Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced the frustration of the country today when he agreed that COVID-19 “sucks.” He said it is frustrating to continue to have to limit our activities and socialization but that it will not be forever.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced the frustration of the country today when he agreed that COVID-19 “sucks.” He said it is frustrating to continue to have to limit our activities and socialization but that it will not be forever.
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
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is turning to a nasal spray as its primary flu vaccine for residents between the ages of two and 59. FluMist was originally available only for private purchase this year, but is now being offered by the Ontario government as demand continues across the province, according to a memo to the mayor and council from Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health.The spray will be available at OPH clinics starting Friday. It will also be distributed to pharmacies and family physicians, OPH said.The unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine this year caused some pharmacies to run out, delaying vaccination for some Ottawa residents.Nasal spray 'proven to be effective'Etches said the nasal spray, which is authorized for use in Canada in children and adults up to 59, is "proven to be effective" and has the support of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. OPH has distributed the spray in previous flu seasons, Etches said. Infants, adults over 60, people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled asthma will receive a flu shot instead of the spray.Concerned about the possibility of a "double pandemic" and the resulting strain on the health-care system, public health officials have been especially adamant about residents getting vaccinated against influenza this season, and residents have apparently heeded the call.More than 48,000 Ottawa residents have been vaccinated against influenza since OPH began the current campaign in October. That's more than four times the number vaccinated during the previous flu season. "OPH will continue to offer available appointments on our website based on community demand and vaccine availability," Etches wrote. "OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible."
The largestbattery poweredelectric bus fleet in North America is Canadian. Toronto's transit system is now running 59 electric buses from three suppliers. And Canadian pioneers like Toronto offer lessons for other transit systems aiming to transition to greener fleets for the low-carbon economy of the future.Diesel buses are some of the noisier, more polluting vehicles on the urban roads. Going electric could have big benefits.Emissions reductions are the main reason the federal government aims to add 5,000 electric buses to Canada's transit and school fleets by the end of 2024. New funding announced this week as part of the government's fall fiscal update could also give programs to electrify transit systems a boost."You are seeing huge movement towards all-electric," said Bem Case, the Toronto Transit Commission's head of vehicle programs. "I think all of the transit agencies are starting to see what we're seeing ... the broader benefits."While Vancouver has been running electric trolley buses (more than 200, in fact), many cities (including Vancouver) are now switching their diesel buses to battery powered buses that don't require overhead wires and can run on regular bus routes.The TTC got approval from its board to buy its first 30 electric buses in November 2017. Its plan is to have a zero-emissions fleet by 2040.That's a crucial part of Toronto's plan to meet its 2050 greenhouse gas targets, which requires 100 per cent of vehicles to transition to low-carbon energy by then.But Case said the transition can't happen overnight. Finding the right busFor one thing, just finding the right bus isn't easy."There's no bus, by any manufacturer, that's been in service for the entire life of a bus, which is 12 years," Case said."And so really, until then, we don't have enough experience, nor does anyone else in the industry, have enough experience to commit to an all electric fleet immediately."In fact, Case said, there are only three manufacturers that make suitable long-range buses — the kind needed in a city the size of Toronto.Having never bought electric buses before, the city had no specifications for what it needed in an electric bus, so it decided to try all three suppliers: Winnipeg-based New Flyer; BYD, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China; and California-based Proterra.They all had their strengths and weaknesses, based on their backgrounds as a traditional non-electric bus manufacturer, a battery maker and a vehicle technology and design startup respectively."Each bus type has its own potential challenges." Case said all three manufacturers are working to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.Infrastructure installationBut the biggest challenge of all, Case said, is getting the infrastructure in place. "There's no playbook, really, for implementing charging infrastructure," he said.Each bus type needed their own chargers, in some cases using different types of current. Each type has been installed in a different garage in partnership with local utility Toronto Hydro.Buying and installing them represented about $70 million, or about half the cost of acquiring Toronto's first 60 electric buses. The $140-million project was funded by the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.Case said it takes about three hours to charge a battery that has been fully depleted. To maximize use of the bus, it's typically put on a long route in the morning, covering 200 to 250 kilometres. Then it's partially charged and put on a shorter run in the late afternoon."That way we get as much mileage on the buses as we can."Cost and reliability?Besides the infrastructure cost of chargers, each electric bus can cost $200,000 to $500,000 more per bus than an average $750,000 diesel bus. Case acknowledges that is "significantly" more expensive, but it is offset by fuel savings over time, as electricity costs are cheaper. Because the electric buses have fewer parts than diesel buses, maintenance costs are also about 25 per cent lower and the buses are expected to be more reliable.As with many new technologies, the cost of electric buses is also falling over time.Case expects they will eventually get to the point where the total lifecycle cost of an electric and a diesel bus are comparable, and the electric bus may even save money in the long run.All-weather testing neededAs of this fall, all but one of the 60 new electric buses have been put into service. The last one is expected to hit the road in early December.Summer testing showed that air conditioning the buses reduced the battery capacity by about 15 per cent. But the TTC needs to see how much of the battery capacity is consumed by heating in winter, at least when the temperature is above 5 C. Below that, a diesel-powered heater kicks in.Once testing is complete, the TTC plans to develop specifications for its electric bus fleet, and order 300 more in 2023 for delivery between 2023 and 2025.Potential benefitsEven with some diesel heating, the TTC estimates electric buses reduce fuel usage by 70 to 80 per cent. If its whole fleet were switched to electric buses, it could save $50 million to $70 million in fuel a year and 150 tonnes of greenhouse gases per bus per year, or 340,000 tonnes for the entire fleet.Other than greenhouse gases, electric buses also generate fewer emissions of other pollutants. They're also quieter, creating a more comfortable urban environment for pedestrians and cyclists.But the benefits could potentially go far beyond the local city."If the public agencies start electrifying their fleet and their service is very demanding, I think they'll demonstrate to the broader transportation industry that it is possible," Case said."And that's where you'll get the real gains for the environment."Alex Milovanoff, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Toronto's department of civil engineering, did a study that suggested electrified transit has a crucial role to play in the low-carbon economy of the future.His calculations show that 90 per cent of U.S. passenger vehicles — 300 million — would need to be electric by 2050 to reach targets under the global Paris Agreement to fight climate change.And that would put a huge strain on resources, including both the mining of metals such as lithium and cobalt that are used in electric vehicle batteries and the electrical grid itself.A better solution, he showed, was combining the transition to electric vehicles with a reduction in the number of private vehicles, and higher usage of transit, cycling and walking."Then that becomes a feasible picture," he said.What's needed to make the transitionBut in order to make that happen, governments need to make investments, he added.That includes subsidies for buying electric buses and building charging stations so transit agencies don't need to make fares too high. But it also includes more general improvements to the range and reliability of transit infrastructure."Electrifying the bus fleet is only efficient if we have a large public transit fleet and if we have many buses on the road and if people take them," Milovanoff said.In its fall economic update on Nov. 30, the federal government announced $150 million over three years to speed up the installation of zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.Josipa Petrunic, CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium, a non-profit organization focused on zero-carbon mobility and transportation, said in the past, similar funding has paid for high-powered charging systems for transit systems in B.C. and Ontario. But that's only a small part of what's needed, she said."Infrastructure Canada needs to come to the table with the cash for the buses and the whole rest of the system."She said funding is needed for: * Feasibility studies to figure out how many and what kinds of buses are needed for different routes in different transit systems. * Targets and incentives to motivate transit systems to make the switch. * Incentives to encourage Canadian procurement to build the industry in Canada. * Technology to collect and share data on the performance of electric vehicles so transit systems can make the best-possible decisions to meet the needs of their riders.Petrunic said that a positive side-effect of electrifying transit systems is that the infrastructure can support, in addition to buses, electric trucks for moving freight.So far, Petrunic said, Canada has about 120 battery electric buses on order and on the roads."It's not a lot given that we have 15,000 buses out there in the transit fleet," she said."But we should be able to get a lot further ahead if we match the city commitments to zero emissions with federal and provincial funding for jobs creating zero emissions technologies."
JEUNESSE. Dans l’attente du dépôt du rapport de la Commission spéciale sur les droits des enfants et la protection de la jeunesse en avril 2021, sa présidente, Régine Laurent a quand même présenté des constats, des orientations ainsi qu’une recommandation qui visant à créer dès maintenant un poste de directeur national de la protection de la jeunesse qui aura pour objectif de rendre cohérente l’action gouvernementale en cette matière. Une recommandation bien accueillie par Lionel Carmant. «Le bien-être de chaque enfant est au centre de nos priorités. La création d’un poste de directeur national de la protection de la jeunesse est intéressante et va dans le sens de ma réflexion. Nous entendons donner suite rapidement à cette recommandation», a déclaré le ministre délégué à la Santé et aux Services sociaux suite à la conférence de presse du 30 novembre. Ainsi, le directeur national de la protection de la jeunesse aurait pour mandat de : · De développer et d’harmoniser les pratiques en protection de la jeunesse; · De promouvoir les besoins des enfants et des familles vulnérables du Québec - rôle social des DPJ - et d’effectuer les représentations nécessaires pour y répondre tant au sein du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux qu’auprès des ministères concernés par l’enfance en difficulté afin d’assurer une utilisation judicieuse du recours à la LPJ; · De déterminer les orientations et les normes de pratique clinique et de gestion applicables à la protection de la jeunesse; · D’assurer la mise en œuvre et le respect des orientations et normes de pratique dans toutes les régions du Québec; · D’exercer un leadership et de soutenir l’action des DPJ régionaux, des directions de programme jeunesse et des responsables de contentieux à l’égard d’une mise en œuvre cohérente de la LPJ; · D’exercer les contrôles requis pour assurer que les interventions en protection de la jeunesse respectent les plus hauts standards; · D’assurer une concertation efficace des ministères de la Santé et des Services sociaux, de la Justice et de la Sécurité publique, conjointement responsables de l’application des lois particulières - LPJ et la Loi sur le système de justice pénale pour les adolescents - LSJPA; · D’exercer un suivi rigoureux sur les parcours de services aux enfants et aux familles et de voir à mesurer les effets des interventions; · De participer au processus de sélection et de nomination des DPJ régionaux. Rappelons que la Commission Laurent a été créée par le gouvernement du Québec suite au décès d’une fillette de 7 ans à Granby, le 30 avril 2019. Devant cette tragédie, le gouvernement du Québec s’était engagé à entreprendre une réflexion qui porte non seulement sur les services de protection de la jeunesse, mais également sur la loi qui l’encadre, sur le rôle des tribunaux, des services sociaux et des autres acteurs concernés. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Prior to the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim. “Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” says the 34-year-old from Toronto. He had settled on going to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries there began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination that came about through a process of elimination.“I can’t go to many of the places I want to go.”Canadians living the digital nomad lifestyle say remote work in foreign countries has become cheaper as a result of the pandemic, but the freedom to go where they wish has been heavily limited. Digital nomads, who often freelance or work remotely full-time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can pick and choose where they’d like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to come to terms with.Polyvyanny says what he loses in choice, he’s getting back in value as the price of housing and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic plummets across the world. He snagged a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for only $170, and was able to negotiate prices while picking a place to stay.Vanessa Perez, a freelance marketing consultant from Montreal, says she was used to working abroad for seven months every year prior to the pandemic.This year, she worked in Paris for only one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments there were more serious about implementing safety measures for COVID-19.It’s not a typical destination for digital nomads, who usually opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia where they have the added benefit of a favourable currency exchange rate. Perez, who previously lived in Columbia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost to continue the nomadic lifestyle.Now back in Montreal, Perez says she’s planning to work abroad in February, but is careful about committing.“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will even turn out in December,” she says, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.“It’s day to day, week to week to see what will be the next step.”For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where a visa is easy to come by.Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she’s able to live in the country with a six-month tourist visa that she received on arrival.She said renewing her visa is as simple as leaving the country and coming back again, which is much cheaper during the pandemic because of lower living costs.“Mexico has this stance where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,’” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home once after seven months to renew her visa.But she said the lifestyle isn’t quite the same, as she's avoiding air travel and can't explore the country like she had planned to. The silver lining is that she’ll save more money and can still travel by vehicle. Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to go back to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are cancelled and city life is disrupted.“Pretty much all of the good things about Toronto were taken away,” he says.“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I’m not able to enjoy this city.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian 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
Community concerns surrounding the future of the moose population near a small, remote First Nation west of Williams Lake has led its newly-elected chief to ink a five-year memorandum of understanding with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS). Yunesit’in government (Stone) is the latest First Nation to reach such an agreement with the COS to promote wildlife sustainability through joint communication, collaboration and enforcement. “It’s going to open the door to have some meaningful meetings, and taking better jurisdiction and care of our moose and deer population out west,” Chief Lennon Solomon said Nov. 30 outside the Tsilhqot’in National Government office in downtown Williams Lake. Solomon, who was elected chief of Yunesit’in in Sept. 2020, said the community voiced their concerns to him after seeing a decline in moose numbers in recent years. COS Insp. Len Butler of the Thompson Cariboo Region said working with Solomon is a real benefit. “We have the same concerns, and it’s the unlawful hunting of cow moose and if we’re working together, it’s much better than working apart on these issues,” Butler said. “Having that backing and us working together is good for the moose populations but also all the species of wildlife.” This year has seen an increase in illegal hunting activity such as hunting on private lands and trafficking, Butler noted, stating there has also been a lot of ‘unfortunate’ night hunting activity within the area. Butler and Solomon both agreed there is more than one factor leading to the moose population’s decline, including predation and logging. Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse described the Yunesit’in caretaker area as prime moose habitat that has been heavily logged. The area was also heavily impacted by wildfires that tore through the region in 2017. “They’d say that our hunters used to go out in the wilderness and get lost, now there are so many logging areas out there they go out on the logging roads, and they get lost,” Alphonse said. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is forecasting higher spending and production in 2021 based on benchmark U.S. oil prices staying near their current levels of around US$45 per barrel.It says it predicts daily oil and gas production between 740,000 and 780,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2021, an increase of about 10 per cent compared with this year driven by higher bitumen output from its oilsands operations.It expects capital spending of between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, including sustaining capital of $2.9 billion to $3.4 billion, an increase of about nine per cent over 2020's expected spending of $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion.The Calgary-based company forecasts refinery throughput of 415,000 to 445,000 barrels per day based on a utilization rate of between 90 and 96 per cent.Suncor says it expects to repay between $500 million and $1 billion of debt and will introduce a $500-million share repurchase program.In reports, analysts said the guidance was in line with what they were expecting.Credit Suisse analyst Manav Gupta pointed out that Suncor cut capital and operating spending earlier this year and lowered its dividend payments."Suncor almost broke even in the third quarter of 2020, and now is getting ready to pay down portion of the debt it took on to navigate the crisis," he added.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SU)The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Health Canada won’t be cutting any corners as it works to accelerate the approval process for the leading candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine. Trudeau says experts are still trying to determine who will be first in line for a new vaccine, including where politicians such as himself will rank.
A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park. "This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email. "It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season." This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program. It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield. DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations. The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018. Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site. Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways. "Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season." While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4. Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year. "Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree." DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP. "Support your community by shopping locally," she said. DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group. For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty. “The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
L'Institut Tshakapesh a annoncé qu'en collaboration avec les écoles membres de l'organisation, elle allait de l'avant avec le virage numérique. Cette démarche est notamment accélérée par les circonstances actuelles qui découlent de la pandémie et elle fait partie du plan d'action du ministère de l'Éducation qui a pour objectif d'outiller numériquement les élèves innus pour favoriser leur réussite éducative. Ainsi, l'Institut mettra en branle une série de mesures pour effectuer ce virage numérique. En ce moment, des iPad acquis par l'organisme au printemps sont distribués dans les écoles membres. Selon l'Institut, cet outil permettra de : « valoriser les méthodes d’enseignement innovantes qui favoriseront des apprentissages chez tous les élèves tant en classe qu’à la maison.» Les écoles membres auront aussi accès à la suite Microsoft Office 365. L’Institut Tshakapesh est convaincu de mettre en place des mesures des conditions gagnantes qui contribueront à la réussite des élèves. « C’est avec fierté que l’Institut Tshakapesh contribue à la transmission des savoirs traditionnels et contemporains. Nous encourageons les écoles à profiter du virage numérique pour adapter et intégrer des outils qui serviront à l’apprentissage de l’Innu-aimun et de l’Innu-aitun », affirme Alexandre McKenzie, président de l’Institut Tshakapesh. De son côté, la directrice générale de l'Institut, Marjolaine Tshernish, tient à souligner le rôle des directions d'écoles dans le virage numérique. Elle explique : « Ces dernières ont mobilisé leur équipe-école dans l'intégration de ces nouveaux outils pour soutenir les méthodes d'enseignement innovantes. Un modèle à promouvoir qui met de l'avant l'inclusion et la réussite des élèves innus et qui permettra des interventions adéquates auprès des enfants les plus à risque. » Formation L’Institut Tshakapesh offre aussi un plan de formation et de soutien pour s'assurer que ce virage numérique se passe dans les meilleures circonstances. Il y aura donc des formations autant pour les professeurs, les élèves et les parents pour que tous soient en mesure de bien maîtriser les nouveaux outils technologiques. D'ailleurs, l'Institut souligne l’apport de partenaires comme Écoles branchées, Apple et les ressources spécialisées de l'organisme qui ont partagé leurs compétences et leur expertise pour rendre possible ce projet. Les communautés membres de l'Institut Tshakapesh sont Uashat mak Mani-utenam, Ekuanitshit, Essipit, Matimekush, Nutashkuan, Unamen shipu et Pakua Shipu.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
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.
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
WASHINGTON — American factories grew at a slower pace last month and there are concerns that surging coronavirus infections will endanger an economic recovery.The Institute of Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday that its manufacturing index dipped to 57.5 in November from 59.3 in October. Any reading above 50 signals that manufacturing is expanding. The ISM index plunged in the spring but has since bounced back and now shows factories on a six-month winning streak.New orders and production grew more slowly last month. Hiring actually dropped, reversing a gain in October. New export orders grew faster. Sixteen of 18 industries surveyed reported growth last month, led by apparel and mineral manufacturers.The U.S. economy collapsed from April through June and has since been recovering. But a sharp increase in infections is raising fears that the recovery will lose momentum as state and local governments issue lockdown orders and Americans stay home on their own to avoid infection.“For now, the manufacturing sector appears to be weathering another round of virus outbreaks fairly well,? Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note. “However, the outlook is uncertain given targeted restrictions and shutdowns, at home and abroad, could disrupt activity and weigh on demand.?Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
HARDCOVER FICTION1\. “Rhythm of War” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor)2\. “Daylight” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)3\. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday)4\. “The Law of Innocence” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)5\. “All That Glitters” by Danaielle Steel (Delacorte)6\. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)7\. “The Sentinel” by Child/Child (Delacorte)8\. “Fortune and Glory” by Janet Evanovich (Atria)9\. “Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon” by Marc Cameron (G.P. Putnam's Sons)10\. “Piece of My Heart” by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)11\. “Marauder” by Cussler/Morrison (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)12\. “Batman: Three Jokers” by Johns/Fabok (DC)13\. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead)14\. “Three Women Disappear” by Patterson/Serafin (Little, Brown)15\. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria)HARDCOVER NONFICTION1\. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown)2\. “Dungeons & Dragons: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything” (Wizards of the Coast)3\. “Forgiving What You Can't Forgive” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson)4\. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown)5\. “Dolly Parton, Songteller” by Dolly Parton (Chronicle)6\. “A Wealth of Pigeons” by Martin/Bliss (Celadon)7\. “Frontier Follies” by Ree Drummond (William Morrow)8\. “Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter)9\. “No Time Like the Future” by Michael J. Fox (Flatiron)10\. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)11\. “The Answer Is...” by Alex Trebek (Simon & Schuster)12\. “Guinness World Records 2021” (Guinness World Records)13\. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial Press)14\. “The Forgiveness Journal” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson)15\. “HHR: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style” by Elizabeth Holmes (Celadon)MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS1\. “Wyoming True” by Diana Palmer (HQN)2\. “Leopard’s Rage” by Christine Feehan (Berkley)3\. “The River Murders” by Patterson/Born (Grand Central Publishing)4\. “When You See Me” by Lisa Gardner (Dutton)5\. “The Night Fire” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing)6\. “Spy” by Danielle Steel (Dell)7\. “A Christmas Message” by Debbie Macomber (Mira)8\. “Spirit of the Season” by Fern Michaels (Zebra)9\. “A MacGregor Christmas” by Nora Roberts (Silhouette)10\. “The Museum of Desire” by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine)11\. “A MacCallister Christmas” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle)12\. “The Vanishing” by Jayne Ann Krentz (Berkley)13\. “The Christmas Backup Plan” by Lori Wilde (Avon)14\. “The Devil's Boneyard” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle)15\. “One Touch of Moondust” by Sherryl Woods (Harlequin)TRADE PAPERBACKS1\. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrew McMeel)2\. “Texas Outlaw” by Patterson/Bourelle (Grand Central Publishing)3\. “Redefining Anxiety” by John Delony (Ramsey)4\. “No One Asked for This” by Cazzie David (Mariner)5\. “The 19th Christmas” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)6\. “Forgiving What You Can't Forget Study Guide” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson)7\. “The Truths We Hold” by Kamala Harris (Penguin Books)8\. “Una tierra prometida” by Barack Obama (Debate)9\. “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart (Grove)10\. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee)11\. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious)12\. “Air Fryer Cookbook” by Jenson William (Jenson William)13\. “Interesting Stories for Curious People” by Bill O'Neill (LAK)14\. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay)15\. “Burnout” by Nagoski/Nagoski (Ballantine)5\. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay)The Associated Press
Director Julia Hart couldn’t stop thinking about Tuesday Weld. She had just watched Michael Mann’s 1981 thriller “Thief” and Weld’s character Jessie had taken over her imagination. Where did she and the baby go? What was going through her mind?In some ways, Jessie is just the girlfriend. She’s there to up the stakes for the main character and exits the frame when the action begins. It’s not uncommon in the genre. Just think of Michael Corleone closing the door on Kay at the end of “The Godfather.”But, Hart thought, what if we followed the woman instead of the man? It wouldn't be revisionist or corrective, just a different path. And it was the beginning of the yearslong process of creating “I’m Your Woman,” which turns the lens on the suburban housewife who has to go on the run with a new baby when her criminal husband disappears. The film starring Rachel Brosnahan opens in select theatres Friday and will be available on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 11.“It’s not like I want ‘Thief’ to have followed Jessie,” Hart said. “The movie was so good that I couldn’t stop thinking about this character and the story of all these women. In these crime dramas, even though the women weren’t the main characters, they were amazing characters. They were complex and flawed and interesting and well performed and well written. They just didn’t get their own movie...That’s what inspired me to create Jean.”Hart and her husband, producer Jordan Horowitz, got to work writing the script. And when Amazon Studio heads, who had been impressed with her superhero drama “Fast Color," asked what they wanted to make next, they had this ready to go.And after a meeting with Brosnahan, she knew she’d found her Jean.“She’s such a chameleon,” Hart said. “And she feels like a real woman. I think a lot of the women in the 70s movies did as well — not like someone who had been airbrushed and made to look perfect.”The “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star was all in. Despite her successes over the past few years, she’d been frustrated by the “one-dimensional” roles that were coming her way. Jean was a refreshing departure from that.“Jean is a quiet woman’s action hero. That’s something that I’ve never seen before,” Brosnahan said. “And it’s a really nontraditional look at motherhood. Motherhood is more often than not, not the picture perfect journey we see on Instagram.”The shoot was going to be hard. Hart knew she’d have her work cut out for herself directing her first car chase and big club scene with hundreds of background actors. But the biggest challenge would be the fact that they’d decided to work with real babies, who in the process of the chronological shoot would go from 6 to 8 months in age.“I am constantly frustrated by how people treat babies like they’re not people both in real life and on film — like it’s fine to have a fake baby or it’s fine to have four different babies playing the same character,” Hart said. “We knew it was a big risk, but we felt like it was one worth taking. We wanted to commit to making the baby a character in the film who you could connect to and know.”It added stress and time restrictions but also beauty and spontaneity to the shoot.“There were times when things happened with those babies that we never could have expected,” Brosnahan said. “And that added a layer of magic to certain scenes.”In one tense scene where Jean’s home is broken into and she has to hide in the closet and make a desperate phone call, the baby unexpectedly fell asleep in her arms.“It added this layer of urgency,” Brosnahan said.And although Hart is proud of the action sequences, the mother of two does not remember feeling more joy and exhilaration than knowing that they got a shot of the baby sleeping.“Getting a baby to fall asleep in its period costume, in its period crib at the time when you’re scheduled to shoot it is a bit of a miracle,” Hart said.There are exactly two of those miracle shots in the finished film.Brosnahan also took on a different kind of role in “I’m Your Woman:" as producer. She’d been thinking about it for some time, “looking for a way to carve out a path for myself.” And she’s immensely grateful to Hart and Horowitz for giving her the opportunity.“This is such a literal example, but most of the time you show up on the set as an actor having never seen what could be your house, the character’s house that they have lived in 30 years. And you’re showing up on day one and trying to pretend you’ve lived there for 30 years,” she said.As a producer, she was involved in everything from script development to location scouting. When she showed up to her character’s house this time, she knew it already.“It made me a better actor,” she said.Hart has spent most of her career as a writer and filmmaker trying to convince studios that stories about women are worth telling. After years of fighting, she's finally starting to see the change.“The studios are starting to really take female filmmakers and filmmakers of colour more seriously,” Hart said. “It’s not just lip service anymore.”—-Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — The OPEC oil producers' cartel was to push ahead with a new round of discussions Tuesday about how much to pump next year as countries wrestled over whether to extend the production cuts that have been supporting prices depressed by the pandemic.Members adjourned a videoconference after a first day of deliberations Monday ended without an agreement. They also put off from Tuesday to Thursday a meeting with non-OPEC oil producers like Russia, who have been co-ordinating their actions with the cartel in recent years to increase their influence.Oil producing countries face a difficult situation. The pandemic has sapped demand for fuel across the economy, which induced them to cut back production this year to keep prices from sagging even more than they have. Yet the lower production means less revenue for governments that depend on oil sales to fill state coffers.And the outlook for demand is mixed across the globe; economies in the U.S. and Europe have been disrupted by a second upsurge in coronavirus infections, while activity and travel in China have rebounded more strongly.Oil traded 19 cents lower at $45.15 per barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is off from $63 at the start of 2020.The sag in demand has been reflected in lower prices to consumers for auto fuel in the U.S. Gasoline prices at the pump dipped well below $2 per gallon in many parts of the country in May as the pandemic took hold, and have remained flat after a mild rebound. The U.S. average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30, down 45 cents from the same week a year earlier but little changed from this summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.Analysts at UniCredit bank said the oil producing countries were likely to agree to extend this year's production cuts of about 7.7 million barrels a day.“In our view, the delay should not be a concern and we still expect the current curbs to be extended into the first quarter of 2021,” they said, adding that it is not unusual for OPEC meetings to last longer than scheduled and virtual discussions slow the negotiation process.“Moreover, both Saudi Arabia and Russia – the two leaders of the group – favour an extension of the cuts and this should be enough to square the circle and finalize the deal on Thursday.” Saudi Arabia tends to take a leadership role within OPEC, while Russia is the biggest non-OPEC country to co-ordinate with the cartel.David McHugh, The Associated Press
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
Speaking at the company's annual re:Invent conference, executive Andy Jassy announced Amazon Connect Voice ID, which uses machine learning software to authenticate customers who dial into call centers. Jassy, who runs the firm's cloud computing division Amazon Web Services, said AWS builds a voice print for customers who opt in to save time on calls.
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