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
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:50 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 656 new cases of COVID-19 today, with 8,796 active cases across the province.There have been 16 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 457 since the pandemic began.In a joint statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say 336 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, and 76 of them are in intensive care.Another 10,123 people are being monitored after they were exposed to a known case of the novel coronavirus.\---2 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19.Public health officials say all the new cases were found in the central zone, bringing the province's total active case count to 142.Rapid testing was administered at pop-up sites Monday in both Wolfville and Halifax and no cases were found at either site.A total of 4,138 COVID-19 tests were administered in the province Monday.\---1:50 p.m.Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 in the province Tuesday.Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are four new cases in the Saint John zone and three new cases in the Fredericton zone.There are currently 116 active cases in the province, and there have been 508 cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began.There have been seven deaths and no one is in hospital.\---1:35 p.m.Manitoba is reporting 282 new COVID-19 cases and a record 16 deaths. The test positivity rate remains high at 13 per cent, and Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on business openings and public gatherings may have to remain in place for some time.\---1:10 p.m.Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government will decide in 10 days whether the province's COVID-19 situation will allow for multi-household gatherings at Christmas.He says an increase in hospitalizations is straining the health-care network, and some hospitals are nearing the limit of how many COVID-19 patients they can treat.The premier says the situation in hospitals and the toll on health-care workers will be the most important factors in determining the plan for Christmas, adding that things are not headed in the right direction.Legault had announced last month that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed between Dec. 24 and 27.\---1 p.m.Another measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 took effect in Yukon today, as masks are now mandatory in all indoor, public spaces.Yukon's chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley says everyone over the age of five who does not have a medical exemption will be required to wear a mask.The order imposed under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act carries a fine of up to $500 but Hanley says Yukon residents will first be given a chance to adapt before any enforcement begins.Premier Sandy Silver reports eight new cases of COVID-19 in the territory since the briefing last Tuesday, bringing the total number to 47 since the start of the pandemic.Seventeen cases are still considered active, but none related to community transmission.\---12:55 p.m.Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says when looking at people experiencing the most severe illness, older Canadians are more at risk than younger Canadians with pre-existing conditions.She says that suggests after the initial round of vaccines goes to people in high-risk living or work situations, like long-term care centres and hospital staff, the next round of immunizations should be done by age, with the oldest Canadians at the front of the line.\---12:52 p.m.Manitoba handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week.The provincial government brought in restrictions three weeks ago to deal with surging COVID-19 case numbers that set strict limits on public gatherings and require non-essential businesses to close.Two churches that held services recently are among the establishments that have been ticketed.\---12:50 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19.The case affects a man in his 50s who returned to the province from work in British Columbia.Health officials say the man is self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.Newfoundland and Labrador has 33 active COVID-19 cases, with 339 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on public gatherings and business openings could continue into the winter.Pallister says with cold weather ahead, there's a risk of greater COVID-19 transmission as more people stay, and perhaps gather, indoors.Manitoba's daily rise in cases has levelled off somewhat after spiking last month, but health officials say it is still straining the health-care system.\---12:25 p.m.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal to get doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.She says it was also the fourth to sign a deal with Pfizer, and the first country without the ability to mass produce the vaccine domestically to sign with AstraZeneca.Anand says there has been "significant misinformation" about the doses procured and when they will arrive.\---11:50 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is taking on billions of dollars in more debt to protect Canadians from having to do the same thing.Trudeau says the average credit card interest rate is more than 19 per cent, and that it makes more sense for Ottawa to shoulder more of the burden through the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn because it can borrow at rates now close to zero.The prime minister also says his government has no intention to start cutting spending at this time, saying now is not the time for austerity.The fall economic update released Monday proposed $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter promised tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.\---11:40 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is launching efforts to support two more northern communities that are struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases.The Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, where Trudeau says they will provide health services and support elders.\---11:35 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 80 per cent of the money spent to support and protect Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic has come from the federal government.The prime minister says that includes tens of millions of rapid tests that are starting to be distributed across the country, as well as billions of doses of yet-to-be-delivered COVID-19 vaccines.Trudeau says Canada is guaranteed to receive some of the first doses of the vaccine produced by U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna once it has been approved by Health Canada.The Moderna vaccine candidate is one of four currently being reviewed by the department.\---11:30 a.m.Prince Edward Island's chief health officer says she expects the COVID-19 vaccine to begin arriving in her province in January 2021.Dr. Heather Morrison says discussions are continuing between the federal and provincial governments around vaccine allocation, distribution, procurement and logistics.She says P.E.I. will be following the national recommendations for priority groups to be immunized, but all Islanders who want the vaccine will receive it over time.Morrison says it will take many months for all Islanders to be immunized.She said the arrival date and the actual number of doses will be made public once the details are known.\---11:05 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,177 new cases of COVID-19 today and 28 additional deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.According to public health authorities, three of those deaths took place during the past 24 hours and the rest occurred earlier.The Health Department says 719 people are currently in hospital, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people are in intensive care, an increase of four from the previous day.Quebec has reported 143,548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 7,084 deaths associated with the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
What happens to the state of business in a city when it loses its largest storefront in the downtown core even earlier than expected? It’s a question being mulled by commerce stakeholders and retail experts, along with the provincial and municipal government, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the Hudson’s Bay Company to close its downtown Winnipeg location two months earlier than previously announced. “In light of recent restrictions on non-essential retail by the Government of Manitoba, we have made the decision to close this location,” said HBC in a statement to the Free Press Tuesday. “We remain committed to working with partners to find opportunities for this historic location that will have a positive impact on the community.” The iconic Canadian departmental shopping chain had announced in October it would be shuttering the Winnipeg store permanently in February due to a “change in consumer behaviour.” But by late Monday, a “closed” sign could be seen outside the mammoth, 650,000-square-foot store on Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard — one of the original six stores for the 350-year-old retailer before it expanded across North America. Now, industry decision-makers and onlookers are scratching their heads about what comes next for the vacant building which has more square footage than almost all other buildings in the city. For some, it’s prime real estate smack dab at the heart of a city that’s presenting an “opportunity” for future growth. While for others, it’s a growing concern about the “sad state of affairs” for brick-and-mortar stores. For almost all of them, however, a mixed-use occupancy that combines residential and commercial aspects appears to be the most sensible direction for the building. “It’s definitely an important moment in time where we can truly shape what comes next for all our businesses in the provincial hub,” said Kate Fenske, chief executive officer of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “Of course, this closure does have an impact on several businesses nearby because of their proximity to that space and that’s something we need to prevent from escalating.” Citing statistics from a study conducted by the advocacy and marketing group last week, Fenske said while business is deteriorating downtown, investment in the area continues to rise and so does the possibility of new residents moving in. Upcoming capital projects underway have a combined construction value of nearly $1 billion, according to Downtown Winnipeg BIZ numbers, including the $400-million redevelopment of the Portage Place mall right across from the Bay planned for March, 2021. And at least 18,000 people are expected to call the downtown core their home in the next two years. “While it’s in no way surprising that the Bay chose to close, and it’s sad they’re closing even earlier than planned,” said Fenske in an interview. “How we go from here needs to use all that momentum that we still have going on here and use it for the future.” Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group in Toronto, said that’s easier said than done. “Retail shopping definitely works in clusters, I mean that’s the whole concept behind having a mall to begin with — to have several stores conveniently in one place,” she said Tuesday. “But now the real question is, where do we go from here when that concept has itself become outdated and is causing closures like this? That’s difficult to answer.” Hutcheson believes the novel coronavirus “only magnified and worsened the inevitable,” given the overall lack of foot traffic in suburban-style malls and an evolving shift to online commerce seen well before the pandemic. “I do still think that if we found a good blend of mixed-use purpose for the building, it would be of great value,” she said. “It’s just that that’s the type of project which is pretty difficult to convince someone to take on right now.” Last year a company-wide valuation of HBC’s real estate holdings valued the downtown Winnipeg building at precisely $0. Over the years, the company has closed some of the store’s six floors along with its basement, consolidating stock on just two levels. Dayna Spiring, president of Economic Development Winnipeg, said her conversations with the province and the city have given her ample reason to be optimistic. “There’s so much potential here, it’s hard not to be hopeful about what can be done with that space especially with consultation from the community at large,” she said. “The opportunity is massive.” In statements to the Free Press, provincial and municipal spokespersons said both government levels are open to hearing development proposals in the future that “include an adaptive re-use of the building and conservation of the character-defining elements.” A city spokesperson said the mayor is “currently engaged in outreach with community stakeholders in this regard.” But Spiring said she doesn’t believe the building will ever remain the way it is right now. “You’re likely looking at getting rid of the guts and almost a complete reimagination of the space for it to be successful,” she added. “We just have to get through this pandemic first to make those kind of decisions.” Hudson’s Bay Co. continues to serve Winnipeggers at its Polo Park and St. Vital locations, as well as online at thebay.com.Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Edmonton will continue to explore the use of smart technology at intersections even though a four-month pilot project resulted in slower traffic. The city tested adaptive traffic signal controls at nine intersections along 101st Street between 103A and 111th avenues. From Oct. 1 2019, to Jan. 31, 2020, the technology adjusted the timing of traffic signals based on the arrival patterns of vehicles. Smart signals are meant to optimize vehicle flow and reduce congestion but the pilot project results showed they did the opposite, a new report said. "During the ATSC pilot, travel times increased along the corridor and their intersecting streets," the report said. Council's urban planning committee reviewed the report at a meeting on Tuesday. Coun. Moe Banga said it wasn't clear what the city would do with the test results. "What's the conclusion of the pilot project?" Banga asked city managers. 'It may be that computers aren't quite as smart yet as we think they are' - Coun. Ben Henderson Gord Cebryk, the city's deputy manager of operations, said the pilot was a short-term test and that the city needs more time to integrate it. "We know that it has potential," Cebryk said. "But for us to really understand its potential longer-term, we need to work with it more," Cebryk said when integrated into the city's system, the signals should be able to make real-time adjustments. "[They're] more responsive to changing demands, certainly more easily or more quickly than a human can action," Cebryk said. "It's just understanding how you would really optimize it." The pilot showed travel times increased during weekday morning peak hours, non-peak hours and afternoon peak hours. At 103A Avenue, east and westbound travel times lagged more than 20 per cent, the results showed. New technology Olga Messinis, the city's director of traffic operations, said problems arose around the transition of the signal timing and co-ordination. "Because it is still relatively new and in a testing phase, it's that transition period that actually increased travel time," Messinis said. "So the transition from identifying a new pattern and implementing a new timing was one of our biggest issues." Coun. Ben Henderson also wondered why the signals didn't yield better results. "So it's not that this will never give us benefits but it's just either we haven't played with it enough yet or it's not quite sophisticated enough to give us the benefits," Henderson said. Messinis agreed and said the city continues to use smart equipment to measure traffic patterns and volume. "I'm just surprised there weren't advantages but it may be that computers aren't quite as smart yet as we think they are," Henderson said. The city will examine other corridors to see where the smart technology can be used in future, Cebryk said. The pilot was an opportunity to delve into the new technology. "It's a starting point," Cebryk said. "We've got kind of a base level of understanding now and we can use that to grow on." Edmonton will consult Pittsburgh, which has implemented a successful smart signal system, he said. Smarter transportation requires integrating various data from static, real-time and dynamic sources with sensors, meters and software in a holistic framework, the report said Cebryk said his team can give the committee regular updates as part of the city's smart transportation action plan. @natashariebe
The Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change (SRSC) allows students to have a seat at the board table. At the school board’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 30 they welcomed a new trustee to the group and updated the board on how the block system is working. Remotely, the board affirmed SRSC trustees Kelly Lam of Carlton, who is entering another term and Emily Zbaraschuk from Meath Park Public School, who is in her first term. “They had a great update both on the change to the constitution that they had proposed and also on the feedback around the high schools that are doing the block system,” director or education Robert Bratvold said. “It’s practical and I appreciate it and I noted that they each of the student trustees brought a slightly different experience,” The block system can be difficult because of workload, Lam said. “The students at the SRSC wanted to ask the board’s advice as to how to approach teachers in our schools to let them know that we appreciate your efforts in teaching all of this course material in the shorter time. We understand it’s very hard to teach us as well. We want to figure out a way because sometimes the course load can be too much,” Lam said. Lam shared some common experiences from both Carlton and the SRSC students that the block system was cumbersome for work. She explained that the pace is faster because of condensing five months into 17 weeks is a significant decrease in time. Lam likes to work in the block system because she works faster while others find it difficult. “Something that we very consistently mentioned throughout our SRSC was the science and math classes have been extremely intense. From my personal experience, I took pre-calculus 30 in the first block and we were pretty much having a test every single day to get through all of the matters we need to get through,” Lam said. As well she has heard that science classes such as biology and physics are intense to get through source material. “Something that could be related to that and possibly causing that issue is that some of the teachers, at least in Carlton, in my opinion, it feels like they are giving the same amount of homework even though we have a significant decrease in time to get all of that work done,” Lam said. Zbaraschuk had a similar experience with other subjects. “I was just going to add that personally, for myself, since my school is on the block system the English and History classes were the ones where the workload was like semester condensed into it, math was as much as you would normally get,” Zbaraschuk said. Bratvold noted that there was a slightly different experience for Zbaraschuk and Lam He also explained that both students emphasized a tough workload and that teachers were also doing the best that they could with the new conditions. During the meeting Bratvold appreciated hearing from the students’ perspective and observed that administration has heard similar things from principals. A number of trustees offered feedback on the matter.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr has given extra protection to the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, granting him authority to complete the work without being easily fired.Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal regulations that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe. He said Durham’s investigation has been narrowing to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known by the code name of Crossfire Hurricane.Under the 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.The FBI in July 2016 began investigating whether the Trump campaign was co-ordinating with Russia to sway the outcome of the presidential election. That probe was inherited nearly a year later by special counsel Mueller, who ultimately did not find enough evidence to charge Trump or any of his associates with conspiring with Russia.The early months of the investigation, when agents obtained secret surveillance warrants targeting a former Trump campaign aide, have long been scrutinized by the president and other critics of the probe who say the FBI made significant errors. An inspector general report last year backed up that criticism but did not find evidence that mistakes in the surveillance applications and other problems with the probe were driven by partisan bias.Barr decided "the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Mueller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election," he said Tuesday.President-elect Joe Biden's transition team didn't immediately comment on the appointment.The current investigation, a criminal probe, had begun very broadly but has since “narrowed considerably” and now “really is focused on the activities of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation within the FBI,” Barr said. He said he expects Durham would detail whether any additional prosecutions will be brought and make public a report of the investigation’s findings.Durham's investigation has resulted in one prosecution so far: a guilty plea by a former FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email.In an Oct. 19 order, obtained by The Associated Press, Barr says Durham is authorized "to investigate whether any federal official, employee or any person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence or law enforcement activities” directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, anyone associated with the campaigns or the Trump administration.House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the appointment erodes trust in the Justice Department, and he questioned how it was allowed under the special counsel rules.“And we should not lose sight of the larger picture: in the waning days of the Trump administration, the attorney general has once again used the powers of his office to settle old scores for the president," Nadler said.The special counsel rules say the appointed person should be outside of government, but Barr pointed to specific provisions in his memo that would allow him to go around that rule.A senior Justice Department official told the AP that although the order details that it is “including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III,” the Durham probe has not expanded.The official said that line specifically relates to FBI personnel who worked on the Russia investigation before the May 2017 appointment of Mueller, a critical area of scrutiny for the Justice Department inspector general, which identified a series of errors and omissions in surveillance applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.The focus on the FBI, rather than the CIA and the intelligence community, suggests that Durham may have moved past some of the more incendiary claims that Trump supporters had hoped would yield allegations of misconduct, or even crimes — namely, the question of how intelligence agencies reached their conclusion that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.Republicans lauded the appointment. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said it was “obvious the system failed” and he concurred with the appointment of a special counsel to continue the investigation.Michael Balsamo And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A second inmate at an Alaska prison experiencing a coronavirus outbreak has died from complications related to COVID-19, as the total number of active cases at the state's largest prison has reached 480, the Alaska Department of Corrections said Tuesday.The 77-year-old with underlying health issues, who was serving sentences for sexual abuse and release violations, died Monday after being taken to a Palmer hospital on Nov. 22, the department said.It's the second death of an inmate related to COVID-19 that has been reported by the department. The first was last month. In each case, the department declined to release the names of the individuals, citing privacy concerns.Both were inmates at Goose Creek Correctional Center near Wasilla, which has been experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.The department said it offered tests to about 1,300 inmates at the prison to try to find undetected cases. Results brought the facility's active case count to 480, with results in 120 cases pending and another roughly 190 inmates considered recovered, the department said.Sarah Gallagher, a department spokesperson, said it “can only offer and recommend testing" — not require it — but she said there were few refusals to be tested.The total inmate population at the prison stood at about 1,260 on Tuesday, she said.In housing units that have had positive tests, those who have tested negative are retested every three days until there are no additional positive results in the unit for 14 days, the department said.Dr. Robert Lawrence, the department's chief medical officer, said “testing sweeps” provide a picture of spread that has occurred and allow officials to "target isolation and quarantine strategies to particular areas in the facility in order to flatten the curve of the spread.”Inmate housing is determined by test results and clinical status, and staff members are required to wear masks in the prison and undergo screenings before their shifts, the department said.For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.The Associated Press
Alberta’s top doctor is telling residents to prepare for a “much different holiday season” this year due to COVID-19. On Tuesday afternoon, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said while it is still unknown what restrictions will be in place over Christmas, Albertans should still be preparing gatherings with as few people as possible. “It's been a long, hard year, and I know how important these holidays are,” Hinshaw said. The doctor said Albertans should be forgoing office parties, open houses and large gatherings this year, no matter what the restrictions look like over the Christmas holidays. Holidays with many people gathering together have accelerated the spread of COVID-19. Hinshaw said the province is still feeling the impacts of Thanksgiving and the cases that were diagnosed as a result of many people gathering indoors in groups. “It only takes one person to start an outbreak,” Hinshaw said. “I am encouraging Albertans to begin preparing for a much different holiday season and begin thinking of creative ways to celebrate safely.” She added people can get together virtually or safely outdoors while social distancing. Hinshaw said the lowest risk for spread is to celebrate with your own household and as few other people as possible. Hinshaw's recommendations come as Alberta outpaces every other province for COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. On Tuesday, the province identified 1,307 new cases of COVID-19 after conducting 15,800 tests. The provincial positivity rate sits at 8.4 per cent. There are currently 16,628 active cases with 479 people in the hospital and 97 of those in intensive care. There were 10 more deaths reported in the past 24 hours. “I know this is a difficult time to grieve,” Hinshaw said.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
The Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus is still hosting its annual Community Christmas meal, albeit with significant changes because of COVID-19 health restrictions. Usually, the free meal brings hundreds of people for food, socializing and singing. Community gatherings are not possible this year, so the Knights of Columbus will serve plates of food for people to pick up and eat elsewhere. Stan Bartlett, an organizer with the Knights of Columbus, said distribution will be at Earls Kitchen and Bar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. Meals will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. “It’s not going to be the big event we’ve done in the last few years,” said Bartlett. “We’re happy we can still do something for people on Christmas Day.” The plates will be pre-prepared to limit the number of volunteers needed for the event. People will have to eat elsewhere and will not have access to the restaurant. “We don’t want to put anyone at risk,” said Bartlett. “People can come in to use the washroom if they need to, but we have to follow guidelines.” The event celebrated its 25th anniversary last year at Father Turcotte School. The first community Christmas meal was held in 1994 at the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. After 11 years, the Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus took over the event. While the event started as an outreach to homeless and low-income people, it has turned into an event where everyone is welcome, regardless of faith, language or economic status. April’s flood also impacted the Knights of Columbus when the church’s basement flooded, damaging the group’s supplies for events. The group is still working on replacing most of those damaged items. All things considered, Bartlett said he is happy the Knights of Columbus are still able to offer a community meal. “We hope everyone can have a good Christmas this year and we’re hoping we can be a little part of that with an expression of kindness,” he said. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Tuesday was the final day for Saskatchewan schools to submit funding applications to the Ministry of Education for the second round of COVID-19 funding. “The second round of COVID contingency funding will ensure schools remain a safe place for students, staff and families,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said. “These applications are in addition to our $51 million allocated in the first round of applications.” The funding comes from the more than $150 million in the COVID contingency fund for education from provincial, federal and school division savings. The funds will be used for sanitation, furniture and equipment, remote learning (for immunocompromised and other students) and IT costs not associated to remote learning. Applications are expected to be submitted by school divisions, qualified independent schools and historical high schools. The ministry will then adjudicate the applications based on the criteria and will notify applicants in early December. According to the Ministry there is $64 million remaining for the second round of applications in the COVID contingency fund for education. Before school began in September, $51 million was committed toward the first round of funding for school divisions and school applicants for emergent, one-time expenses associated with a safe return to school. Prior to the first funding intake, school divisions spent a combined $30 million on one-time school capital initiatives and preparations for the school year. The Ministry of Education has allocated $10 million for personal protective equipment expenses, of which $3.4 million has been spent to date. In the second round of COVID contingency funding for education applications, recipients of the first round of funding are required to report their detailed use of funds to the Ministry of Education.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
On Tuesday Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty announced that the annual New Year’s Day Celebration at Government House would be postponed. “To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to support public health guidelines, we’ve decided to postpone our New Year’s Day celebration” the Lieutenant Governor said in a release. “We will monitor the evolving situation and consider hosting a safe event at a later date.” The Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan hosted the first New Year’s Day celebration in 1884. The tradition continued until the early 1970s. The event was rejuvenated in 1985 and has been held continuously for the past 35 years. Although the Jan. 1 event will not proceed, you can still visit virtually historic Government House while it is beautifully decorated for the season. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 656 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials urged residents not to bend public health rules. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that an additional 16 people have died, pushing B.C.'s death toll to 457. The new positive tests bring the total confirmed cases in the province since the pandemic began to 33,894, while about 70 per cent of those are considered recovered.The statement says there are 8,796 active cases in the province and another 10,123 people exposed to known cases are under active public health monitoring. There are 336 people are being treated in hospital and 76 are in intensive care. The majority of new cases are in the Fraser Health region, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health. "Without exception, follow the provincial health officer's orders in place," Henry and Dix say in the statement. Any events that gather people are not currently allowed, whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, they say. This includes religious, cultural or community events. "Do not gather at home with anyone other than your household or core bubble," the statement says."Let's make today a day to slow community transmission and continue to protect everyone in our province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Forge FC lost a heartbreaker to Haiti's Arcahaie FC in Scotiabank Champions League quarterfinal play Tuesday, conceding a cheap goal on a goalkeeping blunder in regulation time and then losing a penalty shootout.The win earned Arcahaie a berth in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League, alongside the confederation's elite club teams, while moving it into the final four of the CONCACAF League — a 22-team feeder competition that sends six teams to the top-tier CONCACAF tournament.Forge, the Canadian Premier League champion, has a chance to make the Champions League via a do-or-die play-in match next week.Guerry Romondt saved Forge's first two penalties — from Daniel Krutzen and Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson. Arcahaie substitute Ose Charles converted the decisive kick in the 4-2 shootout win.The game was knotted at 1-1 after regulation time with Forge dominating play. but unable to get the go-ahead goal."Obviously this is one that stings," said Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis."We've played two games in the last 2 1/2 months. This is the third one," he added. "So there's some kind of rhythm that's not going to be there. And the toughest thing to do in this game is score goals." Forge looked in complete control up 1-0 early in the second half but conceded the tying goal in the 59th minute on a mistake by Triston Henry. He delayed playing a back pass from Kwame Awuah and his scuffed clearance attempt deflected in off onrushing Arcahaie forward Kervens Jolicoeur."That's something maybe that's going to happen once in his career," Smyrniotis said."This one kind of stings but he's fantastic. He's goalkeeper of the year in the Canadian Premier League for a reason. It's unfortunate that this comes at this moment but we've got to look past it," he added.After the tying goal the game was delayed by a hole in the Arcahaie goal netting, requiring several zip-ties to close the gap.Krutzen opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time from the penalty spot after David Choiniere was taken down in the box by Hantz Anacius. Romondt dove the right way but Krutzen's shot found the corner.Krutzen also converted a penalty — in second-half stoppage-time — to give Forge a 2-1 win over Panama's Tauro FC in the round of 16.The 24-year-old Belgian defender rattled a free kick off the Arcahaie crossbar in the 49th minute as Forge tormented the Haitians with set pieces.The four CONCACAF League quarterfinal winners qualify directly for the Champions League while the losing quarterfinalists compete in single-leg play-in games, with the two winners also qualifying.Arcahaie advances to play either Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa or Honduras' Club Deportivo Marathon, who played in a later game Tuesday, in the January COBCACAF League semifinal. Saprissa won the CONCACAF League last year.Forge will play the Saprissa-Marathon loser next week in the play-in match.Regulation time ended with Forge driving at the Arcahaie goal but unable to get the go-ahead goal. It was the same for the seven minutes of stoppage time with Arcahaie players going down like bowling-pins, delaying play.Tuesday's game went ahead despite one Forge staff member and two Arcahaie players testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of kickoff.CONCACAF said all three had been isolated. All other players and staff tested negative.Smyrniotis made two changes to his starting 11 with Johnny Grant returning from suspension to take over from Kadell Thomas and fellow midfielder Paolo Sabak replacing Elimane Cisse.Forge pressed from the opening kickoff while the Haitians looked to counter-attack. Choiniere almost scored for Forge in the opening minute but couldn't get a boot to a low ball sent across the front of goal by Grant.Forge dominated possession but could not translate it into scoring chance. And the Haitian side began to grow more comfortable on the ball as the deadlock continued.Romondt was called into action twice late in the first half, punching away Forge free kicks. Mo Babouli thought he had scored on the stroke off halftime, heading in another free kick, but was flagged offside.While Arcahaie was the home side, the game was played in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo at the more suitable Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez.The Haitians advanced Nov. 5 with a 3-1 round-of-16 win over Waterhouse FC in Kingston, Jamaica. Forge dispatched Tauro two days earlier in Panama City.The Canadian side then returned home, serving the mandated 14-day quarantine. Forge arrived in the Dominican on Nov 21, training in Punta Cana before making the 170-kilometre trip to the capital on Monday.Arcahaie moved into the round of 16 when Belize's Verdes FC pulled out of their Oct. 20 preliminary-round match due to positive COVID-19 tests. That match was also scheduled for Santo Domingo.Forge defeated El Salvador's CD Municipal Limeno 2-1 in San Salvador on Oct. 22 in preliminary-round play.Forge, thanks to its triumph in the Island Games in Charlottetown during the summer, will also have another chance to qualify for the main CONCACAF club competition when it takes on Toronto FC in final of the Canadian Championship scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.Forge exited the CONCACAF League in the round of 16 last year, beaten 4-2 on aggregate by Honduras's Olimpia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a defence policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users.On Twitter Tuesday night, Trump took aim at Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.Trump called Section 230 “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” adding, “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”Trump has been waging war against social media companies for months, claiming they are biased against conservative voices.In October he signed an executive order directing executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies.Since losing the presidential election, Trump has flooded social media with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Twitter has tagged many such Trump tweets with the advisory, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”Tuesday's veto threat is another potential roadblock for the passage of the annual defence policy measure, which is already being held up in Congress by a spat over military bases named for Confederate officers. The measure, which has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis, guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.The Associated Press
Ottawa's finance and economic development committee approved a revitalization strategy for the ByWard Market on Tuesday — a plan that would see wider sidewalks, a new "destination building," and fewer cars in the downtown neighbourhood. City staff expect the plan to cost $129 million but there's no clear plan yet of who would pay for it. Tuesday's report said funding would come from a combination of sources, including: government, public-private partnership as well as borrowing against assets where it makes sense to do so.The ByWard Market public realm plan has been in development for two years and includes input from local businesses, the ByWard Market Business Improvement Area, public consultations, online surveys as well as comments from local residents, the city's report said.The neighbourhood is currently "struggling," the report said, and the public realm plan intends to physically transform the area "to ensure it remains a place befitting to define Ottawa's image."Among the changes, the plan would see York Street closed to traffic for special events, the expansion of sidewalks and other pedestrian spaces, an incremental reduction to car traffic, more greenery and trees, better lighting, additional meeting spaces and benches, as well as the construction of a "destination building" at 70 Clarence Street.The new facility would provide accessible washrooms, indoor bike parking and, potentially, underground parking, according to the plan. The current ByWard Market Building would however remain the "anchor" for the district. "A key goal of the public realm plan is to shift the perception of the market from a vehicular-oriented space to one where pedestrians come first," said the city's report.City council considers the plan at its next meeting on Dec. 9.
Muskan Jiwa might be too young to drink espresso, but knowing how to spell the word helped her win a national spelling bee.Jiwa, a Grade 7 student at Edmonton's Dr. Donald Massey School, won the junior category of the Spelling Bee of Canada championships on Nov. 29. Junior spellers are aged nine to 11. After placing third in last year's competition, Jiwa made winning her goal.An avid reader, she spent hours preparing for the competition by looking up new words in a dictionary and studying lists of words with her mother."I'm really happy that my hard work paid off," she said Monday in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.Jiwa said the most difficult word she encountered during the virtual competition was "umu," which is a Maori open-air oven.Though she ended up spelling it correctly, the word threw her at first because many previous rounds had featured words with European roots.Jiwa was also asked to spell the word "Hansard" — the official record of parliamentary debates in Commonwealth countries — and set herself apart by correctly capitalizing its first letter."I love debate," she said, explaining why she immediately recognized it as a proper noun.Mark Raspopov and Leena Jalees of Ontario won the competition's primary and intermediate categories.A 90-minute recap of the spelling bee will be available to watch on CBCSports.ca and on the CBC Sports YouTube Channel starting at 11 a.m. MT on Dec. 6.
NEW YORK — Authorities on Tuesday announced the indictment of 18 people, including New York City rapper Casanova, in connection to a litany of gang-related crimes including racketeering, murder, drugs, firearms, and fraud offences. Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss and other law enforcement officials issued a statement accusing those named in the indictment of being part of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation gang, operating in New York City and part of New York state. Authorities said 17 of the 18 named in the indictment were in custody. The FBI’s New York office issued a tweet saying Casanova, whose legal name is Caswell Senior, was still being sought. “Members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Strauss said in the statement. One of those indicted was accused in connection with the Sept. 21 killing of a minor in Poughkeepsie, New York. The others were indicted in connection to charges including assault, drug distribution and weapons possession. Two people were charged with falsely using other people's identity information to file for COVID-19 unemployment benefits. Casanova, currently signed to Roc Nation, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering; conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and firearms possession. Emails were sent to Roc Nation and the rapper's representative seeking comment. The Associated Press
Yukon's health minister says the territorial government has a plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.But neither Health Minister Pauline Frost nor Premier Sandy Silver would offer many details about what's actually in the plan.In Question Period Tuesday, Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard said the public needs more information."All we are asking for is for the minister to provide a copy of that plan to Yukoners so that they can understand what is going on here," he said.Frost both accused the Yukon Party of spreading false information and fear mongering without offering specifics. "For us to come out now and say 'Here's a whole bunch of plans for a whole bunch options,' we're not going to do that right now and we're definitely not going to make news announcements on the floor of the Legislative Assembly," Silver said.Silver did suggest that the government's exact plan will change based on which of the vaccines nearing regulatory approval the Yukon gets first.Pfizer's vaccine, for instance, has to be stored at -80 C to remain stable. That means special freezers are required to transport and store it. Yesterday, federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said vaccines also require qualified shippers and promised details about distribution are coming soon."What the [health] department is doing is game theory, which is every single option, making sure we have considered all of the variables that would be used depending on who gets that authorization first from Health Canada, and when," Silver said. NDP Leader Kate White said the public deserves to know what the plan is."Plans can change and plans can be adapted, and no one argues or or disagrees with that," she said. "But even having an idea of what the starting [point] is, instead of speaking in generalities, I think what really folks are looking for right now is specifics."
Newly minted Regina University MLA Aleana Young asked her first question in question period on Dec. 1, focusing on supporting small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Democratic Party MLA is critic for economy, jobs, SaskBuilds and SaskPower. “Things are grim for many of our province’s small business owners, the heartbeat of the economy, and unfortunately, they're currently living in a worst of both worlds scenario. Businesses are being told to stay open, yet their customers are being urged to stay home,” Young said. “While this month should be the busiest for most retailers, the government has concocted a recipe for economic disaster that shuts many out from federal support. Not only are businesses shuttering and people losing their jobs, this government seems to believe its own spin that they haven't effectively shut down the economy. How many businesses, and how long does this government believe they can operate that 50 per cent, at 30 per cent, or at 25 per cent capacity, and for how long? What is this government's plan to help Saskatchewan small businesses?” In reply, Minister of Trade and Export Development Jeremy Harrison said, “The reality is that this government has stepped up with the most comprehensive supports for small business of any jurisdiction in the entire country. “We worked incredibly closely with our business community, through all facets of the pandemic. We came forward with the Small Business Emergency Payment early on in the pandemic, to support small businesses. Sixty-five hundred small businesses took advantage of that program, over $30 million distributed through that process. We then came forward with the Tourism Sector Support Program, which was the benchmark for supporting the tourism and hospitality industries in the entire country. Over $35 million allocated to that program, over 450 businesses supported directly and designed very closely in consultation with the leadership from that industry. The results have been positive. We've seen the lowest unemployment rate in the entire country, by a significant margin. We've seen merchandise exports leading the country in growth. We're going to be continuing and have been continuing to work very, very closely with our business community, and I would encourage the member opposite to stay tuned.” Young campaigned in the election during her last month of pregnancy, and gave birth to a daughter just days before election day. She won her seat in one of the closest races in the election, defeating incumbent cabinet minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor. Young has had her newborn daughter with her in the house at times. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury