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
MONTREAL — Bombardier and Alstom say they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the US$8.4-billion sale of the Canadian company's railway division to Alstom.The companies say they now expect the transaction to close on Jan. 29, 2021.Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. Alstom shareholders voted to approve the deal on Oct. 29.The sale is expected to make Alstom the second-largest manufacturer of rolling stock, behind China's CRRC.Alstom has committed to establish its North American headquarters in Montreal, which will oversee 13,000 employees, set up a research centre and improve production at the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatiere, where the order book is almost empty. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Quebec's plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday."We have hospitals that are approaching their limit of COVID patients," he said."We are not going in the right direction."Legault said that if the number of hospitalizations continues to increase, it will be "difficult to take that risk."A final decision will be made Dec. 11.Quebec's rolling seven-day average of cases has climbed back up in recent weeks, and there are now more than 700 people in hospital with the virus.The premier has tempered expectations for the holiday season since announcing on Nov. 19 that gatherings would be permitted over a four-day period — provided those meeting isolate for the week before and after.Last week, following consultations with public health, Legault said only two gatherings would be allowed during the four-day period.The province is expected to announce additional guidelines for holiday shopping later this week.
Here's the latest for Tuesday December 1st: Barr says no widespread voter fraud; Biden announces his economic team; Iran vows revenge for killing of nuclear scientist; Hurricane season comes to an end.
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):2:10 p.m.The committee raising money for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take contributions from individual donors of as much as $500,000 and from corporations of as much as $1 million.That’s according to an inaugural official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the work of the committee, which started raising money on Monday for the Jan. 20 festivities.The committee won't accept contributions from lobbyists or the fossil fuels industry, including companies and executives whose “primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal.” The prohibition applies to political action committees run by fossil fuels interests.The contribution limits for Biden are far lower than those of President Donald Trump in 2017.Trump raised a record $107 million for his inauguration and accepted massive checks from individuals, including $5 million from Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.— By AP writer Brian Slodysko___HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:President-elect Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a substantial and somewhat divisive figure in Democratic Party politics, to serve as his transportation secretary.Read more:— Trump headed to Georgia as a turnout driver, but also a threat— It’s Major: Pets poised for a return to the White House— Top secret: Biden gets access to President’s Daily Brief— Biden names liberal economics team as pandemic threatens workers___HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:1:55 p.m.Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris says there is a “hunger crisis in America now” due to the COVID-19 pandemic but promised quick action to address the challenge when in office.Harris said that dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic “could not be more urgent,” noting the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases as the weather has gotten colder. She also says that in addition to the loss of hundreds of thousands of Americans, “the toll of this recession continues to mount across America.”Harris referenced the significant number of American adults with children saying their families are going hungry, and the even higher rate of adults saying they’re having trouble paying their “essential” bills.She says the Biden administration’s economic team, which was unveiled Tuesday, would put “working people front and centre” to pursue reforms to make the economy work better for all Americans, and would “hit the ground running on day one.”___1:45 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the White House budget office says social programs helped her family when she was a young girl being raised by a single mother in a Boston suburb.Neera Tanden would help prepare Biden’s federal budgets as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.Word of her expected nomination has encountered early disapproval from some Republican senators who will vote on whether she becomes the first woman of Indian descent to lead the office.Tanden says her mother faced hard choices after divorce left her to raise two young children. She says her family survived on food stamps and federal housing vouchers until her mother got a job and eventually bought a house.Tanden says she wants to give people the same chance at a fair shot.___1:35 p.m.Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen is describing the economic crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic as an “American tragedy” and warning that without quick action to address it, the damage will get worse.Introducing herself during a Joe Biden transition event where the president-elect unveiled his economic team, Yellen spoke about the “historic crises” of the pandemic and the economic fallout resulting from it, as well as the “disproportionate impact” it has had on “the most vulnerable among us.”Speaking about a pandemic that has cost 268,000 American lives, Yellen referenced the “lost lives, lost jobs” and struggles Americans face “to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.”She went on to say that “it’s essential that we move with urgency” because “inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.” She pledged to Americans that the Treasury would be “an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you.”___1:25 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says his economic team is “first rate” and will help build an economy that works for all Americans.Biden introduced key members of the team Tuesday in Delaware, including former Fed chair Janet Yellen to become Treasury secretary. Biden described Yellen as one of the “most important economic thinkers of our time.”She would be the first female Treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate.Biden also introduced Neera Tanden as his choice to run the White House budget office. Tanden’s nomination, however, has encountered early disapproval from some Senate Republicans, who will vote on her nomination.Biden also named his chair and members of the Council of Economic Advisers. He says the CEA chair will serve in the Cabinet. Biden also named a deputy for Yellen.___1:15 p.m.Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass a “robust package for relief” to address the economic and public health crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic.The president-elect made the comments introducing his economic team in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Congressional leaders have been locked in a stalemate over a COVID relief package, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on the price tag or content of a potential bill, though a team of bipartisan lawmakers released their own compromise legislation on Tuesday.Biden said, however, any package passed during the lame duck session of Congress would be “at best just a start” and that his team is already working on his own proposal for the new Congress “to address the multiple crises we’re facing.” He said the team of economic advisers he announced Tuesday would play a “critical role” in shaping the Biden administration’s plan to revive the economy.___1:10 p.m.Joe Biden is wearing a boot publicly for the first time, after fracturing his foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend.The president-elect wore the boot at an event where he introduced his economic team Tuesday afternoon, walking with no obvious limp onto the stage. His doctor said Sunday that he suffered small fractures to his right foot from the incident and would likely have to wear a walking boot “for several weeks.”Arriving to the event, Biden pointed to the boot and raised his leg as if to show it off. He walked gingerly, telling reporters his foot was “good.” The event was set up with chairs and tables, allowing Biden to sit when he wasn’t speaking before a podium in the centre of the stage._The Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Roger Mandle, an internationally renowned art scholar and the former longtime president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has died, RISD said Tuesday. He was 79. Mandle died over the weekend, the school said in a statement, without elaborating. A cause of death was not given. Mandle served as president of RISD from 1993 to 2008. He was credited with helping modernize the school, one of America's most prestigious four-year art colleges, and quadrupling its endowment to over $400 million. He previously served as deputy director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. A former member of the National Council on the Arts appointed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Mandle helped shape and guide the U.S. art and design agenda. “My mission, my vision, is to contribute to our humanity and quality of life and to make Providence and the Rhode Island School of Design a globally recognized centre of art, design and right-brained thinking,” he once said. From 2008 to 2012, Mandle was executive director of the Qatar Museums Authority, overseeing more than a dozen museums, including the Museum of Islamic Art, the Qatar Natural History Museum and the National Museum of Qatar. Later, he launched a consulting firm dedicated to assisting museums and universities in strategic planning, board and senior staff development and mentoring, and advice during important transitions. He was a former director of the Toledo Museum of Art, a former associate director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and a member of the Ohio Arts Council. “The American arts and higher education communities have lost a giant," Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement, calling Mandle “an extraordinary man and a great civic leader.” “His influence on generations of artists and others whose lives were made better through the arts will live on,” RISD President Rosanne Somerson said in a statement. Mandle is survived by his wife, the abstract painter and acclaimed mixed media artist Gayle Wells Mandle; son Luke Mandle; daughter Julia Mandle; and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday. William J. Kole, The Associated Press
WHITEHORSE — A mask order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 is now in effect across Yukon, but the territory's top doctor says enforcement of the regulation is not the first priority. Dr. Brendan Hanley said Tuesday people will be given a chance to adapt to the order, which was announced last week as cases of the virus mounted. At a regular weekly briefing, Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in Yukon since last Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 17 and the total number of cases to 47 since the start of the pandemic. The mask order requires everyone over the age of five to wear a non-medical face covering in all indoor public spaces or face a fine of up to $500, but Hanley says people will first be given a chance to adapt and he expects the new rule will be accepted quickly. He says 200,000 masks are being made available to ensure everyone has access to them. A 14-day quarantine period remains in place for all those entering or returning to Yukon, but as the holiday season approaches, Silver says children can be assured that Santa is still welcome. "I know many kids around the territory are wondering how their gifts might get here in light of the self-isolation requirements and I have good news on that front," he told the news conference. "I can confirm that Santa is a critical worker and I know that Dr. Hanley and his team have been working very closely with (Santa's) counterparts at the North Pole." Hanley also reminded children that the Elf on the Shelf will be monitoring their handwashing and physical distancing efforts throughout the festive season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
Quebec City has inaugurated a memorial to the victims of the 2017 mosque shooting. The commemorative work designed by artist Luce Pelletier is located near the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, in the city's Ste-Foy district. Mayor Regis Labeaume said the Jan. 29, 2017 attack on the centre left families, a community and an entire city in mourning when six Muslim men were gunned down shortly after the end of evening prayers. Labeaume says the people of Quebec City want to live together in harmony, a sentiment reinforced by another recent tragedy, a sword attack that left two people dead and five injured in the city's historic district on Halloween night. He says the memorial, titled "Vivre Ensemble" (Live Together), is a way of making it clear that "hate will never win." The monument is composed of several elements that symbolize the meeting of different communities, with the part near the mosque serving as an area for meditation and commemoration. The area for reflection includes a written recounting of what happened that night while the commemorative portion includes the names of the six men engraved on stones, each adorned with perforated aluminum sheets with patterns inspired by their countries of origin: Morocco, Guinea, Tunisia and Algeria. Family members of the six victims — Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti — as well as some survivors were present for the unveiling today. "This tragedy left a permanent scar on the hearts of thousands of residents," Labeaume said. "To demonstrate that we remember, that we still think about the victims today, we are proud to pay homage with the magnificent commemorative monument." The president of the mosque gave an emotional address with a message for the children of the six victims. "For the kids present today, the children of our lost friends, you have felt that everyone loves you," Boufeldja Benabdallah said. "When you cross people on the street, they embrace you. You are like their children, everyone loves you and everyone wants you to become the great citizens of tomorrow, to honour this city and to honour your parents' memory." The Quebec City man convicted of six counts of first-degree murder in the killings was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019. Following a successful appeal decision last week, he is eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years in prison. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The annual publishing convention and trade show known as BookExpo, a decades-old tradition where guest speakers have ranged from Bill Clinton to Margaret Atwood, may be coming to an end.ReedPop, which has managed BookExpo for a quarter century, announced Tuesday that effectively immediately it was “retiring” the event, along with the fan-based BookCon and merchandise-based UnBound. Any future for the convention depends on the wishes of the book community. As in other industries, publishers have debated the necessity of holding BookExpo when much of the business once conducted there has moved online.BookExpo used to be rotated around the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington, D.C., but it was held almost exclusively in recent years in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. New York publishers looked to reduce costs, including cutting back sharply on how much space they purchased on the convention floor.Earlier this year, BookExpo and BookCon were held virtually because of the coronavirus. The status for next year's show was already in doubt."The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s need," Reed event director Jennifer Martin said in a statement."This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before. We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.”Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle, who has praised BookExpo as a chance for the industry to gather under one roof, said in a statement that he hoped such occasions would happen again.“Among the many traditions we greatly missed this year was having an industry event that brings together booksellers, authors and publishers," he said. "In this virtual world, Penguin Random House is continuously investing in innovative ways to connect our community members with one another, and we look forward to working with our industry partners to explore a newly imagined event where we all can come together to celebrate books and their essential role in our society and culture.”Booksellers have been meeting annually since the early 20th century, although the modern convention dates back to 1947 and the founding of the American Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show. The ABA, the trade group for independent owners, served as host until the mid-1990s, when tensions with the superstore chain Barnes & Noble and some publishers led to legal action and to the association's selling the show to Reed.Usually held in late spring, BookExpo was once a prime venue for upcoming books to “break out,” and for publishers to place orders with booksellers and bring in top authors to meet with store officials, agents, librarians and journalists.At a given convention, a dais might be shared by Atwood, William Styron and Margaret Thatcher, or by Bill Murray and Julia Child. At a 2006 luncheon in Washington, speakers included Amy Sedaris and John Updike, whose elegy for all the Manhattan bookstores now closed so moved the audience that few remembered what was said by the third featured author, a first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.But over the past few years, visiting authors lacked the star power of previous guests, and attendance fell to the point where sizable parts of the Javits centre floor were empty.In 2018, when Michelle Obama was looking to promote the fall release of her memoir “Becoming,” she didn't come to BookExpo, but instead addressed the convention of the American Library Association. And this year highlighted doubts over whether an in-person gathering raises sales: The market has remained stable despite the pandemic and the convention being held online.Meanwhile, other industry meetings continue, including regional shows and the increasingly popular Winter Institute, managed by the American Booksellers Association. The Winter Institute will be held virtually in February 2021."The retirement of BookExpo feels like the end of an era," ABA CEO Allison K. Hill told the AP, adding that the need for booksellers to gather was as strong as ever. "ABA is exploring new ways to bring booksellers, publishers, and authors together in the future. For now, we’ll keep bringing everyone together virtually.”Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Geoffrey S. Berman, the ousted federal prosecutor in Manhattan who led several investigations into President Donald Trump's allies, has been hired by a white-shoe law firm in New York. Berman will provide criminal defence in white-collar cases and work on complex commercial litigation at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, the firm announced Tuesday. The firm is “well known for its cutting-edge counsel to top tier companies and high-profile individuals,” Berman said in a statement. Fried Frank described Berman as “one of the most respected prosecutors in the United States.” Berman was pushed out in June as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he led several investigations with tentacles into Trump's orbit, including one involving the business dealings of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney. The same office prosecuted former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen for campaign finance crimes and two Giuliani associates tied to the investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment investigation. Giuliani has not been charged. Berman later told the House Judiciary Committee that Attorney General William Barr “repeatedly urged” him to step aside and take a new job heading up the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “I told the attorney general that I was not interested,” Berman told the panel. “There were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion.” Berman’s removal was decried by some critics as a “Friday night massacre” and fueled longstanding concerns among Democratic lawmakers that the Justice Department had become politicized under Barr. Berman's new role as head of Fried Frank's white-collar practice was previously held by Audrey Strauss, Berman's successor in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office. Berman only agreed to step down over the summer after being assured Strauss would be in charge of the office. Between jobs, Berman has taught as a visiting professor at Stanford Law School. “It’s been great teaching at my alma mater, even if by Zoom, and as soon as things return to normal, I hope to lecture in person on campus,” he told The Associated Press. __ Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report. Jim Mustian, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry.The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.”The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke.“In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.”Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group.Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.“Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.”Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry.Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified.“We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.”Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders.He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations.The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey.Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back.EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations.During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.”Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.”___Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco.Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Let Thanksgiving have the turkey. Let Christmas have fruitcake. Every other day, it's got to be pizza. So argue Thom and James Elliot, brothers and pizza makers from England who have written a book celebrating the worldwide phenomenon of roundish dough cooked with toppings. In the 270-page “Pizza" (Quadrille), the brothers offer over 30 recipes for homemade pizzas — including a carbonara and one with asparagus and pancetta — as well as eating guides to delicious slices in cities like Rome, Paris, Chicago and New York. It turns out New Haven, Connecticut, has a very distinct and vibrant pizza scene, though its just 70 miles from New York. The Elliots marvel that while the pizza we eat today was invented in Naples in the late 1800s, other cultures have their own versions, from one with spiced ground meat in Lebanon to a baguette topped with mushroom and cheese in Poland. “All these countries came up with this on their own. And that is the definition of a good idea, right?” says James Elliot. “It’s a bit like the way so many cultures created beer independently. Just great ideas make it through.” The brothers include sections on controversial ingredients — pineapple, that’s you — and which drinks to pair with a slice, as well as the various ways people can eat it, from rolling it into a cigar to a technique called the “snag and drag.” They present the info without judgement, refusing to weigh in on whether coal ovens are better than wood or if buffalo milk is better than cow milk for making mozzarella. “There’s that saying: There’s two kinds of people in the world — people that love ABBA and liars,” says James Elliot. “Not all music has to be high and mighty in the same way that not all pizza has to be high and mighty. You can love different songs and different pizzas for all kinds of different reasons.” The origins of the book began when the brothers ditched their regular jobs in 2012 to go to Naples and learn all about pizza. They travelled the length of Italy and the world and, once educated in all things delicious, came back to the United Kingdom to open a chain of pizzerias, Pizza Pilgrims. In Chicago, they encountered that city's famous, dense variation. “We ate four deep dishes a day for five days,” says Thom Elliot. “I really surprised myself. I went to confirm my hatred of it, but actually left being like, ‘This has got a place for sure.’” The book is a distillation of all they learned, from pizza records ("Cheesiest Pizza," “Furthest Pizza Delivery") to how to work with active dry yeast. The working title was “The Pizzapedia,” but the authors felt that didn’t convey their love of the food. “Encyclopedia just feels quite cold and quite factual,” says Thom Ellliot. “We’ve been told by so many people in so many different ways that pizza is not enough to carry a book. ‘There are not enough interesting things to say about pizza.’ And so we have been on this mission for five years to write a longer and longer and longer and longer list of why these people are wrong.” Despite the brothers' obvious respect for the classic Neapolitan version, they acknowledge the impact of the huge pizza-making chains, like Pizza Hut and Domino's. The book includes interviews with their executives, who oversee companies making millions of pizzas a year. “You can’t ignore it. They’re doing something right. Whatever you think, they’re doing something right,” says Thom Ellliot. "They love pizza. These are not people who are just sitting there going, ‘Oh, we don’t care. It's just all about the margin and how do we sell more for less.’” Pizza, to the brothers, is clearly woven into the fabric of humanity, a cheap, delicious, satisfying meal that can be scaled up or down. It's a food we eat when we are celebrating, gathering for entertainment, working hard collectively or when we're just in need of a hug. “Pizza is the place that people turn when they’re struggling, when they break up, when they lose their job, when they’re just having a tough day. Pizza is the food that they talk about — like their spouse — that thing that carries them over the line,” says Thom Ellliot. "I really genuinely think that you don’t get that with any other kind of food, even the ones that people obsess about, like barbeque. People don’t turn to barbecue in their time of need. They geek out about it and they obsess about it and they see perfection. But they don’t have it like a crutch in their life." ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Elliot Page, Halifax's own Hollywood star, has shared that he is transgender.The actor is known for his Oscar-nominated role in Juno, as well as Inception and most recently The Umbrella Academy. He addressed his social media followers on Tuesday with a lengthy Instagram post, in which he shared that he is trans and that he uses the pronouns he/they."I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey," Page wrote."I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page describes 'fragile' joyPage said he has been inspired by many in the trans community, and thanked them for their courage, generosity and working to make the world a more inclusive and compassionate place. While Page said his joy is real, it is also "fragile." Despite feeling profoundly happy and acknowledging his privilege, he is also scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the jokes and the violence.He cited the Human Rights Campaign's figure that nearly 40 trans people have been killed in the United States in 2020 alone, with the majority of those being trans women of colour. "Enough is enough. You aren't being 'cancelled,' you are hurting people. I am one of those people and we won't be silent in the face of your attacks," Page wrote.Outpouring of appreciationThe letter was met with an outpouring of appreciation on social media, with Canadian musicians Tegan and Sara tweeting that Page's strength, bravery and activism is "truly special."The official Umbrella Academy and Netflix accounts also tweeted their support, saying they are "proud of our superhero," in a nod to Page's character Vanya on the popular show.For years, Page has been one of the most visible queer actors in Hollywood since publicly coming out as gay in 2014 during an emotional speech at the Time to Thrive conference, an LGBTQ youth event.He married New York dance teacher Emma Portner a few years ago, and the 2016 series Gaycation saw Page and Ian Daniel explore LGBTQ cultures around the world.Page is also a passionate environmental activist, and made his directorial debut alongside Daniel with There's Something in the Water, a documentary that screened at TIFF last year.Inspired by a book of the same name by Dalhousie University professor Ingrid Waldron, the documentary takes on environmental racism — the way climate change disproportionately affects communities of colour — in Page's home province of Nova Scotia.Through this project, Page learned about the challenges people in Shelburne, N.S., had with contaminated wells. He pledged the money needed for a new community well in the south end of town, which the local council accepted in February.Warm welcome Non-binary CBC journalist Faith Fundal said they were excited by Page's announcement."We're sort of at a time where more and more people are feeling safe to come out, and to look at their own gender identity," Fundal said."And for some folks, like Elliot, realizing that, 'You know what, I'm not who I was gendered to be.'"WATCH | Fundal 'excited' by Page's news:Fundal said in their experience, and based on what they've heard from other trans people, coming out can be a scary experience."There is that very real fear of violence, of being beaten up or kicked out of your community, people not accepting you," they said. "So seeing all of these very positive things [about Page] from folks is heartwarming."Fundal said the people they've talked to are "happy to see this kind of visibility, to see this kind of representation, because representation is important."Nik Basset, an education co-ordinator at the Youth Project in Page's hometown of Halifax, is warmly welcoming Page to the trans community. The Youth Project is an organization offering support and services to LGBTQ youth.Basset, who uses they/them pronouns, told CBC's Mainstreet that they are "so excited for somebody to be moving into their authentic selves.""The courage that it takes to come out and advocate for your identity is a really hard thing to do," they said. "So I'm just really proud of Elliot."While Basset said someone with Page's profile may bring a lot of visibility to the trans community, they cautioned that such visibility is not always representative of social change.LISTEN | Basset welcomes Page to trans community: Basset said actions like misgendering (referring to someone by the wrong pronouns) or deadnaming (referring to someone by their former name) can be very harmful to a trans person.They said they understand what Page meant about his joy being "fragile.""From my lived experience, hearing pronouns that I don't identify with, or hearing my dead name, my given name, it reminds me of a time when I was closeted and afraid and confused," they said."I can't imagine — because I'm not famous — what it will feel like moving forward having this huge body of work tied to a name that they no longer use."Basset said there is a strong, supportive community for those who come out or who are questioning their gender identity."You're valid, no matter what," they said.
CENTRE WELLINGTON – A heritage study in Centre Wellington has identified 18 areas of importance and recommends prioritizing urban areas for further study. At a special committee of the whole meeting on Monday, a Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) study draft report was presented to Centre Wellington council. Mariana Iglesias, senior planner with the township, said with recent development pressures in the township they’ve found the need to protect larger areas that are historically and culturally significant. These areas are called CHLs, which the presentation to council identifies as a grouping of heritage features such as buildings, structures, spaces, views, archaeological sites or natural elements valued together. This study was commissioned as a starting point to identify the most significant CHLs in collaboration with the public, Indigenous groups and stakeholders. Annie Veilleux, consultant from Archaeological Services Inc., said the township is known as a scenic area with the Grand River being the backbone of influencing development in the township. “The significant CHLs are spread out throughout the township but are concentrated on the Grand River corridor,” Veilleux said. The study further identified higher priority areas that are more likely to have adjacent development, risk of altering heritage attributes or with more economic and tourism benefits. The report prioritizes the following urban areas for technical studies: Veilleux said CHLs in rural areas tend to be more stable. Also, those owned and managed by the Grand River Conservation Area have existing regulations and protections. These lower priority areas include: Council was very receptive to this report with councillor Kirk McElwain saying it should be part of the local school curriculum. He asked if a CHL designation provides any additional protection and noted that GRCA properties could be threatened by recent proposed changes to conservation authority mandates. Veilleux clarified that this report does not give protections to the CHLs but provides recommended priority areas for further study. “Following this study, the township may take on additional technical studies that are CHL specific and those studies would have the opportunity to develop protection measures for these places,” Veilleux said, adding that these measures could come from the heritage, planning, zoning. The CHL study is open for comments from the public until Jan. 29 where it will be later finalized and approved by council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
As Canada rolls out additional spending to support its economy during a second wave of the coronavirus, bond investors are giving Ottawa "the benefit of the doubt," expecting a historic budget deficit to be slashed once the pandemic subsides. The Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau projects that the budget deficit will shrink to C$25 billion ($19.3 billion) in 2025-26, less than 1% of GDP, after surging to an expected C$382 billion this year, as emergency aid mostly ends and the economy recovers, a fiscal update showed on Monday. A credible deficit reduction path could help keep Canada's borrowing costs low and reassure credit rating agencies.
BERLIN — More than 180 police officers raided homes in three German states early Tuesday after the German government banned a far-right group, the interior ministry said.The homes of 11 members of the far-right group Wolfsbrigade 44 were searched in Hesse, Mecklenburg West-Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia to confiscate the group's funds and far-right propaganda material, the German news agency dpa reported.“Whoever fights against the basic values of our free society will get to feel the resolute reaction of our government,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said. “There's no place in this country for an association that sows hatred and and works on the resurrection of a Nazi state.”The members of the group want to re-establish a Nazi dictatorship and abolish democracy, the interior ministry said. The 44 in their name stands for the fourth letter in the alphabet, DD, and is an abbreviation for Division Dirlewanger. Oskar Dirlewanger was a known Nazi war criminal and commander of a Nazi SS special unit.The far-right group, founded in 2016, is also known for its anti-Semitic and racist ideology as well as its violent and aggressive appearances in public and on social media.On Tuesday, officers found knives, a machete, a crossbow and bayonets during their raids. They also seized Nazi devotional objects such as swastikas and flags.Earlier this year, the German government banned other far-right groups including the Combat 18 and the Nordadler, dpa reported.In a separate investigation, the Defence Ministry said that eight suspects had been questioned by military intelligence on Tuesday in connection with an investigation that has been going on since the end of last year.The investigation is centred on soldiers and several civilian employees working at a regional office of the military in Ulm, who are thought to be linked to the so-called Reichsbuerger movement.Reichsbuerger, or Reich citizens, have similarities to the sovereign citizens movements in the United States and elsewhere. They reject the authority of the modern German state and promote the notion of “natural rights,” often mixing this ideology with far-right politics and esoteric conspiracy theories.“There isn't any room in the military for enemies of the constitution,” Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement.The Associated Press
Some nurses who left their jobs at Health PEI to take positions with Veterans Affairs Canada asked for, but were denied, a secondment from their provincial jobs, according to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay.That's from the latest in a series of letters between MacAulay and P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward. Aylward wrote to MacAulay in October, expressing concern about a hiring campaign by VAC by which the federal department had lured away at that time, according to Aylward's numbers, 25 registered nurses, two social workers and one psychologist from Health PEI.Health PEI said this week that the number of nurses who have left for VAC has now reached 32.As part of its effort to clear up a backlog of tens of thousands of disability claims, a spokesperson for VAC told CBC the department has hired 125 nurses across Canada, including 55 on P.E.I. Overall the federal department plans to hire 300 temporary staff and aims to clear up the backlog by March 2022. However the Parliamentary Budget Office says the job will require more staffing and an extra year to complete."Given the size of our province and corresponding size of the nursing workforce within our health-care system, this recruitment campaign has had a significant negative impact on our health human resources," Aylward wrote to MacAulay in the first of two letters the health minister tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.Aylward went on to say some long-term care facilities also lost positions, and were operating with "a skeleton staff."Aylward told MacAulay it was "counterproductive" for a federal department to be taking nurses from provincial health care while Ottawa was at the same time sending additional resources to the provinces to help them deal with COVID-19.> I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada. — Lawrence MacAulay"The number of nurses that have migrated from our system to your department has left a potential significant nursing gap should we experience a second wave resulting in a critical situation," Aylward wrote in a followup letter dated Nov. 17.In that letter, Aylward asked about the possibility of Health PEI receiving some of the nurses back from VAC on secondment.Nurses denied requests for leave, says MacAulayBut in response, MacAulay said some of the nurses hired by VAC had asked for a secondment working the other way around: they had asked Health PEI to be allowed to temporarily leave their provincial positions to help VAC clear up the backlog, but that request was denied."My department offered this option for consideration at the time of the recruitment campaign, recognizing the pressures that all health systems were facing," MacAulay wrote to Aylward."I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada."MacAulay said the positions are only temporary, and that he'd instructed his department "to be as helpful as possible on this matter." He said VAC is "willing to assist the province with its pandemic response should the current situation change."Nurses in search of 'work-life balance': unionMona O'Shea, the head of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, said she found it "interesting" Aylward reached out to MacAulay over the nursing shortage. She said the province was already facing a significant number of nursing vacancies even before VAC started recruiting.She said Aylward might have done better to take his concerns to the union. She said nurses are looking for "better work-life balance," and are being denied requests for "temporary leave of absence for education, for movement within the system, vacation, being called back to work when on vacation."O'Shea said nurses are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."More from CBC P.E.I.
Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 today, and seven new deaths due to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 727 new cases are in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region, and 168 cases in York Region. The province also reported 299 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 253 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 737 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools. In the province's long-term care homes, 743 residents currently have COVID-19 and six new deaths have been reported today. The province says 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press