The iconic crystal ball that will ring in the new year in New York’s Times Square was given a final test run on Wednesday ahead the big night. (Dec. 30)
The iconic crystal ball that will ring in the new year in New York’s Times Square was given a final test run on Wednesday ahead the big night. (Dec. 30)
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party on Saturday chose Armin Laschet, the pragmatic governor of Germany’s most populous state, as its new leader — sending a signal of continuity months before an election in which voters will decide who becomes the new chancellor. Laschet will have to build unity in the Christian Democratic Union, Germany's strongest party, after beating more conservative rival Friedrich Merz. And he will need to plunge straight into an electoral marathon that culminates with the Sept. 26 national vote. Saturday’s vote isn’t the final word on who will run as the centre-right candidate for chancellor in Germany’s Sept. 26 election, but Laschet will either run himself or have a big say in who does. He didn't address his plans at Saturday's party convention. Laschet, 59, was elected in 2017 as governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, a traditionally centre-left stronghold. He governs the region in a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, the CDU’s traditional ally, but would likely be able to work smoothly with a more liberal partner, too. Current polls point to the environmentalist Greens as a likely key to power in the election. Laschet pointed Saturday to the value of continuity and moderation, and cited the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump as an example of where polarization can lead. “Trust is what keeps us going and what has been broken in America,” he told delegates before the vote. “By polarizing, sowing discord and distrust, and systematically lying, a president has destroyed stability and trust.” “We must speak clearly but not polarize,” Laschet said. “We must be able to integrate, hold society together.” He said that the party needs “the continuity of success” and “we will only win if we remain strong in the middle of society.” Laschet said that “there are many people who, above all, find Angela Merkel good and only after that the CDU.” He added that ”we need this trust now as a party” and that “we must work for this trust.” Laschet beat Merz, a former rival of Merkel who was making his second attempt in recent years to win the CDU leadership, by 521 votes to 466. A third candidate, prominent lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, was eliminated in a first round of voting. Merz's sizeable support suggests that a strong contingent would like a sharper conservative profile after the Merkel years. Merkel has led Germany since 2005 but said over two years ago that she wouldn't seek a fifth term as chancellor. Merkel, 66, has enjoyed enduring popularity with voters as she steered Germany and Europe through a series of crises. But she repeatedly abandoned orthodox conservative policies, for example by accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and ending military conscription. Her decision in 2015 to allow in large numbers of migrants caused major tensions on the centre-right and strengthened the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Saturday's vote ends a nearly year-long limbo in Germany’s strongest party since outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who narrowly beat Merz in 2018 to succeed Merkel as CDU leader but failed to impose her authority, announced her resignation. A vote on her successor was delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic. Laschet called for unity after Saturday's vote and said Merz remains “an important personality for us.” “All the questions that will face us after the pandemic need a broad consensus in our party,” he said. “And we will need this consensus for all the elections that are ahead of us, too. Everyone will be against us.” Laschet, a miner's son who served as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2005, shouldn't expect much of a honeymoon in his new job. In addition to the national election, Germany is holding six state elections this year, the first two in mid-March. And at some point, he will confer with allies in Bavaria on who runs for chancellor. The CDU is part of the Union bloc along with its sister party, the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, and the two parties will decide together on the candidate. The Union currently has a healthy poll lead, helped by positive reviews of Merkel’s handling of the pandemic. CSU leader Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria, is widely considered a potential candidate after gaining in political stature during the pandemic. Some also consider Health Minister Jens Spahn, who supported Laschet and was elected as one of his deputies, a possible contender. Polls have shown Soeder’s ratings outstripping those of Saturday’s CDU candidates. Laschet has garnered mixed reviews in the pandemic, particularly as a vocal advocate of loosening restrictions after last year’s first phase. “It's very good that a year-long discussion process is over,” Soeder said. “I am sure that Armin Laschet and I will find a joint, wise and united solution to all other pending questions.” Saturday’s result will now be officially endorsed in a postal ballot. That is expected to be a formality but is required by German law. Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
With the new year here, many are starting to think of tax season which is just around the corner. This year, with the uncertain financial standing Canada and the world, is in with COVID-19 still breathing down our throats, it is helpful to hear of tax credits being offered by the government. Recently, Deputy Premier and Finance minister Donna Harpauer came forward with a few tax credits the Sask Party is offering, “We are pleased to resume the indexation of income tax brackets and tax credit amounts in 2021….. Indexation protects Saskatchewan taxpayers from bracket creep, and helps keep the tax system fair, competitive and affordable.” All Saskatchewan income tax brackets and tax credit amounts will once again be indexed in 2021, this will save taxpayers an estimated $15 million. The level of indexation in 2021 will be 1.0 percent, matching the national rate of inflation. “Restarting the Active Families Benefit to make children’s activities more affordable was a key election commitment of our government,” Harpauer said. “As promised, the Active Families Benefit will provide a non-refundable tax credit of $150 per year per child to eligible families. Families of children with a disability will receive an additional $50, for a total tax credit of $200 per year per child.” Families with children enrolled in sports, arts and cultural activities will also be able to claim the Active Families Benefit once again on their 2021 taxes, the restarting of the Active Families Benefit will be part of the 2021-22 Budget which will be retroactive to January 1, 2021. Parents who enroll their children in sports, arts and cultural activities in the new year are therefore reminded to keep their receipts so they may claim the benefit with their 2021 tax filings. Saskatchewan residents who are planning to renovate their homes may also be able to claim the recently announced Saskatchewan Home Renovation Tax Credit. Under this non-refundable tax credit, Saskatchewan homeowners can save up to $1,155 in provincial income tax in 2021 if they claim a 10.5 percent tax credit on up to $11,000 of eligible home renovation expenses incurred between October 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021. A further $945 in savings may be claimed in 2022 in respect of eligible expenses incurred between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. Eligible expenses include the cost of permits, contractor labour and professional services, building materials, fixtures, and equipment rentals. Tax Credits are always helpful to see as tax season approaches. It is always a good idea to check with your local accountant, or better yet hire a local account, as they are always on top of any tax credit you may be eligible for. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
The Hat Art Club has been a staple in the community for decades and is celebrating an important milestone this month – 75 years in existence. The club sits around 100 members on a given year and was founded in 1946 by Mrs. Helen Beny Gibson and Rev. L.T.H Pearson. The group began with a program teaching people how to draw at city council chambers. “The Hat Art Club has grown to be one of the foundational art clubs in the city,” said club president Bev Duke. “For a very long time, there were no other organizations that provided art training for adult artists in our community. “There have been programs offered through the college over the years, but they were sporadic. The art club has offered a consistent place for artists of any age or skill to come and learn.” The Hat Art Club has operated out of the Cultural Centre since it was built, and is now offering digital art programming. The club shifted to online classes last October and invested into its new website to help keep members in the loop. Duke has been a member of the club for 25 years and is in her second term as president. She says the club aims to offer something for everyone. “We have programs around all mediums,” she said. “One of our big programs is around drawing, because it is so foundational to art, a lot of people are interested. “We offer acrylic, oils, pastels and art journaling.” The art club’s shift to online has helped Hatters fill their time at home with fun, creative activities to focus on during the pandemic. “Art is a creative outlet,” said Duke. “It gives you something to work on and it lets you develop different skills.” The club has also announced a special promotion to get new members involved. For a limited time, get a membership for $75 to celebrate the anniversary. More information can be found at http://www.hatartclub.com. Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Ontario Provincial Police say they've been kept busy by a steady stream of minor traffic accidents as heavy snow falls over the region. "We're just encouraging people as we always do, whenever we have a snow event, you know — see snow, go slow," said Bill Dickson, spokesperson for the OPP. "I mean our traffic is hopefully very light anyway because people are being encouraged to stay at home." Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for the Ottawa area, as well for Maniwaki, Que. According to Ian Black, climatologist for CBC News Ottawa, the city could see between 15 and 25 centimetres of snow. Eight centimetres of snow was already on the ground by 6 a.m. Saturday morning, Black said. The temperature will remain steady around 0 C for much of the day. Overnight parking ban planned for Ottawa Ottawa will also enforce an overnight parking ban between 7 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday, allowing crews to clean city streets unimpeded. Those hours could be extended if additional time is needed. Other parts of eastern Ontario, like Pembroke, Ont., can expect light precipitation with heavy snow mixed in, according to Environment Canada. Kingston, Ont., will see grey clouds overhead, with a 60 per cent chance of flurries or drizzle in the forecast. Tractor-trailer crashes Dickson said OPP officers responded to a number of tractor-trailer collisions Saturday but none that led to injuries. He said if people do need to travel, they should drive carefully and ensure their vehicle is cleared off, including the head and brake lights. "In terms of speed limits, remember, those speed limits that are posted out there are for ideal conditions," he said. "Today is by no means even close to ideal conditions."
In order for a personal support worker employed in a long-term-care home to make ends meet in Toronto, they’d have to clock at least 50 hours every week. Here’s how the numbers break down: PSWs in unionized long-term-care homes start at about $20.80 per hour, and can earn up to about $22 hourly. If they are paid for 37.5 hours of work per week, they will gross $40,560 in a year at the starting rate, but the take home after tax is closer to $32,000. But this is over $10,000 short of the 2020 cost of living in Toronto, estimated by lowestrates.ca. The insurance company found that for a single person renting a one-bedroom apartment, the cost of living is close to $42,500. Meanwhile, in 2015, $55,117 was the median income for single-adult households in Toronto, according to Statistics Canada, which is just below the amount needed to meet the cost of living today, after tax. Someone earning that amount would only have to put in about 20 extra hours over the course of a year to make ends meet — less than half an hour a week. Cost of living can be greater too if the person is supporting a family, and it would be even more challenging if the person is the sole breadwinner for their household. Long-term-care homes have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, shedding light on a system that has been dysfunctional for years. With cases and deaths climbing in the sector, the need to address ongoing issues has been made all the more urgent. In Ottawa, a COVID-19 outbreak in a women’s shelter was linked to two long-term-care workers who were staying in the facility because they could no longer afford rent with their income. Where PSWs are concerned, there is no oversight body, like there is for nurses, which advocates say has caused issues with low pay, precarious work and high turnover. Matthew Cathmoir, the head of strategic research at the Service Employees International Union which represents health-care workers in Ontario, said PSWs wind up working as much overtime as possible to supplement their income. “They accept as much overtime as possible; they’ll work doubles. So, they’ll work a 16-hour shift, which is unsustainable ... it’s incredibly difficult work — hard on the body, hard on the mind (but) they have to do it,” he said. Many PSWs also had more than one job, which was restricted during the pandemic to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Pandemic pay has offered a $3 per hour wage bump for eligible long-term-care workers, but Cathmoir notes that there have been challenges with the rollout. All the while, in a recent survey the SEIU posed to its members working in long-term care, 92 per cent of the 700 or so respondents reported feeling overworked and understaffed during the pandemic. “It’s difficult work. It’s dangerous,” Cathmoir said. “It takes a special type of person to work, specifically, and that goes for all (health-care positions).” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
An occupational therapist who transformed a bus into a mobile sensory clinic for young kids moved to the Hat late last year to help children learn important skills. Erin Grujic is the owner of Sensational Path, a unique clinic within an old school bus. Grujic moved to the Hat in September of last year with her bus and wants to help families in Medicine Hat and the surrounding area access occupational therapy services for their kids. “I got tired of having a car full of equipment and always leaving something behind,” she said. “From that, I built this clinic that would travel with me. “I got this bus and converted it into a playground.” Occupational therapists work with people to overcome health problems that may interfere with their everyday lives. For some children, playing at a standard playground may not be possible for a wide range of reasons. Grujic has designed the bus to be a safe space for kids to play, explore and learn different skills. “I primarily work with preschools and daycares,” she said. “Those kids really need the movement and the activities, and since they can’t go on field trips now, it’s even more important to keep them moving. “The great thing about the bus is that I can take it anywhere and meet people where they’re at.” The bus includes a climbing wall, trampoline, zipline, swings, crash mats and more. “To some people this may just look like a playground,” said Grujic. “This is a safe place for kids to learn and develop sensory motor skills. “With the bus I can set up play that allows kids to be comfortable and to allow them to learn to play with different things. “Those foundational skills like play lead to academic learning and behaviour skills.” Grujic came to the Hat from Pincher Creek and says she is having a fun time getting to know the city as the days pass. She says she is getting busier as she spends more time in the community. The outside of the bus was painted recently by local artist Jeff Goring, which has made it so it can’t be missed. “He did an amazing job,” said Grujic. More information on her services can be found at http://www.sensationalpath.com Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Ontario says it's slightly slowing the pace for some COVID-19 vaccinations in response to a shipping delay from drugmaker Pfizer BioNTech. Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams says the company's decision to temporarily delay international vaccine shipments will likely have an effect on the province, though the full impact of the move is not yet known. Williams says long-term care residents, caregivers and staff who already received their first dose of Pfizer's vaccine will receive their second dose between 21 and 27 days later, no more than a week longer than originally planned. He says the timetable will be longer for anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine, with second doses being delivered anywhere from 21 to 42 days after the initial shot. The adjustments come as Ontario reported 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 stand at 1,632, with 397 patients in intensive care. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Toronto and the neighbouring regions of Peel and York continue to post the highest infection rates in the province. She said 903 of the most recent diagnoses were found in Toronto, with 639 in Peel and 283 in York. Some of those regions are among those targeted by a government blitz of big box stores which got underway on Saturday. The province said earlier this week it would send 50 inspectors to stores in five regions -- Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. They'll be looking to ensure the retailers are complying with the province's tightened public health rules, which went into effect on Thursday along with a provincewide stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of the virus. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton has said inspectors will focus on compliance with masking and physical distancing rules, as well as other health guidelines. He said they'll have the authority to temporarily shut down facilities found to be breaching the rules, and to disperse groups of more than five people. The minister said inspectors will also be able to issue tickets of up to $750 to management, workers or customers if they're not abiding by the measures. Premier Doug Ford, who has faced criticism for allowing big-box stores to remain open for on-site shopping while smaller businesses are restricted to curbside pickup or online sales, vowed this week to crack down on big lineups and other infractions at large retailers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
Newfoundland and Labrador has no new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the day after Liberal Leader Andrew Furey called a general provincial election. The province continues to have five known active cases, as no new recoveries have been reported. A total of 383 people have recovered from the virus since the pandemic began in March 2020. As of Saturday's update, issued through a media release from the Department of Health, 76,130 people have been tested to date. That's an increase of 157 in the last 24 hours. One person is in hospital due to the virus. The Department of Health is also advising rotational workers about an identified COVID-19 outbreak in Alberta at the Anzac Lodge, linked to the Cheecham Corridor Relocation project. The department said it was notified of the outbreak by the Public Health Agency of Canada as people from this province work with the project. "Rotational workers with this project who have returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in the last 14 days must self-isolate and physically distance away from household members, and call 811 to arrange testing," reads the health department's media release. "These workers must now complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of test result." 'Status quo' during election With the campaign now ramping up ahead of the Feb. 13 election, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald told reporters on Friday things will remain "status quo" in terms of a public health response to the ongoing pandemic. Health Minister John Haggie added daily media releases from the Department of Health will continue as a means to provide updates on the latest COVID-19 happenings in the province. Haggie said Fitzgerald will be available on a weekly basis for live briefings. But Haggie and Furey could still make an appearance during a live COVID-19 update next week. "We will keep people informed, and we will plan to see you next week and who knows what the future holds," Haggie said during Friday's briefing. In the event of an emergency, Haggie said, he still remains health minister, and Furey the premier until at least election day. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
LONDON — Michail Antonio scored in his first English Premier League start for West Ham since November in a 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday. Antonio side-footed home from close range in the ninth minute after a left-wing cross from Pablo Fornals flicked off the top of Burnley defender Ben Mee's head and into the path of the West Ham forward, who was free at the back post. West Ham has missed the mobility and presence up front of Antonio, who was sidelined before Christmas with a hamstring injury and has been eased back into action by manager David Moyes given his importance to the team. He came on as a substitute against Southampton and Everton over the festive period, and played in the win over Rochdale in the FA Cup on Monday. Moyes has few other alternatives for the striker role, especially with Sebastien Haller recently leaving to join Ajax in the Netherlands, so keeping Antonio fit is particularly important if West Ham is to finish in the top half of the standings. Burnley thought it equalized before halftime when a cross by Chris Wood was turned into his own net by West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell, but the goal was disallowed because Wood was offside in the buildup. While West Ham is unbeaten in its last four league games, keeping three straight clean sheets in the process, Burnley has lost three of its last four games and dropped to fourth-to-last place, one above the relegation zone. Scoring is its biggest problem — Sean Dyche's team has just nine goals in 17 games, tied for the fewest in the league with last-placed Sheffield United. Relegation is a distinct possibility for the northwest club, which became the latest league team to be owned by Americans when ALK Capital’s sports investment arm, Velocity Sports Partners, bought an 84% stake in December. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Cities, towns and villages across France were practically empty on Saturday as residents stayed home and businesses shut to observe a nationwide curfew intended to help stem the spread of coronavirus, especially a more infectious variant. The virus has killed 70,000 people in France, the seventh highest toll in the world, and the government is particularly worried by the more transmissible variant first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1% of new cases. The curfew was brought forward two hours to 6 p.m. and will run until 6 a.m. In addition, from Monday anyone travelling to France from outside the European Union will have to show a negative test result and self-isolate for a week upon arrival.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, and four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. The province added 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. --- 10:45 a.m. Ontario is reporting 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 today along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliot says 903 of the latest diagnoses are in Toronto, with 639 in neighbouring Peel region and 283 in York Region. The province says 1,632 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital, with 397 in intensive care. Elliott says the province had administered 189,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of 8 p.m. on Friday. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario says a shipping delay from Pfizer BioNTech means residents who receive an initial dose of the company's COVID-19 vaccine will have to wait longer than expected to receive their second one. The government says long-term care residents and staff who have been inoculated already will wait up to an extra week before a second dose is administered. Anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine were initially supposed to get a econd dose after 21 days, but will now see that timetable extended to a maximum of 42 days. The government says it's on track to ensure all long-term care residents, essential caregivers and staff, the first priority group for the vaccine, receive their first dose by mid-February. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
COVID-19. Faisant suite aux récentes déclarations du gouvernement canadien, notamment en ce qui a trait à la manipulation de la posologie des vaccins, le Parti libéral exige que le gouvernement du Québec clarifie sa stratégie. La porte-parole de l’opposition officielle en matière de Santé, Marie Montpetit, met particulièrement l’accent sur le fait que la stratégie ne doit pas avoir de conséquences sur l'immunité des Québécois ni sur l'approvisionnement des vaccins. «Le gouvernement du Québec n'a pas le droit à l'erreur dans ce dossier. Il doit avoir la certitude que ses décisions n'affectent pas l'efficacité des vaccins et ne remettent pas en cause leur approvisionnement. L'improvisation et les approximations n'ont pas leur place dans la situation actuelle et je demande donc au ministre de clarifier la situation et d'en informer adéquatement la population. Il en va de la réussite de la vaccination et de notre capacité à se sortir de cette pandémie», souligne Marie Montpetit. Pour la députée de Maurice-Richard, le gouvernement devra notamment s'assurer de dire publiquement et avec exactitude à quel intervalle les citoyens recevront leur deuxième dose du vaccin. La porte-parole libérale en matière de Santé insiste également sur la nécessité que cette nouvelle posologie soit approuvée par les autorités compétentes et par les fournisseurs du vaccin. À ce sujet, Marie Montpetit rappelle que les vaccins BioNTech/Pfizer et Moderna ont été approuvés par Santé Canada sur la base d'une posologie très stricte. En ce moment, aucune des deux entreprises n'a modifié cette posologie et Santé Canada n'a approuvé aucun changement. Cette situation est préoccupante et doit être corrigée immédiatement selon le Parti libéral du Québec. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Pavel Zelensky, a member of the Anti-Corruption Foundation team of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, was jailed by a Moscow court on Saturday until Feb. 28 on charges of inciting extremism on the internet, according to a court statement. His detention by the Presnensky District Court comes a day before Navalny's planned return to Russia since being poisoned in August and evacuated to Germany where he has been recuperating. Zelensky is a camera operator for the opposition leader's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which specialises in publishing high-impact investigations into what it says is official graft.
If you’re slicing into a sizzling steak for dinner tonight, or getting a spoonful of lamb stew, then you have a farmer and butcher to thank. They are the silent, often underappreciated heroes of the food industry, and they are facing massive challenges amid the pandemic. “We feel that people don’t understand us,” said Craig McLaughlin, owner of a medium-sized beef farm in Renfrew County. “It would be so helpful if people understand what we are up against,” echoed Angie Hoysted, co-owner of Valley Custom Cutting, a provincial free-standing meat plant and full-service butcher shop in Smiths Falls. So what exactly are they up against? Bill Dobson, who owns an organic beef farm in Smiths Falls, said one of the biggest challenges local producers have is a lack of infrastructure for processing. “There’s not enough abattoirs (slaughterhouse for livestock),” Dobson said. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website listed a total of 115 abattoirs in the province, and 360 free-standing meat processing plants (FSMP). FSMPs do not slaughter animals. They conduct further processing activities such as the aging, boning, cutting, slicing, smoking, curing and fermenting of meat. Once the animal carcass has been brought back from the abattoirs, the challenge is that there aren’t enough butchers (or FSMPs) to cut and process the meat. “There’s just not enough people getting into that business. We have to encourage (the) government to open up spaces in community colleges and encourage people to go into that field,” Dobson said. Hoysted’s husband Dan was head butcher at an abattoir when it closed unexpectedly. The beef producers in the area – who knew him and trusted his skills – expressed their need for a reliable butcher, so Dan and Angie opened a shop in 2016. Hoysted said farmers invest two years of raising and taking care of livestock, so they’re not just “going take it to a random butcher to cut it. You don’t get a good yield, the cuts you want or your packages professionally done.” Not only do farmers book months in advance for an abattoir, they also have to schedule for butchers, typically a six-month wait. “Once the pandemic hit, spaces booked up at the abattoir. I used to be able to book slaughter space in a month or two; now it’s at least six months,” said Tyler Armstrong, a sheep farmer who owns Pinnacle Haven Farm in Renfrew. “Now I book before the lamb’s even born,” Armstrong said, adding that this issue is not unique to this area – it’s an Ontario-wide issue. McLaughlin said this poses a huge problem: “If I have cattle ready (for the abattoir), and they have no place to go, you have to maintain them. You can’t put them in a storage locker. They require daily care and (it) costs me more.” Another challenge is labour shortage. If a farmer or a butcher gets sick, there’s not a ready source of labour they can avail themselves of quickly. “You might find an able body, but they’ve never worked with livestock before, or trained in specific skills to operate specific equipment,” McLaughlin said. “If we got sick, we have to go home, and everything in our cooler will be garbage by the time we reopen,” Hoysted said about the meat products they sell. “We’re one of the youngest people owning a provincial processing plant in this part of Ontario. Everyone else is older. What’s going to happen in five to 10 years when they retire? You’re going to have a major, major issue,” Hoysted said. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
The public won’t see President Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there’s growing concern that the collection won’t be complete, leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies. Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House staffers to spend hours taping them back together. “They told him to stop doing it. He didn’t want to stop,” said Solomon Lartey, a former White House records analyst who spent hours taping documents back together well into 2018. The president also confiscated an interpreter’s notes after Trump had a chat with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump scolded his White House counsel for taking notes at a meeting. Top executive branch officials had to be reminded more than once not to conduct official business on private email or encrypted text messaging systems and to preserve it if they did. Trump’s baseless claim of widespread voter fraud, which postponed for weeks an acknowledgement of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, is delaying the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, further heightening concern about the integrity of the records. “Historians are likely to suffer from far more holes than has been the norm,” said Richard Immerman at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. In the Trump White House, “not only has record-keeping not been a priority, but we have multiple examples of it seeking to conceal or destroy that record.” But even with requests by lawmakers and lawsuits by government transparency groups, there is an acknowledgment that noncompliance with the Presidential Records Act carries little consequence for Trump. The Presidential Records Act states that a president cannot destroy records until he seeks the advice of the national archivist and notifies Congress. But the law doesn’t require him to heed the archivist’s advice. Most presidential records today are electronic, and records experts estimate that automatic backup computer systems capture a vast majority of them, but cannot capture records that a White House chooses not to create or log into those systems. THE MOVE Moving a president’s trail of paper and electronic records is a laborious task. President Barack Obama left about 30 million pages of paper documents and some 250 terabytes of electronic records, including the equivalent of about 1.5 billion pages of emails. When Trump lost the November election, records staffers were in position to transfer electronic records, pack up the paper ones and move them to the National Archives by Jan. 20 as required by law. But Trump’s reluctance to concede has meant they will miss the deadline. “Necessary funding from the (White House) Office of Management and Budget was delayed for many weeks after the election, which has caused delays in arranging for the transfer of the Trump presidential records into the National Archives’ custody,” the National Archives said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Even though the transfer of these records will not be completed until after Jan. 20, the National Archives will assume legal custody of them on Jan. 20 in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment about preserving Trump’s records. One person familiar with the transition said guidance typically emailed to executive branch employees, explaining how to turn in equipment and pack up their offices, was sent out in December, but quickly rescinded because Trump insisted on contesting the election. With little guidance, some staffers in the White House started quietly calling records workers to find out what to do. Departing employees are instructed to create a list of folders in each box and make a spreadsheet to give the National Archives a way to track and retrieve the information for the incoming Biden team. The public must wait five years before submitting Freedom of Information Act requests to see the Trump material. Even then, Trump — like other presidents before him — is invoking six specific restrictions to public access of his records for up to 12 years. RECORD-KEEPING PRACTICES On impeachment and other sensitive issues, some normal workflow practices were bypassed, a second person familiar with the process said. Higher-ups and White House lawyers became more involved in deciding which materials were catalogued and scanned into White House computer networks where they are automatically saved, the person said. The individuals, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the inner workings of the White House, said that if uncatalogued materials ended up in an office safe, for instance, they would at least be temporarily preserved. But if they were never catalogued in the first place, staffers wouldn’t know they existed, making them untraceable. Trump’s staff also engaged in questionable practices by using private emails and messaging apps. Former White House counsel Don McGahn in February 2017 sent a memo that instructed employees not to use nonofficial text messaging apps or private email accounts. If they did, he said, they had to take screenshots of the material and copy it into official email accounts, which are preserved. He sent the memo back out in September 2017. Government transparency groups say the screenshots are not adequate because they do not capture attachments or information such as who contacted whom, phone identifiers and other online information. “It’s an open question to me about how serious or conscientious any of those people have been about moving them over,” said Tom Blanton, who directs the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which was founded in 1985 to combat government secrecy. Trump was criticized for confiscating the notes of an interpreter who was with him in 2017 when Trump talked with Putin in Hamburg, Germany. Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to obtain the notes of another interpreter who was with Trump in 2018 when he met with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Several weeks ago, the National Security Archive, two historical associations and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued to prevent the Trump White House from destroying any electronic communications or records sent or received on nonofficial accounts, such as personal email or WhatsApp. The court refused to issue a temporary restraining order after government lawyers told the judge that they had instructed the White House to notify all employees to preserve all electronic communications in their original format until the lawsuit was settled. Anne Weismann, one of the lawyers representing the groups in their lawsuit, suspects “serious noncompliance” of the Presidential Records Act. “I believe we will find that there’s going to be a huge hole in the historical record of this president," Weismann said. Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Esterhazy town council met on December 16, 2020, at 6:30 P.M. for its regularly scheduled council meeting with all council members present. After reviewing the agenda and minutes of the last meeting the council moved on to review the financials, beginning with the trial balance. Councillor Bot made a motion to accept the financials which was carried. Carrying on, the council heard the administrative reports, before Esterhazy Town Foreman Gord Meyer gave his report next, informing the council of what the maintenance staff has been doing the last two weeks. A planning and development report was given by Acting Administrator Thorley. Regarding Bylaw 769-20, Councillor Nickel made a motion for the first reading of Bylaw 769-20 which was carried. A request to remove some Elm trees was made by a property owner. Councillor Petracek made a motion to remove the Elm trees at the property owner's expense; motion carried. A recreation report was then given by Brenda Redman. She informed the council that skating ice around the campground has been put in by the town at the campground with positive feedback from the public. The Dana Antal Arena is booked up until Christmas. Esterhazy Flour Mill tenders are coming in and will close soon. A $49,000 grant was received from the Provincial Government Heritage. The ‘Light the Night’ contest is going well. A fire report was next to be reviewed by the council, followed by the water report. Acting Administrator Mike Thorley gave his administration report and requested the council to hire an auditor for the 2020 year. Councillor Flick made the motion to accept which was carried. Landfill hours changes for holidays were discussed and Councillor Petracek made a motion to be open for shorter hours for the holidays; motion carried. The council motioned to pay C. Duncan Construction for excavation work; motion carried. Landfill equipment is fixed and the town has paid the deductible. Councillor Petracek made a motion to accept the administration reports. Under old business, the landfill pole shed was discussed and it was recommended to accept Vince Pisak’s tender. Councillor Rowland made a motion to accept which was carried. Under new business, the 2021 council meeting dates were discussed. Councillor Flick made a motion to accept the list which was prepared for the councillors; motion carried. 2021-21 Council Committee recommendations were reviewed prior to Councillor Roland making a motion to accept the committee recommendations as presented to the councillors; motion carried. The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency was next to be discussed, as well as Service Canada’s request to rent office space from the town. Councillor Petracek made a motion to accept which was carried. Municipalities of Saskatchewan requested a membership renewal and Councillor Nickel made a motion to pay the membership fees; the motion carried. East Central Transportation Committee requested a council member to attend a meeting on January 13, 2021. The commissionaire’s agreement was discussed. Councillor Bot made a motion to sign the agreement continuing with the way it has gone; motion carried. Federation of Canadian Municipalities was next to be discussed as membership is due. Councillor Pfiefer made a motion to pay the membership fees; the motion carried. Municipalities of Saskatchewan virtual convention was discussed next. Councillor Nickel made a motion to register Mayor Forster as well as possibly others motion carried. The Noble Construction airport hangar was next to be discussed. A motion was made to accept the sale of the hangar and then review the lease with the new owners; motion carried. The council then reviewed the correspondence received over the previous two weeks. After a short discussion, Councillor Nickel made a motion to file the correspondence which was carried. Councillor Flick made a motion to adjourn the meeting which was carried. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
Canadian scientists in a nationwide network of labs are on a mission to detect and disrupt the new and highly contagious coronavirus variants in the U.K. and South Africa. Dawna Friesen takes us inside the hunt for the new variants.
A woman suffered serious injuries in a shooting Saturday morning, Regina police say. Officers were called to the 700 block of Athol Street at about 8:10 a.m. CST after being told a woman was shot, police said in a news release. The woman was taken to hospital by emergency responders. Police said officers were on scene Saturday morning to investigate and traffic is being diverted from the area. No further information was available. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500 or Regina Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Portugal's Finance Minister Joao Leao has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said on Saturday, a day after he took part in an in-person meeting in Lisbon with top EU officials including Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. The 46-year-old minister has so far shown no symptoms and will continue to work from home during a period of self-isolation, a statement from his ministry said. Leao's positive test result was announced more than 24 hours after he attended the meeting at the Belem Cultural Center on Friday to discuss Portugal's top priorities during its six-month EU presidency, which started this month.
A number of front-line doctors across Canada have volunteered their scarce free time over the past year to help Canadians understand COVID-19. Jeff Semple checks in with some of these doctors to answer your questions, and give us a glimpse into their lives.