The Canadian tradition to give thanks on the second Monday in October isn't the only Thanksgiving some in southwestern Ontario celebrate.This year, like almost every other for the last 73 years, members of the Cottam United Church in Essex County will put together a feast.It's normally a big event, even attended by Americans. This year, the COVID-19 restrictions won't allow for that, but the members of the church aren't ready to let go of the tradition."It's more than just a meal. It has been an event that has brought our community together beyond just even the community of the church. It's generally the community of both people who live in the area and our American cousins," said Rick Mayea, an organizer of the event.Deciding to still host the dinner was the easy part, he said. The challenge was how to do it and keep the community safe. In the past, hundreds dined in the 150-capacity hall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with another 400 to 500 takeout orders. Since that large of a group gathering isn't currently allowed, they came up with a simple plan with the help of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit."Just consider it an average Tim Horton's drive-thru," Mayea said. This year each dinner costs $18. They're filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, peas, squash, then a choice of pie, either apple, cherry or blueberry.So far about 800 meals have been pre-ordered, but they expect more. Normally the group serves about 1,200 meals. The event only comes together thanks to dedicated volunteers. Only 50 can be inside of the church at one time, but Mayea said they've been able to make it work. "It'll be a little bit different than trying to serve a person a meal," he said. "People will come through and be packing the meals."He says they can produce and pack 100 meals in about 15 minutes and are prepared for a different traffic situation in the parking lot. "We have people out there controlling things," Mayea said. "We do have people greeting cars as they arrive and kind of directing them where to go."This year all the meals must be pre-ordered for pick up by Tuesday night. Church volunteers will start peeling the potatoes to feed an estimated 1,150 starting Wednesday.
Council will be scrutinizing staff recommendations around budget items at its special council meeting this Thursday morning. One of the items to be added to the operating budget is capacity to bring on a second summer municipal law enforcement student next year. Staff rationalizes the increase in budget by stating in its agenda report that an additional hire in that position would assist in dealing with the increase of a seasonal influx of complaints, as well as provide additional enforcement on weekends and holidays during summer months. The anticipated impact to the 2021 operating budget for the Protective and Development Department would be $12,270. Further in budgeting, council will have the opportunity to indulge in detailed discussions around operating and capital budget recommendations coming forward from the various divisions within the corporation. Part of it involves not increasing wages for council and volunteer firefighters and changing the summer student staff complement from 10 summer students hired for 18 weeks to four positions hired for 26 weeks and two summer students hired for eight weeks changed to three summer students hired for 18 weeks. It's not clear how this affect students away at university or college, who aren't home for more than half the year. The staff report also alludes to discussions being held between the YMCA and township staff about a loan that will be offered to the non-profit, in collaboration with neighbouring municipalities. The staff report goes on to list the total community grants given this year. The number comes out at $251,000 and increases to $290,000 for next year based on requests that have already been received by council. Staff is also recommending deferral of a few capital projects that were identified in bridge inspections reports over the years. The suggestion is to defer the projects for another couple years. The three projects to be deferred until 2022 are the Granny White bridge, Rumney Road culvert replacement and Rosemount Road - north bridge. In concluding the report, staff is still bringing forward a 2.7% increase in tax rate for 2021, unless reserve funds are used to bring it down to the 2% council has requested. In addition, staff is presenting options for acquiring infrastructure funding to support projects such as Oakwood Park improvements, upgrades to Tay Community Rink, Port McNicoll fire hall health and safety upgrades and resurfacing Tay Shore Trail. The meeting can be viewed online or an audio-only version can be accessed via phone at (705)999-0385 using the meeting ID 897 6141 3858.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
NEW YORK — Beyoncé is bringing her Black parade to the Grammys: The pop star’s anthem about Black pride scored multiple nominations Tuesday, making her the leading contender with nine.Beyoncé picked up song and record of the year bids with “Black Parade,” which she released on Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. The song, which reached the Top 40 on the pop charts, is also nominated for best R&B song and best R&B performance.Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” film that highlighted Black art, music, history and fashion is up for best music film while “Brown Skin Girl,” a song dedicated to dark- and brown-skinned women, is nominated for best music video. The singer also earned three nominations for her slick guest appearance on Megan Thee Stallion’s No. 1 hit “Savage,” including record of the year, best rap performance and best rap song.A winner of 24 Grammys, Beyoncé becomes the second-most nominated act in the history of the awards show with 79 nominations. She is tied with Paul McCartney, who earned a nomination this year for best boxed or special limited edition package.Beyoncé is only behind her husband Jay-Z and Quincy Jones, who have both earned 80 nominations each. Jay-Z picked up three nominations this year for his contributions to Beyoncé’s songs: He co-wrote “Black Parade” and “Savage,” thus earning nominations for song of the year, best R&B song and best rap song. Jay-Z has won 22 Grammys throughout his career.Beyoncé’s domination this year came as a surprise since the singer did not release a new album. Other surprises, well snubs, include pop star the Weeknd being completely shut out and earning zero nominations despite having a No. 1 album, multiple hit singles and winning the coveted Super Bowl halftime performance slot. Luke Combs, who dominated the country charts and set records on streaming services this year, was also surprisingly shut out of nominations.When Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording’s interim president and CEO, was asked if he was surprised the Weeknd didn’t earn a single nomination, he told The Associated Press: “You know, there’s so many nominations and there’s only so many slots, it’s really tough to predict what the voters are going to vote for in any given year. I try not to be too surprised.”The Weeknd tweeted later Tuesday an angry response to his snub: “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency...” He did not elaborate further.Instead, multiple nominations went to Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Ricch, who each earned six nominations and followed Beyoncé as the second-most nominated acts.Lipa, who won two Grammys last year, earned bids for album of the year with “Future Nostalgia” as well as song and record of the year for her hit “Don’t Start Now.” Swift, whose last two albums didn’t garner nominations for album of the year, is competing for the top prize with her surprise album “folklore.” If she wins, she would become the first female artist to win album of the year three times.Other album of the year nominees include: Post Malone’s multi-hit “Hollywood’s Bleeding”; Coldplay’s “Everyday Life,” which featured world music sounds and politically-charged lyrics; HAIM’s sophomore release “Women In Music Pt. III”; Jhené Aiko’s atmospheric R&B project “Chilombo”; English musician Jacob Collier’s multi-genre release “Djesse Vol. 3”; and the deluxe edition of Black Pumas’ self-titled debut album.Tracks competing with Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” and “Savage” for record of the year include DaBaby and Ricch’s “Rockstar,” Malone’s “Circles,” Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now,” Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted,” Black Pumas’ “Colours” and Doja Cat’s “Say So.” The latter track was produced by controversial music figure Dr. Luke, and he earns his first Grammy nominations since 2014, the year his former collaborator Kesha accused him of sexual assault. Dr. Luke, who used the moniker Tyson Trax on the credits for Doja Cat’s song, has vigorously denied the allegations.“Black Parade,” “Don’t Start Now,” “Everything I Wanted” and “Circles” are also nominated for song of the year — a songwriter’s award — along with Swift’s “cardigan,” Ricch’s “The Box,” JP Saxe and Julia Michaels’ “If the World Was Ending” and H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” her protest anthem addressing police brutality.Several songs that emerged following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were nominated for Grammys, including Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” (best rap song, best rap performance), Anderson .Paak’s “Lockdown” (best melodic rap performance, best music video), Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me” (best country solo performance) as well as Beyoncé’s “Black Parade.”“I think it’s meaningful. I think it’s reflective of what’s gone on in our world,” Mason Jr. said of multiple protest songs earning nominations this year. “Musicians and artists and writers and producers, they write about what’s going on in their lives. We tend to be fairly emotional people. When there’s things happening, it’s going to come out in our music and our art. It only makes sense that those types of songs would be nominated and celebrated by our voters. It really resonated with people. You listen to some of those songs and can’t help but be moved.”Megan Thee Stallion, who released her highly anticipated debut album last week after finding success with hit singles and mixtapes since 2018, scored four nominations including best new artist. She will compete with rapper-singer Doja Cat, pop singer Noah Cyrus, country singer Ingrid Andress, multi-genre DJ-producer Kaytranada, rappers Chika and D Smoke, and indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers, who earned four nominations and helped female acts dominate in the rock categories.Nominees for best rock performance and best rock song include Bridgers, Fiona Apple, HAIM, Grace Potter, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Big Thief, led by Adrianne Lenker. Female performers also dominated in best country album, including Andress, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark and Ashley McBryde. The foursome Little Big Town, which features two female vocalists, round out the five nominees.Howard, who released her first solo album “Jaime” last year, earned five nominations, including bids in R&B and American Roots categories. Eilish, DaBaby, John Beasley, David Frost and Justin Bieber — nominated for three pop awards and a country one for “10,000 Hours” with duo Dan + Shay — earned four nominations each.K-pop kings BTS earned their first-ever Grammy nomination after years of having success on the pop charts. They will compete for best pop duo/group performance with their No. 1 hit, “Dynamite.”Other first-time nominees include the Strokes, Megan Thee Stallion, Michael Kiwanuka, Jay Electronica and Harry Styles, who became the first One Direction member to earn a Grammy nomination. He’s up for best pop vocal album with his second solo release “Fine Line,” best pop solo performance for “Watermelon Sugar” and best music video for “Adore You.”Several acts earned posthumous nominations, including John Prine (best American Roots performance, best American Roots song), Nipsey Hussle (best rap performance), Leonard Cohen (best folk album) Pop Smoke (best rap performance) and songwriter LaShawn Daniels (best gospel performance/song).And A-list entertainers hoping to reach EGOT status are getting a chance to earn their Grammy Award, including Renée Zellweger, who is nominated for best traditional pop vocal album for “Judy” — a performance that won her a second Academy Award — while Meryl Streep is nominated for best spoken word album for “Charlotte’s Web.” Streep’s competition includes MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, journalist Ronan Farrow and “Jeopardy!” record-holder Ken Jennings, who is nominated for reading “Alex Trebek — The Answer Is...” Tiffany Haddish, Jerry Seinfeld, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan and Bill Burr are nominated for best comedy album.Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, only scored a single nomination this year — for contemporary Christian music album for “Jesus Is King.” Others who were snubbed include country performers the Chicks and Morgan Wallen, R&B singers Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor, Chris Brown and Brandy, and late rapper Juice WRLD.Songs and albums released between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020 were eligible for nominations this year. Winners will be announced at the live show on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Following an 18-month review, the country’s largest Crown corporation has announced a new strategy for its relationship with Indigenous people and northern communities. Details of Canada Post’s Indigenous and Northern Reconciliation Strategy were revealed this past week. Canada Post hired Dale LeClair as its first director of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the spring of 2019 to examine the corporation’s relationship with Indigenous people and communities in the north. “It’s an internal look at where we are and where we want to be,” LeClair said of Canada strategy. “It’s been 18 months in the making.” The strategy indicates that there is plenty of room for improving the Canada Post/Indigenous relationship. But it also demonstrates Canada Post’s commitment to ensure these improvements become reality. Canada Post officials have identified about 1,200 First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities across the country. “We’re really only in less than 200 of those communities. I’m very pleased that our (Canada Post) board and executive realize that we have to address that,” said LeClair, who grew up on the Peavine Métis Settlement in Alberta. Getting a post office building, however, into every single Indigenous and northern community is not something that will be accomplished overnight. Or over the course of many years. For starters, LeClair said Canada Post officials have had discussions with about 30 First Nations across the country about the possibility of either building a new post office or improving current services in their communities. Improvements to existing locations can include installing postal lockers and having better access to financial, remittance and government services. “Over the next five years we’ll be looking at those first 30 (communities),” said LeClair, adding the locations being considered are scattered across the country. Improving postal services, on a case-by-case basis with communities, is one of four key pillars in the strategy. Another pillar is developing and implementing an Indigenous procurement policy. The goal is to begin developing this policy and have it start in the second quarter of next year. LeClair said 25 Indigenous individuals will be hired as part of this policy. “Hopefully by January we’ll have the substantive part of the team in place,” he said. Team members will assist with redefining Canada Post’s relationship with Indigenous-owned companies. The plan is to have Canada Post communicate with their suppliers to ensure they engage more with Indigenous communities. These partnership engagements can be in various forms, including Indigenous workforce apprenticeships, training or development, as well as subcontracting. Another pillar is to improve Indigenous employment and retention. Though he didn’t provide specific numbers, LeClair said Canada Post’s current Indigenous workforce is underrepresented in the corporation and employment numbers have fallen short of targets. LeClair said various barriers, including rules for unionized labour and the fact some Indigenous people are not keen to move away from their communities to cities in order to work for Canada Post, have kept employment numbers at less than ideal levels. “We have not had much success in the last 10-, 15- years in this area,” LeClair said of the number of Indigenous people Canada Post employs. “We now know we have to be better. It’s our hope we can substantially increase our numbers. So, over the next five years we are going to hire 3,500 Indigenous employees.” The final pillar is to support the viability, wellness and safety of Indigenous communities. To this end Canada Post officials have agreed to step up their efforts to work with various community leaders and law enforcement agencies. “We are the primary mover of parcels and mail,” LeClair said. This means that Canada Post employees are the ones who often deliver packages, including alcohol and drugs, that can wreak havoc in communities. “We are now on a full-fledged program where we want to focus on protecting these communities from illicit drugs and alcohol,” LeClair said. Doug Ettinger, Canada Post’s president and CEO, is pleased to see his corporation has developed its new strategy. “It commits us to taking concrete action to renew our longstanding relationship with Indigenous and northern communities,” he said. “While other organizations are also making efforts to move forward on reconciliation, we’re starting to implement our strategy now, and as Canada’s largest Crown corporation we have a unique opportunity to play a meaningful role in reconciliation.” Windspeaker.comBy Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s governor says that once coronavirus vaccines become available, they will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools.Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the pandemic. But he says he doesn’t foresee vaccine mandates for school districts in Tennessee.In his words, “Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine.”The state’s health commissioner says the first doses could arrive in Tennessee around Dec. 15. The first wave will be reserved for frontline health care workers and first responders. She says widespread availability would likely be in late spring or early summer.___HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:— Tokyo governor: Japan can host Olympics despite virus spike.— Millions in US stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite CDC warnings.— Keep the mask: A vaccine won’t end the US crisis right away.— Just in time for December holidays, England to cut its mandatory 14-day quarantines for travellers from unsafe virus countries to as little as five days with testing regimen.— Los Angeles on the brink of a stay-home order as coronavirus cases rise.— Drones to the rescue: Berlin lab seeks quicker virus tests.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:EL PASO, Texas — Officials in El Paso County in Texas plan to impose a new curfew in hopes of combatting a surge in coronavirus cases that is overrunning the border area’s hospitals and funeral homes.El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego has said Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has approved the curfew. In a letter sent last week to Abbott, Samaniego said the curfew would be limited in nature and would not interfere with people seeking to access essential or nonessential services.The county judge and state officials have been at odds over Samaniego’s efforts to implement rules to slow the virus’ spread in the border city of El Paso.Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned an El Paso County order that would have closed nonessential businesses, including gyms and salons.___INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has nearly recorded its most COVID-19 deaths for a single month with a week remaining as health officials on Tuesday added 103 more deaths to the state’s pandemic toll.The Indiana State Department of Health’s daily update included the new deaths mostly occurring over the past several days through Monday, and which push November’s total to at least 991.Indiana’s monthly high for COVID-19 deaths was 1,041 in April, when at most the state’s moving seven-day average was 42 fatalities a day. That daily average has now reached 51 as Indiana’s hospitals are treating nearly double the number of coronavirus patients as at any point since seeing their first infections in March.Coronavirus hospitalizations have reached a level where health care leaders say the system is becoming overwhelmed and some hospitals have started rationing care to treat those most severely ill.___ATLANTA — Although White House officials are pushing Georgia to do more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday that the responsibility rests with individual Georgians, as he implored them to take precautions over Thanksgiving.The holiday comes at a perilous moment for the state. Although the virus is spreading more slowly in Georgia than in 40 other states, according to figures kept by The Associated Press, the number of infections is still rising rapidly and approaching the peak Georgia saw in late July.The Republican governor repeated the same guidance he’s been giving Georgians since summer, that they should wear masks, keep their distance from others, wash their hands, and follow Kemp’s rules, including bans on large gatherings. The governor said he wasn’t planning any other measures, such as a statewide mask mandate, or renewed restrictions on businesses.Also on Tuesday, a second member of Congress from Georgia tested positive for COVID-19.Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Evans announced Tuesday that a test shows he has the coronavirus. Allen represents the 12th District stretching from Augusta across all or part of 19 counties.He says he has no symptoms and will isolate at home. Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of West Point tested positive in October after experiencing mild symptoms. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler had isolated after she got a positive COVID-19 test on Friday, but has since gotten two straight negative tests.___LOS ANGELES — A California judge has rejected a request from a restaurant industry group to block the nation’s most populous county from reinstating a ban on outdoor dining, a plan the group said would devastate businesses and workers.The California Restaurant Association asked a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday to block the order until county health officials provide medical or scientific evidence that it poses an unreasonable risk to public health.The group challenged an order issued Sunday in light of soaring coronavirus cases that prohibits restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars from providing in-person, outdoor dining.The new rule scheduled to take effect Wednesday would restrict restaurants, bars and other businesses in the county to takeout and delivery.___JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s top health official said he is exhausted trying to convince people in the state to take the coronavirus seriously and follow public health guidelines.“I’ll just to confess to you guys, I’m exhausted trying to convince folks to do stuff. It’s just going nowhere,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, said Monday during a meeting with members of the Mississippi Senate.Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 144,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,729 deaths from COVID-19. Hospitalizations are rising, with 946 people hospitalized in Mississippi with coronavirus Monday, compared with 560 on Nov. 4, according to the state Department of Health.Speaking to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, Dobbs said there is no “collective will” among the public to prevent the virus.___ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s casinos are slowly resuming live entertainment, bringing back a staple of the casino experience as they comply with government-mandated restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Hard Rock on Tuesday announced a series of Motown-themed Christmas shows from Dec. 11-30, saying its customers are getting antsy with months of coronavirus restrictions.“Public demand is looking for activities, especially with outdoor temperatures keeping everyone inside,” said Hard Rock president Joe Lupo. “The large showrooms, with better air circulation and spacious seating, and less than 10% of normal (occupancy) can provide that safe and fun night out.”Tickets will be sold as individual tables of two and four seats to ensure social distancing.___BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s department of health has released figures showing that November has become the state's deadliest month due to complications from COVID-19.State officials confirmed Tuesday a record high of 37 deaths in the last day, bringing the overall death toll to 883 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 317 fatalities in November, surpassing the October tally of 295.Figures released Monday by Johns Hopkins University researchers lists North Dakota’s death count as the 39th highest in the country and the eighth highest per capita at 112 deaths per 100,000 people.State health officials said fatality updates on Tuesday are typically higher because of lag in reporting from the weekends.___MOSCOW — Russia has released new results claiming its experimental coronavirus vaccine is highly effective and will cost less than vaccines made by some Western competitors.Russian Direct Investment Fund, which bankrolled the development of the shot, says Sputnik V will cost less than $10 per dose — or less than $20 for the two doses needed to vaccinate one person — on international markets. The vaccine will be free for Russians. Developers of the vaccine say it was 91.4% effective, according to new trial data.Pfizer and Moderna shots cost about $20 and $15-25 per dose respectively, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.Russia drew international criticism for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval before it underwent advanced testing among tens of thousands of people required to ensure its safety and effectiveness.Russia has reported 2.1 million confirmed cases and more than 36,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.___COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio might get the potential coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 15, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, citing his office’s conversations with federal officials.Any vaccine candidate must be peer reviewed and get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The priority would be distribution to health care workers, followed by populations considered at high-risk for the coronavirus. The governor didn’t identify which company’s vaccine the state would receive.Meanwhile, nearly 4,500 patients in Ohio are hospitalized with COVID-19-related symptoms. That includes more than 1,000 on intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen from 4,724 cases on Nov. 9 to 8,277 on Monday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.—-MADRID — Spain is reporting a new daily record of 537 coronavirus deaths since the resurgence of the pandemic.The country’s 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 of population fell Tuesday to 362. That’s down from 529 on Nov. 9, at the peak of the resurgence.Spain has since enlisted emergency measures limiting movement and social gatherings.Spain’s total coronavirus cases stands at nearly 1.6 million, with more than 43,600 deaths.___TOKYO — Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remains firm about safely hosting the Olympics in July.Japan has experienced an uptick in infections this month, with a nationwide daily total exceeding 2,000 as the government tries to balance preventive measures and business activity.International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spent four days in Tokyo last week trying to assure the public and sponsors the Olympics will take place on July 23.Koike credits widespread use of masks for Japan’s lower infections compared to the United States and Europe. Tokyo topped 500 cases last week. It reported 186 new cases on Tuesday for a total of nearly 38,200.The health ministry says Japan has 135,000 total cases and nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths. The U.S. has 12.4 million cases and more than 258,000 deaths. Britain leads Europe with 1.5 million cases and 56,000 confirmed deaths.___NEW YORK — Governors and mayors are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings that have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus.Officials are banking on voluntary compliance since such measures are largely unenforceable.Health experts say if people disregard the new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway, that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death after the holidays.The nation is averaging 172,000 new virus cases per day, nearly double since the end of October, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.The U.S. leads the world with 12.4 million cases and nearly 258,000 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___OMAHA, Neb. — The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in Nebraska remains near record levels, but the total has remained relatively the past week.The state says 971 people were hospitalized with the virus on Monday. Over the past week, that figure has gone up and down between a low of 961 last Wednesday and Friday’s record of 987.But more social distancing restrictions could be triggered soon because more than 23% of the state’s hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said that more restrictions will be imposed when that figure reaches 25% of the state’s hospital beds.Nebraska reported 1,860 new cases of the virus Monday to reach 115,921. The state reported 25 new deaths for a confirmed total of 934.___GUILFORD, Maine — A Maine medical supply manufacturer has been awarded more than $11 million from the federal government to produce millions of additional testing swabs.Republican Sen. Susan Collins says Puritan Medical Products of Guilford received the money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Collins says the company will increase its production of swabs by three million per month.The White House in June said the federal government was providing more than $75 million for Puritan to double its production to 40 million swabs per month.The company’s total production is at least 90 million per month now, Collins says.The state has reported nearly 10,800 cases and 189 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___MADRID — Spain officials say health workers and residents in elder care homes will be the first group vaccinated when potential doses arrive.Health Minister Salvador Illa says Spain has signed agreements with five vaccine producers and hopes to do so with two more. Once the vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency, Spain hopes to receive 140 million doses.Given most vaccines will involve two doses, he says this should be enough to vaccinate some 80 million people and cover any possible problems with some vaccines.Spain, with a population of 47 million, intends to give vaccines for free and provide the excess vaccines to countries outside the European Union that need them, Illa says.The government hopes to vaccinate some 2.5 million people in the first stage between January and March and the rest of the population by mid-year. The vaccinations will be given in Spain’s 13,000 public health centres.Spain has reported more than 1.5 million cases and more than 43,000 confirmed deaths.The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite charged with finding girls in the 1990s for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse, said Tuesday that her client is awakened every 15 minutes in jail while she sleeps to ensure she's breathing.Attorney Bobbi Sternheim told a Manhattan judge that Maxwell faces more restrictive conditions than inmates convicted of terrorism or murder. Maxwell has no history of mental health issues or suicidal ideation and no criminal history, either, she said.She asked a judge to intervene on her client’s behalf to improve her conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. In her request, Sternheim made no direct reference to Epstein taking his life in August 2019 in his cell at another federal lockup, in Manhattan.U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan instructed defence lawyers and prosecutors to confer over the next week over Sternheim's request that the Brooklyn facility's warden directly address the concerns.A spokesperson for prosecutors declined comment. A message for comment was sent to the Federal Bureau of Prisons spokespeople.Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she procured three girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s. She has been held without bail while she prepares for a July trial.On Monday, prosecutors notified the judge that Maxwell was put in quarantine last week for 14 days after someone who works in her area of the jail tested positive for the coronavirus. She may not meet with her defence team during that period.In their letter, prosecutors said the 13 hours a day Maxwell gets to review trial materials on a laptop computer is more time than any other prisoner is allotted.The reference bothered Sternheim, who said Maxwell faces burdens unmatched by other inmates and has been mistreated. She noted that the latest production of evidence by prosecutors was over one million documents and Maxwell lacked enough time to study the material.She said Maxwell was initially quarantined without soap or a toothbrush and that medical and psychology staff stopped checking on her, failing to tell her the results of her COVID-19 tests or what to do if she becomes symptomatic. Prosecutors said Monday that her test result for the coronavirus was negative, and she will be tested again at the conclusion of her quarantine.The lawyer said Maxwell is kept in what is, in effect, solitary confinement and she is excessively and invasively searched and monitored 24 hours a day, including camera surveillance in her cell and a camera following her movement whenever she is permitted to leave her cell.“And despite non-stop in-cell camera surveillance, Ms. Maxwell’s sleep is disrupted every 15 minutes when she is awakened by a flashlight to ascertain whether she is breathing,” she wrote.Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press
Health officials at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Cote-Saint-Luc refute a nurse's assertion that staff are made to travel between hot and cold zones, as the number of positive COVID-19 cases has climbed to 45 at the residence. They say they have added several precautions since the first wave, including employees whose sole purpose is to make sure protocols are being followed and personal protective equipment is worn and discarded properly. "Staff stay in the same unit," said Jennifer Clarke, site coordinator at Maimonides."It could be that a staff member was asked to move to a hot zone because maybe we need extra support there, but then they do not return to the regular care unit."Monday, a nurse at Maimonides told CBC a colleague had been forced to work in one of the regular units after having worked in the centre's hot zone on the seventh floor. The nurse, whom CBC agreed not to name, said the home is short-staffed and workers are questioning the quality of the personal protective equipment (PPE) they are provided, as seven staff members tested positive on one floor. "The morale is low. We are burned out. We are tired. At night, there is one nurse and one patient attendant for 70 patients," she said. Clarke agreed staff are tired, but that there are no serious staff shortages at the centre. She said the Quebec government program to train thousands of patient attendants benefited the centre, as 70 new patient attendants were sent to work there."The staff are feeling the burden of the pandemic. In the first wave, we were running on adrenaline. But heading into the second wave, you can feel it — they're feeling discouraged."Four Maimonides residents have died since the outbreak began more than a week ago at the centre. Clarke said the outbreak has been traced to a resident who was infected by their caregiver. The centre holds a testing clinic three days a week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., where staff and caregivers are encouraged to regularly get tested. Clarke says the centre cannot legally force them to be tested, but that testing becomes mandatory once an outbreak is declared. The centre considers one positive case sufficient to declare an outbreak "because we know that once we have one case, it can very easily spread," she said.Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, the president of the health board overseeing Maimonides, CIUSSS West Central Montreal, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, reassuring residents and their families that staff were not transferred from hot to cold zones. "To those who are ill and to their loved ones, I would like to express my deepest concern, as well as my assurances that everything possible is being done to support the residents' recovery," Rosenberg wrote. "It is also worth noting that representatives of the Public Health Department visited Maimonides on Friday. Although their official report has not been released yet, they have already spoken to us and given their approval for the measures we have put in place."
OTTAWA — A new report from the Canada Energy Regulator projects that if Canada strengthens its climate policies to cut more greenhouse-gas emissions, it could eliminate the need for both the Trans Mountain expansion and the new Keystone XL pipeline.The Energy Futures report, issued Tuesday, estimates energy production and consumption through 2050, based on two scenarios: one in which no more climate policies are introduced after this year and an "evolving" one where more initiatives are added to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.Under the status quo scenario, the regulator projects the three pipelines under construction — Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and Enbridge Line 3 — will be the last ones needed to handle future growth in crude oil production. Under the evolving scenario, crude production still grows about 18 per cent before peaking in 2039, but the report says Line 3 alone is enough added capacity to handle that increase.Cam Fenton, Canada team lead at 350.org (named for a "safe" level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) pointed out the regulator twice recommended the government approve the Trans Mountain expansion, but is now projecting that Prime Minister Justin "Trudeau's own actions on climate could make the pipeline he bought unnecessary."However Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said not going ahead with all three pipelines would be a mistake.He said stopping pipeline capacity to handle total maximum annual production doesn't take into account ebbs and flows of shipments, comparing it to only building freeways using the total number of cars travelling daily, rather than during peak periods."That would be an inefficient transportation system," he said. "In Canada we have struggled with under capacity or full capacity. Neither of those are efficient systems."Keystone XL, from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, is already in jeopardy: U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has promised to rescind Washington's approval for the cross-border project. Trans Mountain restarted construction in 2019 after pausing in 2018 because of the court decision on federal approval.The Trudeau cabinet had to approve the Trans Mountain expansion twice, after the Federal Court of Appeal said the first approval lacked sufficient Indigenous consultation and environmental review. Ottawa bought the existing pipeline for $4.4 billion in 2018, after Kinder Morgan Canada was threatening to walk away from the expansion project amid political opposition that was delaying construction.Trudeau pledged Canada would expand it, and then sell it back to the private sector.It's currently estimated it will cost about $12.6 billion to expand the pipeline by building a nearly parallel version that will almost triple total capacity."The Trans Mountain pipeline is needed more now than ever before," said Trans Mountain spokesperson Ali Hounsell."Existing shippers on the Trans Mountain pipeline have been requesting additional capacity for years to serve West Coast markets. Increasingly Canadian producers are seeking pipeline access to new and growing markets in the Pacific region and Trans Mountain is the only pipeline from Canada that can provide that optionality for producers."She said shippers with petroleum to move have signed contracts that will "underpin" 80 per cent of the pipeline's capacity for up to 20 years.Tom Gunton, a resource and environmental planning professor at Simon Fraser University, said the status quo scenario in the Energy Futures report is not realistic, since the government just introduced legislation last week to make getting to net zero emissions by 2050 legally binding.The report itself notes to get to net zero, Canada will have to be more aggressive at moving away from fossil fuels than even what its "evolving" scenario lays out. The report says Canadians will still get almost two-thirds of their energy from fossil fuels by 2050 under the evolving scenario.Net zero means any emissions still produced are absorbed by nature or technology, rather than left in the atmosphere to contribute to global warming. Gunton said the evolving scenario is the more likely situation in the report, and that scenario makes it pretty clear "you're not going to need these pipelines, so you should at least defer or shelve construction."He said if the projections change, they can be revisited but at the moment we could be spending more than $22 billion to build pipelines that aren't needed.Canada Energy Regulator CEO Gitane De Silva told The Canadian Press in an interview that the goal of the report isn't to comment on existing policy but to paint a picture of where things could go using a variety of assumptions."Really, our hope is that this information will help inform that policy process going forward," she said.A spokeswoman for the regulator also later clarified that the report is not saying whether or not any specific pipelines should be built, but rather looks at potential crude production based on a number of assumptions. The spokeswoman said the chart is not a forecast, and is not an attempt to assess the optimal capacity for Canada's pipeline system.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
“Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” US President-elect Biden said.View on euronews
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):7:15 p.m.Some of Joe Biden’s former colleagues in the Senate who are hoping for a spot in his administration may be out of luck.The president-elect indicated in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that he was less likely to choose a member of Congress for his Cabinet because of the slim margins in the Senate and House. Choosing a person in either chamber, “particularly a person of consequence,” he said, “is a really difficult decision that would have to be made.”Biden announced his first Cabinet nominations on Tuesday, all Obama administration veterans. But he insisted in the interview that his should not be considered a “third Obama term” because “we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration,” after President Donald Trump has pushed isolationist policies. In unveiling his national security team, Biden pledged that they would “restore America globally.”The president-elect also expressed optimism about his transition now that the roadblocks put in place by the Trump administration have been removed. He says “it’s a slow start” but “I’m feeling good about the ability to be able to get up to speed” and expects “full co-operation” from the Trump administration on the transition.Biden will deliver a Thanksgiving address in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday before travelling to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he’ll spend the holiday with family.___HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his national security team to the nation, building out a team of Obama administration alumni that signals his shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies and a return to U.S. engagement on the global stage.Read more:— Biden transition gets government OK after Trump out of options— Biden certified as winner of Pennsylvania presidential vote— Biden win over Trump in Nevada made official by court___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:5:45 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says that the transition of power has “already begun” and that he feels his team is “going to not be so far behind the curve as we thought we might be in the past.”He says: “There’s a lot of immediate discussion, and I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There has not been begrudging so far. And I don’t expect it to be. So yes it’s already begun.”Biden made the comments in an interview Tuesday night on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.”President Donald Trump continues to sow doubt about the outcome of the Nov. 3 election and has not formally conceded but increasingly his administration is preparing for the handover. The General Services Administration gave the green light for the transition to begin Monday evening.Biden says the teams are already working on getting him access to the Presidential Daily Brief as well as planning a meeting between his staff and the Trump administration team overseeing the response to the coronavirus.___5:25 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden will begin receiving classified briefings regularly now that the Trump administration has removed a major roadblock from his transition.Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday that while it’s been offered, he hasn’t yet received the Presidential Daily Brief, the briefing on the most sensitive intelligence offered to top U.S. officials.Biden has been blocked from receiving intelligence briefings, and his team had been barred from contacting their counterparts in the Trump administration, due to the General Services Administration’s refusal to ascertain that Biden won the election while the Trump campaign pursued legal challenges contesting the vote count. That ascertainment finally came Monday night, lifting the roadblocks to co-operation.Biden said he’ll now have the briefing “on a regular basis.” Since the ascertainment, he said, Trump administration officials “have been very forthcoming, offering all access.”Biden also said that he had not yet spoken to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, but that his staff had and that he’s been “very, very helpful.”___4:05 p.m.President Donald Trump has signed off on giving his successor access to the nation’s most secure secrets.An administration official said Tuesday that Trump has allowed President-elect Joe Biden to receive the presidential daily brief, the highly classified briefing prepared by the nation’s intelligence community for the government’s most senior leaders.The official said the logistics of when and where Biden will first receive the briefing were still being worked out.The determination comes a day after the General Services Administration cleared the way for beginning formal transition planning to the Biden administration ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.Trump continues to sow doubt about the outcome of the Nov. 3 election and has not formally conceded, but increasingly his administration is preparing for the handover.___2:50 p.m.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says his agency is working to immediately get briefing materials to President-elect Joe Biden’s team and pledged a “professional, co-operative and collaborative” transition to the new administration.Azar said in a news briefing Tuesday that the deputy surgeon general Rear Admiral Erica Schwartz began communicating Monday night with Biden’s team.That communication was triggered by the head of the General Services Administration earlier Monday writing the necessary letter of “ascertainment” acknowledging Biden as the apparent winner of the Nov. 3 election.Azar said his department will provide briefings with Biden’s team to ensure they’re getting information that they feel they need that is consistent with the law and past practice.___2 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says his creation of a senior climate post on the National Security Council will put climate change “on the agenda in the situation room” for the first time.Biden talked to reporters Tuesday after naming former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate envoy in national security matters.Biden says the appointment means the U.S. will have a “full-time climate leader” for the first time in top-level meetings to make sure the issue does not get overlooked.Biden’s emphasis on curbing the fossil fuel emissions that cause global warming, and on dealing with worsening natural disasters and other problems of climate change, come in intense contrast to the views of President Donald Trump. Trump has said scientists were mistaken in their warnings on global warming.Biden says he’ll announce a climate-policy co-ordinator and policy-making structure for his administration next month.___1:35 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says he is “pleased” that his administration has officially been allowed to begin the transition process in filling out a new government.Biden said Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, that receiving the transitional status known as “ascertainment” would allow his team to “prepare to meet the challenges at hand” in transferring power from the Trump administration to his own.Late Monday, the General Services Administration “ascertained” that Biden is the apparent winner of this month’s presidential election. That process gives the incoming president and his team access to officials at federal agencies and directs the Justice Department to work on security clearances for transition team members and Biden political appointees.Biden spoke as he rolled out his picks to fill top national security slots in his Cabinet including secretary of state, national security adviser and a new, Cabinet-level post dedicated to climate change. He said he hoped his nominees receive a prompt confirmation process.___1:20 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says his national security team will lead the way in reflecting the fact that “America is back” on the world stage.During a speech Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said that his team would “embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies.”In rolling out his national security picks, including top posts for State Department and Department of Homeland Security, Biden said the nominees show “experience and leadership, fresh thinking and perspective and an unrelenting belief in the promise of America.”The State Department alone has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks during the Trump administration. Many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service, given limited prospects for advancements under an administration they believed did not value their expertise.___1:10 p.m.A leading Republican political committee has begun airing a campaign ad warning that if a Democratic Senate candidate wins a January runoff election in Georgia, liberals will “control everything” in Washington.The choice of words is noteworthy because it implies that President Donald Trump has been defeated by Joe Biden. That’s a fact that Trump has refused to acknowledge more than two weeks after the election was called for the Democrat, and that many top Republicans have also been loath to concede.The Senate Leadership Fund began airing the ad Tuesday. It attacks Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is challenging incumbent GOP Sen. David Perdue. The ad says Ossoff supports “liberal megadonors’” agenda of “job-killing tax hikes, economy-killing regulations.”The ad says, “The radical left bought Ossoff. Because if he wins, they control everything, and we lose.”The spot began airing the morning after the General Services Administration formally agreed to let the transition to a Biden administration begin. The leadership fund is closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.There is also a second runoff in Georgia pitting incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.Democrats must win both Georgia races to capture the Senate majority. That would create a 50-50 chamber, which Democrats would control because Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.The Associated Press
More community drop-in spaces, places to make and see art or learn something new, could be coming to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside if council approves a proposal to loosen zoning restrictions on storefronts in the neighbourhoods. Current city rules require storefront spaces be used for retail, health care or law office use. But many storefronts on East Hastings and other streets are sitting empty, even as homelessness has grown and many non-profits have had to limit the number of people allowed inside because of COVID-19 precautions. In May, the Army and Navy department store announced it would be closing after decades of operating in the neighbourhood. Owner Jacqui Cohen said the decision to close came after “insurmountable” losses caused by COVID-19. Tom Wanklin, a city planner who focuses on the Downtown Eastside, said there’s an opportunity to make better use of the closed storefronts. “What we are going to be doing is asking council to see if they would be willing to put it out to a public hearing to allow community-serving uses, including social uses, educational uses, local employment creation,” he said. Arts and cultural space is another potential use. “We’re working... to be able to know how many affordable spaces might be available, what is lying vacant, and talking to interested landlords as to freeing up some of those spaces,” Wanklin said. The request from the city planners is on the agenda for today’s council meeting. If council approves the idea, it will go to public hearing sometime in January, a process that lets people sign up to speak to city council about whether they support or oppose the proposal. The zoning changes are proposed for East Hastings between Carrall Street and Heatley Street; for Main Street between East Hastings and Alexander Street; and Powell Street between Main Street and Jackson Avenue. Organizations like the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre have been calling on the city to fast-track safe outdoor spaces, like patios, to help residents continue to access services in a physically distant way. Wanklin said city staff are now close to approving a patio space for the women’s centre, but many other organizations in the neighbourhood have the same need for more space. “With trying to create distancing, non-profits need more space in order to do that and bring people in,” said Mary Clare Zak, a social planner who has been working with Wanklin on the idea. They probably need twice as much space to do the same programming, she said. While some neighbourhood advocates have questioned whether the Army and Navy storefront could be put to some other use, Zak said city staff have not had any recent talks with Cohen. Zoning for most of Vancouver’s main shopping areas is designed to encourage streets full of retail shops open to the public. But COVID-19 has shown there needs to be more flexibility in how storefronts are used, city planners say. Zak said changes to storefront zoning in the Downtown Eastside could be a model for other areas of the city. “Non-profits, it doesn’t matter where you are, they’re all struggling with space capacity right now,” Zak said. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
The North Battleford RCMP gang unit raided two homes and charged five people after seizing firearms, cash and a large quantity of drugs on Nov. 21. According to police, the first residence they raided was in the 1800 block of St. Laurent and the second home was on Scott Drive in North Battleford. At the residence on Scott Drive, police seized 9.8 pounds of pre-packaged cocaine in vacuum-sealed bags, about 350 grams of marijuana, a firearm, two loaded magazines and more than $25,000 in cash. At this residence they arrested Kage Pooyak, 22, and Teshina Nahbexie, 22, both from North Battleford. They were charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition, possession of property obtained by crime, unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm, unsafe storage of a firearm, and possession of a prohibited weapon. At the residence on the 1800 block of St. Laurent, police arrested Sheldon Johnstone, 44, Blake Johnstone, 27, and Sierra Stone, 18, all of North Battleford. They are facing numerous firearms offences. Sierra Stone made her first appearance in North Battleford Provincial Court on Nov. 23 and she was released from custody. She is scheduled to appear in court next on Feb. 1, 2021. Sheldon Johnstone and Blake Johnstone also made their first appearance in North Battleford Provincial Court on Nov. 23. Their next court appearance is on Nov. 25. Pooyak and Nahbexie were released from custody and are scheduled to appear in North Battleford Provincial Court Dec. 29. The North Battleford RCMP General Investigation Section, the Saskatchewan RCMP Emergency Response Team, and RCMP Police Dog Services, all assisted the North Battleford RCMP Gang Task Force. The North Battleford RCMP Gang Task Force Unit is made up of North Battleford RCMP officers from several units as part of the detachment’s crime reduction initiative. The RCMP Gang Task Force targets organized crime, the drug trade and serious property crime. Since the RCMP Gang Task Force started in November 2019 they have arrested more than 150 high profile wanted individuals and members of local street gangs. They have also led a number of successful drug investigations, including the execution of search warrants and drug interdiction traffic stops. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
EDMONTON — The ivy and tropical plants spread across a living wall in the lobby of a landmark Alberta government building are being cut down earlier than planned because of a bug infestation.The United Conservative government had intended to remove the 223-square-metre plant installation in the Edmonton Federal Building's lobby next year to save the annual $70,000 maintenance cost.But the acting press secretary for Infrastructure Minister Tricia Velthuizen says a bug infestation was discovered recently, so it was decided to order the wall's immediate removal.About half of the greenery was torn down Monday, exposing the metal space which used to collect the fresh air generated by the plants to send through the rest of the building.Velthuizen said the living wall — which Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio said he thought was cool when he visited Edmonton — was something nice that the province can no longer afford.She said the wall will eventually be replaced with art from the provincial collection as part of upgrades to the building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Velthuizen did not say when the new system will be in place or how much it will cost.The Edmonton Federal Building is just northeast of Alberta’s legislature. It was originally built by Canadian government to house its main federal offices in Western Canada. It underwent extensive renovations and, in 2015, more than 600 government staff and members of the legislature moved in.The building made headlines years ago when a tony penthouse apartment was added to the renovation design for then-premier Alison Redford and her daughter. The suite became known as the "Sky Palace" in the ensuing controversy. The company Nedlaw Living Walls Inc. installed the plants in 2014 and was hired to maintain the installation. Spokesman Adam Holder said the wall was built as part of building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system and provided fresh air. He said he was disappointed to hear the decision to remove it and suggested maintenance costs could easily have been trimmed if the UCP government had asked."Before they rip the wall out, it would have been of paramount importance for them to know that they literally could have cut their $70,000 year maintenance bill by three-quarters," Holder said."It was extremely healthy, (and) if they were able to do quarterly maintenance on it (instead of monthly), that's where I get my 75 per cent from."Holder added the UCP government may face more costs than it expected ripping out the wall."This is going to cost almost seven figures for them to not only rip it out, (but also to) redesign the space and re-engineer the air-handling system. This was literally connected to a lot of ductwork throughout the entire building, not to mention the rooftop units, and the actual air extraction system was designed with this wall," he said."So now it has to be recalibrated. And you may be in a situation where you have to buy new equipment, or re-engineer old equipment. It's certainly not just a matter of, you know, kind of ripping out a floor lamp and that's the end of it."Jim Hole, son of former lieutenant-governor Lois Hole and the operator of a well-known greenhouse just north of Edmonton, said he understands why some people would be upset about the wall's removal."The downside is, of course, you lose the beautiful esthetics. You lose that nice humidity that comes from the plants. You do lose some filtration of air that may be a bit stale and some of the pollutants that occur indoors," Hole said.Everybody, including Alberta's political leaders, should be around plants on a regular basis to become healthier mentally and emotionally, he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA)broke down where people contracted COVID-19 last week in an update posted online Tuesday. “Saskatchewan has high rates of community transmission. Case counts, active outbreak investigations, hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase,” the media release said. As of Nov. 18, the COVID-19 case rate was 104 cases per 100,000 people, which was an increase from 78 the previous week. As of that report Saskatchewan still had the fourth highest case rate in the country behind Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec. Some areas of Canada have higher case rates than areas of the United States. That’s different from the active case count average, which was over 200 as of Tuesday. According to the federal government, the updated active case count per 100,000 population for Saskatchewan is 244 as of Tuesday. The daily test positivity rate was 6.7 per cent, up from 5.9 per cent last week. The test positivity rate is highest in adults age 20 to 39 and lowest in children under 10-years-old. The most likely acquisition source continues to be households and close contacts. The top source for persons who acquire COVID-19 in the community is recreation/recreational facilities such as ice rinks, bingo halls, bowling alleys and casinos with 25 per cent. Gatherings such as weddings, funerals and house parties are second with 17 per cent. Group homes, shelters and outreach programs were third with 14 per cent. Tied for fourth are educational facilities and food service establishments with eight per cent. In educational facilities cases are more likely teachers or staff and test positivity rates for students are higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range for students. In food service establishments cases are more likely among co-workers. Long term care, retirement and personal care homes are fifth with seven per cent. Fitness centers and transportation and trades (taxi drivers, meat packing facilities) are tied for sixth with six per cent. Nightclubs are seventh with five per cent. Places of worship are eighth with two per cent. The common risk factors in all of these is shared indoor airspace without masking, physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene, the province said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
As expected, the 2020 ski year will be different (by a long shot) than previous years. Get used to seeing more sanitizing stations, increased cleaning by staff and plenty of signage reminding you to be physically distanced. Each B.C. Interior resort is taking its own approach to navigating COVID-19. We took a look at the approaches of a few and compiled some of the important bits below. While there are some differences, there are plenty of commonalities. Namely, if you’re showing symptoms, stay home. For a full run-down of the rules, click on the links below, questions can be directed to a friendly guest services agent. SUN PEAKS RESORT TICKETS There will be a limited amount of day tickets available for sale each day to manage guest numbers.Tickets should be purchased online in advance to guarantee access, as window ticket sales may not be available for the majority of the season. Seasons pass sales were limited this year to facilitate on-mountain social distancing. Use tap payment when possible. WHAT TO WEAR A face covering will be required in lift lines, while riding chairlifts, and any time you’re not seated while visiting outdoor dining facilities. When indoors, guests are asked to wear a double-layered face mask that covers your nose and mouth. Outdoors, a face covering, like a scarf, is acceptable. BAGS There is no indoor storage for belongings available this winter. Guests are asked to leave all personal belongings in their vehicle, and ensure your vehicle is locked and items are secure. Parking lots are being monitored by additional security. LESSONS Private and group lessons are available with limited numbers, children six to nine years and 13 and up can have up to three participants ages 10 to 12 can have a maximum of five students plus the instructor. WHAT YOU WON’T SEE OPEN (AT LEAST FOR NOW) Tube time and bungee trampoline. Childminding is also unavailable until further notice. RIDING THE CHAIR Guests who are travelling or skiing together can be seated together on chairlifts. Groups of guests will not be seated with people outside of their bubble. Two unrelated single skiers may ride lifts together, sitting on opposite sides of the quad chairlift. But singles will not be required to ride with another guest if they are not comfortable and would prefer to ride alone. BIG WHITE PASS SALES Season passes are no longer available. Day tickets will be available for purchase online only. The tickets will be collected at one of 15 pick-up locations around the resort. Big White will be a “cashless resort,” bring your debit or credit card if you’re looking to make a purchase. TRAVEL/PARKING Express bus service from the Central Okanagan and Kelowna will be unavailable this year. On weekends and during peak periods, skiers and boarders will be greeted by a parking attendant, who will guide you to an appropriate place to park. FACE MASKS Wear a mask or face covering in all lift lines, loading and unloading the lifts, and in all indoor spaces. Plexiglass partitions have been installed at all counters where customers and staff interact. SILVERSTAR (Tentatively opening Dec. 4) FACE COVERINGS Coverings required for both staff and guests in all indoor spaces, except when seated to eat or drink. They will also be required outdoors when two metres of physical distance cannot be maintained. When riding a shuttle, waiting in a lift line, loading and riding a chairlift, or entering a facility, you will be required to wear a face covering. OPENING DATE Weather permitting, SilverStar will open for the season on Friday, Dec. 4. The resort stated on its webpage that it’s confident that this this date, which is later than its traditional opening day, will allow more acreage and lifts to be open, helping to spread guests out over the mountain. The resort will also be open to only season passholders at first as it assesses its operations and capacity limits. Information about when day ticket holders can access the mountain will be announced at a later date. PARKING SilverStar is implementing an online parking reservation system, meaning you have to let it know you will be coming in advance. The resort stated the system will help reduce crowds on peak days and enable appropriate physical distancing. LIFTS Guests will notice additional spacing measures, including extended maze designs, more lateral spacing and increased signage, to encourage physical distancing. Guests will self-group and load chairlifts with their party. Lift attendants will not require guests to ride a chairlift with people they do not know. The mountain also stated high-capacity chairlifts and closed cabin carriers “may be the exception, and may be loaded in a way that allows for physical distancing.” SNOW SPORTS To begin the season, SilverStar will offer private lessons for related parties of up to five. The resort said it may revisit offerings based on changes to the government health and safety procedures, with further information provided at a later date. ON MOUNTAIN DINING The mountain will be offering an expanded grab-and-go and take out menu. All purchases will be cashless. The resort is encouraging guests to bring their own lunch and have allocated new additional designated areas for people to eat while remaining physically distanced. REVELSTOKE MOUNTAIN RESORT (Tentatively opening Nov. 27) MASKS AND FACE COVERINGS Masks or face coverings will be mandatory for everyone throughout the resort. This includes in the village base area, all indoor facilities, lift lines and while riding in the gondola and on chairlifts. Revelstoke defined appropriate masks and face coverings are defined as any double-layer material that adequately covers a person’s mouth and nose. On-site ticket sales are being eliminated, with all ticket sales to be done online. Reservations will not be required for season passholders and any pre-purchased lift products. Daily capacity restrictions will be in place. RIDING THE LIFTS Guests will have the option to ride the lifts either in mixed or private cohorts. Mixed cohorts will be loaded onto the gondola with six passengers per gondola cabin, or four people per chair. Private cohorts can load up to eight people per gondola cabin or four people per chair. Gondola cabins have been protected with the Integral Surface Protection Program, which is used to limit the ability of viruses to stay on surfaces. Lift attendants that may need to physically assist with loading/unloading will wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. SNOW SCHOOL Group lessons will not be offered with the exception of Kids Weekend Programs. Weekend programs are being limited to residents within the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. Snow School participants will be required to undergo a self-health screening prior to starting their lesson. All Snow School staff and guests will be required to wear a face covering, except when they are moving on skis or snowboards. Private Lessons will be available for ages four and up. FOOD AND BEVERAGE Seating will be reduced in all venues with tables spread out to allow for adequate social distancing. Tables will be sanitized after every use. Face coverings will be required for guests and staff when inside any food and beverage outlet, except when seated at a table and eating or drinking. Expanded outdoor seating will be available at Revelation Lodge. Expanded room service from the Rockford Bar | Grill and Mackenzie Tavern. Online ordering will be available for all food and beverage outlets. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
VANCOUVER — An RCMP officer tasked with overseeing the electronics seized from Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou says he doesn't recall a senior officer telling him that he shared information about the devices with American investigators.Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal was the "exhibits officer" in charge of documenting and securing anything seized from Meng in 2018 during her arrest, which put a chill on Canada's relations with China. Dhaliwal was questioned in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday about a note from his supervisor that said Staff Sgt. Ben Chang had provided serial numbers to Meng's devices to a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and attributed the information to Dhaliwal. "I recall no conversation with Staff Sgt. Ben Chang," Dhaliwal said under cross-examination, adding he only recalls forwarding emails from Chang on to his supervisor. Dhaliwal is testifying as part of an evidence-gathering hearing where Meng's lawyers hope to collect information that will support their allegations that Canadian authorities improperly gathered evidence to aid American officials under the guise of a routine immigration exam. Meng is wanted in the United States on charges of fraud over allegations related to U.S. sanctions against Iran that both she and Chinese tech giant Huawei deny.She is the company's chief financial officer and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei.Dhaliwal has told the court that after her arrest, Meng's file was transferred to the financial integrity branch of the RCMP's Federal Serious and Organized Crime unit because it was a “complex” case.He said Chang, a senior officer in the branch, told him in an email that the FBI asked for descriptions of Meng's devices, including serial numbers, makes and models, and also asked Dhaliwal to take photos.Dhaliwal told the court that he collected that information with help from an RCMP tech specialist.Under cross-examination, he said he did not consider doing so would constitute a "search" and did not seek prior judicial authority to do so. "Would you not agree with me that this is private information you were obtaining from Ms. Meng's phones?" asked Scott Fenton, one of Meng's lawyers. "It did not occur to me at that time," Dhaliwal said. Fenton also read a line from an email Chang sent that suggested Chang's team would forward some information about the devices to the FBI so they could enter a legal request for further sharing.Dhaliwal said he forwarded the emails to his supervisor but did not recall saying to her that Chang was going to be sharing anything with the FBI. The court has heard that Chang, a key witness, has obtained counsel and will not testify.Meng's legal team has also alleged that a plan was formed the night before Meng's flight arrived for RCMP to board her plane and arrest her there, but that was later changed. Ultimately, Meng's border exam took three hours before it was adjourned so she could be arrested and informed of her rights. Dhaliwal's supervisor Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf testified Tuesday that her own superior, acting Insp. Peter Lea, raised the idea of boarding the plane when they spoke on the phone.She described it as a "strong suggestion" and she communicated it to Dhaliwal that night. However, Vander Graaf said when she arrived at the airport the next morning, a meeting between border services and RCMP officers was already underway and they had determined Meng should go through customs first. Vander Graaf, who previously worked in surveillance at Vancouver's airport, testified that she didn't challenge the plan."It seemed reasonable to me knowing that customs officers have their customs and immigration process," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
The Limerick Friends’ Club hosted another takeout dinner to raise money for a worthwhile local cause. The dinner was held Nov. 14 at the Limerick Community Centre, and people came to pick up their meals from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. According to Jo-Anne Carrol, they served over 60 people, down from the number of patrons who came to the takeout dinner back in September, but not bad either, considering the ongoing pandemic. Proceeds from the dinner went towards the Coe Hill Food Bank, to help out with their Christmas baskets. Even though they weren’t able to attend the dinner on Saturday, Councillor Ingo Weise and his wife Bonnie, who is a member of the Friends’ Club, helped set things up the day before. He acknowledged the impact that the Limerick Friends Club has had in raising money for worthy causes in years past, and how difficult it has been this year with COVID-19. “The Friends’ Club has most recently donated money to Wollaston Township for Halloween candy because the children couldn’t go door to door. These dinners have also provided an important social function in the community where people could get out and meet their neighbours. The roast beef dinner on Nov. 14 was held as a take-out so the social aspect will be missing although the volunteers themselves were finally able to get back together. The township of Limerick gratefully acknowledges the important service the Friends Club and all our volunteers provide to our community.” Dawn Lockhart, the chair of the Limerick Friends’ Club was busy in the kitchen on the evening of Nov. 14, but described the menu when she came out to deliver a few dinners to patron Lawrence Hiltz. “There’s roast beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, a little bit of horseradish in there too, nice fresh homemade bread, coleslaw and gravy,” she says. “We also have a delicious triple layer cake for dessert and when that runs out, we have four different types of pie; apple, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb and cherry.” Jo-Anne Carrol was also helping out in the kitchen, and described the volunteers’ routine getting everything together. “We started yesterday peeling potatoes and things like that, and then the meat was cooked at 8 a.m. this morning. Then we came back at noon to do the rest. We’re getting to be a well-oiled machine. Our first one [the takeout dinner back in September] was a little delayed, but this one worked out really well. It’s a real learning curve,” she says. The price for this takeaway dinner was $15 for adults, $7 for children aged six years to 12 years, and kids under five years old ate for free. Sharon Boomhour was outside the community centre collecting money for the dinners and accepting donations. All told, they ended up raising around $850. Diane Percy explained that they intended to donate the money in the form of gift cards to the Coe Hill Food Bank’s Christmas baskets. “They put them in the baskets and we’ll be giving them a bunch of gift cards for that. And then we’ll also be donating some money to the seniors’ program for the lunches they serve down in Tudor and Cashel,” she says. The people coming by to pick up their meals seemed to be pleased that they were happening, even if it was takeaway versus an indoor dining experience. Nicolette Mitchell came by to pick up a couple of meals. “I think it’s great. I used to come for all the dinners so I try to make it for these,” she says. Geraldine Woodbank agreed with that sentiment. “Oh, yeah! If you want good cooks, you come here,” she says. Margaret Park comes by for all the dinners, as she lives just up the road from the community centre. “I kind of miss it where everyone’s inside because you get to see people and catch up,” she says. Lucy Leftman also came by and said she used to come for these dinners all the time, though not as much as she used to. “This is kind of nice, the fact that they’ve figured out a way to work around the whole thing [COVID-19],” she says.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
NEW YORK — Fox News has reached a settlement with slain Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich's parents, who alleged in a lawsuit that the cable news company exploited their son's death in stories and commentary.Both sides confirmed the settlement on Tuesday.Rich was shot and killed in 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what authorities described as a botched robbery attempt. His parents, Joel and Mary Rich, had objected to a Fox article and commentary falsely suggesting their son had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.Internet theories that Rich had been assassinated for leaking emails were contradicted by U.S. intelligence reports.A lower court had thrown out the lawsuit, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan last year reinstated it. The court said that the family had plausibly alleged what amounted to a campaign of emotional torture.Rich's parents, in a statement, said the settlement closed another chapter in their efforts to mourn their son, who was 27 when he was killed.“We are pleased with the settlement of this matter and sincerely hope that the media will take genuine caution in the future,” the Riches, of Omaha, Nebraska, said.Neither side disclosed financial terms of the deal.“We are pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward,” Fox said in a statement.The Associated Press
Students and schools in the Municipality of Grey Highlands are seeing an increased police presence after a new School and Community Engagement Officer position was established with the Grey-Bruce Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment earlier this fall. “It's been really good to get back into the schools with this enhancement and have one-on-one time in the classroom,” said OPP Constable Nick Wilson, during a Grey Highlands Police Services Board meeting held earlier today. In September, the Grey-Bruce OPP department welcomed Wilson to the new position of school and community engagement officer. And despite a slow start due to COVID-19, he has been actively introducing himself to the student body. “Once I was allowed to go back into the schools, almost every day of the week has been taken up with either a presentation or a safety plan review,” Wilson said. Since coming on board, Wilson has engaged with Grey Highlands Secondary School, Osprey Central School and Macphail Memorial School with lockdown drills, fire drills, and safety plans. “The majority of the presentations have been kids programs in the elementary schools and various presentations at the high school for things like consent, and bullying, etc,” Wilson said. He also held a meeting with Hanley Institute to discuss police involvement in an after-school mentoring program for students in Grade 7, 8, and 9. “There's a couple of after-school youth mentoring programs that are starting to get up and running, one specifically in Flesherton that we've been involved in, so that'll be going forward as well,” he added. Along with regularly scheduled visits to the schools, Wilson also responds to school and youth-related calls. “From September until today, for example, I, with the enhancement position, looked after 82 calls. I would say the majority of those coming from the schools,” Wilson said. This month alone, Wilson says he has responded to 32 calls for service just from Grey Highlands Secondary School. The OPP September/October detachment report outlines a number of issues Wilson responded to, which included an investigation into an occurrence with drugs regarding possible drug trafficking between high school students; assisting school staff with a mental health incident affecting a youth; and an effective response regarding a threats complaint against staff and students. “We can really see when a municipality has a community engagement officer, it does reap some significant benefits,” added OPP Constable Nigel Heels. Wilson says that moving forward, he hopes to establish a regular routine at the schools, even creating an office in some locations, so that the students know when and where they can find him. “I'm in the process right now of working with the high school to formulate a plan,” he said. “In the meantime, I am there every day, and if not every day, at least three, four times a week.”Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
REGINA — The Saskatchewan Opposition wants Premier Scott Moe to convene a multi-sector working group to deal with the province's increasing spread of COVID-19. NDP Leader Ryan Meili wrote in a letter to the premier Tuesday that more people are falling ill and ending up in hospital because the Saskatchewan Party government's approach isn't working. Health officials on Tuesday reported 175 new daily cases of COVID-19. Some 105 people were in hospital, 20 of them in intensive care. The seven-day average of daily cases in the province stood at 209. Meili said he wants Moe to assemble a group with the NDP, health and education officials, and representatives from business, labour and Indigenous communities. The group would come up with a co-ordinated approach to get the virus's spread under control and to share important information and advice. "The COVID-19 situation is moving quickly in Saskatchewan," Meili wrote. "Every day presents an opportunity to take additional action to slow the spread and provide the support families, communities and businesses need to make it through this challenging time." In a statement, Moe said public-health officials are already listening to the groups Meili listed in his letter for input on virus-prevention guidelines. "We will continue to do so," Moe said. The premier was to provide an update on the province's fight against COVID-19 on Tuesday from his home in Shellbrook, Sask., where he was self-isolating after getting tested for COVID-19. But the briefing was postponed until Wednesday. "Further measures are under active consideration and development," communications director Jim Billington wrote in a statement. "The decision was made to postpone the press conference to allow for additional actions to be developed and communicated to the public tomorrow afternoon." Billington said Moe was asymptomatic and waiting for his test results. Public-health officials have spent the last two weeks issuing stark warnings about needing to limit people's number of contacts to slow the virus's spread and relieve pressure on contact tracers. The Saskatchewan Health Authority said the province's daily test positive rate from Nov. 12 to Nov. 18 sat at 6.7 per cent. In an update posted online Monday, the authority said the test positivity rate was highest in adults between 20 to 39 and lowest in children under 10. It also said COVID-19 was primarily spreading through households and close contacts, while 25 per cent of transmission was coming from recreational facilities such as ice rinks, bingo halls and casinos. Weddings, funerals and house parties were the next most likely source of infection. Cases have also been found in different schools across the province, as well as personal and long-care homes. The Ministry of Corrections and Policing said four inmates in jails in Saskatoon and Regina have COVID-19. Twelve correctional staff have also tested positive, eight of whom work at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, while the others are at facilities in Regina and Prince Albert. A spokesman said all offenders are to receive masks. Moe has rejected calls from hundreds of doctors, a nurses union and the Opposition to close non-essential businesses, including gyms, casinos and bars, for two to three weeks to keep the health-care system from being overwhelmed by hospitalizations. On the weekend, he told a radio talk show that a shutdown would mean disaster for small businesses and his government would look at all other options to avoid sweeping closures. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press