Senate's top Democrat on Tuesday said the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court will mean that individual rights will be taken away. (Oct. 27)
Senate's top Democrat on Tuesday said the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court will mean that individual rights will be taken away. (Oct. 27)
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
LONDON — The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that she had a miscarriage in July, giving a personal account of the traumatic experience in hope of helping others.Meghan described the miscarriage in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Wednesday, writing that “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.”The former Meghan Markle and husband Prince Harry have an 18-month-old son, Archie.The duchess, 39, said she was sharing her story to help break the silence around an all-too-common tragedy. Britain's National Health Service says about one in eight pregnancies in which a woman is aware she is pregnant ends in miscarriage.“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” Meghan wrote. “In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”In a startlingly intimate account of her experience, the duchess described how tragedy struck on a “morning that began as ordinarily as any other day: Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib."“After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.”Later, she said, she “lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”Buckingham Palace said it was “a deeply personal matter we would not comment on.”Sophie King, a midwife at U.K. child-loss charity Tommy’s, said miscarriage and stillbirth remained “a real taboo in society, so mothers like Meghan sharing their stories is a vital step in breaking down that stigma and shame.”“Her honesty and openness today send a powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone,” King said.Meghan, an American actress and star of TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son was born the following year.Early this year, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.The duchess is currently suing the publisher of Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper for invasion of privacy over articles that published parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her wedding.Last month, a judge in London agreed to Meghan's request to postpone the trial from January until fall 2021. The decision followed a hearing held in private, and the judge said the reason for the delay request should be kept confidential.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
An NHL legend from Manitoba is honouring an NHL pioneer from Saskatchewan and the path he cleared for First Nations people dreaming of the big league."It's a sad day for the hockey world, especially the First Nations across the country. We'll miss a great guy," said Reggie Leach, whose name is inscribed on the Stanley Cup, about Fred Sasakamoose, who died Tuesday from complications due to COVID-19.Sasakamoose, who grew up on the Ahtahkakoop Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan and later became chief of the community, was one of the first Indigenous athletes to play in the National Hockey League.He was 86 years old. "It was just an honour for me to be around him. Every time I would see him, it made my heart happy," said Leach, from Riverton, Man., who was a 16-year-old junior player when he first heard the name Sasakamoose."I heard there was a [First Nations] guy who played a few games in the National Hockey League and back then, I don't think there was that many First Nations players playing anywhere," Leach said, adding it gave him inspiration.Now 70, Leach had a storied NHL career over 13 seasons with the Boston Bruins — who drafted him third overall in 1970 — as well as the California Golden Seals, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers, with whom he won a Stanley Cup in 1975.A member of the renowned Broad Street Bullies-era Flyers, Leach set goal-scoring records that still stand today.But he's not sure any of it would have happened without Sasakamoose first lacing them up, even if it was only for a brief time.Sasakamoose played just 11 games with Chicago during the 1953-54 season, splitting the rest of the time with the Moose Jaw Canucks of the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League."A lot of people say, 'well, he only played 11 games,' but to me, those 11 games were everything to our First Nation people," said Leach, who earned the nickname the Riverton Rifle for his speed and goal-scoring prowess."He carried that [mantle as a leader] on through his whole life, being chief in his community and showing leadership and kindness to all — not just the First Nation people. That's the way life should be, being kind to everybody."Leach never got the chance to meet up much with Sasakamoose until after Leach retired in 1984.Then they often crossed paths at youth workshops and tournaments across the country where they helped out — including the Fred Sasakamoose "Chief Thunderstick" National Championship for young Indigenous hockey players in Saskatchewan."He wanted to push our young kids to do the best they can and don't give up. The stuff that he has done for people in his life, it's amazing," Leach said."I got to know him over the years and we became great friends. I listened to his stories and the struggles that he went through."In 1940, when Sasakamoose wasn't quite seven years old, a priest, an RCMP officer and a Canadian government Indian agent showed up in Ahtahkakoop. He and his eight-year-old brother, Frank, were forcefully taken from their parents and put into a truck, the Canadian Encyclopedia says.Although the boys' mother looked after them and their father worked as a logger, the Indian agent declared them unfit parents because of their poverty. The brothers were shipped off to St. Michael's Indian Residential School, nearly 100 kilometres away in Duck Lake.The Sasakamoose boys had no idea where they were going or why. It was two years before they saw their parents again.Despite the hardships Sasakamoose faced, "he always had a smile and a kind word for everyone," Leach wrote in a Facebook post late Tuesday night."He was a very, very interesting person to talk to. Every time I had a chance to spend some time with him, I would sit with him and talk to him, and I learned a lot from him," Leach told CBC News in an interview.Leach last spoke with Sasakamoose on a Zoom call about three weeks ago, along with other former Indigenous NHLers Ted Nolan and Theoren Fleury. The group chatted about their careers and hockey in general, he said."It was a great thing and something that I'm very happy I got to do."Despite the trailblazing of Sasakamoose, Leach and others who followed, the NHL lags in its inclusion efforts around Indigenous people, said Leach."We're a long way off," he said bluntly."It's like anything else. We're always second fiddle when it comes to anything with First Nation people and that stuff has to stop."When the league appointed Willie O'Ree as ambassador to hockey for Black players, he hoped an Indigenous appointment would soon follow. It hasn't.O'Ree, who became the NHL's first black player on Jan. 18, 1958, with the Boston Bruins, has been the league's diversity ambassador since 1998. In that role, he travels to schools and hockey programs to promote messages of inclusion, dedication and confidence."Those are things that sort of bothered me with the National Hockey League, that they do something for one nationality but don't do anything for us," Leach said."I think our First Nation people are probably the best hockey fans in the world because that's all they do is live and breathe and eat hockey."It doesn't matter what little community, they have leagues and play and play and play and play. And Freddie proved that."Dauphin-born Brigette Lacquette, the first First Nations woman on Canada's Olympic hockey team, also paid tribute to Sasakamoose through a Twitter post on Tuesday."RIP to my buddy, Freddy Sasakamoose. He was a trailblazer, a leader and a survivor," she wrote. "He paved the way for so many Indigenous hockey players. My thoughts and prayers to the family."Rest Easy, Legend."Lacquette stood with Sasakamoose at centre ice in October 2019 for the ceremonial puck drop at the Heritage Classic outdoor game between the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames at Mosaic Stadium in Regina."That was one of the highlights of my life, for sure, to be there with him and his family," she said.She became quick friends with Sasakamoose and his family, and was asked to contribute to an upcoming autobiography Sasakamoose wrote, Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL's First Treaty Indigenous Player, which is set to hit shelves in April."His story is very powerful, very moving," Lacquette said. "The things that he's overcome is absolutely amazing; the perseverance and determination to get to where he got."He's a role model and just an amazing person that I'm glad I crossed paths with. He showed us anything is possible if you work hard and you persevere through hard times."
The Alberta government has brought in massive restrictions on social and public gatherings, which include businesses and services to churches and schools. Failure to follow them can come with a ticketed fine of $1,000 or a maximum court fine of $100,000. At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency as Alberta reported 1,115 new cases and 16 new deaths. Alberta now leads the country with more active cases than any other province. “If we do not slow the sharp rise of both hospitalizations and ICU admissions, they will threaten our ability to deliver health services that we all rely on,” said Kenney, who warned the Alberta health care system cannot handle the rate that COVID-19 is spreading. As of Tuesday, 348 Albertans were fighting the virus in hospitals, with 66 patients in intensive care units. “We believe these are the minimum restrictions needed right now to safeguard our health-care system, while avoiding widespread damage to peoples’ livelihood,” he said. The province won’t have “snitch line” to enforce rules, but the number of enforcement officers tasked with public health orders will increase. Kenney rejected calls for a widespread lockdown and economic shutdown, calling that option “an unprecedented violation of fundamental constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.” He also said this action would hurt small business owners and people living on low incomes. It was a “grave mistake” this past spring when the province tried distinguishing between essential and non-essential retailers, said Kenney. This allowed big box stores and online retailers to thrive, he said, while small businesses suffered. “I wish the people advocating that we go to that extreme at this point were perhaps a little more transparent about what we know from the data on the broader social impact, particularly for the vulnerable,” Kenney said. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org “Let me just be absolutely clear about this: social gatherings are the biggest problem,” said Kenney. “These gatherings in the home continue to be the largest source of transmission and so they must stop now.” “Our school system has done very well at limiting in-school transmission, Parents, teachers and staff have worked incredibly hard to keep kids safe,” said Kenney. However, the premier added the spread of COVID-19 from workplaces and social gatherings means the virus is finding its way into schools. Hinshaw said as of Tuesday, 13 per cent of all schools in Alberta had an active COVID-19 outbreak. “There’s very limited transmission within the schools but more community transition, affecting the schools and their ability to operate,” said Kenney. Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Health officials have declared the latest Saskatchewan care home outbreak at Saskatoon's Oliver Lodge, a seniors' facility housing more than 100 residents.The Hudson Bay Park home was added to the province's list of active outbreaks on Tuesday, making it the 19th special care home, seniors residence, long-term care home or assisted living facility in the province currently dealing with two or more cases of the virus. According to a new weekly update from the province on COVID-19 cases in long-term and special care homes that launched on Wednesday, Oliver Lodge had only one infected person between Nov. 10 and Nov. 24. Most homes were dealing with fewer than five cases. Some had more, such as Parkside Extendicare in Regina and Providence Place in Moose Jaw, which had 14 and seven cases respectively. In total, health workers at 29 different homes navigated new working conditions spurred by 88 different positive cases. The data released Wednesday did not indicate the age of infected people nor how many of them were hospitalized. Nor is it known if the infected people were residents or workers. See the full list here.Staffing challengesOliver Lodge's website says the home has 139 residents. A 2019 inspection stated each room is private and has its own bathroom. The lodge is connected to an apartment building, Oliver Place, that offers assisted living, according to the inspection.Frank Suchorab, Oliver Lodge's executive director, said updates on the situation are being posted on the home's website.Suchorab declined to say how many residents have tested positive as of Wednesday, saying it wouldn't make a difference in terms of the home's response to the outbreak. The province only declares an outbreak if two or more cases are present. Residents in the home's south wing are isolating in their rooms, according to the update.Other care homes have said they're facing staffing challenges as some workers are required to self-isolate."I would say that we're not any different from the other sites," Suchorab said. "We all work together. We all have the same challenges. Rapid tests on orderLuther Special Care Home in Saskatoon, the long-term care home in the province dealing with the largest outbreak, reported to residents' family members on Tuesday night that the number of infected residents remained at 34 for the second day in a row. Operations lead Ivan Olfert also outlined the steps the home is taking to curb the spread of the virus. Staff working in the affected wing are not mingling with workers from other areas of the home. Supplies are being dropped off outside the complex, located in the city's Varsity view neighbourhood."On Sunday we applied for a medical laboratory licence in order to be able to bring an Abbott Panbio Point of Care testing device onsite, which will allow us to test individuals for COVID and have results in about 15 minutes," Olfert wrote.Olfert noted with concern that the number of staff working in the outbreak unit who are self-isolating continues to grow. "Other long-term care homes in the city, along with home care, have contacted us and are offering assistance in a variety of ways, including lending us staff on a temporary basis [and] supporting us in the recruitment and training of new employees to help bolster our ranks."Also, we have a couple of staff who have temporarily moved from Regina to help support our efforts."Moose Jaw home's outbreak numbers unknownHealth officials added Providence Place to the list of active outbreak sites on Tuesday. The home declined to specify how many staff members have needed to self-isolate."We are taking all the necessary and precautionary measures to ensure the ongoing health and safety of our residents and employees," said executive director Georgia Hutchinson. "The situation at Providence Place is evolving and we are not commenting on specific cases or case numbers at this time." Saskatchewan reported only three new COVID-19 cases among people aged 80 and older on Wednesday, compared to 12 on Tuesday, bringing to cumulative number of cases in that age bracket to 246.It's unclear how many of the cases among aged seniors are active.
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
A Halifax-area man has received an eight-month conditional sentence for a violent incident four years ago involving his then-girlfriend.Christopher Bruce Duffett, 32, was convicted of assault, dangerous driving and driving while impaired by drugs following an incident on April 28, 2016, on the Beaver Bank Road outside of Halifax. Witnesses at his trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court described seeing a woman, her legs dangling out the open passenger door of a car, screaming for help as the driver backed up and tried to pull her into the vehicle. Passersby managed to rescue the woman and called police.Duffett was originally charged with two counts of assault, assault with a weapon and administering a noxious substance and motor vehicle offences.At his trial, he pleaded guilty to the charge of impaired driving, while Justice Ann Smith also found him guilty on two additional charges. Police evidence at his trial showed there were traces of cocaine and a benzodiazepine in Duffett's system at the time of the incident.Ex-girlfriend feels 'terrified,' court hearsHis former girlfriend gave a victim impact statement during a sentencing hearing Wednesday, in which she described becoming addicted to alcohol, being depressed, stressed and having nightmares and flashbacks."I am terrified of people leaving the house, feelings of suicide and attempts, angry and irrational at times and unable to sleep, thinking you would come back, it would happen again," she said.She told the judge she still suffers from neck and back pain and gave up her job because of her fears. That forced her to declare bankruptcy and she lost her apartment.As part of his sentence, Duffett must live with his mother and observe an overnight curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Once he's completed his sentence, he will be on probation for a year. He's also prohibited from driving for a year.MORE TOP STORIES
The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS) is seeking members of the public to complete a survey about access to education. As part of the RDKS economic development commission’s strategic plan, the district hired youth researchers to better understand how to increase access to education and develop education facilities. Now, the regional district is looking for a range of stakeholders to complete the survey, including students, parents, business owners, education providers and the members of the general public. The survey is voluntary and takes up to 10 minutes to complete. Responses will remain anonymous. Researchers were hired through WorkBC’s Community Workforce Response Grant: Youth Community Partnership to complete the project. The grant was created so “communities can provide youth with opportunities to contribute to their community while gaining work-related skills and experience for future job opportunities or their return to school.” The survey can be accessed HERE. Any questions should be addressed to Maggie Hall, RDKS economic development officer at email@example.com.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Accepting "full responsibility" for texting while driving during a livestream of a city committee meeting Tuesday, Osgoode Coun. George Darouze says he has offered a statement to Ottawa police so that he can be issued a $615 fine under the Highway Traffic Act."Yesterday, I made a poor decision to get behind the wheel of my car during Audit Committee. Instead of keeping my eyes on the road, I engaged in texting while driving. I realize these actions were in poor judgement (sic), and I'm disappointed in myself for this behaviour. I know some of you are upset with me and I am truly sorry," Darouze said in a letter issued Wednesday and addressed to his constituents, family and council colleagues.Darouze, who is also deputy mayor, said he went to the Leitrim police station Wednesday morning, where he "voluntarily gave them a statement" admitting to his actions. Section 78 of the Highway Traffic Act states: "No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver."Darouze appeared to have two screens on while he drove Tuesday, the cell phone in his hand and another device on the passenger seat, which he appeared to be using to monitor the virtual committee meeting.Upon first conviction, the penalty for distracted driving is $615 if settled out of court, plus three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension.On Wednesday, an Ottawa Police Service (OPS) spokesperson confirmed the charge and the fine, but didn't say whether Darouze had been given demerit points or a suspension."I promise that this will never happen again," Darouze's letter concludes. "I want to continue to be an advocate for Safer Roads Ottawa and work with OPS on their Leave the Phone Alone Initiative, and by requesting and paying this fine, I hope I and others can learn from my experience." On Twitter, Mayor Jim Watson wrote: "I appreciate that [Darouze] acknowledged his error and voluntarily reported to the Ottawa Police Service to pay the fine for his actions."The incident attracted widespread condemnation online, with some residents calling for Darouze to be charged.Initially, Darouze tweeted that he had "inadvertently" texted while driving. He replaced that explanation with another brief statement Tuesday, before issuing Wednesday's letter.
There has been positive news about several potential COVID-19 vaccines over the last week, but Saskatchewan health experts say there is still little known about them and that a solid distribution plan still needs to be created.Vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford University appear to be front-runners to be the first on the market after posting positive clinical trial results recently. The Canadian government has inked deals with those companies and several others to secure between 20 million and 76 million doses.But the data from clinical trials must be peer-reviewed before doses are handed out, several Saskatchewan health experts say."We still don't know a whole lot about the vaccine," said Nazeem Muhajarine, epidemiologist and professor at the University of Saskatchewan.Dr. Cory Neudorf, public health physician and U of S professor, said federal regulators are reviewing the clinical trial data now to assess how safe and effective each vaccine is. Once those reviews are complete, that information will be forward to health-care providers who can inform the public about the drug."Part of what we're seeing with the initial vaccine hesitancy out there with people is that you don't have that information," Neudorf said. Some are also wondering if the vaccine is being put through the system too fast, making it unsafe, Neudorf said. He assures that is not the case."It's being developed with all the right steps," he said. "They are just speeding up those steps, not skipping steps."Planning for distributionOnce vaccines are approved by Health Canada, federal and provincial governments have to figure out the logistics of rolling them out.Saskatchewan has secured 180,000 doses of a vaccine that should be distributed within the first three months of 2021, with seniors and health-care workers likely to be the first to be vaccinated, Health Minister Paul Merriman said during a news conference last week.Those are the only distribution details available so far."The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is working with federal counterparts on priority groups for vaccination, however, it is too early to discuss preliminary plans for vaccine distribution beyond what [was] said in the news conference," a ministry spokesperson said via email Tuesday.Considerations must include safety, efficiency, who needs each vaccine most and the logistics of distributing the doses, said Amy Zarzeczny, an associate professor at the U of S school of public policy."It seems unlikely that there will be enough vaccine for all interested individuals, at least at first instance," said Zarzeczny, who specializes in health law and health policy issues. "They will need a phased approach."The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has already detailed some preliminary guidelines for vaccine rollout, including who to target first.Seniors and people living in care homes, immunocompromised people, and essential front-line workers — health-care workers, primarily — should be first in line, said health experts who spoke to CBC News for this piece.First Nations and newcomers should be prioritized too, said Muharajine, but the government will have to earn their trust by educating them about the vaccine and assuring them it's safe.Neudorf added that prioritization of First Nations communities could be based on their COVID-19 situations whenever a vaccine is received. If there are high rates of transmission on reserves, then they would likely be prioritized higher, he said.As of Tuesday, more than half of Saskatchewan's total COVID-19 cases have been younger than 40. Despite this, U of S pharmacy professor Ekaterina Dadachova said people in that demographic should not be prioritized, assuming they are otherwise healthy."If they test positive, that positivity very often is just that," said Dadachova, whose expertise is treating infectious diseases. "In those immunocompromised individuals, or elderly in care homes, there is no second chance for them. Positivity very often means death."How to transport and store vaccines must also be considered. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, for example, must be stored in -70 C. Health experts say this could be an issue outside urban centres and university labs. Several of the vaccines, including Pfizer/BioNTech, also require two doses to be taken a certain time apart."There has to be a very carefully drawn plan to get the vaccine to people not just in the cities," said Muharajine."You need to have the transportation plan in place."The province could look at promoting immunization, similar to flu shots or the H1N1 vaccine in 2009, and bringing the vaccine to places like personal care homes or areas with high rates of transmission, said Neudorf.Once higher-risk populations are taken care of, then the general population should be able to book vaccinations, he said. Until then, the trick is to avoid "hundreds or thousands of people gathering and waiting in line to get a vaccine, acting as a superspreader event."Zarzeczny said that the government may be receiving new evidence as a vaccine is being administered and that could impact further distribution.Typically, for a vaccine to be effective and for herd immunity to develop, roughly 80 per cent of a population has to get the immunization, according to the health experts. But it's "highly unlikely" that the government will make getting the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for residents, Zarzeczny said."There has been some public concern expressed about individuals who might refuse to be vaccinated," she said, noting that there is precedent for mandatory vaccination policies, for example in schools."Even these policies generally include exemption options. Sharing up-to-date, accurate information about the evidence regarding vaccine safety and effectiveness will likely be important in encouraging vaccine uptake."There will likely be strong messaging urging people to get vaccinated, Neudorf said.Muharajine cited recent survey data that suggest the public may be slightly more willing now to get a vaccine, but Saskatchewan flu shot data may tell a different story.A third of Saskatchewan's population got their flu shot in 2019, according to a Saskatchewan government spokesperson.The province purchased more doses of the flu shot this year to try to avoid straining the health-care system with COVID-19 and the flu. But from Oct. 19 to Nov. 14, only about 23 per cent of Saskatchewan residents have gotten their flu shot, the province estimates.A provincial spokesperson noted that the total number of people who have gotten the immunization may be underestimated due to a delay in data entry.
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers increased their spending by a sluggish 0.5% last month, the weakest rise since April, when the pandemic first erupted, and a sign that Americans remain wary with the virus resurging across the country and threatening the economy. The October gain reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 1.2% increase in September. It suggested that consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, is being restrained by a weakened economy and by the failure of Congress to provide another stimulus package to struggling individuals and businesses. The government's report also showed that income, which provides the fuel for spending, fell 0.7% in October. With new viral cases accelerating across the country, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses. Sales at restaurants and bars fell in October for the first time in six months. Restaurant traffic declined further this month, according to the reservations provider OpenTable. Hotel occupancy is down from a month ago. Consumer spending on credit cards dropped in the first week of November from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Opportunity Insights. Economists warn that consumer spending could falter further in the current October-December quarter given that many of the major government support programs have expired and Congress has yet to renew the assistance. “With coronavirus infection rates soaring, states re-imposing restrictions and the ... data on in-person dining and jobless claims beginning to show signs of weakness, we are increasingly worried that the monthly gains in consumption will be weaker," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note. The report showed that while the wages-and-salaries component of consumer income rose 0.7% in October, government transfers — the category that includes unemployment aid and other benefits — fell 6.2%. Inflation, as measured by a gauge tied to consumer spending, was unchanged in October. Measured year over year, it's up just 1.2%. That is far below the 2% annual target set by the Federal Reserve, and it gives the Fed further leeway to supply support to the economy beyond the ultra-low interest rates it is already providing. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
An 18-year-old Prince Albert woman accused of shooting and killing an 18-year-old man was released on bail. Lynessa Highway was arrested in October after a man was shot and killed Oct. 10, 2020, during an incident in the 1700 block of 14 Street West. Police say they were called to the residence at about 1 a.m. and when they arrived they found a man deceased. Police haven’t released the name of the victim. Highway was released from custody in October. She was scheduled to enter a plea in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Nov. 16 but the matter was adjourned to Dec. 16. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Hay River has been denied disaster financial assistance to meet the costs of a 2019 fire at the town's landfill on the grounds the fire does not meet the N.W.T. government's definition of a disaster. A fire burned in an older section of the landfill for several weeks in March 2019, causing the town to declare a local state of emergency. A precautionary air quality warning was triggered. Town senior administrator Glenn Smith last week told councillors a funding application to the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) had been denied, calling it a “disappointment for administration and council.” An incident must meet several MACA criteria to be termed a disaster, allowing the release of funding. The event must be an emergency, damage must affect a significant number of people or properties, and the health, safety and welfare of residents must be at risk. The town must also prove it conducted appropriate emergency operations, advised the deputy minister, the community, small businesses and residents, and made serious efforts to protect property and minimize risk. MACA, rejecting Hay River’s application, said the landfill fire did not meet the threshold for funding. “There was no widespread damage that affected a significant number of people’s properties and the health, safety and welfare of residents were not at risk,” a MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio by email. Mayor of Hay River Kandis Jameson disagrees. Since the fire, she argues, the town has had to complete regulatory duties like monitoring the local watershed. “These requirements, by nature, are in place for the health, safety and welfare of our residents. That’s why we made the application to the department to begin with,” Jameson said. “That’s my concern: how does this not fit your disaster assistance policy when we don’t have an option. We have to perform these tests.” MACA says disaster funding has been granted on several occasions in the past 30 years, often in response to flooding in communities like Nahanni Butte, Hay River, Aklavik, and Fort Good Hope. The funding was also used in response to a Fort McPherson power outage in 2004 and Sahtu fires in 1995. Expenses related to the fire were initially estimated at around $550,000. Jameson says the total has come in above that. The Town of Hay River applied for the funding in August 2019. MACA says the decision took more than a year as October 2019's territorial election and the formation of a new government delayed the consideration process, as did the N.W.T.'s COVID-19 response this year. Jameson says the town has been told it needs to build a new landfill because the existing one is outdated. A new landfill, however, does not come with a small price tag. “We want to remediate that landfill and we want to open a new one,” she said. “When you’ve got that kind of cost to the taxpayers, you want to make sure it’s an opportunity to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.” The mayor said the town has identified ways to move forward, but needs Maca's support and some funding to make things happen. A meeting between Jameson and MACA's minister, Paulie Chinna, is planned for December to discuss the landfill decision and next steps. Jameson hopes MACA will support a town bid for federal funding to help construction of a new landfill. A MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio the department is aware of the challenges Hay River faces, as there are no other disaster funding programs available. “All governments face unplanned expenditures and needs that exceed their available funding,” the spokesperson said by email. “Maca is aware of the potential financial challenges to the Town of Hay River as a result of the decision to deny the request for disaster assistance for the dump fire, and will continue to provide guidance and support to the town in meeting its financial obligations.”Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
People are back in one of the pools at Charlottetown's Bell Aliant Centre on the UPEI campus.Starting Monday, some swim groups were able to use the leisure pool. A leak still has the competitive pool closed."It was really great to see people on the deck again and the few user groups that did get in here [Monday] night were ecstatic to be here," said general manager Sue Fraser."Everybody that was here was happy to be here and we're looking forward to being fully open in the not-too-distant future."Pandemic public health restrictions closed the centre in March, and the pools were drained for deep cleaning and painting. The pools were refilled in August in anticipation of reopening after Labour Day. That's when officials discovered the competitive pool was no longer holding water.It took some time to determine the problem was structural, not in the plumbing. Work on a new floor for the pool will start next week, Fraser said. If all goes well, the competitive pool will open in December.The leisure pool will remain open during the construction.More from CBC P.E.I.
When it filed for bankruptcy last year, Purdue Pharma agreed to an innovative plan: It would make $200 million available immediately to help those those harmed by its signature painkiller, OxyContin, and ease the effects of the opioid crisis.More than a year later, with the crisis worsening, not a penny has been spent.“The money is just sitting in Purdue’s bank account collecting dust,” said Ed Neiger, a lawyer representing opioid victims. “It’s a travesty of epic proportions.”It's not Purdue that is holding up the money. Instead, it's lawyers representing the wide range of entities suing the company who cannot agree how best to use it. The main disagreement is between nearly 3,000 local governments and advocates for those hurt by opioids.Advocates want the money funneled mostly to local nonprofits that provide emergency services to people with addictions. State attorneys general say doing so would dilute the money so much it would not be effective. Because Purdue is undergoing the long process of distributing its assets, the states also see the prospect of distributing billions of dollars over time as more important than the $200 million.“You see the state AGs come in and block the money, and you’re not understanding why,” said Jill Cichowicz, who lost her twin brother to an overdose and sits on a committee advocating for victims in Purdue’s bankruptcy case. “We’re all baffled.”Purdue filed for bankruptcy last year as part of an effort to settle thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold the company accountable for the crisis that has been linked to 470,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. In a separate case, it pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a broader settlement with the Department of Justice.The proposal being considered in bankruptcy court calls for members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, to pay at least $3 billion and give up ownership of the company. Purdue would then become a public benefit corporation, with its profits going to ease the overdose crisis, including by increasing treatment capacity and providing other addiction services.The company says the total value of the deal over time could be more than $10 billion.State attorneys general, all of whom have sued Purdue, disagree over whether that’s the right approach.They are not the only ones who will need to be persuaded. A committee of creditors that includes people in recovery or who have lost loved ones to overdoses must also agree. It was that group that proposed the $200 million relief fund after Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September 2019.The fund was inspired by one adopted last year in the case of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the giant California utility that landed in bankruptcy because of lawsuits blaming it for California wildfires.Neiger, who represents a committee of victims in the complicated legal battle, says the relief fund idea is so novel that it’s not even recognized by bankruptcy law but was accepted by federal bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain.The plan called for distributing money to groups trying to help people with addictions by providing shelter, connecting them to services and supplying overdose antidote drugs. It was left to parties in the case to work out the details.With disagreements on where the money should go and who should control it, that has not happened.In a statement read during a hearing in April, a group of lawyers said they were pausing talks on how to use the relief money while they focus on broader mediation about how Purdue’s assets will be used.The statement asserted that “despite the best intentions on all sides,” the players in the case had a “deeply held, fundamental difference in view" about the best use of the money. They said talking about it was straining efforts to figure out what to do with the billions that could ultimately flow from Purdue. They planned to revisit the issue later.Since then, the broader question of where settlement money would go was resolved through mediation. State and local governments agreed to put their full shares toward programs to alleviate the crisis. That's a significant development, but it does not bring the quick help called for with the $200 million fund. And there are no indications when the relief fund discussions will resume.Advocates for people with substance abuse disorders say local nonprofits could have used the money to assist more people immediately.“If you gave them a million dollars, they would be able to do so much more than if you just gave it to a state agency,” said Cichowicz, whose twin brother, Scott Zebrowski, fatally overdosed in 2017 on a counterfeit OxyContin pill containing fentanyl. The former gym manager was 38.Cichowicz, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, said her brother became addicted after being prescribed OxyContin for back pain in 2014.While the case plays out, the addiction problem only deepens. The U.S. had a record 71,000 overdose deaths last year, most of them from opioids. Preliminary data shows an even higher death toll is likely this year. Experts say that could be in part because of the loss of in-person counselling during the coronavirus pandemic.Brandon George, director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, said the pandemic has taken almost all the energy of county health departments and left local recovery organizations to distribute naloxone, an overdose antidote. He expects mental health services to be cut as state and local tax revenue decreases.George said he never expected the Purdue relief fund to get money to groups quickly, but it might have made a difference.“That money certainly could have been put to good use,” he said. “Right now, our health care systems are very strained.”___Mulvihill reported from Davenport, Iowa. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill.Geoff Mulvihill, The Associated Press
A snowmobiler got more than he bargained for when he ventured away from his friends in search of new terrain while out in the Yanks Peak area two Sundays ago. He took the detour without telling anyone and without a shovel. He paid for it by spending the night and much of the next day out in the wilderness. "He got really stuck," said Dave Merritt of Prince George Search and Rescue. "He got stuck multiple times, he just couldn't get himself out without a shovel." Merritt said search and rescue volunteers were originally called out to look for another member of the party of about 15-20 enthusiasts. By the time the searchers had shown up, that subject had made his way back to the parking lot at the entrance to the popular snowmobiling area south of Wells after spending a few hours extracting his sled from a tree well. But by then, the party had realized one other person remained unaccounted for. Volunteers from three search and rescue organizations plus members of the Wells Snowmobile Club and a couple of the missing man's friends participated in the search. Prince George SAR was called in because it has the skills to search in avalanche terrain. The second man was "cold and tired" but otherwise OK when he was spotted by a helicopter shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday. "We probably would've found him another hour and a half later by sled but the weather had lifted enough that we were able to spot him a little faster and get him home a little quicker," Merritt said. "We had maybe another 20 minutes and the helicopter would've had to go back to Prince George because of the darkness." Cell service in the area is spotty and neither snowmobiler had radios or satellite communication devices, Merritt said. The one who spent the night outside was also without fire starter and material to build a shelter. Merritt urged outdoor enthusiasts to check the AdventureSmart website for advice on being prepared in case something goes wrong. "The group did everything right once they realized somebody was missing," Merritt added. "They initiated all the proper procedures."Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Investigators with the 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau are seeking witnesses and two suspects following the attempted theft of a puppy from a commuter parking lot in the Township of King. On Nov. 18 at approximately 4 p.m., York Regional Police were called to a commuter parking lot at Highway 400 and Highway 9 for a report of an attempted theft. When officers arrived they found the victim, a 54-year-old female from the City of Barrie and her puppy, who were not injured. Investigators learned that the victim had advertised two puppies for sale online. She had arranged to meet potential buyers in the commuter lot. After the sale of one of the puppies without incident, two men approached the victim driving an older model white Honda Civic. One of the men assaulted the victim, grabbed the puppy, who was in a carrier, and attempted to flee. The victim chased the suspects who eventually threw the puppy out the window of the vehicle and drove away. Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area at the time and witnessed the incident or anyone with dashcam to please come forward. One suspect is described as male, South Asian, approximately 20 years old, 5’8.” He was wearing a black face mask, black scarf and green track pants. The other suspect is described as male, South Asian, wearing a face mask. Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7142 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
NEW YORK — “No New ‘Movies’ Till Influenza Ends” blared a New York Times headline on Oct. 10, 1918, while the deadly second wave of the Spanish Flu was unfolding.A century later, during another pandemic, movies — quotes no longer necessary — are again facing a critical juncture. But it’s not because new films haven’t been coming out. By streaming service, video-on-demand, virtual theatre or actual theatre, a steady diet of films have been released under COVID-19 every week. The Times has reviewed more than 460 new movies since mid-March.Yet until recently — with only a few exceptions — those haven’t been the big-budget spectacles Hollywood runs on. Eight months into the pandemic, that’s changing. Last month, the Walt Disney Co. experimented with the $200 million “Mulan” as a premium buy on its fast-growing streaming service, Disney+ — where the Pixar film “Soul” will also go on Dec. 25. WarnerMedia last week announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” — a movie that might have made $1 billion at the box office in a normal summer — will land in theatres and on HBO Max simultaneously next month.Much remains uncertain about how the movie business will survive the pandemic. But it’s increasingly clear that Hollywood won’t be the same afterward. Just as the Spanish Flu, which weeded out smaller companies and contributed to the formation of the studio system, COVID-19 is remaking Hollywood, accelerating a digital makeover and potentially reordering an industry that was already in flux.“I don’t think the genie will ever be back in the bottle,” says veteran producer Peter Guber, president of Mandalay Entertainment and former chief of Sony Pictures. “It will be a new studio system. Instead of MGM and Fox, they’re going to be Disney and Disney+, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, HBO Max and Peacock.”Many of the pivots in 2020 can be chalked up to the unusual circumstances. But several studios are making more long-term realignments around streaming. WarnerMedia, the AT&T conglomerate that owns Warner Bros. (founded in 1923), is now run by Jason Kilar, best known as the former chief executive of Hulu. Last month, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, the Robert Iger heir, announced a reorganization to emphasize streaming and “accelerate our direct-to-consumer business.”Universal Pictures, owned by Comcast, has pushed aggressively into video-on-demand. Its first major foray, “Trolls,” kicked up a feud with theatre owners. But as the pandemic wore on, Universal hatched unprecedented deals with AMC and Cinemark, the largest and third-largest chains, respectively, to dramatically shorten the traditional theatrical window (usually about three months) to just 17 days. After that time, Universal can move releases that don’t reach certain box-office thresholds to digital rental.While the nation’s second largest theatre chain, Regal Cinemas, has resisted such deals, there’s widespread acknowledgement that the days of 90-day theatrical runs are over. It’s something the studios have long sought for the potential benefit of covering both platforms with one marketing campaign. Many see the pandemic as accelerating a decades-long trend.“Windows are clearly changing,” says Chris Aronson, distribution chief for Paramount Pictures. “All this stuff that's going on now in the business was going to happen, the evolution is just happening faster than it would have. What would have taken three to five years is going to be done in a year, maybe a year and a half.”That condensed period of rapid change is happening at the same time as a land rush for streaming market share, as Disney+, HBO Max, Apple and Peacock wrestle for a piece of the home viewing audience dominated by Netflix and Amazon. With theme parks struggling and worldwide box office down tens of billions, streaming is a bright spot for media companies, and the pandemic may offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lure subscribers. “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Soul” are essentially very expensive advertisements for those streaming services.Each studio, depending on their corporate ownership and streaming positioning, is taking a different approach. Paramount, like Sony Pictures, doesn’t have a streaming service to offload films to. Both have held back their tentpole releases while selling more midsized films to streamers. For Paramount, “A Quiet Place: Part II,” “Top Gun Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7” are waiting for 2021 while “The Trial of the Chicago 7” fetched a reported $56 million from Netflix and Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America 2” went to Amazon Prime Video for a reported $125 million.HBO Max has had a bumpier rollout than Disney+, so “Wonder Woman 1984” is an especially critical gambit for WarnerMedia following the audacious release of “Tenet.” As the first tentpole to test theatres reopened with safety protocols and reduced capacities, it has made about $350 million worldwide -- a lot considering everything but far less than originally hoped for. Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson called the “Wonder Woman” plans — which include rolling theatrical runs in China, Europe and elsewhere — “a grand experiment that could have-lasting implications if successful.”Director Patty Jenkins acknowledged the simultaneous release was a kind of sacrifice, not just to HBO Max but to families stuck at home. “At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” Jenkins wrote on Twitter.It can be easy to cheer such moves, even if their financial performance remain cloudy (no studio has been transparent about its viewership numbers or digital grosses) and their long-term viability uncertain. Can you replicate $1 billion in box office in new subscriptions? And for how long will the one-time bounce of a new movie (unlike a series staggered over weeks or months) drive subscribers once streaming services are closer to tapping as many homes as they can?“The whole thing is more complicated than people want it to be,” says Ira Deutchman, the veteran independent film producer and Columbia University professor. “The way movies are made and distributed, certainly at the studio level, has been really in need of change and hopefully this will bring it on. But when people hear that, it’s like: The pandemic is the straw that broke the camel’s back and now theatrical is dead. I personally feel that’s garbage.”Deutchman considers the idea that people, after a year of quarantines and lockdowns, won’t want to leave their living room “ludicrous.” But he does imagine continued mergers and acquisitions, and “a new equilibrium” for distributors and theatre owners.So what could that mean on the other side of COVID, if moviegoers are once again comfortable sitting in packed theatres on opening weekend? It will almost certainly mean the months-long runs of films like “Titanic” or “Get Out” are a thing of the past. It could mean variable pricing on different nights. It could mean an even greater division between the franchise films of the multiplex and the boutique art house, with everything in between going straight to streaming.But after decades of slow but steady decline in attendance, most think movie theatres will have to innovate in a way other than raising ticket prices.“The outlook is pretty dire in terms of being a major theatrical exhibitor,” says Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. He imagines shortened windows will mean few films — even the Marvel releases — ascending to $1 billion in worldwide box office. He can see some studios, like Disney, operating their own theatres as “mini-theme parks” with merchandising stuffing the lobbies.In the meantime, theatres are hoping for much-needed relief from Congress. With the virus surging, about 40% of U.S. theatres are open; in New York and Los Angeles, they’ve stayed shut since March. Chains have taken on loans to stay afloat and avert bankruptcy. Cineworld, owner of Regal Cinemas (currently entirely closed) on Monday announced a deal for a $450 million rescue loan.It will be a very different holiday season — usually the most lucrative corridor in theatres — for the movie business. How different 2021 and beyond will be remains to be seen. Some things, though, may never change.“If you’re going to be in this business, no matter what you do or where it plays, whether it’s streaming or in cinemas, you’re going to make hits and you’re going to make flops," says Guber. "The idea is to make more hits than flops.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press