A huge Norway spruce arrived Saturday at New York City's Rockefeller Center to serve as one of the world's most famous Christmas trees. (Nov. 14)
A huge Norway spruce arrived Saturday at New York City's Rockefeller Center to serve as one of the world's most famous Christmas trees. (Nov. 14)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
Le 10 novembre, les agents de Service correctionnel Canada au pénitencier de Port-Cartier ont intercepté un détenu qui tentait d’introduire des objets interdits et non autorisés dans l’établissement. Parmi les objets interdits saisis, il y a 180 timbres de nicotine de 21 milligrammes, 139,26 grammes de haschich et quatre clés USB. La valeur en établissement des objets saisis est évaluée à 41 256 $. Cette opération a été rendue possible grâce à la collaboration entre les agents correctionnels, l'équipe canine et des agents du renseignement de sécurité. La Sûreté du Québec mène une enquête sur cette saisie et des accusations criminelles pourraient être déposées.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
In May, the City of Mississauga gnashed its teeth. At the time, it was knee-deep in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of long-term care homes in the city were in outbreak, with dozens of deaths recorded. Business owners were also hurting, their shuttered bars, restaurants and gyms collecting dust and debt. Inside City Hall, losses were mounting daily. Reluctantly, the City had been forced to let roughly 2,000 staff, mostly part-time, seasonal employees, go from its empty recreation facilities. Help eventually offered by the federal and provincial governments was still months away from materializing. Quietly, while the world was distracted, the Doug Ford PC government was forging ahead with its plans to seismically shift how developers pay for growth. Under the area of development subsidies known as a Community Benefits Charge (CBC), the Province was toying with new rules for planning. These fees are often paid by builders to create enhanced features such as green spaces or other amenities that are built using additional money charged to developers in exchange for project changes that generally create more profit, such as adding additional floors to a condo building. Changes were introduced as one of many initiatives in Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice) — legislation that was almost universally decried around municipal council tables when it received royal assent in 2019. The Province allowed consultation in May (when Mississauga was preoccupied with its pandemic response) which revolved around parks. Just how much greenspace developers needed to provide for even more new residents that would eventually be housed in expanded projects, was a question that created tension. According to staff reports in Brampton and Mississauga at the time, the proposed changes meant developers would pay less to cities, for the features they have for decades been expected to provide when building large residential projects. Municipalities, under the PC government’s plan, would be worse off, while developers would be further ahead. “At a time when we are grappling with the unprecedented financial impacts of COVID-19, the proposed Community Benefits Charge will leave Council [with] even more difficult decisions,” then City Manager, Janice Baker, told Mississauga Council. Under the current rules, developers have to offer a certain amount of parkland to cities and, if they want to reduce that amount, they have to pay a fee. The CBC proposals limited parkland related contributions to 10 percent of the land’s value for high-rise buildings, meaning the projects with the most residents would offer the least public space per capita. “The proposed CBC weakens the link between population growth and the increased need for services,” a Mississauga staff report earlier in the year stated. In Mississauga, under the current system, high and medium-density developments contribute 74 percent of parkland (either physically or in payments). The CBC proposals meant dense developments would cough up just 31 percent of the funding for the city’s new greenspace, with non-residential and low-density homes (which already have backyards) making up the difference. It seemed illogical. After a passionate response from Mississauga and other cities angered by the prospect of a revenue hit while they are reeling financially because of the pandemic, the PC government has rolled back its proposed changes. Under Bill 197 (COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act) Queen’s Park rapidly back-peddled, returning parkland contributions by developers to the pre-pandemic levels. “The new community benefits charge authority provides local governments with the flexibility to collect funds for any growth-related services required due to higher density residential development, as long as those costs are not being recovered under other tools,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipalities and Housing explained to The Pointer. “A community benefits charge may enable municipalities to recover the capital costs of any service, as long as it is needed to support new growth … the types of services funded through community benefits charges could include parks, recreation centres, affordable housing, child care, cycling infrastructure and others.” “We were very pleased the Province listened to the feedback from municipalities and rolled back many of the proposed Bill 108 provisions around the Community Benefits Charge,” Jason Bevan, director, city planning strategies, told The Pointer. “We look forward to seeing the final CBC regulations on the percentage of land value cap.” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) which advocates for the lowest tier of government, said it was “pleased to see the addition of eligible services for development charge recovery being restored” alongside “maintaining existing parkland provisions and the flexibility of CBCs as a tool to recover additional costs”. After a year of consternation for cities, the Province has largely walked back its plans for the CBC. The legislation, initially blasted as a developer freebie, has gradually been softened. Originally, the new legislative changes impacted a range of community features that municipalities have to provide for residents under the development proposals submitted by builders after assembling land for growth. Municipalities were concerned they would have to stretch the funds from the charge to cover features such as libraries, community centres, parks and playgrounds. Responding to feedback, the Province changed tack and protected a range of community features that will continue to be covered by development charges. Specific infrastructure, including libraries and other “soft” services, are covered under the Development Charges Act. Developers will continue to pay for the costs associated with growth. But, realistically, these charges are generally covered by buyers who pay for them through increased unit costs that developers charge when setting their sale prices. It seems much more fair to have the people in a particular new development pay for the surrounding features and services they will enjoy, rather than having property tax payers in general cover the expenses when municipalities have to fund them. At the beginning of October, further regulations were released which made the CBC picture a little clearer still. While the charge is designed to capture certain soft community services not always covered by traditional development charges, there are several areas explicitly excluded. Long-term care, universities, clubhouses or retirement homes cannot be funded using the latest form of CBCs. The new CBC mechanism, brought in to codify an element of development which previously operated as more of a negotiation, comes with strict rules. Cities are tasked, over the next two years, with creating a CBC strategy and bylaw to estimate the amount and type of development where the charge may be used. The strategy should also estimate the increased need for facilities and services as a direct result of developments and the associated growth-related costs. It must acknowledge any grants or subsidies made to help with such projects. A potential sticking point for municipal councils is a cap on the CBC, meaning the charge cannot exceed 4 percent of the value of the lands being developed. If developers disagree with the land valuation, they can dispute it. The likely outcome will see buyers cover any increased costs, as developers across the province won’t have to worry about unfair pricing competition because all builders will have to raise prices. In the end, it will be mostly young buyers who will absorb the additional financial burden for creating enhanced community features they will benefit from. Moving forward, municipalities will also produce an annual report showing how much money is in their CBC and parkland reserves. The reports will detail where money is spent and how projects not using CBC charges were funded. The concept behind the strategy and bylaw is to make costs more predictable for developers and reduce negotiations between individual builders and local politicians. Exactly what community features Mississauga will prioritize under the new CBC system will become clearer over the next two years, as the City draws together its bylaw for the charge. These community standards will best serve the public if they are directly involved and make clear what they want in their neighbourhoods. In essence, as long as cities don’t double charge through other parkland contributions or development charges, they can hit developers with a bill for any growth costs, other than the small list of features that are exempt. The amount is capped under the 4 percent limit, based on the land value. But it still gives high-growth municipalities such as Mississauga and Brampton welcome breathing room as they no longer have to worry about paying for a range of new community features while struggling with the financial damage caused by the pandemic. Smart decision making around the bylaw, with some elements still emerging, should help ensure that as new developments keep springing up across the city, growth will pay for growth in Mississauga. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Ontario health minister Christine Elliott told Sudbury MPP Jamie West this past week that while many parts of Ontario do not have all the mental health resources that many people need right now, there is a plan in place to have provincewide mental health and addictions services. Elliott was responding to West's plea for the government to take action to immediately increase funding for mental health services in Sudbury. “Sudburians are suffering,” said West during question period at the Ontario Legislature. “Family members are mourning and local health resources are overwhelmed," he added. West described how he had met with Denise Sandul of Sudbury, the mother of 22-year-old Myles Keaney, who died of an opioid overdose earlier this year. He also told the legislature that a cross had been erected in downtown Sudbury close to where Keaney died, as a memoriam to a young life lost. West said the number of crosses had increased dramatically to the point where it is expected more than 50 crosses will be in place before too long. “Will the premier commit to immediate increased funding to help Sudburians like Denise and her family?” asked West in the legislature. Health Minister Elliott stood to respond and offered her sympathies. "First, let me express my condolences to Myles’s family and all of the other families who have lost anyone through an overdose, through addictions of any kind. That is something none of us want to see happen in the province of Ontario," said Elliott. She added that Ontario has a plan in place to address mental health concerns across the province. "That is why we brought forward our Roadmap to Wellness, to make sure that across Ontario — that includes Northern Ontario, southern, eastern and western Ontario — we can have that core basket of addictions and mental health treatments," said Elliott. The Roadmap to Wellness is a joint federal-provincial 10-year action plan to address several concerns that include too long wait times, barriers to access, fragmented services, uneven quality of services and lack of data. Elliott said the addictions and mental health crisis is similar to what existed several years ago with the shortfalls in cancer care in Ontario. Elliott said it took time and money before cancer care was improved significantly. She said work is underway, costing billions of dollars, to ensure that all parts of Ontario get better mental health and addictions support. In his comments in the Legislature, West also stated the opioid overdoses are involved in as many as 50 to 80 deaths per week in Ontario. In a study published earlier this year by Public Health Ontario (PHO), it was stated that opioid deaths were quickly outpacing the number of deaths that occurred in Ontario in 2019 and the increase might be as much as 50 per cent higher by the end of this year. "If the number of opioid-related deaths continues to increase at the weekly pandemic rate for the rest of 2020, it is anticipated that there will be 2,271 opioid-related deaths in the province by the end of the year. This would represent a 50-per-cent increase from the year prior (1,512 opioid-related deaths in 2019)," said the PHO report. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
LONDON — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world anxiously waits for scientific breakthroughs that will bring an end to a pandemic that has wrought economic devastation and resulted in nearly 1.4 million confirmed deaths.Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. But, unlike its rivals, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said during a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper. AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna's is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed that they aren't competing with other projects, and that multiple vaccines will be needed to reach enough of the world's population and end the pandemic.“We’re not thinking about vaccinations working in terms of one person at a time. We have to think about vaccinating communities, populations, reducing transmission within those populations, so that we really get on top of this pandemic,'' said Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford research team. “And that’s what it now looks like we’re going to have the ability to contribute to in a really big way.''The results come as a second wave of COVID-19 hits many countries, once again shutting businesses, restricting social interaction and pummeling the world economy.AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70%.The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.The vaccine can be transported under “normal refrigerated conditions” of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), AstraZeneca said. By comparison, Pfizer plans to distribute its vaccine using specially designed “thermal shippers” that use dry ice to maintain temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit).Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated.“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Late-stage trials are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said.British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakDanica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”"Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn," it added.Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr. Ghosn, "specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media...”Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said."He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.Ghosn's lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.____Jeffrey Schaeffer reported from Paris.Jamey Keaten And Jeffrey Schaeffer, The Associated Press
PEERS Alliance in Charlottetown has received $2,100 from the Tegan and Sara Foundation for its work in the LGBTQ community. "That was a big moment for me, to get that notification that we've been awarded the funds," said Brittany Jakubiec, the executive director at PEERS Alliance. "I'm a little bit, like, excited that we get to put kinda their stamp on our project. That's just huge."PEERS Alliance is a charitable non-profit organization. It began as AIDS PEI and slowly evolved to offer programming and outreach for harm reduction for the LGBTQ community.This year, it is one of 13 organization across Canada to receive a Community Grant from the Tegan and Sara Foundation. Jakubiec said the plan is to use the money to keep the adult drop-in program running until June. "The adult drop-in is a low-barrier social group dedicated to fostering and growing 2SLGBTQ+ community in P.E.I.," said Jakubiec. (When using that term, Jakubiec means two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and/or questioning, with the plus representing other terms people may prefer to use for themselves.)"The drop-in program does help with the reduction of social isolation and an increase of feeling like you're connected to the community."'It's super important'Jakubiec said additional costs have come up this year due to the pandemic and the extra financial support is not only crucial to running the program but also ensuring it doesn't need to be cut early. "It's super important that the program is offered."For Islanders looking for supports, Jakubiec said PEERS Alliance can be reached by phone, email or on social media — contact information is posted on its website. And for those who do call, Jakubiec said extra precautions are taken — for example, asking if a message can be left on the caller's phone — to make sure people feel safe and supported. "We really try and just make sure that we're being inclusive and respectful of where people are in their journeys."More from CBC P.E.I.
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.MOVIES— The Christmas movie, that yuletide evergreen, is subtly changing. “Happiest Season,” which premieres Wednesday on Hulu, has many of the genre's comforting standards — a homecoming trip, family discord, a secretly planned engagement — but it opens the holiday comedy to a fresh cast of characters, and comes away all the more charming for it. Writer-director Clea DuVall's film — originally planned as a theatrical release by Sony Pictures — stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as Harper and Abby, a couple who travel to Harper's Waspy family for the holidays. Just before they arrive, Harper confesses she isn't out to her family. The spirited supporting cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Levy.— “Superintelligence,” too, is a studio film uprooted to a streaming service by the pandemic. The Melissa McCarthy comedy, her latest with director-husband Ben Falcone ("Tammy," “The Boss"), had been headed to theatres but will instead debut Thursday on HBO Max. In it, an artificial-intelligence supercomputer voiced by James Corden tasks McCarthy's unemployed character with saving the world.— Ironically, the week's top Netflix release is the one that's been playing in theatres. After two weeks in select cinemas, Ron Howard's “Hillbilly Elegy” begins streaming Tuesday. The adaptation of J.D. Vance's much-talked-about 2016 bestseller hasn't been a hit with critics ( including this one ), but it's also a kind of regular feature to the season: a big 'ol helping of awards bait, with a handful of big performances by elite actors (Glenn Close, Amy Adams).—AP Film Writer Jake CoyleMUSIC— Miley Cyrus is ready to rock ‘n’ roll on her new album. The pop star recruited some famous rock stars to help on her seventh studio release “Plastic Hearts,” including Stevie Nicks, Billy Idol and Joan Jett. And Mick Rock, the iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographer who has shot everyone from David Bowie to Debbie Harry, photographed the “Plastic Hearts” cover art. But pop fans shouldn’t worry too much about Miley’s rock sound, the album – out Friday – also features a collaboration with hitmaker Dua Lipa and includes producers like Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars) and Louis Bell (Post Malone).— Speaking of Dua Lipa, the Brit has had a major year in music thanks to the success of her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia” and the smash hit single “Don’t Start Now.” She’ll celebrate her big year on Friday with “Studio 2054,” a multidimensional live experience where Lipa is promising fans “a night of music, mayhem, performance, theatre, dance and much more.” The singer said there will be “surprise superstar guests” at the event, and standard tickets costs $11.99.— Grammy-winning Chicago-based rockers Smashing Pumpkins will release a double album on Friday. “CYR” features 20 tracks produced by founding member and frontman Billy Corgan. The band’s 11th album also features founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin as well as guitarist Jeff Schroeder. “CYR” is the follow-up to 2018’s “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN” – Corgan, Iha and Chamberlin’s first collaborative album in 18 years.— AP Music Editor Mesfin FekaduTELEVISION— If you like “Bones” and “CSI” but just need more French accents, your best bet is the terrific NOVA special “Saving Notre Dame.” The hour-long PBS documentary airing Wednesday shows the incredible lengths architects, engineers and craftspeople have gone to restore the iconic Paris cathedral stricken by 2019's fire. There is detective work — where did the original limestone come from? — and painstaking efforts to reclaim the building’s glory, like stained glass specialists using cotton swabs to remove toxic lead. Everyone wears wear full hazard protection gear as they navigate a “giant house of cards.”— Can you have a “Saved by the Bell” without Screech? Peacock is hoping fans won't notice that character's absence when its sequel to the popular TV series brings back members of the original cast — Elizabeth Berkeley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar — but not Dustin Diamond, who played the quirky Screech. In this sequel kicking off Wednesday, Gosselaar is California governor who has a son at Bayside High, Berkeley is a guidance counsellor and Lopez is once again A.C. Slater, now a gym teacher.— It happens all the time: You wake up next to a dead body in a Bangkok hotel. In the case of HBO Max’s adaptation of “The Flight Attendant,” the comedy and darkness work simultaneously. Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” plays an air hostess with a drinking problem whose looney attempts to cover up her part in the death place her in the crosshairs of the FBI. The first three episodes of the limited series premier Thursday, with the first one free now if you're willing to give HBO Max your email.— AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy___Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.The Associated Press
A petition calling for stricter laws and tougher penalties for drunk and reckless drivers has amassed nearly 100,000 signatures in the wake of a pair of deadly Peel Region crashes. Jillian McLeod launched the change.org petition, aimed at lobbying the different levels of government, in the wake of a horrific Brampton crash that claimed the lives of Caledon East elementary teacher Karolina Ciasullo and her three daughters, Klara, 6, Lilianna, 4, and Mila, 1. “We have signatures in almost every province now,” McLeod said this week. “It’s sending a message that citizens have had enough with the lenient sentences. Our justice system is broken.” As the number of signatures grew, so have the number of motor vehicle-related fatalities across Peel Region — 38 to date, up from 23 all of last year. Since 2010, only two full years have recorded more motor vehicle-related fatalities: 41 in 2018 and 40 in 2016. Police confirmed that six of the deaths to date in 2020, including the Ciasullos and 19-year-old Jagrajan Brar, who was killed after his car was hit head-on in an Oct. 10 crash, were the result of alleged impaired driving. “I snapped and said that’s enough,” said McLeod, who has lost two close friends to impaired driving. She’s not alone. Brar’s family has also rallied to her cause, using the Lorne Park Secondary School student’s story to amplify McLeod’s initiative. Peter Simms, 46, the man charged with impaired driving causing death, had two prior impaired driving convictions, Peel police said last month. “This man should not have been behind the wheel of a car,” Rob Brar, the teen’s father, said. The petition is pushing for tougher sentences for serious driving convictions including: impaired driving causing bodily harm, impaired driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation causing bodily harm On Wednesday, about 40 protesters once again rallied outside a Brampton courthouse to demonstrate against Simms’ effort to get bail. Family and friends also rallied at the courthouse for Simms’ last hearing in October. His case was adjourned until Dec. 16. Police last month charged a second driver who they allege engaged in dangerous and aggressive driving behaviour with Simms and contributed to the collision. They’re calling on Premier Doug Ford to endorse their initiative, and for Ottawa to review the existing penalties. The group is also opposing bail for Brady Robertson, 20, of Caledon, who faces four counts of dangerous driving causing death in the collision that killed Ciasullo and her daughters. Robertson’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 2. Robertson was also charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle in connection with a separate incident that occurred at Dougall Avenue and Kennedy Road in Caledon, two days before the fatal crash. Peel police are separately warning about a rise in street racing and stunt driving amid the pandemic. As of Oct. 31, the service had laid 599 charges for these offences in 2020, up from 332 over the same time frame in 2019. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpicJason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
MILAN — In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theatre in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened this weekend after three years of renovations. But the planned gala celebration had to be postponed, and new productions for an annual festival dedicated to the city's native composer Gaetano Donizetti had to be streamed online from an empty theatre. Festival musical director Riccardo Frizza said the autumn festival was envisioned as a life-affirming moment for the city and province, where 6,000 people died in a single month last spring. In the summer he conducted Donizett's Requiem, performed outside the city’s cemetery in tribute to the dead. “You have to know that in my festival orchestra and in the chorus there are people who lost two or three family members,’’ Frizza said. “We couldn’t do the festival without having done this tribute to those who aren’t with us anymore.” Plans for an audience had to be scrapped after the virus started to resurge in October, even if Bergamo itself is experiencing lighter contagion than the spring, when images of army trucks transporting the dead to other regions for cremation laid bare the pandemic's toll. The calendar was cut to three productions. All three weekend performances of Donizetti’s “Marino Faliero,” “Le Nozze in Villa” and “Belisario” are available online indefinitely for a subscription price of 59 euros ($70.) Frizza said the money is needed to help freelance singers and musicians recoup some income during a year in which classical music has been all but shutdown by the coronavirus. Italy shut all theatres in February, and there was a tentative reopening over the summer. While some other theatres are offering free online streaming of their archives, Frizza said few are offering new opera productions. The Donizetti theatre package includes extras like commentary, interviews and a virtual tour of the renovated theatre, its frescoed ceilings given a fresh vibrancy. Another Donizetti opera filmed last year, “L'Ange De Nisida," will be released on Wednesday. By comparison, Milan’s famed La Scala theatre will broadcast a Dec. 7 concert on state television, substituting its traditional gala season-opener. To ensure the health of the Donizetti Festival orchestra, singers and chorus, strict protocols were put into place, including weekly testing and separate rehearsals. During the weekend performances, the chorus, most of the orchestra and Frizza wore masks. At La Scala, more than 40 members of the chorus have tested positive for the virus, plus another 18 in the orchestra. Frizza, who suffered a mild bout with the virus during the March peak when Italy was in total lockdown, said no one in the festival contracted the virus during the rehearsals. That's critical to allowing the live performances to go ahead despite the partial lockdown in Lombardy. “No one can imagine the March lockdown without music, without books, without televised performances,” Frizza said. “The pandemic has taught those who hadn’t understood before, the importance of culture, arts and beauty in the world.” Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
BROCKTON – The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund allocation for Brockton has been decreasing over the past several years. Brockton received $2,380,000 in 2012; by 2017, that had decreased to $1,607,100. Brockton was notified that the 2021 allocation will decrease by $48,500 from 2020’s $1,536,600 to $1,488,100. The municipality relies on the OMPF grant to provide government services. Small, rural municipalities don’t have the large tax base that cities do. Coun. Steve Adams suggested drafting a letter to express concern over the decrease. Coun. Dean Leifso wondered if other municipalities in the area were getting the same decrease. Mayor Chris Peabody regarded the information as “mixed” news – both good and bad. It’s a bit of a drop. But he also noted Brockton has received a number of grants from “this government” and credited MPP Lisa Thompson for working on behalf of her constituents. Peabody said Leifso’s idea was a good one. “Let’s do some research.”Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
These weren’t the piano lessons of my youth. Quite the opposite. Gone was the septuagenarian teacher crowding me on a piano bench at my grandmother’s house, extolling the importance of Christian hymns. “Old Rugged Cross,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “How Great Thou Art." Grandma finally accepted my resignation after a few solid years of protest. Then last spring, as the pandemic droned on, I’d lost my job, and our schools in the Boston area remained closed, I decided to start taking piano lessons again. It had been 30 years. The grand staff was a foreign language and the only key I could recognize was middle C. The first day, I propped up my phone, clicked a Zoom link for our lesson and found an energetic college student staring back at me. I’d been thinking about returning to piano for a while, but never had the free time required for learning a skill until the shutdown in March. It was rainy and frigid in New England, and I needed an antidote for the monotony of pandemic life. Some were tending sourdough starters, others binge-watched Netflix. I started piano lessons. I wasn’t the only one who chose music. NEW WAYS TO PASS TIME “I knew nothing about the ukulele community before COVID,” said Pat Adamson-Waitley, 64, of Edina, Minnesota. Adamson-Waitley had played the ukulele a handful of times, but in March, she said, “I started playing it every day.” She joined Zoom jams with other players, and bought two ukuleles and two songbooks. Summer's warm weather took her away from the ukulele a little, but she still averages 30 minutes of playing time a day. Clubs like the Twin Cities ukulele club, an informal group of about 300 people, have welcomed many people discovering music for the first time, or finding it again. Tom Ehlinger, 69, of Bloomington, Minnesota, leads the club’s weekly Zoom jams. “One thing that’s different about the Zoom jam is that it’s much easier to get to than an in-person jam,” he said. “There’s no traffic.” Since March, Ehlinger has received inquiries from people as far away as New York City wanting to join. “It brings people together solely for the purpose of doing something enjoyable,” he said. NEVER A BETTER TIME As for formal lessons, Andrew Geant, co-founder of Chicago-based Wyzant, an online marketplace for private tutors, said music has become one of the company’s fastest growing areas. Cello tutors in April experienced a 450 per cent increase in students and a 400 per cent rise in lessons from last year, he said. By October, the number had grown to a 4,500 per cent increase in students and a 4,730 per cent increase in lessons. The cost of online lessons is lower than in-person instruction, Geant noted. And if the student and teacher don’t match well, it’s easy to find a new instructor. “Online, you can find the right instructor because you’re no longer bound by geography,” he said. Rashida Bryant, 44, is an Atlanta-based voice instructor through Wyzant who saw her client roster double from April to June, when she had 30 students. Her students range in age from early teenagers to people in their late 60s. “Everybody has different reasons for doing it, but if you’re going to be at home, then this is a better time than any,” she said. A SENSE OF CONTROL Turning to music during bleak times has a long history, said Joy Allen, chair of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “It gives us choice and control, and we don’t have a lot of that right now,” she said. Music also provides social connection, Allen said, and a link to the familiar. During lockdown, private piano lessons for Andrea Cordero Fage’s two teenage sons in Harrison, New York, stopped, but something new happened. The brothers, whose interest in music has waxed and waned over the years, “came into their own musically,” she said. “I would have never imagined it.” They started playing piano for hours a day. They researched movie soundtracks, like the one to the 2014 science fiction epic “Interstellar,” by Hans Zimmer, and learned the score on their own with the assistance of sites like YouTube. “After dinner, one would play and the other would watch. Then they’d switch,” Cordero Fage said. “I think they fed off each other, saw it as a challenge.” Studying or listening to music can harness our focus, said Melita Belgrave, associate dean and professor of music therapy at Arizona State University. Throughout the pandemic, many people have been watching concerts at home but retaining a semblance of the shared experience. The millions of people who streamed the movie version of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” is an example. “People are finding themselves drawn to the arts and crafts,” Belgrave said. “We are learning new ways to connect with each other.” I haven’t figured out whether my Zoom piano lessons will continue past the pandemic. I've gone from knowing middle C to playing cusp chords, eight-key scales and Mozart. But even if returning to regular life interrupts my lessons, piano will always be one of my best pandemic memories. Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press
Wuhan, the Chinese city that was ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, went into lockdown on Jan. 23. Life has returned to nearly normal 10 months later, but residents there still remember the harsh conditions.
SANTÉ. Via un manifeste de leurs associations professionnelles, psychiatres, omnipraticiens et spécialistes en médecine d'urgence s’unissent pour demander un meilleur accès aux services en santé mentale. «Le constat est implacable : l'accès à des soins de santé mentale au Québec est trop complexe et implique des délais insoutenables. Les personnes en crise disposent de très peu d'options pour obtenir des services rapidement dans leur communauté, autres que de se présenter à l'urgence de l'hôpital. Quant aux médecins omnipraticiens, ils sont nettement trop limités dans la diversité de soins qu'ils peuvent offrir directement au sein de leur groupe de médecine familiale (GMF)», souligne-t-on en proposant trois mesures à mettre en place. Ainsi, on demande de rehausser l'imputabilité des centres intégrés et exiger l'implantation de normes pour développer des guichets d'accès en santé mentale adulte (GASMA) efficaces et performants. La pleine reconnaissance de la contribution des organismes communautaires et des regroupements de familles et de proches aidants est également une demande contenue dans le manifeste également appuyé par le Réseau Avant de Craquer, l’Association québécoise en prévention du suicide, Revivre et l’Association québécoise des programmes de premiers épisodes psychotiques. «Nous proposons de faire participer et de financer, à l'intérieur de chaque guichet d'accès, une personne-ressource provenant des organismes communautaires qui aura la tâche de coordonner les liens de collaboration entre les organismes communautaires et les services du réseau de la santé. Il est aussi essentiel d'inclure au sein des équipes de santé mentale, des proches aidants rémunérés provenant des organismes communautaires afin de soutenir les proches des personnes aux prises avec des troubles mentaux. Finalement, il est crucial de reconnaître aussi l'apport des ressources communautaires dans le soutien à l'autogestion (autosoins dirigés), l'accompagnement et l'enseignement psychologique, tout en favorisant la diffusion de ces pratiques», précise le manifeste qui demande par ailleurs de développer de façon majeure et permanente des soins (psychiatriques et physiques) qui sont dispensés dans le milieu naturel des personnes, comme à domicile et dans les ressources de proximité lorsque les personnes vivent une crise importante de santé mentale. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5: Nov. 29: Blues musician John Mayall is 87. Actor Diane Ladd is 85. Musician Chuck Mangione is 80. Country singer Jody Miller is 79. Singer-keyboardist Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals is 78. Actor Jeff Fahey (“Lost,” “The Marshal”) is 68. Director Joel Coen is 66. Actor-comedian Howie Mandel is 65. Actor Cathy Moriarty is 60. Actor Kim Delaney (“NYPD Blue”) is 59. Actor Tom Sizemore is 59. Actor Andrew McCarthy is 58. Actor Don Cheadle is 56. Actor-producer Neill Barry (“Friends and Lovers”) is 55. Singer Jonathan Knight of New Kids on the Block is 52. Actor Larry Joe Campbell (“According to Jim”) is 50. Keyboardist Frank Delgado of Deftones is 50. Actor Paola Turbay (“True Blood”) is 50. Contemporary Christian singer Crowder is 49. Actor Gena Lee Nolin (“Sheena,” ?Baywatch”) is 49. Actor Brian Baumgartner (“The Office”) is 48. Actor Julian Ovenden (“Downton Abbey”) is 45. Actor Anna Faris (“Mom,” ?Scary Movie”) is 44. Gospel singer James Fortune is 43. Actor Lauren German (“Lucifer,” ?Chicago Fire”) is 42. Rapper The Game is 41. Drummer Ringo Garza of Los Lonely Boys is 39. Actor-comedian John Milhiser (“Saturday Night Live”) is 39. Actor Lucas Black (“NCIS: New Orleans,” ?Sling Blade”) is 38. Actor Diego Boneta (“Scream Queens”) is 30. Actor Lovie Simone (“Greenleaf”) is 22. Nov. 30: Country singer-record company executive Jimmy Bowen is 83. Director Ridley Scott is 83. Writer-director Terrence Malick (“The Thin Red Line”) is 77. Bassist Roger Glover of Deep Purple is 75. Singer-actor Mandy Patinkin is 68. Guitarist Shuggie Otis is 67. Country singer Jeannie Kendall of The Kendalls is 66. Singer Billy Idol is 65. Guitarist John Ashton of Psychedelic Furs is 63. Comedian Colin Mochrie (“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) is 63. Rapper Jalil of Whodini is 57. Actor-director Ben Stiller is 55. DJ Steve Aoki is 43. Singer Clay Aiken (“American Idol”) is 42. Actor Elisha Cuthbert (“24”) is 38. Actor Kaley Cuoco (“The Big Bang Theory”) is 35. Model Chrissy Teigen is 35. Actor Christel Khalil (“The Young and the Restless”) is 33. Actor Rebecca Rittenhouse (“The Mindy Project”) is 32. Actor Adelaide Clemens (“Rectify”) is 31. Actor Tyla Harris (“For Life”) is 20. Dec. 1: Actor-director Woody Allen is 85. Singer Dianne Lennon of the Lennon Sisters is 81. Bassist Casey Van Beek of The Tractors is 78. Singer-guitarist Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult is 76. Drummer John Densmore of The Doors is 76. Actor-singer Bette Midler is 75. Singer Gilbert O’Sullivan is 74. Actor Treat Williams is 69. Country singer Kim Richey is 64. Actor Charlene Tilton is 62. Model-actor Carol Alt is 60. Actor Jeremy Northam (“The Tudors,” ?Happy, Texas”) is 59. Actor Katherine LaNasa (“Longmire,” “Deception”) is 54. Actor Nestor Carbonell (“Lost,” ?Suddenly Susan”) is 53. Actor Golden Brooks (“Girlfriends”) is 50. Comedian Sarah Silverman is 50. Singer Bart Millard of MercyMe is 48. Actor David Hornsby (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) is 45. Guitarist Brad Delson of Linkin Park is 43. Actor Nate Torrence (“Hello Ladies”) is 43. Singer Mat Kearney is 42. Drummer Mika Fineo of Filter is 39. Actor Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) is 38. Actor Ilfenesh Hadera (“Godfather of Harlem,” “She’s Gotta Have It”) is 35. Singer-actor Janelle Monae is 35. Actor Ashley Monique Clark (“The Hughleys”) is 32. Singer Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots is 32. Actor Zoe Kravitz (“Insurgent,” ?Divergent”) is 32. Singer Nico Sereba of Nico and Vinz is 30. Dec. 2: Actor Cathy Lee Crosby (“That’s Incredible”) is 76. Director Penelope Spheeris (“Wayne’s World,” “The Decline of Western Civilization”) is 75. Actor Ron Raines (“Guiding Light”) is 71. Country singer John Wesley Ryles is 70. Actor Keith Szarabajka (”Angel,” “The Equalizer”) is 68. Actor Dan Butler (“Frasier”) is 66. News anchor Stone Phillips is 66. Actor Dennis Christopher (“Breaking Away,” ?Chariots of Fire”) is 65. Actor Steven Bauer (“Scarface”) is 64. Bassist Rick Savage of Def Leppard is 60. Actor Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”) is 57. Bassist Nate Mendel of Foo Fighters is 52. Actor Lucy Liu is 52. Actor Suzy Nakamura (“Dr. Ken”) is 52. Actor Rena Sofer (“24,” ?Just Shoot Me”) is 52. Rapper Treach of Naughty by Nature is 50. Actor Joe Lo Truglio (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) is 50. Singer Nelly Furtado is 42. Singer Britney Spears is 39. Singer-actror Jana Kramer is 37. Actor Daniela Ruah (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) is 37. Actor Alfred Enoch (“How to Get Away with Murder”) is 32. Singer Charlie Puth is 29. Dec. 3: Director Jean-Luc Godard is 90. Singer Jaye P. Morgan (“The Gong Show”) is 89. Actor Nicolas Coster (“The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo”) is 87. Actor Mary Alice is 79. Singer Ozzy Osbourne is 72. Singer Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship is 71. Bassist Paul Gregg of Restless Heart is 66. Actor Steven Culp (“Desperate Housewives”) is 65. Actor Daryl Hannah is 60. Actor Julianne Moore is 60. Actor Brendan Fraser is 52. Singer Montell Jordan is 52. Actor-comedian Royale Watkins is 51. Actor Bruno Campos (“Nip/Tuck,” ?Jesse”) is 47. Actor Holly Marie Combs (“Charmed”) is 47. Actor Lauren Roman (“Bold and the Beautiful”) is 45. Musician Daniel Bedingfield is 41. Actor Tiffany Haddish (“Girls Trip”) is 41. Actor Anna Chlumsky is 40. Actor Jenna Dewan (“The Resident,” ?Supergirl”) is 40. Actor Brian Bonsall (“Family Ties”) is 39. Actor Dascha Polanco (“Orange is the New Black”) is 38. Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer is 37. Drummer Michael Calabrese of Lake Street Dive is 36. Actor Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia”) is 35. Actor Jake T. Austin (“The Fosters,” ?Wizards of Waverly Place”) is 26. Dec. 4: Game show host Wink Martindale is 87. Singer Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon is 84. Actor-producer-director Max Baer Junior (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) is 83. Bassist Bob Mosley of Moby Grape is 78. Singer-bassist Chris Hillman (The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers) is 76. Singer Southside Johnny Lyon of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes is 72. Actor Jeff Bridges is 71. Guitarist Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rossington Collins Band) is 69. Actor Patricia Wettig is 69. Actor Tony Todd (“Final Destination” films) is 66. Drummer Brian Prout of Diamond Rio is 65. Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson is 65. Bassist Bob Griffin (The BoDeans) is 61. Singer Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge is 58. Actor Chelsea Noble (“Growing Pains,” "Kirk”) is 56. Actor Marisa Tomei is 56. Comedian Fred Armisen (“Portlandia,” ?Saturday Night Live”) is 54. Rapper Jay-Z is 51. Actor Kevin Sussman (“Ugly Betty”) is 50. Model Tyra Banks is 47. Country singer Lila McCann is 39. Actor Lindsay Felton (“Caitlin’s Way”) is 36. Actor Orlando Brown (“That’s So Raven”) is 33. Actor Scarlett Estevez (“Lucifer”) is 13. Dec. 5: Actor Jeroen Krabbe (“The Fugitive”) is 76. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 74. Singer Jim Messina (Loggins and Messina, Poco) is 73. Actor Morgan Brittany (“Dallas”) is 69. Actor Brian Backer (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) is 64. Country singer Ty England is 57. Singer-guitarist John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls is 55. Country singer Gary Allan is 53. Comedian Margaret Cho is 52. Actor Alex Kapp Horner (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”) is 51. Actor Kali Rocha (TV’s “Man with a Plan”) is 49. Bassist Regina Zernay of Cowboy Mouth is 48. Actor Paula Patton (“Precious”) is 45. Actor Amy Acker (“Person of Interest,” ?Angel”) is 44. Actor Nick Stahl (TV’s “Carnivale,” film’s “Terminator 3”) is 41. Actor Adan Canto (“Designated Survivor”) is 39. Singer Keri Hilson is 38. Actor Gabriel Luna (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is 38. Actor Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”) is 35. Actor Ross Bagley (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) is 32. The Associated Press
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees.A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty.The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year.This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage.Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years.“We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson.Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost.Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them.Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before.The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.”“This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said.The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents.Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle.“The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager.The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way.That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July.The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said.“It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said.Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to.“You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices.Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache.“Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees.New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan.“I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.”___Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
Newfoundland and Labrador is withdrawing from the Atlantic bubble for a two-week break.Effective Wednesday, says Premier Andrew Furey, anyone arriving in the province from within the Maritimes will have to self-isolate for 14 days."The Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride … but the situation has changed," Furey said during Monday's COVID-19 briefing."I have made the tough decision to make a circuit break. People arriving from within the Atlantic bubble will have to self-isolate for 14 days."Furey said the province will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the other Atlantic provinces to see if the two-week break will need to be extended. Travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador will only be for essential reasons, he said. But people travelling to Newfoundland and Labrador from elsewhere in Atlantic Canada will not have to file for a travel exemption, said the premier, and under extenuating circumstances may apply for earlier COVID-19 testing to shorten the self-isolation period.Restrictions on travel to Newfoundland and Labrador from outside Atlantic Canada remain unchanged. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the province will monitor outbreaks in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for two weeks before making a decision to rejoin the bubble. She said Nova Scotia has confirmed cases of community transmission. "We will be looking at the levels of non-epidemiology cases that they have. We'll be looking at the trajectory of their case numbers … and looking at sort of a seven-day average," she said. "Those are all things we would consider with regard to whether or not to lift those isolation measures at that time."The province reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, both in the Western Health region. The province has 23 active cases.The province's total number of cases since March is now 321 with 294 recoveries. Both people who had recently been hospitalized with COVID-19 have been released.Elementary school student tests positive in Deer LakeA student at Elwood Elementary in Deer Lake is one of two new cases of COVID-19 being reported.It's the province's first case of COVID-19 in a school and is a close contact of a previous case, said Fitzgerald."As with any case, contact tracing starts with identifying close contacts of the child. This will include the school cohort, or class of the child," said Fitzgerald. "The parents of this class cohort have been notified, and the children have been self-isolating and testing has been arranged."The teacher is also self-isolating with testing arranged. Classes at Elwood Elementary have been suspended for Monday and Tuesday, according to the Department of Health.Watch the full Nov. 23 update:Fitzgerald, Education Minister Tom Osborne, and the head of the province's school district addressed the media on Monday as concerns around schools swirl.The second case reported on Monday is a man, also in the Western Health region, between 20 and 39 years old. The case is travel-related. The man returned to the province from work in Manitoba, and the case is unrelated to the previous cluster in the region. In a media release the Department of Health said the man is self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.In an earlier media release, the Department of Health said it's asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8880 from Halifax to Deer Lake that arrived on Thursday to call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing, connected to a case of COVID-19 in the Western Health region announced Sunday.In total, 59,270 people have been tested as of Monday's update, an increase of 290 since Sunday.As the province is now seeing three small clusters, Fitzgerald said contact tracing is completed for the Grand Bank cluster. But, she added, identified contacts can develop symptoms until the 14-day mark, so the province will continue to monitor that cluster. Fitzgerald said all contacts have been identified in a small St. John's cluster but noted things can change within two weeks. She said there the contacts identified are in isolation so there should be "little onward future spread." In Deer Lake, "it's still in early days, really," Fitzgerald said."Certainly we're comfortable with where we are, now that we've been able to trace everybody in this cluster back to that origin."Towns and businesses tighten upMonday's news conference comes on the heels of daily increases of cases of COVID-19 in the province, and the Town of Deer Lake asking residents to limit contacts and non-essential businesses to close for the next 14 days.There are 10 active infections in the Western Health region of Newfoundland and Labrador, six of which are connected and believed to be centred in Deer Lake, as the town has said it's dealing with rising cases in the community. Dean Ball, the town's mayor, said the situation is being assessed hourly by his council, and they'll be shutting down town buildings until at least Dec. 7."People have really bought into this. We have no objections. When we look at Dec. 7, yes it's two weeks away. That won't be long going and I think will look back at this in a couple of weeks — I certainly hope so — and say for the information we had this was the best decision," Ball told CBC News. "We need to be kind. This is no time to be pointing fingers."Fitzgerald said more restrictive measures — such as a lockdown — aren't being recommended for the Deer Lake area right now. "We don't have evidence of widespread community transmission in Deer Lake. All of the cases that we've seen to date have been able to have been traced back to either travel or related to this cluster that was initially related to travel," she said. On Sunday, the Bigs Ultimate Sports Grill on Freshwater Road in St. John's closed its doors, announcing that a customer earlier in the week later tested positive for COVID-19. Staff are being tested, and the restaurant is awaiting guidance from public health officials.On Monday the city of St. John's announced it will not be going ahead with its Christmas market on Water Street or its different version of a Christmas parade planned to be held inside Mile One Centre. Breen told reporters city council felt it was in the best interests of keeping residents safe that the city not proceed with those events, following the changes to the province's participation in the Atlantic bubble. "We were concerned of moving forward when there's certainly a big concern on where we'd be in the pandemic at that time," he said. Asked if he had a message for business owners who might feel an economic squeeze during a break from the Atlantic bubble, Furey said the change is to protect them. "We're enjoying this level of freedom, and we're the envy of a lot of other places around the country. We want to keep it that way," he said. "This is an effort to protect their businesses, to protect the economy. The last thing we want is a full lockdown." Rotational workers facing backlashMeanwhile, the mayor of Grand Bank said the town is grappling with a great deal of anxiety, but now that contact tracing is complete, they're hoping to have turned the corner."The uncertainty — one day is great, the next day is not so great," said Rex Matthews.Matthews is hopeful the virus will be contained to the six cases already confirmed by public health officials. Two of those cases are senior citizens residing in the community's nursing home.Grand Bank has been a hotbed for rumours and speculation about the source of the infections. It's led to a flurry of online comments condemning rotational workers who travel back and forth from places like Alberta.In a social media group for rotational workers, some people report having the RCMP called on them for doing mundane tasks around their own property, like putting up Christmas lights."They do sacrifice," Matthews said. "You know they travel to other provinces of this country for employment, they leave their families, they leave their home, they leave their community, and it helps our economy. So under normal circumstances there's no issues, but these are extraordinary times."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
PARIS — The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence peddling was suspended Monday less than two hours after it started, to allow a medical report on one of the defendants.Sarkozy is accused of having tried to illegally obtain information from a magistrate about an investigation involving him in 2014.This is the first trial for the 65-year-old politician, who has faced several other judicial investigations since leaving office in 2012.He stands trial in a Paris court along with his lawyer Thierry Herzog, 65, and the magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, 73. They face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of 1 million euros ($1.2 million.) They deny any wrongdoing.Sarkozy and Herzog are suspected of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for leaking information about an investigation into suspected illegal financing of the 2007 presidential campaign by France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.Sarkozy arrived at the court surrounded by his lawyers and bodyguards, in the presence of dozens of journalists. The Paris court has been placed under high security as hearings in the case, scheduled until Dec. 10, are taking place at the same time as another key trial — that of the 2015 attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket.The trial started Monday in the absence of Azibert, whose lawyer requested the hearings to be postponed. He argued his client's bad health makes it risky for him to travel and appear in court amid the coronavirus pandemic, leading the court to suspend proceedings pending an expert medical report. The trial will resume on Thursday.In 2014, Sarkozy and Herzog used secret mobile phones — registered to the alias name of “Paul Bismuth” — to be be able to have private talks as they feared their conversations were being tapped.Sarkozy and Herzog explained that they bought the phones to avoid being targeted by illegal phone tapping. Investigative judges, however, suspect they actually wanted to avoid being tapped by investigators.Judges have found that discussions between Sarkozy and his lawyer suggested they had knowledge that judicial investigators at the time tapped their conversations on their official phones — they mentioned “judges listening.”Sarkozy argued that he never intervened to help Azibert, who never got the job and retired in 2014.Investigative judges consider that as soon as a deal has been offered, it constitutes a criminal offence even if the promises haven't been fulfilled.Legal proceedings against Sarkozy have been dropped in the Bettencourt case.Sarkozy, a lawyer by training, pointed at judicial harassment, accusing judges of breaching lawyer-client privilege via wiretapping.“I don't want things that I didn't do to be held against me. The French need to know... that I'm not a rotten person,” he told BFM TV earlier this month.He said he was facing the trial in a “combative” mood.Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money, breach of trust and conflict of interest and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for actions during his time as Paris mayor, before he was president from 1995 to 2007.Sarkozy’s name has appeared for years in several other judicial investigations.Allegations, which include illegal financing of his 2007 campaign by then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, cast a shadow over Sarkozy's comeback attempt for the 2017 presidential election.After failing to be chosen as candidate by his conservative party, he withdrew from active politics.Sarkozy remained the most popular figure amid French right-wing voters in recent years. His memoirs published this summer, “The Time of Storms,” was a bestseller for weeks.Sarkozy was handed preliminary charges including “illegal campaign financing” in the Libyan investigation, which has been underway since 2013 — and prompted the wiretapping of his phones.Earlier this month, French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine retracted his previous statements that he delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5 million euros ($5.9 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff, Claude Gueant.Instead, he told news broadcaster BFM and magazine Paris-Match that there were “no Libyan financing.”Sarkozy said that the truth “finally comes out.”Financial prosecutors said in a statement that charges in the Libyan case are based “on strong or corroborated evidence that are not limited to one person’s statement only.”Meanwhile, the former president will stand another trial in spring 2021 along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign.His conservative party and a company named Bygmalion are accused of using a special invoice system to conceal unauthorized overspending.They are suspected of having spent 42.8 million euros ($50.7 million), almost twice the maximum authorized, to finance the campaign, which ended up in victory for Socialist rival Francois Hollande.Nicolas Vaux-Montagny And Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — One of the five teens wrongly imprisoned for the assault on a Central Park jogger has a memoir coming out in the spring.Grand Central Publishing announced Monday that it had acquired Yusef Salaam's “Better, Not Bitter: Living On Purpose in The Pursuit of Racial Justice.” The publisher is calling the book a “candid and poignant look at the life of an American citizen, born and raised in Harlem, New York who was accused and convicted by a flawed criminal injustice system designed to ensnare and decimate as many Black and Brown bodies as possible.”Salaam is one of the so-called Central Park Five, now also known as the Exonerated Five. The five Black and Latino teens were coerced into confessing to a rape they didn’t commit in 1989. All served prison time before being exonerated in 2002. They later received a multimillion-dollar settlement from New York City. Ken Burns made a documentary about them and Ava DuVernay directed a Netflix series.“One of the most powerful lessons I learned while being wrongfully incarcerated was that instead of going through something, I was going to grow through something," Salaam said in a statement. “Through ‘Better, Not Bitter,’ I hope to share these lessons with people around the world who – in these unprecedented times – are dealing with rage, anger and bitterness directed at a criminal system of injustice that has plagued our country for centuries.”Salaam, an activist and motivational speaker, recently published a young adult novel based on his experiences. “Punching the Air,” co-written by Ibi Zoboi, came out in September.The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Bruce Swedien, a five-time Grammy-winning audio engineer who collaborated with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, has died. He was 86. His daughter, musician Roberta Swedien, said her father died Nov. 16 in Gainesville, Florida, after battling an illness and complications from surgery. The New York Times reported that he tested positive for the coronavirus but was asymptomatic. “He had a long life full of love, great music, big boats and a beautiful marriage,” Roberta Swedien posted on Facebook. “We will celebrate that life. He was loved by everyone.” Bruce Swedien had more than 65 years of music industry experience and was best known for his collaborations on Jackson’s hit albums “Thriller” and “Off the Wall.” He also had recording sessions with some of music's biggest names including Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Duke Ellington and Diana Ross. Swedien, the son of two musicians, landed a position at Universal Studios where he was mentored by legendary engineer, Bill Putnam. His career rose to new heights when he teamed up with Jones to mix the soundtrack “The Wiz” before both collaborated on Jackson’s 1979 debut album “Off the Wall.” Swedien worked as an engineer on three more albums for Jackson including “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Dangerous.” He won Grammys for those albums in the best engineered album, non-classical category then two more for Jones’ albums “Q’s Jook Joint” and “Back on the Block.” Jones posted on social media that he was “devastated” about the news of Swedien’s death, calling him a sonic genius. Swedien is survived by his wife, Bea, of 67 years and two daughters. He was preceded in death by his son. The Associated Press