Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has returned to work after recovering from COVID-19, his office said.Young's staff said the veteran Republican lawmaker was back at work in his congressional office in Washington, D.C., The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.The 87-year-old announced Nov. 12 he had tested positive for the coronavirus.In March, Young referred to the coronavirus as the “beer virus” before an audience that included older Alaskans and said the media had contributed to hysteria over COVID-19. His campaign manager told the Anchorage Daily News at the time that the virus’ impact is real and that Young was trying to urge calm.After contracting the virus, Young said he had not grasped the severity of the illness.“Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time, and I am grateful to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,” Young said following his release from an Anchorage hospital Nov. 16.Young is now “preparing to fight harder than ever” for Alaskans, spokesman Zack Brown said.Voters last month reelected Young, Alaska’s lone U.S. representative, to serve his 25th term in office.Young has held his seat since 1973 and is the longest-serving Republican in congressional history.For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.The Associated Press
Three public schools in Windsor-Essex have reported new cases of COVID-19.The Greater Essex County District School Board website says a coronavirus case has been identified at East Mersea Public School, Leamington District Secondary School and Walkerville Collegiate Institute.Memos have been posted to each school's website informing of a "high-risk exposure" case of COVID-19 in the school community.The schools say they are working with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) to provide lists of close contacts."If you have not been contacted, you or your child(ren) have not been identified as close contacts. The WECHU is contacting any individuals (students and staff) who have an identified high-risk exposure with the confirmed case, and will give directions to follow," the memos state.Parents are being told to monitor their children daily for symptoms of the virus.To date, there have been 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the GECDSB, 74 of which are still active. Frank W. Begley Public school, where 49 cases have been diagnosed among students and staff, has been closed for two weeks.Within the Catholic school board, there are 18 active cases and outbreaks have been declared at two schools. One of the schools, W.J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School, has been closed for two weeks.
ROME — Qatar's foreign minister said Friday that his country remains committed to the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem, and that progress on that front would need to be “at the core” of any agreement to normalize relations with Israel.“Right now, I don't see that the normalization of Qatar and Israel is going to to add value to the Palestinian people,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogue.There was speculation that Qatar — which already co-operates with Israel in providing aid to the Gaza Strip — might be the next Arab country to normalize relations after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan established diplomatic ties with Israel earlier this year.But the foreign minister said Qatar remains committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which Arab countries would recognize Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.The foreign minister noted that his country has a “working relationship” with Israel to provide aid to Gaza, where the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.“But for the full normalization, I believe that the (Palestinian issue) needs to be at the core of any agreement of normalization between Qatar and Israel,” he said.The wealthy Gulf country's aid to Gaza has provided a lifeline to the territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power. It has also been a key element in a shaky, informal truce that has prevented any major outbreaks of fighting in recent years. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars — the most recent in 2014 — as well as countless smaller skirmishes.The normalization agreements with Israel, brokered by the United States, were widely seen as a breakthrough in Mideast diplomacy. But the Palestinians condemned the agreements as a betrayal because they marked a major erosion in Arab support for their cause, a key source of leverage in any future peace talks.The Associated Press
Three years after the death of a child in Bonavista prompted calls for change, it is still legal for children as young as 12 to drive side-by-sides without helmets or seatbelts in Newfoundland and Labrador.The RCMP launched a new enforcement and education campaign on Monday, which served as a reminder that despite assurances from various ministers past and present, the provincial government has still not updated its ATV and snowmobile legislation.The ability to hop on a snowmobile or a side-by-side — also known as a utility terrain vehicle, or UTV — without a helmet, as well as the fines for breaking the act remain too low for advocates to accept.Sherrie Dunn lost her 13-year-old daughter, Heidi, in that Bonavista crash. Heidi Dunn wasn't wearing a helmet when the side-by-side she was driving tipped over. In the years since, her mother has turned her grief into advocacy, and has been disappointed so far."What is it going to take to get them to change those rules?" Sherrie Dunn said on Thursday. "It makes me mad and sad, because like I said, I know what those parents feel like and it can be prevented."The Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act was first introduced in 1996 and has undergone several changes since then. None of them include adaptations for side-by-side vehicles, which have risen in popularity in recent years.The act defines an ATV as a vehicle that a rider sits astride, with one leg on either side. Since that doesn't include side-by-sides, where the driver sits behind a steering wheel akin to a car, they fall under a different set of rules than ATVs.While a driver must be 16 to operate a full-sized ATV, the minimum age for a side-by-side is 12 as long as the driver is supervised by someone 16 or older.In Heidi Dunn's case, she did not have the supervision of a 16-year-old, a fact that earned the owner of the side-by-side a $200 fine — the maximum amount for a first-time offence under the current legislation, including cases that result in death.After Dunn died, the province's Child Death Review Committee issued a set of recommendations calling on the province to close loopholes for side-by-sides, make helmets mandatory, and increase the maximum amount for fines.The committee issued the same recommendations after another child died last winter.The provincial government has said on several occasions that changes to legislation are coming — including an assertion by Digital Government and Service NL Minister Sarah Stoodley that changes were coming this fall — but it has yet to be tabled in the House of Assembly.Stoodley declined an interview for this story. In an emailed statement, the department said a review of the legislation is finished, and several potential changes are on the table."These included training requirements for off-road vehicles; age of operation for vehicles such as side-by-sides; operation of vehicles on municipal roadways; and body size requirements for safe operation," the statement said."Recommendations to enhance safety are being developed for consideration by government in the near future."Don't 'hide behind the law,' says safety advocateATV safety advocate Rick Noseworthy, head of the Newfoundland T'Railway Council, has also been calling for changes for several years. In the absence of change, he doesn't understand why more people aren't taking their safety seriously."Just because it's not the law on a side-by-side doesn't mean you shouldn't wear [a helmet]," he said. "I don't want to make light of it, but it's not against the law to put a cape on and get up on the roof of your house and jump off to see if you can fly. But people don't do it because it's common sense."To hide behind the law and not wear a helmet on a side-by-side because it's not the law, that's no excuse ... [there is] no reason in the world why these helmets shouldn't be worn."According to the RCMP, 15 people died on recreational vehicles so far in 2020.Of those deaths, a 24-year-old woman was killed when the side-by-side she was driving rolled over. She wasn't wearing a helmet.Three people were killed on snowmobiles. Two of them were not wearing helmets, while the other is believed to have been wearing one unbuckled.None of those people were legally required to wear helmets.Sherrie Dunn follows the news and takes note of recreational vehicle deaths. She shudders when she sees people driving on roads, or without helmets. Three years after her daughter died, Dunn still has the same message to the provincial government."Please, take this much more seriously. Sit down and put yourself [in my position]. Call me. I can tell you what I go through every day."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. 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
OAKVILLE, Ont. — A driver has been charged in the death of a woman who was struck while walking her dog in Oakville, Ont. Halton Regional Police say the fatal collision happened Thursday afternoon. The 51-year-old and her dog were pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators determined the victim was walking her dog on a path when they were hit by the vehicle that had left the roadway. After hitting the pedestrian and her pet, police say the driver struck a stone post before the vehicle came to rest in the road. The driver, a man in his 50s from Oakville, has been arrested for impaired operation and dangerous driving causing death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president says he would get vaccinated against the coronavirus to set an example for his country's citizens. “There is no problem for me to get vaccinated,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after Friday prayers in Istanbul. “It is necessary to take this step as an example for our citizens.” The Turkish government plans to buy multiple vaccines, Erdogan said. Turkey has ordered 50 million doses of Chinese company Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, and the first shipment is due to arrive Dec. 11. The government also is talking with Russia about securing the vaccine developed there. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told the official Anadolu news agency that he would work to convince people to get immunized by getting the Chinese shot himself as soon as Turkish authorities approve its use. Turkey also has ordered 1 million doses of the vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German company BioNTech. Erdogan said he spoke with BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin, who is of Turkish descent. Turkey is experiencing a surge in infections with confirmed cases hovering above 30,000 per day on a 7-day average. The country's death toll since March has reached 14,316. A weekend lockdown, the first since the end of May, is set to begin Friday evening. The Associated Press
Check out how much fun this gorilla baby is having at the Kansas City Zoo. Cuteness overload!
ROUYN-NORANDA-Une adolescente de 14 ans a perdu la vie en milieu de soirée jeudi, après avoir été heurtée par un véhicule sur le boulevard Saguenay, à Rouyn-Noranda. Les circonstances exactes de l’accident ne sont pas encore connues. «Nous avons parlé aux personnes impliquées dans la collision, et l’enquête se poursuit, indique la Sgt. Nancy Fournier, du service des communications de la Sûreté du Québec. Des enquêteurs et des experts en reconstitution ont travaillé toute la soirée et toute la nuit pour tenter d’en savoir plus.» L’accident est survenu dans le secteur Noranda-Nord, à l’angle du boulevard Saguenay et du chemin England. «Il s’agit d’un secteur où la limite de vitesse passe de 70 km/h à 90 km/h, en direction de La Sarre, souligne la Sgt. Fournier. Pour le moment, il est trop tôt pour dévoiler l’identité de la jeune victime, puisque nous devons aviser les proches de son décès. Ce que nous pouvons dire pour le moment, c’est que ni l’alcool, ni la drogue ne sont en cause.» La passagère du véhicule a dû être transportée à l’hôpital, après avoir subi un violent choc nerveux.Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
WELLINGTON COUNTY – A newly-announced mobile addictions services van in Wellington County aims to bridge healthcare gaps in rural areas of the county. Stonehenge Therapeutic Community recently got $900,000 in funding from Ontario Health to enhance their addiction services. Kristen Kerr, executive director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, said about a third of this is going toward a project to serve the needs of rural Wellington County residents who face substance use issues. They are expanding their Rapid Access Addiction Clinics (RAAC), where there is only one in Wellington County, with a mobile van that can address issues with transportation, a common gap in health services in the county. “These clinics offer specialized medical addiction services and that can be hard to access when you live in a rural community,” Kerr said. “Sometimes it can be quite a long geographic distance to get to a clinic that is stationary. We have four existing clinics but most of them are far from Harriston for example.” Kerr said another issue in rural areas when accessing addiction services relates to anonymity. The thought is In a smaller community, people who are using such services can be more easily identified by other residents. The van itself will act as a mobile medical clinic that is staffed with a nurse practitioner. “It will be able to go to more central or accessible locations so that folks from the rural areas can more easily access the clinic,” Kerr said. The nurse practitioner can provide medicine services, addictions counselling and referrals. Kerr said they are working out the fine details with their rural healthcare partners such as precisely where the van will go in the county and therefore couldn’t say exactly where it will be making stops. Some of the funding is also going toward enhancing supportive housing they have in Guelph for those who face substance-use issues and have some level of involvement in the justice system. Kerr said the van concept was created from feedback about barriers clients face in rural areas and they will continue to listen and learn how they can improve. “I think listening to those who need to access service and listening to the voice of people with lived experience is key to knowing what more we need to do,” Kerr said. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Chatham-Kent is looking to learn more about the experiences of residents who are immigrants as part of efforts to make the region more welcoming and grow the population.For the first time, the municipality is conducting an online survey to assess how welcome immigrants feel in the community.As Audrey Ansell, Chatham-Kent's manager of community attraction and promotion, explained on Windsor Morning, the project is an important one for the municipality, which has been focused on immigration for more than a decade."It's really important that we understand the experiences of immigrants in our community ... whether they arrived 45 years ago, or four years ago," she told host Tony Doucette on Friday."We want to be able to build on Chatham-Kent as Canada's first welcoming community," Ansell said, referring to a 2016 designation from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.The survey questions are based on the 17 characteristics of a welcoming community, such as access to housing, employment, transportation and opportunities for community engagement, Ansell explained. The survey also asks about experiences with discrimination."We're asking immigrant newcomers in Chatham-Kent to rate our community based on those factors," she said.According to the 2016 Census, 8,630 residents of the municipality are immigrants out of a population of just over 102,000.The 30-question survey is being offered in five languages, though speakers of additional languages who want to complete the survey can reach out to the Chatham-Kent Local Immigration Partnership. The survey is open until Dec. 28.
TORONTO — Ontario's police watchdog is investigating after police shot and injured a man in the west end of Toronto. The Special Investigations Unit says the shooting happened Thursday afternoon after 4 p.m. A news release says witnesses had reported a screaming man holding a sharp object in Etobicoke. Toronto police officers arrived at the scene and the agency says one of them shot the man. The 30-year-old was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Four investigators and two forensic investigators are assigned to the case and the watchdog has identified one subject officer and one witness officer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
MADRID — Spain’s armed forces chief has dismissed as ‘’not representative” leaked chats by retired military officers allegedly talking about shooting political adversaries and praising late dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.In a statement Friday, Air Force Gen. Miguel Villarroya Vilalta also said the remarks by the retired military members “damage the image of the Spanish Armed Forces and only confuse public opinion.’’The messages from a private Whatsapp group were published recently by Spain’s Infolibre news website. They reportedly were posted by members of the General Air Force Academy class that started training in 1963, when Franco still ruled the country.Some of them were among dozens of retired officers who wrote King Felipe VI last month to criticize Spain’s left-wing coalition government. The letters to the monarch included some of the language used by far-right politicians and expressed discontent with the “social-communist” government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and its deals with separatist parties in parliament.The royal palace has not commented on the letter.It is not clear how many people were involved in the chats.Spain’s defence minister Thursday asked prosecutors to investigate, saying both the letters and the chats were “reprehensible.”The country’s leading conservative opposition Popular party has refrained from condemning the comments while its ally, the far-right VOX party, has said it identifies with the ex-military members.Villarroya said the Spanish armed forces did not look to the past and were “always in (the) service of the Spanish people and the constitution.”According to Infolibre, one of the WhatsApp chat participants, while discussing activists advocating for the northeastern Catalonia region’s independence from Spain, wrote: “There is no other choice but to start shooting 26 million (expletive).”Another group chat member referred to Franco, who helped lead a military rebellion that led to Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War and then became the country’s dictator, as “the Irreplaceable.”The armed forces were a backbone of Franco’s regime until the dictator died in 1975. Spain’s peaceful transition to democracy didn’t lead to a widespread purge in the military ranks as happened in other countries emerging from authoritarian regimes.In 1981, a coup d’état bid by a few members of a paramilitary police force ended when then-King Juan Carlos I, Felipe’s father, condemned the plot on national television.____Associated Press writer Aritz Parra contributed to this report.CiaráN Giles, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe. “DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively. “I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami. Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest. It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine. “Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot. “I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.” Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet. For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets. What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island. After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way. Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live. “I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.” ___ Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner. Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Miguel Algarín, poet, professor and a founder of New York City's beloved Nuyorican Poets Café performance space, has died. He was 79.Algarín died Monday at a Manhattan hospital from sepsis, said Daniel Gallant, executive director of the Nuyorican Poets Café.Born in Puerto Rico, Algarín and his family came to New York City when he was a child.After Algarín had returned to New York with degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania State University, he held gatherings with other poets in his apartment in the early 1970s, exploring Puerto Rican identity and other themes.Out of that was created the Nuyorican Poets Café, which by 1981 had moved to a building on Manhattan's lower east side where it remains.“Miguel was a brilliant poet, an influential professor and leader, and a supportive mentor who inspired and guided generations of artists," Gallant said.Algarín was a prolific writer, with multiple books of poetry to his name, and edited several anthologies as well.He spent years at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he taught classes on Shakespeare, creative writing and ethnic literature, and became a professor emeritus.Gallant said the cafe would have an online tribute for Algarín this month, and would do something in person as soon as conditions allow.The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose satirical and cerebral tales of love and academia included the marital saga “The War Between the Tates” and the comedy of Americans abroad “Foreign Affairs,” died Thursday at age 94.Lurie, a professor emerita at Cornell University, died of natural causes, according to her husband and partner, Edward Hower.Praised by The New York Times as one of the country's “most able and witty novelists,” Lurie broke through commercially in 1974 with “The War Between the Tates” and received her highest acclaim for “Foreign Affairs,” winner of the 1985 Pulitzer. Set in London, Lurie’s novel was consciously based on old-fashioned narratives of manners and customs, with one character imagining himself trapped in a Henry James story.The protagonists were Corinth University professor Virginia “Vinnie” Martin, an Anglophile and middle-aged scholar of children’s literature so self-contained that her closest companion is an invisible dog, and her wayward young colleague, Fred Turner, who takes up with the impulsive British actress Rosemary Radley as his marriage falls apart back home.“Before he met Rosemary, Fred didn’t really exist for anyone here except a few other academic ghosts,” Lurie wrote. “Now the city is alive for him and he alive in it. Everything pulses with meaning, with history and possibility, and Rosemary most of all. When he is with her he feels he holds all of England, the best of England, in his arms.”Lurie’s novel was adapted into a 1993 television movie starring Joanne Woodward as Vinnie and Eric Stoltz as Fred. “The War Between the Tates” became a 1977 TV production featuring Elizabeth Ashley and Richard Crenna.Academics and artists were often featured in her work, which combined storytelling with social and intellectual commentary. Her first book, “Love and Friendship,” centred on a professor’s wife in New England who has an intense affair with a school musician. In “The War Between the Tates,” a Corinth professor’s adultery upends his marriage and scatters husband and wife into the cultural upheavals of the late 1960s.Her other books included the novels “The Last Resort” and “Real People,” the nonfiction works “The Language of Clothes” and “The Language of Architecture” and “Familiar Spirits,” a memoir about her friendship with the prize-winning poet James Merrill and his companion David Jackson. Her most recent novel, Truth and Consequences," came out in 2005. Her last published book, the literary essay collection “Words and Worlds,” was released in 2019.In her fiction, Lurie drew openly from her own life. Corinth was an Ivy League school that closely approximated Cornell and she shared Vinnie’s love for England and expertise in children’s literature, editing such compilations as “The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales” and “The Heavenly Zoo.” She wrote about Vietnam War protests, and participated in them. In 1985, she was arrested during a rally at Cornell that called on the school to sell off its investments in companies doing business with South Africa’s racist government.Married in 1948 to Jonathan Bishop, an academic and son of the poet John Bishop Peale, she separated from him around the time “The War Between the Tates” was published and later married Hower, an author and Cornell literature professor. She had three sons with Bishop.Born in Chicago and raised in White Plains, New York, Lurie was the child of liberal, educated parents and grew up reading Jane Austen and other British authors because there “were not many models for the American woman novelist, except for the Southern school,” she told The Associated Press in 1985. She studied history and politics at Radcliffe College and spent much of the 1950s raising her children, writing stories and poems and working with the Poets’ Theater, where members included Merrill and John Ashbery.She and Bishop lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, both of which became settings for her fiction, before moving to Ithaca, New York in the early 1960s. “Love and Friendship” came out in 1962 and got right to a favourite theme.“The day on which Emily Stockwell Turner fell out of love with her husband,” Lurie wrote in the book’s opening sentence, “began much like other days.”Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
When Stéphanie Chouinard and her husband, Sean, were looking to buy their first home in Toronto this year, they discussed how kids would fit into the picture — searching for a home near a French school, but also one that offered enough space. The couple had been living in a one-bedroom rental, and despite saving, recognized that some areas were out of reach. Their search narrowed in on East York, but even there, Chouinard said any “livable” houses or townhouses they saw were north of $800,000. So a federal program offering help to first-time home buyers, which capped purchase prices at around $505,000, wasn’t an option. “When we saw that program, we knew right away that this wasn’t going to be helping us at all,” said Chouinard. While their combined income was enough for a family-sized home — and high enough to also render them ineligible for the incentive — Chouinard believes the federal rules may have excluded other young families who were looking to have children in their first homes. “If you have a family or are planning to have a family in the near future, that program will very likely not be of much use to you,” she said. And though a federal economic update this week outlined changes to the program to come for Toronto in the spring, Chouinard believes families looking for something beyond a modest apartment will still be “very, very limited.” The federal program offers a shared-equity mortgage through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to reduce the amount that first-time buyers need to save for a down payment and lower monthly mortgage costs. Ottawa pays either five or 10 per cent of the price, and homeowners later pay back that same percentage of the home’s updated value. In its first year, fewer than 10,000 mortgages across Canada were approved through the program — despite a three-year goal of helping 100,000 families. Alberta and Quebec have seen the most uptake: from Feb. 1 to Sept. 1 this year, there were 712 mortgages approved and accepted in Edmonton, 378 in Calgary, and 55 in Airdrie, Alta., but just one in Vancouver, six in Victoria and 16 in Toronto. From Sept. 1, 2019 to Feb. 1, there were more than 4.5 times as many approved and accepted mortgages in Calgary than there were across the Greater Toronto Area. Montreal saw nearly seven times as many approved and accepted mortgages as the GTA in that time. The government has recognized since at least the last election that changes were likely needed for Canada’s hottest markets, and said this week they were coming in spring. Households earning up to $150,000 instead of $120,000 will soon qualify in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, and their purchases can total 4.5 times their income, instead of only four times. “It’s not going to get you a three-bedroom downtown or anything, but it’s more aligned with the Toronto housing market,” said Heather Tremain, CEO of the non-profit developer Options for Homes. She sees the changes as positive, but she urged Ottawa to dig deeper into why some may have resisted using it in its first year, including the fact it effectively requires the buyer to pay mortgage insurance, by keeping down payments below 20 per cent. Tremain believes some first-time buyers may have balked at that extra monthly cost, and pursued other options to try to reach that 20 per cent mark instead. She said she’d also heard concerns from lenders about the government sharing any home value appreciation. Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, echoed those concerns and added that some buyers may also struggle with the very idea of co-owning their homes. Though he believes the changes coming in the spring are a “net positive,” he also questioned whether the incentive would be as successful as the feds had projected. When asked by the Star about the first-year numbers for the program and several of the concerns in this story, a federal department of finance official reiterated in an email the rule changes planned for spring 2021. They would “make homeownership more affordable,” they wrote. Both Tremain and Ken Bowman of Meridian Credit Union backed the incremental approach that Ottawa seemed to be taking. “I don’t think frenetic change on something as important as a housing strategy is particularly inspiring,” Bowman said. Both speculated that the pandemic may have hindered uptake in 2020. But UBC professor Paul Kershaw, founder of the research and advocacy group Generation Squeeze, believes a fundamental shift is needed to address the challenges that first-time buyers face in big cities. While he believes the strategy is “well thought-out,” he urged more attention to the root causes of unaffordability. He pointed to a Generation Squeeze report last year, which found that it took a typical 25- to 34-year-old in the GTA 21 years to save up a 20 per cent payment for an average-priced home. If first-time buyers were getting older in the city, Kershaw said others may find themselves in the same situation as Chouinard. “They need to have enough space in that home so that they’re not using closets as a nursery,” he said. Diana Petramala, a senior economist with Ryerson University, said even with the updated rules, new buyers looking near downtown Toronto would be limited mostly to one-bedroom units, or older two-bedrooms. Buying a townhouse might be more possible, she said, in the outskirts — areas like Durham or Simcoe. While Chouinard and her husband were ultimately able to purchase a first home with three bedrooms within the city, it took a combined household income well above the cutoff for federal help and renting into their 30s to do so. Chouinard said a friend of hers recently left the city after nearly a decade, feeling it just wasn’t affordable; she suspects others are in the same boat. “It does eat away at the attractiveness of Toronto as a city for young professionals,” she said. Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he's pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That's made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans. The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a “patriotic duty" and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce. Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper, Biden said he would make the request of Americans on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. “On the first day I'm inaugurated, I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction” in the virus, Biden said. The president-elect reiterated his call for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass a coronavirus aid bill and expressed support for a $900 billion compromise bill that a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced this week. “That would be a good start. It's not enough,” he said, adding, “I'm going to need to ask for more help.” Biden has said his transition team is working on its own coronavirus relief package, and his aides have signalled they plan for that to be their first legislative push. The president-elect also said he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his administration, “in the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents,” as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation's top infectious-disease expert. He said he's asked Fauci to be a “chief medical adviser” as well as part of his COVID-19 advisory team. Fauci told NBC's “Today” show on Friday, “I said yes right on the spot.” Regarding a coronavirus vaccine, Biden offered begrudging credit for the work Trump's administration has done in expediting the development of a vaccine but said that planning the distribution properly will be “critically important.” “It’s a really difficult but doable project, but it has to be well planned, " he said. Part of the challenge the Biden administration will face in distributing the vaccine will be instilling public confidence in it. Biden said he'd be “happy” to get inoculated in public to assuage any concerns about its efficacy and safety. Three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — have said they'd also get vaccinated publicly to show that it's safe. “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work,” Biden said, adding that “it matters what a president and the vice-president do.” In the same interview, Biden also weighed in on reports that Trump is considering pardons of himself and his allies. “It concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice," Biden said. Biden committed that his Justice Department will “operate independently” and that whoever he chooses to lead the department will have the “independent capacity to decide who gets investigated.” “You're not going to see in our administration that kind of approach to pardons, nor are you going to see in our administration the approach to making policy by tweets," he said. In addition to considering preemptive pardons, Trump has spent much of his time post-election trying to raise questions about an election he lost by millions of votes while his lawyers pursue baseless lawsuits alleging voter fraud in multiple states. Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, have largely given the president cover, with many defending the lawsuits and few publicly congratulating Biden on his win. But Biden said Thursday that he’s received private calls of congratulations from “more than several sitting Republican senators" and that he has confidence in his ability to cut bipartisan deals with Republicans despite the rancour that’s characterized the last four years on Capitol Hill. Trump aides have expressed skepticism that the president, who continues to falsely claim victory and spread baseless claims of fraud, would attend Biden’s inauguration. Biden said Thursday night that he believes it's “important” that Trump attend, largely to demonstrate the nation’s commitment to peaceful transfer of power between political rivals. “It is totally his decision," Biden said of Trump, adding, “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.” Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press