This pet raccoon has been trained to go to the bathroom in his owner personal toilet. How cool is that?
This pet raccoon has been trained to go to the bathroom in his owner personal toilet. How cool is that?
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
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 29, 2020 The province has taken cash seized as proceeds of crime and handed it to police services and social agencies, including Barrie police and South Simcoe police. The $2.5 million in funding will be used for 33 projects across the province, aimed at fighting human trafficking. The Barrie Police Service will receive about $97,000, which will be used to “address the underlying causes of crime, such as mental health, addiction or family violence.” “The funds will be used to focus efforts on a system that supports the most vulnerable people and works to reform offenders and lower rates of reoffending,” a media release from the province said. The South Simcoe Police Service will receive about $41,000, which will be used to fund data resources to analyze “patterns and prevalence of crimes” in Innisfil and Bradford-West Gwillimbury. “We are fighting back against human traffickers by investing in training, surveillance technology and equipment, to help local police and prosecutors crack down on the criminal networks that prey on and profit from young and vulnerable people in our communities," said Attorney General Doug Downey. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
1\. “Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline (Ballantine)2\. “Deadly Cross” by James Patterson (Little, Brown)3\. “The Awakening” by Nora Roberts (St. Martin's Press)4\. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)5\. “Daylight” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)6\. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday)7\. “The Law of Innocence” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)8\. “Rhythm of War” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor)9\. “The Sentinel” by Child/Child (Delacorte)10\. “Fortune and Glory” by Janet Evanovich (Atria)11\. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead)12\. “All That Glitters” by Danaielle Steel (Delacorte)13\. “Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon” by Marc Cameron (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)14\. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria)15\. “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V.E. Schwab (Tor)HARDCOVER NONFICTION1\. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown)2\. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown)3\. “Modern Warriors” by Pete Hegseth (Broadside)4\. “The Happy in a Hurry Cookcook” by Doocy/Doocy (William Morrow)5\. “Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter)6\. “Dolly Parton, Songteller” by Dolly Parton (Chronicle)7\. “Stuff You Should Know” by Clark/Bryant (Flatiron)8\. “Dungeons & Dragons: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything” (Wizards of the Coast)9\. “No Time Like the Future” by Michael J. Fox (Flatiron)10\. “Forgiving What You Can’t Forgive” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson)11\. “Guinness World Records 2021” (Guinness World Records)12\. “Humans” by Brandon Stanton (St. Martin's Press)13\. “Saving Freedom” by Joe Scarborough (Harper)14\. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)15\. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial Press)MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS1\. “Sunrise Cabin” by Stacey Donovan (Hallmark)2\. “The River Murders” by Patterson/Born (Grand Central Publishing)3\. “Wyoming True” by Diana Palmer (HQN)4\. “Leopard’s Rage” by Christine Feehan (Berkley)5\. “A Christmas Message” by Debbie Macomber (Mira)6\. “When You See Me” by Lisa Gardner (Dutton)7\. “Spy” by Danielle Steel (Dell)8\. “A MacGregor Christmas” by Nora Roberts (Silhouette)9\. “The Night Fire” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing)10\. “Spirit of the Season” by Fern Michaels (Zebra)11\. “Archangel's Sun” by Nalini Singh (Berkley)12\. “A MacCallister Christmas” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle)13\. “The Museum of Desire” by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine)14\. “The Christmas Backup Plan” by Lori Wilde (Avon)15\. “The Gift of Love” by Debbie Macomber (Mira)TRADE PAPERBACKS1\. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrew McMeel)2\. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious)3\. “Interesting Stories for Curious People” by Bill O’Neill (LAK)4\. “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart (Grove)5\. “Texas Outlaw” by Patterson/Bourelle (Grand Central Publishing)6\. “Air Fryer Cookbook” by Jenson William (Jenson William)7\. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee)8\. “The 19th Christmas” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)9\. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay)10\. “The Truths We Hold” by Kamala Harris (Penguin)11\. “The Institute” by Stephen King (Gallery)12\. “Hillbilly Elegy” (movie-tie-in) by J.D. Vance (Harper)13\. “The Diplomat's Wife” by Pam Jenoff (Park Row)14\. “Choose Joy” (Ink & Wiillow)15\. “Murder of Innocence” by James Patterson (Grand Central Publlishing)The Associated Press
Irish budget airline Ryanair said Thursday it is ordering 75 more Boeing 737 Max jets, a boost for Boeing just before its most important plane returns to flying after two deadly crashes.The order would be worth more than $9 billion at list prices, although airlines routinely receive deep discounts. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.Boeing shares soared nearly 7% in afternoon trading.The announcement was a huge lift for Chicago-based Boeing, which has suffered cancelled orders for the plane since it was grounded nearly 21 months ago and while demand for new jets plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic.So far this year, customers have cancelled orders for 448 Max jets and Boeing has raised doubt about another 782 orders because of the airlines’ pandemic-weakened financial health. The company has reported only five Max orders in 2020.Boeing CEO David Calhoun said he was confident that the Ryanair move was the beginning of the company's bid to rebuild its Max order book.Airlines usually get deep discounts off list prices for planes. Calhoun dismissed the idea that Boeing may be under more pressure to cut prices because of a pandemic that is causing massive losses at its airline customers and the Max's own troubled past. The company is trying to resell planes covered by previous deals that were later cancelled.“We don't feel a need to discount our way into the marketplace,” he said.The new deal would push Ryanair’s total orders for the Max to 210 planes. CEO Michael O’Leary said that with the additional 75 planes, Max jets will make up one-third of Ryanair’s fleet in five years, up from 6% now.O’Leary said the planes offer lower fuel consumption and quieter flying than other aircraft. He expressed confidence that travel will recover next year as virus vaccines become widely available and that customers will get back on the Max.“The one issue that's going to come up here today is safety, so let's let it out front,” O'Leary said on a call with reporters. “This is the most scrutinized, most audited aircraft in history. It's also going to be one of the safest.”Max jets were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia just five months apart killed a total of 346 people. Last month the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and regulators in Europe cleared the way for the plane's return by prescribing new flight-control software and other changes.With its previously bestselling plane grounded, Boeing has lost $3.5 billion so far this year and announced deep jobs cuts to reduce costs. Boeing expects the pandemics to cast a pall over demand for airline jets for several years.David Koenig, The Associated Press
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
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A female volunteer who regularly feeds big cats was bitten and seriously injured by a tiger Thursday morning at Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Florida, which was made famous by the Netflix series “Tiger King,” officials said.Hillsborough County Fire Rescue received a trauma alert call about 8:30 a.m. Thursday from the sanctuary, agency spokesman Eric Seidel told The Associated Press.Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, said in an email to the AP that the volunteer, Candy Couser, was feeding a tiger named Kimba when she noticed the animal was not in his usual location. Baskin said Couser opened a gate that had been clipped shut but she reached in to unclip it.“This is our universal signal NOT to open a gate” without assistance, Baskin said. “It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it.”“Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder,” Baskin added.Couser was taken to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries after staff and other volunteers at Big Cat Rescue sought to stop the bleeding, Baskin said.Kimba will be placed in quarantine for the next 30 days, but Baskin said the tiger was “just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.” Baskin said Couser did not want Kimba to suffer any consequences for the incident.The sanctuary was founded by Baskin and Don Lewis in the 1990s and is a prominent animal sanctuary. Lewis disappeared in 1997.The incident came the same day the U.S. House is to vote on a bill, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, championed by Baskin that would ban handling of big cat cubs and personal possession of them in places such as backyards.“This sort of tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye and we cannot relax our guard for a second around these dangerous cats,” Baskin said.“Tiger King", which debuted in March, was a documentary series about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” an eccentric former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves big cats.Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison earlier this year for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. He was convicted of trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, who had tried to shut him down, accusing the Oklahoma zoo of abusing animals and selling big cat cubs.In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions about Baskin’s former husband, Lewis. The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage’s repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers. Baskin has not been charged with any crime and has repeatedly released statements refuting the accusations made in the series.___Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.Curt Anderson And Freida Frisaro, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 20, 2020 Garry Hopkins received great news two days in a row. When you’re the CEO of a long-term-care facility in the middle of a pandemic, you can use all the good news you can get. First, a COVID-19 outbreak at IOOF Seniors Home in Barrie that began Nov. 5 when a staff member tested positive was declared over Nov. 19. “Even though we did have the one case, we are very pleased because nobody else contracted the disease, which indicates we are doing a good job with our (personal protective equipment), and our hand-washing and infection-control measures,” Hopkins told Simcoe.com. The second piece of good news came Nov. 20 when the provincial government announced it would invest $30 million in the facility to create 64 long-term-care spaces and renovate 66 existing spaces. IOOF is one of 29 projects across the province that will see 30,000 new spaces created over 10 years at a cost of $1.75 billion. There are 38,500 Ontario residents waiting to access a long-term-care space. The new spaces will be built with the current pandemic in mind by ensuring fewer residents per room. The first phase of the IOOF project — 62 new beds — should be ready in about two years, with the entire project complete by 2024. Hopkins said the IOOF facility does not have any rooms with four residents, even though it was built in 1980. “They were pretty forward thinking,” he said. “Many live in separated accommodations. They may share a washroom, but have their own bedroom spaces.” Hopkins said IOOF now has workers wearing face shields, as well as face masks, to further reduce the risk of infections. “We have to be alert all the time; you can’t let your guard down,” he said. “Of course it’s stressful because you know what the case numbers are and you worry. That’s why we are extra vigilant.” Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin made the project announcement outside the IOOF facility, saying the Conservative government is focusing on long-term care, including a recent provision to provide four hours of daily care per resident. “It’s not been an easy year during COVID, but, given our government was only elected two years ago, we have done as much as we can to put our best foot forward,” Khanjin said. “Stay tuned for more.”Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 19, 2020 A 51-year-old Innisfil woman is charged with impaired driving after her vehicle collided with two parked cars, then veered off the road into a ditch Nov. 17. She was not injured. South Simcoe Police say the vehicles sustained “significant” damage in the collision on 25th Sideroad at about 11:30 p.m. The driver was arrested at the scene and taken to the North Division station in Innisfil where she was charged. Her licence was suspended for 90 days and her vehicle impounded for seven days. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
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
NEW YORK — In the most seismic shift by a Hollywood studio yet during the pandemic, Warner Bros. Pictures on Thursday announced that all of its 2021 film slate — including a new “Matrix” movie, “Godzilla vs. Kong” and the Lin-Manuel Miranda adaptation “In the Heights” — will stream on HBO Max at the same time they play in theatres.Among the myriad release plan changes wrought by the pandemic, no studio has so fully embraced streaming as a lifeline. But after disappointing domestic ticket sales for “Tenet," and with the majority of U.S. theatres currently closed, Warner Bros. will turn to a hybrid distribution model. Films will debut simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max in the U.S. After one month, they will stop streaming and continue to play only in theatres.As HBO Max is only available in the U.S., in Canada the studio's films will launch theatrically along with other worldwide territories, Warner Bros. Canada said.The move follows Warner Bros.' decision to put “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max next December, in addition to in theatres. If that pivot sent shockwaves through the industry, Thursday's announcement was likely to rattle Hollywood to the core. It amounts to an acknowledgement that any full rebound for theatres is still a year or more away.“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do," said Ann Sarnoff, chief executive of WarnerMedia Studios in a statement. "We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theatres in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021."Warner Bros. called it a “unique one-year plan.” The studio has generally ranked among the top two studios in market share over the past decade — most recently dwarfed only by Walt Disney. Warner's films typically account for $1.5-2 billion annual in ticket sales in North America — a lot of money to compensate for in HBO Max subscribers. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. confirmed the films will be available to subscribers with no further charge.Warner Bros.' 2021 slate of 17 films includes many of the expected top movies of the year, including “Dune,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Tom & Jerry,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Make Me Do It,” “King Richard” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.”The move by Warner Bros. only makes the pain being felt by exhibitors all the more acute. Having been shuttered for much of the year, cinemas reopened nationwide in late summer except in some key locations, including Los Angeles and New York. But with most major releases postponed and surging virus cases, about 60% of theatres have since closed again. Regal Cinemas, the country's second largest chain, has shut all its doors. The National Association of Theater Owners didn't immediately comment Thursday.Under chief executive Jason Kilar, the former Hulu chief, the AT&T-owned WarnerMedia recently reorganized to further prioritize its streaming service. He has moved aggressively to boost HBO Max, even if it comes at the expense of the theatrical marketplace.“Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone,” said Kilar in a statement. “We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”Jake Coyle, 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
The Town of Paradise is looking for input from residents who might avail of an accessible transit system. Councillor Sterling Willis noted it is something that residents have been requesting. “We are now developing an accessible transit policy project… as a part of developing this pilot project, the Town will be hosting a focus group to seek input from potential users,” said Willis during Tuesday’s public council meeting. Participants in an upcoming focus group will be limited to Paradise residents who have disabilities or who have family members living in Paradise who have disabilities. The focus group, held over Zoom, will be held on December 10, with a real time ASL translator present. Those interested are asked to contact the Town by December 2. Though Metrobus offers some wheelchair accessible routes, the one Metrobus route which passes through Paradise is not accessible.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Health officials say another 12 Manitobans have died from COVID-19 and 368 have been infected with the virus. Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said a previously reported COVID-19 death has been removed from the province’s list of deaths due to a data entry error.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 19, 2020 South Simcoe Police officers are asking you for help identifying three suspects following thefts at an LCBO in Innisfil. Police say “numerous” bottles of alcohol were stolen from the Innisfil Beach Road store in Alcona. Officers believe the thefts were “orchestrated” by three male suspects between 1 and 2 p.m. Nov. 7. The suspects are described as: • Small build, 5'6'', 130 lbs, brown eyes, 25-30 years old, with black hair, wearing a mask, black jacket, blue jeans, large black backpack and a white ear piece. • Medium build, 5'11'', 175 lbs, brown eyes, 30-40 years old, with black hair, wearing a mask, grey sweater and jeans. • Small build, 5'6'', 125 lbs, brown eyes, 30-40 years old, black hair, wearing a mask, track pants with red stripe down the side, and a red ball cap. Anyone who recognizes these men or has any information about this occurrence is asked to contact email@example.com or contact Crime Stoppers. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
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
Another person in Saskatchewan who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.The person was from the south zone and was in their 80s. As of Thursday, 54 people diagnosed with COVID-19 had died in Saskatchewan.The province reported 259 new cases of the disease on Thursday.The seven-day daily average of new cases is 269 — 22.2 new cases per 100,000 population. Of the 9,244 reported cases in the province, 4,017 are considered active. Nine of the new cases on Thursday are located in the far north west, one is in the far north east, 21 are in the north west, 25 are in the north central, two are in the north east, 50 are in the Saskatoon area, three are in the central east, 112 are in the Regina area, 21 are in the south west, 10 are in the south central and six are in the south east. Four cases that previously had pending residence information have been assigned to the north west (two) and north central (two) zones and three Saskatchewan residents tested out-of- province were added to the north west zone.There are currently 128 people in hospital, 104 of whom are receiving in-patient care. One person is in the far north west, eight are in the north west, nine are in the north central, one is in the north east, 41 are in the Saskatoon zone, two are in the central east, 20 are in the Regina zone, two are in the south west and 20 are in the south east zones. Twenty-four people are in intensive care, with one in the north west, three in the north central, 11 in the Saskatoon area and nine in the Regina zone.To date a total of 5,173 people have recovered in the province. As of Dec. 1, 2020, when other provincial and national numbers were available, Saskatchewan's per capita rate was 224,447 people tested per million population. The national rate was 310,004 people tested per million population.
A recently released study details the number of Ontario health-care workers who have been infected by COVID-19, and the psychological stress that comes along with being on the frontline of a pandemic. The 15-page study, titled Sacrificed: Ontario Healthcare Workers in the Time of COVID-19, was authored by Dr. James T. Brophy, Dr. Margaret M. Keith, Michael Hurley and Jane E. McArthur. It was presented by Hurley at a news conference in Sudbury on Thursday morning. Hurley introduced Brophy and Keith, who he said were the two principal authors of the report and took part in the news conference through an online video connection. "Health-care workers in Ontario are suffering from much higher rates of COVID infection than the general public," said Brophy. "According to a report published in September, Canada's health-care workers make up almost 20 per cent of confirmed cases." "While we are all experiencing COVID fatigue and worry, health-care workers are suffering disproportionately from serious psychological distress," Brophy said. In her comments to the news event, Dr. Keith said not only has the regulatory system failed to protect the workers, but there has also been a failure by some of the joint management-employee health and safety committees, at a time when they are so urgently needed. "The health-care worker's experience is that the Ministry of Labour is not functioning as mandated, leaving them feeling unsupported and unprotected," said Keith. She said it was important to note that women make up the overwhelming majority of frontline health-care workers in Ontario. She said a lot of those workers were immigrants, part-timers and in precarious work positions that left them vulnerable to being exploited or losing their jobs. "They are burning out from stress. They are overworked and have unrelenting fear and anxiety," she added. "In April and May, we conducted in-depth anonymous interviews with 10 frontline health-care workers from hospitals and long-term care facilities across the province. We talked to nurses, personal support workers, clerical staff and cleaners." Keith added that the interviews took place in real-time as the pandemic was reaching its highest sense of urgency in the first wave. Brophy said the findings from the study interviews were consistent with a poll carried out in March by CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) which surveyed 3,000 members. "The poll revealed that an overwhelming majority believed they were not being adequately protected. Eighty-seven per cent said there was not enough PPE (personal protective equipment) on hand to keep them safe and 91 per cent responded that they feel abandoned by the provincial government," he said. Brophy said many workers experienced intense anxiety of becoming infected and bringing the COVID virus home with them at the end of their shift. "A nurse told us, ‘I've come home and cried many times. I am stressed out. I can't sleep at night'," Brophy revealed. "Fear, coupled with understaffing and increased workload, has resulted in exhaustion and burnout. Ontario's health-care system is underfunded and understaffed. It has the fewest hospital beds and nursing hours per patient in the country," Brophy added. Another concern is that health and safety legislation does not give full protection to frontline health-care workers. Hurley said a nurse or a PSW cannot refuse to go into a situation they believe might be unsafe for them personally if it means that a patient or resident urgently needs care. Brophy explained it in detail saying any health and safety concerns must be declared before a worker engages with a patient. "If a work refusal might have an implication or endanger a patient for instance, they (health workers) are not allowed to exercise that right at that point. The examples we heard from health-care workers would be things like before they were actually engaged with a patient, or before they went in and cleaned up a room or before they put a person's CPAP machine on in long-term care, they would raise the questions and say I am exercising my right to refuse unsafe work because I am not properly protected," said Brophy. He said it was interesting to be commenting on Ontario's health and safety laws given that the genesis of those laws came from protecting the rights of hardrock miners in Northern Ontario. "It is ironic that 40 years after the historic breakthrough that they spear-headed for all workers in Ontario, and really across the country, that we now find in the midst of one of the worst occupational health and safety disasters and crises in modern memory, that these workers have been systematically denied the most basic protections and their legal rights," said Brophy. It was also mentioned that in many instances Ministry of Labour inspectors have not visited the long-term care homes as they feared for their own safety. Keith told the news conference that the plea on behalf of frontline workers was a simple one. Give them what they need to go to work safe and healthy and to let them go home at the end of the day, safe and healthy, she said.Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct.28, 2020 An ATV driver riding along a Springwater road faces a fine after police stopped an adult with a two-year-old passenger on the back on Oct. 25. The ATV driver was pulled over during a patrol of Simcoe County Forest trails by OPP officers and Central Ontario ATV club trail wardens. Riding an ATV on a highway with a child under age eight as a passenger carries a $325 fine under the Highway Traffic Act. Police and trail wardens were also able to help a 33-year-old woman who had injured her arm when she crashed her dirt bike on one of the trails. She was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Four ATV drivers were fined $215 each for not having the required $103 permits to use trails designated for off-road use. Riding in undesignated areas also carries a $215 fine. Trail permits can be purchased from OFATV and OFTR. For details, refer to https://myoftr.ca or call 855-637-6387. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance