White House looks at more executive actions as coronavirus-relief talks appear finished

White House officials have discussed trying to unilaterally provide support for the flagging airline industry while also bolstering unemployment benefits, according to two people aware of the deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal policy discussions. The White House has also discussed moving without Congress to direct more money for school vouchers and changing President Trump’s recent payroll tax changes to make it more effective.

In August, Trump signed four executive actions meant to provide more unemployment aid, eviction protections, student loan relief and to defer payroll tax payments. The moves have had mixed success and were meant to address political talks that had faltered on Capitol Hill.

The bipartisan urgency that propelled Congress to act with near-unanimity in March and April to approve an unprecedented $3 trillion in relief has evaporated. In its place is bitter partisan bickering, with each side accusing the other of playing politics and acting in bad faith.

“Democrats just point fingers, call names and keep blocking American families from getting any more help before the November election,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday on the Senate floor.

The Senate GOP economic relief bill would provide more money for small businesses, $300 weekly unemployment benefits and include a number of other priorities such as lawsuit protections for businesses. It would not include more money for things such as stimulus checks or state aid. The bill needs 60 votes to advance in Senate, and it is expected to fall short in a procedural vote set for Thursday.

McConnell has been under pressure from a handful of vulnerable GOP incumbents who wanted to vote on a coronavirus-relief measure before going back to their states for the final campaign push. The new bill, even if it doesn’t become law, could aid in those efforts, some Republicans believe.

“I think the opportunity to signal their support for a targeted, responsible and responsive package this week is going to be essential,” said Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) questioned McConnell’s motives in putting forward a bill that can’t pass. “Is it because they really don’t want a bill, but a political issue — one that will ultimately backfire on them, I believe?” Schumer said.

Democratic leaders and top White House officials met in July and parts of August to try to reach an agreement on a new economic-relief package, concerned about the impact of expiring unemployment benefits, small business aid and eviction protections. But those negotiations faltered as both sides dug in, and Democrats and Republicans have only drifted further apart since then.

Asked whether a deal was possible on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was not sure.

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” he told reporters. “I hope there is. It’s important to a lot of people out there.”

The only negotiations happening are on a stand-alone spending bill known as a continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the

Read more

Homes are five years away from being ‘finished’ with painting and garden makeovers topping our ‘to do’ lists

THE average home is five years and five months away from being ‘finished’ – with painting, a garden revamp and redecorating the living room topping the nation’s ‘to do’ lists.

Researchers who polled 2,000 adults found 43 per cent are a perfectionist when it comes to their dwellings – desperate to get their décor and furnishings just right.

One in seven (14 per cent) have a "vision" for their homes

4

One in seven (14 per cent) have a “vision” for their homesCredit: Alamy

And 14 per cent even have a ‘vision’ for their homes – including everything from the wallpaper to the windows.

But despite their best efforts, 39 per cent admitted they don’t think their homes will ever be truly complete.

The study was commissioned by Independent Network powered by VEKA, which has created an interactive infographic showing just how house proud Brits are.

A spokeswoman for Independent Network powered by VEKA, said: “What we want from our homes continually evolves so there probably is no such thing as a finished home.

REWARDING

“But that’s part of the fun of owning a home – you can change it as you change, plus it’s rewarding to have a project on the go.

“And perhaps with the likelihood that more people will work from home from now on, we’ll have even more we’ll want to do to improve our homes.”

The study also found that three quarters of homeowners described themselves as house proud, with 71 per cent adding that their homes are more important to them now than ever before.

As a result, 54 per cent are more motivated ‘than ever before’ to improve their homes.

What we want from our homes continually evolves so there probably is no such thing as a finished home.”

Independent Network powered by VEKA spokesman

And there is no sign this drive to finish off their homes will slow anytime soon with 85 per cent wanting to get more jobs done this year.

Among them are painting walls and ceilings, giving the garden a revamp and getting the living room done.

Despite this, 70 per cent of those polled are happy with their homes, with a fifth claiming to be most proud of their bathroom.

However, the living room is the area of the home they are most proud of, followed by the kitchen and the garden.

HOUSE PROUD

Four in 10 admitted they are so proud of their homes they ‘can’t wait’ to invite people over as restrictions are reduced – so they can give them a grand tour of all the improvements they’d made.

The Independent Network powered by VEKA study carried out through OnePoll also explored the typical life cycle of different areas of the home.

On average, master bedrooms get redecorated every five-and-a-half years, bathrooms every six years and three months, while windows tend to get replaced every eight years.

The garden gets a revamp after five, the kitchen after six years and four months, and the living room after five years and four months.

Read more

Tribute to hope: Atlantic Canada’s first garden for cancer survivors almost finished

The finish line is in sight for a Nova Scotia couple who have spent the last two and a half years working to create Atlantic Canada’s first garden for cancer survivors.

Judie and Jim Edgar are both cancer survivors.

Judie was diagnosed with breast cancer twice, in 2003 and in 2013, and Jim was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2017. Both have recovered.

Judie said the Daffodil Garden for Cancer Survivors is meant to show people that a cancer diagnosis isn’t necessarily a death sentence.

“When you hear the word ‘cancer’, you think of people who didn’t survive,” she said. “You read it in newspapers, you hear from family and friends. Even the park benches have plaques.

“But there’s so many survivors out there like Jim and I who are surviving and thriving that we just thought it would be a very wonderful message.”

The entry points to the ribbon-shaped paths will have names. (Alex Cooke/CBC)

Jim said the term “survivor” also extends to the friends and family of people who have had cancer.

“They were there to comfort, to talk to, to go to treatments with them. They’re survivors in their own right as well,” he said.

“Although they haven’t experienced cancer firsthand, they’ve experienced it secondhand from the person they’ve been doing the journey with.”

Judie said doctors and health-care workers are included as well, because they’ve worked with people who have both survived and didn’t survive cancer. “It’s got to be tough on them,” she said.

She said she was inspired by similar gardens in Ontario while she was living in Mississauga during her first round with breast cancer.

‘Everybody has their own story’

The garden is in downtown Dartmouth, along the harbour walk near the Alderney ferry terminal, and offers a scenic view of the Halifax harbour.

Judie said she didn’t want it to be near a hospital or treatment centre, since survivors and people with cancer already spend a lot of time at hospitals.

The concrete path winding through the garden is in the shape of a cancer awareness ribbon. At the centre of the ribbon stands a statue depicting a boy, a middle-aged woman and an elderly man, showing that cancer doesn’t discriminate. 

The people in the statue, sculpted by artist Ivan Higgins of Concrete Creations, are from different generations to show that cancer doesn’t discriminate. (Alex Cooke/CBC)

The three figures are all connected in some way: the woman at the centre has her arms around the other two, and the old man and the boy are holding hands.

“One of the things that we’ve found in this journey is that cancer’s become such a connector,” Jim said, explaining why the figures are connected. 

“Everybody has their own story, either personal, or a family member, or whatever.”

The project was supported by all three levels of government, and funding came in the form of a grant from the provincial department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, money from municipal district capital funds, and a grant

Read more