BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party on Saturday chose Armin Laschet, the pragmatic governor of Germany’s most populous state, as its new leader — sending a signal of continuity months before an election in which voters will decide who becomes the new chancellor. Laschet will have to build unity in the Christian Democratic Union, Germany's strongest party, after beating more conservative rival Friedrich Merz. And he will need to plunge straight into an electoral marathon that culminates with the Sept. 26 national vote. Saturday’s vote isn’t the final word on who will run as the centre-right candidate for chancellor in Germany’s Sept. 26 election, but Laschet will either run himself or have a big say in who does. He didn't address his plans at Saturday's party convention. Laschet, 59, was elected in 2017 as governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, a traditionally centre-left stronghold. He governs the region in a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, the CDU’s traditional ally, but would likely be able to work smoothly with a more liberal partner, too. Current polls point to the environmentalist Greens as a likely key to power in the election. Laschet pointed Saturday to the value of continuity and moderation, and cited the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump as an example of where polarization can lead. “Trust is what keeps us going and what has been broken in America,” he told delegates before the vote. “By polarizing, sowing discord and distrust, and systematically lying, a president has destroyed stability and trust.” “We must speak clearly but not polarize,” Laschet said. “We must be able to integrate, hold society together.” He said that the party needs “the continuity of success” and “we will only win if we remain strong in the middle of society.” Laschet said that “there are many people who, above all, find Angela Merkel good and only after that the CDU.” He added that ”we need this trust now as a party” and that “we must work for this trust.” Laschet beat Merz, a former rival of Merkel who was making his second attempt in recent years to win the CDU leadership, by 521 votes to 466. A third candidate, prominent lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, was eliminated in a first round of voting. Merz's sizeable support suggests that a strong contingent would like a sharper conservative profile after the Merkel years. Merkel has led Germany since 2005 but said over two years ago that she wouldn't seek a fifth term as chancellor. Merkel, 66, has enjoyed enduring popularity with voters as she steered Germany and Europe through a series of crises. But she repeatedly abandoned orthodox conservative policies, for example by accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and ending military conscription. Her decision in 2015 to allow in large numbers of migrants caused major tensions on the centre-right and strengthened the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Saturday's vote ends a nearly year-long limbo in Germany’s strongest party since outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who narrowly beat Merz in 2018 to succeed Merkel as CDU leader but failed to impose her authority, announced her resignation. A vote on her successor was delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic. Laschet called for unity after Saturday's vote and said Merz remains “an important personality for us.” “All the questions that will face us after the pandemic need a broad consensus in our party,” he said. “And we will need this consensus for all the elections that are ahead of us, too. Everyone will be against us.” Laschet, a miner's son who served as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2005, shouldn't expect much of a honeymoon in his new job. In addition to the national election, Germany is holding six state elections this year, the first two in mid-March. And at some point, he will confer with allies in Bavaria on who runs for chancellor. The CDU is part of the Union bloc along with its sister party, the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, and the two parties will decide together on the candidate. The Union currently has a healthy poll lead, helped by positive reviews of Merkel’s handling of the pandemic. CSU leader Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria, is widely considered a potential candidate after gaining in political stature during the pandemic. Some also consider Health Minister Jens Spahn, who supported Laschet and was elected as one of his deputies, a possible contender. Polls have shown Soeder’s ratings outstripping those of Saturday’s CDU candidates. Laschet has garnered mixed reviews in the pandemic, particularly as a vocal advocate of loosening restrictions after last year’s first phase. “It's very good that a year-long discussion process is over,” Soeder said. “I am sure that Armin Laschet and I will find a joint, wise and united solution to all other pending questions.” Saturday’s result will now be officially endorsed in a postal ballot. That is expected to be a formality but is required by German law. Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
Despite the massive snowfall of last year's Snowmageddon, this winter has been remarkably snow-free in much of Newfoundland. While that may not be of much concern for shovel-weary residents, for the province's ski hill operators, this season's lack of snow has been both a challenge and an opportunity. "We have about 18 snow-guns blaring away with snow on the hill as best we can, and as fast as we can," Pierre Mirault, general manager of White Hills Resort in Clarenville, said earlier this week. "We're trying our best; just Mother Nature definitely isn't cooperating." Mirault says he and his team have been busy taking advantage of any opportunity they can to make some snow for the unusually green season, but to do so they need temperature and humidity to be on their side. "It's a step-by-step process, and it isn't just flicking the switch," said Mirault. "The rewards are there, but it takes quite a bit of time." While fluctuating temperatures leave only small windows of opportunity to make snow, the best way to preserve what they can isn't to cover the hills, Mirault said, but to stockpile it. "We don't make the snow and spread it around, because if we do that we lose it all," he said. "So we make big piles." With some piles reaching 15-20 feet tall, it's the same changing temperatures which help to protect the piles from melting completely. "We just need height, then quantity and depth, and then it freezes over the top of it," says Mirault, "and basically it gives it a little layer of protection so that it doesn't melt as quickly." Unseasonal conditions on Newfoundland's west coast Mirault and the White Hills Resort aren't the only ones on the island contenting with the lack of white. At Marble Moutain Resort in Steady Brook, officials tweeted Friday that they hope the forecast holds so that snow guns can be turned on in the coming week. Meanwhile, Mac Turner, president of the Pasadena Ski and Nature Park, says that the unseasonal conditions have allowed his team to spruce up their trails. Through the provincial government Community Enhancement and Employment program, Turner says they've been able to push back thirty years of brush and overgrowth. "Widening out our trails from what we originally were 30 years ago—a lot are overgrown with overhanging branches, and trees have encroached on the trail— so we're just going back to what it was." Despite nearly 20 kilometers of trail to prune, the lack of snow has helped his small team make quick work of it without the difficulties of obscured debris and falling snow. What that means for skiers, says Turner, is that when the snow does come they'll be able to enjoy wider, safer runs. "They're not going to have the overhangs," says Turner, "because as the snow builds up you're getting closer and closer to the branches, and sometimes you really have to duck." For Mirault, he says that despite the lack of snow compared to last year, the community support has been encouraging, with plenty of local sponsorship. "These are local businesses who support the hill, and it's been a great year for season passes and the sponsorships," he says. "Now we want to provide a product in order to capitalize on that, and so everybody's in a win-win situation." For a self-styled optimist like Mirault, he believes a late start doesn't necessarily mean a bad season. "We'll definitely have a good winter: February, March, we're going to go right into April as long as we can, so there's still three good months of a ski season ahead of us." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The body of an unknown man was discovered Friday afternoon along a shoreline in southwest Nova Scotia — an area that has several recent missing persons cases. Nova Scotia RCMP are working with the provincial medical examiner to identify the remains and determine the cause of death. In a news release Saturday morning, RCMP say a man found the body near the water's edge around 1:30 p.m. Friday and called 911. The discovery happened near Central Grove on Long Island. At the time of the body's discovery, seven men were missing in that part of the province in three recent, separate cases. Five crew members of the scallop dragger Chief William Saulis have been missing since their vessel sank in the Bay of Fundy last month, 20-year-old Zachary Lefave was last seen walking home from a party in Yarmouth County on New Year's Eve, and the search for 69-year-old Kenneth Surette, who was last seen canoeing in Yarmouth County last weekend, was just turned into a missing persons case on Wednesday. "The outcome is dependent on the identification, and that could take a while," said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce in an interview. "So for us to speculate as to which one of the missing or somebody else would not be wise for us to do or helpful to anybody." Still, Joyce said RCMP notified family members of all the recently missing men about the discovery. Less than 24 hours later, another body was found in the water off Yarmouth County — that of Surette, the missing canoeist. MORE TOP STORIES
Ottawa's homicide unit is investigating the death of a man who was found with gunshot wounds in the city's south end early Saturday morning. According to police, the man was found in the area of Hunt Club Road and Lorry Greenberg Drive at approximately 3 a.m. He was identified Saturday afternoon as 20-year-old Mehdi El-Hajj Hassan. A section of Lorry Greenberg Drive was closed to traffic but has since re-opened. People with information are asked to contact police or can submit anonymous tips by calling Crime Stoppers.
The family of a missing Yarmouth County man has been targeted by an online scam, according to Nova Scotia RCMP. A family member of Zachery Lefave, who was last spotted in Plymouth on New Year's Day, received an unsolicited text message on Jan. 12 saying that Lefave was still alive but would be killed if they didn't send $7,000 in gift cards. The family immediately contacted police without sending any money. After an investigation, police determined the text appeared to have came from various locations in North America and Africa, as the sender had been using a virtual private network. RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce told CBC that investigators are still tracking the source of the text, but they believe it came from a country that does not have a "strong bilateral relationship" with Canada. He said that will make the investigation "very, very challenging." Police believe the sender obtained personal phone numbers from social media after family members had posted them online during the search for Lefave. "The person responsible used technology to disguise their location and then preyed on a vulnerable family who are doing everything possible to find Zach," Sgt. Terry Faulkner of the Southwest Nova Major Crime Unit said in a news release Saturday. The RCMP reminded Nova Scotians that there is a risk when sharing personal information online. The search for Lefave has been suspended but Yarmouth RCMP is continuing to ask for the public's help in finding Lefave. Lefave, who was turning 21 at the time he went missing, is white, five-foot-nine and 175 pounds with brown hair, brown facial hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a hat, plaid shirt and shorts. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Yarmouth Rural RCMP at 902-742-9106. Anonymous tips can be shared by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477. MORE TOP STORIES
'Significant growth' in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) could help keep taxes down while increasing the cash available for the town to spend in 2021. TBM will be finalizing its 2021 budget in early February, which currently proposes a 1.3 per cent tax rate increase. “The actual tax levy is increasing by 5.2 per cent. However, because we've seen significant growth, we are going to receive an extra $635,988 in tax revenue. So, the end result is that there's a 1.3 per cent tax rate increase,” stated Ruth Prince, director of finance and IT for TBM. “The town has been in a very fortunate position.” The proposed budget outlines an average residential property tax bill of $5,466 based on an assessment of $620,000. Of the $5,466, 17.4 per cent or $949 would be filtered to the education tax; 41.3 per cent or $2,256 is allocated to Grey County and $2,256 or 41.4 per cent remains in TBM. Assessments for 2021 have been frozen at the 2020 assessment rate level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “So, what does that mean for an average town tax bill? If your assessment is that $620,000, you may see the town portion increased [from 2020] by $31,” Prince said. In the proposed budget, the town’s capital budget totals $23.6 million with 13 per cent of the funding coming from development charges and the remaining funds being drawn from long-term debt, property owners and reserves. Capital projects outlined for 2021 include the Camperdown Wastewater Extension, upgrades to Jozo Weider Boulevard, replacement of two bridges, as well as replacing an aerial pumper in the fire department's fleet. “We are being prudent, but we are trying to do a lot,” stated TBM Mayor, Alar Soever. TBM has outlined four studies that are expected to be completed in 2021 – the town’s density/intensification study, the Leisure Activity Plan, a compensation review and the Fire Master Plan. Town staff and council have also suggested additions to the base budget, including several new staff positions: an administrative assistant to committees; a communications assistant; a communications coordinator; a fire prevention inspector; an additional landfill operator; a contract building inspector; permit and inspection assistant; lot development technologist; and a development reviewer. In addition, TBM has outlined plans to pursue the creation of a dog park in Craigleith, installation of EV charging stations, adding a parks vehicle to its fleet and has also diverted funds into the communications department for additional advertising. The base budget additions total $917,550, with $496,680 being drawn from taxation. Four departments in TBM – water, wastewater, harbour and building departments – are funded through user fees, not taxation. “In terms of water and wastewater rates, there is no change to the water consumption, but there is a two per cent proposed increase to the wastewater consumption charge, and that would see an increase of approximately $6 a year,” Prince said. The draft budget also proposes several changes to the fee structure at the Thornbury Harbour, including a $2-per-foot increase to the Seasonal Mooring fees. Town staff have been actively working on the draft budget since June and TBM council held budget deliberation meetings on Dec. 2, 7 and 9, as well as a public meeting on Jan. 11. Comments received at the public meeting included concerns around the Camperdown Wastewater Extension project, affordability for seniors on a fixed income, and housing concerns. “Young families are effectively being precluded from living in the area as they simply cannot afford to live here. Home prices [are] rising at an alarming rate and [there is] alack of housing inventory available,” stated Katie Bell, in a letter to council. “The town deferred 2020 tax bill payment by one month in an effort to help residents meet the payment indicating the council acknowledges the difficult economic environment. Now, instead of continued support to the constituents, council will introduce a tax hike,” Bell continued. The Blue Mountain Ratepayers Association (BMRA), which has its own budget review committee, performed an analysis of the TBM draft budget and presented a deputation to TBM council on Dec. 8. In its deputation to council, the BMRA applauded the town for their continued efforts in remaining fiscally responsible while addressing the needs of the community through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the group drew some concerns around the town’s ability to complete capital projects in a timely manner. “Depreciation is greater than new capital builds and has been for some time,” stated Brian Harkness, chair of BMRA's budget review committee in the deputation to council. The BMRA is also continuing its efforts in trying to find justification in the large percentage of tax dollars that is allocated to the county, in comparison to other lower-tier municipalities in the region. “BMRA is concerned about the increasing amount of municipal tax assessment dollars directed to the county and not available for the town to spend on needed capital projects, such as a modern community centre,” Harkness continued. Currently, 41.3 per cent of the tax dollars collected from TBM residents is allocated to Grey County. In 2020, the average TBM resident paid $2,268 in tax dollars to Grey County, which is the highest paid by any resident of all nine Grey County municipalities. The Municipality of Grey Highlands held the second-highest contribution rate in 2020, contributing, on average, $1,483 per resident. Comments from the public meeting will be presented to council in a staff report on Jan. 26, where council members will take one final look at the proposed draft budget. “We're now at 1.37 [per cent increase], but we're going to be meeting to fine tune things once a public meeting where everybody will have a chance to provide some more comments,” Soever said, adding that council members hope to reduce expenditures further to reach a zero per cent tax increase. The budget bylaw will appear before council for final approval on Feb. 8. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
If you’re slicing into a sizzling steak for dinner tonight, or getting a spoonful of lamb stew, then you have a farmer and butcher to thank. They are the silent, often underappreciated heroes of the food industry, and they are facing massive challenges amid the pandemic. “We feel that people don’t understand us,” said Craig McLaughlin, owner of a medium-sized beef farm in Renfrew County. “It would be so helpful if people understand what we are up against,” echoed Angie Hoysted, co-owner of Valley Custom Cutting, a provincial free-standing meat plant and full-service butcher shop in Smiths Falls. So what exactly are they up against? Bill Dobson, who owns an organic beef farm in Smiths Falls, said one of the biggest challenges local producers have is a lack of infrastructure for processing. “There’s not enough abattoirs (slaughterhouse for livestock),” Dobson said. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website listed a total of 115 abattoirs in the province, and 360 free-standing meat processing plants (FSMP). FSMPs do not slaughter animals. They conduct further processing activities such as the aging, boning, cutting, slicing, smoking, curing and fermenting of meat. Once the animal carcass has been brought back from the abattoirs, the challenge is that there aren’t enough butchers (or FSMPs) to cut and process the meat. “There’s just not enough people getting into that business. We have to encourage (the) government to open up spaces in community colleges and encourage people to go into that field,” Dobson said. Hoysted’s husband Dan was head butcher at an abattoir when it closed unexpectedly. The beef producers in the area – who knew him and trusted his skills – expressed their need for a reliable butcher, so Dan and Angie opened a shop in 2016. Hoysted said farmers invest two years of raising and taking care of livestock, so they’re not just “going take it to a random butcher to cut it. You don’t get a good yield, the cuts you want or your packages professionally done.” Not only do farmers book months in advance for an abattoir, they also have to schedule for butchers, typically a six-month wait. “Once the pandemic hit, spaces booked up at the abattoir. I used to be able to book slaughter space in a month or two; now it’s at least six months,” said Tyler Armstrong, a sheep farmer who owns Pinnacle Haven Farm in Renfrew. “Now I book before the lamb’s even born,” Armstrong said, adding that this issue is not unique to this area – it’s an Ontario-wide issue. McLaughlin said this poses a huge problem: “If I have cattle ready (for the abattoir), and they have no place to go, you have to maintain them. You can’t put them in a storage locker. They require daily care and (it) costs me more.” Another challenge is labour shortage. If a farmer or a butcher gets sick, there’s not a ready source of labour they can avail themselves of quickly. “You might find an able body, but they’ve never worked with livestock before, or trained in specific skills to operate specific equipment,” McLaughlin said. “If we got sick, we have to go home, and everything in our cooler will be garbage by the time we reopen,” Hoysted said about the meat products they sell. “We’re one of the youngest people owning a provincial processing plant in this part of Ontario. Everyone else is older. What’s going to happen in five to 10 years when they retire? You’re going to have a major, major issue,” Hoysted said. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
The Brazilian jungle state of Amazonas received more emergency supplies of oxygen and respirators on Saturday, as the military and neighboring Venezuela scrambled to alleviate an unfolding humanitarian crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Air Force also said it had evacuated 12 patients from hospitals in the state capital Manaus to the northern city of Sao Luis overnight, with hospitals at breaking point with no oxygen supplies and overflowing intensive care wards. Mass graves were dug in Manaus during the first wave of the pandemic last year.
As we all know the federal and provincial governments have quickly passed a vaccine to combat COVID-19. One selected vaccine type will be the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, but what do we know about this vaccine? Traditionally, vaccines take years to develop, test and finally be approved by Health Canada to be used as a vaccine. They usually undergo lab testing, tests on animals then finally human trials to determine the effectiveness and possible adverse side effects long before it is used in the general population. Lack of testing can bring a lack of public confidence in the safety and protection the vaccine is giving, but with COVID-19 the world has pushed for a vaccine and the vaccine companies feel confident that they have produced a vaccine safe for human use as well as protection against the virus. Health Canada authorized the vaccine with conditions on December 9, 2020, under the Interim Order Respecting the Importation, Sale and Advertising of Drugs for Use in Relation to COVID-19. About the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (Tozinameran or BNT162b2) is used to prevent COVID-19. This disease is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The vaccine is approved for people who are 16 years of age and older. Its safety and effectiveness in people younger than 16 years of age have not yet been established. How it works mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response without using the live virus that causes COVID-19. Once triggered, our body then makes antibodies. These antibodies help us fight the infection if the real virus does enter our body in the future. ‘RNA’ stands for ribonucleic acid, which is a molecule that provides cells with instructions for making proteins. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines contain the genetic instructions for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. When a person is given the vaccine, their cells will read the genetic instructions like a recipe and produce the spike protein. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. The cell then displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune system recognizes that the protein doesn’t belong there and begins building an immune response and making antibodies. The side effects that followed vaccine administration in clinical trials were mild or moderate. They included things like pain at the site of injection, body chills, feeling tired and feeling feverish. These are common side effects of vaccines and do not pose a risk to health. As with all vaccines, there’s a chance that there will be a serious side effect, but these are rare. A serious side effect might be something like an allergic reaction. Speak with your health professional about any serious allergies or other health conditions you may have before you receive this vaccine. Health Canada has conducted a rigorous scientific review of the available medical evidence to assess the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. No major safety concerns have been identified in the data that they reviewed. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
On Monday, December 21, 2020, Churchbridge Mayor Bill Johnston called the regularly scheduled council meeting to order with all council present and accounted for. He then called Julian Kaminski forward to recognize the work Julian has done as the caretaker of the hall for over the last ten years. Brittney Maddaford, CPA next gave an auditor presentation to the council and members of the public that were in attendance. Maddaford walked the council through their financial statements and what’s included in them. Councillor N. Thies made a presentation to the council about setting up two electric chargers in town for electric cars. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to move this idea to the planning committee; motion carried. Moving on, the council reviewed the agenda prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept the agenda as amended; motion carried. The council reviewed the minutes of the November 23, 2020, regular meeting as well as the December 1, 2020, special meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the minutes which was carried. Council standing committee notes were next. N. Thies attended a fire department meeting and updated the council regarding the fire department. Administrator Renea Paridaen was next to give the administrator report. The sidewalk was replaced on Vincent Ave. but it has cracks on it now; there is no warranty. Some maintenance to the heating units was done to various town facilities including the town office furnace which wasn’t working. Council members have been registered for the Municipalities of Saskatchewan meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the reports which was carried. Under old business, R. Thies made a motion to have a third reading of Bylaw 2020-014, The by-law for incurring Debt; motion carried. The World’s Biggest Bike, stationed in Churchbridge was next to be discussed. Councillor Antosh-Cusistar made a motion to have the former owner of the big blue bike remove it by June 1, 2021; motion carried. Council Procedures Bylaw 2020-015, Council Procedures Bylaw received its second reading with a motion by R. Thies; motion carried. The third reading of Bylaw 2020-015 was made by Councillor N. Thies; motion carried. Cedar Crescent East Development was discussed next. Councillors N. Thies and R. Thies declared a conflict of interest and left the meeting, Mayor Johnston had a discussion with a resident beside the development who has a few concerns, it will be looked into having a public meeting to openly discuss the development with a motion from Councillor Antosh-Cusitar; motion carried. The topic of pest control officers was next to be discussed. The town requires pest control officers with a valid Possession and Acquisition Certificate, a criminal record check and liability insurance. The council reviewed the correspondence received by the town over the last two weeks. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Membership requisition was received; tabled. The Go out and Play Challenge request was sent to the town, asking if they would participate in the challenge and rally the community. The Murals Committee has sent a request to the town and Councillor Vaughan made a motion to defer this matter to the strategic planning committee; motion carried. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to file the correspondence; motion carried. The list of accounts for approval was reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pay the accounts; motion carried. The November financial statement and bank reconciliation were reviewed next, prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept which was carried. Under new business, Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016 was discussed prior to Councillor R. Thies making the recommendation to change the bylaw; motion carried. Councillor N. Thies made the motion to have the first reading of Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016; motion carried. A by-election proposal was next discussed. On April 7, 2021, there will be a by-election. After the resignation of Ralph Soltys, there is a need for a by-election to fill the empty council chair. Councillor Antosh-Cusitar motion to accept which was carried. Christmas office closure was discussed. Councillor Antosh- Cusitar made a motion to close the town office on December 24th which was carried. Councillor N.Thies asked if there is a way a councillor can donate their remuneration back to the town. The bylaw respecting buildings (2020-017) was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made the resolution to have the first reading, which was carried. A motion was made to have the second reading, made by N. Thies; motion carried. A motion was made by N. Thies to go ahead to the third reading; carried unanimously. A Fibre Optic Cable Proposal was next to be discussed. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to have the administration help develop a Municipal Access Agreement; motion carried. The appointment of the Town of Churchbridge Administrator was next to be discussed. Council made a motion to appoint Renea Paridaen as Administrator for the Town of Churchbridge. She had not been officially appointed; motion carried. Backflow Prevention Testing was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to test the backflow as required; motion carried. Policy Manual 2021 Revisions were reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pass the revisions which was carried. The council then moved in-camera. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
WASHINGTON — When Joe Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday outside a wounded U.S. Capitol, he will begin reshaping the office of the presidency itself as he sets out to lead a bitterly divided nation struggling with a devastating pandemic and an insurrection meant to stop his ascension to power. Biden had campaigned as a rebuke to President Donald Trump, a singular figure whose political power was fueled by discord and grievance. The Democrat framed his election as one to “heal the soul” of the nation and repair the presidency, restoring the White House image as a symbol of stability and credibility. In ways big and small, Biden will look to change the office he will soon inhabit. Incendiary tweets are out, wonky policy briefings are in. Biden, as much an institutionalist as Trump has been a disruptor, will look to change the tone and priorities of the office. “It really is about restoring some dignity to the office, about picking truth over lies, unity over division,” Biden said soon after he launched his campaign. “It’s about who we are.” The White House is about 2 miles up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol, where broken windows, heavy fortifications and hundreds of National Guard members provide a visible reminder of the power of a president’s words. Trump's supporters left a Jan. 6 rally by the president near the White House to commit violence in his name at the Capitol, laying siege to the citadel of democracy and underscoring the herculean task Biden faces in trying to heal the nation’s searing divisions. Few presidents have taken on the job having thought more about the mark he wants to make on it than Biden. He has spent more than 40 years in Washington and captured the White House after two previous failed attempts. He frequently praises his former boss, President Barack Obama, as an example of how to lead during crisis. “Biden’s main task is going to be need to be to reestablish the symbol of the White House to the world as a place of integrity and good governance. Because right now everything is in disarray,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University. “But Biden is uniquely situated to do this, his whole life has been spent in Washington and he spent eight years watching the job up close.” The changes will be sweeping, starting with the president's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 400,000 American lives. The sharp break from Trump won’t just come in federal policy, but in personal conduct. Trump flouted the virus, his staff largely eschewing masks in the warren of cramped West Wing offices while the president hosted “superspreader” events at the White House and on the road. Biden’s team is considering having many staffers work from home; those who do enter the building will wear masks. Biden has already been vaccinated, something Trump, who got the virus last fall, has chosen not to do despite suggestions that it would set an example for the nation. Biden’s approach to the day-to-day responsibilities of the office will also be a break from his predecessor. For one, Twitter won't be a principal source of news. Trump’s trail of tweets has roiled the capital for four years. Across Washington, phones would buzz with alerts anytime the president used his most potent political weapon to attack Democrats and keep Republicans in line. Biden’s tweets tend to be bland news releases and policy details with the occasional “Here’s the deal, folks” thrown in for good measure. Allied lawmakers are unlikely to have to pretend not to have seen the latest posting in order to avoid commenting on it. Biden has said he wants Americans to view the president as a role model again; no more coarse and demeaning language or racist, divisive rhetoric. His team has promised to restore daily news briefings and the president-elect does not refer to the press as “the enemy of the people.” But it remains to be seen whether he will be as accessible as Trump, who until his postelection hibernation, took more questions from reporters than any of his recent predecessors. While Trump filled out much of his Cabinet and White House staff with relatives, political neophytes and newcomers to government, Biden has turned to seasoned hands, bringing in Obama administration veterans and career officials. Policy papers will be back in vogue and governing by cable chyron likely out. Trump was mostly indifferent to the machinations of Congress, at times appearing to be an observer of his own administration. Biden, a longtime senator who will have Democratic control of both houses, is positioned to use the weight of his office to push an ambitious legislative agenda. His team will be tested, though, by the tumult at home: a virus that is killing more than 4,000 people a day, a sluggish vaccination distribution program, a worsening economy and contention over the upcoming second impeachment trial for Trump. Biden also has as much work ahead repairing the image of the presidency overseas as he does on American shores. Trump repositioned the United States in the world, pulling the U.S. out of a number of multilateral trade deals and climate agreements in favour of a more insular foreign policy. His ever-shifting beliefs and moods strained relations with some of the nation’s oldest allies, including much of Western Europe. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, Trump fostered competition, not co-operation, on research and vaccine development. Trump also abandoned the tradition role the president plays in shining a light on human rights abuses around the world. Biden, who spent years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and had a vast foreign policy portfolio as vice-president, has pledged a course correction. He has promised to repair alliances, rejoin the Paris climate treaty and the World Health Organization and said he would shore up U.S. national security by first addressing health, economic and political crises at home. Offering the White House as a symbol of stability to global capitals won’t be easy for Biden as Trump’s shadow looms. “He has a structural problem and needs to make the U.S. seem more reliable. We’re diminished in stature and less predictable,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He noted that even after Biden’s win, the European Union bolstered ties to China with a new investment treaty. “Everyone around the world is hedging, they have no idea if Biden’s a one-term president or what could come after him,” Haass said. “There is a fear across the world that Trump or Trumpism could return in four years.” ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
ÉDUCATION. La Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l'éducation du Québec (FPPE-CSQ) apprécie que le ministre de l'Éducation se montre préoccupé de la santé mentale et de la réussite des élèves du primaire et du secondaire. Ceci dit, la FPPE-CSQ regrette qu'aucune solution concrète, à court ou à long terme, n'ait été annoncée pour donner plus de ressources aux professionnels afin de répondre aux besoins des élèves en termes de persévérance scolaire et de santé mentale. «Nous sommes conscients qu'il faut tout mettre en œuvre pour accompagner les élèves vers la réussite. Cependant, ce que le ministre Roberge a eu aujourd'hui est une fausse bonne idée. Aucune de ces mesures ne pourra remplacer un plan d'intervention, ne pourra poser un diagnostic, ne pourra contribuer au travail multidisciplinaire des membres des équipes-écoles pour mettre en place des stratégies et faire des suivis particuliers. Dommage qu'encore une fois, le ministre Roberge ne reconnaisse pas l'importance de notre expertise, malgré la crise. Il ne faut pas perdre de vue qu'il y aura aussi une sortie de crise à assumer!», souligne le président de la FPPE-CSQ, Jacques Landry, qui s’inquiète de l'externalisation des services professionnels qu’amène le programme de tutorat mis en place par le ministre de l’Éducation. Bien que le programme de tutorat puisse répondre, dans l'immédiat, à certains enjeux, le support aux élèves vulnérables doit se traduire, à moyen et à long terme, par un investissement accru dans les services complémentaires selon l’organisation qui représente 10 000 membres. «Les interventions doivent s'inscrire en cohérence avec les équipes-écoles et les milieux et la FPPE-CSQ doute des capacités des tuteurs d'effectuer des suivis plus élaborés et entrevoit des problèmes d'imputabilité, de compétences ou même de gestion de ces personnes qui ne contribueront pas au développement des services dans le réseau scolaire. Des questions restent d'ailleurs en suspens : qui encadrera les tuteurs, auront-ils des mandats clairement définis, comment seront-ils évalués, seront-ils bénévoles, comment la sécurité des élèves sera-t-elle assurée?», se demande le syndicat. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
NASA's deep space exploration rocket built by Boeing briefly ignited all four engines of its behemoth core stage for the first time on Saturday, cutting short a crucial test to advance a years-delayed U.S. government program to return humans to the moon in the next few years. Mounted in a test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the Space Launch System’s (SLS) 212-foot tall core stage roared to life at 4:27 p.m. local time (2227 GMT) for just over a minute — well short of the roughly four minutes engineers needed to stay on track for the rocket's first launch in November this year. "Today was a good day," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a press conference after the test, adding "we got lots of data that we're going to be able to sort through" to determine if a do-over is needed and whether a November 2021 debut launch date is still possible.
WOLVERHAMPTON, England — West Bromwich Albion collected only its second win in the Premier League — and first under new manager Sam Allardyce — as two penalties by Matheus Pereira helped to earn a 3-2 victory over Wolverhampton on Saturday. Allardyce was unable to call upon two key players — goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and winger Matt Phillips — after they contracted the coronavirus, but West Brom still managed to boost its survival hopes with its first win since beating Sheffield United on Nov. 28. Pereira slotted home his first penalty in the fourth minute after Callum Robinson was tripped at the edge of the penalty area, but Wolves fought back to lead at halftime thanks to goals by Fabio Silva in the 38th and Willy Boly in the 43rd. Centre half Semi Ajayi scored for the third time since Allardyce arrived a month ago after a header following a long throw-in in the 52nd minute, and Pereira regained the lead for West Brom four minutes later from a penalty again won by Robinson. West Brom remained in next-to-last place, but moved in sight of safety. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Collette Catto of Whitehorse loves to cook. She also likes to be creative. She's been making bannock since she was a young girl, but she recently hit on something that's proving to be a mouth-watering hit — stuffed bannock. "I make bannock with stuffed bacon and cheese. People like the bacon and cheese," she said. Catto started off with her basic bannock recipe and then she had the idea. "I started rolling it out and making it flat, so I added a bit more flour to make it pliable so that I could use it when I was making Indian tacos," Catto said. "So then I started messing around with it one day, and started testing things out on my family to see if they liked it." Bacon-and-cheese was one successful recipe, bannock-wrapped burgers was another. Cooking through a pandemic Catto is originally from Haines Junction, Yukon. Her family moved to Whitehorse in September. They noticed immediately the higher costs of living in the city and wanted to help those that were struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. She's been taking bannock orders online for people to pick up, and sometimes she delivers. Demand has been going up. "I usually sell to individuals, raise money and then just donate it to who needs it for some of their bills or to help pay their rent. You know, things like that," Catto said. "It's a small world and we're all going through a lot of stuff, so we're just trying to help out where we can." Catto says at peak times, she's been selling hundreds of pieces of bannock. The most important meal of the day Catto's most recent experiment was a breakfast-stuffed bannock. She says the feedback she has received already is encouraging. "The people that have picked them up, they love it. They're like, 'where has this been? It's incredible,'" Catto said. Catto says she plans to continue experimenting with what she can put in a piece of bannock "We were thinking chicken tacos. We were thinking maybe pizza. It's an endless supply of thoughts. We just enjoy cooking and it keeps me busy."
Thousands of genomic sequences have been identified from the original strain of the novel coronavirus. Depending on the rate of transmission and efforts to curb infections, the variant will either die out or dominate. Crystal Goomansingh explains how researchers are tracking the virus as it evolves.
WASHINGTON — The public won’t see President Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there’s growing concern the collection won’t be complete, leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies. Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring that records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House records workers to spend hours taping them back together. “They told him to stop doing it. He didn’t want to stop,” said Solomon Lartey, a former White House records analyst. He said the first document he taped back together was a letter from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., about a government shutdown. The president also confiscated an interpreter’s notes after Trump had a chat with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump scolded his White House counsel for taking notes at a meeting during the Russia investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Top executive branch officials had to be reminded more than once not to conduct official business on private email or text messaging systems and to preserve it if they did. And now, Trump's baseless claim of widespread voter fraud, which postponed for weeks an acknowledgement of President-elect Joe Biden's victory, is delaying the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, further heightening concern about the integrity of the records. “Historians are likely to suffer from far more holes than has been the norm,” said Richard Immerman at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. In the Trump White House, "not only has record-keeping not been a priority, but we have multiple examples of it seeking to conceal or destroy that record.” Lack of a complete record might also hinder any ongoing investigations of Trump, from his impeachment trial and other prospective federal inquiries to investigations in the state of New York. But even with requests by lawmakers and lawsuits by government transparency groups, there is an acknowledgment that noncompliance with the Presidential Records Act carries little consequence for Trump. In tossing out one suit last year, U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel wrote that courts cannot “micromanage the president’s day-to-day compliance.” The Presidential Records Act states that a president cannot destroy records until he seeks the advice of the national archivist and notifies Congress. But the law doesn’t require him to heed the archivist's advice. It doesn't prevent the president from going ahead and destroying records. Most presidential records today are electronic. Records experts estimate that automatic backup computer systems capture a vast majority of the records, but cannot capture records that a White House chooses not to create or log into those systems. THE MOVE Moving a president’s trail of paper and electronic records is a laborious task. President Barack Obama left about 30 million pages of paper documents and some 250 terabytes of electronic records, including the equivalent of about 1.5 billion pages of emails. The records of past presidents are important because they can help a current president craft new policies and prevent mistakes from being repeated. “Presidential records tell our nation’s story from a unique perspective and are essential to an incoming administration in making informed decisions,” said Lee White, director of the National Coalition for History. “They are equally vital to historians." When Trump lost the November election, records staffers were in position to transfer electronic records, pack up the paper ones and move them to the National Archives by Jan. 20, as required by law. But Trump’s reluctance to concede has meant they will miss the deadline. “Necessary funding from the (White House) Office of Management and Budget was delayed for many weeks after the election, which has caused delays in arranging for the transfer of the Trump presidential records into the National Archives' custody,” the National Archives said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Even though the transfer of these records will not be completed until after Jan. 20, the National Archives will assume legal custody of them on Jan. 20 in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment about preserving Trump's records. One person familiar with the transition said guidance typically emailed to executive branch employees explaining how to turn in equipment and pack up their offices was sent out in December, but quickly rescinded because Trump insisted on contesting the election. With little guidance, some staffers in the White House started quietly calling records workers to find out what to do. Departing employees are instructed to create a list of folders in each box and make a spreadsheet to give the National Archives a way to track and retrieve the information for the incoming Biden team. The process gets more complex with classified material. The Biden administration can request to see Trump records immediately, but the law says the public must wait five years before submitting Freedom of Information Act requests. Even then, Trump — like other presidents before him — is invoking specific restrictions to public access of his records for up to 12 years. Six restrictions outlined in the law include national security, confidential business information, confidential communications between the president and his advisers or among his advisers and personal information. RECORD-KEEPING PRACTICES Around Trump's first impeachment and on other sensitive issues, some normal workflow practices were bypassed, a second person familiar with the process said. Apparently worried about leaks, higher-ups and White House lawyers became more involved in deciding which materials were catalogued and scanned into White House computer networks where they are automatically saved, this person said. The individuals, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss inner workings at the White House, said that if uncatalogued materials ended up in an office safe, for instance, they would at least be temporarily preserved. But if they were never catalogued in the first place, staffers would not know they existed, making such materials untraceable. White House staff quickly learned about Trump's disregard for documents as they witnessed him tearing them up and discarding them. “My director came up to me and said, ‘You have to tape these together,'” said Lartey, the former records analyst. Lartey said someone in the White House chief of staff's office told the president that the documents were considered presidential records and needed to be preserved by law. Lartey said about 10 records staffers ended up on Scotch tape duty at different times, starting with Trump’s first days in the White House through at least mid-2018. Trump's staff also engaged in questionable practices by using private emails and messaging apps. Former White House counsel Don McGahn in February 2017 sent a memo that instructed employees not to use nonofficial text messaging apps or private email accounts. If they did, he said, they had to take screenshots of the material and copy it into official email accounts, which are preserved. He sent the memo back out in September 2017. “It's an open question to me about how serious or conscientious any of those people have been about moving them over,” said Tom Blanton, who directs the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which was founded in 1985 to combat government secrecy. Trump was criticized for confiscating the notes of an interpreter who was with him in 2017 when the president talked with Putin in Hamburg, Germany. Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to obtain the notes of another interpreter who was with Trump in 2018 when he met with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. It's unclear whether the two presidents talked about Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Many people suspected the subject did come up because at a news conference afterward, Trump said he believed Putin when Putin denied Russian interference despite U.S. intelligence agencies finding the opposite. Several weeks ago, the National Security Archive, two historical associations and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued to prevent the Trump White House from destroying any electronic communications or records sent or received on nonofficial accounts, such as personal email or WhatsApp. They also alleged that the White House has already likely destroyed presidential materials. The court refused to issue a temporary restraining order after government lawyers told the judge that they had instructed the White House to notify all employees to preserve all electronic communications in their original format until the suit was settled. “I believe we will find that there’s going to be a huge hole in the historical record of this president because I think there’s probably been serious noncompliance of the Presidential Records Act," said Anne Weismann, one of the lawyers representing the groups in their suit. "I don’t think President Trump cares about his record and what it says. I think he probably cares, though, about what it might say about his criminal culpability.” Trump faces several legal challenges when he leaves the White House. There are two New York state inquiries into whether he misled tax authorities, banks or business partners. Also, two women alleging he sexually assaulted them are suing him. DESTROYING OR SAVING HISTORY Presidential records were considered a president's personal property until the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon prompted Congress in 1978 to pass the Presidential Records Act over worry that Nixon would destroy White House tape recordings that led to his resignation. After that, presidential records were no longer considered personal property but the property of the American people — if they are preserved. Lawmakers have introduced legislation to require audits of White House record-keeping and compliance with the law. “The American public should not have to wait until a president has left office to learn of problems with that president’s record-keeping practices," Weismann said. Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
ÉDUCATION. Dans la foulée des nouvelles restrictions sanitaires annoncées par le gouvernement du Québec, la ministre de l'Enseignement supérieur, Danielle McCann, confirme le maintien des mesures déjà en place depuis l'automne dans la plupart des établissements d'enseignement supérieur. Cette décision vise à éviter la propagation du virus sur les différents campus et à assurer la sécurité des étudiants et du personnel. «Au cours des derniers mois, les étudiantes et étudiants ainsi que tout le personnel des réseaux de l'enseignement supérieur ont fait preuve d'une résilience exceptionnelle et exemplaire. Il faut le souligner, les mesures sanitaires mises en place pour freiner l'élan du virus dans nos établissements ont grandement affecté le quotidien des étudiants. Je sais que c'est encore un effort important que nous leur demandons, mais je compte sur la mobilisation de tous les acteurs des cégeps, collèges privés et universités pour que la prochaine session se déroule avec succès», souligne Danielle McCann, ministre de l'Enseignement supérieur. Pour la session d'hiver, il a donc été demandé aux cégeps, collèges privés et universités d'offrir un maximum d'activités d'enseignement à distance à leur communauté étudiante respective. Les étudiants dont la présence est essentielle à l'acquisition ou à l'évaluation des connaissances pourront se rendre physiquement sur le campus. En ce sens, les stages ainsi que les activités de recherche et de laboratoire seront maintenus. Les bibliothèques demeureront ouvertes uniquement pour permettre l'utilisation du comptoir de prêts et des espaces de travail individuels. Les services de soutien psychologiques sur le campus demeureront également accessibles. Notons que le couvre-feu devra être observé sur tous les campus du Québec. Par contre, les étudiants et le personnel qui doivent recevoir ou offrir des services éducatifs dans une école reconnue pourront le faire s'ils sont en mesure de fournir une pièce justificative comme une carte étudiante valide, une copie de l'horaire, une confirmation d'inscription ou une lettre de l'employeur. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Portugal's fragile health system is under growing pressure due to a worrying rise in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting 10,947 new cases and 166 deaths on Saturday, the worst surge since the pandemic started last year. The cases, which come a day after a new lockdown was put in place, bring the total number of cases in a country of just over 10 million people to 539,416, with the death toll increasing to 8,709. The health system, which prior to the pandemic had the lowest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can accommodate a maximum of 672 COVID-19 patients in ICUs, according to Health Ministry data.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has congratulated Nick Mantas on winning the Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt byelection. Preliminary results show Mantas won a narrow victory Friday night to replace former Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis in Ward 22. Tory said the byelection happened at a crucial time for the city. "As mayor, it is my job to work with every member of city council," Tory said in a statement. "I look forward to working with councillor-elect Mantas on the issues that are important to him and the residents of Ward 22. "This is a crucial time for our city as we continue to face the challenge of COVID-19. I know councillor-elect mantas is committed to helping our efforts as a city government to confront this virus and make the residents and businesses of Scarborough-Agincourt get through these extremely tough times," Tory added. Tory said he also looks forward to working with Mantas on the prudent management of the city's finances and on the maintenance of strong partnerships with the other governments. He thanked voters who cast their ballot in the byelection either by mail or in person. "Your commitment to making sure your voice is heard as part of our democratic process is so important and has helped make sure Ward 22 will continue to be represented at Toronto City Hall," he said. Mantas, who was the former chief of staff to Karygiannis, was considered one of the more high-profile candidates among the 28 running in the byelection for Scarborough-Agincourt. According to the city's unofficial results, Mantas had a total of 3,261 votes with all 41 polls reporting. He won by a margin of just 223 votes over his nearest rival, Manna Wong, who garnered 3,038 votes. The results are deemed unofficial until the city clerk can declare a winner, according to a tweet from Toronto Elections. Karygiannis was removed as city councillor in September 2020 due to a campaign spending violation in the 2018 municipal election.