Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton
Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Rebecca Irving has applied to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island, asking it to quash a decision by the province's minister of land regarding a controversial land transfer that took place in 2019.Irving is part of the larger Irving family, which has multiple corporate holdings throughout New Brunswick and P.E.I.In June of 2019, a company listing Rebecca Irving as its director, Haslemere Farms, became the owner of 2,200 acres of land in the area of Summerside and North Bedeque that had belonged to a family-owned farming operation.A previous attempt to purchase the same land involving several corporations with connections to the Irvings had failed to receive the necessary cabinet approval.But in the Haslemere Farms transaction, Minister of Land Bloyce Thompson said the transfer had not been put before cabinet for approval. He asked the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission to investigate, and vowed to close "loopholes" in the Lands Protection Act, legislation that sets limits on individual and corporate land ownership on P.E.I.Haslemere Farms has since changed its name to Red Fox Acres. Under P.E.I.'s corporate registry, Rebecca Irving is the only person listed under the heading of "directors and shareholders."Minister says he asked for divestitureSixteen months after Thompson asked IRAC to investigate, the commission delivered its report to government in October. However, neither IRAC nor the province has released that report to the public. The minister said he would do so after it's been reviewed by P.E.I.'s privacy commissioner.Thompson issued a written statement Oct. 27 saying the investigation had found "there are reasonable and probable grounds that two individuals and the corporation involved contravened the Lands Protection Act by having aggregate land holdings in excess of the prescribed limits."The statement went on to say "the involved parties have received correspondence from government asking them to divest land and become compliant with the Lands Protection Act within 120 days," but the statement did not disclose who those involved parties are. Under the Lands Protection Act, individuals are limited to owning 1,000 acres of land. For corporations, the limit is 3,000. With allowances for leased and non-arable land, those limits increase to 1,900 acres for individuals and 5,700 acres for corporations.The act also includes measures to prevent corporations "directly or indirectly controlled by the same person, group or organization" from stacking up land limits in order to control more land. Minister exceeded jurisdiction, says IrvingTwo court applications for judicial review filed Monday, one from Rebecca Irving and the other from Red Fox Acres, ask the court to "nullify" the minister's decision, and seek an interim order affirming the status quo until a final ruling can be delivered.The two court applications argue Thompson exceeded the jurisdiction granted him under the Lands Protection Act and "erroneously interpret[ed] the provisions of the Lands Protection Act."The filings also argue Thompson breached "his duty of fairness" to Irving and Red Fox Acres for, among other things, failing to provide proper notice and opportunities to respond at various points throughout the investigation process. Jonathan Coady, legal counsel for both Rebecca Irving and Red Fox Acres, sent this statement to CBC News: "The filing made by the company was to preserve its right to court review, if it became necessary to do so. Because the matter is ongoing, the company has no additional comments to make at this time."The allegations have not been tested in court and there was no response from the minister or the department as of Wednesday.More from CBC P.E.I.
Brighton council has taken its first look at the proposed 2021 operating budget for the municipality. A committee of council met Nov. 23 for round one of discussions about the first draft of the budget, which puts operating expenditures at $14,679,201. The proposed operating budget at this point is $290 lower than the 2020 operating budget. Earlier in the fall, council asked staff to attempt freezing the operating budget for 2021. Meanwhile, Brighton recently arrived at a proposed capital budget for 2021. If passed by council, the municipality’s 2021 budget for capital expenditures, such as maintaining roads and buildings, is $1,492,856. A public presentation of the proposed overall 2021 budget will occur in the new year prior to the budget bylaw being before council. Taxpayers in Brighton pay three levies on their property taxes – a municipal levy, a county levy and an education levy. During the budget process each year, staff provides council with the estimated increase/decrease to the county and education tax levies so that taxpayers can better understand the impact of the total tax increase, not just the municipal levy. Those figures aren’t available yet and the committee of the whole won’t meet again until the new year to further discuss the operating aspects of the overall Brighton budget. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
The chief of Shawanaga First Nation says it is community co-operation that has kept COVID-19 off its territory. Chief Wayne Pamajewon said they have had no reported cases of the coronavirus in the local community since the global pandemic began some eight months ago. He added, however, that a member of the First Nation who lives in the U.S. did contract COVID but she has since recovered. He said there are currently about 220 residents living in the community, while almost 500 more live outside the territory, “We have taken precautions to prohibit COVID from happening. We asked our people to help us stay safe,” the chief said. “We have a webpage that we keep posting on. We have telephone calls (to community members) from managers who are working. But we don’t have full staff. Our office is not really open. We’ve shut down most buildings.” Pamajewon said in the early days of the pandemic, the territory took steps to close off the community to outside traffic. “We only allowed band members, people living inside the community to go out and come back. We took down details like where did you go? How long were you off the territory? — those kinds of questions,” Pamajewon said. “We haven’t continued to do that since July or August when we decided to give the membership a little more freedom because the Parry Sound area was pretty safe. I didn’t want to isolate them too much.” The chief said there is also probably a bit of luck involved in not having a single case within the territory’s boundaries. However, he said he is confident that his people have taken the virus seriously and are following protocols like wearing masks in public, using hand sanitizer and keeping a social distance from others. “That would make anyone feel good, particularly the leadership, to have the full support of their people,” he said. Pamajewon is clear, however, that he is not letting his guard down when it comes to the pandemic and he wants his community members to do the same. “We warned our people that (restrictions) could return when we backed things off a little bit in the summer. We told them if things should change we may have to change our plan again — maybe tighten up the boundaries again,” the chief said. “That is something they are all quite aware of.” Pamajewon said the community is doing its utmost to make sure residents, particularly elders and children, are being well-cared-for during the pandemic. “They are important people to us. We’ve got supplies in storage. We’ve got freezers full of food. We give handouts on Friday, or calls are made on Monday mornings to ask each household if they need anything. We try to help out everyone.” Pamajewon also said that off-territory residents are currently allowed onto the territory, but he added that that could also change, depending upon COVID numbers in the area. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Reporter with the Parry Sound North Star, MuskokaRegion.com and Simcoe.com. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Investigators with the 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau are seeking witnesses and two suspects following the attempted theft of a puppy from a commuter parking lot in the Township of King. On Nov. 18 at approximately 4 p.m., York Regional Police were called to a commuter parking lot at Highway 400 and Highway 9 for a report of an attempted theft. When officers arrived they found the victim, a 54-year-old female from the City of Barrie and her puppy, who were not injured. Investigators learned that the victim had advertised two puppies for sale online. She had arranged to meet potential buyers in the commuter lot. After the sale of one of the puppies without incident, two men approached the victim driving an older model white Honda Civic. One of the men assaulted the victim, grabbed the puppy, who was in a carrier, and attempted to flee. The victim chased the suspects who eventually threw the puppy out the window of the vehicle and drove away. Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area at the time and witnessed the incident or anyone with dashcam to please come forward. One suspect is described as male, South Asian, approximately 20 years old, 5’8.” He was wearing a black face mask, black scarf and green track pants. The other suspect is described as male, South Asian, wearing a face mask. Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7142 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
Those who want to pass on their gently used hockey gear to kids who need it can do so at an equipment drive the first week of December. Brain Atkins of Total Construction Management in Peterborough wants to help First Nations communities get hockey equipment so he has organized an event for Dec. 5 at the company's location at 169 Lansdowne St. E, from 9 a.m. to noon. “Most of the gear is for smaller kids, but we have already gotten a few items for older players,” said Atkins. Although he does have a few items on hand, Atkins says he cannot accept equipment prior to the drive due to space. “I have some equipment that’s in my vehicle, but I would rather wait until the day of the drive,’’ he says. Atkins says items like skates, good condition hockey sticks and goalie equipment are needed. “We will take whatever people have in equipment, new or used,” he adds. The hockey equipment drive is also being held in other cities in the province such as Whitby and Kitchener. Atkins says those equipment drives are quite successful and he says he has seen the positive effects of the drive and wanted to do something in Peterborough. “This is a first for the City of Peterborough,” he says. To follow all COVID-19 safety measures, Atkins says for those who are going to donate can stay in their cars the day of the event, between the hours listed and the team will remove the equipment. TCM helps First Nations communities rebuild homes, construct community centres, renovate existing homes and complete construction as well as train homeowners how to maintain their homes and buildings after the work is complete. He says the team is dedicated in providing sustainable and self-sufficient structures for the communities they work in. “What a better way to give back than through hockey, and I’m just happy kids will have equipment to use to play hockey.”Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week
Brandon Sun readers are requesting specific questions be asked of health officials related to COVID-19. QUESTION: Regarding the transfer of COVID patients to Brandon Regional Health Centre from outside of Prairie Mountain Health — the number listed on the website of patients in hospital in Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) region only lists residents of PMH, not patients brought in from other regions. It doesn’t give an accurate picture of what’s going on at our hospital. SHARED HEALTH SPOKESPERSON: Individual COVID cases are attributed to the health region where a person resides. Altering that info if individuals required care at a hospital outside of their "home" region would create confusion. For the purposes of data collection, it is more meaningful to know where an individual likely transmitted the virus than where they received care. The Brandon Regional Health Centre is one of four hospitals in the province to have a critical care (ICU) department. Determining where a critically ill or injured patient should receive care is based on a number of factors relating to the individual’s case, including but not limited to where they are currently located, whether they’ve been stabilized, whether they need specialized care and where there are open beds in the system. As a result, it is not unusual for Brandon’s ICU to have patients who don’t live in the Prairie Mountain Health region. For the same reason, it is also not unusual for individuals living in the PMH region to be ICU patients at one of Winnipeg’s three critical care units. This is a provincial, not a regional, program. QUESTION: Is Manitoba making use of wastewater COVID epidemiological analysis, such as in Saskatoon or other cities in Canada? University of Saskatchewan toxicologist Dr. Markus Brinkmann is quoted as saying that since feces from infected people sheds particles of the virus, they can use a special model to roughly estimate how many cases may be in the community, potentially before those people have symptoms. DR. BRENT ROUSSIN (CHIEF PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER): This is something that’s being worked on. We don’t have it applied routinely, right now. This is really something that may be beneficial when we don’t have a lot of transmission of the virus as an early warning. It wouldn’t help us right now, say testing in Winnipeg. We know there’s a high level of transmission going on. As we get the numbers down, if we have, say, remote communities or other communities that really have no activity, this might give us an early warning indicator that something is starting to happen there. So there are uses for it. But right now, we don’t have a routine use for it here in Manitoba.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Les amateurs de sports nautiques ont peut-être remarqué la présence de nouvelles stations de prises de données en bordure des cours d’eau de plusieurs municipalités du Grand Montréal, dont près d’une dizaine sur la Rive-Sud, ces derniers mois. On peut en apercevoir une entre autres sur le fleuve, aux limites de Boucherville et des iles de Varennes ainsi qu’une autre face aux marinas de Longueuil. Installées par l’équipe de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal dans le cadre de ses travaux sur la gestion des inondations, ces stations sont composées de plusieurs éléments qui sont également bien visibles de la rive : un boitier avec caméra et panneau solaire, des règles limnimétriques et des sondes à pression (ces espèces de ballons jaunes flottant sur l’eau). Les composantes de chaque station de mesure sont fixées sur des supports en acier galvanisé à chaud fabriqués sur mesure grâce à un système d’ancrage métallique dense. Elles ont pour mission de mesurer les niveaux d’eau, qui sont ensuite transmis à des serveurs informatiques et diffusés sur le futur site Web de prévisions Crues Grand Montréal. En cours de développement, ce site sera accessible tant aux citoyens qu’aux experts. Il suffira d’entrer une adresse pour obtenir la hauteur d’eau en temps réel, l’historique des données et les prévisions pour les trois jours suivants. Ces statistiques serviront à mieux connaitre les variations du niveau des eaux, pour mieux établir aussi les niveaux de risque d’inondation, selon les données recueillies. MIEUX PROTÉGER LES PERSONNES ET LES BIENS Au total, 29 stations de mesure ont été installées dans les principaux cours d’eau métropolitains, soit le fleuve Saint-Laurent, le lac des Deux-Montagnes et les rivières des Outaouais, des Prairies, des Mille-Îles, Saint-Jacques, du côté de Brossard et Richelieu.François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
BERLIN — A car crashed into the front gate of the building housing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices on Wednesday morning, causing minor damage, authorities said. The driver, who authorities say had been involved in an almost identical incident six years ago, was detained.The Volkswagen station wagon hit the gate to the German chancellery at about 10 a.m. (0900 GMT; 4 a.m. EST). The slogan “You damned murderers of children and old people” was scrawled in white paint on one side of the car and “stop the globalization policies” was on the other.Police spokesman Thilo Cablitz told reporters the 54-year-old driver was detained at the scene after driving at a slow speed into the gate and was being questioned. He said police were investigating whether he might be psychologically disturbed or had other motivations.According to Germany’s Interior Ministry, the same man had already been involved in an almost identical incident in 2014.At that time, he drove a similar, if not the same, car into the same gate but caused no damage. The car carried a slogan scrawled in white paint on the side that condemned climate change and the man was taken into custody.Reports in 2014 said the man had done something similar before.Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said he did not know whether the suspect was listed as a possible threat.The car used Wednesday had license plates from the Lippe area in western Germany and was driven away by the Berlin fire department showing little sign of damage beyond a few scratches.Merkel’s office said there was only minor damage to the security gate.“For the chancellor, other members of the federal government, and the people employed in the chancellery there was no danger at any time,” her office said.The chancellery sits in downtown Berlin next to the Swiss Embassy and across from parliamentary offices. The exterior gate that was hit, which is next to a security office outside the main building, opens onto a public street.There was no immediate indication of what prompted the incident, but it came on the day that Merkel was to meet with state governors to talk about extending a partial coronavirus shutdown that started on Nov. 2.The government's approach toward slowing the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions enjoy widespread support among most Germans but they have also prompted occasionally violent protests in some major cities._____ Frank Jordans contributed to this story.David Rising, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The second of three estimates on U.S. growth for the July-September quarter was unchanged at a record pace of 33.1%. But a resurgence in the coronavirus is expected to slow growth sharply in the current quarter with some economists even raising the spectre of a double-dip recession.While the overall increase in the country’s total output of goods and services was static, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, some components were revised.Bigger gains in business investment, housing and exports were offset by downward revisions to state and local government spending, business inventories and consumer spending.The 33.1% gain was the largest quarterly gain on records going back to 1947 and surpassed the old mark of a 16.7% surge in 1950.Still, the economy has not fully recovered from output lost in the first six months of the year when GDP suffered a record-shattering drop of 31.4% in the second quarter. That followed a slide at an annual rate of 5% in the first quarter as when the pandemic shut down much of the economy and triggered millions of layoffs.Economists are concerned that growth has slowed sharply in the current October-December and there are fears that GDP could dip back into negative territory in the first three months of next year.Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said he had forecast GDP growth of around 2% in the fourth quarter, with the real possibility of GDP turning negative in the first quarter of next year.Economists at JPMorgan Chase have trimmed their forecast for the first quarter to a negative 1% GDP rate. “This winter will be grim and we believe the economy will contract again in the first quarter,” the JPMorgan economists wrote in a research note.“The economy is going to be very uncomfortable between now and when we get the next fiscal rescue package,” Zandi said. “If lawmakers can’t get it together, it will be very difficult for the economy to avoid going back into a recession.”While lawmakers have returned for a lame-duck session, there has been no progress so far in narrowing the differences between Democrats who are pushing for a big package of $1 trillion or more, and Senate Republicans who are refusing to approve anything above approximately $500 billion.More than 9 million people will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year when two jobless benefit programs are set to expire unless Congress extends them.At the same time virus cases are surging, triggering a number of states to re-impose business limits such as earlier closing times for bars and restaurants and stricter limits on the number of in-store shoppers.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have signed college defenceman Philip Kemp to a three-year, entry-level contract through to the 2022-23 season.The 21-year-old from Greenwich, Conn., was named Yale Bulldogs captain for the 2020-21 season, but Ivy League hockey was cancelled Nov. 12.The Oilers picked Kemp in the seventh round (208th overall) in the 2017 NHL entry draft.He had three goals and eight assists and carried a plus-4 plus-minus rating in 32 games for Yale in 2019-20.The six-foot-three, 210-pound blueliner has compiled a career nine goals, 18 assists and a plus-2 rating in 88 games for the Bulldogs.Kemp won a silver medal with the U.S. junior team at the 2019 world junior hockey championship in Vancouver.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
In order to welcome the jolly old elf to Aylmer, while keeping everyone safe, spectators and floats will swap roles for a “reverse” Santa Claus Parade this year. Aylmer Kinsmen Club’s 76th annual Santa Claus Parade will take place at night and have spectators drive past light displays, characters, floats, and Santa himself, while remaining in their own vehicles. “We’re going to do our best to make it enjoyable – it’s important that Santa comes to town,” said Andy Beck, the club’s parade marshal for the last eight years. The Santa Claus parade normally attracts thousands of people each year, he added. East Elgin Community Complex will host the “drive-through parade” on Saturday, Nov. 28 starting at 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Instead of moving through town, floats would be fixed in place and include plenty of lights along with some Christmas music. Spectators would be driving past them along a planned route circling the complex parking lot. (See ad on Page 3 for parade details and route.) No pedestrians are permitted. Visitors must stay in their cars, except for emergencies. No open vehicles, such as motorcycles or convertibles, are allowed. There will be no candy or other handouts this year, and the Kinsmen are asking anyone who is feeling ill to stay home. Kinsmen and EECC volunteers be outside directing traffic flow. Vehicles will enter from the east, and exit from the west. Drivers can use Rogers Road to return to town. All volunteers will wear face coverings at the event and practice physical distancing. Some Kinsmen will wear red jackets, while others may be dressed as clowns or Santa’s elves. The Aylmer Fire Department will also make an appearance at the event. The Kinsmen are inviting spectators to donate canned food and monetary donations for the Aylmer Corner Cupboard. Monetary donations will be placed in a collection bucket, while food donations should be delivered using a bag with a handle. The Kinsmen will have extra bags if needed. The Kinsmen will use a hockey stick with a bucket to collect from a distance. Letters to Santa are also encouraged. Donations will be quarantined for 72 hours before being distributed to the Aylmer Corner Cupboard or Canada Post. There is no washroom availability or access to the EECC. “The Santa Claus parade is the main event for the Kinsmen all year. We’re always talking about it, it’s always in process,” said Mr. Beck. “We’re hoping people come to visit and see Santa Claus.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Trump administration is preparing to auction oil drilling rights inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the degree to which the industry will participate is uncertain.Leases on the land in northeast Alaska could be go on the block days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday.Supporters, including Alaska’s congressional delegation, have celebrated the prospect of a lease sale as a way to create jobs and revenue. Opponents express concerns about impacts on ecosystems, Indigenous people and the climate.Kara Moriarty, CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said oil and gas companies are unsurprisingly remaining quiet about their intentions.“Participation in lease sales is one of the most competitive and secretive things between companies,” Moriarty said.The public likely will not learn about the industry's level of interest until the federal government unseals the bids on the sale date, which has not yet been announced.There is a possibility that the sale could be held shortly before Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.Some industry analysts believe there is a measure of uncertainty and risk that could lead to limited interest in a lease sale within the next two months.The coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war have hit the oil industry hard. Oil prices remain low and there are high costs and difficulties involved in Arctic exploration, said Mark Myers, a geologist and former Alaska natural resources commissioner.“The prices have fallen down to a level that leaves very little capital for exploration in these companies,” Myers said.Rowena Gunn, an analyst for energy research firm Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said public criticism of drilling in environmentally sensitive areas could weigh heavily on publicly traded companies.Colorado-based energy economist Philip Verleger said he would not expect a deluge of bids because of the uncertainty over future demand for oil and natural gas.A lease sale in the refuge would have been “terrifically successful” 15 years ago, but the time to develop the coastal plain has passed, Verleger said.“The cost of going there and developing and putting the resources in is too high, particularly since the production would last a long time, and we don’t know if demand would last," he said.as long.”The Associated Press
Jan Morris leaves behind an incredible legacy, says her son Mark Morris, who has been teaching at the University of Alberta since 2000. The prolific Welsh writer died Friday at 94. "A bit of history has gone with her," Mark Morris said in an interview. Jan Morris was the only reporter allowed on the historic climb of Mount Everest in 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit. Before her death, she was the last member from that mission still alive. It's a story Mark Morris heard a lot while growing up. "In fact, I can remember her building a model of Everest in the snow for us instead of a snowman. And she showed us how it all worked and where the routes were," he said. Mark Morris has been in Canada since the late 80s. He's a full lecturer in the English and Film Studies Department at the U of A. Morris is also a librettist and has written 13 operas and is currently the music critic for the Edmonton Journal. Hear Mark talk about this father on CBC Radio's Radio Active: Despite Jan Morris' impressive body of work in a variety of styles, her son said she'll be remembered "for her staggeringly good writing." "She's one of the great stylists of writing and I see that in The Guardian newspaper in Britain today, six other travel writers have done tributes today to say how her writing influenced them," Mark said. Morris, a transgender woman, very publicly documented her transition in the book Conundrum, which was published in 1974. Mark said this is also an important piece of her legacy. He said he knew of many people to whom her example was so important. Edmonton: A six day week In 1990, Jan wrote a book of essays chronicling different cities across Canada. According to her essay on Edmonton, called A six day week, there was something about the city that didn't quite agree with her. Despite the fact that Jan couldn't last a week here in winter, Mark said he loves the essay. "How could the Edmontonians stand it, I wondered, for a whole winter —or a whole lifetime? Was it only to strangers that the city seemed so bewilderingly unresolved, or did its citizens too feel their navigations vague? So flat, so far away, so bitter half the year — what profits or pleasures could compensate for the disadvantages of Edmonton?" one section in the essay reads. Mark teaches the essay to writing students in his classes at the U of A, and said there's always a big divide in how students feel about the piece. "It strikes me that Edmonton is one of those places that half of us love all the time while the other half hate it. And then we all switch positions," he said. "I think my father got that perfectly in this article." She was, after all, "a poet of places," according to Mark.
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers increased their spending by a sluggish 0.5% last month, the weakest rise since April, when the pandemic first erupted, and a sign that Americans remain wary with the virus resurging across the country and threatening the economy.The October gain reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 1.2% increase in September. It suggested that consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, is being restrained by a weakened economy and by the failure of Congress to provide another stimulus package to struggling individuals and businesses.The government's report also showed that income, which provides the fuel for spending, fell 0.7% in October.With new viral cases accelerating across the country, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses. Sales at restaurants and bars fell in October for the first time in six months. Restaurant traffic declined further this month, according to the reservations provider OpenTable. Hotel occupancy is down from a month ago. Consumer spending on credit cards dropped in the first week of November from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Opportunity Insights.Economists warn that consumer spending could falter further in the current October-December quarter given that many of the major government support programs have expired and Congress has yet to renew the assistance.“With coronavirus infection rates soaring, states re-imposing restrictions and the ... data on in-person dining and jobless claims beginning to show signs of weakness, we are increasingly worried that the monthly gains in consumption will be weaker," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.The report showed that while the wages-and-salaries component of consumer income rose 0.7% in October, government transfers — the category that includes unemployment aid and other benefits — fell 6.2%.Inflation, as measured by a gauge tied to consumer spending, was unchanged in October. Measured year over year, it's up just 1.2%. That is far below the 2% annual target set by the Federal Reserve, and it gives the Fed further leeway to supply support to the economy beyond the ultra-low interest rates it is already providing.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
MOSCOW — Thousands of people in Russia's Far East region of Primorye remained without heating or electricity on Wednesday, as local authorities and emergency services wrestled with the consequences of an unprecedented ice storm that hit the region last week.According to Russia's Energy Ministry, 5,800 Primorye residents as of Wednesday were still cut off from power, and 3,300 people in the city of Vladivostok, the region's capital, still had no heating, the ministry said.The region was hit by freezing rain on Nov. 18, and thousands of its residents woke up in dark, cold apartments the next day. Thick layers of ice covered trees, cars, roads and power lines, many of which broke under the weight.The region hasn't seen weather like this in 30 years, Primorye Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako said on his Instagram page. The ice storm continued for several days. On Saturday, nearly 180,000 people in the region had no electricity, heating or water, according to the regional government's website.The authorities have been working on restoring power supplies in the region for a week. Shelters and hot meals for those affected were organized. The government allocated 700 million rubles ($9 million) of assistance to the region, where a state of emergency was declared Friday.Commenting on the situation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the ice storm was rather severe and “inflicted colossal damage onto the urban infrastructure" and pointed out that, while the authorities were taking all necessary measures to deal with the situation, the consequences from the force of nature couldn't be eliminated quickly.The Associated Press
Aylmer Mayor Mary French announced that she is not the sole decision-maker for town COVID-19-related actions, in response to the brief avalanche of messages received as a result of the state of emergency declaration, and closure of the East Elgin Community Complex, ahead of the Nov. 7 “freedom” rally. The Emergency Control Group (ECG), comprised of the mayor, administrator, staff, emergency and community services repesentatives, works together to make decisions regarding the pandemic. “In this group, my role is the same as it is at council in that I am one of many voices at the table,” said Mayor French, near the conclusion of the Nov. 16 virtual council meeting. “More specifically, actions of the town in response to COVID-19 are never undertaken specifically at my request, but instead are the result of collaborative decision-making processes.” Anyone with questions about the ECG decision-making process can contact Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Reynaert or Emergency Services Director Sam Taylor, she said. Mayor French also thanked the community, council and staff for the “ongoing support that has been received in relation to recent events.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express