WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Venezuela's opposition is discussing scaling back the interim government of opposition leader Juan Guaido that has won diplomatic recognition by dozens of countries that disavowed President Nicolas Maduro, nine legislators told Reuters. Guaido, the leader of Venezuela's opposition-controlled parliament, in 2019 called Maduro a usurper following his disputed re-election and assumed a parallel presidency based on articles of the constitution that make the head of the National Assembly next in line to rule the country. Guaido's lawmaker allies have said they will continue to insist that they are legitimate parliamentarians after Jan. 5, arguing that their constitutional mandate remains intact because Sunday's vote is rigged.
The recommended quarantine time for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case is being reduced by up to a week in the United States, but while some of Canada's health experts say a similar approach could be useful here, others aren't so sure.The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday it had shortened the recommended length of quarantine after exposure from 14 days to 10 — or seven days with a negative test result.Health Canada was still recommending a 14-day quarantine period as of Wednesday, but Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University, says cutting that time in half would be beneficial."It would be super important for the sake of incentivizing people to actually quarantine after exposure," he said. "And there's a lot of different things that could theoretically open up — getting health-care workers back to work, getting kids back to school — a lot of ways where this could ease the burden of potential exposure in society."The CDC had previously said the incubation period for the COVID virus could extend to 14 days, but the organization now says most people become infectious and develop symptoms between four and five days after exposure.Chagla says the 14-day window was likely inspired from SARS data, where the incubation period was longer.While isolation and quarantine are sometimes used interchangeably, Chagla says there's a difference in the terms. Isolation is for those who have tested positive, while quarantine is for people who may or may not actually have the virus, like close contacts of positive cases or those travelling into Canada. Isolation recommendations for positive cases vary, but are typically 10 days after symptom onset. Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says a change in quarantine guidance reflects our evolving understanding of COVID-19."If you're exposed, it takes a couple days for you to become infectious, so (seven to 10 days) should be enough to tell whether you've got the virus," Tuite said. "But of course, that's assuming your experience is reflective of the typical course of infection."The key to the CDC's new guidance for Tuite is having the option to end quarantine at seven days with a negative test result. She suspects that's in place to stop people who have the virus but no symptoms from ending the quarantine period too early. A positive test at Day 7 would mean that person should continue to isolate, Tuite said, while a negative result would mean they could safely end quarantine, knowing enough time has passed since exposure to confidently assume they won't still get sick.Dr. Don Sheppard, the founder and director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), says the CDC's plan makes sense scientifically, but there would be logistical issues in testing every COVID contact in Canada who wanted to end their quarantine at Day 7."It's impossible to do that," he said. "It's either 14 days of proper isolation, or it's seven days with a negative test, and right now our system cannot offer seven days plus testing to the public at large."Testing capacity does exist in certain situations, Sheppard said, like for health-care workers and other front-line staff that need a quicker quarantine to get back to work. He cautioned, however, that taking a test on Day 7 still means isolating for an extra day or two while awaiting results.Quarantine also needs to be done solo in order to work, Sheppard added, warning that the CDC guidance isn't meant as a loophole for holiday gatherings if your family isolates together for seven days before an event.He used an example of military recruits in the U.S. who were told to quarantine for 14 days before reporting to camp. A handful of positive tests (0.9 per cent) were caught upon arrival, suggesting true quarantine hadn't been followed. Those recruits were sent home while the rest underwent another group quarantine. When tested again two weeks later, the positivity rate had grown to 1.3 per cent."Why? Because there were people incubating and they turned positive. And those people infected others in their groups," Sheppard said. "So if you don't do strict, single-person isolation, you don't actually break the cycle of transmission, you just pass it around in your group."Tuite says that further illustrates the usefulness of a shortened quarantine period. A mother with young children, or someone who shares a small apartment with another person will find it harder to properly quarantine for longer periods, she said, as will someone who can't afford to take a full two weeks off work."It really comes down to having the means to do it," she said. "Can you survive for two weeks if you're not getting income? Can you isolate in a household with multiple people? "We need to have support in place so that people can quarantine, and that doesn't change whether it's for a week or 14 days. But it becomes much more challenging when it's for longer periods." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Hamilton's Forge FC is headed to Honduras for another attempt to secure a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the confederation's top-tier club competition.The Canadian Premier League champion plays CD Marathon in a play-in match next week. Both teams lost their quarterfinals Tuesday in the CONCACAF League, a 22-team feeder tournament that sends six teams to the elite Champions League.Date and venue in Honduras have yet to be announced.Forge lost a penalty shootout to Haiti's Arcahei FC following a 1-1 tie in regulation time in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Marathon was beaten 2-0 by Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa, the defending CONCACAF League champion, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.Marathon will be a formidable opponent. Founded in 1925, it currently tops its group in the Honduran Premier Division at 7-3-2. Forge, meanwhile, has played just three times since winning the Island Games, which represented the CPL's truncated season, on Sept. 19 in Charlottetown.Forge, which has already posted road victories in Panama and El Salvador in its tournament run, is bidding to become the first CPL team to qualify for the Champions League. Marathon reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2009 and 2010.The four CONCACAF League quarterfinal winners qualify directly for the Champions League while the losing quarterfinalists compete in single-leg play-in games with the two winners also qualifying.The other play-in match will feature the losers of Wednesday's two remaining CONCACAF League quarterfinals: Costa Rica's Alajuelense versus Nicaragua's Real Esteli FC and Olimpia versus fellow Honduran side Motagua.Forge will also have a crack at Champions League qualification via the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC, slated for the first quarter of 2021.There is no word yet on what happens to the Champions League berth on offer in the Canadian Championship final if Forge wins in Honduras next week."CONCACAF remains in discussions with Canada Soccer and will provide an update in due course," a CONCACAF spokesman said.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
The largestbattery-poweredelectric bus fleet in North America is Canadian. Toronto's transit system is now running 59 electric buses from three suppliers. And Canadian pioneers such as Toronto offer lessons for other transit systems aiming to transition to greener fleets for the low-carbon economy of the future.Diesel buses are some of the noisier, more polluting vehicles on urban roads. Going electric could have big benefits.Emissions reductions are the main reason the federal government aims to add 5,000 electric buses to Canada's transit and school fleets by the end of 2024. New funding announced this week as part of the government's fall fiscal update could also give programs to electrify transit systems a boost."You are seeing huge movement towards all-electric," said Bem Case, the Toronto Transit Commission's head of vehicle programs. "I think all of the transit agencies are starting to see what we're seeing ... the broader benefits."While Vancouver has been running electric trolley buses (more than 200, in fact), many cities (including Vancouver) are now switching their diesel buses to battery-powered buses that don't require overhead wires and can run on regular bus routes.The TTC got approval from its board to buy its first 30 electric buses in November 2017. Its plan is to have a zero-emissions fleet by 2040.That's a crucial part of Toronto's plan to meet its 2050 greenhouse gas targets, which requires 100 per cent of vehicles to transition to low-carbon energy by then.But Case said the transition can't happen overnight. Finding the right busFor one thing, just finding the right bus isn't easy."There's no bus, by any manufacturer, that's been in service for the entire life of a bus, which is 12 years," Case said."And so really, until then, we don't have enough experience, nor does anyone else in the industry, have enough experience to commit to an all-electric fleet immediately."In fact, Case said, there are only three manufacturers that make suitable long-range buses — the kind needed in a city the size of Toronto.Having never bought electric buses before, the city had no specifications for what it needed in an electric bus, so it decided to try all three suppliers: Winnipeg-based New Flyer; BYD, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China, but built the TTC buses at its Newmarket, Ont. facility; and California-based Proterra.They all had their strengths and weaknesses, based on their backgrounds as a traditional non-electric bus manufacturer, a battery maker and a vehicle technology and design startup, respectively."Each bus type has its own potential challenges." Case said all three manufacturers are working to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.Infrastructure installationBut the biggest challenge of all, Case said, is getting the infrastructure in place. "There's no playbook, really, for implementing charging infrastructure," he said.Each bus type needed their own chargers, in some cases using different types of current. Each type has been installed in a different garage in partnership with local utility Toronto Hydro.Buying and installing them represented about $70 million, or about half the cost of acquiring Toronto's first 60 electric buses. The $140 million project was funded by the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.Case said it takes about three hours to charge a battery that has been fully depleted. To maximize use of the bus, it's typically put on a long route in the morning, covering 200 to 250 kilometres. Then it's partially charged and put on a shorter run in the late afternoon."That way we get as much mileage on the buses as we can."Cost and reliability?Besides the infrastructure cost of chargers, each electric bus can cost $200,000 to $500,000 more per bus than an average $750,000 diesel bus. Case acknowledges that is "significantly" more expensive, but it is offset by fuel savings over time, as electricity costs are cheaper. Because the electric buses have fewer parts than diesel buses, maintenance costs are also about 25 per cent lower and the buses are expected to be more reliable.As with many new technologies, the cost of electric buses is also falling over time.Case expects they will eventually get to the point where the total life-cycle cost of an electric and a diesel bus are comparable, and the electric bus may even save money in the long run.All-weather testing neededAs of this fall, all but one of the 60 new electric buses have been put into service. The last one is expected to hit the road in early December.Summer testing showed that air conditioning the buses reduced the battery capacity by about 15 per cent. But the TTC needs to see how much of the battery capacity is consumed by heating in winter, at least when the temperature is above 5 C. Below that, a diesel-powered heater kicks in.Once testing is complete, the TTC plans to develop specifications for its electric bus fleet and order 300 more in 2023, for delivery between 2023 and 2025.Potential benefitsEven with some diesel heating, the TTC estimates electric buses reduce fuel usage by 70 to 80 per cent. If its whole fleet were switched to electric buses, it could save $50 million to $70 million in fuel a year and 150 tonnes of greenhouse gases per bus per year, or 340,000 tonnes for the entire fleet.Other than greenhouse gases, electric buses also generate fewer emissions of other pollutants. They're also quieter, creating a more comfortable urban environment for pedestrians and cyclists.But the benefits could potentially go far beyond the local city."If the public agencies start electrifying their fleet and their service is very demanding, I think they'll demonstrate to the broader transportation industry that it is possible," Case said."And that's where you'll get the real gains for the environment."Alex Milovanoff, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Toronto's department of civil engineering, did a study that suggested electrified transit has a crucial role to play in the low-carbon economy of the future.His calculations show that 90 per cent of U.S. passenger vehicles — 300 million — would need to be electric by 2050 to reach targets under the global Paris Agreement to fight climate change.And that would put a huge strain on resources, including both the mining of metals, such as lithium and cobalt, that are used in electric vehicle batteries and the electrical grid itself.A better solution, he showed, was combining the transition to electric vehicles with a reduction in the number of private vehicles, and higher usage of transit, cycling and walking."Then that becomes a feasible picture," he said.What's needed to make the transitionBut in order to make that happen, governments need to make investments, he added.That includes subsidies for buying electric buses and building charging stations so transit agencies don't need to make fares too high. But it also includes more general improvements to the range and reliability of transit infrastructure."Electrifying the bus fleet is only efficient if we have a large public transit fleet and if we have many buses on the road and if people take them," Milovanoff said.In its fall economic update on Monday, the federal government announced $150 million over three years to speed up the installation of zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.Josipa Petrunic, CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium, a non-profit organization focused on zero-carbon mobility and transportation, said that in the past, similar funding has paid for high-powered charging systems for transit systems in B.C. and Ontario. But that's only a small part of what's needed, she said."Infrastructure Canada needs to come to the table with the cash for the buses and the whole rest of the system."She said funding is needed for: * Feasibility studies to figure out how many and what kinds of buses are needed for different routes in different transit systems. * Targets and incentives to motivate transit systems to make the switch. * Incentives to encourage Canadian procurement to build the industry in Canada. * Technology to collect and share data on the performance of electric vehicles so transit systems can make the best-possible decisions to meet the needs of their riders.Petrunic said that a positive side-effect of electrifying transit systems is that the infrastructure can support, in addition to buses, electric trucks for moving freight.So far, Petrunic said, Canada has about 120 battery electric buses on order and on the roads."It's not a lot given that we have 15,000 buses out there in the transit fleet," she said."But we should be able to get a lot further ahead if we match the city commitments to zero emissions with federal and provincial funding for jobs creating zero-emissions technologies."
Homelessness in Hythe and the possibility of establishing a shelter in the village have become hot topics in the wake of this year’s economic downturn. The Village of Hythe is requesting feedback ahead of proposed virtual town hall to discuss the issue. “This is the first time to my knowledge that we’ve really experienced the issue, so we’re looking at options for how to deal with it,” said mayor Brian Peterson. No date has yet been set for a virtual meeting, said Leona Hanson, village chief administrative officer. Peterson said he doesn’t believe homelessness is widespread in Hythe, but it poses a great problem to those directly affected. “It’s a small-scale problem, but with large impacts to individuals,” he said. Peterson said he doesn’t believe the number of homeless residents exceeds a half dozen. There is a combination of causes of local housing instability; COVID, falling oil prices and their impact on the economy, he said. The former 7 Lakes Motel near Tags had provided long-term housing for many people and its closure earlier this year has contributed to the issue. Some of the former residents have found other accommodations, but others haven’t, Peterson said. Though rumours have been circulating on social media that the former motel will be re-purposed as a homeless shelter, nothing concrete has been received by the village, said Peterson. A number of concerned citizens have begun discussing how to address homelessness in Hythe, and the idea of re-purposing the motel has been suggested, he said. The group isn’t yet well-established and it hasn’t yet proposed a plan, Peterson said. If the former motel were to be converted into a shelter the village would need to approve that re-purposing through a development permit process, he said. Village CAO Hanson is working on a potential virtual town hall before a plan is advanced, Peterson said, adding the village isn’t considering funding a facility because it lacks the resources. Peterson said there’ve been no applications for a development permit yet, but the process has typically taken months. Homelessness is an urgent issue, but he said the process needs to ensure a good plan for a shelter is in place. “You need to do it right, and ask, ‘Is it the right place?’” Peterson said. “The shelter is a basic concept, but I need a lot more information than that.” He said he’s heard concerns from residents about having a shelter in the community, including whether the village can handle issues often associated with homelessness, mental health and addictions. “Those are valid concerns, and how do you deal with that and what resources are available?” Peterson said. “We certainly don’t have those resources available here today.” That said, some Hythe residents are already struggling with housing instability and mental health or addictions and Peterson said he’s not aware of anyone moving to Hythe to use the shelter. Other residents have expressed concerns about the rising crime they perceive would come with a shelter. Peterson said RCMP response times in Hythe are already an issue. “Adding extra stress to the system is not a good thing,” he said. Before the town hall, feedback is being accepted at 780-356-3888 or firstname.lastname@example.org and residents can also express interest in attending the meeting by using that email address.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the priority list for the first COVID-19 vaccines is being refined because there won't be enough doses available in the first round to cover the initial groups recommended.
A report from an international organization that monitors global biodiversity says climate change is an immediate threat to one-third of all World Heritage Sites, including one in Canada's North. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says of 252 natural World Heritage Sites, 83 are threatened by climate change. The group's World Heritage Outlook 3 report, released Wednesday in Switzerland, says those sites include the Great Barrier Reef and locations ranging from South Africa to Brazil along with Kluane Lake in southwest Yukon. The report assigns a "critical" rating to the Great Barrier Reef for the first time, while it says the rapidly melting Kaskawulsh Glacier has changed the water flow into Kluane Lake, depleting fish populations. The study assesses threats to the protection and management of unique values within each World Heritage Site and finds 30 per cent face threats of "significant concern," while critical threats exist in seven per cent of the sites. The report says half of the sites have "effective" or "highly effective" protection and management, with sustainable funding being the most common issue rated as a serious concern. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is composed of government and private groups from 170 countries, including Canada, and spokesman Peter Shadie says it aims to ensure a "brighter future for nature's finest." "The findings of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 point to a dire need for adequate resources to manage our irreplaceable natural areas," he says in a statement. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 2, 2020. A Barrie Catholic elementary school is the latest to close a classroom after someone tested positive for COVID-19. St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School principal Rich Foshay sent a letter to parents Oct. 1 explaining the situation, without revealing if the infected person is a student or teacher. Foshay told parents the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit will determine who may be at risk and “ensure that school staff, families and students are provided with the appropriate information.” Foshay said he will send a voice message and email, on behalf of the health unit, to all individuals that need to take further steps as a result of this positive case. “If you do not receive a voice message and email directly, then your child is not part of the affected cohort,” his letter states. St. Catherine of Siena, located on Summerset Drive, is the sixth Simcoe Catholic elementary school to close at least one classroom due to a positive COVID case. “We all must work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a school community, we will pray for all those impacted by this virus and continue to demonstrate compassion and respect for one another as we navigate this situation,” Foshay said. The school will advise the health unit of any person who came in contact with the infected person, including in before and after-school care and on a school bus. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of all areas in the school where the person may have been has already taken place and will continue to be a priority, Foshay said. Visit the www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or contact Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or (toll free) 1-877-721-7520 ext. 5830 for more health-related information. Visit www.smcdsb.on.ca for details about the school reopening plan. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Libraries across the County of Grande Prairie and other enhanced-status areas of the province have been limited to 25 per cent capacity under provincial COVID restrictions since Friday. The three-week measures have resulted in event cancellations, but local libraries are continuing regular services. “There’s no social gatherings at this point,” said Sheryl Pelletier, Shannon Municipal Library director in Sexsmith. “Socially-distanced rhymes,” an in-person family activity program, was cancelled a few weeks ago, Pelletier added. With Shannon Municipal Library having a capacity of 40 people, the restrictions set a limit of six people plus three staff in the library at a time, she said. She said in previous years the library has drawn in approximately 30 people at a time, as families gathered for movie nights. The library has curbside pickup but patrons can also come into the library as long as they’re wearing masks, Pelletier said. Meanwhile, Beaverlodge Public Library is largely unaffected by the new restrictions, but the annual artisan fair has been cancelled. “We’ve had a mask policy in place, people sanitizing and entrance by doorbell,” said library manager Tracy Deets. Before the restrictions, patrons largely preferred curbside pickups, so the 25-per cent capacity limit isn’t a problem, she said. The limited capacity means the library could accommodate approximately 30 people, which the library rarely sees at a single time, Deets said. Conversely, the artisan fair attracts an average of 250 people, she said. The fair is a one-day event rather than a regular market and as such had to be cancelled this year, Deets said. The library planned to have the artisan fair this Saturday. While the vendors won’t be at the library for a single event, Deets said the library is planning to have their goods on display and available for purchase over several days, up to Dec. 9. As well, the library will still be open Saturday, but as a regular service day, she said. The library also has a North Pole Postal Depot at the front desk where children who wrote to Santa can pick up their replies. Elmworth Community Library is allowing only two individuals or one cohort in at a time to satisfy protocols, said Michelle Gillis, library co-ordinator. “We continue to offer and encourage curbside pickup and private appointments,” Gillis said. Hythe Public Library is open and can accommodate eight patrons at a time, with visitors asked to wear masks, according to the library. Meanwhile, Wembley Public Library is generally closed to visitors and focusing on delivery and pick-ups, said library manager Anna Underwood.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
NEW YORK — Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Mariah Carey is already orchestrating her dinner menu.“I do my father’s linguini with white clam sauce every Christmas Eve,” says the legendary songstress. “Then we do that traditional, more of a Southern-style Christmas dinner.”But is the woman known for her grandeur nearly as much as her 19 No. 1 hits really going to sweat over a hot stove?“I do so with the help of several sous-chefs,” Carey said with a laugh, before noting like many families around the world, she’ll scale back Christmas slightly due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I am going to have to have maybe one person helping me and then we’ll figure it out. We’re making it through the holidays.”Helping others get in the holiday spirit is part of the legacy of her iconic holiday tune, “All I Want For Christmas is You.” But the Christmas chanteuse will soon gift the world with a new present: the Apple TV+ event “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special.” Carey hopes to provide some Christmas cheer during a time some may need it more than ever.“(Apple TV+) was able to help realize this dream of really doing something special and spectacular and not having … a regular concert,” said Carey. “During COVID, people made magic happen with this … it feels like another very big, historic kind of a moment.”After “All I Want for Christmas” historically hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during its 25th anniversary last year, Carey says the idea of a special was sparked just a couple of months later.Starring Carey and narrated by actor-comedian Tiffany Haddish, the production centres around a holiday cheer crisis, with Santa’s friend Mariah coming to save the day. Premiering Friday, performers include Ariana Grande, Snoop Dogg, Misty Copeland, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Eichner and more. Carey's nine-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, also join in the festivities.“Magical Christmas Special” is another example of diverse, family-friendly holiday programming that hasn’t always been allotted by Hollywood. But productions like this, along with others such as the John Legend-produced “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” signals a promising shift. It’s of particular significance this year after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery sparked global social justice protests, attempting to force America to again reckon with its racist history.“Representation was really not there very much growing up, and I think that contributed to the way that I felt because I always loved Christmas,” 50-year-old Carey said. “As a kid, if I had to select one holiday, of course I’m going with Christmas. So, I tried to make it inclusive and I think everybody involved with the project did.”If the “Magical Christmas Special” wasn’t benevolent enough, the five-time Grammy winner is also releasing a companion soundtrack with new song interpretations. And while the pandemic has halted a number of projects, 2020 has been busy for Carey: In September she released her candid memoir “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” which debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times list of non-fiction bestsellers. And later that week she dropped “The Rarities,” an album filled with unreleased songs and B-side cuts.Carey said though she's grateful for her awesome year, she has one Christmas wish — especially during a time when political partisanship in America is as fractured as anyone can remember.“I would hope that we can feel less divided. It’s really sad, but it’s not new — it’s just more in people’s face right now,” said Carey. “All I can do in my own little way is do what I’m doing right now with music and specifically with this Christmas special, because … it’s a gift to me. I’m thankful this has happened — this is probably the biggest gift I’ve had for Christmas in years.”_____Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at twitter.com/GaryGHamiltonGary Gerard Hamilton, The Associated Press
Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) are headed to Naujaat, Nunavut, to look into why a Calm Air cargo plane went off the runway in that community last week.No injuries were reported in the incident.In a statement posted to Calm Air International's Facebook page last Thursday, the company said one of its cargo planes left the runway that afternoon.It said crew members were receiving medical evaluations, but did not offer any other details about the incident.A report earlier this week from Transport Canada's Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS) said there were three people on board, and the aircraft "sustained significant damage."In a news release on Wednesday, the TSB said it was deploying a team of investigators to Naujaat, to "gather information and assess the occurrence."
More small- and medium-sized businesses will be able to apply for a provincial grant under a recently extended program. Applications for the small and medium enterprise (SME) relaunch grant were due last week but a second round of applications will now be available until March 31, according to the Alberta government. “A lot of our small- and medium-sized businesses have taken advantage of (the grant),” said Larry Gibson, Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce chairperson. Gibson said the chamber has heard from approximately a half-dozen businesses that have applied since the program was introduced in June, including a couple near Clairmont. The SME relaunch grant benefits businesses, co-operatives and non-profits that have experienced significant revenue loss during the pandemic. The SME grant is for 15 per cent of the business’ pre-COVID monthly revenue, or a maximum of $5,000, said Justin Brattinga, Jobs, Economy and Innovation department press secretary. “Five thousand dollars doesn’t go far these days, but it is a helpful program when you’re looking at added expenses,” Gibson said. “Most of the (local businesses) are using the grant to offset some of the extra costs, in plexiglass shields, the masks and sanitization.” Gibson said Grande Prairie-area businesses that have shown interest in the grant represent a variety of sectors, including retail, small manufacturing organizations and the restaurant and hospitality industries. To qualify, a business must have fewer than 500 employees and be affected by provincial restrictions, or have revenue losses of 40 per cent, according to the Alberta government. Initially, the SME grant required the business to have revenue losses of 50 per cent, a threshold lowered to 40 per cent retroactively to March, Brattinga said. The lowered threshold will enable thousands of more businesses across the province to benefit, he said. The chamber observed many small- and medium-sized businesses experience losses in the range of 40 and 50 per cent between April and May, Gibson said. The new funding is available to businesses in enhanced-status areas of the province, such as the city and county of Grande Prairie and the municipalities within the county.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Schools across Nova Scotia will be getting new touchless water stations and extra school supplies, as well as money to test drive new online math, language and literacy programs.Teachers, students and staff will also receive new face masks and have access to more personal protective equipment as part of a spending spree to use up almost all of the almost $48 million promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last August.Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill laid out his department's shopping list during a virtual news conference Wednesday from the Tri-County Regional Centre of Education office in Yarmouth."Today I am pleased to announce the province is providing $14.3 million to our students and staff for well-being and learning," he told reporters.That spending includes: * $4.1M to pilot new online math and literacy programs * $3.8M for 950 touchless water stations in every school * $2.7M for additional inspections to ventilation systems and needed repairs * $1.5M for breakfast and lunch programs or for food deliveries if schools are closed * $1.5M for personal protective equipment * $700,00 to move furniture and supplies if students need to change schools as part of blended learningIn August, Trudeau announced the creation of a $2 billion Safe Return to Class Fund. Nova Scotia was promised almost $48 million from the fund to "ensure a safe return to school and (to) protect the health of students and staff."The Nova Scotia government has announced where all but $6 million of that money has been or will be spent. Churchill is holding back the remaining money in case it's needed down the road."We do have approximately six million left that we're going to deploy in areas that we believe are necessary moving forward, but we don't just want to spend it all," he said. "There's nothing to spend it on."We want to respond to issues that are emerging as challenges that we want to deal with, and having some additional resources in place to do that, I think is a wise thing to do."On Nov. 23, Churchill announced the purchase of 32,000 Chromebooks to go home with students if they are forced to move to online learning. That $21.5 million expenditure is from the fund. So too is the $5.5 million announced Nov. 3 to hire cleaning staff and buy supplies so that school gyms could reopen to community groups and sports teams.Although the province was ready Wednesday to announce the purchase of 950 water stations, Churchill was unable to provide a timeline for when they might be installed."That's going to be managed at the regional level so I don't have a schedule on which schools are going to be done (and) when, but the work on this will commence immediately," he said.The $1.5 million earmarked for school breakfast and lunch programs will be used to meet the increased demand for both programs, as well as for food hampers or to but grocery gift cards if students are sent home again if COVID infection rates warrant the closure of schools.Deanna Rawding, principal at West Northfield Elementary School near Bridgewater, said her school has seen an increase in demand for both its free breakfasts and its equity meal program, which offers a free lunch to students who cannot afford to pay for it."I've seen an increase in need ... because we had some families that lost jobs due to COVID or were unable to get the hours they needed to support their family," said Rawding.She said the extra funds to be able to continue to help those students would make a difference in the classroom."That makes them feel good and that makes them better learners throughout the day," she said.MORE TOP STORIES
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 8, 2020 Barrie police has released an artist’s rendition of a sexual assault suspect and created a dedicated tip line. Investigators are looking for any information in connection with sexual assault in Hurst Park on Oct. 1 between 9 and 10 p.m. The tip line is 705-728-5629. Police say a woman was walking her dog in the park located at Hurst Drive near Pert Court when she was attacked by a male stranger. Police are releasing few details, including whether the victim was physically injured. Officers have already done a door-to-door canvas of the immediate neighbourhood looking for information. The suspect is described as: • A white male between the ages of 16 and 26, about 5-feet, 8 inches tall, with a slim build and shaved blond hair. • Wearing an Under Armour top of unknown colour. Anyone with information is asked to call 705-728-5629 or 705-725-7025, ext. 2700, send an email to email@example.com, by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
LONDON, Ont. — Police have charged a woman who they allege was posing as a personal support worker or cleaner in order to steal from clients in London, Ont. Local police allege she took debit cards, credit cards and cash from homes she gained access to. Investigators say numerous elderly people complained about the incidents between June and November, and officers identified a suspect using surveillance video of the cards being used. Police say a 35-year-old woman was arrested on Tuesday and charged with four counts each of fraud under $5,000, theft under $5,000 and possession of proceeds obtained by crime. She was also charged with three counts of break-and-enter. Police say the woman remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
’Tis the season of great Aubrey Plaza performances, apparently. The “Parks and Recreation” and “Legion” alum has been long overdue for a breakout film role, something fitting of her wide-ranging talent and more imaginative than just relying on her quirky deadpan and eye rolls.She’s been excellent before as a motivated teen in “The To Do List” and an empathetic social media stalker in “Ingrid Goes West” but the bigger studio comedies have largely failed her. Something finally clicked into place, though, and she has proven that she is on another level. And no, I’m not just talking about her effortlessly cool “Happiest Season” character, a side-player who became a social media favourite simply by existing.The movie is “ Black Bear,” a meta thriller about moviemaking, creativity and ego from writer-director Lawrence Michael Levine that debuted earlier this year at Sundance and is the kind of indie that can so easily get lost just because it is never going to be an Oscar contender. It also has the misfortune of being enormously tricky to describe coherently or satisfyingly: It essentially becomes a different movie halfway through. But even though it is purposefully disorienting and occasionally a little too heightened, it is never not interesting and keeps you rapt with its captivating performances, revealing dialogue and moody, lo-fi style.In the first section, Plaza plays Allison, an actor turned filmmaker who has decided to escape to a bed and breakfast in the woods on a lake to work on her next screenplay. Her movies, she says, are the small, unsuccessful ones that no one likes. And she quit acting because she was difficult or not pretty enough or, more likely, some other reason she would rather not admit to herself much less a stranger whose property she’s renting.The cabin is maintained by a young, pretty couple Gabe (Christopher Abbott), a musician, and Blair (Sarah Gadon), a dancer, who are expecting their first child. Their struggling artist life in Brooklyn was too expensive and unsuccessful to continue and they’re trying on the rustic life for a change. Although, like an unhappy couple who have been isolated for too long, the cracks are starting to show.The first act unravels like a play. The three have a long, wine-fueled dinner talking, bickering and provoking one another to the breaking point and beyond. Allison is sarcastic, evasive and quippy and finds herself allying with Gabe much to the distress of the much more direct and sincere Blair. Gabe is a very particular kind of millennial male whose artistic temperament, dismissive intellect and sensitive posturing make for a toxic combination — a theme which carries over into the second part of the film to explosive results. It’s cringey and enthralling as the three dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes and you begin to wish for any kind of release.Perhaps that’s part of the reason why “Black Bear” cuts to black and restarts with a different premise but similar themes. Gadon and Abbott are darkly excellent as they playfully skewer the worst kind of egos in their industry. And it’s here where Plaza, as actor Allison, gets some real showstopper moments within the stereotypical construct of a desperately insecure, jealous and dangerously method female lead. It’s reminiscent of and probably inspired by Gena Rowlands and puts Plaza in a different class.The film itself might not wrap up in any sort of tidy or satisfying way, but nothing leading up to the conclusion would lead you to expect something so basic.“Black Bear,” a Momentum Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity.” Running time: 104 minutes. Three stars out of four.___MPAA Definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.___Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
A federal appeals court said on Wednesday it will hear oral arguments on Dec. 14 on the government's appeal of an order that blocked a ban on Apple Inc and Alphabet’s Google offering TikTok for download in U.S. app stores. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington on Sept. 27 blocked the Commerce Department order hours before it was to prohibit new downloads of the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app. The appeals panel consists of Judge Judith Rogers, Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins.
Saying federal aid promised for the tourism industry is missing key items, P.E.I. Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay says he will have programs to fill some of those gaps next month.Earlier this week federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland provided an update on how the federal government plans to cope with the ongoing pandemic, and part of that was low-interest loans that operators in the tourism industry would qualify for."There's still a lot of details that we don't know yet," MacKay told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.He said he expects to hear more on the next national ministers call, but he does not expect to hear everything he would like."There's certainly some things that we've been advocating for that just aren't in this," he said."We plan to fill some of these gaps and roll them out in early January."Corryn Clemence, executive director of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., said loan programs won't be enough for many operators."We certainly have quite a few of our small business operators who already have a big debt load," said Clemence."With the uncertainty of … the industry in the next 12 months there's a fear and a hesitation on taking additional debt load."Looking aheadThe 2020 tourism season saw business cut by more than half compared to 2019.There had been hopes that the opening of the Atlantic bubble might be an opportunity to salvage something of the season — New Brunswick and Nova Scotia accounted for 60 per cent of the market in 2019 — but Maritimers did not take advantage of the open border.While vaccine rollout is expected early in the new year, MacKay does not expect a full recovery in 2021. He does, however, believe the province can do a better job of marketing to the Maritimes."We know the Atlantic bubble can work," he said."We feel we can utilize that better than we did. By the time we rolled that out and got going it was July 1st. We've had numerous months now to plan for next year."P.E.I. has positioned itself as a safe destination, and that should help take advantage of any opportunities that do exist for the coming season, he said.More from CBC P.E.I.
La ferme de la Borderie, de Saint-Joseph-de-Kamouraska, a obtenu un droit que demandent bien des petits éleveurs de poulet en circuit court au Québec : dès l’an prochain, elle pourra produire 2000 coqs à chair, au lieu des 300 habituellement autorisés aux fermiers qui ne disposent pas d’un quota délivré par les Éleveurs de volailles du Québec (EVQ), une fédération de l’Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA). Vendredi dernier, un tirage au sort avait en effet lieu pour déterminer qui seraient les 10 premiers participants d’un projet pilote d’une durée de cinq ans mis en place par les EVQ. Celui-ci vise à augmenter l’offre de poulets fermiers en circuit court (vendus à la ferme ou dans des marchés publics), qui sont très en demande ces dernières années. La Borderie a été l’unique ferme de l’Est-du-Québec à être tirée. La chance n’est cependant pas la seule responsable du succès de cette entreprise toute jeune, officiellement lancée cette année : le copropriétaire Clément Clerc a dû monter un gros dossier de pas moins de 45 pages pour démonter son sérieux. « Il faut que tu soumettes ton plan d’affaires, ton plan d’investissement pour cinq ans, tes revenus anticipés, explique-t-il. Il faut aussi que tu connaisses tous tes prix de revient, tous tes frais fixes, et que tu aies un plan marketing pour la mise en marché. C’est très détaillé. Heureusement, j’avais anticipé en prenant beaucoup de notes de tout ce que j’ai fait dans les derniers mois. » Une autre section importante concerne la salubrité à la ferme. Les petits producteurs qui participent au projet pilote vont devoir se plier à des normes proches de celles de l’industrie. Il leur faut notamment consigner à peu près toutes leurs actions dans des registres, éviter toute forme de contamination avec d’autres espèces (en changeant par exemple de bottes quand on va voir ses canards) et ne pas laisser n’importe qui se promener dans certaines zones de la ferme. « Pour quelqu’un qui est un peu rigoureux ce n’est rien d’insurmontable », tempère Clément Clerc. Mais toutes ces exigences expliquent probablement qu’il y a eu assez peu de candidatures au projet pilote, à peine 29 pour l’ensemble de la province. Un poulet unique Le produit final sera toutefois bien différent de ce que proposent les immenses poulaillers industriels qui engraissent des milliers de poulets en cinq semaines, sans que ceux-ci ne voient le jour. La Borderie veut élever ses poulets pendant 11 à 12 semaines en parcours libre à l’extérieur, et les nourrir avec des céréales entières certifiées bio. Lorsque les volailles rentreront dans le poulailler, leur densité respectera les normes de bien-être animal de l’agriculture biologique. Pour la première année, Clément Clerc va se contenter de 1000 poulets, ce qui ne changera pas tellement sa routine : il fera trois lots de 350 volailles, plutôt qu’un seul de 300 actuellement. Ensuite, il entend construire un deuxième poulailler pour doubler sa production, qui sera entièrement vendue à la ferme. « Ça fait partie de notre philosophie. Les gens aiment venir nous voir pour chercher leur volaille, il y a une demande énorme », assure-t-il. Mais même si le nombre de 2000 peut paraître important, il n’est pas suffisant pour rentabiliser une exploitation agricole : La Borderie va donc en plus produire de la pintade et des petits fruits (Le Mouton Noir avait d’ailleurs visité la ferme pour parler d’amélanche cet été). Le bonheur des uns fait le malheur des autres : la ferme de la Caboche de Mont-Lebel faisait également partie des finalistes, mais son nom n’est pas sorti du chapeau. Le copropriétaire Sylvain Henrie est déçu, mais tout de même heureux qu’un éleveur du Bas-Saint-Laurent ait été retenu ce droit. La Caboche entend bien retenter sa chance l’année prochaine, alors que 10 à 20 nouveaux éleveurs rejoindront à leur tour le projet pilote. Un doute subsiste cependant : alors que les investissements pour augmenter ainsi sa production de poulets sont conséquents, il n’y a aucune assurance qu’au-delà des cinq ans que dure le projet pilote, les producteurs participants conserveront le droit de produire 2000 poulets par année. Clément Clerc, lui, reste positif : « Ce que je me dis, c’est qu’on va travailler en collaboration avec la fédération des éleveurs pour leur prouver qu’ils ont tout intérêt à faire en sorte que ça dure dans le temps. » De leur côté, les EVQ nous ont assuré souhaiter la même chose.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir