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
In order to welcome the jolly old elf to Aylmer, while keeping everyone safe, spectators and floats will swap roles for a “reverse” Santa Claus Parade this year. Aylmer Kinsmen Club’s 76th annual Santa Claus Parade will take place at night and have spectators drive past light displays, characters, floats, and Santa himself, while remaining in their own vehicles. “We’re going to do our best to make it enjoyable – it’s important that Santa comes to town,” said Andy Beck, the club’s parade marshal for the last eight years. The Santa Claus parade normally attracts thousands of people each year, he added. East Elgin Community Complex will host the “drive-through parade” on Saturday, Nov. 28 starting at 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Instead of moving through town, floats would be fixed in place and include plenty of lights along with some Christmas music. Spectators would be driving past them along a planned route circling the complex parking lot. (See ad on Page 3 for parade details and route.) No pedestrians are permitted. Visitors must stay in their cars, except for emergencies. No open vehicles, such as motorcycles or convertibles, are allowed. There will be no candy or other handouts this year, and the Kinsmen are asking anyone who is feeling ill to stay home. Kinsmen and EECC volunteers be outside directing traffic flow. Vehicles will enter from the east, and exit from the west. Drivers can use Rogers Road to return to town. All volunteers will wear face coverings at the event and practice physical distancing. Some Kinsmen will wear red jackets, while others may be dressed as clowns or Santa’s elves. The Aylmer Fire Department will also make an appearance at the event. The Kinsmen are inviting spectators to donate canned food and monetary donations for the Aylmer Corner Cupboard. Monetary donations will be placed in a collection bucket, while food donations should be delivered using a bag with a handle. The Kinsmen will have extra bags if needed. The Kinsmen will use a hockey stick with a bucket to collect from a distance. Letters to Santa are also encouraged. Donations will be quarantined for 72 hours before being distributed to the Aylmer Corner Cupboard or Canada Post. There is no washroom availability or access to the EECC. “The Santa Claus parade is the main event for the Kinsmen all year. We’re always talking about it, it’s always in process,” said Mr. Beck. “We’re hoping people come to visit and see Santa Claus.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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
The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub in Toronto’s west end is offering free meals to people who are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Chris Murie expects more people to be looking for help as government benefits wind down.
KINGSEY FALLS, Que. — Cascades Inc. says it will close its napkin plant in Laval, Que., at the end of June next year.The plant currently employs 54 workers.Cascades says it will offer to relocate as many employees as possible to its other operations in Quebec and employees who are not able, or do not wish to relocate, will be offered help in their search for other employment.The Laval plant has an annual capacity of 1.4 million cases. The company says the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the number of visitors to restaurants, hotels and public buildings, key markets served by the plant. It says the situation, combined with high logistics costs, has prompted the company to move production to other operations.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:CAS)The Canadian Press
Investigators with the 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau are seeking witnesses and two suspects following the attempted theft of a puppy from a commuter parking lot in the Township of King. On Nov. 18 at approximately 4 p.m., York Regional Police were called to a commuter parking lot at Highway 400 and Highway 9 for a report of an attempted theft. When officers arrived they found the victim, a 54-year-old female from the City of Barrie and her puppy, who were not injured. Investigators learned that the victim had advertised two puppies for sale online. She had arranged to meet potential buyers in the commuter lot. After the sale of one of the puppies without incident, two men approached the victim driving an older model white Honda Civic. One of the men assaulted the victim, grabbed the puppy, who was in a carrier, and attempted to flee. The victim chased the suspects who eventually threw the puppy out the window of the vehicle and drove away. Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area at the time and witnessed the incident or anyone with dashcam to please come forward. One suspect is described as male, South Asian, approximately 20 years old, 5’8.” He was wearing a black face mask, black scarf and green track pants. The other suspect is described as male, South Asian, wearing a face mask. Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7142 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
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
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
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
A North Battleford man accused of attempted murder was denied bail in Prince Albert Provincial Court. Trent Fox, 19, had a show cause hearing on Nov. 19. He has been in custody since mid-October when he was arrested and charged with attempted murder after a 21-year-old man was stabbed at a business. STARS Air Ambulance took the victim to a Saskatoon hospital with life-threatening injuries. According to Prince Albert Police, they were called to a business in the 3200 block of 2nd Avenue West at about 10 p.m. on Oct. 14. Prince Albert Police say that Fox hitchhiked to Prince Albert from North Battleford earlier on the evening of Oct. 14. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Prince Albert Police at 306-953-4222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Fox is now scheduled to appear in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Dec. 3 by CCTV to enter a plea. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Battlefords News-Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Être actif toute l’année présente de nombreux avantages pour la santé. L’activité physique peut même contrer certains effets négatifs du climat hivernal sur notre niveau d’énergie et notre humeur.
Those who want to pass on their gently used hockey gear to kids who need it can do so at an equipment drive the first week of December. Brain Atkins of Total Construction Management in Peterborough wants to help First Nations communities get hockey equipment so he has organized an event for Dec. 5 at the company's location at 169 Lansdowne St. E, from 9 a.m. to noon. “Most of the gear is for smaller kids, but we have already gotten a few items for older players,” said Atkins. Although he does have a few items on hand, Atkins says he cannot accept equipment prior to the drive due to space. “I have some equipment that’s in my vehicle, but I would rather wait until the day of the drive,’’ he says. Atkins says items like skates, good condition hockey sticks and goalie equipment are needed. “We will take whatever people have in equipment, new or used,” he adds. The hockey equipment drive is also being held in other cities in the province such as Whitby and Kitchener. Atkins says those equipment drives are quite successful and he says he has seen the positive effects of the drive and wanted to do something in Peterborough. “This is a first for the City of Peterborough,” he says. To follow all COVID-19 safety measures, Atkins says for those who are going to donate can stay in their cars the day of the event, between the hours listed and the team will remove the equipment. TCM helps First Nations communities rebuild homes, construct community centres, renovate existing homes and complete construction as well as train homeowners how to maintain their homes and buildings after the work is complete. He says the team is dedicated in providing sustainable and self-sufficient structures for the communities they work in. “What a better way to give back than through hockey, and I’m just happy kids will have equipment to use to play hockey.”Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week
The MPP for Simcoe North says she believes Indigenous people in her riding and elsewhere in Ontario have taken COVID-19 seriously, and she is pleased to see that. Jill Dunlop said that during the first wave of the pandemic, 119 of the 133 Indigenous territories in Ontario reported no on-reserve cases of the coronavirus. That bucks a trend, particularly in Saskatchewan and Alberta, where the rate of COVID infection is substantially higher among Indigenous people than it is among non-Indigenous people. Dunlop credits the First Nations leaders in Ontario for taking preventive steps. “Some First Nations communities have taken additional measures to stop the spread during the pandemic. Some had established curfews. Some were only allowing residents of that community to come into the community, using a checkpoint,” Dunlop said. “They are also following public health regulations to make sure they are not bringing COVID back into their communities as well.” Dunlop said that the respect that Elders have in their communities is a likely part of the reason COVID numbers have been lower in First Nation communities. “If this was something that was affecting young people, we would see our (Elders) do everything they could to protect our young people,” she said. “We need to do the same to protect our seniors from the virus in this case.” Dunlop’s riding includes two First Nation Territories: the Chippewas of Rama First Nation near Orillia and the Beausoleil First Nation located on Christian, Beckwith and Hope islands on Georgian Bay, not far from Penetanguishene. As of last week, only four COVID cases had been diagnosed on the Rama territory since the global pandemic began. All were detected in October and all four patients have since recovered. There have been no cases reported on the Beausoleil First Nation Territory. Meanwhile, Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said he, too, is extremely pleased with the way Indigenous people on the territories the unit serves have handled the pandemic. “People need to be aware how (the virus) is transmitted. Ideally, you are sticking to your household for intimate contact and that you are otherwise maintaining a two-metre distance from other people, even if they are family and they are not in the household,” the doctor said. Dr. Gardner said he is very aware that it is only natural for Indigenous people to want to get together with extended family and friends. But, he added, that comes with risks and natural tendencies have to be overcome and precautions are needed at this time. The doctor added that currently they don’t publicly report COVID cases from the four First Nations territories that the health unit serves in Muskoka and Simcoe Region. 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 CanadaJohn McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Flu shot vaccine supply on the Island is now limited, according to the Chief Public Health Office (CPHO), but so far there has been no overall shortage. High dose and regular dose shots are still available. Public health nurses continue to offer vaccines and pharmacies are permitted to order 50 doses per day from provincial stock. The CPHO has also ordered 2,000 more vaccines to distribute on the Island and these are expected to arrive at the end of November. Erin MacKenzie, Executive Director of the PEI Pharmacists Association, said PEI seems to be well positioned with the number of regular-dose flu vaccines obtained so far this season even with increased demand. More than 79,000 shots have been distributed to public health nurses and Island pharmacies, which is more than ever. An increased demand was projected by CPHO this year as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms MacKenzie said demand at pharmacies has been higher this year. Island pharmacies have administered 41,500 flu shots so far compared to a total of 37,100 last year. Jonathan Broderick, manager of Montague Pharmasave, said his pharmacy usually administers 700-800 flu shots per year. This year 1,000 have already been given and a daily demand continues. High-dose flu vaccines, recommended for those 65 years of age or older, are in shorter supply but they are still available at some pharmacies, through primary care providers and through public health. Ms MacKenzie recommends calling ahead to obtain the high-dose shot from a pharmacy. Some local pharmacies have run out of regular flu shots for a day or two here and there. “This is not unusual,” Ms MacKenzie said. At the beginning of the season, pharmacies order wholesale batches. Sometimes an individual pharmacy will run out between these orders because of fluctuations in demand early on. Near the end of the season, wholesale batches available to pharmacies typically run out and pharmacies then rely on ordering remaining shots from the Provincial Pharmacy or redistribution among pharmacies. “The transition from sending your order in to your regular wholesaler and finding out they don’t have any more in stock can cause delays. It can take a few days to smooth that wrinkle out,” Ms MacKenzie said. “If you order a batch of 50 on a Friday and a few families come in looking for shots over the weekend you might run low or run out before the next order arrives,” she added. Desi Peters, a pharmacist with RemedyRx in Souris, said they ran out of shots for a couple days but then they have been able to get supply as needed. He added that it seems the provincial supply is starting to stretch thin with maximum orders of 50 per day. “We’re down to one or two,” Mr Broderick said on Wednesday, November 18, about stock remaining from his wholesale orders. He had submitted an application to receive additional doses from the Provincial Pharmacy, but he was unsure when those would arrive. By Friday, November 20, there were no doses available at RemedyRx. While there are still no overall issues with the Island’s supply of regular-dose flu shots, according to Ms MacKenzie, this could of course change depending on unprecedented demand moving forward. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends everyone six months of age and older, who do not have contraindications to the vaccine, get a flu shot this year.Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
While the development of a COVID-19 vaccine could generate billions of dollars for some pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, concerns over accusations of exploiting the pandemic will likely temper profits, experts suggest. "It doesn't really make sense to profit from this pandemic," said Tinglong Dai, associate professor of operations management and business analytics at Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School in Baltimore."This is a perfect time for [pharmaceutical companies] to develop their brand equity, which will serve them well for longer -term profits. In the long run, what's really important for pharmaceutical manufacturers is in brand equity. So people trust Pfizer, for example."Vamil Divan, a senior biopharmaceuticals research analyst with Mizuho Securities, said he believes these companies are very aware of the need to be responsible for their pricing and not to overcharge."I think they think it's appropriate to get back the investment they made. But I imagine they are being reasonable about it," he said.The giant pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the upstart biotech firm Moderna, which both have announced test results showing their coronavirus vaccine candidate is 95 per cent effective, have indicated they will make some profit from their ventures.Some companies say they won't profit during pandemicHowever, some other companies, including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, have pledged they will not profit from their vaccine, although they have suggested this would be limited to the time during the pandemic. Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University, said for an industry that has not been popular with the public, this is an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to get back in their good favour, at least to some degree. "I think they have a lot going for them if they don't mess it up," she said.Still, Dusetzina noted, "I'm sure everyone will make quite a lot of money."Just how much money is difficult to determine. Michael Levesque, senior vice-president of Moody's Investors Service, said there's very limited data that would allow for a precise estimate."We do believe that the Pfizer vaccine will generate profits for Pfizer in 2021, but we haven't made an explicit estimate of that profit," he said.What is known is that Pfizer, along with its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing partner, BioNTech, will be selling the vaccine at $19.50, that two doses are needed and that it will be able to provide 1.3 billion shots worldwide by 2021. Using that data, Cinney Zhang, an equity research analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, calculated that in 2021, Pfizer and BioNTech could expect $24 billion of revenues. That would equate to $7 billion in profit for each company."This could be a windfall," she said. Meanwhile Moderna, which has said it will charge somewhere between $25 and $37 per dose, could add almost $30 billion to its revenues, estimated market analyst Peter Cohan, writing in Forbes.Game changer for smaller companiesCertainly for a smaller company like Moderna, the vaccine could be a game changer, said Divan. And while Pfizer is looking at some big revenue numbers,"it doesn't really change the trajectory" of the company.Pfizer generates about $50 billion a year in revenue, with up to around $16 billion in profits, said Damien Conover, director of health-care equity research and equity strategy for the financial services company Morningstar.The COVID-19 vaccine, he said, will likely mean a "pretty substantial windfall" for Pfizer. Some of the vaccines, even at very low price points, will generate billions of dollars, he said.But the gross margins on those dollars are going to be much lower than a typical gross margin for a big pharmaceutical firm, he said."I would probably frame it: Some good profits for about one year for some firms."Conover also noted that post-2021, the COVID-19 vaccine market could become very competitive."Pfizer and Moderna, I think, would have a hard time getting people to buy their vaccine at the $40 that they're going to be charging initially. So I think even those more modest profit levels will come down."Profits for Pfizer, for example, could be affected by unforeseen expenses, Zhang said. Their vaccine needs to be stored at about –75 C, meaning escalating refrigeration costs could impact their bottom line, she said.Latecomers into the marketProfits will also obviously depend on whether the vaccine continues to be needed, which could also impact those vaccine manufacturers coming late to the market."It's certainly possible that some of these reach the market too late to turn into meaningful opportunities, especially if the first [companies] are very successful and are taken broadly across the population," Levesque said."If there is no need for revaccination, that scenario is one where some of the players who come out a bit later may not have much of a market opportunity."However, if their vaccines prove more effective, easier to distribute and revaccinations are needed, there may be opportunity for others, he said."Not to mention if any of the leading players see any sort of manufacturing or safety problems emerge down the road," he said."So it's too early really to estimate ultimately who's the most successful or to feel any company is going to be totally excluded. It's still early days for anybody involved."
A study published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ) shows there is a five-per-cent mortality rate for Ontario people who often visit hospital Emergency Rooms for alcohol-related reasons in a one-year period. The study also said more intervention would be helpful in offsetting the mortality rate of those people, who are often from disadvantaged backgrounds. The authors of the study were Jennifer Hulme, MD MPH; Hasan Sheikh, MD; Edward Xie, MD MSc; Evgenia Gatov, MPH; Chenthila Nagamuthu, MPH; Paul Kurdyak, MD PhD; from the University of Toronto, the Institute for Mental Health Policy and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The study was carried out between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2016 in Ontario for persons who made two or more ER visits in one year for alcohol-related mental or behavioural disorders. More than 25,000 Ontario residents were narrowed down to the cohort of those who had two or more hospital ER visits in a one year. Of that number, the study found a mortality rate of 5.4 per cent. This ranged from 4.7 per cent for those with two visits up to 8.8 per cent for those with five or more visits. "Death due to external causes (e.g., suicide, accidents) was most common," said the study. Despite the percentage findings, the authors concluded that "little is known about the risk of death among people who visit emergency departments frequently for alcohol-related reasons, including whether mortality risk increases with increasing frequency of visits." The authors said their primary objective was to describe socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of this high-risk group and examine the level of mortality, premature mortality and causes of death. In the formal interpretation of their study, the authors said the highest mortality rate involved mostly urban and mostly low income people who had frequent hospital visits for alcohol issues. The study also said alcohol is a leading driver of morbidity and mortality around the world. In 2016, the study said there were an estimated 3 million deaths — five per cent of all global deaths — attributable to alcohol consumption. Alcohol also plays a significant factor in the morbidity of younger people, said the study. "The 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study showed that alcohol was the single greatest risk factor for ill health worldwide among people aged 15-49 years. In Canada, hospital admissions for alcohol-attributable conditions out-number those for myocardial infarction. Alcohol-related harms cost Canadians about $14.6 billion annually, with $3.3 billion in health care costs." The study also said that alcohol-related hospital visits are increasing with acute intoxication and withdrawal disorders becoming common reasons for ER visits. "Data from the United States and Canada, furthermore, suggest that alcohol-related emergency department visits have increased in recent years. For example, a study in Ontario showed that, between 2003 and 2016, the age-standardized rates of alcohol-attributable emergency department visits increased by 86.5 per cent in women and 53.2 per cent in men," said the report. It also stated that those who visit the ER for alcohol reasons have high levels of comorbidity (having two or more diseases or medical conditions at the same time) and social disadvantage and represent a readily identifiable patient population "A systematic review suggested that screening and brief intervention for alcohol-related problems in the emergency department is a promising approach for reducing problematic alcohol consumption," said the study.Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods showed a modest gain in October but much of the strength came from a big jump in orders for military equipment.Orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, rose a better-than-expected 1.3% in October and that gain followed an upwardly revised 2.1% increase in September.A category that tracks business investment plans rose 0.7% in October after a 1.9% increase in September.The strength in October came primarily from the volatile category of defence orders, with demand for military aircraft surging by 79.1%.Orders for commercial aircraft, which have been battered by the sharp fall in air travel due to the coronavirus, rose 38.8%, but that comes after months of weakness. Economists are hopeful that aircraft demand will keep rising with Boeing finally receiving safety approvals for its 737 Max, which had been grounded after two fatal crashes.Overall, transportation orders rose a modest 1.2% as the sector was held back by a 3.2% drop in orders for motor vehicles and parts.Economists believe that that U.S. factories face significant headwinds, including a sharp rise in coronavirus cases that could throttle demand in coming months.“The manufacturing sector remains exposed to surging virus cases that could disrupt supply chains, weigh on demand and slow the pace of the rebound going forward,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The second of three estimates on U.S. growth for the July-September quarter was unchanged at a record pace of 33.1%. But a resurgence in the coronavirus is expected to slow growth sharply in the current quarter with some economists even raising the spectre of a double-dip recession. While the overall increase in the country’s total output of goods and services was static, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, some components were revised. Bigger gains in business investment, housing and exports were offset by downward revisions to state and local government spending, business inventories and consumer spending. The 33.1% gain was the largest quarterly gain on records going back to 1947 and surpassed the old mark of a 16.7% surge in 1950. Still, the economy has not fully recovered from output lost in the first six months of the year when GDP suffered a record-shattering drop of 31.4% in the second quarter. That followed a slide at an annual rate of 5% in the first quarter as when the pandemic shut down much of the economy and triggered millions of layoffs. Economists are concerned that growth has slowed sharply in the current October-December and there are fears that GDP could dip back into negative territory in the first three months of next year. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said he had forecast GDP growth of around 2% in the fourth quarter, with the real possibility of GDP turning negative in the first quarter of next year. Economists at JPMorgan Chase have trimmed their forecast for the first quarter to a negative 1% GDP rate. “This winter will be grim and we believe the economy will contract again in the first quarter,” the JPMorgan economists wrote in a research note. “The economy is going to be very uncomfortable between now and when we get the next fiscal rescue package,” Zandi said. “If lawmakers can’t get it together, it will be very difficult for the economy to avoid going back into a recession.” While lawmakers have returned for a lame-duck session, there has been no progress so far in narrowing the differences between Democrats who are pushing for a big package of $1 trillion or more, and Senate Republicans who are refusing to approve anything above approximately $500 billion. More than 9 million people will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year when two jobless benefit programs are set to expire unless Congress extends them. At the same time virus cases are surging, triggering a number of states to re-impose business limits such as earlier closing times for bars and restaurants and stricter limits on the number of in-store shoppers. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press