Former employees raise new concerns about the work environment created by Toronto MP Yasmin Ratansi, who is leaving the Liberal caucus after CBC News found she employed her sister for years against parliamentary rules.
Former employees raise new concerns about the work environment created by Toronto MP Yasmin Ratansi, who is leaving the Liberal caucus after CBC News found she employed her sister for years against parliamentary rules.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
NEW YORK — Kaley Cuoco knew she wanted to turn Chris Bohjalian’s bestselling novel “The Flight Attendant’ into a TV series when the book caught her eye online. “The cover of the book is a blonde woman. It just kind of looks like me,” she recalled in a recent interview. Cuoco read the one sentence summary and called her agent. “The first thing I asked was, ‘Has Reese Witherspoon gotten the rights to this book?’” she said. When she learned Witherspoon had not optioned the book, Cuoco said she instructed her team to hurry and nab the rights because she wanted to make it into a TV series. “My entire team was like, ‘Great. So, you read it? Tell us about it.’ I hadn’t read it, but I knew I needed them to get moving. I’m trying to make up all these things that I think it’s going to be." Cuoco says she then read the book for real and thankfully loved it “because that would have been embarrassing.” Fast-forward to now and “The Flight Attendant” debuts Thursday on HBO Max. Cuoco is an executive producer and stars as Cassie, a party girl flight attendant who meets a handsome man on a flight to Bangkok. She spends the night with him on a layover, and wakes up to him dead in her bed. She panics and leaves, and while she’s at work on another plane, authorities discover the body. Cuoco becomes a suspect in the murder since she doesn’t remember what happened. After 12 years as a lead on the CBS hit “The Big Bang Theory,” Cuoco said her goal for what came next in her career was to play an interesting character — it didn't matter what genre. The writers wrote Cassie in Cuoco's voice, allowing some quirkiness and humour to shine through. She was also able to show her range. “By the time we get to episode six, seven and eight, there’s such an emotional crash and breakdown that I’ve never been able to do before. I’m just so excited for people to see that." The pace of work was new for Cuoco, who was accustomed to the sitcom filming schedule, which actors will gleefully admit is akin to a 9-to-5 job, except for taping days. “I’ve never worked like this before,” said Cuoco. She jokes that one day when she had a 3:40 a.m. pickup time, she was confused: “I remember saying, ‘Is this a.m.?’ I didn’t understand what I was looking at. I’m like, ‘It must be a night shoot.’ I could not wrap my brain around that.” ___ Follow Alicia Rancilio online at http://www.twitter.com/aliciar Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press
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
Nunavut reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the active cases to 153. The new numbers were announced as Nunavut officials gave an update Wednesday morning on the COVID-19 situation in the territory.Eight new cases are in Arviat, bringing the community's cases to 115. Three new cases have been confirmed in Whale Cove for a total of 19. On Tuesday, nine new cases were reported in Arviat and one new case was reported in Rankin Inlet, where the community has a total of 19 cases."All individuals with active COVID-19 are in isolation and they are well, with mild to moderate symptoms," the territory said in a release Wednesday. "Contact tracing in all impacted communities is ongoing and public health staff are monitoring everyone in isolation."Top doc says testing early not always reliableAfter exposure to the virus, there are a few days of incubation, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson during the news conference Wednesday.That means early testing might not always be reliable, he said adding testing people more than once will deplete resources. He urged residents to follow isolation protocols.He said he expects cases to continue to rise over the coming weeks. "During these first days after exposure to the virus the majority of tests will be false negatives," Patterson said."Testing does not replace isolation."He said the two combined are the only way to curb transmission right now. Missed the government update? Watch it here:He says washing hands, cleaning high touch surfaces and wearing masks indoors helps a lot. As of Wednesday, Rankin Inlet has seen 164 negative test results. In Arviat, there are 386 negative tests so far, and in Whale Cove, 58 negative results. There's still no evidence of community transmission in Rankin Inlet or Whale Cove, the territory says.Community transmission happens when people who are not on a known contact list get sick.Contact tracing teams in Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet are not seeing this happen, he said. Masks a struggle during territory-wide lock-downThere are no known cases remaining in Sanikiluaq, where two cases were previously reported, but the community is being monitored.The territory has completed week one of a two-week lock down. Masks are currently mandatory in the Kivalliq region. But while masks are being encouraged indoors elsewhere in Nunavut, and many businesses require them, Patterson says some residents are struggling to access masks. This becomes a barrier for getting food, he said. "Right now it doesn't seem appropriate to make masks mandatory across the territory," Patterson said. Overcrowding in homes is a concern for transmission of the virus, but it is possible to keep safe when you live with a large number of people, Patterson said. "We do see some houses that are overcrowded but there is very little transmission between individuals," he said. That's when safety measures like cleaning and mask wearing are followed. Isolation for infected, travelling residentsFor residents who test positive while travelling in the South, they have to be free of symptoms for 24 hours before returning to the territory, Patterson said. Where people stay while recovering out of territory depends on their circumstances and what part of their travel they test positive, he said. They could stay in a personal residence, in their own hotel or in an isolation hub. There is one person currently in a hub who is waiting to go home. No one has isolated in a medical boarding home, Patterson said. "We're in this for the long run and we need everyone doing their part," Premier Joe Savikataaq said during the live briefing. "I know this virus can be disheartening and draining."He thanked essential and front line workers as well as parents working from home while taking care of their children. As of Wednesday, 4,712 people have been followed in Nunavut since the pandemic began, for potential contact or symptoms of COVID-19. Currently, 813 people are being followed. Two people are reported as recovered. On Monday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Micheal Patterson said health teams are "working around the clock" to trace, test, isolate and contain the spread and that it would take some time to see if the current public health measures are working.How exactly COVID-19 entered Nunavut is still unknown, Patterson said.Anyone in Nunavut who may have had contact with COVID-19 is asked to call the COVID hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., or to notify their community health centre, and isolate at home for 14 days, the Health Department said. The department is asking residents not to visit their community health centres in person.The press conference will air again later in the day on CBC Radio.
My mother's dementia has become more difficult to manage as Canadians are told to limit social contact for safety's sake.
Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most since April. The province has imposed new restrictions on the Halifax area, including closing gyms and libraries and banning indoor dining.
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
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
SOCIÉTÉ. Le 25 novembre marque le début de la 11e édition des 12 jours d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes. Une initiative toujours aussi pertinente pour la ministre responsable de la Condition féminine Isabelle Charest. «Je veux remercier les organismes qui se mobilisent à la grandeur du Québec pour porter ce message important. La violence faite aux femmes, c’est l’affaire de tout le monde et je joins ma voix aux membres du Comité des 12 jours pour dénoncer ce fléau. Même après 11 ans d’action, le portrait de la violence faite aux femmes est extrêmement inquiétant au Québec. Les femmes sont toujours les principales victimes de crimes contre la personne, et sont aux prises avec des formes de violence parfois invisibles, qui prennent place dans toutes les sphères de leur vie», indique Isabelle Charest qui invite les Québécoises et les Québécois «à dénoncer, à s’éduquer et à s’entraider afin d’enrayer une bonne fois pour toutes ce phénomène extrêmement préoccupant».Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
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
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
Flu shot vaccine supply on the Island is now limited, according to the Chief Public Health Office (CPHO), but so far there has been no overall shortage. High dose and regular dose shots are still available. Public health nurses continue to offer vaccines and pharmacies are permitted to order 50 doses per day from provincial stock. The CPHO has also ordered 2,000 more vaccines to distribute on the Island and these are expected to arrive at the end of November. Erin MacKenzie, Executive Director of the PEI Pharmacists Association, said PEI seems to be well positioned with the number of regular-dose flu vaccines obtained so far this season even with increased demand. More than 79,000 shots have been distributed to public health nurses and Island pharmacies, which is more than ever. An increased demand was projected by CPHO this year as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms MacKenzie said demand at pharmacies has been higher this year. Island pharmacies have administered 41,500 flu shots so far compared to a total of 37,100 last year. Jonathan Broderick, manager of Montague Pharmasave, said his pharmacy usually administers 700-800 flu shots per year. This year 1,000 have already been given and a daily demand continues. High-dose flu vaccines, recommended for those 65 years of age or older, are in shorter supply but they are still available at some pharmacies, through primary care providers and through public health. Ms MacKenzie recommends calling ahead to obtain the high-dose shot from a pharmacy. Some local pharmacies have run out of regular flu shots for a day or two here and there. “This is not unusual,” Ms MacKenzie said. At the beginning of the season, pharmacies order wholesale batches. Sometimes an individual pharmacy will run out between these orders because of fluctuations in demand early on. Near the end of the season, wholesale batches available to pharmacies typically run out and pharmacies then rely on ordering remaining shots from the Provincial Pharmacy or redistribution among pharmacies. “The transition from sending your order in to your regular wholesaler and finding out they don’t have any more in stock can cause delays. It can take a few days to smooth that wrinkle out,” Ms MacKenzie said. “If you order a batch of 50 on a Friday and a few families come in looking for shots over the weekend you might run low or run out before the next order arrives,” she added. Desi Peters, a pharmacist with RemedyRx in Souris, said they ran out of shots for a couple days but then they have been able to get supply as needed. He added that it seems the provincial supply is starting to stretch thin with maximum orders of 50 per day. “We’re down to one or two,” Mr Broderick said on Wednesday, November 18, about stock remaining from his wholesale orders. He had submitted an application to receive additional doses from the Provincial Pharmacy, but he was unsure when those would arrive. By Friday, November 20, there were no doses available at RemedyRx. While there are still no overall issues with the Island’s supply of regular-dose flu shots, according to Ms MacKenzie, this could of course change depending on unprecedented demand moving forward. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends everyone six months of age and older, who do not have contraindications to the vaccine, get a flu shot this year.Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
NEW YORK — Former President Barack Obama, already a million-selling author, is also a prize-winning author.PEN America announced Wednesday that Obama will receive its second annual Voice of Influence Award in recognition of how his writings “have traversed political, social, and ideological bounds and framed a self-reflective humanism that has marked his influence on public life.”Obama, whose memoir “A Promised Land” came out last week, will be honoured Dec. 8 at the literary and human rights organization's annual gala, to be held virtually because of the coronavirus.During the ceremony, Obama and historian Ron Chernow, a former PEN board president, will discuss freedom of expression and the importance of truth in a world of misinformation.Obama’s previous books include “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”“As an organization of writers, we have always seen President Obama not just as a leader, but as one of us: an author. His probing and evocative narratives helped introduce the world to his unique background, and the power of his life experience as a prompt toward a more pluralistic and encompassing society,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.PEN presented its first Voice of Influence Award in 2019 to filmmaker Ava DuVernay.Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
After six years operating in one of Aylmer’s landmark buildings, the Family Central Restaurant will be closing its doors on Saturday, Dec. 19. Central building board member, Albert Loewen, described challenges from COVID-19 as “the final nail” that led to the restaurant’s closure. The building’s Family Central Apartment program, which provides affordable housing to participants while they work towards education and employment goals, will remain open. “It’s tough because you need numbers, you need crowds, that’s literally what you rely on to make your ends meet,” Mr. Loewen said. “We’re headed into the winter where there’s no patio option, and now there’s talk of further lockdowns.” Family Central Restaurant has been serving the community since 2014 with a goal of providing a wholesome and welcoming dining environment to families and the business community of downtown Aylmer. To encourage families and groups to have meaningful conversations with each other, the restaurant rewards patrons who refrain from using cell phones during meals with a 10% reduction on the bill. “At the end of the day, it’s a tough market for restaurants right now. We’re sad about it, but it’s a reality that a lot of restaurants are facing,” said Mr. Loewen. “I would highly encourage people to support the other local restaurants.” The organization’s main focus will now be providing affordable housing to the community through the Family Central Apartments, which provides eight units on the second and third floors. Currently, the basement is being renovated to operate as a space to serve those in the program. The space will provide semi-private meeting rooms, access to computers for job searches and other online needs, shower and laundry facilities, and an in-house barber. “The whole idea is to be a transitional space for people to get to a place of independence - whether they’re lacking education, or whatever is holding them back from a place they can get on their own,” explained Mr. Loewen. The apartment program currently employs two people who actively work and partner with other agencies to support those living in the program. The future for the first floor of the building, where the restaurant is, has yet to be determined.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
BERLIN — A car crashed into the front gate of the building housing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices on Wednesday morning, causing minor damage, authorities said. The driver, who authorities say had been involved in an almost identical incident six years ago, was detained.The Volkswagen station wagon hit the gate to the German chancellery at about 10 a.m. (0900 GMT; 4 a.m. EST). The slogan “You damned murderers of children and old people” was scrawled in white paint on one side of the car and “stop the globalization policies” was on the other.Police spokesman Thilo Cablitz told reporters the 54-year-old driver was detained at the scene after driving at a slow speed into the gate and was being questioned. He said police were investigating whether he might be psychologically disturbed or had other motivations.According to Germany’s Interior Ministry, the same man had already been involved in an almost identical incident in 2014.At that time, he drove a similar, if not the same, car into the same gate but caused no damage. The car carried a slogan scrawled in white paint on the side that condemned climate change and the man was taken into custody.Reports in 2014 said the man had done something similar before.Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said he did not know whether the suspect was listed as a possible threat.The car used Wednesday had license plates from the Lippe area in western Germany and was driven away by the Berlin fire department showing little sign of damage beyond a few scratches.Merkel’s office said there was only minor damage to the security gate.“For the chancellor, other members of the federal government, and the people employed in the chancellery there was no danger at any time,” her office said.The chancellery sits in downtown Berlin next to the Swiss Embassy and across from parliamentary offices. The exterior gate that was hit, which is next to a security office outside the main building, opens onto a public street.There was no immediate indication of what prompted the incident, but it came on the day that Merkel was to meet with state governors to talk about extending a partial coronavirus shutdown that started on Nov. 2.The government's approach toward slowing the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions enjoy widespread support among most Germans but they have also prompted occasionally violent protests in some major cities._____ Frank Jordans contributed to this story.David Rising, The Associated Press
Those who want to pass on their gently used hockey gear to kids who need it can do so at an equipment drive the first week of December. Brain Atkins of Total Construction Management in Peterborough wants to help First Nations communities get hockey equipment so he has organized an event for Dec. 5 at the company's location at 169 Lansdowne St. E, from 9 a.m. to noon. “Most of the gear is for smaller kids, but we have already gotten a few items for older players,” said Atkins. Although he does have a few items on hand, Atkins says he cannot accept equipment prior to the drive due to space. “I have some equipment that’s in my vehicle, but I would rather wait until the day of the drive,’’ he says. Atkins says items like skates, good condition hockey sticks and goalie equipment are needed. “We will take whatever people have in equipment, new or used,” he adds. The hockey equipment drive is also being held in other cities in the province such as Whitby and Kitchener. Atkins says those equipment drives are quite successful and he says he has seen the positive effects of the drive and wanted to do something in Peterborough. “This is a first for the City of Peterborough,” he says. To follow all COVID-19 safety measures, Atkins says for those who are going to donate can stay in their cars the day of the event, between the hours listed and the team will remove the equipment. TCM helps First Nations communities rebuild homes, construct community centres, renovate existing homes and complete construction as well as train homeowners how to maintain their homes and buildings after the work is complete. He says the team is dedicated in providing sustainable and self-sufficient structures for the communities they work in. “What a better way to give back than through hockey, and I’m just happy kids will have equipment to use to play hockey.”Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week
RCMP say they have made a significant drug and weapons bust in North Battleford after carrying out two search warrants on Saturday.The first was executed at about 4:00 a.m. CST on the 1800 block of St. Laurent Drive, according to a news release.Officers found several items, including a gun, ammunition, brass knuckles, a knife, about three grams of crystal meth and $500 in cash.Two men — aged 27 and 44-years old — are facing a combined 13 charges, including unauthorized possession of a firearm and careless storage of a firearm. They are both set to appear in court on Wednesday.An 18-year-old woman is also facing charges related to an outstanding warrant. She has been released and her next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 1.Cocaine and loaded gunThe second search warrant was carried out shortly after on the 10000 block of Scott Drive.At that residence, police say they found about 4.4 kilograms of cocaine in vacuum sealed bags, approximately 350 grams of marijuana, a gun with two loaded magazines and more than $25,000 in cash.Two people — both 22-years-old — are facing several charges, including possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine and possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition.They have both been released and are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 29.
Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) staff and board members were pleased with the financial summary for October. CCCA Finance Coordinator Susan Simmons reviewed the finance report during a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12. She noted the conservation area revenue was currently at $565,275.15, about $2,200 short of the budgeted amount. “I think we all deserve a sigh of relief for making it through,” said Ms. Simmons. “When we started the year, we didn’t know what we were going to be looking at for revenue for the conservation area.” CCCA recently launched a fundraiser to assist in the $80,000 replacement of the aging Springwater Conservation Area gatehouse and visitor centre. Ms. Simmons said, including recent donations, the current total for donations was about $14,000. “I’m really happy with that. $20,000 is our goal, and we’re getting kind of close to it,” she said. Recent donors, such as A1 Unique Installations and Ferguson RV World, are very passionate about Springwater, she added. “I think that the situation that’s happening now with COVID-19, we’re doing an excellent job at Catfish Creek,” said CCCA chair Rick Cerna. Total expenditures for CCCA were at $1,079,812.64, about $250,000 less than the annual overall budgeted amount. Board members had no questions regarding expenditures.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