McGill University in Montreal is facing growing pressure to address the slave-owning history of founder James McGill. And while there aren’t calls for a name change, students and faculty want the campus to become more inclusive.
McGill University in Montreal is facing growing pressure to address the slave-owning history of founder James McGill. And while there aren’t calls for a name change, students and faculty want the campus to become more inclusive.
Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit widened 1.7% in October to $63.1 billion. The politically sensitive gap in the trade of goods with China and Mexico grew.The gap between the goods and services the United States sold and what it bought abroad rose from $62.1 billion in September, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Exports rose 2.2% to $182 billion, led by sales of aircraft engines. Imports increased 2.1% to $245.1 billion on an uptick in shipments of auto parts.The deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 9% to $26.5 billion and the gap with Mexico rose 10% to $11.8 billion.So far this year, the overall gap in the trade of goods and services with the rest of the world has risen to $536.7 billion, up 9.5% from January-October 2019.President Donald Trump, who vowed to reduce the trade deficit, has imposed tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum and on $360 billion in Chinese products. It is unclear how much of Trump's aggressive trade policies will be retained by President-elect Joe Biden.The coronavirus, however, has upended trade in services such as education and travel in which the United States runs persistent surpluses. U.S. services exports are down nearly 20% so far this year, and America's trade surplus in services dropped in October to $18.3 billion, lowest since August 2012.The U.S. ran an October deficit of $81.4 billion in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances.Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
The singer is perfectly at ease letting people see what he’s really going through.
MONTREAL — Laurentian Bank Financial Group beat expectations even as it reported its fourth-quarter profit slipped to $36.8 million compared with $41.3 million a year earlier.The Montreal-based bank says its profit amounted to 79 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down 90 cents per diluted share in the same quarter last year.Revenue for the quarter totalled $243.5 million, up from $241.6 million a year earlier.Provisions for credit losses amounted to $24.2 million for the quarter, up from $12.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2019.On an adjusted basis, Laurentian says it earned 91 cents per diluted share in its latest quarter, down from $1.05 per diluted share a year ago.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 73 cents per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:LB)The Canadian Press
Some 7,000 people are facing eviction hearings in Ontario this winter, and tenant advocates are urging solidarity among neighbours and across Toronto to keep people in their homes. The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) is “in a full-throttle blitz to clear its backlog,” said Kenneth Hale, the director of legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), noting there is a particular focus on processing eviction applications for non-payment. While Premier Doug Ford promised earlier this year that no one would be evicted during the pandemic, his government lifted a moratorium on hearings back in August, and the LTB has since kicked back into gear despite higher COVID-19 caseloads than in the first wave. “The government thinks that it’s more important that investors get paid than low-income people are protected from viral infection,” Hale said. In response, the Keep Your Rent advocacy group is inviting those facing the tribunal to share details — they’ve collected more than a hundred of these so far — in order to better prepare them to fight. “We are telling them that they need to be communicating with their neighbours, they need to realize that they are part of a bigger struggle, that they are not alone in being behind on rent during COVID,” said MaryAnn Icaro, who got active with Keep Your Rent early in the pandemic and has been observing hearings in the recent uptick. “What we've been seeing, especially for these tenants that we are not in contact with, that are not organizing, that are isolated, they are finding themselves with standard orders,” she said, which typically give a tenant less than two weeks to pay their arrears. After eight months of pandemic-related income loss, that could amount to thousands of dollars. “Tenants have minutes to plead their case to these judges,” she said. In one recent online hearing, she said neighbours and other supporters intervened by going down the hall to notify a tenant who had, in fact, paid their arrears and didn’t know they still needed to attend or that the landlord would not mention the payment. A spokesperson for Tribunals Ontario, of which the LTB is a part, did not respond to a request for comment. The Ford government has introduced legislation this year, Bill 184, which makes it easier for tenants to be evicted, including by waiving a requirement for another LTB hearing if a tenant agrees to a rent arrears plan and then misses a payment. “These politicians will not save us, they’ve orchestrated this crisis,” Icaro said, noting that Keep Your Rent is instead focused on improving tenants’ negotiating position with their landlords. This is what tenants in properties owned by corporate landlord MetCap Living plan to do this Saturday when they show up at the real estate company’s headquarters seeking a meeting with CEO Brent Merrill. Tenants who have withheld rent since April plan to say they are willing to pay if Merrill agrees not to seek to evict those who can’t, Icaro said. She also pointed out that tenants in various locations across the city, including in the Crescent Town neighbourhood near the Victoria Park subway station, have made it clear to their landlord that they will block any efforts by sheriffs to enforce evictions. That may stave off the immediate threat, but ACTO’s Hale said a deeper reckoning with the housing crisis and troubles at the tenancy tribunal looms. “Community efforts to fend off the sheriff are not going to be successful in the long run,” he said. “We need a justice system that works for everyone, including low-income people.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Niagara is now home to one of the best young spellers in Canada. Leena Jalees, 14, of St. Catharines took home the gold at this year’s Spelling Bee of Canada national championship, beating out 25 other competitors in the intermediate division (ages 12-14) across the country. Jalees, who has entered the regional competitions on two previous occasions, said this was her first time reaching the national level, after winning Niagara’s competition earlier in November. Jalees said she had always been a good speller, particularly when it came to everyday words, and thought entering a spelling bee would help her expand her spelling abilities when it came to new and unfamiliar words. “I thought it would be fun to learn new words, and become a better speller, and know the tactics of how to break down the words and be able to spell words I have never heard of before. So I decided to do a spelling bee, just to see how well I could do.” Jalees did more than okay. In her first appearance on the national stage, she was crowned the winner in the intermediate division of the Spelling Bee of Canada after correctly spelling the word “taxonomist”. For Jalees, the word was a no-brainier. “When I found out that was the word, I was so relieved because I was already familiar with that word. I already knew how to spell it, so I didn’t have to think about it.” So how does one study for a spelling bee? The competitors were given a manual of 400 words two and a half weeks prior to the competition, but that doesn’t include tiebreaker words, which are entirely new, and come down to the participants' ability to break down the word itself. Jalees said her strategy involves looking at the words as multiple units, and understanding the origin of the word itself. “One of the words was polemicist. I thought it was a medical word, but then when I knew it had to do with politics, then I decided to change the way I spelled it to ending in 'cist'. So I was very grateful I didn’t start spelling it the way I was initially going to.” Jalees, who hopes to one day be an OB/GYN said she hopes to defend her title at next year’s competition, as it may be her last year of eligibility. “I am going to try again next year, and see how well I can do again.” Also representing Niagara at the national championship were Jimmy Zhou, of Niagara Falls, who competed in the junior division (ages 9-11) and Shirley Chen, of St. Catharines, who competed in the primary division (ages 6-8).Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe.“DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively.“I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami.Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest.It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine.“Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot.“I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.”Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet.For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets.What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island.After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way.Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live.“I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.”___Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose satirical and cerebral tales of love and academia included the marital saga “The War Between the Tates” and the comedy of Americans abroad “Foreign Affairs,” died Thursday at age 94.Lurie, a professor emerita at Cornell University, died of natural causes, according to her husband and partner, Edward Hower.Praised by The New York Times as one of the country's “most able and witty novelists,” Lurie broke through commercially in 1974 with “The War Between the Tates” and received her highest acclaim for “Foreign Affairs,” winner of the 1985 Pulitzer. Set in London, Lurie’s novel was consciously based on old-fashioned narratives of manners and customs, with one character imagining himself trapped in a Henry James story.The protagonists were Corinth University professor Virginia “Vinnie” Martin, an Anglophile and middle-aged scholar of children’s literature so self-contained that her closest companion is an invisible dog, and her wayward young colleague, Fred Turner, who takes up with the impulsive British actress Rosemary Radley as his marriage falls apart back home.“Before he met Rosemary, Fred didn’t really exist for anyone here except a few other academic ghosts,” Lurie wrote. “Now the city is alive for him and he alive in it. Everything pulses with meaning, with history and possibility, and Rosemary most of all. When he is with her he feels he holds all of England, the best of England, in his arms.”Lurie’s novel was adapted into a 1993 television movie starring Joanne Woodward as Vinnie and Eric Stoltz as Fred. “The War Between the Tates” became a 1977 TV production featuring Elizabeth Ashley and Richard Crenna.Academics and artists were often featured in her work, which combined storytelling with social and intellectual commentary. Her first book, “Love and Friendship,” centred on a professor’s wife in New England who has an intense affair with a school musician. In “The War Between the Tates,” a Corinth professor’s adultery upends his marriage and scatters husband and wife into the cultural upheavals of the late 1960s.Her other books included the novels “The Last Resort” and “Real People,” the nonfiction works “The Language of Clothes” and “The Language of Architecture” and “Familiar Spirits,” a memoir about her friendship with the prize-winning poet James Merrill and his companion David Jackson. Her most recent novel, Truth and Consequences," came out in 2005. Her last published book, the literary essay collection “Words and Worlds,” was released in 2019.In her fiction, Lurie drew openly from her own life. Corinth was an Ivy League school that closely approximated Cornell and she shared Vinnie’s love for England and expertise in children’s literature, editing such compilations as “The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales” and “The Heavenly Zoo.” She wrote about Vietnam War protests, and participated in them. In 1985, she was arrested during a rally at Cornell that called on the school to sell off its investments in companies doing business with South Africa’s racist government.Married in 1948 to Jonathan Bishop, an academic and son of the poet John Bishop Peale, she separated from him around the time “The War Between the Tates” was published and later married Hower, an author and Cornell literature professor. She had three sons with Bishop.Born in Chicago and raised in White Plains, New York, Lurie was the child of liberal, educated parents and grew up reading Jane Austen and other British authors because there “were not many models for the American woman novelist, except for the Southern school,” she told The Associated Press in 1985. She studied history and politics at Radcliffe College and spent much of the 1950s raising her children, writing stories and poems and working with the Poets’ Theater, where members included Merrill and John Ashbery.She and Bishop lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, both of which became settings for her fiction, before moving to Ithaca, New York in the early 1960s. “Love and Friendship” came out in 1962 and got right to a favourite theme.“The day on which Emily Stockwell Turner fell out of love with her husband,” Lurie wrote in the book’s opening sentence, “began much like other days.”Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
A new program that looks to connect Canada’s resort communities in an effort to tackle climate change has called on the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) to become a founding partner. “We believe our love of adventure in nature demands our participation in the fight to save and protect it,” said David Erb, executive director of Protect Our Winters Canada (POW). “We're a not-for-profit organization that's really focused on aligning the outdoor industry, which includes everyday enthusiasts like myself and, and others that might visit Blue Mountain to ski or hike, professional athletes and industry brands,” he explained during a recent deputation to TBM council. POW focuses its efforts on organizing, educating and equipping businesses, social influencers and the general population to advocate for systemic policy solutions to climate change. In recent months, POW has been approaching municipalities across Canada that rely on adventure tourism in an effort to seek out partnerships for collaboration on an inter-municipal climate awareness plan. Prior to approaching TBM, POW also invited the municipality of Whistler, the Town of Banff, the municipality of Jasper, Ville de Mont Tremblant, the University of Waterloo, interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change and Hot Planet Cool Athletes Canada, to also become founding members. “The fact that we've been identified and have been invited into this group — you'll note that we're the only Ontario municipality — so I definitely think we have to put our commitment behind this and we can't just be their name, we've got to be there in actual action as well,” said TBM Coun. Andrea Matrosovs. “So much can be learned from each other, both across Canada, and the world. I was quite impressed when I did research on POW that this isn't just Canada, but it's a worldwide network,” she continued. The program strives to assist its partner municipalities in developing a Climate Action Plan blueprint by providing projections on impacts, assessment on local and tourist related CO2 emissions and identifying strategies, best practices, technology efficiencies, and engagement strategies. “We aim to increase the resilience and future viability of Canada’s adventure tourism sector by evaluating climate-change risks, developing strategies to decarbonize ski and adventure tourism destinations, and transition resort communities on climate resilient pathways,” Erb explained. POW also plans to create a Resort Municipality Climate Coalition (RMCC), which will leverage the collective experience of Canada’s resort communities to create a forum to exchange information, ideas, successes and challenges. “The intention behind this RMCC is that we can bring together other resort municipalities from across the country, no matter what stage they're at in their climate planning, and create a community where we can really forward each other's efforts,” Erb said. The program will be based out of the University of Waterloo, and is also backed by the Climate Caucus, a non-partisan network of 250-plus elected local leaders working collectively to create and implement equitable policy, which aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services science. Erb adds there is no direct cost to partner municipalities for the first year of the program, as POW is currently in the process of acquiring funding through Canadian Climate Action and Awareness Fund. In the second year of the program, POW will be asking founding partners to make a $50,000 annual contribution for two years. According to Erb, the funds can be allocated directly, indirectly or in-kind. For example, wages for staff working on climate planning or allocation of consultant fees would be considered as indirect contributions. “There's no cost to doing this. It's essentially a working committee that will come together and resource one another,” he said. “However, that would likely lead to part two, which is a commitment for in-kind matching funds. And, that can be a very flexible ask, it doesn't need to be new dollars, we just need to have the ability to point to dollars in your budget that are being allocated toward climate planning.” According to Jeffery Fletcher, manager of solid waste and environmental initiatives for TBM, the town has already begun work in some of these areas through such sub-committees, such as the sustainability advisory committee. “This is a great opportunity for the town to take advantage of some great academia and influential groups like the Climate Caucus. As well as all the other resorts that are involved. Together we can gain some real momentum,” Fletcher said. Erb adds that the threat of climate change is a stark reality for the outdoor tourism industry, pointing to the impact the climate crisis is having on the length of the winter season. “As you may know, ski operators have a magical number of 100 days. If they can operate for 100 days in a winter, that's generally their break-even point and anything above that is a surplus,” Erb said. “But, as soon as they dip below 100 days, it's really questionable if they're able to sustain their overall operations.” “A major engine of our economy is Blue Mountain Resort and the other resorts that operate in the area, not to mention the rest of the outdoor winter activities that happens here and some of our smaller tour operators. It's a big part of economic sustainability, but it's also apart of our social sustainability as well,” Matrosovs added. Following the deputation from Erb, TBM council moved a motion to join the RMCC as a founding member and also directed staff to provide a follow-up report regarding the request for a commitment to allocate in-kind matching funds to the program once federal funding is in place. “This is an important opportunity for us, whatever noise we can make will be amplified greatly by being part of an organization like this,” added TBM Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Ahi creates this beautiful makeup look inspired by sunset colors. She uses the orange neon palette by Huda Beauty. It's a must have palette!
TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened to a two-year high against its U.S. counterpart on Friday as Wall Street rose and data showed Canada's economy added more jobs than expected in November, with the currency advancing for the third straight week. Canadian employment rose by 62,000 in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, both beating analyst expectations. The market also digested U.S. data showing the smallest nonfarm payrolls gain since the jobs recovery started in May.
Canada added more jobs than expected in November, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday, though the pace of growth slowed and the numbers reflect labor conditions before more lockdowns were imposed later in the month. Canada added 62,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, beating analyst predictions of a gain of 20,000 jobs and for the unemployment rate to remain at 8.9%. "Canada's labor market continued to outrun COVID in November," said Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets.
Peel police say a 33-year-old man has been charged after a 61-year old woman's body was found at the scene of a fire in Brampton Friday morning.Emergency crews were called to the scene on Martindale Crescent near Vodden Street West just before 4 a.m.When they got there, five of the six residents were outside and the home was engulfed in flames.Fire crews quickly found the woman's body inside. A 34-year-old woman was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injures. A 71-year-old man, along with children aged 11, nine and four, were unhurt. All the residents are known to the accused, police said in an update Friday evening. The 33-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, police said. Police are asking anyone with information about what happened or security camera video to contact them or Crime Stoppers.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is adjusting the scope of his agenda to meet the challenges of governing with a narrowly divided Congress and the complications of legislating during a raging pandemic.Rather than immediately pursue ambitious legislation to combat climate change, the incoming administration may try to wrap provisions into a coronavirus aid bill. Biden's team is also considering smaller-scale changes to the Affordable Care Act while tabling the more contentious fight over creating a public option to compete with private insurers.Biden is already working on an array of executive actions to achieve some of his bolder priorities on climate change and immigration without having to navigate congressional gridlock.The manoeuvring reflects a disappointing political reality for Biden, who campaigned on a pledge to address the nation's problems with measures that would rival the scope of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. But Democrats acknowledge that big legislative accomplishments are unlikely, even in the best-case scenario in which the party gains a slim majority in the Senate.“Let’s assume my dream comes true,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said, referring to a tight majority for his party. “I think we have to carefully construct any change in the Affordable Care Act, or any other issue, like climate change, based on the reality of the 50-50 Senate.”“There’s so many areas, which we value so much that Republicans do not, that it will be tough to guide through the Senate under the circumstances,” the Illinois Democrat added.Biden's agenda hinges on the fate of two Senate runoff races in Georgia, which will be decided on Jan. 5. If Democrats win both seats, the chamber will be evenly divided, with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.In that event, Biden's agenda items stand a better chance of at least getting a vote. If Republicans maintain control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might not bring the new president's priorities to the floor.Biden's initial focus on Capitol Hill will be a multibillion-dollar coronavirus aid bill, which is certain to require significant political capital after lawmakers have been deadlocked over negotiations on Capitol Hill for months.The president-elect said Thursday on CNN that while he supports a $900 billion compromise bill introduced this week by a bipartisan group of negotiators, the bill is “a good start" but it's “not enough” and he plans to ask for more when he's in office. His team is already working on his own coronavirus relief package.People close to Biden's transition team say they're looking at that stimulus as a potential avenue for enacting some climate reforms — like aid for green jobs or moving the nation toward a carbon-free energy system — that might be tougher to get on their own.Durbin mentioned President Barack Obama’s first term as a precedent for what Biden will encounter when he takes office.Then, Obama was forced to focus much of his early energy on a stimulus package to deal with the financial crisis, and he spent months wrangling with his own party on his health care overhaul. Obama also enacted financial regulatory reform, but other progressive priorities, like cap and trade legislation and immigration reform, ultimately lost steam.And he had a significant House and Senate majority at the time.Still, some Republicans argue that if Biden approaches negotiations in good faith, there are some common areas of agreement. Rohit Kumar, the co-leader of PwC's Washington National Tax Services and a former top aide to McConnell, said it's possible to find a compromise on some smaller-scale priorities, like an infrastructure bill, addressing the opioid crisis and even a police reform bill.“There is stuff in the middle, if Biden is willing to do deals in the middle — and that means being willing to strike agreements that progressive members don’t love, and maybe have them vote no, and be at peace with that,” he said.Indeed, speaking on CNN Thursday, Biden expressed optimism about cutting deals with Republicans. He said when it comes to national security and the “economic necessity” of keeping people employed and reinvigorating the economy, “there's plenty of room we can work.”Still, he acknowledged, "I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard."But here, progressives, not Republicans, could be the roadblock. Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for the liberal Justice Democrats, said progressives are “worried and anxious” about Biden's history of making what he called “toxic compromises with McConnell."“I think progressives will probably play a key role in trying to push Democrats to have a spine in any negotiations with Mitch McConnell,” he said. “People will hold him accountable for what he ran on.”Shaheed said he believes progressives could play a role in pushing the Biden administration to embrace a more “aggressive approach” and pursue executive actions to address some Democratic priorities.And indeed, Biden’s transition team has already been at work crafting a list of potential unilateral moves he could take early on.He plans to reverse Trump’s rollback of a number of public health and environmental protections the Obama administration put in place. He’ll rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord and rescind the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries. He could also unilaterally reestablish protections for “Dreamers” who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.But some of his biggest campaign pledges require congressional action and are certain to face GOP opposition.Biden has promised to take major legislative action on immigration reform and gun control, but prior legislative efforts on both of those issues — with bipartisan support — have failed multiple times.He’s also pledged to roll back the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, forgive some student loan debt and make some public college free — all heavy lifts in a closely divided or Republican-controlled Senate.“It’s easy to be skeptical and pessimistic in this Senate,” Durbin said. “I hope that they give us a chance to break through and be constructive and put an end to some of the obstruction.”Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
LONDON — U.K. regulators went on the offensive Friday to beat back criticism that they rushed their authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, saying they rigorously analyzed data on safety and effectiveness in the shortest time possible without compromising the thoroughness of their review. The comments from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency came as the Times newspaper reported that the agency’s chief executive, Dr. June Raine, planned to give a series of radio interviews so she could speak directly to people who may be concerned about getting vaccinated. The MHRA reiterated earlier statements that the agency is conducting rolling reviews of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, allowing regulators to speed up the review process by looking at data as it becomes available. The agency gave emergency approval on Wednesday to a vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech, making Britain the first Western country to authorize a vaccine against the coronavirus. The ability to act more quickly “does not mean steps and the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been bypassed,” the MHRA said. “No vaccine would be authorized for supply in the U.K. unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.” The media blitz comes amid concerns that criticism of the approval process could undermine public confidence in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, leading some individuals to shun shots. Britain plans to begin vaccinating people within the next few days, starting with nursing home residents, caregivers and people over age 80. Britain will initially receive 800,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 400,000 people, so the first shots will go to those who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19 and those who are most likely to spread the coronavirus. America’s top infectious disease expert late Thursday apologized for suggesting that U.K. authorities had rushed their authorization of the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had told U.S. media outlets that U.K. regulators hadn’t acted “as carefully” as the Food and Drug Administration. He later clarified to the BBC that he had meant to say that U.S. authorities do things differently than their British counterparts, not better, but didn't phrase his comments properly. “I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the U.K., and anyone who knows me and my relationship with that over literally decades, you know that’s the case,” Fauci told the BBC. Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the different approaches of various regulators may be one reason Britain was first to authorize the vaccine. The FDA, for example, goes back to the raw data supplied by drugmakers and reanalyzes it to verify the findings. Virtually no other regulatory agency regularly does this, said Evans, who has worked with regulators in the U.K. and the European Union. In addition, Britain decided to take advantage of EU rules that allow individual countries to allow the emergency use of new products inside their own borders in response to public health emergencies. The EU's European Medicines Agency chose a more time-consuming authorization process that will allow the vaccine to be used in all 27 member nations. While Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31, it remains bound by the bloc’s rules and regulations until the end of December under a transition agreement designed to ease the shock of Brexit. Brexit helped the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency move faster because it is no longer involved in assessing products intended for the entire bloc as are regulators in the remaining EU countries, according to Evans. MHRA therefore had more resources to devote to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and could respond more quickly when new data was submitted, he said. “Consequently, the U.K. has almost undoubtedly had greater capacity to respond to a new application for authorization of a vaccine than any other country,” Evans said. When the MHRA announced its decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, chief executive Raine said people should be confident “no corners have been cut.” British experts reviewed more than 1,000 pages of information, including raw data, on safety, quality and effectiveness before deciding to give temporary authorization for use of the vaccine, she said. But European officials reacted sourly to the U.K. decision. The European Medicines Agency, which plans to make its own decision by Dec. 29, issued a statement saying its process was “more appropriate” than Britain’s. Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder was more pointed, suggesting U.K. authorities had acted “without even sufficient basis.” “This will reduce the readiness to get vaccinated rather than increase it, because people expect a safe immunization process,” he said. In his latest comments, Fauci rejected the idea that the U.K. skipped vital steps. The FDA has to move more slowly amid the high degree of skepticism about vaccines in the U.S., Fauci said. Because of this, U.S. regulators are reviewing all of the raw data from Pfizer and BioNTech “in a way that could not possibly have been done any more quickly,” he said. It will take the FDA at least another week to complete its review, but the U.S. and Britain will ultimately end up in the same place, Fauci said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be safe, it’s going to be effective,” he said. “The people in the U.K. are going to receive it, and they’re going to do really well, and the people in the United States are going to receive it, and we’re going to do pretty well.” ___ Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans contributed. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
With the election of Colin Ratushniak and Julie Baschuk, and the re-election of Chief Tammy Cook-Searson, the leaders of the Lac La Ronge Tri-Community are excited to start working together to improve the Lac La Ronge area. This has included some quick work by the leaders and their administration to push for a mandatory masking policy in the tri-community area that matched provincial regulations. When the provincial government brought in a mandatory masking policy for all Saskatchewan communities over 5,000 people, the communities of La Ronge and Air Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band did not individually fit that bill. Mandatory masking mandates were slowly increasing as the number of new cases in the province started to grow and policies in Saskatchewan’s major cities were announced on Nov. 3. By Nov. 13, all communities over 5,000 were required to have mask requirements for public spaces. Together, the Lac La Ronge Tri-Communities did have the necessary 5,000 person population for the government to include them in the masking policy and a letter to the province was quickly drafted and signed by all three leaders that same day. Thanks to the Village of Air Ronge staff the letter was drafted and signed as quickly as possible with the letter even being taken to leaders’ homes at 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, Ratushniak said. Even though the province has since expanded its mandatory masking policy to include the entire province, this letter is still a sign of something bigger, said Ratushniak, La Ronge’s newly elected mayor. “It shows our willingness to work together to work for better things in the communities and safety in general. Masking is just one part of the equation, I think that there's much more that needs to be done.” Baschuk unseated long-serving former Air Ronge mayor Gordon Stomp, who had an uninterrupted reign since 1977 when the village was incorporated. While people respected the work that Stomp has done, the voting results showed that they are excited for the potential that Baschuk brings to the table, she said. A diverse and inclusive council was something that she wanted coming into the mayor's chair, Baschuk said, as well as a more modernized way of communicating and being transparent with residents of Air Ronge. Seeing how women are underrepresented in government and business, seeing the mixed council at the table is great to see, she said. “It's nice to see the community be able to stand with me and support me along in this. And we saw two other women elected to our councils. We now have two women and two men [and] we've got a lot more equality happening, which is fabulous.” Cook-Searson has worked with four different mayors from La Ronge and Air Ronge during her time as chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and was re-elected for her sixth term in May. When she was first elected in 2005, she was the youngest among the three leaders. Now she finds she is the oldest, she laughed. With Ratushniak and Baschuk new to the mayoral roles, Cook-Searson is excited to continue the various partnerships among the three communities, including their shared sewer, water, and fire services. Now, she said, the relationship is even more open between the three with Cook-Searson saying she can text the other two and have discussions whenever something comes up. With a diverse leadership team, Baschuk said they are going to bring fresh perspectives to the table with a community that has room to grow. “Right off the hop we're willing to work together in a co-operative way, so we know that and improve the quality of life within each of our communities.” While Baschuk knows that they are not the only ones in the province working together as municipal partners, she hopes that the tri-community can be role models to other communities who want to join together to solve local issues.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Firefighters battling a blaze in a Southern California canyon made some progress toward containment but were up against more high winds and low humidity on Friday, which threatened to stoke the flames that forced thousands to evacuate. The Bond Fire, which was about 10% contained on Friday afternoon, broke out around on Wednesday night on the road for which it is named and quickly engulfed much of Silverado Canyon, egged on by strong Santa Ana winds. "Firefighters worked through the night extinguishing hot spots, mopping up around structures and stopping the forward spread of this fire," Captain Paul Holaday of Orange County Fire Authority said in a video posted to Twitter on Friday.
Eight new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in the province on Friday, including four in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, where a grocery store worker tested positive.Loblaw confirmed Friday that an employee at the chain's Atlantic Superstore store in Edmundston has tested positive for COVID-19.The employee's last day of work was Nov. 26.Loblaw said team members who worked closely with this individual are at home in self-isolation, monitoring for any symptoms.The store is working with New Brunswick Public Health to ensure the safety of its customers, including following cleaning and disinfection measures in the store and notifying anyone who may have been in contact with the employee, Loblaw said.The Edmundston region has had 13 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with five of those reported this week.The four new cases reported Friday in the Edmundston region include three people 19 years old or younger and an adult in their 40s.Zone 2, the Saint John region, recorded two more cases, one person in their 50s and another in their 60s.Zones 1 and 3, the Moncton and Fredericton regions, respectively, each reported a single new case. The Moncton case is someone in their 30s, and the Fredericton case is someone in their 60s.The total number of New Brunswick COVID-19 cases so far is now 528. There have been eight recoveries since Thursday, so the active case count stands at 111.There were 1,686 tests done since this time Thursday, bringing the total number of tests to 131,656. Seven people have died, and no one is in hospital.Public Health did not hold a news conference Friday.Researchers say province's north at riskResearchers at the University of New Brunswick say people living in the northern part of the province are more vulnerable to negative outcomes from COVID-19.The researchers's examined COVID-19 risk indicators that could help with community planning and recovery efforts, said Sandra Magalhaes, lead researcher at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training at UNB."The goal really was to increase awareness of our research to be able to engage with different groups to identity what are their priorities," said Magalhaes said.The researchers made three findings: * Nearly one in every five adults in northern New Brunswick has two or more relevant health conditions that increase the risk of negative outcomes connected to COVID-19. * In Northern New Brunswick, there is a greater proportion of people who have been hospitalized because of a mental health condition in the last 10 years. * People over 65 are living alone in 20 to 22 per cent of houses, compared with about 15 per cent in the urban cores of Fredericton and Moncton.Magalhaes said that for seniors, living alone during the pandemic can lead to feelings of social isolation and a difficulty accessing essential services as physical distancing rules continue.In southern New Brunswick, such isolation was less common, although Minto, about 50 kilometres northeast of Fredericton, also has a large proportion of seniors living alone. The researchers also looked at people with existing health problems, including mental health issues."In bracing for future months, we aim to understand which groups may be more vulnerable to negative physical consequences of COVID-19 and may thus require additional resources and support in these challenging times."Magalhaes said more information should help government better allocate money to areas where the help is needed most. It will also help the two regional health authorities and community organizations plan.The second part of this report is expected to be published in early 2021.Mask exemption protocols unclear to people with disabilitiesThe chair of the Premier's Council on Disabilities says he's trying to clarify the protocols for people who have medical exemptions from mandatory mask rules.Randy Dickinson was responding Friday to concerns expressed by a Moncton mother, who has been refused entry to her local grocery store when with her 16-year-old son Jayden Moore, who has been exempted from wearing a mask.Earlier this week, Christine Roberts said Jayden got a doctor's note for an exemption because he's been diagnosed as moderate to high-functioning on the autism spectrum, with sensory processing disorder and high anxiety.Dickinson said he's had difficulty getting clear information about the mask exemption on behalf of people with disabilities and their caregivers."There's no clear protocol that I can find to let people know how they go about confirming that they qualify for the so-called exemption and more importantly, when people are out and about in the community," he said."Should there be some kind of ID card or something that they could carry in their wallet?"Dickinson said he plans to pursue the issue further with New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard.He's also calling on neighbours and family members to do what they can to support people with disabilities during the pandemic, such as by offering to deliver groceries or providing respite care.Rethinking orangeDr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, says officials will be doing a risk assessment on Sunday for the Fredericton and Moncton regions to determine if they can be moved ahead to the less restrictive yellow phase, where four health zones are already.She wasn't clear whether an announcement would be made Sunday.Potential public exposure warnings for Saint John, MonctonPublic Health has warned of the following possible exposures to the virus in the Saint John and Moncton areas, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.Saint John area * Churchill's Pub on Nov. 20, at 8 Grannan St., between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saint John. * Picaroons on Nov. 21, at 30 Canterbury St., between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Saint John. * Thandi's Restaurant on Nov. 21 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. 33 Canterbury St., Saint John * Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., 47 Clark Rd., RothesayMoncton * GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Flights into Moncton: * Air Canada Flight 8372 onNov. 28 from Fort McMurray to Calgary, departed 6:10 a.m * Air Canada Flight 144 onNov. 28 from Calgary to Toronto, departed at 11:15 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 onNov. 28 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:30 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 178 on Nov. 19 from Edmonton to Toronto, arrived at 5:58 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 404 on Nov. 19 from Toronto to Montreal, arrived at 10:16 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8902 on Nov. 19 from Montreal to Moncton, arrived at 4:17 p.m.What to do if you have a symptomPeople concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: * A fever above 38 C. * A new cough or worsening chronic cough. * Sore throat. * Runny nose. * Headache. * New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. * Difficulty breathing.In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.People with one of those symptoms should: * Stay at home. * Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. * Describe symptoms and travel history. * Follow instructions.
A family is left homeless after a fire engulfed their mobile home on 15 Wilson Avenue in Elgin on Dec. 1. Wanda MacDonald, her partner, three children and a son-in-law, escaped unharmed. They managed to save their six dogs and a cat, although one cat is still missing. “I was in the house, on Facebook at the time, when Jason (her son) yelled that the bike was on fire, (although) they’re not sure if that’s what caused it,” MacDonald said. The fire is still under investigation. The family has no home insurance to cover their losses. MacDonald and her family went into the house a few times to save their pets, even though the house was on fire. “A lot of people say animals are just animals, but they’re not. They’re family members,” she explained. She said her most immediate need is a three or four-bedroom place to rent. “That’s all I’m looking for--just enough space for my family. We’ve been calling around, but most places are rented,” MacDonald added. She said her family has been getting huge donations from people in the community, but her father’s home, located right beside hers, can’t store the couches, beds and other items they’ve received. “Our family is so grateful. I just want to say thank you to the community for helping out.” Country Squire in Gananoque had been letting them stay at the hotel, but “our last stay is tonight, we have to be out of there tomorrow,” she said. Her son Adam, 21, and her daughter both purchased brand new acoustic guitars for Christmas, but both guitars were burned in the fire. “That’s all they wanted for Christmas,” MacDonald said. MacDonald can be reached at 613-532-4827. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News