WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
MIAMI — Brad Six becomes Santa Claus, pulling his black boots over his red pants in the office of a Miami outdoor supply company. It's hot, so he forgoes the traditional heavy jacket for a lightweight vest and grabs his Santa hat.But before sliding it on, the gray-bearded 61-year-old dons a plastic face shield and then takes his chair positioned behind a plexiglass sheet."Getting paid is nice, but to get your battery recharged and to really get something lasting out of it requires interacting with the kids — you don’t get a lot of that this year,” said Six, who first portrayed Santa 35 years ago.This is Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age, where visits are conducted with layers of protection or online. Putting hundreds of kids daily onto Santa's lap to talk into his face — that's not happening for most. The physical attributes that make the perfect Santa align perfectly with those that make COVID-19 especially deadly.“Most of us tick all the boxes: We are old, we are overweight, we have diabetes and if we don’t have diabetes, we have heart disease,” said Stephen Arnold, the president of IBRBS, an association formerly known as the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas.That has spurred creativity in Santa's workshops. Santas conducting in-person visits are using some combination of masks, the outdoors, barriers and distance for safety. Others are doing virtual visits, where children chat with Santa online for prices typically ranging from $20 to $100, depending on the length and extras, such as whether customers want a recording. Some Santas are taking the season off.“Santa safety is our No. 1 concern” and negotiated into every contract, said Mitch Allen, president of HireSanta, one of the nation's largest agencies. He said the pandemic initially dried up his business, but it bounced back, especially online.The average Santa makes $5,000 to $10,000 during a normal season, Allen said. That's a welcome bonus for men often retired on a fixed income, but many Santas say revenue is down as corporate parties and other lucrative gigs evaporated.Jac Grimes, a Santa in Greensboro, North Carolina, gave up home visits, about a third of his business. He did it not just for his own health, but to prevent becoming a superspreader, fearing he'd pass the virus from one family to the next.At a farmers market he annually works, Grimes and his wife dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and sit in a parking lot where they to talk to people who remain inside their cars. Some homeowners associations are moving their annual Santa-visitation parties outdoors; Grimes will arrive in his red convertible to greet the crowds from afar.One of the hardest adjustments Santas have made is wearing masks that hide their painstakingly grown beards.“Santa performers are fairly vain people — if they are good,” Grimes said.The virus has many Santas and parents turning to virtual visits, which are booked through each Santa's personal website or agencies like Allen's. That often has Santas turning to their children and others for help mastering the computer skills needed.“It has been a challenge,” said Christopher Saunders, a Santa performer in Tool, Texas, a small town near Dallas.But Saunders and others say virtual sessions are a good if imperfect substitute for in-person visits. Parents fill out questionnaires, allowing performers to personalize their patter, and a side benefit is that the sessions aren't rushed. Many Santa mall visits last no more than two minutes to keep the line moving.“You get a different energy,” Saunders said of the virtual visits. “You can see the child’s expressions, as pure as they are.”Jim Beidel, a Santa performer near Seattle, said knowing the children's personal stories, such as their friends and school, helps Santas sell their Christmas magic.“It really enhances the engagement, the suspension of disbelief, especially among the older children," he said.But even Santas with the best gigs are hurting. Howard Graham usually portrays Santa in the grand foyer of New York's Radio City Music Hall during its Christmas show featuring the Rockettes. That's gone, so he's doing virtual visits and five days with a historic railroad in Pennsylvania. Still, he's taking a financial and emotional hit.“I love what I do ... bringing them (children) a little bit of smiles and hope,” said Graham, who has played Santa at Radio City for eight years. “I am going to do what I can not to change that.”That was also Six's goal as he settled recently into Santa's throne for a three-hour shift at Miami's Bass Pro Shops.As families sat in front of the plexiglass for photos, Six tilted his head so his face shield didn't reflect the camera's flash. He cheerfully waved children around the plexiglass so they could tell him their wish list, keeping them 6 feet (1.8 metres) back. As he wished them a Merry Christmas, an elf swooped in with disinfectant, wiping the plexiglass and bench before the next group sat.Six said the arrangement is “a little easier physically on Santa's back because he doesn't have to pick anybody up, but it's not as enjoyable because Santa doesn't get the interaction he normally gets.”But for families, sitting with Santa, even if behind a shield, is a bit of normalcy in abnormal times.Paul and Sarah Morris and their children, 5-year-old Theo and Sophy, 4, were among the first to visit Six that night. An Air Force family visiting from Hawaii, the Morrises cajoled their children into hugging for their photo. “Stop wiggling,” Theo said, scolding his sister before each sibling told Santa their Christmas wish. Sophy wanted candy; Theo, a remote control Ford Mustang.“This is definitely different," Sarah Morris said of the setup, “but the kids are excited and that's what matters.”Terry Spencer, The Associated Press
The position of County warden will be contested this year as both incumbent Liz Danielsen and Coun. Brent Devolin are vying for the position. The two councillors delivered speeches at the Nov. 25 council meeting about their candidacy for the role. Deputy warden Andrea Roberts and Coun. Cec Ryall backed Devolin’s nomination, while councillors Carol Moffatt and Dave Burton backed Danielsen’s. The election by councillors and swearing-in will occur Dec. 15. Danielsen is attempting to break recent historical precedent. Hers was the first multi-year warden term since Murray Fearrey in 2011-2012, and there has not been a three-year warden since at least 2004. Danielsen said her attempt may seem extraordinary but argued for the need for continuity in a time such as this. “I just have tried to remain steadfastly available every single day since the pandemic began,” she said. “I believe that continuity is vital. We do remain under a state of local emergency and I’ve been working closely with a lot of the department heads since early March. And continuity in such times brings consistency in decision making.” Danielsen went unchallenged for the position last year and beat out Burton for the role in 2018. Before that, there had been a one-year cycle for warden since 2013. Devolin, who served as warden for one year in 2017, said the County would face significant changes in the second part of council’s term, with COVID-19, population growth, and diminishing upper government funding. “Changes that will need to occur in Haliburton will involve municipal, County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Eastern Ontario governing bodies to achieve the best possible outcomes. I have a keen interest in nurturing these relationships to achieve outcomes that cannot be achieved alone,” Devolin said. He added he is not an unknown quantity to anyone on council. “By now, all of you pretty well know my strengths and weaknesses that I would bring to the position of warden,” Devolin said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve as you know and I’ll put time and energy to fulfill the role.” Danielsen also recognized the change to come with the County services delivery review. “I can honestly say that I have no preconceived bias or thoughts on the outcome of the services delivery review other than a willingness to work hard to see improvements made,” Danielsen said. “I’d be proud to continue as your warden. I believe I have good community support and a good rapport with all of you.”Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade – Richard Lachance, l'ancien grand président de Cogeco Média est «en réflexion» en vue des élections municipales de 2021 à Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade. Celui qui a cédé les commandes de la filiale du géant des télécommunications en 2018 pourrait ainsi prendre la place de la mairesse sortante, Diane Aubut. Aujourd'hui conseiller spécial pour l'entreprise, notamment en ce qui a trait aux stations radiophoniques détenues par Cogeco, M. Lachance soutient être aux premiers balbutiements de sa réflexion. «J'analyse et je réfléchis à tout ça. Je regarde ce qui pourrait m'intéresser», explique-t-il. «Beaucoup de gens m'ont approché. J'étudie et je regarde», ajoute l'homme reconnu pour son dynamisme contagieux. Plusieurs questions mériteront des réponses avant que le principal intéressé ne confirme une candidature. «Est-ce que j'ai le goût de m'investir à un autre niveau? Est-ce que je suis prêt à servir la population? Ça demanderait beaucoup d'heures dans mon cas parce que je m'implique à fond. J'ai connu des ennuis de santé l'an dernier, mais ma condition s'améliore de plus en plus. La santé jouera un rôle déterminant», confie Richard Lachance. Il concède par ailleurs que le contexte pourrait peser dans la balance.Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
LOS ANGELES — Mark Cuban, Anthony Anderson and Skylar Diggins-Smith will take part in a series of panel discussions on YouTube that are focused on racial justice.The video-sharing platform announced the lineup on Thursday for “Bear Witness, Take Action 2.” The two-hour special featuring the various panels and musical performances will premiere Saturday at 6 p.m. EST on the YouTube Originals channel.Common and Keke Palmer return as hosts of the forum, which will include sports figures, entertainers and activists. The first event took place in June.Patti LaBelle, Rapsody and SAINt JHN will perform.“I’m excited to return for the second installment to continue these necessary discussions centred around racial injustices in order to nurture, enhance and protect Black lives,” Common said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to the talented and intelligent people we have joining us this time around for more compelling and impactful conversations that we believe will lead to action.”The panels will venture into several topics including criminal justice reform, dealing with mental health during the pandemic and the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality.Some of the highlighted panels include a discussion between Cuban and New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. The Dallas Mavericks owner and Jenkins are expected to talk about what happens when a team owner holds a conversation with a player about white privilege, civil responsibility and political activism.Diggins-Smith will appear on panel with reporter Jemele Hill and activist Harry Edwards about athletes’ impact on today’s political movement.Famed author Isabel Wilkerson will talk with Soledad O’Brien about making society more equitable.“It is so important that we keep a dialogue about racial justice going beyond any particular moment,” Palmer said. “I want to encourage my peers to continue to have thoughtful and powerful conversations that will lead us to change. Let’s talk about it, take action, and see change realized.”Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
French police are beginning an unprecedented inspection of 76 of the country's mosques as part of a move against so-called 'religious separatism'View on euronews
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Mayor Jim Watson wants a guarantee that the Ottawa Redblacks and 67's keep playing at Lansdowne Park's TD Place until 2032, according to an open letter he wrote to the business group that owns the teams.Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) runs the commercial sector at Lansdowne and owns some of the sports teams that play there. In its 30-year deal with the city, OSEG had promised to keep the teams at the stadium until 2022.But last month, OSEG — which had been struggling to get enough foot traffic to Lansdowne and lost $11 million last year — said it needed help from the city, as the COVID-19 pandemic had decimated its revenue stream. The group has asked the city to extend the partnership for an additional 10 years to 2054, in order to give OSEG more time to recoup some of its losses.After a nine-hour discussion on Nov. 13, members of the finance and economic development committee approved the changes to the partnership, but the contentious issue is set to go to full council next Wednesday. Among the many speakers at the meeting, representatives of the Glebe Community Association and other public delegates expressed concern about what would happen if the sports teams, which attracted thousands on game days in pre-COVID-19 times, no longer played at Lansdowne.Watson's letter, which he wrote with Coun. Mathieu Fleury in his role as sports commissioner, asks for a response from OSEG by the Dec. 9 council meeting.No one from OSEG was immediately available for comment.Menard drafted his own motionCoun. Shawn Menard, in whose ward Lansdowne Park is situated, called out the mayor on social media for taking credit for his work. Menard said he had written several motions about the Lansdowne situation for council next week, including one to keep the teams in Ottawa.The draft motion, which CBC has seen, calls for any proposed changes to the Lansdowne partnership to "include an agreement by all parties to add an additional ten years to the guarantee that the Ottawa REDBLACKS and Ottawa 67's would remain in Ottawa until after 2030, and ensuring that Ottawa residents will be able to continue cheering on these beloved teams."Menard said he shared the draft motion with several other councillors in a briefing, and gave it to the clerk's office to distribute to "relevant parties, staff and OSEG."However, the mayor said that he'd been "working closely with OSEG on this issue" since the committee meeting and neither he nor Fleury had been made aware of the motion by Menard.Watson said in an email that he is pleased that Coun. Menard supports asking OSEG to commit to fielding the Redblacks and the Ottawa 67s for an additional 10 years — a move intended to ensure the long-term success of the Lansdowne Park Partnership."Further, the letter to OSEG, aimed at clarifying OSEG's position, in no way precludes the ward councillor from bringing a motion to Council on this matter."
Kroger's sales surged in the third quarter as COVID-19 infections rose rapidly in the fall and Americans restocked pantries in anticipation of spending more time at home.The grocer boosted its full-year outlook believing that families will continue to try to reduce their risks to exposure.Revenue climbed to $29.72 billion, from $27.97 billion and online sales more than doubled. That was a little shy of the $29.98 billion Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research, and shares fell almost 5% at the opening bell Thursday.More people did appear to get food or drinks outside the home the during the three-month reporting period, whether that was restaurants, hotels or airports, said Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData. But he said the dining at home trend isn't going anywhere soon.“While the trends have unraveled somewhat, they are still very much present, and we believe that consumers will continue to dine more at home as we move into 2021,” Saunders said. “This is both because going back to offices will be a prolonged process and because economic pressures will deter some households from eating out.”On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 712,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the latest sign that the U.S. economy and job market remain under stress from an intensifying viral outbreak.That, as well as a significant surge in COVID-19 infections, has pushed more people to devote more of their dining budget toward the home.Kroger's comparable-store sales rose 10.9% excluding fuel sales, which topped projections, and its profit was better than analysts had expected.Kroger Co. earned $631 million, or 80 cents per share, for the three months ended Nov. 7. Adjusted earnings were 71 cents per share, easily beating the 66 cents Wall Street was looking for. And it dwarfed last year's quarterly profit of $263 million.For the full year, the Cincinnati grocer now anticipates adjusted earnings per share growth of between 50% and 53%. It expects comparable-store sales to be up around 14%. That's up a point from earlier same-store sales forecasts, but it broadened its earnings-per-share growth to the lower side.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
À 11 mois du scrutin municipal, Action Laval confirme la candidature d’un second nouveau candidat en l’espace d’une semaine. Il s’agit de Yanie Langevin Charbonneau qui briguera les suffrages dans le district Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, actuellement représenté par le chef de Parti Laval et opposition officielle, Michel Trottier. Comptable professionnelle agréé, Mme Langevin Charbonneau agit présentement à titre de conseillère en matière de finances publiques et comptabilité municipale auprès de la cheffe du parti, Sonia Baudelot, et du caucus. Dans un communiqué publié le 2 décembre, elle dit souhaiter apporter ses «connaissances» et son «expertise» pour une «meilleure gestion des finances publiques». Diplômée de l’École des hautes études commerciales HEC Montréal, la nouvelle recrue de 28 ans est à la tête de son «propre cabinet de comptable dont les bureaux sont à Laval», souligne-t-on. Yanie Langevin Charbonneau succède ainsi à Francine LeBlanc, qui avait défendu les couleurs du parti lors de l’élection partielle du 24 novembre 2019 dans Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. L’ex-candidate d’Action Laval avait mené une chaude lutte, obtenant 1251 voix et 29,4 % des suffrages dans une course à trois remportée à l’arrachée par Michel Trottier. Mme LeBlanc devait toutefois rompre tous ses liens avec cette formation politique l’hiver dernier. Une décision qu’elle avait communiquée au chef intérimaire Achille Ciffeli au début du mois de mars 2020, quelques semaines après que les conseillers David De Cotis, Isabella Tassoni et Paolo Galati eurent annoncé leur retrait du caucus alors qu’ils étaient sous enquête à la Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) relativement à ders omissions en lien avec leur Déclaration d’intérêts pécuniaires. Précisons que l’enquête administrative menée en vertu de la Loi sur l’éthique et la déontologie en matière municipale s’était soldée sans qu’aucune accusation ne soit portée. Les trois élus ont depuis réintégré le caucus du parti.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald Students at Gilbert Paterson Middle School are belting out their own version of “Oh, Christmas Trees.” That’s trees – plural. As the middle school heads into the holiday season with visions of giving back to the public in a trying year dancing in their heads, they do so with 25 trees draped top to bottom with all sorts of creative themes which will be donated to the community. One of those trees — decked out in tribute to the frontline workers who have served tirelessly in a year rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic — will take up shop in the front window of the downtown Pharmasave Draffins. In fact, it was the pandemic that was the seed for the Paterson Christmas tree idea. “With the school year being unique due to COVID-19 we can’t run our regular auction,” said Gilbert Paterson teacher Shelly David, who teaches two Grade 6 classes. “We’ve been running what we’re calling activity classes in the classes, and as a grade level group we’ll share the planning of those activities.” It was originally an activity planned for the Grade 6 students. “One thing led to another and when I found out I could get a Christmas tree for a pretty decent price I thought maybe the whole grade level could do Christmas trees,” said David. “Then I approached administration (Catherine Thorsen) to get the OK and asked how they would feel if I sent it out to teachers and if they would be willing to do this as a pre-Christmas activity. Thorsen liked the idea and relayed it to Paterson principal Darryl Christiansen, who suggested every grade level partake in the Christmas project. “Now I’ve got 25 trees,” said David. “I’m sort of overseeing the whole thing, but the individual classroom teachers who are teaching the activities to the grade level, those are the ones who are running it in the classroom.” Each class has a four-foot tree, said David. “We brought them back to the school and the teachers had the conversation with their groups about the theme. Once they figured out the theme they went from there and made the ornaments.” The deal was the students had to hand-make the decorations for the trees, said David. “So each class has a different theme and are crafting decorations around that.” Different ideas include a cartoon theme and cartoon strip ornaments and a rustic winter theme with tree cookie snowmen, along with snowballs. Other classes went the North Pole and “Shrek” route, while another class utilized the Among Us app, a popular game. “One of the classes had Christmas Is Among Us, so they’re crafting the players in the game out of salt clay and onto foam balls to look like planets,” said David. “So they’ll string those planets together and they have a tree-topper of one of the Among Us people.” The objective for the tribute tree for frontline workers — done by the Grade 7 classes — was to get it to a high-traffic area, said David. “The intention is this tree will be a tribute and a thank you to the ongoing efforts of everybody on the front line fighting through this thing and even working through shutdowns. The kids wanted that one to go where it could be it could be seen by as many people as possible.” The Christmas tree initiative will also double as a fundraiser. “We had put the call out for donations to help assist with the cost the supplies to craft all of the trees,” said David. “We thought if there are any proceeds left over those would be donated to some charities.” The Gilbert Paterson counselling department, Interfaith Food Bank, Woods Homes, an organization that supports youth, are among the selected charities as well as the YWCA, which has the Virtual Stockings of Hope. David said the dedication and support of the Paterson staff and students has been amazing. “I really thought this could be one more thing being added to the plate of a group of people who are already working hard to make each day happen,” she said. “But they’ve truly grabbed this idea and run with it. “It’s been nothing but positive feedback from the staff. I see the excitement going on. Many of them are playing Christmas carols and they’re crafting things. It’s just a chance for the kids to remember that, yes, we have all these restrictions on us, but there are other ways to give back and still have the cheer part of Christmas and the sharing and the giving.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
Bernadette McGregor is worried about her future after an unexpected 50 per cent rent increase.The Fredericton-area senior says she can't afford the steep jump in cost for the apartment she's lived in almost eight years.The Lincoln resident said a note on her door on Nov. 23 informed then rent will be going up $400 dollars from the $800 a month she currently pays. Utilities are not included."I just couldn't get over it, I was in shock," she said. "All these things started going through my head. Where am I going to live, what am I going to do?"The note said it was necessary to keep up with rising operating costs, McGregor said.Renovations at some New Brunswick apartment buildings have resulted in steep rent increases, leaving some tenants unable to stay. The province's Residential Tenancies Act does not restrict rent increases.Tenants are required to receive three months notice before an increase.No pandemic protectionsThere are also no protections against evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government has permitted new ownership to force out tenants in entire buildings.Premier Blaine Higgs has been asked if measures to prevent evictions in orange-level regions were in place."No, not at all," he said. "Not at this time."McGregor's 10-unit apartment building was sold about a month ago to Canada Homes for Rent, a Saint John property management company. She wrote to the new company to express her concerns — but said they didn't respond.."As I figured, they don't really care, and they don't want to hear from us," McGregor told Information Morning Fredericton.Jason Fillmore, regional director of Canada Homes for Rent, declined an interview with CBC News.FIllmore said in a statement that he's sympathetic, but the increase to $1,200 a month is typical of the market in that area of Lincoln.'There has to be something in place'Rents are continuing to climb high in Saint John as developers renovate properties, driving some tenants searching for a new place to live.Greg Mazerolle said rent in this current building, owned by Historica Developments, increased by 25 to 30 per cent."The housing for low- to moderate-income is starting to dissipate in this city," he told Information Morning Saint John.Rent has increased from $1,700 to $2,000 per month and utilities are no longer included.Historica, one of the city's largest real estate companies, purchased 20 more buildings from Hazen Property Management last month.The company now owns about 400 units spread across 40 buildings.Mazerolle is planning to leave his apartment as a personal decision to save on housing costs."It's exciting to see the city grow," he said. "However, there has to be something in place at a provincial level to kind of control what's already here for the people that live her. It's great that people want to come, but there's already people here."Historica President Keith Brideau sent a statement to CBC News in response to a request for an interview.Brideau said in most cases rents are only increased after a tenant moves out and if the company invests in extensive renovations."With respect to rising rents, most people don't realize the costs involved in owning a property," he said."For example, the majority of properties we've bought over the years were purchased from people who owned them for a long time — sometimes over 100 years — meaning they had no mortgage to pay."Brideau said increasing operating costs for insurance, heating, electricity, property taxes and other expenses have also contributed. He said increased housing supply in the city will improve affordability.Struggling to find housingTenants unable to pay rent were protected against evictions at the start of the pandemic in March. But the Higgs government lifted those measures on June 1.Now McGregor is left scrambling to find a new apartment within her budget in Fredericton's tight housing market."It's very stressful, very upsetting," she said."I hope they get rent control going very soon."Despite an increase in residential development in 2019, the capital city's vacancy rate remains below two per cent. New Brunswick's Residential Tenancies Tribunal, formerly known as the Rentalsman's office, said no one was available for an interview.The office told CBC News to ask McGregor to contact them.Green Party Leader David Coon said he is hearing similar stories in Fredericton and the issue of affordable housing needs to be addressed."There's a real gold rush going on when it comes to snapping up rental properties, and the victims of this are the current residents who are being forced out," he said.
While the world recognizes International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Ottawa was announced as host city for the 2026 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship on Thursday.This marks the first time Canada will host the joint event for senior men and women.CBC Sports and Radio-Canada will take centre stage in providing coverage as the official streaming partners of the tournament.Decorated Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc will serve as honourary chair for the event — which is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, 2026 and is set to feature 94 games over 11 days."The organizing committee looks forward to delivering an unforgettable, emotionally-charged experience for athletes, stakeholders and spectators while spearheading the evolution of the game in Canada and around the world," said Petitclerc in a news release.Ottawa 2026 will be the largest team sport event for high-performance athletes with a disability in the world. Twenty-eight teams — 16 men, 12 women — will compete for the world championship crowns.WATCH | Ottawa to host 2026 wheelchair basketball worlds:Empowering social changePetitclerc, who was named to the Senate of Canada in 2016, said the opportunity to host the world championship extends beyond the field of play."Ottawa 2026 represents a momentous occasion to unite the world, celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, and champion inclusion," Petitclerc said."Our vision is to host a transformational event that empowers social change by moving people to feel, think and act differently towards wheelchair basketball and people with disabilities. As we celebrate International Day for Persons with Disabilities, we believe Ottawa 2026 will move millions towards a more inclusive world through the incredible power of sport."Canada previously hosted the men's world championship in Edmonton in 1994, the U23 men's worlds in Toronto in 1997, the U25 women's worlds in St. Catharines, Ont., in 2011, women's worlds in Toronto in 2014 and U23 men's worlds in Toronto in 2017."I have personally experienced the thrill of representing Canada and winning a gold medal on home soil," Canadian women's team player Cindy Ouellet said."As an athlete, there is no greater honour than competing at home in front of your family, friends and fellow Canadians."Medal contendersCanadian teams are contenders for gold. The women have won five gold and two bronze medals in the 30-year history of the tournament.Canada's men have reached the podium six times and took the title in 2006.Wheelchair Basketball Canada president Steve Bach says the organization is keen to take on this event."Backed by our rich history of hosting excellence … we will host an unparalleled, world-class event while creating meaningful legacies," Bach said."There is much work to do in the years ahead and we are eager to undertake this journey with all of you."
Two men charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Braden Richard Bull of Little Pine First Nation appeared in Lloydminster court Dec. 2 and their matters were adjourned. Twenty-four-year-old Vega Bear was arrested in September and twenty-six-year-old Branden Dillon was arrested in October. Bull’s body was found near a highway on Onion Lake Cree Nation Jan. 21, 2020. Bull was last seen on Jan. 7 and he was reported missing on Jan. 20. Bull’s death was one of three murders in a span of two months that prompted Onion Lake Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency. Conrad Mooswa’s body was found Oct. 23, 2019, at a residence on Onion Lake Cree Nation. Marvin Stanley was arrested in October 2019 and charged with second-decree murder. Braeden Sparvier’s body was found Jan. 1, 2020, along a road in the R.M. of Frenchman Butte, which borders Onion Lake Cree Nation. Shari Heathen, 27, was arrested in July and charged with second-degree murder. “The Nation has now experienced three deaths directly related to drugs and gang activity within the last two months, along with numerous high speed chases and violent crimes,” said Onion Lake Cree Nation when declaring a state of emergency Jan. 24, 2020. If anyone has any information that could assist investigators, please contact Onion Lake RCMP at 306-344-5550. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com. Onion Lake Cree Nation borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and is located about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster. Bear and Dillon remain in custody. They are both scheduled to appear next in Lloydminster Provincial Court Jan. 6, 2021, to speak to their matters. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a lower federal court to reexamine California restrictions on indoor religious services in areas hard hit by the coronavirus in light of the justices' recent ruling in favour of churches and synagogues in New York. The high court's unsigned order, with no noted dissent, leaves the California restrictions in place for now. But it throws out a federal district court ruling that rejected a challenge to the limits from Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state. Last week, the Supreme Court split 5-4 in holding that New York could not enforce certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues. With a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put most of the state under heightened restrictions, which include a ban on indoor singing and chanting. The Associated Press
Plans for a new LRT station at Victoria Park/Stampede will involve building a temporary platform during construction.Gone will be the old concrete walkway that leads pedestrians to the current platform and in its place will be a street-level stop. It's the first step in creating a permanent platform and extending 17th Avenue into Stampede Park over a level crossing of the tracks."It's been a challenge to figure out how do you usher so many Calgarians through the site, through to downtown and beyond, and keep construction working and the team has come up with a really ingenious solution to do a temporary platform closer to Macleod Trail," said Kate Thompson, the CEO of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, which is overseeing the project and the transformation of the Stampede Grounds. She said there are three tracks in the location, which frees up space. Thompson said the overhead walkway will come down in the spring. Inside Stampede Park, most of Weadickville is being demolished or moved, the wooden stockade fence has been cut down and the Coca-Cola stage will be torn down to make way for the new roadway. Opening the park to 17th Avenue is happening at the same time as the extension of the BMO Centre gets underway, with the $500 million project slated for completion in 2024. That project involves demolishing the old Corral, which will begin next week. Also pegged for a 2024 opening date is the new arena on the north end of the grounds.
Ontario reported 1,824 more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and reached a key threshold when it comes to the number of patients in intensive care earlier than expected.As of Thursday, 203 patients with the illness are currently being treated in intensive care, according to a report by Critical Care Services Ontario. The number of patients in intensive care is notable because public health officials have said that 150 is the threshold for when unrelated schedules and procedures may be postponed or cancelled to accommodate the influx of COVID-19 patients. Models detailed by health officials on Nov. 26 forecasted that the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs would not break 200 before next week, putting the province five days ahead of those projected scenarios."It is concerning that we are ahead of schedule," said Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in the east end of Toronto. While some hospitals throughout Ontario have been largely unaffected by the second wave of COVID-19, those in hotspots are under increasing pressure, he added. According to Warner, 18 per cent of all ICU patients in Toronto hospitals have COVID-19. That figure rises to 24 per cent in both York and Halton regions.Furthermore, the Grand River Hospital in Waterloo Region paused elective surgeries this week after its intensive care unit reached capacity. And in Windsor-Essex, the Windsor Regional Hospital said high patient numbers were challenging the entire regional health-care system and had made it necessary to impose strict visitor restrictions in an effort to reduce transmission of the virus.Total admissions to intensive care during the first wave of the illness in the spring topped out at 270, Warner said, but hospitals were able to better cope because non-COVID-19 related procedures and care were cancelled.This time, he explained, that is not an option."There would be too much collateral damage," Warner told CBC Toronto. Similarly, the Ontario Hospital Association has urged the public to continue following public health guidelines in an effort to address capacity issues."Ontario hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain access to vital surgeries and procedures with COVID-19 cases rising," the organization said in a statement posted on social media."Hospitals are doing everything they can, but they need your support. Help stop the spread by making better practical choices every day."At the province's daily press conference Thursday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the number is a concern, and noted some hospitals have had to put procedures on hold.She said the province has increased the number of ICU beds in the province, but health experts have routinely said that staffing needs to increase in concert with that number.The province is also looking at a "regional approach to surgeries," Elliott said, which would essentially mean that surgeries be moved to hospitals that have capacity for them."We want to keep those surgeries and procedures ongoing," she said.592 new cases in Peel Region, 396 in TorontoNew cases reported today include 592 in Peel Region, 396 in Toronto and 187 in York Region. The Middlesex-London public health unit also recorded 127 additional cases, though the provincial health ministry said that, due to a processing error, that figure includes three days worth of case data.Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: * Waterloo Region: 87 * Halton Region: 68 * Windsor-Essex: 62 * Durham Region: 57 * Hamilton: 56 * Ottawa: 41 * Niagara Region: 25 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 23 * Eastern Ontario: 19 * Thunder Bay: 13 * Simcoe Muskoka: 11Also included in today's new cases are 122 that are school-related: 94 students and 28 staff members. Some 755 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 15.6 per cent, currently have at least one case of COVID-19, while five schools are currently closed because of the illness.The additional infections push the seven-day average of new daily cases to a record high 1,769.(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry's COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)Provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Thursday that the seven-day average is now at 1,769 cases, with 87 per cent of those since Monday coming from red and lockdown areas of the province. Williams said the province plans to make an announcement about the movement of regions within its colour-coded framework Friday."The trends continue to go up at this time," he said, noting that there has also been a 20 per cent increase in hospitalizations since last week.Questions remain on vaccine rolloutPremier Doug Ford said Thursday the federal government has told the provinces that the first supply of vaccines will be approved and available in early 2021."Initial supply will be very limited," Ford said, adding that he still has many questions — specifically which vaccines will be coming to Ontario, how many, and when they will land."These are three fundamental questions that I've been asking for several weeks now. They remain unanswered," Ford said.Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, meanwhile, said Wednesday: "We've been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4."Kenney said the province will have plans and its distribution network ready to go for when vaccines become available. Ford would not offer any details on Ontario's vaccination plan when pressed by reporters Thursday."What I can guarantee the people of Ontario is we will be ready," he said.Williams was also asked Thursday if the province would make vaccination mandatory."We can't force someone to take a vaccine. That's clear," he said. But what the province can do, he added, is make proof of a vaccine mandatory access to certain settings, such as long-term care facilities.Ontario's network of labs processed 52,873 test samples and reported a test positivity rate of 4.4 per cent. Another 58,320 tests were added to the queue to be completed. The province reported 14 further deaths of people with COVID-19, raising the official toll to 3,712.There are currently outbreaks in 116 long-term care homes on Ontario, including at Sunnycrest Nursing Home in Whitby, where 111 of the 136 residents and 30 staff members have tested positive.
THUNDER BAY — A Toronto man under court-ordered conditions to not be within the city of Thunder Bay was denied bail following a court proceeding on Tuesday. Anthony Omar Talbert, 27, of Toronto is charged with a series of firearm-related offences following an incident on McLaughlin Street on Sunday, Sept. 27. Some of his charges include obstructing a peace officer, unauthorized possession of a firearm, and tampering with a serial number of a firearm. Talbert appeared by audio in a Thunder Bay courtroom on Tuesday, Dec. 1, where he was ordered to be detained by a justice of the peace following a bail hearing. The accused was arrested by Thunder Bay police in late September after officers had received reports of a man possibly armed with a handgun. Officers attended to an apartment and located a male suspect who provided officers with a false identity, according to a previous police media release. Once officers confirmed the suspect’s identity, they learned he was on a court condition to not be within the city of Thunder Bay and not possess any weapons. Officers located and seized a modified handgun. Talbert’s previous release order which prevented him from being in the city of Thunder Bay stems from similar firearm-related offences from January 2019. He was granted bail on these charges in February 2019, according to documents. His previous recognizance of bail was granted on Feb. 12, 2019, and he was released to two sureties. He paid a cash deposit of $5,000 for his release on conditions. There is a publication ban on these offences. Talbert will remain in custody and is scheduled to appear in court next later this month.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Ottawa has been named host city for the 2026 world men's and women's wheelchair basketball championships.Sixteen men's teams and a dozen women's international squads will compete for world titles over 11 days at Lansdowne Park, Aberdeen Pavilion, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. Canadian Senator Chantal Petitclerc, winner of 14 wheelchair racing Paralympic gold medals, is honorary chair of the tournament.“Beyond the field of play, this event is about so much more than sport," Petitclerc said Thursday in a statement. "Our vision is to host a transformational event that empowers social change by moving people to feel, think and act differently towards wheelchair basketball and people with disabilities."Thursday's announcement coincided with International Day of Persons with Disabilities.The championship is held every four years. Canada will host a combined men's and women's world wheelchair championship for the first time. The 2014 women's tournament was held in Toronto, where Canada claimed gold. Edmonton was the site of the men's event in 1994."I have personally experienced the thrill of representing Canada and winning a gold medal on home soil,” Canadian women's team player Cindy Ouellet said. “As an athlete, there is no greater honour than competing at home in front of your family, friends and fellow Canadians."Canadian teams are contenders for gold. The women have won five gold and two bronze medals in the 30-year history of the tournament. Canada's men have reached the podium six times and took the title in 2006.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — November brought a sense of urgency to the Toronto real estate market, where COVID-19 has people buying and selling homes for "completely different reasons" than before the pandemic, according to Peel-based broker Bethany King. With schools restarting in January and many children and parents home for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers were willing to push their budgets to get a more spacious home in place for the new year, says King, a team leader at Century 21 Millennium Inc. brokerage. "A huge draw to being in the city was all of the things that happen in the city,: the festivals, the nightlife, parties and gatherings. But all of that is gone now," says King. "A lot of people don't see the value in living in a place with so little square footage." Pockets of listings have also cropped up from sellers facing down lingering unemployment from the COVID-19 pandemic, as the period for deferring mortgages draws to a close, said King."It's a mixed pot. In regards to new listings, I do believe that our new listings are driven by financial need," says King. "But regardless, our inventory is still low. In our suburban areas, we're still seeing bidding wars. It's highly competitive and our properties are not sitting for too long." King's comments reflect new data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, which showed that November home sales in the Greater Toronto Area were up 24.3 per cent compared with last year, as demand for single-family homes continued to surge ahead of condos. There were 8,766 homes sold in the month, up from 7,054 in November 2019, the board said on Thursday. The average price was $955,615, up 13.3 per cent from $843,307 a year earlier.Board president Lisa Patel says homebuyers continued to take advantage of very low borrowing costs in November, especially those looking to buy some form of single-family home.While detached home prices rose to an average of $1,202,281, up 15.2 per cent from November 2019, average condo prices fell two per cent to $605,863. Compared with November 2019, average prices were also rising more quickly in the suburbs than in the city's core, with detached home prices up 19.2 per cent, townhouse prices up 14.9 per cent, and condo prices up 4.8 per cent in the suburbs. In the city centre, detached home prices rose 8.7 per cent, townhouses were 7.3 per cent pricier, and condo prices fell three per cent from Nov. 2019.Even as news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine mounted in November, Toronto-based broker Jasmine Lee says many buyers have their minds made up to leave the downtown core."Torontonians are exploring more outside of their city. We have clients who said things like, 'We don't travel north of Bloor,' and now they're travelling to Ajax or Oshawa," says Lee. "I think this is going to be a big trend we're seeing now and in the future."Low-rise, suburban homes have been increasingly popular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as telecommuting and stay-at-home restrictions have left buyers seeking space over the convenience of downtown.So far this year, sales of detached homes in the Toronto area are up 13.1 per cent from 2019 despite a near-shutdown of sales this spring, while condo sales are down 10 per cent so far this year.The number of condos that hit the market this November was almost double that of November of last year."My buyers … are comfortable with abandoning their downtown Toronto condos, to get something big — more substantial — in the suburbs," says King, although she noted that could change with the government's plan to add 401,000 permanent residents to Canada's population next year."This so-called condo crash may just be a short blip in our 2020 COVID-19 real estate market."The board said 11,545 homes were listed for sale in November, up from 8,651 in November last year, as the market catches up from spring's slowdown. There have been 150,913 listings in the Toronto area so far this year, compared with 149,241 at this time last year. Although there was an uptick in condo listings, Lee says that the harried summer and fall in the real estate market is in part due to a shortage of homes on the market, even dating back to the beginning of 2020.Homes are spending about 20 per cent fewer days on the market this year compared with last year, the board said. "It seems like something bigger than a pandemic would have to happen in order to shut down the real estate market," says Lee.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press