After expressing his support for President Trump in the 2020 election because of Joe Biden’s proposed tax plan, rapper 50 Cent has has had a change of heart, saying in a new tweet that he “never liked him.”
After expressing his support for President Trump in the 2020 election because of Joe Biden’s proposed tax plan, rapper 50 Cent has has had a change of heart, saying in a new tweet that he “never liked him.”
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
BERLIN — A man zig-zagged an SUV at high speed through a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on Tuesday, killing five people, including a 9-month-old child, and seriously injuring more than a dozen, officials said.The driver, identified as a 51-year-old German man born in Trier, was arrested at the scene and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police said.The suspect, whose name was not released in line with German privacy laws, had no fixed address and had been living in recent days in the Land Rover that a friend had loaned him, which was used in the attack, said prosecutor Peter Fritzen, who was heading the investigation.He was being interrogated by police and was to undergo a psychiatric examination, Fritzen said, adding that a doctor had recently reached the preliminary conclusion the man could be suffering from mental illness.“We have no indication that there was any kind of a terrorist, political or religious motive that could have played a role,” he told reporters.The suspect had also consumed a “not insignificant” quantity of alcohol before the incident and was well above the legal limit, he added.Mayor Wolfram Leibe, who was brought to tears during the day talking about the horrific scene, said it was difficult to come to grips with what had happened.“I can't understand how someone gets the idea to drive through the city centre with an SUV to kill people,” he said. “Kill people — a baby, 9 months old to a woman 72 years old; what did these people do? They just wanted to go to the city, shop, and now they are dead.”Four people were still in life-threatening danger in the hospital and five others suffered serious injuries, while another six had less serious injuries, state Interior Minister Roger Lewentz said. Police later said one of the injured succumbed, but provided no further details.The others killed were identified as a 25-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man from Trier; the baby's mother was among those hospitalized. Police said the oldest victim was aged 73.“This incident has shaken all of Germany,” Lewentz said.Police were called shortly before 2 p.m. with reports of the attack.Lewentz commended security forces on their reaction, saying that they had located the car, which had stopped at the side of the street, and taken the suspect into custody within four minutes of receiving the first call.The driver, who was alone in the car, resisted arrest but was overpowered by police, authorities said.In a video posted by a local media outlet purportedly showing the arrest, police could be seen pinning a man down on the sidewalk next to a car with Trier license plates. The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified and it was taken down shortly after police tweeted a request that people do not share photos and videos of the scene.Footage from the scene showed people outside a shop apparently helping someone on the ground lying among scattered debris.Rhineland-Palatinate state governor Malu Dreyer, who comes from Trier, condemned the attack as a “brutal act.”“It was a really, really terrible day for my hometown,” Dreyer told reporters after visiting the scene.Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, tweeted that the incident was “shocking.”“Our thoughts are with the relatives of those killed and with the numerous injured, and with everyone currently on duty caring for them,” he said.Trier is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of Frankfurt, near the border with Luxembourg. The city of about 110,000 people is known for its Roman gate, the Porta Nigra, which is near the scene of the incident, and as the birthplace of Karl Marx.___Geir Moulson contributed to this report.David Rising, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s auditor general says the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for more robust cybersecurity and anti-fraud measures as government employees are forced to work remotely.However, he says the provincial government isn't working fast enough to manage those risks.Acting auditor general Terry Spicer notes in a report released Tuesday that the federal government's Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity has warned of an increase in attempts to access and attack networks used by remote workers.The audit finds that 10 provincial government departments, nine public service units and 19 government organizations have not completed fraud risk assessments.It adds that Service Nova Scotia, which helps citizens access government programs and services, is lagging behind on finalizing its regulations around cybersecurity.The auditor general cautions that fraud in the public sector can result in the loss of taxpayer funds and erode the public’s confidence in government if the risk isn’t properly handled.Tim Houston, leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, said in a statement that the auditor general's findings reveal the province is failing to protect the information of residents."As governments around the world find themselves increasingly at risk of cyberattacks, Nova Scotia has shown that it doesn’t place a high importance on keeping our health and other records safe from improper access," Houston said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. \- - - This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News FellowshipThe Canadian Press
With Stay on Your Feet classes back in full swing, seniors in the East Parry Sound Community Support Services area are once again benefiting from staying active. The classes in Callander, South River, Sundridge, Burk's Falls and Port Loring came to a full stop when the province went into lockdown mode in mid-March because of the coronavirus. Classes returned as lockdown restrictions began to ease up mid summer, but not indoors. Program co-ordinator Leslie Price says the decision was to first hold the classes outdoors to see how the participants would react. The outdoor settings made it easier to maintain social distancing plus the seniors didn't come into contact with any objects, such as handling doorknobs when heading into a building. “We weren't sure how the outdoor classes were going to fly, but the attendance was quite good,” says Price, adding the classes later moved indoors as the weather cooled. And that's where the seniors now meet once a week in the five communities. The seniors in each participating community meet once a week for the free classes, and Price says their numbers vary from 10 to 25 at each location. The program has several benefits, not the least of which is helping seniors remain active and being in a social environment, she says. However, the program has a larger and more important objective. “The big picture is to prevent falls and prevent people from ending up in the hospital,” Price explains. “If they fall and break a hip, they may end up in long-term care after that because they can't go back home.” Price says it costs little to run the Stay on Your Feet program and she believes it helps save health-care dollars in the long run. If seniors have good balance, which the program helps them achieve, they're less likely to fall and less likely to be hospitalized by an injury, Price explains. “It can cost money to be in a hospital,” she says. “Afterwards, if you go back home, you'll probably need a personal support worker while recovering from a fall. “But if there's a way to be proactive and prevent a fall in the first place and if part of that is these classes, that's great.” Some historic figures support Price's belief. In 2009, Canadians involved in a fall that required hospitalization accounted for about $2 billion in health-care dollars, says Taylor Matson, the community health promoter at the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. Nearly half of the people involved in falls were older adults. “It's important for older adults to stay active in order to maintain their ability to live independently in the community,” Matson says. “We focus on maintaining that physical activity so they can improve flexibility, balance and muscle strength. “We also promote staying social, so building those relationships and improving the individual's mental health helps.” Price agrees the classes help with relationship building among the seniors. The Stay on Your Feet program takes little money to operate. Price says the classes take place at the various locations thanks to the generosity of several groups, such as legion branches, that donate their hall once a week or a municipality that can make a centre available for the seniors. The only money that's paid out, she says, buys props such as yoga mats, hand weights and exercise bands, which are not being used at this time because of COVID-19. There also is a small amount paid to instructors who, in this instance, are yoga teachers. But Price emphasizes that Stay on Your Feet has nothing to do with yoga. “The instructors need to have a lot of anatomy knowledge,” she explains. “A big part of yoga is knowing how muscles, bones and balance work.” Price says the yoga instructors are able to guide the seniors in how to move and adds “the instructor can also modify (moves) for each person.” Price says the program's results can be astonishing. She has scores of testimonials from participants and says in one case an individual had to lean against a wall for decades to put on their pants because of poor balance. But after joining the classes, “they don't have to do that anymore.” Another individual regained flexibility in their neck, making it easier to drive. This same person says their leg cramps have decreased as a result of taking the Stay on Your Feet classes, and plans to keep taking them. The testimonials go on, with participants praising the instructors, adding they are happy the classes are being offered and hope they continue for a long time to come. Although the testimonials are from seniors who experienced one problem or another, Price says she doesn't want potential participants to decide against taking the classes thinking they're designed only for frail seniors. She encourages young and older seniors to think about taking the classes because the goal is to improve your balance and prevent falls. A goal for Price in the near future is to introduce the classes in Powassan. She almost had them started earlier this year, but the onset of COVID-19 nixed the plan. However, she's confident it's just a matter of time before older Powassan residents can be part of the Stay on Your Feet program. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
TORONTO — Eighty per cent of Canadian manufacturers surveyed in a new report are facing an immediate labour and skills shortage that was made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.A Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters survey of 563 companies across 19 sectors released Tuesday found the need for skilled labourers has been growing rapidly for years, but COVID-19 government relief, health concerns and family responsibilities are making the situation even more troublesome."Our skills gap that existed before the pandemic was just exacerbated by the pandemic and we need to make sure that everybody is working toward getting that next generation of workers in the sector," said Dennis Darby, president of the CME.His organization, which represents more than 2,500 companies across the country, said 70 per cent of manufacturers had a shortage of labour and skills in 2018, up from 40 per cent in 2016.The CME believes government support measures for Canadians during the pandemic may be discouraging people from seeking jobs in manufacturing. Others, it said, may be disinterested in the sector or working altogether because they fear for their health and safety as the virus spreads or because they have childcare obligations. A national daycare program and more support for women, immigrants and temporary foreign workers would help reverse the trends, said Darby."We also need to have a very solid commitment to actually getting the people whose jobs may have been displaced from other sectors trained up to be able to do jobs in manufacturing," he said.Addressing these problems quickly is important because the lack of qualified workers is impeding growth and limiting manufacturers' ability to innovate and invest in technology which it will need to serve future needs and keep up with competitors, said Darby.His report also contains a glimpse of how the pandemic has been impacting manufacturers.It said many experienced a simultaneous fall in demand and rise in supply chain disruptions in the early weeks of the pandemic. While 30 per cent of manufacturers have seen production return to the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020 and another 6 per cent believe they'll reach that threshold by the end of the year, not everyone is so fortunate.About 10 per cent of those manufacturers surveyed say they are very pessimistic about the outlook of their businesses, including 5 per cent that predict that their sales will never fully recover.The recovery has looked so different across the sector because manufacturing touches so many different industries and locations, Darby said. In many cases, the supply chains have yet to fully recover."In sectors like food and consumer products … they have been at capacity in many cases right across the country because a lot of those parts or ingredients are located or sourced in North America and the supply change smoothed out," he said."In those industries that bring a lot of stuff in from overseas, a lot of those supply chains slowed down and they're not completely back up yet."Alberta is facing the worst of the pandemic because of the impacts it has seen on the oil and gas sector, but areas of southwestern Ontario or Quebec have experienced decreased demand for items too, Darby said.Across the country, all manufacturers were forced to adapt quickly to protect their staff.About 60 per cent of those surveyed are purchasing personal protective equipment to keep workers safe. Their average PPE costs were estimated at $201,500 but are expected to reach $373,400 by the end of the year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday introduced top advisers he says will help his administration rebuild an economy hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, declaring, “I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way.”Biden said he'd chosen a “first-rate team” that is “tested and experienced" to tackle the country's economic crisis. He picked liberal advisers who have long prioritized the nation’s workers and government efforts to address economic inequality.Unemployment remains high as the COVID-19 outbreak widens the gulf between average people and the wealthiest Americans. The virus, which has claimed more than 269,000 lives nationwide, is resurgent across the country amid holiday travel and colder weather sending people indoors.As he did frequently while campaigning, Biden promised that the U.S. would eventually emerge with an economy that is dramatically reshaped to better stamp out economic inequality.“From the most unequal economic and job crisis in modern history, we can build a new American economy that works for all Americans, not just some,” Biden said as he introduced his choices for some of the government's top economic posts during a speech at a theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has led his transition to the presidency.Tuesday also marked the president-elect's first appearance since breaking two small bones in his right foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend. He wore a black walking boot and moved gingerly but tried to keep things light. As he emerged from his motorcade, Biden pointed to his boot and lifted his leg briefly to show it off.Asked about his foot by reporters, Biden responded only, “Good, thanks for asking.”The injury, while not serious, again intensifies scrutiny on Biden’s age, given that he just turned 78 and is the oldest president ever to be in his first term. Still, his team has tried to keep the focus on building out its government and upcoming policy challenges, chief among them the pandemic and the economy.Biden repeatedly evoked his work as vice-president when the Obama administration oversaw the economic recovery following the 2008 financial crisis, noting that many of those on his newly formed economic team worked closely with him then.Most of his choices will require confirmation from the deeply divided Senate, where some top Republicans have already begun voicing opposition. Biden said he hopes “that we will be able to work across the aisle in good faith, move forward as one country.”Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, when she placed a greater emphasis than previous Fed chairs on maximizing employment and less focus on price inflation. Biden also named Cecilia Rouse as chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, and Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein as members of the council.Yellen called the economic havoc the pandemic has wrought “an American tragedy.”“To the American people: We will be an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you,” Yellen said of the Treasury Department, “Your jobs, your paychecks, your struggles, your hopes, your dignity and your limitless potential.”If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to serve as treasury secretary, after breaking ground as the first woman to chair the Fed.“We might have to ask Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote a musical about the first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton, to write another musical about the female secretary of the treasury,” Biden joked.Rouse would be the first Black woman to lead the CEA in its 74 years of existence. The president-elect also selected Wally Adeyemo to be Yellen’s deputy, which would make him the first Black deputy treasury secretary. Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget, would be the first South Asian American in that job.Rouse, Tanden and Adeyemo will all require Senate confirmation, and Tanden, in particular, is already drawing heavy Republican criticism.“Budgets are not abstractions. They are a reflection of our values,” Tanden said during Tuesday's event.All of Biden's picks are outspoken supporters of more government stimulus spending to boost growth — which Biden embraced on the campaign trail — though their proposals could face a difficult reception in Congress, which has stalemated on a new round of economic relief for months.The prospects for a large-scale deal could hang on the outcome of runoff elections for both Georgia Senate seats. Victories in both would give Democrats control of the chamber — and its agenda —- by the slimmest of margins, but Republican victories will quickly test Biden and his team's ability to negotiate across the aisle to deliver on their promised relief for Americans.As he has in recent weeks, Biden repeated calls for Congress to pass immediate pandemic relief funding even before he takes office.“Right now, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package for relief,” he said. But Biden added that any package passed during the lame-duck session before the end of the year is “likely to be at best just a start” and said his transition team is “already working on what I’ll put forward in the next Congress to address the multiple crises we’re facing.”In the meantime, grim economic news is piling up. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Monday that the pace of improvement in the economy has moderated in recent months with future prospects remaining “extraordinarily uncertain.”And Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump's treasury secretary, announced last month that, over the objections of the Fed, he would not grant extensions for five lending programs being operated jointly by the Fed and the Treasury Department that are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31 — including backstops for corporate and municipal debt and the purchase of loans for small businesses and nonprofits.___Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Christopher Rugaber, Aamer Madhani and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.Zeke Miller And Will Weissert, The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defence said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.“That conduct you describe — the steps, the young women — there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults — thousands of assaults — nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor asked a prosecutor during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia's Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby's estate in 2004.“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them," Jappe said.Cosby has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It's generally not allowed, but state law permits a few exceptions, including to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone's identity. The state's high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.Judge Steven T. O'Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.O'Neill then let five other accusers testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018, when the jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.Cosby's appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said prosecutors exploited “all of this vague testimony” about his prior behaviour and his acknowledgement that he had given women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.“They put Mr. Cosby in a position where he had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn't exist for him,” Bonjean said in the arguments Tuesday, which were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Constand went to police in 2005, about a year after the night at his home. The other women knew Cosby in the 1980s through the entertainment industry, and they did not go to police.The defence also challenged the trial judge's decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, after then-prosecutor Bruce Castor declined to arrest Cosby.The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and Castor's successor reopened the case in 2015, just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” has said he will serve his entire 10-year term rather than admit wrongdoing to the parole board.Criminal law professor Laurie Levenson believes it's important for the court to scrutinize Cosby's conviction given the publicity the case attracted, the legal questions it raised and the potential influence of the MeToo movement.However, she was less sure there's data to show that intoxication was as prevalent in sex assault cases in the 1980s through 2004 as it is today.“We have heard a lot more about doping types of sexual assaults (recently), but I'm not sure how common it was at the time of this offence,” said Levenson, of Loyola Law School. “I think the court’s doing the right thing, which is asking, ‘Did he get convicted on legitimate evidence?'"The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has a plan A and a plan B to resume its season in mid-January, and its commissioner said Tuesday that cancelling its schedule isn't an option.On Monday, the league announced it was suspending activities from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, when players are expected to report to their respective clubs. The plan is to start playing games again between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20.There are two possibilities for how the resumption of games could look. Plan A, the one seemingly favoured by QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau, would be that the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided enough to allow public health officials in the four provinces the league has teams to permit the resumption of the schedule as planned with interprovincial travel.But the QMJHL also has a Plan B: a bubble format with a handful of teams in select cities.The league would create protected environments, like it did in Quebec City for about 10 days earlier in November, where several teams played games.The league wants six different cities — four in Quebec and two in Atlantic Canada — to host three teams each to play two games over three days between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24.After that, three cities would welcome four Quebec teams each to play six games in nine days between Jan. 30 and Feb. 7.There would also be a gathering of the six Atlantic Canada-based teams to play five games in eight days between Jan. 30 and Feb 6."I think that what happened in Quebec City over the last two weeks has been a real boost for our teams," Courteau said Tuesday. "It’s been a very positive event and gave us faith when we will sit down in front of the four provinces’ public health departments, that we've got a good plan for them."If restrictions are still place, the league is ready to pivot to a bubble format."We’ll see as well what will be the evolution of the pandemic," Courteau said.The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major junior leagues to open their season around the normal start date.The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.For the time being, the QMJHL has no plans to cancel the rest of the season."We never talked about cancelling the season," Courteau said. "When we made the decision back in late July, start of August about resuming training and the start of training camp, we knew … we would go through roadblocks throughout the season."The 18-team league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions and positive tests. The league says the objective is for teams to play about 30 games each in the bubble format. But it wouldn't mean all teams will play an equal number of games by the end of the season. Thus far, the Sherbrooke Phoenix have played a league-low five games, while three clubs lead the way with 16 games played apiece.The league's hockey committee is meeting to assess which scenario will be adopted and how the playoffs will look.The league has distributed specifics to each club and it will be up to them to decide whether they will put themselves forward to host one of the bubbles.QMJHL will not be exempted from strict COVID-19 requirements in Atlantic Canada.The league has three teams in New Brunswick, two in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island. The league has asked players to report as of Jan. 3 so they can fulfil a 14-day quarantine before activities resume Jan. 17.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press
Ottawa's fiscal update on Monday outlined what the government is proposing to do to help the economy survive the pandemic, and thrive as the country emerges from it some time soon. And policy makers say a big part of that recovery will hinge on what help is coming for one of the hardest hit demographic groups: women.Women have been disproportionately hit by the job losses that have come with COVID-19, economists at Royal Bank noted in a recent report on the topic.While overall employment is still well short of where it was before the pandemic, economists Dawn Desjardins and Carrie Freestone calculated that roughly 68,000 men joined the labour force between February and October, while more than 20,000 women have left it over the same time frame.A major reason for that exodus, experts say, is because women are bearing a disproportionate burden of child care and are being forced to choose caregiving over their own career ambitions.Ottawa hinted it wanted to create a national child care program in its throne speech in September, and reiterated that wish in Monday's fiscal update. But while the government did earmark some money into exploring the idea, it is still a long way from becoming reality.Choosing between daycare or careerWomen know all too well how badly it is needed now.Janel Sherise is a hairstylist and mother in Mississauga, just west of Toronto.She was on maternity leave before the pandemic started, but when that ended, she found her income as a hair stylist had dried up so she faced a problem familiar to many working mothers: choosing between finding the money to pay for daycare, or putting her own career on hold."I'm used to being in the work force and helping to provide for my family," she said, "but it's just not feasible."LISTEN | Janel Sherise spoke with the CBC's Matt Galloway about life for working mothers in a pandemicShe has launched a business out of her home selling cheesecakes to help pay the bills, but it's a tough grind."I'm definitely working through naps," she says. A national daycare program would help, but she knows that working mothers like her need immediate help now or they risk being left behind. Torontonian Gina Vivian has a similar story.As a home-care nurse, she was used to shift work and the time pressures that go along with that, but then schools closed in March. Suddenly, she was unable to continue accepting shifts because she had to take care of — and help teach — her twin six-year-old boys."There was absolutely no way I could work," she said in an interview. "And I feel a lot of guilt for that, but I couldn't work."Vivian's kids went back to school in September so she is looking for full-time work again, but is finding it difficult to navigate the world of online job applications.She worries that every day she's away from nursing is a day that puts her further and further behind. "My career is a big part of me and it's not something I want to let go of," she said.'She-cession'To economist Armine Yalnizyan, Sherise and Vivian are two casualties of the current "she-cession" — a term she coined to describe the threat she sees that decades of progress made on behalf of women in the workforce is being undone."The moment is extremely urgent and ... we have no more time to waste," Yalnizyan said in an interview.Historically, one of the best tools governments have at their disposal to try to stimulate an economy coming out of a shock would be spending on large, capital intensive infrastructure projects to get people working.But "there's not enough men to do the jobs that the women have lost," Yalnizyan said."The playbook for recovery has got to be different than the old-fashioned playbook, which has been shovel-ready infrastructure, we've got to do more to get more women back."Child care is a huge part of that, she said, because it is primarily women that have been bearing the burden of child care through this pandemic, whether they have lost their job or are being asked to do it on top of it."It's just impossible for too many people," she said. "And we're not doing enough to make it less impossible right now."It's not just a problem for women, either. Ottawa laid out an ambitious and expensive fiscal update on Monday, pledging to spend between $70 and $100 billion as a shot in the arm for Canada's economy as it recovers from COVID-19.According to research by Desjardins at RBC, that's the same price tag as would be added to the economy simply by making sure the female participation rate in the labour force is as much as the male rate.That alone would add $100 billion to Canada's GDP each and every year."It's a very material lift to Canada and to our prosperity," she said.Pandemic's impact on women 'enormous'While the virus that causes COVID-19 does not discriminate, Anjum Sultana, national director of public policy at YWCA Canada, said that isn't the case for the economic side of things."The gendered impact of this crisis has been enormous," she said in an interview.She said she liked what she saw in some of the broad details announced Monday, including $20 million earmarked to establish the Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care, which will be tasked with handling any national child care program, and $420 million to support the training and retention of more early childhood educators. But more is needed."The question is — is it enough, and is it going to get here fast enough?"For women like Sherise, help can't come soon enough. So in the meantime, she and the working mothers in her social circle will keep doing whatever it takes to make ends meet. "We all kind of fell into the same predicament of we're just going to have to be entrepreneurs because we can't go back," she said.
Students in Niagara are facing two ways of completing their courses. District School Board of Niagara’s secondary school schedule, which lists Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 as exam days, will now be replaced with “culminating activities.” Helen McGregor, superintendent of secondart shool curriculum and student achievement, said, “Students are learning differently this year, with many learning in-person for part of the week, and others learning exclusively online. “To ensure all our students are supported to find success this year, whether they are learning in-person or online, in October we made the decision to cancel exams,” said McGregor. “Schools have already let students know that they will not have exams and, instead, they will have culminating activities.” In contrast, Niagara Catholic District School Board has already administered two sets of exams, Oct. 9 and Nov. 13, with a third one to be completed on Dec. 18. Niagara Catholic’s back-to-school plan split students into two cohorts. Those cohorts will be focused on one course for 22 days. Upon completion of the course, exams are administered. Board communications officer Jennifer Pellegrini said, “… we are octomestered, students do their exam right at the end of their course — so there aren’t set exam days as other boards have. It’s 22 days of class, then an exam/assessment, then off to the next course.” In October, the Ministry of Education told school boards they have the option to remove designated exam days from their school year calendar and use them for in-class instructional time. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the use of essays or report-based assessments in the place of final exams should be allowed “given the circumstance.” “I don’t want to increase the anxiety of our students. An essay, an extended report, these are all ways in which an educator can credibly assess the performance of a student.” The holiday break for students is to begin Dec. 21 and will last until students return to the classroom on Jan. 4. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting. The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native. Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last. “I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website. A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro. Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection. Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District. That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP. The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year. Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race. A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run. Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture. Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us." His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.” Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary. Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before. Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
The RCMP says one man is dead after a fishing vessel with a crew of eight ran aground on Eagle Island near Cox's Cove Tuesday morning. Seven other members of the crew were reported to be uninjured, according to police, who were alerted to the incident at 6:45 a.m. The vessel was carrying a crew of eight and is based out of Curling, about five kilometres west of Corner Brook. According to police, the Maritime Rescue Sub-Center in St. John's dispatched the Canadian Coast Guard ship Cape Fox, from Lark Harbour, which attended the scene. A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from Gander was prepared to be deployed to the scene, but due to the speediness of local fishers who assisted the distressed vessel, it was called down.The RCMP said the crew on board the vessel were transported onto another boat and removed from the area. Transport Canada, Occupational Health and Safety Division of Service NL and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are involved in the ongoing investigation.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Police in Hamilton say they are investigating after a protest group left a coffin outside the home of the city's mayor on Monday night. The force says the coffin, which was filled with flowers and naloxone kits, was placed outside Mayor Fred Eisenberger's residence by members of the Defund Hamilton Police group. Group members say the coffin was meant to draw attention to homelessness and overdoses in the city. "So many people die on the street due to the inaction by the City of Hamilton and by the mayor," member Sabriena Dahab said Tuesday. The group has been calling for police funds to be redirected to deal with what they say is a housing crisis in the city. Dahab said the coffin was placed outside the mayor's home after he refused to have a public meeting on the matter. The mayor's office did not immediately respond to request for comment. Since January, paramedics have responded to 487 incidents related to suspected opioid overdoses in Hamilton, city data indicates. Another group member said the coffin incident was also a response to police's removal and disposal of fellow protester's tents outside city hall. "Many people lost their belongings," said member Koubra Haggar. The encampment had been set up last week as part of the group's effort to push for police funds to be reallocated. Last week, Hamilton police said they charged the group's organizer with failure to comply with provincial limits on outdoor gatherings. There were between 80 to 100 people outside city hall that day, police said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies like Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, experts said Tuesday.Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years.Sometimes labelled a "Netflix tax," the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it's only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef said it's likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals."Right now, the way in which they're delivering their services, they're not responsible for the collection," Micallef said."And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices."A regular monthly subscription for a streaming service that delivers video or music would be a simple calculation, with the tax rate applied to the purchase price.But Micallef said it is be more difficult to estimate how much additional tax individual consumers, or businesses, will pay for other types of digital purchases, he said.Something like gaming software might cost little or nothing itself, but offer the option for subsequent charges to add features that make the experience better."How many times? How many transactions? It adds up," Micallef said.Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. "I mean, this is really not a very substantial amount, when we're talking about corporate finances," said Winseck, who is a professor of journalism and communication.He said that the term "Netflix tax" has become highly politicized and is often used as "code" for levelling the playing field between U.S.-based digital media companies and traditional Canadian broadcasters."And if the idea is to create a level playing field between those two services, then that by all means that makes great sense," Winseck said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.David Paddon, The Canadian Press
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Republican state lawmaker from Pennsylvania revealed Monday that he has COVID-19, confirming the positive test five days after he went to the White House to meet with President Donald Trump and went maskless at a packed public meeting to discuss efforts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.State Sen. Doug Mastriano first revealed the diagnosis in a Facebook live video Monday night, one day after The Associated Press reported that Mastriano was informed of the positive test while at a West Wing meeting with Trump.On Tuesday, conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck asked Mastriano about his diagnosis.“I'm feeling fantastic,” Mastriano said, then changed the topic.Meanwhile, a Republican lawmaker who attended Wednesday's public meeting in Gettysburg with Mastriano, Sen. Judy Ward, revealed that she also has tested positive. The public meeting was held, despite state Department of Health and internal Senate pandemic directives limiting gatherings.The AP learned of the White House test results from a person with direct knowledge of the meeting. Mastriano insisted on Facebook that the report was inaccurate, but did not say how in a 15-minute video in which he confirmed he had tested positive and described his symptoms as “pretty mild.”He did not say where or when he got tested and did not discuss the White House meeting. Neither Mastriano nor his spokesperson have returned messages seeking comment over the past several days.Mastriano, who has led rallies against mask-wearing and other pandemic mitigation efforts, said in the video that after interacting with large numbers of people this year, “finally eight months in, and 20,000 people in, I do get it.”Mastriano said he wanted to “dispel any rumours and get to the bottom of it,” and suggested he contracted the virus in a “basement suite that lacked air circulation” where two other people in the room later tested positive.He did not say when that occurred, or whether it was before the Gettysburg event, but also complained that, before going on camera, he allowed a makeup artist there to use the same brushes on him as others before him.“I knew right there, you know, stop her, don’t let her put those brushes on your face, just walk away,” he said. “And I didn’t.”He said he has not had a fever, and expected his quarantine “will be ending here pretty quick, actually.”The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that people who tested positive not be around other people for 10 days after symptoms first appeared, if the person has gone 24 hours without fever and other symptoms are improving.Mastriano's White House trip followed the hours-long meeting in a Gettysburg hotel, which was held at Mastriano’s request and where few people wore masks.At the meeting, the state Senate Republican Policy Committee listened to Trump — calling in by telephone — and Trump’s lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, repeat baseless claims that Biden's victory in Pennsylvania was gained fraudulently and urge them to overturn it.No state or county election official or prosecutor in Pennsylvania has cited evidence of widespread election fraud in the state, and Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.Republicans convened the Gettysburg meeting amid rising coronavirus infections in Pennsylvania that state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine warned Monday have strained the state’s hospitals and intensive care units.Blair County Sen. Judy Ward, who sat with a mask on a few feet away from Mastriano at the public meeting, announced in a Facebook post Monday that she also had tested positive for the virus. Ward said she believes she became infected at a Thanksgiving gathering. She has not returned messages seeking comment.It is not clear how state Senate Republican leaders, who have remained silent about the matter, have responded internally to a potential outbreak stemming from that meeting.Mastriano said contact tracing has been performed, but provided no details, and a Senate GOP spokesperson would only say the “Senate continues to adhere to the COVID-19 mitigation policy which was adopted in the spring.”Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, criticized the meeting as irresponsible.“The spread of this virus is something that we have to really take seriously and we should not be subjecting our staff and others to exposure,” Costa said.A spokesperson for the state Department of Health declined to say whether the agency was conducting contact tracing as a result of the Gettysburg event.__Follow Mark Scolforo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/houseofbuddy and Marc Levy at www.twitter.com/timelywriter.Mark Scolforo And Marc Levy, The Associated Press
SAN RAMON, Calif. — Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against longtime industry powerhouse Microsoft.The acquisition announced Tuesday is by far the largest in the 21-year history of Salesforce. The San Francisco company was one of the first to begin selling software as a subscription service that could be used on any internet-connected device instead of the more cumbersome process of installing the programs on individual computers.Salesforce’s flamboyant founder and CEO Marc Benioff hailed the “cloud computing” concept as the wave of the future to much derision initially.But software as a service has become an industry standard that has turned into a gold mine for longtime software makers. Microsoft for one has developed its own thriving online suite of services, known as Office 365, which includes a Teams chatting service that includes many of the same features as Slack’s 6-year-old application.Slack in July filed a complaint in the European Union accusing Microsoft of illegally bundling Teams into Office 365 in a way that blocks its removal by customers who may prefer Slack.Microsoft also has been posing a threat to Salesforce’s main products, a line-up of tools that help other companies manage their customer relationships.“For Benioff, this is all about Microsoft,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said of Tuesday's deal. “It’s just clear Microsoft is moving further and further away from Salesforce when it comes to the cloud wars.”Benioff left no doubt he considered the deal to be a major coup, after losing out to Microsoft in 2016 when the two companies were both vying to buy the professional networking service LinkedIn. In a prepared statement, Benioff touted the combination as “a match made in heaven” that will “transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.”Salesforce has been building on its success in recent years to diversify into other fields, largely through a series of acquisitions that included its previous largest deal, a $15.7 billion purchase of data analytics specialist Tableau Software last year.Many of the deals have been financed with Salesforce’s stock, which is worth nearly seven times more than it was a decade ago to lift the company's current market value to $220 billion. Salesforce is using its stock to pay for roughly half of the Slack purchase, with the rest being covered with some cash, with some of the money being borrowed during a time of extraordinarily low interest rates.Slack, on the other hand, hasn’t proven as popular with investors, even though its service that publicly launched in 2014 is being increasingly used by companies and government agencies looking for more nimble alternatives than email. Before news reports of a potential deal with Salesforce surfaced last week, Slack’s stock was still hovering around its initial listing price of $26 when the company went public nearly 18 months ago.“This is a stellar exit strategy for Slack,” said Kate Leggett, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Microsoft Teams is eating Slack’s lunch.”Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield will be hoping this sale works out better than when another company he started, photo sharing service Flickr, was sold to Yahoo 15 years ago. Flickr got lost in the shuffle at Yahoo amid years of turmoil before it was finally sold again in 2018 to SmugMug.In his next act after leaving Flickr, Butterfield decided to focus on gaming with a startup called Tiny Speck that launched in 2009. A few years later, he shifted to the instant messaging service whose name was an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge."Leggett predicted Salesforce would benefit from owning Slack because it will add a popular collaboration tool to its own software suite, which is focused on managing customer relationships for businesses and government agencies. She said the need for customer-relations agents and other Salesforce users to swarm around a topic and collaborate remotely has only grown with the coronavirus pandemic that has sent so many office workers home and got many hooked on new online tools.Slack, which is free for people who use the basic version, found quick adoption in the tech industry for its ease of use and its fostering of a more casual mode of conversation than email. The company stopped releasing its daily user count after topping 12 million last year, focusing instead on paid customers, which Butterfield said in March have shown a “massive outpouring of interest” because of the way the pandemic has forced people to work from home.“I think the pandemic’s played a massive role" in paving the way for the deal, Ives said. “The Zooms, the Slacks, the Microsoft Teams, that’s going to be a new part of the workforce.”Ives said Benioff was also running out of time to catch up to Microsoft, which remains a secondary player in Salesforce’s core customer-relations-management business, known as CRM, but way ahead in providing a broader array of cloud-based services.Slack and Salesforce are headquartered about a block away from each other in San Francisco. Slack's office is in the shadow of the 62-story Salesforce Tower, the city's tallest building. If all goes smoothly, the two companies hope to close the deal and combine forces sometime between May and July next year.___O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.Michael Liedtke And Matt O'Brien, The Associated Press
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
* Ottawa has 34 more COVID-19 cases and one more death. * At least one key indicator is verging on red zone levels. * Renfrew County is down to zero known active cases.Today's Ottawa updateOttawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 34 new cases of COVID-19 and the death of another retirement home resident. OPH has declared a 26 more cases resolved.Numbers to watch26.8: Ottawa's per capita rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days is slightly down from Monday, but still above the rate of 25 — the difference between yellow and orange on Ontario's pandemic scale.1.19: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t), remains above one, suggesting the coronavirus is spreading faster than it can be controlled. The threshold between orange and red is 1.2.9: The number of long-term care homes with active COVID-19 outbreaks.Researchers measuring levels of the coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater continue to report a slight upward trend. Across the regionFifteen more western Quebec residents have tested positive and one more has died of COVID-19.Renfrew County now has no known active COVID-19 cases.