There are a number of open jobs across the league, but it's going to be tough for a coach to find a better situation than the one in Jacksonville.
There are a number of open jobs across the league, but it's going to be tough for a coach to find a better situation than the one in Jacksonville.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
The small Saskatchewan town of Biggar made headlines in 2018 when the federal government approved the demolition of their CN Rail Station, which was designated a national heritage site in 1976. The town took a blow, said D'Shea Bussiere, community development officer for the Town of Biggar, but now, the mayor and town office is excited for the potential transformation of the space thanks to the Brownlee Family Foundation. The town, as well as former residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, have been in discussions since 2019 on how a large charitable donation can “revitalize and energize” the community, said Bussiere in a Jan. 18 press release. Updating the downtown core and the former CN Station site became an important goal for the community. The Brownlee Family Foundation will match up $2.5 million in fundraiser dollars raised by the town and residents, meaning there is upwards of $5 million going towards the project. Especially with COVID-19 and vaccines dominating the news, communities need to start looking at how they can revitalize their communities, Bussiere said. “We have the same struggles as any small town. It's hard to compete with the cities, so anything to try and encourage a beautiful place for our people and other people to come, hang out, and shop is good development.” Mayor Jim Rickwood said the town has banded together during COVID-19 and when that is over, that need will still be there. Developing the CNR Grounds into a welcoming community space will bring tight-knit residents even closer, he said. “(The new development) is going to bring some opportunities for some gatherings, for some reasons to be downtown, and just to tighten us up a little bit more, and to give us more of a spirit of community. Communities are not just where we live, it's who we live with. (The development) is going to be a good step for that.” Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee felt it was important to honour their roots with this donation and leave a last legacy that celebrates their families. “Town leaders have framed a renewal concept that showcases Biggar’s history and speaks to its bright future. If the town is behind it, so are we,” said Ina Lou in the press release. A Public Open House on Jan. 22 and 23 and an online open house on Jan. 25 will share a concept plan that will turn the “Canadian National Railway grounds into a multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive center,” said the release. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WINNIPEG — Manitobans may soon be able to get a hair cut, buy non-essential items in stores and have visitors in their homes for the first time since November. The provincial government released a plan Tuesday which, subject to public feedback, would ease some of the restrictions aimed at keeping COVID-19 in check. "We think that this is a prudent approach, a very cautious approach, and we'll continue to loosen things as long as our numbers allow us to," said Manitoba's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin. The proposed changes would lift a ban that currently requires non-essential stores to close. The businesses would be allowed to reopen with the same 25 per cent capacity limit that essential retailers now face. Hair salons, barber shops, reflexologists and some other personal services would also reopen under the plan. And a ban on most social visits in private homes, which currently has small exemptions for people who live alone, would be eased to allow two visitors at a time inside and five on outdoor private property. Many other restrictions would remain in place. Tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, bars and recreational sports leagues would remain closed. "Prolonged indoor contact is where this virus spreads," Roussin said. "When you look at the loosening (of) restrictions we have right now, they're not including places that really have the prolonged, enclosed contact." A final decision on the proposals is expected Thursday. Any changes would take effect Saturday and would not likely include the northern part of the province, where case numbers are still running high, Roussin added. Manitoba imposed the restrictions in the fall when the province was leading all others in the per-capita rate of new infections. Since then, the daily count of new cases has dropped in southern and central regions, although the demand on intensive care beds remains above pre-pandemic capacity. Health-care officials reported 111 new cases Tuesday and 11 deaths. The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce said it was hoping to see more businesses, such as restaurants, given the go-ahead to reopen with capacity limits. The group said the ongoing uncertainty over when businesses might get closer to normal operations is causing anxiety. "These are businesses that had to shut their doors, in many cases have zero revenue coming in, have had to lay off employees. It's been an extremely challenging time," said the group's president, Chuck Davidson. The Opposition New Democrats called on the Progressive Conservative government to offer more financial aid to businesses and to provide some sort of timeline on when more might reopen. "Those businesses that won't be allowed to reopen this round … would all appreciate greater clarity as to when they may be part of the reopening plan," said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Despite a significant short-term gap in deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he's still confident the country is on track to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by September. "This situation with the Pfizer delay is temporary. Our vaccination objectives for the first quarter of the year, January to March, are not changing," Trudeau said from the steps of Rideau Cottage today. "The total number of doses committed to us is still the same," he said, adding that "every Canadian" who wants to be vaccinated will get the shot "by September." Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics for the federal government, said that Canadians should expect only 50 per cent of the promised Pfizer-BioNTech doses the government was promised for the remainder of January. Fortin said Canada will only get 82 per cent of the vaccine doses it expected this week, and no deliveries at all from Pfizer-BioNTech next week, before shipments resume in the last week of January. Watch: Trudeau on vaccine supply challenges in the first three months of 2021 Fortin said deliveries are expected to scale up in the first two weeks of February, adding he won't be able to offer more details about Pfizer-BioNTech shipments next month until he is briefed by the company on Thursday. Fortin has said previously that Canada was expecting the delivery of 1.4 million Pfizer doses in February. "Numbers are expected to go back up to what we had originally planned and Pfizer continues to tell us that they expect to be able to deliver up to four million of doses of Pfizer vaccine by the end of this quarter, so by the end of March," he said. Pfizer issued a public statement today saying that the company is looking to ramp up vaccine production and deliver up to two billion doses over 2021. "To accomplish this, certain modifications of production processes will be required," the company said. "Pfizer is scaling up manufacturing operations in our Puurs, Belgium manufacturing facility to increase dose availability and output and, as a result, there will be a temporary impact on some shipments until mid-February in order to quickly enable increased production volumes afterwards." The company said it anticipates that the supply disruptions will balance out and that it will be able to keep its delivery schedule for the first quarter of the year. Watch: Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says some deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech have been suspended Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said she spent the weekend on the phone with Pfizer executives making the point that the delivery schedule must return to normal as soon as possible. "We knew that we would likely need to weather challenges with supply, given complex manufacturing, unprecedented global demand and rapid acceleration to peak production," Anand said. "This is an evolving situation but I will continue to update Canadians as soon as I have additional information." Anand later addressed a statement put out by Pfizer on Jan. 15 that said the supply disruptions in Europe would be gone, and vaccine delivery would be back to normal in the EU, by the week of Jan. 25. "They assured me that Canada would be treated equitably. They assured me that Pfizer would comply with its contractual commitments of four million doses for Q1," she told CBC News Network's Power & Politics in an interview that aired earlier this evening. Anand said last week that while Pfizer's Michigan plant is only 220 kilometres away from the Detroit-Windsor border crossing, the vaccines being produced there have been earmarked for the American market. Moderna is expected to deliver another two million doses of its vaccine over the first three months of the year. Fortin said that deliveries of that vaccine remain on track and Canada expects to take delivery of 230,000 doses in the first week of February. As of Jan. 14, Canada had received 765,100 vaccine doses. Of that total, 588,900 were from Pfizer-BioNTech and 176,200 were from Moderna. Other promising vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical division, Janssen, are being reviewed by regulators at Health Canada.
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
During their last council meeting of 2020, members of Meadow Lake city council passed their 2021 budget. The budget process in Meadow Lake started before the provincial election with town administrators getting operating and capital budget documents ready for discussion, said Mayor Merlin Seymour. Mayor and councillors agreed that due to the stress and challenges of COVID-19 they did not want to make 2021 more difficult for residents by increasing taxes on property owners. “Things are tough enough for everyone already. We just felt that keeping our taxes as they were, we may have to sharpen our pencils a little bit, which we did. Holding our taxes for our residents, that was a priority for us.” The city will once again be focusing on infrastructure maintenance with $1.8 million worth of improvements to water and sewer in the east part of the city as part of a 10-year disaster mitigation program. This year will see $950,000 go towards paving improvements throughout the city, $840,000 will go towards replacing underground utility infrastructure, and $300,000 will go towards improving city equipment. Replacing ageing infrastructure is a province-wide problem for all sizes of communities. Seymour said they are working to stay on top of it in Meadow Lake as well. “It's a long process and we're not the only municipality that has infrastructure problems. But we're trying to keep on top of it as best we can with funds that are available.” With this being a provincial assessment year, residents may see the changes in the value of their property which may change tax rates, but these changes will not be made by the city. The Long Term Care levy that was put in place in 2013 will remain for 2021, said City Manager Diana Burton. The levy is going towards the new long-term care facility with the city paying for 10 per cent of the total cost. Burton estimates that the levy will be in place for seven years until the city’s portion of the facility is paid off, she said. “We have just over $2 million in our reserve accounts and our capital contributions with 10 per cent of the capital cost of the new long term care facility is expected to be around $4 million. So we have about half of it saved up and we would have to get a loan for the remaining half.” Construction of the facility started in May 2020. Council passed the budget on Dec. 14 as part of their regular council meeting but discussion took place before the new council was elected in November. Seymour said the city administration worked hard to bring new councillors up to speed and answer any questions they had so they could be fully informed regarding the budget. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
THREE RIVERS – The relationship between community tax rates and levels of municipal service was a common thread during Three Rivers' preliminary budget discussions. "I think if you have a service you have to be expected to pay for it," deputy mayor Debbie Johnston said. Councillors started assessing their priorities for the municipality's 2021-22 operating budget during a special meeting in Georgetown on Jan. 18. Jill Walsh, Three Rivers' chief administrative officer, hopes that it'll be finalized and approved during council's regular meeting in March. Among the items discussed were hiring and a planning technician. The planning department currently has two planners on staff because one is on indefinite sick leave. With the development season incoming and Three Rivers' official plan tentatively being completed later this year, a more hands-on technician would help relieve the workload and put the municipality on par with municipalities of similar populations, the department's Danielle Herring said. "For us to provide the planning services properly and efficiently, I think we need this position." As well, Three Rivers' staff suggested hiring an economic development officer. This position has been budgeted for in the past but was never filled, Walsh said in a followup interview with The Guardian. Also discussed was the desire to provide the same level of snow maintenance on Georgetown's sidewalks as is provided in Montague. Currently, Georgetown's sidewalks are not salted, partly because the one along Main Street is in poor condition. "We eventually want to get toward a standardization of services," Walsh said. The topic was brought up during last year's budget discussions – the decision would likely result in a roughly four-cent tax increase for Georgetown because Three Rivers would need to purchase a new salting machine, buy more salt for it and hire someone to operate it. Under community beautification, Coun. Cindy MacLean suggested increasing this budget line so more seasonal decorations can be installed across communities like Georgetown and Cardigan, not just for Montague. In terms of RCMP policing, the staff is suggesting that Three Rivers retain its current contract by paying for just one officer to be on hand in the region, alongside the Montague detachment's staff sergeant. Council had further discussions during a closed council session, namely to go over the staff salaries budget line. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed Tuesday to extend the country’s pandemic restrictions until mid-February amid concerns that new mutations of the coronavirus could trigger a fresh surge in cases. The country's infection rate has stabilized in recent days, indicating that existing restrictions may have been effective in bringing down the numbers. On Tuesday, Germany's disease control centre reported 11,369 newly confirmed infections and 989 deaths, for an overall death toll of 47,622. However, surging infections in Britain and Ireland, said to be caused by a more contagious virus variant, had German officials worried that the mutation could also spread quickly there too if measures weren't extended or even toughened, prompting Merkel and the governors to bring forward a meeting previously planned for next week. “All our efforts to contain the spread of the virus face a serious threat,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, citing the mutated version of the virus. In addition to extending the closure of restaurants, most stores and schools until Feb. 14, officials also agreed to require people to wear the more effective FFP2 or KN95 masks on public transport and stores. They also want to require employers to let staff work from home if possible to avoid office-driven infections. The governor of the eastern state of Saxony, which until recently had the highest rates on infection in the country, said it was important to drive the number of new cases down further. “We're currently seeing in Britain what happens when a mutation occurs, when the numbers explode," he told news channel n-tv. “We can't remain at this level.” Medical workers have been demanding an extension or toughening of the shutdown since many hospitals are still on edge, with intensive care wards overflowing in some areas. “The current measures on limiting social contacts seem to be showing an effect,” Susanne Johna, the head of the physicians' association Marburger Bund, told the dpa news agency, adding that the measures should continue to be upheld to further reduce new infections. “We urgently need further relief,” Johna said. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Kirsten Grieshaber And Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
The Alberta government publicly offered 11 chunks of land in the mountains north of Crowsnest Pass as new coal leases back in December, then suddenly announced on Monday it was cancelling those leases. The news caught many Albertans by surprise, and some critics celebrated what they thought, briefly, was a major victory in their opposition to open-pit mining in the region. But these areas, it turns out, were relatively small compared with the wide swaths of pre-existing coal leases in the area. It all relates to the UCP government's decision last year to rescind Alberta's 44-year-old Coal Development Policy. The size of the leases was not part of the press release issued by Energy Minister Sonya Savage at 4:52 p.m. on Monday, and Savage declined a request for an interview. But David Luff did agree to an interview. He's a resource policy consultant and a former civil servant who helped implement Alberta's 1976 Coal Policy as part of the Progressive Conservative government of premier Peter Lougheed. He joined Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray on Tuesday morning to discuss this latest twist in Alberta's approach to coal. You can listen to their conversation here or read an abridged version of it below. The following transcription has been edited for length and clarity. David Gray: What did you think when you heard this announcement? David Luff: It struck me as being a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the government, and that the government really doesn't know what it's doing in regard to coal leasing and coal exploration in the eastern slopes [of the Rockies] as a result of rescinding the [coal] policy. It's unprecedented for a minister of the Crown to issue coal agreements or coal leases in one month and next month take them back. DG: I want to be clear about this. This does not affect all coal leases issued under this new policy brought in by the government. So which ones can still go ahead as of now? DL: If we're talking about Category 2 lands [where open-pit mining used to be banned under the previous Coal Development Policy] … that represents about 1.5 million hectares of land in the eastern slopes. And within that landmass, 420,000 hectares are under lease already. The agreements that the minister issued in December, those 11 leases total about 1,800 hectares. So less than 0.5 per cent all the leases in the Category 2 area. So that only affects those small — very small — leases that were issued in December. The existing leases that were there before the sale in December continue to be there. And the coal companies can explore those lands once they receive approval from the energy regulator. DG: So, when the minister says that this is in reaction to the public opposition to coal developments in the eastern slopes of the Rockies, is that a fair reflection of this action? DL: No. Personally, I feel the government is trying to trick Albertans into believing that taking back these leases, that somehow the eastern slopes and foothills are now once again protected from mountaintop-removal coal mining. And that's not the case. It's, in my view, a desperate attempt to try to win back the trust of Albertans when it comes to protecting one of our most sacred areas of the of the province. So it's just not reality. DG: Mr. Luff, you used to be inside the system. You worked in government when the original coal policy went into effect. Can you remind us what that did for this province? DL: What it did was provide — which all industries look for, and the public looks for — a clarity and certainty and predictability. The No. 1 priority in the eastern slopes was the protection and maintenance of watersheds, because the eastern slopes are the headwaters of all the streams and rivers that flow east across Alberta that provide us with drinking water, water for agricultural purposes and so on. It also provided the coal industry with clarity and certainty about where it could go and how it could operate. So the industry knew, in the Category 2 lands, if there was ever to be coal mining, it would have to be underground. And they conducted their exploration programs knowing that that was the case. In the other categories, Category 3 and 4, underground surface mining and exploration were all allowed. And in the Category 1 lands, no exploration and no development. So the industry knew that. DG: As you point out, after 44 years, those rules clearly changed.… Is there any way to close that door now or is there any sign you see that the door has potential for closing? Or does this press release frankly do nothing on that effect? DL: The minister's press release talks about a pause. We don't know what that pause is for. We don't know how long the pause will go on. So the government needs to come out and be very clear about what that pause is going to be all about, and how Albertans will be engaged going forward. So, to close the door and to have a new foundation from which to begin, the minister needs — today — to direct the Alberta Energy Regulator to stop accepting and issuing any new coal exploration permits on those [former] Category 2 lands. And, for the existing permits that are already there on the existing coal leases, the minister also needs to direct the Alberta Energy Regulator that there be no further activities on those existing permits until this pause is over and that Albertans have an opportunity to provide their issues and concerns to government. DG: The reason this has tweaked public ire is because we're talking about some pristine and iconic landscapes in this province. That's why you're hearing people like [country musicians] Paul Brandt and Corb Lund and Terri Clark and others joining the opposition. DG: And there's a group of ranchers going to court today to apply for a judicial review of the new coal policy. Do they have it within their power, or are they going down an avenue that might change this? DL: So I'm aware that some ranchers are in court. They feel that they were not consulted and they have a legal case to make. I'm not fully informed about what the court will ultimately make a decision on. From my perspective, the rescinding of the policy, and the way it was done, was morally and ethically wrong. The Government of Alberta did not consult with Albertans, who would be affected by the removal of the policy. The only consultation the government did was with the Coal Association of Canada and Australian coal companies. So that's morally and ethically wrong, in my books.
Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like no other: pared down, distanced, much of it virtual. But for actor Christopher Jackson — the original George Washington in Broadway's “Hamilton" — performing in a virtual “ball” is a way of participating in an essential rite of American democracy. “I’m glad to play a part in it,” says Jackson, who will perform at the quadrennial ball for the Creative Coalition, a fundraiser for arts education and one of the more prominent unofficial events surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration. “It’s a great honour, and I’m very grateful that we have allowed our system to continue to work in the way it was intended.” Jackson -- not to mention former co-star and “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda -- joins a slew of celebrities descending on Washington, virtually or in person, for entertainment surrounding the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks contributing musical performances. Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that officially takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls. Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labour leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsey, the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The proceedings will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Fox News will not carry the broadcast. Beyond that event, there’s also a virtual “Parade Across America” on inauguration afternoon, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Jon Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — among many others. There’s also star power on display Tuesday evening at the virtual “Latino Inaugural 2021,” hosted by Longoria and including Broadway and screen star (and EGOT winner) Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, and Miranda again, saluting Puerto Rico with his father, Luis Miranda. The show honours members of Latino communities keeping the country running during the pandemic as front-line workers. In a normal year, there would be a wealth of sideline events, parties and concerts around Washington. One of the higher-profile events is the Creative Coalition's ball, going all virtual this year, Along with Jackson, KT Tunstall will perform. Host Judy Gold will kick off with a comedy set, also featuring comedians Randy Rainbow, Michael Ian Black and Wendi McLendon-Covey. More than two dozen members of Congress are set to join celebrity guests like Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Jason Alexander, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ellen Burstyn, Alyssa Milano and others. Jackson, who spoke in an interview late last week while planning his performance, said he would not be appearing as George Washington -- but history was on the actor’s mind nonetheless, given the unique circumstances of this inauguration. “We put ourselves in a perilous position,” he said of recent events roiling the country. “So the idea that this inauguration is happening is testament to the resolute dedication that our public servants have to making this thing work.” He said he was also eager to shine a spotlight on arts education, the coalition’s core mission, noting that as a kid growing up in southern Illinois, he depended on resources like an early-morning band class at school, where he’d begin each day playing the trumpet. “There was a time when I went through a lot of bad emotional passages as a kid,” Jackson said. “Had it not been for the outlet the arts created for me, I don’t know where I would be today." He noted that support for the arts is ever more urgent given how the pandemic has decimated the arts industry. Actor Tim Daly, the coalition’s president, said that despite optimism for the new administration’s approach to arts funding, it’s still an uphill battle in the United States. “I feel there’s going to have to be a really long and powerful effort by the Creative Coalition and other organizations to finally try and make federal, local and state governments understand the importance of the arts," he said, adding that the arts, besides being a driver of the economy, "is part of our spirit. It’s how we teach empathy and kindness.” Daly said he has mixed feelings as he approaches this very unique inauguration. “This is going to be the strangest (celebration) ever,” he said. “It’s virtual, and the celebration will in some ways be very muted. But in some ways, very meaningful. In a way this year is more important than any other, because our democracy has been under threat.” The coalition’s ball will include breakout rooms where guests can mingle, and even simultaneous hand-delivered meals in multiple cities. But there’s still no way to replace an in-person experience, Daly acknowledged. “There’s nothing that takes the place of human interaction,” the actor said. “I’d be lying or dishonest if I said this was better. But we’re doing the best we can -- and it’s better than nothing.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — After leaving the White House, President Donald Trump may lose his SAG card, too. The Screen Actors Guild said Tuesday that the SAG-AFTRA board voted “overwhelmingly” that there is probable cause that Trump violated its guidelines for membership. The charges, the guild said, are for Trump's role in the Capitol riot on January 6, “and in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members.” If found guilty by a disciplinary committee, Trump faces expulsion. Trump has been a SAG member since 1989. His credits include “The Apprentice,” “Saturday Night Live” and many cameos in films and TV series including “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Sex in and City.” The SAG board acted in response to a request from Gabrielle Carteris, the guild's president. “Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred — democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press,” said Carteris in a statement. “There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.” A White House spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Losing SAG membership doesn't disqualify anyone from performing. But most major productions abide by union contracts and hire only union actors. Online petitions have recently circulated to have Trump removed from some films. One is trying to rally support to have President-elect Joe Biden digitally substituted for Trump in “Home Alone 2.” Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
Selon les plus récentes données transmises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) du Bas-Saint-Laurent, cinq nouveaux cas de COVID-19 s’ajoutent au bilan quotidien du 18 janvier. On dénombre actuellement 52 cas actifs dans la région. Au KRTB, la situation dans la MRC de Kamouraska demeure stable avec six cas actifs. De son côté, la MRC de Rivière-du-Loup ajoute un nouveau cas à son bilan quotidien et chiffre son nombre de cas actifs à sept. La MRC de Témiscouata et celle des Basques ne dénombrent quant à elles aucun nouveau cas. À titre comparatif, la MRC de Rimouski-Neigette ajoute 4 nouveaux cas à son bilan quotidien et compte 32 cas actifs en date d’aujourd’hui. DONNÉES PAR MRC AU BAS-SAINT-LAURENT Kamouraska : 152 Rivière-du-Loup : 257 (+1) Témiscouata : 81 Les Basques : 28 Rimouski-Neigette : 580 (+4) La Mitis : 76 La Matanie : 206 La Matapédia : 48 Indéterminés : 6 Bas-Saint-Laurent : 1434 (+5) BILAN NATIONAL Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 634* nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 244 348 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 215 325 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 32 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 9 087. De ces 32 décès, 9 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures et 23 entre le 11 et le 16 janvier. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a augmenté de 31 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 1 491. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a augmenté de 2, pour un total actuel de 217. Les prélèvements réalisés le 16 janvier s'élèvent à 26 831, pour un total de 5 451 826. Dominique Côté, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Infodimanche
CALGARY — A Crown prosecutor says he will be seeking an adult sentence for an accused teen if he is convicted in a Calgary police officer's death. Doug Taylor made the comment at the start of a bail hearing Tuesday for the 18-year-old. The accused was 17 when he was charged earlier this month with first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, so cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The officer was hit and dragged while attempting to stop an SUV with plates that didn't match on New Year's Eve. Paramedics and fellow officers tried to revive him, but he died in hospital nearly an hour later. Police allege the youth was driving the vehicle and a 19-year-old, who also faces a charge of first-degree murder, was a passenger. "I, of course on behalf of the attorney general, have just filed a notice of intention by the attorney general to apply for an adult sentence," Taylor told court. An adult sentence for a young offender convicted of first-degree murder is life in prison with no parole eligibility for 10 years. Taylor said the Crown is also opposing the young man's release from custody. The co-accused in the case, Amir Abdulrahman is to appear in court Feb. 4. His lawyer, Balfour Der, has said he intends to seek bail on Feb. 12. Court documents indicate that, at the time Harnett was killed, Adbulrahman was wanted on outstanding warrants on several charges, including assault and failing to appear in court. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
There was a clear but unusual path for three Alberta-based teams to play in the Tim Hortons Brier this season. Curling Alberta made a difficult choice that will send two rinks to the Calgary event and leave that third team on the outside looking in. Jeremy Harty's team issued a statement Monday night that congratulated the provincial representatives while expressing disappointment that only two Alberta-based men's teams would go to nationals. "Alberta men were fortunate enough to have a Tour this year with three very well-run events and all competitive teams in attendance," the team said on Twitter. "We were No. 1 on the Alberta Tour both this season and last season and felt we had the merit to be named Team Alberta knowing that (Kevin) Koe and (Brendan) Bottcher would be guaranteed the wild-card spots. "We understand that it was a tough decision and we appreciate all of Curling Alberta's efforts this year." The association decided to invite last season's champions -- Brendan Bottcher and Laura Walker -- to wear Alberta colours again, dropping Koe into a wild-card spot. Curling Alberta waited 10 days after cancelling its championships before announcing its picks. Bottcher, ranked fourth in the country and a Brier finalist last year, was obviously a worthy selection. But Curling Alberta also had to consider Koe, since his team didn't compete in provincial playdowns thanks to its automatic Brier entry as Team Canada. Further muddying the waters was Harty, a young team that had a slight edge on the second-place Koe in the Alberta Tour points race. Bottcher and the sixth-ranked Koe were essentially Brier-bound no matter what. But picking Harty -- ranked a respectable 15th in Canada -- as the provincial rep would have meant all three could go. "We think Team Bottcher are going to be great reps," Harty third Kyler Kleibrink said Tuesday. "They're good guys and they're good mentors to us. Team Koe will be great as well. "We're not saying we're better than these teams or that we deserve it more than these teams. We just think Alberta had a good chance to send three reps." Helping ease the disappointment was a phone call from Bottcher third Darren Moulding, who Kleibrink said reached out to voice his support and say he thought the team's time would soon come. "Lifted the spirits for sure," Kleibrink said. "His words of encouragement and telling me his story and path was great." Curling Alberta's decision to send reigning champions to the so-called curling bubble was one that other provinces have used in recent weeks. The Walker pick for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was expected but the men's selection for the Brier was the subject of more debate. Harty's teammates were buoyed by recent decisions from Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia to consider results beyond 2020 provincial championships for their picks, Kleibrink said. Before the pandemic, many elite Alberta-based teams were focused on top-flight events around the country rather than just provincial bonspiels. The association also had to consider that the 2020-21 women's Alberta schedule had to be cancelled. It all left Curling Alberta board members with plenty to think about before selections were made. The decision left Koe to join Manitoba's Mike McEwen in a secure wild-card position based on the 2019-20 Canadian rankings. A Harty pick as Team Alberta would have given Bottcher and McEwen wild-card spots and Koe would have been a slam dunk for the third. "I think that it's good for Alberta that there is a discussion over situations like this because it just shows the depth that we have," said Koe lead Ben Hebert. "What we've created here in Alberta is a good curling culture. "I think that's how young teams get good is they have good competition to play against and there's a couple good, young, up-and-coming teams in Alberta here as well that are going to be around for a while." Ontario's Glenn Howard, a four-time Brier champion, is a favourite for the final wild-card entry as the highest-ranked team without a berth. Harty is a longshot to get the entry as he's in the mix with other underdog teams that may be considered by Curling Canada. The federation is expected to make its selection next month. For the Scotties, it's possible there could be a whopping five Manitoba-based teams in the 18-team draw depending on how the wild-card picture plays out. Tracy Fleury is a lock for one of the three wild-card spots, so her team will join Manitoba's Jennifer Jones and Team Canada's Kerri Einarson in the field. Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the Prince Edward Island title this month but she'd get the second wild-card spot with a loss. Mackenzie Zacharias would be next among eligible teams on the rankings list, a whisker ahead of fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson. The criteria for the third wild-card pick in both draws has not been finalized. As a result, it remains possible that higher-ranked teams skipped by Alberta's Kelsey Rocque and Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan could be considered. Both teams have two returning players, one short of the normal required minimum. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s Minister of Long-Term Care, called out the province’s NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath, for spreading “misinformation.”
OTTAWA — Conservatives were torn Tuesday over a decision by party leader Erin O'Toole to try to expel an MP from their ranks over a donation from a known white nationalist. The party's 121 MPs are set to vote via secret ballot Wednesday morning on whether Derek Sloan ought to be removed, with a simple majority required to oust him. While Sloan has courted his fair share of controversy for months, the idea he should be booted from caucus specifically because of a donation he said he had not realized he'd received wasn't sitting well with some MPs and party supporters. And the move prompted immediate backlash from some anti-abortion groups, who had been firmly in Sloan's corner during the leadership race he lost to O'Toole almost six months ago. The group Right Now urged backers to contact MPs to voice their displeasure. "We feel that this an attempt to discourage pro-lifers from engaging within the Conservative Party of Canada, specifically at the upcoming policy convention," Right Now's email said. "If those officials in the Conservative Party of Canada who do not share our values were not threatened by us taking our rightful and democratic place within the party, then they would not attempt such a brazen and obviously desperate effort such as this." The controversy over the $131 donated by Paul Fromm, a longtime political activist with links to neo-Nazi causes, erupted late Monday. O'Toole declared the donation — made under the name "Frederick P. Fromm" — meant Sloan could no longer be a Conservative MP, citing an intolerance for racism within the party. O'Toole promptly kick-started the process of getting him removed from the Conservative caucus. Some MPs publicly voiced their approval on social media, but privately concerns were immediately raised about the bar O'Toole was setting. The party prides itself on collecting donations from hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters. Vetting them all against an unclear standard would be challenging, if not outright impossible. Sloan was first elected as the MP for the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington in 2019 and stunned many of his fellow MPs by running to lead the party not long after. He has sparked several controversies during his relatively short political life. He's been accused of racism for questioning the loyalty of the country's chief public health officer, a charge he denied. He's also suggested being LGBTQ is not a matter of science and compared a ban on therapy designed to force a person to change their gender or sexual identity to child abuse. During the leadership race, O'Toole told MPs Sloan ought not be kicked out of caucus over the remarks he made about Dr. Theresa Tam, even buying ads on social media trumpeting that position. The fact a donation would be the thing that finally turned O'Toole against Sloan raised some eyebrows. "That he plays silly-bugger word games that homosexuality is a choice should have disqualified him. But kicking him out over a donation from a racist who disguised his identity? So many good reasons to kick him out. Not sure this is one," wrote longtime Conservative operative and strategist Chisholm Pothier on Twitter. "Glad he’s gone. But ends justifying the means is easy, principled politics is hard." The Liberals had been calling for months for O'Toole to eject Sloan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he was pleased O'Toole was showing leadership. "Political parties need to remain vigilant, particularly in the wake of what we see in the United States, from the infiltration or the active presence of fringe or extremist or violent or unacceptable or intolerant elements," Trudeau said at a news conference. "And that's something that we constantly need to work towards as all politicians in Canada." Trudeau, however, did not address whether Fromm's organizations would also see money they received in COVID-19 supports clawed back as well. Fromm has been connected to Holocaust-deniers and other white nationalist groups for years. Sloan cited Fromm's use of his first name in making the donation in saying he was unaware of the source of the funds. Fromm also holds a membership in the Conservative party, voted in the leadership race, and had registered for a virtual convention the party is holding in March, none of which had raised red flags before Monday's revelation. Late Tuesday, the party said Fromm's membership would be revoked and he would not be allowed to participate in the convention. In an interview, Fromm said he's never met Sloan, and while Sloan's policies did appeal to him, he argued that to suggest his money, membership or desire to participate in the convention taints Sloan or the party is ridiculous. "I think basically, somebody is out to get Sloan and are prepared to use just about anything," he said. O'Toole won the leadership last year thanks in part to Sloan's supporters, whom he'd courted. Ever since, he has faced questions about how he'll broaden the appeal of the party, given the strength of its social-conservative wing. That faction was already gearing up to try to play an outsized role at the party's policy convention in March, organizing to advance several socially conservative positions through policy motions and ensuring they had enough delegates to make them pass. Their efforts were spurred on by Sloan, who had been pushing people to sign up as delegates, a move viewed within caucus as challenging O'Toole. Sloan has said he'll fight efforts to expel him. He noted he told the party to return Fromm's donation as soon as he was made aware of it, and wasn't sure what more he could have done. He declined to say what he was hoping to achieve at the convention, saying he is now focused on what he called the fight of his life. "O'Toole ran a leadership campaign on fighting cancel culture and promoting a big-tent version of the Conservative party," Sloan said. "And I hope that he has not jettisoned that in favour of perceived short-term political gain." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The founder and CEO of MyPillow, a vocal and very visible supporter of President Donald Trump, said a backlash against the company has begun after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol this month. Mike Lindell, who appears in TV commercials hugging the company’s foam-filled pillows, said major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s have dropped his products recently. Both companies confirmed the decision to cease carrying the brand Tuesday, but cited flagging sales rather than Lindell’s actions or his support for Trump. “There has been decreased customer demand for MyPillow,” Kohl’s said in an email. Lindell has continued to push bogus claims of election fraud since Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the presidential race. MyPillow's logo was also prominently featured on TrumpMarch.com, a website that promoted the Jan. 6 events in Washington, in which rioters stormed the Capitol. That has led people to head to social media to put pressure on stores carrying MyPillow to drop the brand. Lindell said products have also been pulled from online furniture store Wayfair and Texas supermarket chain HEB. Neither company responded to a request for comment. “They’re succumbing to the pressure from these attacks,” Lindell said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m one of their bestselling products ever. They’re going to lose out. It’s their loss if they want to succumb to the pressure.” Lindell said he doesn’t regret his election claims or his support of Trump, who he said he first met in 2016. “I stand for what’s right,” said Lindell, who created the MyPillow in 2004 and built the business in Chaska, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis. “I’m standing firm.” Aside from the retail pressure, Lindell is also facing potential litigation from Dominion Voting Systems for his accusations that their voting machines played a role in election fraud. The Washington Post reported that Dominion sent Lindell a letter earlier this month stating that they would pursue legal action against him. Lindell said he's conducted his own investigation into the voting machines and hopes Dominion will file its suit quickly so that “all the evidence can come out.” Asked if he played a role in the insurrection of the Capitol, Lindell said he didn’t support it at all. “What are you talking about? I wasn’t even there," he said before abruptly ending the call. “I have to get on another show. Now our conversation ends.” Joseph Pisani And Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press