Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine's kidnapper is sentenced to 24 years; Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona recovering after brain surgery; With performers infected, La Scala season premiere canceled. (Nov. 5)
Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine's kidnapper is sentenced to 24 years; Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona recovering after brain surgery; With performers infected, La Scala season premiere canceled. (Nov. 5)
When looking at the daily updates and numbers of COVID-19 cases in Alberta, there's a theme that's easy to spot — Calgary's northeast has a serious problem. Calgary-Upper NE is one of 132 "local geographic areas" (or LGAs) that the province uses in reporting COVID-19 cases. It covers the bulk of the northeast quadrant, including newer communities that sit north of McKnight Boulevard, as well as a portion that stretches down to where 16th Avenue N.E. meets Deerfoot Trail. Around 115,000 people call the upper northeast area of Calgary home. The number of active COVID-19 cases there surpassed 1,000 last week, a number not seen anywhere else in the province at any time during the pandemic. As of Sunday, there were 1,194 cases. That's double the numbers seen earlier in the month. For many weeks now, the northeast has secured the unenviable position of being the number one spot in Alberta for active cases. So what's driving such extreme numbers in one part of the city? On the front lines People who live and work in the northeast say there are many reasons that make their communities easy pickings for a virus that thrives on density and easy opportunities for transmission. Those opportunities vary from residents working public-facing, low-income jobs with no opportunity to work from home, to a culture of large, multi-generational households in densely populated neighbourhoods. "It is a concern. Many people in this part of the city are working multiple jobs on the front lines and they're in contact with a lot of people," said Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal. "There's a higher risk to exposure, but I think everybody's doing their best to ensure they're being safe, but more importantly keeping others safe. "Social distancing and wearing masks is important, but we've still got a lot of work to do." Many said they thought the types of jobs worked by those living in the northeast could represent the number one factor behind the high COVID-19 numbers. "The biggest reason is the majority of people are immigrants and newcomers and they are doing blue-collar jobs," said Dan Sidhu, a realtor with his own weekly Punjabi radio show who has called the northeast home for 25 years. "Lots of people work at places like Cargill and Lilydale or furniture factories. They're doing housekeeping and cleaning jobs around the city. There are also transport workers, truckers and taxi drivers." Sidhu said many people in the northeast don't have the luxury of working from home and are more exposed in their day-to-day lives. "We have to go out to work to make our living and pay our bills. We don't have much choice," Sidhu said. Multi-family households In addition to employment, there are also large multi-family households made up of South Asian immigrant families that settle around each other in northeast communities. "The majority of families here are joint families. Seniors live with them, mother-in-laws and father-in-laws, mothers and fathers and children. You can easily have six or seven family members," said Sidhu, adding that COVID-19 spreads to a greater number of people once it finds its way into a family setting. Others talk quietly about the possibility that some cultural factors unique to South Asian communities could give COVID-19 more opportunities to take hold. Some of those factors mentioned include: a stigma in the community around being sick and telling others. a deeply embedded culture of hospitality. meal sharing and inviting guests into the home. a tradition of large family gatherings and events like weddings and birthdays along with a busy calendar of religious events. in some cases, language barriers limiting information around best practices when it comes to health measures. Languages spoken commonly in the home in the northeast include Punjabi and Urdu. Filipino families speak Tagalog along with others who speak Spanish and Vietnamese at home. Some can't communicate in English at all. Worried about being blamed Some residents said they are worried about being stigmatized, criticized and blamed for the rising number of cases from people in other parts of the city and province. A few said they're embarrassed by the high case numbers and say they are victims of circumstance, and do not want to be blamed for personal negligence or for not taking the virus seriously enough. The northeast of the city is also where many newcomers and refugees settle in the days and weeks after arriving in Canada. It's where the cost of living is cheapest and where jobs and many vital supports exist, including the Centre for Newcomers. "We see a disproportionate number of newcomers working in industries where they'd have a much higher rate of being in contact with somebody that has COVID," said Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Centre for Newcomers. "They find jobs in retail, service industries, health-care and long-term care facilities and that [increases] the likelihood." Lee Yuen said newcomers tend to be around larger volumes of people, both at home and at work. "You've got people coming from cultures that are very collective in nature so the entire community is built around that," she said. "You have a more densely packed population, so even when people are adhering to the best possible safety protocols, there could still be issues." She said housing density and a reliance on transit and car sharing also need to be taken into account, along with larger family cohorts than other parts of the city. Language barriers can also make official information harder to access. "The ethno-cultural media and the settlement agencies and other agencies have done a wonderful job of getting that information out there, especially through social media," said Lee Yuen. "It does come translated from the government and it is widespread, but the bigger issue is people are confused about the rules and what they can and can't do. But that's in the general population too." Lee Yuen said the whole concept of cohorts and bubbles took time for many Albertans to understand, but for non-English speaking Albertans, it's even more challenging. Religion and worship Religion is a big part of the fabric of life in northeast Calgary's South Asian community, and with worship comes large gatherings. Throughout 2020, places of worship have been open with limited capacity, enhanced safety measures and at times closed altogether. Under the most recent measures announced by the provincial government on Saturday, churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship are allowed to operate at only one-third of their capacity with mandatory masking in place. Previously, the limit had been one-third of regular attendance. Major religious events and celebrations from Ramadan to Eid and Diwali have all looked a lot different this year. Some places of worship are now going above and beyond the requirements laid out by the province. "We're not even letting anyone sit. We're going even further in what we're doing in that they come, they pray and they go right away," said Amanpreet Singh Gill with the Dashmesh Culture Centre, a large gurdwara where thousands of northeast Sikhs go to pray. "We are trying our best and people are following it. We encourage everyone to be safe. Social interactions are dangerous and we encourage everyone to limit gatherings like weddings too." The centre is also taking prayers online for those staying away, streaming on social media. Mosques have been doing the same thing with live prayers, sermons and programs from local imams, who said Friday prayers are the only in-person worship being permitted. Prayers typically last less than 15 minutes. COVID-19 experiences More cases in the quadrant bring more stories and accounts from people who have had COVID-19. Jayanta Chowdhury contracted COVID-19 along with his family at a Christian prayer meeting in March that turned into a "superspreader" event, leading to at least 34 positive cases, all stemming from one overseas pastor from Singapore. Chowdhury spent nearly 50 days in hospital, 25 of them in a coma on a ventilator. Now he's hoping his story can help others do the right things. "Many people don't believe COVID is going to hurt them. They just think it's like a cough and a cold," said Chowdhury. "What is lacking in the northeast is people are not aware of the fact of how serious this is and how it will affect your life. They are not serious about it. They just think, 'I don't know anyone who is COVID-positive, so it won't happen to me.'" Chowdhury said he sees many people from the South Asian community not wearing masks in public or wearing them incorrectly. He's not alone, although some also point out that people make the same mistakes all over the city. Others regularly complain on social media about seeing the same thing in local stores and restaurants, along with a lack of proper physical distancing, evident in many photos posted online of gatherings and small events with people stood shoulder to shoulder, some wearing masks and others often not wearing one or wearing one incorrectly. The table may not display fully on mobile devices or small screens. In that case, you can also click here to open a standalone version in a new browser tab. "I went to a McDonald's in the northeast the other day. There were four men standing there chatting, no masks," Chowdhury said. "They wear their masks under their chin. But what about the people they are putting at risk? "Who's going to take care of them? In my case, my whole family was positive. Let's say the dad and mom dies, we don't have relatives to look after our kids. They don't understand the height and depth of the issue." Chowdhury said for more than a week he felt fine with no symptoms. He went to church, shopping malls and grocery stores, completely unaware he had contracted the virus. It wasn't until the ninth day that serious symptoms quickly started appearing and four of his group were hospitalized. One of the group died. "I walked into Peter Lougheed hospital and passed out. When I woke up I thought it was the same day. It had been 25 days and I had been on a ventilator," Chowdhury said. WATCH | COVID-19 survivor Jay Chowdhury, in an earlier interview in August, talks about how he's still recovering months after leaving hospital Chowdhury said he has good days and bad days as he continues to recover. He is back at work, but every day is an unknown. "It hurts when I see the community going to a grocery store, still picking up produce, sniffing it and putting it back. People could be carrying COVID home," he said. "Some people don't care about the community, they only think about themselves and what they believe." Seeking help and protection The community is increasingly looking to the provincial government for help and protection. Like everywhere else in the city, the majority of residents stick to the rules, but cases in the northeast continue to rise. Last week, Premier Jason Kenney appeared on the popular northeast South Asian-focused radio station RED FM, interviewed by host Rishi Nagar. Kenney acknowledged the problem with COVID-19 in the northeast, referencing big family gatherings as a particular concern. He spent time outlining news rules and guidelines, including enforcement. "Our research is clear that by far the single largest source of COVID-19 is private social functions and at-home gatherings," said Kenney, adding it wasn't about "pointing fingers." Kenney also commented on Alberta's continued snubbing of the federal contact tracing app. "Their app is not a contact tracing app," he told listeners. "All it does is to indicate if maybe you were in the vicinity of somebody with COVID at some point in the past two weeks with no additional information." Irfan Sabir, the NDP's lone MLA in the northeast representing the riding of Calgary-McCall, said the real problem in the northeast is the province's contact tracing system — which he said is completely overwhelmed and no longer functioning. "We have a government that doesn't know where 85 per cent of cases are coming from. We are left to rely on our observations and speculate," Sabir said. "Government is failing by not investing in contact tracing and not sharing recommendations from Dr. Hinshaw, not listening to Dr. Hinshaw." "They need to step up and take this seriously. Put in place evidence-based, data-based measures. It's long past due." Sabir said northeast residents were already feeling abandoned after a huge hailstorm devastated multiple communities in the summer, leaving thousands of homes with shredded siding, damaged roofs and broken windows — many of which are still unrepaired heading into winter with no meaningful financial help from the province, despite pleas from residents. "The government needs to step up and take this outbreak seriously and do everything they can to contain this spread," he said. Rajan Sawhney, Alberta's minister of community and social services and UCP MLA for Calgary-Northeast, said her government has provided some funding for community organizations to help combat the spread of COVID-19 by raising awareness of the risks among newcomer communities and seniors' groups. She addressed her constituents in Punjabi via a Facebook video over the weekend. "Clearly, we have to do more and it's going to be a multi-level government approach to this, to spread as much awareness as we can about the new measures introduced by the premier," Sawhney said. "It's important that we break those measures down step by step in different languages, and work with our community partners and faith-based institutions." Sawnhey said her main concern is northeast communities facing stigma and shaming as case numbers continue to climb. "There shouldn't be any finger pointing, blaming, stereotyping or shaming, or thinking that somehow residents in northeast Calgary are not as concerned about their health or about following these measures," said Sawnhey. "It's just a different dynamic, and a different way people live."
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation.Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary.Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of colour, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female.President Donald Trump upended the ways in which his administration communicated with the press. In contrast with administrations past, Trump’s communications team held few press briefings, and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods.Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favourite Fox News shows.In a statement announcing the White House communications team, Biden said: “Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House.”He added: “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”Bedingfield and Psaki are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice-president, and Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department.Others joining the White House communications staff are:— Karine Jean Pierre, who was Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She’s another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs.— Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director. She most recently was deputy director for America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, and was a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.Three Biden campaign senior advisers are being appointed to top communications roles:— Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director.— Symone Sanders, another senior adviser on the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson.— Elizabeth Alexander, who served as the former vice-president’s press secretary and his communications director while he was a U.S. senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director.After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden faced some of his own criticism for not being accessible to reporters. But near the end of the campaign, he answered questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president.The choice of a number of Obama administration veterans — many with deep relationships with the Washington press corps — also suggests a return to a more congenial relationship with the press.___Taylor reported from Washington.Alexandra Jaffe And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
BEIJING — China on Monday said it is sanctioning leaders of U.S. government-affiliated bodies that promote democracy around the world in response to what it calls practices that “blatantly meddle in Hong Kong affairs.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the measures would cover the senior director for Asia at the National Endowment Democracy, John Knaus, the regional director for the Asia-Pacific at the National Democratic Institute, Manpreet Singh Anand, and two of the institute’s officials responsible for Hong Kong. Hua gave no details and the institute said in a news release that it had no further information but that it “remains steadfastly committed to these core principles and to continuing our work in support of democracy worldwide.” China has long accused such groups of encouraging dissidents who built grassroots movements to push for greater direct democracy in Hong Kong. Those burst out into street protests in 2014 and again last year, prompting a harsh crackdown from authorities. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials over the passage of a National Security Law that imposed strict penalties for critics of the Beijing-backed government that has ruled the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The sanctions ban the officials, including the head of Hong Kong’s local government, Carrie Lam, from travelling to the U.S. and freezes all dealings with American financial institutions. Hua told reporters Monday that “the relevant U.S. practices blatantly meddle in Hong Kong affairs, grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the international law and basic norms governing international relations." “The U.S. should immediately cease interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs and avoid going further down the wrong path," Hua said at a daily briefing. Hong Kong is just one area where tensions between Washington and Beijing have risen over recent years. The Trump administration has cut off Chinese tech giant Huawei’s access to most U.S. components and technology on security grounds, part of a feud over trade and technology that has led the White House to press the Chinese owner of video service TikTok to sell its U.S. operation, which American officials say is a security risk. U.S. accusations of Chinese human rights abuses, particularly against Muslim minority groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, have resulted in frequent angry exchanges between the sides. Frictions have also built over Washington's support for Taiwan, which China claims as a breakaway province to be recovered by force if necessary, along with China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Associated Press
France to double police on coastline patrols as part of the new deal with Britain to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel.View on euronews
Financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin of Ann Arbor, Michigan, specializes in helping people deal with their anxieties about money. But since the pandemic started, Bryan-Podvin has been hearing more about guilt than fear.Several people who still have jobs and financial security felt guilty about having been spared while others suffered, says Bryan-Podvin, author of “The Financial Anxiety Solution.”“I would start to hear things like, ‘I shouldn’t be complaining — my partner has it so much worse,’ or ‘I can’t even believe I’m telling you this because so-and-so in my neighbourhood lost their job,’” she says.The feelings clients expressed and the language they used were almost identical to what Bryan-Podvin hears from people with post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health disorder that can be triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.“What I started to see was survivor guilt,” Bryan-Podvin says. “They feel like they somehow didn’t deserve what they have.”GUILT CAN TURN INWARDSurvivor’s guilt is a symptom of PTSD, often felt by people who wonder why they lived while others died. While financial survivor’s guilt isn’t an official psychological diagnosis, Bryan-Podvin says that recognizing the similarities has helped her treat clients who are struggling.People experiencing this kind of guilt may feel sad or even hopeless, she says. They may have obsessive thoughts, wondering why they were spared or what they might have done differently to protect others. They may feel paralyzed, numb or burned out.“Survivor guilt is like any other type of stress,” she says. “It can impact your sleep, it can impact your parasympathetic nervous system, it can impact your ability to fully rest in the present.”Recognizing what you’re experiencing can help you cope, says certified financial planner Edward Coambs, a marriage and family therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina. One reason people feel survivor’s guilt is because we’re hard-wired to want justice and fairness, he says.“That’s really what’s getting activated,” Coambs says. “Like, how is it fair that I still have my job but this segment of the market no longer has their job?”Not everyone feels bad about inequities, of course. But those who do can experience financial self-shaming, where they feel that it isn’t OK to have money, jobs or opportunities that are denied to others, Coambs says. At the extreme, they may give away too much, volunteer to be furloughed or otherwise put themselves at financial risk because they feel guilty.“It’s not your fault what’s happened to this other person,” he says. “Sometimes survivor guilt can be about taking on more responsibility than is appropriate.”COPE IN WAYS THAT HELP OTHERSA more productive approach is to look for sensible ways to help others, therapists say. That may be working at a food bank, donating to a cause, helping someone update their resume or making introductions that could help them find a job.“Some level of service, some level of giving back tends to help us feel better,” Bryan-Podvin says. “It’s about knowing that you’re taking steps and you’re taking action to help.”But be careful about going overboard. Some people may rush in with referrals and networking suggestions when a jobless friend is still in shock, for example. Maybe your friend just needs an empathetic listener right now.When your goal is to alleviate your guilt, it’s easy to miss what the other person actually needs, Coambs says.Also, resist the urge to share the setbacks you’ve experienced, Bryan-Podvin says.“It’s better to say, ‘I’m so sorry that happened. That must be really hard,’” she says.MAKE ROOM FOR GRATITUDEAnother way to cope with financial survivor’s guilt is to start noticing and appreciating the positives in your life.“Turn the ‘g’ in guilt to gratitude,” says financial therapist and CFP Preston D. Cherry of Lubbock, Texas. Research shows that writing gratitude lists, keeping a gratitude journal or just contemplating what you’re grateful for can lower stress, improve sleep and make relationships better.Feeling bummed out about layoffs and economic turmoil is normal, but experiencing sadness and guilt for weeks at a time is not, Bryan-Podvin says. If you can’t sleep, you’re too distracted to work or you keep forgetting important things, like what time your kids need to be in online classes, consider getting professional help. The Financial Therapy Association is one place to look for referrals. (Cherry and Coambs are board members.)“If your ability to function is so impacted, whether it’s financial survival guilt or just the trauma of being alive right now, therapy is not a bad idea,” she says.______________________________-This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston.RELATED LINK:NerdWallet: How to Cope With Financial Anxietyhttps://bit.ly/nerdwallet-financial-anxietyLiz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
The P.E.I. Council of People With Disabilities is urging Islanders to avoid making assumptions about those not wearing masks in public places."They don't know that person's history, their experiences, and they do not know what health conditions they may be living with at this current time," said Marcia Carroll, the organization's executive director."Understand that your reality is not everybody's reality."On Nov. 20, masks became mandatory inside all public places on P.E.I. However, there are exceptions to the rule for children under the age of two and those who cannot wear one for medical reasons.> People who are going to comply will comply. And the people who can't comply should be treated with the same respect. — Marcia CarrollBut according to Carroll, those medical reasons aren't always apparent."If you saw somebody in a wheelchair or somebody using a white cane ... and they were not following a health directive, you might not confront them because their disability is visible," said Carroll."But for somebody who has an invisible disability, again, they still have a disability."'It's public shaming'Carroll said singling those people out over not being able to wear a mask not only leads to social isolation, it can also be extremely stressful."It's a way of shaming and it's public shaming. And quite frankly, it's a little bit of bullying," she said."People who are going to comply will comply. And the people who can't comply should be treated with the same respect."For now, Carroll said she recommends people keep their judgment to themselves and if you can wear a mask, wear it."Wearing masks does not just protect yourself, it protects other people. That also includes the people who can't wear masks," she said. And for those who have already experienced being called out for not wearing a mask, Carroll also has a message: "I'm sorry.""Your health is your own personal business." she said. "You have to make decisions that best suit you and best allow you to navigate your world in a free and dignified way."So just step back, mind your own business and go forward."More from CBC P.E.I.
TOKYO — A brightly burning meteor was seen plunging from the sky in wide areas of Japan, capturing attention on television and social media. The meteor glowed strongly as it rapidly descended through the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday. Many people in western Japan reported on social media seeing the rare sight. NHK public television said its cameras in the central prefectures of Aichi, Mie and elsewhere captured the fireball in the southern sky. A camera at Nagoya port showed the meteor shining as brightly as a full moon as it neared the Earth, the Asahi newspaper reported. Some experts said small fragments of the meteorite might have reached the ground. The Associated Press
Canada's budget deficit is forecast to hit a historic C$381.6 billion ($293.9 billion) on COVID-19 emergency aid, with the federal government eyeing C$100 billion in stimulus to be rolled out once the virus is under control, the finance department said on Monday. The forecast deficit is 11.2% higher than projected in July, mostly due to C$25.1 billion in new COVID-19 and recovery spending, along with higher emergency support costs. "We are living through a very virulent second wave of the coronavirus and I think we all know winter will be difficult," Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia came under renewed pressure Monday to explain the nerve agent attack on opposition figure Alexei Navalny as the annual meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog got underway amid measures aimed at reining in the spread of coronavirus. Navalny fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia, and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later. His allies accused the Kremlin of poisoning its fiercest opponent. Tests carried out by labs in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established that Navalny was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. The organization's director-general, Fernando Arias, told Monday's meeting that according to the Chemical Weapons Convention, “the poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is a use of a chemical weapon.” A group of 56 nations issued a statement as the start of the annual meeting of the OPCW's member states urging Moscow to disclose “in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack.” Russia, which denies involvement in Navalny's poisoning, reacted bullishly in its written statement to the conference. “Instead of trying to look into what had happened, Germany and its allies resorted to megaphone diplomacy, unleashed a mass disinformation campaign against Russia and started to demand some ‘independent international investigation’ under the auspices of the OPCW,” Moscow's statement said. In October, Moscow asked for OPCW experts to visit Russia to provide “technical assistance” in its investigations. Arias said talks are underway to define “all the legal, technical, operational and logistical parameters in order for this visit to take place.” The European Union has imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the poisoning. Moscow responded earlier this month by announcing that it had adopted sanctions against a number of German and French officials. The OPCW's annual meeting has been broken into two parts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Two days of talks this week will focus on approving the proposed 71.74 million euro ($86 million) annual budget for 2021. The second half of the meeting will take place next year. Mike Corder, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say. Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phoney personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes. “We're all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with Homeland Security Investigations. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public." No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir. With vaccines and treatments both, it has warned about the potential for fraud. “The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm,” the agency said in a recent statement. The drug companies are to have safeguards and brand-protection features in place to help avoid fraud, but that may not be available until the second generation of vaccine because everything is operated on such an emergency basis, said Karen Gardner, chief marketing officer at SIPCA North America, a company that works as a bridge between the government, businesses and consumers. She said that makes it more important to educate health care providers on what the real thing looks like. “When you have anything in high demand and limited supply, there is going to be fraud,” she said. Desperation will drive people around normal channels. Meanwhile, investigators are learning about how the vaccine will be packaged and getting the message out to field agents, creating a mass database of information from more than 200 companies, so they can be prepared to spot fakes and crack down on dangerous fraud. They are monitoring tens of thousands of false websites and looking for evidence of fake cures sold online. Earlier this year as cases exploded, hospitals and governments grew short on masks, gloves and other protective gear. Scams grew, too. Tricksters preyed on unwitting citizens to hand over money for goods they'd never receive. Homeland Security Investigations started using its 7,000 agents in tandem with border, FDA and FBI officials to investigate scams, seize phoney products and arrest hundreds of people. The effort is headquartered at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog aimed at enforcement of its international trade laws and combating intellectual property theft. The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected as being involved in some type of COVID-19 fraud. Millions of fake or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antiviral pharmaceuticals were seized. Homeland Security Investigations made more than 1,600 seizures of products worth more than $27 million and made more than 185 arrests. Home test kits, for example, were only recently made available to the public in the past few weeks. But investigators seized tens of thousands of fake kits in the months before. On the dark web, scammers were selling domain names like “coronaprevention.org," attractive to counterfeiters. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 fake websites a day have been removed during the pandemic. A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases have topped 13 million in the U.S. and many cities have started restricting movement again as the country heads into winter. The pandemic has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, more than 266,000 of them in the U.S., according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But Francis and other investigators are worried that desperation will make Americans more susceptible. If the FDA allows emergency use of a vaccine, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Gen. Gus Perna, in charge of the government’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” the government was prepared to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. There’s a stockpile of the prospective vaccine itself plus kits of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs needed to give the dose. The secret stash is watched by armed guards. “We have taken extraordinary precaution in this area,” he said. "It’s such a commodity to us, we’re taking the full steps to make sure that the vaccine’s secure.” Who is first in line has yet to be decided. But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is that enough doses are available by the end of January to vaccinate adults over age 65, who are at the highest risk from the coronavirus, and health care workers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said it may take until spring or summer before anyone who is not high risk and wants a shot can get one. States already are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. First the shots have to arrive where they’re needed, and Pfizer’s must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures — around minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna’s vaccine also starts off frozen, but the company said it can be thawed and kept in a regular refrigerator for 30 days, easing that concern. Governments in other countries and the World Health Organization, which aims to buy doses for poor nations, will have to decide separately if and when vaccines should be rolled out broadly. Meanwhile, Homeland Security investigators and others are trying to send the message now to the public before the vaccines are approved and begin distribution. They say people should only get a vaccine from an approved medical provider. They shouldn't respond to calls seeking personal information. And they shouldn't click on social media posts purporting to sell cures. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is," Francis said. Colleen Long, The Associated Press
Food bank usage across Ontario was already increasing in the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report. Then came a further surge in demand as people grappled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income throughout the pandemic. Feed Ontario's annual hunger report released on Monday analyzes food bank usage across the province, makes recommendations, and also looks at the impact of the pandemic on food banks and vulnerable populations. Following a year where people made 3.2 million visits to food banks, the number of first-time food bank visitors spiked by 26.5 per cent during the first four months of the pandemic, the report says. "That means that we're seeing brand new people who have never come to our services, and those who have already accessed our services experiencing further difficulties in life than they've already had to deal with," said executive director Carolyn Stewart. "It's extremely concerning for us."Before the pandemicBetween April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the report said 537,575 people accessed food banks — an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year — and that one third of those visitors were children. Total visits amounted to 3,282,500, which is up 7.3 per cent from last year.Feed Ontario lists a lack of affordable housing, insufficient social assistance programs, and a growth in precarious employment (like part-time and casual work) as the top three drivers of food bank usage.Ontario also has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the country, Stewart added, noting precarious work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. The report says 65.7 per cent of food bank visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income. There has also been 44 per cent more employed people accessing food banks over the past four years. "As these numbers continue to grow, it really creates concerns for us that the income is not keeping up with what everyone needs to afford their most basic cost of living," Stewart said. "Things are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyone."Paying for housing means no financial cushionPrior to the pandemic, people were already living with the extreme stress that comes with living in poverty, stretching dollars and potentially being unable to make ends meet, Stewart said.Around 86 per cent of food bank visitors are rental or social housing tenants spend most of their monthly income on housing. Feed Ontario notes this makes it near impossible for low-income people to have savings or a "financial cushion" to offset losses during times of emergency.Coupled with a year that prompted further anxiety and called for additional expenses — like PPE, staying home for health reasons, and the loss of social services — "hundreds of thousands of people" were without the means to afford basic needs. The top three reasons people would skip meals was to help afford rent, utilities, and phone or Internet bills, the report says."I think it's extremely problematic. No one should have to make those choices. Those are impossible choices for anyone to have to make," said Stewart. Surge in demandDuring the first two months, access to food and meal support also became the number one reason people called Ontario 211 — the community and social services help line.Stewart said this might have been out of fear these essential services would be closed. But food banks have been working around the clock, she said, with limited resources and staff to meet pandemic guidelines. None have shut down. They've implemented new emergency food support programs, and upped the amount of food provided to reduce number of visits. Some also put in a home delivery service and opened a drive-thru service. Here's a look at how demand increased at different centres across the province once the pandemic hit: * The Daily Bread Food Bank in the GTA serviced nearly 20,000 people a week. * The Mississauga Food Bank saw a 120 per cent increase in first time users. * Ottawa Food Bank had 400 per cent more calls from people needing food support. * The Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor had double the amount of households access their services. * The Salvation Army in Owen Sound saw over 400 people in the first nine days of the pandemic, which is near the number of people it would service in a month. * Community Care West Niagara in Lincoln had a 20 per cent increase in those using their services. * A Sudbury Food Bank agency saw a 150 per cent jump in people accessing emergency food support.Eviction, financial challengesIn September alone, there was 10 per cent more visits to food banks compared to the same time last year. When Feed Ontario surveyed around 200 food bank visitors in September, it found one out of two food bank visitors said they were worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months.One participant said, "Everything is hard. Paying rent is hard, going to the doctor is hard, accessing groceries and food are hard. Everything is so much harder now."Over 90 per cent were also navigating extreme financial challenges due to the pandemic and incurring a significant amount of debt. Ninety-three per cent of respondent were borrowing money from friends and family, accessing payday loans, or using a credit card to help pay bills. Though Feed Ontario doesn't collect data related to race, immigration or refugee status, it notes that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and food insecurity, and are three times more likely to be food insecure than non-racialized households. Support from provincial and federal governments helped food banks meet an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, said Stewart. But as these supports wound down through summer and into fall, the numbers have increased again. The supports showed that "investing in income supports for individuals can provide that essential safety net that people need," she said. Stewart pointed to the 2008 recession where food bank usage went up by almost 30 per cent over two years. "It's never gone back down," she said, adding that the network is "quite fearful" that without those supports food bank use will grow "exponentially" over the coming months."While food banks do their very best with very little to meet the need in their communities, and they do incredible work, they do not replace good, public policy," she said. "We are not a solution to poverty." Feed Ontario says it's calling on the provincial government to: * Provide immediate support to low-income families, including developing a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction. * Reinstate the emergency benefit for social assistance recipients. * Align Ontario's social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB. * Develop stronger labour laws and policies, like reinstating paid sick days and quality jobs with a livable wage.
An 80-year-old man who is visually impaired and received a $13,000 bill from Virgin Mobile is no longer on the hook for the large sum."I think right now they could be doing a little better, but I'm satisfied with that," said Willie Guerard, who lives in Amherstburg, Ont. "They're not going to get my best wishes, you know what I mean?"Guerard and his wife, Yvonne, who by their own admission are not tech-savvy, told the CBC earlier this month that they don't really even use the internet on their phone.They said it was their understanding that their service would be cut off if their account balance reached $200 in any given month, so they were surprised when they received two bills, for approximately $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.Virgin Mobile said it had removed spending caps such as those after the pandemic began up until the beginning of July but it continued to charge for any costs for overages people incurred.Guerard and his wife said they contacted Virgin Mobile after receiving the large bill and were told they had to pay it. It was only after CBC made inquiries published in a web story earlier this month that the company took a second look at the massive bill."At least they're paying attention now. Before that I couldn't get nobody [to look into it], I just got the runaround," Guerard said.Significant reductionInitially, Virgin Mobile said that Guerard, who was an active data user, had twice requested to increase the amount of data on his account and consented to it. The company was unaware of Guerard's visual impairment and that it would be significantly reducing the outstanding balance in his account.Last week, they said they'd reduced the amount he owed to what his usual monthly bill would have been."We took another look at Willie's account and couldn't verify that he received the notice about removing spending caps during COVID," a written response from the company read.Guerard said after he called them, he found out the amount he now owes is $281, which he plans to pay. But he said he'll only be doing so once he gets it in writing.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Australia’s prime minister said Monday that a Chinese official’s tweet showing a fake image of an Australian soldier appearing to slit a child’s throat was “truly repugnant” and merits an apology. China said there would be no apology. The incident is further souring already tense relations between the two nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was seeking an apology from the Chinese government after Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, posted the graphic image that shows a grinning soldier holding a bloodied knife to the throat of a veiled child, who is holding a lamb. Zhao wrote a caption with the tweet saying: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.” He was referring to a disturbing report by Australia’s military earlier this month which found evidence that elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians during the conflict in Afghanistan. It recommended that 19 soldiers be referred to federal police for criminal investigation. Asked about the issue at a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying cast blame on the Australian side. “What Australia should do is to reflect deeply, bring the perpetrators to justice, make a formal apology to the Afghan people, and solemnly promise to the international community that they will never commit such terrible crimes again,” Hua said. Morrison said Zhao's tweet was “utterly outrageous” and a terrible slur against Australia's military. It “is truly repugnant. It is deeply offensive to every Australian, every Australian who has served in that uniform,” he told reporters in Canberra. “The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.” Morrison said his government had contacted Twitter asking it to take the post down. The post had a warning tag on it by Monday afternoon but could still be viewed. Zhao's account comes with a Twitter label stating that it's a Chinese government account. Despite China blocking Twitter and other U.S. social media platforms within the county, Chinese diplomats and state media have established a strong presence on them. Zhao was criticized by the U.S. in March after tweeting a conspiracy theory that U.S. soldiers may have brought the coronavirus to China. He is considered a leading representative of China’s high-pitched new strain of assertive foreign relations. Morrison acknowledged there were tensions between China and Australia. “But this is not how you deal with them," he said. “Australia has patiently sought to address the tensions that exist in our relationship in a mature way, in a responsible way, by seeking engagement at both leader and ministerial level.” The rift between the two nations has grown since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. China has since imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports. Nick Perry, The Associated Press
In the Kennebecasis Bay, just north of Saint John, three small islands make up what are known as The Brothers, the only reserve land in the southern part of New Brunswick.Some believe that the three islands may be an important key to the Wolastoqiyik reasserting their rights over the land and could play a role to strengthen a recently filed title claim to the Wolastoq, its lands and watersheds."I feel very strongly that it is an important component of the title case," said Patrick Polchies, a council member of Kingsclear First Nation."If we really think about the title claim, for instance, we need to express our territory, I think sometimes by occupation. And even if it's seasonal, it's important. We need to get out to these places and make sure that people understand that it is within living memory of coming to this region."Little is known today about the islands and their history, though a handful of people have memories of visiting them when they were young.Wayne Brooks remembers visiting The Brothers as a youth in the 1970s on camping trips organized by his father and Harold Sappier, the late chief of St. Mary's First Nation."Well, back in the day, like, my dad would always talk about it, and Harold," Brooks recalled. "We've got to start using it, because if not, somebody is going to try to take it over. So, as a community, Harold decided that we'll use it, we'll take kids there for camping trips."Brooks said as he grew older, he brought his sons to the islands when they were young to keep that connection.Though the islands are uninhabited today, they were once used as seasonal campgrounds for hunting and fishing by Simon, Andrew, Jim, Ed and Joseph Paul. The brothers would travel down the river from Quebec and stay on the islands.The islands would later be granted to the "Malicite Tribe of Indians of the River Saint John" in 1838 by Sir John Harvey, the lieutenant-governor, for use of the Paul brothers.Today, Indian and Goat islands are registered to Kingsclear, Madawaska, Tobique and Woodstock, though a spokesperson for the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick said there are plans to have St. Mary's and Oromocto added to the shared ownership.But uncertainty surrounds the title of Burnt Island. In the 1920s, a copper mine was staked on the island. Because of this mineral claim, when the province transferred the administration of reserve lands to the federal government in 1959, Burnt Island was not included in the transfer.There's still evidence of the mine today. Bobby Ring owns a local boat business in Brothers Cove and recalls ferrying Sappier and the youth of St. Mary's First Nation to the islands in the 1970s. He also routinely took a man who staked a claim to copper on Burnt Island. "Burnt Island, it's real close," Ring said. "On the outer face of the island there's a beach that's real rocky. You get out and you walk about 25 or 30 feet up the beach and to your left you'll see a hole full of bushes and trees. That's a copper mine."Ring's son, Geodie, runs the boat maintenance business today. It's on the shore directly across from the islands, just beside the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club.Geodie Ring said the islands are mostly frequented by boaters or kayakers now."A lot of people that just are new to the area, they'll all buy that Walmart or Canadian Tire canoe or kayak and they'll paddle out," Ring said.He said a lot of people, including locals, have no idea any of the three Islands are reserve land. That doesn't surprise Rachel Bryant, a University of New Brunswick professor and colonial historian. She wrote a blog in the summer about the islands, in hopes of raising public awareness about them in the local area."Saint John is not often thought of as Indigenous land. When it is discussed, it is discussed in the past tense," Bryant said. "I'm interested in reminding people of whose land it is."Bryant said there is a term that may explain why locals speak of the area as if it isn't unceded Wolastoqey territory."There's a phenomenon in colonial studies and it's called unwitnessing," Bryant said. "If material or something that you encounter, it doesn't fit within your understanding, or within a collective understanding of history or of place, then that material can't lodge permanently in a collective consciousness." When Bryant published her blog, she heard from people who had visited and had no idea the islands were reserve land. Polchies said it's time to change that. He conducted an informal archeological survey of The Brothers islands in 1990s that didn't turn up anything of interest. But he thinks it's time for more thorough and formal archeological work. "There are a lot of places in the province that we probably need to be looking at to understand where we were on the land," he said. "And particularly now."There's a title claim before the courts, for the entire expanse of our territory, so The Brothers are an interesting component of it."
TOKYO — Organizers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics have declined to confirm widely circulated reports in Japan that the costs of the one-year postponement will be about $3 billion.The estimates have been published in the last several days by some of Japan’s top-circulation newspapers, the national broadcaster NHK, and the Japanese news agency Kyodo. All are citing similar figures and unidentified sources close to the games.“We are in the process of assessing the additional costs associated with the postponement of the games due to COVID-19 and therefore are not able to comment on any details at this time,” Tokyo organizers said Monday in a statement.The statement did not challenge any of the reports.The Tokyo Games are becoming very expensive.The official cost of putting on the Tokyo Olympics is $12.6 billion. However, a government audit last year said it was probably twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.Tokyo said the games would cost $7.3 billion when it won the bid in 2013.The $3 billion for the delay only adds to the totals. A University of Oxford study published early this year — calculated before the postponement — said Tokyo was the most expensive Summer Olympics on record and the meter is still running.The Yomiuri newspaper and Kyodo on Sunday detailed added costs of 200 billion yen, about $2 billion, to renegotiate venues leases, pay staff salaries, and cover other operational expenditure.NHK and the Asahi newspaper on Monday said another 100 billion yen, about $1 billion, was needed for countermeasures against COVID-19. This could include the cost of vaccines, rapid testing, and countless precautions to guard against the coronavirus.The reported cost of the delay because of the pandemic is in line with repeated estimates of between $2 billion and $3 billion in Japan over the last several months.The organizers, the Tokyo metro government and the Japanese national government are expected to explain added costs in December and detail how they will be shared.Organizers in October said they had found cost-savings of about $280 million by simplifying and cutting some frills from next year’s postponed games. This was about 2% of the official costs.The International Olympic Committee has said it would chip in about $650 million to cover some of the costs of the delay, but has offered few public details.The Switzerland-based IOC is heavily dependent on revenue from selling broadcast rights, which account for almost three-quarters of its income.The unprecedented postponement has put financial pressure on the IOC, national Olympic committees, and international sports federations that heavily rely on the IOC for sustenance.The IOC and organizers have been campaigning over the last several months to convince sponsors and a skeptical Japanese public that the Olympics can be held safely in the middle of a pandemic.Domestic sponsors in Japan have paid a record of $3.3 billion to organizers, but there are reports of some balking at further payments during the pandemic-caused economic slide.The Olympics are to open on July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24. They involve 15,400 athletes and ten of thousands of officials, judges, staff, VIPs, sponsors as well as media and broadcasters.Kyodo reported last week that the Japanese government may require visitors from abroad to have private health insurance to cover costs from any COVID-19 complications.IOC President Thomas Bach, who was in Tokyo a few week ago, has said a vaccine and improved rapid testing would help pull off the Olympics. But he cautioned they are not “silver bullets.”Athletes are expected to be closely monitored, held in quarantine-like conditions, discouraged from sightseeing and encouraged to leave as soon as they finish competing.Some fans are expected at the events, but it is unclear if many fans from abroad will be allowed to attend.Japan has controlled COVID-19 relatively well, but has seen a spike over the last several weeks in Tokyo and elsewhere. Tokyo set a one-day record for new infections on Friday with 570. About 2,000 deaths in Japan have been attributed to COVID-19.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsStephen Wade, The Associated Press
SURREY, B.C. — Surrey RCMP say a man is dead following a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening.They say officers responded to a shooting call around 7:40 p.m. in front of a shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway.They say paramedics also attended and provided aid to a wounded man, but he died at the scene.Investigators say the victim is known to police and that they believe he was targeted.No names or suspect information was immediately released.The Mounties say they're assisting the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team with the case and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has pertinent video surveillance or dash-cam video to contact them.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.“That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.“Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said.The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said.By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year.Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn't know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort.“We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine's Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It's the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.”Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency.“That's the shortest period of time we've ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.”Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events.Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required.Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle's new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans.Country group Lady Antebellum's name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who's fond of using the word. Icon was front and centre in headlines after the deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views.Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
Recently, Caroline Arsenault watched parcels being stolen in her own neighbourhood — and didn't even realize. "I happened to see a couple of people walking by the window where I sit for my work and then rapidly walk back toward the street and I didn't think anything of it really," said Arsenault. She later found her husband attempting to contact the police after observing the same people also pace up and down their driveway. He got suspicious. He was right. "He found Amazon packages in our green bin," she said.The thieves had taken two packages. One was emptied of its contents while the other was left torn open with the stuff still inside.Arsenault's North End Halifax neighbourhood had just been hit by a porch pirate. It's not just happening in Halifax."The porch pirate has been a little busier this year unfortunately and now a third of Canadians stated in 2020 that they have been victims of a package theft," FedEx spokesperson James Anderson told CBC News.FedEx has published a survey of 1,500 Canadians this holiday season and found that one in three online shoppers say they have experienced package theft in 2020, up from one in four in 2019. It also found that three in 10 are worried about their online purchases being stolen when delivered. Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, said they haven't seen a noticeable increase in complaints about packages being stolen, but cautioned that doesn't mean it's not a threat. He also noted that many people are now working at home and are able to get their parcel as soon as it is delivered.In other parts of the country, such as Toronto, where lockdown restrictions are more prevalent, more people are able to stay at home to receive their deliveries. In Nova Scotia many businesses and schools remain open in the province so some people are frequently not home and cannot receive their packages.Arsenault posted about the porch bandit on social media and was surprised by the reaction."I had quite a few neighbours chime in and say that they too had found open and empty boxes in their driveway or thrown somewhere it didn't really belong." After Arsenault's neighbour reported the incident to the police, Arsenault herself received a follow up call. "The police confirmed this is something that they see quite a bit of. It's something that we should all be mindful of if we're expecting to receive packages when we might not be available to answer the door or pick them up quickly," she said.Halifax Regional Police have not yet responded to a request for an interview. FedEx, along with Canada Post, DHL courier service, UPS, Amazon Canada and Purolator all offer tracking information online, which FedEx's James Anderson said is one of the primary ways to keep your package safe."We give package recipients digital tools to use at your disposal," said Anderson. "If you got a tracking number you can get a notification sent to you when you expect those packages to arrive so you can stay on top of it."Bob Mann, acting chair of the neighbourhood watch in Wilmot, Annapolis County, N.S., said there are more low-tech ways to protect your deliveries. He said you can try asking a neighbour to pick it up or leave the radio on. Mann said one of his favourite home safety tools is photosensitive lights."If you don't have one yourself, take note," said Mann, who has been with his neighbourhood watch since its creation in 1995. "They light up probably half of my driveway ... at dusk the bulbs will come on and they'll go off in the morning." Cpl. Lisa Croteau of the RCMP said package theft doesn't appear to be a big issue at this time, but that could change, so she does have some advice. "Have a different method to pick it up. Instead of dropping it off on your front porch, if you could go to a different location to pick up the package that would be a little safer."Arsenault said she wanted to make people aware of the incident but she also understands the situation."We know there are probably more packages being delivered at this time of year. Holidays are coming up and times are hard for people so we know this is something that happens," said Arsenault.MORE TOP STORIES
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 30 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA - The federal Liberals will provide Canadians with a long-awaited update on the health of federal finances later today, and potentially unveil a suite of new spending. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver the fall economic statement in the House of Commons this afternoon, after markets close. The economic statement should have a full accounting of pandemic spending so far, and the depth of this year's deficit, which in July was forecast at a historic $343.2 billion amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates vary of how deep a deficit the Liberals will unveil today, with a Scotiabank report Friday saying a range of $400 billion to $450 billion is possible. The government is under pressure to help out industries like travel and restaurants that may take longer to recover from the pandemic. Observers are keeping a close eye on how much spending space new promises take up, which could limit the government's capacity to spend in next year's budget before deficits become permanent. The government is also expected to reveal a small step today towards a national child-care system. --- Also this ... OTTAWA - Erin O'Toole is accusing the Liberal government of putting too much emphasis on partnering with a Chinese company for a COVID-19 vaccine in what turned out to be a failed deal. The Conservative party leader say the Trudeau government only turned its attention to pre-ordering tens of millions of vaccine doses from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in August when its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine-maker CanSino finally collapsed after months of delays. "I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China," O'Toole told a Sunday news conference. The government announced its major vaccine purchases in August after it confirmed the CanSino partnership had fallen through. At the time, it said its decision had come after careful consultations with its vaccine task force of health experts. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm last week when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made. --- ICYMI ... SAULNIERVILLE, N.S. - A Nova Scotia First Nation says it has received a draft agreement on a "moderate livelihood" fishery, which it calls a potentially groundbreaking recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in Canada. The chief of Sipekne'katik First Nation says he is reviewing a draft memorandum of understanding he received from the office of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan late Friday. Mike Sack says the Sipekne'katik Treaty Fishery has the potential to be a "historic recognition" of treaty rights, as it would allow the Mi'kmaq community to legally sell their catch. Mi'kmaq fishers faced violence and vandalism last month after launching a rights-based fishery in southwest Nova Scotia. The attacks prompted widespread condemnation and calls for clarification on Mi'kmaq treaty fishing rights. Sack says the agreement would make good on the Supreme Court of Canada's recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in its landmark 1999 Marshall decision. The ruling affirmed the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish for a "moderate livelihood," though it was later clarified by the court that the federal government could regulate the fishery for conservation and other limited purposes. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON, D.C - U.S. president-elect Joe Biden is expected in the coming days to name several of his most senior economic advisers. The group includes liberal economists and policy specialists who established their credentials during the previous two Democratic administrations. Biden is placing a premium on diversity in his selection of Cabinet nominees and key advisers. Two expected to be named are former Fed chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget. Yellen would be the first female treasury secretary, while Tanden would be the first woman of colour and the first South Asian woman to lead the agency that oversees the federal budget. Biden, meanwhile, will likely have to wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from fracturing his right foot while playing with one of his dogs. Biden's iffice says the 78-year-old suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, yesterday afternoon. Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one based on his doctor’s statement and the planned treatment. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... TEHRAN - Iran held a funeral today for a recently slain scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the early 2000s. State TV broadcast the ceremony showing the service for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Fakhrizadeh was killed in a military-style ambush Friday on the outskirts of Tehran which reportedly saw a truck bomb explode and gunmen open fire on the scientist. Iran has blamed Israel for the attack. Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has declined to comment on the killing. In response to the killing, Iran's parliament has begun a review of a bill that would stop inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Experts warn Iran now has enough low-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least two atomic bombs, if it chose to pursue them. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020 The Canadian Press
Premier Stephen McNeil has repeatedly said it's not his job to detail what his government has spent this year on COVID-19 stimulus projects, but the three men who want his job are promising to do just that if they are chosen to succeed him.The $228 million in funding is being used for a variety of infrastructure projects across the province, in part to drive employment during the pandemic."Yes, I think public dollars should be transparent because they are public," Iain Rankin said when asked if a list of those projects and their associated cost should be released by the provincial government."I would certainly work to make the list of projects and cost estimates available," said Randy Delorey.Labi Kousoulis said if he were premier, he'd have already posted it, likely on a Nova Scotia government web page."Could even put it on our [access to information] portal or our open-data portal, and it's available to all," he said.Candidates say other changes in orderIt's not the only issue where the leadership contenders differ with McNeil on government transparency.Although he promised to change the law that governs Nova Scotia's access to information ahead of the 2013 election that made him premier, McNeil has since repeatedly said the law is fine as is.Just four days before election day, McNeil promised, in writing, that if he became premier he would "expand the powers and mandate of the [Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia], particularly through granting her order-making power."Though the leadership candidates aren't prepared to commit to those specific promises, Delorey and Rankin both think changes are in order."I do think it's time to look at revamping and modernizing those pieces of legislation," said Delorey."I think we can do more to be proactive with bringing documents forward and not having to go through that whole process," said Rankin, adding he would look at a review of the freedom of information rules."I believe in transparency and I think there's room we can improve."Kousoulis was noncommittal, especially about whether the commissioner should have the power to order that documents are produced, rather than simply recommended, and whether the office should be answerable to that the Nova Scotia Legislature rather than the Justice Department. "I have to think about it," he said. "I never actually gave it thought in terms of what powers the individual should have or not."Mixed response on lobbyist registryKousoulis also offered a similar response about the province's registry of lobbyists, which critics claim is ineffectual and outdated.The federal government system allows the public to know who is lobbying ministers and top officials, and when and how.But Nova Scotia's registry is just a list of lobbyists, the departments they plan to lobby and their general areas of interest."I'd be open to looking at it like I'd look at everything else," said Kousoulis. "But I've never really … given thought to the registry."His rivals were willing to go further."I do think our registry in Nova Scotia is dated," said Delorey. "I think it certainly needs more teeth.""I have been looking at other models like the federal one, actually, to see how we can modernize and bring some more teeth to that registry," he said.Virtual convention in February"Transparency has to be a guiding principle for our democracy," said Rankin. "And so I want Nova Scotia to have the most transparent process that we can practically implement."If Ottawa has a better system then we need to catch up and do that."Party members will elect their new leader, who becomes premier, on Feb. 6. There will be a virtual convention based at the convention centre in Halifax.MORE TOP STORIES