Pierce Brosnan premiered his first movie as James Bond, "GoldenEye," in New York. (Nov. 13)
Pierce Brosnan premiered his first movie as James Bond, "GoldenEye," in New York. (Nov. 13)
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
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. — It's barely a town anymore, battered by time on the windswept prairie of northwest Kansas. COVID-19 still managed to find Norcatur. Not much remains of the rural hamlet, save for a service station, a grain elevator, a little museum, and a weekend hangout where the locals play pool, eat pizza and drink beer. The roof has collapsed on the crumbling building that once housed its bank and general store. Schools closed decades ago and the former high school building is used for city offices. But for the 150 or so remaining residents, the cancellation of the beloved Norcatur Christmas Drawing has driven home how the coronavirus pandemic has reached deep into rural America. “Due to individuals who have COVID and refuse to stay home and quarantine it has been determined it is not safe for the citizens of Norcatur and the area to proceed,” read the notice tucked in the town’s newsletter and posted on its Facebook page. It blamed “negligent attitudes of lack of concern for others” for the cancellation. In a decades-old tradition that evokes Norman Rockwell nostalgia, the whole town typically gathers for a potluck dinner at Christmastime. Its namesake drawing features a plethora of donated meats, crafts and other goodies so every family can go home with prizes. The local 4-H Club puts on its bake sale. Santa Claus comes riding the firetruck. Decatur County has fewer than 3,000 people scattered across farms and small towns like Norcatur. As of Wednesday, the county had reported 196 coronavirus cases and one death, although medical providers say there have been at least four more local deaths that have yet to be added to the official toll. Carolyn Plotts, a 73-year-old Norcatur resident who never had symptoms and only found out she was positive for COVID-19 when tested for a medical procedure in October, said two of her former high school classmates who live in the county died because of the virus. Her husband also tested positive. “It's been very real to me,” she said. Plotts wondered whether the cancellation notice was maybe “talking about me.” During her quarantine she would only leave her house — with her doctor's permission and wearing a mask, she said pointedly — to care for a housebound friend who still believes the pandemic is a hoax. Carl Lyon, the Norcatur mayor who takes on the annual Santa role, said while most residents are “pretty good” about social distancing and wearing a mask, some have caught the virus. “I know a couple of people had it and they were still kind of running around and whatnot,” Lyon said. “Didn't seem to bother them that they infected everybody else.” Decatur County Sheriff Ken Badsky estimated that 5% of county residents who should quarantine violate the restrictions and go out. His office has called some and “insisted they do what they are supposed to do,” but has taken no legal action. “I have so much other stuff to do. I don’t have time to follow people around,” Badsky said. “We have 900 square miles, we have three full-time officers and a part-time to take care of that and we are busy with everything else.” Medical providers have been growing increasingly concerned, as coronavirus cases are surging and it's getting more difficult to find beds for their sickest patients at hospitals across the state. “We need some backing to stop this virus and we are looking to people that need to do their job to do it, and so otherwise this thing is going to run rampant and it is going to put more pressure on our hospital,” Kris Mathews, the administrator of Decatur Health, a small critical access hospital in Oberlin, just 19 miles (30 kilometres) west of Norcatur. Stan Miller, the announcer for the Christmas Drawing for more than 25 years, has mixed emotions about the decision to forgo it this year. The 63-year-old Norcatur resident said he understands there are elderly people who you don't want to get the virus. But it's also disappointing. “I like to see all the joy, especially the little kids,” Miller said. “We have Santa Claus after the drawing is over and to see them sit on Santa's lap and tell them what they want for Christmas, you know, always puts a smile on my face." Roxana Hegeman, The Associated Press
The Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association is a not-for-profit registered charity that provides therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults with diverse abilities, while also working with at-risk youth. The association is one of five organizations being helped this year by the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund. The association works with riders from throughout the Thompson-Nicola region, with some riders coming as far as from Lillooet to participate. As a social enterprise, the association also provides a community riding program for Kamloopsians interested in getting on a horse. In a normal year, there would be between 80 and 100 participants per session, with a 12-week session in the spring and an eight-week session in the fall. But 2020 has not been a normal year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We were unable to do our 12-week spring session, so we did a small summer session for independent riders only,” said Ashley Sudds, executive director of the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association. But that meant numbers dropped to about 30 participants. The organization tried to offer a longer session in the fall — once again for independent riders — with a bit more success, managing close to 50 riders for those sessions. With lower numbers, and some of the horses nearing retirement, the therapy horse herd was downsized a bit. Sudds is hopeful the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund money can help improve the situation for the association in 2021, saying funds can go toward sponsoring a horse or perhaps sponsoring a rider or two who might have aged out of financial support for the program. but would still like to continue with it. The riding programs are tailored for each individual according to their diagnosis and the association is able to work with a variety of different individuals, including those who are in wheelchairs. “We have an electric lift,” Sudds said. “It can lift them out of their wheelchair.” Information on volunteering with the association, as well as rider information and information on the Parent A Horse program can be found on their website at www.ktra.ca People can also take a virtual tour of the facility online and get a chance to see what the location is all about. It’s also where people can go to find out how to support the group directly or to find out more about volunteering. For more information on the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association, go online to ktra.ca.Todd Sullivan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
Chadwick Boseman surges onto the screen as fast-talking trumpeter Levee in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” like a man on an electrified tightrope -- balancing precariously between hope and cynicism, humour and sadness, joy and pain, and love and hate.Unlike with some of Boseman’s other famous characters who’ve had a clear moral centre from the start, it's not clear what Levee, a creation of legendary playwright August Wilson, has up his sleeve. Handsome and wiry, he’s constantly on edge, and behind even his most brilliant smile there’s a whiff of something amiss. We don’t really know what we're looking at. But we sure don't want to look away.Boseman’s performance in this film adaptation of Wilson's 1982 play, lovingly directed by George C. Wolfe, would be heartbreaking even if the actor hadn’t tragically lost his life to cancer this year.But watching it now, that knowledge informs every moment, as one imagines the challenges he must have faced in a famously taxing role that was clearly so important to him. It goes without saying that the performance is brilliant, and yes, electric, but it’s also heroic. If there had to be a final role, what a gift that it was this, an exclamation point to a career that seems ever more momentous.Boseman isn’t the only volcanic force in “Ma Rainey,” a meditation on power, race, sex and commerce in early 20th-century America treated with sensitivity and grace by Wolfe, with a screenplay by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and score by Branford Marsalis. There’s also the matter of the titular Ma herself, played by a superb Viola Davis, nearly unrecognizable in her broadened silhouette, mouth of gold teeth, and coat upon coat of eye makeup. Together, she and Boseman conduct a master class.A historical note: Ma Rainey, who died in 1939, was a groundbreaking Black singer from Georgia known as “Mother of the Blues.” She’s the only real-life character in Wilson’s 10-play cycle documenting the African American experience, and the only LBGT character, too.Wolfe, who doesn't try to underplay the material's theatrical roots, gives us a a few tone-setting performance scenes. But the action takes place almost exclusively inside a white-owned studio in Chicago, where Ma and her band are scheduled one afternoon in 1927 to record a few hits. Intensifying the claustrophobia, Wolfe has turned it from winter to sultry summer; Ma is perpetually glistening in sweat.Before Ma arrives -- suitably late -- her band gathers. There’s the fatherly Cutler (Colman Domingo), Slow Drag (Michael Potts), and pianist Toledo (Glynn Turman). Then Levee bursts in, brandishing a prized new pair of shoes. Not only does he have talent, he boasts to the older guys: “I got STYLE.”That he does. And ambition. Encouraged by the white studio owner, he's writing songs and plans to launch his own band. And he has his own, jazzier version of “Black Bottom," sure to get people dancing.But Ma isn’t having it. She has her version of the song, and it works. She's also insistent that her nephew Sylvester give the introduction, even though he stutters. And she won’t begin recording until she’s good and ready. "That's the way it go around here,” she says.Ma isn’t merely throwing around her weight. She's staking a claim to her very dignity. Once the studio has what they need, she knows, they won't care a whit about her. And so, when the ice-cold Coke she requires is forgotten, she won't budge until it comes. Watch Davis guzzle down that Coke ferociously when it does.Ma rightly sees Levee as a threat to her style of performing, but also to her authority. To make it worse, she senses he has eyes on her young girlfriend, Dussie Mae (Taylour Paige). She's right -- and it’s more than his eyes.But Levee isn't just a brash troublemaker. Behind the bluster is a deep well of pain, which we come to understand through several devastating tour-de-force monologues that hark back to past demons, and hint at future tragedy. If you haven’t seen the play, brace yourself.Seven years ago, Boseman wrote poignantly about the experience of meeting Wilson, whom he clearly revered, and reciting the playwright's lines, which he likened to poetry.“Filling one’s nostrils with the emotionally charged breath to recite an August Wilson monologue,” he wrote, “can be transformative.”And now we know how transformative it can be to watch Boseman himself recite those monologues. We should all count ourselves lucky to be able to witness this, his final and arguably finest performance.“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” a Netflix release, has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America “for language, some sexual content and brief violence.” Running time: 94 minutes. Four stars out of four.___MPAA definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires a parent or adult guardian.___Follow Jocelyn Noveck at www.Twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAPJocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
LONDON — The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that she had a miscarriage in July, giving a personal account of the traumatic experience in hope of helping others.Meghan described the miscarriage in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Wednesday, writing that “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.”The former Meghan Markle and husband Prince Harry have an 18-month-old son, Archie.The duchess, 39, said she was sharing her story to help break the silence around an all-too-common tragedy. Britain's National Health Service says about one in eight pregnancies in which a woman is aware she is pregnant ends in miscarriage.“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” Meghan wrote. “In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”In a startlingly intimate account of her experience, the duchess described how tragedy struck on a “morning that began as ordinarily as any other day: Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib."“After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.”Later, she said, she “lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”Buckingham Palace said it was “a deeply personal matter we would not comment on.”Sophie King, a midwife at U.K. child-loss charity Tommy’s, said miscarriage and stillbirth remained “a real taboo in society, so mothers like Meghan sharing their stories is a vital step in breaking down that stigma and shame.”“Her honesty and openness today send a powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone,” King said.Meghan, an American actress and star of TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son was born the following year.Early this year, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.The duchess is currently suing the publisher of Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper for invasion of privacy over articles that published parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her wedding.Last month, a judge in London agreed to Meghan's request to postpone the trial from January until fall 2021. The decision followed a hearing held in private, and the judge said the reason for the delay request should be kept confidential.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
During November, best friends and entrepreneurs Kara Anderson and Jewell-Ihea Jensen officially opened the doors to their enchanted beauty studio in downtown Belleville. On Tuesday, November 24th, city councillor Bill Sandison and executive director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA Marijo Cuerrier welcomed the new business at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located at 1 Bridge St. East, Bewitched Beauty Studio is now open for clients seeking non-surgical beauty treatments and body modifications. This dynamic duo had a goal of opening a salon that makes body contouring services attainable for everyone, with pricing reflecting the attainable vision, and decided that the Downtown District in Belleville was the perfect place to plant their roots. “We choose downtown because it has a strong community of businesses and we feel very passionately about collaboration,” said Anderson. “We hope to work with other businesses downtown to support and promote each other.” After launching the business six months ago from their homes, Jensen and Anderson quickly experienced increasing demand and sought out a larger, professional space better fit for their clients’ needs. “We wanted to create a studio that offered affordable and attainable beauty treatments for all,” explained Jensen. “We knew there was a gap in the market for these types of treatments being accessible to a wider group of women, so it was important to us to make these enhancements accessible for women to feel good.” Anderson and Jensen are independent young women with a passion for helping other women love themselves, and are committed to continuing to expand their range of knowledge in the aesthetics field. The two entrepreneurs strive for professionalism and excellent customer service, offering an array of services including body contouring, teeth whitening, eyelash extensions, and jade healing treatments and facials. The studio performs non-surgical body modifications such as skin tightening, fat reduction, micro-blading, spray tan and butt lifting. Residents interested in learning more about Bewitched Beauty Studio can visit bewitchedbeautystudio.ca for more information about their services.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
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
If you happen to pop by Ranchland Mall in Pincher Creek this Wednesday you’ll see a booth manned by purple-clad staff from the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter. On top of sporting purple fashion, the workers are handing out information and resources raising awareness for Family Violence Prevention Month, as well as recognizing Nov. 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Throughout November, family shelters and resource groups across the province have been participating in a public and social media campaign through gopurpleAlberta to help individuals and families feel safe in their homes and in their communities. The campaign is especially important as Alberta has the third-highest rate of self-reported spousal violence in Canada. Lori Van Ee, executive director for the shelter, says community members are asked to don purple throughout the day to help highlight efforts to prevent family violence. The shelter’s plans extend beyond the day of Nov. 25 and into the night as well. “We are encouraging community members to take part in our first-ever Shine Your Light Event,” says Lori. “This event will ask community members to shine their outside light, put a glow stick in their window, or turn on their holiday lights for the remainder of the night to help raise awareness.” The goal of Family Violence Prevention Month is twofold: help provide resources that prevent family circumstances from deteriorating, and ensure people in an unsafe domestic situation find the information and the help they need. Helping families through stress, says Kayla Strandquist, is the main focus for the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre. The centre provides counselling and support services for anyone who may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Though acknowledging that reaching out for help can be tough, Kayla emphasises the centre is a safe place to talk. “There’s always someone that will be willing to listen. Lots of times people don’t think that they can reach out for help, but there are people out there willing to help,” she says. “Sometimes people feel isolated or scared to ask for help, but just know that you’re not being judged.” Though the centre has shifted the majority of its counselling services to telephone or virtual sessions, people without access to technology are still welcome to come for conversations in person as long as they wear a mask. The centre is also running a Coats for Kids program and can provide free household items for families in need. A Christmas toy hamper will also be starting in December. Should anyone find themself in a situation where their safety is in danger, the centre can also provide same-day transportation from Crowsnest Pass to the shelter in Pincher Creek. The shelter, explains Lori, is more than a bed for women fleeing abuse. “Our residential program is a 21-day stay and assists women to assess their danger levels, create a safety plan, provide the necessities, and work with women to attain short-term goals such as finding housing independent from their abuser,” she says. “Women’s shelters remain the safest place for women fleeing violence. Our staff are trained to help women assess their danger levels and create a safety plan,” Lori continues. “We encourage anyone facing immediate danger to call 911. You are not alone.” The shelter also runs a support program to help moms meet the needs of their children, as well as facilitating age-appropriate activities for children staying in the shelter. Helping get women out of immediate danger is only one aspect of the shelter’s mandate. An outreach program also helps clients identify their needs, helping put women on a path to living independently and productively from abuse. The program lasts up to six months but can be extended as needed. Additionally, Lori says, women do not have to be living in the shelter to access the outreach program. “We can take referrals from community agencies and or community members themselves who see a need to access the supports that our outreach program can offer,” she says. A host of resources are available for anyone experiencing family violence. Any individual can contact the Pincher Creek crisis line at 403-627-4868 or 403-627-2114. In Crowsnest Pass, anyone in need of assistance can contact the resource centre at 403-563-9077. Provincially, a toll free crisis line is available at 1-888-354-4868. The Family Violence Info Line is also available in more than 170 languages at 310-1818. In case of immediate danger, people are encouraged to call 911. Online provincial resources can be found at www.alberta.ca/family-violence-find-supports.aspx. Provincial shelters can also be looked up at www.alberta.ca/find-shelters.aspx. Further information on the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter can be found online at www.pcshelter.ca. Likewise, additional information on the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre is available at www.cnpwomensresourcecentre.ca.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
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
Hay River has been denied disaster financial assistance to meet the costs of a 2019 fire at the town's landfill on the grounds the fire does not meet the N.W.T. government's definition of a disaster. A fire burned in an older section of the landfill for several weeks in March 2019, causing the town to declare a local state of emergency. A precautionary air quality warning was triggered. Town senior administrator Glenn Smith last week told councillors a funding application to the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) had been denied, calling it a “disappointment for administration and council.” An incident must meet several MACA criteria to be termed a disaster, allowing the release of funding. The event must be an emergency, damage must affect a significant number of people or properties, and the health, safety and welfare of residents must be at risk. The town must also prove it conducted appropriate emergency operations, advised the deputy minister, the community, small businesses and residents, and made serious efforts to protect property and minimize risk. MACA, rejecting Hay River’s application, said the landfill fire did not meet the threshold for funding. “There was no widespread damage that affected a significant number of people’s properties and the health, safety and welfare of residents were not at risk,” a MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio by email. Mayor of Hay River Kandis Jameson disagrees. Since the fire, she argues, the town has had to complete regulatory duties like monitoring the local watershed. “These requirements, by nature, are in place for the health, safety and welfare of our residents. That’s why we made the application to the department to begin with,” Jameson said. “That’s my concern: how does this not fit your disaster assistance policy when we don’t have an option. We have to perform these tests.” MACA says disaster funding has been granted on several occasions in the past 30 years, often in response to flooding in communities like Nahanni Butte, Hay River, Aklavik, and Fort Good Hope. The funding was also used in response to a Fort McPherson power outage in 2004 and Sahtu fires in 1995. Expenses related to the fire were initially estimated at around $550,000. Jameson says the total has come in above that. The Town of Hay River applied for the funding in August 2019. MACA says the decision took more than a year as October 2019's territorial election and the formation of a new government delayed the consideration process, as did the N.W.T.'s COVID-19 response this year. Jameson says the town has been told it needs to build a new landfill because the existing one is outdated. A new landfill, however, does not come with a small price tag. “We want to remediate that landfill and we want to open a new one,” she said. “When you’ve got that kind of cost to the taxpayers, you want to make sure it’s an opportunity to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.” The mayor said the town has identified ways to move forward, but needs Maca's support and some funding to make things happen. A meeting between Jameson and MACA's minister, Paulie Chinna, is planned for December to discuss the landfill decision and next steps. Jameson hopes MACA will support a town bid for federal funding to help construction of a new landfill. A MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio the department is aware of the challenges Hay River faces, as there are no other disaster funding programs available. “All governments face unplanned expenditures and needs that exceed their available funding,” the spokesperson said by email. “Maca is aware of the potential financial challenges to the Town of Hay River as a result of the decision to deny the request for disaster assistance for the dump fire, and will continue to provide guidance and support to the town in meeting its financial obligations.”Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
NEW YORK — Jawan M. Jackson recently got to do something he's been yearning to do for months — sing and dance again with his Broadway cast.Jackson is one of the stars of “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations” and he reunited with castmates for the first time since theatres shuttered to prepare for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday.“I was most happy with just seeing all my old friends I haven’t seen in months, some who flew in specifically for the show to do this,” he said. “It was different, but it was still great to do.”The pandemic, which shut down theatres in March, may have upended most traditions this holiday season, but the annual New York City parade will march on with balloons, dancers, floats, Broadway shows and Santa — albeit heavily edited for safety.“Traditions like this are comforting and they’re uplifting,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of the parade. “New York has always been a tough city. It bounces back. It takes its blows and then it continues on. And I think it’s extremely important for us to be that display this holiday season. Regardless of what’s happened, New York needs to be that beacon of light in the darkness and this parade, I think, is symbolic of that.”The Macy’s parade has been a traditional holiday season kickoff for more than 90 years, and spectators often line up a half-dozen deep along the route to cheer about 8,000 marchers, two dozen floats, entertainers and marching bands. At last year's parade, the big fear was high wind. This time, it's a pandemic that has made crowds untenable.The biggest change this year is that the usual 2 1/2-mile route through crowded Manhattan has been scrapped in favour of concentrating events to a one-block stretch of 34th Street in front of the retailer’s flagship Manhattan store. Many performances have been pre-taped and most of the parade’s performers will be locally based to cut down on travel.In addition to “Ain’t Too Proud," the parade will feature performances from the Broadway casts of “Hamilton,” “Mean Girls” and “Jagged Little Pill,” a musical built around the music of Alanis Morissette. The Broadway performances were taped days before the parade.Things felt a lot different for actor Derek Klena, who was in the 2017 parade as part of the cast of “Anastasia.” This year, he's Tony Award-nominated for his role in “Jagged Little Pill” and helped perform “You Learn” from the Tony-nominated show.The cast was quarantined for two weeks before taping and tested regularly for the virus. Cast members rehearsed in masks until the moment cameras started rolling and kept socially distant. They sang live this time instead of years past when casts lip-synched."Although the circumstances were much different, it was still so magical and fulfilling to get to share that experience with your fellow castmates after being distant for so long," said Klena.“I think it was important to everybody to find a way to still celebrate this event and celebrate the shows and the companies that all get to share in this amazing event.”Both Jackson and Klena said everyone adhered to the show's strict safety protocols — enforcing the 6-foot rule, frequent testing and requiring face masks plus face shields, as well as a fresh mask after their performance. “I’m appreciative of it because it is built to keep you safe,” said Jackson, though he noted “dancing in a mask is a tough feat.”This year's lineup of balloons includes Snoopy, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “The Elf on the Shelf,” Chase from "Paw Patrol," Pikachu, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Ronald McDonald, SpongeBob SquarePants and “Trolls.” New this time are “The Boss Baby” and Red Titan from “Ryan’s World.”The giant cartoon-character balloons will be flown without the traditional 80 to 100 rope-pulling handlers assigned to each inflatable and will instead be tethered to specialized vehicles.Pentatonix, Ally Brooke, Keke Palmer, Sofia Carson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jordin Sparks will perform, and there will be floats from “Blue’s Clues,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and Lego. There will be a New York City Ballet ballerina with a performance from “The Nutcracker,” an all-female samba drumline and acrobats from “The Big Apple Circus,” and the Rockettes will be out in force. The parade ends with an appearance from Santa Claus.Another change this year was the decision to spotlight many of the New York City parades that were cancelled in the spring and fall due to the pandemic — the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Mermaid Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and NYC Pride March.“We’re going to be highlighting them, and we’re going to be really giving them a chance to shine,” said Tercero. “You’re going to be able to see creativity in this entertainment come to life that has sort of been dormant for the past seven months.”For the Broadway performers, there's a silver lining to the changes this year. Usually on Thanksgiving Day, they'd be freezing in Midtown, having woken at dawn and been dancing and singing for hours. This year, they get to watch themselves from the warmth of their apartments, a job already well done.“It’s the first Thanksgiving in a few years where I either don’t have a show or I’m not taping something,” said Klena. “So in that way it’ll be kind of fun to just celebrate with some of my friends here in the city and my wife.”___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers increased their spending by a sluggish 0.5% last month, the weakest rise since April, when the pandemic first erupted, and a sign that Americans remain wary with the virus resurging across the country and threatening the economy.The October gain reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 1.2% increase in September. It suggested that consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, is being restrained by a weakened economy and by the failure of Congress to provide another stimulus package to struggling individuals and businesses.The government's report also showed that income, which provides the fuel for spending, fell 0.7% in October.With new viral cases accelerating across the country, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses. Sales at restaurants and bars fell in October for the first time in six months. Restaurant traffic declined further in November, according to the reservations provider OpenTable. Hotel occupancy is down from a month ago. Consumer spending on credit cards dropped in the first week of November from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Opportunity Insights.Economists warn that consumer spending could falter further in the current October-December quarter given that many of the big government support programs have expired and Congress has yet to renew the assistance.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A judge accused of lying about his involvement in a Black activist organization will face a disciplinary hearing starting next month, the Ontario Judicial Council has announced.The four-person panel will delve into whether Judge Donald McLeod committed perjury at a previous misconduct hearing into his involvement with the Federation of Black Canadians. McLeod was cleared in the earlier process and denies the current unproven allegations.If the complaints are proven, the panel could impose punishment up to suspension with or without pay. It could also recommend to the attorney general that McLeod be forced from the Ontario court bench.In its notice of hearing filed earlier this year, the council alleges the judge behaved in a manner "incompatible with the due execution of the duties of his office."The earlier hearing focused on McLeod's involvement with the non-profit federation, which advocates on legal and policy issues affecting the community. Key was his role in the group's advocacy related to a Somali child refugee, Abdoulkader Abdi.In December 2018, the panel dismissed the complaint based on an agreed statement of facts and McLeod's evidence that he was no longer involved in Abdi advocacy. That wasn't true, the new complaint alleges.Among other things, McLeod is alleged to have either arranged or taken part in a meeting with then-refugee minister, Ahmed Hussen, on the federation's behalf. "Contrary to his evidence at the hearing, Justice McLeod was involved in (the federation's) efforts in this regard," the hearing notice states. "In light of the above, His Honour committed perjury and/or misled the hearing panel regarding his involvement in the Abdi case."Similarly, the notice alleges the judge resumed his leadership role during which time the federation sought funding from government and met various officials.It also says he spoke at a political summit in Ottawa in February 2019. At one point, a security guard ordered a group of Black attendees to leave the Parliament Hill cafeteria in an allegedly racist incident.McLeod, according to the notice, counselled two witnesses against speaking out about the incident which, the complaint asserts, amounted to giving legal advice or using his position to influence them.Overall, the complaint alleges, McLeod's conduct could undermine public confidence in the judiciary.In his response, the judge maintains his meeting with Hussen in January 2018 was not about Abdi. He also states the allegations are based on claims from people who did not directly witnesses the various events."The evidence will show Justice McLeod did not commit perjury or intentionally mislead the 2018 hearing panel," his response states. "(He did not) engage in impermissible advocacy or lobbying, or attempt to pressure or intimidate two youth delegates."McLeod says the earlier panel recognized that racialized judges "legitimately feel and act upon a moral obligation to serve as leaders and role models" in their communities.His return to the federation in a "limited capacity" was in line with the panel's decision and his advice to the youth delegates about the cafeteria incident was based on his personal experience as a Black man, he says. "The choice not to investigate this matter thoroughly led to a notice of hearing that contains unnecessary allegations," his response states.The hearing panel will comprise an Appeal Court and a Superior Court justice, a lawyer and a community member. The virtual hearing, scheduled for 20 days over three weeks, is set to begin Dec. 7 and will be open to the public.Several groups of Black Canadians have called for the misconduct charges to be dropped.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Canadian service workers are faring even worse during the pandemic than previously thought with hundreds of thousands of those who still have jobs not actually putting in any hours at all, and a grim holiday season could add to the pain. Canada has so far clawed back nearly 80% of the jobs lost to the COVID-19 crisis, official data shows. There are 391,300 Canadians employed but working zero hours because of the pandemic, data provided to Reuters shows, and another 42,100 working less than half their usual hours.
It's been a long time coming, but the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) is building a hut in the Robson Pass area at the end of the Berg Lake trail. The site has been cleared and, if all goes to plan, the dorm-style hut will be built by next summer and usable by the fall. It will be open seasonally and accommodate 16 overnight guests: four bunks of four. Matt Reynolds, a professional mountaineer and president of the Jasper/Hinton section of the ACC, said the location is sought by "hikers and mountaineers alike”. "It's a really popular hiking destination for people who don't want to camp in the elements,” he said “It really will be quite a good thing for the community as a whole." The ACC got word of their permission to build the hut on Oct. 6 and the next day, a crew of ACC volunteers and two McElhanney survey technicians flew up to the site armed with chainsaws, fuel and other equipment to prepare and clear the area, which had already been marked with tape. Claire Levesque, a mountaineer and a Jasper/Hinton section member said she dropped everything when she found out the hut was a go-ahead and was happy to help. She said the crew worked all day. "There was a lot of work,” she said. The hut at Robson Pass will be the first one to be maintained by the ACC in B.C. Provincial Parks, though the club has had a presence in that area for more than 100 years - The first ascent of Mt. Robson was on an ACC camp. Lawrence White, ACC executive director in Canmore, and an avid mountaineer and backcountry skier, said the bid to get permission to build the hut started in 2005. The process was a three-way consultation between B.C. Parks, First Nations groups and the ACC. It's a World Heritage site. "We have a great partnership with B.C. Parks,” White said. “This seemed like the next natural step.” Next, the ACC will be working with the province and avalanche specialists to categorize the access route. The Jacques Lake cabin The ACC is now about a year into its 16-month trial agreement to manage the Jacques Lake patrol cabin, formerly managed by Parks Canada. As a not-for-profit operator, the ACC operates a number of cabins throughout the mountain national parks including four in Jasper. Steve Young, communications officer for Jasper National Park, said, "The addition of the Jacques Lake cabin provides an introductory level winter backcountry experience to novice visitors who may not otherwise experience Jasper’s backcountry at this time of year. The cabin offers visitors rustic accommodation along a moderate non-technical trail." Young said Parks Canada’s backcountry operations in Jasper National Park have changed over the years, reducing the frequency of use of patrol cabins such as Jacques Lake. The cabin was identified as a viable option to be used for public enjoyment as it is no longer required for operations during the winter months. Parks Canada retains ownership of the cabin while the ACC is responsible for the booking, management and maintenance of the cabin during the winter months. Established in 1906, the ACC head office is in Canmore and there are 25 local sections across the country, including the Jasper/Hinton section. The ACC promotes alpine experiences, knowledge and culture, responsible access and excellence in mountain skills and leadership. Currently there are 35 backcountry huts maintained by the ACC across the country.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
The city is putting temporary fire pits and free wood in several parks around Calgary to encourage people to socialize safely as cases of the coronavirus continue to spike."COVID has been tough on all of us. We're warming up select parks with temporary free-to-use fire pits this winter so you can gather with your family or cohorts safely outside," the city says on its website.The small, residential-sized fire pits have been set up in community parks across the city. They're free to use from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. any day of the week. Priority will be given to people who book the pits with a permit; however, that's not required.Bookable times are 12-3 p.m., 4-6 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.Free firewood is available at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary from Thursday through Saturday from noon until 4 p.m.The city asks that people gather only with others in their bubble, stay two metres apart and respect the limit of 10 people in an outside social gathering.The fire pits are at the following parks:There are also several permanent, in-ground fire pits at the larger regional parks around Calgary that are also available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. any day of the week. Permits or booking are not necessary.These fire pits are located at:Park users are also permitted to bring their own portable propane fire pits to city parks any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.These fire pits must be used only in manicured areas with short grass or gravel and must be kept at least 10 metres away from playgrounds, benches and other structures.Personal wood burning fire pits are not allowed.Always bring water to put out the fire, as there might not be enough snow, the city says.
NASHVILLE — More than four decades ago, Lamar Alexander won a ticket to the governor's mansion after he walked more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres) around Tennessee in a plaid shirt and hiking boots. He spent the night with 73 families and called his campaign headquarters from payphones.Alexander, who served two terms as the state's chief executive before heading to Washington, is finishing up his third and final U.S. Senate term in a nation increasingly divided by the COVID-19 pandemic, issues of racial injustice and law enforcement, and the vitriolic election season.In a recent interview with The Associated Press, wearing a facemask in the same red-and-black plaid he favoured as a young candidate, the 80-year-old Republican lawmaker discussed how he has navigated the presidency of President Donald Trump.Known as a dealmaker from a more co-operative, bygone era, Alexander has spent his final years, in part, deciding how and whether to react to what Trump is saying, doing and tweeting, without losing a partner in the White House who shares some of his own priorities.Alexander said many Democrats wish he would “spend more time criticizing President Trump’s behaviour,” while a lot of Republicans wish he “spent more time criticizing President (Barack) Obama’s liberal policies.”“President Lincoln, if he got mad, he’d write a hot letter and put it in the drawer,” Alexander said. “Today, if the president gets mad, he puts it out on a tweet to 72 million people and they put something out on their tweet. So, this drives a lot of division in the country. The blessings of an internet democracy — we’re somehow going to find a way to tolerate it and live with it if we want to unify the country and solve big problems in a way most of us can accept.”The former U.S. education secretary and two-time presidential candidate recently urged Trump’s team to begin the transition with Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, citing the need to keep coronavirus vaccine distribution plans on track. Even before COVID-19, the Senate health committee chairman pushed back against anti-vaccine disinformation. This summer, he also pressed Trump to wear a mask more often to set an example for his followers.The attorney and businessman helped draw the auto industry to Tennessee as governor. He served as the University of Tennessee's president before his 2002 election to the Senate. Tea party-aligned opposition arose during his 2014 reelection, resulting in a tighter-than-desired GOP primary win of 9 percentage points.The legislative wins he touts most aren't really the kinds of accomplishments that put politicians in the limelight: A copyright law change to sort out pay for songwriters in the digital age; simplification of the federal college aid application; legislation to cut in half maintenance backlogs in national parks, national forests and other public lands; national laboratories funding; and an education law that gives states authority to decide how to use certain testing results to evaluate teachers and schools.But the spotlight shone brightly on Alexander during some particularly fraught moments in the administration — most notably, when the senator voted against allowing witnesses and to acquit Trump during his impeachment trial.“On the impeachment, I said I thought he did it," Alexander said. "That didn’t justify removing him from office.”Alexander is retiring at the end of his term in January. Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty ultimately won the open seat with Trump's endorsement and his pledge to support the president's priorities. Hagerty emerged from a rough primary in which he and another Republican traded fire over who was better aligned with Trump. Alexander said the jury's still out on how Hagerty will act in office, but he predicted he will be an "excellent senator."“A lot of things are said in campaigns, and they have been for a long time. They don’t have much to do with what happens after you get elected,” Alexander said. “So I think we need to wait and see.”Alexander, who served in the Senate with Biden, said his focus on unifying the country is “exactly the right message," but he said Biden should not veer too far left. Senate Republicans could aim to block Biden's priorities if they deem them too progressive. Thus far, key Senate Republicans have kept quiet on confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees.“He’s a person of good character,” Alexander said of Biden. “He’s well-liked in the Senate on both sides of the aisle. He listens well. He’s well-acquainted with leaders around the world. Those are his strengths. The difficulty he is going to have is with the radical left agenda of the Democratic national party.”As the U.S. nears a new presidency and a COVID-19 vaccine, Alexander says there are good reasons for Americans to reject disinformation about both the coronavirus and the election.He said the hand tally of votes cast in the presidential race in Georgia, for example, “should reassure the American people that the election is valid.”Additionally, Alexander said he hopes the high effectiveness rates and safety of COVID-19 vaccines will outweigh concerns. For people who don't buy into masks, he suggested talking to frontline workers.“When I stopped smoking was when my doctor showed me a picture of a lung of a person who died from lung cancer," Alexander said. "I think what might persuade people is if they talk to a nurse who has been dealing with people in a hospital who are dying from COVID.”Jonathan Mattise, The Associated Press
Prince Edward Island has one new case of COVID-19 and three potential exposure sites in Charlottetown.Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison made the announcement Wednesday during an unscheduled COVID-19 briefing.The case is a woman in her 20s who travelled to P.E.I. from within Atlantic Canada recently. She is experiencing mild symptoms and is self-isolating at home, Morrison said.Contact tracing is underway. So far, close contacts of the woman who have been tested have all received negative results. Visited grocery store, 2 restaurants Morrison said anyone who was at the Atlantic Superstore at 465 University Ave. in Charlottetown on Monday between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. should monitor themselves closely for symptoms and get tested if any develop.Other possible exposure sites include the Terra Rossa restaurant Saturday between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and the Gahan House between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. the same night. People patronizing those restaurants should also monitor for symptoms.> I don't think this is cause for alarm. — Dr. Heather MorrisonThe Gahan House quickly posted a message on its Facebook page about the exposure: "We have shared our contact tracing list with the CPHO and they are reaching out to all guests that need to be tested."As per the recommendation of the CPHO, all front of house team members who worked during those hours have been asked to self-isolate and are being tested."Heightened cleaning and sanitation measures are taking place throughout the restaurant above and beyond our regular increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols. In consultation with public health, we have been assured that no further action is needed at this time."Bill Pratt, CEO of Chef Inspired group of restaurants, which operates Terra Rossa, said in an email to CBC News that he had spoken with Morrison "multiple times" on Wednesday."All of our staff have gone for testing and will continue to follow directions from the health board," he added. CBC News has also reached out to managers at the Atlantic Superstore for comment. More new cases wouldn't be a surpriseMorrison said the new case is not surprising, and more cases should not be unexpected."I don't think this is cause for alarm," she said. "It's really a reminder for Islanders to continue doing what we need to do."Morrison reiterated that anyone who was at a bar or restaurant in Halifax after 10 p.m. in the last few weeks should get tested.On Monday, P.E.I. announced it would be leaving the Atlantic bubble due to a rise in cases in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.Testing hours to be expandedLineups for COVID-19 test procedures have been getting longer recently; at 4 p.m. Wednesday, dozens of vehicles were lined up at the drive-thru testing facility in Charlottetown.To cope with the demand, Morrison said Health PEI will be expanding testing hours across the province. Clinics at Slemon Park and Charlottetown will be open until 8 p.m.As well, a news release issued after the briefing said Islanders wanting tests "now have the option of booking their appointment online and receiving a scheduled test in Slemon Park in Summerside or at the Charlottetown testing clinic on Park Street." The release quoted Health PEI chief of nursing Marion Dowling as saying people using this option must wait for the COVID clinics to call or email them back with a specific appointment time. On Tuesday, Morrison urged people to cancel plans to travel over Christmas, warning that the rise in new cases in the other two Maritime provinces would likely mean more infections here as well. P.E.I. now has two known active case of COVID-19, out of the 70 diagnosed since the pandemic began. More from CBC P.E.I.