Royal Agriculture Winter Fair CEO Charlie Johnstone talks to Liem Vu about the educational and interactive fair going virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Royal Agriculture Winter Fair CEO Charlie Johnstone talks to Liem Vu about the educational and interactive fair going virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, is urging New Brunswickers to "have a plan ready" for self-isolation.More than 1,000 New Brunswickers are currently in self-isolation, Russell said at Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing, the third this week. "I am sure that very few of these people expected that this would happen to them, and even fewer made a plan for this eventuality. But everyone needs to be ready," she said.Russell advised residents in all zones to "make a plan today.""Have a plan for self-isolation, how you'll arrange work, supports and other activities on short notice. Until a vaccine becomes available the risk of outbreaks will remain high."Russell also announced three new cases on Wednesday.These include two cases in the Saint John region (Zone 2): one person in their 50s and another person in their 70s.Both are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation.The third case is someone 30 to 39 in the Bathurst region (Zone 6). This case is travel-related and the individual is self-isolating.There are 94 active cases in the province, and one person is in hospital.As of Wednesday, 118,648 tests have been conducted, 1,060 since Tuesday at this time.Health minister addresses testing delays, backlogHealth Minister Dorothy Shephard also spoke at Wednesday's briefing and opened by acknowledging "frustration" with testing access and an increase in requests for testing.On Tuesday alone, Shephard said, 1,384 requests for a test were submitted online.Of those, 503 came from the Saint John region and 333 from the Fredericton region. Compounding this week's increase in demand was a "technical glitch" that was preventing test requests from getting through to schedulers, Shephard said.The glitch has been resolved, and with the addition of a new testing centre at James the Less Church, located at 1760 Rothesay Rd. in Rothesay, the delays are expected to ease. "As we go through the next day or two you're going to see that we will be able to clear those backlogs up," Shephard said. Dr. Jennifer Russell had earlier noted that the backlog did not affect priority testing such as pre-operation testing or results for people who are self-isolating.Shephard also urged New Brunswickers to take care of their mental health as they head into the holiday season, taking care to exercise regularly, avoid alcohol, get plenty of sleep, maintain a regular routine and take care of one another."COVID-19 fatigue is real. The longer this pandemic goes on the bigger the impact COVID-19 fatigue has on our mental health," she said. "We are all in this together. It is important to know you are not alone."Another positive case at Shannex in Saint JohnThere are now five positive cases of COVID-19 at the Shannex Parkland facility in Saint John.Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Wednesday that a new case has been confirmed, after one employee and three residents tested positive earlier this week."There was one new [case] this morning and we have just done another round of testing, so we will know by tomorrow morning how they all turn out," Shephard said. She did not say whether the new case was a resident or an employee.Earlier this week, Public Health said the Shannex outbreak was at Tucker Hall, a 90-bed licensed long-term care home on the Parkland Saint John campus. COVID-alert app in use in N.B., but little data availableThe COVID-alert app is being used by New Brunswickers, but the province does not yet know how many people have downloaded it."We are not able to get data from the federal government on how many people in each province have it," Dr. Jennifer Russell said Wednesday when asked if there has been uptake on the app here in New Brunswick."But obviously, the more people who have it, the better, because it would decrease the timeframe between notifying someone that they are positive and making sure they take all the steps to protect themselves and others."Russell said they do have data on "one-time key entries" that show the app is being used here, and further data should be coming.Changes to single-household bubble rules The province has adjusted its single-household rule for residents in orange or red zones.The single-household bubble can now now be extended to include a caregiver or an immediate family member who needs mental, social and/or emotional support, the province said in a release Wednesday. The caregiver can be a close friend or neighbour.Members of this extended bubble can go to restaurants and other venues, such as church, together.Public Health wants to be sole provider of exposure warningsWhen businesses and other organizations release their own statements about possible COVID-19- exposure, it can create confusion and anxiety with the public, says New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health."They feel like they're doing their due diligence and it's well-intentioned," said Dr. Jennifer Russell. "But it can be very confusing for the public."Earlier this week, Public Health announced possible COVID-19 exposures at the Stan Cassidy Rehabilitation Centre and Montgomery Street School in Fredericton.At the same time, the YMCA of Fredericton and GoodLife Fitness on Prospect Street in Fredericton released statements about possible COVID-19 exposures on their properties. Russell said such announcements cause people to question why a business or organization is issuing an advisory and not Public Health. "When Public Health is involved and Public Health has made the risk assessment, then you can feel confident the information shared is accurate," she said. To minimize confusion, Russell said it would be better if businesses and organizations refrained from releasing their own statements.CBC News spoke recently with a Fredericton business owner frustrated by the poor flow of information from Public Health about what he should do after a visitor to his store tested positive for COVID-19. But Russell said Public Health follows a standard process to decide if the public is at risk and whether a notice of exposure is necessary.The process includes a detailed questionnaire, and how the questions are answered determines the risk of COVID-19 exposure to the public. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health will contact those who have been within two metres of that person for 15 minutes or longer — or have had brief exposures that were repetitive in a span of 24 hours that added up to 15 minutes or more. Public Health also decides when that person was contagious and the contact tracing is based on that period of time. Russell said there's no need to issue a public advisory if close contacts are notified and there's no risk of public exposure.But if they can't track down or reach all the close contacts, that's when Public Health officials will notify citizens about potential exposure out of "an abundance of caution." Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, will be speaking at a news briefing in Fredericton at 2:30 p.m.Businesses don't know what the rules are The president and CEO of WorkSafeNB says the pandemic has been a difficult time for many New Brunswick businesses — especially when it comes to following the rules. Doug Jones said the main concern he's hearing from business owners is they aren't sure what rules are.He said WorkSafeNB spent time this week clarifying those guidelines."Essentially, we want people to wear a mask almost all the time, unless you're in your own cubicle or in your own office space, in the work environment," he said."Just wear a mask all the time. That's the biggest message."The biggest gap inspectors are also seeing is that many businesses don't have a written operational plan .He said businesses typically get a warning first. But if problems continue or pose a serious risk a business could be fined or shut down.Public Health expects surge in testingDr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said Public Health expects to see surges in COVID-19 testing when more outbreaks happen.That's when Public Health will ramp up testing capacity. They do this by adding more hours and testing centres, which they've done in Saint John. There's also a priority system in place to minimize risks of outbreaks, which includes first-responders and people living in long-term care facilities.Russell said testing typically takes between 24 and 72 hours. Meanwhile, contact tracing is between 24 and 48 hours.But there can be delays"It is unfortunate but we keep track of that," she said.As of Tuesday, 117,588 tests have been conducted.Hockey league postpones 7 gamesThe Quebec Major Junior Hockey League postponed seven games scheduled in the Maritimes Division this week. The games were scheduled in Charlottetown, Cape Breton, Moncton, Saint John and Bathurst. According to its website, the decision was made after the announcement of new restrictions by Public Health officials in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.Last week, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has postponed at least five games involving the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Cape Breton Eagles after a positive COVID-19 test.The positive test was within the Saint John Sea Dogs organization.All fitness and recreational facilities, libraries, museums and casinos in the region must close for the next two weeks, as well.P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is advising people to travel off the Island only for essential purposes.Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — the fifth highest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, all restaurants and bars in the Halifax region must close to in-person dining, except for takeout and delivery orders, for the next two weeks. Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health is advising residents to avoid non-essential travel to Halifax, which reported 16 new cases on Thursday.If New Brunswickers are travelling from there, they should behave as though they've just come from an orange zone. She is advising people to avoid gatherings and vulnerable people. They should also wear a mask inside and out."This is a rapidly changing situation and we're assessing it every day," Russell said.And if risks are getting too high, New Brunswick will be cut off from Nova Scotia.Potential public exposure warnings for Fredericton, Saint John, MonctonNew Brunswick Public Health has warned of the following possible exposures to COVID-19 in Moncton and Saint John, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.Anyone who visited these places during the identified times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.Anyone who develops any COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online to schedule a test.Fredericton area * The Snooty Fox on Nov. 18 and 19, 66 Regent St., between 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on Nov. 19 while on these flights: * Air Canada Flight 178 – from Edmonton to Toronto arrived at 5:58 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 404– from Toronto to Montreal arrived at 10:16 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton arrived at 4:17 p.m.Saint John area * Vito's Restaurant on Nov. 16, 111 Hampton Rd., Rothesay, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. * Rothesay Route 1 Big Stop Restaurant on Nov. 14 between 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. (2870 Route 1, Rothesay). * Pub Down Under on Nov. 14, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (400 Main St., Saint John) * Fish & Brew on Nov. 14 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (800 Fairville Blvd., Saint John) * Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Nov. 16 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (39 King St., Saint John). * Goodlife Fitness McAllister Place on Nov. 16 between noon and 1 p.m. and on Nov. 18 between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John). * NBCC Grandview campus on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (950 Grandview Ave., Saint John). * Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (47 Clark Rd., Rothesay) * Let's Hummus at 44 Water St. between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. * Eighty-Three Bar Arcade at 43 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * Callie's Pub at 2 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * O'Leary's Pub at 46 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * Five and Dime Bar at 34 Grannan St. on Nov. 14, between 12:30 to 2:30 a.m * Freddie's Pizza at 27 Charlotte St. on Nov. 14, between 2:30 to 3 a.m. * Big Tide Brewing Company at 47 Princess St. on Nov. 16, between 12:30 to 2 p.m. * Java Moose at 84 Prince William St. Nov. 16, between 2 to 2:30 p.m. * Rocky's Sports Bar at 7 Market Square on Nov. 13, between 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 14 between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.Moncton * RD Maclean Co. Ltd. on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 200 St. George St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. * GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. * Fit 4 Less at 165 Main St. on Nov. 6-12, at various times between 5 p.m. and midnight. Full list on Public Health website. * GoodLife Fitness at Moncton Junction Village Gym on Nov. 6, between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 9, between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. * Aldo Shoes at Moncton Champlain Mall on Nov. 6-10 at various times between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. * CEPS Louis-J. Robichaud fitness room at 40 Antonine-Maillet Ave. on Nov. 6, 9, 10 and 12 at various times in the evening from 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. * Tandoori Zaika Cuisine and Bar at 196 Robinson St. on Nov. 8, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. * Keg Steakhouse and Bar at 576 Main St. on Nov. 17, between 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. * Flights into Moncton: * Air Canada Flight 8954 on Nov. 15 from Winnipeg to Toronto, arrived at 8:16 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 15 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 0992 on Nov. 7 from Mexico City to Toronto, arrived at 7:20 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 7 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m.What to do if you have a symptomPeople concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: * A fever above 38 C. * A new cough or worsening chronic cough. * Sore throat. * Runny nose. * Headache. * New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. * Difficulty breathing.In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.People with one of those symptoms should: * Stay at home. * Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. * Describe symptoms and travel history. * Follow instructions.
The P.E.I. government's spending priorities were put under the microscope Tuesday with both opposition parties focusing on the millions of dollars that were not spent in last year's capital budget.Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker said the province underspent on mental health and public housing while spending millions of dollars more on paving."Only about a quarter of the funds that were designated for housing actually got spent, but let's look at all the shiny new asphalt. It's not just this year, premier, it's last year as well," Bevan-Baker said from the floor of the provincial legislature. "To the premier, what do you have to say to the people who have nowhere to sleep tonight, the 750 people who are currently on the government housing wait list. What about the people who are in crisis tonight struggling to access the mental health services that they so desperately need? How will paving help them?"'Record investments'According to capital budget, the province planned to spend $17.5-million on housing. It spent $9.5 millionThe province had planned to spend $12-million on the mental health campus. It spent $2.7-million.Premier Dennis King defended his government's record on both the mental health and public housing files. "I believe that we've been making record investments in these areas, when you look at housing, the incredible rate in which construction is taking place, and if there is an underspend in that area, it's simply because the province doesn't have the ability to do any more," said King."That's not the government of Prince Edward Island, that's the industry in general. The construction industry is humming at a level, it's overheated… Our money is there. If fixing these important issues were just about money, I'd have them fixed this morning." Opposition MLA Hannah Bell said the province needs to build 10 times more public housing units than what is planned. That would be 1,000 units over the next five years. The province plans to open 100 public housing units over the next year.The province has already awarded the design work for 10 units in Morell and 10 units in Georgetown. It is planning another 48 public housing units in the Charlottetown area and 32 in the Summerside area.'Do appreciate the concern' Bell said at the rate the province is going, the province will build less than half of what they are promising. "Given that there are 750 Islanders on the wait list for public housing, why are you planning for around 50 additional units?" Bell asked during question period.Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson said he had hoped the province would have more public housing built by now. He said the global pandemic and the Island's red hot housing markets delayed the province's plans to build more housing."I certainly do appreciate the concern that the Opposition has stated with regards to the 100 builds that were announced in last year's capital budget," said Hudson."I'll be honest, a year ago I would have anticipated that we would have been further along with these."More from CBC P.E.I.
Town of Aylmer is asking for public feedback on their proposed official plan amendments, with the details explained through a virtual open house. The official plan is a statement of goals and policies, intended to guide future land use within the town to build sustainable communities and protect natural and agricultural resources. The Ontario Planning Act requires a review/update of the plan every five years. “It’s not a brand-new official plan, it’s just amending our existing one to fit with the current legislation,” explained Corporate Services Director Kale Brown during a virtual council meeting on Monday, Nov. 16. The draft official plan lists proposed changes to housing access and attainability; active transportation; parks, open space and sustainability; cultural heritage; servicing, stormwater, and waste management; transportation, energy and utilities; and general “housekeeping” updates. For example, one amendment is the provision of traditional and non-traditional housing options “to support residents of all ages.” Another is a new policy to partner with infrastructure providers to increase access to electrical vehicle charging stations. A 13-minute video explaining the amendments is available on the town website. During the meeting, Councillor Tom Charlton asked, “Are you in pretty good shape as far as growth concerns – our lagoons can handle the development in Cottonwood [Hills] without any issues?” Mr. Brown said that these projects would be addressed separately through the budget process and through the strategic priorities of the operations and planning department. “Staff will always recommend that council plan accordingly for our growth,” said Mr. Brown. “It’s difficult to say exactly what capacity that we would have because you don’t know exactly what’s going to be built. “We think it’s going to be around 300 units, and that was set aside back when the plan of subdivision was approved.” Aylmer staff started the review process of the town’s official plan in 2019, with the help of WSP, a consulting firm. Citizens are encouraged to review and provide feedback on the proposed changes before the plan is brought back to council on Monday, Dec. 7.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
After six years operating in one of Aylmer’s landmark buildings, the Family Central Restaurant will be closing its doors on Saturday, Dec. 19. Central building board member, Albert Loewen, described challenges from COVID-19 as “the final nail” that led to the restaurant’s closure. The building’s Family Central Apartment program, which provides affordable housing to participants while they work towards education and employment goals, will remain open. “It’s tough because you need numbers, you need crowds, that’s literally what you rely on to make your ends meet,” Mr. Loewen said. “We’re headed into the winter where there’s no patio option, and now there’s talk of further lockdowns.” Family Central Restaurant has been serving the community since 2014 with a goal of providing a wholesome and welcoming dining environment to families and the business community of downtown Aylmer. To encourage families and groups to have meaningful conversations with each other, the restaurant rewards patrons who refrain from using cell phones during meals with a 10% reduction on the bill. “At the end of the day, it’s a tough market for restaurants right now. We’re sad about it, but it’s a reality that a lot of restaurants are facing,” said Mr. Loewen. “I would highly encourage people to support the other local restaurants.” The organization’s main focus will now be providing affordable housing to the community through the Family Central Apartments, which provides eight units on the second and third floors. Currently, the basement is being renovated to operate as a space to serve those in the program. The space will provide semi-private meeting rooms, access to computers for job searches and other online needs, shower and laundry facilities, and an in-house barber. “The whole idea is to be a transitional space for people to get to a place of independence - whether they’re lacking education, or whatever is holding them back from a place they can get on their own,” explained Mr. Loewen. The apartment program currently employs two people who actively work and partner with other agencies to support those living in the program. The future for the first floor of the building, where the restaurant is, has yet to be determined.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Thanks to new funding, the Mattagami First Nation Fire Department has made upgrades. The $20,000 funding is from the Mattagami Trust. The fire department used the money to buy a new auto extrication tool and radios. "We had a few radios and now we have one for everybody," said fire chief Curtis Fowler. "We have 20 (firefighters)." Fowler said the department submitted an application in August and received approval in October. When the department received funding, he was excited. "Because then we could upgrade our tools, so we have the proper tools for the job, and good communication with everyone," he said. Fowler said the funding will help the community, the surrounding area as well as the highway that the fire department serves.Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
My mother's dementia has become more difficult to manage as Canadians are told to limit social contact for safety's sake.
When it filed for bankruptcy last year, Purdue Pharma agreed to an innovative plan: It would make $200 million available immediately to help those those harmed by its signature painkiller, OxyContin, and ease the effects of the opioid crisis.More than a year later, with the crisis worsening, not a penny has been spent.“The money is just sitting in Purdue’s bank account collecting dust,” said Ed Neiger, a lawyer representing opioid victims. “It’s a travesty of epic proportions.”It's not Purdue that is holding up the money. Instead, it's lawyers representing the wide range of entities suing the company who cannot agree how best to use it. The main disagreement is between nearly 3,000 local governments and advocates for those hurt by opioids.Advocates want the money funneled mostly to local nonprofits that provide emergency services to people with addictions. State attorneys general say doing so would dilute the money so much it would not be effective. Because Purdue is undergoing the long process of distributing its assets, the states also see the prospect of distributing billions of dollars over time as more important than the $200 million.“You see the state AGs come in and block the money, and you’re not understanding why,” said Jill Cichowicz, who lost her twin brother to an overdose and sits on a committee advocating for victims in Purdue’s bankruptcy case. “We’re all baffled.”Purdue filed for bankruptcy last year as part of an effort to settle thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold the company accountable for the crisis that has been linked to 470,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. In a separate case, it pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a broader settlement with the Department of Justice.The proposal being considered in bankruptcy court calls for members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, to pay at least $3 billion and give up ownership of the company. Purdue would then become a public benefit corporation, with its profits going to ease the overdose crisis, including by increasing treatment capacity and providing other addiction services.The company says the total value of the deal over time could be more than $10 billion.State attorneys general, all of whom have sued Purdue, disagree over whether that’s the right approach.They are not the only ones who will need to be persuaded. A committee of creditors that includes people in recovery or who have lost loved ones to overdoses must also agree. It was that group that proposed the $200 million relief fund after Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September 2019.The fund was inspired by one adopted last year in the case of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the giant California utility that landed in bankruptcy because of lawsuits blaming it for California wildfires.Neiger, who represents a committee of victims in the complicated legal battle, says the relief fund idea is so novel that it’s not even recognized by bankruptcy law but was accepted by federal bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain.The plan called for distributing money to groups trying to help people with addictions by providing shelter, connecting them to services and supplying overdose antidote drugs. It was left to parties in the case to work out the details.With disagreements on where the money should go and who should control it, that has not happened.In a statement read during a hearing in April, a group of lawyers said they were pausing talks on how to use the relief money while they focus on broader mediation about how Purdue’s assets will be used.The statement asserted that “despite the best intentions on all sides,” the players in the case had a “deeply held, fundamental difference in view" about the best use of the money. They said talking about it was straining efforts to figure out what to do with the billions that could ultimately flow from Purdue. They planned to revisit the issue later.Since then, the broader question of where settlement money would go was resolved through mediation. State and local governments agreed to put their full shares toward programs to alleviate the crisis. That's a significant development, but it does not bring the quick help called for with the $200 million fund. And there are no indications when the relief fund discussions will resume.Advocates for people with substance abuse disorders say local nonprofits could have used the money to assist more people immediately.“If you gave them a million dollars, they would be able to do so much more than if you just gave it to a state agency,” said Cichowicz, whose twin brother, Scott Zebrowski, fatally overdosed in 2017 on a counterfeit OxyContin pill containing fentanyl. The former gym manager was 38.Cichowicz, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, said her brother became addicted after being prescribed OxyContin for back pain in 2014.While the case plays out, the addiction problem only deepens. The U.S. had a record 71,000 overdose deaths last year, most of them from opioids. Preliminary data shows an even higher death toll is likely this year. Experts say that could be in part because of the loss of in-person counselling during the coronavirus pandemic.Brandon George, director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, said the pandemic has taken almost all the energy of county health departments and left local recovery organizations to distribute naloxone, an overdose antidote. He expects mental health services to be cut as state and local tax revenue decreases.George said he never expected the Purdue relief fund to get money to groups quickly, but it might have made a difference.“That money certainly could have been put to good use,” he said. “Right now, our health care systems are very strained.”___Mulvihill reported from Davenport, Iowa. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill.Geoff Mulvihill, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Toymaker Spin Master Corp. has announced a deal to develop toys and games based on the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies.The company says it has signed a global licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products for the Wizarding World franchise.Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.Spin Master says it will develop Wizarding World products inspired by the popular books and movies including dolls, figures and accessories, playsets, vehicles and games.The toys are expected to launch on shelves in the fall of next year.Last month, Spin Master — which includes Paw Patrol, Hatchimals and Gund among its brands — signed a deal to buy Rubik's Brand Ltd, the owner of the Rubik's Cube, for US$50 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:TOY)The Canadian Press
The Town of Aylmer is in the midst of revising its flag policy after a request to fly a Christian flag at town hall from resident Susan Mutch on July 29. Ms. Mutch sent in her request the week after the town flew a rainbow-striped pride flag to show support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. With that request so far unanswered, the Aylmer Express has found some some history of the flag, including its U.S.A. Methodist founding and unofficial status in Canada. Forrest Pass, flag historian and curator at Library and Archives Canada, said of the Christian flag, “It’s a very American emblem. In the United States, it has some official sanction from an ecumenical body that represents a number of denominations - it has that significance there. “In Canada - the Canadian Council of Churches or any of those organizations have not adopted it.” Mr. Pass said flying a Christian flag at governmental buildings throughout Canada is not unheard of, pointing to a similar case in Newfoundland about four years ago. “The organization that requested this may be in fact taking their inspiration from that case,” noted Mr. Pass. A group of Christians of all denominations raised a Christian flag at the Confederation Building in St. John’s, Newfoundland in March 2016. Almost immediately, the move drew criticism from the general public and some members of the House of Assembly, who felt the symbol had homophobic connotations and represented a “divisive” approach to Christianity. The flag was taken down less than 24 hours later. “Flags can be hugely emotional. These are emblems that are designed to provoke emotion and they do provoke emotion,” noted Mr. Pass. The Christian flag itself has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton. The red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed on the Calvary, blue represents the waters of baptism and faithfulness of Jesus, and white represents Jesus’ purity. The idea for the flag originated at Brighton Chapel in Brooklyn, New York in 1897. After a scheduled speaker failed to arrive for an event, the superintendent, Charles Overton, of the Sunday school gave an impromptu lecture. He asked students what a flag representing Christianity would look like. The design of the flag was based on the text from this lecture. In 1907, Mr. Overton and and Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary of the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, designed and began promoting the flag. “It’s an interesting case where the design emerges before the physical artifact,” said Mr. Pass. The flag does have some history in Canada, he said, used as early as the 1920s. It’s been used fairly regularly by Sunday school groups, Canadian Girls in Training, and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). “I’m not sure how frequently it would be used by provincial governments or by municipal governments, but I wouldn’t say it’s unprecedented,” noted Mr. Pass. The flag mainly represents a wide swath of Protestant Christianity and is largely an evangelical symbol, he said. It is not a symbol that has any particular resonance for Roman Catholics. “It’s really up to the user of the flag what it represents – that’s one of the interesting things about these symbols is that their meaning changes constantly.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in Alaska within a few weeks, state health officials said.Early batches of vaccine will be prioritized for essential workers in health care, assisted living and emergency medical settings, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.Vaccines initially will be issued in limited quantities and likely will not be available to the general public until March or April.The state continues to work on plans to distribute supplies after the vaccines become broadly available.The mid-December timeline for arrival in Alaska was based on announcements by drug companies working to produce coronavirus vaccines.Pfizer Inc. said earlier this month that test results showed its vaccine is 95% effective and protects older people most at risk of dying. Moderna Inc. said this month that preliminary data from an ongoing study showed its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective.AstraZeneca PLC on Monday reported results from ongoing studies of a vaccine under development with Oxford University, saying the drug was up to 90% effective.The high efficacy rates of the vaccines is “such a triumph,” said Joe McLaughlin, an Alaska state epidemiologist. For comparison, influenza vaccine effectiveness is typically between 40% and 60%, he said.Alaska has not definitively settled a timetable, but the distribution will be done in phases with front line health care workers prioritized, said Tessa Walker Linderman, co-lead of the Alaska COVID Vaccine Task Force.The soonest the Pfizer vaccine could be shipped is Dec. 10, with Moderna's vaccine likely being shipped about a week later, said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.After the first round of people get the vaccine, the next phase could include high-risk or critical-infrastructure workers.Pregnant women and children were not included in any of the drug trials and will need to wait longer for access.The state does not know how much vaccine will be delivered and officials are planning for three different scenarios, including batches of less than 5,000 doses and groups of around 10,000 and 20,000 doses, Zink said.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The Associated Press
Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most since April. The province has imposed new restrictions on the Halifax area, including closing gyms and libraries and banning indoor dining.
MADRID — At least eight people died after a migrant boat carrying more than 30 people hit rocks close to a small port on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Spanish rescue services said Wednesday.The boat was one of 17 intercepted in the islands' waters in the past 24 hours. About 450 people were rescued in the other boats, but one died later.The Canary Islands emergency service said the Lanzarote boat crashed into pier rocks and overturned in the Orzola area on the north of the island late Tuesday.Video images showed rescue workers and residents pulling young men in T-shirts from the water in the dark and other migrants sitting on the rocks.The emergency services said eight bodies from the boat were found and 28 people rescued. They said search operations were continuing for one person believed missing.In the other incidents, the national rescue service and Civil Guard rescued some 450 people, including women and children, arriving in 16 boats near Gran Canaria island. One person died.Anselmo Pestana, the central government's representative on the islands, said the arrivals “generated difficulties but obviously none more painful than to see bodies, people arriving on our coasts dead.”He said that many possibly didn't know how to swim, and thanked residents for helping in the rescue.Officials said the migrants were from northwest African and sub-Saharan countries. Many had set sail from Morocco several days ago.Many of the rescued were taken to the Arguineguín dock on the southwestern coast of Gran Canaria, where nearly 600 people of different origins are being kept, some in tents. Numbers on the dock rose to more than 2,000 recently.Spain has promised to set up more tents to accommodate the people arriving.More than 19,000 people fleeing poverty, violence or other circumstances have arrived in Spain’s Canary Islands this year, a 1,000% increase from the same period in 2019. More than 500 have died in the attempt. Around half of the arrivals — and most of the deaths — have been in the past 30 days, a spike that has strained resources on the archipelago.CiaráN Giles, The Associated Press
BERLIN — A car crashed into the front gate of the building housing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices on Wednesday morning, causing minor damage, authorities said. The driver, who authorities say had been involved in an almost identical incident six years ago, was detained.The Volkswagen station wagon hit the gate to the German chancellery at about 10 a.m. (0900 GMT; 4 a.m. EST). The slogan “You damned murderers of children and old people” was scrawled in white paint on one side of the car and “stop the globalization policies” was on the other.Police spokesman Thilo Cablitz told reporters the 54-year-old driver was detained at the scene after driving at a slow speed into the gate and was being questioned. He said police were investigating whether he might be psychologically disturbed or had other motivations.According to Germany’s Interior Ministry, the same man had already been involved in an almost identical incident in 2014.At that time, he drove a similar, if not the same, car into the same gate but caused no damage. The car carried a slogan scrawled in white paint on the side that condemned climate change and the man was taken into custody.Reports in 2014 said the man had done something similar before.Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said he did not know whether the suspect was listed as a possible threat.The car used Wednesday had license plates from the Lippe area in western Germany and was driven away by the Berlin fire department showing little sign of damage beyond a few scratches.Merkel’s office said there was only minor damage to the security gate.“For the chancellor, other members of the federal government, and the people employed in the chancellery there was no danger at any time,” her office said.The chancellery sits in downtown Berlin next to the Swiss Embassy and across from parliamentary offices. The exterior gate that was hit, which is next to a security office outside the main building, opens onto a public street.There was no immediate indication of what prompted the incident, but it came on the day that Merkel was to meet with state governors to talk about extending a partial coronavirus shutdown that started on Nov. 2.The government's approach toward slowing the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions enjoy widespread support among most Germans but they have also prompted occasionally violent protests in some major cities._____ Frank Jordans contributed to this story.David Rising, The Associated Press
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — K-pop band BTS has earned its first Grammy nomination, a long-awaited feat for the South Korean act that has been reshaping the global pop landscape with record-breaking songs and well-mobilized fans.Critics say the boy band's nomination Tuesday demonstrates its growing presence and impact in the mainstream U.S. pop industry.“K-pop, represented by BTS, has cracked the mainstream of mainstream, the Grammys,” said Kim Youngdae, a Seoul-based music critic and author of the book “BTS: The Review." He called the nomination “historic” and said the band "has carved out its own space and squeezed itself in.”The pandemic may have unexpectedly contributed to the long-awaited recognition from the Recording Academy.“Before (the pandemic), artists who went to the U.S. would sing at radio stations, concerts and live stages, but these include a variety of limitations, including time and space,” said Kim Do Heon, editor-in-chief of the online music magazine IZM. Kim said the band’s increased online presence during the pandemic -- through frequent social media interactions and paid virtual concerts -- may have contributed to its global success, leading to the nomination.The band — composed of J-Hope, RM, Suga, Jungkook, V, Jin and Jimin — will compete for best pop duo/group performance at the 63rd Grammy Awards with their all-English song “Dynamite,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year.This year’s best pop duo/group performance, a highly competitive category, features artists such as Taylor Swift with Bon Iver and Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande. The awards don't have a K-pop category and recently changed the name of the best world music album category to best global music album to be more “modern and inclusive." The academy said the new name “symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied."After the announcement, BTS uploaded videos on their official Twitter page, which has over 30.9 million followers, showing four members reacting to the nomination by jumping up from a couch and shouting “Yes!” and “BTS!”The band's members have always expressed their hope for a Grammy nomination. “I’d cry if we get an award in a (group-related) category,” J-Hope said at news conference for their new album “BE” last week.The most popular boy band in the world has been a familiar presence at the Grammy Awards -- but as an award presenter and performer, hitting the stage for less than a minute with Lil Nas X and others at the previous awards ceremony.However, a nomination by the Recording Academy evaded the band for years as it broke multiple records, including becoming the first Korean act to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and clenching multiple trophies at ceremonies including the MTV Video Music Awards and American Music Awards since their humble debut in 2013.Their dedicated fans around the world -- known as ARMY -- have been pushing for a Grammy nomination for years.Fans say the belated nomination makes them feel seen.“It’s like when you’re doing a test and you want to know if you passed or not and you finally get the result saying you passed, and make it that, but like 20 times more impactful,” Divisha Deepti, a university student in Fiji, said in a video interview.Maryann Lockington, another ARMY fan who works as a communications officer, said many of her fellow fans stayed up late for the announcement, and their fan group chat “blew up” afterward.The 2021 Grammy Awards will air on Jan. 31.Juwon Park, The Associated Press
Brighton council has taken its first look at the proposed 2021 operating budget for the municipality. A committee of council met Nov. 23 for round one of discussions about the first draft of the budget, which puts operating expenditures at $14,679,201. The proposed operating budget at this point is $290 lower than the 2020 operating budget. Earlier in the fall, council asked staff to attempt freezing the operating budget for 2021. Meanwhile, Brighton recently arrived at a proposed capital budget for 2021. If passed by council, the municipality’s 2021 budget for capital expenditures, such as maintaining roads and buildings, is $1,492,856. A public presentation of the proposed overall 2021 budget will occur in the new year prior to the budget bylaw being before council. Taxpayers in Brighton pay three levies on their property taxes – a municipal levy, a county levy and an education levy. During the budget process each year, staff provides council with the estimated increase/decrease to the county and education tax levies so that taxpayers can better understand the impact of the total tax increase, not just the municipal levy. Those figures aren’t available yet and the committee of the whole won’t meet again until the new year to further discuss the operating aspects of the overall Brighton budget. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
Aylmer Mayor Mary French announced that she is not the sole decision-maker for town COVID-19-related actions, in response to the brief avalanche of messages received as a result of the state of emergency declaration, and closure of the East Elgin Community Complex, ahead of the Nov. 7 “freedom” rally. The Emergency Control Group (ECG), comprised of the mayor, administrator, staff, emergency and community services repesentatives, works together to make decisions regarding the pandemic. “In this group, my role is the same as it is at council in that I am one of many voices at the table,” said Mayor French, near the conclusion of the Nov. 16 virtual council meeting. “More specifically, actions of the town in response to COVID-19 are never undertaken specifically at my request, but instead are the result of collaborative decision-making processes.” Anyone with questions about the ECG decision-making process can contact Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Reynaert or Emergency Services Director Sam Taylor, she said. Mayor French also thanked the community, council and staff for the “ongoing support that has been received in relation to recent events.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers increased their spending by a sluggish 0.5% last month, the weakest rise since April, when the pandemic first erupted, and a sign that Americans remain wary with the virus resurging across the country and threatening the economy.The October gain reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 1.2% increase in September. It suggested that consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, is being restrained by a weakened economy and by the failure of Congress to provide another stimulus package to struggling individuals and businesses.The government's report also showed that income, which provides the fuel for spending, fell 0.7% in October.With new viral cases accelerating across the country, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses. Sales at restaurants and bars fell in October for the first time in six months. Restaurant traffic declined further this month, according to the reservations provider OpenTable. Hotel occupancy is down from a month ago. Consumer spending on credit cards dropped in the first week of November from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Opportunity Insights.Economists warn that consumer spending could falter further in the current October-December quarter given that many of the major government support programs have expired and Congress has yet to renew the assistance.“With coronavirus infection rates soaring, states re-imposing restrictions and the ... data on in-person dining and jobless claims beginning to show signs of weakness, we are increasingly worried that the monthly gains in consumption will be weaker," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.The report showed that while the wages-and-salaries component of consumer income rose 0.7% in October, government transfers — the category that includes unemployment aid and other benefits — fell 6.2%.Inflation, as measured by a gauge tied to consumer spending, was unchanged in October. Measured year over year, it's up just 1.2%. That is far below the 2% annual target set by the Federal Reserve, and it gives the Fed further leeway to supply support to the economy beyond the ultra-low interest rates it is already providing.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press