Real estate expert John Pasalis joins Global News Morning to talk about the after-effects of the pandemic on Toronto’s real estate market.
Real estate expert John Pasalis joins Global News Morning to talk about the after-effects of the pandemic on Toronto’s real estate market.
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
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
NEW YORK — With police brutality continuing to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravishing Black America disproportionately, the world was driven to the significance of this year’s Juneteenth more than ever before.And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day — so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthemic jam where she proudly sings about her heritage, hometown and returning to her African roots.Months later, the song — and others focused on protesting, police brutality and the overall Black experience — are taking centre stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards.Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” scored nominations for two of the top awards: song of the year and record of the year. The track will also compete for best R&B song and best R&B performance.“There could have been a different approach as far as releasing the record and capitalizing off of timings of other things, but we really wanted to get it out during a time where we could all remember the feeling and the energy,” Derek Dixie, a longtime collaborator of Beyoncé’s who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press.“It’s not always about the money and about catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes it’s just about what it is — which was making our people proud.”“Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the overall top Grammy contender. Dixie earned three Grammy nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song.For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” the R&B singer’s track about police brutality.Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, scored nominations for best rap song and best rap performance. Proceeds from the song will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s attorney, the Bail Project and the National Association of Black Journalists.Anderson .Paak also released a song on Juneteenth — the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — and it’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for best rap performance and best music video..Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago but released it this year because she felt it was extremely relevant. Now, it’s nominated for best country solo performance, giving the performer her first-ever Grammy nomination.“It’s been so hard in the country music community and trying to get country music to even support my music and for me to get a Grammy (nomination), it just goes to show that writing your truth is just the way to go,” Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not only writing your truth, but really bringing your brothers and sisters up with you.”But Guyton admits that everyone’s response to her song wasn’t warm. It features the lyrics, “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be Black like me."“I released it and I did get people that were very angry. There were even radio stations that people were like, ‘Get this (expletive) off of my radio station,’” she said. “I would get people writing me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here then leave.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s just as much my country as it is yours.’”Guyton added that some “radio stations were scared to play (‘Black Like Me’) because they were (angering) their listeners because their listeners didn’t want to hear that.”“But I wasn’t writing that song for them, I was writing that song got the people that understand this exact walk that I’m walking," she continued. “It’s for them."Apart from “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also earned nominations for her film honouring Black art and Black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark- and brown-skinned women, “Brown Skin Girl.”Dixie, who has worked as Beyoncé’s music director and has produced, engineered and arranged songs for the singer, said he’s grateful he’s working with an artist who boldly speaks about Black pride in her music.“It’s just good to see that she’s willing to put that type of energy out and not necessarily be thinking about: ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No. 1? What’s going to guarantee me this?' It’s a part of our conversation, it’s a part of the process, but when it’s necessary to put that art out there, to put that energy out there, she’s usually ... leading the pack in that regard,” Dixie said. “So I’m grateful to be associated with her on that path.”Guyton added that it’s comforting to see some many Black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she’s grateful to the Grammys for acknowledging those kinds of songs.“It’s so important because so often Black people, and Black women especially, are getting overlooked and constantly get overlooked and you’re constantly just trying to get people to remember that you’re there,” she said. “It feels like we’re seen and I don’t think we’ve always felt seen.”“I use this scenario of going into any grocery store — if you go to any grocery store ... and you look for hair products for someone who is ethnic and ... you see an entire aisle full of every and any hair product you can possibly think for someone that is not Black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a Black person, we’re designated a shelf. And today, it doesn't feel like we’re designated a shelf.”The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - La Ville de Montréal lance une campagne de sensibilisation pour inciter les gens à s’intéresser à la richesse arboricole parfois négligée de nos quartiers. À l’échelle de Montréal, c’est près de 2000 arbres qui ont été ciblés à l’occasion de cette campagne, en cours de déploiement depuis l’été dernier. Des affichettes bleues ont ainsi été apposées sur quelque 300 arbres matures et 1600 jeunes arbres. Partir à la rencontre des arbres du quartier La Ville espère que sa campagne va inciter les gens à explorer leurs quartiers pour découvrir comment les arbres, qui se rappellent à nous quelques fois par année, notamment à l’occasion de la corvée annuelle du ramassage des feuilles mortes, contribuent à améliorer notre vie de tous les jours. En plus d’identifier l’essence d’arbre et de fournir de l’information sur son diamètre, son âge et sa taille, chaque fiche propose également des informations sur les bénéfices écologiques et économique de l’arbre : captation de CO2 et absorption d’autres polluants atmosphériques, captation des eaux de ruissellement, réduction de la vitesse des grands vents, etc. Une campagne de séduction? L’objectif affiché de cette campagne est de « valoriser l’arbre en ville », indique le porte-parole administratif de la Ville. Mais la démarche s’inscrit également dans la foulée du plan canopée qui prévoit accroitre de 5% le couvert végétal à Montréal d’ici 2025, ce qui implique de planter plus de 20 000 arbres par année. C’est particulièrement vrai dans Ahuntsic-Cartierville qui est l’un des arrondissements avec l’indice de canopée le plus élevé à Montréal. Selon l’inventaire des arbres publics de la Ville de Montréal, sur les quelque 70 000 arbres que compte l’arrondissement Ahuntsic-Cartierville (excluant les parcs-nature), environ 11 000 sont situés dans des parcs. C’est donc dire que près de 80 % des arbres de l’arrondissement sont des arbres de rue. À l’échelle de Montréal, c’est l’inverse : environ 20% des quelque 1,2 millions d’arbres que compte la Ville de Montréal sur son territoire sont des arbres de rue qui sont situés soit dans des fosses sur le trottoir, soit sur une petite bande de terrain appartenant à la Ville en bordure des terrains privés. La plantation d’un arbre public devant un bâtiment privé est généralement « très bien accueillie », assure Philippe Sabourin qui note toutefois que, dans certains cas, « les gens ont des réticences », liées par exemple à l’impact sur l’ensoleillement ou à la responsabilité de collecter les feuilles mortes. Collecte des feuilles : une entreprise titanesque Mais si le fardeau de ramasser les feuilles peut sembler lourd à porter pour les particuliers, il faut savoir que c’est la Ville qui fait le plus gros du travail. Au total, c’est 27 000 tonnes métriques – soit la moitié de la masse du Titanic! – qui seront récupérées par la Ville, soit respectivement 17 000 tonnes provenant de collecte des résidus verts et 10 000 tonnes du balayage de rue. La majeure partie de ces dizaines de milliers de tonnes de résidus seront traitées au complexe-environnemental Saint-Michel pour produire du compost. Pas dans la rue! Les collectes de résidus verts se poursuivent jusqu’au 26 novembre dans Ahuntsic-Cartierville. Les citoyens sont priés d’utiliser des sacs en papier plutôt que des sacs en plastique pour faciliter le compostage des feuilles. Les branches de plus d’un mètre de long ou de plus de cinq centimètres de diamètre ne peuvent pas être envoyées à la collecte des résidus verts et doivent plutôt être envoyées à l’Écocentre. Les résidants qui disposent d’une tondeuse à gazon sont par ailleurs encouragés à pratiquer le « feuilicyclage», c’est-à-dire à déchiqueter les feuilles à la tondeuse directement et à les disposer sur leur pelouse pour enrichir le sol. Le dépôt de feuilles en bordure de rue n’est pas souhaitable. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
The chief of Shawanaga First Nation says it is community co-operation that has kept COVID-19 off its territory. Chief Wayne Pamajewon said they have had no reported cases of the coronavirus in the local community since the global pandemic began some eight months ago. He added, however, that a member of the First Nation who lives in the U.S. did contract COVID but she has since recovered. He said there are currently about 220 residents living in the community, while almost 500 more live outside the territory, “We have taken precautions to prohibit COVID from happening. We asked our people to help us stay safe,” the chief said. “We have a webpage that we keep posting on. We have telephone calls (to community members) from managers who are working. But we don’t have full staff. Our office is not really open. We’ve shut down most buildings.” Pamajewon said in the early days of the pandemic, the territory took steps to close off the community to outside traffic. “We only allowed band members, people living inside the community to go out and come back. We took down details like where did you go? How long were you off the territory? — those kinds of questions,” Pamajewon said. “We haven’t continued to do that since July or August when we decided to give the membership a little more freedom because the Parry Sound area was pretty safe. I didn’t want to isolate them too much.” The chief said there is also probably a bit of luck involved in not having a single case within the territory’s boundaries. However, he said he is confident that his people have taken the virus seriously and are following protocols like wearing masks in public, using hand sanitizer and keeping a social distance from others. “That would make anyone feel good, particularly the leadership, to have the full support of their people,” he said. Pamajewon is clear, however, that he is not letting his guard down when it comes to the pandemic and he wants his community members to do the same. “We warned our people that (restrictions) could return when we backed things off a little bit in the summer. We told them if things should change we may have to change our plan again — maybe tighten up the boundaries again,” the chief said. “That is something they are all quite aware of.” Pamajewon said the community is doing its utmost to make sure residents, particularly elders and children, are being well-cared-for during the pandemic. “They are important people to us. We’ve got supplies in storage. We’ve got freezers full of food. We give handouts on Friday, or calls are made on Monday mornings to ask each household if they need anything. We try to help out everyone.” Pamajewon also said that off-territory residents are currently allowed onto the territory, but he added that that could also change, depending upon COVID numbers in the area. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Reporter with the Parry Sound North Star, MuskokaRegion.com and Simcoe.com. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
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
A Malahide resident was surprised to find a boat, car topper, and construction debris, all discarded at a remote spot along Sawmill Road. Vern Shaver said that while garbage has occasionally been tossed in this area, the items he finds along the road have been more bizarre than usual lately. “You name it, it’s been dumped there over the years,” he said. “There’s been foliage, tires, medical masks, dead animals, and hazardous materials, like shingles or siding with asbestos.” Not only are there environmental and economic consequences to illegal dumping, but the garbage can be potentially dangerous for drivers. Some items, such as the car topper found on Saturday, Oct. 17, are dumped directly on the gravel roadway. Mr. Shaver said his seven-year-old son, Sean, hit some fencing materials in the weeds while operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) along Sawmill Road last autumn. Sean was not hurt; the machine came to a stop after it became entangled in wire. “It’s inconsiderate and dangerous, and it’s not saving anybody any money,” he said. Mr. Shaver has notified Malahide township on multiple occasions. The roads department drives out shortly afterwards to clean up the mess, which costs the township hundreds of dollars. “I’m disappointed that people take this route. There is an expense to clean this up,” said Malahide Mayor Dave Mennill. “It’s far more expensive for us to clean this than it is for people to dispose of it properly.” Elgin Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have investigated, and concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to press charges. If there is sufficient evidence, Elgin OPP normally asks the suspected person to clean it up or charge them with illegal dumping, said Mayor Mennill. No other residents have complained about the issue in that specific area recently. Mr. Shaver travels on Sawmill Road relatively often, as his property is nearby on Vienna Line. A long stretch of the road is relatively isolated, surrounded by forests and farm fields. There are about two properties on opposite ends of the road. The Malahide roads department winter patrol inspects every kilometre on a daily basis, including all township roads as well as county roads, as part of the minimum maintenance standard. There are also “no dumping” signs posted on some roads. There have been several other similar instances of public trash dumping in East Elgin. The Aylmer Express reported about an Aylmer man in the April 22 edition, who consistently found trash piles near his residence across from Centennial Estates Park. In late March, several residents complained about trash piles on Port Bruce beach.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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
An 18-year-old Prince Albert woman accused of shooting and killing an 18-year-old man was released on bail. Lynessa Highway was arrested in October after a man was shot and killed Oct. 10, 2020, during an incident in the 1700 block of 14 Street West. Police say they were called to the residence at about 1 a.m. and when they arrived they found a man deceased. Police haven’t released the name of the victim. Highway was released from custody in October. She was scheduled to enter a plea in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Nov. 16 but the matter was adjourned to Dec. 16. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Amid heartfelt condolences to another 12 families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and another 471 new cases announced, the province’s chief public health officer spoke of the rollout of an outbound automated calling system in the coming days. "Today, we’re announcing Manitoba is introducing additional steps to improve case and contact investigations," Dr. Brent Roussin said. "This will expand on current methods for case and contact monitoring." In the first phase of the automated system, the calls will be used to determine if active cases can be shifted to the recovered category. The automated system will ask as questions, and the person receiving the call can press a key and request a callback from public health. If the case or contact is at the end of the monitoring period, and has no further questions, the case or contact can be marked as recovered. The second phase of system will be used to contact cases and related contacts. "This allows us to be more responsive and reach people sooner," Roussin said. "Individuals will continue to receive calls from public health officials. The combined automated calls and the current monitoring process will be more efficient and effective in redirecting resources." Roussin said other provinces are safely using this method of communication. The system will help Manitobans quickly and efficiently receive information they need to make the informed decisions. Other provinces were able to make progress through the use of automated calls that offer information about testing, treatment and next steps. "We believe that this similar system will be a valuable tool for our fight against COVID-19," he said. "People will be asked important information about testing, self-isolation and other public health guidelines. Then a question-and-answer format with answers provided via a keypad on the phone." Roussin advised Manitobans they will never be asked for personal health information or other personal information, such as banking information, social insurance numbers, credit card numbers, passport numbers or other non-health related identification data. "If this is occurring, share this information with your local police department as it is suspicious," he said. Looking ahead to the next official holiday, the province has not made any specific decisions regarding a possible two-week extension to the usual school Christmas break. "We’re at the biggest restrictions we’ve had to date. Although we’re not seeing the test positivity or case numbers climb over the last bit, we’re not seeing the numbers diminish as we would like," Roussin said. "We are looking at taking advantage of that natural break over the holidays and possibly extending that." He stressed again, as he does during most daily COVID-19 updates, that officials are not seeing high amounts of transmission within the schools. "It’s more that we don’t want to go into the holiday season with a very high test positivity rate, where we know it’s going to be very challenging to limit gatherings. It’s something we’re definitely looking at right now. We haven’t landed anywhere. Hopefully, we’ll have some more definitive news on that shortly." But even before the holiday, another important date is likely marked on many a calendar: Dec. 11, the expiry of the current critical level red public health orders. Looking ahead, what is the plan? "When, and it is a when, we will be able to lessen these restrictions … We don’t know exactly when that will be, but, we will be loosening these restrictions at some point. We’re going to have to do it in a very cautious manner. Much like we did in the spring and early summer, in a phased approach, and follow our numbers quite closely," Roussin said. He said the prerequisites are: diminished test positivity, diminished case numbers and a clear relief of the strain on the health-care system. "Don’t have any specifics to look at. It’s something we’re always considering — where we would go first. At this point, we have to focus on getting these numbers down," he said. Regardless of what mid-December brings, Manitobans will need to adjust to the idea Christmas will not be the same in 2020. "We’re a bit of a ways away from the holiday season. It’s quite possible that we could see a good trend by then, where we might be able to provide different advice," Roussin said. "If it’s advice that people are going to rely on, and they need it right now, that advice is to not gather outside of your household, to keep those gatherings as minimal as possible. Do look for alternative ways to celebrate, such as virtually. But we’re really going to try to get these numbers down to see if we can have some remnants of the holiday season outside of our household."Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Nathan Hann has been a long-time member of GoodLife in Grimsby, and lately has been seeing a lot of new faces at the gym on 9 Industrial Drive. Hann, a health-care professional and pharmacist by trade, said he began noticing changes at the gym just as restrictions in Hamilton increased, limiting the number of people allowed to book appointments at gyms and fitness centres as the region moved from orange to red under the province’s COVID-19 alert system. “When I have been going to book an appointment, I have been noticing that it has been really full and I haven’t been able to get in. I gave GoodLife a call to ask why, and they told me a lot of Hamilton people are coming down to the gym.” The potential influx of gym-goers from Hamilton, where cases of COVID-19 are higher than here in Niagara, has Hann concerned, not just for his own personal safety, but also about the potential spread of the virus across regions, as people living in areas with higher restrictions travel to cities with fewer limitations. In Niagara, which currently sits in the orange ‘restrict’ category, a maximum of 50 people are allowed in gyms at a time, while in Hamilton, the number is 10. Hann said he has already seen the impact first-hand. “I know people who usually go to the Hamilton location, they are all coming to the Grimsby location now, because they can’t get into the extremely limited appointment slots available in Hamilton. “My concern is that if they keep doing this, then Niagara is going to get hit even harder than we already are.” Tracy Matthews, vice-president of operations for GoodLife Fitness, said with gyms in Hamilton still open, the company has currently not placed any restrictions on members, and which locations they may choose to visit. "Gyms in Hamilton are not closed, and we did not ask Hamilton members to limit travel because their gyms are still open.” Matthews did add though that in previous situations where gyms have closed in certain regions across the province such as the GTA, GoodLife has placed members living in those areas on a temporary freeze, asking they refrain from visiting clubs outside of their region. With gyms and fitness centres still open in Hamilton though, GoodLife members are free to travel to other locations in Grimsby, or anywhere in Niagara where booking an appointment is easier, and spaces are more plentiful. Of course, that could change if Hamilton is moved into the lockdown measures currently seen in the GTA, or if GoodLife updates its policies as conditions develop, something Matthews said is possible in the future. “We will continue to review and update policies and procedures where needed to ensure we are providing our members with the best experience possible while meeting or exceeding government and public health protocols in relation to health and safety." In the meantime, Hann said he will continue to take all safety precautions necessary, including wearing a mask at all times, and keeping distance from other members, adding that he continues to see potential public health risks with a system that puts people in a position to move from region to region during a pandemic. “The virus is not going to spread on its own. It is only going to go where people take it. By putting people in a position where they travel outside of their region, it is really just creating the possibility for more cases in Niagara.” Story behind the story With COVID-19 restrictions being increased in Hamilton, reporter Bryan Levesque looked at the impact on gyms in Grimsby, where some have concerns that an increase in Hamilton visitors could lead to further spread of the virus in Niagara.Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
The president of the Canadian Labour Congress is hoping Joe Biden’s efforts while in office will put pressure on Canada and the provinces to “move much faster” in adopting ambitious climate and employment policies. Hassan Yussuff said he felt Biden, the United States president-elect, has been signalling that he’s determined to take the climate crisis seriously, and there is now widespread recognition in the U.S. that there can be millions of new jobs for workers in a low-carbon economy — with the right government leadership and significant investments. “I’m hoping with the new administration, there will be accelerated and aggressive action to get back into the game as quickly as possible. And I think that will help Canada recognize that we only have one choice here: We’ve got to set some very hard targets that are going to need to be achieved,” said Yussuff. The labour leader, who co-chaired a federal task force that looked at how to fairly provide for workers in coal mines and coal-fired power plants across Canada as the government moves to end coal power nationwide, also said setting climate targets will have to go hand-in-hand with developing a strategy around protecting workers. “An absence of that will put people’s livelihoods in jeopardy,” he said. “We’ve got to create jobs to replace the jobs that might be lost in the transitional period ... I’m hoping their (Biden’s) strong leadership and aggressive leadership can certainly boost the efforts here at the provincial and federal level to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to move much faster,’ because our American friends are going to keep the pressure on Canada." On Tuesday, Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris announced their administration’s national security and foreign policy positions, naming former secretary of state John Kerry to the post of presidential envoy for climate change. Biden said Kerry would sit on the National Security Council, bringing a climate perspective to the White House Situation Room. Kerry is credited with helping negotiate the Paris climate accord, and has a long history of working on environmental issues, from representing the U.S. at international climate summits to working on bipartisan climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate. In a short speech after Biden introduced him, Kerry wasted no time putting foreign nations on notice, saying, “No country alone can solve this challenge” and that “to end this crisis, the whole world must come together.” At next year’s international climate conference in Glasgow, Kerry said, “all nations must raise ambition together, or we will all fail together. And failure is not an option.” “The road ahead is exciting, actually — it means creating millions of middle-class jobs, it means less pollution in our air and oceans. It means making life healthier for citizens across the world. And it means we will strengthen the security of every nation in the world,” said Kerry. Any broad-based U.S. climate action is going to have an impact on Canada, as the largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the U.S., noted Yussuff. Canada accounts for almost half, or 48 per cent, of U.S. crude oil imports and over a fifth of U.S. refinery input. The U.S., in turn, is practically Canada’s only oil customer: 98 per cent of Canada’s oil exports flow south across the border. Biden said during the presidential debate that his intention was to “transition from the oil industry ... over time” to renewable energy, and his platform called for the U.S. to achieve net-zero carbon pollution “no later than 2050.” Last week, the Trudeau government tabled Bill C-12, which, if passed, would require that Canada set national carbon emissions targets every five years from 2030 until it reaches net-zero emissions in 2050. Canada already has a 2030 emissions reduction target — reducing emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels — that federal government projections have shown the country will overshoot unless more is done to cut pollution. Nevertheless, the Trudeau government committed in the last election campaign to exceed that 2030 target, although it has not yet explained exactly how it will get there. The bill also requires the government to draw up emissions reduction plans for achieving the targets, and provides a range of public reporting requirements to demonstrate progress, as well as an advisory body tasked with providing advice to the minister. Advocates say the bill itself will create a powerful legal incentive that could help Canada finally achieve its targets after missing every one since 1992. Yussuff said it was clear that any greenhouse gas reduction plan from the federal government will necessarily impact fossil fuel employment in some way, although it was difficult to judge precisely how without a target and a timeline in place. He said federal and provincial governments will need to outline how they intend to assist workers going forward. The Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities that he co-chaired toured facilities, visited communities and met with workers. It discovered a pervasive fear over the impact to communities of a coal shutdown, as well as deep mistrust and suspicion of government and a frustration over being labelled as dirty. The group recommended significant federal spending on new infrastructure and financial, jobs and training programs for workers. The lessons learned from that task force include the importance of starting early, said Yussuff, and creating an inventory of skills that workers currently have, as well as identifying who is likely to retire before facilities close or are converted to other technology. Some of those workers will need a bridge to retirement, which could mean better support on the company pension plan, while others will need updated skills where governments could provide support for new programs. It was important to get the ball rolling while workers are still at their current jobs, he said. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Brandon Sun readers are requesting specific questions be asked of health officials related to COVID-19. QUESTION: Regarding the transfer of COVID patients to Brandon Regional Health Centre from outside of Prairie Mountain Health — the number listed on the website of patients in hospital in Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) region only lists residents of PMH, not patients brought in from other regions. It doesn’t give an accurate picture of what’s going on at our hospital. SHARED HEALTH SPOKESPERSON: Individual COVID cases are attributed to the health region where a person resides. Altering that info if individuals required care at a hospital outside of their "home" region would create confusion. For the purposes of data collection, it is more meaningful to know where an individual likely transmitted the virus than where they received care. The Brandon Regional Health Centre is one of four hospitals in the province to have a critical care (ICU) department. Determining where a critically ill or injured patient should receive care is based on a number of factors relating to the individual’s case, including but not limited to where they are currently located, whether they’ve been stabilized, whether they need specialized care and where there are open beds in the system. As a result, it is not unusual for Brandon’s ICU to have patients who don’t live in the Prairie Mountain Health region. For the same reason, it is also not unusual for individuals living in the PMH region to be ICU patients at one of Winnipeg’s three critical care units. This is a provincial, not a regional, program. QUESTION: Is Manitoba making use of wastewater COVID epidemiological analysis, such as in Saskatoon or other cities in Canada? University of Saskatchewan toxicologist Dr. Markus Brinkmann is quoted as saying that since feces from infected people sheds particles of the virus, they can use a special model to roughly estimate how many cases may be in the community, potentially before those people have symptoms. DR. BRENT ROUSSIN (CHIEF PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER): This is something that’s being worked on. We don’t have it applied routinely, right now. This is really something that may be beneficial when we don’t have a lot of transmission of the virus as an early warning. It wouldn’t help us right now, say testing in Winnipeg. We know there’s a high level of transmission going on. As we get the numbers down, if we have, say, remote communities or other communities that really have no activity, this might give us an early warning indicator that something is starting to happen there. So there are uses for it. But right now, we don’t have a routine use for it here in Manitoba.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Sept entreprises de la Rive-Sud dont deux de Boucherville profiteront du récent programme d’aide d’Investissement Québec, dotée d’une enveloppe de 9,7 millions $, pour améliorer leur positionnement stratégique. Développant des logiciels pour l’industrie du béton, Marcotte Systems, de Boucherville, se voit accorder un prêt pour soutenir le transfert du contrôle de l’entreprise à Joël Bardier et à Frédéric Gamache. Grâce à la motivation et la compétence de ces deux dirigeants, la poursuite des opérations de l’entreprise ayant déjà plus de 45 ans d’histoire est assurée. De plus, une contribution financière a été offerte à l’entreprise pour supporter leur projet de développement des marchés hors-Québec. Également à Boucherville, l’entreprise de gestion Investissement 585 Inc. obtient une aide financière de plus d’un demi-million de dollars pour soutenir sa relève et la transition à la direction qui s’opérera dans pour les prochaines années. Par ailleurs, en opération depuis près de 75 ans à Sainte-Julie, Groupe BFL Inc. se voit octroyer 2 880 000 $. Cette aide permettra au fabricant de centrales de chauffage, de climatisation et de ventilation de poursuivre son intégration et de créer 31 emplois. À Saint-Hubert, le fabricant de produits de réfrigération RefPlus obtient 1 625 000 $, dont 975 000 $ proviennent des fonds propres d’Investissement Québec et 650 000 $ du programme ESSOR du Fonds du développement économique. Métaux Solutions Inc., une entreprise spécialisée dans la distribution de métaux industriels basée à Longueuil, reçoit une aide financière de 300 000 $ pour l’acquisition d’une nouvelle scie à métaux qui lui permettra d’augmenter sa productivité. Le spécialiste en conception graphique et en impression Graphiscan Montréal Inc., dont le siège social est situé sur le Boulevard Jacques-Cartier à Longueuil, aux limites de Boucherville, obtient un soutien financier de 1 644 556 $ pour faire l’acquisition de Quadriscan. Enfin, le Groupe Lanerco, de Saint-Hubert, reçoit un soutien financier de 1 300 000$ pour se porter acquéreur de Charette Service d’Auto, de Remorquage Charette et de Charette Logistique. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
OTTAWA — The Canada Games Council has adjusted age requirements to allow a similar cohort of athletes to compete in the Niagara 2022 Summer Games as would have been eligible in 2021.The Games, held every four years for Canada's top young athletes, were pushed back to 2022 earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Age categories are different for every sport.Age eligibility for baseball, cycling, golf and rugby sevens will be confirmed in the coming weeks.The 2022 Games are scheduled to run Aug. 6-21. They will bring more than 5,000 athletes and 4,000 volunteers to the Niagara Region in southwestern Ontario.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
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
The legislative session at Nova Scotia's Province House is poised to be prorogued next month, but it appears committee business will not be paused.MLAs have not met since the spring sitting wrapped in March, before Nova Scotia had its first case of COVID-19. Not long after that, Liberal MLAs used their majority to suspend all the committees they could, with Premier Stephen McNeil keeping them shelved until last September.McNeil announced earlier this month that the House would be prorogued on Dec. 18, wiping clean the legislative agenda, as Liberals prepare to elect a new leader to replace him on Feb. 6.The government has been roundly criticized for Nova Scotia being the only legislature in the country not to sit during the pandemic and for committee business having been halted for months while many people were working from home through the use of Zoom and other online conference platforms.Addressing public concernsIn a nod to those concerns, Ben Jessome, the Liberal MLA for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, put forward a motion at Tuesday's natural resources and economic development committee meeting to keep that group meeting even after the House is prorogued, "whether it be in person or virtually."The motion passed unanimously.In a telephone interview Wednesday, Jessome said the decision was at least partly to make it clear to the public that he and his fellow MLAs take their jobs, including the legislative aspect, seriously."There appears to be some scrutiny about us, kind of, not wanting to go back to work at times," he said. "As a committee, we felt it was important to keep that activity in place."Jessome said there were some challenges during the first COVID-19 wave in Nova Scotia when it came to getting virtual meetings set up for committees. He believes those issues have been resolved, so even if committees cannot meet in person there will be no technological impediments.A need for oversightDespite technological concerns voiced by the government in the spring, the human resources committee continued to meet using a teleconference line. That committee is the only one the Liberals could not use their majority to shut down, because any changes for it require unanimous consent from all parties.NDP House leader Claudia Chender said she's less concerned about the motivation behind Jessome's motion than she is that the committee will continue to meet."Whether or not people pay close attention, we all expect that the decisions made by government and that the functions of government happen in a way that has oversight and accountability," she said."And the way that oversight and accountability works is that we have a functioning legislative assembly."Even when the House isn't sitting, committees give opposition members access to government decision makers and the ability to question and debate policy decisions, said Chender.'Better late than never'Progressive Conservative MLA Tim Halman said Jessome's motion was "better late than never." While he welcomed the government's decision, he said the shift to being able to operate virtually if necessary should have happened months ago."The fact is, there are questions that have gone unanswered and that's a big problem for Nova Scotia," said Halman. "There has to be a counterbalance. There has to be another voice."The legislative component is "a very small fraction of the work that MLAs on all sides of the House do," said Jessome, but it's important for the public to see them doing it.The scrutiny hasn't bothered him and he believes the decision to place all committees that could be put on hold, on hold, back in the spring was the right one. Jessome said much has been learned since then about what's possible and they are adapting as such.After the House is prorogued, it will also erase the meeting agendas that have been established for committees. Jessome said it's his intention that a vote will happen at the first possible meeting to restore the agenda for the natural resources and economic development committee, and for a similar process to play out for the other committees.MORE TOP STORIES
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
For the second time in two months, a retired Alberta teacher is on trial accused of indecently assaulting a female student. In October, David O'Reilly was found guilty of the indecent assault of a 14-year-old student in 1980 at Ellerslie Campus school. O'Reilly, 73, was given a suspended sentence and 18 months probation. He was also placed on the national sex offender registry. O'Reilly allegedly assaulted another female student at the same school four years earlier. She was a 14-year-old Grade 9 student at the time. Her identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban. The woman is now 59 and lives in New Zealand. She testified by video conference. She said she remembers being singled out by O'Reilly, who taught physical education at the school. "He was seen as a cool teacher and I was a naive country girl," she said. "I was quite flattered by that." She said she liked it when he complimented her on her looks and suggested she'd look even better if she wore contacts instead of eyeglasses. In hindsight, she thinks she was being groomed. "I was just a young girl and didn't know any better really," she said. She testified she remembers him putting his hand on her knee and holding her for "too long at the hips" when she was practising gymnastics. The woman also recalled spending time alone with O'Reilly in his office, sitting on his knee and him quickly fondling her breasts with his hand moving up her thigh. There were other encounters when she was standing. "Initially, I would stand against the wall and he would stand with his hands on either side of me," she said. "I had no idea about sexual behaviour at that age, so I was confused by what was going on. A little bit scared and uncertain about what was appropriate." She also told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Thomas Rothwell that on one occasion O'Reilly kissed her. She said she got frightened when he pressed the lower half of his body up against hers while she leaned against the wall. "It wasn't a long kiss, but it was a suggestive kiss," she said. "I just knew it was wrong and I really didn't know what to do." The woman said she ducked out under his arms and ran away. "To me, that was almost an ending in a way," she said. "Because it did quite frighten me. I don't recall much after that." Pages from the woman's 1980 Ellerslie Campus school yearbook were made an exhibit at the trial. O'Reilly signed her yearbook and wrote, "Thanks for the memories...of a lot of good times that I'll remember for a long time, if not now." The woman testified she had a vivid memory of going to a lake cabin with O'Reilly and his then-wife in the summer of 1976 to watch Olympic gymnastics. On Tuesday, O'Reilly's ex-wife testified for the defence. Ellen Singleton testified she has no memory of that encounter, nor did anyone in their family own a lake cabin at the time. O'Reilly did not testify in his own defence. The judge will hand down his decision on Friday morning. 'It's very exhausting' The woman who was indecently assaulted by O'Reilly in 1980 attended this week's trial, even though she admitted she found it increasingly difficult to be in the same room with her attacker. "It's very exhausting, is how I feel when I leave the courtroom for the day," she told CBC News. "I'm doing it because I'm a strong woman and I'm here to support the gal that came forward for this trial." The woman said she kept a close eye on O'Reilly while his accuser testified. He was allowed to sit at the back of the courtroom next to his wife, rather than in the prisoner's box. At one point he was leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed. "He's sitting nonchalant, but I can see the facial features change and the colour of his face change during the trial," she said. "It gets red or white in colour when different things are being said on the stand." O'Reilly's lawyer has filed a notice of appeal on the October conviction. He calls the verdict unreasonable and argues he was denied the right to a fair trial because the judge was biased toward him. O'Reilly is asking the court to hear his appeal and overturn his conviction. Failing that, he wants Alberta's highest court to order a new trial by judge and jury.