Three participants in the AstraZeneca clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine say news that the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. may be 90% effective is encouraging and they are all a team, no matter who finishes first. (Nov. 10)
Three participants in the AstraZeneca clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine say news that the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. may be 90% effective is encouraging and they are all a team, no matter who finishes first. (Nov. 10)
Pour arriver à la Côte-Nord, il faut rouler des heures et des heures vers l’est. Ensuite, un contrôle routier nous attend. Avant d’embarquer sur le traversier direction Tadoussac, deux policiers s’arrêtent à chaque véhicule. « Qu’est-ce que vous allez faire sur la Côte-Nord ? » demandent-ils à chaque automobiliste, décourageant ceux qui s’y rendraient par plaisir. La mesure n’est que préventive, mais elle fait partie du plan que chapeaute le médecin-conseil de la Direction de la santé publique de la Côte-Nord, le Dr Richard Fachehoun. Visage des conférences de presse pandémiques nord-côtières, Richard Fachehoun peut aujourd’hui se réjouir du bilan provisoire de sa région. À ce jour, pour 90 000 Nord-Côtiers, les autorités ne recensent que 200 cas de COVID-19 et 2 décès. La région est une des seules régions du Québec, avec l’Abitibi, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, le Nunavik et une partie de la Baie-James, à demeurer une « zone jaune ». Le chapelet de villages étendu sur plus de 1300 kilomètres de côte offre un avantage certain, admet le Dr Fachehoun. « La densité de la population est faible. Mais, le principal, c’est vraiment le rôle que joue la population. Si on veut contrôler la situation, c’est la population qui va la contrôler. » Originaire du Bénin, l’homme à l’œil vif a dû longtemps cheminer avant d’en arriver à ce poste stratégique. D’abord médecin généraliste en Afrique de l’Ouest, à « [prendre] en charge des patients atteints de VIH », il arrive dans la belle province en 2008. Entre Montréal et Québec en passant par Gatineau, il obtient ses équivalences québécoises avant de s’établir sur la Côte-Nord, il y a trois ans. La neige « qui fait disparaître les maisons » n’a pas manqué de le surprendre, ni les innombrables sentiers pour combler son besoin de course à pied. « Courir, c’est passionnant. Quoique ces derniers mois, non, parce que les gens parlent beaucoup des ours qui se retrouvent sur la piste cyclable… mais c’est passionnant ! » « Passionnant » aussi que de travailler avec les Autochtones, dit-il. Une passion qui s’est transformée en défi lorsque la COVID-19 a forcé la mise en place d’une « cellule innue ». En début de crise, la haute direction du CISSS s’est réunie avec les élus locaux pour protéger ces milieux tissés serrés. « [Les élus innus] avaient des réponses à tout. Ils étaient proactifs », salue le Dr Fachehoun. Rapidement, des points de contrôle bloquent l’entrée de villages à tous les non-résidents. Puis, des enquêtes épidémiologiques « faites en collaboration avec les services de santé des communautés autochtones » tiennent la pandémie en échec chez les quelque 15 000 Innus de la région. Autre défi pour l’équipe du Dr Richard Fachehoun : le fly in fly out ou, autrement dit, le navettage des travailleurs dans les mines dispersées sur le territoire. Pour assurer le contrôle sanitaire de ces industries jugées essentielles par Québec, les minières ont établi des plans : des cycles de travail plus longs, un nettoyage des navettes aériennes et des mesures d’isolement. « Toutes les minières ont été visitées », assure le Dr Fachehoun. Pour les autres recoins d’autant plus isolés, comme Schefferville, Anticosti ou la Basse-Côte-Nord, l’absence de lien terrestre avec le Québec complique l’offre de soins. Pour prévenir toute éclosion, un isolement est imposé aux voyageurs, doublé d’un test de dépistage au premier et au septième jour après leur arrivée sur place. La logistique du dépistage sur ce territoire de 236 000 kilomètres carrés n’a pas non plus été de tout repos. « Au départ, toutes les analyses étaient faites à Rimouski », explique Richard Fachehoun. Avant que l’échantillon ne traverse le fleuve et que le patient connaisse le résultat, cinq jours pouvaient alors s’écouler. Après avoir mis au point un protocole d’analyse sur place, les résultats sont maintenant connus dans un délai de 24 heures, se félicite le médecin. N’empêche, il encense surtout son équipe pour avoir convaincu les Nord-Côtiers de l’importance des gestes barrières, comme la distanciation physique. « C’est la population qui a le rôle déterminant. Si la population respecte les mesures, on n’aura pas de cas », rappelle-t-il, bien au fait que « les gens sont habitués à faire des “collures” ». Cette « chaleur humaine », qu’il tente à regret de dissoudre chez ses concitoyens, l’avait pourtant bien charmé lors de sa première visite sur la Côte-Nord. À l’époque, il se souvient s’être fait interroger en pleine rue par une citoyenne, curieuse de voir un nouveau visage. « Automatiquement, j’ai fait le parallèle », raconte-t-il. « À Montréal, tout le monde se dépasse. À Québec, sur la piste cyclable ou bien quand on fait de la course, on se salue. Mais ce qui frappe sur la Côte-Nord, les gens t’arrêtent pour te parler. C’est plus inclusif. C’est un petit milieu. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
NEW YORK — With police brutality continuing to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravishing Black America disproportionately, the world was driven to the significance of this year’s Juneteenth more than ever before.And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day — so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthemic jam where she proudly sings about her heritage, hometown and returning to her African roots.Months later, the song — and others focused on protesting, police brutality and the overall Black experience — are taking centre stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards.Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” scored nominations for two of the top awards: song of the year and record of the year. The track will also compete for best R&B song and best R&B performance.“There could have been a different approach as far as releasing the record and capitalizing off of timings of other things, but we really wanted to get it out during a time where we could all remember the feeling and the energy,” Derek Dixie, a longtime collaborator of Beyoncé’s who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press.“It’s not always about the money and about catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes it’s just about what it is — which was making our people proud.”“Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the overall top Grammy contender. Dixie earned three Grammy nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song.For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” the R&B singer’s track about police brutality.Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, scored nominations for best rap song and best rap performance. Proceeds from the song will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s attorney, the Bail Project and the National Association of Black Journalists.Anderson .Paak also released a song on Juneteenth — the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — and it’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for best rap performance and best music video..Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago but released it this year because she felt it was extremely relevant. Now, it’s nominated for best country solo performance, giving the performer her first-ever Grammy nomination.“It’s been so hard in the country music community and trying to get country music to even support my music and for me to get a Grammy (nomination), it just goes to show that writing your truth is just the way to go,” Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not only writing your truth, but really bringing your brothers and sisters up with you.”But Guyton admits that everyone’s response to her song wasn’t warm. It features the lyrics, “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be Black like me."“I released it and I did get people that were very angry. There were even radio stations that people were like, ‘Get this (expletive) off of my radio station,’” she said. “I would get people writing me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here then leave.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s just as much my country as it is yours.’”Guyton added that some “radio stations were scared to play (‘Black Like Me’) because they were (angering) their listeners because their listeners didn’t want to hear that.”“But I wasn’t writing that song for them, I was writing that song got the people that understand this exact walk that I’m walking," she continued. “It’s for them."Apart from “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also earned nominations for her film honouring Black art and Black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark- and brown-skinned women, “Brown Skin Girl.”Dixie, who has worked as Beyoncé’s music director and has produced, engineered and arranged songs for the singer, said he’s grateful he’s working with an artist who boldly speaks about Black pride in her music.“It’s just good to see that she’s willing to put that type of energy out and not necessarily be thinking about: ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No. 1? What’s going to guarantee me this?' It’s a part of our conversation, it’s a part of the process, but when it’s necessary to put that art out there, to put that energy out there, she’s usually ... leading the pack in that regard,” Dixie said. “So I’m grateful to be associated with her on that path.”Guyton added that it’s comforting to see some many Black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she’s grateful to the Grammys for acknowledging those kinds of songs.“It’s so important because so often Black people, and Black women especially, are getting overlooked and constantly get overlooked and you’re constantly just trying to get people to remember that you’re there,” she said. “It feels like we’re seen and I don’t think we’ve always felt seen.”“I use this scenario of going into any grocery store — if you go to any grocery store ... and you look for hair products for someone who is ethnic and ... you see an entire aisle full of every and any hair product you can possibly think for someone that is not Black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a Black person, we’re designated a shelf. And today, it doesn't feel like we’re designated a shelf.”The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Vendredi dernier, le quotidien Le Journal de Québec a publié l’annonce du retour de l’éolien dans la ligne de mire d’Hydro-Québec pour 2021. Le député de Matane-Matapédia Pascal Bérubé a réagi à cette nouvelle, qu’il définit de majeure pour la région dans un contexte de relance économique du Québec. Le chef parlementaire du Parti québécois a d’ailleurs validé l’article journalistique auprès du gouvernement, dont le ministre des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, qui lui a confirmé l’intérêt renouvelé de New York pour l’électricité verte du Québec. « Cette nouvelle est importante pour nous, alors qu’elle tend à démontrer un virage du gouvernement de la CAQ sur le développement de l’éolien », a répété Pascal Bérubé. Il réitère que cette relance ouvrira des portes pour le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie. « Il y a également la possibilité d’exploiter d’autres filières pour s’assurer de notre sécurité énergétique », a-t-il rappelé. Des négociations sont en cours pour remettre le projet d’Apuiat sur les rails, ce même projet sur lesquels les élus régionaux misaient pour la survie de Marmen dans l’Est. Pascal Bérubé a doublement confirmé que le premier projet serait Apuiat. « Nous n’avons pas d’échéancier évidemment, mais le gouvernement du Québec me confirme qu’il y a une volonté d’aller de l’avant avec l’éolien, ce qui est majeur dans les circonstances. » Et pour le Parti québécois, cela se traduirait en un éventuel appel d’offres pour un projet de l’Alliance de l’Est. Selon le Parti québécois, l’Alliance de L’Est rapporterait pour l’ensemble des communautés de la région et permettrait la consolidation d’emplois chez Marmen, entre autres. « On ne sait pas si ce sera suffisant à court terme pour relancer Marmen », a toutefois précisé M. Bérubé. « D’autant plus que le coût a considérablement diminué ces dernières années, mais ça on le savait déjà. C’est le gouvernement de la CAQ qui a tardé à le réaliser. » Selon lui, les communautés locales pourraient bénéficier de retombées sur plusieurs décennies. « C’est l’ensemble des communautés de notre territoire qui vont chercher des revenus supplémentaires. De plus, le couplage de l’éolien et de l’hydroélectricité est une bonne combinaison d’énergies vertes », a-t-il lancé. Le Parti québécois suivra le dossier de près. Les députés péquistes continuent d’espérer un appui formel de la part du gouvernement québécois. Ils ont publiquement demandé à la ministre responsable du Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie, Marie-Eve Proulx, de porter ce projet au conseil des ministres, qui pourrait apporter une fortune à ces régions et étant « très faisable », a noté Pascal Bérubé. « Ce serait une des plus belles annonces qu’on pourrait faire dans les prochaines années », a-t-il affirmé.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Some snowbirds in Peterborough County are choosing to stay put this winter. Currently residing on Lake Kasshabog north of Havelock, Les Morris and Lois Galbraith have been heading south for the past six year. “We have gone to Florida in the past, but the last few years we’ve gone to an island in Honduras called Roatán,” Galbraith said Although they’d love to go away, the numbers in both the U.S. and Honduras are staggering, she said. “I can’t believe people are actually going to go away in this,” Galbraith said. As for Honduras, Morris noted it’s a Third World country and while the island is modern with many activities for tourists, it’s not really equipped to handle the COVID-19 virus. “Our contacts down there say that they’re not even paying much attention; they’re still having big parties and not wearing masks and there’s lots of COVID cases. I’m 88 and Lois has a bit of a chest problem, she has a puffer, and we just can’t take the chance,” Morris said. She said even if they could, they wouldn’t go to the U.S. anyway. “They’re crazy. They’re paying no attention to anything. Maybe when Biden takes over, things will change,” he said. Norwood resident Bonnie Davidson said she and her husband normally flock south for a month during the wintertime, but decided it would be better to stay home this year. “I mean, we’re both in our 70s and my husband, his mother is also with us and she’s 102, and so we just decided it’s better to stay home for a lot of reasons,” she said. “We have no cases in Norwood and we’ve only ever had two in nine months, so we’re safe here.” Linda Black, a Buckhorn resident who has gone to Estero, Fla. for five months during the winter season for the past seven years with her husband, said they’ve decided to stay in Canada this year for two reasons. “The atmosphere is not good anymore, with Trump and the election and everything being divided. And who wants to go where everybody’s sick. It costs too much for us to get sick down there. Your insurance only covers so much,” she said. Morris said he and Galbraith have heard that a lot of people are turning their cottages into winter homes so they can stay. Asphodel-Norwood Mayor Rodger Bonneau said he has several friends that are snowbirds who are doing this. “I’ve actually had to run out and do some work on some of furnaces for them just to make sure they can actually stay home now. We are going to see an impact, but a lot of the residents are the people that stay here all summer long and are Canadian citizens anyways,” Bonneau said. However, Black said she knows a couple of people from Buckhorn that are still heading south. “They’re flying down and then they’re going to rent a car because they’re one of these trailer people that have really nowhere to live in the wintertime, so it makes it difficult for them,” she said. Black said she believes a lot of snowbirds don’t want to go south this year because of the health and safety of themselves and others. “Our community that we go to in Florida has a mixture of people both young and old, so you don’t want to go down there and catch something from them, or give something to them, because you can also be asymptomatic. Especially some of the older people there. They just couldn’t handle it,” she said. Because where they live is so isolated, Morris and Galbraith said it’s good COVID-wise, but not good in an emergency with the winter weather on its way. “It’s a bit of a worry, but we’ll survive it,” Galbraith said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Canada's main share index is set to extend its rally over the coming year as the likely rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine bolsters prospects for the economically sensitive financial and resource stocks that dominate the index, a Reuters poll found. "The run-up in stocks will likely not end in 2021 as (U.S.) stimulus likely comes early in the new year, vaccines start to get distributed in the second half of the year and most companies go back to normal in the latter part of 2021," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. A vaccine rollout would "benefit Canada more than most countries because of the large proportion of value and cyclical stocks on the TSX," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management.
Le 29 octobre dernier, un étudiant de Techniques d’animation 3D et de synthèse d’images du Cégep de Matane, Anthony Técher, a eu l’honneur de recevoir une mention spéciale pour sa bande dessinée « Monsieur H » à l’occasion de l’édition 2020 du concours CégepBD, réunissant près d’une centaine d’inscriptions cette année. En 3e année au Cégep de Matane et originaire de l’île de la Réunion, Anthony Técher a été félicité pour son oeuvre intitulée « Monsieur H », une bande dessinée de quatre planches traitant de la mélancolie moderne et de la sensation de perdre pied, une œuvre ayant vu le jour à l’occasion du confinement du printemps dernier. Malgré le contexte de l’édition 2020, 94 inscriptions ont été enregistrées au concours, qui est organisé par le Collège de Valleyfield depuis 1996. Les planches soumises ont été évaluées selon différents critères comme la qualité technique, les illustrations, la composition des éléments narratifs et l’originalité du scénario. Si Anthony Técher n’a pas figuré sur le podium, il est parvenu à recevoir l’une des six mentions spéciales accordées par le jury. En effet, le jury a souligné le « récit simple » du bédéiste ainsi qu’un « ton mélancolique soutenu par un dessin efficace et un design des personnages réussi ». L’illustrateur Mathieu Benoit, responsable de l’activité, a félicité M. Técher pour son « utilisation imaginative de la typographie et les couleurs choisies qui appuient l’ambiance claustrophobe » dans le récit. M. Técher a eu l’occasion de développer ses compétences artistiques lors de ses études au Cégep de Matane. « Cela fait longtemps que je dessine, mais jusqu’ici c’était surtout sur du papier. Pour ce projet-là, j’ai pu me mettre à fond dans le dessin numérique et développer de nouvelles compétences acquises au cégep. Sans ma formation au cégep, je n’aurais jamais pu me sentir assez à l’aise en digital painting pour participer au concours », a expliqué l’étudiant. Sa copine, Zoé Marchal, qui étudie en Techniques d’intégration multimédia, l’a notamment beaucoup aidé au niveau de l’histoire de la bande dessinée. « Le confinement du printemps m’a permis d’avoir plus de temps pour me pencher sur ce projet. Avant le confinement du printemps, la réalisation de la première planche, entre les heures de cours et les travaux à rendre, m’avait pris environ deux semaines. Après ça, j’étais capable d’en terminer une en trois jours », a commenté le bédéiste, qui avait accès à des tablettes graphiques pour l’aider.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Despite a global pandemic, Victoria, B.C., is still one of the best "small cities" in the world, according to UK-based magazine Monocle.The magazine, which explores urban culture around the world, looked at cities with fewer than 250,000 people for their second annual Small Cities Index. The cities chosen were described as "well-connected cities that offer great business opportunities, a welcoming culture and access to nature."According to the index, Victoria placed No. 5, making a significant jump from 16 just a year ago. Porto, Portugal, took top honours followed by Leuven, Belgium; Itoshima, Japan; and Lucerne, Switzerland. Tomos Lewis, the Toronto bureau chief for Monocle, says the charm of a small city is not feeling lost in an anonymous metropolis."From having spoken to people from a variety of sectors who have lived in Victoria either for a long time or just moved there, that kind of intimacy comes part and parcel with moving to a city like Victoria," said Lewis to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West.Cities were graded according to accessibility to international travellers, having "a good, progressive mayor," access to nature and for being warm and welcoming. Ratings also incorporated sustainability, environmentally conscious planning and opportunities for business. The magazine had compliments for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who it said "introduced initiatives to encourage young Canadians and foreigners to relocate here" such as free bus passes for children and bike lanes across the city. It also praised the city's diversifying economy, specifically noting its financial-services and ocean-research sectors, and its literary and food scene.Victoria has seen its fair share of challenges during the global pandemic including increased homelessness, a devastating shut-down of its tourism sector and rising housing costs."We do feel that all cities have their challenges that are particular to that place in question. But we don't think that those should always totally overshadow the other things a city has going for it," said Lewis.He said Victoria's civic attempts to address these issues is what earned it a top spot."This idea of the community first stepping in to try and solve, address and shine a spotlight on what those issues are and try to solve them I think is what gives a place its magic and that's certainly what we found having reported on Victoria for so many years from our vantage point."
Older students will be sent home from school at the end of the month, indoor social gatherings are banned and businesses will face restrictions after COVID-19 cases have surged in Alberta. On Tuesday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney introduced “bold and targeted new measures to protect lives and livelihoods,” which bans indoor social gatherings, ends in-person learning at the end of the month for kids in Grades 7 to 12 and places limits on some businesses. Kenney declared a state of public emergency. On Nov. 30 all students from Grades 7 to 12 will be learning online from home for the rest of 2021. They'll return to in-person classes Jan. 11, after the winter break. Diploma exams are optional for rest of the school year – students and families can choose to write an exam or receive an exemption for the April, June and August 2021 exams. Younger students and early childhood services will stay in schools until Dec. 18. Between Dec. 18 and Jan. 11, aside from the time they spend on their winter break, they will do at-home learning. “These steps are not being taken lightly,” Kenney said. “These are the minimum restrictions needed now to minimize the damage to the healthcare system.” Indoor social gatherings are now banned across Alberta, a rule that will stay in place until further notice. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Funerals and weddings will be restricted to 10 people with no receptions. “Social gatherings are the biggest problem,” Kenney said. “(Social gatherings are) the key reason why COVID-19 is winning.” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said breaking the rules can result in up to $1,000 for a ticket offence and $100,000 through the courts. Alberta peace officers will be able to deliver fines to anyone violating the limits. The Alberta emergency alert system will send out a notice to all Albertans through their cell phones to ensure all residents know of these changes. All places of worship across the province will need to cap their attendance to one-third of their fire code capacity with everyone inside wearing a mask, sitting with their cohort and social distancing. Kenney said while almost all places of worship are following the current rules around COVID-19, a select few have been not complying, resulting in outbreaks. The premier said most have worked hard to limit the spread and recognizes these institutions are vital part of peoples emotion, mental and spiritual health. These new rules will be in place for three weeks. Many businesses will now be either closed for in-person shopping, open with restricted capacity or open by appointment only. Banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, non-approved/licenced markets and community centres are closed. Children's play places, indoor playgrounds and all levels of sport (professional, semi-professional, junior, collegiate/universities and amateur) are also banned from in-person activities. Sports leagues may apply for exemptions. Kenney said while many are following the rules, there have been nine outbreaks traced back to amateur hockey games in the province. Most retail businesses may remain open with capacity limited to 25 per cent of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code, including retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer and technology stores, hardware, automotive, farmers markets and outdoor seasonal markets. Some entertainment services fall under the 25 per cent threshold as well, like movie theatres, museums, libraries, casinos, indoor entertainment centres, indoor fitness, recreation sports and physical activity centres, including dance and yoga studios, martial arts, gymnastics and private or public swimming pools. Other businesses open by appointment only are not permitted to offer walk-in services. Appointments should be limited to one-on-one services. These businesses include personal services such as hair salons and barbershops, esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing and make-up, piercing and tattoo services; wellness services including acupuncture, massage and reflexology; professional services such as lawyers, mediators, accountants and photographers; private one-on-one lessons (no private group lessons permitted); hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges. Bars and restaurants can continue in-person dining but must comply with guidelines and those seated at tables together must be part of same household. Masks are now mandatory inside all workplaces Edmonton, Calgary and their surrounding areas. The premier said much of the COVID-19 spread is happening inside workplaces. A full list of public health measures can be found on Alberta's website. On Tuesday, Alberta reported an additional 1,115 cases of COVID-19. That's lower than the past few days, but Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that was because there were fewer tests, some 13,500, with a provincial positivity rate of 8.3 per cent. Sixteen deaths were announced on Tuesday from COVID-19, and over the past two weeks 103 people died from the virus. There are currently 348 hospitalizations with 66 people in ICU. The province has lost 492 residents in total to COVID-19. The average age of death is 82 years. There are currently 13,349 active cases in the province, the most in the country, with the bulk of them being in the Edmonton (6,128 cases) zone. The premier said continuing care cases have quadrupled since Oct. 1. “My heart goes out to their loved ones and all those grieving."Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
VICTORIA — A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve any further charges against people associated with the community of Bountiful where a fundamentalist Christian sect practises polygamy. The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement Tuesday that the decision from special prosecutor Peter Wilson brings the matter to a close after years of investigations and charge assessments. Wilson's mandate included considering the possible prosecution of people accused of sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors, as well as polygamy-related offences, the prosecution service said. In assessing charges, Wilson said he considered relevant case law and followed the test set out by the prosecution service, which states Crown counsel must measure all the available evidence against two factors: whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether the public interest requires prosecution. The exploitation charges recommended by investigators were, with one exception, the same as those submitted to his predecessor Richard Peck in 2006, Wilson said in a statement. "In addition, the complainant statements relied upon were, for the most part, taken during a 2005 RCMP investigation and are, therefore, exactly the same statements considered by Mr. Peck." Wilson was appointed as a special prosecutor in 2012 after Peck decided not to continue his mandate. There was some new evidence relating to allegations of sexual exploitation involving one person, which Wilson said he considered but ultimately found many of the same problems that previous prosecutors had identified with the proposed charges. "A significant problem common to all of the proposed sexual exploitation counts is that they would have to be prosecuted with unco-operative witnesses," he said. The complainants, according to their statements and police reports, "seem content with their situation as plural wives," he said, adding the result is a case that would "turn entirely on circumstantial evidence." Wilson said the proposed charges also didn't meet the public interest test. "In many instances, the alleged sexual exploitation occurred years if not decades ago. A prosecution would likely cause significant emotional distress to complainants who have emphatically rejected any notion that they are now or were ever victims." James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two rival leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were convicted in a B.C. court of practising polygamy in 2018 and sentenced to house arrest and probation. Oler was also convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail last year for taking a 15-year-old girl into the United States to be married. Two other members of the Bountiful community have been convicted for removing a 13-year-old girl across the border. In his statement, Wilson said investigators recommended the prosecution of three suspects and submitted new information earlier this year in relation to the alleged removal of two other children who subsequently married members of the same sect in the United States. In each case, Wilson said, there was no substantial likelihood of conviction, so he declined to approve the charges. Insp. Brent Novakoski, the senior investigating officer for the RCMP’s southeast district in B.C., said the announcement "concludes a lengthy, extensive and complex investigation that has spanned two decades, two countries and involved a number of legal firsts." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
Tudor and Cashel Township has a new Finance and Asset Management Committee. During their council meeting on Oct. 6, a motion was brought forth by Councillor Bob Bridger and seconded by Councillor Roy Reeds to direct Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, to draft a procedural bylaw to create this committee, and in another motion, also brought forth by Bridger and Reeds, directed Carrol to advertise for volunteers to participate in this new committee. Council sees the move as a cost saving measure, which would also draw upon the financial acumen of some of its residents to move forward with its financial and asset management plans. Carrol foresees the first meeting to take place in January 2021. On Oct. 6, during their council meeting, council directed Carrol to draft a procedural bylaw for the creation of a Finance and Asset Management Committee. They also directed Carrol to advertise for volunteers to participate in this new committee. At their next council meeting on Nov. 3, a bylaw to establish the new committee and the procedures governing the committee proceedings were passed with motion 2020-293, brought forward by Reeds and seconded by Bridger. Mayor Libby Clarke says that council felt that having an asset management and financial committee would save money for the township. “Considering we pay approximately $30,000 to have an asset management study done for the township and the firm that does it uses information gathered and provided to them by the township. Because the township has this information first hand, it was felt that if we had an asset management committee this could be done internally and along with other obvious benefits it would definitely be a cost saving factor,” she says. Clarke stresses that council wants to ensure that they have the finances to continue to provide the services that they provide now to their ratepayers and that these services will continue into the future. Carrol explains that finance management and asset management are two processes that are quite connected. She says that the province approved a regulation on municipal asset management planning in late 2017 that set timeframes for adapting the municipalities asset management plan to meet these regulations, and that the township continues to meet them. “The council understands the benefits of a strong asset management and financial plan and they realize that they need to use their asset management plan to ensure that they have the finances to continue to provide the level of services that they do at this time going into the future. Council recognizes that there areratepayers that have a strong background in this field and that their input and assistance through the formation of a committee may help develop the policies and procedures that will guide council in their decision making in the future,” she says. Councillor Noreen Reilly sees the new committee as a value to taxpayers, as it can maintain and update the plan and identify and include all township assets and make it their own. “The township also has a modest surplus that has been built over the last decade. We have buildings, bridges and roads that need investment sooner rather than later and the committee will be key in identifying, prioritizing and presenting the findings to council. One expectation we have for the committee is designating the surplus into categories such as capital, operations, infrastructure, etc.,” she says. Reilly feels that with a township-built Asset Management Plan and a working committee of surplus allocation, the township will remain in good financial health. “I often resist the formation of new committees until it is proven that taxpayers will benefit. I believe this committee will do just that,” she says. Bridger is cautiously optimistic about the new committee, and feels that if it is composed of the right people, it will provide council with options on how best to use township resources to maintain and grow their assets going into the future. “I believe the major impetus in the formation of this committee was due to the growing unrest from a great number of people on how the township spends the tax dollars we receive from our residents,” he says. He mentions two people who have come to council and asked these questions about how their tax dollars are being spent, Pat Schad on Steenburg Lake and Dave Hederson on Jordan Lake. He also mentions that he is friends with both Schad and Hederson. Specifically, he says that Schad’s concerns are with the amount of taxes collected from the residents of South Steenburg Lake Road and what they feel are the lack of services provided in return. Hederson, a retired CFO with McDonald’s Canada, also has those concerns as well as questions about the amount of money Tudor and Cashel has in its reserves and what it is for. Going forward, Bridger would like the township to explore what it would take to encourage people to become full time residents of Tudor and Cashel, to spend their money locally, and perhaps spend some of the township’s reserves to upgrade services to encourage that future growth. “These are just a few of the issues I would hope that this committee could help give council some learned direction going forward, especially if it’s composed of people with a greater knowledge of financial matters than our current council has,” he says. Carrol says that she will be advertising through social media and the township newsletter to assemble the new committee, and she foresees the first meeting being held in January. “If things go very smoothly, we may be able to have an introductory meeting in December, but it would be more so to allow members the opportunity to meet each other and give some input as to where they would like to begin. There have been members of the community reaching out with an interest in the committee and I find this very exciting and hopeful,” she says. “I can see this being a very beneficial committee, with members that are working together for the municipality as a whole.”Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
Adamson Barbecue based in Etobicoke, just west of Toronto, was allowed to have guests dine-in on Tuesday afternoon despite being in violation of provincial and municipal bylaws.
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
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:38 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 941 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with 10 deaths.Health officials say there are 7,732 active cases along with 248 hospitalizations.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are reiterating their plea for residents to avoid social gatherings.The province is also asking indoor physical activity sites, such as yoga studios and gymnastics centres, to suspend operations as health officials work to establish new guidelines.\---7:37 p.m.Alberta is bringing in tougher COVID-19 restrictions that include limits on social gatherings and less face-to-face class time for students.Premier Jason Kenney says there are to be no indoor gatherings, but people who live alone can have up to two personal contacts.He says students in Grades 7 through 12 will transition next week to at-home learning and the school holiday break will be extended from Dec. 18 to Jan. 11.Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.Kenney adds that anyone who can work from home should do so and masks will be mandatory in workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas.The measures will be in effect for three weeks and re-evaluated after that.The province reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday and 16 more deaths.\---3:10 p.m.New Brunswick has revised the number of new COVID-19 cases it is reporting today.It now says it has five new cases, three in the Saint John region and two in the Moncton region.\---3 p.m.Saskatchewan is reporting 175 new cases of COVID-19 for a seven-day average of 209.Health officials say 105 people are in hospital, with 20 receiving intensive care.Opposition leader Ryan Meili says because of the rising spread of the virus, Premier Scott Moe should convene a task force to develop a more co-ordinated approach to handling the pandemic.Moe had been scheduled to provide an update Tuesday afternoon, but it was postponed until Wednesday.His office says further public health measures are being developed which will be announced tomorrow.\---2:20 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 37 new cases of COVID-19 today, for a total of 87 active access across the province.Premier Stephen McNeil said during an update the majority of cases were identified in the Greater Halifax Area.The province is also announcing new restrictions in the Halifax Regional Municipality starting this Thursday at midnight.The new restrictions include the closure of in-person dining for restaurants in the HRM as well as the closure of public libraries, museums and First Nation gaming establishments.\---1:42 p.m.Manitoba health officials have announced 471 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the health-care system is near its capacity and the numbers must come down. He is urging people to stay home as much as possible.\---1:40 p.m.New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19, most involving people under 30.Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region, including two people under 20 and one person in their 30s.The other two cases are in the Moncton region and both are people in their 20s.New Brunswick now has 93 active infections, with 450 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---1:10 p.m.Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is working on an "end-to-end" chain for handling new COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they're delivered to Canada.That includes buying 126 freezers, including 26 ultra-cold ones, to hold millions of doses of vaccines that need to be kept at extraordinarily low temperatures.The government is also seeking private bidders to run the logistics, and determining whether the military has a role to play.Anand says storing and transporting vaccines safely is a top priority, especially when they have short shelf lives.Government officials say manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates are emphatic that their products not go to waste, which also means deliveries won't start until Health Canada has approved them for use.\---1 p.m.Yukon is imposing a mandatory mask order, effective Dec. 1, as it tries to control the spread of COVID-19.Premier Sandy Silver says the order will cover everyone using public indoor spaces, although children younger than two and people with certain medical conditions will be exempt.The territory has had no new cases of the virus since announcing Monday that it had reached 38 total cases, with 14 considered active.The territory's chief medical health officer has told residents to prepare to see more cases in the coming weeks, although he says there is no plan for any sort of lockdown restricting movement within Yukon.\---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new cases of COVID-19.One is a woman in her 60s in the eastern region who is a close contact of a previously known case.The other is a woman over 70, also in the eastern region, who is connected to a cluster of cases in the town of Grand Bank on the Burin Peninsula.Health officials are also warning rotational workers of an outbreak at the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat, B.C.Newfoundland and Labrador has 24 active cases of COVID-19, with 323 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Dr. Theresa Tam says wrestling COVID-19 back under control depends heavily on individual Canadians restricting their activities.Canada's chief public health officer says the country is facing outbreaks in places that didn't have them during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.And after the current second wave hit younger adults first, more and more cases are being reported in older, more vulnerable people.The Public Health Agency of Canada says on an average day in the past week, more than 2,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 70 people died.Tam says we know more now about the virus that causes the illness, and especially how it spreads, but Canadians have to put that knowledge to use by running only essential errands and restricting their social interactions to their own households.\---11:55 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is acknowledging countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany could have some of their citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 before Canadians can get their own shots.He says that's because those countries have their own vaccine-production facilities and Canada doesn't.Rebuilding that capacity will take years, but Trudeau says the federal government has started the work.He says having pre-bought an array of vaccine candidates from foreign manufacturers will help get Canadians effective doses as soon as possible.But he adds it's premature to start circling dates on calendars for when the first doses will arrive.\---11:45 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has bought 26,000 doses of a treatment for COVID-19 from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.At a news conference in Ottawa, Trudeau didn't name the drug but said it had been co-developed with Vancouver's AbCellera Biologics.The two companies announced last March they were co-operating on developing a treatment using antibodies from a patient who had already had the illness.Trudeau says the government has an option to buy thousands more doses.He says vaccines against COVID-19 are on the way but until they're widely available, Canadians need to do everything they can to avoid catching the novel coronavirus.\---11:40 a.m.The Manitoba government says it has issued one ticket and more are expected in connection with a church service on Sunday for allegedly violating the province's ban on public gatherings.The RCMP say they attended the church, in a rural area near Steinbach, and found more than 100 people inside.The government also says 16 tickets have been issued to people who attended an anti-mask rally in Steinbach earlier this month, and more are expected.\---11:15 a.m.The Ontario government is reporting 1,009 new cases of COVID-19 today but a technical issue means the figure is an underestimate. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the issue also means Monday's case numbers were an overestimate. Today's figures include 497 new cases in Toronto, 175 in Peel Region and 118 in York Region. The province also reported 14 new deaths related to the virus.\---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 45 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 1,124 new infections.Health officials said today nine of the 45 deaths occurred in the past 24 hours.Hospitalizations jumped by 21, to 655, and 96 people were in intensive care, a drop of two.The province has reported a total of 134,330 cases and 6,887 deaths since the pandemic began.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. In previous versions, it was reported that hospitalizations in Quebec increased to 665 and that New Brunswick had six new COVID-19 cases.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's system for paying unemployment benefits is so dysfunctional that the state approved more than $140 million for at least 20,000 prisoners, local and federal prosecutors said Tuesday, detailing a scheme that resulted in claims filed in the names of well-known convicted murderers like Scott Peterson and Cary Stayner.From March to August, more than 35,000 inmates were named in claims filed with the California Employment Development Department, with more than 20,000 being paid, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. At least 158 claims were filed for 133 death-row inmates, resulting in more than $420,000 in benefits paid“It involves rapists and child molesters, human traffickers and other violent criminals in our state prisons,” Schubert said.The list includes Peterson, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of killing his pregnant wife following a trial that riveted the nation. The California Supreme Court recently overturned Peterson’s death sentence and has ordered a lower court to review his murder conviction.Schubert confirmed there was a claim made in the name of Scott Peterson, but declined to provide further details.Peterson's attorney, Pat Harris, said while Peterson's name surfaced during the investigation, there is no evidence Peterson received unemployment aid from the state.“This investigation, when it's completed, will show that he had not a thing to do with any kind of scheme to get fraudulent benefits,” Harris said.Schubert listed a number of inmates there who had claims filed in their names, including Stayner, convicted of killing four people in or near Yosemite National Park in 1999; Susan Eubanks, a San Diego woman convicted of shooting her four sons to death in 1997; Isauro Aguirre, who was sentenced to death for the 2013 murder of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in Los Angeles; and Wesley Shermantine, part of the duo dubbed the “Speed Freak Killers” for their meth-induced killing rampage in the 1980s and ’90s.Prosecutors said they learned of the scheme from listening in on recorded prison phone calls, where inmates would talk about how easy it was for everyone to get paid. They said the scheme always involved someone on the outside — usually friends or family members of the inmates, who would then receive the benefits.In Kern County, home to five state prisons, one address was used to receive benefits for 16 inmates.“In my nearly four decades as a prosecutor in this state, I have never seen fraud of this magnitude,” Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said.In some cases, inmates used their real names. In others, they used fake names and even fake Social Security numbers. In one instance, an inmate used the name: “poopy britches," Schubert said.“Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us,” Schubert said.So far, 22 people have been charged in San Mateo County, including six people who were not in prison. Prosecutors said dozens of other investigations across the state are continuing.Prosecutors blamed the Employment Development Department, which has been overwhelmed by more than 16.4 million benefit claims since the pandemic began in March, resulting in a backlog that at one time totalled more than 1.6 million people.But prosecutors said in its haste to approve benefits, the department did not check unemployment claims against a list of prisoners, as many other states do. San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said that when he notified the department about inmates fraudulently receiving benefits, they told him they could not cut off the payments until they were formally charged with a crime.The problem was so bad that on Monday, nine county district attorneys sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for him to intervene.“We face a manifest problem that requires action, not talk,” said McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.Employment Development Department spokeswoman Loree Levy said the agency has been working with the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General on cross-checking claims with inmates, saying they are “pursuing how to integrate such cross-matches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment fraud across the country.”In an email to the AP, Newsom called the fraud “absolutely unacceptable.” He said he first learned of the fraud earlier this year, which prompted him to order the department to “review its practices and take immediate actions to prevent fraud and to hold people accountable.”Newsom said he has ordered the Office of Emergency Services to set up a task force to assist prosecutors with their investigation.“While we have made improvements, we need to do more,” Newsom said.___This story has been corrected to say that Cary Stayner killed four people in or near Yosemite National Park; to show 20,000 of 35,000 claims were paid; and to accurately spell the last name of convicted killer Wesley Shermantine.Adam Beam, The Associated Press
For the last three years, the Steveston Historical Society has presented Songs in the Snow, a series of evenings celebrating the holidays with live music and entertainment. This year, the event will be presented virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Cancelling was not something we ever considered,” says executive director Rachel Meloche. “We figured that if we could find a way to make it virtual and do something, somehow, that at least we could still have the event and it would give people some of the magic.” Thanks to help from loyal sponsors, the historical society team was able to pivot this year. The Richmond Arts Coalition sourced all the musicians and performers, and local cartoonist Cartoon Katie will do live caricature drawings of participants watching on Zoom. “I know that the music industry has really suffered this year, and we had the funding so we wanted to get it into the hands of the artists who need it the most right now,” says Meloche. Registration is free or by donation, and people can also pre-order and pick up free craft kits as well as hot drink and cookie packages. Meloche says the driving force behind Songs in the Snow is that the holidays are expensive, and so many events have a fee associated with them. The event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on three Saturdays (Dec. 5, 12 and 19). Each night will have different crafts and performances so people can register for all three. Performers will be live through their own individual broadcasts. And Meloche is heartened by the ability to bring some holiday cheer to people’s homes. “That’s what we wanted to do, just bring a little bit of the magic of Songs in the Snow to people,” she says. “I’ve heard from a family that they’re all participating from their own houses—so we’re bringing people together, just differently. “It’s going to be a really different and difficult holiday season for a lot of people. If we can bring some brightness, then I’ve done my job.” To register for tickets, visit www.historicsteveston.ca.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Tony Loeppky was hoping to visit his family in Manitoba at Christmas. Instead, they're trying to get his ashes sent home so they can mourn his death."I find it,it hurts a lot, that he would have passed by himself. I think that's the hardest part," Loeppky's sister, Marlow Fraser, said through tears from her home in Inverness, N.S.Fraser still can't believe Loeppky, her otherwise healthy, 58-year-old brother, has become part of a horrible statistic — one of nearly 260,000 people in the United States who have died of COVID-19."If this virus hadn't been here, he would still be alive," she said.Loeppky moved years ago from Altona, Man., to North Dakota — first Grand Forks, then Fargo — where he worked as a truck driver.His family said he was taking precautions at work and when he went grocery shopping; wearing a mask and physically distancing.WATCH | Despite high infection rates, North and South Dakota resist restrictions:But that wasn't enough to protect him. Though it has half the population of Manitoba, which it borders, North Dakota has about five times the number of cases, meaning the per capita infection rate is about 10 times what it is in Manitoba."COVID, it's no joke. It's a serious, serious virus that we really need to get under control because I don't want to lose another family member to this," Fraser said.North and South Dakota are strong Republican states that have resisted mandating public health measures, saying they should be a personal choice. Infections started spiking after large gatherings on Independence Day in July and continued as university and college students returned to school in the fall.North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum didn't make masks mandatory until Nov. 13, when hospitals were becoming overwhelmed. That state had a total of 74,401 cases and 883 deaths as of Tuesday.South Dakota, which has a total of 73,848 cases and 819 deaths, still has no mask mandate."The only reason you know who I am today is because the liberals have been busy kicking me in the head for all the decisions I've made for my people in South Dakota," Gov. Kristi Noem said a few weeks ago at a rally for U.S. President Donald Trump. "But let me tell you, my people are happy. They're happy because they're free."Noem has also refused to ban large gatherings, including the huge Sturgis motorcycle rally in August, which is believed to have been a superspreader event.South Dakota's seven-day positivity rate has been alarmingly high at times — at one point in mid-November reaching nearly 60 per cent, higher than any other state in the U.S. — and currently stands at just over 43 per cent, although this metric can vary widely depending on how and when it is calculated.An analysis of data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University conducted by the Federation of American Scientists suggests the states' death rates due to coronavirus are among the highest in the world. South Dakota leads the list with 25.2 deaths per one million people for the seven-day period ending Nov. 21. North Dakota is second with 21.4 deaths per million in the same seven-day period.American Thanksgiving, which is on Thursday, and Black Friday are raising concerns as people travel, gather and shop — increasing their risk of exposure to the virus."Our governor has been misleading her constituents from the start," said Dr. Shannon Emry, a pediatrician from Sioux Falls, S.D."She has downplayed the dangers of the virus, downplayed the importance of wearing a mask and its really undermined the people's trust in their medical community, and that's actually putting more people in danger."Back in Canada, Marlow Fraser doesn't think COVID-19 should be a political issue."I really find people are reaching when they say it's a hoax and it's a government trying to control you," she said. "And you know what? The government controls us in so many different ways. So if you have to wear a mask, wear a mask. That's not a control."
“Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” US President-elect Biden said.View on euronews
Le Bloc Québécois et l’Union des producteurs agricoles ont exprimé leur soutien en faveur du projet de loi C-216 présenté par le député Louis Plamondon en février pour protéger la gestion de l’offre dans de futures négociations internationales. «La gestion de l’offre est malheureusement devenue pour Ottawa sa monnaie d’échange durant les négociations avec ses partenaires. À trois reprises, même s’il s’était engagé à la protéger intégralement, Ottawa a trahi sa parole et a ouvert de nouvelles brèches. Grâce à ce projet de loi, le gouvernement fédéral ne pourra prendre d’engagements, par traités ou par ententes en matière de commerce international, qui aurait pour effet d’affaiblir la gestion de l’offre», a déclaré le député de Bécancour – Nicolet – Saurel, Louis Plamondon. Selon un communiqué de son bureau, les deux organisations demandent également au gouvernement libéral de «tenir ses promesses et de verser aux producteurs et aux transformateurs les compensations promises pour les concessions faites dans la gestion de l’offre lors des derniers accords commerciaux.» L’Accord de partenariat transpacifique (PTPCG), l’Accord économique et commercial global (AECG) et l’Accord Canada–États-Unis–Mexique (ACEUM) ont coûté aux producteurs et transformateurs près de 10% de part de marché pour le seul secteur laitier selon le même document. Seuls ces producteurs laitiers ont reçu un premier versement pour les deux premiers accords. Ils sont toujours dans l’attente du second chèque pour l’année 2020 qui leur avait été promis pour le mois d’août. «Uniquement pour les producteurs laitiers, ce sont des manques à gagner permanent de l’ordre de 450 millions de dollars par année que les concessions leur coûtent. Pour l’ensemble des productions et de la transformation sous gestion de l’offre, on est clairement au-dessus du demi-milliard de dollars», a ajouté le porte-parole du Bloc Québécois en matière d’agriculture, Yves Perron. Le Bloc québécois demande au fédéral de tenir sa promesse en payant et en planifiant le reste des compensations prévues par l’entente. Ottawa doit également négocier les modalités de concession avec les autres secteurs sous gestion de l’offre, prévoir toutes les concessions dans la mise à jour économique du 30 novembre et protéger le système de gestion en appuyant le projet de loi C-216 du Bloc Québécois. «Le gouvernement avait donné sa parole de ne pas toucher à la gestion de l’offre : il l’a mise aux enchères et il a perdu. Nous continuerons sans relâche à questionner le gouvernement, et à mettre la pression nécessaire pour que les compensations soient finalement budgétées et octroyées, telles que promis. Il en va de la survie de notre modèle agricole», a plaidé M. Plamondon.Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, his province bending precariously under the weight of record COVID-19 cases, imposed new sweeping public health restrictions Tuesday that include a ban on gatherings in people’s homes.Kenney also announced changes to schools, churches, restaurants and retailers, and banned sports teams from playing and sharply curtailed attendance at weddings and funerals.He said the goal is to slash the rate of infections and keep people alive while preventing the loss of jobs and livelihoods that threaten to make an already dire situation even worse.“This whole thing is just incredibly tough for everyone,” Kenney said Tuesday.“I just never imagined I’d be in this place in public life where I was telling people who could come visit them at home.“We really just felt we had no option given that 40 per cent of traceable cases connect back to private social activity.”Indoor gatherings are banned immediately, but people who live alone can have two personal contacts they are allowed to meet up with.Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people, as are funerals and weddings.Kenney said the government is still working out how officers will enforce the gathering ban, but said there will be not be a “snitch line” for people to report on their neighbours.“(Officers) will be able to write tickets for fines of up to $1,000 per individual who is violating these rules against indoor social activities."He added that police and peace officers will have latitude on enforcement "They will be able to see if there are obvious signs of a large gathering, a lot of cars parked outside somebody’s house, for example," Kenney said. Starting Friday, businesses will remain open at reduced capacity or by appointment only.Places of worship must operate at one-third capacity. Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.And children in grades 7 through 12 will move to at-home learning at the end of the month and other students will follow after Dec. 18.The orders will be reviewed in three weeks.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday — the sixth consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 348 patients in hospital, 66 of them in intensive care. Sixteen more people died, bringing that total to 492.A day earlier, Hinshaw compared the COVID-19 situation in Alberta to a snowball rolling down a hill, growing in size and speed.Lives and livelihoods have been the crux of the debate in Alberta. Kenney has maintained that the best approach is targeted health restrictions to keep COVID-19 from overrunning the health-care system while keeping the economy from collapsing.Others, including many physicians, infectious disease specialists and the Opposition NDP, have called for sharp, short economic lockdowns, arguing that if the COVID-19 wave isn't stopped, there won’t be an economy left to save.Kenney’s decisions were made after Hinshaw made new undisclosed recommendations Monday to the cabinet subcommittee directing COVID-19 decisions.NDP Leader Rachel Notley called the new restrictions “half-measures” and said they were likely the result of political bargaining instead of advice from public health officials.“We cannot know, unfortunately, exactly what Dr. Hinshaw recommended to this UCP cabinet. But I do not for one second believe it was this,” she said.Mike Parker, head of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, a union representing paramedics and other health professionals, said Kenney tried to find the middle ground and failed.“The measures announced today are inadequate,” Parker said. “(Kenney) continues to put business interests ahead of the well-being of Albertans.”Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the groups supports the move "to move to a combination of in-school and at-home learning that will allow schooling to continue in a safer environment."This is the second time Kenney's government has imposed sweeping rules to combat COVID-19.The province shut down many retail businesses, restaurants, recreation centres and schools during the first wave in March. Most were allowed to reopen in May and June with restrictions. Schools opened again in the fall.In recent weeks, the province has limited public gatherings in areas including Edmonton and Calgary and forced bars and restaurants to stop serving booze by 10 p.m. and to close by 11 p.m.Indoor group fitness and team sports, along with group singing and arts performances, are also banned in several large cities.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the US economy, the country’s housing market is booming. People are telecommuting. Kids are studying at home. These are some of the many reasons pushing Americans across the country to seek bigger homes. (Nov. 25)