Driving through West Jefferson, North Carolina one can see far more support for President Donald Trump than Joe Biden. In 2016, 70% of Ashe County residents voted for Trump. (Oct. 28)
Driving through West Jefferson, North Carolina one can see far more support for President Donald Trump than Joe Biden. In 2016, 70% of Ashe County residents voted for Trump. (Oct. 28)
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has a plan A and a plan B to resume its season in mid-January, and its commissioner said Tuesday that cancelling its schedule isn't an option.On Monday, the league announced it was suspending activities from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, when players are expected to report to their respective clubs. The plan is to start playing games again between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20.There are two possibilities for how the resumption of games could look. Plan A, the one seemingly favoured by QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau, would be that the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided enough to allow public health officials in the four provinces the league has teams to permit the resumption of the schedule as planned with interprovincial travel.But the QMJHL also has a Plan B: a bubble format with a handful of teams in select cities.The league would create protected environments, like it did in Quebec City for about 10 days earlier in November, where several teams played games.The league wants six different cities — four in Quebec and two in Atlantic Canada — to host three teams each to play two games over three days between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24.After that, three cities would welcome four Quebec teams each to play six games in nine days between Jan. 30 and Feb. 7.There would also be a gathering of the six Atlantic Canada-based teams to play five games in eight days between Jan. 30 and Feb 6."I think that what happened in Quebec City over the last two weeks has been a real boost for our teams," Courteau said Tuesday. "It’s been a very positive event and gave us faith when we will sit down in front of the four provinces’ public health departments, that we've got a good plan for them."If restrictions are still place, the league is ready to pivot to a bubble format."We’ll see as well what will be the evolution of the pandemic," Courteau said.The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major junior leagues to open their season around the normal start date.The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.For the time being, the QMJHL has no plans to cancel the rest of the season."We never talked about cancelling the season," Courteau said. "When we made the decision back in late July, start of August about resuming training and the start of training camp, we knew … we would go through roadblocks throughout the season."The 18-team league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions and positive tests. The league says the objective is for teams to play about 30 games each in the bubble format. But it wouldn't mean all teams will play an equal number of games by the end of the season. Thus far, the Sherbrooke Phoenix have played a league-low five games, while three clubs lead the way with 16 games played apiece.The league's hockey committee is meeting to assess which scenario will be adopted and how the playoffs will look.The league has distributed specifics to each club and it will be up to them to decide whether they will put themselves forward to host one of the bubbles.QMJHL will not be exempted from strict COVID-19 requirements in Atlantic Canada.The league has three teams in New Brunswick, two in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island. The league has asked players to report as of Jan. 3 so they can fulfil a 14-day quarantine before activities resume Jan. 17.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s auditor general says the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for more robust cybersecurity and anti-fraud measures as government employees are forced to work remotely.However, he says the provincial government isn't working fast enough to manage those risks.Acting auditor general Terry Spicer notes in a report released Tuesday that the federal government's Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity has warned of an increase in attempts to access and attack networks used by remote workers.The audit finds that 10 provincial government departments, nine public service units and 19 government organizations have not completed fraud risk assessments.It adds that Service Nova Scotia, which helps citizens access government programs and services, is lagging behind on finalizing its regulations around cybersecurity.The auditor general cautions that fraud in the public sector can result in the loss of taxpayer funds and erode the public’s confidence in government if the risk isn’t properly handled.Tim Houston, leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, said in a statement that the auditor general's findings reveal the province is failing to protect the information of residents."As governments around the world find themselves increasingly at risk of cyberattacks, Nova Scotia has shown that it doesn’t place a high importance on keeping our health and other records safe from improper access," Houston said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. \- - - This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News FellowshipThe Canadian Press
Students in Niagara are facing two ways of completing their courses. District School Board of Niagara’s secondary school schedule, which lists Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 as exam days, will now be replaced with “culminating activities.” Helen McGregor, superintendent of secondart shool curriculum and student achievement, said, “Students are learning differently this year, with many learning in-person for part of the week, and others learning exclusively online. “To ensure all our students are supported to find success this year, whether they are learning in-person or online, in October we made the decision to cancel exams,” said McGregor. “Schools have already let students know that they will not have exams and, instead, they will have culminating activities.” In contrast, Niagara Catholic District School Board has already administered two sets of exams, Oct. 9 and Nov. 13, with a third one to be completed on Dec. 18. Niagara Catholic’s back-to-school plan split students into two cohorts. Those cohorts will be focused on one course for 22 days. Upon completion of the course, exams are administered. Board communications officer Jennifer Pellegrini said, “… we are octomestered, students do their exam right at the end of their course — so there aren’t set exam days as other boards have. It’s 22 days of class, then an exam/assessment, then off to the next course.” In October, the Ministry of Education told school boards they have the option to remove designated exam days from their school year calendar and use them for in-class instructional time. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the use of essays or report-based assessments in the place of final exams should be allowed “given the circumstance.” “I don’t want to increase the anxiety of our students. An essay, an extended report, these are all ways in which an educator can credibly assess the performance of a student.” The holiday break for students is to begin Dec. 21 and will last until students return to the classroom on Jan. 4. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Norfolk County’s answer to Cruella de Vil is believed to have stolen two puppies from a Delhi home on Friday. Norfolk OPP say the alleged dognappers came to the Tisdale Road property — just south of Delhi — between 6:40 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 and made off with two tan-coloured female pups, along with a trail camera. The five-month-old dogs are described as a mix of ridgeback, mastiff, Newfoundlander and shepherd. Police welcome tips from the public to solve this case and get the pups back home. Information about the theft can be left with the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers via 1-800-222-8477 or helpsolvecrime.com.J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Canada's decision to block American imports of certain prescription drugs from north of the border is getting stony silence from the Trump administration — a sign, one expert says, that the U.S. proposal is "dead in the water."The measure, first floated by Donald Trump a year ago as a strategy to help reduce America's staggering drug costs, took effect Monday after the president signed a pre-election executive order in September. On Saturday, however, Health Minister Patty Hajdu parried the effort with just days to spare, prohibiting bulk drug exports if they pose a risk of creating or worsening drug shortages in the Canadian market. The White House referred questions about the new limits to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has yet to respond to repeated media queries about where Canada's move leaves Trump's plan.That plan was "a desperate act by desperate people at a desperate time," said Dr. Allen Zagoren, a policy administration professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Canada represents only two per cent of global drug sales, and gets 68 per cent of its drugs from outside the country, Health Canada said in a news release announcing the export prohibitions. The U.S. market, on the other hand, comprises 44 per cent of pharmaceutical sales around the world. Buying drugs in Canada "was never realistic, ever," Zagoren said. "Even if Canada said, 'Sure,' there's no way — Canada doesn't have enough drugs. But it allowed them to make a promise. And then they could argue, 'Well, Canada won't let us. So it's them, not us.'"Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said the two countries have been discussing the issue of drug imports for more than a year. In those meetings, Canada has made it clear that given the relatively tiny size of the Canadian market, bulk imports from north of the border simply wouldn’t have the desired effect."We've been saying to them all along: one, we sympathize with your policy concern; two, buying bulk drugs from Canada isn't the solution to your policy concern; and three, above all else, we will always protect the supply of drugs to Canadians," Hillman said.Canada's response is not a blanket export ban, but a "narrow and tailored" measure that applies only to those drugs meant for domestic consumption that are already in short supply or at risk at becoming scarce, she added. Zagoren, who called Trump's proposal "dead in the water," said its failure could prove useful for president-elect Joe Biden's own efforts to address drug costs once he takes over the White House in January. Biden has promised to reduce drug costs, including through imports, and to give the U.S. government insurance program known as Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices — a plan that has the blessing of congressional Democrats. The fact that Trump's proposed solution has failed could provide Biden with helpful leverage in discussions with the all-powerful pharmaceutical industry, which has spent aggressively in its lobbying efforts to head off pricing reforms. "I think it helps the Biden administration, because it sets the stage. The Canadian argument signals to the Biden administration, 'Don't come here for this.' But Biden being the internationalist he is, and a very good friend of Canada, that's not going to happen in the Biden administration anyway." Biden has also promised to expand health insurance coverage to include more Americans, a move that has the potential to broaden the existing U.S. drug market. Much will depend on the outcome of a pair of Senate run-off elections next month in Georgia, where Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are seeking to unseat Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Should they both succeed, the 100-seat Senate will find itself in an even 50-50 split, giving the tiebreaking vote to Biden's vice-president, Kamala Harris. "It really hinges on the Georgia election as to how far the U.S. government will go with regard to drug prices, and especially on Medicare," Zagoren said. "There'll be a lot of negotiation in the backrooms with regard to pharmaceutical prices going forward. I do think there's going to be an attempt to bring them down, but I don't think it will be on the backs of the Canadians."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
An incident outside a store in Woodstock on Monday has sparked concern and confusion over enforcement of orange phase rules.On Facebook, a woman posted a photo that appeared to show a person being restrained on the ground by two Woodstock police officers.The woman wrote that she was the person on the ground. She said she was arrested for not providing proof she has a medical exemption from wearing a mask.Masks are required in public spaces indoors and outdoors under the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery, where Woodstock now sits as part of the Fredericton health zone.The woman said she tried to enter the Hart store in Woodstock's Carleton Mall and was refused entry because she was not wearing a mask and would not provide proof of medical exemption."I responded, 'I am not legally obligated to provide proof,'" the woman said in her Facebook post, adding she then asked to speak to the owner of the store.Police were called to the scene, and the woman said she was told she would be fined if she did not leave the store. As she was leaving, she said, the officers asked her for identification.When she refused, she said, she was "tackled," handcuffed, arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, and given a court date in May 2021.Reached through Facebook on Tuesday, the woman declined to comment further.Woodstock police issue statementCBC News has asked to speak with someone at the Woodstock Police Force and is awaiting a response.But the force issued a public statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday, addressing the police response Monday to "a local business in regards to a customer who refused to leave the store following repeated request to wear a mask." > Our priority continues to be the public safety of our community and we respectfully thank all of you for your patience, understanding, and partnership. \- Woodstock Police Force statement on FacebookThe message noted that while it is not customary for police to comment on a matter under investigation or before the courts, "it is necessary that the Woodstock police respond to community inquiry related specifically to why we responded."The statement did not dispute the Facebook poster's account of what happened. Instead, it reminded readers of the pandemic, the state of emergency New Brunswick has declared, and the mandatory order setting out what is allowed and what isn't under different phases of recovery.The Woodstock force "respects that not all citizens agree with the enforcement aspect," said the statement attributed to police Chief Gary Forward. People who question the validity of the enforcement were urged to resort to the "court process.""Our priority has and continues to be the public safety of our community the and we respectfully thank all of you for your patience, understanding, and partnership in responding effectively to this pandemic."The police statement, and the photo of the arrest, have generated widespread public response both in support of the enforcement and objecting to it.Russell, Cardy respond to mask confusion, social media backlashAsked at a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday whether residents must provide proof of medical exemption to mask-wearing when asked, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell referred CBC to the province's website.The website does not appear to directly address the proof of exemption issue but does note that medical exemptions are allowed."However, it is within a business's right to refuse service to a patron who is not wearing a mask, but my understanding is they are supposed to provide some sort of alternative, such as pickup outside the door," she said.At the same news conference, Education Minister Dominic Cardy referred to backlash over enforcement in the early days of the orange phase and noted "four tickets were given over the five-day period" after the Fredericton region returned to orange."Four. So all of the stuff you see on social media around people being arrested in parking lots, a large amount of this is simply not accurate."Cardy cautioned against what he called the "virus of misinformation" and relying on "random people on social media," saying that people should instead rely on reliable sources such as government officials, "people who are legally accountable for the things we say and do."Mixed messages causing backlash, business owner saysWoodstock business owner and former police officer Graham Gill posted a video message on Facebook on Monday night, urging residents to "calm down" and contact their MLAs to voice their concerns.Reached by phone Monday night, Gill said he has had "hundreds, maybe thousands" of people contact him to say they are upset by what they see as "heavy-handed" enforcement of "confusing" Public Health rules."I'm getting messages from very upset people," he said. "I'm afraid this is going to end in violence if they don't get a handle on this quickly."Gill said he did not witness the incident on Monday but he has spoken with the woman who was involved in it. CBC News has also requested comment from Carleton MLA Bill Hogan and Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson about the incident Monday and about messaging and enforcement of mask rules."I'm not at all against wearing masks," he said. "But if there are mixed messages, if there's no consistency in the enforcement, you're going to have problems. And we are seeing that."
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed concerned Tuesday about the impact of siding with food giants Nestle and Cargill and ending a lawsuit that claims they knowingly bought cocoa beans from farms in Africa that used child slave labour.The court was hearing arguments in the case by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic. If the court were to accept Nestle and Cargill's arguments, that could further limit the ability of victims of human rights abuses abroad to use U.S. courts to sue. But both liberal and conservative justices asked questions that were skeptical of arguments made by the companies' attorney.“Many of your arguments lead to results that are pretty hard to take,” conservative Justice Samuel Alito told attorney Neal Katyal, who was arguing on behalf of Nestle and Cargill. The court's three liberal justices were particularly critical of Katyal's position, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor at one point saying it “boggles my mind.”The case before the justices has been going on for more than 15 years. It involves six adult citizens of Mali, referred to only as John Does, who say that as children they were taken from their country and forced to work on cocoa farms in neighbouring Ivory Coast. They say they worked 12 to 14 hours a day, were given little food and were beaten if their work was seen as slow.The group says that Minneapolis-based Cargill and the American arm of Switzerland-based Nestle “aided and abetted” their slavery by, among other things, buying cocoa beans from farms that used child labour. The group is seeking to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and what they say are thousands of other former child slaves.Both Nestle and Cargill say they have taken steps to combat child slavery and have denied any wrongdoing.The case involves a law enacted by the very first Congress in 1789, the Alien Tort Statute, which permits foreign citizens to sue in U.S. courts for human rights abuses. The justices are being asked to rule on whether it permits lawsuits against American companies.Justice Brett Kavanaugh was among the justices with tough questions for Nestle and Cargill's attorney. “The Alien Tort Statute was once an engine of international human rights protection,” Kavanaugh said before quoting a brief that argued that the companies' position would “gut the statute.” “So why should we do that?” he asked.Alito, for his part, was also skeptical about this particular case against Nestle and Cargill. “You don't even allege that they actually knew about forced child labour,” Alito told attorney Paul Hoffman.“We do contend that these defendants knew exactly what they were doing in that supply chain,” Hoffman responded.The case had previously been dismissed twice at an early stage, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revived it. The Trump administration is backing Nestle and Cargill.The high court in recent years has limited the use of the Alien Tort Statute. Most recently, in 2018, the court ruled that foreign businesses cannot be sued under the law. In that case, the court rejected an attempt by Israeli victims of attacks in the West Bank and Gaza to use U.S. courts to sue Jordan-based Arab Bank, which they said helped finance the attacks. Cargill and Nestle are asking the court to take another step and rule out suits against U.S. companies.A decision is expected by the end of June.Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Alek Minassian was "saturated in horrific material" online where he conceived the idea to use a van as a weapon to get a high "kill count" score, his murder trial heard Tuesday. Dr. Alexander Westphal, a psychiatrist who is testifying for the defence, said Minassian was obsessed with various abhorrent online sites, including one that glorified mass murderers listed in order by how many people they killed. "I don't doubt that in the absence of this sort of thing that this would not have happened," Westphal said. Westphal is expected to say Minassian is not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder. "Autism alters perception and understanding of the world enough to be something that is really, really important when you’re discussing culpability," Westphal said. Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder. He has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, leaving his state of mind at the time the sole issue at the judge-alone trial. Westphal, who specializes in autism, met with the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., on several occasions for a total of 15 hours. The psychiatrist said Minassian feels no emotion over what he did. "It's as abstract as killing people in a video game, which is such a horrific concept, but that really is how I feel he was thinking about this," Westphal said. "He still doesn't have any emotional connection with what he did." Westphal said Minassian told him multiple reasons why he committed the attack, but nothing really explains the motivation. Minassian has said he was motivated by his hatred towards women for years of rejection as part of the convoluted world of so-called "incels", or involuntary celibates, of like-minded men who believe they are on the bottom rung of society. "I don't really see incels as an explanation," Westphal said. Westphal said Minassian's social isolation was a factor, as was his anxiety toward starting a new job. But Minassian was drawn to the notoriety of mass murderers and their "kill counts," Westphal said. The concept of death is abstract to Minassian, Westphal said, and he talked about the lives lost as "converting life status to death status." When the psychiatrist asked what Minassian knew about death, the 28-year-old said "death is irreversible." "The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that he didn't understand or didn’t have the slightest insight into the horror or devastation that he was inflicting," Westphal said. He said Minassian has a complete lack of empathy and cannot understand how other people feel. Minassian told Westphal, and several other assessors, he was bullied in school. At one point, Westphal asked Minassian if he understood that others would think of him as a bully because of the attack. "He appeared both shocked and dismayed by the statement and in a way almost like it was an outrageous suggestion," Westphal said. "I'm not a bully," Minassian responded, according to Westphal. "I hate bullies, how could anyone think that?" Westphal has said Minassian lacks empathy due to his autism spectrum disorder. He said Minasisan does not feel remorse or regret, but is also not experiencing sadism or taking any joy from retelling the attack. "When he describes this stuff, he's describing it completely flat in the same way you or I would describe going shopping and the order of things we purchased when we went shopping," he said. "It's completely devoid of any emotional context whatsoever and any sense of the impact this had on other lives." Court has heard that more than 90 per cent of people found not criminally responsible in Canada experienced psychosis. "Overall, it was our impression that despite the fact he was not psychotic, his autistic way of thinking was severely distorted in a way similar to psychosis," Westphal said. "There is support in the literature that autistic ways of thinking may distort reality as substantially as psychotic ways of thinking." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Ottawa's plan to provide aid for the struggling tourism sector was greeted with relief Tuesday, while Canada's airlines awaited word on support for their industry.The Liberal government on Monday announced the rollout of a new program, called the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, that would provide low-interest loans to struggling businesses in the tourism, hotel and other sectors. The government also announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would return to its original rate of 75 per cent.“The [hotel] industry was at a breaking point, and there were some very important measures in the Fall Economic Statement yesterday that will provide a deeper level of support for this industry,” said Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.“These programs, assuming they can get rolled out quick enough, will clot some of that bleeding.”Grynol said Ottawa’s measures show that the government had listened to the industry, which is among the hardest-hit by the pandemic’s economic toll. Still, she cautioned that the sector will need more targeted aid down the line, particularly after March, when Ottawa’s increase to the wage subsidy expires.Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, called the government’s announcement a good first step but said it doesn’t go far enough in addressing airports’ financial situation. Canada’s airports, which rely on fees from airlines and revenue from passenger expenditures inside the terminals, have had to cut expenses and lay off staff as the pandemic drastically reduces traffic.The government’s plan included specific measures for airports, such as rent relief and increased funding for security and capital expenditures like runways. Still, the rent relief measures are limited in scope and some of the industry’s key asks are still missing from the government’s recovery plan, Gooch said.“What we do still want to see is what the federal government’s plans are on [COVID] testing at airports,” Gooch said, adding that having a testing program in place will be critical for the industry if it is to take advantage of an anticipated recovery in demand for travel next summer. Ottawa said it would support regional travel with $206 million through a new initiative overseen by regional development agencies, but was vague about the details of the plan. Absent from the government’s announcement was any help for Canada’s major airlines, which are still struggling amid lack of demand for travel.On Monday, the National Airlines Council of Canada, an industry group that represents the largest airlines, called on the federal government to move quickly in developing a targeted aid package for the companies and to roll out measures like rapid COVID testing at airports that would increase demand for travel.“While other countries around the world moved forward months ago to provide sectoral support for airlines, Canada remains a global outlier and is ostensibly stuck at stage zero on the government planning process,” the group said in a statement.In an interview, Mike McNany, the president and chief executive of the NACC, said he was unsure what was behind the government’s delay, adding that the industry was clear in its communications with Ottawa about what forms of aid it needed.The government hasn’t offered the industry any timeline for distributing aid, he said. A spokeswoman for the federal minister of transport said last week that progress on targeted aid for airlines was ongoing and that it was a top priority.This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 1, 2020.Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
BUCKHORN — Banners have been placed on each of the eight lampposts on the Buckhorn lock bridge to help enhance tourism in the region as small businesses continue to struggle through the pandemic. As an initiative through the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), Trail Town has made the Trent-Severn Waterway Canada’s first waterway trail, says Leslie Clarkson, vice-chair of the RTO8 board and co-chair of the Buckhorn Trail Town committee. The trail currently connects a total of nine communities on the system, including Buckhorn, Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Hastings and Campbellford, Clarkson said. The concept was taken from the Great Allegheny Passage in the United States; a biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Buckhorn, Clarkson said. “Buckhorn is one of the busiest locks on the entire Trent Severn system, and our welcome centre is generally the busiest in the region,” she said. Buckhorn is one of the only towns of the nine communities that has municipal funding, so some of the funding was used for the banners, Clarkson said. “The main thing really is to get visitors to come to the area and to stay in the area and to stay in the region, and then to get them to want to come back and spend more time in the region,” said Clarkson. Trail Town is a great opportunity to help attract visitors to the area and to let them know that there’s a variety of different things that they can do in the region, said Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s coming at a time when the tourism industry is facing some challenges,” he said. “Hopefully we can position ourselves as we move forward, particularly in the spring and summer when, from a public health perspective, things will be much better to welcome visitors from across the province and across the world." With boaters travelling down the Trent Severn Waterway as well as cars crossing the bridge, the banners will be seen by many, Clarkson said. However, the banners are just the first step in the Trail Town initiative, Clarkson said. “As we move forward to year two and year three, we will continue to capitalize on the relationship with Parks Canada and look at those other gyms that a visitor would stumble across and develop those as well,” she said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Republican state lawmaker from Pennsylvania revealed Monday that he has COVID-19, confirming the positive test five days after he went to the White House to meet with President Donald Trump and went maskless at a packed public meeting to discuss efforts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.State Sen. Doug Mastriano first revealed the diagnosis in a Facebook live video Monday night, one day after The Associated Press reported that Mastriano was informed of the positive test while at a West Wing meeting with Trump.On Tuesday, conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck asked Mastriano about his diagnosis.“I'm feeling fantastic,” Mastriano said, then changed the topic.Meanwhile, a Republican lawmaker who attended Wednesday's public meeting in Gettysburg with Mastriano, Sen. Judy Ward, revealed that she also has tested positive. The public meeting was held, despite state Department of Health and internal Senate pandemic directives limiting gatherings.The AP learned of the White House test results from a person with direct knowledge of the meeting. Mastriano insisted on Facebook that the report was inaccurate, but did not say how in a 15-minute video in which he confirmed he had tested positive and described his symptoms as “pretty mild.”He did not say where or when he got tested and did not discuss the White House meeting. Neither Mastriano nor his spokesperson have returned messages seeking comment over the past several days.Mastriano, who has led rallies against mask-wearing and other pandemic mitigation efforts, said in the video that after interacting with large numbers of people this year, “finally eight months in, and 20,000 people in, I do get it.”Mastriano said he wanted to “dispel any rumours and get to the bottom of it,” and suggested he contracted the virus in a “basement suite that lacked air circulation” where two other people in the room later tested positive.He did not say when that occurred, or whether it was before the Gettysburg event, but also complained that, before going on camera, he allowed a makeup artist there to use the same brushes on him as others before him.“I knew right there, you know, stop her, don’t let her put those brushes on your face, just walk away,” he said. “And I didn’t.”He said he has not had a fever, and expected his quarantine “will be ending here pretty quick, actually.”The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that people who tested positive not be around other people for 10 days after symptoms first appeared, if the person has gone 24 hours without fever and other symptoms are improving.Mastriano's White House trip followed the hours-long meeting in a Gettysburg hotel, which was held at Mastriano’s request and where few people wore masks.At the meeting, the state Senate Republican Policy Committee listened to Trump — calling in by telephone — and Trump’s lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, repeat baseless claims that Biden's victory in Pennsylvania was gained fraudulently and urge them to overturn it.No state or county election official or prosecutor in Pennsylvania has cited evidence of widespread election fraud in the state, and Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.Republicans convened the Gettysburg meeting amid rising coronavirus infections in Pennsylvania that state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine warned Monday have strained the state’s hospitals and intensive care units.Blair County Sen. Judy Ward, who sat with a mask on a few feet away from Mastriano at the public meeting, announced in a Facebook post Monday that she also had tested positive for the virus. Ward said she believes she became infected at a Thanksgiving gathering. She has not returned messages seeking comment.It is not clear how state Senate Republican leaders, who have remained silent about the matter, have responded internally to a potential outbreak stemming from that meeting.Mastriano said contact tracing has been performed, but provided no details, and a Senate GOP spokesperson would only say the “Senate continues to adhere to the COVID-19 mitigation policy which was adopted in the spring.”Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, criticized the meeting as irresponsible.“The spread of this virus is something that we have to really take seriously and we should not be subjecting our staff and others to exposure,” Costa said.A spokesperson for the state Department of Health declined to say whether the agency was conducting contact tracing as a result of the Gettysburg event.__Follow Mark Scolforo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/houseofbuddy and Marc Levy at www.twitter.com/timelywriter.Mark Scolforo And Marc Levy, The Associated Press
MILLBROOK — Cavan Monaghan Township residents from Cavan Ward were able to voice their opinions about off-road vehicles during a virtual public meeting on Monday. A total of 16 individuals signed up to speak for a maximum of three minutes, some who were for and some who were against the concept of ORVs on township roads in the Cavan Ward. Robert Winslow, the founder of 4th Line Theatre, was among the speakers. “I live at 779 Zion Line in Cavan Ward; fifth generation of my family on this property. I was born and raised on our farm which I retrofitted into a live outdoor theatre in 1992, almost 30 years ago,” he said. Winslow said that added noise from ORVs during performances will reduce the appeal of their theatre. “In a movie theatre you can ask the person who is talking in the row ahead of you or behind you to shush so you can enjoy the film properly. Our theatre patrons won’t have that option as ATVs, side-by-sides, or dirt bikes pass by the farm during our plays,” he said. In addition to the hazards of the winding, narrow, steep and shoulder components of the road, along with high speeds of cars, trucks, motorcycles and commercial industrial vehicles along the road, Winslow said, ORV traffic on his road could also be an added danger for both patrons arriving and leaving the theatre and as well as ORV operators. However, Garry Otten, a realtor at Century 21, said many people he deals with move to the region because of the recreational opportunity. “More so today with the pandemic, our ORV interest has gained popularity beyond belief,” he said. The value of many properties in the area will increase if council chooses to allow ORVs on municipal roads, Otten said. “Our location allows us the good fortune of being able to access a trail that could take us all the way to Bancroft. We could certainly use that extra business in this township and our businesses could use that extra business. I would hope our councillors recognize the benefits instead of all the fear mongering that’s taking place,” he said. Comments will be received by the township until Dec. 4. Staff will then summarize the comments and bring forward a report in early 2021 for council to make a final decision. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
The Town of Drumheller reported the hundredth case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic on Thursday, November 26. The number of total cases, both active and those with an outcome, nearly doubled from 51 cases on Monday, November 16 to 101 cases on November 26. On Monday, November 23 the Town of Drumheller had the eighth highest regional rate of active cases with 700 active cases per 100,000 population, beating out all but one region in both Calgary and Edmonton. As of Monday, November 30 the rate of active cases in Drumheller has dropped to 533 active cases per 100,000. There are currently 48 active cases, with 57 recovered and two deaths. Wheatland County has 21 active cases and there are 13 active cases in Kneehill County; both counties remain on enhanced status, along with the Town of Drumheller. Starland County has four active cases.Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
The pandemic hasn't seemed to have hurt bank profits, yet thanks to consumer spending on credit, experts warn a wave of insolvencies and bankruptcies may still be coming once the post-pandemic recovery is underway.
FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is extending ferry service to Campobello Island until the end of the month to help address residents' pandemic concerns. Residents of the Canadian island — which is connected by a bridge to the state of Maine — want a year-round ferry service so they don't have to enter the United States in order to get to the New Brunswick mainland. The seasonal ferry service ended Sunday after it had already been extended from September to help address concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. "We have negotiated with the private company to continue that service to the end of December," Transportation Minister Jill Green said in an interview Tuesday. She confirmed the province will subsidize the private ferry service — run by East Coast Ferries — until the end of the month but would not say how much is being spent because negotiations were ongoing. The extended service will operate four days a week, weather permitting. The extension falls short of the year-round service that residents have been seeking. "The premier promised he would set up a committee or a study to take to the federal government to help us, so the federal government could get involved," Campobello resident Ulysse Robichaud said. "The plan that he said he was going to work on for us hasn't done a thing." Premier Blaine Higgs made the commitment during a video meeting with members of the ferry committee in May. "It's getting more and more frustrating, because we feel totally abandoned. Are we real Canadians? Are we fake Canadians?" Robichaud asked. Campobello Island — with a population of 900 — is a popular summer tourism destination and was the summer home of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. The island's residents have been given an exemption to travel into Maine for gas and medical needs without having to self-isolate upon return. Robichaud said while they are exempt to travel into Maine, they are not exempt from contracting the COVID-19 virus. There have been almost 12,000 COVID-19 cases in Maine and 214 related deaths since the pandemic began. "I encourage residents of Campobello Island to limit trips off the island to minimize risk,” Higgs said last week. Green said the province is open to talking with the federal government about a permanent ferry connection, but no talks are planned at this time. "The department has reached out to our federal counterparts more than once, and they have not jumped on the bandwagon to do that," she said. When asked for comment on year-round service for Campobello, a spokesperson for federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau referred questions to the ferry operator. "Transport Canada does not determine when East Coast Ferries provides its services between Campobello Island and Deer Island, N.B.," press secretary Allison St-Jean. "East Coast Ferries is a privately-owned operator." Kathy Bockus, the Progressive Conservative member for the provincial riding that includes Campobello Island, said she was pleased with the extension and will continue to push for a permanent ferry for the island. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
The annual Feed the Meter campaign in Belleville, Trenton and Picton is returning on December 1st. While staying safe and shopping local this holiday season, residents of the Quinte West community are encouraged to drop donations in the meters in support of student nutrition programs in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. All funds collected in meters during December 2020 will support Food for Learning’s school breakfast and snack programs in the community. As COVID-19 persists, Food for Learning programs are needed more than ever in local schools to support students experiencing food insecurity. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that some children may arrive at school hungry; whether it’s due to long bus rides, rushed mornings, or parents simply not being able to afford breakfast, there are many reasons why children may go without a healthy meal in the mornings. Food for Learning programs support a vital part of every child’s day by providing healthy breakfasts to children in Hastings and Prince Edward counties. Providing children with access to fresh fruit, granola bars and other breakfast foods, Food for Learning recognizes the need for nutritional support in local schools. For some kids, the Food for Learning program may have been their only opportunity to get breakfast, or potentially their only meal of the day. Each day, 4000 students cross the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, including some students who are learning from home, are provided with healthy snacks and meals. Due to the continuing pandemic, Food for Learning student nutrition programs have been redesigned to ensure the safety of all students and staff. As a result, program costs are considerably higher as the Food for Learning program experiences an increase in student participation and individual portions and packages food to minimize contact. The Food for Learning program is continuing to support students learning from home that are experiencing food insecurity as well. “I feel that both health and wellness of our student nutrition program contribute to a more positive school environment that supports student self-regulation physically, emotionally, and mentally, which leads to increased student performance, self-esteem, and social skills. It is a vital program to help improve and maintain our overall school climate,” said a student nutrition program coordinator. Residents wishing to support the Feed the Meter campaign from the comfort of their own homes can also mail their donations to: Food for Learning c/o The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, 156 Ann St., Belleville, ON K8N 3L3. Please make cheques payable to The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation. The Feed the Meter campaign is supported through the generous contributions from campaign sponsors: Starboard Cares (Cool 100 & Hits 95.5 & InQuinte), Market High Advertising LTD., Greek Community of Belleville Quinte West and District, The Grand at The Greek Banquet Hall. GOLD sponsors of Feed the Meter 2020 include: Belleville: Kellogg’s, Fresh Co Belleville, Vision Transportation, Whitely Insurance, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Prince Edward County: Kellogg’s, Prinzen Ford and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Quinte West: Kellogg’s, Findlay Food, Whitely Insurance, Tomasso’s Italian Grille, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported by Toronto Public Health and some other Southern Ontario locations. For comparison purposes, statistics were compiled in quarterly segments from the end of March 2019, through to the end March of 2020, which was the one-year time period with the latest available information on Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations and opioids-related deaths. In the first quarter of this year, just in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction, the rate of opioid deaths was listed at 41.9 per 100,000 population, an increase of 16.7 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 200,424 within the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, which includes the City of Greater Sudbury and several surrounding smaller communities, such as Espanola, Chapleau and on Manitoulin Island. Public Health Ontario said this accounts for 21 deaths in the first three months of this year for the PHSD service area. The Sudbury health unit's own opioid surveillance program reports that from January 2020 to June 2020, opioids have claimed 44 lives. The Sudbury health unit jurisdiction, in the first three months of this year, also had an opioid death rate more than three times higher than the national rate in Canada, which is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, for the Toronto Public Health area, the rate of opioid deaths was 11.4 per 100,000 population. It is an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 3,090,377. The rate for the last three months of 2019 was 10.5 per 100,000. For the third quarter, the rate was lower at 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The second quarter of 2019 in Toronto, the death rate was 10.5 and in the first quarter the death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000. The lower rate was evident in other parts of Southern Ontario. In the jurisdiction of Ottawa Public Health, the rate of opioid deaths was lower at 7.7 per 100,000, the first three months of this year. This was for a population of slightly more than one million. In the Peel region, Peel Public Health reported an even lower fatality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 residents, for a population listed at more than 1.5 million. In the Windsor - Essex County Health Unit, the opioid fatality rate was 15.2 per 100,000 based on a population of roughly 420,000. In the Niagara Public Health Region, the death rate in the first three months this year was reported at 23.1 per 100,000 population for a region of more than 468,000 residents. Back to Northern Ontario, the rates were far higher in general. The Porcupine Health Unit, representing Timmins and several other smaller northern towns, also has a high rate of opioid deaths according to the PHO stats. For the first three months of this year, the death rate attributed to opioids was 32.8 per 100,000 population, three times the Toronto rate. This was for a population of 85,273. Figures for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) for the first quarter of this year revealed a mortality rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population. This was for a population of nearly 155,000 in the TBDHU jurisdiction. For the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit it was revealed that the rate of opioid deaths was 18.6 per 100,000 population. This was for a region of more than 129,000 residents. The Timiskaming Health Unit, which includes such communities as Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the rate was 12.1 per 100,000 for a jurisdiction with a population of more than 33,000 residents. Four deaths occurred in that jurisdiction between March 2019 and March 2020. Further west in the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, for communities such as Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden, the mortality rate for the first three months of this year was 9.8 per 100,000, a couple of points lower than Toronto. This was for a population just short of 82,000. A full report on the patterns of opioid-related deaths in Ontario during 2020 the pandemic may be causing some unintended consequences. "In June 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Similar trends have been reported elsewhere in Canada," said the report. "It is expected that this increase in drug-related deaths is being driven by a combination of numerous factors, including an increasingly toxic unregulated (‘street’) drug supply, barriers to access to harm reduction services and treatment, and physical distancing requirements leading to more people using drugs alone."Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Stella's Circle in St. John's is moving ahead with its annual Light Up Hope event by taking things online this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.The event is part of an annual global campaign called Giving Tuesday, the day after Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events that focuses on giving back to the community. "Giving Tuesday started with the purpose to just say, 'let's not forget the purpose of this season, that it's all about giving,'" Stella's Circle CEO Lisa Browne told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. "Let's take a breath and kind of think of what are some good things we can do, some giving things we can do."Under normal circumstances Rawlins Cross in the province's capital city would be teeming with residents to take in the event and kick off the countdown to the holiday season with the lighting of a large sign that reads "hope." It's an annual campaign to raise money for the charity that helps with housing, employment and counselling support for those who need it. On Tuesday evening the scene was empty, but the hope signs are lit up throughout the city. "Without hope you really don't have anything, and hope is something that we must cling on to," said Browne. "Particularly this year, 2020 has been so challenging and that concept of hope is so important."Food, addictions and mental healthBrowne said 2020 has been a challenging year for Stella's Circle, with unexpected expenses and programming changes due to the pandemic. She said the mental health challenges of clients and staff alike has been increasing. "These are stressful times. I feel like everybody has been heightened, and I feel that our job right now is of course looking after participants, but making sure that staff are feeling well and feeling supported as well," said Browne. Browne said there has also been an increase in addictions challenges where routines and coping mechanisms for many have been interrupted by the pandemic. Food has been a constant necessity out of many of the province's charitable organizations this year. Browne said Stella's Circle has distributed 6,300 meals this year so far, and the Light Up Hope event is meant to bring some hope to people."We'd love it if people wanted to make a donation, and for today until midnight donations are matched up to $10,000 thanks to Bluedrop and Lemur Vehicle Monitors," she said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador