Here's what Facebook and Youtube are doing to stamp out fake information about COVID-19 and vaccines.
Here's what Facebook and Youtube are doing to stamp out fake information about COVID-19 and vaccines.
MILTON, Ga. — In a black face mask and cap, activist Garrett Bess walked up driveway after driveway of million-dollar homes in suburban Atlanta on a recent afternoon, placing a flyer in each door, ringing the bell and stepping away to make a socially distanced pitch to vote for the conservative candidates in Georgia's pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections.Bess' group, Heritage Action for America, plans to knock on half a million doors before the state's two Jan. 5 contests that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate.“Everyone in Georgia knows the candidates,” said Janae Stracke, a colleague of Bess’ who also canvassed the subdivision. "There’s not a lot of convincing to do. They’ve made up their mind. It’s mostly knowing when to vote, how to vote, encouraging them to vote.”This election season, the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional get-out-the-vote efforts where campaign workers go door to door to encourage people to cast ballots. With people staying at home and limiting contact with outsiders, an extended conversation with a campaign worker who shows up uninvited may actually encourage people to vote for someone else.But it's a sign of how important the two Senate elections are that both parties and independent advocacy groups are going all in on their in-person get-out-the-vote efforts.After the GOP lost the presidential election in Georgia for the first time in 28 years, conservatives are urging Republicans to get more aggressive with their turnout efforts in the state to match the outreach of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.After Abrams lost the 2018 governor's race, she devoted herself to voter outreach, convinced that the state was a genuine battleground if Democrats galvanized young voters, minorities and people moving in from other states. She raised millions of dollars to organize and register hundreds of thousands of voters in the state — efforts credited with helping Democrat Joe Biden win Georgia.Republicans have to catch up, Republican operative Karl Rove told Fox News.“Let’s not kid ourselves: This is a real race,” said Rove, who is leading fundraising efforts for the runoffs.The National Republican Senatorial Committee expects to have 1,000 staffers on the ground in Georgia. For comparison, the Republican National Committee had a total of 3,000 paid field staff across the whole country during the presidential race.Democrats carry their own baggage into the runoff. In many parts of the country, they limited face-to-face campaigning ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic, arguing that was the responsible thing to do. But that decision was second-guessed in places such as Florida.The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend millions on voter registration and turnout efforts.Outside groups are also hitting the ground, and the in-person appeals will be supplemented with a fusillade of phone calls, text messages, mailers and ads aimed at boosting turnout for the races pitting Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.Turnout tends to drop precipitously in runoff contests in Georgia. And activists fear there might be even more of a falloff this time, when the excitement of the Trump-Biden race is over. So getting voters to come back to the polls becomes more of a focus than “trying to find new voters or win over voters who voted for your opponent,” said Charles Bullock, an expert on Southern politics at the University of Georgia.Historically, that drop-off has disproportionately affected Democrats, so the party faces strong headwinds heading into January. The Republican candidate has beaten the Democrat in seven out of eight runoff elections since 1992, including two U.S. Senate races.Democrats have reason for optimism after Biden's win, but his margin of victory was tiny — less than 13,000 votes of nearly 5 million cast — and it’s been 20 years since the state elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.But groups whose efforts tend to favour Democrats are charged. On Friday, representatives of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America went door to door in a neighbourhood just outside Atlanta encouraging people to vote for Ossoff and Warnock.“If we don't get those two seats in Congress, everything we did to flip Georgia blue is not going to help us,” Phyllis Morrow told a couple that pulled over in their car.The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, which has more than 150,000 parishioners in the state, is asking members to call eligible voters in their congregations, encourage them to vote early and assist with rides if they need help getting to the polls on Jan. 5.Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said Black voters are excited and “realize the eyes of the nation are on Georgia.”"They know people are going to be looking to see whether or not Blacks turn out,” he said.The New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams, will try to register some of the estimated 35,000 people who have finished their felony sentences and can requalify to vote as well as some of the estimated 23,000 people who are turning 18 before the runoff, Executive Director Nse Ufot said.Ufot said the group also aims to knock on 1 million doors before the runoff, up from 500,000 before the general election, and is training volunteers to take coronavirus precautions.In Milton, Bess and Stracke were in friendly territory. The affluent, mostly white city about 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of Atlanta showed strong support for President Donald Trump in the November election. The neighbourhood they canvassed last week featured manicured lawns and spacious homes set back from the street.“Oh, you have no problem here,” Holly McCormick, 73, told Bess after he rang her doorbell. The flyers he carried warned that Georgia was the country’s “last line of defence from a socialist takeover.”McCormick called the outcome of the presidential race “rigged” though there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and she said Trump’s claims of illegal votes made her more energized to vote for Perdue and Loeffler in January.“We have to hold the Senate,” she said.___Associated Press writer Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this report.Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s legal team suffered yet another defeat in court Friday as a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the campaign's latest effort to challenge the state’s election results.Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges' assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” 3rd Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote for the three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents.The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court.U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, another Republican, had said the campaign's error-filled complaint, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together” and denied Giuliani the right to amend it for a second time.The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called any revisions “futile.” Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith and Judge Michael Chagares were on the panel with Bibas, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sat on the court for 20 years, retiring in 2019.“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” Bibas said in the opinion, which also denied the campaign's request to stop the state from certifying its results, a demand he called “breathtaking.”In fact, Pennsylvania officials had announced Tuesday that they had certified their vote count for President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the state. Nationally, Biden and running mate Kamala Harris garnered nearly 80 million votes, a record in U.S. presidential elections.Trump has said he hopes the Supreme Court will intervene in the race as it did in 2000, when its decision to stop the recount in Florida gave the election to Republican George W. Bush. On Nov. 5, as the vote count continued, Trump posted a tweet saying the “U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”Ever since, Trump and his surrogates have attacked the election as flawed and filed a flurry of lawsuits to try to block the results in six battleground states. But they’ve found little sympathy from judges, nearly all of whom dismissed their complaints about the security of mail-in ballots, which millions of people used to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.Trump perhaps hopes a Supreme Court he helped steer toward a conservative 6-3 majority would be more open to his pleas, especially since the high court upheld Pennsylvania’s decision to accept mail-in ballots through Nov. 6 by only a 4-4 vote last month. Since then, Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett has joined the court.“The activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud,” Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tweeted after Friday's ruling. “On to SCOTUS!”In the case at hand, the Trump campaign asked to disenfranchise the state’s 6.8 million voters or at least “cherry-pick” the 1.5 million who voted by mail in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other Democratic-leaning areas, the appeals court said.“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote in his scathing ruling on Nov. 21. “That has not happened.”A separate Republican challenge that reached the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week seeks to stop the state from further certifying any races on the ballot. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is fighting that effort, saying it would prevent the state’s legislature and congressional delegation from being seated in the coming weeks.On Thursday, Trump said the Nov. 3 election was still far from over. Yet he said for the first time he would leave the White House on Jan. 20 if the Electoral College formalizes Biden’s win.“Certainly I will. But you know that,” Trump said at the White House, taking questions from reporters for the first time since Election Day.On Twitter Friday, however, he continued to baselessly attack Detroit, Atlanta and other Democratic cities with large Black populations as the source of “massive voter fraud.” And he claimed, without evidence, that a Pennsylvania poll watcher had uncovered computer memory drives that “gave Biden 50,000 votes” apiece.All 50 states must certify their results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by Dec. 8. Biden won both the Electoral College and popular vote by wide margins.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MaryclairedaleMaryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
A provocative Aylmer church pastor, who’s pushed the envelope on COVID-19 restrictions, made sure everyone knew he was ticketed by London police for attending a rally against public health measures to fight the spread of the virus. When officers showed up at his house to give Henry Hildebrandt his court summons, his son, Herbert, filmed the exchange that went straight to Facebook, with the Church of God pastor striking a defiant tone as he addressed the camera. “Police were just at my door here. I apparently just received a ticket,” he says in the video. “We will see where it goes from here.” He continues: “I intend to do nothing with it because we have the right, according to our constitution, to have a peaceful protest and that is what I attended.” Friday, Hildebrandt told The Free Press he plans to speak at an anti-restrictions rally in Toronto on Saturday and keep spreading the word that constitutional rights are under attack by COVID-19 safety curbs imposed under an Ontario emergency law. “It’s not about me or our church . . . We stand behind the people and, whatever it takes, we’ve got to wake the people up and that’s what these rallies are all about,” he said. Hildebrandt was among about 200 protesters at a so-called “freedom rally” held in London’s Victoria Park last Sunday. Three organizers are facing charges under the emergency law that bans such large gatherings in the face of COVID-19. “I did expect sooner or later that they (authorities) would cave in to pressure from the public” and charge him, Hildebrandt said. London police released no names but confirmed a 57-year-old Aylmer man was charged for taking part in an outdoor gathering exceeding provincial crowd limits, and that others who took in Sunday’s rally may also be ticketed. Hildebrandt has been a lightning rod in the anti-restrictions movement, starting with drive-in church services he held in Aylmer — even after authorities warned him not to — when church buildings were still closed amid the pandemic. Eventually, such drive-in sessions were permitted. Since COVID-19’s second wave erupted, Hildebrandt has been a frequent fixture at lockdown backlash rallies in Southwestern Ontario. Besides Sunday’s gathering in London, authorities have charged organizers of similar rallies held recently in Chatham and Aylmer, and St. Thomas police have warned they’re warming up to lay charges in another such gathering held there. Under the emergency law, those convicted of organizing a gathering of more than 25 people amid COVID-19 can be fined $10,000 to $100,000, and be jailed up to a year. But that law was never meant to curb freedom of speech, said Michael Bryant, a former Ontario attorney general who now heads the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. He said authorities need to find a balanced approach to permit protest gatherings against the COVID-19 restrictions. “The problem is, the only way to protest this law is to violate it,” he said, adding he believes such protests should be allowed as long as people spread out to guard against the spread of COVID-19. Bryant said rally participants charged could offer a defence of freedom of speech, or, where some but not all are charged, argue they’re “unfairly targeted by the police.” “Charging people is not the solution because, as we see from this case, it ends up being quite arbitrary who gets charged,” he said. In the video, live-streamed to Hildebrandt’s Facebook page, a London police officer is seen issuing the pastor a ticket and court summons on his doorstep. In the nearly five-minute-long video, two officers approach Hildebrandt’s door, one doing the talking and leaving the ticket and summons in the pastor’s mailbox. "Is everyone receiving a ticket that was there?" Hildebrandt asks the officer. Const. Sandasha Bough said London police are still trying to identify rally participants. "If members of the public have been identified (as attendees), they could face charges," she said. "If anyone has information, please contact us." With files by Dale Carruthers, Free Press reporter firstname.lastname@example.orgMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 6:54 p.m. EST on Nov. 27, 2020:There are 359,055 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 138,163 confirmed (including 6,984 deaths, 119,727 resolved) _ Ontario: 111,216 confirmed (including 3,595 deaths, 94,366 resolved) _ Alberta: 53,105 confirmed (including 519 deaths, 38,369 resolved) _ British Columbia: 30,884 confirmed (including 395 deaths, 21,304 resolved) _ Manitoba: 15,632 confirmed (including 280 deaths, 6,487 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 7,691 confirmed (including 44 deaths, 4,384 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,257 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,078 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 477 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 356 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 331 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 296 resolved) _ Nunavut: 159 confirmed (including 8 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 70 confirmed (including 68 resolved) _ Yukon: 42 confirmed (including 1 death, 29 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 359,055 (0 presumptive, 359,055 confirmed including 11,894 deaths, 286,500 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A lobby group for Canada's newspapers and magazines is asking MPs to enact new rules to help its members negotiate compensation from social-media giants that post content the traditional media produce.News Media Canada wants the government to let the industry negotiate collectively with the likes of Google and Facebook.There are similar rules in other countries, such as Australia and France, where Google announced last week it had signed compensation agreements with several daily newspapers and magazines, including Le Monde.News Media Canada's CEO, John Hinds, said Canadian rules similar to those would negate the need for any new taxes or spending programs."It allows the industry and the digital monopolies to negotiate fair terms for compensation," Hinds told MPs on the House of Commons heritage committee Friday."It doesn't raise taxes, it doesn't deal with government sort of intervening in the marketplace, but it allows a fair market interaction between the platforms and newspapers."The committee is studying the challenges the pandemic has created for media and culture groups.Several members of the committee lamented the reduction in local news coverage as their newspapers cut back on coverage and editions to keep the lights on.Hinds said some smaller newspapers closed permanently due to the pandemic, while larger publications saw newsroom layoffs.The federal wage subsidy, he said, has been helpful in avoiding worse.Advertising revenue plunged by 75 per cent at the start of the pandemic in many markets, he said, and the industry is still struggling with advertising declines in the range of 30 per cent.The federal government announced a $30-million communications budget at the start of the pandemic, but Hinds said there was limited placement of the resulting ads in Canadian news media."The government can deliver on its mandate to communicate with Canadians by implementing a strategy of placing ads where Canadians are looking for trusted content and advertising," he said.Without federal help, he added, the future is grim for many of his member organizations.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia judiciary says the inquiry investigating why a former soldier killed his family and himself in 2017 is expected to resume in mid-February in a new venue.The fatality inquiry in the Lionel Desmond case will go ahead at that time unless there are more delays with the technical setup or significant changes to public health directives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer Stairs said in a Friday news release.Once the proceedings are underway at the courthouse in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., the inquiry is expected to sit Tuesday to Friday for a period of four weeks.The inquiry, which began hearing evidence in January in Guysborough, N.S., had anticipated resuming hearings in late May. However, due to the pandemic, Judge Warren Zimmer decided to wait until he was confident the proceedings could continue safely and in compliance with public health directives.The probe was first announced in December 2017 after Desmond's twin sisters raised questions about the former infantryman's inability to get adequate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder after he was released from the military in 2015.On Jan. 3, 2017, the veteran of the war in Afghanistan used a semi-automatic rifle to fatally shoot his 31-year-old wife Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and his mother Brenda Desmond, 52. He then turned the gun on himself in the family's home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.MORE TOP STORIES
Par ailleurs, 22% des adultes québécois qui ne possèdent pas déjà un des appareils intelligents évalués dans l'enquête ont l'intention de s'en procurer, ce qui représente une augmentation de 7 points de pourcentage par rapport à 2019. Malgré tout, plusieurs freins persistent, comme c'était le cas en 2019. Le principal frein à l'acquisition d'appareils intelligents pour le foyer demeure la perception d'un manque d'utilité ou de pertinence (62 %). Par ailleurs, plus du tiers des non-détenteurs d'appareils intelligents interrogés affirment qu'ils repoussent l'achat de ce type de produits parce qu'ils ne croient pas qu'ils les utiliseraient assez souvent (39 %). Parmi les deux freins à l'achat ayant la plus forte augmentation depuis 2019, nous retrouvons le prix (37 %) avec une augmentation de 11 points de pourcentage de même que la confidentialité et la sécurité des données (36 %) avec une hausse de 7 points de pourcentage. À propos de l'Académie de la transformation numérique (ATN) L'Université Laval, en partenariat avec le gouvernement du Québec, a créé l'Académie de la transformation numérique (ATN) pour répondre aux besoins des entreprises, des organismes publics, des ministères et des municipalités en matière de transformation numérique. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
MONTREAL — Air Canada pilots have ratified changes to their contract that will help the carrier grow its cargo business, as airlines scramble to minimize the pandemic’s toll on their bottom lines.The Montreal-based airline said in a statement Friday that it would convert several of its retired Boeing 767 aircraft to carry freight and that it had appointed a new executive, Jason Berry, to oversee its cargo division."Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo have pivoted quickly to new and unique commercial opportunities in response to evolving market conditions over the past 11 months,” said Lucie Guillemette, Air Canada’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, in a statement.The airline has looked to cargo as a potential opportunity in an otherwise bleak year. In May, Air Canada announced it was adding flights to Bogota, Lima, Amsterdam, Dublin and Madrid to its cargo service, which includes up to 100 international all-cargo flights per week, according to the airline.With fewer flights, and less cargo being transported in the luggage compartments of passenger aircraft, the price of shipping cargo by air has increased. Other airlines such as American Airlines and United Airlines, have begun operating cargo-only flights this year, hoping to use the opportunity to stem their losses. But Air Canada’s decision to convert several planes to carry freight will require a bigger investment in its cargo business than before, when it was transporting goods on empty passenger jets or planes with the seats taken out, said John Gradek, a lecturer at McGill University and the head of its Global Aviation Leadership Program. That raises questions about whether the slump in passenger demand will last long enough for the bet to pay off, he added.Converting passenger jets to freighters involves cutting into the plane’s fuselage to create doors that can be used to load cargo and installing rollers on the floor of the plane, an effort that can cost tens of millions of dollars per plane, according to Gradek.“The airplane has to get literally rebuilt to operate as a freighter,” Gradek said. “It’s not like you’re just pulling seats out and away you go.”Air Canada's announcement today comes as the country's air sector awaits a decision from Ottawa on financial support for the industry. The Canadian government pledged in September to provide support for hard-hit businesses in the travel and tourism industries, but it has yet to announce a detailed plan.Air Canada says the contract changes will help it operate more competitively in the cargo business.Michael McKay, chair of the Air Canada Pilots Association’s master elected council, said the organization’s members voted on the revised agreement earlier this month. The Boeing aircraft, which have been grounded and were exiting Air Canada’s fleet, will form a new fleet once they are converted to freighter configuration, McKay said.Berry, whose appointment as vice president for cargo begins Jan. 1, will join Air Canada from Alaska Airlines' wholly owned subsidiary McGee Air Services, where he was president. He led Alaska Airlines' cargo business from 2012 until June 2019.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
STELLARTON, N.S. — Sobeys says it is bringing back pay premiums for staff in locations where COVID-19 lockdowns are in effect. Parent company Empire Company Limited says it has reinstated so-called hero pay in Manitoba, Toronto and Peel Region in Ontario as rising cases of the virus in those areas have prompted the shutdown of non-essential businesses.Each week, eligible employees will receive between $10 and $100 extra, depending on how many hours they work and how long the government lockdowns last.Empire says it currently expects to spend $5 million per quarter on the program, but that could change if further lockdowns are introduced.The company offered extra money to workers early in the pandemic, but when COVID-19 cases began to decrease and lockdowns were lifted, it was stopped. Chief executive Michael Medline promised that if regions ever entered lockdowns similar to those experienced in March and April, he would bring back a way to reward staff for their hard work.“Our teammates continue to work tirelessly to keep our stores safe and our communities fed. Launching the lockdown bonus, in the face of new government mandated lockdowns, was simply the right thing to do," he said in an email to The Canadian Press."Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our teammates’ efforts to keep stores open, shelves stocked and Canadian families fed have been nothing short of heroic.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Companies in this story: (TSX:EMP)The Canadian Press
Port Hardy has its first publicly confirmed case of COVID-19. Lawrence O’Connor shared in a Facebook post that he tested positive for the disease while in quarantine after a trip to the U.S. “There’s nothing pleasant about this painful illness; I feel like I’ve been eaten by wolves, and s**t off a cliff,” he wrote. The good news, if there is any, is that O’Connor has self-isolated since arriving at the Vancouver Airport Nov. 16, so there’s been no one for the B.C. Health Authority to do contact tracing with. “I was lucky enough that I didn’t stumble around in public, not knowing I was carrying it,” he told the Gazette over the phone. O’Connor travelled to Las Vegas to participate in a charity stock car race for Amnesty International. Planning ahead for the required 14-day traveller quarantine, he’d enlisted friends to drop off food and supplies at his door. After a few days of hanging around the house, he started to feel body aches. By Saturday (Nov. 21) it was full on sickness. He contacted B.C. Health and scheduled a drive-through COVID-19 test for Sunday. We’ll call within 48 hours if it’s positive, they told him. Two days passed. I’m in the clear, he thought until at hour 48-and-a-half, he got the call. O’Connor is determined to keep the virus contained to himself, and plans to stay home even though his quarantine is technically over this weekend. “Hopefully this particular strain will die inside of me. That’s the only way this thing will be defeated, is contact tracing and isolation.” He was surprised to learn from the B.C. Health officer who called with the positive test news that for someone at his level of viral load, he’s only contagious for two days before and 10 days after symptoms start to show. B.C. Health confirmed that this is generally the case, but recommendations are adjusted on a case-by-case basis. O’Connor sat beside one person on the plane from Las Vegas to Vancouver, but felt he had to insist that the CDC take his flight and seat numbers. They said they’d post it on their website, but he didn’t get the impression they were going to contact other passengers. B.C. Health does not have purview over flight contact tracing, but confirmed that 48-hours before symptom onset is the standard for regular contact tracing. As for the stock car race, it wasn’t his best, but he’s glad that the event raised a lot of money for Amnesty International. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.comZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Two weeks after being hit by a cyber attack, the City of Saint John says a team of experts is "working around the clock" to restore its network and virtual services.In a news release Friday evening, two weeks to the day after the city was targeted by ransomware, city manager John Collin said most of its information technology systems and overall network are still offline. Taking the systems offline was an "immediate and proactive" response to contain the virus, Collin said."Our network will be back online only once we are sure that it is safe to do so," he said. "I have been impressed with the dedication and professionalism of the team, and have full confidence that the city will recover in the coming weeks." There is still no confirmation that personal information was accessed in the attack, but the city is working on getting a conclusive answer, the release noted."As soon as we know more, we will notify the community immediately," the release stated, once again advising people to check their bank accounts and credit card statements for any unusual activity. Most city services are fully operational, including police and fire response, road and sidewalk maintenance, garbage and compost collection, bill and parking payment ticket payment, the customer service main line and more. The following services are temporarily unavailable: * Some departmental phone lines * Email to most city hall employees * Online payments (bank and in-person cash or cheque payments are accepted) Other bill and ticket payment options are available and include:Saint John Water can be paid at customer's bank, through pre-authorized payments, or in-person by cheque or cash at the Customer Service Centre on the 1st floor of City Hall. Parking tickets can be paid in-person by cheque or cash at the customer service centre on the first floor of City Hall. Customers must present their ticket when paying in person. On-street and monthly parking payments can be made at parking meter machines or through the HotSpot parking application. The application is hosted by a third-party vendor. Cheque or cash payments for monthly parking can be made in-person at the customer service centre.
The organizer of the Halloween house decorating contest in Innisfil is back with a new contest just in time for Christmas. Jennifer Richardson has created Light it up Innisfil as way to keep the safe festive times going. “Same idea, same contest. Same everything, just Christmas style instead of Halloween,” said Richardson, who had 94 households participate in her Halloween decorating contest. Participants in the contest paid an entry fee of $10 and competed for best decorated in their wards, and in other categories. “We were able to give the (Innisfil) food bank and Christmas 4 Kids each just over $500, and they needed it,” she said. “It was crazy how empty the shelves were.” The Christmas house decorating contest is once again going to support those two charities. “All of our schools usually do such huge fundraisers for them and they can’t, which is why I chose them,” Richardson said. Residents looking to participate should join the Light it up Innisfil Facebook page. The cost to enter the contest is $10. Local politicians have once again agreed to judge, with winners being picked for each municipal ward, MP and MPP’s favourites, Mayor’s choice, Friends of the Library’s choice, and online voting for the best lighting display and best inflatable display. Judging will happen between Dec. 11 and Dec. 18. “Anyone can come and check out the lights, and they’ll have access to see the map online, but only Innisfil residents will be allowed to vote,” Richardson said. Richardson said she has already had local businesses reach out to donate prizes, including items from Koala Tea, Cookstown Antique Market, Due North Photography, Hot Box Huts, Nubridge Auto, and Telus. Richardson said she will be randomly drawing winners for prizes, too, so she encourages everyone to enter. “It doesn’t matter what your decorations are, big or small, just enter,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s for a great cause, for two very well deserving community charities.” For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/LightitupInnisfilShane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall notice for Farm Boy brand Deluxe Chocolate Brownie Mix because it contains milk that's not listed as an ingredient.People with a milk allergy should not consume the product, the agency says.The mix is sold in 500 gram packages with the Universal Product Code: 8 08912 00760 1.On the Farm Boy website, the Ottawa-based chain with more than 30 locations in Ontario says it will refund any purchases of the product.The product has also been removed from store shelves, Farm Boy says.The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Farm Boy alerted the agency to error and no one has reported allergic reactions to the brownie mix.
This election season, with all eyes on Georgia's Senate race, the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional get-out-the-vote efforts where campaign workers go door to door to encourage people to cast ballots. (Nov. 27)
Nova Scotia's housing minister says a rent cap and ban on renovictions — evictions in order to renovate or repair rental units — announced this week are a start, and that work continues to find more affordable places for people to live. Chuck Porter said he's having daily conversations with people in the private and non-profit sectors to increase Nova Scotia's affordable housing stock. "That's vital. That's most important to us," he told CBC's Information Morning on Friday. "I don't think that anybody is going to have a conversation with anyone whereby we're going to get any agreement and invest in anything that does not include an affordable housing component, and I think that developers and others understand that as well."Listen to the full interview with Housing Minister Chuck Porter here:The two per cent cap on rent announced Wednesday is temporary, and will expire Feb. 1 2022, or whenever the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted. What long-term solutions look like will be up to the new Affordable Housing Commission, Porter said. "Everybody's going to have a chance to be heard because there will be subcommittees and focus groups, etc. There will be opportunities for everyone to offer their input and there's nothing better than an informed decision."Porter spoke with CBC's Information Morning as part of its in-depth look at affordable housing issues in a series called Unaffordable or Unfit: Nova Scotia's Housing Challenge.Opposition leaders also weighed in, saying the changes Porter announced this week are needed, but not enough. "The government has profoundly neglected affordable housing over the seven years of their mandate, and the solution to this is for the government to get back in the housing business, to get back in the housing game in a very serious way," said NDP leader Gary Burrill. * He said a long-term rent control plan is also key and has proven to be effective in other provinces. Tim Houston, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, disagrees. "I've met with a number of ... people and organizations on the front lines of this. I've asked every single one of them, 'Do you want rent control? Is rent control part of the solution?' I've yet to find one of them say, 'Please implement rent control. This will really help us.' Because it won't and they know it won't."Listen to the full interview with Gary Burrill and Tim Houston here:MORE TOP STORIES:
One of Toronto FC's biggest stars isn't thinking about whether or not he'll be named the league's most valuable player this season. After all, while some other nominees are still fighting for Major League Soccer's top prize, Alejandro Pozuelo and his teammates are already back home. “For me, the MVP, it’s not important," the 29-year-old Spaniard said on a video call Friday. “I feel no good when we lose in the first round (of the playoffs).”Toronto appeared poised for a long playoff run after finishing the regular-season campaign with a 13-5-5 record, second best in the league. But the club's year came to an abrupt end Tuesday when it lost 1-0 in overtime to expansion side Nashville SC in East Hartford, Conn.Three days later, the result is still "bitter," and the players feel some guilt because they know they could have gone further, said goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. “It stays and it sticks and it’s going to be hard to wash off," he said.The disappointing finish punctuated a long, hard season that saw Toronto's players and staff face unprecedented challenges, from injuries and a condensed schedule to months spent on the road and games in empty stadiums. The uncertainty of 2020 has been difficult for everyone, said midfielder Jonathan Osorio, including professional athletes who saw seasons come to a screeching halt in March as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in North America. “You’re dealing with a lot of things that happen so quickly but so slowly at the same time," he said. "It was tough.”TFC played just one game in front of fans at BMO Field before the hiatus. When play resumed, it was in a bubble near Orlando, Fla., with the MLS is Back tournament, followed by an all-Canadian nine-game series in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Then, in mid-September, border restrictions forced all three Canadian clubs to move south. TFC set up a temporary home in East Hartford.“You had to have a lot of patience this year, I think. It was tough," Osorio said. "It was tough to get your body ready for games and then stop for long periods of times and then start again so quickly. An overall tough year for everybody.” A wave of injuries also impacted Toronto. Star striker Jozy Altidore and veteran defender Justin Morrow both missed time, and captain Michael Bradley was twice sidelined, first by an ankle injury and then by a knee sprain. Going through surgery, rehab and training was difficult, Bradley said.“It’s a frustrating year from a personal standpoint," said the 33-year-old midfielder. “It was a crazy year. That’s not meant in any way to be an excuse. It’s just reality.”Pozuelo revealed Friday that he, too, had dealt with a leg injury through the final two or three weeks of the season. He did not detail the nature of the injury but said he and the club kept it quiet because he wanted to continue playing. “This is no excuse," he said. "I play a lot of games because I want to play. And I feel good (to) play.”Pozuelo saw action in all 23 of Toronto's regular-season games, and was on the field for the full 120 minutes of Tuesday's playoff loss.He led TFC in scoring with nine goals and 10 assists, and was tied with two other players for most assists in MLS through the regular season. The MLS pandemic-condensed schedule, which saw most teams play two games a week, was hard on the athletes' bodies, Pozuelo said.“In football, I learned that we cannot play every three or four days because we kill the players," he said. "It’s difficult. It’s difficult to play every two, three, four days.”Now that the season has ended, Bradley is looking forward to training consistently and pushing himself physically. He said the off-season will be the first time all year that he's been able to work out for more than four or five weeks in a row. "I feel good. I feel strong," he said. The prospect of an indefinite off-season kept TFC centre back Omar Gonzalez up Thursday night. It's hard to know how to prepare when you don't know when you'll play your next game, he explained. “We have to be ready to fight for another trophy at the beginning of the year, whenever it comes," he said. "So we have to be ready. I want to be ready for my teammates, for my team.” After everything the club went through in 2020, being ousted from the playoffs in the first round hurts, Gonzalez said, particularly because TFC is a club that sets its standards high. But he hopes the season of adversity will hold some lessons moving forward. "It’s definitely a year that we’ll look back on and take a lot from," Gonzalez said. "Because I think we have a lot of strong people on this team. And I think there’ll be a lot of growth from this year.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
All things considered, it's a good problem to have: eight months into managing the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health officials in New Brunswick now must start sorting out who to vaccinate first.It won't be easy, given that the number of New Brunswickers old enough to be considered high-risk far exceeds the number of doses coming in the first wave of vaccines early next year. The province could receive enough doses for 60,000 people early in January. But the number of people over the age of 60 — the point at which the risk of serious COVID-19 impacts increases dramatically — is more than 200,000.Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said choosing who will be at the front of the line will be a complicated calculation."That's the point of prioritizing," she said. "We know there's not going to be enough, and this is going to be the most complex immunization program ever delivered in this country and around the world." Federal distribution plan based on populationThe federal government has agreed to distribute the first batch of vaccines, due in the first three months of 2021, using a formula roughly based on population.With enough doses for three million people, that would translate into about 60,000 New Brunswickers vaccinated by April.Russell said she and her counterparts federally and in other provinces have agreed on a general plan that will be hammered into place in time for expected regulatory approval of the first vaccines next month. Distribution could begin as early as January. "I think long-term care nursing home facilities would be priority one, certainly, as a very vulnerable section of our population," said Premier Blaine Higgs.The New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes said there are 4,800 beds in its member homes."I think you would move quickly into the health-care workers and protecting them, and then the likely next step would be seniors," Higgs said.Nursing home workers would account for 4,800 dosesFirst responders would also be near the top of the list, Higgs said."And then you just kind of work through the age demographics."Vaccinating unionized nursing home workers around the province would require more than 4,800 doses.That's how many members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees work in more than 50 nursing homes, according to union spokesperson Simon Ouellette. > Vulnerable people should be prioritized, but so should the people who work with them. \- Simon Ouellette, CUPE spokespersonFive long-term care or nursing homes have been hit by outbreaks in New Brunswick.Some nursing home workers, including maintenance and cleaning staff, must move from room to room, creating the risk of becoming a super-spreader, Ouellette said."Vulnerable people should be prioritized, but so should the people who work with them."There are also 1,875 doctors in the province, according to Dr. Jeff Steeves, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. The New Brunswick Nurses Union estimates 6,400 nurses are in the workforce now.Those doctors include emergency department and critical care physicians who are potentially exposed to COVID-19 frequently."Those most exposed to those being ill are going to need it first," Steeves said.People with chronic conditions on high-priority listAnd there are 950 ambulance paramedics who are "seeing folks that they don't have a really good understanding of when they initially respond about what may or may not be wrong with them," said Chris Hood, executive director of the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick."The association feels strongly that to protect the members, who are obviously in short supply, and to protect the public that they serve, they should be one of the first groups to be done," he said.Russell said New Brunswickers with chronic conditions are also "somewhere on that list" of high-priority patients.According to the New Brunswick Health Council, 11.6 per cent of adults in the province have been diagnosed with asthma and 11.4 per cent have been diagnosed with diabetes, two conditions that COVID-19 can quickly make life-threatening.Russell said Indigenous people will also be a high priority because COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on them.But it's possible the federal government, which has responsibility for Indigenous issues, will hang on to a small percentage of vaccine doses and do that itself, along with immunizing some military members and federal inmates.She said the goal is to have 75 per cent of the province vaccinated, enough to create herd immunity in the population. She doesn't see that happening until next fall or later.Cardy wants schoolchildren to follow high-priority groupsHiggs said Thursday that the fact some people will want to wait to ensure the vaccines are safe could make the process easier."There's a number of people that want to be vaccinated early, and there are probably others that want to kind of wait a bit," he told CBC's Power and Politics. "So it may not be a rush to the front of the line immediately."Last week Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy said he would support immunizing schoolchildren soon after the high-priority groups are done. "We're seeing, unfortunately, in the last few months, a significant increase in the number of young people who are becoming not just infected with COVID-19 but are then passing it on," he said."Younger people get less sick, but they can be just as efficient a disease vector as anyone of any age, so I'd certainly argue that. I think that would make sense."
HAVANA — Cuban authorities have cleared more than a dozen artists and activists from a home they have used as a centre for anti-government protests that have gained unusually wide attention.Police and health authorities raided the house in Old Havana on Thursday night, removing the protesters and taking at least most to their homes.The group known as the San Isidro Movement, which periodically stages performance art and music events, has repeatedly criticized the Communist government and is demanding the release of a musician member recently convicted of insulting a police officer.There were no immediate reports of arrests, but Amnesty International and the head of the Organization of American States expressed concern about the operation against the group. Almost 300 Cuban intellectuals and artists this week had issued a statement urging the government to engage in dialogue with them.Oficials said the gathering violated COVID-19 safety protocols, alleging that one of those inside was a Mexico resident who had recently returned from the United States and should have been quarantined. They also said he had given a different address when arriving in Cuba.The activists called it an attempt to quash a protest, which they said included a hunger strike, that had drawn international attention to the debate about freedom of expression in Cuba.Rapper Maykel “Osorbo” Castillo told The Associated Press that the artists and activists were taken to a police station and then to their homes as he rejected COVID-19 concerns for the reason to raid the home.“That was a tool that the regime used to oppress us,” he said.The protesters had spent 10 days in the house, the residence of one activist, in support of rapper Denis Solís, a San Isidro member who was sentenced to eight months in jail after confronting a police officer he said had illegally entered his home. He posted an online video of himself insulting the officer.Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, demanded to know the location of those he said were protesting peacefully: “The dictatorship of Cuba is responsible for their lives,” he tweeted Friday.Meanwhile, Amnesty International condemned what it said was harassment and intimidation of protesters supporting Solís, whom the organization said was apparently detained Nov. 9 and sentenced two days later for “contempt ... a crime inconsistent with international human rights law.”“Authorities can continue to harass, intimidate, detain, and criminalize artists and alternative thinkers, but they can’t keep their minds in prison,” Amnesty said in a recent statement.In days before the raid, the group of artists expressed “growing alarm” at the standoff with the activists and urged the Ministry of Culture to have a dialogue with the strikers. On Friday, dozens of people gathered at the Ministry of Culture to demand answers. Among them was artist Julio Llopiz-Casal, who had earlier signed the statement seeking dialogue with the government.“Cuba, at the moment we're in, deserves the right for one to express oneself, and we as representatives of the artistic community are demanding this," he said.Cuban singer Carlos Varela also referred to the artists and activists in a Facebook post, saying, "To have ideological differences, generate changes, think different paths to build the polyphony of voices of a country is legitimate and healthy,” he wrote. “That should not be decided nor limited, much less regulated, by a government in the name of one ideology or another.”Andrea RodríGuez, The Associated Press
A Sweetgrass First Nation man appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court today by CCTV and the matter was adjourned to Nov. 30. Michael Jordan White, who also goes by Michael Frank, is charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Todd Levi Stone, 38, in North Battleford earlier this year. According to police, on May 12 at about 4:07 p.m., EMS found Stone inside a home on the 800 block of 110 Street with significant head trauma. Stone was taken to a Saskatoon hospital and died May 13. North Battleford RCMP, Saskatchewan RCMP Major Crimes Unit-North, and North Battleford RCMP Provincial General Investigative Section investigated the murder and a Canada-wide warrant was issued for Michael White. Police worked together to locate and arrest White in Alberta and transport him back to Saskatchewan.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Researchers who are using wastewater as a way to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 have discovered it in Wolfville, N.S.While the research is still experimental and the results may not be definitive, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health said it could be a signal that COVID-19 is making its way into communities outside of Halifax."It highlights the importance of everybody following the public health measures no matter where you live in Nova Scotia," said Dr. Robert Strang.Strang said the province is going to increase capacity at the primary assessment centre in Wolfville, and is planning to have pop-up rapid-testing sites in place early next week.Water tested weeklyResearchers with Dalhousie University are partnering with LuminUltra, a private company in Fredericton that holds the contract to supply the reagents to detect the virus, to test wastewater in Halifax and Wolfville.Graham Gagnon, the director of the Dalhousie University Centre for Water Resource Studies, said sampling water from places where community spread is low could help identify where COVID-19 is in communities."If you think about a community in a more broad sense, not necessarily the town of Wolfville or the city of Halifax, but even very localized populations that you want to ensure community spread is minimal, then you can [have] those kinds of opportunities," he said.They have been working with Acadia University in Wolfville to test water at two sites in the town: at the wastewater facility, which collects wastewater from Wolfville's four lift stations, and from a lift station that takes water from Acadia University to the western boundary of the town. The positive test was found at the Acadia lift station, which was a "community of interest" due to the population of 18-to-35-year-olds, which made up more than 70 per cent of COVID-19 cases in November.The COVID-19 virus wasn't detected the following week. Gagnon said that while they are doing weekly tests, they are not structured in terms of what days or time the samples are taken. Because of that, it's hard to say why there was a positive result one week and a negative result the next week."It really requires a focused sample collection, day in, day out, so you can know what was the true outcome," he said."Was it just [a] one-off — someone visited or a bunch of people visited Wolfville — or was that really an accurate result?"Gagnon said they hope to expand the program and implement more routine sampling.'We cannot be complacent'Even if it's unclear how the town got a positive test result, these wastewater tests can act as "a very good early warning system," according to Wolfville Mayor Wendy Donovan."If we needed some more information or more reason to be terribly, terribly cautious, this is a good wake-up call for us," she said."I felt it was very important to get the testing information out to the community, not to scare people, but just to remind people ... we cannot be complacent."Donovan said the town's residents, many of them young university students, have been "largely very, very good" with following public health measures."I absolutely understand that this is no fun to be 20 years old and not being able to socialize and have parties and so on," said Donovan. "For the most part, our young people in the community have been respectful of their neighbours and respectful of the situation that we find ourselves in."MORE TOP STORIES