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Grey County draft budget ready for 2021

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Selwyn Hicks was elected by Grey County Council to serve as Warden for 2021. (Photo courtesy of Grey County)

February 1, 2021 4:56pm

Grey County’s 2021 budget includes a focus on affordable housing.

Last week, Grey County Council’s Committee of the Whole supported the 2021 draft budget. It calls for a County tax rate increase of 2.11% for the a total operating and capital budget of $171.2 million.

The levy tax rate increase equals almost $25 more for county taxes for the average homeowner.

An update from Grey County says the draft budget includes $1.11 million investment to create an affordable housing fund. The amount is equal to $500,000, plus the equivalent of 1% levy. The task force recommended including 1% in the budget each year to continue growing the fund which will support land purchases and affordable housing builds. Council chose to pay the 1% in 2021 from one-time reserves.

“The 2021 budget is responsive to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the needs of the community. Service levels are being maintained in most departments with additional resources supporting important priorities, such as affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, rural transportation and other areas,” said Grey County Warden Selwyn ‘Buck’ Hicks.

“Affordable housing continues to be a real challenge. County Council is taking action to ensure individuals and families in Grey will have more access to safe and affordable homes,” said Warden Hicks. “We still have a lot of work ahead, but this is a massive step forward.”

In addition to establishing the Affordable Housing Fund, the budget also includes an investment of $3.7 million towards 49 housing capital projects throughout the County and administering $3.8 million from the Canada Ontario Community Housing Initiative and Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative to support an affordable housing build by the Owen Sound Housing Company.

The budget continues the annual 1% increase to the transportation budget. And it supports the operation of the Grey Road 4 route of the Grey Transit Route between Flesherton and Walkerton.

Also in the 2021 budget is funding to offset and react to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly $2 million is budgeted to support increased spending for staffing and equipment (including PPE) to support infection control, screening and testing. The largest expenditure will be in long-term care. Other County services, such as Paramedics, along with maintenance and cleaning across all services, especially in affordable housing will benefit from support for continued precautions.

“The measures needed to respond to COVID-19 are substantial and action needs to be taken by all levels of government to ensure our communities are protected. While additional funding from upper levels of government is likely, we need to be vigilant in our planning to ensure we have the resources ready to go if and when they are needed,” said Warden Hicks.

Grey County will undertake several plans and studies in 2021 to help inform future policy and decisions. Some of the budgeted projects include an Age-Friendly Community Strategic Plan, a review of development charges, building and facility condition assessments and updating the Corporate Communications Strategy.

Estimated new assessment revenue of $1.24 million is included in the budget. This growth helps meet levy requirements but also puts more demand on services.

Source: https://blackburnnews.com/uncategorized/2021/02/01/grey-county-draft-budget-ready-2021/

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Listen up: Biden speaks volumes in a whisper to make a point

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden was at a public transit station in Wisconsin, talking about repairing roads and bridges, when he shifted gears and began

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden was at a public transit station in Wisconsin, talking about repairing roads and bridges, when he shifted gears and began defending his plan to send money to parents for each minor child, payments some critics call a “giveaway.”

Biden folded his arms, rested on the lectern, leaned into the mic and lowered his voice.

“Hey, guys, I think it’s time to give ordinary people a tax break,” he said, almost whispering as he addressed his critics. “The wealthy are doing fine.”

It was the latest instance of Biden speaking volumes by whispering.

The White House and communications experts say Biden’s whispering is just this veteran politician’s old-school way of trying to make a connection while emphasizing a point.

Biden’s critics on the right as well as some late-night TV talk show hosts say the whispers are “creepy” and “weird.” Conservatives use the dramatic soft talk to fuel the narrative that the Democratic president is unfit for the job, and comedians deploy it to generate laughs.

“It’s an intimate form of communication,” said Vanessa Beasley, associate professor of communication studies at Vanderbilt University.

Biden whispered some of his answers to reporters’ questions during an impromptu White House news conference last month after he and a group of Senate Republicans announced they had reached a deal to spend $973 billion on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

As he stood in the East Room, Biden was questioned about his timeline for providing additional financial help to families. He leaned in, eyes wide, and whispered: “I got them $1.9 trillion in relief so far. They’re going to be getting checks in the mail that are consequential.”

During a lengthy response to a separate question, he whispered, “I wrote the bill,” before bending down to get closer to the microphone and adding, “on the environment.”

On the subject of employers’ hiring difficulties, Biden leaned into the mic again, arms resting on the lectern and said softly that the solution is to “pay them more.”

Beasley said the use of whispering by Biden, who was a U.S. senator and vice president for a total of more than 40 years, is a throwback to a long-ago time of chummier relations between lawmakers and members of the Washington press corps.

“I think it’s a symbolic gesture to a kind of intimacy and familiarity,” she said.

Beasley and others noted the contrast between Biden and former President Donald Trump, who often spoke loudly and angrily.

“One of the things that Trump never did was whisper,” said Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Public speakers — lawmakers, celebrities, corporate executives — often raise or lower their voices for dramatic effect or tell jokes to keep their audiences following along instead of falling asleep.

Beasley said the tone of political discourse these days seems set to loud so that “it sort of sets everybody back a little bit when you see someone going in a different direction and reducing their volume.”

Lakoff said what Biden does isn’t really whispering because his vocal chords vibrate and make sound.

“A true whisper is something you wouldn’t be able to hear very well,” she said, comparing what Biden does to a “stage whisper” in which an actor in a play steps out of character to share a secret with the audience or preview some action that’s about to happen.

The White House defended Biden, saying conservatives who criticize the way he speaks, including his stuttering, do so because they don’t have a better agenda to offer voters.

“Under President Biden’s leadership, COVID cases have plunged by over 90%, we’ve achieved an historic level of job creation, the economy is growing at its highest rate in 40 years, and we’ve achieved a breakthrough on the world stage to stop the offshoring of American jobs,” deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said.

“And this performative criticism is just the latest acknowledgement by Republicans that he’s running the table on them while they’re grasping for a case to make,” Bates whispered.

Kayleigh McEnany, a White House press secretary for Trump, called Biden’s whispering “peculiar” and “crazy” before panelists on the Fox News Channel program she co-hosts discussed it. Other Fox News personalities and guests also panned Biden’s low-volume speech.

On the late-night talk show circuit, comedian Stephen Colbert featured what he called Biden’s “new rhetorical flourish” in a recent monologue on his CBS show.

After airing clips of the president, Colbert leaned into a hand-held microphone and whispered: “Mr. President, Mr. President. You know I’m a fan, but the way you lean forward and whisper. Guess what? It’s a little creepy. It’s a little creepy.”

On the flip side, Biden raises his voice, too, as he did while addressing the nation from the White House lawn on July Fourth.

“On this sacred day, I look out to those monuments on our National Mall, and beyond them, into the hearts of our people across the land and I know this,” he said, voice rising as he neared the conclusion of his speech. “It’s never, ever been a good bet to bet against America. Never.

“We just have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America,” Biden thundered. “And there’s nothing — nothing — we can’t do if we do it together.”

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Biden’s critics on the right as well as some late-night TV talk show hosts say the whispers are “creepy” and “weird.” Conservatives use the dramatic soft talk to fuel the narrative that the Democratic president is unfit for the job, and comedians deploy it to generate laughs.

Source: https://www.lockhaven.com/uncategorized/2021/07/listen-up-biden-speaks-volumes-in-a-whisper-to-make-a-point/

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Billionaire Blastoff: Rich riding own rockets into space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Two billionaires are putting everything on the line this month to ride their own rockets into space. It’s intended to be a flash

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Jul 9, 2021

MARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Mark J. TerrillThis combination of 2019 and 2016 file photos shows Jeff Bezos with a model of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander in Washington, left, and Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket in Mojave, Calif.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Two billionaires are putting everything on the line this month to ride their own rockets into space.

It’s intended to be a flashy confidence boost for customers seeking their own short joyrides.

The lucrative, high-stakes chase for space tourists will unfold on the fringes of space — 55 miles to 66 miles (88 kilometers to 106 kilometers) up, pitting Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson against the world’s richest man, Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos.

Branson is due to take off Sunday from New Mexico, launching with two pilots and three other employees aboard a rocket plane carried aloft by a double-fuselage aircraft.

Bezos departs nine days later from West Texas, blasting off in a fully automated capsule with three guests: his brother, an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer who’s waited six decades for a shot at space and the winner of a $28 million charity auction.

Branson’s flight will be longer, but Bezos’ will be higher.

Branson’s craft has more windows, but Bezos’ windows are bigger.

Branson’s piloted plane has already flown to space three times. Bezos’ has five times as many test flights, though none with people on board.

Either way, they’re shooting for sky-high bragging rights as the first person to fly his own rocket to space and experience three to four minutes of weightlessness.

Branson, who turns 71 in another week, considers it “very important” to try it out before allowing space tourists on board. He insists he’s not apprehensive; this is the thrill-seeking adventurer who’s kite-surfed across the English Channel and attempted to circle the world in a hot air balloon.

“As a child, I wanted to go to space. When that did not look likely for my generation, I registered the name Virgin Galactic with the notion of creating a company that could make it happen,” Branson wrote in a blog this week. Seventeen years after founding Virgin Galactic, he’s on the cusp of experiencing space for himself.

“It’s amazing where an idea can lead you, no matter how far-fetched it may seem at first.”

Bezos, 57, who stepped down Monday as Amazon’s CEO, announced in early June that he’d be on his New Shepard rocket’s first passenger flight, choosing the 52nd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing.

He too had childhood dreams of traveling to space, Bezos said via Instagram. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

Branson was supposed to fly later this year on the second of three more test flights planned by Virgin Galactic before flying ticket holders next year. But late last week, he leapfrogged ahead.

He insists he’s not trying to beat Bezos and that it’s not a race. Yet his announcement came just hours after Bezos revealed he’d be joined in space by Wally Funk, one of the last surviving members of the so-called Mercury 13. The 13 female pilots never made it to space despite passing the same tests in the early 1960s as NASA’s original, all-male Mercury 7 astronauts.

Bezos hasn’t commented publicly on Branson’s upcoming flight.

But some at Blue Origin already are nitpicking the fact that their capsule surpasses the designated Karman line of space 62 miles (100 kilometers) up, while Virgin Galactic’s peak altitude is 55 miles (88 kilometers). International aeronautic and astronautic federations in Europe recognize the Karman line as the official boundary between the upper atmosphere and space, while NASA, the Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and some astrophysicists accept a minimum altitude of 50 miles (80 kilometers).

Blue Origin’s flights last 10 minutes by the time the capsule parachutes onto the desert floor. Virgin Galactic’s last around 14 to 17 minutes from the time the space plane drops from the mothership and fires its rocket motor for a steep climb until it glides to a runway landing.

SpaceX’s Elon Musk doesn’t do quick up-and-down hops to the edge of space. His capsules go all the way to orbit, and he’s shooting for Mars.

“There is a big difference between reaching space and reaching orbit,” Musk said last week on Twitter.

Musk already has carried 10 astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, and his company’s first private spaceflight is coming up in September for another billionaire who’s purchased a three-day, globe-circling ride.

Regardless of how high they fly, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin already are referring to their prospective clients as “astronauts.” More than 600 have reserved seats with Virgin Galactic at $250,000. Blue Origin expects to announce prices and open ticket sales once Bezos flies.

Phil McAlister, NASA’s commercial spaceflight director, considers it a space renaissance, especially as the space station gets set to welcome a string of paying visitors, beginning with a Russian actress and movie producer in October, a pair of Japanese in December and a SpaceX-delivered crew of businessmen in January.

“This next year, it’s going to really start moving pretty quickly, so we’re really excited about it,” NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough said from the space station last week.

This is precisely the future NASA wanted once the shuttles retired and private companies took over space station ferry flights. Atlantis blasted off on the last shuttle flight 10 years ago Thursday.

“The way I see it is the more, the better, right?” McAlister said. “More, better.”

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It’s intended to be a flashy confidence boost for customers seeking their own short joyrides.

Source: https://www.lockhaven.com/uncategorized/2021/07/billionaire-blastoff-rich-riding-own-rockets-into-space/

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AP’s firing of journalist following tweets prompts outcry

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is being criticized for firing a young journalist over her social media activity, with some suggesting the news agency bowed to a political pressure campaign over her pro-Palestinian views from when she was in college. Emily Wilder, 22, had started at the AP on May 3 as a […]

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is being criticized for firing a young journalist over her social media activity, with some suggesting the news agency bowed to a political pressure campaign over her pro-Palestinian views from when she was in college.

Emily Wilder, 22, had started at the AP on May 3 as a news associate for the Western U.S., based in Phoenix. On Wednesday, just over two weeks later, the AP informed her that she was being terminated for violations of its social media policy that took place after she became an employee.

In the days before her firing, Wilder had been targeted in conservative media for her pro-Palestinian rights activism while a student at Stanford University, where she graduated in 2020.

AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton would not say what Wilder had written that violated the policy. Wilder said she wasn’t given specifics.

Her Twitter feed since joining the AP contains a few retweets that appear sympathetic to Palestinians in the current Gaza conflict, including a video clip of demonstrators chanting, “Free, free Palestine!”

On Sunday, she tweeted: “‘objectivity’ feels fickle when the basic terms we use to report news implicitly take a claim. using ‘israel’ but never ‘palestine,’ or ‘war’ but not ‘siege and occupation’ are political choices — yet media make those exact choices all the time without being flagged as biased.”

AP prohibits employees from openly expressing their opinions on political matters and other public issues for fear that could damage the news organization’s reputation for objectivity and jeopardize its many reporters around the world.

“We have this policy so the comments of one person cannot create dangerous conditions for our journalists covering the story,” Easton said. “Every AP journalist is responsible for safeguarding our ability to report on this conflict, or any other, with fairness and credibility, and cannot take sides in public forums.”

In an interview, Wilder said that she had received social media training from the AP and had taken it seriously. She said she had even taken down a reference to supporting Black Lives Matter from her Twitter profile.

“Because I have an opinion about an issue that is deeply political and personal doesn’t mean that I am incapable of fact-based, contextual and fair journalism,” she said.

She also said: “There’s no question that this was all precipitated by an onslaught of harassment against me.”

On Monday, two days before her firing, a Twitter post from Stanford Republicans had criticized Wilder, who is Jewish, as an “anti-Israel agitator” while on campus. They posted a 2019 article she had written in the college newspaper referring to conservative media figure Ben Shapiro as “a little turd.” Shapiro has been fiercely critical of the Palestinians.

On Tuesday, an article in the Washington Free Beacon was headlined, “AP Hires Anti-Israel Activist as News Associate. AP’s Objectivity in Question Amid Revelations it Shared Office Space with Hamas.” It was picked up in other forums, including the Fox News website.

Over the past few days, AP itself has been criticized by some conservative figures following the Israel airstrike last Saturday that destroyed the building that housed the news agency’s offices in Gaza. The AP has said it had no knowledge that Hamas operated out of the building, as Israel claimed.

Following the bombing, the AP sent a memo to its staff members reminding them of its policy against expressing opinions on contentious public issues. The message was repeated on Monday.

Janine Zacharia, Wilder’s journalism professor at Stanford and a former Jerusalem bureau chief for The Washington Post, said she could not understand why the AP didn’t just discuss concerns about the tweets with Wilder instead of firing her.

Zacharia said she believes that Wilder’s activism in college was the real issue and worries about the message that the AP is sending. Many one-time activists put their passion into journalism, as Wilder did as an intern at The Arizona Republic, she said.

“What happens if you were a college activist and then decide that you want to become a journalist?” she said. “Does this mean that you can’t?”

Social media and the generation that has grown up with it have posed challenges at news organizations as they try to uphold standards of objectivity. The AP maintains doing so is important for an organization whose calling card is fairness.

“It’s important to recognize that for an organization like the AP, there are colleagues all over the world covering every possible topic,” said Kathleen Carroll, the organization’s former executive editor and now chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“That’s why journalists covered by the social media policy need to be careful that their posts don’t jeopardize the ability of their colleagues to work freely,” Carroll said. “What may be personal expression to one person is right at the heart of a story to a colleague somewhere else.”

The AP stressed that the firing was based on what Wilder had done while employed at the news organization.

As for the news organization’s use of terminology, the AP Stylebook urges against references to “Palestine” because it is not a fully independent, unified state. The AP has made references to Israeli occupation and said that Gaza — and Israel — have been under siege during the latest fighting.

Her Twitter feed since joining the AP contains a few retweets that appear sympathetic to Palestinians in the current Gaza conflict, including a video clip of demonstrators chanting, “Free, free Palestine!”

Source: https://www.fox16.com/uncategorized/aps-firing-of-journalist-following-tweets-prompts-outcry/

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