Prince Harry says he only became aware of unconscious racial bias after "living a day" in the shoes of his wife, Meghan Markle.
Prince Harry says he only became aware of unconscious racial bias after "living a day" in the shoes of his wife, Meghan Markle.
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
SAN RAMON, Calif. — Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against longtime industry powerhouse Microsoft.The acquisition announced Tuesday is by far the largest in the 21-year history of Salesforce. The San Francisco company was one of the first to begin selling software as a subscription service that could be used on any internet-connected device instead of the more cumbersome process of installing the programs on individual computers.Salesforce’s flamboyant founder and CEO Marc Benioff hailed the “cloud computing” concept as the wave of the future to much derision initially.But software as a service has become an industry standard that has turned into a gold mine for longtime software makers. Microsoft for one has developed its own thriving online suite of services, known as Office 365, which includes a Teams chatting service that includes many of the same features as Slack’s 6-year-old application.Slack in July filed a complaint in the European Union accusing Microsoft of illegally bundling Teams into Office 365 in a way that blocks its removal by customers who may prefer Slack.Microsoft also has been posing a threat to Salesforce’s main products, a line-up of tools that help other companies manage their customer relationships.“For Benioff, this is all about Microsoft,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said of Tuesday's deal. “It’s just clear Microsoft is moving further and further away from Salesforce when it comes to the cloud wars.”Benioff left no doubt he considered the deal to be a major coup, after losing out to Microsoft in 2016 when the two companies were both vying to buy the professional networking service LinkedIn.“It's a match made in heaven," Benioff said during an ebullient conference call. “We see in Slack a once-in-a-generation company and platform. It’s a central nervous system for so many companies."Salesforce has been building on its success in recent years to diversify into other fields, largely through a series of acquisitions that included its previous largest deal, a $15.7 billion purchase of data analytics specialist Tableau Software last year.Many of the deals have been financed with Salesforce’s stock, which is worth nearly seven times more than it was a decade ago to lift the company's current market value to $220 billion. Salesforce is using its stock to pay for roughly half of the Slack purchase, with the rest being covered with some cash, with some of the money being borrowed during a time of extraordinarily low interest rates.Slack, on the other hand, hasn’t proven as popular with investors, even though its service that publicly launched in 2014 is being increasingly used by companies and government agencies looking for more nimble alternatives than email. Before news reports of a potential deal with Salesforce surfaced last week, Slack’s stock was still hovering around its initial listing price of $26 when the company went public nearly 18 months ago.“This is a stellar exit strategy for Slack,” said Kate Leggett, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Microsoft Teams is eating Slack’s lunch.”Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield will be hoping this sale works out better than when another company he started, photo sharing service Flickr, was sold to Yahoo 15 years ago. Flickr got lost in the shuffle at Yahoo amid years of turmoil before it was finally sold again in 2018 to SmugMug.In his next act after leaving Flickr, Butterfield decided to focus on gaming with a startup called Tiny Speck that launched in 2009. A few years later, he shifted to the instant messaging service whose name was an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge."Leggett predicted Salesforce would benefit from owning Slack because it will add a popular collaboration tool to its own software suite, which is focused on managing customer relationships for businesses and government agencies. She said the need for customer-relations agents and other Salesforce users to swarm around a topic and collaborate remotely has only grown with the coronavirus pandemic that has sent so many office workers home and got many hooked on new online tools.If all goes smoothly, Salesforce hopes to take control of Slack sometime from May to July next year.Slack, which is free for people who use the basic version, found quick adoption in the tech industry for its ease of use and its fostering of a more casual mode of conversation than email. The company stopped releasing its daily user count after topping 12 million last year, focusing instead on paid customers, which Butterfield said in March have shown a “massive outpouring of interest” because of the way the pandemic has forced people to work from home.“I think the pandemic’s played a massive role" in paving the way for the deal, Ives said. “The Zooms, the Slacks, the Microsoft Teams, that’s going to be a new part of the workforce.”Ives said Benioff was also running out of time to catch up to Microsoft, which remains a secondary player in Salesforce’s core customer-relations-management business, known as CRM, but way ahead in providing a broader array of cloud-based services.Slack and Salesforce are headquartered about a block away from each other in San Francisco. Slack's office is in the shadow of the 62-story Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in Northern California.“I get to look right out my window and you know what I see? Slack," Benioff said.___O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.Michael Liedtke And Matt O'Brien, The Associated Press
Premier Scott Moe recently raised the possibility of lifting some of the restrictions on gatherings during the holiday season, if it is safe to do so. But some Saskatchewan doctors are ringing alarm bells — not Christmas bells — about the rising case numbers. At a physician town hall last week, Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, senior medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the current trajectory puts Saskatchewan on track to have 14,000 cases of COVID-19 by mid-December.As of Tuesday, there have been 8,745 cases to date, with 3,819 considered active.Kryzanowski also worries about the possibility of under-counting active cases at this stage in the pandemic. "When we're in exponential growth, we know active cases are just the tip of the iceberg, and we know there's a huge iceberg under the water that represents the undiagnosed cases," she said."That's also growing exponentially, and we have momentum behind the growth in cases that's increasingly difficult to turn around." According to models presented by senior medical information officer Dr. Jenny Basran, COVID-19 patients may soon account for half of all available hospital beds — and that situation is projected to last well into the spring. By January, there may not be enough ventilators in Saskatchewan's ICUs for all the patients who will need them, the models suggest. Skip this Christmas so family is here next year: doctorKyle Anderson, an assistant professor in the college of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, says Moe's comments about lifting restrictions do not reflect the reality of where the pandemic is headed. He worries that type of thinking will lead to a false sense of security. "People will think things are going to be turning around, because the premier must have the most up-to-date information, and he would be guiding us with the best medically sound advice," said Anderson. "In this case, there's no way you could claim that the best sound medical advice would allow us to start loosening things up. We are not there."Anderson hopes residents will remember that a great deal of community transmission is driven by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people. In many cases, these people have not even gone to get a COVID test, because they don't feel ill. "These are the people who are spreading it to other people," Anderson said. "They're going to play hockey. They're going to a restaurant. They're going for that one-on-one dinner with a friend. They're getting in close contact, unmasked, because they think they're safe."If more people are allowed to gather for the holidays, more people will unknowingly spread the virus to their families and loved ones at a time when the hospital system is already overloaded. "The only way we can try to make sure we don't worsen the situation at Christmas is to say, just like we told the kids at Halloween, we're skipping it this year," said Anderson. "We can skip these holidays. Having someone here next Christmas is more important than going to see them this Christmas." Looking for loopholesAs case numbers in the province continue to rise despite the new public health measures, doctors are advocating for more public education and greater clarity about why certain things are allowed and others forbidden. At the town hall meeting, Moose Jaw family doctor Brandon Thorpe said the uncertainty is leading some people to look for loopholes."I'm hearing all sorts of devious ways of how people are getting by the new rules," he said."The joke is that 'I'm going to go and have a funeral for my turkey on Christmas day with 30 people in a restaurant.' So … I just feel that the presentations Mr. Moe and [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab are doing are not sufficient. They're too vague, and they don't give enough education." For the government to promote an effective public health message at this point in time, everyone must present a clear and united front, Anderson says."Education is one of the biggest things we can do to get us out of this mess, and I think the government is sort of dropping the ball on that," he said."They're not consistently getting the messaging out about what we need to do to actually succeed at this pandemic. They're saying, 'Well, maybe if you could, it would be nice if some people did this.' That's really not the messaging people need right now."
FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is extending ferry service to Campobello Island until the end of the month to help address residents' pandemic concerns. Residents of the Canadian island — which is connected by a bridge to the state of Maine — want a year-round ferry service so they don't have to enter the United States in order to get to the New Brunswick mainland. The seasonal ferry service ended Sunday after it had already been extended from September to help address concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. "We have negotiated with the private company to continue that service to the end of December," Transportation Minister Jill Green said in an interview Tuesday. She confirmed the province will subsidize the private ferry service — run by East Coast Ferries — until the end of the month but would not say how much is being spent because negotiations were ongoing. The extended service will operate four days a week, weather permitting. The extension falls short of the year-round service that residents have been seeking. "The premier promised he would set up a committee or a study to take to the federal government to help us, so the federal government could get involved," Campobello resident Ulysse Robichaud said. "The plan that he said he was going to work on for us hasn't done a thing." Premier Blaine Higgs made the commitment during a video meeting with members of the ferry committee in May. "It's getting more and more frustrating, because we feel totally abandoned. Are we real Canadians? Are we fake Canadians?" Robichaud asked. Campobello Island — with a population of 900 — is a popular summer tourism destination and was the summer home of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. The island's residents have been given an exemption to travel into Maine for gas and medical needs without having to self-isolate upon return. Robichaud said while they are exempt to travel into Maine, they are not exempt from contracting the COVID-19 virus. There have been almost 12,000 COVID-19 cases in Maine and 214 related deaths since the pandemic began. "I encourage residents of Campobello Island to limit trips off the island to minimize risk,” Higgs said last week. Green said the province is open to talking with the federal government about a permanent ferry connection, but no talks are planned at this time. "The department has reached out to our federal counterparts more than once, and they have not jumped on the bandwagon to do that," she said. When asked for comment on year-round service for Campobello, a spokesperson for federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau referred questions to the ferry operator. "Transport Canada does not determine when East Coast Ferries provides its services between Campobello Island and Deer Island, N.B.," press secretary Allison St-Jean. "East Coast Ferries is a privately-owned operator." Kathy Bockus, the Progressive Conservative member for the provincial riding that includes Campobello Island, said she was pleased with the extension and will continue to push for a permanent ferry for the island. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted lives across the country — affecting work, school, family and the economy.Several provinces are now in the midst of the pandemic's second wave, which is breaking records for case counts and straining health-care systems. Over 12,000 Canadians have died since the pandemic began. CBC's The Nationalhosted a special broadcast on Tuesday evening, to address some of the issues people, and the country, are facing.Canadians shared their stories about how they're coping with the pandemic, and their concerns for what's ahead. They included:Mom worried about her kids' mental healthLeah Gibbons is a school bus driver and mother of six who lives in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. She's currently not working because schools are closed and is concerned about how her kids will cope with being stuck indoors during a long winter. Both Gibbons and her husband are trying to make ends meet as the bills continue to pile up. Restaurant manger concerned if industry will surviveToronto restaurant manager Meaghan Murray has worked in the hospitality industry for over two decades and has seen her hours drastically reduced due to the pandemic. She's started a few side hustles, including a soup business, but it's not enough to cover her expenses. Murray says she's uncertain about what will be next for her career, and the industry overall.Realtors worried what 2nd wave means for work, home lifeBeth and Ryan Waller moved to Guelph, Ont., to raise their family and launch a real estate company in 2008. Helping guide their three daughters through homeschooling and missing their friends has been challenging, as is working from home. But they are also anticipating the uncertainty of the real estate market, as infections continue to rise in Ontario.Gym owner trying to stay profitableJennifer Lau opened her small business, a boutique gym in Toronto, in the summer of 2019. They were only open for a few months before the first lockdown happened in March. Lau worries she's not receiving enough financial support to keep the gym from shutting down permanently and wonders if the business will survive the second lockdown.Nurse hopes pandemic has shown importance of communityVerena Rizg, a nurse practitioner with the Canadian Armed Forces, says she's treated those who are suffering the most from COVID-19. But she's also seen communities working hard to support one another. She hopes that behaviour remains when the crisis is over.Logistics co-ordinator faces challenges of living alone in NunavutRandy Miller has lived in Nunavut for 35 years and works as a logistics co-ordinator for Nunavut Canada. But while he'd usually visit friends and family in the South several times a year, his visits have been cut due to the pandemic. He says living alone without a reprieve has been difficult.
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
The newest member of Acadia First Nation's band council is also the youngest and hopes to use her position to inspire other young people to pursue politics.Natteal Battiste, 28, was sworn in last week after winning a seat in the Nov. 21 election.She's the only new member of the nine-person chief and council.Battiste said engaging with young people who live in the many communities that make up Acadia First Nation is one of her priorities, as is shaking up how elections are held in the future. "I do see that there's a shift with our younger population wanting to get involved in politics, and that's what I really want to encourage and hope that I'm able to motivate for the next election," she said Monday. Ahead of November's election, Battiste told CBC Radio's Information Morning that new people running to be on council didn't have access to the contact list for voters like incumbents did.Hoped to see more new facesWith a very large portion of the First Nation's roughly 1,500 members living off-reserve, she said it made it difficult for new candidates to reach potential voters. "It is unfortunate that there wasn't more [new councillors] that were sworn in, I will say that," Battiste said. "I do wish that all of our areas were covered very evenly, having a representative from each area ... but that doesn't take away from my excitement that I have this opportunity of making a meaningful change."Acadia First Nation's eight councillors and one chief serve five-year terms. Chief Deborah Robinson was first elected as chief in 1987 and was re-elected last month along with seven other incumbent councillors. As a newcomer to politics, Battiste said the five-term will give her enough time to learn the ropes. Born in Boston, grew up in Yarmouth areaBattiste was born in Boston and moved to the Yarmouth reserve where she lived for 10 years. In 2010, she moved to Halifax to study psychology at St. Mary's University.According to a bio on Acadia First Nation's website, she started the Aboriginal student society at SMU and hosted the university's first sacred fire and tobacco offering ceremony for students.Battiste now lives in Dartmouth, and said living off-reserve can make it harder to access support and community resources. "You do feel kind of excluded when you are off-reserve, which means up to 90 per cent of our members could feel they don't have a connection to their heritage," she told CBC's Information Morning before the election. Her mission is to bring young members of Acadia First Nation together, no matter where they live, so they can learn from one another, she said. "Just connecting us one to another so we can start creating more deep-rooted relationships in the spread-out areas of southwest Nova Scotia." MORE TOP STORIES
MILLBROOK, Ala. — The owners of an outdoor recreation destination in Alabama fear a days-old baby goat has been stolen from a free-ranging herd near a former movie set and tourist attraction.Two newborn goats from the herd on Jackson Lake Island in Milbrook have disappeared since November, according to the owners.The property has public access for fishing and camping, as well as the fictional town of Spectre, where scenes for the 2003 Tim Burton film “Big Fish” were shot, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. There are about 55 grown goats on the property and they sometimes sleep under the church on the set, the newspaper said.One of the goats, Bambi, was taken in early November but was returned about a day later, said Lynn Bright, who owns the property and goats and is the former first lady of Montgomery.Bambi died after being away from his mother, she added. Bluebell, who was born Friday, has since gone missing.“We know who took Bambi,” Bright said. “We have addressed that with the young man’s family, and we are still considering taking legal action. We can’t be certain if Bluebell wasn’t carried off by an animal. But we had reports of a family passing her around before she went missing.”The owners posted photos of Bluebell to Facebook on Monday calling for the public's help in returning the animal and putting a stop to stealing the goats. Bright added that baby goats have gone missing from the property before.“We love sharing our goats for everyone to enjoy," the post said. "However, we can’t continue to let them roam free and play with everyone if this keeps happening. We love our babies too much, and we must keep them safe. We are now installing even more cameras on the island, and we hope this post helps.”The Associated Press
Changes to a program meant to help the provinces weather extraordinary drops in revenue have been given a thumbs-down by both government and opposition politicians in Alberta. Federal finance minister Chrystia Freeland announced the changes to the fiscal stabilization program while delivering her government's economic update on Monday. The cap currently set at $60 per person is set to jump to $170 per person in the current fiscal year. Provinces are eligible for extra funding if they experience a five per cent year-over-year drop in non-resource revenues, or a decrease of more than 50 per cent in resource revenues. When asked about the changes on Tuesday, Finance Minister Travis Toews said they weren't what Alberta was asking for. "Very disappointed that the caps weren't lifted entirely," he said. "It really doesn't go far enough." The changes announced by Freeland aren't retroactive, another disappointment for the government. If Ottawa removed the $60 cap for the period going back to the 2015-16 collapse in global oil prices, Toews says Alberta would be entitled to receive another $2.9 million in stabilization payments. He argued Alberta taxpayers contribute $20 billion each year when times are good so the federal government should step in with more help when the bottom drops out of resource revenues. Toews received some support for his position from an unexpected source — NDP Leader Rachel Notley, who was Alberta premier from 2015 to 2019. "We also put forward the same position when we were in government that the finance minister is currently putting forward that there should be no cap," Notley said, adding that she agrees the payments should be retroactive. Notley questioned the credibility of the United Conservative government on the issue. She said Toews is advocating for this extra funding at the same time he isn't distributing more than $300 million set aside by Ottawa to pay top-ups to essential workers during the pandemic. The provincial government has to match one-third of the funding. The province says it is still talking with its federal counterparts about the money.
NEW YORK — A final tally of absentee ballots has confirmed that Republican Nicole Malliotakis has defeated U.S. Rep. Max Rose, denying the Democrat a second term representing one of the few conservative-leaning parts of New York City. Malliotakis, a New York State Assembly member, opened a big lead over Rose on Election Day in a district that includes all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. She declared victory on Nov. 3 and Rose conceded the race Nov. 12, but The Associated Press didn’t call the race until Tuesday because New York City's Board of Elections refused for weeks to publicly release information about its count of a large number of absentee ballots. With her victory, Malliotakis will become the only Republican in New York City's congressional delegation. The race between Malliotakis and Rose, an Army combat veteran, played out over a year that saw violent clashes between protesters and police officers in New York City, and several months in which shootings in some parts of the city soared. Malliotakis ran on a pro-law enforcement platform and sought to link Rose to Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is deeply unpopular on Staten Island, and to calls for defunding the police, which Rose says he does not support. To distance himself from de Blasio, Rose created an ad calling his fellow Democrat the “worst mayor ever.” Malliotakis was a candidate for mayor against de Blasio in 2017. The daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother and a Greek immigrant father, Malliotakis grew up on Staten Island and has represented parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn in the Assembly since 2011. The Associated Press
Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) opened its doors last week to a new primary care clinic located on reserve at the OKIB Health Centre. The new clinic is a partnership between Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Interior Health. The primary care clinic, which is open to OKIB members living both on and off-reserve, is an expansion to the existing facility but now providing patients with access to doctors. “There has been a need for a long time for these types of services,” says Chief Byron Louis of Okanagan Indian Band. “The idea has always been there, it’s based upon community growth.” OKIB, which is located at Inkumupulux (Head of Okanagan Lake), near Vernon, B.C., currently has 2030 members, with half of its members living on reserve. It’s the growing population that has fueled discussions of the need for a new primary care clinic. “We also have a growing need when we start looking at that,” says Louis. “Even with half of our population being non-reserve, but band members, you’re starting to get into the size of a small community.” The clinic is now open and accepting new patients via appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. The services available range from medical assessments, to diagnosis and treatment plans, diabetes and physical exams for newborns, seniors and elderly care. (See the full list here.) “It represents a new approach to providing health care services and access to doctors on OKIB reserve land. Now, OKIB members can receive care at all stages of life, right here in community,” Louis says. A healthcare system right at home in the community builds on pre-existing programs and services, but meets the needs of “the ageing population,” he explains. “It’s good that you’re able to provide a home base for your health care.”Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
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
After nine long months of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns people around the world are truly feeling the emotional and physical crunch. Humans are social creatures and this pandemic has succeeded in separating us from one another more than anything else in recent memory. In our desperate attempts to slow the spread of the virus throughout our communities, much of what we commonly experience together as communal acts of collective joy have become greatly restricted or shut down completely. One of the areas hardest hit is the live music industry. Venues have closed up, and over time we have seen repeated announcements in the news that many will not be able to ride out the storm and reopen in the future. Festivals both large and small were forced to go on hiatus this year sending out waves of financial crisis through the entire industry, from the producers at the top to the thousands upon thousands of musicians who rely more than ever on live performance engagements for their livelihood. In an attempt to utilize digital media to bridge the wide physical expanse, many organizations working in the music industry have turned to live streaming over the Internet to remain connected with their audiences. One organization operating as a music industry hub is the non-profit Canada's Music Incubator - Canada's Music Incubator (CMI). “We’re national. So we're based out of Toronto, but we also do a lot of our programming in the west as well in Alberta, out of the National Music Centre,” said CMI Live Events director Jesse Mitchell. The centre is a music performance venue located in Calgary. Much of the work that CMI does involves live music curation, as well as connecting musicians and managers with promoters and performance opportunities. But the organization also goes beyond that by producing music industry workshops and mentorships which serve to educate music creators and to invigorate the Canadian music landscape. Because of CMI’s success over their 10-year history, Mitchell and his associates were approached by representatives at the TD Bank, an organization with a long and prominent history of sponsoring and supporting many high profile music and cultural events across Canada. During these times of quarantine TD was seeking alternatives to sponsoring live events and approached CMI to spearhead a nationally-produced streaming performance program. Together the two partners came up with the Connected Music Series. Produced over the last few months and premiering on CMI’s YouTube channel, the Connected Music Series features 20 performances by Black, Indigenous and South Asian musicians. The artists selected were asked to stage their performances at venues in their community that held significance to that place. CMI also had a mandate to include local creators and media production crews to capture the performances. “The series has a focus on showcasing artists, but at the same time we’re interested in also showcasing significant spaces,” Mitchell explained. “But because this is online and it’s being videoed, we’re also highlighting media creators who work in these different communities.” The Connected Music Series features 20 prerecorded 30-minute musical performances airing between Nov. 19 and Dec. 20. The series hosts an incredible selection of Canadian talent, including many acclaimed Indigenous artists such as 2020 JUNO Indigenous Artist of the Year Celeigh Cardinal; Mi'kmaq Rapper Wolf Castle; two-spirit Mohawk singer Shawnee; Cree R&B; musician Sebastian Gaskin; Mohawk musician Logan Staats, and Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday. The venues chosen by the performers range from the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre and the Art Gallery of Alberta, both in Edmonton, and the Pabineau First Nation Band Hall in Bathurst, N.B., to intimate locations like The Garden Strathcona in Vancouver and community-minded retail spaces like hip hop fashion store Friday Knights in Winnipeg. “There's lots of beautiful and incredible places where I could have taped my performance, but it was already winter here,” said Gilday, who makes her home in Yellowknife. “So shooting a half-hour performance outside in winter here is not possible because I play guitar.” “I chose the Bullock’s Bistro, which is our local fish and chips place, and it's like an iconic Yellowknife location.” Gilday appreciates the Yellowknife restaurant’s attraction as a community and tourist hub, established over the past three decades, and how “it’s connected to the water in a very special way.” Owners “Renata and Sam Bullock get their fish fresh out of Great Slave Lake literally a hundred feet away.” For Gilday, that speaks to her deeply about “food security and that connection to the water.” Whether locked down within the vast urban landscape of a city like Toronto or tucked in for the winter in the remote communities of Northern Canada there’s no denying the significance of how much digital media is helping to keep everyone connected in these trying times. Many of the artists featured in the series would normally be touring and performing in various corners of the world. During the pandemic, however, sponsored streaming events have been adopted by many producers and promoters to serve as an antidote to the moratorium placed on public gatherings and live music events. The Connected Music Series returns Dec. 3, streaming dynamic performances from unique Canadian locations by acclaimed Canadian BIPOC musicians and creators right through until Dec. 20. Visit the Connected Music Series YouTube channel to view the recorded performances so far. Windspeaker.com By David Owen Rama, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line when the first coronavirus vaccine shots become available, the influential Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended Tuesday. (Dec. 2)
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers.The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B's in recent years would be denied under the new rules.U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn't follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.“The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” White wrote.The U.S. issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas each year in sectors including technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they’re issued for three years and renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China.The H-1B rules announced weeks before the election were part of President Donald Trump's wider agenda to curb nearly all forms of immigration. In June, he issued an order temporarily suspending the H-1B program until the end of the year.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities including the California Institute of Technology sued in California, arguing there wasn’t adequate notice or time for the public to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly related to requiring a prevailing wage for visa-holders, would have a drastic impact on new hires and “sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States."The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee seeking renewal was paid an $80,000 salary but would have to be paid $208,000 under the new rule.The judge agreed that the federal government didn’t make a case for implementing the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes agencies accountable to the public by requiring a detailed process for enacting regulations.“Defendants failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provided by the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” White wrote.The rule on wages, proposed by the Department of Labor, took effect in October, while the Homeland Security rule on occupations and other issues was supposed to take effect Monday. It also would have placed limits on “offsite” firms that employ and contract out H-1B visa holders to other companies; their visas would have been limited to one year at a time."This is incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This ruling enables those individuals to maintain their jobs and their families in the United States.”The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having "the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.”Messages left Tuesday for spokespeople with the Labor and Homeland Security departments weren’t immediately returned.The wage rule has prompted at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.___Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Winner winner, chicken dinner. Literally. Each year, mini-chefs from across Canada send in their recipes for a chance to be featured in the Kid Food Nation cookbook. One of the recipes that made it into this year's book is Pandemic Chicken, created by an 11-year-old Edmonton boy. Dongdao Xiao entered the contest through the Kid Food Nation program at the Boys and Girls Club of Edmonton. "There, I learned strategies for cooking and I found I really liked it," he told Edmonton AM on Monday. Dongdao said cooking is fun for him. "I found that it was really interesting mixing foods together to see which ingredients matched and which didn't. I also like how you can arrange the food in different patterns to make it artistic," he said. Hear Dongdao Xiao talk about his cooking here: Pandemic Chicken, his winning dish, is a kebab made with cubed chicken, brightly coloured vegetables, curry and yogurt. In addition to having his recipe published in the cookbook, he and the 25 other winners celebrated by participating in a virtual cooking session — the English-speaking kids were paired with Canadian chef Lynn Crawford while the French children joined chef Marysol Foucault. Dongdao said he was nervous about the virtual cooking party but felt he did pretty well. The pumpkin mac and cheese recipe made by the group has become one of his favourite things to make, along with the egg sandwiches he makes in the morning with his parents. Now that he is an expert, Dongdao remained diplomatic when asked which of his parents is the better cook. "Sometimes I cook for my parents but most of the time I cook with them. They have a lot of cooking wisdom that they can impart on me," he said. "Usually, my mom cooks most of the time but when my dad does cook, he makes pretty good meals," he said. "So I'd say they're both very good." This early success in the kitchen doesn't have Dongdao dreaming of a culinary career. He'd rather be a doctor but says he might like to cook for his patients so he can keep that love of food going. "I hope that they will really enjoy my food." If you want to make Pandemic Chicken, the recipe is on the Kid Food Nation website.
BILLINGS, Mont. — Climate change, voracious beetles and disease are imperiling the long-term survival of a high-elevation pine tree that’s a key source of food for some grizzly bears and found across the West, U.S. officials said Tuesday. A Fish and Wildlife Service proposal scheduled to be published Wednesday would protect the whitebark pine tree as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, according to documents posted by the Office of the Federal Register. The move marks a belated acknowledgement of the tree's severe declines in recent decades and sets the stage for restoration work. But government officials said they do not plan to designate which forest habitats are critical to the tree’s survival, stopping short of what some environmentalists argue is needed. Whitebark pines can live up to 1,000 years and are found at elevations up to 12,000 feet (3,600 metres) — conditions too harsh for most tress to survive. Environmentalists had petitioned the government in 1991 and again in 2008 to protect the trees, which occur across 126,000 square miles (326,164 square kilometres) of land in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and western Canada. A nonnative fungus has been killing whitebark pines for a century. More recently, the trees have proven vulnerable to bark beetles that have killed millions of acres of forest, and climate change that scientists say is responsible for more severe wildfire seasons. The trees have been all but wiped out in some areas, including the eastern edge of Yellowstone National Park, where they are a source of food for threatened grizzly bears. More than half of whitebark pines in the U.S. are now dead, according to a 2018 study from the U.S. Forest Service. That has complicated government efforts to declare grizzlies in the Yellowstone area as a recovered species that no longer needs federal protection. Grizzlies raid caches of whitebark pine cones that are hidden by squirrels and devour the seeds within the cones to fatten up for winter. A 2009 court ruling that restored protections for Yellowstone bears cited in part the tree's decline, although government studies later concluded the grizzlies could find other things to eat. After getting sued for not taking steps to protect the pine trees, wildlife officials in 2011 acknowledged that whitebark pines needed protections but they took no immediate action, saying other species faced more immediate threats. An attorney with the Natural Resources Defence Council, which submitted the 2008 petition for protections, lamented that it took so long but said the proposal was still worth celebrating. “This is the federal government admitting that climate change is killing off a widely distributed tree, and we know that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many species threatened,” said Rebecca Riley, legal director for the environmental group’s nature program. The government’s proposal describes the threats to the pine tree imminent and said it was one of many plants expected to be impacted as climate change moves faster than they can adapt. “Whitebark pine survives at high elevations already, so there is little remaining habitat in many areas for the species to migrate to higher elevations in response to warmer temperatures,” Fish and Wildlife Service officials wrote. The officials added that overall, whitebark pine stands have seen severe reductions in regeneration because of wildfires, a fungal disease called white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetles and climate change. Amid those growing threats, federal officials are working in conjunction with researchers and private groups on plans to gather cones from trees that are resistant to blister rust, grow their seeds in greenhouses and then plant them back on the landscape, said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Amy Nicholas. A draft of that nationwide restoration is expected by the end of next year. “We do have options to revive this species,” Nicholas said. The decision not to pursue protections for the tree's habitat is in line with another recent action by the Fish and Wildlife Service — the denial of critical habitat for t he endangered rusty patched bumblebee. The bee's population has plummeted 90 per cent over about two decades. As with whitebark pine, loss of the bee's habitat was considered less important than other threats. The two cases underscore a pattern of opposition to habitat protections by the administration of President Donald Trump, environmentalists said. The Fish and Wildlife Service under Trump also has proposed rules to restrict what lands can be declared worthy of protections and to give greater weight to the economic benefits of development. “It's clear that the intent is to limit protection of habitat for threatened and endangered species. Whitebark pine is another example of that,” said Noah Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity. Fish and Wildlife Service Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott said it would not be prudent to designate areas for habitat protections since the major threats to the trees' survival can't be addressed through land management. “The driving factor (in the tree's decline) is that white pine blister rust, and that's working synergistically with mountain pine beetle, the altered fire regime, climate change," Abbott said. “These are biological factors that we really don't have any control over.” ___ On Twitter, follow Brown @MatthewBrownAP Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
Regina– The Saskatchewan Party government’s response to COVID-19 was the entire focus of the Opposition New Democratic Party’s first chance at question period as the Saskatchewan Legislature got down to business on Dec. 1, following the Oct. 26 election. NDP Leader Ryan Meili started off saying the “people of Saskatchewan are dealing with the results of missed opportunities on the part of this premier.” He noted there are three times as many cases of COVID-19 compared to Nov. 1, and active cases are up five times. The leader of the opposition accused Premier Scott Moe of giving mixed messages, musing about opening up for Christmas, and providing “breathing room” to those against wearing masks. “At this rate, the only thing you’ll be opening for Christmas is a field hospital,” Meili said. Moe responded, “The COVID-19 response and Saskatchewan has been a balanced and measured approach, has been an approach that ensures that yes, we are doing everything that we can to ensure that we are preserving lives in this province, saving lives in this province, and also preserving the opportunity for livelihoods today livelihoods in the future.” Moe said this response will focus on ensuring that we can preserve the capacity of our health care system, preserve the opportunities and jobs in our communities, “and to ensure that we have the opportunity for our next generation, for the youth to have some semblance of normalcy, so that they maybe do things like attend school, and as well as the athletics and the opportunities that we have in our communities.” Moe said, “We’re experiencing a second wave surge in the province, like much of the rest of the nation.” He added Saskatchewan will follow the advice of chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. Meili said, “Once again, this premier is demonstrating that he fails to comprehend the seriousness of what we're dealing with today. This is not a minor surge. The number of cases is rising exponentially. Hospitals are overwhelmed, small businesses are barely surviving, and people are worried about the health of their loved ones, people are losing, loved ones.” He asked what the province is doing with hundreds of millions of dollars of federal support for COVID-19 response. Moe responded money had been spent on personal protective equipment, and that $90 million has been spent on testing and contact tracing, with a rolling 7-day average of 3,500 tests per day. Forty million dollars have been spent on schools, in addition to $40 million in school division savings, augmented by $75 million for restarting schools. He pointed out a second tranche of funding applications opened on that very day. Meili pressed on about the $260 million allocated in the provincial COVID-19 contingency, as detailed in the mid-year update released on Nov. 27. He asked, “Now is not the time to be cheap with Saskatchewan people, now is the time to invest. Why won't the premier invest those contingency funds right away?” adding, “What is he waiting for?” Moe said a portion of that contingency fund has been allocated to education. He pointed out that $100 million had been added in contingency funding with that mid-year update. “We didn’t wait, with respect to supporting the people of this province, supporting jobs in this province taking that balanced and measured approach to ensure, yes, we are curbing the spread of COVID-19, but also to ensure that we are supporting people in communities across this province.” Moe cited over $50 million invested in the small business emergency program, $2 million, in the self isolation support program, partnering with the federal government on the temporary wage supplement and emergency rent assistance program. “We’ve been there in supports for Saskatchewan businesses, and we have been there with the people in this province to ensure that we can curb the spread of COVID-19.” He said that needs to continue until we have widespread access to a vaccine. Meili asked, “Why aren't they releasing those contingency funds for COVID-19 to support small businesses to staff up in long term care and health care how much worse do things need to get before this premier will actually do something?” Moe responded that the province had invested a little over $2.5 billion, including $2 billion in infrastructure, to ensure a safe, strong economic recovery. He said, “This government has been there, time and time again throughout this pandemic, taking that balanced, yes, measured response. We're going to continue to be there for the people in the province. We're going to continue to work with all those interested to not only procure, alongside the federal government, vaccines for this province, but now we're going to work on how we are going to get those vaccines out to the people of this province, end this pandemic that we have been dealing with, in the months ahead. That is the next target, that is the finish line for the people of this nation.” Regarding those field hospitals in Saskatoon and Regina, Health Critic Vicki Mowat asked, “What is the exact threshold to trigger the health authority to open field hospitals?” Health Minister Paul Merriman said, “We have been planning for this, we've been working on this with the Sask. Health Authority, to be able to make sure that we had the right complement of COVID beds, that we had the right complement in ICU. And we're continuing to do that. “That plan for the field hospital was done months ago. We do have that ready, but, we have to find the resources from somewhere. So what we are continually doing is adjusting some of the needs within the (Saskatchewan Health Authority), and within our rural and urban hospitals to be able to get the staff to fully be able to take care of those peoples that are in the ICU. And I hope that at some point we don't have to use those field hospitals, but if we do, we're ready to go.” Asked if there were enough health employees to staff them, Merriman replied, “The field hospitals are certainly a last resort, but we're going to work within our health care capacity that we have right now.”Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Two crew members on a container ship anchored in Vancouver's English Bay were seriously injured after a lifeboat unexpectedly plunged into the water during a drill on Tuesday.According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the accident happened at about 1:15 p.m. Both crew members were on the lifeboat when it was released from the ship, and it was sinking when rescuers were called.Coast guard officers, the Vancouver Police Department's marine unit and the Vancouver Port Authority all responded to the mayday call.A vessel from the Kitsilano Coast Guard station was on scene within 10 minutes, according to a spokesperson, and paramedics treated the two injured people for "significant injuries."According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, the patients were taken to hospital in serious condition, but they are both stable.