The Kremlin says outdated rules in the United States have led to 'shortcomings' in the voting process. Russian state television has been repeating Donald Trump's claims, without evidence, that the election is fraudulent and 'rigged.'
The Kremlin says outdated rules in the United States have led to 'shortcomings' in the voting process. Russian state television has been repeating Donald Trump's claims, without evidence, that the election is fraudulent and 'rigged.'
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta Health projections released by the Opposition predict COVID-19 hospitalizations could soar to 775 by mid-December and the number of intensive care patients could reach 161. NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the numbers suggest the United Conservative government waited too long to act, then introduced ineffective half measures to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. “Our province is reporting the highest rate of COVID in the country,” Notley told Premier Jason Kenney during question period Tuesday. “The models showed you a second wave was coming. Why did you not prepare?” Kenney’s government has in recent weeks declined to provide internal projections on potential COVID-19 effects on hospital and intensive care wards, although Kenney said this week those numbers might be provided in the coming days. The latest numbers were leaked to the NDP. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said the projections are the "worst-case scenario" and don't take into account the recently announced new restrictions. "That is exactly the point of those restrictions ... to prevent us from hitting those high projections because what we need to do is bend that curve down," said Hinshaw. Alberta's daily case count has sat above 1,000 for almost two weeks, putting a significant strain on the health-care system. There are a total of 173 intensive care beds in Alberta. On Tuesday, there were 97 COVID-19 ICU patients of a total 479 in hospitals. Alberta Health Services, the front-line operational arm of Alberta Health, is rearranging and reassigning space, staff and patients to create another 250 ICU beds. AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said in an email that Calgary exceeded maximum ICU capacity Monday, but had space because 10 new beds had been added. Edmonton was at 95 per cent ICU capacity, but had 18 spaces available because of 20 new beds. Twenty acute-care hospitals, including the major ones in Calgary and Edmonton, are dealing with COVID outbreaks of their own. To stem the surge in cases, Kenney announced tighter health restrictions last week aimed at reducing community spread while keeping businesses and the economy as open as possible. No social gatherings are allowed in people’s homes. Restaurants and bars can stay open, but only six people can be at one table and they all must live under the same roof. The province is to review the measures mid-December and may intensify or add to them if the skyrocketing spread continues. The NDP and some doctors say the public-health orders, while aimed at balancing health and the economy, will ultimately fail both and a short, sharp lockdown is the way to go. Alberta is also facing the challenge of tracking spread. Health officials do not know where about 80 per cent of recent cases came from. Kenney reiterated that the province has 800 contact tracers and is working to hire 400 more while moving more part-time tracers to full-time status. “Alberta Health Services is pulling out the stops and has been for weeks to add capacity,” Kenney told the house. “We made it clear to them from Day 1 that budget is not an issue, that we are giving them maximum resources ... in hiring and training, and bringing people on board." Notley criticized Kenney for not moving faster during the summer to hire more contact tracers. She noted Alberta lags behind other comparable provinces. “B.C. has 26 contact tracers per 100,000 (people). Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30. Ontario, 27. Alberta, 18,” said Notley. “Contact tracing is strained across the country, that is true, but only in this province is it broken.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Liberals are pushing back against allegations from their political rivals that the federal government has failed Canadians on COVID-19 vaccines, noting Canada was one of the first countries to order doses from several foreign suppliers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that other countries with domestic vaccine production are likely to inoculate their citizens first before shipping doses to Canada, which prompted an outcry from the opposition parties.The Conservatives have also accused the Liberals of having put too much faith in what was ultimately a failed partnership between the National Research Council and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.The Liberal government confirmed in August the deal with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart, after the Chinese government blocked the shipment of doses for clinical trials in Canada. The Tories are now pushing for parliamentary hearings into the arrangement.On Tuesday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal with U.S.-based pharmaceutical firm Moderna — and that the company has confirmed it will be one of the first to receive doses of its vaccine.Anand decried what she described as “misinformation” around vaccines, noting that Moderna “has stated publicly that Canada is at the head of the line for its vaccine doses.”Canada signed a deal to purchase 56 million doses of vaccine from Moderna on July 24, according to the government. That was 18 days before the U.S. government reached its own agreement with the firm, and months before Britain, the European Union and Japan. Canada was also the fourth country to finalize a deal with Pfizer after the U.S., Britain and Japan, Anand added, again noting the company has confirmed the timeline. And it was the first country without the ability to mass produce vaccines domestically to ink an agreement with AstraZeneca. The three vaccines, along with another developed by Johnson & Johnson, are now being reviewed by Health Canada for approval. The government is hoping distribution to Canadians will begin in the first quarter of 2021.The timing of any vaccine delivery and distribution has become a major question for the government, opposition parties and Canadians who have been struggling physically, financially and emotionally through nearly nine months of the pandemic.Anand listed numerous other measures to ensure Canada is ready to start immunizing people when the vaccines are approved, including the purchase of freezers to store doses and enlisting the military to help with logistics.Asked exactly when the vaccines will arrive, however, Anand replied: “It is not possible to circle a single date on a calendar.” She went on to suggest the question has become politicized, but that safety will trump any political considerations.Opposition parties continued to demand more information from the government while repeating past allegations that the Liberals dragged their feet on vaccines."There's no question that other countries landed priority on vaccines ahead of Canada while Trudeau was dithering and spinning his wheels in the middle of last summer," said Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said. The Conservatives also pushed to probe the deal with CanSino at the House of Commons industry committee. The Tories want more information about a $44-million project to upgrade a National Research Council facility in Montreal as part of that arrangement, and how the deal with CanSino might have affected the timely procurement of vaccines from elsewhere.Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet appeared to suggest the Liberals should have used emergency laws in the spring to take existing technology from elsewhere and put it to use for Canada, dealing with the intellectual property issue after the fact.Governments across the country are also figuring out who will be immunized first.Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that according to what science suggests about who is most at risk from COVID-19, the initial round of vaccines should go to those in high-risk situations such as hospitals and care homes. The next batch, she added, should be distributed by age, with the oldest at the front of the line.Trudeau declined to get into specifics, including whether he should be one of the first inoculated, saying he is “going to trust experts to make the right determination of what the priority populations are.”Meanwhile, the prime minister said the federal government is stepping up assistance in two northern communities struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases, while the Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to the Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan.The moves come as provinces reported thousands of new cases across the country Tuesday, along with dozens more deaths.Alberta, the province with the highest rate of COVID-19 — 223 per 100,000 people — reported 1,307 new cases and 479 people in hospital. Leaked health projections show hospitalizations there could soar to 775 by mid-December, with 161 people in intensive care.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said restrictions on public gatherings and business openings in the province, where the daily rise in cases has levelled off after a spike last month, could remain into the winter as the health-care system continues to strain. The province also said it handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week, after setting strict limits on public gatherings and requiring non-essential businesses to close.A mandatory-mask order was also implemented for all indoor public spaces in Yukon as Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases in the territory over the past week, bringing its total to 47 since the start of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.—With files from Beth Leighton in Vancouver, Steve Lambert in Winnipeg, Mia Rabson in Ottawa and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
B.C.'s police watchdog is trying to track down four people who may have witnessed the death of a man during a confrontation with officers inside a Vancouver Tim Hortons last week.The Independent Investigations Office was called in on the evening of Nov. 26 to probe the fatal confrontation inside the coffee shop at Terminal Avenue and Station Street.VPD officers say the man had been inside the bathroom for half an hour when they were called, and alleged he was "agitated and aggressive" when he came out. He went into medical distress during a fight with the officers and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.IIO investigators are now asking for help tracking down two men and two women who visited the Tim Hortons between 6:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. on the night of the incident.The two women are believed to have been there together and are said to be in their 20s or 30s. One was between five feet five inches and five feet nine inches tall, wearing a black, knee-length jacket, black tapered pants, white sneakers and a black face mask. The second woman was between five feet three inches and five feet eight inches tall, and wore a grey hoodie, white headscarf, black sweatpants, white socks, black sandals and a black face mask.The two men were at the coffee shop separately, according to the IIO.The first is estimated to be between six feet and six feet two inches tall with a goatee, and was wearing a black hooded jacket, light blue or light grey baseball hat, black slim pants, brown boots and a light blue disposable surgical face mask. He may have been wearing glasses.The other man is believed to be between five feet seven inches and five feet nine inches tall, and wore a green rain jacket, blue jeans, brown boots, black hoodie, navy baseball hat and a white disposable face mask.Anyone with more information about the fatal incident is asked to call the IIO's witness line at 1-855-446-8477 or use the contact form on the iiobc.ca website.
Regina– On Nov. 30, Premier Scott Moe made reference of possible easing of COVID-19 socialization restrictions in time for Christmas. On Dec. 1, New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili told Moe during question period, “At this rate, the only thing you’ll be opening for Christmas is a field hospital.” Speaking to reporters after question period on Dec. 1 regarding current modelling of COVID-19’s spread in Saskatchewan, Moe said, “Modelling is modelling, and not in any way predictions. Modelling is put together to predict what our responses should be.” He noted a number of initiatives were put in last week, and the government was looking for success by Dec. 17 to only curb the increased rate of infection experienced over the last few weeks, which as also been experienced by the rest of Canada and North America. Moe said, “If we are able to, in some way, have some type of reprieve, of that rate of transmission, Dr. (Saqib Shahab) is working on what those scenarios may look like, and what recommendations to see what that looks like. “This is part of the short-term goal, to allow potentially people to see their loved ones for a short period of time, with the appropriate safety, personal protection, to see a loved one in a long-term care centre,” he said. “In order for that to happen, people need to adhere to the measures that are in place. And we need to see, and Dr. Shahab will speak more specifically to this, as we get closer to December 17, which is the time when we are either going to relax, renew or intensify the restrictions that were put in place last week.” Responding to a reporter who asked it was his place to provide hope, Moe said, “If it was my place to provide hope, and to provide opportunity, and to provide some targets for people across the province to work towards, between now and December 25th, I think it is.” He said Quebec will have “a little bit of a different standard” from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27 regarding social gatherings, for instance. Dr. Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, would be making the recommendations, Moe said. “It may be the status quo,” Moe said. He expressed hope, saying, “I would think its everyone’s hope that we would be able to see some of our family over Christmas. I, myself, my wife, we are already making plans for that not to happen in our family. Unfortunately, I know many other people across the province are likely having the same conversation with their immediate families.” Moe noted it’s been a nine, 10 long months across the world, and “we do need some opportunities to look forward to. Christmas maybe one of those opportunities. We're hoping it is it may not be.” He noted widespread access to a vaccine is another opportunity. Moe said risk to long-term care facilities can be mitigated through the usage of personal protective equipment. Meili on Christmas Meili told reporters, “I think he should acknowledge that he should have acted when the experts said to him, when 400 doctors came up and said, ‘You need to take action now. Do that circuit breaker.’ “That’s what would have saved Christmas. I think trying to spin people a story that somehow we'll be opening up for Christmas at the same time, as we're really going to be opening field hospitals, is dishonest and should not be approached.” Meili continued, “He should be honest with Saskatchewan people about what the modeling actually says. And that's what frustrates me so much. You’ve got the Minister of Health out here yesterday, trying to tell people that an optimistic scenario that wasn't even realistic, when it was presented, was already passed when it was presented, is still something that's going to happen. “When they presented this scenario is the modeling to the doctors, they didn't even include that because, they know it's false. If you've got modeling that shows something different than what you're saying, that's being dishonest. Meili said, “Certainly, I won't be joining my folks for Christmas, which makes me very sad. I hope people are going to make this, we're going to find this really hard, to not be able to get together. I hope that people will be making the wisest choice. And obviously, we'll see what the numbers are doing. But right now, it doesn't look like that's a serious possibility. And I think it's up to the premier to show leadership and responsibility. Be honest with them.” Meili said, “The premier is the one who is making the decisions. We know that he has made decisions for political reasons that have got us into this situation.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 656 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials urged residents not to bend public health rules. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that an additional 16 people have died, pushing B.C.'s death toll to 457. The new positive tests bring the total confirmed cases in the province since the pandemic began to 33,894, while about 70 per cent of those are considered recovered.The statement says there are 8,796 active cases in the province and another 10,123 people exposed to known cases are under active public health monitoring. There are 336 people are being treated in hospital and 76 are in intensive care. The majority of new cases are in the Fraser Health region, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health. "Without exception, follow the provincial health officer's orders in place," Henry and Dix say in the statement. Any events that gather people are not currently allowed, whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, they say. This includes religious, cultural or community events. "Do not gather at home with anyone other than your household or core bubble," the statement says."Let's make today a day to slow community transmission and continue to protect everyone in our province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that the country is the first to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.View on euronews
Yukon's health minister says the territorial government has a plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.But neither Health Minister Pauline Frost nor Premier Sandy Silver would offer many details about what's actually in the plan.In Question Period Tuesday, Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard said the public needs more information."All we are asking for is for the minister to provide a copy of that plan to Yukoners so that they can understand what is going on here," he said.Frost both accused the Yukon Party of spreading false information and fear mongering without offering specifics. "For us to come out now and say 'Here's a whole bunch of plans for a whole bunch options,' we're not going to do that right now and we're definitely not going to make news announcements on the floor of the Legislative Assembly," Silver said.Silver did suggest that the government's exact plan will change based on which of the vaccines nearing regulatory approval the Yukon gets first.Pfizer's vaccine, for instance, has to be stored at -80 C to remain stable. That means special freezers are required to transport and store it. Yesterday, federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said vaccines also require qualified shippers and promised details about distribution are coming soon."What the [health] department is doing is game theory, which is every single option, making sure we have considered all of the variables that would be used depending on who gets that authorization first from Health Canada, and when," Silver said. NDP Leader Kate White said the public deserves to know what the plan is."Plans can change and plans can be adapted, and no one argues or or disagrees with that," she said. "But even having an idea of what the starting [point] is, instead of speaking in generalities, I think what really folks are looking for right now is specifics."
MONTREAL — Lightspeed POS Inc. is spending another US$430 million to expand its reach in the U.S., this time by acquiring U.S. restaurant and management software company Upserve Inc.The Montreal-based company says the addition of Upserve will accelerate product innovation and advancement of its analytics-driven commerce platform to help the restaurant industry adjust to dining needs "made permanent" by the COVID-19 pandemic.The deal announced after markets closed includes US$123 million in cash and up to 5.9 million in Lightspeed voting shares.It comes less than a month after it acquired ShopKeep Inc., a New York cloud commerce platform provider for US$430 million in cash and shares.Upserve adds 7,000 customer locations and about $40 million in annual revenues.Upserve CEO Sheryl Hoskins says the union with Lightspeed will help North American restaurateurs to deliver superior guest experiences and make them wildly successful."Combining forces with Upserve is a strategic next-step in Lightspeed's vision of providing the most advanced commerce platform to high-performing businesses around the world," said Lightspeed founder and CEO Dax Dasilva.Meanwhile, Lightspeed announced that all outstanding multiple voting shares owned by Dasilva have been converted to subordinate voting shares on a one-for-one basis.Dasilva owns 14.4 million shares, representing about 12.24 per cent of the voting power in the company.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Companies in this story: (TSX:LSPD)The Canadian Press
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Le Centre d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels (CAVAC) Côte-Nord a lancé le recueil de créations Reconnaître le courage et renouveler l’engagement qui réunit les œuvres de personnes touchées par un acte criminel ainsi que celles de ressources qui leur viennent en aide. « Au fil des pages, les lecteurs retrouveront des créations de personnes touchées par un acte criminel qui nous donnent accès à leur souffrance, mais aussi à leurs victoires », lit-on dans le communiqué. Le recueil contient également des œuvres de personnes accompagnant les victimes d’actes criminels qui témoignent de leur admiration pour ces survivants. Le recueil a été lancé dans le cadre de la Semaine des victimes et survivants d’actes criminels qui avait lieu du 22 au 28 novembre. Pour obtenir un recueil ou en savoir plus sur les services offerts par le CAVAC, composez le 1 866-962-2822 ou rendez-vous au www.cavac.qc.ca.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
SALT LAKE CITY — New clues have surfaced in the disappearance of a gleaming monolith in Utah that seemed to melt away as mysteriously as it appeared in the red-rock desert — though it's no longer the only place where a strange structure has come and gone. A Colorado photographer told KSTU-TV that he saw four men come to the remote Utah site Friday night and push over the hollow, stainless steel object. “Right after it had fallen over and made a loud thud, one of them said, ‘This is why you don’t leave trash in the desert,’” Ross Bernards told the Salt Lake City TV station. The group broke down the structure into pieces, loaded it into a wheelbarrow and left. “As they were loading it up and walking away, they just said, ‘Leave no trace,’” he said. The sheriff’s office in San Juan County has said it's not planning an investigation into the disappearance of the monolith, which had been placed without permission on public land. But authorities also said they would accept tips from any of the hundreds of visitors who trekked out to see the otherworldly gleaming object deep in the desert. The sheriff and the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land where the object appeared, didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment on whether they are investigating the removal that Bernards' group photographed. Visitors have left behind a mess of human waste, cars parked on vegetation and other debris, the land agency said. The mysterious structure that evoked the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” generated international attention and drew plenty of speculation about otherworldly origins, though officials said it was an earthly creation of riveted plates of stainless steel. For Bernards, the visitors' damage to the environment convinced him that the remote area was better off without the structure. “Leave the art to places where art should be and let Mother Nature have her space for art,” he said. Utah isn’t the only place a monolith emerged. A similar metal structure was found on a hill in northern Romania, in the city of Piatra Neamt but has since disappeared, according to Robert Iosub, a journalist with the local publication ziarpiatraneamt.ro. Like the Utah structure, whoever placed the object didn’t follow the proper steps and get a building permit, Mayor Andrei Carabelea said in a Facebook post over the weekend. Still, he took it in stride, joking that some “cheeky and terrible” alien teenagers were likely putting them up around the world. “I am honoured they chose our city,” he said. ___ Associated Press photographer Vadim Ghirda in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this story. The Associated Press
MILLBROOK, Ala. — The owners of an outdoor recreation destination in Alabama fear a days-old baby goat has been stolen from a free-ranging herd near a former movie set and tourist attraction. Two newborn goats from the herd on Jackson Lake Island in Milbrook have disappeared since November, according to the owners. The property has public access for fishing and camping, as well as the fictional town of Spectre, where scenes for the 2003 Tim Burton film “Big Fish” were shot, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. There are about 55 grown goats on the property and they sometimes sleep under the church on the set, the newspaper said. One of the goats, Bambi, was taken in early November but was returned about a day later, said Lynn Bright, who owns the property and goats and is the former first lady of Montgomery. Bambi died after being away from his mother, she added. Bluebell, who was born Friday, has since gone missing. “We know who took Bambi,” Bright said. “We have addressed that with the young man’s family, and we are still considering taking legal action. We can’t be certain if Bluebell wasn’t carried off by an animal. But we had reports of a family passing her around before she went missing.” The owners posted photos of Bluebell to Facebook on Monday calling for the public's help in returning the animal and putting a stop to stealing the goats. Bright added that baby goats have gone missing from the property before. “We love sharing our goats for everyone to enjoy," the post said. "However, we can’t continue to let them roam free and play with everyone if this keeps happening. We love our babies too much, and we must keep them safe. We are now installing even more cameras on the island, and we hope this post helps.” The Associated Press
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Two crew members on a container ship anchored in Vancouver's English Bay were seriously injured after a lifeboat unexpectedly plunged into the water during a drill on Tuesday.According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the accident happened at about 1:15 p.m. Both crew members were on the lifeboat when it was released from the ship, and it was sinking when rescuers were called.Coast guard officers, the Vancouver Police Department's marine unit and the Vancouver Port Authority all responded to the mayday call.A vessel from the Kitsilano Coast Guard station was on scene within 10 minutes, according to a spokesperson, and paramedics treated the two injured people for "significant injuries."According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, the patients were taken to hospital in serious condition, but they are both stable.
TRAVAIL. S’inquiétant que la rémunération des salariés de l'administration publique accuse un retard grandissant par rapport à celle de l'ensemble des salariés québécois, le député de Rosemont et responsable pour Québec solidaire en matière de services publics, Vincent Marissal, appelle le gouvernement à commencer dès maintenant à combler cet écart dans le cadre des négociations avec les employés du secteur public. «La pandémie qui a frappé le Québec de plein fouet cette année nous a fait réaliser à quel point on a besoin d'une fonction publique forte pour offrir des services publics de qualité aux citoyens. L'écart important entre la rémunération des salariés de l'administration publique et celle des autres salariés a clairement un impact négatif sur la capacité du secteur public à attirer et retenir les travailleurs dont il a besoin pour remplir sa mission», déplore Vincent Marissal. Pour le député de Rosemont, cet écart de rémunération est un signal alarmant que l'État québécois doit offrir une meilleure rémunération aux salariés de l'administration publique. «Il est plus que temps que le gouvernement mette les bouchées doubles pour s'assurer que les salariés du secteur public bénéficient de rémunérations à la hauteur de l'importance de leur travail. La Présidente du Conseil du trésor ne peut plus faire fi de cette réalité et cela doit se refléter dans le cadre des négociations des employés du secteur public, qui doivent être l'occasion d'un début de rattrapage qui est plus que nécessaire», ajoute-t-il. Rappelons que selon les chiffres dévoilés par l'Institut de la statistique, l'écart de la rémunération globale entre les salariés de l'administration québécoise et les autres salariés du Québec est passé de 6,1 % en 2011 à plus de 9,2 % en 2020. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A second inmate at an Alaska prison experiencing a coronavirus outbreak has died from complications related to COVID-19, as the total number of active cases at the state's largest prison has reached 480, the Alaska Department of Corrections said Tuesday.The 77-year-old with underlying health issues, who was serving sentences for sexual abuse and release violations, died Monday after being taken to a Palmer hospital on Nov. 22, the department said.It's the second death of an inmate related to COVID-19 that has been reported by the department. The first was last month. In each case, the department declined to release the names of the individuals, citing privacy concerns.Both were inmates at Goose Creek Correctional Center near Wasilla, which has been experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.The department said it offered tests to about 1,300 inmates at the prison to try to find undetected cases. Results brought the facility's active case count to 480, with results in 120 cases pending and another roughly 190 inmates considered recovered, the department said.Sarah Gallagher, a department spokesperson, said it “can only offer and recommend testing" — not require it — but she said there were few refusals to be tested.The total inmate population at the prison stood at about 1,260 on Tuesday, she said.In housing units that have had positive tests, those who have tested negative are retested every three days until there are no additional positive results in the unit for 14 days, the department said.Dr. Robert Lawrence, the department's chief medical officer, said “testing sweeps” provide a picture of spread that has occurred and allow officials to "target isolation and quarantine strategies to particular areas in the facility in order to flatten the curve of the spread.”Inmate housing is determined by test results and clinical status, and staff members are required to wear masks in the prison and undergo screenings before their shifts, the department said.For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.The Associated Press
The Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus is still hosting its annual Community Christmas meal, albeit with significant changes because of COVID-19 health restrictions. Usually, the free meal brings hundreds of people for food, socializing and singing. Community gatherings are not possible this year, so the Knights of Columbus will serve plates of food for people to pick up and eat elsewhere. Stan Bartlett, an organizer with the Knights of Columbus, said distribution will be at Earls Kitchen and Bar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. Meals will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. “It’s not going to be the big event we’ve done in the last few years,” said Bartlett. “We’re happy we can still do something for people on Christmas Day.” The plates will be pre-prepared to limit the number of volunteers needed for the event. People will have to eat elsewhere and will not have access to the restaurant. “We don’t want to put anyone at risk,” said Bartlett. “People can come in to use the washroom if they need to, but we have to follow guidelines.” The event celebrated its 25th anniversary last year at Father Turcotte School. The first community Christmas meal was held in 1994 at the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. After 11 years, the Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus took over the event. While the event started as an outreach to homeless and low-income people, it has turned into an event where everyone is welcome, regardless of faith, language or economic status. April’s flood also impacted the Knights of Columbus when the church’s basement flooded, damaging the group’s supplies for events. The group is still working on replacing most of those damaged items. All things considered, Bartlett said he is happy the Knights of Columbus are still able to offer a community meal. “We hope everyone can have a good Christmas this year and we’re hoping we can be a little part of that with an expression of kindness,” he said. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
ATLANTA — Some establishment Republicans are sounding alarms that President Donald Trump’s conspiratorial denials of his own defeat could threaten the party’s ability to win a Senate majority and counter President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.The concerns come ahead of Trump’s planned Saturday visit to Georgia to campaign alongside Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who face strong Democratic challengers in Jan. 5 runoffs that will determine which party controls the Senate at the outset of Biden’s presidency.Republicans acknowledge Trump as the GOP’s biggest turnout driver, including in Georgia, where Biden won by fewer than 13,000 votes out of about 5 million cast. That means every bit of enthusiasm from one of Trump’s signature rallies could matter.But some Republicans worry Trump will use the platform to amplify his baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud — arguments roundly rejected in state and federal courts across the country. That could make it harder for Perdue and Loeffler to keep a clear focus on the stakes in January and could even discourage Republicans from voting.“The president has basically taken hostage this race,” said Brendan Buck, once a top adviser to former House Speaker Paul Ryan.Especially fraught are Trump’s continued attacks on Georgia’s Republican state officials and the state’s election system, potentially taking away from his public praise of Loeffler and Perdue.“Trump’s comments are damaging the Republican brand,” argued Republican donor Dan Eberhart, who added that the president is “acting in bad sportsmanship and bad faith” instead of emphasizing Republicans’ need to maintain Senate control.The GOP needs one more seat for a majority. Democrats need Jon Ossoff to defeat Perdue and Raphael Warnock to defeat Loeffler to force a 50-50 Senate, positioning Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking majority vote.Trump on Monday blasted Gov. Brian Kemp as “hapless” for not intervening to “overrule” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s certification of Biden’s win. The president baselessly claimed in a Tuesday tweet that Kemp had allowed Georgia to be “scammed.”On Sunday, Trump told Fox News he was “ashamed” he’d endorsed Kemp in his 2018 GOP primary for governor. Kemp’s office noted in response that state law gives Kemp no authority to overturn election results, despite Trump’s contention that Kemp could “easily” invoke “emergency powers.” Meanwhile, Raffensperger, a Trump supporter like Kemp, has accused the president of throwing him “under the bus” for doing his job.The president launched similar broadsides against another Republican, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, after his state certified Biden's victory there. Ducey pushed back Tuesday on social media, defending Arizona's election system and saying he'd bragged on it previously “in the Oval Office.” Ducey did not mention Trump by name.Perdue and Loeffler have attempted to stay above the fray.They’ve long aligned themselves with Trump and even echoed some of his general criticisms of the fall elections, jointly demanding Raffensperger’s resignation.But the crux of their runoff argument — that Republicans must prevent Democrats from controlling Capitol Hill and the White House — is itself a tacit admission that Biden, not Trump, will be inaugurated Jan. 20. And at one recent campaign stop, Perdue heard from vocal Trump supporters who demanded that he do more to help Trump somehow claim Georgia’s 16 electoral votes.Republicans see three potential negative outcomes to Trump fanning the flames.Some GOP voters could be dissuaded from voting again if they accept Trump’s claims that the system is hopelessly corrupted. Among Republicans more loyal to Trump than to the party, some could skip the runoff altogether out of anger at a party establishment the president continues to assail. Lastly, at the other end of the GOP spectrum are the moderate Republicans who already crossed over to help Biden win Georgia and could be further alienated if the runoff becomes another referendum on Trump.Josh Holmes, a top adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Republicans “haven’t seen any evidence of lack of enthusiasm in the Senate races.”But none of the potential bad effects would have to be sweeping to tilt the runoffs if they end up as close as the presidential contest in Georgia.“We’ll see how it plays out. It changes day by day and week by week. But so far, so good,” Holmes said.White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted in an appearance Tuesday on “Fox & Friends” that the president still believes it’s important “to turn out and vote,” despite his continued groundless claims of widespread fraud.In Georgia, any Republican concerns are more circumspect.Brian Robinson, a former adviser to Kemp’s Republican predecessor as governor, said Trump should “drive a strong, forward-looking message” about what’s at stake for a Republican base that “is fervently devoted to him.”“The best thing he can do for the party,” Robinson said, “is to talk about the importance of having a Republican Senate majority to project his policy legacy and to make sure the Democrats can’t reverse a lot of what he has put in place that Republicans support.”Asked what Trump should avoid, Robinson circled back to what he believes the president should say.Former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Trump ally, downplayed the potential for GOP splintering, framing an “inner-family squabble” as a sideshow to the “incredible” consequences that define the runoffs.“Followers of Trump will follow Trump, but they’re not blind to the huge stakes. And neither is he,” Kingston said. “He knows to keep his legacy. He’s got to get these people reelected.” Trump, Kingston argued, is “keeping the base interested,” a necessary component of any successful runoff campaign since second rounds of elections often see a drop-off in voter participation.Robinson added that Democrats face their own challenge in replicating record turnout for Biden.“What’s the best motivator? Fear,” he said. Before November, Democrats dreaded a second Trump term more than Republicans feared Trump losing, Robinson reasoned. “Republicans have reason to be scared now,” he said, because of the prospect that Democrats could control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.“That could make a difference in turnout” beyond anything Trump says, Robinson concluded.For their parts, the senators continue their public embrace of all things Trump ahead of the visit.“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome” the president “back to Georgia,” Loeffler wrote on Twitter after Trump confirmed his plans. Perdue’s campaign quickly retweeted the comment, which Loeffler punctuated with a reminder that the runoffs are “an all-hands-on-deck moment.”It’s not clear, though, if all Republicans will be on hand at all.Kemp, the governor who appointed Loeffler upon Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement last year, has on previous Trump visits greeted the president as he disembarks from Air Force One. Asked Monday whether Georgians will see a similar scene Saturday, Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said he could not comment “yet.”___Fram reported from Washington.Bill Barrow And Alan Fram, The Associated Press
A group of about 50 retailers called on the Ontario government on Tuesday to open all stores across the province — including those in lockdown regions, where they suggest imposing a 25 per cent capacity limit on "non-essential" stores."We respect the extraordinary efforts you and your administration are making to safeguard the public interest during this extremely challenging time," the retailers said in a letter to Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott. "The problem is that Ontario's policy of segregating 'non-essential' retailers from those deemed essential might actually be making things worse."The letter was signed by executives from several major retailers, including Hudson's Bay Company, Canadian Tire, Ikea Canada, Roots and Staples Canada. It argues that the lockdowns in Toronto and Peel Region haven't reduced the number of people shopping."Instead, it has funnelled those shoppers and the corresponding health risk into fewer, increasingly crowded stores within Toronto and Peel, as well as adjacent communities, such as we saw in Vaughan and Markham over the weekend," the letter stated.WATCH | Small retailer says it's unfair that he has to close while big box stores stay open"At the same time, as the current policy pushes more Canadian consumers to a handful of big box retailers and discount stores, thousands of small, independent and local stores sit shuttered, with their hands tied, even though many sell the very same goods."According to the retailers, limited capacity in some cases — in combination with safety measures such as mandatory masks, physical distancing and hand sanitization — "can further reduce the potential for community spread while enabling more businesses to stay open across all regions during a make-or-break season for retail businesses."The letter notes that other provinces have taken similar steps in conjunction with public health officials and that these steps "will put fewer people in more stores, increasing safety for all. The current policy does the opposite."'Difficult but necessary' The province responded by noting the restrictions are aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians.Alexandra Hilkene, a spokesperson for Elliott, said the government must limit opportunities for individuals to have close contact with others to help stop the spread of the virus. This includes allowing box stores to operate at half capacity."These necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province's most vulnerable populations," Hilkene wrote in an email to The Canadian Press."To be clear, moving regions into a lockdown is not a measure this government takes lightly. However, as we have seen around the world, lockdowns are a difficult but necessary step to stop the spread, safeguard the key services we rely on and protect our health system capacity."She noted that the Ontario government is providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures.