursue a plan to tax technology companies on the income they generate from the country even if G20 nations and the OECD cannot reach a deal on digital taxes, its finance minister said on Tuesday. Talks to rewrite rules for cross-border taxation, including digital taxes, led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, stalled this year, with a new deadline for an agreement extended to 2021. Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy, has begun collecting a 10% value-added tax (VAT) since mid-2020 on digital products and services from internet-based firms, but officials had previously said it would charge a tax on income only after a global consensus was reached.
In this video, Natalie Sideserf makes a realistic Beholder CAKE from Dungeons & Dragons! You won't believe it!
A Monday night explosion at American Iron and Metal of Saint John forced the metal recycler to temporarily shut down, says Saint John Mayor Don Darling, who wants the province to do something about AIM's disruptions to the quality of life on the west side."The city should never be in this situation again," Darling said during an interview Tuesday with Information Morning Saint John.Darling said the Department of Environment temporarily closed the plant on the Saint John waterfront because the noise exceeded the targeted 104-decibel limit.This was the second explosion at AIM in less than a week.On Thursday, a fire caused explosions that also exceeded the decibel limit, rattled windows and shook homes.Environment Minister Gary Crossman said he's concerned about the repeated explosions at the AIM yard."The Department of Environment and Climate Change is closely monitoring compliance with the approval to operate," he said in a statement Monday.He said an inspector was on site Monday and will be there again Tuesday.Crossman said government officials have had a number of conversations with Darling about the AIM site."If the department identifies that standards within the approval to operate are not being followed, I can and will exercise the appropriate authoritative measures."In a statement posted on social media, Michael Cormier, general manager for AIM Atlantic, said the company has been trying to reduce the number of explosions at the business. A quality control inspector produces daily inspection reports and imposes financial penalties when hazardous materials are found in a client's load, Cormier said."This is a work in progress," he said.Cormier said the number of explosion dropped from 53 in 2018, to 32 in 2019 and to 28 this year. Five explosions this year exceeded the decibel limit.He said he hopes to continue working with the city and have the mayor and councillors at a town hall by Jan. 14, 2021.City expresses frustrationDarling doesn't believe the approval should be renewed if problems persist."Until these items and issues are resolved in a balanced and satisfactory way ... I don't think they should get a new approval to operate," he told council Monday night.Darling read a letter he's sending to the province, expressing frustration and concern."This is a great example of the need to think long term," he said.Darling asked provincial and federal governments to step in."Of particular concern is the severity and frequency of recent explosion events," the letter said.Blasts at the plant have disturbed residents for years, causing the province to issue multiple stop-work ordersDarling said it's not acceptable to normalize explosions close to residential areas. He said the "balance" between industry and community doesn't exist with AIM."Saint Johners deserve better," he said.The recycling facility is on federal land leased by Port Saint John, and the license to operate is given by the province, Darling said.And when Darling receives multiple calls from residents after a blast, there's not much he can do except raise the alarm."I think that that should never be the case again in the future," he said. "I get hundreds of messages from citizens about … this facility, but I don't have any authority."'Disregard for authority'At the meeting Coun. David Hickey, John MacKenzie and Donna Reardon spoke in support of the letter being sent to other levels of government."We can't sit by and allow this kind of attitude and this kind of complete disregard for the authority of this council of our provincial government and of our federal government," Hickey said. "I'm tired of having to come back to the same conversation about people breaking the rules and then in turn, not having the provincial authorities and the federal authorities be able to have our backs."MacKenzie said even if the province successfully regulates how many decibels the explosions register, the harbour front is still not the right place for the facility."It's just misplaced," he said.The company has previously said the explosions are caused by propane and gasoline tanks in crushed vehicles going through the shredder.
New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization is warning residents to pay close attention to Tuesday's rainfall warnings.Environment Canada has marked the first day of December by issuing a rainfall warning for more than half the province.Central and southwestern parts of New Brunswick can expect between 40 and 120 millimetres of rain Tuesday into Wednesday morning.However, some regions in southwestern New Brunswick could see up to 180 millimetres. "No one should be caught off guard at this point, so stay informed through trusted sources and make sure you are prepared to react if needed," said Geoffrey Downey, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick EMO.Downey said people should also check their storm drains and rain gutters and have an emergency kit ready.Special weather statements issuedThe national weather agency has also issued a special weather statement for eastern New Brunswick, where up to 50 millimetres of rain is expected. Those areas include: * The Acadian Peninsula. * Bathurst and Chaleur region. * Kent County. * Kouchibouguac National Park. * Miramichi area. * The Moncton area.Environment Canada said similar rainfall events in the past have caused road washouts and localized flooding in low-lying areas."Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads," the agency said in a statement."Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Don't approach washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts."Environment Canada says the storm is similar to one that caused severe flooding in December 2010.This year, however, the ground is not frozen so it should be able to absorb a lot more rain."We've been running a water deficiency throughout the province for pretty much all of 2020," said Jill Mapea, a meteorologist with Environment Canada."The ground is not very saturated at all."After a bit of a lull Tuesday morning, Mapea said the heaviest rain was expected Tuesday afternoon and evening."Fingers crossed it doesn't come down too hard," she said, "but I think a lot of people with wells are welcoming this rain." However, Mapea wasn't ruling out the possibility of flooding."You never know. Sometimes a big downpour can raise those levels really quick."Populated areas might expect some street flooding, she said if storm drains are overwhelmed.
MONTREAL — Supremex Inc. says it is closing its Edmonton facility and cutting 39 jobs in a move to reduce costs.The envelope maker says the cuts represent about five per cent of its total workforce.The move is expected to result in annual cost savings of about $2.4 million, before taxes.The company says the savings will begin to materialize in the current quarter and throughout the first three quarters of 2021 as operations wind down in Edmonton. Supremex says it will take a one-time charge of about $2.5 million, before taxes, on its fourth-quarter results.The company operates 13 facilities across six provinces and three facilities in the United States employing a total of about 850 people. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SXP)The Canadian Press
A lawyer for Bill Cosby on Tuesday told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the judge at the entertainer's 2018 sexual assault trial should have barred five prosecution witnesses who testified that Cosby had also drugged and raped them. Two years ago the once-popular comedian and actor was found guilty of drugging and raping a one-time friend, Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. The hearing on Tuesday took place about a year after a lower appellate court rejected a petition by Cosby, now 83, to have his conviction overturned.
Gambler First Nation first came to The Brandon Sun’s attention in May. An off-reserve member, Darlene Gerula, sent the Sun an email describing a variety of issues with leadership she believed placed on-reserve members’ lives at risk. Among these concerns was the use of Akwaton multipurpose wipes, the product of a company the leadership at Gambler was hoping to purchase. Health Canada recalled the wipes in late June because the product both expired in 2015 and contained polyhexamethylene guanidine hydrochloride, an ingredient not approved for use in Canada. In the months since Gerula’s email, the Sun has met and spoken numerous times with several Gambler members and heard their stories. This is part two of a three-part series. GAMBLER FIRST NATION — The drive into Gambler First Nation, which is along the Assiniboine River valley approximately two hours northwest of Brandon, unveils a visually idyllic location. Vern Kalmakoff — an off-reserve member and longtime Brandon businessperson — drove this Sun reporter to the reserve. As he approached the heart of one area on the reserve with houses, he pointed out Chief David Ledoux’s "compound," as some Gambler members call it. The large well-kept lot includes two impeccable-looking houses, a shed that looks better than the surrounding homes of Gambler members, and many, many vehicles — several all-terrain vehicles, a motorhome, a pontoon boat and assorted other vehicles — while two horses hang out at the rear. Surrounding the compound are other members’ houses which, upon entry, are practically unliveable. The Sun visited several. Some were unfinished, though clearly older and not new builds. This year was the first since at least 2012 that a new house had been built, according to former Chief Gordon Ledoux and several other Gambler members. In one, the plumbing was in such disrepair, pipes were held up with a laundry detergent bottle. One had zero plumbing, and has not had water for two years. Our first stop was to visit Sean Ledoux, David Ledoux’s brother, where Sean, frail and frightened, showed a video he had taken in February. Sean maintains he is terrorized by his brother. On Aug. 20, Sean received a communication from the income assistance administrator, Tara Tanner. "I am writing this letter to remind you that the house you are living in is not safe and was deemed condemned. You have gotten letters and notices stating this as well. I am asking you to please find another dwelling that is considered safe for you to live in," she wrote. But Sean has nowhere to go. The Gambler First Nation reserve is the only home he knows. "You have been multiple letters from Housing Department, Sims and Company as well as verbal notices from Social," wrote housing manager Dana Tanner on Oct. 28. Sean and his other siblings, the now-deceased former chief Gordon and Roxanne Brass, suggested David wants the house condemned because there are problems with the electrical wiring, which he allegedly installed himself. Sean, as well as several other members, say that duplex was gutted and rebuilt roughly 10 years ago before Sean moved in. General problems appear to be mostly cosmetic — broken windows and the remains of a small fire when Sean was assaulted. The Sun has a January 2017 letter from Manitoba Justice stating: "Please note that we have also advised Gambler First Nation that you should not be responsible for the damage that was done to your home during the criminal incident and that they should be recovering the money from the offender that caused the damage to your property." To this day, the damage to Sean’s home has not been repaired. In the video Sean made, he walks out his front door at Gambler First Nation and pauses at his duplex unit’s neighbouring door. The video records the sound of rushing water behind the padlocked door. Sean trudges, in -40 C weather, to the back of the duplex, demonstrating how he must turn off the water from its source at the water tank, or the water will run out. He trudges back to the front of the duplex, and pauses at the door, padlocked by the band leadership. Silence. He re-enters his own home and turns on his taps. No water. He trudges back to the rear of the duplex, turns on the water supply, trudges back to the front, pausing at the neighbouring door, again. Again, the sound of rushing water. He re-enters his unit and, now, he has water. But he can’t leave the water valve on the tank open because the water for the two units will run out. That’s reason for concern because if the water runs out, there’s no telling when the tank will be refilled. Many houses on the reserve require a water truck to fill water tanks. Sean recorded the whole process a second time. This was the only way, he thought, that he could prove the remarkable and frightening treatment his own brother David visits upon him. And that’s just one story of several. The week of Nov. 16, after two weeks without water delivery, Sean was admitted to hospital for terrible stomach pain. It’s not the first time he has gone without water for long periods of time or the first time he has been admitted to hospital. His former neighbour — his and David’s niece, Lisa Marie Ledoux — has her own story to tell. An off-reserve member of Gambler, Lisa Marie accepted an invitation from David and his wife Rose to work in the community in 2016. She took on the role of National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program worker. She was also offered the duplex unit neighbouring Sean’s. Lisa Marie told the Sun of a toxic work environment, similar to Darlene Gerula’s account. "They were constantly calling me in and reprimanding me and calling me out at meetings and putting me down. They were really horrible with the staff, and I didn’t like it," she said. Lisa Marie said she also didn’t like how the trio — which includes Coun. Kellie Ledoux, David’s daughter — treated members, and what they were doing as leaders in the community. She reported them to Canadian Accreditation Council. She said there was an investigation, but no followup. "That made them retaliate even more," she said. "They started putting restrictions on my programs until I couldn’t run them. When I finally left, if I ran a program, they had to be there overseeing, and nobody wanted to be around them. So nobody would come. They weren’t letting us spend our program dollars on the programs. They cut all the programs. I don’t know what they were doing with the money if they’re not spending it on the programs." The Sun sent questions to the accreditation council to learn whether a former Gambler staff member made reports about alleged issues related to programming and programming dollars. We asked if the Canadian Accreditation Council received such reports, and whether an investigation was carried out and, if yes, what was the outcome. We also asked if an accreditation staff member named Nadine Lafferty heard the chief’s wife, Rose Ledoux, state outright that she moved money out of Jordan’s Principle funds and used those funds in unrelated areas. "In following with CAC’s processes, we were satisfied that Gambler First Nation Health Centre was meeting the requirements of the standards and was following what was in the purview of CAC’s accreditation during their accreditation," stated chief operations officer Amanda Ellis. "As per our agreement with Gambler First Nation Health Centre, we are bound by confidentiality for any other matter and therefore cannot speak to anything other than their current accreditation status. They are currently in the process of accreditation." Asked whether there is an on-site visit related to use of funds, board member Cheryl Whiskeyjack stated by email: "There is an onsite. We don’t assess the use of funds however." Lisa Marie quit her position in May 2018, and collected employment insurance until finding a job in Brandon. Meanwhile, at home, she and her uncle Sean would go a week at a time without water. Being without water was the last straw for Lisa Marie. "I can’t live like this. I need water. I need to use the bathroom. I need to wash my dishes. I need to clean my house and shower. It just got to be too much," she said. During her absence from the reserve, the leadership padlocked her door with its own lock, while her belongings were still on the premises. A new housing agreement states that if a member is going off reserve for more than five days, they must notify the band. Lisa Marie saw Sean’s video, which he posted to Facebook, and thought her place was flooding because of a broken pipe. She had friends and family help her break the padlock. "I didn’t want to go there alone. I knew that they (David, Rose and Kellie) would give me trouble. All the taps are on and they were running, and that’s why he (Sean) kept running out of water and it sounded like it was flooding." Kalmakoff said two RCMP cars, with two officers in each, were there in a flash, within 20 minutes. "With sirens going," said Brass. RCMP charged Sean with breaking and entering — one of several acts he believes are intended to intimidate him to leave his unit, he said. An Oct. 21 court date was cancelled due to weather, but he said he has been pressured by RCMP multiple times to admit his guilt. He also said he was told he had to attend a meeting at a church to "take responsibility for his actions." Lisa Marie said she called the RCMP Feb. 26, the day after her uncle was charged, to tell them she was entirely responsible. "I did it," she said. "It was my place." She left that message with one officer at the Russell detachment. She was told she would get a call back. She never did. She tried calling several more times, but the officer she needed to speak with was never in. The RCMP have a different perspective. "Russell RCMP has fully investigated the matter to which you refer. In no way do RCMP officers try to influence the outcome of an investigation. It is our job to gather evidence and follow where that leads. When we have gathered enough evidence to determine what happened, we provide our findings to the Crown," stated Manitoba RCMP media relations officer Tara Seel by email on Nov. 26. "You have been provided a lot of information that we, as law enforcement, cannot speak to directly for several reasons: the Privacy Act, the case is before the courts, investigative process, to name a few. However, we do feel the need to provide some clarity on a few points that you mentioned. We cannot provide names of complainants or those involved in an investigation who are not charged with an Information sworn before a court of law." Seel stated RCMP received a complaint on Feb. 25 from the band’s bylaw officer, who personally witnessed the event in progress. "Several witnesses from the community also contacted investigators and corroborated this information, having also seen the event personally. Names of those seen committing the act were provided to investigators. We cannot provide you with names of everyone we spoke to concerning this matter, but we can confirm many people were spoken to throughout this investigation," Seel stated. Darlene Gerula and her husband, Greg Wakin — a retired Winnipeg Police Service officer — dispute the RCMP statement. They say Gambler does not have a bylaw officer. Gerula said Harlene Swain, who was the housing manager at the time, witnessed the event. "You refer to a restorative justice meeting that was scheduled and did not take place. I can confirm that is the case," Seel further stated. "However, for several reasons, including COVID-19, that meeting was cancelled. Restorative justice often needs people to come face-to-face as part of the process, and this is just not the time for those types of gatherings. I will add that since then, no other restorative justice meetings with the Russell RCMP have taken place for any investigation." Wakin said he spoke with Michelle Funk, a restorative justice facilitator with the John Howard Society, after Sean asked Wakin to represent him. "She said, I’ve been trying to get information on this case and I can’t get anything. There’s something fishy going on. And I told her that Sean’s in the dark, the RCMP have been harassing him, telling him they’re going to pick him up and telling him to say that you’re sorry, you did this, and you are guilty of it," Wakin said. Wakin told her Sean was not guilty of anything, but police keep coming to his door and harassing him. According to Wakin, Funk told him she would look into it. "We talked after that and she said that she was going to cancel everything, because I said, number one, Sean doesn’t want to go to this. He’s not going to plead guilty, and he didn’t commit this offence. So he doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t want to be harassed anymore." Wakin said he told Funk he hoped the RCMP were not going to go to Sean’s door in future. According to Wakin, Funk said she would make sure that didn’t happen anymore. "And she did everything. She did all that and that was the end of it. It wasn’t cancelled because it COVID. It was cancelled because of the way the RCMP handled it," Wakin said. When The Sun reached Funk by phone, she denied knowledge of the matter, including the people involved. "I do not know what you’re referring to," she said. "I cannot confirm or deny anything, she added when asked if she had spoken to Wakin. "I am unable to talk about my work in this capacity." Wakin maintains Harlene Swain, Gambler’s housing manager at the time, stirred up the issue. "She saw people in front of the house, but there was no offence. The homeowner was there trying to get into her own suite, to get her property and get access to her suite. So, whatever you saw, wasn’t a break and enter. It was the owner of the suite trying to get access to it. It’s just so ridiculous. It’s gone so far for nothing. There was no offence. There was no criminal intent," Wakin said. Lisa Marie has also tried to remove her name from the address at the reserve with Manitoba Hydro, to no avail. To this day, she receives Hydro bills for her side of the duplex unit. The Sun has a photo of the October bill. The relationship between the RCMP and the First Nation is unclear, as is the relationship between the band and Manitoba Hydro. When the Sun was asking questions of the RCMP in October related to Gambler, as well as David and his close family, we received a call from the policing organization. On that call, concern was expressed that the Sun was targeting David, who sits on the Prairie Mountain RCMP’s Safer Communities Committee. The RCMP did confirm, however, that a report was made to them concerning allegations related to sexual and physical abuse at Gambler. The question posed involved the Ledoux family members — David, Rose and Kellie. "However, for privacy reasons, we will not confirm who made the report or who these allegations are related to as these allegations are still being investigated and remain allegations at this point," stated Seel. Ronnie Ducharme, who hasn’t had water at his house for two years, also has Manitoba Hydro issues. While he was away at Brandon University, the leadership tried to take his house, he said. Roxanne Brass, David’s sister, was present when Ducharme spoke with the Sun. She said this allegation is truthful, but that the members of Gambler who were offered the house declined the offer to take over the home. "They (band members) won’t do it because they won’t do that to him (Ronnie)," Brass said. This report of attempts of a house being seized is supported by other similar reports, based on interviews with the Sun. "I had no control over my electrical, my power, and they racked it up. I was a student, and they didn’t pay the bill. I had no control over my hydro bill because they were in charge of it. They sent me the bill afterwards. But they paid that off now, they cleared that up — after I argued over it," Ducharme said. During that time, however, the housing manager sent him a letter dated Dec. 31, 2019. "The band will be removing the transformer from the pole, therefore there will be no Hydro at this location. I will inform you of when this will be taking place and you will have 7 days to remove your personal belongings from the property," Gambler’s then housing manager Harlene Swain stated. The Sun sought clarification via email from Manitoba Hydro. Manitoba Hydro stated, "as this appears to be a matter between the band and one of its members. Manitoba Hydro is not in a position to comment." A further question about which entity the transformers belong to has gone unanswered. Questions about Lisa Marie’s billing situation also went unanswered. Part three of this series on Gambler First Nation will appear in the Sun later this week.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Les propriétaires de véhicules maniaques de propreté, même en hiver, disposent maintenant d’un nouveau service à L’Anse-Saint-Jean, avec l’ouverture de Lave-auto CG, au 166 route 170, tout près de l’épicerie Bonichoix. Le couple formé de Pierre-Luc Côté et Audrey Gagné a décidé d’investir l’été dernier dans la construction d’un nouveau garage commercial afin d’offrir aux citoyens du Bas-Saguenay la possibilité de nettoyer leur véhicule en libre-service ou encore avec l’aide d’un professionnel attitré pour le lavage intérieur et extérieur, explique en entrevue Audrey Gagné, copropriétaire du commerce. « Il y a déjà eu un service de lave-auto, mais depuis quelques années, ç’a disparu, puisque la personne qui l’opérait a décidé d’arrêter. Il y a beaucoup de véhicules au Bas-Saguenay pour utiliser ce type de service », explique Mme Gagné. C’est avec ce potentiel de marché que M. Côté et Mme Gagné ont fait construire, sur le terrain adjacent à leur résidence, un imposant garage de 28 pieds par 40 pieds sur dalle de béton. Selon l’offre de Lave-auto CG, un propriétaire d’auto ou de camionnette a la possibilité de nettoyer lui-même son véhicule en réservant une période de deux heures pour accomplir la tâche. Le tarif inclut les produits de nettoyage, l’utilisation d’équipements comme une laveuse à pression, balayeuse, la disponibilité d’eau chaude, des seaux, brosses, linges d’essuyage, etc. Le tout dans le confort d’un bâtiment chauffé. La formule libre-service est disponible sur réservation 24 heures à l’avance, en raison des obligations de la Santé publique, les lundis, mercredis et vendredis, parmi l’une des cinq plages horaires, ainsi que le samedi à 8h et 10h30. Mme Gagné ajoute que la formule professionnelle est disponible sur réservation 72 heures à l’avance, selon quatre types de lavage. « Pour l’offre de ce service, on a embauché Richard Rousseau, de Rivière-Éternité, qui était capitaine du bateau-mouche. L’été dernier, il n’a pu travailler en raison de la COVID-19 », affirme Mme Gagné. Relève À en juger par leur dynamisme, le couple Gagné-Côté est en voie de constituer une partie de la relève d’affaires au Bas-Saguenay. En entrevue, M. Côté explique que l’investissement de 80 000 $ pour le garage ne constitue par l’unique motivation pour aller de l’avant. L’an dernier, il a acquis une route de distribution de pain et de produits laitiers opérée autrefois par Sylvain Dallaire, qui dessert tout le Bas-Saguenay entre Petit-Saguenay et Laterrière. Depuis cette acquisition, M. Côté a négocié la distribution des produits Vachon. Quotidiennement, il doit livrer ses victuailles dans 45 commerces du secteur, de sorte que le garage utilisé pour abriter son camion peut être utilisé et rentabilisé en cumulant les vocations de garage et de lave-auto. S’ajoute à la liste le fait que Pierre-Luc Côté et Audrey Gagné ont acquis la majorité des parts du restaurant L’Est Anse Ciel. « J’ai acheté les parts de mon beau-père Antonin Côté, dernièrement. Je suis propriétaire avec Pierre-Luc ainsi qu’avec Caroline Martel, Bruno-Pierre Houde et Jean-Éric Lavoie », explique Mme Gagné. La pandémie actuelle limite les heures d’ouverture du restaurant, sauf que l’établissement continue d’opérer à certaines heures avec le service de nourriture prête à emporter. L’ambition des entrepreneurs ne s’arrête pas là puisque M. Côté envisage également de lancer une entreprise de réparation et de remplacement de pare-brise mobile chez les clients au printemps prochain.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
When Nikita Toms hears a knock on the front door of her King’s Point home, there are a couple of things it could mean. The first is that it could be the courier dropping off a Christmas gift. The second thing it could be is another courier delivering a piece of her four-year-old daughter Peyton’s Make-A-Wish bedroom makeover. Sometimes, the courier shows up with a mixture of both. When that happens, Nikita is always sure to separate gifts from makeover items. Either way, they’re both equally welcomed by the youngest Toms. “It’s exciting to her,” said Nikita. Pieces for the bedroom renovation have been coming for the past month. The makeover includes a new bedroom set, the repainting of walls with a giant rainbow — Peyton’s aunt and uncle are painting her room — and a host of other upgrades to reflect her love of unicorns and rainbows. Make-A-Wish Canada breaks wishes down into three categories. There are travel wishes, celebrity wishes and item wishes. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, the travel and celebrity wish categories became impossible to fulfill. Some of the children making those wishes chose to wait until they could travel again to make them happen, while others switched their wishes to item wishes. “Some of the wishes have been reimagined,” said Dave Walsh, development co-ordinator with Make-A-Wish Canada in St. John’s. The pandemic meant a shift in the way Make-A-Wish Canada does things. Normally, the foundation would have a team that would assemble and makeover a gift like Peyton’s. However, for safety reasons, the foundation has been sending the items to the family and having them assemble it themselves. “We’ve been forced to do things at a distance,” said Walsh. Make-A-Wish Canada is fulfilling three other wishes in addition to Peyton’s in the province. The other three are all video game-related. All are currently receiving pieces of their gifts. “It’s kind of nice, too,” said Walsh. “They feel like Christmas wishes.” Peyton was one of those who decided to reimagine her wish. A big Disney fan, she had originally wished to visit Disneyland, but that wasn’t possible under current conditions. With travel a no-go, the young girl gave it some thought and decided she wanted a bedroom makeover with an emphasis on two things in particular. “She wanted anything to do with rainbows and unicorns,” said Nikita. Peyton finished two years of chemotherapy to shrink a benign tumour on her jaw that was the size of a baseball in February 2018. Then, her parents Nikita and Jake, marvelled at her strength as she did three chemo sessions a month and 72 treatments over the two years. “She was a lot stronger than we were,” said Nikita. Seeing the bedroom slowly come together with the help of the family has been great for her parents. And, obviously, for Peyton. As pieces of the room continue to trickle in, the family hopes to have everything assembled in the next couple of weeks. “(Peyton) well deserves it,” said Nikita. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
It’s been a different year for Gander Fire Rescue. Normally, members’ calendar would be filled with things like handing out Halloween candy to children at the hospital or opening the fire hall for tours. However, things like that were scuttled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the fire department was hoping to do something this year. With that in mind, some members of the department came up with the idea of collecting winter clothing for children. “We just thought we were going to get jackets and stuff, but people were asking if they could donate certain items and we said, ‘Certainly, go ahead,’” said Addison Quilty, Gander Fire Rescue’s assistant deputy fire chief. The department’s goal was to collect the same number of winter clothing as there are fire hydrants in Gander. That set their aim at 427 pieces of clothing. They didn’t care if it was mittens, gloves, toques, jackets or boots, as long as the department was able to get what they aimed for. It turns out they got all of those things in abundance — they’ve collected 432 pieces of clothing. “We’ve been really impressed,” said Quilty. “We’re still getting things now.” The pandemic has changed the way organizations handle donated items, and Gander Fire Rescue is no different. The department put a pair of bins outside the fire hall and once an item was placed in the bin, it stayed there for 24 hours. When it entered the building, the clothing was cleaned again. In the next little while, the department will start bagging up what they’ve collected and delivered it to the Salvation Army. From there, the church’s community and family services division in Gander will distribute the items where they are needed. “The Salvation Army is certainly very grateful for that kind of partnership with us, to be able to provide that kind of practical donation to help people for the cold winter months,” said Maj. Rene Loveless, public relations and development secretary with the provincial Salvation Army. “That's fabulous.” Loveless said he was impressed with the number of items the Gander fire department collected in a short period. Ensuring children have adequate clothes for the winter months, which can be harsh at times in central Newfoundland, was at the heart of the Gander Fire Rescue clothing drive. To see that effort to help children was something that stood out for Loveless. “It’s a beautiful thing, really,” said Loveless. The department isn’t done collecting clothing just yet. They’ve set a deadline of Dec. 6 and then they will stop collecting. In the meantime, their final number could be even higher by the time they call it off next week. “People are still not afraid to help others out,” said Quilty. “It is a good thing to see.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to donate money this year, plenty of causes need your attention.In a year like 2020, choosing where to direct your dollars is like picking your favourite child. Should your money go toward nonprofits providing basic needs, organizations fighting for social justice or a campaign to help local small businesses stay afloat? If you prefer donating your time, how do you give back when volunteer events are limited by the pandemic?Here’s a guide to prioritizing your donations, taking advantage of special tax deductions for 2020 giving and using your holiday spending to make a difference.TAX BENEFITS OF GIVING DURING THE PANDEMICDec. 1 is Giving Tuesday, a day earmarked for generosity during the holiday season. This year, in addition to helping those in need, you may be eligible to receive added tax benefits for your donations.As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, taxpayers who take the standard deduction are allowed an additional deduction of up to $300 for charitable donations made in cash. Previously, charitable contributions could only be deducted if taxpayers itemized.Taxpayers who itemize can deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income for cash donations (up from 60%) made in 2020.These incentives don’t apply to all contributions — only those made to qualifying public organizations, which the IRS defines as “those that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific or literary in purpose.” Contributions to donor-advised funds, nonoperating private foundations and support organizations don’t qualify for the deduction.The IRS website has a tool to look up tax-exempt organizations.USE YOUR VALUES TO INFORM YOUR GIVINGChoosing which cause to support is deeply personal. If you haven’t already, make a list of your values and what you’re grateful for. This list is the basis for your giving plan that can help you determine which causes to prioritize and which ones you can say no to, says Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University.Sager says you can also use a giving plan to frame your actions outside of hitting the “donate” button.“What kind of volunteerism are you doing? What messages are you sending as you retweet or share things on social media? How does that tie into your philanthropy and your values?” she suggests asking yourself.Early in the pandemic, you may have committed small acts of generosity such as buying gift cards to support your local coffee shop or paying your hairstylist when the salon was shut down.Keep the community spirit going, says Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity that manages donor-advised funds and is based in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. “I’m a big fan of small grassroots charities,” she says. “A lot of everyday neighbourhood arts organizations, small ones, are disappearing.”Research by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute during the early months of the pandemic showed that organizations dedicated to basic needs and health fared better than those focused on religion, and especially better than those serving all other purposes, such as education, the arts and the environment.Resources such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar help you research a charity’s financial health, tax-exempt status and practices. Your local community foundation website can also give you an idea of nonprofits to support.“We encourage people to give deeply to a few causes rather than spreading money out to many causes,” says Grace Chiang Nicolette, vice-president of programming and external relations at the Center for Effective Philanthropy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Unrestricted gifts are typically the most useful to charities, Nicolette says, referring to donations that don’t come with requirements on how the money can be used.GIVE BACK WHILE SHOPPINGThis holiday season, 65% of Americans say the pandemic will have an impact on the way they plan to give gifts. At least, 3 in 10 Americans (30%) say they’ll send money or gift cards, and 28% say they’ll ship gifts to loved ones they typically give gifts to in person, according to NerdWallet’s 2020 Holiday Shopping Report.Around 1 in 8 Americans plan to spend more on charitable donations, and almost 1 in 5 plan on spending less on donations in 2020 than they did in 2019, the report says.If you cannot set aside money for donations, use your online holiday purchases to give back. Many online retailers make it easy to donate as you’re checking out or buying gift cards, such as through the Paypal Giving Fund or Amazon Smile program.Heisman suggests using apps that round up your purchases and donate the difference to charity. Boomerang Giving, ChangeUp For Charity and GiveTide are some examples.You can also donate your unused airline miles or credit card rewards to charity, but be aware of the downsides. The charity may not always receive the full amount of your donation and you cannot apply this contribution toward the CARES Act tax deduction.________________________________-This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @ajbombay.RELATED LINKS:NerdWallet 2020 Holiday Shopping Report https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-shopping-reportIRS Tax-Exempt Organization Search https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-searchAmrita Jayakumar Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press