Come here and let me love you! Watch as this Golden Retriever show some affection towards the family cat.
Come here and let me love you! Watch as this Golden Retriever show some affection towards the family cat.
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
Crowsnest Pass councillors engaged in a lengthy discussion concerning rent rates for municipal facilities during the Nov. 17 council meeting. In 2018, a standard annual fee for renting the MDM Community Centre was set for all new and existing leases. That rate was set for $6.61 per square foot for 2020. In order to level the playing field throughout the municipality, council determined during its Jan. 14, 2020 governance and priorities committee meeting to apply the $6.61 rate as an annual fee to all organizations renting municipal facilities. Administration was directed to contact each affected group before standardizing the rates, and a five-year time frame for groups to work up to the $6.61 rate was established. Mayor Blair Painter brought the issue back for council’s discussion after the Crowsnest Pass Pistol Club contacted him with concerns over the expected increase to its rental rates for the Elks Hall in Blairmore. The club is currently negotiating a new lease with the municipality. The club’s rental rate was set at $1.70 per square foot for 2017, 2018 and 2019. To reach the standard $6.61 rate within the established time frame, the pistol club would be required to increase its annual rate payment by $1,800 a year to an annual rental fee that would amount to about $13,000. “I think it was our intention that we all agreed that we needed to come up with an even playing field for everybody, but I don’t think we need to go to today’s standard commercial rates for renting in the Crowsnest Pass,” Mayor Painter said. “These are not groups that are commercial. They’re not selling goods, they’re not making a profit.” Expecting the pistol club to reach the standardized rate within five years was unreasonable, he continued, and would put additional stress on the club’s finances since it wasn't able to collect any revenue from its annual guns show. Though the club’s reserves will cover costs this year, long-term operations with the increased rent would require doubling its $100 membership fee. Not all of council, however, was overly concerned with the prospect of pistol club members facing increased dues. “In order for my children to play hockey, I pay $400 a child to use the facility in the municipality that is subsidized by the taxpayer,” Coun. Lisa Sygutek said. “It’s not really fair for kids’ families to be paying $400 to play a sport and then a group of adult people paying $100. I have a bit of a problem with that.” She suggested the pistol club could take a page out of the minor hockey association’s play book and apply for casino shifts or fundraise in other ways. Expecting the club to jump from about $3,000 a year in rent to $13,000, she continued, was also an issue. “I also have a problem with the fact that we’re going to throw it down and say you gotta pay $13,000. That’s a big number,” she said. As such, Coun. Sygutek said the pistol club could come before council to ask for assistance in addition to whatever fundraising efforts it secured on its own. Such an arrangement, said manager of community services Trent Smith, had always been part of the intention behind the rental rate, and the five-year time frame was meant to be a flexible target to aim for. “Administration in no means was trying to shove a five-year lease down their throat,” he said. “If they needed to come to council and ask for 10 years, we would happily sit down and ask council and decide that.” As part of those discussions, Mr. Smith continued, the topic of fundraising was brought up, as well as looking at what financial options other small-town gun clubs pursued. “At no time was administration saying, ‘Hey, you must.’ We were saying, ‘Hey, if this doesn't work, we’ll come back and talk to council. And then communication went dead,” said Mr. Smith. Though certainly a jump from the pistol club’s $1.70 rate, Coun. Dean Ward said the $6.61 amount was agreed upon earlier in the year by council because about half of the community groups were paying rental fees near $6 a square foot. The pistol group’s rent, he added, had also been largely unchanged for close to 20 years. “If we cut these rates, we’re going to have to come up with $30,000 from somewhere else,” said Coun. Ward. “I have no problem phasing somebody in over time, but these groups are all earning, they’re all begging for money, they’re all working hard … selling vegetables, selling chocolates, to pay their bills. “It’s a sad situation when nine groups are paying one rate and one group is paying 20 per cent of that rate.” Beyond the pistol club’s concerns, Coun. Dave Filipuzzi expressed concern that the current rent arrangement would add financial strain to community groups already grappling with fallout from the pandemic. “If we continue to stress these groups out, we won’t have them. I think it’s fairly important we find a way to solve this problem; it’s good to accommodate these groups to stay a part of our community and be part of our community. I don’t want to lose these groups, any one of them,” he said. Expecting every group to conform to one amount, added Coun. Doreen Glavin, was also unfair. “Different groups have different resources in order for them to run and operate, and it isn't fair to say we’re going to standardize,” she said. “I think it comes down to what each group ... has for resources themselves in order to operate or pay for leases.” Backtracking on the $6.61 rate to accommodate groups, Coun. Sygutek responded, was the right way to respond. “We accepted that, we agreed with it. We can’t go back now and say, ‘Hey, you know, we made a mistake,’ and go to every one of those groups and lower their rent. I don’t think that’s an option,” said Coun. Sygutek. “But I do think it’s an option for them to come to us and ask for funding help.” Council eventually accepted two motions: the first directed administration to reach out to the Crowsnest Pass Pistol Club and see what options could be arranged for the $6.61 rate to be eventually met, and the second directed administration to notify the other nine groups paying the rate to approach council for assistance if they are facing financial hardships. The second motion, said Coun. Marlene Anctil, was especially important. “There are a lot of groups that we don’t know the positions they’re in right now who are struggling, so let’s notify every group and see what comes back to us,” she said.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Jennifer Heywood's mother is 94 and trying to bounce back from a recent bout with COVID-19.Her adult children are anxious to know if they will be able celebrate Christmas as a family, in person — possibly for the last time."I would like very much just to see her," Heywood said, fighting back tears. "I'm sorry. I would just like to see her."The province is expected to announce guidelines this week for holiday gatherings involving seniors living in long-term care homes.Making matters more complicated, Heywood lives in Toronto. Her bags are packed. But she's hoping the spread of COVID-19 will have stabilized enough in Quebec and Ontario to allow her to come to Montreal.Her mother contracted the virus last month at the Vigi Reine-Élizabeth in NDG, and it's taken a physical toll on her, according to Heywood.Heywood and her siblings weren't even sure their mother would make it to Christmas.Two of her siblings visit their mother regularly, but never at the same time. Heywood is hoping that will change, and bring much needed joy to the elderly patient."Christmas is a big deal to Mum," Heywood said. "She always celebrated it joyously. She always made it beautiful for us. So we've always wanted to make it beautiful for her when she's been in a hospital bed."Risk of outbreaks 'always hanging over our heads'Quebecers are being allowed two get-togethers with a maximum of 10 people in each between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.But there's a quid pro quo.Premier François Legault has asked people to self-isolate in the week leading up to that four-day window and for a week following it. He calls it a "moral contract."Dr. Élise Boulanger, who works at CHSLD Father Dowd, says there is a need for balance when it comes to letting residents celebrate the holidays with family."There is a great proportion [of residents] that are at the end of their life, and this Christmas may be every important for them," said Boulanger. For the most part, she believes people who visit loved ones in long-term care homes are careful about not bringing the virus into the facility, but she stresses the importance of ditching large family gatherings prior to visiting a loved one. "It's always a risk, and it's happening. You still have some outbreaks that are happening in the centres, right now," said Boulanger. "It's always a concern. It feels like it's always hanging over our heads."
Police have laid charges after once again attending Adamson Barbecue on Wednesday, a restaurant in Etobicoke that had been ordered to close after defying public health rules and allowing in-person dining despite a provincial lockdown order. Toronto Police Superintendant Dom Sinopoli said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that owner Adam Skelly and the restaurant face nine charges, including violating indoor dining rules, holding an illegal gathering and operating a business without a licence. Four of the charges were laid on Tuesday. When asked what police will do if Skelly decides to open again Thursday, Sinopoli said "tomorrow is another day" and they will take enforcement actions based on what happens.The restaurant closed around 1 p.m. after serving crowds of customers Wednesday morning. Skelly decided to close down after discussions with police, said Sinopoli.He said police are currently in discussions with "partners" about what their enforcement powers are when dealing with businesses that violate health orders. He did not elaborate on who those partners are.Protesters not chargedNo one who rallied outside the restaurant was charged or fined, he added.Crowds outside the establishment were told to leave Wednesday afternoon, though many also left as it began raining. Earlier Wednesday morning, more than a dozen officers arrived at the restaurant located on Queen Elizabeth Boulevard. Skelly was seen without a mask speaking with law enforcement indoors.A crowd of customers was gathered to eat inside the establishment as officers were present. As the doors opened at 11 a.m., cars came by the restaurant to honk in support and a rally of at least 100 people formed outside the establishment to protest current lockdown orders. One day after Monday's lockdown came into effect for Toronto and Peel region, Skelly vowed in an Instagram post that his establishment would remain open despite new health measures that prohibit in-person dining at restaurants for at least 28-days.The new rules were ushered in as the vast majority of the province's increase in COVID-19 cases stem from the regions covered by the lockdown.Coun. Mark Grimes told reporters at the scene Wednesday that Skelly has been charged for breaking public health orders on both Tuesday and Wednesday.Grimes said he's asking for a maximum fine of $100,000 to be laid.On Tuesday, Adamson Barbecue served a packed dining room of patrons who were pictured eating indoors and outdoors on benches, many without masks.The unabashed flouting of the rules resulted in Dr. Eileen de Villa , the city's medical officer of health, to order the business to close Tuesday evening. When that order came in, Skelly was already closing up shop.An illustration was posted to the restaurant's Instagram page Tuesday night of Skelly standing on a police vehicle with the caption, "Etobicoke. 11 a.m. to sold out. Dine-in." Skelly opened again Wednesday despite the city's order.City, police 'not satisfied' with initial enforcement response, Tory saysInsp. Tim Crone had told reporters Tuesday that due to the "sheer number of people" inside the restaurant, police didn't have the ability to go inside and remove anyone. Later Staff Supt. Mark Barkley acknowledged at the scene that it was a mistake not to act sooner. At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said that he was updated about the restaurant Tuesday and that he and police were "not satisfied" with law enforcement's initial response when the owner defied the lockdown. When reporters asked about his involvement in that response, he emphasized that it would be inappropriate for a politician to direct law enforcement and it's up to police to determine charges and enforce the law.However, he did say that he'd throw the book at business owners like Skelly, who choose to violate public health orders. Placing concrete blocks in front of the restaurant would be something he'd consider — but he again said he will not direct police. Barkley, who spoke on the phone at the news conference, said the response to the barbecue restaurant was a "complex situation" and police had to ensure they handled it in accordance with the law.He did concede that after reviewing the response there were "other opportunities" that officers could have pursued at the time. Barkley confirmed that charges were laid against the business. Ford calls owner 'irresponsible' and tells him to shut downDuring a news conference Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford said he was not going to " start pounding on a small business owner when the guy's holding on by his fingernails." But he emphasized that guidelines have to be followed.But on Wednesday, he took a sterner tone toward Skelly and any other businesses that are considering defying public health orders."You need to shut down. You're putting people's lives in jeopardy," he said, in response to a question about the barbecue restaurant openings again for the second day in a row. "This guy is just totally ignoring public health officials. That's how this spreads.""People are dying, because of COVID-19. And he just wants to say 'forget it' and have everyone down there? It's absolutely irresponsible and ridiculous," he said. His statements came as reporters asked questions about why larger department stores like Walmart were allowed to remain open, while small businesses sometimes selling similar goods had to shutter. Spectacle outside eatery a 'distraction': restaurant ownerToronto restaurateur Nathan Hynes said he's concerned the opening of Skelly's eatery and the response from officials has distracted from real concerns small business owners have as they enter the first week of the new lockdown.The new rent subsidy from the federal government paid directly to tenants is coming too late, said Hynes, who owns The Auld Spot Pub on Danforth Avenue. "The support hasn't been good enough. And the big businesses kind of act on a different playing field," he said, adding that the province allowing big players like Walmart to remain open has been a blow.Hynes said he continues to owe fixed costs to banks and insurance companies that he cannot pay.He said he firmly disagrees with Skelly's decision to reopen, but added the sporadic approach by different levels of government in providing support for businesses has been a concern throughout the pandemic. "My creditors are knocking on my door looking for money that I can't pay them because I'm forced to close," he said."I don't want a sideshow like this to overwhelm ... the reality of the situation and distract from a real kind of change happening here."
During November, best friends and entrepreneurs Kara Anderson and Jewell-Ihea Jensen officially opened the doors to their enchanted beauty studio in downtown Belleville. On Tuesday, November 24th, city councillor Bill Sandison and executive director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA Marijo Cuerrier welcomed the new business at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located at 1 Bridge St. East, Bewitched Beauty Studio is now open for clients seeking non-surgical beauty treatments and body modifications. This dynamic duo had a goal of opening a salon that makes body contouring services attainable for everyone, with pricing reflecting the attainable vision, and decided that the Downtown District in Belleville was the perfect place to plant their roots. “We choose downtown because it has a strong community of businesses and we feel very passionately about collaboration,” said Anderson. “We hope to work with other businesses downtown to support and promote each other.” After launching the business six months ago from their homes, Jensen and Anderson quickly experienced increasing demand and sought out a larger, professional space better fit for their clients’ needs. “We wanted to create a studio that offered affordable and attainable beauty treatments for all,” explained Jensen. “We knew there was a gap in the market for these types of treatments being accessible to a wider group of women, so it was important to us to make these enhancements accessible for women to feel good.” Anderson and Jensen are independent young women with a passion for helping other women love themselves, and are committed to continuing to expand their range of knowledge in the aesthetics field. The two entrepreneurs strive for professionalism and excellent customer service, offering an array of services including body contouring, teeth whitening, eyelash extensions, and jade healing treatments and facials. The studio performs non-surgical body modifications such as skin tightening, fat reduction, micro-blading, spray tan and butt lifting. Residents interested in learning more about Bewitched Beauty Studio can visit bewitchedbeautystudio.ca for more information about their services.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Following Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer's overall summary of the draft budget and some of its key elements, it was Town Treasurer Andre Morin's turn to speak more specifically on the high-level aspects of the 2021 draft capital budget. It is important to note that this is still a draft budget, meaning the budget is not finalized yet. With that in mind, this will give you a glimpse at how the 2021 budget is beginning to take shape. Morin began his presentation by noting that it's expected that revenues across the board will be down in 2021, due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. These revenues that are expected to decrease include the largest, fees and charges, as well as ice rentals, rents and leases, and sales. Morin also pointed out that the carry-over from the 2020 Safe Restart funding the Town has yet to spend is about $250,000, which will help cover the extra costs and lost revenues. The draft capital budget also reflects several increases in expenses for the Town. The first that Morin touched on was an increased investment in the community safety and policing plan, as well as parks patrol. The expense increase for those areas is approximately $45,000. Most of the other increases proposed in the budget are spread over other departments within the municipality and are fairly standard and routine. The Town is seeing an increase in debenture payments in 2021, but not as large of an increase as they likely expected. The net increase of about $68,000 is largely due to an increase in debenture payments related to the fire hall, but there is also a debenture payment related to wastewater services that is coming off the books. The materials and services line of the budget did reflect a large increase of $140,000, however, that is largely due to its reflection of additional costs brought on by the pandemic. Lastly, an increase in salary and wages is also included in the budget, and the Council asked Town staff to report back later on the implications of a 1.5 percent increase in salary and wages. Morin then touched on the tax increase for St. Marys residents, which, thanks in no small part to the Town's handling of the pandemic, is not going to be as substantial as other municipalities. The net tax levy, according to Morin, will result in the average St. Marys resident paying approximately 0.82 percent more in taxes. Morin also said that the Town is projecting a 0.97 percent increase for the average municipal dwelling, as well as increases of between 2-2.5 percent for water and wastewater services. No increase is predicted for garbage and recycling wheelie bin services.Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
ORILLIA — Police across the province are reminding motorists of the consequences of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol and drugs as the annual OPP Festive RIDE campaign kicks off this week. Ontario Provincial Police have received more than 21,000 calls related to suspected impaired drivers so far this year, according to a news release issued on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The seasonal campaign runs from Nov. 26 to Jan. 3, 2021. “As Ontarians celebrate this physically-distanced holiday season, an important part of staying safe is ensuring you have a solid plan that prevents you and your family from driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs,” OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in the release. “The OPP encourages citizens to continue reporting impaired drivers to the police. Combined with the dedication of our frontline officers, our collective efforts can significantly help keep you and your loved ones safe on our roads during the holidays and throughout the year.” Last year, OPP conducted more than 8,800 RIDE stops and charged more than 600 drivers with impaired driving. Police are reminding motorists that officers regularly conduct mandatory alcohol screening procedures with drivers who are lawfully pulled over and will be ramping up this measure including at RIDE stops throughout the campaign. OPP also praises proactive citizens for doing their part and calling in suspected impaired drivers. Nearly 3,300 calls were placed during last year’s Festive RIDE campaign. An officer with an alcohol screen device can demand a breath sample from any driver without having reasonable suspicion they have consumed alcohol, OPP said in the release. Officers also have drug screening equipment that detects cannabis and cocaine in a driver’s saliva. These devices are used to enforce provincial zero-tolerance sanctions which apply to drivers under the age of 21. “Impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death and injury on Ontario’s roads and these dangers remain a threat to our communities as we continue to face COVID-19 this holiday season. We all want a safe and happy holiday season and it is important to remind our friends and family to plan ahead and make alternative arrangements to get home safely. The decision to get behind the wheel impaired can be a matter of life and death,” Solicitor General of Ontario Sylvia Jones said in a statement. Forty-two people have died on OPP-patrolled roads so far this year in collisions involving alcohol or drug-impaired driving, according to OPP statistics.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
MILAN — Though the first real snow has yet to fall across much of Europe, ski buffs are imagining with dread a once-unthinkable scene: Skiing in Zermatt in Switzerland while lifts idle across the border in Italy's Aosta valley.The leaders of Italy and France are resisting pressure to reopen ski resorts before Christmas, pushing for European co-ordination so their industries don’t suffer during the pandemic while others flourish. But the Alpine countries of Switzerland and Austria could well be spoilers.Ski resorts were one of the major sources of contagion in the deadly spring surge of COVID-19.So far, restrictions to slow the curve of infections have kept lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. They are warning of irreversible economic damage if they are not permitted to open this season.Both Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte and French President Emmanuel Macron said this week that pre-Christmas openings are unthinkable. While such skiing luminaries as world and Olympic champion Alberto Tomba argue that it is an individual sport conducted in the open air, the leaders point to the risks of contagion in crowded lift lines and lodges, as well as closed cable cars.Top health officials in Italy appeared aghast when they were asked at a briefing Tuesday about the prospects for opening ski season, minutes after they had just reported a resurgence-high 853 deaths in a 24-hour period.“I admit I have a difficult time inside commenting on arguments relating to ski areas and what will happen at Christmas, thinking about these numbers,’’ said Dr. Franco Locatelli, head of Italy’s national scientific council.French mountain industry representatives met with the French prime minister Monday to press to be able to reopen, but apparently their pleas weren’t heard.“It seems impossible to me to imagine a reopening for the holidays, and much more preferable to favour reopening in January, in good conditions,’’ Macron said as he laid out plans Tuesday night for a gradual easing of the current lockdown.Plans for reopening also remain on ice in the eastern countries of Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — although Serbia is prepping for the winter season in full swing, as if COVID-19 did not exist, counting on both domestic and foreign visitors.Austria, whose current lockdown runs through Dec. 6, has been for months saying that it hoped to reopen the slopes this season and rejected Italy’s idea of keeping them closed until Jan. 10. On Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pushed back against calls to write off this year’s ski season because of the pandemic.In Bavaria, Germany’s largest ski destination, Governor Markus Soeder supported the idea, saying that if Europe’s borders are to remain open through the Christmas season there will have to be some sort of a blanket rule on keeping resorts closed.In Switzerland, lifts are indeed in operation on Zermatt, next to the famed Matterhorn, and eastern Davos, near Austria. The famed resort of St. Moritz, a favourite destination for well-heeled Italians, is set to open about 60% of slopes this weekend.But much of the fun of skiing getaways is missing: Zermatt's slopes may be open, but its restaurants are not — meaning a warm cocoa, mulled wine or cold beer at pubs or eateries after mountain runs is out.So far, just 10% of the country’s 250 ski stations are open as only the highest altitudes have gotten enough snow, according to Switzerland Tourism spokeswoman Veronique Kanel. She said she didn't expect a flood of foreign skiers, noting strict travel rules still in place in many countries.An official in the Swiss health ministry said Switzerland plans to join a discussion among officials from Alpine countries in the coming days on co-ordinating a plan for relaunching the ski season.“Clearly the situation is complicated: It’s difficult to have only one country open its ski slopes when others close theirs. There needs to be co-ordination,” said the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.___Keaten contributed from Geneva. Angela Charlton in Paris and Dave Rising in Berlin also contributed.___Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakColleen Barry And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
The president of the Canadian Labour Congress is hoping Joe Biden’s efforts while in office will put pressure on Canada and the provinces to “move much faster” in adopting ambitious climate and employment policies. Hassan Yussuff said he felt Biden, the United States president-elect, has been signalling that he’s determined to take the climate crisis seriously, and there is now widespread recognition in the U.S. that there can be millions of new jobs for workers in a low-carbon economy — with the right government leadership and significant investments. “I’m hoping with the new administration, there will be accelerated and aggressive action to get back into the game as quickly as possible. And I think that will help Canada recognize that we only have one choice here: We’ve got to set some very hard targets that are going to need to be achieved,” said Yussuff. The labour leader, who co-chaired a federal task force that looked at how to fairly provide for workers in coal mines and coal-fired power plants across Canada as the government moves to end coal power nationwide, also said setting climate targets will have to go hand-in-hand with developing a strategy around protecting workers. “An absence of that will put people’s livelihoods in jeopardy,” he said. “We’ve got to create jobs to replace the jobs that might be lost in the transitional period ... I’m hoping their (Biden’s) strong leadership and aggressive leadership can certainly boost the efforts here at the provincial and federal level to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to move much faster,’ because our American friends are going to keep the pressure on Canada." On Tuesday, Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris announced their administration’s national security and foreign policy positions, naming former secretary of state John Kerry to the post of presidential envoy for climate change. Biden said Kerry would sit on the National Security Council, bringing a climate perspective to the White House Situation Room. Kerry is credited with helping negotiate the Paris climate accord, and has a long history of working on environmental issues, from representing the U.S. at international climate summits to working on bipartisan climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate. In a short speech after Biden introduced him, Kerry wasted no time putting foreign nations on notice, saying, “No country alone can solve this challenge” and that “to end this crisis, the whole world must come together.” At next year’s international climate conference in Glasgow, Kerry said, “all nations must raise ambition together, or we will all fail together. And failure is not an option.” “The road ahead is exciting, actually — it means creating millions of middle-class jobs, it means less pollution in our air and oceans. It means making life healthier for citizens across the world. And it means we will strengthen the security of every nation in the world,” said Kerry. Any broad-based U.S. climate action is going to have an impact on Canada, as the largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the U.S., noted Yussuff. Canada accounts for almost half, or 48 per cent, of U.S. crude oil imports and over a fifth of U.S. refinery input. The U.S., in turn, is practically Canada’s only oil customer: 98 per cent of Canada’s oil exports flow south across the border. Biden said during the presidential debate that his intention was to “transition from the oil industry ... over time” to renewable energy, and his platform called for the U.S. to achieve net-zero carbon pollution “no later than 2050.” Last week, the Trudeau government tabled Bill C-12, which, if passed, would require that Canada set national carbon emissions targets every five years from 2030 until it reaches net-zero emissions in 2050. Canada already has a 2030 emissions reduction target — reducing emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels — that federal government projections have shown the country will overshoot unless more is done to cut pollution. Nevertheless, the Trudeau government committed in the last election campaign to exceed that 2030 target, although it has not yet explained exactly how it will get there. The bill also requires the government to draw up emissions reduction plans for achieving the targets, and provides a range of public reporting requirements to demonstrate progress, as well as an advisory body tasked with providing advice to the minister. Advocates say the bill itself will create a powerful legal incentive that could help Canada finally achieve its targets after missing every one since 1992. Yussuff said it was clear that any greenhouse gas reduction plan from the federal government will necessarily impact fossil fuel employment in some way, although it was difficult to judge precisely how without a target and a timeline in place. He said federal and provincial governments will need to outline how they intend to assist workers going forward. The Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities that he co-chaired toured facilities, visited communities and met with workers. It discovered a pervasive fear over the impact to communities of a coal shutdown, as well as deep mistrust and suspicion of government and a frustration over being labelled as dirty. The group recommended significant federal spending on new infrastructure and financial, jobs and training programs for workers. The lessons learned from that task force include the importance of starting early, said Yussuff, and creating an inventory of skills that workers currently have, as well as identifying who is likely to retire before facilities close or are converted to other technology. Some of those workers will need a bridge to retirement, which could mean better support on the company pension plan, while others will need updated skills where governments could provide support for new programs. It was important to get the ball rolling while workers are still at their current jobs, he said. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
This holiday season, The Station Belleville is getting into the festive spirit and is hoping to bring joy to families of the Belleville community. Located in the Bayview Mall, the Station is a cultural, recreational and educational centre for children from the ages of 6-14 that offers classes, after-school programs and private events. Described as a kids’ clubhouse for boys and girls to keep their minds and bodies active, The Station Belleville is encouraging families to take part in fun activities at the Station or to drop their kids off while they do holiday shopping. With his experience in the health care sector and understanding the restrictions and regulations put in place by COVID-19, owner Joe Tambasco assures residents that COVID-19 measurements are in place to ensure the safety of all staff, families and children visiting the centre. Visitors will have their temperature taken by a wall-mounted thermometer, questioned about potential symptoms, interactions or increased risk of COVID-19 and will be asked to use the provided hand sanitizer. Children are mandated to wear a mask while at The Station and hand sanitizing stations have set up throughout the facility. The QBOT gift cards make an excellent holiday gift and are good for 1 admission into the Quinte Belleville Obstacle Training (QBOT) area. The QBOT gift cards are easy to register online with the number on the back of the card, and kids can coordinate with their friends to schedule times to go together. QBOT Gift Cards are now available for purchase at The Station Belleville. Gift cards are $15 plus tax and are a great gift for children and their friends this holiday season. “It may be getting cold outside but everyone inside The Station is burning up with excitement from the activities we have to offer,” added Tambasco. The Station is available for booking online and will enforce COVID-19 policies and asks that residents showing any symptoms do not visit The Station. Residents looking for more information about The Station, programs, fees, waiver and booking times can visit thestationbelleville.com NoneVirginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
Après avoir été le théâtre de deux éclosions majeures dans les dernières semaines, la situation semble se stabiliser dans la péninsule gaspésienne, alors qu’on rapporte peu de cas dans les communautés au cours des derniers jours. Si la bataille n’est pas encore gagnée, la région est sur «la bonne voie», selon le directeur de la santé publique. En début de deuxième vague, la Baie-des-Chaleurs s’est rapidement retrouvée témoin d’une importante éclosion de COVID-19, touchant autant la communauté que les centres d’hébergement pour ainés, plaçant la zone en tête de liste des régions les plus infectées de la province. Quelques semaines plus tard, la Côte-de-Gaspé était à son tour touchée par une éclosion majeure, notamment au Manoir Saint-Augustin, où plus de 100 personnes ont contracté la maladie. Dans les derniers jours, le virus semble être moins virulent dans la péninsule, une vingtaine de cas ont été recensés, dont plusieurs dans des milieux fermés tels que le centre de détention de New Carlisle. Selon le directeur de la santé publique gaspésienne, le Dr Yv Bonnier-Viger, le travail de sensibilisation fait par les équipes de la santé publique a porté ses fruits. «Nos équipes ont beaucoup travaillé avec les milieux pour expliquer la notion de famille, qui n’est pas la même pour tous. Une ‘’famille’’, c’est un groupe de personnes vivant à la même adresse», note-t-il. Des fêtes sous haute surveillance La santé publique gaspésienne reste tout de même méfiante pour les prochaines semaines, notamment avec la période des fêtes. «Techniquement les gens ont le droit de fêter sans limites pendant quatre jours. Si on réfléchit en termes de droits plutôt qu’en prévention, ça peut être inquiétant», croit le Dr Bonnier-Viger, qui fêtera de son côté avec sa conjointe et une de ses filles, plutôt que la fête familiale habituelle rassemblant près de 70 personnes. Selon lui, le contrat moral proposé par le premier ministre était nécessaire, même s’il comporte certains risques. « Les gens ont besoin de se rencontrer. C’est un risque qu’on pouvait se permettre. De toute façon, on aime mieux mettre un certain cadre que d’opter pour un non catégorique où les gens se rencontreraient sans balises», conclut-il. Bilan quotidien Le CISSS de la Gaspésie rapportait 15 nouvelles infections de COVID-19, mercredi. «Mais plusieurs sont en milieu fermé», note la porte-parole de l’établissement, Clémence Beaulieu-Gendron. «Dans une petite région, c’est normal que ça varie d’un jour à l’autre, mais on est sur la bonne voie», soutient le Dr Bonnier-Viger. Les cas sont répartis un peu partout dans la péninsule, la MRC de Rocher-Percé ayant la plus forte hausse avec six nouveaux cas. Cinq infections s’ajoutent dans la Côte-de-Gaspé, deux dans Bonaventure et un seul en Haute-Gaspésie. Une personne supplémentaire est décédée de la COVID-19 dans la région, portant le total à 40 décès. Elle résidait au CHSLD Mgr-Ross de Gaspé, où cinq résidents et «moins de cinq» employés ont reçu des diagnostics positifs à la maladie. Sept personnes sont actuellement hospitalisées en Gaspésie et aux Iles, qui comptent 114 cas actifs. Il y a une semaine exactement, c’était 209 personnes qui étaient atteintes de la maladie dans la péninsule. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
A snowmobiler got more than he bargained for when he ventured away from his friends in search of new terrain while out in the Yanks Peak area two Sundays ago. He took the detour without telling anyone and without a shovel. He paid for it by spending the night and much of the next day out in the wilderness. "He got really stuck," said Dave Merritt of Prince George Search and Rescue. "He got stuck multiple times, he just couldn't get himself out without a shovel." Merritt said search and rescue volunteers were originally called out to look for another member of the party of about 15-20 enthusiasts. By the time the searchers had shown up, that subject had made his way back to the parking lot at the entrance to the popular snowmobiling area south of Wells after spending a few hours extracting his sled from a tree well. But by then, the party had realized one other person remained unaccounted for. Volunteers from three search and rescue organizations plus members of the Wells Snowmobile Club and a couple of the missing man's friends participated in the search. Prince George SAR was called in because it has the skills to search in avalanche terrain. The second man was "cold and tired" but otherwise OK when he was spotted by a helicopter shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday. "We probably would've found him another hour and a half later by sled but the weather had lifted enough that we were able to spot him a little faster and get him home a little quicker," Merritt said. "We had maybe another 20 minutes and the helicopter would've had to go back to Prince George because of the darkness." Cell service in the area is spotty and neither snowmobiler had radios or satellite communication devices, Merritt said. The one who spent the night outside was also without fire starter and material to build a shelter. Merritt urged outdoor enthusiasts to check the AdventureSmart website for advice on being prepared in case something goes wrong. "The group did everything right once they realized somebody was missing," Merritt added. "They initiated all the proper procedures."Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
The Northern B.C. Crisis Centre could use some help when it comes to helping others. In the time since the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold, the centre has seen a 25-per-cent increase in calls to its phone lines from people feeling anxious, depressed and suicidal. The jump has translated into about 600 calls per month from people in the Northern Health region plus a further 400-500 calls per month the centre fields from the national suicide prevention line. "Things really ticked up in March and they haven't really stopped. We've been very busy," Sandra Boulianne, the centre's executive director, said. She said there have been similar upticks in the past, such as during the two major wildfire seasons, but nothing as sustained as this. Adding to the trouble, Boulianne said the centre is short-staffed. The centre works on a hybrid model with trained volunteers taking calls during the days and evenings and paid staff working the overnight shift. The roster of volunteers has waivered between 25 and 30. Ideally, Boulianne said the count should be over 40. As it stands, the centre's call answer rate averages about 70 per cent. "So we're missing 30 per cent of our calls," Boulianne said. "It's not good." Moreover, the volunteers are typically university students looking for some practical experience while pursuing their degrees. While she welcomes them, Boulianne said she would like to have a broader representation of the community not only because they may be able to better relate to some of the callers but they may last longer than the two to three years a student typically does. "Sometimes it feels like we're training people as fast as we're losing people," she said. Retired folks and stay-at-home mothers with some spare time are among the kinds of people Boulianne said she is seeking, adding the centre also has a youth-serving-youth line. Newcomers go through 70 hours of training, delivered online, and once completed, they're asked to put in one four-hour shift per week, either from home or at the centre. "It's difficult work but it's very rewarding," Boullianne said. She added that she joined the centre after earning a social work degree as a mature student at UNBC and had intended to stay for just two years. That was eight years ago. "I can honestly say I've fallen in love with the work," Boullianne said. "I love the authenticity of people when they're calling anonymously and confidentially and I love the skills that we use to help people open up." On the bright side, the centre was one of 10 across B.C. to receive a $10,000 from Pacific Blue Cross. Boulianne said it has made a difference to the non-profit which relies largely on funding from Northern Health and the United Way of Northern B.C. "We're very, very grateful," she said. Pacific Blue Cross provided the funding after a survey indicated two-thirds of British Columbians predict their mental health will deteriorate in the coming months. "We know that those who engage early support through crisis lines, are less likely to require acute care later," said Jim Iker, Chair of the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation. "With BC now facing its second wave of the pandemic, supporting our community and our health care system has never been more critical.” Boulianne attributed a significant amount of the jump in calls to people stuck in quarantine or other forms of isolation brought on by the virus. For some, it's also meant they have been unable to access face-to-face counselling in a timely manner and just need someone to talk to while they're waiting. "The beautiful thing about crisis lines is you can talk to somebody right away," Boulianne said. "We are not counsellors because our service is anonymous and we don't have a therapeutic relationship with our callers but we're able to diffuse a situation in the moment." Even if the centre needs more volunteers, Boulianne said those in need of help should still call. "You don't need to be suicidal to call a crisis line," she said. "We take any kind of distress call. If anything is worrying or distressing an individual, we want to be there to support them and so, no issue is too small," she said. "It's really anything, all the way from social isolation and loneliness to suicidal ideation and everything in between." Those interested in volunteering can get more information at crisis-centre.ca. If you need help, call 1-888-562-1214. There is also a suicide prevention line at 1-800-SUICIDE and youth crisis line at 1-888-564-8336. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
EDMONTON — All 26 on-ice officials at the world junior men's hockey championships in Edmonton will be from Canada.International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments normally have an international cross section of referees and linesmen.The IIHF is limiting the pool of officials to the host country to reduce risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.The 10-team world under-20 men's tournament is scheduled for Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 in the Alberta capital.“The game officials we would normally choose would have come from many different countries,” IIHF officiating manager Danny Kurmann said Wednesday in a statement.“Every additional person we bring into the bubble is a risk, so we decided to source the officials locally in order to reduce the risk to travelling personnel and teams.”The IIHF said all 10 participating countries approved of the decision."Special events require special measures, and we are confident that this group will be able to uphold the officiating standards of this tournament,” IIHF officiating committee chairman Sergej Gontcharov said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter After several housekeeping items from Mayor Al Strathdee, he gave the floor to Town Treasurer Andre Morin, who began his presentation by introducing Denice Williamson, the new Deputy Treasurer for the Town of St. Marys. Williamson began her new role with the Town back on November 9th of this year and she was invited to sit in and watch the special meeting of the Council to get a feel for how the budget deliberations work and get introduced directly to members of Council themselves. Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer then gave a formal introduction to the 2021 budget deliberations. He noted that this year's budget deliberation is the first as part of the new budget schedule. Council has had more opportunities to discuss high-level aspects of the budget earlier than in previous years, which Kittmer noted has helped Town staff be better positioned to present a better version of the draft budget to Council. At the direction of Council, Town staff are using the remaining funds received by the Safe Restart program to help offset some of the increased costs, so there is less burden on the Town and its residents and businesses. An interesting comment made by the CAO, concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, was the acknowledgment that the Town must find things for residents to do as pandemic fatigue continues to settle in, but that can be done safely and with proper safety measures in place. Additionally, according to Kittmer, the draft budget presented was the "worst-case scenario," meaning the Town is working under the assumption that the community will remain in some level of the pandemic state for the duration of 2021. The reason for this consideration going into the budget deliberations is so that Council can ensure it has what it needs if that worst-case scenario of remaining in some form of lockdown for the entirety of 2021 is realized.Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
LOS ANGELES — The Weeknd angrily slammed the Grammy Awards, calling them “corrupt” after the pop star walked away with zero nominations despite having multiple hits this year.The three-time Grammy winner criticized the Recording Academy on Tuesday after he was severely snubbed despite having one of the year’s biggest albums with “After Hours” and being tapped as the Super Bowl halftime headline performer. He also topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless.”“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the singer said on Twitter. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”The harsh words come less than a year after the Recording Academy's ousted CEO accused the group that determines nominations in the top categories of having conflicts of interest and not engaging in a transparent selection process.Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s interim president and CEO, spoke earlier about whether he was surprised the Weeknd didn’t earn a single nomination. He said it’s hard to predict the voters’ decisions.“You know, there’s so many nominations and there’s only so many slots, it’s really tough to predict what the voters are going to vote for in any given year,” he told The Associated Press. “I try not to be too surprised.”After the Weeknd called out the academy, Mason Jr. released a statement explaining that “unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists.”“We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling,” Mason Jr. said.The Weeknd was shut out from being a Grammy nominee along with Luke Combs, who set records on streaming services and dominated the country charts. Morgan Wallen also had a successful year in country music, but he came away empty.A group of young R&B female acts moving the needle also missed out on nominations, including Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor and Kehlani. Late rapper Juice WRLD, Brandy and Chris Brown were also snubbed.Justin Bieber earned four nominations, but the singer also criticized the Grammys decision-making as well. He said music from his fifth studio album “Changes” was wrongly viewed as a pop album, rather than an R&B project.Bieber gave thanks saying he was “flattered” for being acknowledged but thought being left out of the R&B category was a mistake.“I set out to make an R&B album,” he wrote on Instagram. “’Changes’ was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album, which is very strange to me.”Bieber was nominated in the categories for best pop solo performance, best pop duo/group performance, best pop vocal album and best country duo/group performance.The singer said he loves pop music, but he wants to be respected for his work.“I grew up admiring R&B music and wished to make a project that would embody that sound,” he said. “For this not to be put into that category feels weird, considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style, all the way down to the hip-hop drums that were chosen, it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!”Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
It's been a long time coming, but the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) is building a hut in the Robson Pass area at the end of the Berg Lake trail. The site has been cleared and, if all goes to plan, the dorm-style hut will be built by next summer and usable by the fall. It will be open seasonally and accommodate 16 overnight guests: four bunks of four. Matt Reynolds, a professional mountaineer and president of the Jasper/Hinton section of the ACC, said the location is sought by "hikers and mountaineers alike”. "It's a really popular hiking destination for people who don't want to camp in the elements,” he said “It really will be quite a good thing for the community as a whole." The ACC got word of their permission to build the hut on Oct. 6 and the next day, a crew of ACC volunteers and two McElhanney survey technicians flew up to the site armed with chainsaws, fuel and other equipment to prepare and clear the area, which had already been marked with tape. Claire Levesque, a mountaineer and a Jasper/Hinton section member said she dropped everything when she found out the hut was a go-ahead and was happy to help. She said the crew worked all day. "There was a lot of work,” she said. The hut at Robson Pass will be the first one to be maintained by the ACC in B.C. Provincial Parks, though the club has had a presence in that area for more than 100 years - The first ascent of Mt. Robson was on an ACC camp. Lawrence White, ACC executive director in Canmore, and an avid mountaineer and backcountry skier, said the bid to get permission to build the hut started in 2005. The process was a three-way consultation between B.C. Parks, First Nations groups and the ACC. It's a World Heritage site. "We have a great partnership with B.C. Parks,” White said. “This seemed like the next natural step.” Next, the ACC will be working with the province and avalanche specialists to categorize the access route. The Jacques Lake cabin The ACC is now about a year into its 16-month trial agreement to manage the Jacques Lake patrol cabin, formerly managed by Parks Canada. As a not-for-profit operator, the ACC operates a number of cabins throughout the mountain national parks including four in Jasper. Steve Young, communications officer for Jasper National Park, said, "The addition of the Jacques Lake cabin provides an introductory level winter backcountry experience to novice visitors who may not otherwise experience Jasper’s backcountry at this time of year. The cabin offers visitors rustic accommodation along a moderate non-technical trail." Young said Parks Canada’s backcountry operations in Jasper National Park have changed over the years, reducing the frequency of use of patrol cabins such as Jacques Lake. The cabin was identified as a viable option to be used for public enjoyment as it is no longer required for operations during the winter months. Parks Canada retains ownership of the cabin while the ACC is responsible for the booking, management and maintenance of the cabin during the winter months. Established in 1906, the ACC head office is in Canmore and there are 25 local sections across the country, including the Jasper/Hinton section. The ACC promotes alpine experiences, knowledge and culture, responsible access and excellence in mountain skills and leadership. Currently there are 35 backcountry huts maintained by the ACC across the country.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
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
The 2020 Canadian Championship final between Forge FC and Toronto FC will be played in the first quarter of 2021, Canada Soccer announced Wednesday. The organization said in a release the final has been moved due to restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A date and location for the game have yet to be determined.Hamilton-based Forge FC qualified for the final by finishing first at the Canadian Premier League’s Island Games in Charlottetown. Toronto FC qualified after finishing first among three Canadian teams in the first phase of Major League Soccer’s revised schedule. The seven-time champions have reached the Canadian final in five consecutive years.The game will mark the first meeting between the Ontario-based clubs.The winner of the match will earn a spot in the next CONCACAF Champions League. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press