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
A $2 million family healing and wellness centre is scheduled for construction on Muskowekwan First Nation. The First Nation, which is about 330 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon, expects the project to be completed in 2021. Funded by an Indigenous Services Canada initiative, the centre will be built in the spring and summer, a government statement announced on Monday. The prepared statement said the centre will have four family log homes, each holding two to four bedrooms. The First Nation will use a fifth home for healing program delivery. Operations support will come from community Elders, in addition to counsellors and staff. In a prepared statement, Chief Reginald Bellerose said the project is an "urgently needed" step on a "healing journey from the historical effects of attending residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, among other traumas." While he said communities like his are in crisis, he hopes the model of care will produce tangible results for his First Nation. The project is "driven by the community, for the community," he said. The goal is to "provide a welcoming, homelike environment where families in crisis referred to the Centre can get the support they need to help heal together," the federal government's statement added.Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
Audible bestsellers for the week ending November 22nd: Nonfiction 1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 2. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 3. Off Menu by Nell McShane Wulfhart, performed by Katie Schorr (Audible Originals) 4. Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa TerKeurst, narrated by the author (Thomas Nelson) 5. Unf—k Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD LPC-S ACS ACN, narrated by the author (Blackstone Audio, Inc. ) 6. Galileo by Mario Livio, narrated by Jonathan Davis (Simon & Schuster Audio) 7. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 8. The Art of War by Sun Tzu, performed by Aidan Gillen (Audible Studios) 9. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 10. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, narrated by the author (Folio Literary Management) Fiction 1. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer (Macmillan Audio) 2. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, narrated by Amy Landon (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 3. Daylight by David Baldacci, narrated by Brittany Pressley & Kyf Brewer (Grand Central Publishing) 4. The Last Flight by Julie Clark, performed by Khristine Hvam & Lauren Fortgang (Audible Studios) 5. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 6. The Wedding Gift by Carolyn Brown, performed by Brittany Pressley (Audible Originals) 7. The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly, narrated by Peter Giles (Little, Brown & Company) 8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, performed by Rosamund Pike (Audible Studios) 9. Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon by Marc Cameron, narrated by Scott Brick (Random House Audio) 10. The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian, performed by Julia Motyka (Audible Studios) The Associated Press
Trying to make sense of the shakeup at city hall? It's a bit of a puzzle, but a comparison of the old and new organizational charts - aided by a memo from acting city manager Walter Babicz that was leaked to CKPG - provides a certain amount of clarity. In essence, one half of a department has been scrapped and another has taken on a significantly bigger workload under a COVID-induced revamping at city hall. At its centre, the infrastructure and services department is being eliminated and replaced, in part, with a new civic operations department that will take on five divisions largely related to the public works side of its predecessor: transportation and technical services, project delivery (previously named infrastructure delivery), parks and solid waste, roads and fleet, and utilities. With the move, the old department's general manager, Dave Dyer, has gone into retirement and public works director Gina Layte Liston and infrastructure services director Adam Homes are no longer on the payroll. In turn, the planning and development department has been renamed the planning, development and infrastructure services department and has taken on two divisions previously under infrastructure and services - asset management and infrastructure and planning and engineering. As well, Babicz said in the memo that the environmental services division, previously part of infrastructure and services, has been reduced and split between civic operations through its utilities division, and the development services division within the planning, development and infrastructure services department. The bylaw services division, meanwhile, has been moved to the community services and public safety department from planning, development and infrastructure services department, while the financial services department has taken on the financial management functions for both the community services and public safety department and the old infrastructure services department. In an email, city spokesperson Mike Kellett confirmed that in addition to their roles as acting city manager and acting deputy city manager, Babicz and Ian Wells will continue as the heads, respectively, of the administrative services and planning, development, and infrastructure services departments. Blake McIntosh, who has been manager of the roads and fleet division, is acting director of the civic operations department, while Kris Dalio remains head of finance, Adam Davey head of community services and public safety and Rae Ann Emery head of human resources, now known as human resources and corporate safety. And strategic Initiatives and partnerships, which is led by Chris Bone, now reports to Wells in planning, development, and infrastructure services. Babicz has said the changes were made to reduce costs in the face of a major hit to revenue due to the pandemic. He has declined to say publicly who has lost their jobs as a result but in an emailed statement to the Citizen early this month, he did say six management and four unionized positions were eliminated. One of the management positions was to be refilled and one of the unionized jobs was vacant prior to the changes. Exactly how much savings they will deliver will be known as part of a bigger presentation staff will make to council's finance and audit committee meeting on December 7 at city hall.Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — Rocky the stowaway owl is back in the wild.The tiny Saw-whet owl was named Rockefeller after it was found by a worker setting up the holiday tree Nov. 16 at Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center. The owl was apparently trapped in the 75-foot-tall (23-meter-tall) Norway spruce when it was cut down 170 miles (275 kilometres) north, in upstate New York on Nov. 12.The female owl, initially thought to be male, was uninjured but hadn't eaten for at least three days when she was discovered and sent to Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in the Hudson Valley town of Saugerties. There, a rehabilitator nursed her back to health for a week with plenty of mice before Rocky was cleared to continue her migratory journey south.On Tuesday evening, rehabilitator Ellen Kalish held the winsome raptor aloft in a field against a backdrop of rounded mountains. In a video posted on Ravensbeard's Facebook page, Rocky sits quietly on Kalish's fingers before winging her way over to a nearby grove of pines.“She is a tough little bird and we’re happy to see her back in her natural habitat,” the centre wrote on Facebook. “We are sure that Rocky will feel your love and support through her journey south.”___This story has been corrected to show the Rockefeller Christmas tree is 75 feet (23 metres) tall, not 71 feet (22 metres) tall.The Associated Press
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
Three men's hockey teams in southern Saskatchewan have had COVID-19 outbreaks, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.Two teams normally from the Prairie Junior Hockey League (PJHL), Fort Knox — based in Fort Qu'Appelle — and the Assiniboia Southern Rebels, which isn't playing in the league this year due to a leave of absence, had outbreaks on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 respectively, SHA said.Fort Knox has five cases, none of which came from the team's "hockey environment," the team said in a news release."They all live together and the source was determined to be a social event," Kelly McClintock, general manager of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, said via email.Fort Knox believes all public health precautions were followed from an organizational standpoint, the team said in the news release. On-ice activity is suspended until the end of the month.The Rebels have no cases and only shut down due to close contact, according to McClintock — though he did not identify either team's name. Team manager Derek Lessmeister told CBC News that the team is still trying to figure what happened.Meanwhile, a senior team in the Qu'Appelle Valley Hockey League, the Balcarres Broncs, declared an outbreak Nov. 22.The Broncs have one case of COVID-19, but McClintock said it's "non-hockey related."What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
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.
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
Hay River has been denied disaster financial assistance to meet the costs of a 2019 fire at the town's landfill on the grounds the fire does not meet the N.W.T. government's definition of a disaster. A fire burned in an older section of the landfill for several weeks in March 2019, causing the town to declare a local state of emergency. A precautionary air quality warning was triggered. Town senior administrator Glenn Smith last week told councillors a funding application to the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) had been denied, calling it a “disappointment for administration and council.” An incident must meet several MACA criteria to be termed a disaster, allowing the release of funding. The event must be an emergency, damage must affect a significant number of people or properties, and the health, safety and welfare of residents must be at risk. The town must also prove it conducted appropriate emergency operations, advised the deputy minister, the community, small businesses and residents, and made serious efforts to protect property and minimize risk. MACA, rejecting Hay River’s application, said the landfill fire did not meet the threshold for funding. “There was no widespread damage that affected a significant number of people’s properties and the health, safety and welfare of residents were not at risk,” a MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio by email. Mayor of Hay River Kandis Jameson disagrees. Since the fire, she argues, the town has had to complete regulatory duties like monitoring the local watershed. “These requirements, by nature, are in place for the health, safety and welfare of our residents. That’s why we made the application to the department to begin with,” Jameson said. “That’s my concern: how does this not fit your disaster assistance policy when we don’t have an option. We have to perform these tests.” MACA says disaster funding has been granted on several occasions in the past 30 years, often in response to flooding in communities like Nahanni Butte, Hay River, Aklavik, and Fort Good Hope. The funding was also used in response to a Fort McPherson power outage in 2004 and Sahtu fires in 1995. Expenses related to the fire were initially estimated at around $550,000. Jameson says the total has come in above that. The Town of Hay River applied for the funding in August 2019. MACA says the decision took more than a year as October 2019's territorial election and the formation of a new government delayed the consideration process, as did the N.W.T.'s COVID-19 response this year. Jameson says the town has been told it needs to build a new landfill because the existing one is outdated. A new landfill, however, does not come with a small price tag. “We want to remediate that landfill and we want to open a new one,” she said. “When you’ve got that kind of cost to the taxpayers, you want to make sure it’s an opportunity to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.” The mayor said the town has identified ways to move forward, but needs Maca's support and some funding to make things happen. A meeting between Jameson and MACA's minister, Paulie Chinna, is planned for December to discuss the landfill decision and next steps. Jameson hopes MACA will support a town bid for federal funding to help construction of a new landfill. A MACA spokesperson told Cabin Radio the department is aware of the challenges Hay River faces, as there are no other disaster funding programs available. “All governments face unplanned expenditures and needs that exceed their available funding,” the spokesperson said by email. “Maca is aware of the potential financial challenges to the Town of Hay River as a result of the decision to deny the request for disaster assistance for the dump fire, and will continue to provide guidance and support to the town in meeting its financial obligations.”Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Northern B.C. Crisis Centre could use some help when it comes to helping others. In the time since the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold, the centre has seen a 25-per-cent increase in calls to its phone lines from people feeling anxious, depressed and suicidal. The jump has translated into about 600 calls per month from people in the Northern Health region plus a further 400-500 calls per month the centre fields from the national suicide prevention line. "Things really ticked up in March and they haven't really stopped. We've been very busy," Sandra Boulianne, the centre's executive director, said. She said there have been similar upticks in the past, such as during the two major wildfire seasons, but nothing as sustained as this. Adding to the trouble, Boulianne said the centre is short-staffed. The centre works on a hybrid model with trained volunteers taking calls during the days and evenings and paid staff working the overnight shift. The roster of volunteers has waivered between 25 and 30. Ideally, Boulianne said the count should be over 40. As it stands, the centre's call answer rate averages about 70 per cent. "So we're missing 30 per cent of our calls," Boulianne said. "It's not good." Moreover, the volunteers are typically university students looking for some practical experience while pursuing their degrees. While she welcomes them, Boulianne said she would like to have a broader representation of the community not only because they may be able to better relate to some of the callers but they may last longer than the two to three years a student typically does. "Sometimes it feels like we're training people as fast as we're losing people," she said. Retired folks and stay-at-home mothers with some spare time are among the kinds of people Boulianne said she is seeking, adding the centre also has a youth-serving-youth line. Newcomers go through 70 hours of training, delivered online, and once completed, they're asked to put in one four-hour shift per week, either from home or at the centre. "It's difficult work but it's very rewarding," Boullianne said. She added that she joined the centre after earning a social work degree as a mature student at UNBC and had intended to stay for just two years. That was eight years ago. "I can honestly say I've fallen in love with the work," Boullianne said. "I love the authenticity of people when they're calling anonymously and confidentially and I love the skills that we use to help people open up." On the bright side, the centre was one of 10 across B.C. to receive a $10,000 from Pacific Blue Cross. Boulianne said it has made a difference to the non-profit which relies largely on funding from Northern Health and the United Way of Northern B.C. "We're very, very grateful," she said. Pacific Blue Cross provided the funding after a survey indicated two-thirds of British Columbians predict their mental health will deteriorate in the coming months. "We know that those who engage early support through crisis lines, are less likely to require acute care later," said Jim Iker, Chair of the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation. "With BC now facing its second wave of the pandemic, supporting our community and our health care system has never been more critical.” Boulianne attributed a significant amount of the jump in calls to people stuck in quarantine or other forms of isolation brought on by the virus. For some, it's also meant they have been unable to access face-to-face counselling in a timely manner and just need someone to talk to while they're waiting. "The beautiful thing about crisis lines is you can talk to somebody right away," Boulianne said. "We are not counsellors because our service is anonymous and we don't have a therapeutic relationship with our callers but we're able to diffuse a situation in the moment." Even if the centre needs more volunteers, Boulianne said those in need of help should still call. "You don't need to be suicidal to call a crisis line," she said. "We take any kind of distress call. If anything is worrying or distressing an individual, we want to be there to support them and so, no issue is too small," she said. "It's really anything, all the way from social isolation and loneliness to suicidal ideation and everything in between." Those interested in volunteering can get more information at crisis-centre.ca. If you need help, call 1-888-562-1214. There is also a suicide prevention line at 1-800-SUICIDE and youth crisis line at 1-888-564-8336. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
GENEVA — Swiss federal police said Wednesday a woman suspected of carrying out a knife attack that injured two other women and is being investigated as possible terrorism had formed a relationship online with a jihadi in Syria, and had attempted to travel there.The 28-year-old woman, a Swiss citizen, was arrested after Tuesday's attack in a department store in the southern city of Lugano. Police said the injuries weren't life-threatening.Fedpol, as the police agency is known, said investigations in 2017 revealed that the woman had been blocked that year by Turkish authorities while trying to cross Turkey's border to enter Syria. She was then returned to Switzerland, a rich Alpine country that was all but untouched by bouts of extremist attacks in Europe and beyond in recent years.“The woman was suffering from mental health problems at this time," fedpol tweeted. “After returning to Switzerland, she was admitted to a psychiatric clinic.”“Since 2017, the woman has not come to fedpol's attention in any investigations related to terrorist activities,” it added.Separately on Wednesday, the Swiss federal prosecutor's office said it had opened criminal proceedings against the woman, including on charges of attempted premeditated homicide, serious bodily harm and being in violation of a ban on extremist groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. She was questioned for the first time after the attack.Swiss media reports said the attacker was apprehended by two shoppers, before police intervened.Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned the “Islamist terrorist attack,” tweeting “We stand with Switzerland in these difficult hours.”Alluding to Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga, Kurz added: “We’ll give a joint response to Islamist terrorism in Europe & defend our values.”The Associated Press
Jennifer Heywood's mother is 94 and trying to bounce back from a recent bout with COVID-19.Her adult children are anxious to know if they will be able celebrate Christmas as a family, in person — possibly for the last time."I would like very much just to see her," Heywood said, fighting back tears. "I'm sorry. I would just like to see her."The province is expected to announce guidelines this week for holiday gatherings involving seniors living in long-term care homes.Making matters more complicated, Heywood lives in Toronto. Her bags are packed. But she's hoping the spread of COVID-19 will have stabilized enough in Quebec and Ontario to allow her to come to Montreal.Her mother contracted the virus last month at the Vigi Reine-Élizabeth in NDG, and it's taken a physical toll on her, according to Heywood.Heywood and her siblings weren't even sure their mother would make it to Christmas.Two of her siblings visit their mother regularly, but never at the same time. Heywood is hoping that will change, and bring much needed joy to the elderly patient."Christmas is a big deal to Mum," Heywood said. "She always celebrated it joyously. She always made it beautiful for us. So we've always wanted to make it beautiful for her when she's been in a hospital bed."Risk of outbreaks 'always hanging over our heads'Quebecers are being allowed two get-togethers with a maximum of 10 people in each between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.But there's a quid pro quo.Premier François Legault has asked people to self-isolate in the week leading up to that four-day window and for a week following it. He calls it a "moral contract."Dr. Élise Boulanger, who works at CHSLD Father Dowd, says there is a need for balance when it comes to letting residents celebrate the holidays with family."There is a great proportion [of residents] that are at the end of their life, and this Christmas may be every important for them," said Boulanger. For the most part, she believes people who visit loved ones in long-term care homes are careful about not bringing the virus into the facility, but she stresses the importance of ditching large family gatherings prior to visiting a loved one. "It's always a risk, and it's happening. You still have some outbreaks that are happening in the centres, right now," said Boulanger. "It's always a concern. It feels like it's always hanging over our heads."
This holiday season, The Station Belleville is getting into the festive spirit and is hoping to bring joy to families of the Belleville community. Located in the Bayview Mall, the Station is a cultural, recreational and educational centre for children from the ages of 6-14 that offers classes, after-school programs and private events. Described as a kids’ clubhouse for boys and girls to keep their minds and bodies active, The Station Belleville is encouraging families to take part in fun activities at the Station or to drop their kids off while they do holiday shopping. With his experience in the health care sector and understanding the restrictions and regulations put in place by COVID-19, owner Joe Tambasco assures residents that COVID-19 measurements are in place to ensure the safety of all staff, families and children visiting the centre. Visitors will have their temperature taken by a wall-mounted thermometer, questioned about potential symptoms, interactions or increased risk of COVID-19 and will be asked to use the provided hand sanitizer. Children are mandated to wear a mask while at The Station and hand sanitizing stations have set up throughout the facility. The QBOT gift cards make an excellent holiday gift and are good for 1 admission into the Quinte Belleville Obstacle Training (QBOT) area. The QBOT gift cards are easy to register online with the number on the back of the card, and kids can coordinate with their friends to schedule times to go together. QBOT Gift Cards are now available for purchase at The Station Belleville. Gift cards are $15 plus tax and are a great gift for children and their friends this holiday season. “It may be getting cold outside but everyone inside The Station is burning up with excitement from the activities we have to offer,” added Tambasco. The Station is available for booking online and will enforce COVID-19 policies and asks that residents showing any symptoms do not visit The Station. Residents looking for more information about The Station, programs, fees, waiver and booking times can visit thestationbelleville.com NoneVirginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
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
While the development of a COVID-19 vaccine could generate billions of dollars for some pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, concerns over accusations of exploiting the pandemic will likely temper profits, experts suggest. "It doesn't really make sense to profit from this pandemic," said Tinglong Dai, associate professor of operations management and business analytics at Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School in Baltimore."This is a perfect time for [pharmaceutical companies] to develop their brand equity, which will serve them well for longer -term profits. In the long run, what's really important for pharmaceutical manufacturers is in brand equity. So people trust Pfizer, for example."Vamil Divan, a senior biopharmaceuticals research analyst with Mizuho Securities, said he believes these companies are very aware of the need to be responsible for their pricing and not to overcharge."I think they think it's appropriate to get back the investment they made. But I imagine they are being reasonable about it," he said.The giant pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the upstart biotech firm Moderna, which both have announced test results showing their coronavirus vaccine candidate is 95 per cent effective, have indicated they will make some profit from their ventures.Some companies say they won't profit during pandemicHowever, some other companies, including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, have pledged they will not profit from their vaccine, although they have suggested this would be limited to the time during the pandemic. Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University, said for an industry that has not been popular with the public, this is an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to get back in their good favour, at least to some degree. "I think they have a lot going for them if they don't mess it up," she said.Still, Dusetzina noted, "I'm sure everyone will make quite a lot of money."Just how much money is difficult to determine. Michael Levesque, senior vice-president of Moody's Investors Service, said there's very limited data that would allow for a precise estimate."We do believe that the Pfizer vaccine will generate profits for Pfizer in 2021, but we haven't made an explicit estimate of that profit," he said.What is known is that Pfizer, along with its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing partner, BioNTech, will be selling the vaccine at $19.50, that two doses are needed and that it will be able to provide 1.3 billion shots worldwide by 2021. Using that data, Cinney Zhang, an equity research analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, calculated that in 2021, Pfizer and BioNTech could expect $24 billion of revenues. That would equate to $7 billion in profit for each company."This could be a windfall," she said. Meanwhile Moderna, which has said it will charge somewhere between $25 and $37 per dose, could add almost $30 billion to its revenues, estimated market analyst Peter Cohan, writing in Forbes.Game changer for smaller companiesCertainly for a smaller company like Moderna, the vaccine could be a game changer, said Divan. And while Pfizer is looking at some big revenue numbers,"it doesn't really change the trajectory" of the company.Pfizer generates about $50 billion a year in revenue, with up to around $16 billion in profits, said Damien Conover, director of health-care equity research and equity strategy for the financial services company Morningstar.The COVID-19 vaccine, he said, will likely mean a "pretty substantial windfall" for Pfizer. Some of the vaccines, even at very low price points, will generate billions of dollars, he said.But the gross margins on those dollars are going to be much lower than a typical gross margin for a big pharmaceutical firm, he said."I would probably frame it: Some good profits for about one year for some firms."Conover also noted that post-2021, the COVID-19 vaccine market could become very competitive."Pfizer and Moderna, I think, would have a hard time getting people to buy their vaccine at the $40 that they're going to be charging initially. So I think even those more modest profit levels will come down."Profits for Pfizer, for example, could be affected by unforeseen expenses, Zhang said. Their vaccine needs to be stored at about –75 C, meaning escalating refrigeration costs could impact their bottom line, she said.Latecomers into the marketProfits will also obviously depend on whether the vaccine continues to be needed, which could also impact those vaccine manufacturers coming late to the market."It's certainly possible that some of these reach the market too late to turn into meaningful opportunities, especially if the first [companies] are very successful and are taken broadly across the population," Levesque said."If there is no need for revaccination, that scenario is one where some of the players who come out a bit later may not have much of a market opportunity."However, if their vaccines prove more effective, easier to distribute and revaccinations are needed, there may be opportunity for others, he said."Not to mention if any of the leading players see any sort of manufacturing or safety problems emerge down the road," he said."So it's too early really to estimate ultimately who's the most successful or to feel any company is going to be totally excluded. It's still early days for anybody involved."
B.C. shattered its single-day record for new COVID-19 cases, confirming another 941 on Tuesday and 10 more deaths within the last 24 hours.
Thanks to new funding, the Mattagami First Nation Fire Department has made upgrades. The $20,000 funding is from the Mattagami Trust. The fire department used the money to buy a new auto extrication tool and radios. "We had a few radios and now we have one for everybody," said fire chief Curtis Fowler. "We have 20 (firefighters)." Fowler said the department submitted an application in August and received approval in October. When the department received funding, he was excited. "Because then we could upgrade our tools, so we have the proper tools for the job, and good communication with everyone," he said. Fowler said the funding will help the community, the surrounding area as well as the highway that the fire department serves.Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La vérificatrice générale de l’Ontario n’a pas mâché ses mots à l’endroit du médecin hygiéniste en chef de l’Ontario, le Dr David Williams, dans son plus récent rapport sur les mesures prises par la province pour lutter contre la COVID-19. Le médecin hygiéniste en chef n’a pas dirigé l’intervention du gouvernement de l’Ontario face au coronavirus et n’a pas exercé pleinement ses pouvoirs en vertu de la Loi sur la protection et la promotion de la santé dans l’intervention face à la pandémie, a conclu Bonnie Lysyk dans son rapport, dévoilé mercredi matin. À LIRE AUSSI : Le gouvernement Ford a réagit plus lentement que les autres Le Dr Williams n’aurait pas émis de directives aux médecins hygiénistes locaux afin que leurs bureaux interviennent avec cohérence face à la pandémie, constate également la vérificatrice. Rappelons qu’en mai 2020, 34 médecins hygiénistes locaux ont signé un document indiquant qu’il fallait améliorer l’orientation et la cohérence régionale. Par exemple, c’est la province, et non le médecin hygiéniste en chef, qui a finalement émis un arrêté d’urgence au début d’octobre 2020 pour imposer le port du masque au grand public. La vérificatrice générale affirme aussi que Santé publique Ontario a joué un rôle « réduit » dans l’intervention globale de la province, et que même les structures d’interventions régionales n’étaient pas dirigées par des experts en santé publique. Le Bureau de Mme Lysyk a appris des médecins hygiénistes locaux que les conseils de santé publique donnés par les politiciens provinciaux à la place du Dr David Williams étaient une source de confusion à leurs yeux. Mme Lysyk juge également que la reconnaissance de la transmission communautaire de la COVID-19 s’est faite en retard, en province. Même si dès le 15 mars, plusieurs médecins hygiénistes régionaux, dont ceux d’Ottawa, de Toronto, de Simcoe Muskoka et de Halton, avaient déjà décelé des cas de COVID-19 qui découlaient d’une transmission communautaire, le Dr Williams a déclaré le 17 mars qu’il attendait de constater des exemples concrets. Malgré les preuves tangibles, le ministère de la Santé et le Dr Williams n’ont reconnu l’existence de la transmission communautaire que le 26 mars. Par ailleurs, la vérificatrice souligne à maintes reprises des soucis de communication chez le médecin hygiéniste en chef de l’Ontario. Par exemple, le Dr Williams a émis une note de service plutôt qu’une directive claire aux médecins hygiénistes locaux dans laquelle il recommandait « fortement » d’émettre eux-mêmes des directives pour réduire le risque de propagation du virus chez les travailleurs étrangers dans les fermes. Ce n’est que le 21 juin que cette note de service est parue, soit huit semaines après la première flambée de COVID-19 chez ces travailleurs en milieu agricole. Son contrat prolongé? Le gouvernement Ford, qui tente de prolonger le contrat du Dr Williams - dont la retraite était prévue en février 2021- jusqu’en septembre 2021, se heurte actuellement à l’opposition des différents partis politiques à Queen’s Park. « Est-ce que c’est le Dr Williams qui conseille le gouvernement Ford, ou est-ce le gouvernement Ford qui dicte au Dr Williams les recommandations qu’il doit faire? » Il s’agit là de la question que martèle le NPD depuis plusieurs semaines. Les néo-démocrates et les libéraux déplorent de ne pas avoir été consultés dans la prise de cette décision. Pourtant, le Dr David Williams avait été choisi comme médecin hygiéniste en chef de l’Ontario de concert avec tous les partis politiques, en 2016. Dans son rapport, la vérificatrice générale recommande de donner au médecin hygiéniste en chef et à Santé publique Ontario un rôle plus important dans la réponse à la pandémie, y compris le pouvoir de présider les réunions décisionnelles clés et de diriger la surveillance de la santé publique de la province.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit