Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday that Democrats could 'try to steal the election from us' if 'illegal votes' cast after election day were counted. There is no evidence to back up any of his claims.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday that Democrats could 'try to steal the election from us' if 'illegal votes' cast after election day were counted. There is no evidence to back up any of his claims.
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
The Whitestone Public Library is getting a new name to match its expansion. It will now be called the Whitestone Public Library and Technology Centre to better reflect the technology services it will be able to offer. Library vice-chair Cathy Lamb said that the Whitestone Library is a social hub for the Whitestone community and keeping people connected via technology was an important goal. “We are actually going to be offering a lot of virtual programming,” said Lamb. “People who don’t feel comfortable coming into the library can still participate in the programming.” The instructor would be at the library itself and people can join in online, she said, adding that the book club may also be offered virtually. “We are looking at different ways of reaching out to people,” she said. “As we know, a lot of seniors don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes or going into public places (right now).” “With the new enhancements to our technology we will be able to do that kind of outreach.” Whitestone received a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the library expansion, as well as a $150,000 grant from FedNor. According to Coun. Joe Lamb, these foundations rarely invest in libraries. However, creating a technology centre within the library and being able to enhance businesses in town by offering meeting rooms and technology training was, in Lamb’s opinion, the reason the municipality received the funding. Outside of federal and provincial funding, the Whitestone community raised $100,000 itself to fund the new library project. “It’s truly unbelievable,” said Lamb, who is the council representative on the library board. “We ended up with $400,000-worth of our project that was brought in before the municipality had to spend a nickel.” The estimated cost of the project is $705,221.27 and it will include an additional 1,400 square feet, bringing the building size to 2,500 square feet. Another goal for the new library and technology centre is to be able to loan mobile USB internet sticks to patrons to use as a personal internet hub, said Lamb. Construction is nearing its final phases and the library hopes to be able to begin offering curbside pickup in January 2021. “It’s truly a community effort …,” said Lamb of the expansion project. “And something I think will last for generations.” Sarah Cooke is a Local Journalism Reporter with the Parry Sound North Star, and Almaguin News. LJI is funded by the Government of CanadaSarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
While the Humboldt chapter of Junior Chamber International (JCI) has been disbanded for over a year, the service club’s impact on the city is still noticeable. Rob Muench, Larry Jorgenson, Roger Korte and Amanda Klitch were all members of the service organization. The club ran in the city from 1958 until 2019 and promoted leadership, volunteering, and community event planning for members ages 18 to 40. Many long-serving members of the club over the years made their mark by becoming city councillors and mayors and this still stands as four of the current council are former members of the organization. For Larry Jorgenson, going from the club to the council was a natural move, he said. It was a young person’s club, he said, so once a member hits 40, they are asked to step away. “You spend that time from when you're 20 years old to when you get to be 40 years old basically training to become a leader. Where else can a leader go but take the next step to the city council or to some other organization?” Having JCI members on council has been a tradition since the club’s founding, said Rob Muench, a former mayor and returning city councillor, considering the similarities of both organizations in improving the community. As part of the JCIs, members learn about Robert's Rules of Order, discussing concerns, and making decisions that are good for the community. The same goes for what happens around the council table. “It is part of [the JCI] mandate to make the world a better place and to build leaders. It starts out with 18-year-old people that want to get involved in the community and over the years it certainly has supplied a number of councillors to the City of Humboldt.” Being an international organization, JCIs have chapters all over the world so there are still opportunities for people to remain involved with the organization. While it would be nice to have the chapter back in Humboldt, Jorgenson said the club was not sustainable. “The club has been struggling to find volunteers and new members, and they just couldn't sustain themselves anymore… We'd love to have a chapter back in Humboldt but the people that were on it we're getting burned out, and they just weren't able to revitalize the clubs moving forward.” For more information, visit the Junior Chamber International website at jci.cc or the JCI Humboldt Facebook page, www.facebook.com/jcihumboldt.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Amid heartfelt condolences to another 12 families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and another 471 new cases announced, the province’s chief public health officer spoke of the rollout of an outbound automated calling system in the coming days. "Today, we’re announcing Manitoba is introducing additional steps to improve case and contact investigations," Dr. Brent Roussin said. "This will expand on current methods for case and contact monitoring." In the first phase of the automated system, the calls will be used to determine if active cases can be shifted to the recovered category. The automated system will ask as questions, and the person receiving the call can press a key and request a callback from public health. If the case or contact is at the end of the monitoring period, and has no further questions, the case or contact can be marked as recovered. The second phase of system will be used to contact cases and related contacts. "This allows us to be more responsive and reach people sooner," Roussin said. "Individuals will continue to receive calls from public health officials. The combined automated calls and the current monitoring process will be more efficient and effective in redirecting resources." Roussin said other provinces are safely using this method of communication. The system will help Manitobans quickly and efficiently receive information they need to make the informed decisions. Other provinces were able to make progress through the use of automated calls that offer information about testing, treatment and next steps. "We believe that this similar system will be a valuable tool for our fight against COVID-19," he said. "People will be asked important information about testing, self-isolation and other public health guidelines. Then a question-and-answer format with answers provided via a keypad on the phone." Roussin advised Manitobans they will never be asked for personal health information or other personal information, such as banking information, social insurance numbers, credit card numbers, passport numbers or other non-health related identification data. "If this is occurring, share this information with your local police department as it is suspicious," he said. Looking ahead to the next official holiday, the province has not made any specific decisions regarding a possible two-week extension to the usual school Christmas break. "We’re at the biggest restrictions we’ve had to date. Although we’re not seeing the test positivity or case numbers climb over the last bit, we’re not seeing the numbers diminish as we would like," Roussin said. "We are looking at taking advantage of that natural break over the holidays and possibly extending that." He stressed again, as he does during most daily COVID-19 updates, that officials are not seeing high amounts of transmission within the schools. "It’s more that we don’t want to go into the holiday season with a very high test positivity rate, where we know it’s going to be very challenging to limit gatherings. It’s something we’re definitely looking at right now. We haven’t landed anywhere. Hopefully, we’ll have some more definitive news on that shortly." But even before the holiday, another important date is likely marked on many a calendar: Dec. 11, the expiry of the current critical level red public health orders. Looking ahead, what is the plan? "When, and it is a when, we will be able to lessen these restrictions … We don’t know exactly when that will be, but, we will be loosening these restrictions at some point. We’re going to have to do it in a very cautious manner. Much like we did in the spring and early summer, in a phased approach, and follow our numbers quite closely," Roussin said. He said the prerequisites are: diminished test positivity, diminished case numbers and a clear relief of the strain on the health-care system. "Don’t have any specifics to look at. It’s something we’re always considering — where we would go first. At this point, we have to focus on getting these numbers down," he said. Regardless of what mid-December brings, Manitobans will need to adjust to the idea Christmas will not be the same in 2020. "We’re a bit of a ways away from the holiday season. It’s quite possible that we could see a good trend by then, where we might be able to provide different advice," Roussin said. "If it’s advice that people are going to rely on, and they need it right now, that advice is to not gather outside of your household, to keep those gatherings as minimal as possible. Do look for alternative ways to celebrate, such as virtually. But we’re really going to try to get these numbers down to see if we can have some remnants of the holiday season outside of our household."Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
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
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers increased their spending by a sluggish 0.5% last month, the weakest rise since April, when the pandemic first erupted, and a sign that Americans remain wary with the virus resurging across the country and threatening the economy.The October gain reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 1.2% increase in September. It suggested that consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, is being restrained by a weakened economy and by the failure of Congress to provide another stimulus package to struggling individuals and businesses.The government's report also showed that income, which provides the fuel for spending, fell 0.7% in October.With new viral cases accelerating across the country, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses. Sales at restaurants and bars fell in October for the first time in six months. Restaurant traffic declined further this month, according to the reservations provider OpenTable. Hotel occupancy is down from a month ago. Consumer spending on credit cards dropped in the first week of November from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Opportunity Insights.Economists warn that consumer spending could falter further in the current October-December quarter given that many of the major government support programs have expired and Congress has yet to renew the assistance.“With coronavirus infection rates soaring, states re-imposing restrictions and the ... data on in-person dining and jobless claims beginning to show signs of weakness, we are increasingly worried that the monthly gains in consumption will be weaker," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.The report showed that while the wages-and-salaries component of consumer income rose 0.7% in October, government transfers — the category that includes unemployment aid and other benefits — fell 6.2%.Inflation, as measured by a gauge tied to consumer spending, was unchanged in October. Measured year over year, it's up just 1.2%. That is far below the 2% annual target set by the Federal Reserve, and it gives the Fed further leeway to supply support to the economy beyond the ultra-low interest rates it is already providing.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
This fall, Cathy Walker trained to properly don protective clothing, wash her hands and wear a face mask so she could visit her 100-year-old mother in the room she calls home at Northwood in Halifax.She was able to visit Kay Murphy twice as a result, but future visits are uncertain now that the province has once again imposed limits on who can enter a long-term care facility."I hate it, but it's the smart thing to do," Walker told CBC News after learning of the change Tuesday from Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health."Instead of being able to go visit her like we had been whenever we wanted, we're now going to be restricted again," she said. "But they have to do that."During the province's Tuesday COVID-19 briefing, Strang explained the new restrictions."As we continue to control the spread of the virus we need to have a particular focus on those who are most vulnerable among us," he said. "So effective 12:01 a.m.Thursday across the province all long-term care facilities will be closed to visitors, except for volunteers and designated care givers who will be allowed inside."Although Walker is her mother's designated caregiver, she also happens to be the assistant manager of a retail store in Kentville, where she lives.Now that COVID-19 infections are on the rise, she is not sure if her work with the public will prevent her from continuing to care for her mom.Walker does not want to bring the virus into Northwood, which this spring was the epicentre for the pandemic in Nova Scotia. Of the province's 65 deaths from the virus, 53 were residents of the home, the province's largest care facility.During the first wave, the province locked down long-term care homes and allowed only staff to enter them. Allowing others in is an attempt to ease the burden staff shouldered alone last spring.Nurses hope helpers will be allowedThe Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, which represents 76 homes, more than 80 per cent of care facilities in Nova Scotia, agrees with the new, less stringent restrictions.Debra Boudreau, the board chair, said it was the appropriate measure, despite its impact on families and residents."It's not something any of us would choose to do lightly or want to do it," said Boudreau. "It's certainly not the environment that we want to create in our nursing homes, but given what's happening all around us, it is the right decision to do for the moment."She said allowing some volunteers and one family member to help out would ease the pressure on staff."If we can have those individuals in our building, at least even on a small scale to help us with the day to day, and especially when we get into an outbreak, that is a relief to us," she said.But Boudreau is worried about those people too."The majority of those individuals are also the at-risk population, they're also the elderly in our community," she said. "They may be not as frail as the individuals living in care, but they too are seniors and are very much at risk."Boudreau said the flip side is the comfort it will bring to residents that they didn't have last spring."The residents missed their presence and had to rely on staff to be their everything," said Boudreau. "To be able to continue those connections with their loved ones, their families, that's really priceless."MORE TOP STORIES
Les membres du conseil d’agglomération de Longueuil ont voté, jeudi dernier, un budget supplémentaire de 1,626,000$ pour permettre à l’agglomération de terminer l’année, malgré un déficit d’opération. Les cinq villes liées de l’organisme devront cependant éponger ce déficit et pour Boucherville, la dépense supplémentaire représente une somme de 250,000 $ ce qui ne semble pas inquiéter le maire Jean Martel. Il a d’abord voté en faveur de ce budget supplémentaire de 1,6 million $ mais il a aussi expliqué que, dans le cas de Boucherville, ce déficit serait absorbé à même l’aide de plus de 4 millions de dollars que Québec a alloué à la ville, pour passer à travers la crise de la Covid-19. Les sommes nécessaires au comblement du déficit de l’agglomération proviendront des quatre autres municipalités, selon leur poids démographique. Les maires de Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville et de Saint-Lambert ont signifié leur dissidence tout en souhaitant que l’agglomération, dans les prochaines années, puisse se constituer un surplus budgétaire pour ne plus avoir à revivre une telle situation de déficit. Dans un cas comme dans l’autre le déséquilibre fiscal dans l’agglomération, maintes fois dénoncés par les maires, défavoriserait toujours Saint-Lambert et Saint-Bruno, entre autres. 120,000$ pour L’Orchestre symphonique L’orchestre symphonique de Longueuil étant un organisme relevant de la compétence de l’agglomération de Longueuil, le conseil d’agglomération a voté, jeudi dernier, une nouvelle aide financière à l’OSL pour l’année 2021. Les cinq villes verseront une subvention de 120,000$ et la Ville de Longueuil y ajoutera 22,000$ en frais de location de locaux. Le maire de Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Martin Murray en a cependant profité pour demander à ce que l’appellation de l’orchestre soit revue. L’OSL porte le nom d’Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil alors que ce sont les cinq villes de l’agglomération, donc les citoyens de toutes ces villes, qui payent une partie de leur taxes pour subventionner l’OSL et, à ce titre, il serait plus juste et équitable, selon monsieur Murray, de modifier le non de l’OSL pour Orchestre symphonique de l’agglomération de Longueuil. La suggestion a, au moins, été entenduFrançois Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
The Catfish Creek Conservation Authority board members agreed to give staff two additional paid days off around Christmas, instead of forcing them to use their vacation time. Further, a maximum of 10 vacation days are permitted to be carried over into next year, and the CCCA waived the requirement to use the carried over time by March 31, 2021. The CCCA office is closed from December 24 at 12 p.m. and reopens January 4, 2021 (the Monday after New Year’s Day), as is standard practice for the organization every year. Staff will get Tuesday, Dec. 29 and Wednesday, Dec. 30 as paid days off. CCCA general manager Chris Wilkinson presented a series of options to board members at their Nov. 12 meeting, including allowing all staff to work from home during that time. “One of the ideas that came up is just to keep it simple is to give staff an additional two days paid off over that Christmas holiday to limit that need to work over the vacation period this year,” said Mr. Wilkinson. “That’s just an option, we can work from home or force staff to take vacation days.” Board member Sally Martyn asked if the holidays were ever taken off an employee’s vacation time in the past. Mr. Wilkinson referred to this as “forced vacation,” and this was done in 2018. “The staff have done an extraordinary job through these trying times,” said CCCA board chair Rick Cerna. “I think to give them two paid vacation days is minimal to the fact of what they’ve achieved throughout the year. It’s like a little added bonus.” Board member Arthur Oslach was in agreement, called two paid days off “reasonable.” Water Management Technician Peter Dragunas said that while the office may be closed, he was always watching for potential flooding each year, and responds as required. “If there’s any threat, I’m on it,” he said. “I have been out there actually on New Year’s Eve day. It doesn’t shut down that way.” Conservation Areas Supervisor Dusty Underhill agreed with Mr. Dragunas, and said he consistently keeps an eye on the office, even during the holidays. According to Mr. Wilkinson’s report, many vacations were cancelled and staff often worked instead of taking time off this year due to COVID-19.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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
The federal government has named former Liberal justice minister and internationally-known human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler as Canada's special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment today, stating that the government is committed to strengthening Canada's efforts to advance education, research and remembrance at home and abroad."We must never forget the painful lessons of the Holocaust, or the memories of those who lived through it, because anti-Semitism has no place in Canada, or anywhere else," Trudeau said in a media statement. Anti-Semitism on the riseThe position is not paid but Cotler's expenses will be reimbursed, said the PMO.Calling the Holocaust "one of the darkest chapters in human history," a government news release said Jewish communities in Canada and around the world are facing a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents 75 years after the liberation of Nazi concentration and extermination camps revealed the full horrors of the Holocaust."The government of Canada will always stand with the Jewish community and fight the anti-Semitism, hatred and racism that incites such despicable acts," the release reads. "We will also continue to preserve the stories of survivors through younger generations, and work to promote and defend pluralism, inclusion, and human rights."The PMO pointed to Cotler's record on fighting racism and his experience in defending human rights through legal cases, including some related to mass atrocities.Appointment welcomedCotler will lead the government's delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), working with 33 other member countries while reaching out to Canadians, civil society groups and academics.The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center human rights advocacy group welcomed the appointment, calling the role "tremendously important.""At a time of rising anti-Semitism and dwindling awareness of the Holocaust, this initiative is more important than ever," the organization's president and CEO Michael Levitt said in a statement.Levitt said it's important that Cotler will have a mandate that gives him responsibility for advancing the implementation and adoption of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism in institutions across Canada and internationally, including at the United Nations and other international institutions.B'nai Brith Canada also applauded the appointment."This announcement is a major step forward in the fight against anti-Semitism in Canada and shows a much-needed seriousness in our government's commitment to this promise," said the organization's CEO Michael Mostyn.Cotler called 'icon'The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) also weighed in, calling Cotler an "icon" who has fought for human rights for decades."Anti-Jewish racism is a cancer, and there is no one more qualified than Mr. Cotler to lead the fight against it on Canada's behalf on the international stage," said Jeffrey Rosenthal, co-chair of CIJA's board of directors.But Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) issued a statement saying the group is deeply troubled by Cotler's appointment. IJV said the move shows the Canadian government is aligning itself with a "highly controversial" IHRA definition of anti-Semitism it claims is being used to portray supporters of Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic.IJV's national coordinator Corey Balsam called on provincial and municipal governments, universities and other institutions to oppose the IHRA definition, arguing that anti-Semitism cannot be fought at the expense of legitimate criticism of Israeli human rights violations."It is vital that the memory of the Holocaust be preserved and that anti-Semitism be taken on forcefully," Balsam said. "However, the appointment of Cotler to such a post virtually guarantees that the Canadian government will go about this in the wrong way."Cotler's approach is likely to be counterproductive to the fight against anti-Semitism because it seeks to muddy the waters and will ultimately confuse people as to what is and is not anti-Semitic."Cotler is the founder and chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and emeritus professor of law at Montreal's McGill University.
Town of Aylmer is asking for public feedback on their proposed official plan amendments, with the details explained through a virtual open house. The official plan is a statement of goals and policies, intended to guide future land use within the town to build sustainable communities and protect natural and agricultural resources. The Ontario Planning Act requires a review/update of the plan every five years. “It’s not a brand-new official plan, it’s just amending our existing one to fit with the current legislation,” explained Corporate Services Director Kale Brown during a virtual council meeting on Monday, Nov. 16. The draft official plan lists proposed changes to housing access and attainability; active transportation; parks, open space and sustainability; cultural heritage; servicing, stormwater, and waste management; transportation, energy and utilities; and general “housekeeping” updates. For example, one amendment is the provision of traditional and non-traditional housing options “to support residents of all ages.” Another is a new policy to partner with infrastructure providers to increase access to electrical vehicle charging stations. A 13-minute video explaining the amendments is available on the town website. During the meeting, Councillor Tom Charlton asked, “Are you in pretty good shape as far as growth concerns – our lagoons can handle the development in Cottonwood [Hills] without any issues?” Mr. Brown said that these projects would be addressed separately through the budget process and through the strategic priorities of the operations and planning department. “Staff will always recommend that council plan accordingly for our growth,” said Mr. Brown. “It’s difficult to say exactly what capacity that we would have because you don’t know exactly what’s going to be built. “We think it’s going to be around 300 units, and that was set aside back when the plan of subdivision was approved.” Aylmer staff started the review process of the town’s official plan in 2019, with the help of WSP, a consulting firm. Citizens are encouraged to review and provide feedback on the proposed changes before the plan is brought back to council on Monday, Dec. 7.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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
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."
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
MOSCOW — Thousands of people in Russia's Far East region of Primorye remained without heating or electricity on Wednesday, as local authorities and emergency services wrestled with the consequences of an unprecedented ice storm that hit the region last week.According to Russia's Energy Ministry, 5,800 Primorye residents as of Wednesday were still cut off from power, and 3,300 people in the city of Vladivostok, the region's capital, still had no heating, the ministry said.The region was hit by freezing rain on Nov. 18, and thousands of its residents woke up in dark, cold apartments the next day. Thick layers of ice covered trees, cars, roads and power lines, many of which broke under the weight.The region hasn't seen weather like this in 30 years, Primorye Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako said on his Instagram page. The ice storm continued for several days. On Saturday, nearly 180,000 people in the region had no electricity, heating or water, according to the regional government's website.The authorities have been working on restoring power supplies in the region for a week. Shelters and hot meals for those affected were organized. The government allocated 700 million rubles ($9 million) of assistance to the region, where a state of emergency was declared Friday.Commenting on the situation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the ice storm was rather severe and “inflicted colossal damage onto the urban infrastructure" and pointed out that, while the authorities were taking all necessary measures to deal with the situation, the consequences from the force of nature couldn't be eliminated quickly.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
The Town of Aylmer is in the midst of revising its flag policy after a request to fly a Christian flag at town hall from resident Susan Mutch on July 29. Ms. Mutch sent in her request the week after the town flew a rainbow-striped pride flag to show support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. With that request so far unanswered, the Aylmer Express has found some some history of the flag, including its U.S.A. Methodist founding and unofficial status in Canada. Forrest Pass, flag historian and curator at Library and Archives Canada, said of the Christian flag, “It’s a very American emblem. In the United States, it has some official sanction from an ecumenical body that represents a number of denominations - it has that significance there. “In Canada - the Canadian Council of Churches or any of those organizations have not adopted it.” Mr. Pass said flying a Christian flag at governmental buildings throughout Canada is not unheard of, pointing to a similar case in Newfoundland about four years ago. “The organization that requested this may be in fact taking their inspiration from that case,” noted Mr. Pass. A group of Christians of all denominations raised a Christian flag at the Confederation Building in St. John’s, Newfoundland in March 2016. Almost immediately, the move drew criticism from the general public and some members of the House of Assembly, who felt the symbol had homophobic connotations and represented a “divisive” approach to Christianity. The flag was taken down less than 24 hours later. “Flags can be hugely emotional. These are emblems that are designed to provoke emotion and they do provoke emotion,” noted Mr. Pass. The Christian flag itself has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton. The red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed on the Calvary, blue represents the waters of baptism and faithfulness of Jesus, and white represents Jesus’ purity. The idea for the flag originated at Brighton Chapel in Brooklyn, New York in 1897. After a scheduled speaker failed to arrive for an event, the superintendent, Charles Overton, of the Sunday school gave an impromptu lecture. He asked students what a flag representing Christianity would look like. The design of the flag was based on the text from this lecture. In 1907, Mr. Overton and and Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary of the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, designed and began promoting the flag. “It’s an interesting case where the design emerges before the physical artifact,” said Mr. Pass. The flag does have some history in Canada, he said, used as early as the 1920s. It’s been used fairly regularly by Sunday school groups, Canadian Girls in Training, and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). “I’m not sure how frequently it would be used by provincial governments or by municipal governments, but I wouldn’t say it’s unprecedented,” noted Mr. Pass. The flag mainly represents a wide swath of Protestant Christianity and is largely an evangelical symbol, he said. It is not a symbol that has any particular resonance for Roman Catholics. “It’s really up to the user of the flag what it represents – that’s one of the interesting things about these symbols is that their meaning changes constantly.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Brexit: Irish Prime Minister "hopeful" of deal but says "trust has eroded" - Euronews speaks to Taoiseach Micheál Martin in this week's Global Conversation.View on euronews