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
Sherbrooke - Un cadre législatif et réglementaire désuet, une structure trop rigide de l’industrie, un aménagement déficient du territoire et un difficile accès à la viabilité d’une production : ce sont les principaux freins à l’autonomie alimentaire qu’ont ciblés les 35 producteurs et les 35 citoyens qui ont été mobilisés dans le cadre du « Contrat social » de l’Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA). L’UPA a dévoilé mardi ce fameux projet pour lequel elle a lancé un appel de candidatures cet été. Après huit réunions et un blitz de formation sur l’autonomie alimentaire et les enjeux agricoles, le comité a finalement rendu un rapport dans lequel les deux parties s’engagent sans objectifs chiffrés sur six grandes thématiques : la valorisation et protection du territoire, la durabilité du modèle agroalimentaire, la valorisation et soutien des productrices et producteurs agricoles, l’accessibilité des produits pour la population, l’éducation et sensibilisation citoyennes et les actions et normes collectives. Par exemple, en ce qui a trait à la durabilité du modèle agroalimentaire, les citoyens s’engagent à prioriser l’achat de produits locaux, à soutenir l’agriculture de proximité, à susciter l’innovation dans la mise en marché et à initier, participer ou soutenir les initiatives citoyennes visant l’autonomie alimentaire. De leur côté, les producteurs affirment qu’ils prendront des actions concrètes pour encourager la résilience écologique et économique de leurs entreprises face aux changements climatiques, notamment via l’utilisation d’énergies renouvelables diversifiées, qu’ils rendront l’agriculture davantage multifonctionnelle et qu’ils miseront sur les systèmes agroéconomiques territorialisés, soit une forme émergente alternative au système agroalimentaire mondialisé. Concessions et réflexion C’est lors du 96e congrès de l’UPA, tenu en mode virtuel, que le document a fièrement été présenté par un citoyen ainsi qu’une productrice ayant participé à l’exercice, Raoul Pascal et Sophie Gendron. Mais que fera-t-on d’un tel contrat symbolique? « On va avoir une réflexion à faire », a avancé en point de presse le président de l’UPA, Marcel Groleau, mentionnant que le secteur de la transformation alimentaire du Québec pourrait faire partie d’un dialogue semblable. « Les objectifs qui ont été retenus doivent nous guider et on ne doit pas changer les priorités retenues. Cet exercice-là, ils l’ont fait eux. C’est à nous maintenant de voir comment on s’ajuste, chacun dans nos organisations, pour tenter de rejoindre ce contrat-là », a-t-il ajouté. Plus tôt, lors du panel de discussion qui a suivi la présentation du Contrat social, M. Groleau a avoué avoir craint au départ que des « groupes de pression » ne dominent les discussions du comité, « pour ne pas les nommer, les véganes », a-t-il dit avant de préciser qu’il avait été rassuré par l’Institut du Nouveau Monde, l’organisme responsable de piloter le projet et l’appel de candidatures. « Après ça, c’était : est-ce que l’information qu’on allait leur donner leur permettrait d’avoir un regard global sur ce qu’est le secteur agroalimentaire au Québec et dans le monde? a-t-il ajouté. Même si on parle d’autonomie alimentaire au Québec, on ne peut pas se dissocier de ce qu’on devra continuer d’importer et de ce qu’on exporte également parce qu’on est bon sur ces marchés-là. » Interrogés sur l’équilibre des discours et des points de vue qui ont animé les discussions et mené aux engagements rédigés, M. Pascal et Mme Gendron ont surtout voulu mettre de l’avant l’importance de ce premier rapprochement du genre entre les deux parties. « Il n’y avait pas nécessairement une idée d’être équitable, a établi M. Pascal. Ce n’est pas dans cette optique-là qu’on a fait ça, mais plutôt que commencer un dialogique dans le but d’un projet futur. » « C’est certain qu’on arrivait avec un bagage différent, les citoyens et les producteurs, a ajouté Mme Gendron. Une compréhension différente, mais aussi plus que ça, ce sont 35 citoyens et 35 producteurs différents qui arrivent avec une perception différente. C’était plutôt de tout mettre en commun pour arriver à construire quelque chose dans lequel tout le monde serait bien et se reconnaîtrait [...] Il y a des idées sur lesquelles il y a eu consensus, il y a des idées sur lesquelles on a dû faire des compromis, et il y a des idées qui sont là même si certaines personnes ne s’y reconnaissent pas. Mais dans l’ensemble, ce qui s’y retrouve représente ce que nous tous avons discuté. » « Des discussions animées, c’est sain, et effectivement il y en a eu. Mais je ne me rappelle pas qu’il ait eu un fossé majeur entre les citoyens et les producteurs », a également expliqué M. Pascal. » L’intégralité du contrat social est disponible sur le site de l’UPA Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
The Canadian government has a marketplace worth an estimated $25 billion each year. And though it can be a difficult market to break into, countless businesses can benefit from many lucrative opportunities. This includes the businesses of five Indigenous women entrepreneurs who were on a panel this past Wednesday to discuss their stories, including the successes and challenges of landing contracts with the federal government. The event was organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and its entrepreneurial outreach and navigation program called BeTheDrum. The speakers’ panel, which was held online, was titled How We’re Doing Business with the Government of Canada. Sylvie Ouellette, president and co-founder of Versatil: Business Intelligence and Performance Management, started her company in 2010 in the Quebec city of Gatineau. Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is directly across a river from Gatineau. “So definitely we wanted to see how we could do business with the federal government,” said Ouellette. Her company specializes in data management, business analytics, security and AI intelligence. “This is a big employer here.” Ouellette said simply having the desire to land federal contracts is not sufficient. In order to secure some government deals, previous experience working for the Canadian government is required. This experience can only be obtained through partnerships. “It took us many years to be able to bid on a contract because we had to work with other companies first to get the experience so we could have our own references so that we could bid,” Ouellette said. “It’s complex, even if it’s small amounts.” Julie Lepage, the co-founder of Montreal-based Acosys Consulting Services, said she knew as early as when a business plan was being worked on that federal contracts were worth pursuing. “We saw there was so much potential in doing business with the government that we couldn’t ignore it,” she said. Acosys Consulting Services will be celebrating its 15th year in business this coming February. Winning some federal work though was not an easy path to navigate. Lepage attended numerous workshops and conferences in order to gather information on how the procurement system works for Indigenous entrepreneurs. “That was hard because we were meeting people who were in (in other industries) and they were getting contracts faster,” Lepage said. “For us it was hard because $10,000 in consulting services is nothing. It keeps us employed maybe for a month. It was a puzzle or problem we had to resolve.” Lepage said it took at least four years before Acosys Consulting Services even submitted its first bid to the federal government. And it took until 2018 for the business to secure its first long-term contract from the Canadian government. Her company quickly learned that it’s best to hire an expert in a particular field to assist with a bid proposal, Lepage said. While hiring another individual will result in additional expenses, it can be fruitful if a noteworthy contract is secured. After years of gaining experience in what federal officials are looking for in bid submissions, Lepage and her partner now handle the work on their own. “We learned and now we don’t hire anybody else,” she said. “We know how to answer all of these things.” Wendy Roberts is the president of Ottawa-based Makwa Resources, which specializes in human resources and program development with both public and private sectors. Makwa Resources started 15 years ago and Roberts said in the early years her company also had to rely on big partnerships to secure contracts with the federal government. But now it lands its own deals. “There’s a lot of positive energy that’s floating around,” she said, adding she’s hoping to win a number of contracts prior to the Christmas season. “We’re finding more and more with our government clients that they are listening more. It’s been a very positive reinforcement for us.” As for Janice Larocque, who is Métis and living in Calgary, she is the president and owner of a pair of staffing companies, Fast Labour Solutions and Spirit Omega. Playing by the government’s rules has kept her busy. “Partnerships can work but it does take a while,” she said. “So, if that’s what we need to do to advance, I think we should.” Larocque said she’s had plenty of discussions with those in her industry and a common thought is why there is a need to partner if a business has the capacity to provide a service on its own. “I really think if we start pushing, we don’t have to partner to deliver our services,” she said. Genevieve Cumpson is president of Drapeau Automatic Sprinkler Corp., a leading independent designer and installer of fixed fire protection and detection systems based in Kingston, Ont. “In our industry we’re so regulated with our codes that the government also has to be regulated so we kind of fit together,” Cumpson said. “We’re just very fortunate that we were finally able to be certified as an Aboriginal business.” Cumpson said landing federal contracts has proven beneficial for her company when seeking other work. “For us, working with the government has really actually helped us learn how to put proposals together because they required so much information,” she said. “Sometimes with our private companies we were able to bombard them because we had our structures already set up.” Windspeaker.comBy Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Premier Scott Moe recently raised the possibility of lifting some of the restrictions on gatherings during the holiday season, if it is safe to do so. But some Saskatchewan doctors are ringing alarm bells — not Christmas bells — about the rising case numbers. At a physician town hall last week, Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, senior medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the current trajectory puts Saskatchewan on track to have 14,000 cases of COVID-19 by mid-December.As of Tuesday, there have been 8,745 cases to date, with 3,819 considered active.Kryzanowski also worries about the possibility of under-counting active cases at this stage in the pandemic. "When we're in exponential growth, we know active cases are just the tip of the iceberg, and we know there's a huge iceberg under the water that represents the undiagnosed cases," she said."That's also growing exponentially, and we have momentum behind the growth in cases that's increasingly difficult to turn around." According to models presented by senior medical information officer Dr. Jenny Basran, COVID-19 patients may soon account for half of all available hospital beds — and that situation is projected to last well into the spring. By January, there may not be enough ventilators in Saskatchewan's ICUs for all the patients who will need them, the models suggest. Skip this Christmas so family is here next year: doctorKyle Anderson, an assistant professor in the college of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, says Moe's comments about lifting restrictions do not reflect the reality of where the pandemic is headed. He worries that type of thinking will lead to a false sense of security. "People will think things are going to be turning around, because the premier must have the most up-to-date information, and he would be guiding us with the best medically sound advice," said Anderson. "In this case, there's no way you could claim that the best sound medical advice would allow us to start loosening things up. We are not there."Anderson hopes residents will remember that a great deal of community transmission is driven by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people. In many cases, these people have not even gone to get a COVID test, because they don't feel ill. "These are the people who are spreading it to other people," Anderson said. "They're going to play hockey. They're going to a restaurant. They're going for that one-on-one dinner with a friend. They're getting in close contact, unmasked, because they think they're safe."If more people are allowed to gather for the holidays, more people will unknowingly spread the virus to their families and loved ones at a time when the hospital system is already overloaded. "The only way we can try to make sure we don't worsen the situation at Christmas is to say, just like we told the kids at Halloween, we're skipping it this year," said Anderson. "We can skip these holidays. Having someone here next Christmas is more important than going to see them this Christmas." Looking for loopholesAs case numbers in the province continue to rise despite the new public health measures, doctors are advocating for more public education and greater clarity about why certain things are allowed and others forbidden. At the town hall meeting, Moose Jaw family doctor Brandon Thorpe said the uncertainty is leading some people to look for loopholes."I'm hearing all sorts of devious ways of how people are getting by the new rules," he said."The joke is that 'I'm going to go and have a funeral for my turkey on Christmas day with 30 people in a restaurant.' So … I just feel that the presentations Mr. Moe and [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab are doing are not sufficient. They're too vague, and they don't give enough education." For the government to promote an effective public health message at this point in time, everyone must present a clear and united front, Anderson says."Education is one of the biggest things we can do to get us out of this mess, and I think the government is sort of dropping the ball on that," he said."They're not consistently getting the messaging out about what we need to do to actually succeed at this pandemic. They're saying, 'Well, maybe if you could, it would be nice if some people did this.' That's really not the messaging people need right now."
BILLINGS, Mont. — Climate change, voracious beetles and disease are imperiling the long-term survival of a high-elevation pine tree that’s a key source of food for some grizzly bears and found across the West, U.S. officials said Tuesday. A Fish and Wildlife Service proposal scheduled to be published Wednesday would protect the whitebark pine tree as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, according to documents posted by the Office of the Federal Register. The move marks a belated acknowledgement of the tree's severe declines in recent decades and sets the stage for restoration work. But government officials said they do not plan to designate which forest habitats are critical to the tree’s survival, stopping short of what some environmentalists argue is needed. Whitebark pines can live up to 1,000 years and are found at elevations up to 12,000 feet (3,600 metres) — conditions too harsh for most tress to survive. Environmentalists had petitioned the government in 1991 and again in 2008 to protect the trees, which occur across 126,000 square miles (326,164 square kilometres) of land in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and western Canada. A nonnative fungus has been killing whitebark pines for a century. More recently, the trees have proven vulnerable to bark beetles that have killed millions of acres of forest, and climate change that scientists say is responsible for more severe wildfire seasons. The trees have been all but wiped out in some areas, including the eastern edge of Yellowstone National Park, where they are a source of food for threatened grizzly bears. More than half of whitebark pines in the U.S. are now dead, according to a 2018 study from the U.S. Forest Service. That has complicated government efforts to declare grizzlies in the Yellowstone area as a recovered species that no longer needs federal protection. Grizzlies raid caches of whitebark pine cones that are hidden by squirrels and devour the seeds within the cones to fatten up for winter. A 2009 court ruling that restored protections for Yellowstone bears cited in part the tree's decline, although government studies later concluded the grizzlies could find other things to eat. After getting sued for not taking steps to protect the pine trees, wildlife officials in 2011 acknowledged that whitebark pines needed protections but they took no immediate action, saying other species faced more immediate threats. An attorney with the Natural Resources Defence Council, which submitted the 2008 petition for protections, lamented that it took so long but said the proposal was still worth celebrating. “This is the federal government admitting that climate change is killing off a widely distributed tree, and we know that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many species threatened,” said Rebecca Riley, legal director for the environmental group’s nature program. The government’s proposal describes the threats to the pine tree imminent and said it was one of many plants expected to be impacted as climate change moves faster than they can adapt. “Whitebark pine survives at high elevations already, so there is little remaining habitat in many areas for the species to migrate to higher elevations in response to warmer temperatures,” Fish and Wildlife Service officials wrote. The officials added that overall, whitebark pine stands have seen severe reductions in regeneration because of wildfires, a fungal disease called white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetles and climate change. Amid those growing threats, federal officials are working in conjunction with researchers and private groups on plans to gather cones from trees that are resistant to blister rust, grow their seeds in greenhouses and then plant them back on the landscape, said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Amy Nicholas. A draft of that nationwide restoration is expected by the end of next year. “We do have options to revive this species,” Nicholas said. The decision not to pursue protections for the tree's habitat is in line with another recent action by the Fish and Wildlife Service — the denial of critical habitat for t he endangered rusty patched bumblebee. The bee's population has plummeted 90 per cent over about two decades. As with whitebark pine, loss of the bee's habitat was considered less important than other threats. The two cases underscore a pattern of opposition to habitat protections by the administration of President Donald Trump, environmentalists said. The Fish and Wildlife Service under Trump also has proposed rules to restrict what lands can be declared worthy of protections and to give greater weight to the economic benefits of development. “It's clear that the intent is to limit protection of habitat for threatened and endangered species. Whitebark pine is another example of that,” said Noah Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity. Fish and Wildlife Service Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott said it would not be prudent to designate areas for habitat protections since the major threats to the trees' survival can't be addressed through land management. “The driving factor (in the tree's decline) is that white pine blister rust, and that's working synergistically with mountain pine beetle, the altered fire regime, climate change," Abbott said. “These are biological factors that we really don't have any control over.” ___ On Twitter, follow Brown @MatthewBrownAP Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Sen. Joseph McCarthy is censured; Scientists demonstrate the world's first artificially-created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction; Enron files for Chapter 11 protection; Colombian drug lord is shot and killed. (Dec. 2)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A second inmate at an Alaska prison experiencing a coronavirus outbreak has died from complications related to COVID-19, as the total number of active cases at the state's largest prison has reached 480, the Alaska Department of Corrections said Tuesday.The 77-year-old with underlying health issues, who was serving sentences for sexual abuse and release violations, died Monday after being taken to a Palmer hospital on Nov. 22, the department said.It's the second death of an inmate related to COVID-19 that has been reported by the department. The first was last month. In each case, the department declined to release the names of the individuals, citing privacy concerns.Both were inmates at Goose Creek Correctional Center near Wasilla, which has been experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.The department said it offered tests to about 1,300 inmates at the prison to try to find undetected cases. Results brought the facility's active case count to 480, with results in 120 cases pending and another roughly 190 inmates considered recovered, the department said.Sarah Gallagher, a department spokesperson, said it “can only offer and recommend testing" — not require it — but she said there were few refusals to be tested.The total inmate population at the prison stood at about 1,260 on Tuesday, she said.In housing units that have had positive tests, those who have tested negative are retested every three days until there are no additional positive results in the unit for 14 days, the department said.Dr. Robert Lawrence, the department's chief medical officer, said “testing sweeps” provide a picture of spread that has occurred and allow officials to "target isolation and quarantine strategies to particular areas in the facility in order to flatten the curve of the spread.”Inmate housing is determined by test results and clinical status, and staff members are required to wear masks in the prison and undergo screenings before their shifts, the department said.For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta Health projections released by the Opposition predict COVID-19 hospitalizations could soar to 775 by mid-December and the number of intensive care patients could reach 161.NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the numbers suggest the United Conservative government waited too long to act, then introduced ineffective half measures to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.“Our province is reporting the highest rate of COVID in the country,” Notley told Premier Jason Kenney during question period Tuesday. “The models showed you a second wave was coming. Why did you not prepare?”Kenney’s government has in recent weeks declined to provide internal projections on potential COVID-19 effects on hospital and intensive care wards, although Kenney said this week those numbers might be provided in the coming days.The latest numbers were leaked to the NDP.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said the projections are the "worst-case scenario" and don't take into account the recently announced new restrictions."That is exactly the point of those restrictions ... to prevent us from hitting those high projections because what we need to do is bend that curve down," said Hinshaw.Alberta's daily case count has sat above 1,000 for almost two weeks, putting a significant strain on the health-care system.There are a total of 173 intensive care beds in Alberta. On Tuesday, there were 97 COVID-19 ICU patients of a total 479 in hospitals.Alberta Health Services, the front-line operational arm of Alberta Health, is rearranging and reassigning space, staff and patients to create another 250 ICU beds. AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said in an email that Calgary exceeded maximum ICU capacity Monday, but had space because 10 new beds had been added. Edmonton was at 95 per cent ICU capacity, but had 18 spaces available because of 20 new beds.Twenty acute-care hospitals, including the major ones in Calgary and Edmonton, are dealing with COVID outbreaks of their own.To stem the surge in cases, Kenney announced tighter health restrictions last week aimed at reducing community spread while keeping businesses and the economy as open as possible.No social gatherings are allowed in people’s homes. Restaurants and bars can stay open, but only six people can be at one table and they all must live under the same roof.The province is to review the measures mid-December and may intensify or add to them if the skyrocketing spread continues.The NDP and some doctors say the public-health orders, while aimed at balancing health and the economy, will ultimately fail both and a short, sharp lockdown is the way to go.Alberta is also facing the challenge of tracking spread. Health officials do not know where about 80 per cent of recent cases came from. Kenney reiterated that the province has 800 contact tracers and is working to hire 400 more while moving more part-time tracers to full-time status.“Alberta Health Services is pulling out the stops and has been for weeks to add capacity,” Kenney told the house.“We made it clear to them from Day 1 that budget is not an issue, that we are giving them maximum resources ... in hiring and training, and bringing people on board."Notley criticized Kenney for not moving faster during the summer to hire more contact tracers. She noted Alberta lags behind other comparable provinces.“B.C. has 26 contact tracers per 100,000 (people). Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30. Ontario, 27. Alberta, 18,” said Notley.“Contact tracing is strained across the country, that is true, but only in this province is it broken.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
San Francisco Mayor London Breed dined at a posh Napa Valley restaurant the day after California's governor was there. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo went to his parents' house for Thanksgiving. And a Los Angeles County supervisor dined outdoors just hours after voting to ban outdoor dining there.All three local officials were on the hot seat Tuesday after various reports that they violated rules aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus — or at a minimum, violating the spirit of the rules as they repeatedly urged others to stay home.Breed joined seven others at the three Michelin-starred French Laundry on Nov. 7 to celebrate the 60th birthday of socialite Gorretti Lo Lui, the mayor's spokesman confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle. She dined in the same kind of partially enclosed indoor/outdoor room Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated in a day earlier.Newsom, who has appealed to Californians to “do your part" and stay home, apologized when the 12-person dinner was reported, then again when photos emerged showing him, his wife and others sitting close together at the same table without masks.Breed's spokesman, Jeff Cretan, called the mayor's French Laundry dinner a “small family birthday dinner." He did not immediately respond to a telephone message Tuesday inquiring whether the dinner involved more than three different households, which are prohibited under the state's rules.Before the Chronicle's story was posted Tuesday, Breed thanked residents for doing their part by limiting contact with others, saying on a live stream that “as someone who basically lives alone, it’s been a tough year for me personally."Earlier in the day, Liccardo apologized for attending a Thanksgiving get-together at his parents' home that included people from five different households.“I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family," Liccardo said in a statement. “I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better.”Liccardo said there were eight members from five different households and that they all dined outside at separate tables on the back patio, wearing masks when they were not eating.The outing was first reported by KNTV in San Jose.A day earlier, Liccardo tweeted that cases were spiking because people were letting their guard down with family members and friends. “Let’s cancel the big gatherings this year and focus on keeping each other safe," he wrote.Meanwhile, KTTV in Los Angeles reported that LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl enjoyed an outdoor meal at a restaurant just hours after voting last week to ban outdoor dining at the county’s 31,000 restaurants over coronavirus safety concerns.Kuehl was seen eating outside on Nov. 24 at Il Forno Trattoria near her home in Santa Monica, the station reported. Earlier in the day, Kuehl was among the supervisors who voted 3 to 2 to prohibit outdoor dining in Los Angeles County. Indoor dining has been banned for months during the pandemic.“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible," Kuehl’s office said in a statement Monday. "She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit."Los Angeles County imposed a new stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents effective this week as coronavirus cases surge across the state and country.During last week's Board of Supervisors meeting, Kuehl referred to outside dining as “a most dangerous situation” because of the possibility of virus transmission among unmasked patrons.“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said.Juliet Williams, The Associated Press
MILLBROOK, Ala. — The owners of an outdoor recreation destination in Alabama fear a days-old baby goat has been stolen from a free-ranging herd near a former movie set and tourist attraction.Two newborn goats from the herd on Jackson Lake Island in Milbrook have disappeared since November, according to the owners.The property has public access for fishing and camping, as well as the fictional town of Spectre, where scenes for the 2003 Tim Burton film “Big Fish” were shot, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. There are about 55 grown goats on the property and they sometimes sleep under the church on the set, the newspaper said.One of the goats, Bambi, was taken in early November but was returned about a day later, said Lynn Bright, who owns the property and goats and is the former first lady of Montgomery.Bambi died after being away from his mother, she added. Bluebell, who was born Friday, has since gone missing.“We know who took Bambi,” Bright said. “We have addressed that with the young man’s family, and we are still considering taking legal action. We can’t be certain if Bluebell wasn’t carried off by an animal. But we had reports of a family passing her around before she went missing.”The owners posted photos of Bluebell to Facebook on Monday calling for the public's help in returning the animal and putting a stop to stealing the goats. Bright added that baby goats have gone missing from the property before.“We love sharing our goats for everyone to enjoy," the post said. "However, we can’t continue to let them roam free and play with everyone if this keeps happening. We love our babies too much, and we must keep them safe. We are now installing even more cameras on the island, and we hope this post helps.”The Associated Press
After nine long months of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns people around the world are truly feeling the emotional and physical crunch. Humans are social creatures and this pandemic has succeeded in separating us from one another more than anything else in recent memory. In our desperate attempts to slow the spread of the virus throughout our communities, much of what we commonly experience together as communal acts of collective joy have become greatly restricted or shut down completely. One of the areas hardest hit is the live music industry. Venues have closed up, and over time we have seen repeated announcements in the news that many will not be able to ride out the storm and reopen in the future. Festivals both large and small were forced to go on hiatus this year sending out waves of financial crisis through the entire industry, from the producers at the top to the thousands upon thousands of musicians who rely more than ever on live performance engagements for their livelihood. In an attempt to utilize digital media to bridge the wide physical expanse, many organizations working in the music industry have turned to live streaming over the Internet to remain connected with their audiences. One organization operating as a music industry hub is the non-profit Canada's Music Incubator - Canada's Music Incubator (CMI). “We’re national. So we're based out of Toronto, but we also do a lot of our programming in the west as well in Alberta, out of the National Music Centre,” said CMI Live Events director Jesse Mitchell. The centre is a music performance venue located in Calgary. Much of the work that CMI does involves live music curation, as well as connecting musicians and managers with promoters and performance opportunities. But the organization also goes beyond that by producing music industry workshops and mentorships which serve to educate music creators and to invigorate the Canadian music landscape. Because of CMI’s success over their 10-year history, Mitchell and his associates were approached by representatives at the TD Bank, an organization with a long and prominent history of sponsoring and supporting many high profile music and cultural events across Canada. During these times of quarantine TD was seeking alternatives to sponsoring live events and approached CMI to spearhead a nationally-produced streaming performance program. Together the two partners came up with the Connected Music Series. Produced over the last few months and premiering on CMI’s YouTube channel, the Connected Music Series features 20 performances by Black, Indigenous and South Asian musicians. The artists selected were asked to stage their performances at venues in their community that held significance to that place. CMI also had a mandate to include local creators and media production crews to capture the performances. “The series has a focus on showcasing artists, but at the same time we’re interested in also showcasing significant spaces,” Mitchell explained. “But because this is online and it’s being videoed, we’re also highlighting media creators who work in these different communities.” The Connected Music Series features 20 prerecorded 30-minute musical performances airing between Nov. 19 and Dec. 20. The series hosts an incredible selection of Canadian talent, including many acclaimed Indigenous artists such as 2020 JUNO Indigenous Artist of the Year Celeigh Cardinal; Mi'kmaq Rapper Wolf Castle; two-spirit Mohawk singer Shawnee; Cree R&B; musician Sebastian Gaskin; Mohawk musician Logan Staats, and Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday. The venues chosen by the performers range from the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre and the Art Gallery of Alberta, both in Edmonton, and the Pabineau First Nation Band Hall in Bathurst, N.B., to intimate locations like The Garden Strathcona in Vancouver and community-minded retail spaces like hip hop fashion store Friday Knights in Winnipeg. “There's lots of beautiful and incredible places where I could have taped my performance, but it was already winter here,” said Gilday, who makes her home in Yellowknife. “So shooting a half-hour performance outside in winter here is not possible because I play guitar.” “I chose the Bullock’s Bistro, which is our local fish and chips place, and it's like an iconic Yellowknife location.” Gilday appreciates the Yellowknife restaurant’s attraction as a community and tourist hub, established over the past three decades, and how “it’s connected to the water in a very special way.” Owners “Renata and Sam Bullock get their fish fresh out of Great Slave Lake literally a hundred feet away.” For Gilday, that speaks to her deeply about “food security and that connection to the water.” Whether locked down within the vast urban landscape of a city like Toronto or tucked in for the winter in the remote communities of Northern Canada there’s no denying the significance of how much digital media is helping to keep everyone connected in these trying times. Many of the artists featured in the series would normally be touring and performing in various corners of the world. During the pandemic, however, sponsored streaming events have been adopted by many producers and promoters to serve as an antidote to the moratorium placed on public gatherings and live music events. The Connected Music Series returns Dec. 3, streaming dynamic performances from unique Canadian locations by acclaimed Canadian BIPOC musicians and creators right through until Dec. 20. Visit the Connected Music Series YouTube channel to view the recorded performances so far. Windspeaker.com By David Owen Rama, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers.The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B's in recent years would be denied under the new rules.U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn't follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.“The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” White wrote.The U.S. issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas each year in sectors including technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they’re issued for three years and renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China.The H-1B rules announced weeks before the election were part of President Donald Trump's wider agenda to curb nearly all forms of immigration. In June, he issued an order temporarily suspending the H-1B program until the end of the year.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities including the California Institute of Technology sued in California, arguing there wasn’t adequate notice or time for the public to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly related to requiring a prevailing wage for visa-holders, would have a drastic impact on new hires and “sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States."The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee seeking renewal was paid an $80,000 salary but would have to be paid $208,000 under the new rule.The judge agreed that the federal government didn’t make a case for implementing the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes agencies accountable to the public by requiring a detailed process for enacting regulations.“Defendants failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provided by the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” White wrote.The rule on wages, proposed by the Department of Labor, took effect in October, while the Homeland Security rule on occupations and other issues was supposed to take effect Monday. It also would have placed limits on “offsite” firms that employ and contract out H-1B visa holders to other companies; their visas would have been limited to one year at a time."This is incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This ruling enables those individuals to maintain their jobs and their families in the United States.”The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having "the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.”Messages left Tuesday for spokespeople with the Labor and Homeland Security departments weren’t immediately returned.The wage rule has prompted at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.___Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
Ottawa's finance committee voted on Tuesday to modify the ward map that independent consultants produced for future municipal elections, despite cautions that politicians should not interfere except in minor ways.Mayor Jim Watson said the final decision for new ward boundaries falls with council and it needs to address residents' concerns, especially those of francophones in the rural east end."While [the consultants] did a very good job... councillors know their wards better than almost anyone else," said Watson.The biggest modification was to shift lines significantly in the rural east, where residents decried the giant rural ward that had been proposed. Many people addressed committee, relaying fears francophones would no longer be represented along with residents in Orléans but instead with rural residents as far away as Osgoode village.Their new councillor, Cumberland's Catherine Kitts, heard those concerns "loud and clear" while campaigning this fall. She said having votes carry relatively the same weight among wards matters, but so do minority language rights.So, finance committee approved bringing a rural swath that includes the villages of Navan and Sarsfield into a ward with growing suburbs in Orléans. Cumberland village was already to be joined to an urban Orléans ward in the north. That leaves only Carlsbad Springs and Vars villages to join a rural ward with Osgoode.Committee also approved moving the dividing line in Vanier from McArthur Road south to Donald Street. Eastway Gardens, a community with alphabet street names near the Via Rail station, was moved back into what is currently Alta Vista ward.But when it came to a motion to restore McKellar Park to what is currently Kitchissippi ward, as residents wanted, the committee voted against it. That leaves the boundary at Denbury Avenue, as consultants propose. The councillors in the area, Jeff Leiper and Theresa Kavanagh, questioned the consultants' underlying assumptions about how populations will grow in the area, especially with new developments around LRT in its second stage.Only Coun. Scott Moffatt voted against the many changes, and he opposed the ward boundary recommendations themselves.Council to grow to 24 wardsA few councillors who have no votes on the committee reminded colleagues that council had been told to stay out of the redrawing of electoral lines."I understand if it's a parking lot or a field... but councillors in my view should not be moving portions of the electorate in or out of their ward boundaries against the advice of independent experts we hired," said Capital ward's Shawn Menard. Menard asked if it might lead the city to lose an appeal at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal."Yes, we feel some of the changes do not achieve effective representation and would cause some difficulty in defending it," said ward boundary consultant Gary Davidson.The city clerk has said ward boundary reviews are usually appealed. The mayor, meanwhile, expects the changes to be defensible. As for the size of council, the approved plan would see it grow by a seat to 24. Watson would have preferred it remain at 23 seats plus a mayor. He had even wanted council to shrink, when first elected a decade ago."I tried that. It didn't work. I'm not going to rehash history," said Watson. He's happy with the new 24-seat map, because keeping council the same size "was not going to be possible given geographic considerations and population bursts in different parts of the city."The proposed ward boundaries, and amendments made by finance committee, go to full council for a vote Dec. 9.
Two crew members on a container ship anchored in Vancouver's English Bay were seriously injured after a lifeboat unexpectedly plunged into the water during a drill on Tuesday.According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the accident happened at about 1:15 p.m. Both crew members were on the lifeboat when it was released from the ship, and it was sinking when rescuers were called.Coast guard officers, the Vancouver Police Department's marine unit and the Vancouver Port Authority all responded to the mayday call.A vessel from the Kitsilano Coast Guard station was on scene within 10 minutes, according to a spokesperson, and paramedics treated the two injured people for "significant injuries."According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, the patients were taken to hospital in serious condition, but they are both stable.
VANCOUVER — BC Hydro's residential customers will get a one-time credit of $4 on average early next year on their bills to reflect a change to its rates.The BC Utilities Commission requested that Hydro amend its rate reduction for 2020-21 to reflect last year's results and its latest financial forecast.That dropped the rate decrease to 1.62 per cent from 1.01 per cent.The credit reflects the additional decrease and is retroactive to April 1.BC Hydro says commercial customers will receive from $10 to $600 on average based on the size of the business, while industrial customers will receive up to $375,000.Energy Minister Bruce Ralston says the government has been focused on keeping BC Hydro rates affordable and the rate cut is the first in decades. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — When the Quebec government tells English schools they cannot hire women wearing the hijab, it violates the rights of the English-speaking minority to manage its educational institutions, a lawyer argued Tuesday in a case challenging the province's secularism law.The law, known as Bill 21, forbids the wearing of religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and hijabs for certain employees of the state deemed to be in positions of authority, including police officers and school teachers.Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard, who is presiding over the trial, has set aside 14 days to hear closing arguments, which began on Monday.Constitutional rights lawyer Julius Grey argued on behalf of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Quebec Community Groups Network, which are both challenging the law.Grey invoked Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right of Quebec's anglophone minority to be educated in English. Over time, jurisprudence has interpreted this right as giving management power to English schools, which Grey argued includes the right to hire whom they choose as teachers, including those who wear religious symbols.While Bill 21 invokes the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to shield it from most charter challenges, including those based on freedom of religion, Grey argued it can't be used to override the language-rights protections in Section 23.Grey argued Section 23 is essential to the protection and preservation of the language and culture of the English-speaking minority in Quebec.And included in the culture of the English-speaking community is the protection of cultural minorities, he said.Grey also argued that Bill 21 infringes Section 28 of the charter, which provides for gender equality and isn't subject to the notwithstanding clause.A lawyer for Amnesty International argued that the law is too vague and that it doesn't include a definition of "religious symbols."School administrators can't all become theologians to manage their schools, Marie-Claude St-Amant said. Like Grey, she argued that it is not the government's objective in adopting the law that is important but rather the effects of the legislation. Those are disproportionately felt by Muslim women, she said, arguing that the stated goal of the law is a pretence. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — President-elect Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a substantial and somewhat divisive figure in Democratic Party politics, to serve as his transportation secretary. Biden’s selection of his nominee to lead the Transportation Department is not believed to be imminent, and Emanuel is among multiple candidates in the running for the Cabinet position, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private deliberations. But his candidacy threatens to pull at the divisions among Democrats that Biden has largely managed to avoid as he begins to fill out his administration. Progressive leaders, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, have been especially vocal in criticizing the prospect of Emanuel joining the Cabinet. Emanuel, a former three-term congressman who served as Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff and was a senior adviser in Bill Clinton’s administration, has been a significant force in Democratic Party politics for much of the last three decades. He turned reviving Chicago’s ragged public transportation system and overhauling the city’s two busy, worn airports into a top issue during his eight years as mayor. He is also credited with making Chicago one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country during his time in office. But selecting Emanuel could be a tough sell to some in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party who are critical of his handling of the high-profile police shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager killed by a white officer, during his time as Chicago’s mayor. Whether Emanuel is ultimately picked could also be affected by other factors as Biden has placed a premium on building out a Cabinet and team of senior advisers from a diverse set of backgrounds, according to people familiar with the matter. The Biden transition team did not respond to requests for comment. Allies of Emanuel in the Illinois congressional delegation have made the case to Biden transition officials that Emanuel’s knowledge of Congress and breadth of experience on big transportation projects during his eight years as mayor of the nation’s third-largest city would make him an effective leader at the Transportation Department. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat who replaced Emanuel in Congress when he left to work for Obama, said Emanuel’s “tough, no nonsense” posture could make him an effective member of the new Cabinet as the Biden administration will immediately face major challenges with the pandemic and the economy. “There is no honeymoon period,” Quigley said. “The administration needs people like Rahm who know how to get things done.” Some of the city’s Black elected officials are also vouching for him. “Here’s a guy who understands government at all levels,” said Michelle Harris, a Chicago alderman who represents a predominantly Black ward on Chicago’s south side that benefited from Emanuel’s push for Chicago Transit Authority modernization. “He’s the perfect candidate for the job. You don’t get many candidates that have more experience on how government works. He can start running day one. He’s not going to be crawling or walking. He’s going to be running.” Emanuel announced in September 2018 that he would not run for a third term as Chicago mayor, citing a desire to step away from the hectic life of elected office. The decision came as he saw his popularity erode in the city’s large African American community following the McDonald police shooting. The death of McDonald, who was shot 16 times, became a touchstone moment in the ongoing national conversation about racial injustice. Emanuel said he did not see the grisly video until it was set to be made public in November 2015. Still, he faced rebuke from some Black leaders in the city who accused him and his administration of covering up the shooting. The city agreed to pay a $5 million settlement to McDonald’s family before they could file suit. The former officer, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted in 2018 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and sentenced to six years and nine months in prison. Emanuel denied the coverup allegations. He also embraced a series of reforms in the city’s police department, including a federally court-monitored consent decree to ensure that changes were carried out. Backers of Emanuel say his efforts to revamp the Chicago Transit Authority’s “L” system, including significant swaths of the city’s predominantly Black neighbourhoods, as well as adding more than 100 miles (161 kilometres) of protected bike lanes, should make him a leading candidate for the post. During his time as mayor, Chicago saw $11 billion in airfield, terminal and infrastructure investments at the city's airports. His administration also secured more than $4.6 billion in federal funding for Chicago transit, including the modernization of the city’s iconic train system. His allies noted that Emanuel’s push to rehab transit included hiring more than 1,000 nonviolent ex-offenders to work on projects. “I can’t debate some of the opinions or assertions about him,” said Michael Scott Jr., a Chicago alderman who represents a ward on the city’s west side that has benefited from the modernization under Emanuel’s watch. “What I am concerned about are things that will be impacted in neighbourhoods like the one I serve. I know the ability of him to get the work done if he’s put in that spot.” Still, some progressive House Democrats have already made clear they are vigorously opposed to seeing Emanuel in a Biden White House. “What is so hard to understand about this? Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last week. “This is not about the ‘visibility’ of a post. It is shameful and concerning that he is even being considered.” Cori Bush, an incoming Democratic congresswoman from Missouri, added that “the thing about covering up the murder of Laquan McDonald is that it disqualifies you from holding any type of public office. Forever.” As members of the House, neither Ocasio-Cortez nor Bush has a vote in a Senate confirmation, though their voices hold weight with a segment of voters who helped Biden beat President Donald Trump. Matt Bennett, executive vice-president at the centre-left think-tank Third Way, predicted that opposition by some on the left to Emanuel would have little impact on whether Biden would ultimately pick Emanuel to serve in his Cabinet. “There will be a lot of bellyaching by some on the left, but I think he can get past that if (Biden) picks him,” Bennett said. “Elections have consequences and so do the nominating elections. We voted for Joe Biden and not Bernie Sanders. If you don’t like it, work harder next time. You don’t get to dictate after losing a hard-fought primary who the winner chooses to serve in their Cabinet.” ___ Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus is still hosting its annual Community Christmas meal, albeit with significant changes because of COVID-19 health restrictions. Usually, the free meal brings hundreds of people for food, socializing and singing. Community gatherings are not possible this year, so the Knights of Columbus will serve plates of food for people to pick up and eat elsewhere. Stan Bartlett, an organizer with the Knights of Columbus, said distribution will be at Earls Kitchen and Bar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. Meals will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. “It’s not going to be the big event we’ve done in the last few years,” said Bartlett. “We’re happy we can still do something for people on Christmas Day.” The plates will be pre-prepared to limit the number of volunteers needed for the event. People will have to eat elsewhere and will not have access to the restaurant. “We don’t want to put anyone at risk,” said Bartlett. “People can come in to use the washroom if they need to, but we have to follow guidelines.” The event celebrated its 25th anniversary last year at Father Turcotte School. The first community Christmas meal was held in 1994 at the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. After 11 years, the Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus took over the event. While the event started as an outreach to homeless and low-income people, it has turned into an event where everyone is welcome, regardless of faith, language or economic status. April’s flood also impacted the Knights of Columbus when the church’s basement flooded, damaging the group’s supplies for events. The group is still working on replacing most of those damaged items. All things considered, Bartlett said he is happy the Knights of Columbus are still able to offer a community meal. “We hope everyone can have a good Christmas this year and we’re hoping we can be a little part of that with an expression of kindness,” he said. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press