People putting their "I Voted Today" stickers on women's suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony's headstone will see something new this year: A plastic cover. (Oct. 26)
People putting their "I Voted Today" stickers on women's suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony's headstone will see something new this year: A plastic cover. (Oct. 26)
Brothers Lou and Joe Mikail have found a way to go ahead with their annual turkey giveaway this year. The pandemic threatened to cancel it, but they've decided that instead of having people line up, they will do a drive-through event this year."We've been inundated with calls from individuals who basically rely on what we do each year. And this gets them through the holiday season," Joe said.He and Lou pondered how they can continue the annual event and still be risk-averse."We talked to the city and ... the city has approved us doing a drive-by for the turkey giveaway. And the city was generous enough to allow us to use the festival plaza," Joe said, adding that Windsor Police will be providing assistance with traffic control."So we'll have distancing, but we'll still be able to continue and offer the meals to the people that we've been doing for the past 15 years," Joe said.500 meal packages to be given awayFor the individuals who don't have a car and can't arrange a ride, the brother said they're setting up a system to deliver whatever packages remain from the event to people's homes from a safe distance.Lou added that it's been a difficult year for the community and they didn't want to disappoint those in need."The need is probably twice as much as it usually is in the previous years," he said.The family will be giving away 500 meal packages, made up of a large turkey, corn, potatoes and other trimmings.Each meal package costs about $70 and feeds about 12 people, according to the brothers.This year marks the 16th year the brothers have been running their giveaway.The giveaway will take place on Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. at the festival plaza.
BEIJING — China on Monday said it is sanctioning leaders of U.S. government-affiliated bodies that promote democracy around the world in response to what it calls practices that “blatantly meddle in Hong Kong affairs.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the measures would cover the senior director for Asia at the National Endowment Democracy, John Knaus, the regional director for the Asia-Pacific at the National Democratic Institute, Manpreet Singh Anand, and two of the institute’s officials responsible for Hong Kong. Hua gave no details and the institute said in a news release that it had no further information but that it “remains steadfastly committed to these core principles and to continuing our work in support of democracy worldwide.” China has long accused such groups of encouraging dissidents who built grassroots movements to push for greater direct democracy in Hong Kong. Those burst out into street protests in 2014 and again last year, prompting a harsh crackdown from authorities. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials over the passage of a National Security Law that imposed strict penalties for critics of the Beijing-backed government that has ruled the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The sanctions ban the officials, including the head of Hong Kong’s local government, Carrie Lam, from travelling to the U.S. and freezes all dealings with American financial institutions. Hua told reporters Monday that “the relevant U.S. practices blatantly meddle in Hong Kong affairs, grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the international law and basic norms governing international relations." “The U.S. should immediately cease interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs and avoid going further down the wrong path," Hua said at a daily briefing. Hong Kong is just one area where tensions between Washington and Beijing have risen over recent years. The Trump administration has cut off Chinese tech giant Huawei’s access to most U.S. components and technology on security grounds, part of a feud over trade and technology that has led the White House to press the Chinese owner of video service TikTok to sell its U.S. operation, which American officials say is a security risk. U.S. accusations of Chinese human rights abuses, particularly against Muslim minority groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, have resulted in frequent angry exchanges between the sides. Frictions have also built over Washington's support for Taiwan, which China claims as a breakaway province to be recovered by force if necessary, along with China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Associated Press
MLAs both new and re-elected will begin a two-week fall sitting Monday, which will likely be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saskatchewan Party government's election promises.Monday's sitting begins with the Speaker election at 10 a.m. CST and a speech from the throne delivered by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty at 2 p.m.The speech will be debated and voted on in the days that follow.Following the Oct. 26 election, the governing Sask. Party enters the sitting with 48 members, while the NDP has 13.Pandemic responseWith the province experiencing a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past month, policy announcements by the government will likely be overshadowed by its response to the pandemic.The NDP opposition has asked for a three-week "circuit breaker" shutdown and a plan to compensate those affected.Moe said again last week he preferred targeted measures as opposed to anything that shut down portions of the economy.On Friday, the province's most recent set of restrictions went into effect, which includes suspension of sports, gathering limit restrictions and an expansion of the mask mandate.Election promisesAfter announcing his cabinet shuffle on Nov. 9, Premier Scott Moe said his government would use the sitting to introduce legislation, including bills, to keep its campaign promises.The Sask. Party made $849 million in promises during the October campaign, including: * A two-year home renovation tax credit. * A one-year 10 per cent SaskPower rebate. * A three-year tax reduction for small businesses. * Create 750 licensed home-based child care spaces. * Provide funding to kids living with autism up to the age of 12. * Cover the cost of glucose monitoring up to 18 years old. * Reduce seniors' ambulance costs by 50 per cent. * Increase the post-secondary Sask. Advantage scholarship to $750/ year.It also promised to bring back two programs cancelled in 2016, the active families benefit and the community rink grant. Speaker election The sitting will begin with the election of the Speaker. Saskatchewan Party MLA Mark Docherty has held the position since March 2018. He has put his name forward again and faces five of his caucus colleagues who are also vying for the position: Lisa Lambert, Hugh Nerlien, Greg Ottenbreit, Randy Weekes, and Nadine Wilson.The election will be conducted by secret ballot.The Sask. Party has 11 new MLAs, while the NDP has six.On Nov. 9, Moe shuffled his cabinet, with notable changes including Paul Merriman as Health Minister, Dustin Duncan as Education Minister, Lori Carr as Minister of Social Services and Gord Wyant as Minister of Justice.Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is the deputy premier and Nicole Sarauer is the NDP's deputy leader.All MLAs will have to wear a mask while inside the legislature. Plastic barriers have been erected between desks inside the chamber.
TOKYO — Organizers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics have declined to confirm widely circulated reports in Japan that the costs of the one-year postponement will be about $3 billion.The estimates have been published in the last several days by some of Japan’s top-circulation newspapers, the national broadcaster NHK, and the Japanese news agency Kyodo. All are citing similar figures and unidentified sources close to the games.“We are in the process of assessing the additional costs associated with the postponement of the games due to COVID-19 and therefore are not able to comment on any details at this time,” Tokyo organizers said Monday in a statement.The statement did not challenge any of the reports.The Tokyo Games are becoming very expensive.The official cost of putting on the Tokyo Olympics is $12.6 billion. However, a government audit last year said it was probably twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.Tokyo said the games would cost $7.3 billion when it won the bid in 2013.The $3 billion for the delay only adds to the totals. A University of Oxford study published early this year — calculated before the postponement — said Tokyo was the most expensive Summer Olympics on record and the meter is still running.The Yomiuri newspaper and Kyodo on Sunday detailed added costs of 200 billion yen, about $2 billion, to renegotiate venues leases, pay staff salaries, and cover other operational expenditure.NHK and the Asahi newspaper on Monday said another 100 billion yen, about $1 billion, was needed for countermeasures against COVID-19. This could include the cost of vaccines, rapid testing, and countless precautions to guard against the coronavirus.The reported cost of the delay because of the pandemic is in line with repeated estimates of between $2 billion and $3 billion in Japan over the last several months.The organizers, the Tokyo metro government and the Japanese national government are expected to explain added costs in December and detail how they will be shared.Organizers in October said they had found cost-savings of about $280 million by simplifying and cutting some frills from next year’s postponed games. This was about 2% of the official costs.The International Olympic Committee has said it would chip in about $650 million to cover some of the costs of the delay, but has offered few public details.The Switzerland-based IOC is heavily dependent on revenue from selling broadcast rights, which account for almost three-quarters of its income.The unprecedented postponement has put financial pressure on the IOC, national Olympic committees, and international sports federations that heavily rely on the IOC for sustenance.The IOC and organizers have been campaigning over the last several months to convince sponsors and a skeptical Japanese public that the Olympics can be held safely in the middle of a pandemic.Domestic sponsors in Japan have paid a record of $3.3 billion to organizers, but there are reports of some balking at further payments during the pandemic-caused economic slide.The Olympics are to open on July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24. They involve 15,400 athletes and ten of thousands of officials, judges, staff, VIPs, sponsors as well as media and broadcasters.Kyodo reported last week that the Japanese government may require visitors from abroad to have private health insurance to cover costs from any COVID-19 complications.IOC President Thomas Bach, who was in Tokyo a few week ago, has said a vaccine and improved rapid testing would help pull off the Olympics. But he cautioned they are not “silver bullets.”Athletes are expected to be closely monitored, held in quarantine-like conditions, discouraged from sightseeing and encouraged to leave as soon as they finish competing.Some fans are expected at the events, but it is unclear if many fans from abroad will be allowed to attend.Japan has controlled COVID-19 relatively well, but has seen a spike over the last several weeks in Tokyo and elsewhere. Tokyo set a one-day record for new infections on Friday with 570. About 2,000 deaths in Japan have been attributed to COVID-19.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsStephen Wade, The Associated Press
Food bank usage across Ontario was already increasing in the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report. Then came a further surge in demand as people grappled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income throughout the pandemic. Feed Ontario's annual hunger report released on Monday analyzes food bank usage across the province, makes recommendations, and also looks at the impact of the pandemic on food banks and vulnerable populations. Following a year where people made 3.2 million visits to food banks, the number of first-time food bank visitors spiked by 26.5 per cent during the first four months of the pandemic, the report says. "That means that we're seeing brand new people who have never come to our services, and those who have already accessed our services experiencing further difficulties in life than they've already had to deal with," said executive director Carolyn Stewart. "It's extremely concerning for us."Before the pandemicBetween April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the report said 537,575 people accessed food banks — an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year — and that one third of those visitors were children. Total visits amounted to 3,282,500, which is up 7.3 per cent from last year.Feed Ontario lists a lack of affordable housing, insufficient social assistance programs, and a growth in precarious employment (like part-time and casual work) as the top three drivers of food bank usage.Ontario also has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the country, Stewart added, noting precarious work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. The report says 65.7 per cent of food bank visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income. There has also been 44 per cent more employed people accessing food banks over the past four years. "As these numbers continue to grow, it really creates concerns for us that the income is not keeping up with what everyone needs to afford their most basic cost of living," Stewart said. "Things are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyone."Paying for housing means no financial cushionPrior to the pandemic, people were already living with the extreme stress that comes with living in poverty, stretching dollars and potentially being unable to make ends meet, Stewart said.Around 86 per cent of food bank visitors are rental or social housing tenants spend most of their monthly income on housing. Feed Ontario notes this makes it near impossible for low-income people to have savings or a "financial cushion" to offset losses during times of emergency.Coupled with a year that prompted further anxiety and called for additional expenses — like PPE, staying home for health reasons, and the loss of social services — "hundreds of thousands of people" were without the means to afford basic needs. The top three reasons people would skip meals was to help afford rent, utilities, and phone or Internet bills, the report says."I think it's extremely problematic. No one should have to make those choices. Those are impossible choices for anyone to have to make," said Stewart. Surge in demandDuring the first two months, access to food and meal support also became the number one reason people called Ontario 211 — the community and social services help line.Stewart said this might have been out of fear these essential services would be closed. But food banks have been working around the clock, she said, with limited resources and staff to meet pandemic guidelines. None have shut down. They've implemented new emergency food support programs, and upped the amount of food provided to reduce number of visits. Some also put in a home delivery service and opened a drive-thru service. Here's a look at how demand increased at different centres across the province once the pandemic hit: * The Daily Bread Food Bank in the GTA serviced nearly 20,000 people a week. * The Mississauga Food Bank saw a 120 per cent increase in first time users. * Ottawa Food Bank had 400 per cent more calls from people needing food support. * The Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor had double the amount of households access their services. * The Salvation Army in Owen Sound saw over 400 people in the first nine days of the pandemic, which is near the number of people it would service in a month. * Community Care West Niagara in Lincoln had a 20 per cent increase in those using their services. * A Sudbury Food Bank agency saw a 150 per cent jump in people accessing emergency food support.Eviction, financial challengesIn September alone, there was 10 per cent more visits to food banks compared to the same time last year. When Feed Ontario surveyed around 200 food bank visitors in September, it found one out of two food bank visitors said they were worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months.One participant said, "Everything is hard. Paying rent is hard, going to the doctor is hard, accessing groceries and food are hard. Everything is so much harder now."Over 90 per cent were also navigating extreme financial challenges due to the pandemic and incurring a significant amount of debt. Ninety-three per cent of respondent were borrowing money from friends and family, accessing payday loans, or using a credit card to help pay bills. Though Feed Ontario doesn't collect data related to race, immigration or refugee status, it notes that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and food insecurity, and are three times more likely to be food insecure than non-racialized households. Support from provincial and federal governments helped food banks meet an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, said Stewart. But as these supports wound down through summer and into fall, the numbers have increased again. The supports showed that "investing in income supports for individuals can provide that essential safety net that people need," she said. Stewart pointed to the 2008 recession where food bank usage went up by almost 30 per cent over two years. "It's never gone back down," she said, adding that the network is "quite fearful" that without those supports food bank use will grow "exponentially" over the coming months."While food banks do their very best with very little to meet the need in their communities, and they do incredible work, they do not replace good, public policy," she said. "We are not a solution to poverty." Feed Ontario says it's calling on the provincial government to: * Provide immediate support to low-income families, including developing a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction. * Reinstate the emergency benefit for social assistance recipients. * Align Ontario's social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB. * Develop stronger labour laws and policies, like reinstating paid sick days and quality jobs with a livable wage.
An 80-year-old man who is visually impaired and received a $13,000 bill from Virgin Mobile is no longer on the hook for the large sum."I think right now they could be doing a little better, but I'm satisfied with that," said Willie Guerard, who lives in Amherstburg, Ont. "They're not going to get my best wishes, you know what I mean?"Guerard and his wife, Yvonne, who by their own admission are not tech-savvy, told the CBC earlier this month that they don't really even use the internet on their phone.They said it was their understanding that their service would be cut off if their account balance reached $200 in any given month, so they were surprised when they received two bills, for approximately $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.Virgin Mobile said it had removed spending caps such as those after the pandemic began up until the beginning of July but it continued to charge for any costs for overages people incurred.Guerard and his wife said they contacted Virgin Mobile after receiving the large bill and were told they had to pay it. It was only after CBC made inquiries published in a web story earlier this month that the company took a second look at the massive bill."At least they're paying attention now. Before that I couldn't get nobody [to look into it], I just got the runaround," Guerard said.Significant reductionInitially, Virgin Mobile said that Guerard, who was an active data user, had twice requested to increase the amount of data on his account and consented to it. The company was unaware of Guerard's visual impairment and that it would be significantly reducing the outstanding balance in his account.Last week, they said they'd reduced the amount he owed to what his usual monthly bill would have been."We took another look at Willie's account and couldn't verify that he received the notice about removing spending caps during COVID," a written response from the company read.Guerard said after he called them, he found out the amount he now owes is $281, which he plans to pay. But he said he'll only be doing so once he gets it in writing.
Recently, Caroline Arsenault watched parcels being stolen in her own neighbourhood — and didn't even realize. "I happened to see a couple of people walking by the window where I sit for my work and then rapidly walk back toward the street and I didn't think anything of it really," said Arsenault. She later found her husband attempting to contact the police after observing the same people also pace up and down their driveway. He got suspicious. He was right. "He found Amazon packages in our green bin," she said.The thieves had taken two packages. One was emptied of its contents while the other was left torn open with the stuff still inside.Arsenault's North End Halifax neighbourhood had just been hit by a porch pirate. It's not just happening in Halifax."The porch pirate has been a little busier this year unfortunately and now a third of Canadians stated in 2020 that they have been victims of a package theft," FedEx spokesperson James Anderson told CBC News.FedEx has published a survey of 1,500 Canadians this holiday season and found that one in three online shoppers say they have experienced package theft in 2020, up from one in four in 2019. It also found that three in 10 are worried about their online purchases being stolen when delivered. Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, said they haven't seen a noticeable increase in complaints about packages being stolen, but cautioned that doesn't mean it's not a threat. He also noted that many people are now working at home and are able to get their parcel as soon as it is delivered.In other parts of the country, such as Toronto, where lockdown restrictions are more prevalent, more people are able to stay at home to receive their deliveries. In Nova Scotia many businesses and schools remain open in the province so some people are frequently not home and cannot receive their packages.Arsenault posted about the porch bandit on social media and was surprised by the reaction."I had quite a few neighbours chime in and say that they too had found open and empty boxes in their driveway or thrown somewhere it didn't really belong." After Arsenault's neighbour reported the incident to the police, Arsenault herself received a follow up call. "The police confirmed this is something that they see quite a bit of. It's something that we should all be mindful of if we're expecting to receive packages when we might not be available to answer the door or pick them up quickly," she said.Halifax Regional Police have not yet responded to a request for an interview. FedEx, along with Canada Post, DHL courier service, UPS, Amazon Canada and Purolator all offer tracking information online, which FedEx's James Anderson said is one of the primary ways to keep your package safe."We give package recipients digital tools to use at your disposal," said Anderson. "If you got a tracking number you can get a notification sent to you when you expect those packages to arrive so you can stay on top of it."Bob Mann, acting chair of the neighbourhood watch in Wilmot, Annapolis County, N.S., said there are more low-tech ways to protect your deliveries. He said you can try asking a neighbour to pick it up or leave the radio on. Mann said one of his favourite home safety tools is photosensitive lights."If you don't have one yourself, take note," said Mann, who has been with his neighbourhood watch since its creation in 1995. "They light up probably half of my driveway ... at dusk the bulbs will come on and they'll go off in the morning." Cpl. Lisa Croteau of the RCMP said package theft doesn't appear to be a big issue at this time, but that could change, so she does have some advice. "Have a different method to pick it up. Instead of dropping it off on your front porch, if you could go to a different location to pick up the package that would be a little safer."Arsenault said she wanted to make people aware of the incident but she also understands the situation."We know there are probably more packages being delivered at this time of year. Holidays are coming up and times are hard for people so we know this is something that happens," said Arsenault.MORE TOP STORIES
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This column is an opinion from Max Fawcett, a freelance writer and the former editor of Alberta Oil magazine.Political courage seems to be in short supply these days, whether it's Republicans in the United States refusing to acknowledge the reality of Donald Trump's election defeat or provincial leaders here in Canada avoiding the more stringent measures that are needed to flatten the latest COVID-19 curve.But when it comes to political cowardice, few acts can top the decision by Calgary's city council to punt on a proposed reduction to residential speed limits — one that would almost certainly save lives and money.Rather than doing the obvious (something that Edmonton's city council voted 9-3 in favour of), council will revisit the issue in February, when they'll decide whether to put it to the public in a plebiscite in the fall. Holding a plebiscite on something like reducing speed limits in residential neighbourhoods is a bit like asking voters to cast a ballot on whether puppies are adorable or babies smell good.According to a report from the City of Calgary, reducing the speed limit in residential neighbourhoods from 50 km/h to 40 km/h would prevent approximately 300 collisions a year, as well as avoid $8 million in societal costs that range from property damage and hospital bills to loss of work due to injury.And none of these figures can account for the cost of losing a loved one — say, a young child — in an accident that didn't have to happen.You might think, given these realities, that a plebiscite would be a waste of everyone's time. Politicians are elected to make decisions and they don't come much easier than this one.But what if seeking the consent of Calgarians isn't really the point of the plebiscite?Weaponizing direct democracyAfter all, as University of Alberta political science professor Jared Wesley argued in a recent Alberta Views dialogue with Ted Morton, direct democracy is often weaponized for entirely undemocratic purposes."At best," he wrote, "referendums allow elected officials to shirk their responsibility to negotiate and define the common good. At worst, they allow politicians to manipulate the public to achieve much narrower partisan, regional or ideological ends."But even if Calgary city council finds its courage in February and actually votes on the proposed reduction to residential speed limits, next fall's municipal election could still have an assortment of plebiscites on provincial matters, such as an Alberta police force and the province's place in the federal equalization program.Some local officials are already sounding the alarm about the impact that those plebiscites could have on municipal elections across the province."It would just drown us out," said Barry Morishita, the mayor of Brooks and the President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, in a June 2020 CBC story. "There is no other way to put it."That doesn't seem like an accident. After all, for a government that seems to view everything through the lens of combat, and which has found its most effective opposition coming from municipal leaders, particularly the ones in major cities like Edmonton and Calgary, this seems like a logical fight to pick.While directly attacking those leaders could potentially backfire, encouraging people to turn out and vote against federal government programs — even ones they don't completely understand — seems far more likely to succeed.And being able to pursue this political agenda under the guise of supporting direct democracy does have a certain Machiavellian brilliance to it. Then again, Machiavelli would warn about the risk of being hoisted by your own petard.While holding provincial plebiscites in a municipal election may serve the UCP's near-term political interests, that format may not be nearly as constructive when it comes to the looming conversation about potential new revenue measures.Finance Minister Travis Toews has repeatedly indicated that, once his government is done cutting costs and slashing the salaries of doctors, nurses, and other public servants, it will turn its attention to the revenue side of the equation — and potentially a provincial sales tax."I think it will be important to review the province's revenue structure to determine if it's the appropriate, the most efficient structure that we can have," he said during a recent appearance at an Edmonton Chamber of Commerce event.But as Jason Kenney said in a letter to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation earlier this year, any move to implement a sales tax will have to be approved by the voters in a plebiscite."As long as I am premier," he wrote, "Albertans will have the final say through a fair referendum vote on whether a hypothetical sales tax should be introduced."And given how enthusiastically conservatives have salted that particular political field in the past, it's hard to imagine anything ever growing there — even if the province suddenly needs that harvest to survive. The problem with plebiscitesIndeed, even in a comparatively pro-tax place like Metro Vancouver, a 2015 plebiscite that asked voters whether they'd be willing to pay an additional 0.5 per cent sales tax to fund new transit infrastructure failed miserably.Despite having the backing of a large group of local mayors and the tepid support of both provincial parties, the "No" side won convincingly, carrying 61.7 per cent of the vote to the "Yes" side's 38.4 per cent. Therein lies the problem with plebiscites, and the politicians that turn to them most enthusiastically.Yes, they allow elected officials to avoid having to make certain decisions on the public's behalf, especially ones that might not be immediately popular. But they also box those same politicians into a much smaller political space, one where they've set an expectation that anything even vaguely controversial will get put directly to voters. For some elected officials, constraining the range of a given government's policy space and ambition might be a good thing. But for a public that is contending with everything from climate change to the economic fallout from COVID-19, to say nothing of a failing state to our south, those sorts of constraints could do far more harm than good in the future. Right now, we need leaders who are willing to actually lead — and take the political risks that come with that.When Calgarians go to the polls next fall, they should remember that. And if there are pointless plebiscites about things like residential speed limits on the ballot, maybe they'll serve as a useful (and unintentional) reminder to that effect.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ.
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company's chief medical officer.When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signalled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance.WHAT COMES NEXTThe FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate.First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17.RATIONING INITIAL DOSESIf the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people.Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S.This week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how initial supplies will be given out. They're expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities. As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general population isn't expected until at least spring.Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year.“Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said.Both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.ASTRAZENECA CONFUSIONAstraZeneca last week announced confusing early results of its vaccine candidate from research in Britain and BrazilThat vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk.A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective.Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there.STILL IN THE PIPELINEJohnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose.Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system.The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won't require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.”Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world.____The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
BANGKOK — Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offences of which they stand accused.The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable.The demand about the monarchy is the most radical and controversial, because by tradition the institution has been considered untouchable, the bedrock element of Thai nationalism. It is considered taboo to publicly criticize the monarch, and insulting or defaming key royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under a lese majeste law known as Article 112.The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people. They believe the king holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy."When people criticize the monarchy and they listen, people will consider them open-minded. But if they use 112 to shut our mouths, not only Thai people but also the world will know they are afraid of the truth,” Parit Chiwarak said to reporters ahead of reporting to police. “This won’t stop our movement. On the contrary, it will make more people join us.”Article 112 is controversial, because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, so it in the past had been used as a weapon in political vendettas. But it had not been employed for the past three years, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see it used. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then.But after a protest last week included crude chants and graffiti that could be considered derogatory of the king, Prayuth declared that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions, including with charges under Article 112. While protest leaders have faced dozens of charges over the past few months, they have generally been freed on bail, and none have yet come to trial.Despite Prayuth’s threat, protest leaders have continued to include strong criticisms of the monarchy at rallies.The other four who reported Monday to Bangkok’s Chana Songkhram police station were Arnon Nampha, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and Patiphan Luecha. Patiphan, a traditional folk singer also known as Patiwat Saraiyaem, served 2 1/2 years in prison after being arrested under Article 112 in 2014.Most of the protest leaders face multiple charges already, ranging from blocking traffic to sedition, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.Anon, a lawyer, said he was indifferent about being charged under Article 112, because it is an “unjust law.”“If we speak the truth and they stop us with 112, it reflects how abnormal this law and this country are,” he said.Also reporting to police Monday were Benjamaporn Nivas and Lopnaphat Wangsit, leaders of the mockingly self-named Bad Students group of secondary school students, which seeks major reforms in education and supports the broader aims of the pro-democracy movement as well.They are accused of violating a state of emergency decree that was briefly in effect in October by taking part in a rally in central Bangkok.___Associated Press journalists Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul and Grant Peck contributed to this report.Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
A prominent Canadian forecaster says the country's residents could experience everything from winter wonderlands to spring-like spells in the months ahead. The Weather Network says cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures off the coast of South America, also known as "La Niña," will create a strong jet stream separating warm southern air masses from their colder northern counterparts. Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says this means most Canadians can brace for a wildly variable winter with major departures from seasonal norms. In British Columbia and the Prairies, for instance, Scott says forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels and temperatures below seasonal norms. He says major swings in both temperatures and precipitation levels are on tap for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with stretches of both extreme cold and unusually mild air forecast alongside a mix of storms and dry spells.Scott says Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Canada are slated to buck the trend, with the eastern-most province set to experience a more typical winter while colder than average conditions are expected across all three territories. But Scott said the long-term patterns may not be evident at first, since the December forecast is calling for conditions that defy the overall forecasts. In broad strokes, he predicted an overall milder month for western Canada with more wintry conditions likely in Ontario and points east. "It's going to be quite a winter," Scott said in a telephone interview. "A lot of extremes within the given regions. And if you're talking to your friends or family back east or out west, you're probably going to have a very different experience from week to week as the weather changes across the country."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
When looking at the daily updates and numbers of COVID-19 cases in Alberta, there's a theme that's easy to spot — Calgary's northeast has a serious problem. Calgary-Upper NE is one of 132 "local geographic areas" (or LGAs) that the province uses in reporting COVID-19 cases. It covers the bulk of the northeast quadrant, including newer communities that sit north of McKnight Boulevard, as well as a portion that stretches down to where 16th Avenue N.E. meets Deerfoot Trail. Around 115,000 people call the upper northeast area of Calgary home. The number of active COVID-19 cases there surpassed 1,000 last week, a number not seen anywhere else in the province at any time during the pandemic. As of Sunday, there were 1,194 cases. That's double the numbers seen earlier in the month. For many weeks now, the northeast has secured the unenviable position of being the number one spot in Alberta for active cases. So what's driving such extreme numbers in one part of the city? On the front lines People who live and work in the northeast say there are many reasons that make their communities easy pickings for a virus that thrives on density and easy opportunities for transmission. Those opportunities vary from residents working public-facing, low-income jobs with no opportunity to work from home, to a culture of large, multi-generational households in densely populated neighbourhoods. "It is a concern. Many people in this part of the city are working multiple jobs on the front lines and they're in contact with a lot of people," said Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal. "There's a higher risk to exposure, but I think everybody's doing their best to ensure they're being safe, but more importantly keeping others safe. "Social distancing and wearing masks is important, but we've still got a lot of work to do." Many said they thought the types of jobs worked by those living in the northeast could represent the number one factor behind the high COVID-19 numbers. "The biggest reason is the majority of people are immigrants and newcomers and they are doing blue-collar jobs," said Dan Sidhu, a realtor with his own weekly Punjabi radio show who has called the northeast home for 25 years. "Lots of people work at places like Cargill and Lilydale or furniture factories. They're doing housekeeping and cleaning jobs around the city. There are also transport workers, truckers and taxi drivers." Sidhu said many people in the northeast don't have the luxury of working from home and are more exposed in their day-to-day lives. "We have to go out to work to make our living and pay our bills. We don't have much choice," Sidhu said. Multi-family households In addition to employment, there are also large multi-family households made up of South Asian immigrant families that settle around each other in northeast communities. "The majority of families here are joint families. Seniors live with them, mother-in-laws and father-in-laws, mothers and fathers and children. You can easily have six or seven family members," said Sidhu, adding that COVID-19 spreads to a greater number of people once it finds its way into a family setting. Others talk quietly about the possibility that some cultural factors unique to South Asian communities could give COVID-19 more opportunities to take hold. Some of those factors mentioned include: a stigma in the community around being sick and telling others. a deeply embedded culture of hospitality. meal sharing and inviting guests into the home. a tradition of large family gatherings and events like weddings and birthdays along with a busy calendar of religious events. in some cases, language barriers limiting information around best practices when it comes to health measures. Languages spoken commonly in the home in the northeast include Punjabi and Urdu. Filipino families speak Tagalog along with others who speak Spanish and Vietnamese at home. Some can't communicate in English at all. Worried about being blamed Some residents said they are worried about being stigmatized, criticized and blamed for the rising number of cases from people in other parts of the city and province. A few said they're embarrassed by the high case numbers and say they are victims of circumstance, and do not want to be blamed for personal negligence or for not taking the virus seriously enough. The northeast of the city is also where many newcomers and refugees settle in the days and weeks after arriving in Canada. It's where the cost of living is cheapest and where jobs and many vital supports exist, including the Centre for Newcomers. "We see a disproportionate number of newcomers working in industries where they'd have a much higher rate of being in contact with somebody that has COVID," said Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Centre for Newcomers. "They find jobs in retail, service industries, health-care and long-term care facilities and that [increases] the likelihood." Lee Yuen said newcomers tend to be around larger volumes of people, both at home and at work. "You've got people coming from cultures that are very collective in nature so the entire community is built around that," she said. "You have a more densely packed population, so even when people are adhering to the best possible safety protocols, there could still be issues." She said housing density and a reliance on transit and car sharing also need to be taken into account, along with larger family cohorts than other parts of the city. Language barriers can also make official information harder to access. "The ethno-cultural media and the settlement agencies and other agencies have done a wonderful job of getting that information out there, especially through social media," said Lee Yuen. "It does come translated from the government and it is widespread, but the bigger issue is people are confused about the rules and what they can and can't do. But that's in the general population too." Lee Yuen said the whole concept of cohorts and bubbles took time for many Albertans to understand, but for non-English speaking Albertans, it's even more challenging. Religion and worship Religion is a big part of the fabric of life in northeast Calgary's South Asian community, and with worship comes large gatherings. Throughout 2020, places of worship have been open with limited capacity, enhanced safety measures and at times closed altogether. Under the most recent measures announced by the provincial government on Saturday, churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship are allowed to operate at only one-third of their capacity with mandatory masking in place. Previously, the limit had been one-third of regular attendance. Major religious events and celebrations from Ramadan to Eid and Diwali have all looked a lot different this year. Some places of worship are now going above and beyond the requirements laid out by the province. "We're not even letting anyone sit. We're going even further in what we're doing in that they come, they pray and they go right away," said Amanpreet Singh Gill with the Dashmesh Culture Centre, a large gurdwara where thousands of northeast Sikhs go to pray. "We are trying our best and people are following it. We encourage everyone to be safe. Social interactions are dangerous and we encourage everyone to limit gatherings like weddings too." The centre is also taking prayers online for those staying away, streaming on social media. Mosques have been doing the same thing with live prayers, sermons and programs from local imams, who said Friday prayers are the only in-person worship being permitted. Prayers typically last less than 15 minutes. COVID-19 experiences More cases in the quadrant bring more stories and accounts from people who have had COVID-19. Jayanta Chowdhury contracted COVID-19 along with his family at a Christian prayer meeting in March that turned into a "superspreader" event, leading to at least 34 positive cases, all stemming from one overseas pastor from Singapore. Chowdhury spent nearly 50 days in hospital, 25 of them in a coma on a ventilator. Now he's hoping his story can help others do the right things. "Many people don't believe COVID is going to hurt them. They just think it's like a cough and a cold," said Chowdhury. "What is lacking in the northeast is people are not aware of the fact of how serious this is and how it will affect your life. They are not serious about it. They just think, 'I don't know anyone who is COVID-positive, so it won't happen to me.'" Chowdhury said he sees many people from the South Asian community not wearing masks in public or wearing them incorrectly. He's not alone, although some also point out that people make the same mistakes all over the city. Others regularly complain on social media about seeing the same thing in local stores and restaurants, along with a lack of proper physical distancing, evident in many photos posted online of gatherings and small events with people stood shoulder to shoulder, some wearing masks and others often not wearing one or wearing one incorrectly. The table may not display fully on mobile devices or small screens. In that case, you can also click here to open a standalone version in a new browser tab. "I went to a McDonald's in the northeast the other day. There were four men standing there chatting, no masks," Chowdhury said. "They wear their masks under their chin. But what about the people they are putting at risk? "Who's going to take care of them? In my case, my whole family was positive. Let's say the dad and mom dies, we don't have relatives to look after our kids. They don't understand the height and depth of the issue." Chowdhury said for more than a week he felt fine with no symptoms. He went to church, shopping malls and grocery stores, completely unaware he had contracted the virus. It wasn't until the ninth day that serious symptoms quickly started appearing and four of his group were hospitalized. One of the group died. "I walked into Peter Lougheed hospital and passed out. When I woke up I thought it was the same day. It had been 25 days and I had been on a ventilator," Chowdhury said. WATCH | COVID-19 survivor Jay Chowdhury, in an earlier interview in August, talks about how he's still recovering months after leaving hospital Chowdhury said he has good days and bad days as he continues to recover. He is back at work, but every day is an unknown. "It hurts when I see the community going to a grocery store, still picking up produce, sniffing it and putting it back. People could be carrying COVID home," he said. "Some people don't care about the community, they only think about themselves and what they believe." Seeking help and protection The community is increasingly looking to the provincial government for help and protection. Like everywhere else in the city, the majority of residents stick to the rules, but cases in the northeast continue to rise. Last week, Premier Jason Kenney appeared on the popular northeast South Asian-focused radio station RED FM, interviewed by host Rishi Nagar. Kenney acknowledged the problem with COVID-19 in the northeast, referencing big family gatherings as a particular concern. He spent time outlining news rules and guidelines, including enforcement. "Our research is clear that by far the single largest source of COVID-19 is private social functions and at-home gatherings," said Kenney, adding it wasn't about "pointing fingers." Kenney also commented on Alberta's continued snubbing of the federal contact tracing app. "Their app is not a contact tracing app," he told listeners. "All it does is to indicate if maybe you were in the vicinity of somebody with COVID at some point in the past two weeks with no additional information." Irfan Sabir, the NDP's lone MLA in the northeast representing the riding of Calgary-McCall, said the real problem in the northeast is the province's contact tracing system — which he said is completely overwhelmed and no longer functioning. "We have a government that doesn't know where 85 per cent of cases are coming from. We are left to rely on our observations and speculate," Sabir said. "Government is failing by not investing in contact tracing and not sharing recommendations from Dr. Hinshaw, not listening to Dr. Hinshaw." "They need to step up and take this seriously. Put in place evidence-based, data-based measures. It's long past due." Sabir said northeast residents were already feeling abandoned after a huge hailstorm devastated multiple communities in the summer, leaving thousands of homes with shredded siding, damaged roofs and broken windows — many of which are still unrepaired heading into winter with no meaningful financial help from the province, despite pleas from residents. "The government needs to step up and take this outbreak seriously and do everything they can to contain this spread," he said. Rajan Sawhney, Alberta's minister of community and social services and UCP MLA for Calgary-Northeast, said her government has provided some funding for community organizations to help combat the spread of COVID-19 by raising awareness of the risks among newcomer communities and seniors' groups. She addressed her constituents in Punjabi via a Facebook video over the weekend. "Clearly, we have to do more and it's going to be a multi-level government approach to this, to spread as much awareness as we can about the new measures introduced by the premier," Sawhney said. "It's important that we break those measures down step by step in different languages, and work with our community partners and faith-based institutions." Sawnhey said her main concern is northeast communities facing stigma and shaming as case numbers continue to climb. "There shouldn't be any finger pointing, blaming, stereotyping or shaming, or thinking that somehow residents in northeast Calgary are not as concerned about their health or about following these measures," said Sawnhey. "It's just a different dynamic, and a different way people live."
The European Union hopes Joseph Biden's incoming administration will clarify the U.S. position on digital taxation within two months of taking office, a French Finance Ministry source said on Monday. The EU is considering going ahead with a bloc-wide tax on digital services offered by companies such as Google and Amazon if a global deal to rewrite rules for cross-border taxation is not reached by mid 2021. Efforts at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to update the rules for the era of digital commerce stalled this year.
THE LATEST: * On Monday, health officials announced the deaths of 46 people from over the weekend and 2,364 new cases of COVID-19. * There are 8,855 people with active cases of the disease across B.C. * 316 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 75 in intensive care. * 441 people have died of the disease since the pandemic began. * A total of 10,139 people are under active public health monitoring and in self-isolation because of exposure to known COVID-19 cases. * There have been 33,238 confirmed cases in the province to date.B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday an unprecedented 46 deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend.A total of 2,364 new cases were added to B.C.'s total, however 277 of them were historical cases previously missed due to an error in data reporting by the Fraser Health region.There are now 8,855 people with active COVID-19 cases in B.C., 316 of whom are in hospital, including 75 in intensive care.The Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions continue to see the greatest spread of the disease, accounting for 73 per cent of the new cases announced Monday. However, 212 of the new cases over the weekend were located in the Interior Health region.Monday's update includes five new outbreaks in the health-care system. Currently, there are 57 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and five in hospitals.Health officials have told British Columbians to pause all social interactions and be vigilant applying different layers of protection, including physical distancing, washing hands and using masks.Review of PHSA spendingA review into spending by the Provincial Health Services Authority has been ordered by B.C.'s Minister of Health Adrian Dix, following allegations of misspending.On Monday, CBC News reported how whistleblowers with intimate knowledge into PHSA operations have come forward with numerous concerns.They accuse B.C.'s central health authority of squandering $7 million on the purchase of unusable face masks from China; hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary renovations to executive offices; and tens of thousands of dollars on high-end catered meals for executives and their staff."I appreciate these allegations being raised to me," Dix said in a statement to CBC News. "I have directed the deputy minister of health to assess PHSA's decisions and conduct ... and provide advice and recommendations to me." COVID-19 finesSeveral fines were issued in Vancouver over the weekend as people continued to violate provincial COVID-19 health orders.The Vancouver Police Department says it issued fines following health order violations at a pair of house parties, a birthday party and inside a limousine.In all instances, there were too many people from different households gathering together.Violation tickets ranged from $230 - $2,300.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaThere have now been more than 370,278 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.On Monday, the federal Liberal government announced it's preparing to spend up to $100 billion to kick start the post-pandemic economy as it stares down a record-high deficit projection of more than $381 billion for this fiscal year.In a long-awaited economic statement, tabled today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government's immediate priority is to do "whatever it takes" to help Canadians and businesses stay safe and solvent.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
As the city struggles to balance the 2021 budget in the face of a worsening pandemic, councillors are coming to grips with a steep drop in revenue from one of its key money-makers: the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA).The agency was expected to chip in almost $60 million this year to city coffers. But steep drops in demand for parking downtown mean that amount has plummeted to just $4.1 million, And the amount it expects to contribute in 2021? Zero. Those numbers,.however, don't shock Coun. Brad Lamb, who represents Ward 19, Beaches-East York and sits on the TPA board."They're staggering, but they're not surprising," Bradford said. "If ... folks aren't paying for parking and you do that for several months, it's not surprising that revenue is going to be down.Several October reports by TPA staff — two of which go to the city's general government and licensing committee Monday — indicate the agency lost millions of dollars a month in the first few months of the pandemic.The number of people parking downtown started to pick up in the summer, as the first lockdown eased. But one report warns, "recent evidence has shown a decline in transactions and revenue with the emergence of the second wave of the pandemic."One report going to Monday's meeting shows revenues at some of the TPA's off-street lots plunged by more than 300 per cent in April, compared to 2019.Traditionally, the TPA covers its own expenses, then passes most of the remaining revenues over to the city. After property taxes, which cover about 86 per cent of the city's $13.5 billion annual budget, the TPA is the third largest contributor, records show."The key here is not necessarily to just look at what happened in light of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, but look ahead to the future, how we rebuild, how we respond and how we move forward as an agency and as a city," Lamb told CBC Toronto.In 2021, the report warns, the financial picture for the city is even more bleak:"TPA's budgeted 2021 net income is expected to be nil," the Oct. 19 report reads, "reflecting the assumption that the pandemic will continue to impact the full year of operations."'Absolutely essential'City initiatives like CafeTO, ActiveTO and CurbTO, which were designed to ease the impact of the pandemic on residents and local businesses, chewed up more than 800 paid parking spots as patios and bike lanes took over traffic lanes. But Bradford said the benefits of those initiatives far outweighed the $2.5 million cost of the eliminated paid parking spots."I think it was absolutely essential to get us through the summer months of the pandemic, in an unprecedented time," he said.With the city already facing a $1.8-billion deficit heading into the 2021 budget calculations, Bradford said he and other councillors will look at ways to make up for the hole created by slumping demand for parking."We have to fill those holes," he said "We need to think about service levels. We need to think about revenue tools. We need to work with the provincial and federal government in order to fill that gap."But he said the average person probably won't notice a difference in the level of service provided by the Toronto Parking Authority.Drivers may need to look harder for places to park next year though: One of the reports suggests paid parking spots lost to ActiveTO's accelerated bike lane expansion could be replaced by converting one-hour-free spaces to paid parking spots."TPA has identified approximately 1,660 potential paid parking spaces that fall into this category," the report reads.One bright spot throughout the pandemic has been the TPA-run Toronto BikeShare program.Ridership continued to increase this year, Bradford said, as people looked for alternative ways of moving around the city."It's been a godsend throughout the pandemic," he said. "We have historic ridership numbers, and people are getting out."
It was during one of the early planning sessions for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics that Chief Gibby Jacob heard a provincial government official talking about the Callahan Valley, which would eventually host cross-country skiing and ski jumping during the Games.Jacob, who participated in the bidding process for the Olympics and was a member of the Games organizing committee board, finally put up his hand."I asked who the hell is this Callahan and how the hell did he get his name on our lands," the Squamish Nation hereditary chief said with a chuckle. "They all looked at each other. I said find out and let us know."It turns out the Callahan Valley, located near Whistler, B.C., was named after one of the early surveyors in the region."That was the start of our big push to get our names back on places," said Jacob.Indigenous groups had a voice in organizing and hosting the 2010 Games. But Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has suggested any movement to bring another Games to the city should be headed by Indigenous leaders.In early November, Vancouver city council voted to postpone a decision on whether it wants to explore making a bid. City staff are expected to present a report to council in early 2021.Stewart has said one of his conditions for supporting a bid is that the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh — the three Indigenous First Nations whose traditional territory includes Vancouver — head the Olympic bid committee."I have talked to the Nations about this and there's interest there," the Vancouver Sun reported Stewart saying in a state-of-the-city address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.Emails to Stewart's office asking to explain the mayor's proposal were not immediately answered.Khelsilem, a councillor with the Squamish Nation Council, isn't aware of any formal talks about leading a bid."We haven't had any formal discussion about it," he said. "We haven't made any formal decision about whether we want or don't want. And we haven't had any formal discussions with our neighbouring nations."Representatives of the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh did not respond to interview requests.Khelsilem said before any decision is made, the pros and cons of hosting an Olympics must be weighed."The reality is that something like hosting an Olympics requires a significant amount of investment and support from both the federal and provincial governments," he said. "While there are a number of reported advantages, there's also a number of drawbacks."I think a lot of that workflow needs to be figured out, especially in the context of the challenges that we're going to face over the next decade and the challenges that we're facing on a number of fronts."Furthermore, Jacob said: "there's a lot to be gained by being involved [in a bid] for our people.""I don't think that our nations, given what we have as far as leadership resources and how fast they seem to change, would be able to take things right from scratch to completion," he said.Creating a common agendaWith 15 of the venues used for the 2010 Olympics built on First Nation traditional territories, Indigenous support was crucial for the Games success. The Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Lil'Wat nations formed The Four Host First Nations, a non-profit organization with the goals of uniting Canada's Indigenous people and encouraging inclusion across the country."I think it created a common agenda," said Jacob. "By doing that and achieving what we set out, it was totally outstanding."I think it showed leadership that the four separate First nations could work together for a common purpose and get benefits from it."WATCH | President of 2010 Games says Vancouver should bid for 2030:Involvement in the Games raised awareness of Indigenous issues across Canada, he said."When we first started out, we were pretty invisible in our own territories," said Jacob.Indigenous groups did "fairly well in compensation for the use of our lands," he said. The Olympics also led to traditional Indigenous names being returned to locations and landmarks plus recognition of First Nation arts and culture.John Furlong, who was head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), is part of the group looking at the 2030 Games. He said any bid would be impossible without Indigenous participation."I see no scenario at all in which First Nations are not involved," he said. "They were a difference maker in 2010."First Nations are in multiple new business since 2010. My instincts tell me they will be keenly interested in being involved again."
TOKYO — A brightly burning meteor was seen plunging from the sky in wide areas of Japan, capturing attention on television and social media.The meteor glowed strongly as it rapidly descended through the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday.Many people in western Japan reported on social media seeing the rare sight.NHK public television said its cameras in the central prefectures of Aichi, Mie and elsewhere captured the fireball in the southern sky.A camera at Nagoya port showed the meteor shining as brightly as a full moon as it neared the Earth, the Asahi newspaper reported.Some experts said small fragments of the meteorite might have reached the ground.The Associated Press
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Australia’s prime minister said Monday that a Chinese official’s tweet showing a fake image of an Australian soldier appearing to slit a child’s throat was “truly repugnant” and merits an apology. China said there would be no apology. The incident is further souring already tense relations between the two nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was seeking an apology from the Chinese government after Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, posted the graphic image that shows a grinning soldier holding a bloodied knife to the throat of a veiled child, who is holding a lamb. Zhao wrote a caption with the tweet saying: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.” He was referring to a disturbing report by Australia’s military earlier this month which found evidence that elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians during the conflict in Afghanistan. It recommended that 19 soldiers be referred to federal police for criminal investigation. Asked about the issue at a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying cast blame on the Australian side. “What Australia should do is to reflect deeply, bring the perpetrators to justice, make a formal apology to the Afghan people, and solemnly promise to the international community that they will never commit such terrible crimes again,” Hua said. Morrison said Zhao's tweet was “utterly outrageous” and a terrible slur against Australia's military. It “is truly repugnant. It is deeply offensive to every Australian, every Australian who has served in that uniform,” he told reporters in Canberra. “The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.” Morrison said his government had contacted Twitter asking it to take the post down. The post had a warning tag on it by Monday afternoon but could still be viewed. Zhao's account comes with a Twitter label stating that it's a Chinese government account. Despite China blocking Twitter and other U.S. social media platforms within the county, Chinese diplomats and state media have established a strong presence on them. Zhao was criticized by the U.S. in March after tweeting a conspiracy theory that U.S. soldiers may have brought the coronavirus to China. He is considered a leading representative of China’s high-pitched new strain of assertive foreign relations. Morrison acknowledged there were tensions between China and Australia. “But this is not how you deal with them," he said. “Australia has patiently sought to address the tensions that exist in our relationship in a mature way, in a responsible way, by seeking engagement at both leader and ministerial level.” The rift between the two nations has grown since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. China has since imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports. Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Louis-Joseph Couturier left the Gaspé on Nov. 14. He doesn't plan on returning home until he completes his goal of cycling all the way to Vancouver.The journey covers 5,250 kilometres. If he continues at his current pace — 100 km/day — he should arrive by mid-February or early March."I wake up usually at 4 a.m. to start cycling when it's still dark and traffic isn't too bad," he told Radio-Canada. At night, he pitches a tent wherever he can."If it wasn't for the pandemic, I would have tried to take advantage of people's hospitality along the route. But in the current crisis, I can't really do that," he said.Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions and the oncoming winter, Couturier felt his trip couldn't wait.Following the recent death of a friend and fellow cyclist, who died in a road accident, Couturier decided to embark on a journey to raise awareness about cyclist safety in Canadian cities."I realized my own vulnerability and wanted to make a difference," he said. "Each death of a cyclist on our roads is avoidable."Between eight and 11 cyclists are killed on Quebec roads every year, according to data from the SAAQ.Couturier is hoping his awareness campaign will help bring the public's attention to this issue."We made the choice to design our cities around cars. We can rethink this way of looking at our roads," he said.He also wants to raise $20,000 for the organization Vélo Fantôme (Ghost Bike), which erects a white bicycle in locations where cyclists are killed.