Two apparent flying light orbs were recently spotted in the daytime sky over Reading, England. Take a look and let us know what you think of this supposed sighting!
Two apparent flying light orbs were recently spotted in the daytime sky over Reading, England. Take a look and let us know what you think of this supposed sighting!
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Famine-like conditions have re-appeared in parts of Yemen and almost half the population is experiencing high levels of food insecurity, new United Nations data showed on Thursday, with aid agencies warning time is running out to prevent mass starvation. Around 45% of Yemen's population is facing high levels of acute food insecurity, according to the U.N.'s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.
Kroger's sales surged in the third quarter as COVID-19 infections rose rapidly in the fall and Americans restocked pantries in anticipation of spending more time at home.The grocer boosted its full-year outlook believing that families will continue to try to reduce their risks to exposure.Revenue climbed to $29.72 billion, from $27.97 billion and online sales more than doubled. That was a little shy of the $29.98 billion Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research, and shares fell almost 5% at the opening bell Thursday.More people did appear to get food or drinks outside the home the during the three-month reporting period, whether that was restaurants, hotels or airports, said Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData. But he said the dining at home trend isn't going anywhere soon.“While the trends have unraveled somewhat, they are still very much present, and we believe that consumers will continue to dine more at home as we move into 2021,” Saunders said. “This is both because going back to offices will be a prolonged process and because economic pressures will deter some households from eating out.”On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 712,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the latest sign that the U.S. economy and job market remain under stress from an intensifying viral outbreak.That, as well as a significant surge in COVID-19 infections, has pushed more people to devote more of their dining budget toward the home.Kroger's comparable-store sales rose 10.9% excluding fuel sales, which topped projections, and its profit was better than analysts had expected.Kroger Co. earned $631 million, or 80 cents per share, for the three months ended Nov. 7. Adjusted earnings were 71 cents per share, easily beating the 66 cents Wall Street was looking for. And it dwarfed last year's quarterly profit of $263 million.For the full year, the Cincinnati grocer now anticipates adjusted earnings per share growth of between 50% and 53%. It expects comparable-store sales to be up around 14%. That's up a point from earlier same-store sales forecasts, but it broadened its earnings-per-share growth to the lower side.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
The position of County warden will be contested this year as both incumbent Liz Danielsen and Coun. Brent Devolin are vying for the position. The two councillors delivered speeches at the Nov. 25 council meeting about their candidacy for the role. Deputy warden Andrea Roberts and Coun. Cec Ryall backed Devolin’s nomination, while councillors Carol Moffatt and Dave Burton backed Danielsen’s. The election by councillors and swearing-in will occur Dec. 15. Danielsen is attempting to break recent historical precedent. Hers was the first multi-year warden term since Murray Fearrey in 2011-2012, and there has not been a three-year warden since at least 2004. Danielsen said her attempt may seem extraordinary but argued for the need for continuity in a time such as this. “I just have tried to remain steadfastly available every single day since the pandemic began,” she said. “I believe that continuity is vital. We do remain under a state of local emergency and I’ve been working closely with a lot of the department heads since early March. And continuity in such times brings consistency in decision making.” Danielsen went unchallenged for the position last year and beat out Burton for the role in 2018. Before that, there had been a one-year cycle for warden since 2013. Devolin, who served as warden for one year in 2017, said the County would face significant changes in the second part of council’s term, with COVID-19, population growth, and diminishing upper government funding. “Changes that will need to occur in Haliburton will involve municipal, County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Eastern Ontario governing bodies to achieve the best possible outcomes. I have a keen interest in nurturing these relationships to achieve outcomes that cannot be achieved alone,” Devolin said. He added he is not an unknown quantity to anyone on council. “By now, all of you pretty well know my strengths and weaknesses that I would bring to the position of warden,” Devolin said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve as you know and I’ll put time and energy to fulfill the role.” Danielsen also recognized the change to come with the County services delivery review. “I can honestly say that I have no preconceived bias or thoughts on the outcome of the services delivery review other than a willingness to work hard to see improvements made,” Danielsen said. “I’d be proud to continue as your warden. I believe I have good community support and a good rapport with all of you.”Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Chatham-Kent council supported the opportunity to hire a dedicated recruitment and retention co-ordinator to focus on physician recruitment for the community. “We are proposing that Chatham-Kent fund a part-time recruitment co-ordinator. Our rationale is based on the pressing needs for additional family physicians and the economic benefit a successful program will bring to the area,” said Denise Waddick, co-chair of the Chatham-Kent Physician Recruitment and Retention Task Force. Waddick gave council an update on the one-time $100,000 funding for physician recruitment approved for the 2020 budget. Currently there are 60 family physicians in Chatham-Kent, with each roster averaging 1,500 patients. Of the more than 104,000 health card holders that live in Chatham-Kent, 78,000 have a family physician and about 6,000 are enrolled into a Chatham-Kent community health centre. “So when you do the math and you look at the formula, it looks as though there's about just under 20,000 patients that do not have primary care. And when you base it off of the average patient roster that looks as though we need about 13 additional physicians to address our current needs,” Waddick said. “ We do not have sufficient family physician coverage to provide the Comprehensive Primary Care to its population.” Waddick said her statistics do not include residents that are seeking care outside of Chatham-Kent that may return if a provider is located locally. Chatham-Kent could need up to 25 new physicians in the coming years. Forty per cent of patients are currently patients of a doctor who is over the age of 60. An additional 18 would be needed to fill those roles once the physicians retire. The process to replace one doctor could take up to a year, Waddick explained. The recruitment position will officially be set in stone once the next yearly budget is approved. The recruitment task force was formed in January 2020 as an independent community committee, with representation from the Thamesview, Chatham-Kent and Tilbury District family health teams, the Chatham-Kent community health centers, and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. Waddick said because of the pandemic, not all the planned work for the task force could be completed, resulting in the use of only $52,000 of the funds. To date, the task force recruited two new physicians who took over existing practices and one solo family physician who was able to take on new patients. Waddick and her team also lobbied to have Tilbury District Family Health Team designated as an underserved area which gives it the power to add more doctors to its group. The funds are also used to pay a physician's site visits, attend conferences, and used as a start-up subsidy for moving expenses. “The task force also developed unique and creative strategies to mark market practice opportunities in Chatham Kent, with a stronger online presence by developing a website and a social media campaign,” Waddick said about some of the other highlights in their first year. “We established a brand, and an image for recruitment with our community.” Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
At the end of last month, 28-year-old office administrator Ashley Lees found herself with $2 left over after paying rent and other bills, including $362 due on her student loan. Lees and thousands of other students and recent graduates in Canada face renewed financial uncertainty after the federal Liberal government did not extend a six-month repayment freeze, forcing them to pay back more than they can afford in a ravaged economy where young people have found it especially difficult to find and keep work. Lees, who graduated in 2016 with $31,000 in student debt, tried in early October to extend the repayment assistance plan she’d been on before the COVID-19 pandemic, but was rejected for earning over a threshold amount that, at $25,000 a year before taxes, is below the poverty line. “If our MPs were living on some of the wages that we are, this wouldn’t be a thing,” she said, speaking days after the government released a fiscal update that provided little comfort to students. “Me paying student loans in the middle of a pandemic while they hand out money to everybody else feels like you just need me so you can hand out money to everybody else,” she said. Lees says she didn’t learn about the rejection until a pre-authorized payment was rejected and she’d waited on hold with the National Student Loan Service Centre (NSLSC) for two hours earlier this week. Patty Facy, who graduated from a master's program in technology design at the University of Toronto this spring and has since only managed to secure contract work, echoes the frustration of Lees and thousands of other students unable to reach the bureaucracy meant to help them. She says her application for relief, also filed in early October, is still pending at NSLSC (meaning payments should be paused pending a decision), but that her account informs her that payment is past due. “People have given up expecting any coherent or consistent information,” she said, noting that students are expressing their frustrations on Twitter in stories collected under the nslsc hashtag. “There's no policy that’s really helping young Canadians who are feeling very vulnerable financially, but a huge part of this is also a matter of infrastructure — where is the digital infrastructure to actually support people right now?” she said. Ottawa had announced a freeze on student loan payments in March, but let it expire at the end of September and assigned no funding to that task in its budget update released on Monday. The government did say it would extend a halt to interest accrual of the federal portion of student and apprentice loans for 2020-21, which they expect would cost them $321 million. The lack of an extension of student loan relief is particularly confounding given it appears to ignore that the House unanimously adopted a private motion put forward by NDP MP Heather McPherson last week to extend the moratorium for eight months, from Oct. 1 to May 31, 2021. McPherson said she is hearing from many of her constituents — the Edmonton Strathcona riding includes the University of Alberta’s campus — facing dire circumstances and that government officials “don’t seem to care.” “It’s crazy how students have been left out in the lurch here,” she said, adding that the NDP planned to keep fighting. “This is a pretty giant injustice that’s happening.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris has named Tina Flournoy, a veteran Democratic strategist and aide to the Clintons, as her chief of staff, the transition team announced Thursday. Flournoy's appointment as Harris' top staffer adds to a team of advisers led by Black women. Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian heritage, is the nation's first female vice-president. Flournoy joins Ashley Etienne as Harris' communications director and Symone Sanders as her chief spokeswoman. Flournoy has served as chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton since 2013. That follows a career that took her to top posts at the Democratic National Committee, in the presidential campaigns of former Vice-President Al Gore and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and with the American Federation of Teachers. Bill Clinton called her appointment “great news for our country." “Tina Flournoy is incredibly smart, strong, and skilful, with deeply rooted values. She’s done a wonderful job as my chief of staff for nearly 8 years, and I will miss her—but I’m thrilled about VP-elect Harris’ choice," he tweeted. Harris also announced Rohini Kosoglu as her domestic policy adviser and Nancy McEldowney as her national security adviser. Kosoglu had served as Harris’ top adviser during the general election campaign. McEldowney is a former ambassador to Bulgaria and has 30 years of service in various diplomatic and foreign affairs jobs. “Together with the rest of my team, today’s appointees will work to get this virus under control, open our economy responsibly and make sure it lifts up all Americans, and restore and advance our country’s leadership around the world,” Harris said in a statement. Former colleagues describe Flournoy as a no-nonsense operative who has both policy and political chops. Matt McKenna, who was Bill Clinton’s spokesperson from 2007 to 2015, noted the historic nature of Harris' candidacy and said Flournoy will skillfully manage competing demands for her time. “(Harris) represents so many things to so many people, and they’re all going to want some of her time. She needs someone who can honour the historic nature of her candidacy and her victory and her place in the world," he said. Harris has regularly joined President-elect Joe Biden and offered remarks at briefings on the economy, the coronavirus and health care since the two won the November election. The transition team has yet to announce whether she'll focus on any specific issues or initiatives. Flournoy has never held a position with Harris. But Minyon Moore, another former Clinton aide and close friend of Flournoy's, is assisting Harris with staffing during the transition. It's unclear if any of Harris' former Senate staff or longtime political advisers will join the vice-president's office. Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — There's theatre on Broadway. You just have to adjust your sights.More than a hundred blocks north of Manhattan's shuttered theatre district but on that same famed thoroughfare, an actor recently read his lines from a huge stage.But there was no applause. Instead, all that was heard was a strange command for the theatre: “And cut!”Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays was performing multiple roles for a high-tech “A Christmas Carol” that was being filmed for streaming this month at the empty 3,000-seat United Palace.The one-man show is an example of how many who work in theatre are increasingly defying COVID-19 by refusing to let it stop their art, often creating new hybrid forms.“Because it’s such a roll-up-your-sleeves business, theatre people figure it out,” said Tony Award-winning producer Hunter Arnold, while watching Mays onstage.Live theatre is uniquely tested by the virus, one reason it will be among the last sectors to return to normal. Props and costumes are usually touched by dozens each night, an orchestra is crammed into a pit, backstage areas are small and shared, and audiences are usually packed into seats. New ways are needed.Mays' “A Christmas Carol,” which was filmed on a high-tech LED set, veers much more filmic than most other streaming theatre options and is raising money for suffering regional theatres — one stage production helping others during the pandemic.Other green shoots include radio plays, virtual readings, online variety shows and drive-in experiences that combine live singing with movies. A musical version of the animated film “Ratatouille” is being explored on TikTok.“We will conquer it. We are theatre people. By God, we will conquer it and get it done,” says Charlotte Moore, the artistic director and co-founder of the acclaimed Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City.Her company has put on a free streaming holiday production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” with a dozen cast members, each filmed remotely and then digitally stitched together. Moore directed it — appropriately enough — from St. Louis.The cast was mailed or hand-delivered props, costumes and a green screen. They rehearsed via Zoom and FaceTime. A masked and socially distant orchestra recorded the score.Like many other theatrical hybrids venturing into the digital world these days, it's not clear what to call it. It's not technically live theatre, but its soul is theatrical.“It’s not definable in our current vocabulary,” Moore said. “It has to have a new definition, truly, because it’s certainly unlike anything that has been done.”One of the companies to show the way forward was Berkshire Theater Group in western Massachusetts, whose “Godspell” in August became the first outdoor musical with union actors since the pandemic shut down productions.Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire refused to entertain the notion that the company — established in 1928 — would have an asterisk beside 2020 that said no shows were produced that year.“We’re theatre makers, we’re creators, she said. ”We should be able to figure out how to create something.”So they used plexiglass partitions between each masked actor. The performers were tested regularly — at a cost of close to $50,000 — and had their own props and a single costume. In an open-air tent, they managed to pull off a crucifixion scene without any touching or lifting, itself a miracle.Audiences underwent temperature checks and were separated by seats. Staff were placed in three protective bubbles: artistic, production and front-of-house. And there was monitoring: Last year it was an intimacy officer; this year it was a COVID-19 one.Since that first brave step, other theatre companies have plunged into the void. Play and musical licensor Concord Theatricals says theatre companies across the country are looking for flexibility in case of virus restrictions.“We’re seeing many groups applying for small cast, easy to produce, plays and musicals. They’re even seeking casting flexibility and asking for permission to perform with or without an ensemble,” said Sean Patrick Flahaven, chief theatricals executive.Playwright Natalie Margolin decided to write a new play during the pandemic but not a conventional one. She imagined what the world would look like when it was a given that all social life existed on Zoom.Hence “The Party Hop,” a play specifically to be performed on Zoom that's set three years into quarantine in which three college girls hit the town — online. It became her first published play, and she got stars such as Ben Platt and Ashley Park to perform in an online version, currently on YouTube. She hopes high schools and colleges will be attracted to a play reflecting the era.Theater makers have also leaned into the storytelling part of their craft, making The Broadway Podcast Network a hub for everything from audition advice to behind-the-scenes stories.Launched shortly before the pandemic with 15 podcasts, the theatre shutdown initially wiped out its revenue streams, advertising and sponsorship. The network has since righted itself and is growing with some 100 podcasts — from the likes of Tim Rice and Tonya Pinkins — plus benefits, show reunions and original programs, like the digital theatre-based frothy soap opera, “As the Curtain Rises” with stars Alex Brightman, Sarah Stiles and Michael Urie.“It’s not anything that will ever replace live theatre, but it’s an extension. It’s a different way of doing that,” said Dori Berinstein, co-founder of the network.___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Two men charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Braden Richard Bull of Little Pine First Nation appeared in Lloydminster court Dec. 2 and their matters were adjourned. Twenty-four-year-old Vega Bear was arrested in September and twenty-six-year-old Branden Dillon was arrested in October. Bull’s body was found near a highway on Onion Lake Cree Nation Jan. 21, 2020. Bull was last seen on Jan. 7 and he was reported missing on Jan. 20. Bull’s death was one of three murders in a span of two months that prompted Onion Lake Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency. Conrad Mooswa’s body was found Oct. 23, 2019, at a residence on Onion Lake Cree Nation. Marvin Stanley was arrested in October 2019 and charged with second-decree murder. Braeden Sparvier’s body was found Jan. 1, 2020, along a road in the R.M. of Frenchman Butte, which borders Onion Lake Cree Nation. Shari Heathen, 27, was arrested in July and charged with second-degree murder. “The Nation has now experienced three deaths directly related to drugs and gang activity within the last two months, along with numerous high speed chases and violent crimes,” said Onion Lake Cree Nation when declaring a state of emergency Jan. 24, 2020. If anyone has any information that could assist investigators, please contact Onion Lake RCMP at 306-344-5550. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com. Onion Lake Cree Nation borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and is located about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster. Bear and Dillon remain in custody. They are both scheduled to appear next in Lloydminster Provincial Court Jan. 6, 2021, to speak to their matters. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser said Thursday that she was deposed for more than five hours by attorneys alleging that the president's 2017 inauguration committee misused donor funds — an inquiry Ivanka Trump claimed is a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”The Washington, D.C., attorney general's office has filed a lawsuit alleging the committee made more than $1 million in improper payments to the president’s Washington, D.C., hotel during the week of the inauguration in 2017.Trump’s inaugural committee spent more than $1 million to book a ballroom at the Trump International Hotel as part of a scheme to “grossly overpay” for party space and enrich the president’s own family in the process, the District of Columbia’s attorney general, Karl Racine, alleges.Ivanka Trump, who was deposed on Tuesday, tweeted that she gave attorneys from the D.C. attorney general’s office an email she wrote on Dec. 14, 2016, where she instructed the Trump hotel to charge a “fair market rate," which she said the the hotel did.“This ‘inquiry’ is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars,” she tweeted.Her deposition on Tuesday was first reported by CNN.As part of the suit, the attorneys have subpoenaed records from Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Thomas Barrack Jr., a close friend of the president who chaired the inaugural committee, and others. Barrack was deposed last month.Racine has accused the committee of misusing non-profit funds and co-ordinating with the hotel’s management and members of the Trump family to arrange the events.“District law requires nonprofits to use their funds for their stated public purpose, not to benefit private individuals or companies,” Racine has said. “In this case, we are seeking to recover the non-profit funds that were improperly funneled directly to the Trump family business.”The committee raised an unprecedented $107 million to host events celebrating Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, but its spending has drawn continued scrutiny.In a statement, Alan Garten with the Trump Organization said that “Ms. Trump’s only involvement was connecting the parties and instructing the hotel to charge a ‘fair market rate,’ which the hotel did.”The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — Belgium plans to launch a COVID-19 vaccination campaign on a limited scale starting in early January and initially will use the shots developed by Pfizer and BioNtech, health authorities said Thursday.The small country with some 11.5 million inhabitants has been severely hit by the coronavirus, reporting more than 580,000 cases and nearly 17,000 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.Belgium’s health ministers said the national immunization strategy will be rolled out in phases, depending on the number of doses available. During the first phase, 600,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine will be used, enough for 300,000 people since each person needs two shots.European regulators are likely to authorize the first COVID-19 vaccines by the end of December or early January, and Belgium wants to start giving them to people soon after. Both BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna submitted conditional marketing authorization applications to the European Medicines Agency this week.In Belgium, residents and staff of care centres for elderly people will get priority access to vaccines along with frontline health care workers. Other people over age 65 or at high risk for the virus will be vaccinated at a later stage, when vaccines that can be stocked under less stringent refrigeration standards are available. The general population considered to be at low risk will have to wait longer.“It means that we won't have a majority of citizens vaccinated before the summer," said Dirk Ramaekers, who heads the country's vaccination task force.The European Union's executive commission has secured deals with Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNTech-Pfizer and CureVac to allow EU member nations to purchase up to 2 billion vaccine doses. The commission said once a vaccine is authorized, members should get access to it at the same time, on a pro rata basis,The Associated Press
French police are beginning an unprecedented inspection of 76 of the country's mosques as part of a move against so-called 'religious separatism'View on euronews
À 11 mois du scrutin municipal, Action Laval confirme la candidature d’un second nouveau candidat en l’espace d’une semaine. Il s’agit de Yanie Langevin Charbonneau qui briguera les suffrages dans le district Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, actuellement représenté par le chef de Parti Laval et opposition officielle, Michel Trottier. Comptable professionnelle agréé, Mme Langevin Charbonneau agit présentement à titre de conseillère en matière de finances publiques et comptabilité municipale auprès de la cheffe du parti, Sonia Baudelot, et du caucus. Dans un communiqué publié le 2 décembre, elle dit souhaiter apporter ses «connaissances» et son «expertise» pour une «meilleure gestion des finances publiques». Diplômée de l’École des hautes études commerciales HEC Montréal, la nouvelle recrue de 28 ans est à la tête de son «propre cabinet de comptable dont les bureaux sont à Laval», souligne-t-on. Yanie Langevin Charbonneau succède ainsi à Francine LeBlanc, qui avait défendu les couleurs du parti lors de l’élection partielle du 24 novembre 2019 dans Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. L’ex-candidate d’Action Laval avait mené une chaude lutte, obtenant 1251 voix et 29,4 % des suffrages dans une course à trois remportée à l’arrachée par Michel Trottier. Mme LeBlanc devait toutefois rompre tous ses liens avec cette formation politique l’hiver dernier. Une décision qu’elle avait communiquée au chef intérimaire Achille Ciffeli au début du mois de mars 2020, quelques semaines après que les conseillers David De Cotis, Isabella Tassoni et Paolo Galati eurent annoncé leur retrait du caucus alors qu’ils étaient sous enquête à la Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) relativement à ders omissions en lien avec leur Déclaration d’intérêts pécuniaires. Précisons que l’enquête administrative menée en vertu de la Loi sur l’éthique et la déontologie en matière municipale s’était soldée sans qu’aucune accusation ne soit portée. Les trois élus ont depuis réintégré le caucus du parti.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a lower federal court to reexamine California restrictions on indoor religious services in areas hard hit by the coronavirus in light of the justices' recent ruling in favour of churches and synagogues in New York. The high court's unsigned order, with no noted dissent, leaves the California restrictions in place for now. But it throws out a federal district court ruling that rejected a challenge to the limits from Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state. Last week, the Supreme Court split 5-4 in holding that New York could not enforce certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues. With a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put most of the state under heightened restrictions, which include a ban on indoor singing and chanting. The Associated Press
From a young age, Sierra Sparks has been passionate about math and science. First, it led her to pursue a biomedical engineering degree at Dalhousie University. In her four years spent at the school, she says some people have doubted her abilities because of the fact that she’s a Black woman — only motivating her to continue following her passion and to prove them wrong. Her persistence has led her to achieve a near-perfect GPA, multiple awards and hold various leadership positions with Dalhousie’s Engineering Society and the Dalhousie Women in Engineering Society. As a student leader, she’s strived to pave the way for more people of colour and women to pursue engineering and other fields that have historically lacked diversity. Sparks’ academics, extracurriculars, leadership and community impact have now led her to her next journey: a fully paid Rhodes Scholarship covering travel, study and expenses for two years at the University of Oxford in England next fall. She is one of 11 students from across Canada to be named a Rhodes Scholar this year and Dalhousie’s 92nd Rhodes Scholar. Here is her conversation with The Chronicle Herald about the opportunity. How does it feel to be named a Rhodes Scholar? It still feels really surreal. I found out late Saturday night and ever since I haven’t been able to stop smiling. It’s just such a dream come true and it’s been an amazing whirlwind of a few days. I’m just very, very excited to be starting my studies next fall at Oxford and to have this really amazing opportunity. The Rhodes Scholarship looks beyond students’ academics and at their overall contributions to their schools. Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve gotten involved at Dalhousie over the past four years? For me, one of the biggest ways that I’ve been involved is with the engineering community at Dalhousie. One of my now best friends convinced me to join the Engineering Society in the first week of school, so ever since then, I’ve really enjoyed being involved with the engineering community and being able to meet with high school students and really talk to them, especially students from underrepresented backgrounds, that’s been a passion of mine, telling them about engineering and telling them it's something they can do because it’s very much a male-dominated field and it’s something I’ve been passionate about, working with the Women in Engineering Society, to increase the number of women in engineering and in science, technology and math as well. In your time at Dalhousie, you’ve been a strong advocate for diversity in engineering. What do you hope the field will look like in the next, let’s say five or 10 years? I do believe that change does take a while to happen, but what I’d like to see is that more from an institutional level, at a lot of these Canadian universities and really across the world as well that are teaching engineering and teaching all of these typically not very diverse fields, I really want them to be making their schools and their classrooms as welcoming as possible. I think that it’s really important that we communicate all of the amazing things that you can do as an engineer or as an engineering student. I know that for me, personally, it’s been some of the best four years of my life and I just really hope that everyone who’s even thinking about maybe doing engineering feels that they’re welcome in that community. And I think in five or 10 years, I would love to see more people from underrepresented backgrounds, such as people of colour and women in the profession, and it’s really great to see whenever there’s more diversity in the profession, because I think that really strengthens the profession and strengthens the classroom as well. You’re able to get the best ideas when you have the most diverse teams. What are you looking forward to most when you head off to England? I’m definitely really, really excited to get to meet with the other Rhodes Scholars. I’ve been reading some of their bios and I’ve been so inspired by some of the things they’re doing at their communities and at their schools and all across the world. It’s going to be really, really cool to get to meet with them and bounce ideas off of them and really learn from their leadership. And I’m really hoping to continue to develop my skills as a leader and as a focused thinker in engineering. Lastly, do you have any advice for other students? My advice would be to keep your doors open, but do what you want to do. As a Black woman in engineering, that’s not something that you always see and it’s one of the underrepresented groups in engineering, and so along the journey, there’s been some prejudices and people maybe not believing that it’s something that I could do or people in my same situation would be able to do. And so I would say to anyone who is thinking about doing engineering or anything at large, if someone tells you not to do something, use that as your motivation to just prove them wrong. That’s kind of been my philosophy throughout this whole journey and all the people who maybe didn’t think I would be able to do this, here I am now, really enjoying my studies and just really blessed with this opportunity and to be able to work with such an amazing university community at Dalhousie and just have such an amazing support from my family and my community. So definitely, whenever someone tells you you can’t do something, don’t let that stop you. This Q&A; has been edited for length and clarity.Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell as the nation celebrated Thanksgiving last week to a still-high 712,000, the latest sign that the U.S. economy and job market remain under stress from the intensified viral outbreak.Thursday's report from the Labor Department said that initial claims for jobless aid dropped from 787,000 the week before. Before the virus paralyzed the economy in March, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits each week had typically amounted to roughly 225,000. The chronically high pace of applications shows that nearly nine months after the pandemic struck, many employers are still slashing jobs."Thanksgiving seasonals likely explain the drop'' in jobless claims last week, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note. “Expect a rebound next week.''The total number of people who are continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits declined to 5.5 million from 6.1 million. That figure is down sharply from its peak of nearly 23 million in May. It means that some jobless Americans are finding jobs and no longer receiving aid. But it also indicates that many of the unemployed have used up their state benefits, which typically expire after six months.With layoffs still elevated and new confirmed viral cases in the United States now exceeding 160,000 a day on average, the economy’s modest recovery is increasingly in danger. States and cities are issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, restricting restaurant dining, closing gyms or reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.Most experts say the economy won't be able to sustain a recovery until the virus is brought under control with an effective and widely used vaccine.Many jobless Americans are now collecting checks under two federal programs that were set up this year to ease the economic pain inflicted by the pandemic. But those programs are set to expire the day after Christmas. When they do, benefits will end completely for an estimated 9.1 million unemployed people.The number of people collecting aid under one of those programs — the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which offers coverage to gig workers and others who don’t qualify for traditional benefits — fell by 339,000 to 8.9 million for the week ending Nov. 14.But the number of people receiving aid under the second program — the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides 13 weeks of federal benefits to people who have exhausted their state aid — rose by 60,000 to 4.6 million.All told, roughly 20.2 million people are now receiving some type of unemployment aid. (Figures for the two pandemic-related programs aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations.)Still, the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, has concluded that the jobless claims numbers are being distorted by flaws in the way the government collects the data. The GAO said the problem arose because the Labor Department uses state numbers as a proxy for the number of people claiming benefits nationwide. But backlogs in state processing of claims and other data-collection problems have resulted in inaccurate counts, the GAO reported.For months, Congress has failed to agree on any new stimulus aid for jobless individuals and struggling businesses after the expiration of a multi-trillion dollar rescue package enacted in March. This week, though, efforts to forge some limited short-term rescue package have intensified. Democrats have scaled back their demands for a $2 trillion-plus measure by more than half in hopes of breaking the logjam.Democratic leaders have given their support to a nearly $1 trillion package as a “basis” for discussions. This plan would establish a $300-a-week jobless benefit, send $160 billion to help state and local governments, boost schools and universities, revive “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses and bail out transit systems and airlines. So far, though, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been unwilling to abandon a $550 million Senate Republican plan that failed twice this fall.President-elect Joe Biden lent his support to the bipartisan effort Wednesday, saying the developing aid package “wouldn’t be the answer, but it would be the immediate help for a lot of things.” Biden said he wants a relief bill to pass Congress now, with more aid to follow next year.Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, the promise of a vaccine could help ease the health and economic crises in coming months. In the meantime, with the virus still raging, the economic damage has become increasingly visible. The data firm Homebase reports that its measures of job market health — employees working, hours worked and businesses open — have deteriorated from where they stood in the summer.“We expect conditions to worsen, placing increased pressure on Main Street as small businesses continue to struggle to survive,? Homebase researchers wrote.Likewise, the data firm Womply estimates that 21% of small businesses were shuttered at the start of November, up from June’s 16% rate. Womply also said that consumer spending at local businesses declined 30% last month from a year earlier, marking a deterioration from a 20% year-over-year decline in October.Americans are bracing for the picture to worsen: Thirty per cent of adults surveyed by the Commerce Department from Nov. 11 to 23 reported that they or someone in their household expected to lose income in the next four weeks, up from 23% of those surveyed from Sept. 30 to Oct. 12.Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
The Town of Caledon is preparing for the winter season by rebranding the annual Winterfest event into a series of activities and programs to get residents outdoors. Reimagining Winterfest consists of five components that revolve around enjoying the winter season while in a pandemic. These components include a Winterfest At-Home Kit, Winterfest calendar of community activities, Winterfest Caledon Lights competition, Winterfest Community Rink program and, lastly, Winterfest community enhancements. “To keep residents active this winter and throughout the colder months, staff have developed a winter strategy, which is not an uncommon type of strategy in larger municipalities where winter months predominately take up the calendar year, and in the wake of a pandemic, we know that the virus spreads slower outdoors. So, to try to entice people to get outside, we have capitalized on the Winterfest branding,” said Heather Hare, Director of Community Services. The annual event will look a little different this year. What is usually an event of skating, arts and crafts, and other winter activities, will be separated to follow proper safety guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Town is working alongside a series of parks, and rinks in order to organize activities and programs for the community. “We would also look at partnering with businesses and non-profit organizations locally,” said Hare. “There’s already a lot of programs in place; we think we could enhance them, develop them and move them outside through this winter strategy program.” The Town will be hosting a Caledon Lights Competition, to get the community in the festive spirit. Residents are required to create a display at their home or business, share photos online and Caledon Councillors will choose the best displays where prizes will be delivered. Under the Grey level lockdown restrictions, 10 people are allowed outdoors within the same area while social distancing with each other. Council is hopeful that with community participation, the holiday season will look a little brighter under these difficult and unprecedented times. “It’s exactly what the community needs,” remarked Ward 5 Area Councillor Tony Rosa. For further information, please visit Caledon.ca/winterfest. Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen
At West Coast Helicopters’ office in Port McNeill, Mike Aldersey and his team are excited. Aldersey has been named as the recipient of the Agar/Stringer Award – a coveted award bestowed by the Helicopter Association of Canada on select few Canadians for their outstanding contribution to the industry. In his 42-year long career, Aldersey holds an impeccable record of over 30,000 accident-free-hours as pilot in command. But that didn’t stop him from being “shocked” when he found out he was getting an award. “I didn’t even know I was nominated,” said the 65-year-old pilot, who lives in Courtenay when he is not at his Port McNeill office. “The past recipients of this award are some pretty impressive people in the Canadian helicopter industry so I feel quite humbled and quite proud to be considered to be in that league.” But even for an industry giant like Aldersey, excitement comes along with existential troubles that online conventions bring along. As he prepared to accept his award - which was presented virtually on Dec. 1 - he had a few lingering questions. “How are they going to do this online? Will they just announce my name? Do they expect a speech from me? I don’t know.” Either way, the 65-year-old kept a speech ready, just in case. Aldersey grew up with aircrafts zooming overhead in Trenton, Ontario. Living near an air force base was a strong influence on him as a 10-year-old boy. Even then, Aldersey knew that he wanted to fly in a bush environment as opposed to airline routes. And he got his wish. Aldersey has flown for air ambulance services, forest firefighting across the country, logging industry operations, tourism charters and heli-skiing adrenaline junkies. He’s been a part of many exciting journeys, including wildlife surveys in the high Arctic, rescue missions, and medical evacuations among others. But forest firefighting is an experience that has been the closest to his heart. “Supporting the forest firefighting industry is one aspect that I have quite enjoyed in my career,” he said. That’s also because he can put to good use his specialty in vertical referencing – also called long line work, which includes slinging loaded 50- 100-foot length long lines from place to place. In 1978 he got his helicopter license from Canadore College in North Bay, Ont., and since then he has had the opportunity to work across provinces. But that also meant remote locations and 16 years of being away from home for almost 240 days a year. His wife Paula was “extremely supportive,” and Aldersey makes it clear that without her, they wouldn’t have gotten far in his career at all. Their family of five moved to Vancouver Island in 1993 and since then Aldersey has been the Port McNeill base manager with West Coast Helicopters. “I was able to spend more time with my family.” Now, apart from being home, B.C.’s coast has become the most soothing sight from up above for Aldersey. With bases in Port McNeill, Campbell River, Nanaimo and Bella Coola, he gets to see a lot of the coastline. “I never get tired of the B.C. coast. It’s pretty spectacular and although it’s my daily routine, I still have to pinch myself sometimes.” Along with mind-blowing hawk-eye views from the sky, his career also gifted him some of the most “interesting experiences.” Aldersey has had the opportunity to meet and work with various people who do different types of profound work. “With this type of work – helicopter support– you’re transporting a lot of different industries and people. And it’s like my career, I mean, I’m involved in many many other different careers,” he said. “That’s the beauty of it! It’s a fairly exciting job because you get to see and experience a lot of different jobs along with your own.” A lot has changed in the past 42 years – Aldersey is a grandfather to five, his favourite chopper Hughes 500 is now an MD 500D and the helicopter industry reflects the passage of time too. But even then the adrenaline rush that floods him when he powers his MD 500D for a take-off is still the same. And that’s a feeling that Aldersey is not yet ready to hang up. “Flying has been my passion for 42 years, I still quite enjoy it and I don’t have plans on retiring anytime soon, he said. “We’ll see how much longer I can keep up it.” Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
MIAMI — Brad Six becomes Santa Claus, pulling his black boots over his red pants in the office of a Miami outdoor supply company. It's hot, so he forgoes the traditional heavy jacket for a lightweight vest and grabs his Santa hat.But before sliding it on, the gray-bearded 61-year-old dons a plastic face shield and then takes his chair positioned behind a plexiglass sheet."Getting paid is nice, but to get your battery recharged and to really get something lasting out of it requires interacting with the kids — you don’t get a lot of that this year,” said Six, who first portrayed Santa 35 years ago.This is Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age, where visits are conducted with layers of protection or online. Putting hundreds of kids daily onto Santa's lap to talk into his face — that's not happening for most. The physical attributes that make the perfect Santa align perfectly with those that make COVID-19 especially deadly.“Most of us tick all the boxes: We are old, we are overweight, we have diabetes and if we don’t have diabetes, we have heart disease,” said Stephen Arnold, the president of IBRBS, an association formerly known as the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas.That has spurred creativity in Santa's workshops. Santas conducting in-person visits are using some combination of masks, the outdoors, barriers and distance for safety. Others are doing virtual visits, where children chat with Santa online for prices typically ranging from $20 to $100, depending on the length and extras, such as whether customers want a recording. Some Santas are taking the season off.“Santa safety is our No. 1 concern” and negotiated into every contract, said Mitch Allen, president of HireSanta, one of the nation's largest agencies. He said the pandemic initially dried up his business, but it bounced back, especially online.The average Santa makes $5,000 to $10,000 during a normal season, Allen said. That's a welcome bonus for men often retired on a fixed income, but many Santas say revenue is down as corporate parties and other lucrative gigs evaporated.Jac Grimes, a Santa in Greensboro, North Carolina, gave up home visits, about a third of his business. He did it not just for his own health, but to prevent becoming a superspreader, fearing he'd pass the virus from one family to the next.At a farmers market he annually works, Grimes and his wife dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and sit in a parking lot where they to talk to people who remain inside their cars. Some homeowners associations are moving their annual Santa-visitation parties outdoors; Grimes will arrive in his red convertible to greet the crowds from afar.One of the hardest adjustments Santas have made is wearing masks that hide their painstakingly grown beards.“Santa performers are fairly vain people — if they are good,” Grimes said.The virus has many Santas and parents turning to virtual visits, which are booked through each Santa's personal website or agencies like Allen's. That often has Santas turning to their children and others for help mastering the computer skills needed.“It has been a challenge,” said Christopher Saunders, a Santa performer in Tool, Texas, a small town near Dallas.But Saunders and others say virtual sessions are a good if imperfect substitute for in-person visits. Parents fill out questionnaires, allowing performers to personalize their patter, and a side benefit is that the sessions aren't rushed. Many Santa mall visits last no more than two minutes to keep the line moving.“You get a different energy,” Saunders said of the virtual visits. “You can see the child’s expressions, as pure as they are.”Jim Beidel, a Santa performer near Seattle, said knowing the children's personal stories, such as their friends and school, helps Santas sell their Christmas magic.“It really enhances the engagement, the suspension of disbelief, especially among the older children," he said.But even Santas with the best gigs are hurting. Howard Graham usually portrays Santa in the grand foyer of New York's Radio City Music Hall during its Christmas show featuring the Rockettes. That's gone, so he's doing virtual visits and five days with a historic railroad in Pennsylvania. Still, he's taking a financial and emotional hit.“I love what I do ... bringing them (children) a little bit of smiles and hope,” said Graham, who has played Santa at Radio City for eight years. “I am going to do what I can not to change that.”That was also Six's goal as he settled recently into Santa's throne for a three-hour shift at Miami's Bass Pro Shops.As families sat in front of the plexiglass for photos, Six tilted his head so his face shield didn't reflect the camera's flash. He cheerfully waved children around the plexiglass so they could tell him their wish list, keeping them 6 feet (1.8 metres) back. As he wished them a Merry Christmas, an elf swooped in with disinfectant, wiping the plexiglass and bench before the next group sat.Six said the arrangement is “a little easier physically on Santa's back because he doesn't have to pick anybody up, but it's not as enjoyable because Santa doesn't get the interaction he normally gets.”But for families, sitting with Santa, even if behind a shield, is a bit of normalcy in abnormal times.Paul and Sarah Morris and their children, 5-year-old Theo and Sophy, 4, were among the first to visit Six that night. An Air Force family visiting from Hawaii, the Morrises cajoled their children into hugging for their photo. “Stop wiggling,” Theo said, scolding his sister before each sibling told Santa their Christmas wish. Sophy wanted candy; Theo, a remote control Ford Mustang.“This is definitely different," Sarah Morris said of the setup, “but the kids are excited and that's what matters.”Terry Spencer, The Associated Press