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
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
While the world recognizes International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Ottawa was announced as host city for the 2026 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship on Thursday.This marks the first time Canada will host the joint event for senior men and women.CBC Sports and Radio-Canada will take centre stage in providing coverage as the official streaming partners of the tournament.Decorated Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc will serve as honourary chair for the event — which is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, 2026 and is set to feature 94 games over 11 days."The organizing committee looks forward to delivering an unforgettable, emotionally-charged experience for athletes, stakeholders and spectators while spearheading the evolution of the game in Canada and around the world," said Petitclerc in a news release.Ottawa 2026 will be the largest team sport event for high-performance athletes with a disability in the world. Twenty-eight teams — 16 men, 12 women — will compete for the world championship crowns.WATCH | Ottawa to host 2026 wheelchair basketball worlds:Empowering social changePetitclerc, who was named to the Senate of Canada in 2016, said the opportunity to host the world championship extends beyond the field of play."Ottawa 2026 represents a momentous occasion to unite the world, celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, and champion inclusion," Petitclerc said."Our vision is to host a transformational event that empowers social change by moving people to feel, think and act differently towards wheelchair basketball and people with disabilities. As we celebrate International Day for Persons with Disabilities, we believe Ottawa 2026 will move millions towards a more inclusive world through the incredible power of sport."Canada previously hosted the men's world championship in Edmonton in 1994, the U23 men's worlds in Toronto in 1997, the U25 women's worlds in St. Catharines, Ont., in 2011, women's worlds in Toronto in 2014 and U23 men's worlds in Toronto in 2017."I have personally experienced the thrill of representing Canada and winning a gold medal on home soil," Canadian women's team player Cindy Ouellet said."As an athlete, there is no greater honour than competing at home in front of your family, friends and fellow Canadians."Medal contendersCanadian teams are contenders for gold. The women have won five gold and two bronze medals in the 30-year history of the tournament.Canada's men have reached the podium six times and took the title in 2006.Wheelchair Basketball Canada president Steve Bach says the organization is keen to take on this event."Backed by our rich history of hosting excellence … we will host an unparalleled, world-class event while creating meaningful legacies," Bach said."There is much work to do in the years ahead and we are eager to undertake this journey with all of you."
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
Après des mois de travail, les Natashquanais peuvent de nouveau admirer la croix illuminée située en face de l'église, éclairer leur communauté. Au mois d'août, l'imposante croix de fer pesant 2 200 lbs et construite en 1987 avait été retirée de son socle pour des travaux de restauration. Les travaux auront permis de peinturer la croix et d'y installer un nouveau système électrique. La croix a été remise sur son socle à la mi-octobre, mais il manquait encore des lumières sur une section de la croix. Celles-ci ont finalement été installées à la fin du mois de novembre et l'illumination de la croix fut alors possible. Au cours des dernières années, l'illumination de celle-ci n'était plus possible en raison de problème au système électrique. Le comité de soutien à la fabrique de Natashquan tient à souligner l'implication des nombreuses personnes qui n'ont pas compté leurs heures pour permettre la réalisation de ce projet. La restauration a été rendue possible par une campagne de financement organisé par le comité de soutien à la fabrique de Natashquan. Celle-ci a réussi à amasser un montant de plus de 5 500 $ grâce à des contributions en argent et des dons en ligne par l'entremise de la plateforme GoFundMe. Au total, le coût de la restauration s'élève à environ 2 500 $. Avec l'argent restant, le comité de soutien à la fabrique de Natashquan souhaite réparer le système électrique de la croix et faire l’achat de la porte du cimetière.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
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
LOS ANGELES — MTV Entertainment Group says it's making a $250 million commitment to spur reality production over the next three years by companies owned and operated by women and people of colour. ViacomCBS' MTV Entertainment, which includes MTV and VH1, will provide funding, staff and other support to foster new ideas that will “fuel the unscripted content needs" of now and in the future, according to an announcement Thursday. Advocates of increasing diversity in the entertainment industry say progress requires more women and people of colour in decision-making positions. The initiative builds on MTV Entertainment’s unscripted record, including early reality show “The Real World," by creating ownership opportunities “for its diverse partners,” the company said. Lashan Browning and Adam Gonzalez, reality producers who were tapped last year to steer the initiative, will form their own production ventures with a MTV Entertainment equity investment, according to the announcement. Browning was part of the start-up team for Oxygen and was a producer for “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” and “Cartel Crew.” Gonzalez was a producer on VH1’s “Teyana & Iman” and “America’s Next Top Model.” The Associated Press
Leading up to her graduation from Dalhousie University, Fatou Secka had her eyes on the prize: to find a job in her field and get one step closer to permanent residency in Canada. “I was very hopeful of getting into the work field, getting more practical experience, applying myself ... and being part of an organization,” she told The Chronicle Herald. “I was really looking forward to that.” But after receiving a master's degree in civil engineering at the university in May, the international graduate from The Gambia has been job hunting nearly everyday to no avail. “(A few days) ago, my alarm went off and I felt so anxious and so nervous and worried that I would be unable to find work,” she said. Due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, thousands of international graduates in Canada like Secka are unable to find work and meet the requirements of their post-graduate work permits (PGWPs), according to Migrant Students United, an advocacy group for international students and graduates. International graduates are eligible for time-restricted PGWPs that allow them to remain in Canada post-graduation and gain work experience here. If they complete a minimum of 12 to 24 months of work in certain skilled positions, they can then qualify for permanent residency. While Secka has a three-year PGWP, some international graduates have shorter permits that are either set to expire before year’s end or have already expired, which has left them in a state of limbo, said Sarom Rho, an organizer for Migrant Students United. “With the second wave of COVID-19 related job losses spiking all over Canada and the economic shutdown and economic impact of this, most migrant student workers don’t have access to these jobs,” said Rho. “Even in the best of times, these jobs are difficult to get as migrant workers, but in the middle of a pandemic, when there’s a global economic shutdown, it’s nearly impossible.” The federal government has allowed people with work, study and visitor permits that expired before Jan. 30 to “restore their status” until the end of the year if they stayed in Canada. But PGWPs are currently non-renewable, said Rho, so international graduates are unable to do so. Migrant Students United delivered two petitions with thousand of signatures to federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s office this week, calling for changes to Canadian immigration rules surrounding PGWPs. They’ve asked the federal government to make PGWPs renewable so former students can complete “realistic requirements” for permanent residency in the COVID-19 job market and to lower the threshold for gaining permanent residency by lowering points requirements and counting work that is part-time, in-school or in any occupation. Rho said international graduates have made multiple sacrifices and poured thousands of dollars into education in Canada only to be faced with COVID-19 setbacks at no fault of their own. During this “unprecedented crisis,” they’ve also contributed to Canada by working in the essential industries “that sustain our economy and our communities,” Rho added, but none of that work is counted toward their PGWPs. “You’ll see that it’s migrant students who are working overnight stocking shelves in grocery stores, handling packages in warehouses, working in food service and retail and delivery,” she said. John Paul Patrick Corpus is one of those international graduates. Corpus completed a diploma in business intelligence analytics from Nova Scotia Community College and received his PGWP, which is valid for one year, in July. He’s currently working as a sales associate at the Atlantic Superstore and as a data analyst with the federal government. Although his work with the federal government counts toward his PGWP, Corpus said only 30 hours of the 37.5 hours he puts in each week are counted. This means he has to work straight through to July 2021, which is when his PGWP expires, in order to achieve the 1,560 hours required to satisfy the requirements of the permit, he said. “It’s really pushed my work permit up to the very end,” said Corpus. Corpus is concerned that he may lose his job with the federal government during the pandemic. “I try to work as many hours as I can because you’ll never know if one day, all of a sudden, you lose your job and they don’t issue a permit or visa,” he said. At his grocery store job, Corpus said many of his coworkers are also PGWP holders that are stuck in a similar state of uncertainty. He said they all share the same sentiments: “Hopefully the government will give us at least another year once the pandemic stabilizes, because they should try to be reasonable. How can you find a job if there’s no job? Or how can you prove your work if there’s no grounds to prove your work?” “We just study here and all of a sudden we’re kicked out of the country because, OK, your post-graduate work permit is expired. That’s so sad,” Corpus added. As she continues to look for an engineering job, Secka said she’s trying her best to keep occupied by networking with people in her field and pursuing professional training to make herself “indispensable.” She’s also found work as a caregiver at the Shannex nursing home in Halifax and at the Dalhousie Writing Centre. Secka encourages other international graduates to do the same. “Although I have not been able to find work, I’ve been talking to people in my field and learning from them. So these are things you can do so you have something to look forward to in your day,” she said. The Chronicle Herald reached out to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to ask if the department is considering renewing expired or soon-to-expire PGWPs. In an email statement, IRCC spokesperson Rémi Larivière said that with COVID-19 causing "significant disruptions," the federal government has taken steps to support international students "and we hope to help more of them make the transition to permanent residency." This includes the government's "ambitious" 2021-2023 immigration levels plan that creates more opportunities through Canada's economic immigration programs, he said. According to Larivière, a person whose status will expire has "options to extend it before it does, and a period of time to restore their status if it does expire." He noted the period that temporary residents have to restore their status has been extended during the pandemic. Larivière said the federal government has also "made it easier for former PGWP holders who had to maintain their legal status in Canada as a visitor to quickly start working for a new employer when they find a new job, and for those with employer-specific work permits to be able to quickly switch and start working for a new employer while their new (work permit) application is processed, cutting the delay on working for a new employer from 10 weeks to 10 days." "We will continue to work closely with international students and the wider community to examine new ways to help international students thrive in this country," he added.Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
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
A judge will decide if a Winnipeg church can continue to have drive-in services in a rare Saturday court hearing.Springs Church and two of its pastors have been fined over $32,000 for allowing the services, which are banned under Manitoba's current public health order aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.The order, which is set to expire on Dec. 11, requires places of worship to be closed to the public. Other strict conditions include prohibiting the sale of non-essential items in stores and a ban on visitors in private homes.The health order allows religious leaders to hold services over the internet or "other remote means," but doesn't allow drive-in services.The church is arguing that violates three different charter rights.University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach said Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal, who is hearing the matter, will have to balance rights with the threat of COVID-19. 'This is a case that's urgent'"What we're seeing now is the legal equivalent of an emergency room so basically the judge is making a quick decision on what's known as an interim stay," Roach said. Lawyers for the province tried to delay the matter, insisting they needed more time to prepare to properly defend the province's case.WATCH | Winnipeg church seeks injunction in order to continue drive-in services: But Joyal said the case is in the public interest and irreparable immediate harm or damage might be caused if it was delayed further. "In my view this is a case that's urgent," he said, noting he wouldn't be delivering an adjudication on charter arguments Saturday, but simply on the more pressing issue of whether the church can have drive-in services or not.Decision could fuel more challengesRoach said Joyal's decision won't bind other courts, but he thinks they would take a serious look at the reasons in the judge's ruling and it could start similar court challenges in other provinces.He said he expects Joyal's decision would only apply to the Springs Church and not other religious organizations in Manitoba that have been fined for holding services.If Joyal rules in favour of the church, Roach said it would be up to the province to decide what enforcement action, if any, they would take for other churches, and if they wanted to change the public health order or appeal the ruling. Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin declined to comment on the court case during a news conference Thursday.Joyal said he would make an initial decision Saturday ahead of the church's scheduled evening service.
Hundreds of Armenians blocked streets in the capital Yerevan late on Thursday and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over a ceasefire deal that locked in Azeri territorial gains in Nagorno-Karabakh last month. Pashinyan has rejected the calls to resign over what his opponents say was his disastrous handling of a six-week conflict between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabkh enclave and surrounding areas.
Ottawa has been named host city for the 2026 world men's and women's wheelchair basketball championships.Sixteen men's teams and a dozen women's international squads will compete for world titles over 11 days at Lansdowne Park, Aberdeen Pavilion, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. Canadian Senator Chantal Petitclerc, winner of 14 wheelchair racing Paralympic gold medals, is honorary chair of the tournament.“Beyond the field of play, this event is about so much more than sport," Petitclerc said Thursday in a statement. "Our vision is to host a transformational event that empowers social change by moving people to feel, think and act differently towards wheelchair basketball and people with disabilities."Thursday's announcement coincided with International Day of Persons with Disabilities.The championship is held every four years. Canada will host a combined men's and women's world wheelchair championship for the first time. The 2014 women's tournament was held in Toronto, where Canada claimed gold. Edmonton was the site of the men's event in 1994."I have personally experienced the thrill of representing Canada and winning a gold medal on home soil,” Canadian women's team player Cindy Ouellet said. “As an athlete, there is no greater honour than competing at home in front of your family, friends and fellow Canadians."Canadian teams are contenders for gold. The women have won five gold and two bronze medals in the 30-year history of the tournament. Canada's men have reached the podium six times and took the title in 2006.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
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 — 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
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
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
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
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
When Tanya Talaga thinks of Indigenous innovation, she thinks about moving into uncharted territory. “[It’s about] moving into areas where we haven’t traditionally been, but we have every right to be,” she says. “We can be there strongly and with an absolutely beautiful different perspective of many different nations and many different people.” Talaga is an award-winning author, a columnist and — now — the CEO of an Indigenous production company called Makwa Creative. She will be giving a keynote speech at the first annual Indigenous Innovators Gathering hosted by Victoria-based digital agency Animikii which aims to drive social innovation through “Indigenous technology.” The gathering will be held virtually on Dec. 3. In her keynote, Talaga says she will incorporate the Seven Anishinaabe Grandfather Teachings that have guided much of her work and life — humility, truth, honesty, wisdom, respect, courage and love. Talaga recently wrote and produced a seven-episode Audible Original podcast with the title “Seven Truths,” with each episode delving into different stories around each teaching. “We think a lot about those seven truths and we think a lot about how people today are really looking for something to hold onto and something to believe in,” she says. “The seven grandfather teachings are just that really. You don’t have to be Anishinaabe to believe in the seven teachings. Many different nations have different variations of the teachings.” As Talaga moves forward to new projects — including a new book that’s in the works — she says she is grateful to be part of a community of Indigenous innovators who are blazing trails in their own respective fields. “It makes the work that we do so much more meaningful and true,” she says. Talaga says that talent is exemplified by the second speaker at the Indigenous Innovators Gathering: Teara Fraser. Fraser is the first Indigenous woman to start an airline in Canada — Iskwew Air. “She is a pilot, she owns her own business, she owns her own airline. How incredible is that? I think she is so incredibly inspiring,” Talaga says. Event co-facilitator Samantha Vanderdonck, a project coordinator with Animikii, and Tyler McLeod, Business Development Strategist, say the purpose of the three-hour gathering is to highlight the innovation that’s happening across Turtle Island. “[It] isn’t solely just about technology and software development,” McLeod says. “It spans across arts, communication, culture, health, education … It’s about inspiring the next generation.” At the gathering, there will also be a performance by hoop dancer Notorious Cree, who has gained hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok and Instagram, as well as facilitated breakout sessions where participants can ask questions. The event will be recorded for those who aren’t able to attend live. Vanderdonck says this is the first Indigenous Innovators Gathering of many, as Animikii plans to host similar events four times per year going forward. “Highlighting the fact that there are so many incredible people already working in the industry … helps for others to know that they can do it too,” she says.Catherine Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
MONTREAL — Two months after the death of Joyce Echaquan in a Quebec hospital, the head of the regional health authority that runs the hospital has been removed from his post.The departure of Daniel Castonguay was announced Wednesday evening in a news release issued by the provincial health minister. The decision was approved after the provincial cabinet saw a report by Lise Verreault, who was appointed in mid-November to study allegations of racism against Indigenous people at the hospital in Joliette, Que., northeast of Montreal.The hospital and its management came under scrutiny in late September after Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, filmed two staff members at the Joliette hospital insulting her as she lay dying, and other Indigenous people came forward with stories of abusive treatment.Wednesday's press release says Verreault interviewed 18 people as part of her mandate to establish whether the bond of trust had been broken between the health authority's management and the Indigenous communities it serves.Castonguay has been reassigned to aid in the preparation of Quebec COVID-19 vaccination campaign and will be replaced on an interim basis by Caroline Barbir, who is also head of a Montreal's Ste-Justine children's hospital.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press