A prominent Canadian forecaster says the country's residents could experience everything from winter wonderlands to spring-like spells in the months ahead. The Weather Network says cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures off the coast of South America, also known as "La Niña," will create a strong jet stream separating warm southern air masses from their colder northern counterparts. Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says this means most Canadians can brace for a wildly variable winter with major departures from seasonal norms. In British Columbia and the Prairies, for instance, Scott says forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels and temperatures below seasonal norms. He says major swings in both temperatures and precipitation levels are on tap for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with stretches of both extreme cold and unusually mild air forecast alongside a mix of storms and dry spells.Scott says Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Canada are slated to buck the trend, with the eastern-most province set to experience a more typical winter while colder than average conditions are expected across all three territories. But Scott said the long-term patterns may not be evident at first, since the December forecast is calling for conditions that defy the overall forecasts. In broad strokes, he predicted an overall milder month for western Canada with more wintry conditions likely in Ontario and points east. "It's going to be quite a winter," Scott said in a telephone interview. "A lot of extremes within the given regions. And if you're talking to your friends or family back east or out west, you're probably going to have a very different experience from week to week as the weather changes across the country."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
The P.E.I. Council of People With Disabilities is urging Islanders to avoid making assumptions about those not wearing masks in public places."They don't know that person's history, their experiences, and they do not know what health conditions they may be living with at this current time," said Marcia Carroll, the organization's executive director."Understand that your reality is not everybody's reality."On Nov. 20, masks became mandatory inside all public places on P.E.I. However, there are exceptions to the rule for children under the age of two and those who cannot wear one for medical reasons.> People who are going to comply will comply. And the people who can't comply should be treated with the same respect. — Marcia CarrollBut according to Carroll, those medical reasons aren't always apparent."If you saw somebody in a wheelchair or somebody using a white cane ... and they were not following a health directive, you might not confront them because their disability is visible," said Carroll."But for somebody who has an invisible disability, again, they still have a disability."'It's public shaming'Carroll said singling those people out over not being able to wear a mask not only leads to social isolation, it can also be extremely stressful."It's a way of shaming and it's public shaming. And quite frankly, it's a little bit of bullying," she said."People who are going to comply will comply. And the people who can't comply should be treated with the same respect."For now, Carroll said she recommends people keep their judgment to themselves and if you can wear a mask, wear it."Wearing masks does not just protect yourself, it protects other people. That also includes the people who can't wear masks," she said. And for those who have already experienced being called out for not wearing a mask, Carroll also has a message: "I'm sorry.""Your health is your own personal business." she said. "You have to make decisions that best suit you and best allow you to navigate your world in a free and dignified way."So just step back, mind your own business and go forward."More from CBC P.E.I.
SURREY, B.C. — Surrey RCMP say a man is dead following a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening. They say officers responded to a shooting call around 7:40 p.m. in front of a shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway. They say paramedics also attended and provided aid to a wounded man, but he died at the scene. Investigators say the victim is known to police and that they believe he was targeted. No names or suspect information was immediately released. The Mounties say they're assisting the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team with the case and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has pertinent video surveillance or dash-cam video to contact them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
When looking at the daily updates and numbers of COVID-19 cases in Alberta, there's a theme that's easy to spot — Calgary's northeast has a serious problem. Calgary-Upper NE is one of 132 "local geographic areas" (or LGAs) that the province uses in reporting COVID-19 cases. It covers the bulk of the northeast quadrant, including newer communities that sit north of McKnight Boulevard, as well as a portion that stretches down to where 16th Avenue N.E. meets Deerfoot Trail. Around 115,000 people call the upper northeast area of Calgary home. The number of active COVID-19 cases there surpassed 1,000 last week, a number not seen anywhere else in the province at any time during the pandemic. As of Sunday, there were 1,194 cases. That's double the numbers seen earlier in the month. For many weeks now, the northeast has secured the unenviable position of being the number one spot in Alberta for active cases. So what's driving such extreme numbers in one part of the city? On the front lines People who live and work in the northeast say there are many reasons that make their communities easy pickings for a virus that thrives on density and easy opportunities for transmission. Those opportunities vary from residents working public-facing, low-income jobs with no opportunity to work from home, to a culture of large, multi-generational households in densely populated neighbourhoods. "It is a concern. Many people in this part of the city are working multiple jobs on the front lines and they're in contact with a lot of people," said Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal. "There's a higher risk to exposure, but I think everybody's doing their best to ensure they're being safe, but more importantly keeping others safe. "Social distancing and wearing masks is important, but we've still got a lot of work to do." Many said they thought the types of jobs worked by those living in the northeast could represent the number one factor behind the high COVID-19 numbers. "The biggest reason is the majority of people are immigrants and newcomers and they are doing blue-collar jobs," said Dan Sidhu, a realtor with his own weekly Punjabi radio show who has called the northeast home for 25 years. "Lots of people work at places like Cargill and Lilydale or furniture factories. They're doing housekeeping and cleaning jobs around the city. There are also transport workers, truckers and taxi drivers." Sidhu said many people in the northeast don't have the luxury of working from home and are more exposed in their day-to-day lives. "We have to go out to work to make our living and pay our bills. We don't have much choice," Sidhu said. Multi-family households In addition to employment, there are also large multi-family households made up of South Asian immigrant families that settle around each other in northeast communities. "The majority of families here are joint families. Seniors live with them, mother-in-laws and father-in-laws, mothers and fathers and children. You can easily have six or seven family members," said Sidhu, adding that COVID-19 spreads to a greater number of people once it finds its way into a family setting. Others talk quietly about the possibility that some cultural factors unique to South Asian communities could give COVID-19 more opportunities to take hold. Some of those factors mentioned include: a stigma in the community around being sick and telling others. a deeply embedded culture of hospitality. meal sharing and inviting guests into the home. a tradition of large family gatherings and events like weddings and birthdays along with a busy calendar of religious events. in some cases, language barriers limiting information around best practices when it comes to health measures. Languages spoken commonly in the home in the northeast include Punjabi and Urdu. Filipino families speak Tagalog along with others who speak Spanish and Vietnamese at home. Some can't communicate in English at all. Worried about being blamed Some residents said they are worried about being stigmatized, criticized and blamed for the rising number of cases from people in other parts of the city and province. A few said they're embarrassed by the high case numbers and say they are victims of circumstance, and do not want to be blamed for personal negligence or for not taking the virus seriously enough. The northeast of the city is also where many newcomers and refugees settle in the days and weeks after arriving in Canada. It's where the cost of living is cheapest and where jobs and many vital supports exist, including the Centre for Newcomers. "We see a disproportionate number of newcomers working in industries where they'd have a much higher rate of being in contact with somebody that has COVID," said Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Centre for Newcomers. "They find jobs in retail, service industries, health-care and long-term care facilities and that [increases] the likelihood." Lee Yuen said newcomers tend to be around larger volumes of people, both at home and at work. "You've got people coming from cultures that are very collective in nature so the entire community is built around that," she said. "You have a more densely packed population, so even when people are adhering to the best possible safety protocols, there could still be issues." She said housing density and a reliance on transit and car sharing also need to be taken into account, along with larger family cohorts than other parts of the city. Language barriers can also make official information harder to access. "The ethno-cultural media and the settlement agencies and other agencies have done a wonderful job of getting that information out there, especially through social media," said Lee Yuen. "It does come translated from the government and it is widespread, but the bigger issue is people are confused about the rules and what they can and can't do. But that's in the general population too." Lee Yuen said the whole concept of cohorts and bubbles took time for many Albertans to understand, but for non-English speaking Albertans, it's even more challenging. Religion and worship Religion is a big part of the fabric of life in northeast Calgary's South Asian community, and with worship comes large gatherings. Throughout 2020, places of worship have been open with limited capacity, enhanced safety measures and at times closed altogether. Under the most recent measures announced by the provincial government on Saturday, churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship are allowed to operate at only one-third of their capacity with mandatory masking in place. Previously, the limit had been one-third of regular attendance. Major religious events and celebrations from Ramadan to Eid and Diwali have all looked a lot different this year. Some places of worship are now going above and beyond the requirements laid out by the province. "We're not even letting anyone sit. We're going even further in what we're doing in that they come, they pray and they go right away," said Amanpreet Singh Gill with the Dashmesh Culture Centre, a large gurdwara where thousands of northeast Sikhs go to pray. "We are trying our best and people are following it. We encourage everyone to be safe. Social interactions are dangerous and we encourage everyone to limit gatherings like weddings too." The centre is also taking prayers online for those staying away, streaming on social media. Mosques have been doing the same thing with live prayers, sermons and programs from local imams, who said Friday prayers are the only in-person worship being permitted. Prayers typically last less than 15 minutes. COVID-19 experiences More cases in the quadrant bring more stories and accounts from people who have had COVID-19. Jayanta Chowdhury contracted COVID-19 along with his family at a Christian prayer meeting in March that turned into a "superspreader" event, leading to at least 34 positive cases, all stemming from one overseas pastor from Singapore. Chowdhury spent nearly 50 days in hospital, 25 of them in a coma on a ventilator. Now he's hoping his story can help others do the right things. "Many people don't believe COVID is going to hurt them. They just think it's like a cough and a cold," said Chowdhury. "What is lacking in the northeast is people are not aware of the fact of how serious this is and how it will affect your life. They are not serious about it. They just think, 'I don't know anyone who is COVID-positive, so it won't happen to me.'" Chowdhury said he sees many people from the South Asian community not wearing masks in public or wearing them incorrectly. He's not alone, although some also point out that people make the same mistakes all over the city. Others regularly complain on social media about seeing the same thing in local stores and restaurants, along with a lack of proper physical distancing, evident in many photos posted online of gatherings and small events with people stood shoulder to shoulder, some wearing masks and others often not wearing one or wearing one incorrectly. The table may not display fully on mobile devices or small screens. In that case, you can also click here to open a standalone version in a new browser tab. "I went to a McDonald's in the northeast the other day. There were four men standing there chatting, no masks," Chowdhury said. "They wear their masks under their chin. But what about the people they are putting at risk? "Who's going to take care of them? In my case, my whole family was positive. Let's say the dad and mom dies, we don't have relatives to look after our kids. They don't understand the height and depth of the issue." Chowdhury said for more than a week he felt fine with no symptoms. He went to church, shopping malls and grocery stores, completely unaware he had contracted the virus. It wasn't until the ninth day that serious symptoms quickly started appearing and four of his group were hospitalized. One of the group died. "I walked into Peter Lougheed hospital and passed out. When I woke up I thought it was the same day. It had been 25 days and I had been on a ventilator," Chowdhury said. WATCH | COVID-19 survivor Jay Chowdhury, in an earlier interview in August, talks about how he's still recovering months after leaving hospital Chowdhury said he has good days and bad days as he continues to recover. He is back at work, but every day is an unknown. "It hurts when I see the community going to a grocery store, still picking up produce, sniffing it and putting it back. People could be carrying COVID home," he said. "Some people don't care about the community, they only think about themselves and what they believe." Seeking help and protection The community is increasingly looking to the provincial government for help and protection. Like everywhere else in the city, the majority of residents stick to the rules, but cases in the northeast continue to rise. Last week, Premier Jason Kenney appeared on the popular northeast South Asian-focused radio station RED FM, interviewed by host Rishi Nagar. Kenney acknowledged the problem with COVID-19 in the northeast, referencing big family gatherings as a particular concern. He spent time outlining news rules and guidelines, including enforcement. "Our research is clear that by far the single largest source of COVID-19 is private social functions and at-home gatherings," said Kenney, adding it wasn't about "pointing fingers." Kenney also commented on Alberta's continued snubbing of the federal contact tracing app. "Their app is not a contact tracing app," he told listeners. "All it does is to indicate if maybe you were in the vicinity of somebody with COVID at some point in the past two weeks with no additional information." Irfan Sabir, the NDP's lone MLA in the northeast representing the riding of Calgary-McCall, said the real problem in the northeast is the province's contact tracing system — which he said is completely overwhelmed and no longer functioning. "We have a government that doesn't know where 85 per cent of cases are coming from. We are left to rely on our observations and speculate," Sabir said. "Government is failing by not investing in contact tracing and not sharing recommendations from Dr. Hinshaw, not listening to Dr. Hinshaw." "They need to step up and take this seriously. Put in place evidence-based, data-based measures. It's long past due." Sabir said northeast residents were already feeling abandoned after a huge hailstorm devastated multiple communities in the summer, leaving thousands of homes with shredded siding, damaged roofs and broken windows — many of which are still unrepaired heading into winter with no meaningful financial help from the province, despite pleas from residents. "The government needs to step up and take this outbreak seriously and do everything they can to contain this spread," he said. Rajan Sawhney, Alberta's minister of community and social services and UCP MLA for Calgary-Northeast, said her government has provided some funding for community organizations to help combat the spread of COVID-19 by raising awareness of the risks among newcomer communities and seniors' groups. She addressed her constituents in Punjabi via a Facebook video over the weekend. "Clearly, we have to do more and it's going to be a multi-level government approach to this, to spread as much awareness as we can about the new measures introduced by the premier," Sawhney said. "It's important that we break those measures down step by step in different languages, and work with our community partners and faith-based institutions." Sawnhey said her main concern is northeast communities facing stigma and shaming as case numbers continue to climb. "There shouldn't be any finger pointing, blaming, stereotyping or shaming, or thinking that somehow residents in northeast Calgary are not as concerned about their health or about following these measures," said Sawnhey. "It's just a different dynamic, and a different way people live."
Sweden's Ericsson on Monday raised its global forecast for 5G mobile subscriptions to 220 million by the end of this year, citing faster than expected uptake in China. The telecoms equipment maker, which had previously forecast 190 million subscriptions, said it expects China to account for almost 80% of the newly forecast total. "What has fuelled the growth is China, and that is driven in itself by a strong strategic national focus on 5G in China," Head of Networks Fredrik Jejdling told Reuters.
Brothers Lou and Joe Mikail have found a way to go ahead with their annual turkey giveaway this year. The pandemic threatened to cancel it, but they've decided that instead of having people line up, they will do a drive-through event this year."We've been inundated with calls from individuals who basically rely on what we do each year. And this gets them through the holiday season," Joe said.He and Lou pondered how they can continue the annual event and still be risk-averse."We talked to the city and ... the city has approved us doing a drive-by for the turkey giveaway. And the city was generous enough to allow us to use the festival plaza," Joe said, adding that Windsor Police will be providing assistance with traffic control."So we'll have distancing, but we'll still be able to continue and offer the meals to the people that we've been doing for the past 15 years," Joe said.500 meal packages to be given awayFor the individuals who don't have a car and can't arrange a ride, the brother said they're setting up a system to deliver whatever packages remain from the event to people's homes from a safe distance.Lou added that it's been a difficult year for the community and they didn't want to disappoint those in need."The need is probably twice as much as it usually is in the previous years," he said.The family will be giving away 500 meal packages, made up of a large turkey, corn, potatoes and other trimmings.Each meal package costs about $70 and feeds about 12 people, according to the brothers.This year marks the 16th year the brothers have been running their giveaway.The giveaway will take place on Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. at the festival plaza.
THE LATEST: * On Monday, health officials announced the deaths of 46 people from over the weekend and 2,364 new cases of COVID-19. * There are 8,855 people with active cases of the disease across B.C. * 316 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 75 in intensive care. * 441 people have died of the disease since the pandemic began. * A total of 10,139 people are under active public health monitoring and in self-isolation because of exposure to known COVID-19 cases. * There have been 33,238 confirmed cases in the province to date.B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday an unprecedented 46 deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend.A total of 2,364 new cases were added to B.C.'s total, however 277 of them were historical cases previously missed due to an error in data reporting by the Fraser Health region.There are now 8,855 people with active COVID-19 cases in B.C., 316 of whom are in hospital, including 75 in intensive care.The Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions continue to see the greatest spread of the disease, accounting for 73 per cent of the new cases announced Monday. However, 212 of the new cases over the weekend were located in the Interior Health region.Monday's update includes five new outbreaks in the health-care system. Currently, there are 57 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and five in hospitals.Health officials have told British Columbians to pause all social interactions and be vigilant applying different layers of protection, including physical distancing, washing hands and using masks.Review of PHSA spendingA review into spending by the Provincial Health Services Authority has been ordered by B.C.'s Minister of Health Adrian Dix, following allegations of misspending.On Monday, CBC News reported how whistleblowers with intimate knowledge into PHSA operations have come forward with numerous concerns.They accuse B.C.'s central health authority of squandering $7 million on the purchase of unusable face masks from China; hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary renovations to executive offices; and tens of thousands of dollars on high-end catered meals for executives and their staff."I appreciate these allegations being raised to me," Dix said in a statement to CBC News. "I have directed the deputy minister of health to assess PHSA's decisions and conduct ... and provide advice and recommendations to me." COVID-19 finesSeveral fines were issued in Vancouver over the weekend as people continued to violate provincial COVID-19 health orders.The Vancouver Police Department says it issued fines following health order violations at a pair of house parties, a birthday party and inside a limousine.In all instances, there were too many people from different households gathering together.Violation tickets ranged from $230 - $2,300.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaThere have now been more than 370,278 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.On Monday, the federal Liberal government announced it's preparing to spend up to $100 billion to kick start the post-pandemic economy as it stares down a record-high deficit projection of more than $381 billion for this fiscal year.In a long-awaited economic statement, tabled today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government's immediate priority is to do "whatever it takes" to help Canadians and businesses stay safe and solvent.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state senator abruptly left a West Wing meeting with President Donald Trump after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.Trump told Mastriano that White House medical personnel would take care of him, his son and his son’s friend, who were also there for the Oval Office meeting and tested positive. The meeting continued after Mastriano and the others left, the person said.The person spoke to the AP on Sunday on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session because the matter is politically sensitive.Positive coronavirus cases are surging across the United States and the nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” in the coming weeks. The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday.Everyone who will be in close proximity to the president must take a rapid test. Trump was himself hospitalized in October after he contracted the virus. Dozens of White House staffers and others close to the president have also tested positive, including the first lady and two of the president’s sons.All participants in Wednesday's meeting took COVID-19 tests, but the positive results were not announced until they were in the West Wing of the White House, the person said.“The president instantly called the White House doctor in and he took them back to, I guess, the medical place,” the person said. The meeting with Trump was to strategize about efforts regarding the election, the person said.After Mastriano and the others left, the discussion with Trump continued for about a half-hour. Mastriano did not return to the meeting.Mastriano sought the meeting of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Policy Committee earlier Wednesday that drew Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a second Trump lawyer, several witnesses and a crowd of onlookers. Only a few of them were masked.The committee let Giuliani and others, for several hours, air their beliefs that there had been problems with how the Pennsylvania vote was conducted and counted. All claims were baseless; no evidence was presented to support any of the allegations they made.Trump even participated, calling from the White House while one of his lawyers held a phone up to a microphone. He reiterated the same unfounded claims of fraud he's been tweeting about for weeks.Those beliefs have persisted despite Trump losing repeatedly in state and federal courts, including a Philadelphia-based federal appeals court's decision Friday that said the Trump campaign’s "claims have no merit," and a state Supreme Court decision Saturday that threw out a legal challenge to the election and effort to stop certification of its results.Mastriano, a conservative from a rural district in central Pennsylvania and outspoken Trump supporter, did not return several messages left Sunday seeking comment.Republican state Sen. Dave Argall, who chairs the policy committee, declined Sunday in a text message to discuss Mastriano’s medical condition and the White House visit.“I’ve received some conflicting information that I’m trying to resolve,” Argall said in the text. “It’s my understanding a Senate statement later today will help us all to understand this better.”Argall said he would not talk publicly about the matter “until I know more.”Senate Republican spokeswoman Kate Flessner declined comment, describing it as a personnel matter.The person with knowledge of the White House visit said several people rode in a large van from Gettysburg, where the policy committee met in a hotel, to the White House. Mastriano, his son and his son’s friend drove in another vehicle.It's not clear why Mastriano's son and his friend accompanied the state senator to the meeting, which the person said was also attended by Trump and the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who tested positive in early November.Mastriano has aggressively opposed policies under the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and keep people safe.He has led rallies where he advocated to reopen businesses despite the risk of infection and he has repeatedly and sharply denounced Wolf’s orders. Mastriano also spoke to a few thousand Trump supporters who gathered outside the Capitol on Nov. 7, hours after Democrat Joe Biden’s national win became evident.___Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
A decision of the Halifax and West Community Council to turn down a commercial development in Hatchet Lake has been appealed to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.The owners of Hatchet Lake Plaza Ltd. applied to build a fast-food outlet along with a gas bar and convenience store on Prospect Road. The zoning allows for a restaurant and drive-thru but the owner needs municipal approval for a service station.Local residents have raised several concerns."We're on well water here and I know they keep trying to reassure us that there will be no danger to groundwater,'' said Beverley Volsky, who lives next door to the proposed development. "But I don't want to take the chance."Other submissions sent to a public hearing on Sept. 24 talked about noise, odours and increased traffic.A petition opposed to the project with 578 names was also submitted to the community council meeting. A number of residents questioned the need for another gas station."There's an Irving and a Petro-Canada less than five minutes from our location," said Volsky."I don't need a convenience store right behind my house. We have several along Prospect Road."HRM staff say there are no rules limiting the number of service stations within a particular area. They recommended approval of the proposed development, but the community council decided against it.According to minutes of the meeting, councillors said the proposal "does not reasonably carry out the intent of the Municipal Planning Strategy."They cited the potential environmental impact and the proximity to residential properties. Community council members also noted opposition from the community.Peter Rogers, the lawyer for the property owner, said his client decided to appeal because he believes the development is consistent with the planning rules in place at the time."Cases like this are supposed to be decided not by popularity or petitions of citizens," said Rogers. "They are supposed to be decided by the Municipal Planning Strategy itself."The UARB will hear arguments in the appeal on Wednesday.MORE TOP STORIES
TC Energy Corp's sale of a C$1 billion ($769 million) stake in Keystone XL (KXL) to a Canadian indigenous group is the result of over three years of pressure from a tiny Saskatchewan First Nation that demanded part ownership of the long-delayed oil pipeline, rather than short-term payments for allowing it to be built through its lands. Natural Law Energy's (NLE) planned investment was billed by TC as the biggest-ever indigenous investment in an oil project, highlighting how some communities are seeking to share in the industry's profits while others oppose it. Adding indigenous support may help efforts by Canada and TC to convince U.S. President-elect Joe Biden not to revoke the permit of the $8-billion Keystone XL when he takes office as he has promised.
BANGKOK — Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offences of which they stand accused. The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable. The demand about the monarchy is the most radical and controversial, because by tradition the institution has been considered untouchable, the bedrock element of Thai nationalism. It is considered taboo to publicly criticize the monarch, and insulting or defaming key royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under a lese majeste law known as Article 112. The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people. They believe the king holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy. "When people criticize the monarchy and they listen, people will consider them open-minded. But if they use 112 to shut our mouths, not only Thai people but also the world will know they are afraid of the truth,” Parit Chiwarak said to reporters ahead of reporting to police. “This won’t stop our movement. On the contrary, it will make more people join us.” Article 112 is controversial, because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, so it in the past had been used as a weapon in political vendettas. But it had not been employed for the past three years, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see it used. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then. But after a protest last week included crude chants and graffiti that could be considered derogatory of the king, Prayuth declared that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions, including with charges under Article 112. While protest leaders have faced dozens of charges over the past few months, they have generally been freed on bail, and none have yet come to trial. Despite Prayuth’s threat, protest leaders have continued to include strong criticisms of the monarchy at rallies. The other four who reported Monday to Bangkok’s Chana Songkhram police station were Arnon Nampha, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and Patiphan Luecha. Patiphan, a traditional folk singer also known as Patiwat Saraiyaem, served 2 1/2 years in prison after being arrested under Article 112 in 2014. Most of the protest leaders face multiple charges already, ranging from blocking traffic to sedition, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison. Anon, a lawyer, said he was indifferent about being charged under Article 112, because it is an “unjust law.” “If we speak the truth and they stop us with 112, it reflects how abnormal this law and this country are,” he said. Also reporting to police Monday were Benjamaporn Nivas and Lopnaphat Wangsit, leaders of the mockingly self-named Bad Students group of secondary school students, which seeks major reforms in education and supports the broader aims of the pro-democracy movement as well. They are accused of violating a state of emergency decree that was briefly in effect in October by taking part in a rally in central Bangkok. ___ Associated Press journalists Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul and Grant Peck contributed to this report. Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company's chief medical officer.When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signalled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance.WHAT COMES NEXTThe FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate.First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17.RATIONING INITIAL DOSESIf the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people.Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S.This week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how initial supplies will be given out. They're expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities. As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general population isn't expected until at least spring.Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year.“Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said.Both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.ASTRAZENECA CONFUSIONAstraZeneca last week announced confusing early results of its vaccine candidate from research in Britain and BrazilThat vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk.A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective.Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there.STILL IN THE PIPELINEJohnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose.Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system.The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won't require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.”Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world.____The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
In the Kennebecasis Bay, just north of Saint John, three small islands make up what are known as The Brothers, the only reserve land in the southern part of New Brunswick.Some believe that the three islands may be an important key to the Wolastoqiyik reasserting their rights over the land and could play a role to strengthen a recently filed title claim to the Wolastoq, its lands and watersheds."I feel very strongly that it is an important component of the title case," said Patrick Polchies, a council member of Kingsclear First Nation."If we really think about the title claim, for instance, we need to express our territory, I think sometimes by occupation. And even if it's seasonal, it's important. We need to get out to these places and make sure that people understand that it is within living memory of coming to this region."Little is known today about the islands and their history, though a handful of people have memories of visiting them when they were young.Wayne Brooks remembers visiting The Brothers as a youth in the 1970s on camping trips organized by his father and Harold Sappier, the late chief of St. Mary's First Nation."Well, back in the day, like, my dad would always talk about it, and Harold," Brooks recalled. "We've got to start using it, because if not, somebody is going to try to take it over. So, as a community, Harold decided that we'll use it, we'll take kids there for camping trips."Brooks said as he grew older, he brought his sons to the islands when they were young to keep that connection.Though the islands are uninhabited today, they were once used as seasonal campgrounds for hunting and fishing by Simon, Andrew, Jim, Ed and Joseph Paul. The brothers would travel down the river from Quebec and stay on the islands.The islands would later be granted to the "Malicite Tribe of Indians of the River Saint John" in 1838 by Sir John Harvey, the lieutenant-governor, for use of the Paul brothers.Today, Indian and Goat islands are registered to Kingsclear, Madawaska, Tobique and Woodstock, though a spokesperson for the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick said there are plans to have St. Mary's and Oromocto added to the shared ownership.But uncertainty surrounds the title of Burnt Island. In the 1920s, a copper mine was staked on the island. Because of this mineral claim, when the province transferred the administration of reserve lands to the federal government in 1959, Burnt Island was not included in the transfer.There's still evidence of the mine today. Bobby Ring owns a local boat business in Brothers Cove and recalls ferrying Sappier and the youth of St. Mary's First Nation to the islands in the 1970s. He also routinely took a man who staked a claim to copper on Burnt Island. "Burnt Island, it's real close," Ring said. "On the outer face of the island there's a beach that's real rocky. You get out and you walk about 25 or 30 feet up the beach and to your left you'll see a hole full of bushes and trees. That's a copper mine."Ring's son, Geodie, runs the boat maintenance business today. It's on the shore directly across from the islands, just beside the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club.Geodie Ring said the islands are mostly frequented by boaters or kayakers now."A lot of people that just are new to the area, they'll all buy that Walmart or Canadian Tire canoe or kayak and they'll paddle out," Ring said.He said a lot of people, including locals, have no idea any of the three Islands are reserve land. That doesn't surprise Rachel Bryant, a University of New Brunswick professor and colonial historian. She wrote a blog in the summer about the islands, in hopes of raising public awareness about them in the local area."Saint John is not often thought of as Indigenous land. When it is discussed, it is discussed in the past tense," Bryant said. "I'm interested in reminding people of whose land it is."Bryant said there is a term that may explain why locals speak of the area as if it isn't unceded Wolastoqey territory."There's a phenomenon in colonial studies and it's called unwitnessing," Bryant said. "If material or something that you encounter, it doesn't fit within your understanding, or within a collective understanding of history or of place, then that material can't lodge permanently in a collective consciousness." When Bryant published her blog, she heard from people who had visited and had no idea the islands were reserve land. Polchies said it's time to change that. He conducted an informal archeological survey of The Brothers islands in 1990s that didn't turn up anything of interest. But he thinks it's time for more thorough and formal archeological work. "There are a lot of places in the province that we probably need to be looking at to understand where we were on the land," he said. "And particularly now."There's a title claim before the courts, for the entire expanse of our territory, so The Brothers are an interesting component of it."
Louis-Joseph Couturier left the Gaspé on Nov. 14. He doesn't plan on returning home until he completes his goal of cycling all the way to Vancouver.The journey covers 5,250 kilometres. If he continues at his current pace — 100 km/day — he should arrive by mid-February or early March."I wake up usually at 4 a.m. to start cycling when it's still dark and traffic isn't too bad," he told Radio-Canada. At night, he pitches a tent wherever he can."If it wasn't for the pandemic, I would have tried to take advantage of people's hospitality along the route. But in the current crisis, I can't really do that," he said.Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions and the oncoming winter, Couturier felt his trip couldn't wait.Following the recent death of a friend and fellow cyclist, who died in a road accident, Couturier decided to embark on a journey to raise awareness about cyclist safety in Canadian cities."I realized my own vulnerability and wanted to make a difference," he said. "Each death of a cyclist on our roads is avoidable."Between eight and 11 cyclists are killed on Quebec roads every year, according to data from the SAAQ.Couturier is hoping his awareness campaign will help bring the public's attention to this issue."We made the choice to design our cities around cars. We can rethink this way of looking at our roads," he said.He also wants to raise $20,000 for the organization Vélo Fantôme (Ghost Bike), which erects a white bicycle in locations where cyclists are killed.
The provincial government has barely made a dent in adopting a sweeping series of recommendations coming out of the Muskrat Falls inquiry, and one of the consequences could be another blunder with the new adult mental health and addictions facility in St. John's, says an outspoken critic.Meanwhile, the minister leading the effort to implement the instructions of Justice Richard LeBlanc says his recommendations will be adopted "across the board."But with the province still in the grips of a global pandemic, converting those recommendations into government policy will take longer than expected, said Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology."I would be more worried about whether we do it, or not, rather than how fast we can do it, because the goal is to do these recommendations," Parsons said.Of the 17 recommendations, only three have been implemented, though none of the seven "key" recommendations have been adopted.Being built in a flood plainA critic of the over-budget, long-delayed project, and whose many warnings have become reality, is not happy about the progress, and the government's use of the pandemic as an excuse."Not every public official or minister is engaged in the pandemic. It doesn't appear to have effected their announcement of all kinds of new programs spending money we don't have. Must be an election coming," said Ron Penney, one of the earliest and most outspoken opponents of the Nalcor-led Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.In fact, Penney, who chairs the Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Committee, said the province could be stumbling into another problem with the new mental health and addictions facility in St. John's, which will replace the Waterford Hospital.The $330 million hospital is being constructed through a public-private partnership and will be located adjacent to the Health Sciences Centre, on a flood plain.The No. 1 recommendation from Justice LeBlanc is that the province hire an independent external expert to review any public project with a budget of $50 million or more.If that were the case with the new mental health facility, it would never had been approved for the current location, said Penney, a former St. John's city manager."If anybody independent had looked at that decision, no doubt they would have changed because it's in a flood plain, and the province does that mapping for the flood plain, and it's just totally an unsuitable location for the Waterford Hospital," he said.In the past, government officials have said two new berms will protect the site from flooding.And in a statement, an official with the Department of Transportation and Works said "contracts were awarded to independent financial and procurement, fairness, and technical advisors prior to the start of the project."Meanwhile, the final report from the public inquiry investigating the Muskrat Falls project was released in early March, more than two years after the commission of inquiry was established by former premier Dwight Ball.The report included some scorching criticism of former Nalcor leaders like Ed Martin, whom LeBlanc said took "unprincipled steps" to get the project approved. And LeBlanc also criticized senior politicians and bureaucrats for failing to keep a close watch on what one insider called a runaway train.The report, entitled "Muskrat Falls: A Misguided Project," also included 17 recommendations by Justice LeBlanc to ensure the series of missteps that allowed what Dwight Ball once described as the "biggest economic mistake in Newfoundland and Labrador's history" would not be repeated.LeBlanc's recommendations are aimed at, among other things, ensuring major public projects undergo unfettered scrutiny by independent external experts, that the Department of Finance oversee the financing negotiations and cost control of any large project, and that the public utilities board carry out a review whenever there's a possibility electricity ratepayers may be affected.LeBlanc also called for changes to ensure public servants can "speak truth to politicians" in order to provide "complete and objective advice," and advised that legislative changes be made to ensure public bodies like Nalcor cannot withhold information from senior politicians and bureaucrats on the grounds of legal privilege or commercial sensitivity.LeBlanc advised that some of his recommendations should be adopted in as little as six months.But just days after the report was released, it was quickly overshadowed by the growing presence of a worldwide pandemic, and unprecedented societal upheaval in Newfoundland and Labrador as much of the province was shut down in order to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.During a recent fall session, the legislature was consumed by the financial and public health crises griping the province, with the priority on adopting a budget. And for months, a majority of public servants were working from home."So no, I don't think we're as far ahead as we'd like to be. But at the same time it's not sitting on a shelf," said Parsons, adding that an implementation committee that he chairs has been meeting regularly.Parsons expects many of the recommendations that involve legislative changes will be adopted during next spring's sitting of the House of Assembly.And he said some recommendations involving access to information laws will be examined by retired chief justice David Orsborn, who is leading a statutory review of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which is expected to be completed next year."There's urgency here, but at the same time, I'm a true believer in doing the proper analysis to make sure it's right, because sometimes these quick decisions are what got us into trouble in the first place." The three recommendations that have been adopted include: * a joint Nalcor-Newfoundland Power Inc. effort to review the reliability of the power grid in the Muskrat Falls era; * A review of whether recommendations made by the Joint Review Panel were being followed. This relates largely to methylmercury concerns in Labrador; * And minutes of cabinet meetings are now much more detailed than they were years ago whenever politicians discussed Muskrat Falls.Penney said that's not good enough."I'm disappointed, but I guess not surprised," said Penney.So what does LeBlanc think about what's happened since the release of his report?He's not saying, and directed questions to lawyer Barry Learmonth, who served as commission co-counsel during the inquiry.Learmonth said it was part of Justice LeBlanc's mandate to deliver recommendations, and whether and when they are adopted is up to the government."They're not binding," said Learmonth.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation.Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary.Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of colour, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female.President Donald Trump upended the ways in which his administration communicated with the press. In contrast with administrations past, Trump’s communications team held few press briefings, and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods.Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favourite Fox News shows.In a statement announcing the White House communications team, Biden said: “Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House.”He added: “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”Bedingfield and Psaki are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice-president, and Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department.Others joining the White House communications staff are:— Karine Jean Pierre, who was Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She’s another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs.— Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director. She most recently was deputy director for America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, and was a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.Three Biden campaign senior advisers are being appointed to top communications roles:— Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director.— Symone Sanders, another senior adviser on the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson.— Elizabeth Alexander, who served as the former vice-president’s press secretary and his communications director while he was a U.S. senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director.After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden faced some of his own criticism for not being accessible to reporters. But near the end of the campaign, he answered questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president.The choice of a number of Obama administration veterans — many with deep relationships with the Washington press corps — also suggests a return to a more congenial relationship with the press.___Taylor reported from Washington.Alexandra Jaffe And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
It's hard enough having to battle COVID-19 on a daily basis without having to debunk myths and misinformation, too.Saskatoon ICU specialist Dr. Hassan Masri said it makes health care professionals' jobs harder because the misinformation is actually causing physical harm.Masri, who is also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, has been vocal on social media and said he feels a personal responsibility to debunk myths, misinformation and pseudoscience."People get their information from Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and sometimes from people they trust," Masri told CBC's Samantha Maciag. "If they see so-and-so spreading such information because they trust them on a personal level, they may elect to trust the misinformation they're spreading. "That's where I feel that there is a personal responsibility as a physician, but also personal responsibility as someone with a platform, specifically on Facebook."Tests are specifically for COVID-19One of the common myths circulating is that testing cannot differentiate between COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses but Masri said that the tests are specifically for COVID-19."We know that if you are positive for COVID, you will be negative for all the rest of them," he said.Masri said misinformation makes people distrust the health system. "There is consequences and ripple effects that go downstream — in terms of you not trusting the hospital, in terms of you not trusting the physician, in terms of you not taking things seriously — and is just a brutal ripple effect that we obviously are suffering from," he said. "It also makes it sound like it is not a big deal, and that is just another flu or another virus. And it makes you not take things seriously, makes you doubt whether you need to distance or limit your bubble."Patients know it's not a mythBeing in the ICU dealing with very ill patients, Masri said the people he deals with daily aren't in denial about the virus. They know it is real and deadly."I do receive messages from families who left the hospital or families whose loved ones are in the hospital ... who state they feel very lucky that their loved ones have left the hospital and have done well."But he said colleagues have had to deal face-to-face with people who think COVID-19 is a hoax or are anti-maskersMasri said he believes the vast majority of people in the province believe in science, in their officials and in their health care workers.But sometimes a small minority can be a lot louder than the number that it represents. "The problem when it comes to COVID-19 is that without the collective effort, it is really hard to get this under control. And so even though it's a minority, it can be a very damaging one because it does not allow us to have a really good control on the disease."A battle with COVID-19He said the best way to talk with anti-maskers or COVID-19 deniers is through respectful dialogue."I genuinely believe that they are good, decent human beings and that they're my neighbours and my fellow citizens in the city. What I say to them is, first of all, this is not a battle between me and you. This is a battle between COVID-19 and you and I."He said people have to trust the opinion of professionals, whether that is a physician or your mechanic."I think it's really important to establish respect and rapport with those individuals and try to educate them," he said. "I genuinely care about them and their families and their loved ones, and I want them to be just as safe as my own family."Masri said the most unfortunate thing to have happened was having COVID-19 and masks be made into a political issue in the U.S."It doesn't matter if you're NDP or Liberal or Conservative or right or left or moderate, libertarian," Masri said. "COVID-19 does not care about your political affiliation. And genuinely speaking, I don't care about anyone's political affiliation. This is a disease. I treat it like I treat diabetes. We don't treat diabetes differently if you're on the right or on the left. ... If you're Conservative or Liberal or NDP, we treat it the same."Masri said treating patients with COVID-19 is especially tough because they can't have loved ones around them."When people are sick, they really rely on their families and loved ones for support. Prior to COVID, we know that when people get sick and their loved ones come, you see life back in their eyes. You see fight back in their bodies," he said."It's really hard to see someone sick and someone having a hard time breathing or on life support and not being able to have their wife hold their hand, not being able to see their daughter and son and hold their hand, not being able to even offer condolences or break bad news in person seems very cruel to me."Those are moments that make Masri frustrated with anyone who doesn't take the virus seriously."It's because I recognize that you're not taking this seriously puts me in a position where I have to go and talk to this individual in the room who's alone for many, many, many days. And people have to be behind the window seeing their loved one. It is something where we are very much used to and trained to see very difficult things. But this is something I just don't like. It is very frustrating."Difficult for health care workersThe physical and emotional toll is also being felt by all the health professionals."At the end of the day, health care workers are human beings," Masri said. "When we leave the hospital, we have the same worries. We worry about traffic. We worry about our kids."They also feel the need to protect their own families from exposure."I consider myself someone who's high risk because I'm around COVID patients all the time. And so we avoid seeing our friends and families and therefore we lose a lot of our support system."But Masri said they also support each other.For example, he said a nurse posted online that she was available if anybody needed a virtual hug or a good cry."We are a big, giant family, and we rely on each other for a lot of that support."What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Intercom priest: Italian cleric reaching parishoners one visit at a timeView on euronews
A South Korean court on Monday found former president Chun Doo-hwan guilty of defaming a former democracy activist who was involved in protests against his government in the 1980s and handed him an eight-month suspended jail sentence. The trial was held in the southwestern city of Gwangju, where hundreds, possibly thousands, were believed to have been killed when local citizens rose up against Chun's authoritarian government on May 18, 1980 and were crushed by police, paratroopers and tanks. Chun committed the defamation against Catholic priest and activist Cho Chul-hyun, also known as Cho Bi-oh in his 2017 memoirs, when Chun called Cho a "despicable liar" for testifying that government helicopters had fired on civilians, the ruling said.
WASHINGTON — The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say. Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phoney personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes. “We're all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with Homeland Security Investigations. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public." No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir. With vaccines and treatments both, it has warned about the potential for fraud. “The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm,” the agency said in a recent statement. The drug companies are to have safeguards and brand-protection features in place to help avoid fraud, but that may not be available until the second generation of vaccine because everything is operated on such an emergency basis, said Karen Gardner, chief marketing officer at SIPCA North America, a company that works as a bridge between the government, businesses and consumers. She said that makes it more important to educate health care providers on what the real thing looks like. “When you have anything in high demand and limited supply, there is going to be fraud,” she said. Desperation will drive people around normal channels. Meanwhile, investigators are learning about how the vaccine will be packaged and getting the message out to field agents, creating a mass database of information from more than 200 companies, so they can be prepared to spot fakes and crack down on dangerous fraud. They are monitoring tens of thousands of false websites and looking for evidence of fake cures sold online. Earlier this year as cases exploded, hospitals and governments grew short on masks, gloves and other protective gear. Scams grew, too. Tricksters preyed on unwitting citizens to hand over money for goods they'd never receive. Homeland Security Investigations started using its 7,000 agents in tandem with border, FDA and FBI officials to investigate scams, seize phoney products and arrest hundreds of people. The effort is headquartered at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog aimed at enforcement of its international trade laws and combating intellectual property theft. The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected as being involved in some type of COVID-19 fraud. Millions of fake or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antiviral pharmaceuticals were seized. Homeland Security Investigations made more than 1,600 seizures of products worth more than $27 million and made more than 185 arrests. Home test kits, for example, were only recently made available to the public in the past few weeks. But investigators seized tens of thousands of fake kits in the months before. On the dark web, scammers were selling domain names like “coronaprevention.org," attractive to counterfeiters. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 fake websites a day have been removed during the pandemic. A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases have topped 13 million in the U.S. and many cities have started restricting movement again as the country heads into winter. The pandemic has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, more than 266,000 of them in the U.S., according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But Francis and other investigators are worried that desperation will make Americans more susceptible. If the FDA allows emergency use of a vaccine, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Gen. Gus Perna, in charge of the government’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” the government was prepared to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. There’s a stockpile of the prospective vaccine itself plus kits of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs needed to give the dose. The secret stash is watched by armed guards. “We have taken extraordinary precaution in this area,” he said. "It’s such a commodity to us, we’re taking the full steps to make sure that the vaccine’s secure.” Who is first in line has yet to be decided. But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is that enough doses are available by the end of January to vaccinate adults over age 65, who are at the highest risk from the coronavirus, and health care workers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said it may take until spring or summer before anyone who is not high risk and wants a shot can get one. States already are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. First the shots have to arrive where they’re needed, and Pfizer’s must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures — around minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna’s vaccine also starts off frozen, but the company said it can be thawed and kept in a regular refrigerator for 30 days, easing that concern. Governments in other countries and the World Health Organization, which aims to buy doses for poor nations, will have to decide separately if and when vaccines should be rolled out broadly. Meanwhile, Homeland Security investigators and others are trying to send the message now to the public before the vaccines are approved and begin distribution. They say people should only get a vaccine from an approved medical provider. They shouldn't respond to calls seeking personal information. And they shouldn't click on social media posts purporting to sell cures. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is," Francis said. Colleen Long, The Associated Press