White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his team are headed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week for talks in a region simmering with tension after the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist. A senior administration official said on Sunday that Kushner is to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Neom, and the emir of Qatar in that country in the coming days.
The head of a U.S. biotechnology company that is developing one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates says Canada is not far behind other countries when it comes to receiving doses of its vaccine, despite criticism of the government's procurement plan from the Conservative opposition. "Canada is not at the back of the line," Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, told CBC's Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday. Afeyan said because Canada was among the first countries to make a pre-order with Moderna, the country is guaranteed to receive a certain portion of the company's initial batch of doses as long as the vaccine proves safe and effective and is given regulatory approval. "The people who were willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to," Afeyan said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. "Nothing that happened subsequently can affect that." Moderna's mRNA vaccine is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials and preliminary data released two weeks ago show it appears to be 94.5 per cent effective. Millions of doses procured The federal government secured an agreement on Aug. 5 with Moderna for 20 million doses of its vaccine, with the option to procure an additional 36 million doses. The U.S. announced a deal for up to 500 million doses just days later while the U.K. and European Union inked deals with Moderna only in the past two weeks. In total, Canada has procured some 358 million doses from seven companies — the most per capita of any country in the world, according to research from Duke University's Global Health Institute. WATCH | Federal government pressured on when Canadians will get COVID-19 vaccine Despite that promising news, the Liberal government came under intense pressure this week to lay out a timeline for when Canadians will begin receiving an inoculation as countries like the U.S., U.K. and Germany have all announced plans to begin vaccinating their populations in December. Opposition politicians and some premiers argued Canada was falling behind other countries in its planning after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians would have to wait to get vaccinated because the first doses of any vaccine will go to people in the countries where the vaccines are being manufactured. Federal officials said on Thursday that if all goes well as many as three million Canadians — mainly those in "high-priority groups" — could be vaccinated in early 2021. One day later, Trudeau said that Canada is on track to vaccinate nearly every person who wants a shot by September 2021. But officials have provided few details about the government's plan to roll out a vaccine once Health Canada gives one the green light. Conservative critiques At a press conference on Sunday, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole repeated his view that Canada is behind other countries in procuring a vaccine. "While the Americans and the British are talking about mass vaccination throughout December and January, our government is now talking about getting Canadians vaccinated by September," O'Toole said. "We need to show Canadians that there is a plan for the vaccine." O'Toole said the Trudeau government only turned its attention to pre-ordering tens of millions of vaccine doses from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in August after its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine maker CanSino collapsed following months of delays. "I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China," O'Toole said. Regulatory approval pending Companies have compressed the time it normally takes to develop a vaccine by initiating the manufacturing of doses even before studies into their efficacy are completed as part of a global effort to develop COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible to bring the pandemic to an end. Moderna is in the process of applying for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Once the company obtains that authorization, Afeyan said it will begin shipping doses to countries that have made pre-orders, including Canada. Afeyan said he expects to start shipping the vaccine to Canada in the first quarter of 2021 and the quantity of shipments should increase through the second quarter and throughout the rest of the year. The company expects to be able to produce a total of 20 million doses by the end of 2020 and between 500 million and 1 billion doses throughout 2021. Moderna submitted early safety and pre-clinical data from Phase 1 and 2 trials with Health Canada last month as part of the regulator's rolling regulatory review process. Health Canada must approve any COVID-19 vaccine before it can be distributed to Canadians. Experts say Moderna's vaccine — which requires two shots taken 28 days apart — will be relatively easy to store and distribute because the vaccine can remain stable at normal fridge temperatures of 2 C to 8 C for 30 days. By contrast, another leading candidate manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer must be shipped and stored at -70 C. WATCH | Health Minister on how the federal government should address vaccine hesitancy: Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it's difficult to nail down a delivery date at the moment for any of the leading vaccine candidates because of the long list of uncertainties stemming from unfinished clinical trials, ongoing regulatory reviews, and manufacturing and logistical challenges related to distribution. "We're all anxious to get out of this mess as a world, but certainly as a country as well," Hajdu said. "As Canada's health minister, I'm staying focused on Canadians and on our own process, making sure our delivery plans are well laid out and that we have what we need in terms of being able to deliver on the variety of different kinds of vaccines." Hajdu added that her top priority is ensuring that Health Canada has what it needs to make sure the regulatory process proceeds smoothly so that any vaccines that are approved are safe and effective.
There are 10 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 125.A press release stated that nine of the new cases were in the central health zone and one in the western zone. But a corrected release stated all the cases were in the central zone.A release later in the day said a new case was discovered Sunday in the western zone and is connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, Kings County.The school has been closed since the first case connected to it was identified on Nov. 24.School to stay closedNortheast Kings will remain closed for the week, according to the release, and students will be supported for remote learning.The new positive test will be included in the official figures tomorrow. Nova Scotia labs completed 2,254 tests Saturday.No one is in hospital in Nova Scotia related to the virus.An additional 540 tests were administered at a rapid-testing site in Dartmouth. There was one positive case detected and that person was ordered to self-isolate and referred to take a standard test.Rapid-testing 'pop-up' sites have been operating in Halifax and Dartmouth over the weekend. These sites are for people without symptoms and who have not travelled or been to a place that is the subject of an exposure notice. The rapid-test is not as accurate as the standard COVID-19 test so anyone testing positive in the rapid-test must then take the standard test to confirm the test results. The province's case data website has not been updated since Nov. 26. A news release said it is due to a technical problem.The province announced five new exposure sites Saturday, including businesses in Sydney and Truro.A full list of exposures in the province can be found here.Premier Stephen McNeil urged people in the Halifax area to follow the latest guidelines."By following the new restrictions in the greater Halifax area, we are working together to contain the spread of the virus," he said in a news release. New restrictions in effectNew restrictions came into effect Thursday in most of the Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants County.The restrictions include stopping dine-in service at bars and restaurants and closing gyms, libraries, museums and casinos for at least the next two weeks. Masks are also mandatory in common areas of multi-unit dwellings like apartments and condos.A list of what's open and closed in the Halifax region can be found here.Across the province, visitations to long-term care facilities are no longer allowed unless the person is a volunteer or designated caregiver.All other Atlantic provinces, most recently New Brunswick, have brought back mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers. But as of Thursday evening, Nova Scotia's policy on regional travel remained unchanged.COVID cases in the Atlantic provincesThe latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:SymptomsAnyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811: * Fever. * Cough or worsening of a previous cough.Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811: * Sore throat. * Headache. * Shortness of breath. * Runny nose.MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — Every day virtual court sits, Catherine Riddell wakes up, shakes off the aches, grabs her walker and hops in a cab down to the real courthouse where she steels herself for a long day peering into the mind of the man who tried to kill her. Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack to watch the proceedings that are being held by videoconference due to the pandemic. Most days Riddell is alone.But not really, the 70-year-old says, when you consider the two victims services employees she's bonded with, or the helpful court staff. She also feels the love of family, friends and complete strangers — and her 14-year-old cats Kleo and Bootsy.But she's still struggling to understand why she didn't die that day."I'm trying very hard to stay positive because, to me, that's the key to getting back to what you want to be and then really praying that the city will stay positive," Riddell says."I know that it's been very devastating for a lot of people and I'm hoping that they can find the strength to get by."Riddell laughs more now, but her journey has been difficult.She had just left the bank at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue and was walking toward the library at Mel Lastman Square when a van hopped the curb and drove down the busy sidewalk, striking 26 people, killing 10.Alek Minassian was the man behind the wheel.Riddell never saw him coming. She was hit from behind and launched into the air, crashing through a transit shelter, glass shards raining down on her. The crash fractured her spine and broke her ribs, scapula and pelvis. She had massive bruising, internal injuries and a minor brain injury — she had difficulty reading for months afterward as she struggled to focus.She spent two years rehabilitating, from physiotherapy to hydrotherapy to massage therapy. She was depressed for a time, but counselling helped."There were times when I kind of would say to myself, 'you know I wish he'd done a better job of it and then just ended it for me,' and I wouldn't have had to go through all this and everybody would have done their mourning and been through it and moved on with their life," she says. "It didn't happen that way, which is a good thing because I'm quite grateful."It helps that Riddell remembers nothing of the crash and only recalls snippets of the next two weeks while at St. Michael's hospital."At least I don't have those memories to haunt me at night," she says. "In the middle of the night when I'm asleep I don't wake up with the image of what occurred. So in that way I feel like I've been spared a lot."Two weeks after the attack, when she first became alert, Riddell apologized to her brother for crossing the street, thinking it was her fault she was hit. That's when she found out she was involved in one of the worst attacks in Canadian history.Minassian, 28, has admitted in court to planning and carrying out the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder, and 16 counts of attempted murder, arguing he is not criminally responsible for his actions due to autism spectrum disorder.Riddell avoided news coverage of the attack and did not learn where she was actually hit until a stranger came up to her at the first-year anniversary to tell her he was by her side right after. She thought she was hit about a 10-minute walk north because that's her last memory. Two weeks ago came her toughest moment — the first day of trial when the prosecution presented in detail how and where all 26 people were hit. The prosecution showed a photograph of the shattered bus shelter where Riddell landed."It just felt so real that's actually when I felt it the most," she says."It was hard seeing what happened to everybody. I cried my eyes out all day, all night."Riddell has worked hard to get to this point, hoping to face the man in the van in person. Yet Riddell is gaining strength. She worked hard to get to the point to go down to court to face the man in the van.The days in court are long. She prefers a regular nap. Up until now, she says, she has not thought much about the man on trial."If you ask me, do I think there's something wrong with him?" she says. "I absolutely do. Do I think he knew the difference between right and wrong? I absolutely do."But she says she's trying to keep an open mind. "If he was really incapable then they got to prove it to me," she says. "That's why I have to be at court every day. I have to hear all of the testimony because if the verdict goes that way I have to be able to cope with that."Riddell says she often thinks about the other victims who lost their lives in the attack."I'm 70 and some of those kids who died are in their twenties," she says. "So I feel compelled to make the very best opportunity I've been given otherwise I should have been one of the ones who passed away." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
SYDNEY – Digital Mi'kmaq continues to find ways to help Indigenous students access e-learning in Atlantic Canada by donating over 700 laptops to Indigenous communities across the Atlantic region. Chris Googoo, Ulnooweg’s chief operating officer, says the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the systemic barriers Indigenous students face while accessing education. The company first helped with personal protection equipment but as the pandemic continued they switched gears to meet the needs of online learners. And the organization listened to the communities. Digital Mi’kmaq‘s “Backyard Science” programming is as an educational tool that balances modern science with Indigenous knowledge. Googoo sees it as an educational resource that helps Indigenous students see the link between the study of oceans, ecology and Indigenous knowledge. Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation also contributed $100,000 in grant funding to assist Indigenous communities to increase their educational capacity. Googoo says the laptops they donated cost between $800 to $900 each and were best-suited to run the special Digital Mi’kmaq programming it offered such as 3D tech, animation and robotics. About 250 of those laptops were donated to Nova Scotia with the majority headed to Eskasoni First Nation. “Nova Scotia still has accessibility issues,” says Googoo. He took part in a meeting that discussed the internet access challenges rural communities face in the province. Googoo says the province is committed to meeting those barriers by 2025. Both We’koqma’q and Eskasoni First Nation face internet accessibility issues because of their geographic locations and he knows communities are working to try to fix those problems. Eskasoni is still developing its own telecommunications company. But Digital Mi’kmaq did what they could by donating Chromebooks and laptops. Googoo said he was happy to help but he knows more issues need to be addressed. He thinks the Mi’kmaq education authority, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, is still chronically underfunded. Another issue laid bare by COVID-19 was access to food and food insecurity in Indigenous communities. And a partnership with the United Way helped five communities across the Atlantic provinces begin breaking ground on community food programs like food centres, community gardens and greenhouses. Potlotek First Nation is one that has already started on its greenhouse. The other communities include Lennox island, Eel River Bar, Annapolis Valley and Miapukek. Googoo says he's excited to find out what knowledge and stories on food security issues elders will pass on to younger Indigenous people.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
ATLANTA — Bishop Reginald Jackson stepped to the microphone at a drive-in rally outside a church in southwest Atlanta as his voice carried over a loudspeaker and the radio to people gathered in, around and on top of cars that filled the parking lot.“Let’s keep Georgia blue," Jackson said. “Let’s elect Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock to the United States Senate.” The presiding bishop of more than 400 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia added a pastoral flourish as horns honked and supporters cheered: “If I have a witness, somebody say amen!"As Georgia becomes the nation’s political hotspot this winter before twin runoff elections Jan. 5 that will determine control of the Senate, faith-based organizing is heating up.Conservative Christians are rallying behind Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, while Black churches and liberal-leaning Jewish groups are backing Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. The Democrats' fates are seen as intertwined in a state that this year turned blue in the presidential election for the first time since 1992 by a razor-thin margin.“These runoffs are critically important,” Jackson said. “We want to make sure there is no decrease in turnout.”Across Georgia, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is implementing a program designed to ensure its members, and Black voters overall, cast ballots in the runoff — focusing on votes by mail and early in-person voting. Pastors at each church remind tens of thousands of congregants every week to apply for an absentee ballot and of early voting dates, Jackson said in an interview. Each local church also follows up with congregants to make sure they have a plan to vote.The New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan voter mobilization group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor in 2018, is also preparing to tap the influence of faith communities in stoking turnout.Rev. Billy Honor, director of faith organizing at the group, said the conservative Christian Faith & Freedom Coalition — founded by former Georgia GOP chairman Ralph Reed — has long positioned Georgia “as the home of evangelical fundamentalist types when it comes to the political space."“But the truth is, for a very long time, there has been an active, effective movement of progressive-minded, justice-centred clergy” who have worked in the state on voting rights, health care and other issues, Honor added. He said Warnock was part of that work before his candidacy. Warnock is senior pastor at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, the congregation led by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.Meanwhile, Loeffler and Perdue can expect to benefit from a conservative Christian base that has long boosted the state’s Republicans. Faith & Freedom made Georgia one of its top three spending targets in a $50 million get-out-the-vote program during the general election and plans increased organizing for the runoffs.The reach of "the evangelical vote in Georgia is very large and very strong,” Timothy Head, the group’s executive director, said in an interview.Head noted that while President Donald Trump kept a strong hold on white evangelical voters this year, Perdue out-performed Trump in Georgia during the general election. President-elect Joe Biden may have won over some evangelicals by contrasting his character with that of Trump, Head said, but he argued that the same sort of case would be harder for Democrats to make against Loeffler and Perdue.Another faith-focused conservative group, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, is holding trainings and pastor briefings before the runoffs. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, whose president advised Trump’s reelection campaign on Catholic outreach, has announced a $4.1 million plan to boost Loeffler and Perdue through a partner political action committee.Religious issues already have become a campaign flashpoint in the runoff. The GOP has resurfaced excerpts from past Warnock sermons to assail him as insufficiently supportive of the military as well as anti-Israel. The Democrat signed a letter last year comparing Israel's policy toward Palestinians to “previous oppressive regimes" and criticized it in a 2018 sermon, while also calling for a two-state solution in the region.Warnock pushed back in a recently released television ad, saying the attacks are “trying to scare people by taking things I’ve said out of context from over 25 years of being a pastor.”One group criticizing Warnock as too left-leaning on Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition, is also mobilizing on behalf of the GOP incumbents.Jewish Democrats in Georgia predicted that the GOP attack on Warnock’s Israel record would fall flat, citing his record of friendship with the Jewish community through his pulpit at Ebenezer.Sherry Frank, president of the Atlanta section of the National Council of Jewish Women, said she sees “no doubt in the Jewish community about (Warnock’s) stance on Israel and anti-Semitism.” Frank's group is conducting nonpartisan voter turnout work for the runoffs.Georgia’s Jewish Democrats also see, in Ossoff and Warnock, candidates whose joint push for the Senate harkens back to a tradition of Black and Jewish leaders working together during the civil rights movement. Warnock has a bond with a prominent Atlanta rabbi whose predecessor at the synagogue was close with King.Warnock is viewed “as the inheritor" of King’s legacy, said Michael Rosenzweig, co-chair of the Georgia chapter of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, which has endorsed both Democrats. “And to the extent that Jews were supportive of the civil rights struggle and supportive of (King), I think they look supportively on Rev. Warnock.”Ossoff, who is Jewish, has defended Warnock against GOP criticism over Israel and fondly recalled his own connection to the late Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia civil rights leader who endorsed Ossoff before his death in July. In October, Ossoff said he and Lewis talked during their first meeting about “the bond between the Black and Jewish communities, marching alongside rabbis and young Jewish activists in the mid 1960s ... and how important it was that these communities be brought together."___Schor reported from Washington.___Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.Elana Schor And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
MAIDGURI, Nigeria — Suspected members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram killed at least 40 rice farmers and fishermen in Nigeria as they were harvesting crops in the country's northern state of Borno, officials said. One said the death toll could rise to about 60 people.The attack Saturday in a rice field in Garin Kwashebe came on the same day that residents were casting votes for the first time in 13 years to elect local councils, although many didn’t go to cast their ballots.The farmers were reportedly rounded up and summarily killed by armed insurgents in retaliation for refusing to pay extortion to one militant.Malam Zabarmari, a leader of a rice farmers association in Borno state, confirmed the massacre to The Associated Press, saying at least 40 and up to 60 people could have been killed.Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressed grief over the killings.“I condemn the killing of our hardworking farmers by terrorists in Borno State. The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief,” he said.Buhari said the government had given the armed forces everything needed “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory.”A member of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Satomi, who represents the Jere Federal constituency of Borno, said at least 44 burials were taking place Sunday.“Farmers and fishermen were killed in cold blood. Over 60 farmers were affected, but we only have so far received 44 corpses from the farms,” the lawmaker said.Boko Haram and a breakaway faction, the Islamic State West Africa Province, are both active in the region. Boko Haram’s more than decade-long insurgency has left thousands dead and displaced tens of thousands. Officials say Boko Haram members often force villagers to pay illegal taxes by taking their livestock or crops but some villagers have begun to resist the extortion.Satomi said the farmers in Garin Kwashebe were attacked because they had disarmed and arrested a Boko Haram gunman on Friday who had been tormenting them.“A lone gunman, who was a member of Boko Haram came to harass the farmers by ordering them to give him money and also cook for him. While he was waiting for the food to be cooked, the farmers seized the moment he stepped into the toilet to snatch his rifle and tied him up,” he said.“They later handed him over to the security. But sadly, the security forces did not protect the courageous farmers. And in reprisal for daring them, the Boko Haram mobilized and came to attack them on their farms.”Insurgents also torched the rice farms before leaving, he said.___AP journalist Bashir Adigun in Abuja contributed to this report.Haruna Umar, The Associated Press
Au contraire à ce qui a été véhiculer comme informations, le pont entre Béarn et Fabre ne sera pas fermé mais plusieurs restrictions seront en vigueur à la suite de son inspection par la direction générale de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue du Ministère des Transports (MTQ). « Nous ne fermons pas le pont. Il n’en a d’ailleurs jamais été question. En revanche, à la suite d’une inspection, le pont P-07452 doit être réduit en charges à 10 tonnes pour tous les types de véhicules. Le pont est présentement affiché aux charges légales » nous fait savoir le conseiller en communication de la direction générale de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue du Ministère des Transports, monsieur Luc Adam. De la corrosion au niveau des poutres Cette décision trouve son fondement en se basant sur un minutieux diagnostique technique et pour des raisons sécuritaires. « Le pont P-07452 enjambe le ruisseau l’Africain et est situé sur la route 391 à environ 200 mètres de l’intersection de la route 101 vers le nord. Le pont présente de la corrosion au niveau des poutres et des chevêtres. Or, Étant donné la faiblesse du pont, la baisse de charges vise à protéger la structure tout en assurant la sécurité des usagers et ainsi d’éviter la fermeture » nous explique le conseiller de communication. « Un projet de reconstruction complète de ce pont est en préparation au MTQ mais ces travaux ne peuvent être faits à court terme. Le MTQ travaille cependant à une solution de rétablissement à court terme avec le pont existant » a-t-il ajouté. Impact sur le transport lourd À noter que le débit journalier qui passe sur le pont est de 570 véhicules, dont 38 % de transport lourd. « La réduction de charges aura un impact sur le transport lourd en provenance de Scierie Béarn (25 km de plus vers le sud du Témiscamingue) et le Centre de tri de la MRC (35 km de plus vers le sud du Témiscamingue). Le détour se fait par les routes 391, 382 et 101 via Ville-Marie » souligne Luc Adam. La direction générale de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue nous informe que les partenaires (municipalités, entreprises, transport scolaire, service d’urgences, etc.) ont été informés le 16 novembre 2020. L’autobus scolaire n’est épargné Afin de respecter les nouvelles mesures, le déneigement qui est sous la responsabilité du MTQ dans ce secteur, sera effectué avec un véhicule léger de moins de 10 tonnes. « L’autobus scolaire pourra continuer à y circuler, compte tenu que son poids est inférieur à 10 tonnes. Ainsi un nouvel affichage sera en place dans les prochains jours et par l’occasion un communiqué de presse sera alors diffusé pareillement » précise le conseiller de communication.Moulay Hicham Mouatadid, Initiative de journalisme local, Reflet Témiscamien (Le)
A new program that will pay for former youth in care to go to university is money well spent, according to both Memorial University's president and an advocate for children in foster care.The program will cover the cost of four years of undergraduate tuition and fees for young people who have been in the foster care system, something MUN President Vianne Timmons says will give those students "a hand up." "It's really important for those young people to see, and to know, that university is accessible for them … I wanted to make sure that this group in particular had the hope and the resources for a positive future," she said."We do have scholarships and bursaries to support lots of students but we wanted to target this group because so many, when they hit 18 years old, are lost. They don't have the system behind them to support them."The university said in a news release Thursday that the program would be made available for 20 students, but Timmons told CBC News she's willing to expand it if necessary."I guarantee you, if there's more than 20 that step up, we're lifting that cap. Our registrar does not know that yet, but I'm saying this," she said."I want to make sure that anyone who has gone through the foster system has access to a university education with undue harm."> This is a program that changes lives. \- Vianne TimmonsTimmons said the initiative is so important to her, she will personally donate enough money to cover the tuition of one of the students availing of the program."[I] came from a family where no one went to university. All six of us, my brothers and sisters, got access to a university education. It changed our lives," she said."So this is a program that changes lives."In addition to putting forward her own money, Timmons said the university will be looking for donations and reviewing its own spending to cover the cost of the program, diverting funds from other areas if necessary.The program will launch in the Spring 2021 semester with Timmons saying the program will continue as long as she is president, and hopefully long after.'A game changer'Heather Modlin, provincial director of fostering agency Key Assets, says the program will likely have a huge effect in the lives of the young people who avail of it."This has the potential to really be a game changer for children in care and children who have been in care," she said.Modlin said making a education more accessible to youth who have been in foster care is a vote of confidence in those children from the university."I've worked with young people in care for a really long time and I've known some extraordinarily intelligent, innovative, creative, resilient young people who haven't always had the same opportunities in life that other children may have," she said."When children know there's an opportunity, they will rise to meet that … children in care have gotten a really loud and clear message from the university that we believe in you, you belong here and we want to make it possible for you to come to university."And the effect of program goes beyond the individual, Modlin said."Whenever we give people an opportunity to get out of a cycle and create a healthier cycle, there are economic benefits, there are mental health benefits, there are impacts on our health care [system]."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Three Nova Scotians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours.They are among the 114 appointees announced Friday.The list includes eight companions, 21 officers, one honorary member and 84 members. The full list can be found here."Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation," said a statement on the office of the Governor General's website.Appointments are made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. More than 7,000 Canadians have received the honour since its inception.Jeff Dahn of Halifax, who has led groundbreaking research on lithium-ion batteries, was appointed as an officer.In 2017, he won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his work in making batteries increasingly efficient. He also won a Governor General's Award for Innovation in 2016.Dahn works out of a lab at Dalhousie University. He also began a five-year research partnership with Tesla In 2016.In the statement, the Governor General's office also commended him for "his mentorship and adroit bridging of academia and industry."Dahn could not be reached for comment Sunday.'It's humbling'Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Wilson and John Eyking were appointed as members.Wilson, a plastic surgeon in the Halifax area, was appointed "for his nationally recognized expertise in reconstructive and plastic surgery, and for his volunteer work on international medical missions.""It's humbling, but a very nice addition to a great career," Wilson said of the honour.In the mid-80s, Wilson became the first person east of Montreal to dedicate himself to doing plastic surgery for children."It was a very satisfying thing for me to be able to look after a lot of the children who have either had to travel, or that hadn't had, sometimes, the attention they would've had otherwise," he said.In the mid-90s, Wilson began working with Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgeries and dental care to children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. He travelled a couple times a year to do surgery in underdeveloped countries, and he estimates he went on about 46 missions.In the late 1990s, Wilson became the chief of surgery at the IWK children's hospital in Halifax, a position he held for more than a decade.He stopped practising five years ago, but Wilson now works as a medical consultant for Doctors Nova Scotia and is chair of the board for Operation Smile Canada."It was a wonderful career," said Wilson. "I gotta say, I've been very lucky over the years to have the opportunity to do what I did."While there is no ceremony this year due to COVID-19, Wilson was mailed his snowflake insignia, as well as a "lovely book" detailing the history of the Order of Canada and the many recipients over the years.'All in a day's work'Eyking, a farmer and entrepreneur who founded Eyking Farms, was recognized for his "personal and professional dedication to the Cape Breton community, particularly within the agriculture industry."Eyking, of Millville, N.S., immigrated to Canada in 1963 from the Netherlands. He started a farm, which later grew into a family operation run by him, his wife and their 10 children.He is also an inductee of the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.Reached by phone Sunday, Eyking, 89, was modest about his appointment. He credited his farm's accomplishments to the work of his large family."For me, it was all in a day's work and I enjoyed it," he said.He, too, received a parcel from the Order of Canada, and said he enjoyed the book."There's quite a few Cape Bretoners in there," he said.The recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.MORE TOP STORIES
If citizens disbelieve the institutions that count ballots and the organizations that accurately report on those results, it will impossible to agree on what a legitimate election looks like.
President Donald Trump returned to the White House on Sunday after spending the Thanksgiving holiday break with his family at Camp David. (Nov. 29)
Police say a man has died and another is critically injured following a morning shooting in Oshawa, Ont. Durham regional police say they were called to an area of Simcoe Street around 10:30 a.m. and found two men with gunshot wounds, one of them without vital signs. Spokesman Const. George Tudos says that man was later pronounced dead. He says the other is being treated for life-threatening injuries. Tudos says there are no outstanding suspects and no threat to public safety at this time. He says homicide investigators remain at the scene to piece together what happened, and witnesses are encouraged to come forward. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
La Fondation Émergence a tenu une formation le 26 novembre à 15h, destinée à tous les milieux et services offerts aux aînés de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Cette formation spéciale inclura, en plus d'informations sur les enjeux vécus par les aînés LGBTQ+ et les bonnes pratiques, une intervention de deux organismes de la région, Fierté Val-d'Or et la Coalition d'aide à la diversité sexuelle de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue ainsi qu'un témoignage d'une aînée locale. « Notre objectif est de rendre les milieux et services aux aînés inclusifs à la diversité sexuelle », fait savoir le chargé de programme à la Fondation, Julien Rougerie. La sensibilisation des milieux des aînés Pour monsieur Rougerie, il est important de sensibiliser les milieux aînés à la réalité des personnes aînées LGBTQ+ pour que ces dernières puissent vivre dans un environnement sain et inclusif. « Malheureusement, l'invisibilité des communautés LGBTQ+ au sein des aînés renforce l'idée qu'il n'est pas nécessaire d'en parler et de démontrer son ouverture. C'est donc d'autant plus important de parler de ces enjeux au public », a-t-il ajouté. Le choix de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, selon Julien Rougerie, s’explique par la dimension collaborative avec plusieurs acteurs dans la région. « Nous y avons des partenaires, comme Fierté Val-d’Or dont nous finançons le projet Vieillir en couleur », a-t-il expliqué. Les enjeux de la population LGBTQ+ Si la COVID-19 a mis en lumière l’état fragile dans lequel se trouvent nos aînés, pour Julien Rougerie, il n’y a pas que la pandémie actuelle qui crée des dommages au sein de cette communauté. Les aînés LGBTQ+ demeurent une population largement invisible et donc particulièrement vulnérable. « Lors de notre dernière tournée, la majorité des résidences avaient refusé d’accueillir nos formations et outils, 100 % gratuits pourtant… Le tabou de la diversité sexuelle et de genre est très tenace dans ces milieux, notamment auprès de la direction qui ne souhaite pas toujours réaliser qu’ils peuvent bel et bien avoir un rôle à jouer pour des milieux plus accueillants envers le 10 % de leur clientèle qui est LGBTQ+, mais qui est contrainte de rester ou de retourner dans le placard », poursuit monsieur Rougerie. Rejet et discrimination À noter que la majorité des personnes aînées de la diversité sexuelle et de genre ne sont pas à l’aise d’être qui elles sont dans les milieux et services qu’elles fréquentent. Cela s’expliquerait, en partie par les multiples expériences de rejet et de discrimination qu’elles ont subies au cours de leur vie. Et plus leur âge est élevé, plus ces expériences ont été intenses.Moulay Hicham Mouatadid, Initiative de journalisme local, Reflet Témiscamien (Le)
Liam Docherty may be only 13 years old, but he's already garnering attention from the Canadian blues establishment. The young Qualicum Beach, B.C.-based singer-songwriter has been nominated for the New Artist of the Year category in the Maple Blues Awards, which recognize the best blues musicians across the country."It's a really big deal," Liam told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's On The Coast.Liam first picked up the guitar when he was aged four, having been introduced to the instrument by his father. A concert by Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel in 2015 exposed Liam to the blues and the finger-picking style. "I kept on practising over the years," he said. "When I was seven, I learned some pop songs and I'd busk at the Salt Spring Island farmers market."Liam's performances earned him the moniker "red-headed blues boy" from locals. He was supposed to perform at the Vancouver Island Music Festival and the Nanaimo Blues Festival before they were cancelled due to COVID-19.Instead, he put out his first album, Modern Magic Melody, which earned him the award nomination. "I never actually expected this," he said. Organic songwriting processLiam says his songwriting process is something that flows organically from his love of playing."I always come up with new pieces. If I like them, I record them and start working on them and building them out," he said.For his lyrics, Liam collects phrases and words he likes from books and poems in a journal."They change during the songwriting process, of course, [but] those [phrases] can be a foundation for songs," he said. He also gets ideas from reading about his favourite blues musicians. Reading about Robert Leroy Johnson, an American blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and how he was affected by the Mississippi Delta flood, inspired Liam to write his own song about the historic event, Wipe My Weeping Eyes."I pick up the guitar every day ... I just love playing it so much," he said.
POTLOTEK — A housing shortage in Potlotek First Nation led one young mother of three to take matters into her own hands when she moved into a vacant home on Nov. 23. The house was promised to another family, but Amanda Marshall says she was desperate. “I love my kids and I’m willing to do anything for them," said the 27-year-old. Marshall has three children ages eight, four and two and says the three-bedroom duplex they were living in was too small for her five-person family.The house is at 8 Estherrich Road. It has a yard, five bedrooms and two baths - all Marshall could hope for. She’s currently taking a business administration program at the Nova Scotia Community College and says she finally has enough space to study. Marshall can send her kids to play in their rooms while she focuses on schoolwork. “I've never seen them so happy in my life,” says Marshall. Her son says he is happy to finally have a home. But she's already received two letters from Potlotek chief and council asking her to exit the premise within 24 hours. Marshall is refusing to leave and thinks the duplex would be fine for the other family. Chief Wilbert Marshall sees it differently. “We’re trying to be fair, but she can’t just move into a house in the middle of the night,” he says. He was travelling when the Cape Breton Post was able to reach him. Marshall is aware the community has a housing shortage but says there are policies in place. He said the duplex is new and was built about four years ago and Amanda Marshall's family is welcome to move back into it. He says the awaiting family is larger than hers but Amanda Marshall disagrees. The chief says the community is building two more houses and hopes to build more but they face barriers. He says they need more land and are lobbying the federal government for housing funding. He is hopeful the moderate livelihood fishery can help. He is hopeful the fishers can begin to build their own houses. “It's such a small community and we need to all get along,” said Wilbert Marshall. The community was offering to build homes for smaller-sized families living in larger homes, but he says it's their choice to take it. Wilbert Marshall says the band tries to stay out of housing disputes because the band lacks an enforcement officer. Amanda Marshall says at least 18 other families forced their way into homes without repercussions, but Wilbert Marshall disagrees, and he says a housing bylaw has been in place since 2007. Amanda Marshall thinks she is being targeted by the band but other community members have expressed a desire for her to leave the home. She says she’ll continue to fight to stay there and plans to read the Indian Act to see what rights she may have to stay in the home. “I’m scared it's going to be taken away, but the thought of having a home brings so much joy." Wilbert Marshall says more information will be available Monday, Nov. 30, the date Amanda Marshall says she's been asked to leave the house. -30-Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
TEHRAN, Iran — An opinion piece published Sunday by a hard-line Iranian newspaper urged Iran to attack the Israeli port city of Haifa if Israel carried out the killing of the scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the early 2000s.Though the hard-line Kayhan newspaper has long argued for aggressive retaliation for operations targeting Iran, Sunday's opinion piece went further, suggesting any assault be carried out in a way that destroys facilities and "also causes heavy human casualties.”Israel, suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, has not commented on the brazen slaying of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. A military-style ambush Friday on the outskirts of Tehran reportedly saw a truck bomb explode and gunmen open fire on the scientist, killing him and a bodyguard.U.S. intelligence agencies and U.N. nuclear inspectors have said the organized military nuclear program that Fakhrizadeh oversaw disbanded in 2003. Israel insists Iran still maintains the ambition of developing nuclear weapons.Kayhan published the piece written by Iranian analyst Sadollah Zarei, who argued Iran's previous responses to suspected Israeli airstrikes that killed Revolutionary Guard forces in Syria did not go far enough to deter Israel. He said an assault on Haifa also needed to be greater than Iran’s ballistic missile attack against American troops in Iraq following the U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian general in January.Striking the Israeli city of Haifa and killing a large number of people “will definitely lead to deterrence, because the United States and the Israeli regime and its agents are by no means ready to take part in a war and a military confrontation,” Zarei wrote.While Kayhan is a small circulation newspaper, its editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and has been described as an adviser to him in the past.Haifa, on the Mediterranean Sea, has been threatened in the past by both Iran and one of its proxies, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, is home to a major port and power plant.Such a strike likely would draw an immediate Israeli retaliation and spark a wider conflict across the Mideast. While Iran has never directly targeted an Israeli city militarily, it has conducted attacks targeting Israeli interests abroad in the past over the killing of its scientists, like in the case of the three Iranians recently freed in Thailand in exchange for a detained British-Australian academic.Israel also is widely believed to have its own nuclear weapons, a stockpile it neither confirms nor denies possessing.Israeli officials remained silent about the scientist's death on Sunday. But Lt. Gen Aviv Kohavi, commander of the Israeli military, travelled to northern Israel for what the army said was a routine visit with commanders along the front with Syria. Earlier this month, Israeli warplanes struck Iranian-linked targets in Syria after Israel uncovered roadside bombs that it said were planted with Iranian guidance.“I came here to evaluate the current state of security, with an emphasis on the Iranian entrenchment in Syria," Kohavi said. “Our message is clear: We will continue to act as vigorously as necessary against the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and we will remain fully prepared against any manifestation of aggression against us.”The Iranian parliament on Sunday held a closed-door hearing about Fakhrizadeh's killing. Afterward, parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf said Iran's enemies must be made to regret killing him.“The criminal enemy does not regret it except with a strong reaction,” he said in a broadcast on Iranian state radio.A public session of lawmakers saw them chant: “Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!”They also began the review of a bill that would stop inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The nuclear watchdog has provided an unprecedented, real-time look at Iran’s civilian nuclear program following the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.The deal has unraveled after President Donald Trump's unilateral 2018 withdrawal of the U.S. from the accord. Iran’s civilian atomic program has since continued its experiments and now enriches a growing uranium stockpile up to 4.5% purity.That’s still far below weapons-grade levels of 90%, though experts warn Iran now has enough low-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least two atomic bombs if it chose to pursue them. The proposed bill reportedly also would require Iran’s civilian atomic program to produce at least 120 kilograms (265 pounds) of uranium enriched to 20% — a short technical step to 90%.Iran's 290-seat parliament is dominated by hard-liners who likely would support the bill. It ultimately would have to be approved by Iran's Guardian Council. Khamenei also has final say on all matters of state.Khamenei has called Fakhrizadeh “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist" and has demanded the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing.Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program, which Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The IAEA says the “structured program” ended in 2003. U.S. intelligence agencies concurred with that assessment in a 2007 report.Israel contends Iran is still intent on developing a nuclear weapon. It argues Iran's ballistic missile program and other research could help build a bomb if it pursued one — especially as provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal expire. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence who is now director of the Institute for National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv think-tank , alleged Fakhrizadeh ran “all covert activities with weaponization of the program.”The damage of his death “cannot be measured since nobody knows exactly the scope and the depth what the Iranians are doing covertly,” Yadlin said. “But no doubt that he was the core source of authority, knowledge and organization of this program.”Fakhrizadeh's killing likely complicates the plans of President-elect Joe Biden, who has said his administration will consider reentering Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. It also raises the risk of an open conflict in Trump's final weeks in office, as any retaliation could provoke an American military response, Yadlin said.“I highly recommend to the officials to keep their mouths closed and not leak anything. They’ve already spoken too much,” he said, referring to cryptic remarks by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his supporters that he could not discuss everything he did last week.“Any more evidence that will help the Iranians to decide on retaliation against Israel is a mistake," Yadlin said.___Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Joseph Krauss and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.Amir Vahdat And Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
The pandemic is forcing charitable organizations to find new ways to fundraise for the holidays, bringing a challenging year to an end in New Brunswick.It's the 25th year for the Lions Club annual food and toy drive in New Maryland, about 10 minutes south of Fredericton.Any other year, volunteers would spend three consecutive nights parading through the village with Santa Claus collecting donations from residents. The donations would later be distributed to families in the area. The fundraiser is a holiday favourite during the leadup to Christmas. It was viewed as the kickoff to the festive season.But, because of the pandemic, there's no parading this year.Instead, organizers spent months finding ways to make the fundraiser work within the pandemic guidelines.Alex Scholten, one of the organizers of the fundraiser, said the event is too important to the community to cancel."We knew that the need was going to be particularly acute this year," Scholten said, adding that the committee started having meetings about the fundraiser back in the spring.Last year, the fundraiser raised enough to provide 233 families with food hampers in the community. Enough toys were received to donate some to organizations outside of the community.Instead of having a parade through the village, the organizers set up a no-contact drive-thru for people to donate to the cause. Scholten said he was concerned that it wouldn't have the same response, but after a few hours on Saturday he was pleased with the efforts from the community."We know that COVID has had a big impact on people's lives, their employment, and it's really heartwarming to see the donations still coming in."There are still two more opportunities for the community to drop off donations through the no-contact setup before the food and toys are distributed on Dec. 12 — also in a drive-thru manner to abide by the pandemic guidelines.Fundraiser challengesThe Salvation Army in Fredericton is also working through changes to its annual fundraisers this season.The organization is working with fewer volunteers and locations for its kettle campaign because of restrictions.In a typical year, there would be 400 people volunteering, but right now there are only 175 volunteers helping out.The campaign is only in eight locations so far this year in the city, but once the Fredericton region goes back to the yellow phase, Maj. Dan Dearing said they will have 15 locations. Dearing said it's been challenging, but the generosity from the community is still there."We have to respect our government protocols," Dearing said. "We have a responsibility to do that in the context of still raising funds to meet the needs of people."Another popular fundraiser for the Salvation Army is the Santa Shuffle five-kilometre run. It is normally held on the first Saturday of December.Last year, 260 people signed up for the event in Fredericton and raised over $12,000. Like many road races this year, the event has gone virtual. Runners can sign up and complete the run between Dec. 5-12.Between the campaigns and efforts from community groups, the Salvation Army in Fredericton is hoping to fundraise $150,000 this year. That is the same as last year's goal.
It's a troubling time for hundreds of seniors in Windsor-Essex who report feeling lonely during this time of year, many of whom live in isolation.Experts say this feeling of loneliness is heightened this year with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic where people are being more careful and limiting their social interactions.This is where "Be a Santa to a Senior" program comes into play. It's run by Home Instead, a seniors' care business, and aims to assist older adults who feel lonely or are isolated during this time of year by delivering gift packages to them donated by the community."This pandemic has certainly hit our seniors a lot harder than a lot of other populations," said Colleen Jershy, a co-owner of the business in Tecumseh, Ont. "A lot of them are already isolated. A lot of them have family from out of town ... Everybody doesn't want to get anybody sick and so really they've had a lot of social isolation."She also said there are seniors who don't have any family or anyone to visit."We've even had a lot of people they call and they nominate themselves for the program. And they will tell us, you know, I listened to the radio, I heard about the program, I don't have anybody. So, you know, it's very difficult to hear, but at least we can provide a little bit of light to them," she said.Jershy explains how the program works: they collect gift packages and deliver it to those who are financially challenged, isolated and lonely during the holiday season. Some highly requested items include: blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, toiletry, activity books and gift cards. She said those who are looking to donate can "sponsor as many people as possible" and drop off the items they want to donate outside of their office at 1071 Lesperance Rd. They also accept cash donations.This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the program and they're looking to assist 1,616 people. They're accepting gifts until Dec. 4.
CHICAGO — Public health officials in Illinois on Sunday reported 57 more deaths from COVID-19, as well as 7,178 new confirmed and probable cases.There have been 720,114 COVID-19 cases in Illinois since the pandemic began. The death toll has reached 12,193 people.The state reported 62,740 tests in the past 24 hours with more than 10.4 million tests overall.Currently, 5,858 people in Illinois are being hospitalized for COVID-19, with 1,185 people in intensive care units.___HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:—Fauci: US may see ‘surge upon surge’ of virus in coming weeks—U.K. stocks up on vaccines, hopes to start virus shots within days— Federal judges uphold Kentucky governor's virus school order—When Turkey changed the way it reports COVID-19 infections, it confirmed what many long suspected: The country faces an alarming surge of cases—The European plazas where people gather at Christmas are new just empty squares due to the pandemic.—COVID-19 is causing havoc in the NFL: The Denver Broncos have no quarterbacks. The San Francisco 49ers have no home stadium. And the Baltimore Ravens may not have enough players available for their next game.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:NEW YORK -- New York City will reopen its school system to in-person learning and increase the number of days a week many children attend class even as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies in the city.Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that some elementary schools and pre-kindergarten programs will resume classes Dec. 7. Others will take longer to reopen their doors. The announcement marks a major policy reversal for the nation’s largest school system.It comes just 11 days after de Blasio announced that schools were shutting down because of a rising number of cases. The plan for reopening middle and high schools is still being developed.Some elementary schools and pre-kindergarten programs will resume classes Dec. 7, a week from Monday, the mayor said. Others will take longer to reopen their doors.___INDIANAPOLIS: Public health officials in Indiana say 24 more people have died from the new coronavirus for a total of 5,418 deaths in the state.The Indiana Department of Health reported 4,335 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The overall number of cases in the state is 333,312.Public health officials say there are another 267 people who likely died from COVID-19 based on clinical diagnoses but for whom there’s no positive test on record.___BEIRUT — The recorded coronavirus death toll in Lebanon has topped 1,000, just as the small Mediterranean country of about 6 million plans to ease a two-week nationwide lockdown.Lebanon’s Health Ministry reported 13 new deaths on Sunday, raising the toll to 1,004. An additional 1,266 new infections have brought registered infections to 126,903 since February.Health Minister Hassan Hamad said the government plans to ease a two-week lockdown that ends Monday. Hamad said the lockdown has given the battered health sector some breathing room, allowing the government to expand ICU capacity in the country.The lockdown included a curfew from sunset to sunrise.Lebanon is facing a crippling financial and economic crisis which had preceded the coronavirus restrictions and was only deepened by a massive explosion in Beirut’s port. The damage from the blast has further strained limited resources, particularly in the health sector.___ISTANBUL— Turkey’s COVID-19 fatalities continued to rise Sunday, hitting another record with 185 new deaths.The death toll has reached 13,558, according to health ministry statistics. The number of critically ill patients has climbed over 5,000.The ministry said 29,281 people had tested positive in the past 24 hours. The Turkish government resumed reporting all positive cases this week after only reporting symptomatic patients for four months.Nighttime curfews over the weekend are in effect for a second week across the country but media reports show packed public spaces during the day.___ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities announced 1,193 new coronavirus cases Sunday, a significantly lower daily figure than recently.The total number of cases since the pandemic began is 104,227.There were also 98 deaths over the past day, pushing the total number of fatalities to 2,321.Despite the drop, the public health system remained close to capacity, as far as the number of specialized intensive care units go. There are 603 patients on ventilators, authorities said.In the northern city of Thessaloniki, where most of the new cases have occurred recently, patients are now being transferred to private clinics requisitioned for the purpose. The first transfers took place Sunday.___BERLIN — Austria’s defence minister has tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the second member of the country’s Cabinet to be infected.The Austria Press Agency reported that her ministry said Sunday Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner is doing well and will work from home. She had already been in quarantine for 10 days because she had been in contact with another person who tested positive.Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg tested positive for the virus in mid-October and returned to his ministry later that month after showing no symptoms.Austria on Nov. 17 deepened lockdown measures in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. They are due to run though Dec. 6.Infection rates have declined in the Alpine country, but Chancellor Sebastian Kurz cautioned in an interview with Sunday’s edition of the Kleine Zeitung newspaper that Austrians will still have to live with “massive restrictions” after that.___ROME — For a second straight day, the number of additional deaths of COVID-19 patients dropped considerably in Italy, according to Health Ministry statistics released Sunday.Also lower were the number of beds occupied by hospitalized COVID-19 patients.There were 541 deaths of persons with confirmed coronavirus infections since Saturday, compared to 686 on the previous day and 827 on the day before that.Since the pandemic began, Italy has tallied 54,904 known deaths. Daily new caseload numbers also dropped considerably – 20,648 on Sunday, compared to 26,323 on Saturday -- but as often happens on weekends, there were far fewer COVID-19 swab tests performed since the previous day. Italy’s total of confirmed cases in the pandemic rose to 1,585,178.Doctors and other health experts are urging the Italian government to maintain most of the current anti-COVID-19 restrictions in the run-up before Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. They fear that crowds of travellers, shoppers and revelers would trigger another surge in contagion.___HONOLULU -- A group of Hawaii leaders launched a campaign Sunday to promote the islands as an appealing location for a remote office with a view.Now that many companies, especially in the tech industry, allow employees to work from anywhere during the pandemic, they hope Hawaii will be alluring.They’re also throwing in roundtrip tickets to Honolulu for the first 50 approved applicants.Some say high-paid workers will bolster an economy decimated by dramatically fewer tourists.Others worry what those with Silicon Valley money will mean for housing, especially when there’s already a crunch for affordable places to live.___PRAGUE — The Czech government said Sunday it is easing measures imposed to contain the new coronavirus due to falling numbers of new confirmed cases.Health Minister Jan Blatny said all stores, restaurants and bars can reopen on Thursday and a ban on Sunday sales is lifted.Restaurants can be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., though they are limited to 50% of their capacity. Stores and shopping centres also must limit the number of customers.Hair salons, fitness centres and gyms are allowed to reopen, as are zoos, museums and galleries.The Czech Republic was among the hardest hit by a new wave of infections in the fall, but the number of new cases has been on a decline since Nov 4.The country of almost 10.7 million had 518,649 confirmed cases with 8,054 fatalities. The day-to-day increase of new cases reached 2,667 on Saturday.___PARIS — France’s highest administrative court on Sunday ordered a rethink of a 30-person attendance limit for religious services put in place by the government to slow down the spread of coronavirus.The measure took effect this weekend as France relaxes some virus restrictions, but it faced opposition by places of worship and the faithful who called it arbitrary and unreasonable. Even before the ruling, several bishops had announced they would not enforce the restrictions and some churches were expected defy it.The Council of State has ordered that Prime Minister Jean Castex modify the measure within three days.French churches, mosques and synagogues started opening their doors again to worshippers this weekend — but only a few of them, as France cautiously starts reopening after its latest virus lockdown.Many people expressed irritation outside several Paris churches where priests held services for groups that numbered over 30.___BAGHDAD — Iraq has reopened its schools amid a raging pandemic that has claimed more than 12,000 lives across the country, with kids returning to socially-distanced classrooms and other safety measures Sunday.Students will be attending school only one day per week according to a rotation system meant to prevent crowding and the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the Education Ministry.Iraq, like much of the rest of the world, has resorted to distance learning after schools closed in February due to the virus outbreak. But online education is out of reach for many in a country with poor infrastructure that has suffered decades of war.Iraq has the second-highest outbreak and number of deaths in the Middle East region after Iran, with more than 500,000 confirmed cases, according to Health Ministry figures.Daily infection rates average 2,400 cases per day — a slower rate than in previous weeks — but health workers say the number may be higher as many Iraqis with symptoms choose to stay home and avoid hospitals to get tested.___ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has recorded 43 more deaths and 2,829 new COVID-19 cases.With the new figures, Pakistan's tally of COVID-19 deaths is now 7,985.___HONG KONG — Hong Kong has reported 115 new coronavirus infections, the first time it has seen cases in the triple digits since Aug. 2.The government on Sunday also announced that classes at kindergarten, primary and secondary schools will be shut for the rest of the year in light of the worsening coronavirus situation in the city.Of the 115 infections reported Sunday, 24 were untraceable. Another 62 were linked to recent outbreaks in dance studios across the city, taking the total number of infections in that cluster to 479, health officials said.Employees and recent guests at three restaurants in the city have also been ordered to undergo compulsory testing after multiple positive cases had been linked to the venues.Hong Kong has reported 6,239 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, with 109 deaths.___SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is shutting down indoor gyms offering intense workout classes and banning year-end parties at hotels in the greater Seoul area to fight the virus.Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Sunday authorities will also ban the operation of private music institutes teaching singing and wind instruments and saunas at public bath houses in the capital area. He said fitness centres, cafes and libraries operating inside apartment complexes will also be closed. The new steps will be effective from Tuesday.The country reported 450 new cases on Sunday. South Korea on Thursday registered more than 500 new virus cases for the first time in eight months.—-PHOENIX — University of Arizona researchers say the current surge in the coronavirus outbreak will present the state with a hospital crisis that could become a disaster unless the state takes steps such as ordering a three-week stay-home shutdown and implementing a statewide mask mandate.Members of the university’s COVID Modeling Team said failing to take such steps would be like facing a major forest fire without evacuation orders. It also recommends providing economic aid to affected small businesses and families and preventing evictions and foreclosures.The team has tracked the outbreak since last spring and made its recommendations in a letter Friday to the state Department of Health Services.Many local governments have imposed mask mandates since Gov. Doug Ducey last summer lifted a prohibition on such orders. The local mandates cover an estimated 90% of the state’s population but enforcement is lax or nonexistent in some places.Arizona on Saturday reported 4,136 additional known COVID-19 cases and 36 more deaths.The Associated Press