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
Sept entreprises de la Rive-Sud dont deux de Boucherville profiteront du récent programme d’aide d’Investissement Québec, dotée d’une enveloppe de 9,7 millions $, pour améliorer leur positionnement stratégique. Développant des logiciels pour l’industrie du béton, Marcotte Systems, de Boucherville, se voit accorder un prêt pour soutenir le transfert du contrôle de l’entreprise à Joël Bardier et à Frédéric Gamache. Grâce à la motivation et la compétence de ces deux dirigeants, la poursuite des opérations de l’entreprise ayant déjà plus de 45 ans d’histoire est assurée. De plus, une contribution financière a été offerte à l’entreprise pour supporter leur projet de développement des marchés hors-Québec. Également à Boucherville, l’entreprise de gestion Investissement 585 Inc. obtient une aide financière de plus d’un demi-million de dollars pour soutenir sa relève et la transition à la direction qui s’opérera dans pour les prochaines années. Par ailleurs, en opération depuis près de 75 ans à Sainte-Julie, Groupe BFL Inc. se voit octroyer 2 880 000 $. Cette aide permettra au fabricant de centrales de chauffage, de climatisation et de ventilation de poursuivre son intégration et de créer 31 emplois. À Saint-Hubert, le fabricant de produits de réfrigération RefPlus obtient 1 625 000 $, dont 975 000 $ proviennent des fonds propres d’Investissement Québec et 650 000 $ du programme ESSOR du Fonds du développement économique. Métaux Solutions Inc., une entreprise spécialisée dans la distribution de métaux industriels basée à Longueuil, reçoit une aide financière de 300 000 $ pour l’acquisition d’une nouvelle scie à métaux qui lui permettra d’augmenter sa productivité. Le spécialiste en conception graphique et en impression Graphiscan Montréal Inc., dont le siège social est situé sur le Boulevard Jacques-Cartier à Longueuil, aux limites de Boucherville, obtient un soutien financier de 1 644 556 $ pour faire l’acquisition de Quadriscan. Enfin, le Groupe Lanerco, de Saint-Hubert, reçoit un soutien financier de 1 300 000$ pour se porter acquéreur de Charette Service d’Auto, de Remorquage Charette et de Charette Logistique. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
NEW YORK — With police brutality continuing to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravishing Black America disproportionately, the world was driven to the significance of this year’s Juneteenth more than ever before. And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day — so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthemic jam where she proudly sings about her heritage, hometown and returning to her African roots. Months later, the song — and others focused on protesting, police brutality and the overall Black experience — are taking centre stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” scored nominations for two of the top awards: song of the year and record of the year. The track will also compete for best R&B song and best R&B performance. “There could have been a different approach as far as releasing the record and capitalizing off of timings of other things, but we really wanted to get it out during a time where we could all remember the feeling and the energy,” Derek Dixie, a longtime collaborator of Beyoncé’s who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s not always about the money and about catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes it’s just about what it is — which was making our people proud.” “Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the overall top Grammy contender. Dixie earned three Grammy nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song. For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” the R&B singer’s track about police brutality. Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, scored nominations for best rap song and best rap performance. Proceeds from the song will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s attorney, the Bail Project and the National Association of Black Journalists. Anderson .Paak also released a song on Juneteenth — the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — and it’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for best rap performance and best music video.. Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago but released it this year because she felt it was extremely relevant. Now, it’s nominated for best country solo performance, giving the performer her first-ever Grammy nomination. “It’s been so hard in the country music community and trying to get country music to even support my music and for me to get a Grammy (nomination), it just goes to show that writing your truth is just the way to go,” Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not only writing your truth, but really bringing your brothers and sisters up with you.” But Guyton admits that everyone’s response to her song wasn’t warm. It features the lyrics, “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be Black like me." “I released it and I did get people that were very angry. There were even radio stations that people were like, ‘Get this (expletive) off of my radio station,’” she said. “I would get people writing me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here then leave.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s just as much my country as it is yours.’” Guyton added that some “radio stations were scared to play (‘Black Like Me’) because they were (angering) their listeners because their listeners didn’t want to hear that.” “But I wasn’t writing that song for them, I was writing that song got the people that understand this exact walk that I’m walking," she continued. “It’s for them." Apart from “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also earned nominations for her film honouring Black art and Black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark- and brown-skinned women, “Brown Skin Girl.” Dixie, who has worked as Beyoncé’s music director and has produced, engineered and arranged songs for the singer, said he’s grateful he’s working with an artist who boldly speaks about Black pride in her music. “It’s just good to see that she’s willing to put that type of energy out and not necessarily be thinking about: ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No. 1? What’s going to guarantee me this?' It’s a part of our conversation, it’s a part of the process, but when it’s necessary to put that art out there, to put that energy out there, she’s usually ... leading the pack in that regard,” Dixie said. “So I’m grateful to be associated with her on that path.” Guyton added that it’s comforting to see some many Black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she’s grateful to the Grammys for acknowledging those kinds of songs. “It’s so important because so often Black people, and Black women especially, are getting overlooked and constantly get overlooked and you’re constantly just trying to get people to remember that you’re there,” she said. “It feels like we’re seen and I don’t think we’ve always felt seen.” “I use this scenario of going into any grocery store — if you go to any grocery store ... and you look for hair products for someone who is ethnic and ... you see an entire aisle full of every and any hair product you can possibly think for someone that is not Black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a Black person, we’re designated a shelf. And today, it doesn't feel like we’re designated a shelf.” The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 31. Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Trump administration is preparing to auction oil drilling rights inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the degree to which the industry will participate is uncertain.Leases on the land in northeast Alaska could be go on the block days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday.Supporters, including Alaska’s congressional delegation, have celebrated the prospect of a lease sale as a way to create jobs and revenue. Opponents express concerns about impacts on ecosystems, Indigenous people and the climate.Kara Moriarty, CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said oil and gas companies are unsurprisingly remaining quiet about their intentions.“Participation in lease sales is one of the most competitive and secretive things between companies,” Moriarty said.The public likely will not learn about the industry's level of interest until the federal government unseals the bids on the sale date, which has not yet been announced.There is a possibility that the sale could be held shortly before Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.Some industry analysts believe there is a measure of uncertainty and risk that could lead to limited interest in a lease sale within the next two months.The coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war have hit the oil industry hard. Oil prices remain low and there are high costs and difficulties involved in Arctic exploration, said Mark Myers, a geologist and former Alaska natural resources commissioner.“The prices have fallen down to a level that leaves very little capital for exploration in these companies,” Myers said.Rowena Gunn, an analyst for energy research firm Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said public criticism of drilling in environmentally sensitive areas could weigh heavily on publicly traded companies.Colorado-based energy economist Philip Verleger said he would not expect a deluge of bids because of the uncertainty over future demand for oil and natural gas.A lease sale in the refuge would have been “terrifically successful” 15 years ago, but the time to develop the coastal plain has passed, Verleger said.“The cost of going there and developing and putting the resources in is too high, particularly since the production would last a long time, and we don’t know if demand would last," he said.as long.”The Associated Press
SOCIÉTÉ. Le 25 novembre marque le début de la 11e édition des 12 jours d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes. Une initiative toujours aussi pertinente pour la ministre responsable de la Condition féminine Isabelle Charest. «Je veux remercier les organismes qui se mobilisent à la grandeur du Québec pour porter ce message important. La violence faite aux femmes, c’est l’affaire de tout le monde et je joins ma voix aux membres du Comité des 12 jours pour dénoncer ce fléau. Même après 11 ans d’action, le portrait de la violence faite aux femmes est extrêmement inquiétant au Québec. Les femmes sont toujours les principales victimes de crimes contre la personne, et sont aux prises avec des formes de violence parfois invisibles, qui prennent place dans toutes les sphères de leur vie», indique Isabelle Charest qui invite les Québécoises et les Québécois «à dénoncer, à s’éduquer et à s’entraider afin d’enrayer une bonne fois pour toutes ce phénomène extrêmement préoccupant».Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
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.
Ontario's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was hampered by poor emergency preparedness, inadequate lab capacity and a disorganized public health system, according to a report issued Wednesday by the province's auditor general. In a special report on COVID-19, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk raises concerns that flaws in Ontario's communication, decision-making and management of positive cases contributed to a wider spread of the virus during the eight months since the pandemic was declared.The audit found "delays and conflicts and confusion in decision-making," said the 231-page report, tabled in the legislature on Wednesday morning. The report also lays bare for the first time the structure and membership of the so-called "tables" advising Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet on their response to COVID-19.Among the auditor's key findings: * The Ford government paid a consultant $1.6 million to develop an organizational command structure for its COVID-19 crisis response, a structure that the auditor criticizes as "overly cumbersome," with no top leadership roles given to public health officials. * Laboratory testing, case management and contact tracing were not being performed quickly enough to contain the virus. * Weaknesses in the public health lab and information systems that were repeatedly flagged following the 2003 SARS crisis were never fixed before the arrival of COVID-19. * The province hadn't updated its pandemic-related emergency plans for years, nor run them through testing scenarios. "Ontario's response to COVID-19 in the winter and spring of 2020 was slower and more reactive relative to most other provinces and many other international jurisdictions," Lysyk said in the report. "As we continue into this second wave, it is still not too late to make positive changes to help further control and reduce the spread of COVID-19."At a news conference Wednesday morning, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the report is "a disappointment, and in many respects a mischaracterization of the province's pandemic response."The reality is that over the course of the pandemic, there have been differing views. Differing views among public health officials, amongst the medical community, amongst policy makers, and of course the public," Elliott said."We have different views on various aspects of her report."WATCH | Ford attacks auditor general's report on pandemic response:One chapter of the report focuses on the public health systems for COVID-19 testing, for managing the cases of people who test positive and tracing their contacts who may have been exposed to the virus. Across the province, fewer than half of lab tests have been completed within 24 hours of the patient's specimen being collected, the auditor found.As recently as September and October, public health units contacted only 75 per cent of people who tested positive within 24 hours of receiving the result, short of the province's target of 90 per cent. The auditor said the largest urban public health units were particularly slow at case management — the process of contacting people who test positive, advising them to self-isolate and investigating how they likely contracted the virus. In September and October, the auditor found the average time it took to begin managing a positive case after the person got tested was: * Ottawa - 4.5 days. * Toronto - Four days. * Peel - 3.25 days. * York - 2.25 days.The delays "may have led to further exposure and spreading of the virus," Lysyk said in the report. The report delves into the command structure set up by the government to advise on the COVID-19 response.At the top is the Central Co-ordination Table, co-chaired by the province's top bureaucrat, cabinet secretary Steven Davidson; and the premier's top political adviser, chief of staff James Wallace.Its membership includes nine deputy ministers, as well as five political advisers from the offices of the premier and the health minister. However, the auditor notes, neither Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams nor anyone from Public Health Ontario sits on this table. Below the Central Co-ordination Table are four others, including the Health Command Table, which the auditor found had as many as 90 participants. Its meetings were held by teleconference instead of videoconference until July, a format the auditor said was not effective for clear discussions. The auditor said Williams did not chair any of the Health Command Table's meetings. She calls Ontario's decision not to give its chief medical officer of health the lead role in its COVID-19 response "unusual." At the same time, the auditor criticizes Williams for failing to use his full powers to issue directives quickly, notably for a provincewide masking order or for protecting temporary foreign workers on farms. Williams told the auditor he only issued directives after consulting with the Health Command Table.The auditor's report said Williams and the Ministry of Health were slow to react in the early weeks of the pandemic. The report questions why provincial officials: * Waited until March 13, the Friday before the scheduled start of Ontario's March Break, to warn against non-essential travel. * Refused to acknowledge community transmission of the virus until March 26. * Did not order all long-term care workers to wear masks throughout their shifts until April 8. The auditor finds instances where the government's decisions did not follow the advice of public health experts, including allowing anyone who wanted to get tested to do so from late May until early October.The auditor also details how the government ignored the advice of Public Health Ontario on setting infection thresholds for the restrictions in its colour-coded COVID-19 response framework. She said Public Health Ontario has played a "diminished" role in responding to the pandemic and posed that this "may have been impacted by its funding." The Health Ministry did not fully use the key lesson from SARS — the precautionary principle of acting as soon as there is reasonable evidence of a threat to public health — to guide its initial response to COVID-19, the auditor said.The ministry categorized the risk to Ontarians as low even as the virus spread to more than 20 countries and the auditor said this meant Ontario developed its strategy for responding more slowly than other provinces. She points to repeated reports by her office since 2003 — a time period in which the Liberals were in power for nearly 15 years — warning of the need to strengthen the public health system and improve Ontario's emergency preparedness. The auditor is working on a second special report on COVID-19, which will focus on health-related pandemic expenditures, personal protective equipment and long-term care, and said it will be issued soon. WATCH | How Ontario got to this point in the coronavirus pandemic:
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
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
MADRID — At least eight people died after a migrant boat carrying more than 30 people hit rocks close to a small port on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Spanish rescue services said Wednesday.The boat was one of 17 intercepted in the islands' waters in the past 24 hours. About 450 people were rescued in the other boats, but one died later.The Canary Islands emergency service said the Lanzarote boat crashed into pier rocks and overturned in the Orzola area on the north of the island late Tuesday.Video images showed rescue workers and residents pulling young men in T-shirts from the water in the dark and other migrants sitting on the rocks.The emergency services said eight bodies from the boat were found and 28 people rescued. They said search operations were continuing for one person believed missing.In the other incidents, the national rescue service and Civil Guard rescued some 450 people, including women and children, arriving in 16 boats near Gran Canaria island. One person died.Anselmo Pestana, the central government's representative on the islands, said the arrivals “generated difficulties but obviously none more painful than to see bodies, people arriving on our coasts dead.”He said that many possibly didn't know how to swim, and thanked residents for helping in the rescue.Officials said the migrants were from northwest African and sub-Saharan countries. Many had set sail from Morocco several days ago.Many of the rescued were taken to the Arguineguín dock on the southwestern coast of Gran Canaria, where nearly 600 people of different origins are being kept, some in tents. Numbers on the dock rose to more than 2,000 recently.Spain has promised to set up more tents to accommodate the people arriving.More than 19,000 people fleeing poverty, violence or other circumstances have arrived in Spain’s Canary Islands this year, a 1,000% increase from the same period in 2019. More than 500 have died in the attempt. Around half of the arrivals — and most of the deaths — have been in the past 30 days, a spike that has strained resources on the archipelago.CiaráN Giles, The Associated Press
Canadian service workers are faring even worse during the pandemic than previously thought with hundreds of thousands of those who still have jobs not actually putting in any hours at all, and a grim holiday season could add to the pain. Canada has so far clawed back nearly 80% of the jobs lost to the COVID-19 crisis, official data shows. There are 391,300 Canadians employed but working zero hours because of the pandemic, data provided to Reuters shows, and another 42,100 working less than half their usual hours.
Health officials have declared the latest Saskatchewan care home outbreak at Saskatoon's Oliver Lodge, a seniors' facility housing more than 100 residents.The Hudson Bay Park home was added to the province's list of active outbreaks on Tuesday, making it the 19th special care home, seniors residence, long-term care home or assisted living facility in the province currently dealing with two or more cases of the virus. According to a new weekly update from the province on COVID-19 cases in long-term and special care homes that launched on Wednesday, Oliver Lodge had only one infected person between Nov. 10 and Nov. 24. Most homes were dealing with fewer than five cases. Some had more, such as Parkside Extendicare in Regina and Providence Place in Moose Jaw, which had 14 and seven cases respectively. In total, health workers at 29 different homes navigated new working conditions spurred by 88 different positive cases. The data released Wednesday did not indicate the age of infected people nor how many of them were hospitalized. Nor is it known if the infected people were residents or workers. See the full list here.Staffing challengesOliver Lodge's website says the home has 139 residents. A 2019 inspection stated each room is private and has its own bathroom. The lodge is connected to an apartment building, Oliver Place, that offers assisted living, according to the inspection.Frank Suchorab, Oliver Lodge's executive director, said updates on the situation are being posted on the home's website.Suchorab declined to say how many residents have tested positive as of Wednesday, saying it wouldn't make a difference in terms of the home's response to the outbreak. The province only declares an outbreak if two or more cases are present. Residents in the home's south wing are isolating in their rooms, according to the update.Other care homes have said they're facing staffing challenges as some workers are required to self-isolate."I would say that we're not any different from the other sites," Suchorab said. "We all work together. We all have the same challenges. Rapid tests on orderLuther Special Care Home in Saskatoon, the long-term care home in the province dealing with the largest outbreak, reported to residents' family members on Tuesday night that the number of infected residents remained at 34 for the second day in a row. Operations lead Ivan Olfert also outlined the steps the home is taking to curb the spread of the virus. Staff working in the affected wing are not mingling with workers from other areas of the home. Supplies are being dropped off outside the complex, located in the city's Varsity view neighbourhood."On Sunday we applied for a medical laboratory licence in order to be able to bring an Abbott Panbio Point of Care testing device onsite, which will allow us to test individuals for COVID and have results in about 15 minutes," Olfert wrote.Olfert noted with concern that the number of staff working in the outbreak unit who are self-isolating continues to grow. "Other long-term care homes in the city, along with home care, have contacted us and are offering assistance in a variety of ways, including lending us staff on a temporary basis [and] supporting us in the recruitment and training of new employees to help bolster our ranks."Also, we have a couple of staff who have temporarily moved from Regina to help support our efforts."Moose Jaw home's outbreak numbers unknownHealth officials added Providence Place to the list of active outbreak sites on Tuesday. The home declined to specify how many staff members have needed to self-isolate."We are taking all the necessary and precautionary measures to ensure the ongoing health and safety of our residents and employees," said executive director Georgia Hutchinson. "The situation at Providence Place is evolving and we are not commenting on specific cases or case numbers at this time." Saskatchewan reported only three new COVID-19 cases among people aged 80 and older on Wednesday, compared to 12 on Tuesday, bringing to cumulative number of cases in that age bracket to 246.It's unclear how many of the cases among aged seniors are active.
This river otter is having a fantastic day swimming loop-de-loops in front of his window! So awesome!
Investigators with the 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau are seeking witnesses and two suspects following the attempted theft of a puppy from a commuter parking lot in the Township of King. On Nov. 18 at approximately 4 p.m., York Regional Police were called to a commuter parking lot at Highway 400 and Highway 9 for a report of an attempted theft. When officers arrived they found the victim, a 54-year-old female from the City of Barrie and her puppy, who were not injured. Investigators learned that the victim had advertised two puppies for sale online. She had arranged to meet potential buyers in the commuter lot. After the sale of one of the puppies without incident, two men approached the victim driving an older model white Honda Civic. One of the men assaulted the victim, grabbed the puppy, who was in a carrier, and attempted to flee. The victim chased the suspects who eventually threw the puppy out the window of the vehicle and drove away. Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area at the time and witnessed the incident or anyone with dashcam to please come forward. One suspect is described as male, South Asian, approximately 20 years old, 5’8.” He was wearing a black face mask, black scarf and green track pants. The other suspect is described as male, South Asian, wearing a face mask. Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7142 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
WASHINGTON — The second of three estimates on U.S. growth for the July-September quarter was unchanged at a record pace of 33.1%. But a resurgence in the coronavirus is expected to slow growth sharply in the current quarter with some economists even raising the spectre of a double-dip recession.While the overall increase in the country’s total output of goods and services was static, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, some components were revised.Bigger gains in business investment, housing and exports were offset by downward revisions to state and local government spending, business inventories and consumer spending.The 33.1% gain was the largest quarterly gain on records going back to 1947 and surpassed the old mark of a 16.7% surge in 1950.Still, the economy has not fully recovered from output lost in the first six months of the year when GDP suffered a record-shattering drop of 31.4% in the second quarter. That followed a slide at an annual rate of 5% in the first quarter as when the pandemic shut down much of the economy and triggered millions of layoffs.Economists are concerned that growth has slowed sharply in the current October-December and there are fears that GDP could dip back into negative territory in the first three months of next year.Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said he had forecast GDP growth of around 2% in the fourth quarter, with the real possibility of GDP turning negative in the first quarter of next year.Economists at JPMorgan Chase have trimmed their forecast for the first quarter to a negative 1% GDP rate. “This winter will be grim and we believe the economy will contract again in the first quarter,” the JPMorgan economists wrote in a research note.“The economy is going to be very uncomfortable between now and when we get the next fiscal rescue package,” Zandi said. “If lawmakers can’t get it together, it will be very difficult for the economy to avoid going back into a recession.”While lawmakers have returned for a lame-duck session, there has been no progress so far in narrowing the differences between Democrats who are pushing for a big package of $1 trillion or more, and Senate Republicans who are refusing to approve anything above approximately $500 billion.More than 9 million people will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year when two jobless benefit programs are set to expire unless Congress extends them.At the same time virus cases are surging, triggering a number of states to re-impose business limits such as earlier closing times for bars and restaurants and stricter limits on the number of in-store shoppers.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
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
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
A study published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ) shows there is a five-per-cent mortality rate for Ontario people who often visit hospital Emergency Rooms for alcohol-related reasons in a one-year period. The study also said more intervention would be helpful in offsetting the mortality rate of those people, who are often from disadvantaged backgrounds. The authors of the study were Jennifer Hulme, MD MPH; Hasan Sheikh, MD; Edward Xie, MD MSc; Evgenia Gatov, MPH; Chenthila Nagamuthu, MPH; Paul Kurdyak, MD PhD; from the University of Toronto, the Institute for Mental Health Policy and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The study was carried out between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2016 in Ontario for persons who made two or more ER visits in one year for alcohol-related mental or behavioural disorders. More than 25,000 Ontario residents were narrowed down to the cohort of those who had two or more hospital ER visits in a one year. Of that number, the study found a mortality rate of 5.4 per cent. This ranged from 4.7 per cent for those with two visits up to 8.8 per cent for those with five or more visits. "Death due to external causes (e.g., suicide, accidents) was most common," said the study. Despite the percentage findings, the authors concluded that "little is known about the risk of death among people who visit emergency departments frequently for alcohol-related reasons, including whether mortality risk increases with increasing frequency of visits." The authors said their primary objective was to describe socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of this high-risk group and examine the level of mortality, premature mortality and causes of death. In the formal interpretation of their study, the authors said the highest mortality rate involved mostly urban and mostly low income people who had frequent hospital visits for alcohol issues. The study also said alcohol is a leading driver of morbidity and mortality around the world. In 2016, the study said there were an estimated 3 million deaths — five per cent of all global deaths — attributable to alcohol consumption. Alcohol also plays a significant factor in the morbidity of younger people, said the study. "The 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study showed that alcohol was the single greatest risk factor for ill health worldwide among people aged 15-49 years. In Canada, hospital admissions for alcohol-attributable conditions out-number those for myocardial infarction. Alcohol-related harms cost Canadians about $14.6 billion annually, with $3.3 billion in health care costs." The study also said that alcohol-related hospital visits are increasing with acute intoxication and withdrawal disorders becoming common reasons for ER visits. "Data from the United States and Canada, furthermore, suggest that alcohol-related emergency department visits have increased in recent years. For example, a study in Ontario showed that, between 2003 and 2016, the age-standardized rates of alcohol-attributable emergency department visits increased by 86.5 per cent in women and 53.2 per cent in men," said the report. It also stated that those who visit the ER for alcohol reasons have high levels of comorbidity (having two or more diseases or medical conditions at the same time) and social disadvantage and represent a readily identifiable patient population "A systematic review suggested that screening and brief intervention for alcohol-related problems in the emergency department is a promising approach for reducing problematic alcohol consumption," said the study.Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
The chief of Shawanaga First Nation says it is community co-operation that has kept COVID-19 off its territory. Chief Wayne Pamajewon said they have had no reported cases of the coronavirus in the local community since the global pandemic began some eight months ago. He added, however, that a member of the First Nation who lives in the U.S. did contract COVID but she has since recovered. He said there are currently about 220 residents living in the community, while almost 500 more live outside the territory, “We have taken precautions to prohibit COVID from happening. We asked our people to help us stay safe,” the chief said. “We have a webpage that we keep posting on. We have telephone calls (to community members) from managers who are working. But we don’t have full staff. Our office is not really open. We’ve shut down most buildings.” Pamajewon said in the early days of the pandemic, the territory took steps to close off the community to outside traffic. “We only allowed band members, people living inside the community to go out and come back. We took down details like where did you go? How long were you off the territory? — those kinds of questions,” Pamajewon said. “We haven’t continued to do that since July or August when we decided to give the membership a little more freedom because the Parry Sound area was pretty safe. I didn’t want to isolate them too much.” The chief said there is also probably a bit of luck involved in not having a single case within the territory’s boundaries. However, he said he is confident that his people have taken the virus seriously and are following protocols like wearing masks in public, using hand sanitizer and keeping a social distance from others. “That would make anyone feel good, particularly the leadership, to have the full support of their people,” he said. Pamajewon is clear, however, that he is not letting his guard down when it comes to the pandemic and he wants his community members to do the same. “We warned our people that (restrictions) could return when we backed things off a little bit in the summer. We told them if things should change we may have to change our plan again — maybe tighten up the boundaries again,” the chief said. “That is something they are all quite aware of.” Pamajewon said the community is doing its utmost to make sure residents, particularly elders and children, are being well-cared-for during the pandemic. “They are important people to us. We’ve got supplies in storage. We’ve got freezers full of food. We give handouts on Friday, or calls are made on Monday mornings to ask each household if they need anything. We try to help out everyone.” Pamajewon also said that off-territory residents are currently allowed onto the territory, but he added that that could also change, depending upon COVID numbers in the area. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Reporter with the Parry Sound North Star, MuskokaRegion.com and Simcoe.com. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com