Sharron Mousseau and Terry Clark were among the volunteers dishing up takeout meals at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 113 Friday.
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald
Sharron Mousseau and Terry Clark were among the volunteers dishing up takeout meals at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 113 Friday.
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
A team of friends and business partners from India are looking to spice things up in Dartmouth — but in moderation, so everyone is satisfied. On Nov. 5, Dinu Mathew, Tinu Matthews, Tony Abraham and Jinu Samuel opened the doors to Spice Hub Indian Kitchen, located at 1015 Main St. The restaurant serves up homestyle Indian dishes prepared by Mathew, who has been cooking for 11 years. “I’ve been cooking for a long time,” said Mathew, who first moved to Ontario in 2010 to do a two-year culinary management course at Fanshawe College and moved to Halifax in 2012. “It was my dream to open up my restaurant for a long time, and I’ve been waiting. I didn’t have enough money to do it myself, so I got three other partners.” The restaurant’s dishes come at a mild-to-medium heat level “so everyone can eat our food,” Mathew said, adding “there is still flavour and everything in it.” For those who want the extra heat, which Mathew said a lot of customers have requested so far, they can have chili added to their meals. When he moved to the Halifax region, Mathew said, he noticed a lack of Indian restaurants in Dartmouth. That’s why he wanted to be among the first to open one up. Originally from southern India, Mathew and his partners also noticed a lack of southern Indian food available in the area. They’re offering a mix of dishes from around India. “It’s mostly north Indian restaurants (here), so we want to introduce some of our stuff from south India, too,” said Mathew. Their offerings include porotta, which is a layered flatbread, as well as dosa, a rice pancake made with rice and lentils. Their northern Indian food offerings include tandoori chicken and butter chicken with naan bread. Spice Hub Indian Kitchen also sells Indian food staples like samosas and an Indian-Canadian dish that’s become a fan favourite — butter chicken poutine. Mathew said everything at the restaurant is reasonably priced but still comes in adequate portions. Appetizers cost less than $10 and entrees are priced between $10 and $15, he said. To reel in Nova Scotians who may be unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, Spice Hub Indian Kitchen is also sharing educational posts on social media about dishes, drinks and desserts. On Facebook, they’ve shared some background on how butter chicken, masala tea and rasmalai are made, for example. “We want to give (people) a little bit of an idea of what’s going on,” Mathew explained. The co-owners initially planned to open the restaurant last year, but then COVID-19 hit and altered their business plans. Luckily, Mathew said, their landlord gave them a break and told them they could start paying rent whenever they opened. With COVID-19 case numbers rising in Nova Scotia, the restaurant is making some adjustments, according to Spice Hub Indian Kitchen’s marketing manager, Binil Kurian. This week, he said, the restaurant is looking to close down dining and focus solely on offering takeout food until the second wave slows in the province. Spice Hub Indian Kitchen is also slated to join Uber Eats this week, begin offering curbside pickup and introduce placemats with barcodes that customers can scan to see a menu, contact-free. “We don’t want an exposure here or we don’t want our customers (to get sick). We really value their time, we really value their (support), so we don’t want anything from our side,” said Kurian. If all goes well with the business, Mathew said, the goal is to open more Spice Hub Indian Kitchen restaurant locations in the region. For now, he said, he and his team have one wish: “We want (customers) to come back.” Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
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
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
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.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government is asking young adults to help curb the spread of COVID-19.On Wednesday Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald spoke directly to people age 18 to 35 in the province, noting the demographic is driving a surge in cases across the country and in jurisdictions around the world. "I believe you are an amazing force," said Fitzgerald. "My heart is filled with hope that our planet and society will be in your hands in the not too distant future. ... Today I am asking you to step up once again and be leaders and heroes in the prevention of COVID-19."Many in that age bracket work in places where physical distancing is challenging, said Fitzgerald, are exposed to multiple bubbles and are more likely to participate in gatherings than other age groups.Fitzgerald said young adults should choose outdoor activities for socializing, and to select up to six close contacts and ensure physical distancing if socializing indoors."We have the tools and the ability to keep COVID-19 at bay," she said. Watch the full Nov. 25 update:Premier Andrew Furey said the youth of the province are an extra layer — along with masks and social distancing — to help stop the spread of COVID-19."If you take charge as you have on so many important issues in our province, and have shown real leadership, you can also show real leadership here in helping curb the spread," said Furey. "Please, please step up once again and show the capacity you have in leading this province to safety."Provincial government officials will now hold live COVID-19 briefings three days a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.Furey said the decision was made provide the public with the knowledge it needs to keep schools and businesses open.1 new caseNewfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, in the Western Health region. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the new case is a woman between 40 and 49 years old, a contact of a previous case in the region. Fitzgerald said the woman is in isolation and contact tracing is underway.The province now has 25 active cases of COVID-19, with 295 recoveries and four deaths since March. Fitzgerald said there is no indication yet of widespread community transmission of the virus in the province. "That being said, we should always assume COVID can be anywhere, any time and we should act accordingly," she said.A small cluster of cases in Deer Lake has raised concerns from residents in the area, prompting the municipal government to close buildings and recreational facilities. Elwood Elementary was closed Monday after a student tested positive.On Wednesday, Fitzgerald said everybody in the affected cohort has been tested, more than 30 people, and there have been no other positive cases in that group.Furey addressed Deer Lake and Grand Bank directly during Wednesday's briefing, saying the province is doing everything it can to combat clusters of COVID-19 in those communities. "But we can't do that without your help. Your extra vigilance is needed at this time," he said. Health Minister John Haggie said the test positivity rate — the number of tests over a period of time that return positive results — should ideally be below five per cent, to "show the adequacy of testing and adequacy of contact tracing and identifying cases."Saskatchewan and Manitoba are running between eight and 10 per cent, and there are areas of Alberta where it can't be calculated accurately, said Haggie. But Newfoundland and Labrador's daily rate is about one quarter of one percent, he said, "which suggests that not only we have adequate capacity for testing, we also have contact tracing that is working well." To date, 60,199 people have been tested across the province, an increase of 458 since Tuesday's update.Updates to travellingIn a press release Wednesday the Department of Health advised rotational workers about a COVID-19 outbreak at the Imperial Oil Cold Lake work site in Alberta. The department said it was notified of the outbreak by the Public Health Agency of Canada, as workers from Newfoundland and Labrador work on the project.Project workers who have returned to the province in the last two weeks must isolate away from household members and call 811 to arrange testing, and complete a full 14-day self-isolation, regardless of test result, says the release.As of Dec. 1, said Fitzgerald, the provincial government's COVID-19 website will outline acceptable reasons for travellers to enter the province. Fitzgerald said the update is to make it "very clear" to travellers whether they will be allowed in, and what is required of them upon entry. Another addition to the travel process is a requirement for essential workers to state what sector they are working in and their work site in the province, and to provide their employer's contact information."I want to reinforce that travel at this time should only be for essential reasons," Fitzgerald said. "Newfoundland and Labrador is still in a public health emergency."The regular weekly briefing on Wednesday followed an uptick in cases this month, most of them clustered in Deer Lake, Grand Bank and St. John's.To clamp down on the caseload, those municipalities have locked down some facilities and cancelled some events. Most recently, officials have asked anyone returning from Nova Scotia in the last two weeks, and who visited bars in Halifax and the surrounding metro communities, to call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing, even if they aren't experiencing symptoms.Also this week, officials changed the self-isolation rules for rotational workers returning home from other provinces. As of this morning, those workers now have to wait until Day 7 — instead of Day 5 — to get a COVID-19 test to reduce the chances of a false negative.Cases on the rise countrywideElsewhere in Canada, cases have steadily increased. Nova Scotia, which reported 37 new cases Tuesday, has advised large swathes of its metro population to get a test and has confirmed community spread, while Alberta and B.C. are reporting record numbers of positive tests.Alberta has banned private indoor gatherings and moved all students Grade 7 and above to at-home learning, but will keep restaurants, businesses and casinos open at reduced capacity.Parts of Ontario also entered lockdown this week, with non-essential businesses closed and gatherings limited to one household, except for those who live alone. Schools there remain open.Prince Edward Island has a new case on Wednesday, a woman who travelled to the province from eslewhere in Atlantic Canada.Newfoundland and Labrador has largely avoided new lockdown measures so far. Furey said Monday that this week's new self-isolation restrictions for rotational workers and incoming travellers from the Atlantic region could prevent heftier controls."The Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride … but the situation has changed," Furey said during Monday's COVID-19 briefing.Last week, a man returned to St. John's from Nova Scotia, and under rules in place at the time, was not required to isolate. That prompted a St. John's restaurant, where he had been a customer, to close of its own initiative and ask its employees to get tested.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
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
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
The Whitestone Public Library is getting a new name to match its expansion. It will now be called the Whitestone Public Library and Technology Centre to better reflect the technology services it will be able to offer. Library vice-chair Cathy Lamb said that the Whitestone Library is a social hub for the Whitestone community and keeping people connected via technology was an important goal. “We are actually going to be offering a lot of virtual programming,” said Lamb. “People who don’t feel comfortable coming into the library can still participate in the programming.” The instructor would be at the library itself and people can join in online, she said, adding that the book club may also be offered virtually. “We are looking at different ways of reaching out to people,” she said. “As we know, a lot of seniors don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes or going into public places (right now).” “With the new enhancements to our technology we will be able to do that kind of outreach.” Whitestone received a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the library expansion, as well as a $150,000 grant from FedNor. According to Coun. Joe Lamb, these foundations rarely invest in libraries. However, creating a technology centre within the library and being able to enhance businesses in town by offering meeting rooms and technology training was, in Lamb’s opinion, the reason the municipality received the funding. Outside of federal and provincial funding, the Whitestone community raised $100,000 itself to fund the new library project. “It’s truly unbelievable,” said Lamb, who is the council representative on the library board. “We ended up with $400,000-worth of our project that was brought in before the municipality had to spend a nickel.” The estimated cost of the project is $705,221.27 and it will include an additional 1,400 square feet, bringing the building size to 2,500 square feet. Another goal for the new library and technology centre is to be able to loan mobile USB internet sticks to patrons to use as a personal internet hub, said Lamb. Construction is nearing its final phases and the library hopes to be able to begin offering curbside pickup in January 2021. “It’s truly a community effort …,” said Lamb of the expansion project. “And something I think will last for generations.” Sarah Cooke is a Local Journalism Reporter with the Parry Sound North Star, and Almaguin News. LJI is funded by the Government of CanadaSarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Brendon Crane of Lorne Valley, along with a number of area residents, said they appreciate the province’s decision to restrict travel off and onto the Island. On Monday, Premier Dennis King announced border restrictions on all non-essential travel for a minimum of two weeks. Those travelling would be required to isolate for 14 days upon their return to PEI. “I believe in the science of the health care professionals,” Mr Crane said. “If Heather Morrison says this is what we need to do as a preventative measure then I think we should do it." “We’ve had no hospitalizations so we’ve been very fortunate and if we can take preventative measures, that is way better than trying to fix a problem after the fact.” Mr Crane said he was recently speaking with a veteran who put his life on the line for the safety of others. “When you put it into perspective, if you might be saving lives, wearing a mask and taking precautions is likely worth it.” Mr Crane’s daughter lives in Nova Scotia and if the restrictions extend they may not be able to visit this Christmas. This hasn’t changed his opinion in favour of the measures PEI is taking. Kenny MacLennan of Caledonia said he appreciates how Islanders can continue to go about business within the province, unlike in other areas of the country. “It’s good. Lock ‘er down if we need to,” he said. Duane Wilson lives part-time in Lower Montague and part-time in Fredericton. He just moved to PEI this past Friday and family members were set to join him here for Christmas as they do every year. Mr Wilson said if the restrictions continue they may have to change their plans but he is still in favour of the decision to fortify preventative measures on the Island. “Cases have been rising in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I think it’s important there are limitations.” Shelley LaVie, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Souris, said local events such as the town’s annual Christmas Parade will go ahead as planned. “Some family members (of locals) might not be able to make it but overall it shouldn’t be affected.” Ms LaVie thinks Islanders are fortunate to be able to continue with a variety of activities and festivities that could be restricted in the event of an outbreak.Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
The outbreak at Fairview Personal Care Home in Brandon is proving more complex than originally reported yesterday in The Brandon Sun. As of late yesterday afternoon, Fairview had 21 COVID-19-positive residents and eight COVID-19-positive staff, all on the fourth floor, with the exception of one, according to Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) region’s chief executive officer, Penny Gilson. But while it seemed the rapid response system deployed meant the outbreak was contained and the horrors reported from other personal care homes in Manitoba and beyond would not be repeated, two unions representing health-care workers are sounding the alarm. The essential issues are about personal protective equipment (PPE) and lack of cohorts in the facility. "People are terrified, just terrified, in there," said Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU), which represents health-care workers at Fairview. "I had a health-care aide on Saturday night, call me. I’d been back and forth with someone else, because, of course, this doesn’t stop at 11 o’clock at night. This goes through the night when people are working." The health-care aide called Gawronsky on their break at Fairview. They told Gawronsky all they had as PPE was a procedure mask, a set of goggles and gloves. They said they weren’t protected like the paramedics who were deployed to the facility. "And (they) said, ‘Michelle, I can’t go home. I’m not protected enough. I’m not protecting my family.’ And (they) just burst into tears. I said, ‘Where are you going to go?’" The aide told her they didn’t know. What they knew was they couldn’t go home to their family. I can’t take the risk, they said. "What do I tell these people?" asked Gawronsky. "It’s unbelievable to me. Unbelievable. It just floors me that we’ve got staff going into COVID-positive wards — whether they’re housekeeping, whether they’re health-care aides — they are going in beside a paramedic from the Rapid Response Unit, who is there showing up in fully suited PPE, N95 face masks, face shields, gowns, medical gloves, booties … And they’re walking in beside a health-care aide and a housekeeper that has eye goggles and a procedure mask." The MGEU is calling on the government to provide health-care workers, especially those working at personal care homes, with the same access to the same important PPE. "They should be treated no different than anyone else," said Gawronsky. When she received the call from the health worker Saturday night, Gawronsky said she laid awake the rest of the night trying to figure out what to do for them. "I tried to get a hold of (them) a couple of times. I understand (they) ended up getting a hotel room for the day and went to sleep, to stay away from (their) family. I have no proof of that, though. It’s just hearsay, at this point," said Gawronsky. Bob Moroz is the president of the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals —the union that represents roughly 800 rural paramedics in the province, including those who have been redeployed from their regular duties to Fairview and Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home to help out. Moroz said he’s hearing from the paramedics that there is a general lack of planning, no orientation as they come in, no sense of their actual duties, and no idea where the required supplies are in the facility. "They’re reporting back to us that there continues to be a lack of clear guidelines for the health and safety of both the staff and the residents. That is very alarming for our paramedics. They are experts in emergency care and assessments. When you hear a story from a paramedic that the situation in terms of safety in personal protective equipment is such that they’re concerned that they would even want to eat or drink anything for risk of having to use a restroom facility in a place like that is horrifying," said Moroz. "I’ve heard that more than once." Paramedics do have the PPE they need. That was planned early on, that paramedics would have the highest possible level of PPE. But not everybody in the facility has that same protection. "It’s gotten to the point where every situation a paramedic enters is going to be COVID-positive, or COVID-suspect," said Moroz. "When they arrive at a PCH (personal care home) and they see the level of personal protective equipment for the staff, whether it’s the health-care aides or anybody else or the nursing staff, which there’s just clearly not enough, otherwise our members wouldn’t be there … There is a definite discrepancy." He said that introduces a different set of risks to paramedics. "Not to belittle the risks to the workers who normally are at the PCH — that’s horrifying. And all unions have been pushing for improved safety protocols, improved access to PPE," said Moroz. But PMH’s Gilson told the Sun via email that there is sufficient PPE at the site to meet current provincial infection prevention and control guidelines. "In addition, staff are being fit tested for N95 masks which can be provided upon request following a point of care risk assessment," she said. Another issue is the failure to create cohorts within the facility. A worker called Gawronsky Monday night. They told her they’ve been working double shifts, trying to help out. They said "cohorting" of staff wasn’t happening. "(They) said, ‘I’m working on a COVID floor, right now. I’m being moved. I’m not going home, I’m not changing, there’s no difference. The night shift that they’re going to put me on to when I’m volunteering is on a non-COVID ward.’ (They) said they should not be doing that. (They) said the workers that are caring for COVID-positive residents should be staying on that ward," Gawronsky said. "But no, they’ve got them working in the COVID-positive wards with the residents and then walking onto a ward and assisting residents of another ward that has no COVID. That’s not going to help contain the virus inside the walls." Both Gawronsky and Moroz are beyond themselves that the provincial government dropped the ball over the summer. While Manitoba had an easy go of it during the first wave of the pandemic, other jurisdictions did not. They see it as an absolute failure on the part of Premier Brian Pallister and Cameron Friesen, the province’s health minister, that, months later, those same horrifying scenarios are playing out in Manitoba. Both say that everybody saw it coming. "When paramedics reach out for help, because they’re really worried about their own safety, that shows me that something’s really wrong," said Moroz. Gilson said: "There has been lots of education with staff in preparation for an unfortunate situation such as this one, but we recognize that when it does happen staff need additional supports. PMH has mobilized additional educational, mental health and general staffing support, including support from paramedics with the City of Brandon, which we are grateful for." Gilson also said regular communication about the situation at the site is happening with all families, and PMH is committed to ongoing communication with the unions and staff to address any ongoing issues.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub in Toronto’s west end is offering free meals to people who are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Chris Murie expects more people to be looking for help as government benefits wind down.
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - La Ville de Montréal lance une campagne de sensibilisation pour inciter les gens à s’intéresser à la richesse arboricole parfois négligée de nos quartiers. À l’échelle de Montréal, c’est près de 2000 arbres qui ont été ciblés à l’occasion de cette campagne, en cours de déploiement depuis l’été dernier. Des affichettes bleues ont ainsi été apposées sur quelque 300 arbres matures et 1600 jeunes arbres. Partir à la rencontre des arbres du quartier La Ville espère que sa campagne va inciter les gens à explorer leurs quartiers pour découvrir comment les arbres, qui se rappellent à nous quelques fois par année, notamment à l’occasion de la corvée annuelle du ramassage des feuilles mortes, contribuent à améliorer notre vie de tous les jours. En plus d’identifier l’essence d’arbre et de fournir de l’information sur son diamètre, son âge et sa taille, chaque fiche propose également des informations sur les bénéfices écologiques et économique de l’arbre : captation de CO2 et absorption d’autres polluants atmosphériques, captation des eaux de ruissellement, réduction de la vitesse des grands vents, etc. Une campagne de séduction? L’objectif affiché de cette campagne est de « valoriser l’arbre en ville », indique le porte-parole administratif de la Ville. Mais la démarche s’inscrit également dans la foulée du plan canopée qui prévoit accroitre de 5% le couvert végétal à Montréal d’ici 2025, ce qui implique de planter plus de 20 000 arbres par année. C’est particulièrement vrai dans Ahuntsic-Cartierville qui est l’un des arrondissements avec l’indice de canopée le plus élevé à Montréal. Selon l’inventaire des arbres publics de la Ville de Montréal, sur les quelque 70 000 arbres que compte l’arrondissement Ahuntsic-Cartierville (excluant les parcs-nature), environ 11 000 sont situés dans des parcs. C’est donc dire que près de 80 % des arbres de l’arrondissement sont des arbres de rue. À l’échelle de Montréal, c’est l’inverse : environ 20% des quelque 1,2 millions d’arbres que compte la Ville de Montréal sur son territoire sont des arbres de rue qui sont situés soit dans des fosses sur le trottoir, soit sur une petite bande de terrain appartenant à la Ville en bordure des terrains privés. La plantation d’un arbre public devant un bâtiment privé est généralement « très bien accueillie », assure Philippe Sabourin qui note toutefois que, dans certains cas, « les gens ont des réticences », liées par exemple à l’impact sur l’ensoleillement ou à la responsabilité de collecter les feuilles mortes. Collecte des feuilles : une entreprise titanesque Mais si le fardeau de ramasser les feuilles peut sembler lourd à porter pour les particuliers, il faut savoir que c’est la Ville qui fait le plus gros du travail. Au total, c’est 27 000 tonnes métriques – soit la moitié de la masse du Titanic! – qui seront récupérées par la Ville, soit respectivement 17 000 tonnes provenant de collecte des résidus verts et 10 000 tonnes du balayage de rue. La majeure partie de ces dizaines de milliers de tonnes de résidus seront traitées au complexe-environnemental Saint-Michel pour produire du compost. Pas dans la rue! Les collectes de résidus verts se poursuivent jusqu’au 26 novembre dans Ahuntsic-Cartierville. Les citoyens sont priés d’utiliser des sacs en papier plutôt que des sacs en plastique pour faciliter le compostage des feuilles. Les branches de plus d’un mètre de long ou de plus de cinq centimètres de diamètre ne peuvent pas être envoyées à la collecte des résidus verts et doivent plutôt être envoyées à l’Écocentre. Les résidants qui disposent d’une tondeuse à gazon sont par ailleurs encouragés à pratiquer le « feuilicyclage», c’est-à-dire à déchiqueter les feuilles à la tondeuse directement et à les disposer sur leur pelouse pour enrichir le sol. Le dépôt de feuilles en bordure de rue n’est pas souhaitable. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de la Côte-Nord prévoit un déficit de 41,6 millions de dollars à la fin de l’exercice 2020-2021. Rappelons toutefois qu’au premier trimestre de l’exercice 2020-2021, le CISSS anticipait un déficit final de 30 millions de dollars. Les coûts liés à la pandémie de COVID-19, le recours à de la main-d’œuvre indépendante et la diminution de certains financements en constituent les causes principales. La gestion de la COVID-19 a pris de court l’établissement, qui a dû recourir à plus de main-d’œuvre d’agences spécialisées pour mieux organiser les services en temps de pandémie. La mise en place des cliniques de dépistage et des centres d’appel, ainsi que la palliation du personnel en retrait préventif pour des motifs liés à la santé et sécurité au travail expliquent la forte hausse des heures de la main-d’œuvre indépendante. Le CISSS a entamé des démarches avec des représentants du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) afin de rétablir l’équilibre budgétaire. Au même moment l’an dernier, le déficit de l’établissement atteignait un peu moins de 15 millions de dollars après l’obtention d’une aide financière récurrente du MSSS.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
The legislative session at Nova Scotia's Province House is poised to be prorogued next month, but it appears committee business will not be paused.MLAs have not met since the spring sitting wrapped in March, before Nova Scotia had its first case of COVID-19. Not long after that, Liberal MLAs used their majority to suspend all the committees they could, with Premier Stephen McNeil keeping them shelved until last September.McNeil announced earlier this month that the House would be prorogued on Dec. 18, wiping clean the legislative agenda, as Liberals prepare to elect a new leader to replace him on Feb. 6.The government has been roundly criticized for Nova Scotia being the only legislature in the country not to sit during the pandemic and for committee business having been halted for months while many people were working from home through the use of Zoom and other online conference platforms.Addressing public concernsIn a nod to those concerns, Ben Jessome, the Liberal MLA for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, put forward a motion at Tuesday's natural resources and economic development committee meeting to keep that group meeting even after the House is prorogued, "whether it be in person or virtually."The motion passed unanimously.In a telephone interview Wednesday, Jessome said the decision was at least partly to make it clear to the public that he and his fellow MLAs take their jobs, including the legislative aspect, seriously."There appears to be some scrutiny about us, kind of, not wanting to go back to work at times," he said. "As a committee, we felt it was important to keep that activity in place."Jessome said there were some challenges during the first COVID-19 wave in Nova Scotia when it came to getting virtual meetings set up for committees. He believes those issues have been resolved, so even if committees cannot meet in person there will be no technological impediments.A need for oversightDespite technological concerns voiced by the government in the spring, the human resources committee continued to meet using a teleconference line. That committee is the only one the Liberals could not use their majority to shut down, because any changes for it require unanimous consent from all parties.NDP House leader Claudia Chender said she's less concerned about the motivation behind Jessome's motion than she is that the committee will continue to meet."Whether or not people pay close attention, we all expect that the decisions made by government and that the functions of government happen in a way that has oversight and accountability," she said."And the way that oversight and accountability works is that we have a functioning legislative assembly."Even when the House isn't sitting, committees give opposition members access to government decision makers and the ability to question and debate policy decisions, said Chender.'Better late than never'Progressive Conservative MLA Tim Halman said Jessome's motion was "better late than never." While he welcomed the government's decision, he said the shift to being able to operate virtually if necessary should have happened months ago."The fact is, there are questions that have gone unanswered and that's a big problem for Nova Scotia," said Halman. "There has to be a counterbalance. There has to be another voice."The legislative component is "a very small fraction of the work that MLAs on all sides of the House do," said Jessome, but it's important for the public to see them doing it.The scrutiny hasn't bothered him and he believes the decision to place all committees that could be put on hold, on hold, back in the spring was the right one. Jessome said much has been learned since then about what's possible and they are adapting as such.After the House is prorogued, it will also erase the meeting agendas that have been established for committees. Jessome said it's his intention that a vote will happen at the first possible meeting to restore the agenda for the natural resources and economic development committee, and for a similar process to play out for the other committees.MORE TOP STORIES
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
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
Accepting "full responsibility" for texting while driving during a livestream of a city committee meeting Tuesday, Osgoode Coun. George Darouze says he has offered a statement to Ottawa police so that he can be issued a $615 fine under the Highway Traffic Act."Yesterday, I made a poor decision to get behind the wheel of my car during Audit Committee. Instead of keeping my eyes on the road, I engaged in texting while driving. I realize these actions were in poor judgement (sic), and I'm disappointed in myself for this behaviour. I know some of you are upset with me and I am truly sorry," Darouze said in a letter issued Wednesday and addressed to his constituents, family and council colleagues.Darouze, who is also deputy mayor, said he went to the Leitrim police station Wednesday morning, where he "voluntarily gave them a statement" admitting to his actions. Section 78 of the Highway Traffic Act states: "No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver."Darouze appeared to have two screens on while he drove Tuesday, the cell phone in his hand and another device on the passenger seat, which he appeared to be using to monitor the virtual committee meeting.Upon first conviction, the penalty for distracted driving is $615 if settled out of court, plus three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension.On Wednesday, an Ottawa Police Service (OPS) spokesperson confirmed the charge and the fine, but didn't say whether Darouze had been given demerit points or a suspension."I promise that this will never happen again," Darouze's letter concludes. "I want to continue to be an advocate for Safer Roads Ottawa and work with OPS on their Leave the Phone Alone Initiative, and by requesting and paying this fine, I hope I and others can learn from my experience." On Twitter, Mayor Jim Watson wrote: "I appreciate that [Darouze] acknowledged his error and voluntarily reported to the Ottawa Police Service to pay the fine for his actions."The incident attracted widespread condemnation online, with some residents calling for Darouze to be charged.Initially, Darouze tweeted that he had "inadvertently" texted while driving. He replaced that explanation with another brief statement Tuesday, before issuing Wednesday's letter.