Australian arts restart: venue capacity rises to 75% as $60m of rescue package to flow

imageAustralian arts restart: venue capacity rises to 75% as $60m of rescue package to flow Read full article November 20, 2020, 3:52 a.m.· 2 min read Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Live performance venues and events will be allowed to reach capacity of up to 75% in states that have recorded no new locally acquired coronavirus cases in 14 days, under the roadmap for reopening unveiled by federal arts minister Paul Fletcher on Friday.

In what has been labelled the “Covid normal” of the near future, indoor events and seated outdoor events will still be ticketed only, and additional restrictions will still apply to large-scale multi-day outdoor music festivals.

The plan was released by Fletcher at the Sydney costume workshop for the musical Hamilton, which is scheduled to open at the Lyric theatre in March.

Related: Thanks to music and art, I found more hope than grief in lockdown | Cat Woods

Fletcher also announced that $60m of the $75m Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (Rise) fund had been allocated to 115 arts organisations.

“The funds will start to fly almost immediately,” he said.“The Office of the Arts within my department is engaging with individual recipients in terms of the grant agreements.”

More than 300 arts organisations had applied for the federal government’s emergency rescue package announced in August.

The government said that 71% of the total Rise funding will go to the small-to-medium sector, and 21% to regional areas.A total of $34m will be awarded to not-for-profit organisations.

With states such as Queensland having already moved to 100% capacity in entertainment venues, Fletcher dismissed suggestions the roadmap should have come out weeks ago.

“What it’s intending to do is to set a consistent framework and clearly it’s always the case that specific decisions are made by state and territory governments,” he said.

“What we’ve done as a commonwealth government through the national cabinet is reached an agreed framework [across all states and territories].”

If it wished, Victoria could move to 75% capacity immediately given it has recorded 21 straight days with no new coronavirus cases.NSW could hit the 14-day mark on Saturday.Story continues

The joint announcement of the potential easing of social distancing restrictions and the pending release of $60m in funding was to place promoters, festival organisers and companies in a position to “not only know the way forward in terms of the public health requirements, but also [ensure they are] getting that support so they can get their shows up and running”, Fletcher said.

With just one in three organisations that applied for Rise funding achieving success so far, Fletcher said unsuccessful applicants were welcome to reapply for the remaining $15m.

“There will be feedback provided to those who were not successful, they’ll certainly be free to … put in an amended application that takes account of that feedback,” he said.TRENDING Trump pursues recount of 2 liberal Wisconsin counties MADISON, Wis.— President Donald Trump filed Wednesday for a recount of Wisconsin’s two largest Democratic counties, paying the required $3 million cost and alleging that they were the sites of the “worst irregularities” although no evidence of illegal activity has been presented.The recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties will begin Friday and must be done by Dec.

1.Democrat Joe Biden received 577,455 votes in those two counties compared with 213,157 for Trump.Biden won statewide by 20,608 votes, based on canvassed results submitted by the counties.“The official canvass results reaffirmed Joe Biden’s clear and resounding win in Wisconsin after Wisconsin voters turned out to cast their ballots in record numbers,” said Biden campaign spokesman Nate Evans.“A cherry-picked and selective recounting of Milwaukee and Dane County will not change these results.”Milwaukee County is the state’s largest, home to the city of Milwaukee, and Black people make up about 27% of the population, more than any other county.

Dane County is home to the liberal capital city of Madison and the flagship University of Wisconsin campus.“The people of Wisconsin deserve to know whether their election processes worked in a legal and transparent way,” said Wisconsin attorney Jim Troupis, who is working with the Trump campaign.“Regrettably, the integrity of the election results cannot be trusted without a recount in these two counties and uniform enforcement of Wisconsin absentee ballot requirements.We will not know the true results of the election until only the legal ballots cast are counted.”Dean Knudson, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said Trump raised “significant legal questions that have never been adjudicated in Wisconsin.”But a fellow commission member, Democrat Mark Thomsen, said Trump was trying to change the rules of the election after he lost, but only in two counties.“That’s like losing the Super Bowl and then saying ‘I want a review of a certain play using different rules than what applied to the rest of the game,’” Thomsen said.“That is the essence of hypocrisy and cheating and dishonesty.”Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, called the recount “an attack on cities, on minorities, on places that have historically voted Democratic.

Don’t let anyone fool you that this is about irregularities.”On Tuesday in Michigan, Republicans on a canvassing board for the county that includes Detroit temporarily stopped certification of the vote after claiming that poll books in certain parts of the majority-Black city were out of balance.The deadlock brought claims of racism from Democrats before the board later voted unanimously to certify the results,The Wisconsin recount will be done as the state continues to ride a surge of coronavirus cases, breaking records this week for deaths, new positives and hospitalizations.Recount organizers were planning to do the work in large convention centres so workers and observers could be properly distanced.“It’s not surprising at all that Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, wants to have one last mass gathering that will put people’s health in peril,” Barrett said.The Wisconsin Elections Commission late Wednesday night voted to approve issuing an order on Thursday to commence the recount.The vote came after five hours of wrangling over whether to reference in the order their own recount manual that gives local elections officials guidelines on how to conduct the recount.Ultimately, the commission issued the order without any reference to the manual.Democrats pushed for changes they said would bring guidelines in the manual into line with the law, but the commission deadlocked after Republicans objected to modifications after Trump had filed for the recount.Democrats said any disagreement over what the manual or the law says related to how recounts should be conducted will be fought in court.Trump’s campaign made a variety of claims Wednesday, including that clerks wrongly added missing information on returned absentee ballots.But guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in place since 2016, says that clerks can fix missing witness address components on the envelopes that contain absentee ballots if they have reliable information.That guidance, passed unanimously by the bipartisan elections commission, has been in place for 11 statewide elections without objection.The elections commission said that there were no corrections to actual absentee ballots contained inside the envelopes, as some have claimed.The witness signature and address information is all contained on the envelope in which the ballot is sent.The Trump campaign is also alleging that thousands of voters improperly got around Wisconsin’s photo ID requirement by claiming they were indefinitely confined and therefore didn’t have to present a photo ID in order to return their absentee ballot.Wisconsin law requires all voters to show an acceptable photo ID to vote both in person and by mail.It does provide exceptions for citizens who are indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity or are disabled for an indefinite period.The Wisconsin Republican Party sued Democratic Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell in March, before the state’s spring primary, over advice he had posted on his Facebook page that voters could declare themselves indefinitely confined due to the pandemic.The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered McDonell to stop issuing guidance that is different from official language approved by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

The Trump campaign alleged that “the damage was already done” before McDonell was ordered to remove the language.The Trump campaign also alleges that local election clerks issued absentee ballots to voters without requiring an application, in violation of state law.Trump’s complaint alleges that 60,000 votes were cast by people who didn’t submit a written application, but offered no evidence.Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said there was “no proof” to back up that claim.“I would encourage them to provide the proof,” he said.Elections commission members Knudson and Thomsen both said they did not know what Trump was referring to in that portion of the complaint.Trump also claimed that observers in Milwaukee were kept too far away to observe the counting of ballots.“Once observational access is provided during a recount, mistakes, violations of the law (in addition to the open access violations already known) and fraud will be discovered,” the complaint said.Election leaders in Milwaukee and Dane counties said they would live stream the recount to be done at convention centres in both Milwaukee and Madison, with room for observers in person.The recount will continue in both cities over the weekend, taking off only for Thanksgiving, until complete.“We know the result will be the same as it was,” McDonell said.“It’s what we saw across the state four years ago and this election, from my perspective, ran very smoothly.”Recounts in Wisconsin and across the country have historically resulted in very few vote changes.

A 2016 presidential recount in Wisconsin netted Trump an additional 131 votes.Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes that year, and opposed the recount brought by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.“The people have spoken and the election is over,” Trump said at the time.“We must accept this result and then look to the future.”After the recount was done and his victory was confirmed, Trump again took to Twitter.“The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what — we just picked up an additional 131 votes,” Trump tweeted at the time after the recount was done.“The Dems and Green Party can now rest.Scam!”___Associated Press writer Doug Glass in Minneapolis contributed.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press 23 hours ago Plans to build lake-to-lake bike lane in Penticton, B.C., met with criticism Mariana Wolff owns a boutique cannabis store in downtown Penticton, B.C.

The century-old cottage that houses the business has been a major attraction for local residents and tourists alike.But Wolff fears a proposed bike lane running through the southern Okanagan city will replace all the road parking spaces near her shop on Martin Street and turn her driving customers away.”We would lose 90 stalls of parking along the west side of Martin,” Wolff said.”They [customers] would possibly turn to other locations where there are parking lots.” She and other downtown retailers petitioned against the six-kilometre bicycle route between Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake — an $8-million dollar project that was passed by city council on Tuesday with a 5-1 vote.In 2012, the City of Penticton identified the need to build a lake-to-lake cycling path separated from vehicle traffic with barriers, cones or curbs.It stated in its official community plan last year that the project will help support an active and affordable mode of transportation.The municipality launched a website to inform people of the bike route design and collect their opinions.But Wolff says many local residents were not aware of the city’s attempts to gather their input.

“Maybe just an online approach like that isn’t necessarily the only way to try and get people’s opinions,” she said.”They might see a bunch of emails coming…end[ing] up in the junk folder.”Coun.Katie Robinson says she’s “100 per cent in favour” of the bicycle lane, citing “some overwhelming support” in town.She says she’s aware of downtown merchants’ concerns and hopes they’ll eventually accept the project.”There’s not a bike path in the world that didn’t start off with some kind of controversy, but then proved themselves very shortly to be the jewel in the crown that’s been enjoyed by locals and tourists alike for years,” Robinson said to Chris Walker, host of CBC’s Daybreak South.One of the bike lane controversies Robinson might be referring to is Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge bike lanes.Before the bike lanes were built in July 2009, they met harsh criticism from some leaders and community members who said the plan would result in traffic gridlock.Now, the city of Vancouver says the Burrard Bridge bike lane is the busiest of its kind in North America.Robinson says it may take several years to build the Penticton bike route, and city staff will first launch a detailed planning phase to address concerns from downtown businesses.”We still have a lot of room to be able to tweak the route, maybe move it from one side of the road to the other side of the road so that there’s less interference with businesses.”There’s no timeline yet for the start of the planning stage.22 hours ago Raptors take San Diego State point guard Malachi Flynn with 29th pick in NBA draft TORONTO — Malachi Flynn said there’s no better NBA veterans to learn from than Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.The Toronto Raptors selected Flynn with the 29th pick in Wednesday night’s NBA draft, adding another small point guard with a strong defensive presence to their backcourt.Flynn’s announcement prompted immediate comparisons to Toronto’s enviable backcourt duo of Lowry and VanVleet.”I think it’s going to be great for me honestly, as a young guy coming in the league, with two guys who have won a championship, who have put up great numbers, there’s not much bad you can say about those two guys,” Flynn said.”I think it will be great for me to be around them every day and continue to learn.” The six-foot-one, 185-pound guard led San Diego State to a 30-2 record and a No.6 national ranking.

He was also the Mountain West conference player and defensive player of the year.Flynn said he’s watched the Raptors and “how well they play,” and has paid particular attention to VanVleet and Lowry.”They’re super savvy,” he said.”Kyle Lowry’s great at getting you in foul trouble, just keeping you on your toes, he knows what plays to make, he’s going to come up in big moments, he does all the little things.”He’s inspired by VanVleet, who went undrafted but has worked himself into being one of this year’s most coveted free agents.”He blew up and just continued to get better.He’s six foot, six-one, right around there, guys like that get (overlooked) so seeing him being able to win a championship and put up great numbers in the finals, it’s definitely inspirational for a guy like me,” Flynn said.The Raptors spoke to Flynn early in the COVID-19 global pandemic, and then went to see him two weeks ago in Las Vegas, a trip that sealed the deal.”He’s a guy we really liked, and can come in and .

..develop under the leadership of Kyle and Fred,” Raptors GM Bobby Webster said.”Those are two guys for him to learn under.” Webster said Flynn’s a modern NBA point guard, who has a complete game on the offensive end, plus defends at a high level.

The 22-year-old Flynn played two seasons at Washington State before transferring to SDSU.He averaged a team-high 17.6 points on 44 per cent shooting and 37.3 per cent shooting from three-point range, plus 5.1 assists through 32 games for the Aztecs.Flynn, wearing a charcoal suit for the virtual draft, celebrated the night at his hometown in Tacoma, Wash., sharing a huge sectional couch with his parents and six older siblings.Webster said it’s too soon to compare the newcomer to Lowry and VanVleet.”Those guys are incredibly accomplished.I think as you guys will meet Malachi, he’s a serious kid.He’s professional.

He’s about the hard work.

He’s about winning,” Webster said.”So I think those will be the natural comparisons.”The Raptors took Nevada guard Jalen Harris with the 59th pick.The 22-year-old Texan was a late bloomer after breaking his back in high school.He was excellent at Nevada last season, however, averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals.

This year’s draft was held virtually due to the pandemic and, originally scheduled for June, ended the longest pre-draft period in history.Because of the Canadian government’s border restrictions, the Raptors had to do much of their research online.”It was tough,” Webster said of how Wednesday night unfolded.”Every pick would come in, and there would be some gasps and a little bit of disbelief.But you know, all along, Malachi was up there.

And that’s who we wanted.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov.

18, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press 23 hours ago The EU’s top court said the extra leave had to be linked to pregnancy or birth, otherwise, it risks falling foul of the bloc’s gender equality rules.View on euronews 22 hours ago Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, Taylor Swift win Apple Music Awards NEW YORK — Rapper Lil Baby has been named artist of the year at the second annual Apple Music Awards.The rapper, who topped the charts this year with his sophomore album “My Turn” and reached the No.

3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his hit “The Bigger Picture,” was hand-selected by the streaming service’s global editorial team to win the title.The editorial team also named Taylor Swift songwriter of the year and Megan Thee Stallion breakthrough artist of the year.Roddy Ricch, whose successful year included a Grammy win, No.1 album and No.

1 song, won two Apple Music honours that were based on streaming data.His debut album, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial,” has been streamed more than 1.5 billion times on the platform and was named top album of the year.His smash hit “The Box” logged more than 460 million Apple Music streams and was crowned top song of the year.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press a day ago Campus march by Hong Kong graduates marks a year since university clashes Dozens of Hong Kong students turned their graduation ceremony on Thursday into a march to commemorate pro-democracy protests last year that included violent clashes with police across city campuses.In November last year, campuses of CUHK and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) saw prolonged clashes between students and riot police, with protesters firing petrol bombs from catapults and using bows and arrows and police responding with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.

22 hours ago Georgia Gov.

Kemp stays on sidelines of GOP election fight SAVANNAH, Ga.— When Gov.

Brian Kemp won election two years ago, he pushed back forcefully against an outcry from Democrats who accused him of suppressing voter turnout to improve his odds of winning.“Look, we have laws on the books that prevent elections from being stolen from anyone,” Kemp, who oversaw that election as secretary of state, said on Nov.17, 2018, as he urged Georgia voters to accept the results of a close, bitterly contested race against Democrat Stacey Abrams.In contrast, the Republican governor hasn’t stepped forward to defend the integrity of this year’s elections amid attacks by President Donald Trump and other members of his own party, who claim without evidence that the presidential vote in Georgia was tainted by fraud.Unofficial results show Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia by a narrow margin.The Associated Press has not declared a presidential winner in the state, where officials are conducting a hand-counted audit of the contest.The AP did declare Biden the winner of the overall election.The claims of fraud in Georgia have sparked infighting among Republicans, with GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stating categorically that the election was fair and secure.

Georgia’s two Republican U.S.

senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have demanded Raffensperger’s resignation.Kemp, Georgia’s top elected Republican, has staked out a position on the sidelines.Having recently emerged from quarantine after a possible coronavirus exposure, he made his only public appearance since Election Day last week to tout a trade magazine’s ranking of Georgia as the most business-friendly U.S.state.Pressed by a reporter, he brushed off the question of whether Raffensperger should resign as “moot.” He said he supported the secretary’s decision to order a hand-counted audit of Georgia’s roughly 5 million presidential votes.”Let’s let that happen and let the chips fall where they may,” Kemp told reporters last week.The governor has said little else about the GOP infighting in his own state as Trump seeks to overturn Biden’s victory by challenging the results in Georgia and other battleground states.Kemp has neither endorsed Trump’s fraud claims nor backed Raffensperger in his assertion that the election was conducted fairly.Asked if the governor has seen evidence of widespread irregularities or vote fraud, spokesman Cody Hall said Kemp wants to wait until after Georgia certifies its election results.The deadline is Friday.”At the end of that process, he will make a determination in his own mind if he’s seen anything of that nature,” Hall said.Hall said he expects the governor’s next public appearance to be Friday, when Vice-President Mike Pence comes to Georgia to campaign for Perdue and Loeffler, both of whom face runoffs against their Democratic challengers on Jan 5.Some of Kemp’s supporters think he is wise to remain neutral.“For the governor, it would be a catch-22 — it’s going to be hard to make any side happy with any statement he can make,” said Jason Shepherd, Republican Party chairman for Cobb County in the Atlanta suburbs.Eric Johnson, a former Republican leader of the Georgia Senate, agreed Kemp should stay out of the fray over Trump’s election and focus on the Senate runoffs.He said he’s concerned an escalating debate over the validity of Georgia’s presidential election could hurt Republican turnout in January.“A Republican civil war doesn’t do anything except hurt the voters we need to come back on Jan.

5,” Johnson said.“If they think there’s corruption, then why vote? If they think it was stolen, why vote? Because it’ll just be stolen again.”Trump’s endorsement two years ago helped Kemp win a heated Republican primary and eke out a narrow general election victory over Abrams.Even after losing the White House, Trump is expected to remain a powerful influence with GOP voters in the upcoming Senate runoffs as well as in 2022, when Kemp will have to seek reelection.That could be one reason why the governor, like other leading Georgia Republicans, has avoided wading deep into the election controversy — even when Trump has taunted him personally.“Governor Kemp will hopefully see the light before it is too late.Must finally take charge!” Trump tweeted Tuesday, referring to a poll that suggested Kemp’s approval among Georgia voters was sagging.Raffensperger hasn’t blamed any of his fellow party members for keeping a lower profile.“I understand if they get too far out on a limb, they start getting blasted also,” the secretary told The Associated Press.

He added that Kemp has “plenty on his plate as governor, and he’s doing a fine job.”Kemp will ultimately have to take a stand.

State law requires the governor to sign off on the slate of presidential electors who will cast Georgia’s 16 votes in the Electoral College.”His name’s going to be on the certification of the electors, one way or another,” Shepherd said.___ Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.Russ Bynum, The Associated Press 23 hours ago Former Wirecard boss Braun stonewalls German lawmakers’ inquiry Wirecard’s former boss stonewalled questions from lawmakers on Thursday when he was temporarily released from jail for an inquiry into post-war Germany’s biggest corporate fraud.Markus Braun, wearing his hallmark turtle neck and a blazer, declined to answer more than 50 questions about Wirecard’s demise, other than to say no German officials behaved inappropriately.Braun, who has denied any wrongdoing and said Wirecard was the victim of a wider fraud, is in jail awaiting trial.a day ago All NFL teams to enter intensive COVID-19 protocol Saturday The NFL is placing all teams in intensive protocol starting Saturday to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 as the number of cases rises around the country.Use of masks will be mandatory at all times at team facilities, including during practice and in weight rooms.

Meetings must be held either virtually or in the largest indoor space with approval by the league.Meals have to be made available for grab-and-go to avoid players and staff congregating in cafeterias.Time spent in the locker room also has to be limited.Clubs operating under the intensive protocols have reduced close contacts by more than 50% since the fifth week of the regular season, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was sent from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to teams on Wednesday.“These sustained reductions and the resulting health and safety benefits make it appropriate to implement the intensive protocols on a mandatory, league-wide basis,” Goodell said in the memo.So far, 28 teams have entered intensive protocol at some point and 16 teams have done it more than once.“The upcoming holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving next week, will introduce new risks of exposure that we need to address now,” Goodell wrote.“Because we have a highly sophisticated program of daily testing, we know when the virus enters our facilities, which underscores the importance of contact tracing and other steps to minimize close contacts within a facility.”Recent experience has highlighted the importance of minimizing high-risk close contacts; on multiple occasions, we have seen individuals identified on that basis test positive within a short time.We have also seen many instances in which effective action by clubs to minimize these close contacts prevented the virus from spreading within the club, and avoided players or coaches being ruled out of practice or games.”The NFL said Tuesday there were 17 new confirmed positives among players and 35 among other personnel during testing from Nov.

8-14.That brought the league’s total to 95 players and 175 other personnel since Aug.1, not counting new cases this week.“The biggest motivator I find when we talk to the clubs about this is simply that if they are not in compliance with the protocols from a mask-wearing perspective or for some reason somebody forgot their device or something like that, they’re much more likely to be identified as a high-risk close contact than they would otherwise,” said Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice-president of communications, public affairs and policy.“So when that individual coach or player is removed from the team environment for five days because their mask was down, that’s a lesson learned throughout the facility.And so I don’t think we see a lot of repeat problems as far as that goes.Not everybody’s perfect all the time.But I think the biggest enforcement piece is taking somebody out of the team environment and potentially costing them the opportunity to play in the game or to go through a week’s worth of the practice.I think that part of it is a little bit undersold.

It feels like a lot when we talk to the clubs as a behaviour change mechanism.”Teams not having been in the intensive protocols are the Jets, Buccaneers, Seahawks and Washington.“Well, it does shift some things,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.“It’s not a problem for us ….So we’ll do whatever.

…We’re gonna follow to the letter of the law, and continue to really have an attitude that we can pull this thing off.I think the mentality of it is important as anything, because it has to carry over into all aspects, and all facets of everybody’s lives.”Asked his thoughts on the intensive protocol mandates, Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson said: “We gotta do what we gotta do to get paid.”Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox, who lives with teammate Dallas Goedert, said they probably won’t host family or friends for Thanksgiving to avoid further risk.“You gotta do whatever it takes to stay safe and be able to play this game,” Maddox said.“You have to be responsible at home and be ready for whatever they have planned for us.”___AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed.___More AP NFL: and Maaddi, The Associated Press 21 hours ago Will social distancing weaken my immune system? Will social distancing weaken my immune system?In short, no.Some worry a lack of contact with others will weaken their immune system by reducing its active contact with germs.But even when we’re staying 6 feet from others or spending most of our time at home, our bodies are continuously responding to plenty of bacteria and other germs that inhabit indoor and outdoor environments.“We’re constantly exposed to microbes,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immune system researcher at Yale University.

“Our immune system is always being triggered.”The effects of childhood vaccines and other built-up immunity are also long-lasting, Iwasaki said, and won’t disappear overnight because we’re keeping our distance from others during the pandemic.Experts say anyone looking to boost their immune health during the pandemic should practice habits such as stress management, healthy eating, regular exercise and getting enough sleep.”These are the things that actually affect the immune system,” Iwasaki said.A seasonal flu shot will also help protect you from one more potential illness.___The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series.Submit them at: [email protected] previous Viral Questions:How does the coronavirus affect the heart?Does the flu vaccine affect my chances of getting COVID-19?Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?The Associated Press 21 hours ago EU auditors see uphill battle for EU antitrust regulators versus big tech EU antitrust enforcers face an uphill battle in tackling tech giants abusing their dominance because of the difficulty of finding remedies, the EU’s budget watchdog said on Thursday in its first audit of the regulators.The report by the European Court of Auditors comes as critics of Google voiced frustration at what they say is ineffective enforcement of a series of EU rulings ordering it to stop favouring its own online services to the disadvantage of competitors.”Although the Commission has taken a number of case decisions tackling challenges resulting from the digital economy, significant challenges remain to be resolved,” the watchdog said.21 hours ago Pakistan’s PM goes to Afghanistan as U.S.prepares drawdown, peace talks stall Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Kabul on Thursday to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, at a time when peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives have stalled and violence is rising.

This will be Khan’s first visit to Afghanistan since assuming office over two years ago.It is the highest profile visit by a Pakistani official to Kabul since peace talks began between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the Qatari capital of Doha.

21 hours ago Virus surge stalls economic recovery Manitoba’s economic recovery is expected to be delayed until at least 2022, as COVID-19 cases climb daily by the hundreds and the province mulls further restrictions.Forecasts from the Conference Board of Canada released Wednesday suggest while Manitoba coped relatively well during the first wave of the coronavirus, current provincial handling of the pandemic is dampening economic prospects for the future — with GDP growth well behind most other provinces, and significantly lower than the national average.By the end of this year, Manitoba’s GDP is expected to fall by 6.2 per cent and rise 3.5 per cent next year.That’s compared to the national expected rebound of 5.6 per cent by 2021 and contraction this year of 6.6 per cent.“With the kind of tumultuous financial environment we’re in right now, it really is a mix of things that’s led up to this,” said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the board, who expects the pace of recovery to flatten across all of Canada, if not completely stall.“While economic activity is fully restoring in some sectors, we won’t see a return to normal until a vaccine is available to the public,” he added, in an interview.“But for some industries and provinces that are seeing higher case counts, these difficulties will persist for the foreseeable future even if a vaccine does come around.” For most other Canadian provinces, economic activity is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until the second half of 2021.Those outlooks vary by industry, and some provinces are expected to do better than others.

In Alberta, economic recovery is predicted to rise by 6 per cent next year, despite the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.Provinces like Ontario are expected to grow by 5.2 per cent, Quebec at 4.6 per cent and Saskatchewan at 4.5 per cent.

Prince Edward Island, on the other hand, is suggested to be facing its largest recession on record — with a drop of 12 per cent in GDP this year.The board doesn’t believe its recovery will level out until 2022.Antunes said when Manitoba was reporting far fewer cases than other provinces, it was able to make several gains in employment, retail trade, wholesale trade and manufacturing.“Some of that could very well be a saving grace in the future,” he said.Still, the board suggests employment in the province will rebound by just 3.6 per cent next year, well below the national expected increase of 4.9 per cent.Antunes said those numbers have yet to factor in the effect of long winter months in province, which he suspects could make current outlooks even more dire.

“It’s an altogether different picture than it was before, and it’ll very likely affect things long-term for Manitoba,” he added.

“The issuing of new restrictions, gatherings limitations, dine-in services, retail capacity, and travel all make it very hard for any economic progress.“But should things be handled well right now by the province, it could all change for the better.”Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press a day ago Wolves select Edwards with No.1 pick in delayed NBA draft Anthony Edwards paid tribute to his mother and grandmother.Onyeka Okongwu recalled his brother.Obi Toppin thought about coming home.Tears flowed freely for those and many more players Wednesday night when their long-awaited, months-delayed NBA dreams were finally realized.Edwards was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No.

1 pick in an NBA draft delayed multiple times because of the coronavirus pandemic.Commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.The draft was originally scheduled for June 25 before multiple delays caused by the virus pushed it back and out of its usual home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Boxes of hats were shipped to the top prospects to put on the one they needed after their name was called.Edwards watched while seated next to portraits of his late mother and grandmother.They both died of cancer and he was emotional after his name was announced.“As far as just being excited and just being happy and ready to go and ready to work and ready to get there as soon as possible, those emotions were overwhelming with just my mother and grandmother being there,” Edwards said.“I mean, it was just a dream come true and just a blessing.”And though there wasn’t the usual family table in the green room and trip on stage to meet the commissioner, some players still were outfitted in fashionable attire — perhaps none more than No.12 pick Tyrese Haliburton of Sacramento, whose blue, floral suit had the words “Black Lives Matter” on the inside.They celebrated with family, friends, coaches — and in Cole Anthony’s case, even celebrity fans.Movie director Spike Lee jumped up and down with his family when Orlando took Anthony, whose father, Greg played for the Knicks, at No.15.Some moments triggered deeper emotions.Okongwu, taken No.6 by Atlanta, recalled his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014.Toppin, the national player of the year last season at Dayton, struggled to speak after New York took him at No.

8, bringing the Brooklyn-born forward to his hometown.“I’m from New York, that’s why it’s important,” Toppin said.“Me repping my city, it’s amazing.”Edwards became the 11th straight one-and-done player to be the No.

1 pick, coming in a year where there was no clear obvious choice.He averaged 19.1 points for the Bulldogs, tops among all freshman.The Golden State Warriors, stung by the news that Klay Thompson sustained another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Memphis centre James Wiseman with the second pick.They stumbled to the bottom of the league while Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee.The severity of his injury had not been revealed as the draft began but it didn’t persuade the Warriors to take another guard.Instead they went with the 7-foot-1 centre who arrived as the No.1 recruit out of high school and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games before he was suspended for eligibility reasons and eventually left the program to prepare for the draft.LaMelo Ball then went to the Charlotte Hornets, the next stop on a lengthy basketball journey that sent the guard from high school in California to stops as a professional in Lithuania and Australia.He joined brother Lonzo, taken No.

2 by the Lakers and now in New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers taken in the top three picks.After all his travels, Ball is eager to make a home playing for Michael Jordan’s team in Charlotte.“I feel like I can go out there and play basketball,” Ball said.“I feel like I was born to do this.”The newcomers will have precious little time to prepare for their debuts and need to knock off months of rust or more — Wiseman hasn’t played an organized game in a year — without the benefit of summer league.Training camps open in early December and the 72-game 2020-21 season is set to begin on Dec.22.“This draft process has been the longest for me, so I’ve just been working on my game,” Wiseman said.“I’ve actually been playing pickup games with pros already, so I’ve been getting a lot of experience.But really just focusing on myself.

I’m truly ready to play with these great guys.”Teams had to evaluate prospects without benefit of the usual draft combine in Chicago or the ability to invite them to their facilities for workouts and meetings.And with the coronavirus shutting down the sports world in March, there was no NCAA Tournament for the players to make a final impression before entering the draft.That helped contribute to perhaps more questions than usual surrounding the draft, with little feel for how the top few picks would play out.The Chicago Bulls took Patrick Williams of Florida State, the ACC sixth man of the year as a freshman, at No.

4.Cleveland followed with Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, another freshman, to round out the top five.The latter half of the top 10 featured a couple highly regarded international players in France’s Killian Hayes, taken by Detroit at No.7, and Deni Avdija, the highest player to come from Israel when Washington picked him at No.9.The setting wasn’t the only thing unusual about the draft.

Duke didn’t have a player picked in the first round after having 39 since the league went to a two-round draft in 1989.And the San Antonio Spurs picked in the lottery for the first time since 1997, when they drafted Tim Duncan No.1.The Spurs picked Devin Vassell at No.11, giving Florida State two first-round selections for just the second time in school history.___More AP NBA: and Mahoney, The Associated Press 21 hours ago Massive Indigenous-owned solar farm opens in remote northern Alberta community An Indigenous-owned solar farm in remote northeast Alberta, branded the largest project of its kind in Canada, celebrated its grand opening this week, bringing increased renewable energy independence to a community long reliant on diesel fuel.The project is owned by Three Nations Energy, a joint venture of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Fort Chipewyan Métis Association, all located in the hamlet of Fort Chipewyan.

The 5,760 solar panels will supply the remote northeast Alberta community with around 25 per cent of its energy needs, the company says.Before the solar farm, Fort Chipewyan’s roughly 1,000 residents got their energy from the ATCO-owned diesel power station, which every year burns three million litres of fuel trucked in on ice roads or delivered by river barge.The solar farm is expected to replace 800,000 litres of diesel a year, equivalent to about 2,376 tonnes of carbon emissions.”We worked together and we made it happen,” Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said Tuesday at an event celebrating the completion of the project’s second and final phase.”We work with the sun, we work with the wind, we work with mother nature and we work the water for the children of the future — to give them a better life, a cleaner life.” ATCO, the Alberta-based utility company, partnered with the Indigenous owners throughout the project, including on design and engineering.The utility owns 1,500 panels built during the first phase in June 2019.”This is a very proud moment for all of us as a community.We’ve worked together very hard for these past couple of years,” said Blue Eyes Simpson, vice-president of the Fort Chipewyan Métis Association.

‘We’re switching over to renewable energy’ With the completion of the 2.2 MWh-capacity project, about 25 fewer tanker trucks will trek across the winter ice road connecting the community with Fort McMurray, 220 kilometres to the south, the company says.In the summer, the community is only accessible by air or barge.Local leaders say the ice road is becoming increasingly unreliable due to climate change, as research shows Canada’s north is warming nearly three times faster than the global average.”This energy project brings a lot of happiness to our community because it’s less fuel to transport down the road,” Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief Peter Powder said Tuesday.The renewable energy project is the largest remote, off-grid solar farm in the country, according to the federal government.Three Nations Energy says the profits will be reinvested in other green energy projects and education.”We’ve always relied on fossil fuels, but we’re switching over to renewable energy,” said Powder.The $7.76-million project was funded by the provincial and federal government.

The federal government supplied $4.5 million and the Alberta government added the other $3.3 million.Federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan called the solar farm a model for Canada’s energy future.”We welcome your determination in building the energy capacity to reduce the community’s reliance on diesel, to reduce pollution and to address a climate crisis that has taken a particularly heavy toll on your region,” O’Regan said in pre-recorded remarks, aired during a virtual panel discussion Wednesday.ATCO will buy the solar farm’s energy under a long-term purchase agreement and supply it to the local power grid, which is disconnected from the provincewide grid.”Indigenous people must have an equity stake in resource projects if there’s going to be a healthy future for our vital resources industry,” Rick Wilson, Alberta’s minister of Indigenous relations, said in a pre-recorded video.

“Projects like this will benefit generations to come.” Three Nations Energy doesn’t plan to stop with the solar farm.The company is looking to add a wood fuel heating business and sustainable hydroponics food production in the community, with the help of the solar farm’s project managers Greenplanet Energy Analytics.16 hours ago 16 more high schools in Saskatoon, Regina switch to mix of in-person, remote learning More than a dozen more high schools in Saskatoon and Regina will switch to a mix of in-person and remote learning as of Thursday.The Saskatchewan government said on Nov.13 that due to increasing COVID-19 cases, it was recommending high schools with 600 students or more transition to Level 3 of the province’s Safe Schools Plan, which reduces in-class learning.All public high schools in Regina switched to the hybrid learning model on Nov.

12, a day prior to the province’s recommendation.Four Catholic high schools in Regina will make the switch Thursday, including: * Michael.A Riffel.* Archbishop M.C.O’Neill.* Miller Comprehensive.

* Dr.Martin LeBoldus.Students attending those schools will alternate between in-class learning days and remote-learning days.The Regina Catholic high schools will maintain hybrid learning until classes end for the term on Dec.18, and the plan will be re-evaluated prior to January, the school board said in a news release.Eight of Saskatoon’s 11 public high schools will also be moving to hybrid learning on Thursday.City Park School, Nutana Colegiate and Royal West Campus in Saskatoon are not affected due to enrolment size, the public school board said in a news release.Four Saskatoon Catholic schools will also make the shift, including: * Bethlehem Catholic High School.* Bishop James Mahoney High School.

* Holy Cross High School.* St.Joseph High School.What’s yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you.Share your story with our online questionnaire.18 hours ago Thai PM threatens to use all laws against protesters Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha threatened on Thursday to use all laws possible against protesters, as demonstrations escalate for his removal and for reforms to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.Activists voiced concern that this could mean the resumption of prosecutions under some of the world’s harshest royal insult laws.”Prayuth has declared a battle against the people,” said rights lawyer and protest leader Arnon Nampa.a day ago 6-year-old Delta girl’s petition causes city to explore a new crosswalk Arianne Dieleman is proving you’re never too young to enact change at city hall.The six-year-old successfully petitioned the city of Delta to explore creating a crosswalk along a busy road, after delivering a petition of 30 signatures to city council last week.

“I wanted the street to be safer, and I was worried that people might wait until somebody gets hit,” said Dieleman to CBC News.Dieleman, who wasn’t previously politically active, regularly crosses Central Avenue at the end of the pathway at Lions Park on her way to and from school.Most days, it’s a relatively peaceful walk with her grandma and three siblings, but there’s a curve in the road that can make it difficult to see oncoming traffic.”My brother Wesley was on his bike … and almost got hit,” said Dieleman.”He wasn’t really scared because he’s pretty brave, but it scared me a lot.”Dieleman asked her grandma what could be done to create a crosswalk.She suggested a petition.’Dear town council'”She started going to people in the park that afternoon asking them to sign it,” said Carmelle Dieleman, Arianne’s mother.”There were a lot of people who also had stories of almost getting hit on the corner … so there were a lot of people that supported it, not just because she came up to them, but because they believed in it.”Arianne’s handwritten letter beseeched “town council” to build the crosswalk and included a diagram for council’s benefit.After receiving the petition in October, staff told council before its Nov.

9 meeting that its engineering department would create a crosswalk assessment.Their findings will be referred to a technical committee for review.Dieleman is sanguine about the pace of local government — saying she didn’t expect city hall to move so quickly — but understands the crosswalk still might not happen.”[I’d be] a little sad, but I’m still happy that I worked and tried my best.”‘Streets for people first’Delta Coun.Dylan Kruger is optimistic that a crosswalk can get built — and soon.”We had a traditional mindset in our community, and in communities all over Metro Vancouver, where we were creating streets for cars,” he said.

“And I think this is part of the increasing trend to create streets for people first.” Kruger said given the timeline of Arianne’s campaign, it was possible that a new crosswalk could be included in next year’s capital budget.”It’s a tough year for all local governments right now, balancing fiscal restraints and improvements to the community.But I’m certainly going to be bringing this up.”As for Dileman? She says crosswalk or not, the experience has motivated her to push for more change.And she’s grateful council is treating her petition like it would anyone else’s.”I was pretty happy and thankful.” 16 hours ago Nate Darling goes undrafted but will sign deal with NBA club Bedford’s Nate Darling wasn’t selected in Wednesday night’s NBA draft but he has taken another step toward becoming the first Nova Scotia born player to play in the NBA.Darling, who played college basketball at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Delaware, is set to sign a two-way contract with the Charlotte Hornets.Darling declared himself eligible for the NBA draft after a breakout season last year in Delaware.

The three-point specialist was one of the NCAA’s top shooters, averaging 21 points per game and shooting 39.9% from three-point range.Darling scored 672 points in 2019-2020, seven shy of the school record.He also set a University of Delaware record by hitting 107 three-pointers last season.The two-way deal means the six-foot-five-inch guard could split his time playing in Charlotte, if he makes the Hornets roster when NBA training camps open next month, or he’ll play in nearby Greensboro for the Hornets’ minor league affiliate in the NBA G League.Darling left Canada in the ninth grade and enrolled at DeMatha Catholic High School, a basketball powerhouse in Hyattsville, Maryland.In the summer of 2015, he returned to his hometown and etched his name in Canadian basketball lore, scoring 50 points to lead Team Nova Scotia to an upset of Team Ontario in the gold medal game at the U-17 Canada Basketball Championship.MORE TOP STORIES 18 hours ago Antimony mine closes in central Newfoundland, citing COVID-19 struggles An antimony mine in central Newfoundland has suspended its operations and laid off almost all its employees, saying it’s not financially feasible to operate during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.Management at Beaver Brook Antimony Mine made the “extremely difficult decision” to close up on Tuesday, laying off most people on its payroll, Site Manager Shane Osmond said in a news release.”The majority of our valued workforce were unfortunately laid off,” he said.The statement said more layoffs would be coming in the next week.”This is not a decision we take lightly and fully understand the resulting impacts on our workforce and local communities,” Osmond said in the statement.The mine, 43 kilometres outside of Glenwood, reopened in 2019 after years on hiatus thanks to Chinese investors.Upon its reopening, the mine had an expected lifespan of three-and-a-half years and made its first shipment in June 2019.It had more than 100 people on its payroll when in full swing, but its success was short-lived.The mine’s ability to operate in 2020 was hampered by COVID-19, Osmond said, with production temporarily paused in March as public health restrictions hit the province, and then restarted in July at a limited capacity.But the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across Canada and the globe, combined with “significant negative impacts the crisis has had on our financial situation” along with increased costs to operate in winter mean the company can no longer operate at this time.”We have so far taken every reasonable measure to prevent this suspension but were sadly unable to do so,” Osmond said.Hope for reopeningThe closure may not be permanent, as Osmond said the company will continue to “assess the viability of restarting the project” throughout the upcoming winter and spring.The head of a non-profit mining association in Newfoundland and Labrador called the shutdown “unfortunate,” but Ed Moriarity said that hope remains for a reopening.”I am heartened, at least, by the notion that the company has noted that they haven’t given up on the operation,” Moriarity, the executive director of Mining Industry NL, told CBC News.A few people at the mine still have their jobs to keep tabs on the situation and fulfil obligations like environmental responsibilities, according to the Beaver Brook release.Moriarity said pandemic-caused disruptions to global supply chains, rather than public health restrictions, are likely at play and have caused sluggish demand for antimony, a mineral used in a number of industries, including the production of batteries, bullets, glass, pottery and cosmetics.”Our association is certainly monitoring the situation carefully, and any help we can do to support further market access or to better understand the opportunities in terms of the antimony deposit, here and around the world, we’d be happy to participate and support,” he said.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 18 hours ago .

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