In the last province not to have a school food program, Fredericton-based philanthropists Earl and Sandy Kitchen-Brewer are determined to make sure that no student goes hungry in the classroom. In just a few years, they've invested $723,000 in breakfast, lunch and snack programs that benefit more than 100 schools from the Acadian Peninsula to Saint John. "It's like a startup, and any type of startup needs funding," said Earl Brewer, co-founder of Plaza Retail REIT, a publicly traded company that lists more than a billion dollars in property assets. One of the things the Brewers like to see in a proposal is students helping other students. "They're practising empathy then," said Sandy Kitchen-Brewer. "They'll be the ones to carry on, in the future." Earlier this year, the Brewer Foundation green-lighted a pitch from the former culinary tech teacher at Southern Victoria High School in Perth-Andover.Older students helping the younger ones David Gallagher envisioned high school students making meals for the younger students at Andover Elementary and Perth-Andover Middle School, who would otherwise go without.The Brewer Foundation kicked in more than $30,000 to help pay for kitchen upgrades and glass-front display fridges so kids could see the milk and snacks inside and grab what they needed.WATCH | Student volunteers practise empathy by making sure other New Brunswick students don't go hungry during the pandemic."The information they wanted to know was so heartwarming," said Carol Godbout, the school community co-ordinator at Andover Elementary."It wasn't just here, fill out some forms. It was … 'Tell us about you. Tell us about your community. Tell us about your kids.' It was amazing."The very latest project to get funding approval is the new hub kitchen in Saint John where meals are made for five elementary schools in high-priority neighbourhoods.Erica Lane, the community engagement co-ordinator for the Anglophone South School District, said they just got word that they'll be getting $24,000 that will, among other things, help them find more space. 3,000 lunches prepared a dayThe Brewers say they're determined to keep developing partnerships with local food champions who have a lot of wisdom to offer because they're in the community. "We're probably making somewhere around 3,000 lunches a day and backpacks on the weekend," said Earl Brewer, totalling up the projects thus far. "So we're not quite halfway there. We estimate there's probably five to seven thousand kids in the province with no lunch and no access to food."The 'silent pandemic'Sandy Kitchen-Brewer said it was her daughter who first opened her eyes to what she calls the "silent pandemic" of kids not having enough to eat in New Brunswick. That was back in 2016 and within a year, the Brewer Foundation had donated a fully equipped kitchen that sits on the property of Leo Hayes High School, where volunteers still gather every weekday to prep more than 300 lunches for more than a dozen schools in the Fredericton area. Currently, COVID-19 has made it nearly impossible to meet with the kids who benefit from the programs. "That's our favourite part," said Sandy. "I think it makes us more aware."Tanya McBride, who runs the Feed the Lions program, said the kitchen continues to be a huge asset. "Having this building here on the Leo Hayes campus is amazing for us," she said. "It provides so many opportunities."McBride said she can't think of any other private citizens who have invested as much time, interest and money. "Not at this level. It's amazing what Earl and Sandy have done for the whole student hunger program in the province."
A policing expert and a local advocacy group are raising questions after the Belleville, Ont., council approved funds for the city's police budget, which includes the purchase of a prisoner restraint chair.The Belleville Peaceful Streets Network (BPSN) were hoping councillors would reject the 2021 police budget until an item was removed, referring to it as the "devil's chair.""Imagine being in police custody, being overwhelmed by anxiety or depression and then being strapped into a chair and losing any and all agency of your body," said Britney Hope, a spokesperson for the group. "Nobody deserves that. But more importantly, experts believe it doesn't help – it actually hurts more."While city council couldn't vote on specific items on the budget on Tuesday — which was approved by the city's police services board in October — it approved the total amount of funds asked for by police.The chairs, which tie down a person's arms and legs, are meant to be used on individuals who become a danger to themselves or others. According to the 2021 capital budget, the Belleville Police Service have to deal with "30-40 prisoners a year attempting to kill themselves or cause themselves serious bodily harm by physically acting out of control.""Currently, there is no way officers can completely secure an out-of-control prisoner and we have had some serious injuries and prisoners needing to be transported to the hospital," the budget reads, citing the price of the chair at under $2,800. Dozens of prisoners try to harm themselves: policeBoth Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk, and the chair of the police services board Jack Miller, declined to comment and referred CBC News to the Belleville Police Service. No one from the service responded to CBC's multiple requests for an interview. BPSN points to a 2015 study funded by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Ontario, which reviewed 614 legal motions and cases — the vast majority of which were in the United States – that involved the chair.While the study approved the use of the chair, it found many issues stemmed from "inappropriate use." Robert Gordon, a former police officer and Simon Fraser University criminology professor, says he was surprised to hear the police force was looking to buy the item, which he says is primarily for transporting a person. He said the chairs are more commonly used in health-care and correctional facilities. In those settings, the chairs are seen as a "necessary evil," he said.According to Gordon, the standard is set by the Correctional Service of Canada, which uses the chair minimally."These chairs should never be used as a form of punishment or as a threat of punishment."Proper training keyGordon said the key is to properly train officers to ensure the equipment isn't misused or abused. Gordon said he's not certain why the police service would need a restraint chair when officers can use handcuffs, another piece of equipment he thinks is often misused.BPSN's Hope said people should be concerned councillors at Tuesday's meeting didn't question why a restraint chair is a proper response to 30 to 40 people trying to harm themselves.
Halifax has awarded a $288-million tender to Harbour City Resources to build and operate a new composting facility over 25 years.The new plant will replace the two aging systems operating in Burnside and Goodwood."It will be a state-of-the-art facility, with advanced screening and odour mitigation," said Andrew Philopoulus, HRM's manager of solid waste. "It will incorporate what's known as an airlock on all shipping doors."The new plant will be constructed at the current Goodwood site and will be able to deal with 60,000 tonnes of organic waste a year. Harbour City Resources has built and operated facilities in Calgary, Hamilton and Guelph, Ont.The new system will increase Halifax's annual composting costs by 17.5 per cent or $2.2 million.Coun. Tim Outhit said he hopes a brand new plant will mean grass clippings will be allowed back into the green carts."We will be able to look at some program changes knowing that they can be accommodated in the new facility," said Outhit. "That's encouraging."Coun. Patty Cuttell, who represents Goodwood, is worried about the increased truck traffic on Prospect Road."This is also the road to Peggys Cove," said Cuttell. "So could a road be put through the Ragged Lake industrial park?"Cuttell plans to ask for a staff report to consider community compensation for the Goodwood area since it will be the host for the municipality's composting operation for another 25 years.MORE TOP STORIES
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa has 46 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, according to Ottawa Public Health's (OPH).Some key indicators suggest the city is moving further away from a potential change to yellow on the pandemic scale next week.Quebec is tightening health guidelines in stores and malls for the holiday shopping season, adding enforcement to rules many businesses already have in place.We've made a timeline of key local moments of the pandemic, which we'll keep updating.WATCH LIVE | Ontario's daily update at 1:30 p.m. ET:How many cases are there?As of Wednesday, 8,567 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 362 known active cases, 7,827 cases now considered resolved and 378 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 14,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 12,600 resolved cases.Ninety people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 81 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Ontario says this will apply through December's holidays, with people who live away from home such as post-secondary students asked to reduce close contacts for 10 to 14 days before going back.Quebec has shared what it will take to have at most two small holiday gatherings this month, though that may change by the end of next week.Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout the Outaouais.Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.WATCH | Where researchers get wastewater for COVID-19 tests:Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions: * The Eastern Ontario Health Unit. * Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health. * Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is currently green, the lowest level.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.There is no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — more in seated venues.Its rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.WATCH | More research on COVID-19 'long-haulers':Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other site is in Napanee.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic in November. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its first confirmed case last month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
The Rainbow District School Board reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the preschool room at the daycare at Algonquin Road Public School on Tuesday. All staff and the parents/guardians of children who are required to self-isolate have been notified, and Public Health Sudbury & Districts will follow up directly with close contacts. “Public Health has advised the service provider that there is no evidence of transmission at this time,” said the Rainbow District School Board in a letter to parents. “The daycare remains open and the before and after school programs continue to operate. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting will take place throughout the school, including the daycare, before classes begin this morning.” Although the school does not operate the daycare, the school board wanted to inform parents/guardians of the situation. At this time, there has been no Public Health direction related to the school as a result of the confirmed case at the daycare. Parents/guardians are reminded to screen their children daily for symptoms of COVID-19 using the screening tool on the school board's website at www.rainbowschools.ca. Anyone who is sick must stay home. It is also important to continue to follow COVID-19 prevention measures. This includes washing your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, practice physical distancing, and wear a face covering, especially when physical distancing cannot be maintained. For more information about COVID-19 or the measures taken to address COVID-19, visit www.phsd.ca/COVID-19 or contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705-522-9200 ext. 524. “As always, we will monitor our school population closely for any signs of COVID-19, remain vigilant, and follow any guidance that we may receive from Public Health,” said the school board. “Thank you for working together to keep everyone safe.” Also Tuesday, Public Health Sudbury & Districts reported two new cases of COVID-19 in its service area on Tuesday. Both cases are located in Greater Sudbury, and the individuals are currently self-isolating. One of the individuals was a close contact of a confirmed case, and the other one’s exposure category was not specified because the information is either pending or missing. No other information about the confirmed cases was provided. Two more cases have now been resolved in Public Health’s service area, bringing the total number of active cases to 9. There are two active COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes in Sudbury. An outbreak was declared at Extendicare Falconbridge on Nov. 23 and Extendicare York on Nov. 24. Visit www.phsd.ca/COVID-19 for more information or call the health unit at 705-522-9200. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that the country is the first to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.View on euronews
Ethiopia and the United Nations agreed on Wednesday to channel desperately-needed humanitarian aid to the northern region of Tigray, where a month of war is believed to have killed thousands of combatants and civilians. Federal troops have been battling the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and have captured the regional capital Mekelle, and the pact announced by U.N. officials will allow relief into government-controlled areas of Tigray. The Ethiopian conflict has forced more than 45,000 refugees to flee into Sudan, displaced many more within Tigray and worsened suffering in a region where 600,000 people already depended on food aid even before hostilities broke out on Nov.4.
It won't be until sometime next year before a Labour Department report into the cause of the collapse of a crane in downtown Halifax in 2019 will be complete.The crane came down during storm Dorian in September 2019, spilling over a construction site and part of South Park Street, and causing the shutdown of several nearby businesses, relocation of some tenants from a neighbouring apartment building and prolonged rerouting of traffic.On Tuesday, a Labour Department spokesperson said there is still no update on the investigation."As you can appreciate, the crane incident is complex and requires a thorough investigation," Jill Florian McKenzie said in an email. "We hope to have more to share in the coming months."Pandemic creates further delaysHalifax lawyer Ray Wagner is representing a group of businesses and tenants seeking to file a class-action lawsuit against the developer of the building where the collapse happened as well as the owner and operator of the crane.Wagner said the labour investigation is indeed complex and the process is taking even longer because of the COVID-19 pandemic."The penultimate question is what caused the crane to fall, and as simple as it may seem it has turned much more complicated than that," he said in a telephone interview."There's been metallurgic testing, there's been observations by experts of the crane and a bunch of those things, which has been, unfortunately, delayed because of COVID."The initial plan was for the metallurgical testing and expert observations to happen in March and June, said Wagner. That had to be moved to the fall and there is some additional testing happening now, he said.Province covered cleanup costsWhat's most important for the people he's representing is timely justice, said Wagner. Ideally, that would be achieved through a settlement, but Wagner said they would continue on with the class-action route if necessary."Unfortunately, there seems to be an extraordinary amount of delays on this particular file."It took more than a month to clean up the crane.The province footed the $2-million bill in an attempt to get the work done as soon as possible and the area reopened to the public. Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said at the time that efforts would be made to recover that money.A spokesperson for Hines's department could not provide an update on that effort on Tuesday.
It only took two days after its launch for the chess drama The Queen's Gambit to make it into Netflix's top 10 most-viewed series — and it hasn't budged since.It has since become the streaming giant's biggest scripted limited series to date, but the show's popularity isn't confined to the screen. Chess enthusiasts believe it's bringing more people to the game and making it more accessible to a group that, historically, has been largely shut out of it — women."After the series came out on Netflix, you could feel the buzz around the club," said Steve Sklenka, president of the Calgary Chess Club. Though COVID-19 restrictions have forced the club's physical location to temporarily close, that hasn't stopped the inquiries. "We have [people] buying memberships online even though we're closed."According to Sklenka, the interest is the most he's seen since 1972, when American chess champion Bobby Fischer played Russian grandmaster Boris Spassky in a match that became a worldwide sensation. Now, Sklenka is fielding daily calls and emails from people asking when the club will reopen. Sklenka isn't the only one to notice a resurgence in interest. According to marketing firm NPD Group, U.S. sales of chess sets rose by 87 per cent in the weeks following the show's debut in late October, while chess book sales jumped more than 600 per cent. An executive at a major U.S. games company told NPR their sales jumped 1,000 per cent as fans around the world connected with the series."It is an international show with an international cast that is dealing with one of the more universal, quote unquote, sports or pastimes or hobbies," said Daniel Feinberg, a TV critic for Hollywood Reporter.WATCH | 'I've made older boys cry' — chess stars on the world of The Queen's Gambit:While chess is played around the world, Feinberg argued other potential pastimes — like football, baseball or hockey — wouldn't connect with international audiences quite as successfully. "Chess really doesn't know any boundaries, so everybody gets to feel some level of connection and they get to understand it on whatever level they do." Sklenka said the show has had another benefit as well."It's a good thing for chess andit's a good thing for female players," Sklenka said, "because it adds a lot of exposure that just wasn't there before." Show's male players depicted as 'too nice'The Queen's Gambit follows the life of orphan and chess prodigy Beth Harmon (portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy) as she rises to become the greatest player in the world. In reality, there has never been a female chess world champion, although many have played at an extremely high level.That includes Judit Polgár, a Hungarian player and the sole woman to be ranked among the top 10 players in the world. In 2005, Polgár became the first woman to play for the world championship title. After watching Harmon's journey in The Queen's Gambit, Polgár had one reaction to the depiction of the male players."They were too nice to her," she told the New York Times.Polgár's experience echoes that of Canadian chess champion Qiyu Zhou. The 20-year-old University of Toronto economics and statistics major has been playing chess since she was four and currently holds the title of Woman Grandmaster. Zhou says she has faced male players who don't take her seriously. "I've made older boys cry because I beat them ... and they're like, 'How did I lose to, like, a six-year-old or a five-year-old?'"Growing up in Finland, Zhou played in "open" sections in tournaments, for all genders, as there simply weren't other girls to compete against. Though she was successful — becoming the youngest-ever winner at the Finnish National Chess Championship, at age five — Zhou said the isolation can push younger players away."If I was a really young girl playing chess but there is nobody around me to be friends with me, would I really want to keep playing the game? Not necessarily," she said. "We're all social people, I believe, especially when we're younger — making friends is a really key part."Earlier this year, Zhou signed with the U.S.-based esports organization Counter Logic Gaming after her popularity as a chess streamer grew on the video game streaming platform Twitch.Zhou said she continues to face sexism in the chess world. She frequently gets online comments about how she dresses or acts — comments she said would not be levelled at male counterparts. WATCH | The Queen's Gambit trailer:"I guess people just have an opinion of what a female chess player should be like, and they really want to push that on girls," Zhou said.'Most of the top streamers are male'Andrea Botez, another Canadian chess streamer, said that even now, gender is often an "obstacle" for women. "Most of the top streamers are male, and if there are females ... there's always people saying you only get attention because you're attractive, not because you're good at the game," Botez said.Like Polgár, Botez believes The Queen's Gambit "toned down" the sexism in the chess world, but said it has also strengthened the sport. Its popularity on Netflix and social media isn't just bringing more people to chess, she said — it's bringing younger people. "The most important audience is the teen audience," Botez said. "They're watching Netflix. On social media, it's very popular on TikTok and stuff. And I think that's very important for the growth [of] chess."For Zhou, the question of why The Queen's Gambit has drawn so much attention has an easy answer. "There's always been an intrigue about chess… but it always takes a little bit of pop culture and mainstream media to push it to that point where everybody is like, 'We can actually play this game, and have a lot of fun playing it,'" she said."I'm not fully surprised, but I've always thought that chess is, you know, an art, a science and a sport, all in one."
The Holiday Host volunteer program put on by the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada (PEIANC) will change to a more virtual format this year.For the past 15 years, the program would match up about 20 host families on P.E.I. with newcomer families. The two families would join together for a meal, seasonal activity or party.It was a way the families could build connections and share during the festive season.PEIANC decided it could be a challenge this year to have two families meet up so they decided to move the seasonal sharing online."I wouldn't say a little different — I would say it is a lot different," said Valerie Fitzpatrick, community connections program co-ordinator with PEIANC.Fitzpatrick said they are looking for people to send in their holiday traditions new and old."It's just a way for people to show a little bit about, you know, what's your Christmas tradition and you get to share it, not just with one family but with the whole world virtually," Fitzpatrick said.She said they will be reaching out to people through the association for other holidays they celebrate and traditions they may have."What new Christmas traditions have they adopted since they have been in Canada or what Christmas traditions or other holiday traditions did they do in their home country that maybe they brought with them."The submitted videos should be between 90 seconds and two minutes. Fitzpatrick said people looking to take part can share the videos with them online or reach out to the co-ordinators.They will also be posting holiday messages from staff on their social media platforms. Fitzpatrick said they wanted to do this to encourage people to still try to connect during the pandemic."We have volunteers that have taken part with a new family every year in the program so we hope that they look at this as an opportunity instead of another one of those things that we can't do because of COVID," Fitzpatrick said."It's something we wouldn't have done otherwise but I think that it is a really neat way to reach out to more people."More from CBC P.E.I.
Nine-year-old Bedahbun 'Bee' Moonias can't bring herself to drink the running water in her Thunder Bay, Ont., hotel room. "Since we can't drink the tap water back in Neskantaga, I'm scared to use the tap water here to drink it," Moonias said. "So I use water bottles."Moonias has spent her whole life worrying about the water flowing from her faucets back home in Neskantaga First Nation, a remote fly-in Ontario community about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.Neskantaga has the longest-duration boil water advisory of any reserve in the country — 25 years and counting."Sometimes, I feel like we don't exist," Moonias said. "Like, nobody knows that we don't have no clean water. Like, we're just ghosts and we're just put in a drawer, in a box."Moonias and nearly 300 other Neskantaga members have been staying at the Victoria Inn Hotel in Thunder Bay since an oily sheen was detected in their reservoir on Oct. 19 and running water was shut off.Before the film was deemed non-toxic, its discovery left residents with a choice: go without water or evacuate during a pandemic. They decided the safest option was to pack their bags.Now, more than 40 days later, the evacuation is taking a toll, but community members say they are determined to maintain some kind of normal life away from home until clean drinking water starts flowing in Neskantaga for the first time this century.At chief and council's request, all the rooms at the Victoria Inn are being rented by the federal government for Neskantaga members to protect them from the COVID-19 pandemic.Inside the hotel's front doors, visitors are screened through temperature checks and questions about symptoms.Elder Laura Sakanee spends her days sitting in her wheelchair, watching people come and go."We miss our home so badly," Sakanee said. "We just left everything in there, even our moose meat. And I filled up my freezer before we left."'Really disruptive' for studentsOne of the hotel's ballrooms has been turned into a classroom for Moonias and another nine-year-old named Jayla Troutlake. One recent afternoon saw them learning to sew Christmas stockings as a cellphone played "O Little Town of Bethlehem."When asked if she is having fun in her new temporary home, Troutlake answered without hesitation: "No."Troutlake said she misses her home and her dog Gizmo, one of roughly 80 dogs left behind in Neskantaga.The dogs are being fed by the Canadian Rangers, who are also gathering wood for the few band members who have agreed to stay behind to keep the houses warm.Troutlake's teacher Miko Oyakawa is tired of hotel living as well. At first, she said, she tried to get her students to pretend they were on a field trip. She would bring in different types of fruits and vegetables they can't get back home."I remember kids looking at peppers and thinking they're plastic," Oyakawa said. "Pomegranate was by far the favourite."But more than a month into this extended field trip, she said, it's becoming harder to stay isolated, both physically and emotionally. So she tries to maintain a sense of normality with daily lessons and activities."For everyone, it's been really disruptive," Oyakawa said."Kids are staying up really late. Families are going out … Some people are just not sending their kids to school, so it's hard that way, but we're trying the best we can"Oyakawa is also making preparations in case they have to spend the holidays at the hotel. She said the Matawa Tribal Council and people in Thunder Bay have reached out already to donate Christmas trees and fill wish lists for the children."All this generosity is so great and touching," she said. "That gives us hope and keeps us going."'You can't leave your homeland'When can Neskantaga's residents go home? Band councillor Gary Quisess said he can't offer an answer. The tentative return date has changed several times. The latest estimate is Dec. 15 at the earliest. Quisess said he is skeptical. Two weeks of water tests must take place before anyone can return. Deficiencies discovered at the water treatment plant have delayed the start of those tests. A report from the Ontario Clean Water Agency last month found numerous problems at the plant, including leaks, mislabelled piping and tags missing from almost all items of equipment.The community is now drafting the terms of reference for a third-party investigation with the federal government of Neskantaga's 25-year-long water crisis, and of the business practices of the contractors, engineers and project management firms that have worked on Neskantaga's water system and those of other First Nations.Chief and council were asked to sign off on a draft version of the terms of reference last month by the Ontario regional director general for Indigenous Services Canada. Those terms of reference were not developed with the community's consent and the regional director general was taken off the community's repatriation file."This investigation is going to open a can of worms," Quisess said."We want Canadians to know the full story. We want Canadians to know how the tax dollars are used."Neskantaga's plant was built in 1993 and has never adequately treated and disinfected water.A long-term drinking water advisory was put in place on Feb. 1, 1995, less than two years after the plant was commissioned. It's been in effect ever since. As part of its fiscal update, released this week, the federal government is proposing to spend $1.5 billion this year and $114.1 million per year afterwards to speed up work on lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations, and fund water and wastewater infrastructure.But money isn't the issue in Neskantaga. The Liberal government already earmarked $8.8 million to upgrade Neskantaga's water treatment plant in 2016. The work was supposed to be completed by 2018, but the project has run into a cascade of delays and the budget has doubled to more than $16 million.Despite all the problems, Quisess said he doesn't want to live anywhere else. "You can't leave your homeland," Quisess said. "We were born and raised there. Our ancestors lived there."'Trying to celebrate Christmas here'Charla Moonias, walking a support worker's Pomeranian down the hotel hallways, tried to maintain a sense of optimism."It's been really hard to get motivated to come down here because this isn't our normal," she said."I don't feel optimistic about it. I feel like we're going to be here until the new year. I already picture us trying to celebrate Christmas here."Moonias said she spends her days binge-watching TV shows, ordering food and — when she finds the strength — going downstairs to the common rooms to meet with people.Moonias said she used to deal with substance abuse issues herself and it's been a struggle to live at the hotel."It's taking a toll on my depression, my mental health, my addictions," she said. "I'm really struggling to stay away from all the bad influences and bad people."Moonias was born in Winnipeg and started living in Neskantaga after she was adopted by Chief Chris Moonias.In 2016, Moonias met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as part of a youth delegation from Northern Ontario First Nations pressing for clean drinking water in Neskantaga. She said her skin used to break out into blisters after showering with Neskantaga's water.Now, she wonders whether taking the community's case to Trudeau accomplished anything."I went there feeling hopeful … I'm now 23," she said. "Where's the change?"'See how it feels'Bee Moonias is now being raised by her grandparents, who also live without clean tap water."I don't want to go through what my grandpa has been through 25 years ago," Moonias said. "Go live in Neskantaga and see how it feels getting no clean water. You're welcome to sit in my house. Stay in my house."The federal government has said repeatedly it is committed to ensuring Neskantaga has a source of clean running water.But even at the tender age of 9, Moonias doesn't have much faith in Ottawa's promises."I would be shook if they fixed the water really properly," she said.
Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission Wednesday for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world’s first coronavirus shot that’s backed by rigorous science -- and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.The move makes Britain one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population as it tries to curb Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.Other countries aren’t far behind: The U.S. and the European Union also are vetting the Pfizer shot along with a similar vaccine made by competitor Moderna Inc.Pfizer said it would immediately begin shipping limited supplies to the U.K. -- and has been gearing up for even wider distribution if given a similar nod by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a decision expected as early as next week.But doses everywhere are scarce, and initial supplies will be rationed until more is manufactured in the first several months of next year.Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla called the U.K. decision “a historic moment.”“We are focusing on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world,” Bourla said in a statement.While the U.K. has ordered enough Pfizer vaccine for 20 million people, it’s not clear how many will arrive by year’s end and adding to the distribution challenges is that it must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures.Two doses three weeks apart are required for protection. First in line, the U.K. government says, are frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, followed by older adults.British regulators also are considering another shot made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned “we must first navigate a hard winter” of restrictions to try to curb the virus until there’s enough vaccine to go around.Every country has different rules for determining when an experimental vaccine is safe and effective enough to use. Intense political pressure to be the first to roll out a rigorously scientifically tested shot colored the race in the U.S. and Britain, even as researchers pledged to cut no corners. In contrast, China and Russia have offered different vaccinations to their citizens ahead of late-stage testing.The shots made by U.S.-based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech were tested in tens of thousands of people. And while that study isn’t complete, early results suggest the vaccine is 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease. The companies told regulators that of the first 170 infections detected in study volunteers, only eight were among people who’d received the actual vaccine and the rest had gotten a dummy shot.“This is an extraordinarily strong protection,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, recently told The Associated Press.The companies also reported no serious side effects, although vaccine recipients may experience temporary pain and flu-like reactions immediately after injections.But experts caution that a vaccine cleared for emergency use is still experimental and the final testing must be completed. Still to be determined is whether the Pfizer-BioNTech shots protect against people spreading the coronavirus without showing symptoms. Another question is how long protection lasts.The vaccine also has been tested in only a small number of children, none younger than 12, and there’s no information on its effects in pregnant women.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
It was inevitable that the federal government's handling of COVID-19 vaccines would become political. Politics has shaped public perceptions of the pandemic's severity since it began.But now the vaccines themselves are becoming politically polarized, with divisions emerging between those who want them and those who don't.Since the spring, polls have shown consistently that one of the major factors associated with how Canadians view the pandemic is how they vote. Supporters of the Liberals and New Democrats have been more likely to report concerns about the public health risks of COVID-19, while Conservative voters have been more likely to eschew precautions and oppose restrictions.Polling conducted by a number of firms in November — as cases across the country continued to rise — still showed signs of this split between left and right in Canada.The latest survey by Léger for the Association of Canadian Studies suggests that only 12 per cent of Liberal voters want to ease pandemic restrictions as soon as possible — even if another wave is possible early in the new year — while 31 per cent of Conservative voters say they want governments to ease up.The poll also found that 52 per cent of Conservative voters are very or somewhat afraid of contracting COVID-19, compared to 66 per cent of New Democratic voters and 74 per cent of Liberal supporters.A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) found that between 87 and 89 per cent of Canadians who voted for the Liberals, NDP or Bloc Québécois in last year's election report regularly wearing masks indoors; 71 per cent of Canadians who voted for the Conservatives reported doing the same.WATCH | Erin O'Toole vs. Trudeau on vaccine planAnd Liberal, NDP and Bloc voters were about twice as likely as Conservative supporters to list COVID-19 as one of their top three issues of concern.When asked how governments should prioritize their responses to the pandemic, Conservatives were about twice as likely as Liberals to tell a recent survey for Abacus Data that there has been "too little emphasis on limiting the impact on jobs, income and the economy" — and more than three times as likely to say there has been "too much emphasis on limiting the health risk."We've seen proof of these political attitudes in how Canadians voted in October's provincial elections in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The New Democrats (the main left-of-centre party in both provinces) did significantly better among voters who cast ballots by mail — and avoided crowds by doing so — than among those who voted in person. Right-of-centre parties in both provinces did much better in the in-person voting.The polarization of immunizationSince attention has turned to vaccines, the Conservatives in Ottawa have focused their attacks on the federal government's plan to acquire and distribute the vaccines in this country. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has claimed that Canada will be "near the back of the line," though vaccines are expected to start arriving in early 2021.But this week's Léger poll suggests a minority of Canadians share O'Toole's concern. While the poll suggests 37 per cent of Canadians are worried Canada might not get the vaccine at the same time as the United States and the United Kingdom — where the vaccines are produced — 48 per cent said they are "not that concerned" and feel "a few months won't make much of a difference."It's hard not to see partisanship behind some of this, as the Léger poll suggests Conservative voters are the ones most likely to be concerned about delays — and the ones least likely to say they would take the first vaccine made available to the public.This is in part because many Canadians harbour doubts about potential COVID-19 vaccines.A recent Ipsos/Global News poll suggested that 71 per cent of Canadians feel nervous about a vaccine being created and approved so quickly. A similar share of those surveyed said they are concerned about long-term side-effects.On average, polls conducted by Abacus, ARI and Léger suggest only 34 per cent of Canadians would get immunized as soon as possible, while 41 per cent said they would wait a little before getting the needle. Between 11 and 15 per cent of those polled said they would not get vaccinated at all.Conservatives more likely to wait or avoid vaccinationThere is certainly a level of distrust among Conservative voters specific to the Trudeau government. According to Léger, about half of Conservative voters believe that the current federal government is withholding information about vaccines. Only 15 per cent of Liberal voters feel the same way.This trust (or lack of it) could have an impact on Canadians' willingness to get vaccinated. In the ARI, Abacus and Léger surveys, an average of just 27 per cent of Conservative voters said they would get vaccinated as soon as possible, compared to 43 per cent of Liberals and 39 per cent of New Democrats.WATCH | Procurement minister says government is 'putting the puzzle' together for vaccine distributionAn average of 84 per cent of Liberal voters and 79 per cent of New Democrats said they would get vaccinated either right away or eventually, compared to 69 per cent of Conservatives. The number who said they won't get vaccinated averaged just five per cent of the sample among Liberal supporters and nine per cent among New Democrats, but rises to 19 per cent among Conservative voters.The potential public health risk of this polarization could be mitigated if the federal government revealed a detailed plan for the acquisition and distribution of vaccines. Statements of support for such a plan from conservative premiers — some of whom have echoed O'Toole's attacks recently — also could help to reduce this partisan split before vaccine doses start arriving.Will that happen? The answer might depend on how much partisanship is running through Canadians' veins right now.
Christmas tree grower Milt Agate has worked in the Christmas tree business since 1990, but said this year will be his last.His 34-acre farm in Ilderton, about 30 minutes northwest of London, Ont., has been a staple for Christmas tree shoppers. For decades, families have been visiting to pick out their tree and enjoy a warm cup of hot cider and cookies.For the past several years, he has seen a decline in sales. To his surprise, demand was high this year — which caused the sales to skyrocket."It's been such a weird year, people are just itching to decorate," Agate said. "Families want to get together and this is what is bringing them together."Now, people are also expecting a lot more from "just a traditional Christmas tree farm", he said."They want the wagon rides, they want the petting zoo, the Christmas knickknacks."Agate said he simply cannot afford that, considering the amount of land, manpower and money he would need to operate. It's pushing him to leave the market."When you start adding the experience part of it, you've got to start looking at manpower," he said. "Which I don't have."Trees at the farm are marked down and selling for $35 apiece, as he is looking to close for good and needs everything to go. With the growing demand, Agate said he should have considered marking them up instead.The past weekend was a busy one, and most of the supply is gone."A lot of people are wanting to come out and get their trees before December," he said.Agate says he has even been receiving calls from people in Toronto wanting to make the drive down to pick up a tree but has to turn them away as he halted wagon rides and other activities due to COVID-19. This year, no wagon rides, hot cider or cookies are offered because of that reason.As a farmer, Agate said one of the biggest issues for him is mother nature.In the early 2000s the farm experienced two years of drought, which made Agate lose 25 per cent of his crop, he said.Another issue is the time it takes to grow the trees.Agate said it can take up to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree in "ideal conditions", making it impossible for farmers to increase their supply with this sudden surge that is largely being driven by the pandemic.Less travel, more customers"People are wanting to get out, wanting to get trees. They're staying home for Christmas as opposed to traveling — and so we are seeing the numbers on an increase," said Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.Farms across the province have experienced tree shortages for the past couple of years, she said, but demand this year has increased substantially.Brennan told CBC London that COVID-19 increased the demand for trees in particular this season because of the isolation many have felt this year and a desire to get into the holiday spirit.She said the association has seen a 25 per cent increase in sales across the board.The tree with the highest demand is the fraser fir which Brennan says "everyone goes for" and is in short supply.> It's not even about the size or the species this year, [people] just want the experience. \- Shirley Brennan, Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario executive directorShe said younger generation couples in particular who have recently bought their homes are embracing this tradition as a way of bringing together their families during a trying time."This is just one more thing that adds to the family dynamics. Having that real Christmas tree and having that experience, people are really, really embracing that this year," Brennan said.However, Brennan said the Christmas tree industry is steadily increasing each year."Our industry across Canada went from a $53 million industry to a $100 million industry since 2015, so it has been steadily increasing over the years," Brennan said. "And because it takes 10 years to grow a tree, we just can't put more trees in the ground for next year and so it was just a forecast that we couldn't even speculate was going to happen."She said it's "alarming" that a number of farms have already sold out of the trees they had available for this year."I have spoken to farm owners who have said it has been a record-breaking year," she said. "But it's not even about the size or the species this year, [people] just want the experience."
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have been sentenced to jail on charges related to an unauthorized anti-government protest last year at the city’s police headquarters. Wong, who pleaded guilty to organizing and participating in the protest, received 13 1/2 months behind bars. Chow, who also pleaded guilty to participating in the protest and inciting others to take part, received 10 months, while Lam received 7 months after pleading guilty to incitement. The protest took place on June 21 last year, and saw thousands surround the police headquarters as they demonstrated against excessive force by police against protesters, as well as a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China. Zen Soo, The Associated Press
Mike Goodyear knew what he was getting into when he first plugged his Tesla Model S into the charger at his Grand Falls-Windsor home three years ago.Newfoundland and Labrador was "the last holdout" for high-speed chargers, he told CBC News recently — but that was fine with him."I understood that going in, and that was part of the thing that I accepted," he said.Goodyear has no regrets — "it's been absolutely delightful" owning an electric car, he said, adding it costs him about $8 for the journey from his driveway to St. John's. That may be a bargain and emissions-free, but with only a few places to charge his car along that route, it requires a lot of patience: a charging stop in Clarenville takes upwards of three hours, Goodyear says.But the province's distinct status as the only one in Canada without public high-speed electric vehicle chargers is ending.Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is installing 14 Level 3 charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway from Port aux Basques to St. John's, plus one in Rocky Harbour. The chargers were tendered in October 2019, and as each charger is completed and tested, it will come online. NL Hydro expects all the work to be done by the end of this year."We want to be an enabler, to enable EV adoption in the province," said Jennifer Williams, the president of NL Hydro. Williams herself bought an electric vehicle this past summer."We believe the electric vehicles are coming, and we want to be ready for when those vehicle comes, so we're planning the system and getting ourselves ready," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.Williams estimates there are 200 electric vehicles in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 90 per cent of those are charged at home. But she said research suggests the lack of a charging network is a major impediment to increasing sales.Welcoming EVs from elsewhereEach station will have one Level 2 charger and one Level 3. The Level 3 chargers will cost $15 per hour, similar to chargers in the Maritimes, and can bill by the minute. Goodyear estimates they will shave hours off his St. John's trips, with a 20-minute stop enough of a boost to make it to the city. The network will make it far easier to sway people who have so far been on the fence about EVs, he said, particularly in rural areas that require longer trips."I know lots of people in the area who said, 'Oh, I wouldn't mind having an electric car, but I can't take it and drive to St. John's, I just don't have the range,'" he said.> Twenty years from now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a gasoline-powered car on the road. \- Mike GoodyearGoodyear has offered up his own home charger, even listing it on public charging apps, to EV drivers across the province, as well as tourists in need. He predicts the new network will attract even more people in search of a scenic, all-electric drive, across the island after the COVID-19 pandemic."This is for a very large community, and it'll open the island up to a lot of visitors from the mainland, that's another big thing. When our pandemic has come to an end, you'll see a lot more people coming and staying," he said.Network set to expandThose tourists might soon get a chance to explore further afield than the TCH.On the heels of the current network construction, NL Hydro and Newfoundland Power is also looking to install 19 other charging stations in Newfoundland communities from Robinsons to Roddickton to Port Rexton, and three in Labrador, with applications currently being accepted for most of them."We're certainly keeping an eye on where else we can expand," said Williams.Those extra stations are expected to be built by late 2021, depending on funding; the $2.1-million cost of the existing charging network is being split by the provincial and federal governments, along with NL Hydro.For Goodyear and many other drivers, the more chargers, the better to reduce range anxiety: the very real response EV owners have trying to stretch their batteries to make it to the next charge.That's usually not an issue for Goodyear, who does most of his driving around town. He's always had an eye on the future — he named his Tesla Galileo, after a Star Trek spaceship — and as he as idles in the drive-thru and sees exhaust pouring out of every other car, he can't help think of those younger than him."You know, all the driving I've done — I've just tipped over 91,000 kilometres in my car — and the car itself hasn't produced any noxious gases toward my kids and grandkids," he said.Quebec announced last week it would ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles in 2035. Goodyear would like to see more incentives in this province, as he's certain such change will soon come east."Right now you're hard-pressed to see an electric vehicle on the road. Twenty years from now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a gasoline-powered car on the road," he said.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Imagine watching your brain activity on a computer screen in real time.For Gord Luke, a Wawa, Ont., resident with Parkinson's disease, that's now a reality. Sitting in a room at the Krembil Brain Institute in Toronto's west end, the 66-year-old can see his brain signals being tracked digitally, thanks to surgically implanted electrodes in his brain and a newly approved device in his chest.Building on decades-old technology known as deep brain stimulation (DBS), which can help control the shakes and muscle tightness tied to brain disorders such as Parkinson's, the device puts a new high-tech tool in physicians' tool kits: the ability to capture brain activity of DBS patients such as Luke around the clock."We can actually stream live from his brain," said Krembil neurologist Dr. Alfonso Fasano.As Fasano fiddles with the laptop, his patient's sturdy frame is still, with the electrode stimulation keeping his symptoms at bay.WATCH | What it's like to live stream you brain:Controlling symptoms in real timeWith a couple of clicks, Fasano tweaks the level of stimulation from the electrode in the right hemisphere of Luke's brain, and he quickly starts shaking — his left foot is tapping up and down involuntarily. With another tweak, his foot is back firmly on the ground.The short-term hope, according to Fasano and his colleague, neurosurgeon Dr. Suneil Kalia, is that patients will be able keep a digital diary of their symptoms, which physicians can match up to the ongoing log of their brain activity. "Physicians can later look at that brain diary to see when symptoms were severe or better and fine-tune their therapy," Kalia said.In Luke's case, Fasano hopes he'll eventually be able to adjust the settings on the device from the comfort of his own home, in consultation with his medical team by phone, from thousands of kilometres away."We can record for days, months, the different signals in the brain," Fasano said. "This will be, like never before, a window into their activities."The personalized treatments that follow could help alleviate symptoms for years on end, according to Fasano and Kalia.Approved by Health Canada in October, the Percept PC deep brain stimulation system was developed by Medtronic, a Dublin-based medical technology company.Working alongside surgically implanted brain electrodes, the small, pacemaker-like device is placed under the skin of a patient's chest, which sends electrical signals through thin wires to a targeted area of the brain and offers real-time recording.Patients with brain disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson's tend to see symptom improvements once their DBS electrode implants are turned on. With the chest and brain implants working in tandem, physicians can now see exactly what's happening inside their patients' brains when that switch is flipped.WATCH | Using an MRI to monitor a patient's brain activity and responses:Automatic adjustments may one day be possiblePreviously, medical teams could only track those signals during brain surgery, according to Kalia."What this new device allows is whether it's the first day after surgery or even five years after the surgery, we can interrogate the device," he said.Through ongoing research, Fasano says, the technology may lead to "adaptive stimulation" in the longer term, where the device adjusts the level of stimulation automatically.It's a bit like a smart home thermostat. At first, those high-tech temperature controls require a homeowner to adjust the settings manually. Too cold in the morning? Crank up the heat. Too hot by the afternoon? Turn it back down.Over time, as the technology learns someone's patterns and preferences, the thermostat can start making those adjustments on its own — regulating the temperature and keeping people inside the house comfortable automatically.Kalia said that's a lot like how the implants could one day regulate — or even predict and ward off — symptoms, including seizures and tremors. The first three Canadians underwent surgery to install their new smart technology this fall, and there are more to come.WATCH | What the Percept PC deep brain stimulation system allows doctors to do:'Like being with them all the time'Though wary at first of having the procedure, Luke said he jumped at the chance to try the new device in November. His Parkinson's symptoms have worsened over the last six years."Your muscles tighten up, everything shakes, you shuffle more than walk, you're prone to falls," he said. "It really changes your life, big time."Speaking to CBC News outside his downtown Toronto hotel, he said the day before his medical team at Krembil turned on the electrode, he was barely able to walk. Now, much of his shaking and unsteadiness has subsided. Driving a car, spending more time outdoors, and carving wooden animal figurines are all pastimes Luke plans to pursue back home in Wawa. It's not a cure, to be clear. But it offers Luke, who's a 10-hour drive from the Krembil specialists, a way to manage his disease's progression with fewer trips to Toronto and log a treasure trove of data for his medical team at the same time.Fasano says that's a welcome change from the small glimpses of someone's life physicians typically get when patients like Luke visit, which can't possibly capture their day-to-day symptoms and flare-ups. "It will be like being with them all the time," he said.
WASHINGTON — Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said he's largely sticking with a partisan, scaled-back COVID-19 relief bill that has already failed twice this fall, even as Democratic leaders and a bipartisan group of moderates offered concessions in hopes of passing pandemic aid before Congress adjourns for the year. The Kentucky Republican made the announcement Tuesday after President-elect Joe Biden called upon lawmakers to pass a down payment relief bill now with more to come next year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resumed talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a year-end spending package that could include COVID-19 relief provisions. Key Senate moderates rallied behind a scaled-back framework. It’s unclear whether the flurry of activity will lead to progress. Time is running out on Congress' lame-duck session and Donald Trump’s presidency, many Republicans won’t even acknowledge that Trump has lost the election and good faith between the two parties remains in short supply. McConnell said that his bill, which only modestly tweaks an earlier plan blocked by Democrats, would be signed by Trump and that additional legislation could pass next year. But his initiative fell flat with Democrats and a key GOP moderate. “If it's identical to what (McConnell) brought forth this summer then it's going to be a partisan bill that is not going to become law," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who joined moderates in unveiling a $908 billion bipartisan package only hours earlier. “And I want a bill that will become law." Democrats declined to release details of their concessions to McConnell. “Speaker Pelosi and I sent him the proposal in a good faith effort to start, to get him to negotiate in a bipartisan way," Schumer said. McConnell's response was to convene conversations with the Trump team and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. During the campaign, Trump appeared eager to sign a relief bill and urged lawmakers to “go big” but McConnell said Tuesday's modest measure is all he'll go for now. “We don't have time for messaging games. We don't have time for lengthy negotiations," McConnell said. “I would hope that this is something that could be signed into law by the president, be done quickly, deal with the things we can agree on now." He added that there would still be talks about “some additional package of some size." McConnell's reworked plan swiftly leaked. A summary ignores key demands of Democrats and moderates such as aid to states and local governments and additional unemployment benefits. In Wilmington, Delaware, Biden called on lawmakers to approve a down payment on COVID-19 relief, though he cautioned that “any package passed in lame-duck session is — at best -- just a start.” And a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a split-the-difference solution to the protracted impasse over COVID-19 relief in a last-gasp effort to ship overdue help to a hurting nation before Congress adjourns for the holidays. It was a sign that some lawmakers across the spectrum are reluctant to adjourn for the year without approving some COVID-19 aid. The group includes Senate centrists such as Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Collins, who hope to exert greater influence in a closely divided Congress during the incoming Biden administration. The proposal by the bipartisan group hit the scales at $908 billion, including $228 billion to extend and upgrade “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses for a second round of relief to hard-hit businesses like restaurants. It would revive a special jobless benefit, but at a reduced level of $300 per week rather than the $600 benefit enacted in March. State and local governments would receive $160 billion, and there is also money for vaccines. Previous, larger versions of the proposal — a framework with only limited detail — were rejected by top leaders such as Pelosi, D-Calif., and McConnell. But pressure is building as lawmakers face the prospect of heading home for Christmas and New Year's without delivering aid to people in need. Lawmakers' bipartisan effort comes after a split-decision election delivered the White House to Democrats and gave Republicans down-ballot success. At less than $1 trillion, it is less costly than a proposal meshed together by McConnell this summer. He later abandoned that effort for a considerably less costly measure that failed to advance in two attempts this fall. “It's not a time for political brinkmanship," Manchin said. “Emergency relief is needed now more than ever before. The people need to know that we are not going to leave until we get something accomplished." Pelosi and Mnuchin were discussing COVID-19 relief and other end-of-session items, including a $1.4 trillion catchall government funding bill. Mnuchin told reporters as he arrived at a Senate Banking Committee hearing to assess earlier COVID-19 rescue efforts that he and Pelosi are focused primarily on the unfinished appropriations bills, however. “On COVID relief, we acknowledged the recent positive developments on vaccine development and the belief that it is essential to significantly fund distribution efforts to get us from vaccine to vaccination,” Pelosi said afterward. Pelosi and Mnuchin grappled over a relief bill for weeks before the November election, discussing legislation of up to $2 trillion. But Senate GOP conservatives opposed their efforts and Pelosi refused to yield on key points. The bipartisan compromise proposal is virtually free of detail, but includes a temporary shield against COVID-19-related lawsuits against businesses and other organizations that have reopened despite the pandemic. That's a priority for McConnell. But his warnings of a wave of destructive lawsuits haven't been borne out, and it is sure to incite opposition from the trial lawyers' lobby, which retains considerable influence with top Democratic leaders. The centrist lawmakers, both moderates and conservatives, billed their proposal as a temporary patch to hold things over until next year. It contains $45 billion for transportation, including aid to transit systems and Amtrak, $82 billion to reopen schools and universities, funding for vaccines and health care providers, and money for food stamps, rental assistance and the Postal Service. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved the 73rd Academy Awards ceremony to April 25, 2021, so that theaters would be open again in the spring, which will allow more films to compete in the awards, the report said. "The Oscars in-person telecast will happen," Variety https://variety.com/2020/film/news/oscars-in-person-show-will-happen-2021-1234843255 reported on Tuesday, citing a representative from the Academy. The Academy Awards are traditionally held at the 3,400-seater Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.
These 5 unborn-babies are already super famous.