NEW YORK — The co-author of the million-selling “Game Change” has a book of his own coming about the 2020 election.Simon & Schuster announced Monday that John Heilemann is working on a “dramatic, first-hand account” of Joe Biden's victorious campaigns over his Democratic Party rivals in the primaries and over President Donald Trump in the general election. Heilemann had collaborated with Mark Halperin on “Game Change,” about the 2008 race, and on “Double Down,” about 2012.Halperin has since faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment. He was dropped by Showtime, where he and Heilemann hosted the political series “The Circus,” and a planned book by the two authors on the 2016 campaign was cancelled by Penguin Press.Heilemann's new book, currently untitled, draws on three decades of covering the former vice-president, who was Barack Obama's running mate in 2008 and 2012. The publication date is not yet scheduled.“I first met Joe Biden in 1986 when I was in college and he was getting ready to run for president the first time, and I’ve been following his ups and downs, his triumphs and tragedies, ever since,” Heilemann said in a statement. “The story of how, against all odds and against the apocalyptic backdrop of America in 2020, Biden rallied in the winter of his life to defeat Trump — and, in the eyes of many, to save the country — is one of the great political tales of this or any age, and I’m thrilled to have a chance to tell it.”Screen rights have been acquired by Showtime, where Heilemann still hosts "The Circus." The HBO adaptation of "Game Change" won five Emmys and three Golden Globe awards.Heilemann is national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC and co-founder of the political video platform The Recount. He is also the author of “Pride Before the Fall: The Trials of Bill Gates and the End of the Microsoft Era,” which came out in 2001.His current project adds to the list of books expected on the 2020 race, which includes works by Maggie Haberman of The New York Times and by Ryan Lizza of Politico and co-writer Olivia Nuzzi of New York magazine.Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the military alliance is grappling with a dilemma over its future in Afghanistan, as the United States starts pulling troops out while attacks by the Taliban and extremist groups mount.More than 17 years after taking the lead on international security efforts in Afghanistan, NATO now has around 11,000 troops from dozens of nations there helping to train and advise the national security forces. Most of the personnel are from Europe and other NATO partner countries.But the alliance relies heavily on the United States armed forces for air support, transport and logistics. European allies would struggle even to leave the country without U.S. help, and President Donald Trump’s decision to pull almost half the U.S. troops out by mid-January leaves NATO in a bind.“We face a difficult dilemma. Whether to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists. Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence,” Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers.Under a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban — without the involvement of other NATO allies or the Afghan government - all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan by May 1 if security conditions on the ground permit.“Whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a co-ordinated and deliberate way,” Stoltenberg said, on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers where the organization’s most ambitious operation ever will be high on the agenda.Trump’s unilateral decision to leave only 2,500 U.S. troops with the mission had allied military planners scrambling, as they tried to work out whether NATO could continue to operate in Kabul, and other major cities. NATO diplomats say that for now they have enough “enablers” to get the job done.Afghan officials also fear that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the Taliban’s negotiating position.NATO defence ministers are likely to make a final decision about the future of the Resolute Support Mission in February, after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. European diplomats expect the tone to change under Biden, but probably not the U.S. intention to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.The uncertainty comes amid a sharp rise in violence this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against the beleaguered Afghan security forces since the start of peace talks in September. Islamic State militants have also struck this month, notably in a horrific attack on Kabul University that killed 22 people, most of them students.“We have seen over the last months and weeks several attacks,” Stoltenberg said. “Some are conducted by Taliban, some attacks ISIS claimed responsibility for. But what we know is that the Taliban is responsible for attacks and the level of violence is far too high.”Even U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said: “We do not think the Taliban is keeping its word under the agreement. The violence is too high, and the Afghan people and the Afghan soldiers have paid a heavy price.”But despite the surge in violence, and deep uncertainty cause by the U.S. drawdown, the peace agreement appears to be an opportunity too good for NATO to miss.“We now see an historic opportunity for peace. It is fragile, but it must be seized,” Stoltenberg said. “We see an unpredictable and difficult military and political situation. But at least there are now talks.”Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
LONDON — Britain’s culture minister thinks the Netflix TV series “The Crown” should come with a disclaimer: It’s a work of fiction.Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden weighed in amid criticism of the historical liberties taken by the drama about the British royal family.“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction. So as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” Dowden told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. “Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”Dowden is expected to write to Netflix this week to express his view. Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.Questions of historical fidelity were not a major issue during earlier seasons of the show, which debuted in 2016 and traces the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, which began in 1952.But the current fourth season is set in the 1980s, a divisive decade that many Britons remember vividly. Characters include Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose 11-year tenure transformed and divided Britain, and the late Princess Diana, whose death in a car crash in 1997 traumatized the nation.Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter has called the series a “hatchet job” on Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and his first wife Diana. The troubled relationship of the couple, played by Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin, is a major storyline in the series.Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, has also said the show should carry a notice that “this isn’t true but it is based around some real events.”“I worry people do think that this is gospel and that’s unfair,” he told broadcaster ITV.Some Conservatives have criticized the program’s depiction of Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson. Britain’s first female prime minister, who died in 2013, is portrayed as clashing with Olivia Colman’s Elizabeth to an extent that some say is exaggerated.“The Crown” creator Peter Morgan, whose work also includes recent-history dramas “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon,” has defended his work, saying it is thoroughly researched and true in spirit.In a 2017 discussion of “The Crown,” Morgan said “you sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.”Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, said the suggestion that “The Crown” carry a disclaimer was “reasonable and yet pointless.”“It invariably doesn’t have an effect,” he said. “There are studies that show that people believe fiction when it’s presented as fact — even if you tell them it’s not fact.”Fielding said it was no surprise that Charles and his allies were annoyed with the heir to the throne’s depiction as “a bit of an idiot.” But he said making a fuss about it only amplifies the attention.Historians are used to railing at inaccuracies in dramas such as the Academy Award-winning “Darkest Hour,” which included an invented scene of Winston Churchill meeting ordinary Londoners on an Underground Tube train during World War II.“Mixing historical fact and fiction has been around since Shakespeare. This is not new to films, it’s not new to TV,” said Fielding, co-author of “The Churchill Myths,” which examines Britain’s wartime leader in popular culture.“I don’t recall the culture secretary complaining about the ridiculous presentation of Winston Churchill in ’Darkest Hour,” he said. “Because it went with the myth, with the idea of Churchill the hero, nobody complained."“Nobody’s bothered if fact and fiction are all mangled up, so long as it’s saying nice things,” he added.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Three student cohorts at two schools in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board have been dismissed due to COVID-19 cases.The board said in a statement Sunday that two cohorts — or 41 students — at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Elementary School, along with one 26-student cohort at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School in River Canard, are impacted.There are two cases at Mount Carmel and one at St. Joseph. Board officials said they learned of the cases on Sunday afternoon and told parents not to send the affected students to class for Monday."We have been working with the health unit by providing lists of students and staff who may have been directly affected.The health unit is contacting any individuals, both students and staff, who may have been affected, and will give directions for them to follow," a spokesperson for the board said in a statement.There are 13 active cases of COVID-19 within the school board, including seven at W.J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School, which remains closed.Meanwhile, in the Greater Essex County District School Board, there have been 75 total cases as of Monday. This includes 49 cases at F.W. Begley, which was shut down as well.There are also three cases in the Lambton Kent district school board and four in the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
When the father of Yosif Al-Hasnawi, a Hamilton teen who was shot and died on Dec. 2, 2017, found out his son had died, he asked the paramedic who treated him, "Do you believe him now or not?"Majed Al-Hasnawi was quiet and solemn when he took the stand on Monday in the trial of two paramedics charged with not providing proper care to his son. Christopher Marchant, 32, and Steven Snively, 55, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life in connection with the 19-year-old's death. The pair believed he'd been shot with a BB gun, the court has heard, but he was shot with a hollow point bullet from a .22-calibre handgun. Through the help of an Arabic interpreter, Al-Hasnawi told a Hamilton courtroom about that night, which started with him and his children at a Main Street East mosque. Yosif had done a reading that night from the Qur'an, which Al-Hasnawi said his son was "very, very good" at. The children would often come and go from the mosque, he said. 'I put on my shoes and ran outside'At some point in the evening, one of his sons, Mahdi, gestured to him and said, "Yosif got shot."Al-Hasnawi said he repeated the question in total shock. His son said Yosif was OK, and the father rushed out."Right away I put my shoes on and ran outside," he said, describing how he flew toward Main Street East and Sanford Avenue South in Hamilton's lower city, where his oldest son lay on the sidewalk, dying. A police officer by a crowd of people stopped Al-Hasnawi from getting close, but let him approach when he found out he was the father. Al-Hasnawi said the officer told him Yosif was shot with a BB gun, "because if it was a bullet...they would've seen its shell." But there wasn't one. 'Tell your son to stop acting'Al-Hasnawi said he could see a "hole or opening" above Yosif's belly button. The father passed a paramedic and remembers him saying Yosif was OK, but to "tell your son to stop acting." When the defence brought up a transcript from a previous interview with police, Al-Hasnawi had said the officer said something similar too. Jeffrey Manishen of Hamilton, who represents Marchant, pressed Al-Hasnawi on whether he thought both police and paramedics said the comment, and Al-Hasnawi said they did."It's the paramedics who assess the situation," Al-Hasnawi said. "Whatever the police officer is going to say...it's not going to affect my son's life.Al-Hasnawi said he knelt by his son."You're going to be fine. Be patient, we're going to get you to the hospital," he remembered saying to him.Yosif was tired, confused, and his body tight, he said, adding Yosif replied weakly, "let them take me to the hospital."Al-Hasnawi told the courtroom that the way paramedics evaluated and treated his son seemed to show they thought, "there's no danger in the matter." That's why he told his son he would all right. Father remembers 'excessive' pressure to abdomenAl-Hasnawi said the "taller paramedic" would approach Yosif multiple times to lift his shirt and squeeze the wound with his fingers. He also described the paramedic putting Yosif's leg one over the other as the teen lay on his back. Then the paramedic would lift and bend his legs repeatedly, he said, so that Yosif's knees went into his own chest, like a "sport exercise." The father called the pressure excessive. He could tell it hurt his son, Al-Hasnawi said, because of Yosif's tight expression.The defence noted that he didn't talk about this action in his first two interviews with police a few years ago, but brought it up in May 2018 with the paramedic supervisor.The father remembered telling Yosif, "you're going to be fine. Don't be scared." But Yosif responded that he couldn't breathe.To the stretcherThe court has heard from a Hamilton officer at the scene, Const. Christopher Campovari, that Al-Hasnawi was frantic and asking the paramedics why they weren't taking his son to hospital.When a paramedic asked him if Yosif took any drugs or substances, Al-Hasnawi said he replied, "no. He's a medical student."He remembers the "shorter paramedic" saying, "if he's a medical student, he wouldn't be here."The father said the tallest paramedic lifted his son off the ground in a "shameful" and "humiliating" way, so that he was hanging before walking him to the stretcher and "throwing" him on it.Const. Michael Zezella of Hamilton Police Service told the court last week that he and Marchant tried to lift the teenager, but couldn't do it. Zezella said another person pulled him off the ground.Al-Hasnawi doesn't remember the stretcher going into the ambulance or it leaving. What he does remember is leaving from the scene to go to St. Joseph's Hospital, and finding out that his son had died.'I don't talk to you'When asked by Crown Scott Patterson what he thought of the paramedic's treatment, Al-Hasnawi replied, "I was not satisfied."He said he approached the taller paramedic, and "asked him if he believed that my son was in danger or not" now that he had died. He asked him this multiple times, and a nurse told the father to sit quietly. Later on, he asked the paramedic again, "Do you believe him now or not?" He remembers the paramedic asking to have a conversation outside."I don't talk to you. You're not human," Al-Hasnawi remembers saying. Defence suggests trauma makes it hard to rememberEach lawyer compared Al-Hasnawi's descriptions on Monday to his responses in police interviews on Dec. 19, 2017 and Feb. 12, 2018, as well as a May 2018 interview with the EMS supervisor.Al-Hasnawi said he hadn't read the interviews to jog his memory because it reminds him of the disaster. He watched a video of the February one, though.They both suggested that Al-Hasnawi's ability to properly remember would be affected because the event was traumatic. Michael DelGobbo, Snively's lawyer, called it the worst night of the father's life.Al-Hasnawi told DelGobbo, "I would forget everything, except this incident," but also said to Manishen that it would be "possible" to make a mistake.'I was in pain'When DelGobbo questioned why he didn't include the pushing-knees-into-chest description in the first two interviews, Al-Hasnawi said he forgot. It was hard to concentrate — the "beginning of the disaster," he said — and he wouldn't have remembered everything. "I was in pain. I just wanted to get over it," he said.He also asked Al-Hasnawi why he said in an interview that "they" lifted up his son, when he recalled on Monday that it was only one person. Al-Hasnawi said in Arabic, the word can be used for a single person.But when Manishen asked him to confirm he used the phrase "both of them," he said, yes.Both lawyers asked questions about the paramedic's inquiry about drugs. Al-Hasnawi said it didn't offend him, and when Manishen asked if he told the paramedic that drugs were against his religion, he said there wasn't any conversation like that.When Manishen asked if Al-Hasnawi though police were rude, he said he did, but understood they wanted to "do their job" and preserve the crime scene. He noted they apologized after.Manishen will continue his cross-examination of Al-Hasnawi tomorrow. About 23 minutes passed from the time the paramedics arrived until they left for St. Joseph's hospital on Charlton Avenue. The teen was pronounced dead at 9:58 p.m.Monday marked the start of the trial's second week. So far, the court has heard from two police officers and a firefighter who were on scene that night. Ambulance dispatchers also testified that the communications centre was busy and understaffed on the night of the shooting.Majed Al-Hasnawi was a witness for the Crown. The trial in Hamilton superior court is expected to last five weeks, and Justice Harrison Arrell will render a verdict. The Crown attorneys are Scott Patterson and Linda Shin.The person who shot Al-Hasnawi, Dale King, was acquitted last year of second-degree murder. That case is being appealed.
«C’est assez incroyable de voir que ça peut durer des jours sans que ça change.» Le responsable des communications de l’Organisme de bassin versant de la baie Missisquoi (OBVB-M), Anthoni Barbe, a constaté jeudi un déversement d’hydrocarbures dans un fossé qui se décharge dans la rivière aux Brochets, à Frelighsburg. Samedi, le problème n’avait toujours pas été réglé malgré les signalements à Urgence-Environnement. Suite au signalement d’un citoyen, M. Barbe est allé sur place, jeudi vers 14h, pour valider les informations et voir ce qui se passait. Il y a vu de grandes coulées d’hydrocarbures à la surface de la rivière. En remontant le fil de l’eau, M. Barbe a remarqué que les hydrocarbures apparaissaient dans un fossé vis-à-vis l’usine de la Maison de la pomme, où se déroulent des travaux depuis quelques jours. «Ça sentait très fort le solvant, a-t-il rapporté en entrevue. C’est dur de dire la nature exacte du produit, mais l’odeur était très, très forte. Ce fossé-là n’est pas très long et va directement dans la rivière aux Brochets. Dans la rivière, on voyait très clairement le panache d’hydrocarbures qui était emporté par la rivière.» M. Barbe a alors longé la rivière jusqu’à un pont, à plusieurs centaines de mètres en aval, et il a pu voir que toute la largeur de la rivière était recouverte de ce film d’hydrocarbures. Plus loin, à environ 1 km du fossé en question, la présence du produit s’accumulait juste avant les chutes Hunter. «Après les chutes, il y a un brassage et beaucoup de courant et c’est là que j’ai perdu la trace des hydrocarbures.» Il a contacté Urgence-Environnement avant et après sa visite. Dans le premier cas pour rapporter le signalement citoyen, dans le deuxième, pour faire un rapport de ses propres constatations. Mesures inefficaces Le panache qui sortait du fossé dans la rivière était toujours bien visible vendredi, lors de la visite d’un collègue de M. Barbe. Le répondant d’Urgence-Environnement, contacté de nouveau ce jour-là, a signifié au responsable des communications de l’OBVB-M qu’il ne ferait pas de suivi auprès des particuliers et que des mesures d’atténuation avaient été prises. Le maire de Frelighsburg, Jean Lévesque, rapporte qu’un représentant du ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques s’est rendu sur place jeudi et a fait des recommandations à la Maison de la pomme. Des barrières tampons ont été installées. «J’ai pu voir que les mesures ne fonctionnaient pas», s’étonne Anthoni Barbe. Selon ce qu’il a pu voir sur place, samedi, l’écoulement était toujours aussi important et régulier. «Ils n’ont peut-être même pas ciblé la réelle cause du déversement, relève-t-il. Et le signalement du citoyen laissait croire que ça durait depuis quelques jours déjà.» Des travaux de canalisation en cause? Une source a fait savoir à La Voix de l’Est que les travaux à la Maison de la pomme permettraient de refaire la canalisation et qu’il y aurait un réservoir de propane liquide enfoui sous terre non loin de là. Il n’est pas impossible que ce réservoir ait été percé durant les travaux. Questionné à ce sujet, le maire Lévesque n’a pas pu confirmer ces informations. Il indique toutefois que les travaux doivent permettre à l’entreprise d’être conforme au niveau des normes environnementales. Dimanche midi, La Voix de l’Est n’avait pas réussi à joindre les propriétaires de la Maison de la pomme ni un représentant du ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques.Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
Ethiopian farmer Berhan Halie came to Sudan 35 years ago to escape hunger. Now 65 and walking with a stick, he is back again, this time to escape the bullets and bombs of the conflict in Tigray, fleeing from his village as neighbours lay dead on the ground. Berhan and his family spent days walking to the border crossing with Sudan, among more than 45,000 who have fled from fighting between the Ethiopian government and rebellious Tigray forces.
Un dessinateur d’Alma, Charles Lapointe, se lance un impressionnant défi. Le jeune homme de 20 ans, reconnu sur les réseaux sociaux pour ses portraits très réalistes de célébrités, veut établir le nouveau record du monde du plus gros dessin réalisé au crayon de bois. Il a d’ailleurs déjà choisi sa muse pour ce défi, l’Américaine Kylie Jenner, qui a déjà partagé une oeuvre de l’artiste régional à ses 200 millions d’abonnés. Charles Lapointe a commencé le dessin il y a bientôt six ans. Les seuls cours qu’il a suivis sont des cours d’arts plastiques à l’école. Au secondaire, il a dû réaliser une reproduction à l’échelle du jeu Grand Theft Auto (GTA), ce qu’il a adoré. Il a ensuite étudié en art et en technologie de l’informatique au Collège d’Alma, avant de quitter pour la métropole, il y a un an, avec l’ambition de vivre un jour de son art. Son créneau est le photoréalisme au crayon de bois. Si, au début, il prenait des commandes pour faire des portraits de tout un chacun, il s’est rapidement lassé et préfère se concentrer sur ce qui l’inspire vraiment : les célébrités. Charles Lapointe partage de nombreuses photos et vidéos de ses oeuvres, en plus de montages illustrant le temps investi à la création, sur les réseaux sociaux. Il est particulièrement actif sur Facebook (Charles Lapointe Art), Instagram (@charleslapointeart) et TikTok (@charlesdrawings). Sur Instagram, il rejoint environ 6400 personnes, alors que son TikTok compte plus de 57 000 abonnés. Certaines de ses vidéos, sur cette plateforme, ont été visionnées à plus d’un million de reprises. C’est d’ailleurs un récent dessin de Kylie Jenner, vedette de la téléréalité, femme d’affaires et influenceuse, réalisé au cours des derniers mois qui a le plus retenu l’attention sur ses différentes plateformes. L’Almatois y a consacré plus de 1200 heures, soit un an et demi de travail. Lorsque la jeune femme d’affaires a partagé l’œuvre de Charles Lapointe sur son compte Instagram, ses réseaux ont été inondés. L’Américaine est tout de même la cinquième personne la plus suivie sur Instagram, avec plus de 201 millions d’abonnés. Comment a-t-il pu se faire remarquer par l’entrepreneure ? Il admet compter sur le soutien d’admirateurs de Kylie Jenner et animateurs de comptes lui étant dédiés, en profitant de l’engouement autour de ses œuvres. « J’ai vraiment voulu augmenter la hype autour de mon oeuvre. Ça m’a pris un an et demi avant de la publier. Je dévoilais toujours des petits détails à mes abonnés et j’ai gardé la couronne, un élément important du dessin, qui m’a pris le plus de temps, pour la fin. Mes abonnés avaient hâte de voir le dessin complété. Plus le temps avançait, plus leur nombre montait », a-t-il indiqué, dans un entretien par visioconférence avec Le Progrès. Kylie Jenner n’est pas la seule vedette qui a été dessinée par Charles Lapointe. De nombreuses vedettes québécoises et américaines sont passées sous sa mine. Entre autres, il a réussi à attirer l’attention avec ses œuvres de l’influenceuse Lysandre Nadeau, de l’animateur et humoriste Jay Du Temple et du rappeur XXXTentacion. Des dessins de l’Almatois ont également été présentés à l’émission Vlog, et la mère de Paris Hilton l’a même contacté pour des commandes personnelles ! Cinq ans de travail ! Charles Lapointe se lance dans un nouveau défi : de réaliser un défi ultra réaliste de Kylie Jenner, d’une hauteur de neuf pieds. « Je suis assez fou. Le record Guinness du plus gros dessin au crayon de bois de couleur est de sept pieds. Quand j’ai vu ça, je me suis tout de suite dit que j’allais en faire un, mais de neuf pieds ! », raconte-t-il. Il a choisi de refaire Kylie Jenner, un choix qui en surprendra peut-être plusieurs, mais qui est très réfléchi pour l’Almatois. « Je n’ai pas le choix de la refaire sous un autre angle. J’ai eu beaucoup de demandes », affirme-t-il. Le dessin n’est pas commencé, mais les démarches de création le sont. Charles Lapointe a dû faire affaire avec le photographe de la vedette de téléréalité pour recevoir sa photo de référence. Il est aussi à la recherche de commanditaires pour ce projet qui prendra, selon lui, environ cinq ans à compléter ! Amélie LegendreLe Progrès vous a présenté une collègue d’école de Charles Lapointe, Amélie Legendre, il y a deux semaines. Les deux jeunes, qui se connaissent assez bien, ont tous les deux une passion pour le dessin de célébrités. À la suite de la parution de l’article du Progrès, le compte Instagram de la jeune femme a eu plus de 4000 nouveaux abonnés, en seulement quelques jours. « Je ne m’attendais vraiment pas à autant d’attention. Je suis vraiment contente », a-t-elle indiqué au Progrès. Elle a également reçu plusieurs demandes de dessins et, à son tour, a été contactée par l’équipe de l’émission Vlog.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
British pop star Rita Ora apologised on Monday after she admitted she had attended a party to celebrate her 30th birthday which broke England's strict COVID-19 lockdown laws. Under the lockdown rules, people in England are not allowed to mix with other households indoors and can meet one person outside.
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes fell for the second consecutive month as lack of available homes continues to stifle house hunters.The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its index of pending sales fell 1.1%, to 128.9 in October, down from a reading of 130.3 in September. An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001.Thanks to a red-hot summer, contract signings are still 20.2% ahead of where they were last year after lagging in spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Contract signings are a barometer of finalized purchases over the next two months.Three out of four regions saw declines in contract signings, with only the South logging a small gain.Historically low interest rates are drawing prospective buyers into the market, but home prices have risen significantly the past year as supply remains near all-time lows.Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac reported last week that the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan remained at a record low 2.72%.The median price for an existing single-family home reached $313,000 in October up almost 16% from October 2019. The median price of a new home sold in October was $330,600, according to the Commerce Department.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news.Independent experts are leery because key test results have not been published and the test has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — it's being sold under more general rules for commercial labs. But they agree that a simple test that can be done in a doctor’s office has long been needed.It might have spared Tammy Maida a decade of futile trips to doctors who chalked up her symptoms to depression, anxiety or menopause before a $5,000 brain scan last year finally showed she had Alzheimer’s.“I now have an answer,” said the 63-year-old former nurse from San Jose, California.If a blood test had been available, “I might have been afraid of the results” but would have “jumped on that” to find out, she said.More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more around the world have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. To be diagnosed with it, people must have symptoms such as memory loss plus evidence of a buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain.The best way now to measure the protein is a costly PET brain scan that usually is not covered by insurance. That means most people don’t get one and are left wondering if their problems are due to normal aging, Alzheimer’s or something else.The blood test from C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis aims to fill that gap. The company's founders include Drs. David Holtzman and Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, who headed research that led to the test and are included on a patent that the St. Louis university licensed to C2N.ABOUT THE TESTThe test is not intended for general screening or for people without symptoms — it’s aimed at people 60 and older who are having thinking problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s. It’s not covered by insurance or Medicare; the company charges $1,250 and offers discounts based on income. Only doctors can order the test and results come within 10 days. It's sold in all but a few states in the U.S. and just was cleared for sale in Europe.It measures two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. These factors are combined in a formula that includes age, and patients are given a score suggesting low, medium or high likelihood of having amyloid buildup in the brain.If the test puts them in the low category, “it’s a strong reason to look for other things” besides Alzheimer’s, Bateman said.“There are a thousand things that can cause someone to be cognitively impaired,” from vitamin deficiencies to medications, Holtzman said.“I don’t think this is any different than the testing we do now” except it’s from a blood test rather than a brain scan, he said. “And those are not 100% accurate either.”ACCURACY CLAIMSThe company has not published any data on the test’s accuracy, although the doctors have published on the amyloid research leading to the test. Company promotional materials cite results comparing the test to PET brain scans — the current gold standard — in 686 people, ages 60-91, with cognitive impairment or dementia.If a PET scan showed amyloid buildup, the blood test also gave a high probability of that in 92% of cases and missed 8% of them, said the company’s chief executive, Dr. Joel Braunstein.If the PET scan was negative, the blood test ruled out amyloid buildup 77% of the time. The other 23% got a positive result, but that doesn't necessarily mean the blood test was incorrect, Braunstein said. The published research suggests it may detect amyloid buildup before it's evident on scans.Braunstein said the company will seek FDA approval and the agency has given it a designation that can speed review. He said study results would be published, and he defended the decision to start selling the test now.“Should we be holding that technology back when it could have a big impact on patient care?" he asked.WHAT OTHERS SAYDr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said the government funded some of the work leading to the test as well as other kinds of blood tests.“I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said of the company’s claims. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work but we want to see results.”Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said it won't endorse a test without FDA approval. The test also needs to be studied in larger and diverse populations.“It’s not quite clear how accurate or generalizable the results are,” she said.___Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — With nothing on their agendas for months to come, music festival organizers in Belgium want to use their know-how to help the country's coronavirus vaccination campaign.The Belgian government has set a goal of vaccinating about 70% of the country's population, about 8 million people, when approved COVID-19 vaccination shots become available.As the vaccines are expected to arrive in multi-dose vials for shots to be administered all on the same day, Belgium health authorities are planning to vaccinate people in groups as much as possible. The task will pose many logistical challenges, including the creation of vaccination centres that festival organizers say they can help set up.Enjoying a strong reputation in the music world, Belgian festival experts have proven experience in both building huge pop-up structures and in crowd management.With the music industry hit hard by the pandemic's economic, several festivals in the French-speaking region of Wallonia and the Brussels area have created a federation to better defend their interests. They have a large network of technicians who are currently unemployed and are ready to help out.“Our sector has been at a standstill for many months, and our many staff are eager to bring their creativity and dedication to the fight against coronavirus," said federation president Damien Dufrasne.One of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, Belgium has reported some 577,000 confirmed cases and more than 16,500 deaths linked to the virus.Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said COVID-19 vaccinations could start in the European Union's 27 nations before the end of December. The commission, the EU’s executive arm, has agreements with six potential vaccine suppliers and is working on a seventh contract. The deals allow it to purchase over 1.2 billion doses, more than double the population of the EU.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Artis Real Estate Investment Trust says four trustees have tendered their resignations and both its chief executive officer and chief financial officer will retire as part of a deal reached with private equity firm Sandpiper Group which sought changes at the trust.Under the terms of the agreement, Artis chief executive Armin Martens will retire effective Dec. 31 and chief financial officer Jim Green will retire after the trust's 2021 annual meeting of the unitholders.Sandpiper's slate of five nominees, including Sandpiper chief executive Samir Manji, will join two of the existing trustees — Ben Rodney and Lauren Zucker — to make up the new board.Artis proposed a plan in September that would see it spin off its retail portfolio into a new real estate trust and focus on its North American industrial and office businesses. Sandpiper opposed the plan and said it would cut costs and increase distributions if it won its fight to replace the Artis board. Jetport Inc., the trust's largest unitholder, had said it would vote in favour of the Sandpiper board nominees at a meeting set for February.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:AX.UN)The Canadian Press
LONDON — British singer Rita Ora apologized Monday for breaking lockdown rules by holding a birthday party, saying it was “a serious and inexcusable error of judgment.” The Sun newspaper ran photos of Ora and others, including models Cara and Poppy Delevingne, arriving at the Casa Cruz restaurant in London’s Notting Hill area on Saturday. Under lockdown rules that end Wednesday, all pubs and restaurants in England must close except for takeout and delivery, and people are barred from meeting indoors with members of other households. Ora said on Instagram that she had held “a small gathering with some friends to celebrate my 30th birthday.” “It was a spur of the moment decision made with the misguided view that we were coming out of lockdown and this would be OK,” she wrote. Ora, whose hits include “Anywhere” and “I Will Never Let You Down,” said she now realized “how irresponsible these actions were and I take full responsibility.” Reports of the party attracted widespread criticism. Asked about the event, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, said it was “important that everybody in society sets an example by following the rules. That is for every member of the public, including celebrities.”(backslash) Britain has Europe's worst coronavirus death toll, at over 58,000 people. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
A Penetanguishene councillor wants staff to draw out a timeline to be included in the new graffiti removal policy. "I congratulate Andrea (Betty) for the report on the graffiti policy," Coun. Brian Cummings said at a recent meeting. "But the problem I still have is that our Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) policy and procedure manual has no timelines in it. We can do whatever we want to make these bylaws, but we have no timelines involved in correcting the graffiti or any of our bylaws. "I did ask for a timeline to remove graffiti, because it's very important that it gets removed immediately so it doesn't encourage more graffiti in town," he added. Betty, director of planning and community development, said the policy for the bylaw enforcement department does not have timelines, however, the property standards bylaw has some strict standards and rules. "There are some timelines for the removal of graffiti once the notice has been given from the town," she said, not specifying what the timelines were, and later admitting it requires clarity. "Each occurrence and complaint can vary and rely on outside sources." Having said that, Betty added that staff could take a look at that policy procedure on that bylaw, since it's about eight years old and worth a review. "We should have some sort of timeline on this," said Cummings. "I agree with the procedure, but there should be a timeline to the procedure." A quick look at the MLE policy and procedures document available online shows there are no timelines around notices of contravention issued under bylaw. CAO Jeff Lees said it would be useful to refer the item for review.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
A new mother from Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, was put in intensive care in a Winnipeg hospital last week when she tested positive for COVID-19 just days after delivering a baby by caesarean section. The case speaks to the dangers of relying on interprovincial travel for access to medical care. A COVID-19 outbreak that began in Sanikiluaq earlier this month is believed to have been contained, but expectant mothers in the community of fewer than 1,000 must still travel to Winnipeg to deliver their babies. As of Sunday, there were more than 9,000 active cases in Manitoba.Sanikiluaq Mayor Johnnie Cookie said his daughter Silatik Qavvik and her husband were in the province for nearly two weeks, preparing for the birth of their child.Two days after learning he had a new granddaughter, Cookie and his wife Annie received the difficult news about their own daughter's COVID-19 test result. He said he couldn't think straight when he heard."My wife handed me the phone in tears," he said. "When [Qavvik] started describing that she has COVID, and the results were positive, I started feeling terrible and my eyes started tearing up. It was very hard to handle this when I'm not with her."The new mother was put on breathing support. She was also separated from her newborn and husband to recover from the virus and from her delivery surgery.Qavvik posted on Facebook on Thursday, asking for prayers and strength, and for people to treat COVID-19 like a real danger. "People are not taking this seriously. They think COVID-19 is funny. Look where I am at now. I am at NICU. This isn't funny at all. I'm so scared, I am here to get better," she wrote. "Listen carefully if you need to do a lockdown, do not visit, wash your hands, social distance. I beg you to do this, I am trying to save lives."The young family is doing better now and Qavvik, while still recovering in the hospital, has been able to see her baby. Keep your loved ones safe, says CookieCookie said he is sharing his family's story so people will be more alert and take the pandemic seriously. He is asking Nunavummiut to keep their own loved ones safe by following public health orders. "I need to spread this news," he said. "Everyone in Nunavut should be very careful. Go by what the physicians are telling us. Wash your hands, social distance, wear a mask and avoid gatherings, and don't visit."There were two cases of COVID-19 in the Belcher Islands community of Sanikiluaq earlier this month. Both people have since recovered. Cookie said the municipality has been enforcing public health guidelines since the beginning of the pandemic, with even more efforts being made since a territory-wide lockdown began nearly two weeks ago."I have tried to be open so people in my community will be aware and go by what health representatives are saying," he said.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Eight inmates were killed and 59 others were injured when guards opened fire to control a riot at a prison on the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital, officials said Monday. Two guards were critically injured, they said. Pandemic-related unrest has been growing in Sri Lanka’s overcrowded prisons. Inmates have staged protests in recent weeks at several prisons as the number of coronavirus cases surges in the facilities. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said inmates created “unrest” Sunday at Mahara prison, about 15 kilometres (10 miles) north of Colombo, and officials attempted to control the situation. But “the unrest situation turned into a prison riot,” he said, adding that prisoners tried to take control of the prison and hundreds attempted to escape. The inmates “reportedly destroyed most of the property including offices inside the prison,” Rohana said. The guards opened fire, and the clash left eight inmates dead and 59 injured, he said. Two prison officers were critically injured. He said hundreds of additional police were deployed to help the guards and strengthen security around the prison. An inmate was killed in similar unrest at another prison last week. Another died in March. More than a thousand inmates in five prisons have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least two have died. About 50 prison guards have also tested positive. Senaka Perera, a lawyer with the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, said the inmates at Mahara prison had been frustrated because their pleas for coronavirus testing and separation of infected prisoners had been ignored by officials for more than a month. On Monday, about 500 relatives of inmates gathered in front of the prison and urged the authorities to provide information about the prisoners and ensure their safety. Sujeewa Silva said her son has been detained at the facility for seven months after being arrested on drug charges. “I want to know whether he is safe. I asked the officers, please tell me the condition of my son," she said. Sri Lankan prisons are highly congested with more than 26,000 inmates crowded into facilities with a capacity of 10,000. Sri Lanka has experienced an upsurge in the coronavirus since last month when two clusters — one centred at a garment factory and other at a fish market — emerged in Colombo and its suburbs. Confirmed cases from the two clusters have reached 19,449. Sri Lanka has reported a total number of 22,988 coronavirus cases, including 109 fatalities. Bharatha Mallawarachi, The Associated Press
Toronto’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa responded to questions about the COVID-19 outbreak at Swansea Junior and Senior Public School, saying “there is very little that demonstrates transmission within the school,” adding that what they are seeing is COVID-19 cases “that are associated with cases from their own household.”
Nearly 4,000 BC Hydro customers on the South Coast and Vancouver Island are still without power at the tail end of a rainy, windy overnight storm that brought gusts of up to 100 km/h to coastal areas of B.C.The outages affect customers across the southern and northern ends of Vancouver Island, in the Lower Mainland and on the Sunshine Coast. Earlier Monday, the number of customers without power had approached 20,000.Wind warnings were in effect for much of the day in Greater Victoria, which has been bearing the brunt of a Pacific coastal front. Winds between 70 and 90 km/h were in the forecast for areas of southern Vancouver Island near the Juan de Fuca Strait.At the Sand Pebbles Inn in Qualicum Beach, the wind caused heavy branches and an overhang in the parking area to collapse, crushing the roof of Todd Milligan's car.Weather warnings for other parts of the island were lifted early Monday afternoon, though a special weather statement remains in effect for Metro Vancouver. Gusts sent a large tree crashing into Vancouver's Commercial Drive late Monday morning, downing a number of power lines as it went.BC Ferries cancelled several early morning sailings between the mainland and Vancouver Island due to the weather. Normal ferry sailings have since resumed.Simon Fraser University announced it was closing some buildings and cancelling some services due to the power outage.Earlier wind warnings for western Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast were lifted before 10 a.m. PT.The weather is expected to ease Monday except for Haida Gwaii and the North Coast, where high winds are expected to continue through Tuesday night.
Une halte avec restauration rapide, station-service et dépanneur pourrait voir le jour près de la future autoroute 35, à Saint-Armand. Une demande pour modifier les usages du terrain est en cours d’approbation à la MRC Brome-Missisquoi. La municipalité a été approchée par une entreprise à numéro pour réaliser un tel projet, il y a quelques années déjà, raconte la mairesse Caroline Rosetti. Bien qu’elle ne connaisse pas les détails du projet, elle sait qu’il s’agira d’un endroit où il sera possible de s’arrêter pour manger un repas d’une bannière de restauration rapide et pour faire le plein d’essence avant de passer les douanes américaines ou en arrivant au Canada. Cependant, pour permettre cet usage, la municipalité a d’abord dû s’adresser à la MRC Brome-Missisquoi afin qu’elle modifie son schéma d’aménagement pour ce lot. Ensuite, Saint-Armand devra modifier son règlement d’urbanisme pour se conformer aux nouveaux usages. Le projet verrait le jour à l’intersection de la route 133 et des chemins Champlain et du Moulin, là où sera construit un carrefour giratoire par le ministère des Transports du Québec. Le nouveau zonage ne concernerait que le terrain ciblé et n’affecterait pas les usages des lots voisins. «C’est une pointe qui est déjà déstructurée par plein d’usages, explique Nacim Khennache, aménagiste à la MRC Brome-Missisquoi. Il y a une dizaine de résidences, une entreprise de transport et un garage dans ce coin-là. Nous, on va chercher le bout de la pointe juste à côté du carrefour giratoire, une petite superficie qu’on va dédier à un service routier de transit, à proximité de la sortie de l’autoroute, juste pour que ce soit logique pour que les utilisateurs de la route puissent, avant de passer les lignes, aller se restaurer ou s’approvisionner en essence.» Répondre à un besoin «C’est un bon endroit pour ça», ajoute Mme Rosetti. «Et c’est une bonne chose parce qu’on n’encourage pas nécessairement les camions-remorques à entrer dans le village.» La dernière station-service à proximité de l’autoroute, pour les camions et automobilistes qui se rendent aux douanes de Saint-Armand par l’A35 puis par la route 133, par exemple, est à Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. M. Khennache précise qu’il y en a une à Saint-Alexandre, mais plus loin de la voie rapide. Ce projet, s’il est accepté, permettra de répondre à un besoin. Une séance d’information publique se tiendra par visioconférence, le 2 décembre dès 19 h, en cliquant sur ce lien. La consultation publique par écrit se tiendra du 3 au 17 décembre. Les questions et commentaires pourront être envoyés à M. Khennache par courriel au firstname.lastname@example.org.Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est