WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is turning to a nasal spray as its primary flu vaccine for residents between the ages of two and 59. FluMist was originally available only for private purchase this year, but is now being offered by the Ontario government as demand continues across the province, according to a memo to the mayor and council from Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health.The spray will be available at OPH clinics starting Friday. It will also be distributed to pharmacies and family physicians, OPH said.The unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine this year caused some pharmacies to run out, delaying vaccination for some Ottawa residents.Nasal spray 'proven to be effective'Etches said the nasal spray, which is authorized for use in Canada in children and adults up to 59, is "proven to be effective" and has the support of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. OPH has distributed the spray in previous flu seasons, Etches said. Infants, adults over 60, people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled asthma will receive a flu shot instead of the spray.Concerned about the possibility of a "double pandemic" and the resulting strain on the health-care system, public health officials have been especially adamant about residents getting vaccinated against influenza this season, and residents have apparently heeded the call.More than 48,000 Ottawa residents have been vaccinated against influenza since OPH began the current campaign in October. That's more than four times the number vaccinated during the previous flu season. "OPH will continue to offer available appointments on our website based on community demand and vaccine availability," Etches wrote. "OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible."
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled their annual gala back in April, but that’s not going to stop Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre from celebrating its 40th birthday. The drop-in centre on the northside is making the festivities virtual with its Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction, which launches Monday at noon and goes to Dec. 9 at 9 p.m. “We’re making the best of it and this online auction is just one way we want to get back some fundraising dollars we’ve lost so much on,” said Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre executive director David Ng. “Right now, we have 32 items and we’re going to be adding about three or four more. It ranges from eight or nine designer purses and some men’s fashion attire like wallets and some sunglasses. Most of it was donated through our sponsors. “We have some great items such as some outdoor furniture and local businesses donated some gift cards. We have something for everybody and we’re hoping to supplement some Christmas shopping. Most of the stuff came local. A lot of the businesses that sponsored us are supporting local and when you support local you’re supporting Lethbridge and seniors in our community.” Due to COVID-19 restrictions Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre had to cancel its third annual Under Northern Lights Gala and live and silent auction to raise funds for programming. “It was scheduled for April 25 and our 40th anniversary was April 22,” said Ng. “That’s where we really wanted to highlight where we came from and all the people who made it who we are. The gala was going to be big this year, but COVID came. We were forced to close our doors to the public. We still had some staff here and we started rolling out some modified, limited programming around August. But we’re still not fully operational.” Ng said Nord-Bridge has lost $15,000 to $20,000 in fundraising revenue and is losing more revenue by not being fully open. They hope to raise around $10,000 with the auction. “COVID has impacted everyone in different ways and we’ve definitely felt it quite a bit,” said Ng. “We’re really trying to make the best of the situation and we’re hoping we can come out of COVID with the same type of programming. We just want to be able to offer seniors a place to come and socialize. That’s one of the biggest things, because being locked in or isolated is one of the key things even before COVID happened. An isolated senior is probably the most detrimental thing that can happen to a person.” The online link for the Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction can be found at https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/UnderNorthernLights2020OnlineAuction-17182. For more information, visit the Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nordbridgeseniorslethbridge or their website at http://nordbridgeseniors.com/. Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
As communities grow and expand, the needs of those they serve continue to evolve. Orangeville, and by extension Dufferin County, continues to become more diversified, resulting in a need for greater understanding and development of inclusive policies, activities, and actions. Following the Town of Orangeville’s commitment to building that kind of inclusive committee, they have developed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. The committee will consist of one representative from town council, Coun. Lisa Post, and a number of volunteers from the community. “I’m excited that we are moving forward towards inclusion in our community,” Post told the Banner. “The involvement of our citizens is so crucial to effectively do this.” Along with providing recommendations and advice to council, the EDI Committee will also be mandated to work with town staff and the community, focusing on liaising with groups who have historically experienced discrimination. On Nov. 26, the Town announced they are now seeking volunteers to serve on the committee. These volunteers will represent the diversity of Orangeville’s community across national origins, ethnicity, language, race, colour, sexual orientation, gender identity and age. It is expected the committee will work actively during its first year to move critical work ahead, meeting formally at least three times per year or at the call of the committee chair. Initial areas of focus may include: · Identification of issues and matters related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in Orangeville. · Identifying best practices · Raising awareness in the community about EDI · Identifying systemic and institutional barriers in Town processes, services, programs, and/or facilities. · Identifying barriers that impact the social, health, and/or economic well-being of members of the community, then proposing solutions. · Providing advice on programs, services, and processes from an equity, diversity, and inclusion perspective. “I hope anyone who has knowledge or experience to lend will consider applying to share that with us,” said Post. Application forms are available on the Town’s website and must be received by the Clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2021.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
There’s a $600,000 hole in Au Chateau’s annual budget West Nipissing may have to help plug with municipal tax dollars. It’s one of several issues coming up on tonight’s council agenda, which includes a general government discussion about ‘ward boundaries’ for the 2022 election. Au Chateau, which has 102 long-term care beds, serves West Nipissing and Temagami, and it can levy their taxpayers to make up any shortfalls. Au Chateau’s funding shortfall is being caused by the Jan. 31, 2021 end of 35-year funding agreement with the federal and provincial government. The issue is critical for both communities as they look at COVID-19 impacted revenue and expenses heading into the 2021 budget deliberations. It was briefly mentioned at the last council meeting with the municipality hoping to set up meetings with representatives of higher levels of government for assistance. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and is live-streamed using Zoom on the West Nipissing YouTube channel. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
CBC's Faith Fundal says we are "at a time where more and more people are feeling safe to come out". And they are "excited" by Elliot Page's news.
Nasdaq is pushing for the more than 3,000 companies listed on its U.S. stock exchange to make their boardrooms less overwhelmingly male and white by hiring directors that better reflect the country's diverse population.The company filed a proposal Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that, if approved, would require all companies on the exchange to disclose the breakdowns of their boards by race, gender and sexual orientation. Companies that do not comply could be delisted, or kicked off the exchange.The proposal would also require most Nasdaq-listed companies to have at least two diverse directors or, if they cannot meet the mandate, to explain why not. That could include one board member who is female and one who is either an underrepresented racial minority or LGBTQ. Foreign companies and smaller companies would have additional flexibility in satisfying this requirement with two female directors.Nasdaq's plan ups the stakes in what was already a widening push by shareholders and governments around the world for more diversity on corporate boards, which often are composed of mostly white men.It's not just a sense of fairness. Proponents say greater board diversity can improve financial performance for companies — and ultimately their stock prices — by bringing in varying opinions and voices and fostering a better understanding of employee and customer bases.In its proposal, Nasdaq cited a report from the Carlyle Group investment company, which found that companies it invested in that have at least two diverse board members have nearly 12% more earnings growth per year than the average of companies that lack diversity.Companies have heard the criticism and made some moves toward increased diversity, but progress has been slow.Women hold just 23.1% of board seats at companies in the Russell 3000, a broad index that includes most of the U.S. stock market. That's up from about 15% in 2016, according to executive-data firm Equilar.Progress in improving racial diversity on boards has been slower. One difficulty is that tracking racial and ethnic diversity has been tougher than measuring gender diversity, with companies often not disclosing such data, something that Nasdaq hopes its proposal can help ameliorate.“Corporate diversity, at all levels, opens up a clear path to innovation and growth," Nelson Griggs, president of the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, said in a prepared statement.The SEC declined to comment on Nasdaq's proposal specifically, but it has made diversity a greater emphasis and released its first diversity and inclusion strategic plan earlier this year.”We welcome dialogue on how to improve diversity, inclusion and opportunity in the financial services sector and our economy more broadly,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a statement.Shareholders are increasingly pushing companies to improve their board diversity, both in public and in private. Big investors are trying to cajole executives through private channels. For example, Nuveen, which invests $1.1 trillion globally, has been pushing a group of smaller and mid-sized companies without a woman on their board to add one. It's seen more than 30% of them add a woman, as of 2019.In public, investors are getting more chances to vote at companies' annual meetings on shareholder resolutions seeking more disclosures on the makeup of the board.Governments are also requiring improved disclosures or mandating better representation. California was a high-profile example when it required all publicly held companies headquartered in the state to have at least one female director by the end of 2019, the first state with such an edict. After California, other states quickly considered following suit.Such efforts have met some resistance, though.In Illinois, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch introduced a bill that would have required publicly held companies headquartered in the state to have at least one female director and one African American director on the board by the end of 2020.“I never expected a push for diversity to cause one of the most hotly debated bills on the floor of the year,” said Welch, a Democrat. But that’s what he said happened.Early opposition came from manufacturers, who worried they may need to kick someone off the board who was not a woman or an African American to comply. That could invite a separate claim of discrimination, even though manufacturers support diversity throughout the business, said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.The final bill, signed into law last year, no longer had the diversity mandate. Instead, it required only that companies report each year on their boards’ racial and gender breakdowns. Denzler's group was neutral on the final bill.At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, officials were supportive of Nasdaq's proposal on Tuesday. Tom Quaadman, executive vice-president at the chamber's centre for capital markets competitiveness, called it a “business led solution to resolving diversity issues on corporate boards."“This proposal will help accelerate the developments that are already underway and is a positive and balanced way to get to the end result of allowing boards to be more representative of a business’s consumer and employee base,” he said in a statement.The Nasdaq's U.S. exchange is dominated by technology companies, but there are many financial, biotech and industrial companies as well.Nasdaq began in 1971 with the world's first electronic stock market and is home to many of the tech world's most iconic companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's parent company. In 2016, Adena Friedman became its CEO, the first woman to lead a major U.S. exchangeMichelle Chapman And Stan Choe, The Associated Press
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Staff presented the Regional District of Nanaimo’s proposed 2021-25 Financial Plan to the Committee of the Whole Nov. 24, and it shows a near-zero change over 2020 for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy). The estimated general services property tax change for Area B would see a total requisition increase of $34,164. The proposed increase to general services property tax is less than one dollar with no change for the regional parcel tax. That would put the 2021 property tax for an average home (valued at $419,176) sitting at $418, a three-dollar increase. That number will be updated once property value assessments are released by BC Assessment on Dec. 31. For Area B, community parks account for the largest increase for 2021 followed by solid waste management and regional parks operations. Decreases are slated for the Gabriola taxi saver program, recreation and transit contribution. The community park projects for Area B planned for 2021 are the completion of the Village Way Path, construction of Huxley Community Skate Park and a 707 Community Park fire study. Other projects include an Area B evacuation route plan. The proposal for 2021 shows a tax requisition of $65.7 million for the entire regional district, $1.7 million less than what was projected for the year as part of the 2020-24 financial plan that was approved in February 2020. Total operating expenses sit at $129 million. Property and parcel taxes make up 35 per cent of revenues. There are some areas of the tax requisition the RDN has no control over, such as the Vancouver Island Regional Library contribution, which will increase by $50,560 over last year, and emergency 911 services, which will increase by $17,865. Capital projects planned for 2021 are budgeted to cost $56.5 million. Projects that Area B contributes to include $1.02 million for landfill-related purchases and upgrades and $681,000 for regional parks. Among the $10 million in funds already approved for external organizations are $5,000 for the Gabriola Arts Council, $136,788 for the Gabriola Community Bus Foundation, $65,000 for the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce for southern community economic development, $16,000 for the Gabriola Museum & Archive Society for Area B’s Port Theatre contribution, $78,705 for the Gabriola Recreation Society and $8,000 for People for a Healthy Community’s taxi saver program. Earlier this fall, the board directed staff to include the annual cost to hold socially distant in-person meetings during the pandemic in the upcoming financial plan. The $110,000 price tag would have included the rental fees for the Vancouver Island Conference Centre as RDN facilities are not large enough to ensure enough physical distance between the dozens of personnel who attend board meetings. But on Tuesday, directors unanimously passed a motion to remove that from the financial plan. Like other jurisdictions, the RDN experienced revenue losses this year due to COVID-19, including as a result of closed recreation facilities. In early November, the RDN learned it would receive $1,169,000 from the province as part of its COVID-19 Safe Restart Plan. The funding can only be used for specific areas; the board of directors will discuss how to use it at a future meeting. The board reviews the financial plan again in December and February before adoption by March 31, 2021.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
MOSCOW — The Russian military on Tuesday announced the deployment of state-of-the-art air defence missiles to the Pacific islands claimed by Japan. Russia's Eastern Military District said in a statement that the S-300V4 air defence missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier. The Russian Defence Ministry's TV station, Zvezda, reported that the air defence missile systems were deployed on Iturup, one of the four southernmost Kuril islands. The new deployment marked the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there. Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands it calls the Northern Territories. The Soviet Union took them in the final days of World War II, and the dispute has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities. Decades of diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement haven't produced any visible results. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent a lot of time and effort in the hope of negotiating a solution during his nearly eight years in office but scored little progress. Shortly after taking office in September, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga discussed the territorial dispute in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Suga said he hopes to find a settlement and sign a peace treaty. The Associated Press
The newly-formed Rotary Ignite Club is looking to spread Holiday cheer this December. The club is holding its first events in the city on Dec. 10 and 17. Both days will play host to Christmas-themed drive-by parades. Club member Karen Blewett says the convoys will spread cheer to those who need it most. “Both of these are Thursdays and we’re going to be primarily going to seniors’ residences,” she said. “We’re also going to be going by the hospital. We’re going to be starting at 6 p.m. each night. “Seniors are cooped up and can’t see much of their family and friends, so we wanted to focus this on them primarily.” Each night’s convoy will feature vehicles dressed up in a Christmas theme. “When the pandemic first hit people started those drive-by birthday celebrations and this will be very similar to that,” she said. “Instead of birthday themes, our convoy will feature Christmas decorations and lights on the cars. “I know some of the members are going to get really creative with this.” Blewett says members of the community are encouraged to join the convoy each night. “People, businesses, organizations, everyone is welcome to drive with us and make this bigger and better,” she said. “We know communities around North America have done something similar and they have been quite popular.” The Rotary Ignite Club’s convoy is its first event in the city, with more planned as the club grows. “This is a new club in town,” said Blewett. “We’re still going through the process with Rotary Canada to become officially sanctioned. “This isn’t a fundraiser or anything for us, we just want to raise community spirit and get as many people involved as possible.” The club is finalizing the driving routes and will be posting them on its social media pages when finished.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
The Northwest Territories' first private retailers of cannabis will open their doors soon, after the government announced final approval in a press release Tuesday morning.Two stores, ReLeaf NT and Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, were named in the release.ReLeaf has been operating as a cannabis accessories store since early April of last year from a storefront at 5123 51st St. in Yellowknife. Luke Wood, the proprietor, has been a vocal advocate for private retail since legalization.ReLeaf won the right to operate as a private retailer after completing an extensive application process for the territory's single license, issued as a request-for-proposals in May.Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, by contrast, appears to be the creation of the Yellowknife Liquor Shop, which has been the city's sole retail cannabis location for the past two years.Responding to concerns identified more than two years ago that selling alcohol and cannabis in the same place could lead to abuse, the territorial government "and the Yellowknife Liquor Shop agreed to separate liquor sales and cannabis sales," the release reads.The new, cannabis-only retailer will occupy a nearby unit in the same strip mall as the Yellowknife Liquor Shop at 100 Borden Drive in Yellowknife."Cannabis will no longer be available for purchase at the Yellowknife Liquor Shop," the release reads.Big plans for cannabis shop, says ownerAt his shop Tuesday evening, Wood was doing some final preparations before opening for business with cannabis for sale.Before COVID-19, Wood's shop sold accessories, records, and tools for growing cannabis. The store still has remnants of that inventory, like a single brightly-coloured panel of mood lights for sale and a display of glass pipes.But Wood said there's a major difference between running a cannabis-lifestyle store and a shop that also actually sells the product: "Customers.""We wanted to hit the ground running so we opened this [store]," he said. "But it's been very slow. And then COVID[-19] hit."Now that the store has its retail licence, Wood wants to bring in books on safe consumption and cooking and bolster the shop's record collection. He said he's even thinking about starting an internet radio station.He also wants to start selling products from local artists, a move he hopes will "reach out to the community ... and get rid of the stigma" around cannabis.High hurdles for new operatorsIn the last year, cannabis sales generated more than $3.5 million worth of revenue in the N.W.T., according to numbers from the NTLCC. More than $2 million of that was spent in Yellowknife alone.In the N.W.T., the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is the only legal wholesaler of cannabis. Private retailers must purchase their stock from the commission's limited selection and comply with strict health and safety requirements to operate.Any would-be retailers must follow a 23-page information guide in preparing their application to operate, which includes getting the government's final sign-off on everything from the store's displays to its name.Wood said his licence took 18 months to secure. Now that he's got it, he said he expects his biggest competition will be with the grey market.People who buy weed from non-licensed suppliers say they find the product is cheaper and more consistently available, he said. But Wood hopes his shop can "take away the mystery" for people who are new to the drug. "There's.a huge, bright future," he said. "It's just the beginning of the whole thing."
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald Despite more COVID-19 crackdowns in the past week, local vendors were still able to showcase their wares Friday and Saturday at the Lethbridge Exhibition Pavilion. And this year’s Big Christmas Farmers’ Market was for the little guy as local businesses did their part to keep the local economy pumping despite a year hindered by the pandemic. “It’s tremendous to be out here today,” said Dylan Lowry of Beyond Hot, a local business that gave shoppers an impressive array of hot sauces. “It’s very important because what gives Lethbridge a lot of uniqueness is the small mom-and-pop shops. We don’t have a lot of big-box, corporate stores. They don’t really care about local, they care about the bottom line. When you look around here, everybody is an independent vendor and we count on those smaller sales to get our families through those months. So for us it’s very important and we look forward to being social with the people out here. It gives them something to shop for and just to talk and be friendly.” Lowry noted the importance of getting out, but still being safe and following all protocols strictly set out for vendors and shoppers alike for the two-day market. “Everybody is cautious because of COVID,” said Lowry. “We’re going to have the attitude of don’t be a hermit, don’t stay at home, be protective, be cautious, but still enjoy your life. So I’m glad the market was still able to be held. Obviously, all of us are going to have lower sales and lower numbers, but that’s OK. It still gives us something to do. A lot of us are local, so we do count on this to pay some bills.” Over the course of the weekend, all attendees, families and cohorts were required to fill out a COVID-19 screening form within 24 hours prior to attending the event. Those who couldn’t complete the form online prior to arrival were required to complete a screening form before entering the venue. “We have approximately 180 local businesses, artisans and entrepreneurs that are showcasing their goods here at Exhibition Park,” said Mike Warkentin, chief operating officer at the Lethbridge and District Exhibition. “They’re from all over southern Alberta. It’s kind of a unique mix and we’re happy to support them here.” Warkentin said their farmers’ markets — both at the Exhibition Pavilion and downtown — are Alberta Agriculture and Forestry approved. “The other caveat is that we are at the maximum of 25 per cent of our posted Alberta fire code and we are well below that because we are maintaining an occupancy of 500 guests between all of our pavilions,” he said. “So 500 is the occupancy we are allowing in at any given time. Beyond that, people are being screened as they drive into the parking lot and are being temperature checked and screened as they come into the building. We are maintaining social distancing and, lastly, (have) masks or face shields for people who can’t necessarily wear masks.” Lowry said sales have actually been better this year. “Because everybody is forced to be at home and spend more family time at home, I think they’ve taken more notice to what the family enjoys. For us being a hot sauce retailer, a lot of people have started to explore that option. Could sales be better? One hundred per cent they could be better. But I’m just thankful for what we have and thankful to be a part of it.” Like each vendor, Beyond Hot came equipped to operate under COVID rules. “We have our masks and we also have face shields depending on the different clientele,” said Lowry. “We have hand sanitizer that anybody can use and we also have Lysol wipes. We have a display we’ve had to change. Usually, we have bottles and samples and everything else. Unfortunately, that is no longer. So clients, if they touch a bottle, that’s the one they buy. If not, I grab one from behind the table. It’s just some precautionary items.” The market followed a smaller Christmas Market Nov. 13-14. “A couple of weeks ago we did the pre-event in conjunction with the other market that was going on here,” said Warkentin. “This weekend, the attendance is actually up. People are coming out and we obviously didn’t know what to expect with last week’s (provincial) announcement. But the consumer confidence we’ve seen is still very strong and supportive of local businesses. “Obviously, it’s been a tough year for everybody. Small businesses in particular. When everything happened on Tuesday we wanted to make sure we were following all the guidelines and could prove that and, secondly, that we could still provide this opportunity. So many of our vendors depend on our markets to be able to showcase their products and actually sell their goods.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):2:10 p.m.The committee raising money for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take contributions from individual donors of as much as $500,000 and from corporations of as much as $1 million.That’s according to an inaugural official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the work of the committee, which started raising money on Monday for the Jan. 20 festivities.The committee won't accept contributions from lobbyists or the fossil fuels industry, including companies and executives whose “primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal.” The prohibition applies to political action committees run by fossil fuels interests.The contribution limits for Biden are far lower than those of President Donald Trump in 2017.Trump raised a record $107 million for his inauguration and accepted massive checks from individuals, including $5 million from Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.— By AP writer Brian Slodysko___HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:President-elect Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a substantial and somewhat divisive figure in Democratic Party politics, to serve as his transportation secretary.Read more:— Trump headed to Georgia as a turnout driver, but also a threat— It’s Major: Pets poised for a return to the White House— Top secret: Biden gets access to President’s Daily Brief— Biden names liberal economics team as pandemic threatens workers___HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:1:55 p.m.Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris says there is a “hunger crisis in America now” due to the COVID-19 pandemic but promised quick action to address the challenge when in office.Harris said that dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic “could not be more urgent,” noting the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases as the weather has gotten colder. She also says that in addition to the loss of hundreds of thousands of Americans, “the toll of this recession continues to mount across America.”Harris referenced the significant number of American adults with children saying their families are going hungry, and the even higher rate of adults saying they’re having trouble paying their “essential” bills.She says the Biden administration’s economic team, which was unveiled Tuesday, would put “working people front and centre” to pursue reforms to make the economy work better for all Americans, and would “hit the ground running on day one.”___1:45 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the White House budget office says social programs helped her family when she was a young girl being raised by a single mother in a Boston suburb.Neera Tanden would help prepare Biden’s federal budgets as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.Word of her expected nomination has encountered early disapproval from some Republican senators who will vote on whether she becomes the first woman of Indian descent to lead the office.Tanden says her mother faced hard choices after divorce left her to raise two young children. She says her family survived on food stamps and federal housing vouchers until her mother got a job and eventually bought a house.Tanden says she wants to give people the same chance at a fair shot.___1:35 p.m.Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen is describing the economic crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic as an “American tragedy” and warning that without quick action to address it, the damage will get worse.Introducing herself during a Joe Biden transition event where the president-elect unveiled his economic team, Yellen spoke about the “historic crises” of the pandemic and the economic fallout resulting from it, as well as the “disproportionate impact” it has had on “the most vulnerable among us.”Speaking about a pandemic that has cost 268,000 American lives, Yellen referenced the “lost lives, lost jobs” and struggles Americans face “to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.”She went on to say that “it’s essential that we move with urgency” because “inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.” She pledged to Americans that the Treasury would be “an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you.”___1:25 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says his economic team is “first rate” and will help build an economy that works for all Americans.Biden introduced key members of the team Tuesday in Delaware, including former Fed chair Janet Yellen to become Treasury secretary. Biden described Yellen as one of the “most important economic thinkers of our time.”She would be the first female Treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate.Biden also introduced Neera Tanden as his choice to run the White House budget office. Tanden’s nomination, however, has encountered early disapproval from some Senate Republicans, who will vote on her nomination.Biden also named his chair and members of the Council of Economic Advisers. He says the CEA chair will serve in the Cabinet. Biden also named a deputy for Yellen.___1:15 p.m.Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass a “robust package for relief” to address the economic and public health crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic.The president-elect made the comments introducing his economic team in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Congressional leaders have been locked in a stalemate over a COVID relief package, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on the price tag or content of a potential bill, though a team of bipartisan lawmakers released their own compromise legislation on Tuesday.Biden said, however, any package passed during the lame duck session of Congress would be “at best just a start” and that his team is already working on his own proposal for the new Congress “to address the multiple crises we’re facing.” He said the team of economic advisers he announced Tuesday would play a “critical role” in shaping the Biden administration’s plan to revive the economy.___1:10 p.m.Joe Biden is wearing a boot publicly for the first time, after fracturing his foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend.The president-elect wore the boot at an event where he introduced his economic team Tuesday afternoon, walking with no obvious limp onto the stage. His doctor said Sunday that he suffered small fractures to his right foot from the incident and would likely have to wear a walking boot “for several weeks.”Arriving to the event, Biden pointed to the boot and raised his leg as if to show it off. He walked gingerly, telling reporters his foot was “good.” The event was set up with chairs and tables, allowing Biden to sit when he wasn’t speaking before a podium in the centre of the stage._The Associated Press
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Les résultats de l’Examen final commun (EFC) 2020 des comptables professionnels agréés ont été dévoilés le 27 novembre dernier. Cet examen de l’Ordre des CPA du Québec constitue une étape déterminante vers l’obtention du titre de CPA. Une candidate de Trois-Rivières a raflé la mise en arrivant première parmi les 1183 étudiants québécois qui ont réussi cet examen qui se tient en simultané à travers tout le Canada. Ariane Villemure, une diplômée de l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) a obtenu le meilleur score provincial aux examens. Cette prouesse lui vaudra d’être récompensée de la Médaille d’Or pour le Québec, ainsi que d’un prix de 2 500 $ de CPA Canada. Elle ne sait pas avec quelle note précise elle a réussi. Elle sait juste qu’elle est la meilleure! « On sait seulement si on a réussi l’examen ou non et si on se classe sur le tableau d’honneur. Dans mon cas, j’ai eu la chance d’arriver première. C’est tellement d’émotions en même temps. On travaille tellement fort durant tout notre baccalauréat et tout notre 2e cycle. De voir que j’ai réussi à avoir un succès comme ça, c’est une grande fierté, un sentiment d’accomplissement. Je me sentais prête. On ne sait jamais trop à quoi s’attendre. Il y a toujours un petit stress. Mais je ne croyais pas atteindre ces résultats! » Oui, car être première parmi 1183 personnes, ça fait tout un effet sur un curriculum vitae. On comprend aisément qu’elle s’est déjà trouvé une place au chaud dans les bureaux de KPMG de Québec où, à 23 ans seulement, elle travaille en audit et certification. « J’ai plusieurs mandats. J’aime le côté chiffres, mais également le côté humain », dit Ariane qui travaille en ce moment à distance à partir de Yamachiche, où elle habite. L’Ordre des CPA du Québec n’a pas lésiné sur les moyens pour que tout se déroule dans l’ordre durant ces examens qui ont été tenus pendant trois jours en septembre dernier. L’Ordre a mobilisé 475 bénévoles à l’échelle du Québec pour voir au bon déroulement des examens et superviser les candidats installés individuellement dans des chambres d’hôtel pour l’occasion. Des conditions idéales pour satisfaire les normes sanitaires en ces temps de COVID-19. D’autres diplômés ont pu s’inscrire au tableau d’honneur canadien regroupant les 74 candidats ayant eu les meilleurs résultats au pays. Douze d’entre eux sont du Québec. Ils recevront chacun, une bourse de 1 500 $ de la Fondation des CPA du Québec. Xavier Therrien, un étudiant de l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières est de cette promotion. Les autres sont de Montréal, Sherbrooke et Québec. Ariane Villemure s’est lancée dans cette aventure les yeux fermés. La piqûre pour les chiffres lui a été inoculée dès son cégep en comptabilité. Il ne lui reste maintenant qu’à produire son essai pour obtenir sa maîtrise en Administration des affaires (MBA). Où se voit-elle dans dix ans? « Pour l’instant, j’aime ce que je fais. J’aimerais peut-être enseigner et donner au suivant, plus tard. » Les examens de l’EFC évaluent les compétences des candidats en matière d’information financière, de stratégie et gouvernance, de comptabilité de gestion, d’audit et certification, de finance et de fiscalité. Mais pas seulement. Les candidats comme Ariane Villemure doivent aussi démontrer de solides compétences en leadership, en communication et travail d’équipe, ainsi qu’en éthique.Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
BUCKHORN — Banners have been placed on each of the eight lampposts on the Buckhorn lock bridge to help enhance tourism in the region as small businesses continue to struggle through the pandemic. As an initiative through the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), Trail Town has made the Trent-Severn Waterway Canada’s first waterway trail, says Leslie Clarkson, vice-chair of the RTO8 board and co-chair of the Buckhorn Trail Town committee. The trail currently connects a total of nine communities on the system, including Buckhorn, Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Hastings and Campbellford, Clarkson said. The concept was taken from the Great Allegheny Passage in the United States; a biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Buckhorn, Clarkson said. “Buckhorn is one of the busiest locks on the entire Trent Severn system, and our welcome centre is generally the busiest in the region,” she said. Buckhorn is one of the only towns of the nine communities that has municipal funding, so some of the funding was used for the banners, Clarkson said. “The main thing really is to get visitors to come to the area and to stay in the area and to stay in the region, and then to get them to want to come back and spend more time in the region,” said Clarkson. Trail Town is a great opportunity to help attract visitors to the area and to let them know that there’s a variety of different things that they can do in the region, said Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s coming at a time when the tourism industry is facing some challenges,” he said. “Hopefully we can position ourselves as we move forward, particularly in the spring and summer when, from a public health perspective, things will be much better to welcome visitors from across the province and across the world." With boaters travelling down the Trent Severn Waterway as well as cars crossing the bridge, the banners will be seen by many, Clarkson said. However, the banners are just the first step in the Trail Town initiative, Clarkson said. “As we move forward to year two and year three, we will continue to capitalize on the relationship with Parks Canada and look at those other gyms that a visitor would stumble across and develop those as well,” she said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner