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
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 Newfoundland and Labrador government is asking young adults to help curb the spread of COVID-19.On Wednesday Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald spoke directly to people age 18 to 35 in the province, noting the demographic is driving a surge in cases across the country and in jurisdictions around the world. "I believe you are an amazing force," said Fitzgerald. "My heart is filled with hope that our planet and society will be in your hands in the not too distant future. ... Today I am asking you to step up once again and be leaders and heroes in the prevention of COVID-19."Many in that age bracket work in places where physical distancing is challenging, said Fitzgerald, are exposed to multiple bubbles and are more likely to participate in gatherings than other age groups.Fitzgerald said young adults should choose outdoor activities for socializing, and to select up to six close contacts and ensure physical distancing if socializing indoors."We have the tools and the ability to keep COVID-19 at bay," she said. Watch the full Nov. 25 update:Premier Andrew Furey said the youth of the province are an extra layer — along with masks and social distancing — to help stop the spread of COVID-19."If you take charge as you have on so many important issues in our province, and have shown real leadership, you can also show real leadership here in helping curb the spread," said Furey. "Please, please step up once again and show the capacity you have in leading this province to safety."Provincial government officials will now hold live COVID-19 briefings three days a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.Furey said the decision was made provide the public with the knowledge it needs to keep schools and businesses open.1 new caseNewfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, in the Western Health region. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the new case is a woman between 40 and 49 years old, a contact of a previous case in the region. Fitzgerald said the woman is in isolation and contact tracing is underway.The province now has 25 active cases of COVID-19, with 295 recoveries and four deaths since March. Fitzgerald said there is no indication yet of widespread community transmission of the virus in the province. "That being said, we should always assume COVID can be anywhere, any time and we should act accordingly," she said.A small cluster of cases in Deer Lake has raised concerns from residents in the area, prompting the municipal government to close buildings and recreational facilities. Elwood Elementary was closed Monday after a student tested positive.On Wednesday, Fitzgerald said everybody in the affected cohort has been tested, more than 30 people, and there have been no other positive cases in that group.Furey addressed Deer Lake and Grand Bank directly during Wednesday's briefing, saying the province is doing everything it can to combat clusters of COVID-19 in those communities. "But we can't do that without your help. Your extra vigilance is needed at this time," he said. Health Minister John Haggie said the test positivity rate — the number of tests over a period of time that return positive results — should ideally be below five per cent, to "show the adequacy of testing and adequacy of contact tracing and identifying cases."Saskatchewan and Manitoba are running between eight and 10 per cent, and there are areas of Alberta where it can't be calculated accurately, said Haggie. But Newfoundland and Labrador's daily rate is about one quarter of one percent, he said, "which suggests that not only we have adequate capacity for testing, we also have contact tracing that is working well." To date, 60,199 people have been tested across the province, an increase of 458 since Tuesday's update.Updates to travellingIn a press release Wednesday the Department of Health advised rotational workers about a COVID-19 outbreak at the Imperial Oil Cold Lake work site in Alberta. The department said it was notified of the outbreak by the Public Health Agency of Canada, as workers from Newfoundland and Labrador work on the project.Project workers who have returned to the province in the last two weeks must isolate away from household members and call 811 to arrange testing, and complete a full 14-day self-isolation, regardless of test result, says the release.As of Dec. 1, said Fitzgerald, the provincial government's COVID-19 website will outline acceptable reasons for travellers to enter the province. Fitzgerald said the update is to make it "very clear" to travellers whether they will be allowed in, and what is required of them upon entry. Another addition to the travel process is a requirement for essential workers to state what sector they are working in and their work site in the province, and to provide their employer's contact information."I want to reinforce that travel at this time should only be for essential reasons," Fitzgerald said. "Newfoundland and Labrador is still in a public health emergency."The regular weekly briefing on Wednesday followed an uptick in cases this month, most of them clustered in Deer Lake, Grand Bank and St. John's.To clamp down on the caseload, those municipalities have locked down some facilities and cancelled some events. Most recently, officials have asked anyone returning from Nova Scotia in the last two weeks, and who visited bars in Halifax and the surrounding metro communities, to call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing, even if they aren't experiencing symptoms.Also this week, officials changed the self-isolation rules for rotational workers returning home from other provinces. As of this morning, those workers now have to wait until Day 7 — instead of Day 5 — to get a COVID-19 test to reduce the chances of a false negative.Cases on the rise countrywideElsewhere in Canada, cases have steadily increased. Nova Scotia, which reported 37 new cases Tuesday, has advised large swathes of its metro population to get a test and has confirmed community spread, while Alberta and B.C. are reporting record numbers of positive tests.Alberta has banned private indoor gatherings and moved all students Grade 7 and above to at-home learning, but will keep restaurants, businesses and casinos open at reduced capacity.Parts of Ontario also entered lockdown this week, with non-essential businesses closed and gatherings limited to one household, except for those who live alone. Schools there remain open.Prince Edward Island has a new case on Wednesday, a woman who travelled to the province from eslewhere in Atlantic Canada.Newfoundland and Labrador has largely avoided new lockdown measures so far. Furey said Monday that this week's new self-isolation restrictions for rotational workers and incoming travellers from the Atlantic region could prevent heftier controls."The Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride … but the situation has changed," Furey said during Monday's COVID-19 briefing.Last week, a man returned to St. John's from Nova Scotia, and under rules in place at the time, was not required to isolate. That prompted a St. John's restaurant, where he had been a customer, to close of its own initiative and ask its employees to get tested.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
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
If you love food, and most of us do, you will love our Fun and Easy Cinnamon Roll Apple Crisp Recipe! Not only can you make it for anytime, it also makes a great dessert for the holidays or that special occasion! Feel free to tweek the recipe and then let us know what you did and how it came out so we can all give it a try! If you make the recipe as is let us know how you liked it!
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
Dreams of a “green” Christmas were dashed on Nov. 20, as the provincial government, during its daily press conference, confirmed that several regions within Ontario would be moving into a more restrictive tier, or zone, of the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. Grey Bruce was announced as one of the areas moving from green – prevent, to yellow – protect, as of Monday, Nov. 23 at 12:01 a.m. The Grey Bruce Public Health confirmed the implementation of strengthened health measures in an email on Sat. Nov. 21. There are five levels within the framework, prevent (green), protect (yellow), restrict (orange), control (red) and lockdown (grey). Assignments to each level last a minimum of 28 days, or two incubation periods, before being reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends. If Grey Bruce numbers decrease within the 28-day period, the region could return to green just before the Christmas holidays. Restrictions include, but are not limited to: Limits for functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, barbeques or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, or parks are 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Limits for organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Limits for religious services, weddings and funerals are 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors. Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments will be required that patrons be seated with a two-metre minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables. Up to six people may be seated together. Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions. Karaoke is permitted, with restrictions (including no private rooms). Contact information must be provided by all seated patrons. No buffet style service is permitted. Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue must separate by a two-metre distance and face covering is required. Face coverings are required except when eating or drinking only. Personal protective equipment, including eye protection, is required when a worker must come within two-metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering. Night clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar. Establishments must be closed from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. Liquor may be sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. No consumption of liquor is permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m. The volume of music must be limited to allow for normal conversation. A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request. In retail settings, fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls. Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue must have a two-metre distance between patrons and face covering is required. Retailers should limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible. For malls, a safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request. A full list of protect event restrictions is available at www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-openyellow. News of the change from green to yellow really came as no surprise. The health unit, in its daily situation reports listing cases in the community, had been asking the public to continue to practice the three Ws – washing hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally two metres apart) and wear your face mask correctly, in order to control the spread of COVID. Other tips included avoiding crowds, arrange for outdoor activities instead of indoor activities, staying home if sick and avoiding close contact (unprotected and within six feet) with people from outside a household. People have also been asked to avoid travel to areas with higher transmission and minimize all non-essential travel. As of Nov. 18, there were 42 active cases of COVID in Grey Bruce, and close to 200 active high risk contacts in the counties. Less than a week later, the number of active cases had risen to 53 cases (Nov. 23) and 284 high risk contacts were associated with active cases. Ian Reich, public health manager for the Grey Bruce Health Unit, says the jump in numbers is a direct result of people not following basic practices. Groups have been coming together at many different locations and not adhering to basic public health recommendations, including personal distancing, face covering and staying home when sick. He said many cases are a result of the entire family testing positive, with multiple cases within one household. “Some people say we are done with the virus” said Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce medical officer of health. “The truth of the matter, the virus is not done with us. The virus is not going to stop, until we stop it. It is critical that we stay focused on preventing the spread of the virus, and work together to protect the most vulnerable of us.”Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
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
The Town of Aylmer is in the midst of revising its flag policy after a request to fly a Christian flag at town hall from resident Susan Mutch on July 29. Ms. Mutch sent in her request the week after the town flew a rainbow-striped pride flag to show support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. With that request so far unanswered, the Aylmer Express has found some some history of the flag, including its U.S.A. Methodist founding and unofficial status in Canada. Forrest Pass, flag historian and curator at Library and Archives Canada, said of the Christian flag, “It’s a very American emblem. In the United States, it has some official sanction from an ecumenical body that represents a number of denominations - it has that significance there. “In Canada - the Canadian Council of Churches or any of those organizations have not adopted it.” Mr. Pass said flying a Christian flag at governmental buildings throughout Canada is not unheard of, pointing to a similar case in Newfoundland about four years ago. “The organization that requested this may be in fact taking their inspiration from that case,” noted Mr. Pass. A group of Christians of all denominations raised a Christian flag at the Confederation Building in St. John’s, Newfoundland in March 2016. Almost immediately, the move drew criticism from the general public and some members of the House of Assembly, who felt the symbol had homophobic connotations and represented a “divisive” approach to Christianity. The flag was taken down less than 24 hours later. “Flags can be hugely emotional. These are emblems that are designed to provoke emotion and they do provoke emotion,” noted Mr. Pass. The Christian flag itself has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton. The red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed on the Calvary, blue represents the waters of baptism and faithfulness of Jesus, and white represents Jesus’ purity. The idea for the flag originated at Brighton Chapel in Brooklyn, New York in 1897. After a scheduled speaker failed to arrive for an event, the superintendent, Charles Overton, of the Sunday school gave an impromptu lecture. He asked students what a flag representing Christianity would look like. The design of the flag was based on the text from this lecture. In 1907, Mr. Overton and and Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary of the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, designed and began promoting the flag. “It’s an interesting case where the design emerges before the physical artifact,” said Mr. Pass. The flag does have some history in Canada, he said, used as early as the 1920s. It’s been used fairly regularly by Sunday school groups, Canadian Girls in Training, and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). “I’m not sure how frequently it would be used by provincial governments or by municipal governments, but I wouldn’t say it’s unprecedented,” noted Mr. Pass. The flag mainly represents a wide swath of Protestant Christianity and is largely an evangelical symbol, he said. It is not a symbol that has any particular resonance for Roman Catholics. “It’s really up to the user of the flag what it represents – that’s one of the interesting things about these symbols is that their meaning changes constantly.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - La Ville de Montréal lance une campagne de sensibilisation pour inciter les gens à s’intéresser à la richesse arboricole parfois négligée de nos quartiers. À l’échelle de Montréal, c’est près de 2000 arbres qui ont été ciblés à l’occasion de cette campagne, en cours de déploiement depuis l’été dernier. Des affichettes bleues ont ainsi été apposées sur quelque 300 arbres matures et 1600 jeunes arbres. Partir à la rencontre des arbres du quartier La Ville espère que sa campagne va inciter les gens à explorer leurs quartiers pour découvrir comment les arbres, qui se rappellent à nous quelques fois par année, notamment à l’occasion de la corvée annuelle du ramassage des feuilles mortes, contribuent à améliorer notre vie de tous les jours. En plus d’identifier l’essence d’arbre et de fournir de l’information sur son diamètre, son âge et sa taille, chaque fiche propose également des informations sur les bénéfices écologiques et économique de l’arbre : captation de CO2 et absorption d’autres polluants atmosphériques, captation des eaux de ruissellement, réduction de la vitesse des grands vents, etc. Une campagne de séduction? L’objectif affiché de cette campagne est de « valoriser l’arbre en ville », indique le porte-parole administratif de la Ville. Mais la démarche s’inscrit également dans la foulée du plan canopée qui prévoit accroitre de 5% le couvert végétal à Montréal d’ici 2025, ce qui implique de planter plus de 20 000 arbres par année. C’est particulièrement vrai dans Ahuntsic-Cartierville qui est l’un des arrondissements avec l’indice de canopée le plus élevé à Montréal. Selon l’inventaire des arbres publics de la Ville de Montréal, sur les quelque 70 000 arbres que compte l’arrondissement Ahuntsic-Cartierville (excluant les parcs-nature), environ 11 000 sont situés dans des parcs. C’est donc dire que près de 80 % des arbres de l’arrondissement sont des arbres de rue. À l’échelle de Montréal, c’est l’inverse : environ 20% des quelque 1,2 millions d’arbres que compte la Ville de Montréal sur son territoire sont des arbres de rue qui sont situés soit dans des fosses sur le trottoir, soit sur une petite bande de terrain appartenant à la Ville en bordure des terrains privés. La plantation d’un arbre public devant un bâtiment privé est généralement « très bien accueillie », assure Philippe Sabourin qui note toutefois que, dans certains cas, « les gens ont des réticences », liées par exemple à l’impact sur l’ensoleillement ou à la responsabilité de collecter les feuilles mortes. Collecte des feuilles : une entreprise titanesque Mais si le fardeau de ramasser les feuilles peut sembler lourd à porter pour les particuliers, il faut savoir que c’est la Ville qui fait le plus gros du travail. Au total, c’est 27 000 tonnes métriques – soit la moitié de la masse du Titanic! – qui seront récupérées par la Ville, soit respectivement 17 000 tonnes provenant de collecte des résidus verts et 10 000 tonnes du balayage de rue. La majeure partie de ces dizaines de milliers de tonnes de résidus seront traitées au complexe-environnemental Saint-Michel pour produire du compost. Pas dans la rue! Les collectes de résidus verts se poursuivent jusqu’au 26 novembre dans Ahuntsic-Cartierville. Les citoyens sont priés d’utiliser des sacs en papier plutôt que des sacs en plastique pour faciliter le compostage des feuilles. Les branches de plus d’un mètre de long ou de plus de cinq centimètres de diamètre ne peuvent pas être envoyées à la collecte des résidus verts et doivent plutôt être envoyées à l’Écocentre. Les résidants qui disposent d’une tondeuse à gazon sont par ailleurs encouragés à pratiquer le « feuilicyclage», c’est-à-dire à déchiqueter les feuilles à la tondeuse directement et à les disposer sur leur pelouse pour enrichir le sol. Le dépôt de feuilles en bordure de rue n’est pas souhaitable. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
The Bridgetown Litter Patrol, better known as Stubbert siblings Katie, Haes and Addison, have expanded their enterprises from treasure hunting and picking up litter on the beach to form what they call Beachcomber Crafts. The youngsters have turned their beach and outdoor gem finds into Christmas ornaments, art and crafts. They hope to sell the items to raise money for Hope for Wildlife. Hope for Wildlife is a charitable wildlife rehabilitation and education organization located in Seaforth, Nova Scotia. They have rescued, rehabilitated, and released more than 50,000 injured and orphaned wild animals representing more than 250 species since 1997. The organization is totally volunteer run. Hope Swinimer is at the helm of the organization and even has her own show Hope For Wildlife/TV. “I want to be just like Hope,” said Addison who is 11-years-old and passionate about animals. She has been watching Ms Swinimer’s show for the past two years. “I’m really trying to teach the kids to think about giving rather than receiving this Christmas season,” Denise Metcalf, the kid’s mom, said. “I was thinking, what are we already doing? What can we work with? I have a crafty mind so I thought let’s do crafts.” For the past few years when the family visited the beach Haes’s favourite activity has been picking up litter and treasure in his toy dump truck. This got all the kids cleaning and combing the beach for other treasures too. The family tends to take home pinecones, leaves and treasures from walks in the woods and other time spent outdoors. “We had all this material,” Ms Metcalf said pointing to a bucket of oldman’s beard tree bark and seashells. The kids decided they would get to work making ornaments. “The next step is selling the crafts,” Ms Metcalf said. To avoid the possibility of spreading COVID-19 to immunocompromised family members they can’t sell their creations at a craft fair this year. So Ms Metcalf and the Beachcomber Crafts crew are asking anyone interested in buying an ornament to call them at 902-3261385 or email email@example.com. All proceeds will go to Hope for Wildlife.Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — K-pop band BTS has earned its first Grammy nomination, a long-awaited feat for the South Korean act that has been reshaping the global pop landscape with record-breaking songs and well-mobilized fans.Critics say the boy band's nomination Tuesday demonstrates its growing presence and impact in the mainstream U.S. pop industry.“K-pop, represented by BTS, has cracked the mainstream of mainstream, the Grammys,” said Kim Youngdae, a Seoul-based music critic and author of the book “BTS: The Review." He called the nomination “historic” and said the band "has carved out its own space and squeezed itself in.”The pandemic may have unexpectedly contributed to the long-awaited recognition from the Recording Academy.“Before (the pandemic), artists who went to the U.S. would sing at radio stations, concerts and live stages, but these include a variety of limitations, including time and space,” said Kim Do Heon, editor-in-chief of the online music magazine IZM. Kim said the band’s increased online presence during the pandemic -- through frequent social media interactions and paid virtual concerts -- may have contributed to its global success, leading to the nomination.The band — composed of J-Hope, RM, Suga, Jungkook, V, Jin and Jimin — will compete for best pop duo/group performance at the 63rd Grammy Awards with their all-English song “Dynamite,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year.This year’s best pop duo/group performance, a highly competitive category, features artists such as Taylor Swift with Bon Iver and Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande. The awards don't have a K-pop category and recently changed the name of the best world music album category to best global music album to be more “modern and inclusive." The academy said the new name “symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied."After the announcement, BTS uploaded videos on their official Twitter page, which has over 30.9 million followers, showing four members reacting to the nomination by jumping up from a couch and shouting “Yes!” and “BTS!”The band's members have always expressed their hope for a Grammy nomination. “I’d cry if we get an award in a (group-related) category,” J-Hope said at news conference for their new album “BE” last week.The most popular boy band in the world has been a familiar presence at the Grammy Awards -- but as an award presenter and performer, hitting the stage for less than a minute with Lil Nas X and others at the previous awards ceremony.However, a nomination by the Recording Academy evaded the band for years as it broke multiple records, including becoming the first Korean act to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and clenching multiple trophies at ceremonies including the MTV Video Music Awards and American Music Awards since their humble debut in 2013.Their dedicated fans around the world -- known as ARMY -- have been pushing for a Grammy nomination for years.Fans say the belated nomination makes them feel seen.“It’s like when you’re doing a test and you want to know if you passed or not and you finally get the result saying you passed, and make it that, but like 20 times more impactful,” Divisha Deepti, a university student in Fiji, said in a video interview.Maryann Lockington, another ARMY fan who works as a communications officer, said many of her fellow fans stayed up late for the announcement, and their fan group chat “blew up” afterward.The 2021 Grammy Awards will air on Jan. 31.Juwon Park, The Associated Press
Nunavut reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the active cases to 153. The new numbers were announced as Nunavut officials gave an update Wednesday morning on the COVID-19 situation in the territory.Eight new cases are in Arviat, bringing the community's cases to 115. Three new cases have been confirmed in Whale Cove for a total of 19. On Tuesday, nine new cases were reported in Arviat and one new case was reported in Rankin Inlet, where the community has a total of 19 cases."All individuals with active COVID-19 are in isolation and they are well, with mild to moderate symptoms," the territory said in a release Wednesday. "Contact tracing in all impacted communities is ongoing and public health staff are monitoring everyone in isolation."Top doc says testing early not always reliableAfter exposure to the virus, there are a few days of incubation, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson during the news conference Wednesday.That means early testing might not always be reliable, he said adding testing people more than once will deplete resources. He urged residents to follow isolation protocols.He said he expects cases to continue to rise over the coming weeks. "During these first days after exposure to the virus the majority of tests will be false negatives," Patterson said."Testing does not replace isolation."He said the two combined are the only way to curb transmission right now. Missed the government update? Watch it here:He says washing hands, cleaning high touch surfaces and wearing masks indoors helps a lot. As of Wednesday, Rankin Inlet has seen 164 negative test results. In Arviat, there are 386 negative tests so far, and in Whale Cove, 58 negative results. There's still no evidence of community transmission in Rankin Inlet or Whale Cove, the territory says.Community transmission happens when people who are not on a known contact list get sick.Contact tracing teams in Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet are not seeing this happen, he said. Masks a struggle during territory-wide lock-downThere are no known cases remaining in Sanikiluaq, where two cases were previously reported, but the community is being monitored.The territory has completed week one of a two-week lock down. Masks are currently mandatory in the Kivalliq region. But while masks are being encouraged indoors elsewhere in Nunavut, and many businesses require them, Patterson says some residents are struggling to access masks. This becomes a barrier for getting food, he said. "Right now it doesn't seem appropriate to make masks mandatory across the territory," Patterson said. Overcrowding in homes is a concern for transmission of the virus, but it is possible to keep safe when you live with a large number of people, Patterson said. "We do see some houses that are overcrowded but there is very little transmission between individuals," he said. That's when safety measures like cleaning and mask wearing are followed. Isolation for infected, travelling residentsFor residents who test positive while travelling in the South, they have to be free of symptoms for 24 hours before returning to the territory, Patterson said. Where people stay while recovering out of territory depends on their circumstances and what part of their travel they test positive, he said. They could stay in a personal residence, in their own hotel or in an isolation hub. There is one person currently in a hub who is waiting to go home. No one has isolated in a medical boarding home, Patterson said. "We're in this for the long run and we need everyone doing their part," Premier Joe Savikataaq said during the live briefing. "I know this virus can be disheartening and draining."He thanked essential and front line workers as well as parents working from home while taking care of their children. As of Wednesday, 4,712 people have been followed in Nunavut since the pandemic began, for potential contact or symptoms of COVID-19. Currently, 813 people are being followed. Two people are reported as recovered. On Monday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Micheal Patterson said health teams are "working around the clock" to trace, test, isolate and contain the spread and that it would take some time to see if the current public health measures are working.How exactly COVID-19 entered Nunavut is still unknown, Patterson said.Anyone in Nunavut who may have had contact with COVID-19 is asked to call the COVID hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., or to notify their community health centre, and isolate at home for 14 days, the Health Department said. The department is asking residents not to visit their community health centres in person.The press conference will air again later in the day on CBC Radio.
Arianna O'Dell, a 30-year-old entrepreneur and songwriter based in New York City, had a tumultuous four-year journey in cryptocurrency before selling her investments in February. O'Dell may not have made optimal decisions about when to buy or sell, and missed out on the recent rally - but says she doesn't regret that. Investing $2,705 worth of proceeds into her business was better than enduring the stress of daily fluctuations, even though the price has since doubled, she said.
BERLIN — Germany's Cabinet on Wednesday approved legislation that would provide compensation to gay servicepeople who experienced discrimination in the military before a change of policy 20 years ago.The decision comes two months after Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer issued an apology for decades of discrimination. A study commissioned by her ministry documented “systematic discrimination” in the Bundeswehr — the military of West Germany and since 1990 of reunited Germany — from 1955 until 2000.The study said that “same-sex orientation was viewed as a security risk in the Bundeswehr until the turn of the millennium and made a career as an officer or noncommissioned officer impossible.”Kramp-Karrenbauer said that soldiers affected will be “rehabilitated” under the new legislation.The legislation foresees the lifting of military court verdicts imposed for consensual gay sex, with 3,000 euros ($3,560) in compensation being paid for each of those verdicts, but also to soldiers who were dismissed, denied promotion or stripped of responsibility. The Defence Ministry estimates that about 1,000 people will apply, news agency dpa reported.“I know that we can't make up for the personal injustice they suffered but, with the lifting of verdicts and the payment of lump-sum compensation, we want to send a signal — a small signal — of redress, to restore the dignity of these people who wanted nothing other than to serve Germany,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.It is Germany's latest move to address past anti-gay discrimination. In 2017, parliament voted to annul the convictions of thousands of gay men under a law criminalizing male homosexuality that was enforced zealously in post-World War II West Germany.A federal court decided in 1970 that homosexuality was no longer a disciplinary offence for soldiers unless there was a “service connection,” the study released in September said. That was interpreted strictly to start with and gradually loosened.Then-Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping ended official discrimination in 2000 after an officer who had been removed from his post as a commander took his case to Germany’s highest court.Scharping issued a paper stating that “homosexuality does not constitute grounds for restrictions in terms of assignment or status and thus also is not a suitability criterion to be examined separately.”Kramp-Karrenbauer said the new legislation will also cover people who experienced discrimination in communist East Germany's National People's Army, which she called “an important signal" in a year when Germany marked 30 years of reunification.It still requires parliamentary approval. Kramp-Karrenbauer told lawmakers she hoped for their support "so that we can rehabilitate and compensate those affected next year.”Legislation criminalizing male homosexuality was introduced in the 19th century, toughened under Nazi rule and retained in that form by democratic West Germany, which convicted some 50,000 men between 1949 and 1969. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 but the legislation wasn’t taken off the books entirely until 1994.Lawmakers approved compensation for men who were convicted. Payments were later extended to people who were put under investigation or taken into investigative custody but not convicted.Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
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
NEW YORK — Former President Barack Obama, already a million-selling author, is also a prize-winning author.PEN America announced Wednesday that Obama will receive its second annual Voice of Influence Award in recognition of how his writings “have traversed political, social, and ideological bounds and framed a self-reflective humanism that has marked his influence on public life.”Obama, whose memoir “A Promised Land” came out last week, will be honoured Dec. 8 at the literary and human rights organization's annual gala, to be held virtually because of the coronavirus.During the ceremony, Obama and historian Ron Chernow, a former PEN board president, will discuss freedom of expression and the importance of truth in a world of misinformation.Obama’s previous books include “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”“As an organization of writers, we have always seen President Obama not just as a leader, but as one of us: an author. His probing and evocative narratives helped introduce the world to his unique background, and the power of his life experience as a prompt toward a more pluralistic and encompassing society,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.PEN presented its first Voice of Influence Award in 2019 to filmmaker Ava DuVernay.Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
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
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
The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub in Toronto’s west end is offering free meals to people who are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Chris Murie expects more people to be looking for help as government benefits wind down.