WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Toronto police say they have charged a man with the attempted murder of an officer who was hit by a car last month. Police allege the man was driving a car that struck the officer and dragged him for more than 50 metres. Supt. Ron Taverner says the officer was taken to hospital with serious injuries but has since been released. Taverner says the incident took place on Nov. 21, after the officer heard sounds of gunshots while on patrol. He says the officer saw a car fleeing the area, caught up to the vehicle and had signaled for the driver to stop when he was hit. Police say Terry Baksh, 39, faces several charges that include attempted murder, assault with a weapon, flight from police and dangerous operation of a vehicle. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly said the incident took place on Saturday. In fact, it took place on Nov. 21.
Nothing about us, without us: the idea that no policy should be decided, by any representative, without the full and direct participation of those affected by that policy. It’s the main issue that Lisa Long has with the Downtown Task Team, a group hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bigger to tackle the myriad social challenges, from drugs and crime to homelessness, facing the city’s downtown core. The task team has been criticized by some social services organizations for excluding groups that actually work with the homeless. “I believe representation from our vulnerable populations should also be made available,” said Long. “The ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ philosophy that emphasizes people, our vulnerable population, being valued as integral and essential contributors. “It seems fitting, as the (Downtown) BIA has a seat.” If there is representation on the mayor’s team from the business community, Long wonders why the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to organizations that actually work with vulnerable and marginalized downtown populations. Long is the executive director of The Samaritan Centre and, together with partner agencies the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission, works with individuals facing multiple social barriers including homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, mental health and addictions, in downtown Sudbury. She, like other downtown community service groups, were not invited to be a part of the mayor’s task team. She first heard of its creation in October from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc. “He asked me why I wasn’t on it,” she said. Long said not only does she want to ensure a more equitable perspective on the team, one that “represents those who call the downtown core their home,” but that the Samaritan Centre would offer valuable insight. “These are our neighbours,” she said. “This is our neighbourhood.” Prior to the pandemic, The Samaritan Centre would receive a daily average of 300-400 people. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. Though they have been forced to change their methods, the Samaritan Centre still offers meal services, showers, laundry and other grooming opportunities, as well as a weekly nurse practitioner clinic – all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Additionally, Long said that while maintaining all safety protocols, she is consistently interacting with clients who are waiting for services, as well as moving through the downtown to check in and distribute items like granola bars, vitamins, socks, and winter wear. “I have regular, direct contact with the individuals we serve through the Samaritan Centre, and I’m aware of their needs, challenges and stories.” The most recent meeting of the Downtown Task Team took place Nov. 25. In an interview with Sudbury.com, Mayor Brain Bigger said he was pleased with the progress the task team is making, but he does recognize the need for expert advice. The most recent meeting of the task team focused on hearing more from experts. “Our conversation was: how do we engage effectively with the large number of smaller service organizations? They’re working with the people that are experiencing these challenges and crises in the downtown.” He said the focus now is “trying to understand how we can be strategic, and really drive that value for money from the resources that we do have.” He also said there is a misconception in terms of the knowledge that council already possesses. “Many people seem to have this impression that if you’re a member of council, people think we’re completely unaware of what’s happening,” he said. “That’s far from the truth.” He said that because city councillors are interacting with citizens from their wards on a regular basis, “we’re continually involved in trying to resolve challenges in the community, and looking for opportunities to help people navigate and find support.” Mayor Bigger said this is the impetus for a public engagement forum that the city plans to hold “as soon as possible.” He said it will be a chance to hear from those who have a vested interest: community groups, business owners, those with lived experience, and the general public. But as the mayor himself noted, a pandemic-world does make this a challenge. He said it will be “essentially, a listening experience, and an opportunity to hear the ideas and the solutions — to hear about the challenges, about some of the gaps that we might not think of.” Still, despite the criticism the task team can’t really address issues it doesn’t understand, the mayor said he is “proud of what we’ve accomplished.” Long, however, isn’t quite sure it will be enough to shape the view that is required, one that is built upon the idea of nothing about us, without us. “If you look at issues from the perspective of privilege and power, the perspective will be subject to tunnel-vision, and limited in scope and purpose” she said. “If the objective of the Task Force is to install LED lights downtown, then I am sure they will have a measure of success,” said Long. “If they want to gain an understanding of the people and social issues in our downtown, then I think the framework from which they are problem-solving needs to be reconsidered.”Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
When one door closes another door opens, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly closed a lot of doors this year. Dr. David Rosen, a marine mammal researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Fisheries and Oceans, should be spending his time with animals at the Vancouver Aquarium, or delving into lab research somewhere else, but when the pandemic forced travel restrictions and cut into funding and resources, it forced him to see opportunities in his own back yard, with the hopes of answering some neglected questions of what role our cities play in the behaviour of marine mammals, and why it appears so many are returning to Vancouver waterways. “Researchers tend to think about going to exotic locations and isolated areas, and can be sort of blind to local opportunities. Thinking about it I realized that [Burrard Inlet] has fantastic research opportunities,” Rosen said. “Vancouver is a really interesting place because we love our nature, but we also love our development, so we’re getting a couple studies off the ground looking at what that urbanization means to our local marine mammal populations.” Burrard Inlet is largely neglected scientifically but provides a curious avenue of research by comparing the two arms of the inlet. They each have the historic capacity to host an equal array of sea life, due to their geographical proximity, but one heads east to Port Moody past highly developed areas, and the other turns north into undeveloped territory in Indian Arm. Rosen also plans to look closely at the increase number of harbour seals, the emergence of fur seals and California sea lions, and increased sightings of transient killer whales and dolphins in Vancouver waterways, surprising new behaviour as the metro area undergoes behavioral changes of its own during the pandemic. “We think this is new, but the question is, ‘who was paying attention to this before the pandemic?’ But things like transient killer whales, the public always notices that,” Rosen said. Harbour seals is especially important, as the animals were once hunted to critically low numbers to protect commercial fisheries. As debates heat up over their reemergence, during the worst salmon returns on record, Rosen said its important to establish the human impacts on the animals while the opportunity exists. A reemergence of a “whole suite” of marine mammals have also been observed in Burrard Inlet prior to the closure of a UBC field station last year, but the resources and time wasn’t available to probe the reasons why the animals were returning. It’s too early for Rosen to anticipate any conclusions or possible implications to his research. Right now he only wants to know what is happening, and why. “You can’t make management decisions if you don’t know what’s out there,” Rosen said. From a conservation perspective, he added British Columbians are acutely aware of the major marine issues at sea, but there’s too little known about our marine life in this context, in relation to the cities, pollution and marine traffic. Rosen is hoping to find research funding in the industrial sector in the area, which he said has regularly proven its readiness to adapt for the betterment of marine mammals. Maybe those efforts are paying off for the sea life. Maybe changing ocean temperatures, acidity and food supply are forcing behavioural changes, or maybe its the growing number of salmon hatcheries attracting more mammals to the Inlet. “There’s lots of questions and lots of opportunity for improving our knowledge,” Rosen said. “No doubt, the biggest challenge for the marine ecosystem is climate change, but it’s very difficult for people to get their head around that, to think they can do anything to help. So in some ways, finding local issues is a great way to make people aware of the human impact on the environment.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
WHITEHORSE — A mask order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 is now in effect across Yukon, but the territory's top doctor says enforcement of the regulation is not the first priority. Dr. Brendan Hanley said Tuesday people will be given a chance to adapt to the order, which was announced last week as cases of the virus mounted. At a regular weekly briefing, Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in Yukon since last Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 17 and the total number of cases to 47 since the start of the pandemic. The mask order requires everyone over the age of five to wear a non-medical face covering in all indoor public spaces or face a fine of up to $500, but Hanley says people will first be given a chance to adapt and he expects the new rule will be accepted quickly. He says 200,000 masks are being made available to ensure everyone has access to them. A 14-day quarantine period remains in place for all those entering or returning to Yukon, but as the holiday season approaches, Silver says children can be assured that Santa is still welcome. "I know many kids around the territory are wondering how their gifts might get here in light of the self-isolation requirements and I have good news on that front," he told the news conference. "I can confirm that Santa is a critical worker and I know that Dr. Hanley and his team have been working very closely with (Santa's) counterparts at the North Pole." Hanley also reminded children that the Elf on the Shelf will be monitoring their handwashing and physical distancing efforts throughout the festive season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is turning to a nasal spray as its primary flu vaccine for residents between the ages of two and 59. FluMist was originally available only for private purchase this year, but is now being offered by the Ontario government as demand continues across the province, according to a memo to the mayor and council from Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health.The spray will be available at OPH clinics starting Friday. It will also be distributed to pharmacies and family physicians, OPH said.The unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine this year caused some pharmacies to run out, delaying vaccination for some Ottawa residents.Nasal spray 'proven to be effective'Etches said the nasal spray, which is authorized for use in Canada in children and adults up to 59, is "proven to be effective" and has the support of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. OPH has distributed the spray in previous flu seasons, Etches said. Infants, adults over 60, people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled asthma will receive a flu shot instead of the spray.Concerned about the possibility of a "double pandemic" and the resulting strain on the health-care system, public health officials have been especially adamant about residents getting vaccinated against influenza this season, and residents have apparently heeded the call.More than 48,000 Ottawa residents have been vaccinated against influenza since OPH began the current campaign in October. That's more than four times the number vaccinated during the previous flu season. "OPH will continue to offer available appointments on our website based on community demand and vaccine availability," Etches wrote. "OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible."
Nasdaq is pushing for the more than 3,000 companies listed on its U.S. stock exchange to make their boardrooms less overwhelmingly male and white by hiring directors that better reflect the country's diverse population.The company filed a proposal Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that, if approved, would require all companies on the exchange to disclose the breakdowns of their boards by race, gender and sexual orientation. Companies that do not comply could be delisted, or kicked off the exchange.The proposal would also require most Nasdaq-listed companies to have at least two diverse directors or, if they cannot meet the mandate, to explain why not. That could include one board member who is female and one who is either an underrepresented racial minority or LGBTQ. Foreign companies and smaller companies would have additional flexibility in satisfying this requirement with two female directors.Nasdaq's plan ups the stakes in what was already a widening push by shareholders and governments around the world for more diversity on corporate boards, which often are composed of mostly white men.It's not just a sense of fairness. Proponents say greater board diversity can improve financial performance for companies — and ultimately their stock prices — by bringing in varying opinions and voices and fostering a better understanding of employee and customer bases.In its proposal, Nasdaq cited a report from the Carlyle Group investment company, which found that companies it invested in that have at least two diverse board members have nearly 12% more earnings growth per year than the average of companies that lack diversity.Companies have heard the criticism and made some moves toward increased diversity, but progress has been slow.Women hold just 23.1% of board seats at companies in the Russell 3000, a broad index that includes most of the U.S. stock market. That's up from about 15% in 2016, according to executive-data firm Equilar.Progress in improving racial diversity on boards has been slower. One difficulty is that tracking racial and ethnic diversity has been tougher than measuring gender diversity, with companies often not disclosing such data, something that Nasdaq hopes its proposal can help ameliorate.“Corporate diversity, at all levels, opens up a clear path to innovation and growth," Nelson Griggs, president of the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, said in a prepared statement.The SEC declined to comment on Nasdaq's proposal specifically, but it has made diversity a greater emphasis and released its first diversity and inclusion strategic plan earlier this year.”We welcome dialogue on how to improve diversity, inclusion and opportunity in the financial services sector and our economy more broadly,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a statement.Shareholders are increasingly pushing companies to improve their board diversity, both in public and in private. Big investors are trying to cajole executives through private channels. For example, Nuveen, which invests $1.1 trillion globally, has been pushing a group of smaller and mid-sized companies without a woman on their board to add one. It's seen more than 30% of them add a woman, as of 2019.In public, investors are getting more chances to vote at companies' annual meetings on shareholder resolutions seeking more disclosures on the makeup of the board.Governments are also requiring improved disclosures or mandating better representation. California was a high-profile example when it required all publicly held companies headquartered in the state to have at least one female director by the end of 2019, the first state with such an edict. After California, other states quickly considered following suit.Such efforts have met some resistance, though.In Illinois, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch introduced a bill that would have required publicly held companies headquartered in the state to have at least one female director and one African American director on the board by the end of 2020.“I never expected a push for diversity to cause one of the most hotly debated bills on the floor of the year,” said Welch, a Democrat. But that’s what he said happened.Early opposition came from manufacturers, who worried they may need to kick someone off the board who was not a woman or an African American to comply. That could invite a separate claim of discrimination, even though manufacturers support diversity throughout the business, said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.The final bill, signed into law last year, no longer had the diversity mandate. Instead, it required only that companies report each year on their boards’ racial and gender breakdowns. Denzler's group was neutral on the final bill.At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, officials were supportive of Nasdaq's proposal on Tuesday. Tom Quaadman, executive vice-president at the chamber's centre for capital markets competitiveness, called it a “business led solution to resolving diversity issues on corporate boards."“This proposal will help accelerate the developments that are already underway and is a positive and balanced way to get to the end result of allowing boards to be more representative of a business’s consumer and employee base,” he said in a statement.The Nasdaq's U.S. exchange is dominated by technology companies, but there are many financial, biotech and industrial companies as well.Nasdaq began in 1971 with the world's first electronic stock market and is home to many of the tech world's most iconic companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's parent company. In 2016, Adena Friedman became its CEO, the first woman to lead a major U.S. exchangeMichelle Chapman And Stan Choe, The Associated Press
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald Police lights were flashing Saturday afternoon in the Enmax Centre parking lot, but there was no foul play occurring. Instead, Saturday’s setup was the site of the Lethbridge Police Service-hosted first Charity Checkstop. The four-hour event collected unwrapped toys and monetary donations for the Lethbridge Family Services Angel Tree Christmas Campaign and non-perishable food items for the Lethbridge Food Bank to help those in need over the holiday season following a 2020 ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re collecting donations for Family Services as well as the Lethbridge Food Bank and just trying to help out as much as we can. It’s been great so far,” said event organizer LPS Const. Stewart Kambeitz. Four hours after the first vehicles pulled up to the flashing lights, the parade of motorists did their part to make sure some families in need have a good Christmas. The Checkstop raised more than $8,217 in monetary donations as well as 1,357 unwrapped toys and other items for the Angel Tree campaign and 1,085 kilograms (2,394 pounds) of non-perishable items for the Lethbridge Food Bank, valued at more than $6,200. The fundraiser looked promising right from the get-go. Less than 30 minutes into Saturday’s charity, one of the vans onsite was almost overflowing with toys and gift packages. For Kambeitz, that was a nice problem to have. “The donations have been overwhelming already. It’s incredible,” he said. “There is a constant flow of cars coming through donating multiple items and it’s so generous. Anyone who can give is giving tremendously. We’re just trying to find out what to do with all of them. We didn’t expect this many. It’s a great turnout.” The Angel Tree campaign expects to provide gift bundles for 3,000 children in need this Christmas, each gift bundle with something on their wish list. “In the time we’re in right now the need is even greater. We don’t want anybody to go without,” said Kambeitz. Saturday’s response exceeded expectations, said Lethbridge Food Bank executive director Maral Kiani Tari. “It was incredible,” she said. “It was so overwhelming to see the support pouring in. It was definitely not what we expected. It was incredible to see the community coming together and supporting us, especially this year. It was a safe event and was amazing to see that people are still willing to safely support our agencies and give back to the community.” Kiani Tari noted the unique layout of the fundraiser. “Checkstops are not something you normally enjoy, but this one was a really exciting and fun checkstop for individuals to go through. As an agency I was blown away by the level of support from the community. It was amazing to see people stepping up and helping us and they’ve always done that. The Lethbridge community is incredible on how they give back.” Though Saturday’s checkstop was of the fundraising variety, the real ones will once again be rolling out with another holiday season around the corner. As they do every year, Kambeitz stressed the importance of holiday celebrators finding a safe way to get around instead of getting behind the wheel. “It goes without saying,” he said. “The impact it can have on a family is devastating. The other affects are devastating and we want to stress that every year and this year is no different than any other.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. construction spending jumped 1.3% in October, again on the strength of single-family home building.The October gain follows a downward revision in September to a 0.5% decline from a previous estimate of a 0.3% gain, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. August's number was also revised significantly upward and spending in October was stronger than economists had expected.Single-family home building has been a consistent bright spot for months as a lack of new homes has pushed builders to ramp up projects. Single-family home construction rose 5.6% in October, helping to boost a 2.9% increase in total private residential construction for the month.Nonresidential private construction fell 0.7%, with the category that includes hotels and other lodging falling 3.1%.Spending on government construction projects increased 1% after generally lagging for months, possibly due to budget restraints by state and local governments as the pandemic wiped out large amounts of tax revenue. Construction of roads, schools and public safety projects all increased.During the first ten months of 2020, construction spending is up 4.3% over the same period last year.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Geoffrey S. Berman, the ousted federal prosecutor in Manhattan who led several investigations into President Donald Trump's allies, has been hired by a white-shoe law firm in New York. Berman will provide criminal defence in white-collar cases and work on complex commercial litigation at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, the firm announced Tuesday. The firm is “well known for its cutting-edge counsel to top tier companies and high-profile individuals,” Berman said in a statement. Fried Frank described Berman as “one of the most respected prosecutors in the United States.” Berman was pushed out in June as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he led several investigations with tentacles into Trump's orbit, including one involving the business dealings of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney. The same office prosecuted former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen for campaign finance crimes and two Giuliani associates tied to the investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment investigation. Giuliani has not been charged. Berman later told the House Judiciary Committee that Attorney General William Barr “repeatedly urged” him to step aside and take a new job heading up the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “I told the attorney general that I was not interested,” Berman told the panel. “There were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion.” Berman’s removal was decried by some critics as a “Friday night massacre” and fueled longstanding concerns among Democratic lawmakers that the Justice Department had become politicized under Barr. Berman's new role as head of Fried Frank's white-collar practice was previously held by Audrey Strauss, Berman's successor in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office. Berman only agreed to step down over the summer after being assured Strauss would be in charge of the office. Between jobs, Berman has taught as a visiting professor at Stanford Law School. “It’s been great teaching at my alma mater, even if by Zoom, and as soon as things return to normal, I hope to lecture in person on campus,” he told The Associated Press. __ Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report. Jim Mustian, The Associated Press
A co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden's pandemic task force says addressing racial disparities cannot be an afterthought in the fight against the coronavirus. (Dec. 1)
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
As communities grow and expand, the needs of those they serve continue to evolve. Orangeville, and by extension Dufferin County, continues to become more diversified, resulting in a need for greater understanding and development of inclusive policies, activities, and actions. Following the Town of Orangeville’s commitment to building that kind of inclusive committee, they have developed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. The committee will consist of one representative from town council, Coun. Lisa Post, and a number of volunteers from the community. “I’m excited that we are moving forward towards inclusion in our community,” Post told the Banner. “The involvement of our citizens is so crucial to effectively do this.” Along with providing recommendations and advice to council, the EDI Committee will also be mandated to work with town staff and the community, focusing on liaising with groups who have historically experienced discrimination. On Nov. 26, the Town announced they are now seeking volunteers to serve on the committee. These volunteers will represent the diversity of Orangeville’s community across national origins, ethnicity, language, race, colour, sexual orientation, gender identity and age. It is expected the committee will work actively during its first year to move critical work ahead, meeting formally at least three times per year or at the call of the committee chair. Initial areas of focus may include: · Identification of issues and matters related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in Orangeville. · Identifying best practices · Raising awareness in the community about EDI · Identifying systemic and institutional barriers in Town processes, services, programs, and/or facilities. · Identifying barriers that impact the social, health, and/or economic well-being of members of the community, then proposing solutions. · Providing advice on programs, services, and processes from an equity, diversity, and inclusion perspective. “I hope anyone who has knowledge or experience to lend will consider applying to share that with us,” said Post. Application forms are available on the Town’s website and must be received by the Clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2021.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has raised roughly $170 million since his Election Day defeat, a sum garnered through a nonstop stream of solicitations that have falsely claimed the election was stolen while requesting contributions for an “election defence fund."Most of the money was raised in the days after the Nov. 3 election, according to a person familiar with Trump's effort who requested anonymity on Tuesday to discuss details of the operation.The amount, which approaches the sums Trump took in at the height of the campaign, offers yet another sign that he does not intend to leave the White House quietly and will remain a powerful force in Republican politics.As Trump's chances of reelection dwindled in the hours and days after the election, his campaign began bombarding supporters with hundreds of emails and text messages that made inaccurate claims about voter fraud and election irregularities, while requesting money to fight the outcome.They haven't let up since.“My father was 100% right when he said mail-in ballots would cause problems. YOU deserve a FAIR and TRANSPARENT Election,” Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. said Tuesday in one such email.But the fine print indicates much of the money has instead paid down campaign debt, replenished the Republican National Committee and, more recently, helped get Save America, a new political action committee Trump founded, off the ground.Seventy-five per cent of each contribution made now goes to Save America, with the remaining 25% going to the RNC's operating account. It's only once donors have given the legal maximum to Trump's political committee and the RNC that money begins spilling over into accounts specifically intended to pay for legal proceedings related to the election.Save America's one-year maximum contribution is $5,000, while the RNC can collect $35,000.The unusual way the Trump campaign is divvying up the contributions has drawn scrutiny from election watchdogs, who say Trump and his family are poised to financially benefit from the arrangement.Save America is a type of campaign committee that is often referred to as a “leadership PAC,” which has higher contribution limits — $5,000 per year — and faces fewer restrictions on how the money is spent. Unlike candidate campaign accounts, leadership PACs can also be tapped to pay for personal expenses.The effort is not the only fundraising operation the Trump family is involved in.Separately, two political advisors to Donald Trump Jr. have launched a super political action committee called “Save the U.S. Senate PAC.” The group is raising money for ads, featuring the younger Trump, that will encourage the president's supporters to vote in two Senate runoff races that will be held in Georgia on Jan. 5.The contests will determine whether Republicans retain control of the chamber. But some in the party worry that President Trump's repeated attacks against the outcome of contests in states President-elect Joe Biden won, including Georgia, will diminish GOP turnout.Republican Sen. David Perdue is running for reelection against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in one of the contests. In the other, appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock are competing to finish out retired Sen. Johnny Isakson's term.Trump spokesman Tim Murtaugh declined to comment. Representatives for Save the U.S. Senate PAC did not respond to requests for comment.But they dropped about $80,000 on radio advertising in the state this week, with another $80,000 of airtime reserved next week, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware.Brian Slodysko And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Three Oaks Foundation will be remembering victims of the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal with a pre-recorded virtual vigil on December 6th, in honour of this year’s annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On December 6th of 1989, a lone gunman entered the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where many students take classes in affiliation with the Université de Montréal. After entering a classroom telling men to leave, he proceeded to express his hatred of feminism to the women he held inside, saying that women were to blame for his inadequacies. The gunman began shooting and roaming the halls, leaving 14 innocent women dead and many others wounded. “There has been an alarming rise in the incidents of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Three Oaks Foundation executive director Sandy Watson-Moyles. “This has not gone unnoticed and has raised serious questions about the safety of women both locally in the Quinte community and worldwide.” In 2019, the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability reported that 136 women were murdered in Canada, and these numbers continue to rise in 2020. “Last year, it was the Toronto van slayings that brought violence against women to the headlines again, and this year the Nova Scotia massacre,” stated Watson-Moyles. “It is not just the obvious victims who can fall prey to an abuser but any one of us. Maybe realizing that will help make people realize just how awful the acts are and how far the perpetrators will go.” Although community members cannot physically come together this year, the pre-recorded virtual event page can be found on Facebook by searching for the December 6th Virtual Vigil Quinte & PEC. The vigil will read off the list of the 14 women whose lives were taken during the L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre. 14 red roses will be laid under the three oak trees on Keegan Parkway in memory of each woman. “We would think 31 years after the Montreal Massacre and hundreds of murders of women before and after that tragic date we would have made some movement towards ending this most insidious crime,” said Watson-Moyles. “Yet, each year more lists of murdered women in Ontario and Canada continue to be published with astounding numbers. Once we all take this matter seriously, we will see violence come to an end, or at least reduce significantly. When the most unsafe place for a woman to be is her in her own home, we need to pay better attention.” Residents looking for more information about the local National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women event are encouraged to contact Three Oaks’ training and education coordinator Kristin Farrell at 613-242-6524 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe's approval rating is 20 to 30 points higher than his counterparts in Alberta and Manitoba, according to a new poll.The Angus Reid Institute releases its approval ratings four times a year. The most recent poll was conducted in late November and shows Moe fifth among premiers with a 61 per cent approval rating. This was a two per cent jump from August, but four per cent lower than the 65 per cent he got in May's poll.Overall 37 per cent of those polled said they disapproved of Moe's performance, while two per cent said they were not sure.The 61 per cent closely mirrors the 60.67 per cent of votes Moe's Saskatchewan Party received in the October election.The only other premiers that improved their ratings from August were New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs and Nova Scotia's Stephen McNeil.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister saw the steepest drop, to 32 per cent in November from 44 per cent in August.Ontario Premier Doug Ford dropped to 55 per cent from 66 per cent. The premier with the lowest rating was Alberta's Jason Kenney, who had a 40 per cent approval rating.Over the past week, Manitoba leads in active COVID-19 case rate, while Alberta is second and Saskatchewan is third.The poll surveyed 5,003 members of the Angus Reid forum across the country and 497 in Saskatchewan. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points 19 times out of 20.