Tens of thousands of Donald Trump's most ardent supporters crowded into Washington, D.C., on Saturday in a show of support for the president's ongoing efforts to overturn the results of last week's election.
Tens of thousands of Donald Trump's most ardent supporters crowded into Washington, D.C., on Saturday in a show of support for the president's ongoing efforts to overturn the results of last week's election.
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Former J. Crew President Jenna Lyons knows a thing or two about building a brand, but now she’s ditched corporate life to build her own.Lyons started working as a J. Crew designer right out of school and took the brand from a floundering preppie catalogue to a more upscale but accessible style hub that featured tailored looks in unexpected bright colours, with mixes of patterns and textures.Her star rose considerably after Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama wore J. Crew to the Presidential Inauguration in 2009. She worked her way up to president and creative director before leaving the company in 2017 amid poor sales.While determining her next move, she took lunches with anyone who asked, and one was a TV executive who thought her unique personal style and personality would work on a reality show.Her new HBO Max show, “Stylish with Jenna Lyons,” launches this week, featuring her new businesses that bring her design acumen to home, fashion and beauty projects. It’s part documentary, part competition as she auditions a group of young style acolytes vying for a spot on her team.Unlike most of the scripted, so-called “reality TV” that dominates the genre, Lyons purposely includes production mistakes, awkward moments and candid confessionals, punctuated with snarky graphics and sound effects.In a recent interview with The Associated Press, she explained why she keeps it real, how she had to learn about making a TV series and who’s the show’s breakout star.AP: How did you approach developing the show?Lyons: I like watching reality television. I enjoy it. But I knew it wasn’t for me. I did not want to make a reality television show under the auspices of what I knew existed in the world. I didn’t want to make something that heightened drama or architected a story. I was not comfortable with that. And so, I really sought out to shift those gears.AP: Why is it important to you to be real?Lyons: There’s a lot going on in the world where everything looks so perfect — from the world of Instagram, where people present a life that isn’t necessarily real. People that I relate to are the people who show the messy stuff, and I feel better. You know, I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and most people aren’t, and I think allowing people to see, like we’re making mistakes, we’re goofy! No one shoots it out of the park every time. And I think that honesty and integrity is something we wanted to share.AP: You’re also honest about how you felt after leaving J. Crew.Lyons: I honestly feel so lucky that I’m getting a second chance. I was really scared that I wouldn’t. And I think being honest about the fact that, yes, I had this job and I had this title and I was called this, that and the other thing, and I have gotten a lot of accolades. And while I’m thrilled and really honoured, the fact of the matter is, I have hard days, too, and I struggle, and that’s pretty honest and normal. And I’m not afraid to say that.AP: How does being that vulnerable feel?Lyons: In some ways, a relief. You know, I had to live a pretty guarded and poised life in my previous job. I was on the board. I had to really represent the company. So, everything I did was not just about me, but it was about the company.AP: You’re the star and executive producer of the show. What have you learned?Lyons: I’ve learned how I know nothing about television! I made every mistake in the book. I did everything wrong. I mean you name it, I didn’t get it right. I really struggled. I didn’t understand the process, so I didn’t know what happened, what had to happen. You know, we were involved in literally everything from the graphics to the music to the editing to the colour. We were attentive to all of that. But I didn’t understand how I was supposed to go about it.AP: You offer many style tips — is it important to make style feel accessible?Lyons: I enjoyed going through an airport and seeing people wearing our (J. Crew’s) double cloth coat. That felt good to me. And so it was important to me to do something that felt like it would connect to the people that I maybe had as an audience prior, and also to my friends and family… I really wanted to talk about style in a little bit more of a deeper conversation.AP: Your dog, Popeye, seems to be enjoying the spotlight.Lyons: He loves every second. So much so that I think I have to get him an agent! (laughs) Honestly. It’s a problem.Brooke Lefferts, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 16, 2020 An Orillia man and woman have been charged in connection with a burglary at a Front Street sporting goods store Sept. 11. OPP officers responded to a break-in at about 10 p.m. that night, but the thieves had already fled with more than $11,000 in merchandise. The Community Street Crime Unit continued to investigate the break-in, which led police to a Gill Street address on Oct. 9. Armed with a search warrant, police said officers not only discovered some of the merchandise in the home, but also found cocaine and ammunition. A 27-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, both from Orillia, face charges of property obtained by crime, possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, careless storage of a firearm and possession of prohibited ammunition. Both suspects were released on a promise to appear in Orillia court Nov. 17. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Uxbridge resident Gordon Hicks has been named one of the 114 new appointees to the Order of Canada, one of Canada's highest civilian honours. Last Friday, Governor General Julie Payette announced 114 new appointments to the Order, including eight Companions, 21 Officers, one Honorary Member, and 84 Members. Among those Members was Gordon Hicks, co-founder of Cam's Kids Foundation, a locally run non-profit focused on providing support to youth struggling with anxiety. Hicks is also chief executive officer of the global real estate management services company,Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions. According to the governor general’s website, Hicks was appointed this honour “For his environmental leadership in the real estate industry, for his mental health advocacy, and for his community engagement.” Hicks will be entitled to sign the initials ‘CM’ after his name. Those who have been appointed this honour, are said to “take to heart the motto of the Order: Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam - They desire a better country.” Others to have been appointed this year include Olympic champion figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. The recipients will be celebrated during a ceremony at a future date, where they will receive the notable snowflake insignia. It is a six point, enamel pin, which they wear to symbolise Canada’s northern heritage and diversity of the Order’s appointees, as no two snowflakes are alike. Hicks was not available for comment on receipt of the prestigious award by press time Tuesday. Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. More than 7,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order of Canada. Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos
During questioning in the P.E.I. Legislature Wednesday about the province's nurse shortage, Health Minister James Aylward said Health PEI is recruiting using several methods — including working with Quebec to bring in French-speaking nurses. The opposition parties were grilling Aylward during question period about how he plans to deal with an ongoing shortage of nurses, especially in light of revelations this week that Veterans Affairs Canada had recently hired away 32 nurses from Health PEI. "We're working closely right now with Quebec as well, because Quebec goes to France every year to recruit upwards of 300 nurses," Aylward said in response to a question from Liberal Robert Henderson.Aylward said France graduates thousands of new nurses every year. "What we're looking at is bringing in 20 to 30 French-speaking nurses into the province so we can support facilities such as Chez Nous and other areas here that require bilingual-speaking nurses," Aylward said. In November, Le Chez-Nous seniors' home in Wellington said it had been unable to open its new long-term care wing because it can't find nurses to work there. Dozens of vacanciesWhen pressed about dozens of other nursing vacancies listed on the province's website, Aylward said Health PEI recently hired 20 nursing graduates, and has had expressions of interest from some of next year's graduating class.He added that there are currently 14 internationally educated nurses about a year away from graduating from a bridge program to bring them in line with P.E.I.'s hiring requirements, and there are "robust" nursing recruitment efforts going on in Alberta, where the province is letting health-care staff go, including nurses.Aylward added that the nursing shortage is a national problem, and previous governments "should have seen this coming."'We're at the breaking point'Green MLA Trish Altass circled back to the issue of DVA hiring away nurses from Health PEI. Those nurses are working on clearing up a backlog of tens of thousands of veterans' disability claims. "Many of those nurses asked for a leave to pursue a new short-term opportunity and were denied, so they quit," she said. "Why didn't you grant these nurses leave?"Aylward said that was a decision made by Health PEI, which he called a "standalone operation." He added he is working with P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay, the federal minister of veterans affairs, on an agreement that would allow some of those nurses to be seconded back to Health PEI if the Island experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases.Altass wanted to know if Aylward was investigating why the nurses chose to leave in the first place, mentioning other provinces had offered health-care professionals bonuses and extra vacation when COVID-19 cases were low. The P.E.I. Nurses' Union said Monday nurses are looking for "better work-life balance" and are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."Aylward replied he has instructed Health PEI's human resources department to conduct exit interviews with the nurses.Henderson said he is worried long-term care homes on the Island may have to close because they don't have enough staff to operate safely. "Staff are saying that we're at the breaking point ... where facilities may have to close, especially long-term care, where they cannot provide a safe work environment for their residents or for their staff." More from CBC P.E.I.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
TORONTO — One of the first things Alexandher Brandy wanted to do after reading Elliot Page's coming out letter was break into a dance.The urge to celebrate the Oscar-nominated performer's announcement was undeniable. So as the business day ended at his retail job in the city's Gay Village, the Toronto artist gave in to the sensation.“I don't know what energy I had, but I was literally just running around a store that was completely empty — dancing,” he said.Someone as famous as Page saying they are transgender (using the pronouns he/they) and non-binary, meaning their gender identity is neither man nor woman, is almost unheard of. Page's message was heartfelt, written with a mixture of confidence and vulnerability that many in the community feel about sharing their own story with others.For Brandy, who is trans masculine, it was validation. "I'm just excited to have someone that I can be like, 'Hey, that's a famous person and people are going to understand me more because this person is like me,'" Brandy added."It's so weird that still exists in our world."Later this month, Brandy plans to throw an unofficial coming out party for Page over a Twitch live stream, called the House Royale, with trans and non-binary entertainers filling the evening. It's a way for the community to hold this moment as their own, he said.But for many trans and non-binary Canadians, all the joy of Page's coming out is also built upon knowing this is merely an inch towards the goal of being recognized as equals in society.Those sentiments were shared this week as they read and re-read through Page’s social media letter, hanging onto every sentence.His words were at once certain and cautious, recognizing the harsh realities of trans people who don’t share the same privilege of celebrity.Luiza Alves, a musician based in Victoria, B.C., believes there’s reason to feel optimistic for whatever lies ahead. She said the non-binary community is “gaining a voice” and advocate in Page that has rarely, if ever, been present at this level of fame.“It’s another type of exposure. Another type of trans folk in the world," she said.But she knows from her own experience that sharing such a truth isn’t easy. It comes with endless questions from friends and family; people using their birth name rather than their chosen name, either by accident or on purpose; and these days figuring out what to share on social media. Page’s coming out will certainly be no different.“I wish I could hug them many, many times because it's going to be rough,” she said.“It's an ongoing process, but I think overall that's the beauty of accepting yourself for who you are. It’s going through this… and letting people around you start to discover it with you, be comfortable with you. I think it’s a beautiful, painful journey.”Faelix Kayn, a Toronto-based consultant, is more hesitant to start throwing confetti over the arrival of Page in the trans and non-binary community.While having a famous person bring new awareness is "wonderful," Kayn notes there are deep systemic issues and barriers affecting trans people, saying most of them don't receive nearly enough attention.Those include transphobia in homeless shelters, a problem that’s only worsened in the pandemic, Kayn said, as well as binary markers on some health and government documents.Kayn is also concerned with the invasive and sometimes negative curiosity that plays out on social media once someone of Page’s stature is involved.Shortly after the “Gaycation” and “Juno” star’s social media post, people were already speculating about personal topics such as the likelihood of a physical transition and whether he’s planning to start using hormones. All of those conversations can deeply affect individuals still grappling with their identity, Kayn added.“I'm thinking of the younger, not out, non-binary people seeing this and thinking, ‘Am I going to be subjected to this dehumanization? To this level of interrogation? Is it worth it?’” Kayn said.Gemma Hickey, an author based in St. John’s, N.L., has run through similar questions in their head over several decades of activism.Known for being the first Canadian to get a non-binary birth certificate in 2017, Hickey said it often feels isolating when there are few others who want to stand in the public spotlight as they push for change.“You're putting yourself at risk for having to defend your choice, your name or your pronouns, even having to look over your shoulder,” they said.“What Elliot coming out in a public way means for me and so many others is that you're not alone.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 8, 2020 Barrie has been downgraded from green to yellow under Ontario’s new colour-coded system for pandemic protection measures after seven new COVID-19 cases were reported in the city Nov. 6. Under the new system, areas with the lowest case counts, positivity rates and community transmission are in a green category, with the most permissive rules. Red is the “control” level and means returning to modified Stage 2 restrictions, as are seen in Toronto. Barrie was moved to yellow based on an increase in weekly cases, the speed at which the virus is spreading and how much capacity there is at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s intensive-care unit. Five of the seven new cases are due to workplace transmissions, one is still under investigation and the other is due to close contact. The cases involve people aged 18 to 64. There are currently about 157 active cases in the Simcoe-Muskoka district, with 50 deaths since the pandemic began. Six people are in hospital with COVID-19. This is what Barrie’s yellow rating means: • Gatherings are still limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, but the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit strongly advises that people only have close contact with their direct household. • Workplace screening questions must take place. • Face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces, at workplaces and where physical distancing is not possible. • City restaurants and bars have additional restrictions, including closing at midnight, only selling liquor between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., requiring contact information for all seated patrons, limiting seating to six people per table and limiting the volume of music so people don’t have to shout to hear each other. • Non-essential travel should be restricted and outings limited as much as possible. • Monitor for symptoms and stay home if you are sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested. The yellow code is known as the “protect level” and means a local health unit will enforce upgraded restrictions for businesses and organizations that remain open. Health units at this level are required to have a weekly rate of 10 to 39.9 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of one to 2.5 per cent.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 30, 2020 Police seized $75,000 in drugs and a loaded handgun after officers searched a Springwater home Oct. 29. Huronia West OPP officers executed an early morning search warrant in connection with an ongoing investigation. About 500 grams of cocaine and 7,000 Percocet pills were found in the house along with a “large” amount of cash. Three Springwater Township men and two Barrie women, all in their 20s, are charged with numerous firearm and drug trafficking offences. The three male suspects were held for bail court in Barrie. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
At the end of last month, 28-year-old office administrator Ashley Lees found herself with $2 left over after paying rent and other bills, including $362 due on her student loan. Lees and thousands of other students and recent graduates in Canada face renewed financial uncertainty after the federal Liberal government did not extend a six-month repayment freeze, forcing them to pay back more than they can afford in a ravaged economy where young people have found it especially difficult to find and keep work. Lees, who graduated in 2016 with $31,000 in student debt, tried in early October to extend the repayment assistance plan she’d been on before the COVID-19 pandemic, but was rejected for earning over a threshold amount that, at $25,000 a year before taxes, is below the poverty line. “If our MPs were living on some of the wages that we are, this wouldn’t be a thing,” she said, speaking days after the government released a fiscal update that provided little comfort to students. “Me paying student loans in the middle of a pandemic while they hand out money to everybody else feels like you just need me so you can hand out money to everybody else,” she said. Lees says she didn’t learn about the rejection until a pre-authorized payment was rejected and she’d waited on hold with the National Student Loan Service Centre (NSLSC) for two hours earlier this week. Patty Facy, who graduated from a master's program in technology design at the University of Toronto this spring and has since only managed to secure contract work, echoes the frustration of Lees and thousands of other students unable to reach the bureaucracy meant to help them. She says her application for relief, also filed in early October, is still pending at NSLSC (meaning payments should be paused pending a decision), but that her account informs her that payment is past due. “People have given up expecting any coherent or consistent information,” she said, noting that students are expressing their frustrations on Twitter in stories collected under the nslsc hashtag. “There's no policy that’s really helping young Canadians who are feeling very vulnerable financially, but a huge part of this is also a matter of infrastructure — where is the digital infrastructure to actually support people right now?” she said. Ottawa had announced a freeze on student loan payments in March, but let it expire at the end of September and assigned no funding to that task in its budget update released on Monday. The government did say it would extend a halt to interest accrual of the federal portion of student and apprentice loans for 2020-21, which they expect would cost them $321 million. The lack of an extension of student loan relief is particularly confounding given it appears to ignore that the House unanimously adopted a private motion put forward by NDP MP Heather McPherson last week to extend the moratorium for eight months, from Oct. 1 to May 31, 2021. McPherson said she is hearing from many of her constituents — the Edmonton Strathcona riding includes the University of Alberta’s campus — facing dire circumstances and that government officials “don’t seem to care.” “It’s crazy how students have been left out in the lurch here,” she said, adding that the NDP planned to keep fighting. “This is a pretty giant injustice that’s happening.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
People hoping to have the Regional District of Central Kootenay take over their water systems will have to wait a little longer. In October the Board approved an extension to its moratorium on adding new water systems to its portfolio, at least until the end of February. Managing a safe and clean water system isn’t easy, and that’s why the RDCK fields requests pretty regularly from small water systems, asking the Regional District to take over management of their micro-utility. “…[T]he inquiring systems face similar challenges and issues: limited and failing internal governance structures, lack of Interior Health regulatory and water quality issues understanding, lack of volunteers and volunteer burn-out, limited access to or inability to afford system operators…” Manager of Environmental Services Uli Wolf told the board in a report. But by taking on these burdens, the board becomes liable for the governance, maintenance, and safety of these systems. So it has to be done carefully. The extension to the moratorium will allow Wolf’s staff to hash out complicated governance issues that still need settling surrounding water systems. Even when that’s done, Wolf recommends the RDCK add no more than one water system a year to its service, to allow staff to cope with the complications that come with taking over a service. John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)
We may not be able to gather to attend or participate in major sporting events right now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, however the Town of Paradise, along with the City of St. John’s and other communities in the metro region, are looking ahead to 2025, when hopefully, large events are a reality once again. “The City of St. John’s, along with the region, is bidding to host the Canada Summer Games in 2025. A bid committee is determining host locations for various sports taking place as part of the games,” said councillor Patrick Martin during Tuesday’s meeting of council. “Critical to this submission is to identify partners. Paradise has been selected by the committee to host volleyball, male and female. This is one of the most exciting venues of the games filled with music, action-packed competition, and an overall festival atmosphere. The committee has advised the park will need one million dollars in upgrades before 2025.” Martin concluded by saying the committee requested confirmation from Paradise on whether it would be willing to make the necessary financial and operational commitments. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie said that it would be an incredible opportunity for the town, and would bring great economic benefit to the region, which she heard might be as high as $100 million. She also noted it would be an opportunity to upgrade facilities in Paradise Park, and, on top of that, staff would likely explore funding options so that the full cost of upgrades did not fall to the Town. Councillors Kimberly Street and Sterling Willis echoed several of those sentiments. Councillor Alan English, however, served up a different take on the situation. “I’m taking a slightly different track. I can’t support this. I think it’s wonderful to assist the City of St. Johns with their bids for the summer games, but I can’t see us making a commitment of this amount, given all the things we need to do in the town,” English said. “We’ll be discussing the budget later on, and we know the constraints we have. I know a million dollars is probably not going to solve all these problems, but we need a water tower, we need water and sewer, road improvements. And I realize this is over a four year period, but I just don’t see the return of investment here for the town.” English allowed it was too bad the Town has not been asked to host soccer, as they already have a sufficient facility. CAO Lisa Nibock said the upgrades have more to do with seating than the playing grounds. “None of the facilities that we currently have would meet the requirements for the seating,” she said. Niblock also noted, as Laurie had said earlier in the meeting, that grants and funding would likely become available. Councillors Deborah Quilty and Patrick Martin then outlined their support for the motion, for reasons iterated by other councillors. Still, English was not convinced, and voted against the motion to commit to the project, the lone councillor to do so.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Barrie police has pulled the plug on a sexual-assault investigation that included the circulation of an artist’s sketch of a possible suspect. The sketch was widely publicized by local media outlets, and police created a direct tip line for information from the public. But police closed the case without charges following a three-week “thorough, detailed and comprehensive investigation,” according to a media release. “Investigators have determined that there was never a threat to public safety and, as a result, there will be no further details or updates provided regarding this investigation,” police stated. Police were called Oct. 1 about a sexual assault that was reported to have taken place in Hurst Park while a woman was walking her dog. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
At West Coast Helicopters’ office in Port McNeill, Mike Aldersey and his team are excited. Aldersey has been named as the recipient of the Agar/Stringer Award – a coveted award bestowed by the Helicopter Association of Canada on select few Canadians for their outstanding contribution to the industry. In his 42-year long career, Aldersey holds an impeccable record of over 30,000 accident-free-hours as pilot in command. But that didn’t stop him from being “shocked” when he found out he was getting an award. “I didn’t even know I was nominated,” said the 65-year-old pilot, who lives in Courtenay when he is not at his Port McNeill office. “The past recipients of this award are some pretty impressive people in the Canadian helicopter industry so I feel quite humbled and quite proud to be considered to be in that league.” But even for an industry giant like Aldersey, excitement comes along with existential troubles that online conventions bring along. As he prepared to accept his award - which was presented virtually on Dec. 1 - he had a few lingering questions. “How are they going to do this online? Will they just announce my name? Do they expect a speech from me? I don’t know.” Either way, the 65-year-old kept a speech ready, just in case. Aldersey grew up with aircrafts zooming overhead in Trenton, Ontario. Living near an air force base was a strong influence on him as a 10-year-old boy. Even then, Aldersey knew that he wanted to fly in a bush environment as opposed to airline routes. And he got his wish. Aldersey has flown for air ambulance services, forest firefighting across the country, logging industry operations, tourism charters and heli-skiing adrenaline junkies. He’s been a part of many exciting journeys, including wildlife surveys in the high Arctic, rescue missions, and medical evacuations among others. But forest firefighting is an experience that has been the closest to his heart. “Supporting the forest firefighting industry is one aspect that I have quite enjoyed in my career,” he said. That’s also because he can put to good use his specialty in vertical referencing – also called long line work, which includes slinging loaded 50- 100-foot length long lines from place to place. In 1978 he got his helicopter license from Canadore College in North Bay, Ont., and since then he has had the opportunity to work across provinces. But that also meant remote locations and 16 years of being away from home for almost 240 days a year. His wife Paula was “extremely supportive,” and Aldersey makes it clear that without her, they wouldn’t have gotten far in his career at all. Their family of five moved to Vancouver Island in 1993 and since then Aldersey has been the Port McNeill base manager with West Coast Helicopters. “I was able to spend more time with my family.” Now, apart from being home, B.C.’s coast has become the most soothing sight from up above for Aldersey. With bases in Port McNeill, Campbell River, Nanaimo and Bella Coola, he gets to see a lot of the coastline. “I never get tired of the B.C. coast. It’s pretty spectacular and although it’s my daily routine, I still have to pinch myself sometimes.” Along with mind-blowing hawk-eye views from the sky, his career also gifted him some of the most “interesting experiences.” Aldersey has had the opportunity to meet and work with various people who do different types of profound work. “With this type of work – helicopter support– you’re transporting a lot of different industries and people. And it’s like my career, I mean, I’m involved in many many other different careers,” he said. “That’s the beauty of it! It’s a fairly exciting job because you get to see and experience a lot of different jobs along with your own.” A lot has changed in the past 42 years – Aldersey is a grandfather to five, his favourite chopper Hughes 500 is now an MD 500D and the helicopter industry reflects the passage of time too. But even then the adrenaline rush that floods him when he powers his MD 500D for a take-off is still the same. And that’s a feeling that Aldersey is not yet ready to hang up. “Flying has been my passion for 42 years, I still quite enjoy it and I don’t have plans on retiring anytime soon, he said. “We’ll see how much longer I can keep up it.” Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
Chair and vice re-elected Area D Director Aimee Watson will lead the Regional District of Central Kootenay board for another year. In a vote held at the start of the November 19 board meeting, directors acclaimed Watson as the board chair for 2020-21, her third year holding the gavel. Area H Director Walter Popoff was also given unanimous endorsement to keep his position as vice-chair for a second year. The board selects its chair and vice-chair for the year each November. Zoning for Area D? Area D Director Aimee Watson reported to the board that zoning may be coming to some communities in her area. “In the last few years, several communities have had a variety of developments occur that have raised questions and requests for local land use regulations,” she wrote. While many parts of Area D would not benefit from zoning due to their density, Watson said other areas would. So she’s asked the RDCK to conduct an engagement process with Area D residents in 2021. “This process will begin with community discussions on ‘Zoning 101’: what is it? How does it work? What does it do and not do?,” she says. “Within these discussions, I hope to be able to identify which communities are interested in moving forward to develop zoning and those that are not. Only those communities who show a strong interest will continue in the discussions.” Kootenay Lake brochure RDCK staff reviewing how development takes place along the foreshore of Kootenay Lake will be borrowing an educational brochure from a similar group in the Okanagan. The brochure will be adapted for Kootenay Lake, thanks to $3,500 approved by the board to hire a Qualified Environmental Professional and the same graphic designer who created the Okanagan brochure. “The cost savings that could be realized by utilizing the Okanagan resource as a template provide a significant opportunity to create a high-quality education document at a fraction of what it would normally cost,” staff said. COVID help Like other local governments, the RDCK will be getting help from the federal and provincial governments to weather the financial storm created by the pandemic. The RDCK will get $760,000 under the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant for Local Governments. Caribou coalition The board received notes from a November 2 meeting held to investigate the formation of a ‘local government resource coalition’ in the Kootenay-Columbia-Shuswap. The purpose of the coalition would be to better deal with senior governments on caribou management and other resource issues. One of the organizers, Milt Hamilton, said there has been interest and steps to build a caribou coalition in Kootenays since 2018. Hamilton suggested that in the short-term, a coalition would deal with Herd Plans and issues such as: What is a viable population? How much habitat should be protected for what population and habitat targets? What are the socio-economic impacts and impacts on tourism and back country access? The meeting was attended by RDCK Directors Paul Peterson, Walter Popoff and Nakusp Mayor Tom Zeleznik. Chair Aimee Watson said the RDCK should wait for a formal request to join the coalition before diving in further. Ambassadors praised Two programs to promote safety and outdoor recreation, born out of necessity by the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely be back next year. Parks Ambassadors and Water Safety Ambassadors will be considered in the 2021 budget. FireSmart application The board endorsed applying for more than $700,000 from the 2021 UBCM Community Resiliency Investment Program to hire six FireSmart ‘mitigation specialists’ for seasonal outreach and education; protect critical local infrastructure like RDCK firehalls and community halls; work closer with Indigenous communities; and offer a rebate for homeowners to complete FireSmart work on their properties. Anti-racism policy The RDCK board has adopted an anti-racism policy for the organization. The policy applies to all employees, elected officials, contractors, volunteers, and students working or volunteering for the RDCK or providing professional services to it. While citizens aren’t covered by the policy, “the public is expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the values and principles outlined in this policy when accessing RDCK services or facilities.” In-house construction crew Critical work on failing water pipes in RDCK-owned water systems will soon be the job of an in-house construction crew. The board approved the hiring of a three-person crew, as well as the purchase of excavators, service trucks, safety equipment and other smaller items that will allow the crew to do their work. The RDCK will borrow $355,100 to purchase the equipment. A full-time supervisor will be hired in February at a total salary and benefit cost of $89,117. Two seasonal crew members will be hired from March to November for the next three years at a total salary and benefit cost of $46,612 each per year. The three positions will be paid through project-specific budgets – so if the crew is replacing a water main in a community, the whole project, including the staff time, will be paid for by the project budget. “The establishment of the work crew is anticipated to reduce cost for linear infrastructure replacement projects significantly,” says a staff report. “With the infrastructure deficits our water systems are facing, along with the limited funds, this is an attempt to find alternatives that allow us to close the gap between infrastructure needs and the difficult financial situation of many of our water systems.” The first water system on the list for attention from the new crew is Fauquier’s, to be addressed in 2021. Rural directors decline to bury soil bylaw After months of wrangling with a bylaw to govern the removal of topsoil from a property, directors on the RDCK’s Rural Affairs Committee arrived at a dead end, voting to do nothing to change the current bylaw. This has been a recurring subject for directors all year, since Area H Director Walter Popoff asked that his region (Slocan Valley) be added to the bylaw, which now only applies to Areas I and J (Castlegar area). Instead, staff had recommended repealing the bylaw altogether, calling it ‘ineffective’ in dealing with complaints the RDCK receives about rock quarries and soil removal from properties. They said they could deal with such complaints through other existing regulations, like Temporary Use Permits, health and safety regulations, water drainage rules, and other administrative tools. After first suggesting earlier this year that staff review the bylaw and give it sharper teeth, Area I director Andy Davidoff found himself trying to stop the bylaw from being repealed. “[You’re] repealing the only tool that exists in Area I for us to address people moving massive amounts of soil for purposes that are not in the public’s interest,” he said. “Let’s just leave this bylaw alone, where it sits, and how it applies.” In the end, the RAC committee decided to take no further action on repealing the bylaw. Noise bylaw • The RDCK is reviewing and potentially expanding its noise bylaw to include more areas, but one director wants to make sure it doesn’t cause problems for farmers. Andy Davidoff asked staff to investigate whether or not the Right to Farm Act could be used to protect farmers from unintended consequences of any noise bylaw. Chief Administrative Officer Stuart Horn said staff would certainly go over the Act to look at the possibilities. He told directors additions could be made to the RDCK’s noise bylaw to ensure small farm operations aren’t affected. John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
• Kaslo City Hall is closed to public walk-in traffic under the new COVID orders issued by Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry. The public is asked to call ahead, as all meetings are by appointment only. Masks will be required in all public and common areas in municipal offices as long as the health order is in effect, which is currently until December 7. • The Village will receive $480,000 from the provincial government’s COVID-19 Safe Restart to help with funding shortfalls caused by the pandemic, and related projects over the next few years. How the money will be spent will be decided in the coming months, during the 2021 budget planning and community consultation cycle. • There may be a new face at Village council meetings in the new year. Council has approved a plan to add a ‘youth council member’ to the group. The position will be open to a Grade 11 or 12 student at JV Humphries school in Kaslo, who will be appointed by council for a term from September to June. This year, the appointment would be from January to June. The appointment is for a year, but can be extended at the participant’s request (and with the approval of council). While the student member of council cannot introduce, second, or vote on motions, or count as part of the quorum, they will be welcome to take part in discussion. The youth will also be encouraged to take part in the annual Youth Parliament in Victoria as Kaslo’s representative. The delegate’s expenses for that trip would be covered by the Village, but they would not be eligible for other per diems or expenses connected to their participation on council. Staff will be forwarding details of the motion to JV Humphries to encourage students to apply. • The Village is setting up a system to enable it to collect donations for the new Kaslo Community Library. Councillors approved a motion to create a ‘Library Capital Reserve’ to assist in fundraising for the new community facility. “The fund will be called the Library Capital Reserve Fund, so Council could not, on a whim at some time in future, change the fund for another purpose,” the council report reads. Money in the fund can only go towards buying the land, planning, development and construction of the new library. The land for the building, on Fifth Ave, was purchased earlier this fall with the help of a $180,000 grant from the Columbia Basin Trust. The Kaslo and District Public Library will be raising $120,000 for its share of the lot purchased. “The Village is covering the amount in the short term until the funds are raised,” a report to council reads. “The KDPL also intends to raise funds and pursue grants towards construction costs.” The Village has applied for an Invest Canada Infrastructure Grant that could cover 73.3% of the construction costs. • The Village has reworked its plans for the Kaslo River Dike Project. The flood mitigation and riverbank repair work was expected to start last year, and the Village received $304,000 from the Union of BC Municipalities to pay for the work. However, “we received word from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in August, 2020 that the approval process will involve an authorization from their department, which could take months,” a report to council indicates. The Village has submitted a revised application to UBCM for the original project, and a second application for work to complete the job. The work will now see four of the six identified work sites tackled in a first phase, and two sites covered in the second. The second phase is budgeted at $146,000. • Council meetings will be starting an hour earlier in the new year. Council approved a new meeting schedule that includes a 6 pm start time for both the Committee of the Whole and regular council meetings • Councillors approved the list of the boards each will be sitting on, representing the Village’s interests. Each councillor has at least a half-dozen boards they take part on regularly, including the library, housing society, Chamber of Commerce, and Historical Society. John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice