A record surge in coronavirus cases is pushing hospitals to the brink in the border cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, confronting health officials in Texas and Mexico with twin disasters in the closely knit metropolitan area. (Oct. 28)
A record surge in coronavirus cases is pushing hospitals to the brink in the border cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, confronting health officials in Texas and Mexico with twin disasters in the closely knit metropolitan area. (Oct. 28)
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 14, 2020 To trick-or-treat or not to trick-or-treat? That is the question popping up online as parents balance the need to stay safe during a pandemic while ensuring their children don’t miss out on a traditional celebration. Popular Facebook page, Barrie Families Unite, recently weighed in on the touchy subject, with members suggesting alternative methods to keep their kids from missing out. A backyard candy search — the spooky version of the Easter Egg hunt — was favoured by many parents, as was an at-home Halloween party. “We have chosen to stick to our bubble and do a massive candy hunt in our own yard. I know it’s not the same as trick-or-treating, but the end result is the same, too much candy and crazy littles,” Patty Anne posted on Barrie Families Unite. Holly McDaniel said her family is sticking to its household bubble. “My family and I will be celebrating at home with our own treats,” she posted. “I'm going to make a bunch of delicious spooky snacks, dress up, and have a fire in the backyard while projecting scary movies under a starry sky.” Both Premier Doug Ford and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman have said door-to-door trick-or-treating may not be advisable, but neither have suggested cancelling Halloween altogether. “We’ve got to be so, so careful,” Ford told reporters last month. “It just makes me nervous, kids going door to door with this. I’d prefer not to.” The Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit has laid out several considerations: • Try virtual visits for costumed children to avoid large gatherings. • Trick-or-treaters and people handing out candy should wear face coverings. A costume mask is not a substitute; instead consider building a proper face covering into the design. • Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps. Line up two metres apart while waiting. • Don't leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab. • Go door to door only as a “bubbled” family unit, or don’t go out at all. But there are those who say they will still offer treats from their homes, albeit with a twist. “You could make a candy chute from something like a wrapping paper tube decorated in Halloween paper and just send the candy down the chute to each child’s bag,” Krista Zvanitajs posted. Others have suggested using salad tongs to give out the candy to maintain social distancing or simply placing the treats on a table on the front lawn, with hand sanitizer nearby. Some parents will allow their children to trick-or-treat, arguing it’s no different than sending them to school or allowing them inside a store. “Mine are going trick-or-treating. They are in school, so I don’t see a difference. If the kids can go to school, they can go trick-or-treating,” Cassandra Hall posted. “It would be like telling someone they can’t go grocery shopping. Or work. Or get takeout or Timmies.” But other parents argued COVID-19 controls are more enforceable at schools and businesses, but not at private residences, where candy is handed out. “No guarantee that people handing out candy or those taking candy from a bowl on a porch are following those same rules. I'm sure some are, but some likely aren't,” Alanna Coombs posted. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
LOS ANGELES — Days after the discovery and swift disappearance of two shining metal monoliths half a world apart, another towering structure has popped up, this time at the pinnacle of a trail in Southern California.Its straight sides and height are similar to one discovered in the Utah desert and another found in Romania. Like those structures, the origin of the California edifice is also mysterious.It's at the top of a hill in Atascadero, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, KEYT-TV reported Wednesday. The tall, silver structure drew hikers to the area after photos were posted on social media.Another monolith spotted two weeks ago in Utah's otherworldly red-rock country became a beacon of fascination around the world as it evoked the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” and drew hundreds of people to the remote spot.Two extreme sports athletes said they were part of a group that tore down the hollow metal structure because they were worried about the damage the droves of visitors were causing to the relatively untouched spot. Officials said the visitors flattened plants with their cars and left behind human waste.A structure that appeared last week in Romania is also gone.The Utah creation evoked famous land-art pieces that dot the West. Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is an earthwork along the Great Salt Lake and Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels are huge concrete pieces in the desert.Like those pieces, the monolith was fascinating in part because of its context in the landscape, said Whitney Tassie, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Utah Museum of Fine Art.“That’s a big, big part of land art in general is this idea of an experience, of a journey,” she said.The intense social media reaction to the monolith against the backdrop of the punishing pandemic, along with the quick disappearance of the piece, has become a part of its story, she said. Police have said the dismantling may not be illegal since no one has claimed the structure as their property.The still-anonymous creator of the Utah monument did not follow steps taken by land artists of the 1970s to secure permission to make their works. Visitation to those remote sites is now managed and overseen to avoid too much stress on the environment. Federal and state officials in Utah had also expressed concern about the area around the monolith being overrun.“It’s good to think about our relationship with the earth, which is ultimately what these sorts of projects do,” Tassie said. “Man's impact on the environment front and centre."___Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Former J. Crew President Jenna Lyons knows a thing or two about building a brand, but now she’s ditched corporate life to build her own. Lyons started working as a J. Crew designer right out of school and took the brand from a floundering preppie catalogue to a more upscale but accessible style hub that featured tailored looks in unexpected bright colours, with mixes of patterns and textures. Her star rose considerably after Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama wore J. Crew to the Presidential Inauguration in 2009. She worked her way up to president and creative director before leaving the company in 2017 amid poor sales. While determining her next move, she took lunches with anyone who asked, and one was a TV executive who thought her unique personal style and personality would work on a reality show. Her new HBO Max show, “Stylish with Jenna Lyons,” launches this week, featuring her new businesses that bring her design acumen to home, fashion and beauty projects. It’s part documentary, part competition as she auditions a group of young style acolytes vying for a spot on her team. Unlike most of the scripted, so-called “reality TV” that dominates the genre, Lyons purposely includes production mistakes, awkward moments and candid confessionals, punctuated with snarky graphics and sound effects. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, she explained why she keeps it real, how she had to learn about making a TV series and who’s the show’s breakout star. AP: How did you approach developing the show? Lyons: I like watching reality television. I enjoy it. But I knew it wasn’t for me. I did not want to make a reality television show under the auspices of what I knew existed in the world. I didn’t want to make something that heightened drama or architected a story. I was not comfortable with that. And so, I really sought out to shift those gears. AP: Why is it important to you to be real? Lyons: There’s a lot going on in the world where everything looks so perfect — from the world of Instagram, where people present a life that isn’t necessarily real. People that I relate to are the people who show the messy stuff, and I feel better. You know, I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and most people aren’t, and I think allowing people to see, like we’re making mistakes, we’re goofy! No one shoots it out of the park every time. And I think that honesty and integrity is something we wanted to share. AP: You’re also honest about how you felt after leaving J. Crew. Lyons: I honestly feel so lucky that I’m getting a second chance. I was really scared that I wouldn’t. And I think being honest about the fact that, yes, I had this job and I had this title and I was called this, that and the other thing, and I have gotten a lot of accolades. And while I’m thrilled and really honoured, the fact of the matter is, I have hard days, too, and I struggle, and that’s pretty honest and normal. And I’m not afraid to say that. AP: How does being that vulnerable feel? Lyons: In some ways, a relief. You know, I had to live a pretty guarded and poised life in my previous job. I was on the board. I had to really represent the company. So, everything I did was not just about me, but it was about the company. AP: You’re the star and executive producer of the show. What have you learned? Lyons: I’ve learned how I know nothing about television! I made every mistake in the book. I did everything wrong. I mean you name it, I didn’t get it right. I really struggled. I didn’t understand the process, so I didn’t know what happened, what had to happen. You know, we were involved in literally everything from the graphics to the music to the editing to the colour. We were attentive to all of that. But I didn’t understand how I was supposed to go about it. AP: You offer many style tips — is it important to make style feel accessible? Lyons: I enjoyed going through an airport and seeing people wearing our (J. Crew’s) double cloth coat. That felt good to me. And so it was important to me to do something that felt like it would connect to the people that I maybe had as an audience prior, and also to my friends and family… I really wanted to talk about style in a little bit more of a deeper conversation. AP: Your dog, Popeye, seems to be enjoying the spotlight. Lyons: He loves every second. So much so that I think I have to get him an agent! (laughs) Honestly. It’s a problem. Brooke Lefferts, The Associated Press
Almost one month after his Nov. 9 surgery, Evan Paterson is reportedly “progressing well with his therapies and, slowly but surely, his incision is healing and looking better.” In late October, the Cosmos featured a story on young Evan Paterson, a three-year-old who required brain surgery. Evan’s family had started a campaign to raise funds to support his recovery journey, which would include physical therapy, and medical aid devices. The GoFundMe has now raised almost $17,000, and is still growing. Three weeks post-op, Samantha Bishop, Evan’s mom, reports that the young boy is doing well. “This week he started to use a stander to help build his strength, with support, in order to one day start walking again. I was in a bit of shock when his physiotherapist said that’s what we were doing - I didn’t realize he was making THAT much progress!” says Bishop. Evan’s surgeon reports that he is confident Evan will heal well with time. Bishop says the Holland Bloorview rehab hospital has been a wonderful place for the beginning of Evan’s recovery and, again, she wishes to thank the community members who have helped support their cause. “We could not be more thankful.” “This week we find out how long they think Evan will need to be in the hospital. We have hopes that it will only be for a couple of months and then we can continue therapies at home,” says Bishop. Earlier this year, in July, after a series of seizures, a lesion was found on Evan’s brain. Doctors decided that the best way to stop the seizures and ensure that Evan continued to develop in a regular pattern, the left and right sides of his brain would need to be disconnected. It was predicted that, after the surgery, Evan would be extremely weak on one side, have no peripheral vision, and would have to learn how to do fundamental tasks again. “We are over the moon excited that he’s already in a stander!” says Bishop. To follow along with the family’s updates, or to make a donation, visit the Hope For Evan GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/agzcs-hope-for-evan Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos
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
Police have charged a Calgary man with stealing $44,500 worth of equipment after he allegedly provided false names to multiple tool rental stores in order to secure the property.The first incident happened on Oct. 31 at Rogers Rent-All, 11915 16th St, N.E., where the man obtained three generators.He then went back to that location on Nov. 5, Nov. 6 and Nov. 19, and rented several more generators, a cordless mini-grinder, saws, chainsaws and backpack blowers.Police say he also entered United Rentals, 7120 Blackfoot Trail S.E., on Nov. 4, and rented out generators as well as cut-off machines.The man then obtained several pieces of large construction equipment at Canwest Concrete Cutting and Coring Inc., 5025 13th St. S.E., between Nov. 12 and Nov. 13.Police say he used the names Jeff Cox and Tyler Anderson at the rental stores.He was believed to have driven a orange, 2005 Dodge Ram 1500, Daytona edition, which was bearing the licence plate VEB40.Police tracked this vehicle to a residence in southwest Calgary and found several items linked to the thefts.As well, equipment was also recovered from Stephenson's Rental Services, which is located near Balzac, Alta.Police say the rental store is being investigated.Michael Christian Jones, 41, faces 20 charges, which include fraud, possession of stolen property, trafficking in stolen goods, identity fraud, using a forged document, possessing an identity document and drug-related offences.Anyone with information related to these incidents is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 403-266-1234 or submit tips to Crime Stoppers.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Cannabis has been legal in Canada for two years, but several police raids on illegal grow-ops show the illicit market continues to thrive. The OPP said it seized more than 122,000 illegally grown plants, valued at about $143 million on the street, following 52 raids across the province since July 1. “There is still a huge demand for illegal cannabis here in Ontario and in Canada,” Det.-Inspt. Jim Walker told Simcoe.com. “A great deal of the illegal cannabis we are seeing is being exported into the United States and it’s coming back in the form of U.S. currency, but also in harder drugs like cocaine, meth, fentanyl and in some cases firearms.” The provincewide investigations ended with 195 arrests, the seizure of 36 firearms, $76,000 in cash and $514,000 in property obtained by crime. Twenty-five of the 52 search warrants were conducted in central region, which includes Simcoe County, where more than 7,000 illegal plants were discovered in a Midland industrial building last month. Walker said illegal grow-ops are being operated by “opportunistic” individuals who are using loopholes in Health Canada’s medical cannabis licences and diverting cannabis to the illicit market. Suspects allegedly “stack” personal and designated cannabis grow applications onto one address, Walker said. “So you are getting cannabis grown in these large-scale illegal cannabis production sites with no intention of it every going to a medical patient,” he said. Walker said those who purchase cannabis illegally should know they are supporting criminal groups involved in human trafficking, weapons offences and dealing hard drugs. “When you are buying it from the black market, those funds are going to the pocket of criminals.” The illegal grow-ops are also impacting the quality of life of residents who live near a large facility. “Municipalities are getting complaints about them not abiding by the bylaws and even building codes,” Walker said. Earlier this month, New Tecumseth town council placed a hold on new applications related to the production and cultivation of cannabis until a study has been completed. A grow operation popped up near Tottenham earlier this year without town approval, creating noxious odours for nearby residents.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 13, 2020 If you happen to have an interaction with a front-line Barrie police officer, you may be on camera. The city’s police service rolled out a pilot project Oct. 13, providing 25 officers with body cameras to test how beneficial they are for officer safety and transparency. An evaluation of the results will take place and a report will be presented to the police services board. The service is starting the pilot project after studying their use in other jurisdictions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced funding for RCMP body cameras, and Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders is expediting body cameras for his officers. Calgary police are one the few large municipal police services in Canada to use the Axon body cameras. So what does this mean for Barrie officers and citizens? Will the cameras always be on? The short answer is no. Officers will engage the cameras when they arrive on a call or are about to engage in an investigation. The officer controls when the camera is off or on. What happens to the footage? The footage is uploaded to a secure server to be used for an ongoing investigation or for court evidence. Footage not needed for court will be deleted within one year. How will you know when you are being recorded? The camera will have a flashing red circle when it is recording. The flashing red light can be disabled if it compromises officer safety. What if you don’t want to be recorded? Officers do not need consent to record in a public place but must ask permission in a private place, unless they have a search warrant to enter the premises. Can an officer delete or edit the video? No. Officers have no control over the video once it is recorded. At the end of their shift, video is uploaded to a secure virtual server and is retained for one year unless needed for court. Can you view the video? A written request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is required before a decision can be made to release video or deny its release. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Calgary police and bylaw officers are cracking down on people who are "blatantly ignoring" public health rules designed to keep people safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, city and enforcement officials reaffirmed Thursday.Police announced on Wednesday that they had charged three people under the Public Health Act after a rally last weekend, and were looking for three others who are also facing charges.During the protest, hundreds of people marched through downtown Calgary to protest against mandated masks and other public health measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.On Thursday, police confirmed to CBC News that they have mailed tickets to the three who were being sought.The individuals face charges of contravening an order of the chief medical officer of health and failing to wear a face covering, with fines of $1,200 and $50, respectively."The biggest challenge that we seem to be facing right now are those that are blatantly ignoring the laws," Mark Neudeld said. "The issue is not that they're unaware and require education. The issue is more that they disagree, and these people will be charged accordingly."'This is about keeping all Calgarians safe'The protests have been a weekly occurrence in the city and across the country for months, but Saturday was the first since the province introduced new restrictions, including that outdoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people while still following physical distancing and other public health guidelines.When Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the tightened restrictions on Nov. 24, he also warned that peace officers or police can fine people who break restrictions, with $1,000 per ticketed offence and up to $100,000 through the courts. That announcement boosted calls for police and bylaw officers to start charging scofflaws.The news comes as Alberta continues to lead the country in total active COVID cases, with 17,144 active caseson Wednesday afternoon,compared with 14,526 in Ontario, a province with more than three times as many people, and 12,740 in Quebec, which has twice the population. It has also led the country in terms of new infections per capita over the past week.There are currently 6,331 active cases of COVID-19 in Calgary, 162 people are in hospital and 30 are in intensive care. Since the pandemic started, 202 in Calgary have died of the disease."We are absolutely not looking to punish people who are simply trying to get through this pandemic," Neufeld said when he announced the new charges on Thursday."This is about keeping all Calgarians safe by addressing disappointing and intentional acts of defiance that threaten our health-care system and our well-being."Calgarians are welcome to exercise their right to protest but have to follow the same restrictions as the rest of the city, Neufeld said.Police officers will continue to use their discretion when enforcing restrictions, and will work to be reasonable, focusing their attention on people who blatantly disregard the public health rules, Neufeld said."We've acknowledged people's constitutional right to gather and have their voices heard … but limits have been temporarily placed on those rights and freedoms in the interests of public safety and the health of our citizens," he said.City in process of serving two ticketsChief bylaw officer Ryan Pleckaitis also provided an update on the city's enforcement for community standards at the conference.The city is in the process of serving two tickets under the Public Health Act stemming from incidents that occurred around City Hall on Sunday and Wednesday, Pleckaitis said.There are additional fines that the city will serve in relation to these incidents, and under a number of other bylaws, Pleckaitis said.He wanted to remind citizens that a first offence is $1,200 while further offences are up to $100,000.In regards to a request the city has made, asking that the province expand more authority to enforce restrictions to Level 2 peace officers, Pleckaitis said there have been no developments."Unfortunately, I don't have much news on this front. However, we've had good dialogue with the province this week … and we hope to hear back soon," Pleckaitis said.Like Neufeld, Pleckaitis said bylaw officers would focus on those who blatantly disregard the rules.Park fire pit program 'huge success'Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Sue Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, were also at the conference and provided brief updates.Henry said the city's community fire pit initiative, which has set up fire pits at select parks across the city, has been such a success that additional staff will be added to manage it.They are also looking at adding additional fire pits to meet demand, she said."This program has so far been a huge success. As of this morning, we have had over 900 requests to book," Henry said.In order to support local businesses during the holidays and expand curbside pickup, the city will remove rush hour parking restrictions in three districts, Dec. 7-27."This means on a weekday at 3:30 or 4 p.m., you can remain parked if you are in one of the three participating zones where ParkPlus zones transition into a no stopping zone," Henry said.The three neighbourhoods include: * Kensington Business Revitalization Zone. * 4th Street S.W. * 17th Avenue S.W.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — An Indigenous engineering student is this year's recipient of the Order of the White Rose from Polytechnique Montreal in memory of the victims and survivors of the 1989 anti-feminist attack on the school.Brielle Chanae Thorsen, 22, says the lives of the 14 women cut short by the massacre at what was then known as Ecole polytechnique must never be forgotten, but real work remains in achieving full equality. “We all need to remember the women who came before us, especially the victims and survivors of the Polytechnique tragedy," Thorsen, a Cree woman, said in an interview."We must all have an equal opportunity to pursue a rewarding career without being the targets of discrimination or violence, regardless of our gender, race, sexuality, or religion.”That wasn't the case for the 14 women — mostly students — gunned down. Thirteen others — nine women and four men — were injured by Marc Lepine during a 20-minute shooting rampage at the Montreal engineering school on Dec. 6, 1989.At a virtual ceremony held Thursday to announce the scholarship, Thorsen revealed that she had been the victim of a sexual assault in her dorm two days before beginning university. "This award has special significance to me, because I am a survivor of on-campus violence," she said.She added that the assault made her university experience a struggle. "I learned the hard way that we don't all have an equal opportunity to succeed in university," she said. "How can you be a perfect student when you're undergoing a significant life-altering event?"On the same day her award was announced, members of the House of Commons observed a minute of silence to honour the lost lives ahead of the 31st anniversary of the killings on Sunday.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is our duty to never forget the misogynistic, anti-feminist nature of the attack that struck at the very heart of society's values.In May, the government outlawed some 1,500 types of assault-style firearms, including the Ruger Mini-14 used by the killer in Montreal. And Trudeau said the government would be introducing legislation to follow through on his government's commitment to protect against gun violence."Canadians know that there is no place in our country for weapons designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. They know that these weapons were not designed to hunt deer," he said in reference to the banned assault-style firearms.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole did not mention gun control but called for a recommitment to ending violence towards women and vulnerable people."And in a pandemic, when worry and mental health is touching every corner of our country and every family within the Canadian family, let's make sure that no one is isolated, no one is forgotten, and that there is a zero tolerance towards violence in our society," he said.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh noted that Indigenous women and girls are more likely to face violence and more likely to be killed. He said action on calls for justice from the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women has been "too slow in coming."Thorsen, a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in central Alberta, intends to pursue a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., where she obtained her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and mathematics.Although she was born after the tragic events of 1989, Thorsen is well aware of what happened that day. And she knows that this $30,000 scholarship, awarded to a Canadian female engineering student looking to pursue graduate studies in the field, carries a special weight and significance.Remembering the victims and survivors is important, because "their efforts and their lives have enabled me and my classmates to study safely,” she addedBut more than 30 years later, barriers remain, Thorsen said.Women remain a minority in engineering classes, although combined between engineering and mathematics, they account for 50 per cent of students."And although there is more work to do to move towards equality and equity in the profession . . . our representation is increasing, which is really promising for the next generation of female engineers,” she said."Engineers are designing solutions for the world. So why would we only have a small fraction of this population designing solutions for everyone?”Thorsen intends to specialize in sustainable energy by using her knowledge to work with Indigenous communities in the North on projects aimed at energy sovereignty.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Jim Bronskill in Ottawa.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 19, 2020 Collisions in Barrie have dropped sharply during this year’s pandemic compared to last year, but there was an increase in one critical area. There have been nine people killed in vehicle collisions so far this year, compared to only three during the same period in 2019. The city’s police services board reviewed the numbers during a meeting Oct. 15. Overall, 779 collisions were reported to Barrie police from January to September 2019, compared to 464 from January to September this year. The statistics are part of a strategic plan update for the Barrie Police Service. The report states the reductions are likely due to COVID-19 restrictions, which have translated to fewer vehicles on the road this year. Collisions that resulted in injuries fell from 252 in 2019 to 134 this year, which represents a 40 per cent decline. Collision without injuries decreased from 524 last year to 321 during the same period this year. Criminal charges were laid in connection with at least one of the fatal crashes this year. Two teens aged 17 and 19 were charged with dangerous driving causing death after Paige Ferreira, 17, was killed in a crash on Georgian Drive Jan. 29. Police said a collision occurred after two drivers had an “interaction.” That case remains before the courts. Meanwhile, charges have not been laid in connection with the death of 26-year-old Cynthia Cisneros, who was struck and killed by a snowplow while crossing Veterans Drive at Mapleview Drive, at about 12:35 a.m. Jan. 17. Cisneros had moved to Canada from Mexico and was working as a cleaner when she was struck. A co-worker was also injured. Barrie police are attempting some creative measures in a bid to reduce speeding, especially in residential areas. The report says a new initiative known as “Constable Scarecrow” will test if a lifelike cutout of an officer holding a radar gun will reduce speeding. Residents in high-complaint areas will be surveyed to assess their feeling of safety and perception of police response. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Villagers in Guatemala's Mayan hillside hamlet Sanimtaca had been about to harvest their cardamom crops that take three years to grow when waves of floodwater triggered by two tropical storms last month washed them away. Now they have no way to support themselves or to build back the 25 homes - a third of the village - also destroyed in the flash floods that have yet to subside, said Raul Quib, a volunteer from a neighboring community. This week brought an official close to the most active Atlantic hurricane season ever recorded, with 30 named storms including 13 hurricanes.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole set his political phaser on stun when he said that compared to the "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine rollout in the U.S., the Trudeau government's plan could at best be called "Impulse power."
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 11, 2020 Megan O’Donnell of Barrie, a freshman classical voice major at the University of Toronto, joins the online concert première of the new musical Sticks & Stones on Oct. 16, as part of National Bullying Prevention Month. The stream, which starts at 8 p.m., can be seen at broadwayworld.com and broadwaycares.org. It will be available through 8 p.m. Oct 20. Sticks & Stones adapts the Biblical story of David and his triumph over Goliath to address the issue of teen bullying. During the free stream, donations will be accepted for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Born This Way Foundation, founded by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
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
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald Students at Gilbert Paterson Middle School are belting out their own version of “Oh, Christmas Trees.” That’s trees – plural. As the middle school heads into the holiday season with visions of giving back to the public in a trying year dancing in their heads, they do so with 25 trees draped top to bottom with all sorts of creative themes which will be donated to the community. One of those trees — decked out in tribute to the frontline workers who have served tirelessly in a year rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic — will take up shop in the front window of the downtown Pharmasave Draffins. In fact, it was the pandemic that was the seed for the Paterson Christmas tree idea. “With the school year being unique due to COVID-19 we can’t run our regular auction,” said Gilbert Paterson teacher Shelly David, who teaches two Grade 6 classes. “We’ve been running what we’re calling activity classes in the classes, and as a grade level group we’ll share the planning of those activities.” It was originally an activity planned for the Grade 6 students. “One thing led to another and when I found out I could get a Christmas tree for a pretty decent price I thought maybe the whole grade level could do Christmas trees,” said David. “Then I approached administration (Catherine Thorsen) to get the OK and asked how they would feel if I sent it out to teachers and if they would be willing to do this as a pre-Christmas activity. Thorsen liked the idea and relayed it to Paterson principal Darryl Christiansen, who suggested every grade level partake in the Christmas project. “Now I’ve got 25 trees,” said David. “I’m sort of overseeing the whole thing, but the individual classroom teachers who are teaching the activities to the grade level, those are the ones who are running it in the classroom.” Each class has a four-foot tree, said David. “We brought them back to the school and the teachers had the conversation with their groups about the theme. Once they figured out the theme they went from there and made the ornaments.” The deal was the students had to hand-make the decorations for the trees, said David. “So each class has a different theme and are crafting decorations around that.” Different ideas include a cartoon theme and cartoon strip ornaments and a rustic winter theme with tree cookie snowmen, along with snowballs. Other classes went the North Pole and “Shrek” route, while another class utilized the Among Us app, a popular game. “One of the classes had Christmas Is Among Us, so they’re crafting the players in the game out of salt clay and onto foam balls to look like planets,” said David. “So they’ll string those planets together and they have a tree-topper of one of the Among Us people.” The objective for the tribute tree for frontline workers — done by the Grade 7 classes — was to get it to a high-traffic area, said David. “The intention is this tree will be a tribute and a thank you to the ongoing efforts of everybody on the front line fighting through this thing and even working through shutdowns. The kids wanted that one to go where it could be it could be seen by as many people as possible.” The Christmas tree initiative will also double as a fundraiser. “We had put the call out for donations to help assist with the cost the supplies to craft all of the trees,” said David. “We thought if there are any proceeds left over those would be donated to some charities.” The Gilbert Paterson counselling department, Interfaith Food Bank, Woods Homes, an organization that supports youth, are among the selected charities as well as the YWCA, which has the Virtual Stockings of Hope. David said the dedication and support of the Paterson staff and students has been amazing. “I really thought this could be one more thing being added to the plate of a group of people who are already working hard to make each day happen,” she said. “But they’ve truly grabbed this idea and run with it. “It’s been nothing but positive feedback from the staff. I see the excitement going on. Many of them are playing Christmas carols and they’re crafting things. It’s just a chance for the kids to remember that, yes, we have all these restrictions on us, but there are other ways to give back and still have the cheer part of Christmas and the sharing and the giving.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 14, 2020 Ontario’s criminal court system has been forced to make many changes during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the wheels of justice from coming to a full stop. For Barrie criminal lawyer David Wilcox, that’s a good thing. Like so many of his colleagues, the veteran defence attorney has spent endless hours and clocked countless kilometres representing clients across central Ontario. Now, he just drives to his office, fires up his laptop, and gets to work. “I’m working from my desk instead of jumping in my car and driving to Owen Sound, Huntsville, Parry Sound or Oshawa,” Wilcox said. “Some of the changes we had to make, like Zoom as way to do a lot of the easy stuff, are advances that are well overdue and have made it much better for almost everyone.” Criminal lawyers and their clients can spend hours in a crowded courtroom waiting for a few minutes in front of a judge, often for something as simple as remanding a case to a future date. Now, pre-arranged virtual appearances can be made with the same results. “I think when we get a vaccine and this pandemic is behind us, the courts will function much more efficiently,” Wilcox said. Attorney General Doug Downey and his ministry officials have been working on systems to modernize the provincial courts. “Throughout the COVID-19 emergency and recovery, we have worked with our partners to move Ontario's justice system forward by decades in a matter of months, through game-changing modernization initiatives,” Downey said at the annual Opening of the Courts ceremony Sept. 22. “This includes supporting innovative ways of conducting court proceedings and offering more remote proceedings.” More services are online, making it easier for people to access the justice system no matter where they live. These initiatives include: • Electronic filing for more than 400 types of civil and family-court documents through the Justice Services Online platform. • An online tool that makes it easier for people to search court-case information from anywhere. • The ability to dispute traffic tickets and other provincial offences remotely by audio or video where available.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)