Five crew members have reportedly quit "Mission: Impossible 7" filming after another rant by Hollywood star Tom Cruise, according to the Sun.
Five crew members have reportedly quit "Mission: Impossible 7" filming after another rant by Hollywood star Tom Cruise, according to the Sun.
For 12-year-old Ava Tran, watching herself on the Heartland season premiere last Sunday was "cool." For her mom Melissa Tran, it was surreal. "It was one thing to see her on set [when] we were filming, but then to actually see her on the screen after all the hard work she's put into this was pretty awesome to see," Melissa told The Homestretch. Tran plays the character of Parker on the new season of the show in her first professional acting role. "It's amazing, all the actors, they're so nice and it's just so awesome to be on a show this big," she said. Heartland, the popular family drama filmed in and around Calgary, is now in its 14th season. The new character of Parker brought the drama right in the first episode, with a surprise plot twist. "Well, it was very interesting and it was really hard for me to not tell my friends, any of my friends the plot," Tran said of the spoiler. "It was a big secret to keep." Before getting the role, most of Tran's acting was done in school plays and small gigs. But acting is in the family blood — Tran has two sisters and an aunt who are also in the business. Still, landing the role of Parker was a big deal, and it was months in the making, she said. "So first I had to audition in March, right before COVID hit, and that was really good," she said. "I felt like I did a really good job because they looked at me, they smiled, and they really [had] much feedback for me." From there, Tran got on the short list. "My callback was closer to the end of August, right after my birthday, so that was really fun and really exciting. And then I found out I got the role just shortly after school started," she said. Now, it's down to work. Tran said she looks forward to playing a strong-willed character and bringing more drama. "She's a very independent girl, and she's not afraid to share her opinions, because she has very strong opinions," she said. "She's a very environmentally-friendly girl." Tran said she feels her own personality is quite similar to the character she will play, with one exception — her character is afraid of horses. "I just love animals so much," Tran said. "We are very much alike because I care about the environment, I have strong opinions about things. And she's 12 and I'm 12. And yeah, it's just really cool to just put my own ideas into my character." Season 14 of Heartland airs Sundays on CBC and CBC Gem. With files from The Homestretch.
NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers. “In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said. To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance. Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday. The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have cancelled them again as infections spiked. One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was co-ordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department's headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long. The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk. “The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California. As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis. According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis. The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said. As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis. The bacterial disease is spread similarly to COVID-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking. Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died. __ Balsamo reported from Washington. __ On Twitter, follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 Michael R. Sisak And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier this week, tinting the sky pink and the snow a purple hue. The sun washed over the frozen tundra and sparkling sea ice for an hour — and was gone. Monday marked the return of the sun in the Arctic community of about 1,700 after six weeks of darkness, but an overcast sky that day meant the light couldn't get through. Pamela Gross, Cambridge Bay's mayor, said the town gathered two days later, on a clear day, to celebrate. Gross, along with elders and residents, rushed down to the shore as the darkness broke around 10 a.m. "It was joyous. It's such a special feeling to see it come back," Gross said. Elders Mary Akariuk Kaotalok and Bessie Pihoak Omilgoetok, both in their 80s, were there. As Omilgoetok saw the sun rise, she was reminded of a tradition her grandparents taught her. Each person takes a drink of water to welcome and honour the sun, then throws the water toward it to ensure it returns the following year. Gross filled some Styrofoam cups with water and, after taking a sip, tossed the rest at the orange sky behind her. "I didn’t know about that tradition before. We learned about it through her memory being sparked through watching the sun rise." Although the sun's return was a happy moment, the past year was especially difficult for the community, Gross said. She wouldn't elaborate. "Being such a small community, people really know each other, so we feel community tragedies together. There were a few that we’ve gone through this year," she said. Gross said restrictions on gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant losses in the community felt even more heavy. "It made it extra challenging to be close as a community ... and for your loved ones if they’re going through a hard time." Getting the sun back helps. "It's hard mentally to have a lack of sun, but the feeling of not having it for so long and seeing it return is so special. You can tell it uplifts everyone." The return of the sun is celebrated in communities across Nunavut. Igloolik, off northern Baffin Island, will see the sun return this weekend. But the community of about 1,600 postponed its annual return ceremony to March because of limits on gathering sizes during the pandemic. In the territory's more northern areas, the sun slips away day by day in the fall, then disappears for months at a time. Grise Fiord, the most northern community in Nunavut, loses sun from November to mid-February. But in the summer, the sun stays up 24 hours a day. Now that the sun has returned in Cambridge Bay, the community will gain 20 more minutes of light as each day passes. “The seasons are so drastic. It really gives you a sense of endurance knowing that you can get through challenging times," Gross said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with lowly Mainz while Leipzig again missed the chance to move to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday. Leipzig, which was denied top spot in losing to Dortmund 3-1 last weekend, could manage only 2-2 at Wolfsburg and it remains a point behind league leader Bayern Munich. Bayern hosts Freiburg on Sunday. Dortmund was looking for its fourth win in five league games under new coach Edin Terzic but was frustrated by a committed performance from Mainz in Bo Svensson’s second game in charge. The draw was enough for Mainz to move off the bottom on goal difference from Schalke, which visits Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Dortmund got off to a fine start with Erling Haaland firing inside the left post in the second minute. But the goal was ruled out through VAR as Thomas Meunier was offside in the buildup. Jude Bellingham struck the post toward the end of the half and it was as close as Dortmund came to scoring before the break. Mainz defended doggedly and took its chance in the 57th when Levin Öztunali eluded Mats Hummels with a back-heel trick and let fly from 20 metres inside the top right corner. The visitors almost grabbed another shortly afterward when Alexander Hack struck the crossbar with a header. The 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko had just gone on for Dortmund and he played a decisive role for his side’s equalizer in the 73rd, keeping the ball in play before sending in a cross that was cleared by Mainz defender Phillipp Mwene – only as far as Meunier, who fired back in to equalize. Meunier was then fouled in the penalty area by Hack, giving Reus a chance to score from the spot. The Dortmund captain sent his kick outside of the left post. It could have been worse for Reus’ team as Mainz captain Danny Latza hit the post late on. Dortmund remained fourth, four points behind Bayern, which has a game in hand. Werder Bremen scored late to beat Augsburg 2-0 at home, Cologne drew with Hertha Berlin 0-0, and Hoffenheim vs. Arminia Bielefeld also ended scoreless. Stuttgart hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
Ontario says it's slightly slowing the pace for some COVID-19 vaccinations in response to a shipping delay from drugmaker Pfizer BioNTech. Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams says the company's decision to temporarily delay international vaccine shipments will likely have an effect on the province, though the full impact of the move is not yet known. Williams says long-term care residents, caregivers and staff who already received their first dose of Pfizer's vaccine will receive their second dose between 21 and 27 days later, no more than a week longer than originally planned. He says the timetable will be longer for anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine, with second doses being delivered anywhere from 21 to 42 days after the initial shot. The adjustments come as Ontario reported 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 stand at 1,632, with 397 patients in intensive care. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Toronto and the neighbouring regions of Peel and York continue to post the highest infection rates in the province. She said 903 of the most recent diagnoses were found in Toronto, with 639 in Peel and 283 in York. Some of those regions are among those targeted by a government blitz of big box stores which got underway on Saturday. The province said earlier this week it would send 50 inspectors to stores in five regions -- Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. They'll be looking to ensure the retailers are complying with the province's tightened public health rules, which went into effect on Thursday along with a provincewide stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of the virus. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton has said inspectors will focus on compliance with masking and physical distancing rules, as well as other health guidelines. He said they'll have the authority to temporarily shut down facilities found to be breaching the rules, and to disperse groups of more than five people. The minister said inspectors will also be able to issue tickets of up to $750 to management, workers or customers if they're not abiding by the measures. Premier Doug Ford, who has faced criticism for allowing big-box stores to remain open for on-site shopping while smaller businesses are restricted to curbside pickup or online sales, vowed this week to crack down on big lineups and other infractions at large retailers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
TRAVAIL. Selon la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), après la gestion de la pandémie en 2020, les négociations dans le secteur public seront le gros défi que le gouvernement devra relever en 2021. «La Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) compte d'ailleurs rappeler au premier ministre, François Legault, qu'il est maintenant plus que temps qu'il fasse un choix pour le Québec, le choix de bien traiter celles et ceux qui préparent l'avenir des élèves et des étudiants et qui prennent soin des personnes malades et souffrantes», a déclaré Sonia Ethier, la présidente de l’organisation syndicale qui représente plus de 200 000 membres, dont environ 125 000 font partie du personnel de l'éducation. «La pandémie a mis en lumière l'état important de désorganisation dans lequel se trouve notre réseau de santé à la suite des coupes et des compressions des dernières années. La situation n'est guère mieux dans les réseaux de l'éducation et de l'enseignement supérieur où les mauvaises conditions de travail mettent en péril la capacité de l'État à garantir les services à la population. Après la crise sanitaire, il y a une véritable crise des conditions de travail que le gouvernement ne pourra régler qu'en mettant fin à l'exploitation éhontée des travailleuses et travailleurs du secteur public, qui a trop duré», explique Sonia Ethier. La CSQ poursuivra d'ailleurs la mobilisation de ses membres, enclenchée en 2020, qui devrait se traduire par l'adoption de mandats de grève dans l'ensemble des syndicats d'ici la fin du mois de janvier. «Le ras-le-bol et la colère sont généralisés chez nos 125 000 membres du secteur public, et cela se traduit par d'importants appuis à la grève», ajoute-t-elle. Qualité de l'air et vaccination À l’occasion d’une conférence de presse virtuelle tenue le 10 janvier, la présidente de la CSQ est également revenue sur la question de la qualité de l’air dans les écoles. Ayant écouté attentivement les propos du ministre Jean-François Roberge à ce sujet, Sonia Ethier l'invite à ne pas écarter trop rapidement le recours à des purificateurs d'air dans les classes où les normes ne sont pas satisfaisantes. «Le ministre semble dire que leur présence dans les classes et le bruit que ces appareils produisent seraient dérangeants pour la concentration des élèves. Je pense qu'il saute un peu trop vite aux conclusions et qu'il met en doute trop facilement le bon jugement du personnel pour ce qui est de choisir le meilleur emplacement pour ces purificateurs. Rappelons-nous qu'il n'y a pas si longtemps, le ministre doutait de la nécessité de porter des masques en classe, alors que son point de vue a changé depuis. La question des purificateurs d'air mérite sans nul doute d'être plus réfléchie également», met en garde la leader syndicale. Pour ce qui est de la question de la vaccination du personnel du réseau scolaire et du réseau de l'enseignement supérieur, la décision d'inclure les enseignants ainsi que les éducatrices des services à la petite enfance parmi les groupes prioritaires pour la vaccination est une bonne nouvelle pour la CSQ. «Cependant, nous pressons le gouvernement et l'Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) d'inclure tous les personnels de l'éducation dans ces groupes prioritaires, c'est-à-dire d'ajouter aussi le personnel de soutien ainsi que le personnel professionnel. En effet, ces travailleuses et ces travailleurs ne sont pas moins à risque que leurs collègues de l'enseignement», indique Sonia Ethier. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) council plans to waive penalties on tax payments in the initial few months of 2021. “I think residents and businesses across the town have been severely impacted by COVID. This last shutdown over the Christmas season has been particularly painful for a lot of businesses and residents,” said TBM councillor Rob Sampson. “I think we should, as a council, show some recognition of that pain and provide some relief,” he added. TBM staff will be preparing a draft bylaw for council consideration that will look to waive penalties on tax payments for April, May and June of 2021. The bylaw is expected to waive penalties for both commercial and residential taxpayers. According to Ruth Prince, director of finance for TBM, waiving the penalties may cost the municipality approximately $100,000. However, she says that if an additional round of COVID relief funding were to come from the province, the cost could be covered should the town obtain some of that funding. “I’ve got to believe the province is going to have to provide a third round of funding. It is not as though COVID has stopped impacting municipalities. In fact, I would argue that's probably gotten worse,” Sampson said. TBM previously waived penalties for tax payments at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to Prince, most TBM residents continued to make the payments on-time and in-full. “Last year most people did make their payments even though there was a waive of the penalty and interest,” she said. “Most people are in the habit of making the payments and understand that they will have to pay the money eventually anyways.” A related staff report and draft bylaw are expected to be brought to a committee of the whole meeting in early February. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Denmark on Saturday found its first case of a more contagious coronavirus variant from South Africa, and saw a rise in the number of infections with the highly transmissible B117 variant first identified in Britain, health authorities said. The Nordic country extended a lockdown for three weeks on Wednesday in a bid to curtail the spread of the new variant from Britain, which authorities expect to be the dominant one by mid-February. Denmark has become a front-runner in monitoring coronavirus mutations by running most positive tests through genome sequencing analysis.
On Monday, December 21, 2020, Churchbridge Mayor Bill Johnston called the regularly scheduled council meeting to order with all council present and accounted for. He then called Julian Kaminski forward to recognize the work Julian has done as the caretaker of the hall for over the last ten years. Brittney Maddaford, CPA next gave an auditor presentation to the council and members of the public that were in attendance. Maddaford walked the council through their financial statements and what’s included in them. Councillor N. Thies made a presentation to the council about setting up two electric chargers in town for electric cars. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to move this idea to the planning committee; motion carried. Moving on, the council reviewed the agenda prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept the agenda as amended; motion carried. The council reviewed the minutes of the November 23, 2020, regular meeting as well as the December 1, 2020, special meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the minutes which was carried. Council standing committee notes were next. N. Thies attended a fire department meeting and updated the council regarding the fire department. Administrator Renea Paridaen was next to give the administrator report. The sidewalk was replaced on Vincent Ave. but it has cracks on it now; there is no warranty. Some maintenance to the heating units was done to various town facilities including the town office furnace which wasn’t working. Council members have been registered for the Municipalities of Saskatchewan meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the reports which was carried. Under old business, R. Thies made a motion to have a third reading of Bylaw 2020-014, The by-law for incurring Debt; motion carried. The World’s Biggest Bike, stationed in Churchbridge was next to be discussed. Councillor Antosh-Cusistar made a motion to have the former owner of the big blue bike remove it by June 1, 2021; motion carried. Council Procedures Bylaw 2020-015, Council Procedures Bylaw received its second reading with a motion by R. Thies; motion carried. The third reading of Bylaw 2020-015 was made by Councillor N. Thies; motion carried. Cedar Crescent East Development was discussed next. Councillors N. Thies and R. Thies declared a conflict of interest and left the meeting, Mayor Johnston had a discussion with a resident beside the development who has a few concerns, it will be looked into having a public meeting to openly discuss the development with a motion from Councillor Antosh-Cusitar; motion carried. The topic of pest control officers was next to be discussed. The town requires pest control officers with a valid Possession and Acquisition Certificate, a criminal record check and liability insurance. The council reviewed the correspondence received by the town over the last two weeks. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Membership requisition was received; tabled. The Go out and Play Challenge request was sent to the town, asking if they would participate in the challenge and rally the community. The Murals Committee has sent a request to the town and Councillor Vaughan made a motion to defer this matter to the strategic planning committee; motion carried. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to file the correspondence; motion carried. The list of accounts for approval was reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pay the accounts; motion carried. The November financial statement and bank reconciliation were reviewed next, prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept which was carried. Under new business, Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016 was discussed prior to Councillor R. Thies making the recommendation to change the bylaw; motion carried. Councillor N. Thies made the motion to have the first reading of Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016; motion carried. A by-election proposal was next discussed. On April 7, 2021, there will be a by-election. After the resignation of Ralph Soltys, there is a need for a by-election to fill the empty council chair. Councillor Antosh-Cusitar motion to accept which was carried. Christmas office closure was discussed. Councillor Antosh- Cusitar made a motion to close the town office on December 24th which was carried. Councillor N.Thies asked if there is a way a councillor can donate their remuneration back to the town. The bylaw respecting buildings (2020-017) was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made the resolution to have the first reading, which was carried. A motion was made to have the second reading, made by N. Thies; motion carried. A motion was made by N. Thies to go ahead to the third reading; carried unanimously. A Fibre Optic Cable Proposal was next to be discussed. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to have the administration help develop a Municipal Access Agreement; motion carried. The appointment of the Town of Churchbridge Administrator was next to be discussed. Council made a motion to appoint Renea Paridaen as Administrator for the Town of Churchbridge. She had not been officially appointed; motion carried. Backflow Prevention Testing was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to test the backflow as required; motion carried. Policy Manual 2021 Revisions were reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pass the revisions which was carried. The council then moved in-camera. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
Plateau Mountain is the first thing John Smith looks at every day on his ranch near Nanton, Alta. "They're a barometer of weather. That's where our chinook arches are. You can tell when there's big wind coming, they blow snow off, and they're just cool to look at," Smith said. The 48-year-old third-generation rancher named his business after it — Plateau Cattle Company. He has nearly 600 head of cattle and 1,500 acres near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. If open pit mining happens on the eastern slopes, it threatens his operation. "Thirty-five per cent of our cattle go up there," Smith said. "So in these COVID times, I'm sure everybody understands what a 35 per cent reduction in wage or the bottom line of a business [does]. So yeah, it's definitely a threatening thing." Along with his wife Laura Laing, Smith is pushing back against the provincial government's decision to revoke a 1976 policy that kept coal mines out of most of the province's Rocky Mountains and Foothills. WATCH | Why Alberta is looking to the Rockies for coal: One mine is under review, and others could follow. Some residents of former mining towns have applauded the prospect of potential jobs returning to their communities. But others, including Smith, worry about what the change might have on quantity and quality of local water — which at the moment runs good and clear. "Every kid in agriculture has always been told this. Your grandfathers tell you, if you haven't got water, you haven't got [nothing]," Smith said. Laing said speaking up against the changes is not a comfortable thing to do, but it's important. "We've been challenged in lots of adversities. We're fighting for a bigger picture here. Everybody's water, the landscapes, the mountains," Laing said. The couple's plight has been boosted by star power recently. Alberta-born country stars Corb Lund and Paul Brandt posted their feelings on social media, saying they oppose coal development in the region. WATCH | Country star Corb Lund comes out against proposed coal mines: "I know a lot of people are afraid to speak out. It's not easy, I get it. But I'm so glad they're taking the lead and sharing the story," Laing said. The mayor of High River, Craig Snodgrass, doesn't want it either. He said provincial maps show Category 2 lands where mines will be allowed stretch into Kananaskis Country and the headwaters of the Highwood River and Cataract Creek. "Reinstate the policy, the protections in these [Category 2] lands and let's have a discussion, and we'll give you the chance openly to prove to us that everything's going to be good," Snodgrass said. Snodgrass put forward a motion this week to send the province a letter of opposition. It was unanimously approved by town council. David Luff is a former assistant deputy minister and was a resource planner for former premier Peter Lougheed's government when the policy was created. He said the process the United Conservative government used was ethically and morally wrong, adding the policy was based on a vision for a long-term priority. "The eastern slopes were to be recognized as having the highest priority for watershed protection, recreation and tourism," Luff said. For Smith, who would like to see his family's ranch reach a fourth generation, the situation is one that weighs heavy. "This place can provide a living for multiple families for a hundred or two hundred years," he said. "I don't think there's a coal mine that can do and create what agriculture is doing here." Representatives with Alberta's energy and environment ministries were unavailable to comment for this story.
The public won’t see President Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there’s growing concern that the collection won’t be complete, leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies. Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House staffers to spend hours taping them back together. “They told him to stop doing it. He didn’t want to stop,” said Solomon Lartey, a former White House records analyst who spent hours taping documents back together well into 2018. The president also confiscated an interpreter’s notes after Trump had a chat with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump scolded his White House counsel for taking notes at a meeting. Top executive branch officials had to be reminded more than once not to conduct official business on private email or encrypted text messaging systems and to preserve it if they did. Trump’s baseless claim of widespread voter fraud, which postponed for weeks an acknowledgement of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, is delaying the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, further heightening concern about the integrity of the records. “Historians are likely to suffer from far more holes than has been the norm,” said Richard Immerman at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. In the Trump White House, “not only has record-keeping not been a priority, but we have multiple examples of it seeking to conceal or destroy that record.” But even with requests by lawmakers and lawsuits by government transparency groups, there is an acknowledgment that noncompliance with the Presidential Records Act carries little consequence for Trump. The Presidential Records Act states that a president cannot destroy records until he seeks the advice of the national archivist and notifies Congress. But the law doesn’t require him to heed the archivist’s advice. Most presidential records today are electronic, and records experts estimate that automatic backup computer systems capture a vast majority of them, but cannot capture records that a White House chooses not to create or log into those systems. THE MOVE Moving a president’s trail of paper and electronic records is a laborious task. President Barack Obama left about 30 million pages of paper documents and some 250 terabytes of electronic records, including the equivalent of about 1.5 billion pages of emails. When Trump lost the November election, records staffers were in position to transfer electronic records, pack up the paper ones and move them to the National Archives by Jan. 20 as required by law. But Trump’s reluctance to concede has meant they will miss the deadline. “Necessary funding from the (White House) Office of Management and Budget was delayed for many weeks after the election, which has caused delays in arranging for the transfer of the Trump presidential records into the National Archives’ custody,” the National Archives said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Even though the transfer of these records will not be completed until after Jan. 20, the National Archives will assume legal custody of them on Jan. 20 in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment about preserving Trump’s records. One person familiar with the transition said guidance typically emailed to executive branch employees, explaining how to turn in equipment and pack up their offices, was sent out in December, but quickly rescinded because Trump insisted on contesting the election. With little guidance, some staffers in the White House started quietly calling records workers to find out what to do. Departing employees are instructed to create a list of folders in each box and make a spreadsheet to give the National Archives a way to track and retrieve the information for the incoming Biden team. The public must wait five years before submitting Freedom of Information Act requests to see the Trump material. Even then, Trump — like other presidents before him — is invoking six specific restrictions to public access of his records for up to 12 years. RECORD-KEEPING PRACTICES On impeachment and other sensitive issues, some normal workflow practices were bypassed, a second person familiar with the process said. Higher-ups and White House lawyers became more involved in deciding which materials were catalogued and scanned into White House computer networks where they are automatically saved, the person said. The individuals, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the inner workings of the White House, said that if uncatalogued materials ended up in an office safe, for instance, they would at least be temporarily preserved. But if they were never catalogued in the first place, staffers wouldn’t know they existed, making them untraceable. Trump’s staff also engaged in questionable practices by using private emails and messaging apps. Former White House counsel Don McGahn in February 2017 sent a memo that instructed employees not to use nonofficial text messaging apps or private email accounts. If they did, he said, they had to take screenshots of the material and copy it into official email accounts, which are preserved. He sent the memo back out in September 2017. Government transparency groups say the screenshots are not adequate because they do not capture attachments or information such as who contacted whom, phone identifiers and other online information. “It’s an open question to me about how serious or conscientious any of those people have been about moving them over,” said Tom Blanton, who directs the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which was founded in 1985 to combat government secrecy. Trump was criticized for confiscating the notes of an interpreter who was with him in 2017 when Trump talked with Putin in Hamburg, Germany. Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to obtain the notes of another interpreter who was with Trump in 2018 when he met with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Several weeks ago, the National Security Archive, two historical associations and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued to prevent the Trump White House from destroying any electronic communications or records sent or received on nonofficial accounts, such as personal email or WhatsApp. The court refused to issue a temporary restraining order after government lawyers told the judge that they had instructed the White House to notify all employees to preserve all electronic communications in their original format until the lawsuit was settled. Anne Weismann, one of the lawyers representing the groups in their lawsuit, suspects “serious noncompliance” of the Presidential Records Act. “I believe we will find that there’s going to be a huge hole in the historical record of this president," Weismann said. Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, and four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. The province added 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. --- 10:45 a.m. Ontario is reporting 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 today along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliot says 903 of the latest diagnoses are in Toronto, with 639 in neighbouring Peel region and 283 in York Region. The province says 1,632 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital, with 397 in intensive care. Elliott says the province had administered 189,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of 8 p.m. on Friday. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario says a shipping delay from Pfizer BioNTech means residents who receive an initial dose of the company's COVID-19 vaccine will have to wait longer than expected to receive their second one. The government says long-term care residents and staff who have been inoculated already will wait up to an extra week before a second dose is administered. Anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine were initially supposed to get a econd dose after 21 days, but will now see that timetable extended to a maximum of 42 days. The government says it's on track to ensure all long-term care residents, essential caregivers and staff, the first priority group for the vaccine, receive their first dose by mid-February. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
Thousands of genomic sequences have been identified from the original strain of the novel coronavirus. Depending on the rate of transmission and efforts to curb infections, the variant will either die out or dominate. Crystal Goomansingh explains how researchers are tracking the virus as it evolves.
Germany has given transcripts of interviews with Alexei Navalny to Russia as part of Moscow's probe into the poisoning of the Kremlin critic, a Justice Ministry spokesman said, demanding a thorough investigation into the crime. The ministry said Russia now had all the information needed to carry out a criminal investigation into Navalny's poisoning in August last year, including blood and tissue samples. "The German government assumes that the Russian government will now immediately take all necessary steps to clarify the crime against Mr. Navalny," the spokesman said.
Portugal's Finance Minister Joao Leao has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said on Saturday, a day after he took part in an in-person meeting in Lisbon with top EU officials including Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. The 46-year-old minister has so far shown no symptoms and will continue to work from home during a period of self-isolation, a statement from his ministry said. Leao's positive test result was announced more than 24 hours after he attended the meeting at the Belem Cultural Center on Friday to discuss Portugal's top priorities during its six-month EU presidency, which started this month.
The Hat Art Club has been a staple in the community for decades and is celebrating an important milestone this month – 75 years in existence. The club sits around 100 members on a given year and was founded in 1946 by Mrs. Helen Beny Gibson and Rev. L.T.H Pearson. The group began with a program teaching people how to draw at city council chambers. “The Hat Art Club has grown to be one of the foundational art clubs in the city,” said club president Bev Duke. “For a very long time, there were no other organizations that provided art training for adult artists in our community. “There have been programs offered through the college over the years, but they were sporadic. The art club has offered a consistent place for artists of any age or skill to come and learn.” The Hat Art Club has operated out of the Cultural Centre since it was built, and is now offering digital art programming. The club shifted to online classes last October and invested into its new website to help keep members in the loop. Duke has been a member of the club for 25 years and is in her second term as president. She says the club aims to offer something for everyone. “We have programs around all mediums,” she said. “One of our big programs is around drawing, because it is so foundational to art, a lot of people are interested. “We offer acrylic, oils, pastels and art journaling.” The art club’s shift to online has helped Hatters fill their time at home with fun, creative activities to focus on during the pandemic. “Art is a creative outlet,” said Duke. “It gives you something to work on and it lets you develop different skills.” The club has also announced a special promotion to get new members involved. For a limited time, get a membership for $75 to celebrate the anniversary. More information can be found at http://www.hatartclub.com. Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — With coronavirus restrictions forcing bars and restaurants to seat customers outside in the dead of winter, many are scrambling to nab erratic supplies of propane that fuel space heaters they’re relying on more than ever to keep people comfortable in the cold. It's one of many new headaches — but a crucial one — that go with setting up tables and tents on sidewalks, streets and patios to comply with public health restrictions. “You’re in the middle of service and having staff run up and say, ‘We’re out of propane!’" said Melinda Maddox, manager of a whiskey tasting room in Colorado. Propane long has been a lifeline for people who live in places too remote to get natural gas piped to their homes for heat, hot water and cooking. This winter, 5-gallon (18-litre) propane tanks have proven a new necessity for urban businesses, too, especially in places like the Rocky Mountains, where the sun often takes the edge off the chill and people still enjoy gathering on patios when the heaters are roaring. The standard-size tanks, which contain pressurized liquid propane that turns to gas as it's released, are usually readily available from gas stations, grocery stores or home improvement stores. But that's not always the case lately as high demand leads to sometimes erratic supplies. “I spent one day driving an hour around town. Literally went north, south, east, west — just did a loop around Fort Collins because every gas station I went to was out. That was frustrating,” said Maddox, who manages the Reserve By Old Elk Distillery tasting room in downtown Fort Collins, about 65 miles (105 kilometres) north of Denver. Nearly all states allow at least some indoor dining, but the rules nationwide are a hodgepodge of local regulations. In Fort Collins, indoor seating at bars and restaurants is limited to 25% of normal capacity, so there's a strong incentive to seat customers outside despite the complication and expense. Local propane tank shortages result not just from higher demand but household hoarding similar to the pandemic run on toilet paper and other goods. One national tank supplier reported a 38% sales increase this winter, said Tom Clark, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association. But Clark says the supply is there, it just may mean searching a bit more than normal. If there are 10 suppliers in a neighbourhood, “maybe 1 out of 10 may be out of inventory. Certainly, you can find propane exchange tanks if you look around,” Clark said. Franklin, Tennessee-based tank manufacturer Manchester Tank has been paying workers overtime and boosting production in India to meet demand, company President Nancy Chamblee said by email. So far, the surge in demand for small-tank propane hasn't affected overall U.S. propane supply, demand and prices, which are running similar to recent winters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But trying to find a steady supply of propane can cost already-stressed businesses time and money they lack in the pandemic. Gas stations are better than home improvement stores for propane tank runs because you can park closer, said Maddox, but shops that refill tanks are best because it's cheaper and not as complicated as trying to run every tank dry. “The issue there is it takes longer,” Maddox said. “You just have to build that into your day and say OK, it’s going to take 40 minutes instead of 25 minutes.” Across the street, Pour Brothers Community Tavern owners Kristy and Dave Wygmans have been refilling tanks for their 18 or so heaters and fire bowls at a supplier at the edge of town after a nearby shop stopped offering refill service. They discovered that propane tanks carry a date-of-manufacture stamp. Propane shops won't refill tanks older than 12 years unless they have been re-certified in five-year increments. “We’re learning more and more about propane," Dave Wygmans said. They also have gained insight into the market for space heaters, which more than doubled in price last fall due to surging demand, and outdoor furniture for their street-parking-turned-outdoor-patio area that can seat up to 44 people, Kristy Wygmans said. Their employees also had to quickly learn to hook up propane tanks and light heaters, needed in a place where temperatures can plunge well below zero (minus 18 Celsius) in winter. Keeping customers comfortable has taken on a new dimension outdoors, Dave Wygmans said. “Before it was just drinks and food, right? And now, we think the priority is drinks and food but maybe the customer thinks the priority is the heat. And so now we have to balance one more priority that some customers might care about," he said. "It’s almost like another service that we’re providing is outside heat,” Wygmans said. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver. Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party on Saturday chose Armin Laschet, the pragmatic governor of Germany’s most populous state, as its new leader — sending a signal of continuity months before an election in which voters will decide who becomes the new chancellor. Laschet will have to build unity in the Christian Democratic Union, Germany's strongest party, after beating more conservative rival Friedrich Merz. And he will need to plunge straight into an electoral marathon that culminates with the Sept. 26 national vote. Saturday’s vote isn’t the final word on who will run as the centre-right candidate for chancellor in Germany’s Sept. 26 election, but Laschet will either run himself or have a big say in who does. He didn't address his plans at Saturday's party convention. Laschet, 59, was elected in 2017 as governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, a traditionally centre-left stronghold. He governs the region in a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, the CDU’s traditional ally, but would likely be able to work smoothly with a more liberal partner, too. Current polls point to the environmentalist Greens as a likely key to power in the election. Laschet pointed Saturday to the value of continuity and moderation, and cited the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump as an example of where polarization can lead. “Trust is what keeps us going and what has been broken in America,” he told delegates before the vote. “By polarizing, sowing discord and distrust, and systematically lying, a president has destroyed stability and trust.” “We must speak clearly but not polarize,” Laschet said. “We must be able to integrate, hold society together.” He said that the party needs “the continuity of success” and “we will only win if we remain strong in the middle of society.” Laschet said that “there are many people who, above all, find Angela Merkel good and only after that the CDU.” He added that ”we need this trust now as a party” and that “we must work for this trust.” Laschet beat Merz, a former rival of Merkel who was making his second attempt in recent years to win the CDU leadership, by 521 votes to 466. A third candidate, prominent lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, was eliminated in a first round of voting. Merz's sizeable support suggests that a strong contingent would like a sharper conservative profile after the Merkel years. Merkel has led Germany since 2005 but said over two years ago that she wouldn't seek a fifth term as chancellor. Merkel, 66, has enjoyed enduring popularity with voters as she steered Germany and Europe through a series of crises. But she repeatedly abandoned orthodox conservative policies, for example by accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and ending military conscription. Her decision in 2015 to allow in large numbers of migrants caused major tensions on the centre-right and strengthened the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Saturday's vote ends a nearly year-long limbo in Germany’s strongest party since outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who narrowly beat Merz in 2018 to succeed Merkel as CDU leader but failed to impose her authority, announced her resignation. A vote on her successor was delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic. Laschet called for unity after Saturday's vote and said Merz remains “an important personality for us.” “All the questions that will face us after the pandemic need a broad consensus in our party,” he said. “And we will need this consensus for all the elections that are ahead of us, too. Everyone will be against us.” Laschet, a miner's son who served as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2005, shouldn't expect much of a honeymoon in his new job. In addition to the national election, Germany is holding six state elections this year, the first two in mid-March. And at some point, he will confer with allies in Bavaria on who runs for chancellor. The CDU is part of the Union bloc along with its sister party, the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, and the two parties will decide together on the candidate. The Union currently has a healthy poll lead, helped by positive reviews of Merkel’s handling of the pandemic. CSU leader Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria, is widely considered a potential candidate after gaining in political stature during the pandemic. Some also consider Health Minister Jens Spahn, who supported Laschet and was elected as one of his deputies, a possible contender. Polls have shown Soeder’s ratings outstripping those of Saturday’s CDU candidates. Laschet has garnered mixed reviews in the pandemic, particularly as a vocal advocate of loosening restrictions after last year’s first phase. “It's very good that a year-long discussion process is over,” Soeder said. “I am sure that Armin Laschet and I will find a joint, wise and united solution to all other pending questions.” Saturday’s result will now be officially endorsed in a postal ballot. That is expected to be a formality but is required by German law. Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
Portugal's fragile health system is under growing pressure due to a worrying rise in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting 10,947 new cases and 166 deaths on Saturday, the worst surge since the pandemic started last year. The cases, which come a day after a new lockdown was put in place, bring the total number of cases in a country of just over 10 million people to 539,416, with the death toll increasing to 8,709. The health system, which prior to the pandemic had the lowest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can accommodate a maximum of 672 COVID-19 patients in ICUs, according to Health Ministry data.
If you’re slicing into a sizzling steak for dinner tonight, or getting a spoonful of lamb stew, then you have a farmer and butcher to thank. They are the silent, often underappreciated heroes of the food industry, and they are facing massive challenges amid the pandemic. “We feel that people don’t understand us,” said Craig McLaughlin, owner of a medium-sized beef farm in Renfrew County. “It would be so helpful if people understand what we are up against,” echoed Angie Hoysted, co-owner of Valley Custom Cutting, a provincial free-standing meat plant and full-service butcher shop in Smiths Falls. So what exactly are they up against? Bill Dobson, who owns an organic beef farm in Smiths Falls, said one of the biggest challenges local producers have is a lack of infrastructure for processing. “There’s not enough abattoirs (slaughterhouse for livestock),” Dobson said. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website listed a total of 115 abattoirs in the province, and 360 free-standing meat processing plants (FSMP). FSMPs do not slaughter animals. They conduct further processing activities such as the aging, boning, cutting, slicing, smoking, curing and fermenting of meat. Once the animal carcass has been brought back from the abattoirs, the challenge is that there aren’t enough butchers (or FSMPs) to cut and process the meat. “There’s just not enough people getting into that business. We have to encourage (the) government to open up spaces in community colleges and encourage people to go into that field,” Dobson said. Hoysted’s husband Dan was head butcher at an abattoir when it closed unexpectedly. The beef producers in the area – who knew him and trusted his skills – expressed their need for a reliable butcher, so Dan and Angie opened a shop in 2016. Hoysted said farmers invest two years of raising and taking care of livestock, so they’re not just “going take it to a random butcher to cut it. You don’t get a good yield, the cuts you want or your packages professionally done.” Not only do farmers book months in advance for an abattoir, they also have to schedule for butchers, typically a six-month wait. “Once the pandemic hit, spaces booked up at the abattoir. I used to be able to book slaughter space in a month or two; now it’s at least six months,” said Tyler Armstrong, a sheep farmer who owns Pinnacle Haven Farm in Renfrew. “Now I book before the lamb’s even born,” Armstrong said, adding that this issue is not unique to this area – it’s an Ontario-wide issue. McLaughlin said this poses a huge problem: “If I have cattle ready (for the abattoir), and they have no place to go, you have to maintain them. You can’t put them in a storage locker. They require daily care and (it) costs me more.” Another challenge is labour shortage. If a farmer or a butcher gets sick, there’s not a ready source of labour they can avail themselves of quickly. “You might find an able body, but they’ve never worked with livestock before, or trained in specific skills to operate specific equipment,” McLaughlin said. “If we got sick, we have to go home, and everything in our cooler will be garbage by the time we reopen,” Hoysted said about the meat products they sell. “We’re one of the youngest people owning a provincial processing plant in this part of Ontario. Everyone else is older. What’s going to happen in five to 10 years when they retire? You’re going to have a major, major issue,” Hoysted said. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News