Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry on Thursday touted President Biden’s climate pledge, saying, “We had to prove that we were serious.”
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry on Thursday touted President Biden’s climate pledge, saying, “We had to prove that we were serious.”
CEUTA, Spain (AP) — Spain deployed its military to the Moroccan border Tuesday and expelled nearly half of the thousands of migrants who jumped fences or swam onto European soil over two days after Rabat loosened border controls amid a deepening diplomatic spat. Overwhelmed soldiers separated the adults from the young and carried children in their arms while Red Cross workers helped an endless trickle of migrants who were emerging from the water shivering and exhausted. One unconscious woman laid on the sand before she was carried away on a stretcher. The sudden influx of migrants has fueled the diplomatic spat between Rabat and Madrid over the disputed Western Sahara region and created a humanitarian crisis for Ceuta, the Spanish city of 85,000 in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, separated from Morocco by a double-wide, 10-meter (32-feet) fence. Amina Farkani, a 31-year-old Moroccan woman who commuted to jobs in Ceuta for 18 years until foreign workers were banned from entering when coronavirus outbreaks began to surge last year, said she saw an opportunity to go back to work when she heard that police were not controlling the border. “They let people pass and stand there without speaking,” Farkani told The Associated Press. “People just pass and pass and pass.” Farkani was among the thousands of migrants who were sent back to Morocco. AP reporters saw Spanish military personnel and police officers ushering both adults and children through a gate in the border fence. Some tried to resist and were pushed and chased by soldiers who used batons to hasten them. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska denied that unaccompanied migrants under 18, who are allowed to remain legally under the tutelage of Spanish authorities, were being deported. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez canceled a trip to Paris, where he was to attend a summit on international aid to Africa, and flew by helicopter to Ceuta. While calling Morocco a “friend of Spain," Sánchez also urged authorities to “respect the shared border.” A senior Moroccan Foreign Ministry official said the government had recalled its ambassador to Spain for consultations. The official wasn't authorized to be identified by name in media reports. By Tuesday afternoon, nearly 8,000 sea-soaked people had crossed the border into the city since early Monday, the Spanish government said, including some 2,000 thought to be teenagers. The number getting in slowed after Spain deployed additional police officers and soldiers, but the arrivals didn't stop even when anti-riot police on the Moroccan side dispersed crowds of people hoping to cross over. At least 4,000 were returned to Morocco, according to Spain's Interior Ministry. Morocco and Spain signed an agreement three decades ago to expel all those who swim across the border. Yet many arriving Tuesday were sub-Saharan Africans who often migrate to flee poverty or violence at home. Spain has agreements to return some of those migrants to their native countries, but not all of them. One young man drowned and dozens were treated for hypothermia or small injuries, the Red Cross in Ceuta said, adding that it was performing coronavirus tests on the new arrivals. The adults were being transferred to Ceuta’s main soccer stadium, while those thought to be minors were sent to warehouses run by charity groups. Neither the government in Rabat nor local officials have commented about the mass influx or responded to queries by The Associated Press. “It’s such a strong invasion that we are not able to calculate the number of people that have entered,” said Juan Jesús Vivas, the president of Ceuta, an autonomous city of about 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles). “The army is at the border in a deterrent role, but there are great quantities of people on the Moroccan side waiting to enter,” he told Cadena SER radio. Four Spanish armored vehicles parked Tuesday at Tarajal beach in Ceuta, where the border fence leads to a short breakwater. Some people also rushed up the hills surrounding the city and jumped over the fences. In a video shared by a Spanish police union urging authorities to send in reinforcements, anti-riot officers behind the border fence were using shields to protect themselves from stones being thrown by people in Morocco. The European Union’s top migration official – Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson – described the incidents as “worrying” and called on Morocco to prevent people from setting out in the first place. “The most important thing now is that Morocco continues to commit to prevent irregular departures, and that those who do not have the right to stay are orderly and effectively returned,” Johansson told the European Parliament. “Spanish borders are European borders. The European Union wants to build a relationship with Morocco based on trust and shared commitments. Migration is a key element,” she said. Morocco's loosened border watch came after Spain decided to grant entry for medical treatment to the chief of a militant group that fights Morocco for the independence of Western Sahara. Morocco annexed the sprawling region on the west coast of Africa in 1975. Morocco’s Foreign Ministry has said Madrid’s move to assist Brahim Ghali, head of the Polisario Front, was “inconsistent with the spirit of partnership and good neighborliness” and vowed there would be “consequences.” Vivas, Ceuta's conservative regional president, said residents were in a state of “anguish, concern and fear" and 60% of the city's children had not shown up for school on Tuesday. He also linked the sudden mass arrival to Spain's compassionate assistance to Ghali. The Spanish government officially rejects the notion that Morocco is punishing Spain for a humanitarian move. Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya summoned Morocco's ambassador, however, to express the government’s “disgust” and to communicate that Spain rejected “the massive entry of Moroccan immigrants.” Moroccan Ambassador Karima Benyaich was later recalled by Rabat. Sánchez appeared on live television to announce he would visit Ceuta and that his top priority was to ensure safety in the city “in the face of any challenge, any eventuality and under any circumstance.” Over the decades, Spain has built a close relationship with Morocco to crack down on illegal border crossings but also to increase economic exchanges and fight extremism. Sánchez on Tuesday avoided any direct criticism to Rabat in his speech. “To be effective,” he said, “that cooperation must always be based on respect — respect for the shared border.'' The prime minister also faced a political storm at home. The far-right Vox party blamed the migration crisis on the government's “inaction" and sending its leader on a quick visit to Ceuta. Many African migrants regard Ceuta and nearby Melilla, another Spanish territory, as a gateway into Europe. In 2020, 2,228 chose to cross into the two enclaves by sea or land, often risking injuries or death. On Tuesday, another 80 African migrants reached Melilla, 350 kilometers (218 miles) east of Ceuta, by jumping over the enclave’s double fence. Morocco scored a diplomatic victory last year when the previous U.S. administration under Donald Trump recognized Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, paving the way for normalizing relations between Israel and Morocco. ___ Aritz Parra reported from Madrid. AP journalists Bernat Armangué in Ceuta, Spain, Tarik El Barakah in Rabat, Lorne Cook in Brussels, Iain Sullivan in Madrid and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Renata Brito And Aritz Parra, The Associated Press
Iceland spent its two years as chair of the Arctic Council with a focus on sustainability in marine life, climate and green energy, and a stronger council for Arctic communities. This week, their term as chair comes to an end and will be passed to the Russian following their bi-annual meeting, the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial Meetings kick off in Reykjavik, Iceland, this week. There will be briefings on the effects of climate change on the Arctic, the future of shipping in the Arctic, human health and what we can learn from Arctic and Indigenous peoples when looking to the future. Delegates and representatives from all eight Arctic states and six Indigenous groups will sum up all the work Iceland has completed between 2019 and 2021. This is also the 25th anniversary of the Arctic Council and ministers are expected to sign the council's first ever strategic plan. Background on the Arctic Council The Arctic Council was established in 1996 and is comprised of Canada, the United States, Finland, Iceland, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Every two years the chairmanship is passed on to another Arctic state. The council's main priorities include examining the effects of climate change and pollution on the Arctic, improving the wellbeing of Arctic residents, studying changing ice and increased marine traffic in Arctic waters, monitoring biodiversity and species, and encouraging international cooperation. Six Indigenous groups, known as permanent participants, also sit on the Council and have full consultation rights in any decision or negotiation made by the Arctic States. They include the Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and Saami Council. There are also six groups that manage, coordinate and report on projects started by a new chairmanship or continuing on from previous years. They focus on sustainable development, Arctic contaminants, conserving Arctic flora and fauna, marine protection, Arctic monitoring and emergency prevention and response. Russia plans to focus its next two years on the Arctic Council promoting sustainable development.
Galina Ermakova was looking forward to Mother's Day. The 28-year-old Edmonton mom planned to have a physically distanced, over the gate visit with her own mother, Anna. "Unfortunately, that morning I woke up to two policemen at my door telling me that my mom has passed away, " Galina Ermakova told CBC News as she struggled to hold back tears. Anna Ermakova, 49, was found dead on May 8. RCMP said officers were called to a firearms complaint at a rural property in Redwater, Alta., at about 9:45 p.m. and Ermakova's body was discovered at the scene. The man who lived with her, Robertas Kalkius, was severely injured and taken by ambulance to hospital, police said. Kalkius was charged with first-degree murder five days later. On Monday, he made his first court appearance in Vegreville provincial court, appearing virtually from a hospital bed where he remains under police guard. An autopsy is expected to be performed this week on the much-loved daughter, mother and grandmother. Galina Ermakova did not want to elaborate on any problems her mother and common-law partner may have been experiencing but in a recent Facebook post, she wrote that she believes her mother was a victim of domestic violence. On a fundraising page, the victim's friend called Anna's death a "senseless tragedy." Sheila Wilson said her friend came to Canada from Russia to escape domestic abuse and to give her daughter a better life. "We came to Canada when I was 11-years-old," Galina said. "We came with $5,000 and just the two suitcases … We didn't have much but we kind of almost had everything we needed. Because we had each other." When she came to Canada, Anna forged a new career as an insurance broker. She eventually traded in the insurance business and purchased a 169-acre farm outside of Redwater. Galina said she met Lithuanian immigrant Robertas Kalkius about four years ago at a Polish hall and he moved in with her shortly thereafter. Robertaas Kalkius in a 2015 photo with a family member.(Facebook) "At first, I would love to think she was happy," Galina said. Previous assault charge Court records show Kalkius was charged with assaulting Anna on Dec. 27, 2018. The charge was withdrawn in October 2019. The 46-year-old was also charged with impaired driving on March 2, 2020, and was scheduled to appear in court on May 13, 2021. By that time, he was in hospital and the court issued a warrant for his arrest. Galina said it's regretful that the impaired driving trial was delayed due to the pandemic. "Maybe if things went a little bit differently, my mom would still be here," she said. "There are not many things I can say at the moment, but if I could have done something, I would." The victim's mother was living with her and has now moved in with Galina as both women try to cope with the loss and make funeral arrangements. Galina tries to focus on the love and stability her mother brought to her life. Three generations of Ermakova women.(Facebook/Galina Ermakova) "She was my rock. She was just the most wonderful grandmother," Galina said. "She was a beautiful soul and she did touch so many hearts." Galina said she agreed to an interview with CBC News with the hope it might help someone else who could be struggling. "I do believe people need to have a certain awareness of domestic violence, especially being cooped up at home," she said. "We do need to make sure everybody is safe." Galina is asking people to consider placing a flower and light near a window or in a front yard to remember those impacted by domestic violence.
As violence continues in Gaza, a former refugee living in Ottawa is pleading with the federal government to help get her three young children out of the area.
As an upper cold front sweeps across much of British Columbia, Environment Canada has issued a weather alert warning of lightning strikes in parts of the province. By 5:00 p.m PT, 995 lightning flashes had hit the central eastern region of B.C. over a 12 hour period according to Environment Canada. There were also isolated sparks over the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley. "We definitely expect to see continued lightning activity in the south Omineca area from Prince George and further into the Cariboo and into the Columbia Mountains," said meteorologist Armel Castellan. The storms, which are also bringing hail and winds of up to 60 km/h have sparked concerns about wildfire activity as the season moves into its early stages. The B.C. Wildfire Service map of current fire risks in the province shows pockets of high to extreme danger in south central and eastern B.C., while approximately one quarter of the province has a moderate fire risk. Pockets of high to extreme fire danger can be seen in the B.C. Wildfire Service daily rating of danger zones in the province which was released at 12:00 p.m. PT.(Government of B.C.) Farther south, steep slopes and trees have made it challenging for crews to gain control of a 13 hectare fire burning 5 kilometres north of Harrison Mills, according to B.C. Wildfire Service. The fire, which is now under control, started Saturday on Chehalis Forest Service Road and was human caused, according to the service. It is now under investigation. Thick smoke in the Lake Koocanusa area in the southeast fire district prompted a high volume of calls Monday. But B.C. Wildfire Service says the smoke is due to some prescribed burning in northern Montana and is not from any wildfires burning in the province. Another front will move through later in the week bringing cool, wet weather at first, but temperatures will rise above normal into the long weekend — creating dry conditions and adding to the concern for forest fires. "The chance of something smouldering is not impossible because we are going to set up for a ridge in the second half of this week," said Castellan. As of May 16, the B.C. Wildfire Service has recorded 182 fires this year, burning a total of 2,057 hectares. The majority of these were in the Kamloops area.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s total virus cases since the pandemic began swept past 25 million on Tuesday as the country registered more than 260,000 new cases and a record 4,329 fatalities in the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a trend of falling cases after infections dipped below 300,000 for the first time in weeks on Monday. Active cases in the country also decreased by more than 165,000 on Tuesday — the biggest dip in weeks. But deaths have continued to rise and hospitals are still swamped by patients. India has recorded nearly 280,000 virus deaths since the pandemic began. Experts warn that both the number of deaths and total reported cases are likely vast undercounts. Infections in India have surged since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for religious festivals and political rallies. In the last month, cases have more than tripled and reported deaths have gone up six times — but testing has only increased by 1.6 times, according to Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan tracking India's battle with the virus. With infections outrunning testing capabilities, there are fears that many cases are going undetected. Experts also say India has lagged behind in doing the testing needed to track and better understand a worrisome virus variant first detected in the country. On Monday, the Health Ministry said 17 new labs will be brought online to help track variants. The variant first identified in India has prompted global concern — most notably in Britain, where it has more than doubled in a week, defying a sharp nationwide downward trend in infections. Meanwhile, ever since India opened up vaccinations to all adults this month, the pace of administering shots has plunged. Many states have said they don't have enough stock to give out. The southern state of Karnataka, for example, has temporarily halted its drive to inoculate those aged between 18 and 44 at government-run centers due to a shortage of doses. The Associated Press
BEIRUT (Reuters) -Lebanon's president said on Tuesday that critical comments made by the foreign minister about Gulf states did not reflect official policy, seeking to avoid further strain on ties with countries that have been Lebanon's allies and donors. Mired in its worst economic crisis since a 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon has lost the financial backing of wealthy Sunni Muslim Gulf states, which resent the rising influence of Hezbollah, a Lebanese group backed by regional rival Shi'ite Iran. Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe stoked tensions in a television interview on Monday, when he appeared to blame Gulf nations for the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
MADRID (Reuters) -A Spanish study on mixing COVID-19 vaccines has found that giving a dose of Pfizer's drug to people who already received a first shot of AstraZeneca vaccine is highly safe and effective, preliminary results showed on Tuesday. The Combivacs study, run by Spain's state-backed Carlos III Health Institute, found the presence of IgG antibodies in the bloodstream was between 30 and 40 times higher in people who got the follow-up Pfizer shot than in a control group who only received one AstraZeneca dose.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — If Richard Moore is executed, he will have some say in how he goes — the electric chair or the firing squad. Moore is one of three prisoners on South Carolina's death row who have run out of appeals in the past six months and could be among the first to face the grim choice under a new state law. But his supporters — including the state's former prisons chief — say he deserves better. The state Supreme Court set and then stayed the prisoners' executions after the Corrections Department said it didn’t have the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections. Now, Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a law requiring the condemned to choose to die by gunshot or electrocution if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. South Carolina once had one of the nation’s most prolific death chambers, but a shortage of the drugs has caused a decadelong lull in executions. The state is one of only nine to still use the electric chair and the fourth to allow a firing squad. Moore, 56, has lived on death row for two decades after being convicted in 2001 for the fatal shooting of convenience store clerk James Mahoney. The Spartanburg man hasn't made a choice, said his attorney Lindsey Vann, because he is focused on a current petition to the state Supreme Court. As his lawyers continue to mount court challenges, they're also preparing a case for clemency. Among his supporters is the former director of South Carolina's Department of Corrections, Jon Ozmint, who asserts Moore is a reformed man who deserves life without parole instead of death. “Circumstances took place inside the store that certainly made him guilty of killing another man, but in most counties in this state, I doubt you could even find a jury to recommend the death penalty on those facts,” said Ozmint, a self-described supporter of the death penalty who helmed the department between 2003 and 2012 — one of the death chamber’s busier periods. Moore's lawyers argued in front of the state Supreme Court this month that Moore’s crime simply doesn’t rise to the level of heinousness in other death penalty cases. Inmates most recently executed in the state include a man who strangled his cellmate while serving time for a double murder and a man who secretly took out life insurance policies on his wife and son before killing them and burning their bodies. “Richard's case just wasn’t like theirs,” Ozmint told The Associated Press. No one contests that Moore killed Mahoney, who was working at Nikki’s Speedy Mart in Spartanburg County on Sept. 16, 1999. During the 2001 trial, prosecutors said Moore entered the store looking for money to support his cocaine habit and got into a dispute with Mahoney, who drew a pistol that Moore wrestled away from him. Mahoney pulled a second gun, and a gunfight ensued. Mahoney shot Moore in the arm, and Moore shot Mahoney in the chest. Prosecutors said Moore left a trail of blood through the store as he looked for cash, stepping twice over Mahoney. At the time, Moore claimed that he acted in self-defense after Mahoney drew the first gun. His appeals lawyers have said that because Moore didn't bring a gun into store, he couldn't have intended to kill someone when he walked in. Lawyers for the attorney general's office argued this month that Moore was trying to turn the court's attention away from “the damning evidence presented against him” and toward “generalities, innuendo and speculation." Mahoney’s relatives haven’t spoken publicly on the case in recent years. At the sentencing, family members described the 42-year-old clerk as a beloved uncle and friend who loved NASCAR and dutifully worked the third shift at the store, according to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “We’re pleased with the verdict, and exceptionally pleased with the manner in which the case was prosecuted,” Mahoney's father, James Mahoney, said at the time. Moore, who is Black, is the last person to enter death row with a trial where the state struck all potential African American jurors, according to Justice 360, the nonprofit that represents Moore and many others on South Carolina's death row. During Moore's trial, the jury learned of his rap sheet, ranging from weapons charges to burglary and assault convictions. But in prison, Moore has grown into a man remorseful for his crimes who's built up relationships with his family and his Christian faith, supporters say. In his two decades on death row, he has received just two minor infractions. “His life in the Department of Corrections has been exemplary. He’s a giver, not a taker," Ozmint said. Even with the new law, Moore’s fate remains a waiting game for all involved. “There’s never anything definite, and it leaves your mind wondering: When’s the last time I’m going to talk to him? When’s the next time I can see him, because of the pandemic? Is this going to go in his favor or not?" said Moore's daughter, Alexandria Moore. “It definitely makes you get stuck in your own head, thinking about the hypotheticals.” Retired state Rep. Gary Clary, who as a state judge presided over Moore's case, says it's inevitable that lawsuits will follow the bill's signing. On the House floor, he argued against similar legislation, noting it would continue costing the state more money in court. “When a jury convicted Richard Bernard Moore, I think I set his execution ... 90 days later. We all knew when those arbitrary dates were established, it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon," Clary said. "And here we are, 20 years later.” ___ Liu is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Michelle Liu, The Associated Press
The number of people from Myanmar seeking shelter in India has swelled to more than 15,000, with more likely to cross over as fighting intensifies in parts Myanmar following a coup, an Indian government official said on Tuesday. The influx into the small, northeast Indian state of Mizoram, which shares a porous, mountainous border with Myanmar, began in late February as policemen fled to avoid having to take orders from a junta trying to suppress opposition to the Feb. 1 coup. By April, about 1,800 people from Myanmar - including several lawmakers - had crossed the border but the number has recently grown to more than 15,400, according to the vice chairman of Mizoram's State Planning Board, H. Rammawi.
CARWAY, Alta. — Linda Neilson had waited a long time to get her second COVID-19 vaccination and thanks to the generosity of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana her wait ended at the Canada-United States border on Tuesday.Neilson, who is from nearby Cardston, Alta., was in one of hundreds of vehicles lined up at the Carway crossing in southern Alberta.The Blackfeet Tribe, based 150 kilometres south of Lethbridge, Alta., had an abundance of vaccine and decided last month to share it with Canada rather than let it go to waste. Initially it was just open to First Nations, but the tribe soon decided to offer it to everybody."I'm going to be all done, finally. It feels great. It's been a bit of a wait, but it's worth it," said Neilson, who received her first shot of Moderna in March."I was amazed and grateful because it's too slow getting it any other way. We're just glad they were able to help us."Albertans who attend the clinic are given exemptions from having to quarantine for 14 days. They line up in their cars, drive through a loop that takes them just across the border, receive their shots through the window, are monitored for 15 minutes and return home. Health workers from the Blackfeet Tribe and members of the Montana National Guard administer the vaccine.Tuesday marked the second offering of shots. The lineup was more than a kilometre long by 9 a.m. Some people slept in their cars on the highway and on road allowances to ensure they got a turn before supply ran out.That's what happened to Ken Sawatzky when he drove from Calgary a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to get his booster shot because his wife is a cancer patient.He drove down again Tuesday."She's fully inoculated. This will make sure we're both safe, because I'm her caregiver, too. I think it's a great thing," said Sawatzky."I'm looking forward to getting this done. I'll sleep better."Bonnie Healy, health director for the Blackfoot Confederacy, helped co-ordinate the vaccination clinic. She said the response has been overwhelming."I had a hard time believing it was that hard to get a shot in Canada. A lot of people are coming for a second dose," Healy said.One man flew in from Toronto the last time around, drove to the site, got his shot and flew home, she said."We had a car full of 18-year-old girls and another car full of 18-year-old boys," Healy said."They were all coming to get their first vaccination. They were all celebrating it."Catherine Bechard, regional Indigenous Affairs adviser for the Canada Border Services Agency, said she jumped at a chance to help out at the clinic."It's just an amazing thing what they're doing and a gift they're giving to Canadians," Bechard said.Dave and Cathy Goodbrand also drove the 260 kilometres from Calgary to get their second shots."We're happy to get down here. It's a relief. Four months is too long to wait in between vaccines," said Cathy Goodbrand."It's absolutely beautiful. The Blackfoot Indians are just coming through (for us)."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021.Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Health Canada says up to 37 million doses of vaccine could be shipped in May and June, but only 20.3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 1.04 million doses of Moderna are confirmed. The remaining 11.3 million doses of Moderna, and another four million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca from various sources are still tentative. Provinces initially suspended giving AstraZeneca shots to people under the age of 55 based on an advisory committee's advice, but their recommendation changed on April 23 to reflect that the shot is safe for anyone aged 30 and older. More than 655,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the global vaccine sharing alliance known as COVAX, are scheduled to arrive and be distributed to provinces this week, but most provinces have already said they plan to put them on ice in reserve for second doses. Health Canada, meanwhile, approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 and older on May 5. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says almost 50 per cent of eligible adults in Canada have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine. He says by the summer, Canada will have enough vaccines so that every eligible resident will have gotten their first dose, and by September, it will have enough doses for everyone to be fully vaccinated. Here's a list of the inoculation plans throughout Canada: Newfoundland and Labrador All people in the province aged 12 and older are now able to book an appointment for a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. --- Nova Scotia Nova Scotia is stopping the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine as a first dose. The Health Department says the "decision is based on an abundance of caution'' due to an observed increase in the rare blood-clotting condition linked to this vaccine. The department also says it has enough mRNA vaccine to immunize people age 40 and older, and it will reschedule anyone who was to receive AstraZeneca to instead be inoculated with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna "in a timely manner." People aged 35 and older can book appointments for the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at clinics across the province. Bookings opened May 17 for vaccine appointments for people 30 to 34 years of age, as the province reports having administered 430,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Sunday, with 39,235 people having received their second dose. --- Prince Edward Island In Prince Edward Island, residents as young as 16 can book a COVID-19 vaccine. People 16 years and older who have certain underlying medical conditions, pregnant woman and eligible members of their household can also get a vaccine. --- New Brunswick In New Brunswick, all residents 30 and older can book vaccine appointments. Individuals 16 and older who have two or more chronic health conditions are also eligible. --- Quebec In Quebec, all residents 18 and older are able to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. The province's health minister says Quebecers 12 to 17 years old will be offered a first dose of COVID-19 by the end of June and will be fully vaccinated by the time they return to school in September. --- Ontario All adults in Ontario are eligible to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments as of May 18. People turning 18 in 2021 can book Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Appointments for children aged 12 to 17 can be booked starting the week of May 31. The province aims to see all eligible Ontarians fully vaccinated by the end of September. The province is distributing shots to regions on a per capita basis, after two weeks sending half of its vaccine supply to hot spots for COVID-19 infections. Ontario has halted use AstraZeneca for first shots due to an increased risk of a rare blood-clotting syndrome linked to the vaccine. Officials say a second dose plan for AstraZeneca recipients is in the works. --- Manitoba Manitoba is using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for all people aged 18 and up. These are available through a few channels including so-called supersites in larger communities. Health officials plan to continue reducing the age minimum, bit by bit, down to age 12 by May 21 at the latest. The province is also allowing anyone 40 and over to get an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through pharmacies and medical clinics, subject to availability. People 30-39 can get a shot if they have certain underlying health conditions such as chronic liver failure or severe obesity. --- Saskatchewan Saskatchewan residents aged 20 and older are now eligible to book their first COVID-19 vaccine appointment. All adults - those 18 and older - in the Far North, as well as front-line workers with proof of employment, are also eligible. Effective 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, eligibility will expand to age 16 and older for the entire province. Beginning today, anyone 85 and older, or anyone who received their first vaccine dose before February 15, is eligible to book their second dose. Individuals diagnosed with cancer and solid organ transplant recipients will be receiving a letter of eligibility in the mail which will allow them priority access to a second dose. The province previously expanded its vaccine delivery plan for people in more vulnerable groups to include all pregnant women and 16- and 17-year-olds who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Saskatchewan also dropped the age at which people can receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to 40 from 55. The province says all Saskatchewan residents over 12 will be eligible for vaccination by May 20. There are drive-thru and walk-in vaccination clinics in communities across the province. --- Alberta Every Albertan aged 12 and older is now eligible for a vaccine. For the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the province lowered the minimum age to 30. They are, however, reserving the remaining supply for second doses when people are eligible. Officials say the second dose will be given 12 weeks after the first. More than 250 pharmacies are offering immunizations. Ten physicians' clinics across the province are also providing shots as part of a pilot project. About 15,000 workers at 136 meat-packing plants across the province can also get shots at on-site clinics, pharmacies and clinics. Alberta has said it is extending the time between the first dose and the second to four months. But some cancer patients, transplant recipients and anyone being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody such as Rituximab are able to book a second dose 21 to 28 days after their first. --- British Columbia People who've had a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will have the option of choosing their second shot within a four-month interval in B.C. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are set to expire at the end of June and were reserved for people who may not be able to get an mRNA vaccine, such as the one made by Pfizer-BioNTech. But she says more information that’s expected by the first week of June from a study in the United Kingdom on the effectiveness of switching vaccines for the second dose will be shared with B.C. residents. "You will have the option of receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca and we have stock coming in to be able to support that,” she said Monday. “Or you can take the information once we have it and make your own decision about what you want for your second dose." Henry says an increase in the supply of vaccines in the coming weeks means everyone can expect to have their second dose moved up. Details about vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 are expected to be announced later this week. --- Nunavut Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says Nunavut has placed an order for doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with the federal government to vaccinate people ages 12 to 17 in the territory. The Moderna vaccine is currently the only one available in Nunavut. Nunavut has opened vaccinations to anyone 18 and older. It is also offering shots to rotational workers coming from Southern Canada. The territory had expected to finish its vaccine rollout of first and second doses by the end of April. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories is now offering vaccinations against COVID-19 to young people between 12 and 17. The territory, which has only been using the Moderna vaccine, recently exchanged some of that for doses of the Pfizer product, which Health Canada has now approved for anyone as young as 12. --- Yukon The Yukon government says more than 75 per cent of all eligible adults have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That amounts to 26,242 adults who have received their first dose, while the territory says 23,236 have received their second dose. Anyone 18 years of age or older can get a COVID-19 vaccine. It says in a release that vaccine uptake is increasing in every age group, with rates ranging from 65 per cent for first doses among people aged 18 to 29, to 90 per cent in people 70 and up. It adds that vaccination clinics will soon begin for youth aged 12 to 17, with first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine set to be administered before the end of the school year. The goal is to provide a second dose by the end of July. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, indicated that the most important factor in the declaration for the COVID-19 epidemic curve in Canada is how public health measures are applied by provinces and territories. "How fast we go down that curve and if we get to bottom of that curve is contingent on the work that they’re doing together with their communities," Dr. Tam said at a press conference on Tuesday. "With variants at play, while vaccinations are going up, we have to be very cautious about that downward path."
With a warming climate melting more Arctic ice cover and global industries eager to exploit the region for shipping, fishing, drilling and mining, the United States and Russia sounded a rare, cooperative note going into an Arctic meeting this week. The conciliatory tone was encouraging to governments, local residents, investors and environmental groups worried about a lack of regulations and potential environmental damage as industries look northward to the world's largest remaining oil, gas and mineral deposits. "Our vision ... is very much one of cooperation," U.S. State Department Arctic Envoy Jim de Hart told Reuters in an interview ahead of the biennial meeting of the eight Arctic Council nations.
Hong Kong's incoming Catholic bishop said on Tuesday he will pray for the victims of China's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen square, but whether he could do that in a public venue depends on the city's laws. Pope Francis on Monday named Stephen Chow, 61, head of Hong Kong's Jesuit order, after a long delay. Chow will officially take the helm of the Diocese on Dec. 4.
A lawsuit against the Yukon government alleges officials ignored an engineer's assessment of Golden Predator's Dawson-area Brewery Creek project, reducing the recommended financial security of $12 million to just $1 million. But Golden Predator is firing back with its own legal action, claiming the engineer made defamatory statements about the company and its CEO during a mining conference in 2020. Former chief mine engineer Paul Christman filed a statement of claim against Yukon's Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) on April 21, alleging he was professionally punished after raising concerns about the Golden Predator file. He's seeking damages for breach of employment contract, punitive damages and legal costs. EMR spokesperson Sue Thomas declined comment on the lawsuit. Golden Predator CEO Janet Lee-Sheriff also declined to comment on Christman's lawsuit. The company is not named as a defendant but is heavily referenced throughout the statement of claim. Golden Predator and Lee-Sheriff, however, filed their own lawsuit with the B.C. Supreme Court on May 14, claiming that Christman, in his role as a Yukon government employee, "falsely and maliciously" made statements about them during the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, commonly referred to as "Roundup." They're seeking damages, and for the government to launch an independent review on Christman's influence on any Golden Predator files. Neither case has gone to trial yet. Recommendations ignored, Christman claims Golden Predator's Brewery Creek project, located about 55 kilometres east of Dawson City, was operated as a gold mine by another company from 1996 to 2001. Golden Predator took over the property in 2012. According to Christman's lawsuit, Golden Predator requested in April 2019 that EMR confirm it had a valid quartz mining licence over the Brewery Creek claims, "a task which fell squarely under Christman's purview." Christman completed a financial security assessment for restarting mining activities in August, the statement of claim continues, and, based on the existing plan and proposed work, determined the security should be set at $12 million. In a draft letter, he also stated that environmental and financial security assessments would be required, as well as an amendment to the quartz mining licence. However, the lawsuit alleges his draft was "significantly edited," with the letter that was sent to Golden Predator containing no mention of the requirements for an environmental assessment and licence amendment and stating the company had a valid licence. EMR also "disregarded" Christman's financial security assessment, the statement of claim says, and "instead agreed with Golden Predator to financial security in the amount of" $1 million, including $400,000 provided by the mine's previous owners for "post closure activities" but not for re-opening. The Brewery Creek gold mine near Dawson City.(Golden Predator) Confrontation at Roundup The rift only widened from there. The lawsuit alleges Christman noticed a Golden Predator news release claiming Brewery Creek was fully licenced to resume mining activity when it didn't have a valid water licence, but was "discouraged from reporting the issue" after raising it with his director. He was then excluded from closed-door meetings between Golden Predator and EMR's assistant deputy minister, deputy minister and minister at Roundup. During the same conference, Christman was involved in a "brief incident" with Lee-Sheriff and Golden Predator executive chairman Bill Sheriff, whom the lawsuit alleges "confronted and accused Christman of criticizing Golden Predator at the Roundup and threatened to get him fired." Golden Predator's lawsuit offers a different view of the "incident," alleging that Christman "loudly and publicly" called Lee-Sheriff a "liar" when she stated in a presentation that her company held valid quartz mining and water licenses for Brewery Creek. Lee-Sheriff, according to her claim, invited Christman over to Golden Predator's conference booth to address his concerns but Christman allegedly "yelled at and publicly berated" her over the water licence, and when she walked away, made "sexist and gendered statements" to Sheriff, including telling him to get his wife "under control." On the second-last day of Roundup, Christman anonymously reported Golden Predator to the British Columbia Securities Commission, his lawsuit says; the next day, the company threatened a defamation suit against him for the "incident," and also demanded he be removed from all Golden Predator files. The "incident" and threat of legal action led EMR to launch an investigation, according to Christman's statement of claim, with his director removing him from Golden Predator files. Christman eventually left the department to work for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, the lawsuit says, taking a pay cut in the process. He also alleges he was the victim of a "retaliatory" complaint from the Public Service Commissioner after he started his new position. Golden Predator and Lee-Sheriff, meanwhile, allege that Christman's conduct at Roundup damaged their reputations and while they emailed Christman inviting him to issue an apology on Jan. 22, 2020, he has yet to do so. Mine securities often 'problematic,' analyst says Lewis Rifkind, a mining analyst with the Yukon Conservation Society, told CBC he would be following Christman's lawsuit closely, describing the overall process of how the government arrives at financial securities for mines as "problematic" and largely opaque. "We've always been concerned about the role of Energy, Mines and Resources — are they a promoter of mining or are they a regulator of mining?" he said. "There seems to be an institutional conflict of interest when it comes to promoting and regulating mining by this one department." Rifkind acknowledged that the claims in Christman's lawsuit are, at this point, unproven. However, he said that it was "unusual" that the financial security for the Brewery Creek project was exactly $1 million, noting that the figure is typically a less rounded number, and that he would consider even the alleged original assessment of $12 million low. He also said the claim of closed-door meetings at Roundup between senior EMR officials and Golden Predator were concerning, and was curious to see if any allegations of "backroom shenanigans" would be substantiated. "It's always been a concern that we've got the regulators going to these promotional events," he said. "It's not right."
The recent decision by five Canadian provinces to change the way they administer the AstraZeneca vaccine should not deter anyone from getting vaccinated, or to regret getting AstraZeneca if they already did, one expert says. Samantha Yammine, a neuroscientist and science communicator, says that with more than a billion vaccines already given out worldwide, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see any major, common issues develop with other vaccines now.
P.E.I. is beginning to process applications for seasonal residents and family reunifications for this summer. Premier Dennis King outlined the new plan at the province's regular weekly COVID-19 pandemic briefing Tuesday. With outbreaks happening across the country, the province had paused processing applications to come to P.E.I. Applicants can start arriving June 8. As with last year, arrivals will be staggered, with no more than 500 households granted entry per week. Travel will need to be pre-approved, which will include a 14-day self-isolation plan. This year, people entering the province will have to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving. They will also be tested at their point of entry to the province. This will be required whether the people arriving have been vaccinated or not. "In addition, and new this year, our enforcement teams will conduct random isolation checks to ensure the highest level of compliance possible," said King. He said he is hopeful some of these protocols will change as pandemic conditions change through the summer. Bubble delayed King said he had hoped the Atlantic bubble would be open by now, but outbreaks in other parts of the region have delayed it. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison mentioned during the briefing that Atlantic Canada currently has 1,659 active cases. When the bubble opened in July there were five. "The mental well-being of families being reunited has been at the top of our list of priorities. We know that the last 15 months or so have been very, very difficult and that far too many of us have not seen our loved ones and we need to address that," said King. "The Atlantic bubble will open as soon as it is safe to do so and I'm hopeful that will happen prior to Canada Day although as of today we have no firm date." The province will continue to be careful, King said, but it is also important to move forward toward normal conditions. He said the province will do that, as it has throughout the pandemic, while referring to the best science available. More from CBC P.E.I.
BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Reuters) -European Union foreign ministers called on Tuesday for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and boosted humanitarian aid for Gaza, but failed to reach the unanimity that might give the EU leverage in peacemaking. Hungary, Israel's closest ally in the bloc, declined to join the other 26 foreign ministers in calling for a truce on their video call, convened by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
HONG KONG/TAIPEI (Reuters) -Hong Kong government's suspended on Tuesday operations at its representative office in Taiwan in a sign of escalating diplomatic tension between the global financial hub and the democratically ruled island that Beijing claims. Tension between Hong Kong's Beijing-backed government and Taiwan have risen since pro-democracy protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019 and China responded by imposing a sweeping national security law in the city that prompted many activists to leave, some for Taiwan. A Hong Kong government representative did not provide an explanation for the decision to halt operations at the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office, adding only that the decision was not related to the recent rise in coronavirus cases in Taiwan.