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NBA’s off-season sprint continues with free agency starting

imageNBA free agency is usually a weeklong frenzy.Deals get struck, then teams and players must wait a few days before they can sign those contracts.And from there, a few more months often pass before the player goes to work with his new club.

Not this year.

What promises to be a chaotic free-agent window opens in the NBA at 6 p.m.Eastern on Friday, just a couple days after the NBA draft, a mere 42 hours before signings can begin and about a week and a half before training camps around the league open.Asked what the player-movement landscape might look like in such a compressed timeframe, Philadelphia 76ers President Daryl Morey — looking exhausted early Thursday as the draft was winding down — offered a blunt prediction.

“Completely insane,” Morey said.

He may be right.

Deals are expected to start coming quickly Friday evening, and the NBA is investigating whether one — a widely reported sign-and-trade move that would have sent Bogdan Bogdanovic from Sacramento to Milwaukee — happened earlier than league rules allow.

A person with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday that the league is probing whether such an agreement existed, because if it did free-agent negotiations with Bogdanovic would have clearly started earlier than permissible.

The person spoke with AP on condition of anonymity because neither the teams nor the league acknowledged the investigation publicly.

The New York Times first reported that an investigation had been opened.

Some deals likely won’t take long to get done without raising league ire.

Anthony Davis of the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers is the biggest name on the free agency board; he turned down his option for this season with the Lakers but isn’t expected to go anyplace else.

A likely scenario for Davis is to accept a three-year deal worth that would start at $32.7 million this season and grow each year afterward, with the last year at his option.That way, when he completes his 10th year of service in 2021-22, he can cash in again for an even higher percentage of the salary cap than he would command now.Story continues

Gordon Hayward declined his $34 million option for this season with Boston, a person with knowledge told AP on Thursday, and could potentially now be another big name on the move.

More than 100 other NBA players are unrestricted free agents; another 75 or so can be restricted free agents.That’s a lot of players, who might be doing a lot of moving, with a season coming up very quickly — and only a few teams have plenty of available salary-cap space to sign players easily.

Plus, teams are still figuring out coronavirus protocols for training camp.Nobody has seen the NBA schedule for a regular season that starts Dec.

22.Preseason games start Dec.11; those haven’t even been announced yet.

It’s already hectic, and now free agency will ramp up the fever several more levels.

“With free agency starting as quickly as it does, we have some targets in mind there and we’ve got some other trade conversations going on as well,” said David Griffin, New Orleans’ executive vice-president of basketball operations.

Really, things have already started.

Plenty of names are already on the move, and the trade market is always an option for the teams that can’t just go sign a player into nonexistent cap space.

“There’s a great many things happening all at one time,” Griffin said.

The Lakers already have a new point guard in Dennis Schroder, acquired in a trade with Oklahoma City.The Thunder sent point guard Chris Paul in a trade to Phoenix, and with a brief stopover-on-paper-only in Oklahoma City, Ricky Rubio wound up leaving the Suns and ending up where his NBA career began in Minnesota.A trade has been agreed to that would send Jrue Holiday from New Orleans to Milwaukee, where he’ll play with two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but had not been announced publicly as of Thursday evening.Antetokounmpo also could sign a supermax extension in the coming days or weeks; five years for somewhere around $225 million, a deal that would begin in 2021-22.

Al Horford was traded by Philadelphia to the Thunder.The Mavericks got Josh Richardson from the 76ers, in a deal that sent Seth Curry to Philly — where he’ll play for new 76ers coach Doc Rivers, who just happens to be Curry’s father-in-law.

Houston’s star backcourt of scoring champion James Harden and former MVP Russell Westbrook have been mentioned in trade talks, though it would surely take a massive haul for the Rockets to part with either or both of those players.And Golden State may be very active on the trade market now, with the Warriors getting word Thursday that Klay Thompson — who missed last season with a torn ACL — will miss this season with a torn Achilles.

The Warriors have a $17.2 million trade exception that will soon expire.

It could be a handy chip for general manager Bob Myers, especially if Golden State — which plunged to the bottom of the NBA last season with Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out for most of all of the season — decides it needs to make a big move quickly.

Some players have even announced their free-agent plans: Udonis Haslem is going to re-sign with Miami for an 18th season, even though the Heat can’t talk to him about that until Friday.The Eastern Conference champions will be awaiting decisions from several key players, including point guard Goran Dragic, forward Jae Crowder and centre Meyers Leonard.And Heat President Pat Riley hasn’t hidden his intention: He wants to bring the team from last season back as intact as possible.

“I have great faith in our guys.

I think we have great chemistry.I think they have the same feeling themselves,” Riley said.“But now we’re getting down to the business side of things.And I totally get it.I totally understand what free agency means to players.”

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press TRENDING Trump pursues recount of 2 liberal Wisconsin counties MADISON, Wis.— President Donald Trump filed Wednesday for a recount of Wisconsin’s two largest Democratic counties, paying the required $3 million cost and alleging that they were the sites of the “worst irregularities” although no evidence of illegal activity has been presented.The recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties will begin Friday and must be done by Dec.

1.Democrat Joe Biden received 577,455 votes in those two counties compared with 213,157 for Trump.Biden won statewide by 20,608 votes, based on canvassed results submitted by the counties.“The official canvass results reaffirmed Joe Biden’s clear and resounding win in Wisconsin after Wisconsin voters turned out to cast their ballots in record numbers,” said Biden campaign spokesman Nate Evans.“A cherry-picked and selective recounting of Milwaukee and Dane County will not change these results.”Milwaukee County is the state’s largest, home to the city of Milwaukee, and Black people make up about 27% of the population, more than any other county.Dane County is home to the liberal capital city of Madison and the flagship University of Wisconsin campus.“The people of Wisconsin deserve to know whether their election processes worked in a legal and transparent way,” said Wisconsin attorney Jim Troupis, who is working with the Trump campaign.

“Regrettably, the integrity of the election results cannot be trusted without a recount in these two counties and uniform enforcement of Wisconsin absentee ballot requirements.

We will not know the true results of the election until only the legal ballots cast are counted.”Dean Knudson, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said Trump raised “significant legal questions that have never been adjudicated in Wisconsin.”But a fellow commission member, Democrat Mark Thomsen, said Trump was trying to change the rules of the election after he lost, but only in two counties.“That’s like losing the Super Bowl and then saying ‘I want a review of a certain play using different rules than what applied to the rest of the game,’” Thomsen said.“That is the essence of hypocrisy and cheating and dishonesty.”Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, called the recount “an attack on cities, on minorities, on places that have historically voted Democratic.Don’t let anyone fool you that this is about irregularities.”On Tuesday in Michigan, Republicans on a canvassing board for the county that includes Detroit temporarily stopped certification of the vote after claiming that poll books in certain parts of the majority-Black city were out of balance.The deadlock brought claims of racism from Democrats before the board later voted unanimously to certify the results,The Wisconsin recount will be done as the state continues to ride a surge of coronavirus cases, breaking records this week for deaths, new positives and hospitalizations.

Recount organizers were planning to do the work in large convention centres so workers and observers could be properly distanced.“It’s not surprising at all that Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, wants to have one last mass gathering that will put people’s health in peril,” Barrett said.The Wisconsin Elections Commission late Wednesday night voted to approve issuing an order on Thursday to commence the recount.The vote came after five hours of wrangling over whether to reference in the order their own recount manual that gives local elections officials guidelines on how to conduct the recount.Ultimately, the commission issued the order without any reference to the manual.Democrats pushed for changes they said would bring guidelines in the manual into line with the law, but the commission deadlocked after Republicans objected to modifications after Trump had filed for the recount.Democrats said any disagreement over what the manual or the law says related to how recounts should be conducted will be fought in court.Trump’s campaign made a variety of claims Wednesday, including that clerks wrongly added missing information on returned absentee ballots.But guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in place since 2016, says that clerks can fix missing witness address components on the envelopes that contain absentee ballots if they have reliable information.That guidance, passed unanimously by the bipartisan elections commission, has been in place for 11 statewide elections without objection.The elections commission said that there were no corrections to actual absentee ballots contained inside the envelopes, as some have claimed.The witness signature and address information is all contained on the envelope in which the ballot is sent.The Trump campaign is also alleging that thousands of voters improperly got around Wisconsin’s photo ID requirement by claiming they were indefinitely confined and therefore didn’t have to present a photo ID in order to return their absentee ballot.Wisconsin law requires all voters to show an acceptable photo ID to vote both in person and by mail.It does provide exceptions for citizens who are indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity or are disabled for an indefinite period.The Wisconsin Republican Party sued Democratic Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell in March, before the state’s spring primary, over advice he had posted on his Facebook page that voters could declare themselves indefinitely confined due to the pandemic.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered McDonell to stop issuing guidance that is different from official language approved by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.The Trump campaign alleged that “the damage was already done” before McDonell was ordered to remove the language.The Trump campaign also alleges that local election clerks issued absentee ballots to voters without requiring an application, in violation of state law.Trump’s complaint alleges that 60,000 votes were cast by people who didn’t submit a written application, but offered no evidence.Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said there was “no proof” to back up that claim.“I would encourage them to provide the proof,” he said.Elections commission members Knudson and Thomsen both said they did not know what Trump was referring to in that portion of the complaint.Trump also claimed that observers in Milwaukee were kept too far away to observe the counting of ballots.“Once observational access is provided during a recount, mistakes, violations of the law (in addition to the open access violations already known) and fraud will be discovered,” the complaint said.Election leaders in Milwaukee and Dane counties said they would live stream the recount to be done at convention centres in both Milwaukee and Madison, with room for observers in person.The recount will continue in both cities over the weekend, taking off only for Thanksgiving, until complete.“We know the result will be the same as it was,” McDonell said.

“It’s what we saw across the state four years ago and this election, from my perspective, ran very smoothly.”Recounts in Wisconsin and across the country have historically resulted in very few vote changes.A 2016 presidential recount in Wisconsin netted Trump an additional 131 votes.Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes that year, and opposed the recount brought by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.“The people have spoken and the election is over,” Trump said at the time.“We must accept this result and then look to the future.”After the recount was done and his victory was confirmed, Trump again took to Twitter.“The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what — we just picked up an additional 131 votes,” Trump tweeted at the time after the recount was done.“The Dems and Green Party can now rest.Scam!”___Associated Press writer Doug Glass in Minneapolis contributed.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press 23 hours ago Raptors take San Diego State point guard Malachi Flynn with 29th pick in NBA draft TORONTO — Malachi Flynn said there’s no better NBA veterans to learn from than Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.The Toronto Raptors selected Flynn with the 29th pick in Wednesday night’s NBA draft, adding another small point guard with a strong defensive presence to their backcourt.Flynn’s announcement prompted immediate comparisons to Toronto’s enviable backcourt duo of Lowry and VanVleet.”I think it’s going to be great for me honestly, as a young guy coming in the league, with two guys who have won a championship, who have put up great numbers, there’s not much bad you can say about those two guys,” Flynn said.”I think it will be great for me to be around them every day and continue to learn.” The six-foot-one, 185-pound guard led San Diego State to a 30-2 record and a No.

6 national ranking.He was also the Mountain West conference player and defensive player of the year.Flynn said he’s watched the Raptors and “how well they play,” and has paid particular attention to VanVleet and Lowry.”They’re super savvy,” he said.”Kyle Lowry’s great at getting you in foul trouble, just keeping you on your toes, he knows what plays to make, he’s going to come up in big moments, he does all the little things.”He’s inspired by VanVleet, who went undrafted but has worked himself into being one of this year’s most coveted free agents.

“He blew up and just continued to get better.He’s six foot, six-one, right around there, guys like that get (overlooked) so seeing him being able to win a championship and put up great numbers in the finals, it’s definitely inspirational for a guy like me,” Flynn said.The Raptors spoke to Flynn early in the COVID-19 global pandemic, and then went to see him two weeks ago in Las Vegas, a trip that sealed the deal.”He’s a guy we really liked, and can come in and .

.

.develop under the leadership of Kyle and Fred,” Raptors GM Bobby Webster said.”Those are two guys for him to learn under.” Webster said Flynn’s a modern NBA point guard, who has a complete game on the offensive end, plus defends at a high level.

The 22-year-old Flynn played two seasons at Washington State before transferring to SDSU.He averaged a team-high 17.6 points on 44 per cent shooting and 37.3 per cent shooting from three-point range, plus 5.1 assists through 32 games for the Aztecs.Flynn, wearing a charcoal suit for the virtual draft, celebrated the night at his hometown in Tacoma, Wash., sharing a huge sectional couch with his parents and six older siblings.Webster said it’s too soon to compare the newcomer to Lowry and VanVleet.”Those guys are incredibly accomplished.I think as you guys will meet Malachi, he’s a serious kid.He’s professional.

He’s about the hard work.He’s about winning,” Webster said.

“So I think those will be the natural comparisons.”The Raptors took Nevada guard Jalen Harris with the 59th pick.The 22-year-old Texan was a late bloomer after breaking his back in high school.He was excellent at Nevada last season, however, averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals.This year’s draft was held virtually due to the pandemic and, originally scheduled for June, ended the longest pre-draft period in history.Because of the Canadian government’s border restrictions, the Raptors had to do much of their research online.”It was tough,” Webster said of how Wednesday night unfolded.

“Every pick would come in, and there would be some gasps and a little bit of disbelief.

But you know, all along, Malachi was up there.And that’s who we wanted.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov.18, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press 23 hours ago Campus march by Hong Kong graduates marks a year since university clashes Dozens of Hong Kong students turned their graduation ceremony on Thursday into a march to commemorate pro-democracy protests last year that included violent clashes with police across city campuses.In November last year, campuses of CUHK and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) saw prolonged clashes between students and riot police, with protesters firing petrol bombs from catapults and using bows and arrows and police responding with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.22 hours ago Virus surge stalls economic recovery Manitoba’s economic recovery is expected to be delayed until at least 2022, as COVID-19 cases climb daily by the hundreds and the province mulls further restrictions.

Forecasts from the Conference Board of Canada released Wednesday suggest while Manitoba coped relatively well during the first wave of the coronavirus, current provincial handling of the pandemic is dampening economic prospects for the future — with GDP growth well behind most other provinces, and significantly lower than the national average.By the end of this year, Manitoba’s GDP is expected to fall by 6.2 per cent and rise 3.5 per cent next year.That’s compared to the national expected rebound of 5.6 per cent by 2021 and contraction this year of 6.6 per cent.“With the kind of tumultuous financial environment we’re in right now, it really is a mix of things that’s led up to this,” said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the board, who expects the pace of recovery to flatten across all of Canada, if not completely stall.

“While economic activity is fully restoring in some sectors, we won’t see a return to normal until a vaccine is available to the public,” he added, in an interview.“But for some industries and provinces that are seeing higher case counts, these difficulties will persist for the foreseeable future even if a vaccine does come around.” For most other Canadian provinces, economic activity is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until the second half of 2021.

Those outlooks vary by industry, and some provinces are expected to do better than others.In Alberta, economic recovery is predicted to rise by 6 per cent next year, despite the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

Provinces like Ontario are expected to grow by 5.2 per cent, Quebec at 4.6 per cent and Saskatchewan at 4.5 per cent.Prince Edward Island, on the other hand, is suggested to be facing its largest recession on record — with a drop of 12 per cent in GDP this year.The board doesn’t believe its recovery will level out until 2022.Antunes said when Manitoba was reporting far fewer cases than other provinces, it was able to make several gains in employment, retail trade, wholesale trade and manufacturing.

“Some of that could very well be a saving grace in the future,” he said.Still, the board suggests employment in the province will rebound by just 3.6 per cent next year, well below the national expected increase of 4.9 per cent.Antunes said those numbers have yet to factor in the effect of long winter months in province, which he suspects could make current outlooks even more dire.“It’s an altogether different picture than it was before, and it’ll very likely affect things long-term for Manitoba,” he added.

“The issuing of new restrictions, gatherings limitations, dine-in services, retail capacity, and travel all make it very hard for any economic progress.“But should things be handled well right now by the province, it could all change for the better.”Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press a day ago Will social distancing weaken my immune system? Will social distancing weaken my immune system?In short, no.Some worry a lack of contact with others will weaken their immune system by reducing its active contact with germs.But even when we’re staying 6 feet from others or spending most of our time at home, our bodies are continuously responding to plenty of bacteria and other germs that inhabit indoor and outdoor environments.“We’re constantly exposed to microbes,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immune system researcher at Yale University.

“Our immune system is always being triggered.”The effects of childhood vaccines and other built-up immunity are also long-lasting, Iwasaki said, and won’t disappear overnight because we’re keeping our distance from others during the pandemic.Experts say anyone looking to boost their immune health during the pandemic should practice habits such as stress management, healthy eating, regular exercise and getting enough sleep.”These are the things that actually affect the immune system,” Iwasaki said.A seasonal flu shot will also help protect you from one more potential illness.___The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series.Submit them at: [email protected] previous Viral Questions:How does the coronavirus affect the heart?Does the flu vaccine affect my chances of getting COVID-19?Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?The Associated Press 21 hours ago Former Wirecard boss Braun stonewalls German lawmakers’ inquiry Wirecard’s former boss stonewalled questions from lawmakers on Thursday when he was temporarily released from jail for an inquiry into post-war Germany’s biggest corporate fraud.Markus Braun, wearing his hallmark turtle neck and a blazer, declined to answer more than 50 questions about Wirecard’s demise, other than to say no German officials behaved inappropriately.

Braun, who has denied any wrongdoing and said Wirecard was the victim of a wider fraud, is in jail awaiting trial.a day ago Wolves select Edwards with No.1 pick in delayed NBA draft Anthony Edwards paid tribute to his mother and grandmother.Onyeka Okongwu recalled his brother.Obi Toppin thought about coming home.Tears flowed freely for those and many more players Wednesday night when their long-awaited, months-delayed NBA dreams were finally realized.Edwards was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No.1 pick in an NBA draft delayed multiple times because of the coronavirus pandemic.Commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.The draft was originally scheduled for June 25 before multiple delays caused by the virus pushed it back and out of its usual home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Boxes of hats were shipped to the top prospects to put on the one they needed after their name was called.Edwards watched while seated next to portraits of his late mother and grandmother.They both died of cancer and he was emotional after his name was announced.“As far as just being excited and just being happy and ready to go and ready to work and ready to get there as soon as possible, those emotions were overwhelming with just my mother and grandmother being there,” Edwards said.“I mean, it was just a dream come true and just a blessing.”And though there wasn’t the usual family table in the green room and trip on stage to meet the commissioner, some players still were outfitted in fashionable attire — perhaps none more than No.12 pick Tyrese Haliburton of Sacramento, whose blue, floral suit had the words “Black Lives Matter” on the inside.They celebrated with family, friends, coaches — and in Cole Anthony’s case, even celebrity fans.Movie director Spike Lee jumped up and down with his family when Orlando took Anthony, whose father, Greg played for the Knicks, at No.15.Some moments triggered deeper emotions.Okongwu, taken No.

6 by Atlanta, recalled his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014.Toppin, the national player of the year last season at Dayton, struggled to speak after New York took him at No.

8, bringing the Brooklyn-born forward to his hometown.“I’m from New York, that’s why it’s important,” Toppin said.“Me repping my city, it’s amazing.”Edwards became the 11th straight one-and-done player to be the No.1 pick, coming in a year where there was no clear obvious choice.He averaged 19.1 points for the Bulldogs, tops among all freshman.The Golden State Warriors, stung by the news that Klay Thompson sustained another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Memphis centre James Wiseman with the second pick.They stumbled to the bottom of the league while Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee.The severity of his injury had not been revealed as the draft began but it didn’t persuade the Warriors to take another guard.Instead they went with the 7-foot-1 centre who arrived as the No.

1 recruit out of high school and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games before he was suspended for eligibility reasons and eventually left the program to prepare for the draft.LaMelo Ball then went to the Charlotte Hornets, the next stop on a lengthy basketball journey that sent the guard from high school in California to stops as a professional in Lithuania and Australia.He joined brother Lonzo, taken No.2 by the Lakers and now in New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers taken in the top three picks.After all his travels, Ball is eager to make a home playing for Michael Jordan’s team in Charlotte.“I feel like I can go out there and play basketball,” Ball said.“I feel like I was born to do this.”The newcomers will have precious little time to prepare for their debuts and need to knock off months of rust or more — Wiseman hasn’t played an organized game in a year — without the benefit of summer league.

Training camps open in early December and the 72-game 2020-21 season is set to begin on Dec.22.“This draft process has been the longest for me, so I’ve just been working on my game,” Wiseman said.“I’ve actually been playing pickup games with pros already, so I’ve been getting a lot of experience.

But really just focusing on myself.I’m truly ready to play with these great guys.”Teams had to evaluate prospects without benefit of the usual draft combine in Chicago or the ability to invite them to their facilities for workouts and meetings.And with the coronavirus shutting down the sports world in March, there was no NCAA Tournament for the players to make a final impression before entering the draft.That helped contribute to perhaps more questions than usual surrounding the draft, with little feel for how the top few picks would play out.The Chicago Bulls took Patrick Williams of Florida State, the ACC sixth man of the year as a freshman, at No.

4.Cleveland followed with Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, another freshman, to round out the top five.The latter half of the top 10 featured a couple highly regarded international players in France’s Killian Hayes, taken by Detroit at No.7, and Deni Avdija, the highest player to come from Israel when Washington picked him at No.9.The setting wasn’t the only thing unusual about the draft.

Duke didn’t have a player picked in the first round after having 39 since the league went to a two-round draft in 1989.And the San Antonio Spurs picked in the lottery for the first time since 1997, when they drafted Tim Duncan No.1.The Spurs picked Devin Vassell at No.11, giving Florida State two first-round selections for just the second time in school history.___More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsBrian Mahoney, The Associated Press 21 hours ago The World Health Organization said Wednesday that out of four million new cases last week, 46% were reported from the continent.View on euronews 21 hours ago Pakistan’s PM goes to Afghanistan as U.S.

prepares drawdown, peace talks stall Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Kabul on Thursday to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, at a time when peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives have stalled and violence is rising.

This will be Khan’s first visit to Afghanistan since assuming office over two years ago.It is the highest profile visit by a Pakistani official to Kabul since peace talks began between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the Qatari capital of Doha.21 hours ago Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, Taylor Swift win Apple Music Awards NEW YORK — Rapper Lil Baby has been named artist of the year at the second annual Apple Music Awards.The rapper, who topped the charts this year with his sophomore album “My Turn” and reached the No.3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his hit “The Bigger Picture,” was hand-selected by the streaming service’s global editorial team to win the title.

The editorial team also named Taylor Swift songwriter of the year and Megan Thee Stallion breakthrough artist of the year.Roddy Ricch, whose successful year included a Grammy win, No.1 album and No.1 song, won two Apple Music honours that were based on streaming data.His debut album, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial,” has been streamed more than 1.5 billion times on the platform and was named top album of the year.

His smash hit “The Box” logged more than 460 million Apple Music streams and was crowned top song of the year.

Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press a day ago EU auditors see uphill battle for EU antitrust regulators versus big tech EU antitrust enforcers face an uphill battle in tackling tech giants abusing their dominance because of the difficulty of finding remedies, the EU’s budget watchdog said on Thursday in its first audit of the regulators.The report by the European Court of Auditors comes as critics of Google voiced frustration at what they say is ineffective enforcement of a series of EU rulings ordering it to stop favouring its own online services to the disadvantage of competitors.”Although the Commission has taken a number of case decisions tackling challenges resulting from the digital economy, significant challenges remain to be resolved,” the watchdog said.21 hours ago Plans to build lake-to-lake bike lane in Penticton, B.C., met with criticism Mariana Wolff owns a boutique cannabis store in downtown Penticton, B.C.

The century-old cottage that houses the business has been a major attraction for local residents and tourists alike.But Wolff fears a proposed bike lane running through the southern Okanagan city will replace all the road parking spaces near her shop on Martin Street and turn her driving customers away.”We would lose 90 stalls of parking along the west side of Martin,” Wolff said.”They [customers] would possibly turn to other locations where there are parking lots.” She and other downtown retailers petitioned against the six-kilometre bicycle route between Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake — an $8-million dollar project that was passed by city council on Tuesday with a 5-1 vote.In 2012, the City of Penticton identified the need to build a lake-to-lake cycling path separated from vehicle traffic with barriers, cones or curbs.

It stated in its official community plan last year that the project will help support an active and affordable mode of transportation.The municipality launched a website to inform people of the bike route design and collect their opinions.But Wolff says many local residents were not aware of the city’s attempts to gather their input.”Maybe just an online approach like that isn’t necessarily the only way to try and get people’s opinions,” she said.”They might see a bunch of emails coming…end[ing] up in the junk folder.”Coun.Katie Robinson says she’s “100 per cent in favour” of the bicycle lane, citing “some overwhelming support” in town.She says she’s aware of downtown merchants’ concerns and hopes they’ll eventually accept the project.”There’s not a bike path in the world that didn’t start off with some kind of controversy, but then proved themselves very shortly to be the jewel in the crown that’s been enjoyed by locals and tourists alike for years,” Robinson said to Chris Walker, host of CBC’s Daybreak South.One of the bike lane controversies Robinson might be referring to is Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge bike lanes.Before the bike lanes were built in July 2009, they met harsh criticism from some leaders and community members who said the plan would result in traffic gridlock.Now, the city of Vancouver says the Burrard Bridge bike lane is the busiest of its kind in North America.Robinson says it may take several years to build the Penticton bike route, and city staff will first launch a detailed planning phase to address concerns from downtown businesses.”We still have a lot of room to be able to tweak the route, maybe move it from one side of the road to the other side of the road so that there’s less interference with businesses.”There’s no timeline yet for the start of the planning stage.22 hours ago All NFL teams to enter intensive COVID-19 protocol Saturday The NFL is placing all teams in intensive protocol starting Saturday to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 as the number of cases rises around the country.Use of masks will be mandatory at all times at team facilities, including during practice and in weight rooms.Meetings must be held either virtually or in the largest indoor space with approval by the league.

Meals have to be made available for grab-and-go to avoid players and staff congregating in cafeterias.Time spent in the locker room also has to be limited.Clubs operating under the intensive protocols have reduced close contacts by more than 50% since the fifth week of the regular season, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was sent from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to teams on Wednesday.“These sustained reductions and the resulting health and safety benefits make it appropriate to implement the intensive protocols on a mandatory, league-wide basis,” Goodell said in the memo.So far, 28 teams have entered intensive protocol at some point and 16 teams have done it more than once.“The upcoming holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving next week, will introduce new risks of exposure that we need to address now,” Goodell wrote.“Because we have a highly sophisticated program of daily testing, we know when the virus enters our facilities, which underscores the importance of contact tracing and other steps to minimize close contacts within a facility.”Recent experience has highlighted the importance of minimizing high-risk close contacts; on multiple occasions, we have seen individuals identified on that basis test positive within a short time.We have also seen many instances in which effective action by clubs to minimize these close contacts prevented the virus from spreading within the club, and avoided players or coaches being ruled out of practice or games.”The NFL said Tuesday there were 17 new confirmed positives among players and 35 among other personnel during testing from Nov.8-14.That brought the league’s total to 95 players and 175 other personnel since Aug.1, not counting new cases this week.“The biggest motivator I find when we talk to the clubs about this is simply that if they are not in compliance with the protocols from a mask-wearing perspective or for some reason somebody forgot their device or something like that, they’re much more likely to be identified as a high-risk close contact than they would otherwise,” said Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice-president of communications, public affairs and policy.“So when that individual coach or player is removed from the team environment for five days because their mask was down, that’s a lesson learned throughout the facility.And so I don’t think we see a lot of repeat problems as far as that goes.

Not everybody’s perfect all the time.But I think the biggest enforcement piece is taking somebody out of the team environment and potentially costing them the opportunity to play in the game or to go through a week’s worth of the practice.I think that part of it is a little bit undersold.It feels like a lot when we talk to the clubs as a behaviour change mechanism.”Teams not having been in the intensive protocols are the Jets, Buccaneers, Seahawks and Washington.“Well, it does shift some things,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

“It’s not a problem for us ….So we’ll do whatever….

We’re gonna follow to the letter of the law, and continue to really have an attitude that we can pull this thing off.I think the mentality of it is important as anything, because it has to carry over into all aspects, and all facets of everybody’s lives.”Asked his thoughts on the intensive protocol mandates, Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson said: “We gotta do what we gotta do to get paid.”Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox, who lives with teammate Dallas Goedert, said they probably won’t host family or friends for Thanksgiving to avoid further risk.“You gotta do whatever it takes to stay safe and be able to play this game,” Maddox said.

“You have to be responsible at home and be ready for whatever they have planned for us.”___AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLRob Maaddi, The Associated Press 21 hours ago Thai PM threatens to use all laws against protesters Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha threatened on Thursday to use all laws possible against protesters, as demonstrations escalate for his removal and for reforms to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.Activists voiced concern that this could mean the resumption of prosecutions under some of the world’s harshest royal insult laws.”Prayuth has declared a battle against the people,” said rights lawyer and protest leader Arnon Nampa.a day ago José Feliciano celebrates 50 years of ‘Feliz Navidad’ LOS ANGELES — José Feliciano is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his bilingual Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad” by releasing a new version featuring Jason Mraz, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shaggy and more.

Pop balladeer Michael Bolton, Latin boy band CNCO, country duo Big & Rich, and Mexican singer and actress Patricia Manterola are among the 30 acts who teamed up remotely for the reimagined track, which is being released Friday by Amazon Music.The collaboration of artists from different backgrounds and musical genres reflects Feliciano’s original goals for the song.

“The idea of ‘Feliz Navidad’ was to try and unite the people,” the nine-time Grammy winner said.”My thought when I wrote the song was that it didn’t matter what language you were singing in, the feeling of Christmas is privy to all of us.” The 75-year-old Puerto Rican singer-songwriter says that back in 1970, he never imagined the song’s catchy but minimalist lyrics — just six words in Spanish, 14 in English — would become a holiday standard.“I would have to say it fulfills a dream,” he said in an interview over Zoom from his home in Connecticut.“I had the dream in my mind, but that’s as far as it went until I wrote ‘Feliz Navidad.’” He’s been celebrating the 50-year anniversary on social media by posting vintage photos and memories.

The tune has charted on the Billboard Hot 100 repeatedly over the years, and become one of the most played and recorded Christmas songs around the world.It was part of Feliciano’s 1970 self-titled holiday album, later renamed “Feliz Navidad.” He says “We Three Kings” and “The First Noel” served as inspirations.

“I didn’t want to do a Christmas album that was syrupy,” he said, but one “that really told the story of the saviour’s birth in a way that was musical and people could get behind it.” A documentary about Feliciano, who has been blind since birth, is expected to be released next year.“Behind This Guitar” tracks his journey from poverty in Puerto Rico and New York to performing at the Vatican’s Christmas celebration.

“The cards that were given to me were not such great cards to deal with,” Feliciano said.”I came from a foreign land, I had no vision, or at least I thought I didn’t — until I found out that I did have a vision and that I saw things the way they should be seen.” Feliciano is also hosting a Dec.20 concert featuring “Feliz Navidad” and his versions of other Christmas carols livestreamed from his Connecticut home.___ Follow Jamia Pugh on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/journalistjamia Jamia Pugh, The Associated Press 17 hours ago Sask.doctors question decision to leave bars, nightclubs, other venues open as COVID-19 spreads Doctors in Saskatchewan say the provincial government’s refusal to temporarily close bars and other high-risk venues will cause COVID-19 to spread unnecessarily.Premier Scott Moe says officials are consulting with industry groups and further measures could be announced next week.But some doctors say the province has had six months to consult, and every day wasted will cause needless infections, hospitalizations and death.”We don’t want these things to be closed, but just look at the numbers,” said Saskatoon ICU specialist Dr.

Hassan Masri.He said the first priority must be controlling COVID-19 infection rates.Last week, nearly 300 doctors signed a letter saying the COVID-19 restrictions announced by the province to that point needed to be stricter.The doctors called for a 28-day closure of bars, bingo halls, gyms and places of worship.The measures announced last Friday include a 10 p.m.curfew for restaurant and bar alcohol sales.At that point, they also made mask use mandatory indoors in communities of more than 5,000.Since then, the province has expanded the mask requirement to all communities in Saskatchewan, but Masri says that still doesn’t go far enough.Patrons of bars, nightclubs and restaurants don’t have to mask when seated, and can gather in larger numbers than are allowed in private homes.That’s contradictory and must change, says Masri.”Limit your bubble.Only go out if it’s necessary.”Saskatoon trauma specialist Dr.Brent Thoma and Saskatoon family physician Dr.

Carla Holinaty agreed.”If we can only have a few people at home, and there’s a good reason for that, I’m not sure why we would gather in much larger groups in other settings, especially without masks,” Thoma said in an interview Tuesday.”How do I explain to my patients that the government has banned them from seeing their family/social circle in their home in small groups, but that going to the bar is fine?” Holinaty said in a social media post.Masri said he hopes the government will take further action.”My nature is to be optimistic and to continue to advocate what’s best for our city.I think that the premier and [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr.Saqib Shahab are listening,” Masri said.”I don’t think this is a matter of physicians versus the government.We’re all on the same team.” 17 hours ago University of Windsor, St.Clair College receive COVID readiness stamp to welcome more international students Both the University of Windsor and St.Clair College have had their “COVID readiness plan” approved this week by the provincial and federal governments, meaning they can now fully welcome back their international students population.International students returning to the university this month can expect to be met with a “rigorous pandemic plan,” according to the school.

UWindsor is fully approved to welcome back its international student population after accepting very few since the end of the last academic year, the school said this week.While some international students were already continuing their studies from Canada, others could not travel over due to COVID-19.But staff at the school said since their “COVID readiness plan” has now received approval, they can take in all international students.”The approval of a COVID readiness plan really opens the door for us to be able to safely welcome [international students] for them to be able to start their experience,” associate vice-president of enrolment management Chris Busch told CBC News.

“A lot of students were quite nervous about starting their degree program remotely with the potential of maybe never being able to travel to Canada for the foreseeable future.This is a breath of fresh air for those individuals who want to be able to settle within our community and continue to learn in a very effective manner.” Busch said they still don’t know how many students will decide to travel to Windsor, but they are expecting 1,200 new international students to start in the winter term.Considering a majority of the university’s courses are being offered online, Busch said students are not obligated to be in the city unless they have a program-specific requirement they need to fulfill.Students will be expected to complete a checklist before travelling to Canada and must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their arrival, as per federal government guidelines.

The university said in a news release that it will also require the following details from students: * Date of arrival.

* Address they will stay at during quarantine.* Arrangements they have made to feed themselves and obtain other essential supplies during quarantine.Students still also need a study permit, which Busch said the government has been slow to issue this year due to the pandemic.

The school will use its International Students Centre will keep track of incoming students and stay in touch with them.Busch said the university will keep in close contact and support students during their quarantine.He said they have also set up a shuttle service for students needing transportation from Toronto to Windsor.”We’ve developed a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety and well-being of both our international students and the broader community.

The plan helps students stay healthy and puts in place supports if they fall ill.” Last year, international students made up nearly one quarter of the university’s enrolment, according to the school, which is about 5,500 people.While some live in Canada, for those who live at home attending online students can be difficult due to “electricity outages or poor Internet access,” along with different time zones, the university stated.”I would probably classify [the] response [from international students] as elated,” Busch said.”The university had submitted our international readiness plan to government months ago and finally just received approval.” International students to arrive at St.Clair College in DecemberSt.Clair College also received approval to bring back its international students come December.”It has been a long process to ensure protocols are in place for the safe arrival of our International students to our campuses in Windsor, Chatham and Toronto,” said college president Patti France in a news release Wednesday.”Our end goal has been to keep our staff, current students and community safe, while ensuring our newest students — from all areas of the globe — arrive in Canada safely.”Prior to landing in Canada, students are asked to provide the college with a study visa and proof that they have completed school protocols.

The college said its COVID readiness plan also includes transportation for students and securing hotel rooms for their 14 day quarantine.Students headed to the Toronto campus will have a hotel in the Greater Toronto Area and those coming to Chatham or Windsor will stay in a Windsor hotel.The college’s vice president of international relations Ron Seguin said in a news release that at the hotels where students will quarantine, the school will have security guards at the location to ensure no one leaves their rooms.The school says it has also made accommodations for food and other necessities, along with having a nurse that will check in on students and a physician if medical help is needed.16 hours ago First Bluenose Marathon kids’ run in Spry Bay a success SPRY BAY – The first Bluenose Marathon kids’ run at Taylor Head Park was held Nov.8, when 18 Grade 5 and 6 students ran four kilometers along Taylor Head Road.

The event was organized by community volunteers, partnering with Halifax Parks and Recreation, The Friends of Taylor Head, Doctors Nova Scotia and organizers of the Bluenose Marathon.Dr.

Gordie Rudolph sponsored every youth participant in the successful marathon, part of the rescheduled plan for the annual Halifax marathon in response to COVID-19.The Friends of Taylor Head arranged for traffic control and families lined parts of the road to cheer on the runners – using the sound of thunder sticks and bells, which proved encouraging and provided excitement along the route for the young runners.An award ceremony followed the run, with each participant receiving a medal and swag bag donated by Doctors Nova Scotia.“It was a great day – you could see the joy in the faces of the youth as they crossed the finish line,” organizer Jody Taker told The Journal.

“While organizers followed provincial guidelines, the event allowed everyone involved to feel a much-needed sense of normalcy.Organizers were so thrilled with the event that plans are in place to do it again next year.” Taker says the organizers are hopeful they can open the event to the entire school and community in 2021.“Thanks going out to all involved.The event could not have happened without the hard work and commitment of dedicated volunteers,” Taker said.Lily Rutledge, Kolby Adams, Grace Glawson, Gabrielle MacDonald, Mackenna Boutilier, Ty Francis, Brady Boutilier, Grayson Rehberg, Layla Ronaghan, Hunter Auclair, Kayla Boutilier, Archer Munroe, Ben Lloyd, Bailey Muir, Rylan Williams, Janelle Peniston, Braden Mead and Tristan Gerrard were the participants.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal 16 hours ago Georgia Gov.Kemp stays on sidelines of GOP election fight SAVANNAH, Ga.

— When Gov.Brian Kemp won election two years ago, he pushed back forcefully against an outcry from Democrats who accused him of suppressing voter turnout to improve his odds of winning.“Look, we have laws on the books that prevent elections from being stolen from anyone,” Kemp, who oversaw that election as secretary of state, said on Nov.17, 2018, as he urged Georgia voters to accept the results of a close, bitterly contested race against Democrat Stacey Abrams.In contrast, the Republican governor hasn’t stepped forward to defend the integrity of this year’s elections amid attacks by President Donald Trump and other members of his own party, who claim without evidence that the presidential vote in Georgia was tainted by fraud.Unofficial results show Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia by a narrow margin.The Associated Press has not declared a presidential winner in the state, where officials are conducting a hand-counted audit of the contest.The AP did declare Biden the winner of the overall election.The claims of fraud in Georgia have sparked infighting among Republicans, with GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stating categorically that the election was fair and secure.Georgia’s two Republican U.S.

senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have demanded Raffensperger’s resignation.Kemp, Georgia’s top elected Republican, has staked out a position on the sidelines.Having recently emerged from quarantine after a possible coronavirus exposure, he made his only public appearance since Election Day last week to tout a trade magazine’s ranking of Georgia as the most business-friendly U.S.state.Pressed by a reporter, he brushed off the question of whether Raffensperger should resign as “moot.” He said he supported the secretary’s decision to order a hand-counted audit of Georgia’s roughly 5 million presidential votes.”Let’s let that happen and let the chips fall where they may,” Kemp told reporters last week.The governor has said little else about the GOP infighting in his own state as Trump seeks to overturn Biden’s victory by challenging the results in Georgia and other battleground states.Kemp has neither endorsed Trump’s fraud claims nor backed Raffensperger in his assertion that the election was conducted fairly.Asked if the governor has seen evidence of widespread irregularities or vote fraud, spokesman Cody Hall said Kemp wants to wait until after Georgia certifies its election results.The deadline is Friday.”At the end of that process, he will make a determination in his own mind if he’s seen anything of that nature,” Hall said.Hall said he expects the governor’s next public appearance to be Friday, when Vice-President Mike Pence comes to Georgia to campaign for Perdue and Loeffler, both of whom face runoffs against their Democratic challengers on Jan 5.Some of Kemp’s supporters think he is wise to remain neutral.“For the governor, it would be a catch-22 — it’s going to be hard to make any side happy with any statement he can make,” said Jason Shepherd, Republican Party chairman for Cobb County in the Atlanta suburbs.Eric Johnson, a former Republican leader of the Georgia Senate, agreed Kemp should stay out of the fray over Trump’s election and focus on the Senate runoffs.He said he’s concerned an escalating debate over the validity of Georgia’s presidential election could hurt Republican turnout in January.“A Republican civil war doesn’t do anything except hurt the voters we need to come back on Jan.5,” Johnson said.“If they think there’s corruption, then why vote? If they think it was stolen, why vote? Because it’ll just be stolen again.”Trump’s endorsement two years ago helped Kemp win a heated Republican primary and eke out a narrow general election victory over Abrams.

Even after losing the White House, Trump is expected to remain a powerful influence with GOP voters in the upcoming Senate runoffs as well as in 2022, when Kemp will have to seek reelection.That could be one reason why the governor, like other leading Georgia Republicans, has avoided wading deep into the election controversy — even when Trump has taunted him personally.“Governor Kemp will hopefully see the light before it is too late.Must finally take charge!” Trump tweeted Tuesday, referring to a poll that suggested Kemp’s approval among Georgia voters was sagging.Raffensperger hasn’t blamed any of his fellow party members for keeping a lower profile.“I understand if they get too far out on a limb, they start getting blasted also,” the secretary told The Associated Press.He added that Kemp has “plenty on his plate as governor, and he’s doing a fine job.”Kemp will ultimately have to take a stand.State law requires the governor to sign off on the slate of presidential electors who will cast Georgia’s 16 votes in the Electoral College.”His name’s going to be on the certification of the electors, one way or another,” Shepherd said.___ Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.Russ Bynum, The Associated Press 23 hours ago Small, but busy – ATV Club maintains 420 kilometres of trail SHEET HARBOUR – The province’s snowmobilers and ATV riders like to enjoy all that Nova Scotia has to offer when it comes to trails and recreation.Mike Butler, president of the Sheet Harbour Snowmobile and ATV Club, says a lot of work goes into making trails ready for the ride.“Many of these trails cross streams, brooks or rivers, so it is necessary to care for countless bridges and replace any, as necessary.This requires a lot of [hours] and often machine work to complete,” he says.In the last year alone, there have been four new bridges constructed – two connecting Port Dufferin to Quoddy that are 20-feet long; an 18-foot one in the Killag area and 28-foot one in the Marinette area.

Another bridge over the Port Dufferin River was widened and a 20-foot bridge behind Moser River was re-decked.“It is also essential – at times – to have excavators work on the trail beds, as was the case in the Balcom Center Trail,” Butler adds.The club is working on obtaining two grants from an off-highway vehicle fund through the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia (ATVANS).One is intended to clear trails behind Moser River and the other to connect Spry Bay trails to the provincial system.Their membership is not large, Butler says, so the work they choose to complete is prioritized and budgeted.The club, which is a member of ATVANS, has taken on a number of endeavours over the past year.“There are five provincial numbered trails, as well as numerous access trails, which are continually being upgraded and maintained, and all require on-going trimming and grooming.In all, there is approximately 420 kilometres of trails running from Mooseland to New Chester that we administer,” Butler told The Journal.

Signage is an important aspect of the upkeep and administration of the trail systems.“To avoid accidents and mishaps, and to give direction so a person can stay on track, there are appropriate trail signs that need to be purchased, erected and kept clear of brush for easy viewing,” Butler said.

There have been conversations and meetings with Atlantic Gold regarding ways their roads might interrupt the trails.Options, such as compensating the club – by either constructing a new trail or funding the club’s efforts to do the work, are being discussed.

They offered six ATV training classes in the area in August and October, with 30 people receiving certification.Training is mandatory to legally drive off-road vehicles for those who were not grandfathered into the system, when the laws changed in 2006.As its main fundraisers, the club sells tickets annually for an ATVANS provincial draw, which takes place each March at the RV Sports Show, along with rallies.The club has annually sponsored two poker rallies since 2016, but the 2020 rally in February was postponed due to trail conditions and the cancelled in March when COVID-19 hit.

The membership hosted a fall rally with public health protocols in place.“If you are interested in joining our efforts, we are always happy to welcome new members, who are automatically joined with ATVANS.This year, everyone who joins the provincial organization before Dec.31 becomes eligible to win a new 2021 CF Moto 400cc ATV,” Butler says To join the club, contact membership chair Tammy Chittick at [email protected] or 902-410-9403.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal 16 hours ago .

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