Incredibly dark clouds arrived ahead of severe thunderstorms.
Incredibly dark clouds arrived ahead of severe thunderstorms.
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.
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
This river otter is having a fantastic day swimming loop-de-loops in front of his window! So awesome!
NEW YORK — Cleaning wipes are harder to find on store shelves, and businesses are reassuring customers with stepped up sanitation measures. In New York, the subway system is shut down nightly for disinfecting. To avoid any traces of the coronavirus that might be lurking on surfaces, Americans have been wiping down groceries, wearing surgical gloves when they go out and leaving mail packages out for an extra day or two. But experts say the national fixation on scrubbing sparked by the pandemic can sometimes be overkill. “It’s important to clean surfaces, but not to obsess about it too much in a way that can be unhealthy,” said Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the COVID-19 response at the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control. Health officials knew less about the virus in the early days of the pandemic, but say it's become clearer the main way it spreads is between people — through the respiratory droplets they spray when talking, coughing, sneezing or singing. It's why officials emphasize the importance of wearing masks and social distancing. That doesn't mean surfaces don't pose any risk — cleaning is still recommended — especially frequently touched spots like door knobs or elevator buttons that infected people might have recently touched. Other germs that sicken people, like gastrointestinal bugs, haven’t gone away either. But with COVID-19, experts say to keep the risk in perspective: The virus is fragile and doesn’t survive easily outside the body for long. Early studies finding it could linger on surfaces for days used large viral loads and were in laboratory conditions, not the real world. Other tests might just detect remnants of the virus, rather than live virus capable of infecting people. Viruses also don't leap off surfaces to infect people, and infection would require a sequence of events: There would have to be enough surviving virus on whatever the person is touching, the person would have to get it on their hands, then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. All that means there could be diminishing returns to all the disinfecting, especially if people have good hand washing practices. For public health experts, the challenge is telling people exactly where they should draw the line, especially if cleaning isn't doing any harm. What counts as overkill could also vary depending on the situation, said Justin Lessler, an expert in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University. While Lessler wouldn’t wipe down his own groceries, for example, he said it might not be a bad idea for people caring for someone at high-risk for becoming severely ill if infected. “These are things that maybe are on the lower end of how much they actually reduce risk. But they’re relatively easy and cheap,” he said. And in nursing homes, Lessler said vigilance about disinfecting surfaces makes sense. Even if it doesn't meaningfully reduce risk, regularly disinfecting surfaces can be a way for people to exert control when they feel they don't have any, said Stephen Morse, an infectious disease researcher at Columbia University. In public places, he said stepped up cleaning — what some refer to as “hygiene theatre” — can be a way to reassure people. “People want to make it evident that they really care,” Morse said. But Emanuel Goldman, a professor of microbiology at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School, said that reassurance could also create a false sense of safety — and detract from measures that matter more. “They worry less about what they breathe. And breathing is your primary source of infection,” said Goldman, who wrote a commentary in a medical journal in July saying the fear of transmission through surfaces was being overblown. "I'm not saying don't do routine maintenance. I’m not saying don’t do cleaning. But you don’t have to go to extraordinary measures," he said. In some cases, Goldman noted there are significant financial costs. In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is spending $8.1 million a week on COVID-19 related expenses, including subway cleanings throughout the day and overnight. The agency says it's approaching safety in multiple ways. And Mark Dowd, the agency's chief innovation officer, said surfaces could still pose a risk, and that understanding of the virus has continued to evolve. “We don’t think taking our foot off the pedal with regard to disinfecting our surfaces is the right approach,” he said. The MTA is also looking at ways to improve ventilation, Dowd said, but that is far more complicated. Americans are wiping store shelves clean of disinfecting products, too. Since the pandemic hit, sales have been up about 30% in the The Clorox Co.'s business unit that includes cleaning products. Whether those habits will last remains to be seen. At the start of the pandemic in March and April, Paige Zuber said she would come home from her corporate food service job in New York and leave her mask in a bag by the door, immediately change out of her clothes and shower. “It was like disinfecting chaos to make sure I was not bringing anything into our apartment,” said Zuber, who has since been laid off and moved to Rhode Island. Zuber is still cleaning a lot more than she did before the pandemic, but not going to the same extremes. At the CDC, Brooks said he tells people to do what makes them comfortable, but to keep in mind the relative risk of different routes of transmission. “As long as you don’t touch your face when you’re unpacking those groceries, and wash your hands afterwards and are careful, I think that may be sufficient,” he said. ___ Follow AP's Health & Science coverage on Twitter: @APHealthScience ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Candice Choi, The Associated Press
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
NEW YORK — With police brutality continuing to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravishing Black America disproportionately, the world was driven to the significance of this year’s Juneteenth more than ever before. And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day — so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthemic jam where she proudly sings about her heritage, hometown and returning to her African roots. Months later, the song — and others focused on protesting, police brutality and the overall Black experience — are taking centre stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” scored nominations for two of the top awards: song of the year and record of the year. The track will also compete for best R&B song and best R&B performance. “There could have been a different approach as far as releasing the record and capitalizing off of timings of other things, but we really wanted to get it out during a time where we could all remember the feeling and the energy,” Derek Dixie, a longtime collaborator of Beyoncé’s who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s not always about the money and about catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes it’s just about what it is — which was making our people proud.” “Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the overall top Grammy contender. Dixie earned three Grammy nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song. For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” the R&B singer’s track about police brutality. Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, scored nominations for best rap song and best rap performance. Proceeds from the song will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s attorney, the Bail Project and the National Association of Black Journalists. Anderson .Paak also released a song on Juneteenth — the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — and it’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for best rap performance and best music video.. Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago but released it this year because she felt it was extremely relevant. Now, it’s nominated for best country solo performance, giving the performer her first-ever Grammy nomination. “It’s been so hard in the country music community and trying to get country music to even support my music and for me to get a Grammy (nomination), it just goes to show that writing your truth is just the way to go,” Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not only writing your truth, but really bringing your brothers and sisters up with you.” But Guyton admits that everyone’s response to her song wasn’t warm. It features the lyrics, “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be Black like me." “I released it and I did get people that were very angry. There were even radio stations that people were like, ‘Get this (expletive) off of my radio station,’” she said. “I would get people writing me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here then leave.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s just as much my country as it is yours.’” Guyton added that some “radio stations were scared to play (‘Black Like Me’) because they were (angering) their listeners because their listeners didn’t want to hear that.” “But I wasn’t writing that song for them, I was writing that song got the people that understand this exact walk that I’m walking," she continued. “It’s for them." Apart from “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also earned nominations for her film honouring Black art and Black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark- and brown-skinned women, “Brown Skin Girl.” Dixie, who has worked as Beyoncé’s music director and has produced, engineered and arranged songs for the singer, said he’s grateful he’s working with an artist who boldly speaks about Black pride in her music. “It’s just good to see that she’s willing to put that type of energy out and not necessarily be thinking about: ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No. 1? What’s going to guarantee me this?' It’s a part of our conversation, it’s a part of the process, but when it’s necessary to put that art out there, to put that energy out there, she’s usually ... leading the pack in that regard,” Dixie said. “So I’m grateful to be associated with her on that path.” Guyton added that it’s comforting to see some many Black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she’s grateful to the Grammys for acknowledging those kinds of songs. “It’s so important because so often Black people, and Black women especially, are getting overlooked and constantly get overlooked and you’re constantly just trying to get people to remember that you’re there,” she said. “It feels like we’re seen and I don’t think we’ve always felt seen.” “I use this scenario of going into any grocery store — if you go to any grocery store ... and you look for hair products for someone who is ethnic and ... you see an entire aisle full of every and any hair product you can possibly think for someone that is not Black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a Black person, we’re designated a shelf. And today, it doesn't feel like we’re designated a shelf.” The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 31. Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Toymaker Spin Master Corp. has announced a deal to develop toys and games based on the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies.The company says it has signed a global licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products for the Wizarding World franchise.Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.Spin Master says it will develop Wizarding World products inspired by the popular books and movies including dolls, figures and accessories, playsets, vehicles and games.The toys are expected to launch on shelves in the fall of next year.Last month, Spin Master — which includes Paw Patrol, Hatchimals and Gund among its brands — signed a deal to buy Rubik's Brand Ltd, the owner of the Rubik's Cube, for US$50 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:TOY)The Canadian 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
NEW YORK — When Jenna Powell gets in front of a camera, she can sell $10,000 worth of sparkly dresses and tie-dye hoodies in 40 minutes.Powell, whose three Jennaration shops in Alabama were closed at the start of the pandemic, has put all her focus on selling through live videos, broadcasting live several times a week to 400 people who watch on Facebook or her store’s app. She puts on clothes from her shop, spins for the camera and tries to get viewers to buy.“This top is a deal for $22!,” Powell says in a recent video about a leopard print sweater she's wearing. “It’s just very, very well made, y’all!”Livestream selling, already popular in China, is taking off in the U.S., ushering in a new way for Americans to shop online. Instead of searching for what they want, they pick up their phones, sit back, and click to buy if they like what they see.This way of shopping is expected to ring up nearly $5 billion in sales this year, and reach $25 billion in 2023, according to retail data firm Coresight Research.The pandemic is helping to fuel the boom. Business owners with closed stores have taken to livestreaming to sell animal print tops, heated eyelash curlers and just about anything else. They have a captive audience: Many Americans stuck at home with nowhere to go are looking for something to watch. At the same time, tech companies, including Facebook, Instagram and Amazon, have made it easy for businesses to livestream from their smartphones.No one would confuse these videos for the more polished programing on home shopping channels QVC or HSN. Cameras fall. Sometimes the video is upside down. And the WiFi crashes. But Powell, who livestreams from Jennaration's 5,500-square-foot warehouse, says people tune in because her videos are relatable, like when her son shows up and makes faces at the camera.“It’s real life. It’s not like looking at a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. I’m a real person,” says Powell, whose livestreams helped her 7-year-old business nail its bestselling month in April, even though her stores were shut.She plans to go live Thanksgiving night, hoping to catch the attention of bargain hunters who have to stay home after their turkey meals because Walmart, Target and other major stores won't be holding in-store doorbuster sales that night for the first time in years. “Those people still want to shop,” she says.CommentSold, which makes the software that Jennaration and more than 4,000 other stores use to livestream, expects users to sell $1 billion worth of goods this year, more than triple last year. Most of the shoppers tend to be women over the age of 35, who chat with each other in the comments about which outfits they like or what they want to buy.“It’s like going on a shopping trip together,” says CommentSold founder Brandon Kruse.LaKesha Williamson says she watches about 30 hours of live sales a month, spending about $50 a week on tops, jewelry or smartphone chargers.“That’s the only way I shop now,” says the 42-year-old from Calera, Alabama, who works at a domestic violence shelter.The videos let her see how clothing fits on real people. She also likes that the hosts call out her name when she asks questions or comments on an outfit.“It’s like having a conversation with somebody on TV," Williamson says.Dan Hodges, CEO of retail advisory firm Consumers in Motion, thinks livestreaming will transform online shopping because it adds a human touch missing from e-commerce: a live person who can answer questions and make recommendations.He envisions a future where department stores will launch their own livestreaming channels, featuring workers from the beauty counter or the shoe department, giving shoppers tips and fashion advice without having to walk into a store.Online shopping giant Amazon has been experimenting with livestreaming for five years, but last year it offered a free app allowing businesses that sell goods on the site to livestream from their smartphones. Shoppers can ask questions in a chat box, and the products that the hosts are talking about show up near the video, making it easy click to buy. During its two-day Prime Day sales event last month, Amazon says it aired 1,200 livestreams.Beauty brand Chella started livestreaming on Amazon about a year ago, showing shoppers how to use its eyebrow gels, heated eyelash curlers and mascaras. The average video gets about 3,000 views, which Chella says is a big audience for a small brand.Kayla Parks, who works at Chella and hosts the Amazon livestreams, has noticed viewers have gotten chattier during the pandemic, complementing her nail polish or asking which eyeliner colour matches their hair colour. She thinks its either because it's harder to speak to workers at makeup stores, or, they're just lonely.“Maybe they want someone to talk to,” says Parks. “They don’t always feel like they’re being sold to. It’s like you’re talking to your friends.”Joseph Pisani, The Associated Press
Audible bestsellers for the week ending November 22nd: Nonfiction 1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 2. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 3. Off Menu by Nell McShane Wulfhart, performed by Katie Schorr (Audible Originals) 4. Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa TerKeurst, narrated by the author (Thomas Nelson) 5. Unf—k Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD LPC-S ACS ACN, narrated by the author (Blackstone Audio, Inc. ) 6. Galileo by Mario Livio, narrated by Jonathan Davis (Simon & Schuster Audio) 7. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 8. The Art of War by Sun Tzu, performed by Aidan Gillen (Audible Studios) 9. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 10. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, narrated by the author (Folio Literary Management) Fiction 1. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer (Macmillan Audio) 2. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, narrated by Amy Landon (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 3. Daylight by David Baldacci, narrated by Brittany Pressley & Kyf Brewer (Grand Central Publishing) 4. The Last Flight by Julie Clark, performed by Khristine Hvam & Lauren Fortgang (Audible Studios) 5. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 6. The Wedding Gift by Carolyn Brown, performed by Brittany Pressley (Audible Originals) 7. The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly, narrated by Peter Giles (Little, Brown & Company) 8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, performed by Rosamund Pike (Audible Studios) 9. Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon by Marc Cameron, narrated by Scott Brick (Random House Audio) 10. The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian, performed by Julia Motyka (Audible Studios) The Associated Press
A motion in the P.E.I. Legislature supporting the treaty rights of the Mi'kmaq to a moderate livelihood fishery received unanimous support Tuesday evening.The motion, by Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and seconded by Green MLA Trish Altass, also condemned violence and harassment against Mi'kmaq in the region who are exercising those rights."We're seeing the devastating effects of a lack of communication between our federal government and our aboriginal leaders," Altass told the legislature."Government after government at the federal level have ignored the request of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal fishers for years to address the issues surrounding moderate livelihood fishing. Instead of peace and friendship we are now left with fear and division between these two groups."The right to a moderate livelihood fishery was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999, but the precise definition is dependent upon negotiations between the federal government and Mi'kmaq bands.Tuesday night's motion urged government to take every necessary measure to ensure the Mi'kmaq on P.E.I. are able to exercise the right to a moderate livelihood fishery safely and without prejudice.Altass said several commercial fishermen have expressed their fears to her that conservation will not be respected, but she said she is confident these concerns can be overcome with meaningful dialogue.More from CBC P.E.I.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 42 new cases for the region Wednesday. Based on some current data, including the case rate and how quickly the virus is reproducing, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Windsor-Essex technically qualifies for the province's 'control' red category. But Ahmed said that by Friday, when the province typically announces changes, these numbers can shift and there is other data the province looks at before moving a region into another category."Based on the numbers, I think it's pretty evident that we are [in the red category], but as I said the qualitative data would also be taken into consideration and we'll see what the province decides," said Ahmed. Currently, Windsor-Essex is in the 'restrict' orange category. Of Wednesday's 42 new cases, 19 are close contacts of a confirmed case, five are agri-farm workers, one is a local health care worker, two are travel related to Michigan, two are community acquired and 14 are under investigation. There are 341 active cases in the region. Eighteen people are in hospital, including five in the ICU. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) announced one new community outbreak Wednesday, at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor. A community outbreak at Riverplace Residence in Windsor was declared Tuesday.There are three workplaces with outbreaks, two in Leamington's agriculture sector and another at a place of worship in Leamington. Two schools — Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School — remain in outbreak.Begley now has 43 cases, 35 are students and eight are staff members. W. J. Langlois now has five cases. The outbreak at Begley is still under investigation and public health officials say they are not yet sure how many community cases, in student family members, have resulted from the outbreak. There are five long-term care and retirement homes in outbreak. Riverside Place in Windsor reported a spike in new cases Tuesday with 17 residents and two staff members testing positive. Other homes in outbreak include: * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with one staff case. * Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor with two staff cases. * Lifetimes on Riverside in Windsor with five resident cases and four staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases. WECHU also issued potential exposure notices for two additional places this week: * RIA Financial at 54 1/2 Erie St. S. in Leamington on Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 7: 30 p.m., Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. * Deer Run Church at 1408 Deer Run Rd. in Leamington on Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.The potential exposures are considered by the health unit to be low risk, however anybody who visited these locations on the days and times listed are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days.Several charges issued this monthThis month, WECHU said it will be cracking down on those who don't comply with COVID-19 rules and will start issuing charges. On Wednesday, chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette said since Nov. 1 the health unit has issued seven charges, most of which are related to non-compliance with masking or physical distancing. University launches COVID-19 web pageThe University of Windsor launched a COVID-19 web page Monday that lists the number of active cases on campus. The school has had a total of eight cases to date, six of which are resolved. All of the cases occurred in November.
Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de la Côte-Nord prévoit un déficit de 41,6 millions de dollars à la fin de l’exercice 2020-2021. Rappelons toutefois qu’au premier trimestre de l’exercice 2020-2021, le CISSS anticipait un déficit final de 30 millions de dollars. Les coûts liés à la pandémie de COVID-19, le recours à de la main-d’œuvre indépendante et la diminution de certains financements en constituent les causes principales. La gestion de la COVID-19 a pris de court l’établissement, qui a dû recourir à plus de main-d’œuvre d’agences spécialisées pour mieux organiser les services en temps de pandémie. La mise en place des cliniques de dépistage et des centres d’appel, ainsi que la palliation du personnel en retrait préventif pour des motifs liés à la santé et sécurité au travail expliquent la forte hausse des heures de la main-d’œuvre indépendante. Le CISSS a entamé des démarches avec des représentants du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) afin de rétablir l’équilibre budgétaire. Au même moment l’an dernier, le déficit de l’établissement atteignait un peu moins de 15 millions de dollars après l’obtention d’une aide financière récurrente du MSSS.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
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
This is the first of two identical satellites that will continue observations of sea level change for at least the next decade.
WASHINGTON — The second of three estimates on U.S. growth for the July-September quarter was unchanged at a record pace of 33.1%. But a resurgence in the coronavirus is expected to slow growth sharply in the current quarter with some economists even raising the spectre of a double-dip recession. While the overall increase in the country’s total output of goods and services was static, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, some components were revised. Bigger gains in business investment, housing and exports were offset by downward revisions to state and local government spending, business inventories and consumer spending. The 33.1% gain was the largest quarterly gain on records going back to 1947 and surpassed the old mark of a 16.7% surge in 1950. Still, the economy has not fully recovered from output lost in the first six months of the year when GDP suffered a record-shattering drop of 31.4% in the second quarter. That followed a slide at an annual rate of 5% in the first quarter as when the pandemic shut down much of the economy and triggered millions of layoffs. Economists are concerned that growth has slowed sharply in the current October-December and there are fears that GDP could dip back into negative territory in the first three months of next year. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said he had forecast GDP growth of around 2% in the fourth quarter, with the real possibility of GDP turning negative in the first quarter of next year. Economists at JPMorgan Chase have trimmed their forecast for the first quarter to a negative 1% GDP rate. “This winter will be grim and we believe the economy will contract again in the first quarter,” the JPMorgan economists wrote in a research note. “The economy is going to be very uncomfortable between now and when we get the next fiscal rescue package,” Zandi said. “If lawmakers can’t get it together, it will be very difficult for the economy to avoid going back into a recession.” While lawmakers have returned for a lame-duck session, there has been no progress so far in narrowing the differences between Democrats who are pushing for a big package of $1 trillion or more, and Senate Republicans who are refusing to approve anything above approximately $500 billion. More than 9 million people will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year when two jobless benefit programs are set to expire unless Congress extends them. At the same time virus cases are surging, triggering a number of states to re-impose business limits such as earlier closing times for bars and restaurants and stricter limits on the number of in-store shoppers. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in Alaska within a few weeks, state health officials said.Early batches of vaccine will be prioritized for essential workers in health care, assisted living and emergency medical settings, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.Vaccines initially will be issued in limited quantities and likely will not be available to the general public until March or April.The state continues to work on plans to distribute supplies after the vaccines become broadly available.The mid-December timeline for arrival in Alaska was based on announcements by drug companies working to produce coronavirus vaccines.Pfizer Inc. said earlier this month that test results showed its vaccine is 95% effective and protects older people most at risk of dying. Moderna Inc. said this month that preliminary data from an ongoing study showed its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective.AstraZeneca PLC on Monday reported results from ongoing studies of a vaccine under development with Oxford University, saying the drug was up to 90% effective.The high efficacy rates of the vaccines is “such a triumph,” said Joe McLaughlin, an Alaska state epidemiologist. For comparison, influenza vaccine effectiveness is typically between 40% and 60%, he said.Alaska has not definitively settled a timetable, but the distribution will be done in phases with front line health care workers prioritized, said Tessa Walker Linderman, co-lead of the Alaska COVID Vaccine Task Force.The soonest the Pfizer vaccine could be shipped is Dec. 10, with Moderna's vaccine likely being shipped about a week later, said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.After the first round of people get the vaccine, the next phase could include high-risk or critical-infrastructure workers.Pregnant women and children were not included in any of the drug trials and will need to wait longer for access.The state does not know how much vaccine will be delivered and officials are planning for three different scenarios, including batches of less than 5,000 doses and groups of around 10,000 and 20,000 doses, Zink said.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The Associated Press
Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) staff and board members were pleased with the financial summary for October. CCCA Finance Coordinator Susan Simmons reviewed the finance report during a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12. She noted the conservation area revenue was currently at $565,275.15, about $2,200 short of the budgeted amount. “I think we all deserve a sigh of relief for making it through,” said Ms. Simmons. “When we started the year, we didn’t know what we were going to be looking at for revenue for the conservation area.” CCCA recently launched a fundraiser to assist in the $80,000 replacement of the aging Springwater Conservation Area gatehouse and visitor centre. Ms. Simmons said, including recent donations, the current total for donations was about $14,000. “I’m really happy with that. $20,000 is our goal, and we’re getting kind of close to it,” she said. Recent donors, such as A1 Unique Installations and Ferguson RV World, are very passionate about Springwater, she added. “I think that the situation that’s happening now with COVID-19, we’re doing an excellent job at Catfish Creek,” said CCCA chair Rick Cerna. Total expenditures for CCCA were at $1,079,812.64, about $250,000 less than the annual overall budgeted amount. Board members had no questions regarding expenditures.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express