Snow covered cars on the street, with strong winds.
Snow covered cars on the street, with strong winds.
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.
Sports competition is suspended and gatherings at restaurants are being further limited under new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Saskatchewan on Wednesday. Limits on private gatherings like weddings and funerals, along with places of worship, will also be introduced. Premier Scott Moe said he does not believe a full lockdown is "imminent" because he thinks the restrictions will make a difference. "Our goal is to not shut down businesses, services and activities that ultimately put people out of work and at times threaten their mental health," Moe said at a news conference on Wednesday. "Our goal is to find ways for those things to operate and to do so safely so that people can continue to participate in athletics and continue working."Starting 12:01 a.m. on Friday, no more than four people will be allowed to sit together at a table at a restaurant, and tables will need to be separated by three metres unless there are "impermeable barriers" between them, in which case they can be placed two metres apart. Restaurants will also need to keep information about guests or patrons.All team sports and group activities are suspended, but athletes and dancers 18 years old and under may keep practising in groups of eight or fewer if they use masks and practise physical distancing. Fitness activities in groups of eight or less are still allowed, with conditions.All places of worship must reduce capacity to 30 people, and no food or drink can be served. Mandatory non-medical masking is being extended to apply to all students, employees and visitors at schools. All employees and visitors in common areas in businesses and workplaces, even where the public does not have access, also have to wear a mask.All residents, employees and visitors in all common areas in provincial and municipal correctional facilities will also have to wear a mask.Capacity will be restricted to 30 people at casinos, bingo halls, arenas, live theatres, movie theatres, performing arts venues and other facilities that currently have a capacity of 150 people.Indoor gatherings such as banquets, weddings, funerals, conferences will also have a limit of 30 people, and food and beverage service will be prohibited. The limit for private indoor gatherings will remain at five but the province said "gatherings of any size beyond your immediate household are strongly discouraged at this time."The government announcement was initially scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, but was postponed for a day.Saskatchewan COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb, with nearly 3,000 known active cases across the province as of Tuesday. More than 100 people are in hospital, including 20 in intensive care units.A food bank, a safe consumpion site and other services for Saskatoon's vulnerable population have been shuttered after positive cases. Many schools are operating on reduced schedules or have closed. The virus is spreading rapidly through urban and rural care homes, northern villages, First Nations and elsewhere.Premier Scott Moe is self-isolating after a potential recent exposure in a Prince Albert restaurant. Fred Sasakamoose, a member of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation and one of the first Indigenous hockey players to make it to the NHL, died this week after contracting COVID.Last weekend, Moe said he was against a full lockdown of the province, stating it would be disastrous for the economy.Last week, the province made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces across the province and restricted indoor private gatherings in people's homes to five people.Visits to long-term and personal care homes were also suspended in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus to vulnerable people.On Tuesday, Alberta announced its latest plans to limit the spread of the virus. Premier Jason Kenney said all indoor gatherings would no longer be allowed and Grade 7 to 12 students would switch to online learning from Nov. 30 to the end of their winter break.Only 10 people will be allowed to be present at weddings and funerals in Alberta. Banquet halls, auditoriums and children's play spaces will be closed.Moe said Saskatchewan residents need to "slow down a little bit" but a return to the tighter restrictions on businesses like those introduced earlier in the pandemic is not needed. "The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan businesses and their employees in this province are operating safely day to day so it would be terribly unfair and it would have a huge negative impact close down all of those businesses and put thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work," said Moe. The premier said the province is considering compensation for industries affected by the pandemic, calling it an "active conversation." He would not say which sectors the province is currently in discussions with. "I don't have a date on when we will be moving forward or if we will be moving forward with a compensation package, but we are working with those sectors to understand how today's recommendations … are going to impact them," said Moe. "And how to ensure that our local small business, our restaurant sector for example, and others, are there when we come out the backside of this pandemic."Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and Moe said more restrictions could be needed if case numbers do not fall. What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
After six years operating in one of Aylmer’s landmark buildings, the Family Central Restaurant will be closing its doors on Saturday, Dec. 19. Central building board member, Albert Loewen, described challenges from COVID-19 as “the final nail” that led to the restaurant’s closure. The building’s Family Central Apartment program, which provides affordable housing to participants while they work towards education and employment goals, will remain open. “It’s tough because you need numbers, you need crowds, that’s literally what you rely on to make your ends meet,” Mr. Loewen said. “We’re headed into the winter where there’s no patio option, and now there’s talk of further lockdowns.” Family Central Restaurant has been serving the community since 2014 with a goal of providing a wholesome and welcoming dining environment to families and the business community of downtown Aylmer. To encourage families and groups to have meaningful conversations with each other, the restaurant rewards patrons who refrain from using cell phones during meals with a 10% reduction on the bill. “At the end of the day, it’s a tough market for restaurants right now. We’re sad about it, but it’s a reality that a lot of restaurants are facing,” said Mr. Loewen. “I would highly encourage people to support the other local restaurants.” The organization’s main focus will now be providing affordable housing to the community through the Family Central Apartments, which provides eight units on the second and third floors. Currently, the basement is being renovated to operate as a space to serve those in the program. The space will provide semi-private meeting rooms, access to computers for job searches and other online needs, shower and laundry facilities, and an in-house barber. “The whole idea is to be a transitional space for people to get to a place of independence - whether they’re lacking education, or whatever is holding them back from a place they can get on their own,” explained Mr. Loewen. The apartment program currently employs two people who actively work and partner with other agencies to support those living in the program. The future for the first floor of the building, where the restaurant is, has yet to be determined.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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
Police have released a video in hopes of tracking down suspects in a recent daylight shooting incident in King. Investigators with York Regional Police 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau released the video and are on the lookout for two suspects. Police report the incident occurred back on Oct. 29, at 3:30 p.m. Police were called to the intersection of Larkin Avenue and Ballard Drive and when officers arrived they located multiple shell casings. Later that evening the victim’s vehicle, a grey Mercedes, was found unoccupied in a parking lot in the area of Keele Street and King Road. The victim was eventually identified and found and he was not injured in the shooting. Investigators are seeking any information that may assist with identifying the suspects and the suspect vehicle to please come forward. Video of the shooting is available for viewing at the following link: https://youtu.be/3UzixtQL9Ao Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police 1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7141 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
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
Flu shot vaccine supply on the Island is now limited, according to the Chief Public Health Office (CPHO), but so far there has been no overall shortage. High dose and regular dose shots are still available. Public health nurses continue to offer vaccines and pharmacies are permitted to order 50 doses per day from provincial stock. The CPHO has also ordered 2,000 more vaccines to distribute on the Island and these are expected to arrive at the end of November. Erin MacKenzie, Executive Director of the PEI Pharmacists Association, said PEI seems to be well positioned with the number of regular-dose flu vaccines obtained so far this season even with increased demand. More than 79,000 shots have been distributed to public health nurses and Island pharmacies, which is more than ever. An increased demand was projected by CPHO this year as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms MacKenzie said demand at pharmacies has been higher this year. Island pharmacies have administered 41,500 flu shots so far compared to a total of 37,100 last year. Jonathan Broderick, manager of Montague Pharmasave, said his pharmacy usually administers 700-800 flu shots per year. This year 1,000 have already been given and a daily demand continues. High-dose flu vaccines, recommended for those 65 years of age or older, are in shorter supply but they are still available at some pharmacies, through primary care providers and through public health. Ms MacKenzie recommends calling ahead to obtain the high-dose shot from a pharmacy. Some local pharmacies have run out of regular flu shots for a day or two here and there. “This is not unusual,” Ms MacKenzie said. At the beginning of the season, pharmacies order wholesale batches. Sometimes an individual pharmacy will run out between these orders because of fluctuations in demand early on. Near the end of the season, wholesale batches available to pharmacies typically run out and pharmacies then rely on ordering remaining shots from the Provincial Pharmacy or redistribution among pharmacies. “The transition from sending your order in to your regular wholesaler and finding out they don’t have any more in stock can cause delays. It can take a few days to smooth that wrinkle out,” Ms MacKenzie said. “If you order a batch of 50 on a Friday and a few families come in looking for shots over the weekend you might run low or run out before the next order arrives,” she added. Desi Peters, a pharmacist with RemedyRx in Souris, said they ran out of shots for a couple days but then they have been able to get supply as needed. He added that it seems the provincial supply is starting to stretch thin with maximum orders of 50 per day. “We’re down to one or two,” Mr Broderick said on Wednesday, November 18, about stock remaining from his wholesale orders. He had submitted an application to receive additional doses from the Provincial Pharmacy, but he was unsure when those would arrive. By Friday, November 20, there were no doses available at RemedyRx. While there are still no overall issues with the Island’s supply of regular-dose flu shots, according to Ms MacKenzie, this could of course change depending on unprecedented demand moving forward. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends everyone six months of age and older, who do not have contraindications to the vaccine, get a flu shot this year.Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
B.C. shattered its single-day record for new COVID-19 cases, confirming another 941 on Tuesday and 10 more deaths within the last 24 hours.
Amid heartfelt condolences to another 12 families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and another 471 new cases announced, the province’s chief public health officer spoke of the rollout of an outbound automated calling system in the coming days. "Today, we’re announcing Manitoba is introducing additional steps to improve case and contact investigations," Dr. Brent Roussin said. "This will expand on current methods for case and contact monitoring." In the first phase of the automated system, the calls will be used to determine if active cases can be shifted to the recovered category. The automated system will ask as questions, and the person receiving the call can press a key and request a callback from public health. If the case or contact is at the end of the monitoring period, and has no further questions, the case or contact can be marked as recovered. The second phase of system will be used to contact cases and related contacts. "This allows us to be more responsive and reach people sooner," Roussin said. "Individuals will continue to receive calls from public health officials. The combined automated calls and the current monitoring process will be more efficient and effective in redirecting resources." Roussin said other provinces are safely using this method of communication. The system will help Manitobans quickly and efficiently receive information they need to make the informed decisions. Other provinces were able to make progress through the use of automated calls that offer information about testing, treatment and next steps. "We believe that this similar system will be a valuable tool for our fight against COVID-19," he said. "People will be asked important information about testing, self-isolation and other public health guidelines. Then a question-and-answer format with answers provided via a keypad on the phone." Roussin advised Manitobans they will never be asked for personal health information or other personal information, such as banking information, social insurance numbers, credit card numbers, passport numbers or other non-health related identification data. "If this is occurring, share this information with your local police department as it is suspicious," he said. Looking ahead to the next official holiday, the province has not made any specific decisions regarding a possible two-week extension to the usual school Christmas break. "We’re at the biggest restrictions we’ve had to date. Although we’re not seeing the test positivity or case numbers climb over the last bit, we’re not seeing the numbers diminish as we would like," Roussin said. "We are looking at taking advantage of that natural break over the holidays and possibly extending that." He stressed again, as he does during most daily COVID-19 updates, that officials are not seeing high amounts of transmission within the schools. "It’s more that we don’t want to go into the holiday season with a very high test positivity rate, where we know it’s going to be very challenging to limit gatherings. It’s something we’re definitely looking at right now. We haven’t landed anywhere. Hopefully, we’ll have some more definitive news on that shortly." But even before the holiday, another important date is likely marked on many a calendar: Dec. 11, the expiry of the current critical level red public health orders. Looking ahead, what is the plan? "When, and it is a when, we will be able to lessen these restrictions … We don’t know exactly when that will be, but, we will be loosening these restrictions at some point. We’re going to have to do it in a very cautious manner. Much like we did in the spring and early summer, in a phased approach, and follow our numbers quite closely," Roussin said. He said the prerequisites are: diminished test positivity, diminished case numbers and a clear relief of the strain on the health-care system. "Don’t have any specifics to look at. It’s something we’re always considering — where we would go first. At this point, we have to focus on getting these numbers down," he said. Regardless of what mid-December brings, Manitobans will need to adjust to the idea Christmas will not be the same in 2020. "We’re a bit of a ways away from the holiday season. It’s quite possible that we could see a good trend by then, where we might be able to provide different advice," Roussin said. "If it’s advice that people are going to rely on, and they need it right now, that advice is to not gather outside of your household, to keep those gatherings as minimal as possible. Do look for alternative ways to celebrate, such as virtually. But we’re really going to try to get these numbers down to see if we can have some remnants of the holiday season outside of our household."Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
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
Savanna Robilliard celebrated her eighth birthday on Sunday, Nov. 15 with a generous spirit, by requesting toys, not for herself, but to donate to the Aylmer Optimist Club’s Christmas Toy Drive. “I wanted to help other kids,” said Savanna, on the inspiration behind the initiative, which she started with her own savings. “My daughter saved up $100 of her own money to buy toys for other kids,” said Savanna’s mother, Sara Robilliard. “Because of COVID-19, she decided it wasn’t enough and wanted to have a drive-by for her birthday to collect more toys.” The weather was poor that day, with rain, high winds and power outages, but people still showed up with their gifts. Support came from family, friends and the community, with about 30 people dropping off donations at her family’s home from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. that day (taking care to keep distance and wear masks). Hearing of the good deed, Santa Claus made a surprise appearance, greeting Savanna and her family, and giving a $100 donation as well. A variety of gifts were dropped off, including stuffed animals, dolls, puzzles and books. Including Savanna’s own savings, they received over $700 in monetary donations, which will be used to purchase toys. Donations are still being accepted at the 12 St. George Street home. Sara said they have found great enjoyment in buying gifts for others, saying, “Yes we are so excited! We have filled my van twice with toys and more are still coming in!” She credited her sister-in-law and Optimist Danielle Howe, for being a huge help with the initiative. Savanna was thanked by the Aylmer Optimist Club for her thoughtfulness and consideration, saying she had a “future in Optimism.” Optimist Christmas Toy Drive Chair Dave Dohnt, said the official kickoff for the toy drive will be marked by a barbecue at the Bargain Shop on Saturday, Dec. 5. Toys will be delivered to families in need on Saturday, Dec. 19. The Optimist Club toy drive has been a tradition in the community for the past 60 years. Mr. Dohnt said that donations have been “pretty good so far,” and started fairly early this year. Toys are quarantined for 72 hours before being handled. Drop-off locations for the toy drive in town are: ESSO Snack N’ Run gas station; ICS Courier Services; McTaggart, Armstrong Dewar & Owen Insurance; The Aylmer Express; Colonel Talbot Branch 81, Royal Canadian Legion; Showcase East Elgin Realty Inc.; and Springfield Rona.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Ontarians across the province should only celebrate the upcoming holiday season with people inside their own household, Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday."Doing so is critical if you live in a lockdown region," Ford said. "If you live alone you can join one other household. Please don't have big holiday parties."A provincial news release also states that anyone "living away from home, including those studying at colleges and universities, should consider doing a self-quarantine, or reducing close contact with others, 10 to 14 days before returning home for the holidays."Health Minister Christine Elliott said she knows how difficult the last several months have been for people."The holiday season will need to be a little different in order to protect our loved ones and our communities," she said.Ford and Elliott also suggested virtual gatherings as an alternative."To keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted," Ford said.WATCH | Premier gives direction on holiday season:The announcement comes as Ontario reported another 1,373 cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths linked to the illness on Wednesday.The new cases include 445 in Toronto (which the city later updated to 481), 415 in Peel Region and 136 in York Region and drop the seven-day average to 1,389.Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in today's report were: * Waterloo Region: 61 * Hamilton: 49 * Windsor-Essex: 48 * Simcoe Muskoka: 30 * Halton Region: 30 * Durham Region: 26 * Ottawa: 23 * Niagara Region: 17 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 13 * Thunder Bay: 13[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]There were also 162 school-related cases, including 138 students and 24 staff members. There are 688 publicly-funded schools in Ontario, or about 14.6 per cent, with at least one reported instance of COVID-19. Four schools are closed due to outbreaks.The new cases come as Ford's government is under fire for its pandemic response. A new report from the province's Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that the response was hampered by "delays and confusion in decision-making."Meanwhile, Ontario's labs processed 36,076 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a provincewide test positivity rate of 4.7 per cent.There are currently 12,779 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, 138 fewer than yesterday. The number of people with the illness in Ontario hospitals fell 11 to 523. Those being treated in intensive care stayed unchanged at 159, while 15 more patients were put on ventilators.The 35 additional deaths reported today include 29 people aged 70 and over who contracted the virus in an outbreak, most likely long-term care settings. Ontario's official death toll now sits at 3,554.Scathing AG report on pandemic responseThe province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was slower and more reactive than that of other provinces, Lysyk concluded in her report. She said outdated provincial emergency plans played a role in slowing down the provincial response in the winter and spring, as did systemic issues such as a lack of laboratory surge capacity and old IT systems.Lysyk also pointed to an increasingly cumbersome command structure, and one that was not led by public health expertise despite the creation and expansion of a provincial health command table that she says now involves more than 500 people.As well, she found the province's chief medical officer of health did not fully exercise his powers in responding to the pandemic, or issue directives to local health officials to ensure a consistent approach across regions.The auditor general also raised concerns that lab testing, case management and contact tracing were not being conducted in a timely enough manner to limit the spread of the virus, noting that between January and August, all but one public health unit failed to meet the target of reporting test results within a day 60 per cent of the time.The findings are part of a special report released today that examines Ontario's emergency management in the context of the pandemic, and its outbreak planning and decision-making, among other things.In the report, Lysyk said many of the issues her office identified would have been avoidable if the province had acted on key lessons from the 2003 SARS outbreak before or during the health crisis.Ford responded to the report Wednesday, saying that he had "serious problems" with it."This does nothing but undermine this entire health team," Ford said, adding that he "won't stand for this."Ford also directly criticized Lysyk herself, accusing her of sitting in her office and throwing "hand grenades" at the government's health officials."Stick with looking for value for money. Stick with the job we hired you for … stick with the number crunching," Ford said.COVID-19 and the holidaysToronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province's tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions set to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.The province's chief medical officer of health said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower. Previously, Dr. David Williams was derided for his suggestion that the entire province could be in the green zone by Christmas. Five other regions — Hamilton, Durham, Halton, York and Waterloo — are currently classified as red zones, which caps social gatherings at five people indoors and 25 outdoors.Ontario's most recent modelling showed the province is on track to see up to 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December, though those projections are expected to be updated Thursday.
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
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
Those who want to pass on their gently used hockey gear to kids who need it can do so at an equipment drive the first week of December. Brain Atkins of Total Construction Management in Peterborough wants to help First Nations communities get hockey equipment so he has organized an event for Dec. 5 at the company's location at 169 Lansdowne St. E, from 9 a.m. to noon. “Most of the gear is for smaller kids, but we have already gotten a few items for older players,” said Atkins. Although he does have a few items on hand, Atkins says he cannot accept equipment prior to the drive due to space. “I have some equipment that’s in my vehicle, but I would rather wait until the day of the drive,’’ he says. Atkins says items like skates, good condition hockey sticks and goalie equipment are needed. “We will take whatever people have in equipment, new or used,” he adds. The hockey equipment drive is also being held in other cities in the province such as Whitby and Kitchener. Atkins says those equipment drives are quite successful and he says he has seen the positive effects of the drive and wanted to do something in Peterborough. “This is a first for the City of Peterborough,” he says. To follow all COVID-19 safety measures, Atkins says for those who are going to donate can stay in their cars the day of the event, between the hours listed and the team will remove the equipment. TCM helps First Nations communities rebuild homes, construct community centres, renovate existing homes and complete construction as well as train homeowners how to maintain their homes and buildings after the work is complete. He says the team is dedicated in providing sustainable and self-sufficient structures for the communities they work in. “What a better way to give back than through hockey, and I’m just happy kids will have equipment to use to play hockey.”Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week
The Catfish Creek Conservation Authority board members agreed to give staff two additional paid days off around Christmas, instead of forcing them to use their vacation time. Further, a maximum of 10 vacation days are permitted to be carried over into next year, and the CCCA waived the requirement to use the carried over time by March 31, 2021. The CCCA office is closed from December 24 at 12 p.m. and reopens January 4, 2021 (the Monday after New Year’s Day), as is standard practice for the organization every year. Staff will get Tuesday, Dec. 29 and Wednesday, Dec. 30 as paid days off. CCCA general manager Chris Wilkinson presented a series of options to board members at their Nov. 12 meeting, including allowing all staff to work from home during that time. “One of the ideas that came up is just to keep it simple is to give staff an additional two days paid off over that Christmas holiday to limit that need to work over the vacation period this year,” said Mr. Wilkinson. “That’s just an option, we can work from home or force staff to take vacation days.” Board member Sally Martyn asked if the holidays were ever taken off an employee’s vacation time in the past. Mr. Wilkinson referred to this as “forced vacation,” and this was done in 2018. “The staff have done an extraordinary job through these trying times,” said CCCA board chair Rick Cerna. “I think to give them two paid vacation days is minimal to the fact of what they’ve achieved throughout the year. It’s like a little added bonus.” Board member Arthur Oslach was in agreement, called two paid days off “reasonable.” Water Management Technician Peter Dragunas said that while the office may be closed, he was always watching for potential flooding each year, and responds as required. “If there’s any threat, I’m on it,” he said. “I have been out there actually on New Year’s Eve day. It doesn’t shut down that way.” Conservation Areas Supervisor Dusty Underhill agreed with Mr. Dragunas, and said he consistently keeps an eye on the office, even during the holidays. According to Mr. Wilkinson’s report, many vacations were cancelled and staff often worked instead of taking time off this year due to COVID-19.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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
NEW YORK — Competence is making a comeback.President-elect Joe Biden has prized staying power over star power when making his first wave of Cabinet picks and choices for White House staff, with a premium placed on government experience and proficiency as he looks to rebuild a depleted and demoralized federal bureaucracy.With an eye in part toward making selections who may have to seek approval from a Republican-controlled Senate, Biden has prioritized choosing qualified professionals while eschewing flashy names. Even the most recognizable pick — John Kerry — lacks the showmanship that has defined the Trump era.In sharp contrast to President Donald Trump, who openly distrusted the very government he led, Biden has showcased a faith in bureaucracy that was born out of his nearly five decades in Washington. He's made hires with the deliberate aim of projecting a sense of dutiful and, even boring, competency.Surrounding himself with longtime aides and veterans of the Obama administration, many of whom have already worked together for years, Biden has rolled out a team of careerists with bursting resumes and little need of a learning curve.“Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — made possible through decades of experience working with our partners,” Biden said Tuesday as he unveiled his national security team.“Experience” is indeed the coin of the realm on Biden’s burgeoning team.His pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, worked for Biden in the Senate for years, and held the posts of deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser. His choice for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was the deputy to that post under President Barack Obama. His nominee for treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, was chair of the Federal Reserve and chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. His incoming White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, was chief of staff to two vice-presidents — Al Gore and Biden himself — and was the Obama administration’s Ebola czar.And Kerry, Biden’s choice to fill the newly created post of presidential climate envoy, was a longtime U.S. senator and his party’s 2004 presidential nominee before serving as secretary of state.“The team is bringing competency and experience, which are two separate things but deeply interwoven,” said retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander Europe, who has worked with much of Biden’s new team. “There are deputies stepping up into full roles, seasoned hands returning to the job. They tend to be calm and centred and they won’t all fight over the ball.”“They know their counterparts overseas and they know whom to pick up the phone and call,” said Stavridis. “It’s a completely different approach than what we saw with the Trump team — and I hesitate to call it a team because they didn’t work all that well together.”Four years ago, contenders for Cabinet posts were marched through the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, the president-elect’s Manhattan skyscraper, in full view of reporters and TV cameras. The candidates publicly jockeyed for posts, Trump aides took turn knifing each other in the media, and the incoming president even took one secretary of state contender, Mitt Romney, out to dinner for a public and ultimately unsuccessful audition.Conversely, Biden’s transition hiring process has been carried out behind closed doors or, out of concern for the surging pandemic, on Zoom and over the phone. Leaks to reporters have been few. And the public only got its first glimpse of Biden’s choices when they took their spots, spaced apart and wearing masks, on a Delaware stage.Another change was the distinct lack of tributes from the staffers about their boss, a marked difference from the lengthy, glowing venerations of the president that came to define any Trump Cabinet meeting. Also different: No one who stood with Biden was a family member or an in-law.“The contrast between Biden's selections and Trump’s selections are like night and day: Biden’s picks are capable, sensible and play well in the sandbox together,” said Steve Rattner, a former Obama economic adviser. “Biden prefers people he has known for decades. Trump picked Rex Tillerson because he thought he looked like a secretary of state.”There are risks. Many progressive Democrats aren't looking for simply a return to the Obama years, which ended with many on the left frustrated at the slow pace of change.Republicans are also unimpressed with Biden's hires.“Biden’s cabinet picks went to Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend all the right conferences & will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline,” tweeted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who may seek the White House again in 2024.Trump’s own hiring process was besieged with chaos of his own making. He jettisoned the man in charge of his transition — former Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J. — and more than 30 binders that Christie had prepared in favour of a staffing plan based on his gut, family recommendations and, yes, by his own admission, choices who looked straight out of central casting.The tumult didn’t end once he took office.While a few of his picks were establishment choices, like Marine Gen. Jim Mattis to run the Pentagon, most were plucked from the corporate world — like Tillerson at the State Department and Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department. His senior adviser, Steve Bannon, said he wanted to oversee “the destruction of the administrative state.”Trump had more senior staff and Cabinet turnover than any modern predecessor — his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, didn’t last a month — and he declared an informal war on the federal bureaucracy once the investigation began into whether his campaign had any ties to Russia.Deeply suspicious of what he deemed the "deep state,” Trump allowed scores of vacancies to remain unfilled across federal agencies, fired officials he deemed insufficiently loyal, encouraged in-fighting on his staff and, with relentless public attacks, attempted to undermine Americans’ faith in the institutions of their own government.___EDITOR'S NOTE — Jonathan Lemire has covered the White House and national politics for The Associated Press since 2013.___Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire.Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
A North Battleford man accused of attempted murder was denied bail in Prince Albert Provincial Court. Trent Fox, 19, had a show cause hearing on Nov. 19. He has been in custody since mid-October when he was arrested and charged with attempted murder after a 21-year-old man was stabbed at a business. STARS Air Ambulance took the victim to a Saskatoon hospital with life-threatening injuries. According to Prince Albert Police, they were called to a business in the 3200 block of 2nd Avenue West at about 10 p.m. on Oct. 14. Prince Albert Police say that Fox hitchhiked to Prince Albert from North Battleford earlier on the evening of Oct. 14. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Prince Albert Police at 306-953-4222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Fox is now scheduled to appear in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Dec. 3 by CCTV to enter a plea. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Battlefords News-Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist