A mysterious disease causes sea star limbs to turn to goo in an accelerating problem.
A mysterious disease causes sea star limbs to turn to goo in an accelerating problem.
(Leah Mills/Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit) Donald Trump's actions will take centre stage in a Vancouver courtroom this week as Meng Wanzhou's lawyers try to prove the former U.S. president poisoned extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive. The case should be tossed out because of alleged political interference, Meng's lawyers are expected to argue at the first of three sets of B.C. Supreme Court hearings scheduled to stretch into mid-May. A decision on the extradition request isn't expected until much later this year. The 49-year-old, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arguments related to the former president concern a statement he made to a Reuters reporter in the weeks after Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018. At the time, Trump said he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary to help the U.S. reach a trade deal with China. Charter rights argument could be 'decider' The Crown — which represents the U.S. in the proceeding — contends there's no evidence Trump made good on his words and that any possible influence he could have had on the case ended along with his term in office. University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, an expert on international law, says he doubts the defence team will have much success convincing Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the U.S. Department of Justice has been swayed by political considerations. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the telecommunications giant. She is accused of fraud and conspiracy. But he does think they'll have a better shot in the coming weeks with claims Meng's rights were breached on her arrival when Canada Border Services Agency officers questioned her for three hours before RCMP executed a warrant calling for her "immediate arrest." "That three-hour period could well have constituted a violation of her Section 7 rights to security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "And so if the extradition judge is to rule that Ms. Meng should be set free, my expectation is that it's that particular element of the case that will be the decider." Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, the man who became a billionaire by turning his global communications giant into a flagship business prized by the Chinese state. Meng's legal team includes lawyers from firms across Canada. And her case is being spearheaded by Vancouver's Richard Peck, of Peck and Company. Strategy to have case thrown out Along with arguments about Trump's role, the allegations related to Meng's treatment by the CBSA are part of a multi-pronged defence strategy to have the proceedings stayed. Meng's lawyers also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case and that American prosecutors are reaching far beyond their jurisdiction by trying a Chinese citizen for a conversation that took place in Hong Kong with an executive for an English bank. Meng Wanzhou's lawyers are expected to claim her charter rights were violated during her first few hours in CBSA custody. Holmes will hear submissions about the events surrounding Meng's arrest during the second stretch of hearings, scheduled to begin in mid-March. The defence claims the CBSA conspired with the RCMP and CBSA to have border agents question Meng without a lawyer. They also seized her cellphones and later gave the passcodes to police, in contravention of policy. The defence has accused the RCMP of sending technical information from Meng's electronic devices to the Americans. A senior officer who was in touch with a legal attache for the FBI has refused to testify — and last month, Meng's lawyers announced their intention to try to force the Crown to disclose their communication with him about that decision. 'An irritant' in U.S.-China relationship In court documents filed in advance of this week's hearing, Meng's lawyers cited comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a need to tie a trade deal between the U.S and China to the resolution of Meng's situation and the fate of two Canadians imprisoned in China. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been accused of spying by the Chinese government in what most observers believe is retaliation for Meng's arrest. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for their release. The Crown doesn't make any mention of the so-called "two Michaels" in its submissions, but the defence claims the constellation of factors riding on the case has made it extremely difficult for Meng to defend herself without worrying about the impact on others. U.S. President Joe Biden called on China to release Kovrig and Spavor last week following a bilateral meeting with Trudeau, saying "human beings are not bartering chips." Byers believes Biden may decide to bring an end to efforts to extradite Meng in the coming months as he looks to improve the U.S. relationship with China. "It is in the hands of the Biden administration to end this case. And the Biden administration will be in the process now of resetting the relationship between the United States and China. That is a hugely important relationship, for economic reasons, for security reasons. "Those two superpowers need to get along. They need to get things done. And Ms. Meng's presence in Vancouver is an irritant in that relationship." To that end, reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters last December claimed Meng was in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring an end to the case through a deal that would see her admit to some wrongdoing in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement. In an exclusive interview with CBC's chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any deal would have to be made free of geopolitical considerations. "We follow the law. We follow the facts. "And one of the things that we don't do is have politics or foreign policy interfere in the workings of the Justice Department."
The U.S. Senate will start debating President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday after Democrats backed down from an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 as part of it. The backpedaling did not end hopes of addressing the minimum wage issue in Congress. Democrats and some Republicans have voiced support for the idea of raising the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25 an hour, for the first time since 2009, although they disagree on how much.
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) THE LATEST: Every eligible adult in B.C. should receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July, the province said. B.C. has extended the acceptable time between the first and second dose of a vaccine to four months. B.C. recorded 589 new cases and seven more deaths on Friday. A total of 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths were announced on Monday. There were 42 new variants of concern identified in B.C. over the weekend. There are now 236 people in hospital due to COVID-19 with 65 in intensive care. A total of 1,363 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,464 active cases of coronavirus in the province, Public health is monitoring 8,210 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. So far, 275,681 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. — around four per cent of the population — with 83,777 of those being second doses. Every eligible adult in British Columbia should be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July after the approval of a new vaccine and a decision to delay second doses. Health officials announced the accelerated timeline Monday as the province moved into the second, seniors-focused phase. Seniors 80 and older, Indigenous seniors 65 and older, hospital staff and medical specialists, vulnerable populations living and working in congregated settings, and staff providing in-home support to seniors will begin getting their shots this month. The province's vaccination plan is focused on inoculating high-risk and most elderly populations by April, followed by younger age groups in the spring and summer. Also on Monday, the province announced it is immediately extending the time between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to four months. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control — and countries around the world such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand — shows "miraculous" protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Variants in schools Fraser Health said on Sunday that additional testing is underway at two Surrey schools after one person at École Woodward Hill Elementary and two at Surrey Traditional Elementary tested positive for a variant of concern. One class at Woodward Hill is already isolating and will remain in isolation until March 4. Two classes at Surrey Traditional will self-isolate until March 4. Both schools remain open. Mass testing of classrooms at two other Surrey schools affected by a variant case, James Ardiel Elementary and Tamanawis Secondary, identified no new cases. On Friday, Fraser Health announced that positive variant cases have been confirmed at an additional three schools: Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Frank Hurt Secondary School and M.B. Sanford Elementary School. Police say they fined the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, B.C., for not following provincial health orders. Churches in court Three Fraser Valley churches were in court Monday seeking to overturn provincial health orders barring in-person religious gatherings. The orders were put in place by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry last year as a way to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and were last extended on Feb. 10. In January, pastors with Langley's Riverside Calvary Chapel, Abbotsford's Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack filed a petition claiming Henry had violated their guaranteed constitutional right to expression and religious worship by shutting down all in-person religious gatherings and worship services while allowing restaurants and businesses to remain open. Wastewater tool Metro Vancouver on Monday launched an online tool allowing residents to track the viral load of COVID-19 that researchers have found in untreated water at the region's wastewater treatment plants. The region said the data is meant to help health authorities better understand how present the virus might be in a given area and to evaluate the effectiveness of public health restrictions. Residents can click on a specific wastewater treatment plant on a map to see a snapshot of the COVID-19 virus trend for that area. Case breakdown Cases of COVID-19 variants continue to increase in B.C. with 42 more identified over the weekend for a total now of 158. A total of 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths were announced on Monday. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 236 people, 65 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,363 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,464 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 8,210 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 74,776 people who tested positive have recovered. So far, 275,681 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. — around four per cent of the population — with 83,777 of those being second doses. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 4 p.m. PT Sunday, Canada had reported 866,503 cases of COVID-19, with 30,731 cases considered active. A total of 21,994 people have died. 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 at least two metres away from people outside your bubble. 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.
For much of last year, the coronavirus crept, undetected, across eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Buyers in the United States and Canada are paying $30 to $50 for each cartridge, according to laboratory sources in North America and a regional Canadian policy document.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) The Northwest Territories needs to do more to ensure its elderly population is vaccinated for diseases like influenza, pneumonia and shingles, according to a new report by a national seniors advocacy group. In the first study of its kind, CanAge looked at the vaccination rates for the elderly in every territory and province and judged them against the federal government's recommendations. "The results were pretty horrible," said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge. The report, Adult Vaccination in Canada: Cross-country report card 2021, shows the N.W.T. got the best grade of the three territories and beat out a number of provinces as well. "But having said that, the grade is still very low," said Tamblyn Watts. The N.W.T. got a D overall, which is slightly higher than the national average of D-. The report says provinces and territories were judged based on which vaccines were funded, the availability and accessibility of vaccines, and on efforts to educate older people about regional immunization programs. "The Northwest Territories got a C+ in funding, a C in awareness, but an F in access, so you can get things funded, but you may not actually get them into your arm," said Tamblyn Watts. Report's recommendations What would help, she added, would be if the N.W.T. allowed pharmacies to administer the different vaccines, which it doesn't right now. "There's really no good reason for it," she said. Tamblyn Watts said it would also help if the territory made the adult vaccination schedule public. She said just like for children, there is a vaccination schedule for adults that shows which vaccines seniors need to be taking and when they're going to take them. "So that's just an easy fix that they could fix right away," she said. She added that the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in the territory, including in the remote communities, can be copied to deliver influenza, pneumonia and shingles vaccines by having a team go to a community, set up and then do a mass vaccination. "We know that with COVID-19, people are really interested in vaccinations. So this is an opportunity to fix the system once and not have the system broken even after we do the COVID-19 vaccination system," she said. Territory pushes back In an email to CBC, N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said her department was provided the report on Feb. 22 but was never asked to provide any information for the report or verify its findings. "We are currently reviewing the findings and will formally respond in partnership with the other territories. Our initial observation notes a number of inaccuracies, incomplete information, broken links in their reference section, and questions regarding their methodologies and conclusions," she wrote. N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said her department's initial observations about the report are that it has a number of inaccuracies and incomplete information. She also questioned the report's methodologies and conclusions. She said the recommendation about having pharmacists administer vaccines doesn't take into account regulations that don't permit it to happen. "There is misleading information about specific vaccinations formulations which doesn't take into account the role of the CPHO [chief public health officer] and the population health approach," she added. Green said the timing of the report's release raises questions as all provinces and territories are focusing their efforts on their COVID-19 vaccination rollouts. She said the N.W.T. made "good progress" in immunizing residents who are 60 and over against COVID-19, and added the territory has strong partnerships with seniors organizations "and a range of programs and services to support seniors to access the care and supports they need."
(Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit) Windsor police say officers made an arrest Friday in the killing of a 55-year-old man. Police said a 33-year-old Windsor man was arrested without incident at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday in the area of Erie Street West and Ouellette Avenue. He has been charged with first-degree murder and possession of fentanyl, police said in a news release on Saturday. The investigation into the death of Lamont Rhue, 55, is ongoing and police are seeking tips from the public. He was found dead in a home in the area of Louis Avenue and Cataraqui Street on Tuesday afternoon. Officers are looking to speak with anyone who had contact with the victim on or before Tuesday, Feb. 23. Those in the area who have surveillance cameras are being asked to check their footage from 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, to 2 p.m. the following day. More from CBC Windsor
ZAGREB, Croatia — Zlatko Kranjcar, a former Croatia national team coach who led his team to the 2006 World Cup and also played internationally for Yugoslavia before the country's breakup, has died. He was 64. The Croatian soccer association said Monday that Kranjcar died in a Zagreb hospital after a short and serious illness. Croatian media reported that Kranjcar died early Monday after he was hospitalized last month. Kranjcar launched his career at Dinamo Zagreb in the 1970s, playing as a centre forward. He later moved to Austrian club Rapid Vienna, where his career peaked. Kranjcar also played for the Yugoslav national team and later served as the first captain for an unofficial Croatian national team in 1990. Croatia became independent in 1991 and played its first official match since the breakup in 1992. Kranjcar coached the Croatian team from 2004-06, leading his country to the World Cup in Germany. Croatia finished third in its group behind Brazil and Australia and was eliminated. Croatia's state HRT television described Kranjcar as “one of the best players in the history of Dinamo.” “Thank you for everything, for the memories, trophies, for creating Dinamo's great history, for soccer romance and most of all friendship and good spirit and warmth that you spread among all of us," Dinamo Zagreb wrote on its website. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in a message of condolences to the family that Kranjcar was “one of true greats of the Croatian soccer.” “The Croatian sports family has lost a true soccer icon,” Plenkovic said. Kranjcar has also coached a number of international clubs and foreign national teams. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Britain's Prince Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth, was transferred to a different hospital in central London on Monday to have tests for a pre-existing heart condition and receive treatment for an infection. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was admitted to London's private King Edward VII hospital two weeks ago for treatment for an unspecified infection that is not related to COVID-19. On Monday, Buckingham Palace said he had been moved to St Bartholomew's Hospital, which is a centre of excellence for cardiac care, for further treatment and observation.
YANGON, Myanmar — Police in Myanmar’s biggest city fired tear gas Monday at defiant crowds who returned to the streets to protest last month's coup, despite reports that security forces had killed at least 18 people a day earlier. The protesters in Yangon were chased as they tried to gather at their usual meeting spot at the Hledan Center intersection. Demonstrators scattered and sought in vain to rinse the irritating gas from their eyes, but later regrouped. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar after five decades of military rule. It came Feb. 1, the same day a newly elected Parliament was supposed to take office. Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party would have led that government, but instead she was detained along with President Win Myint and other senior officials. The army has levelled several charges against Suu Kyi — an apparent effort by the military to provide a legal veneer for her detention and potentially to bar her from running in the election the junta has promised to hold in one year. On Monday, Suu Kyi made a court appearance via videoconference and was charged with two more offences, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters. Accused of inciting unrest, she was charged under a law that dates from British colonial days and has long been criticized as a vaguely defined catch-all law that inhibits freedom of expression. That charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. The other charge from Monday carries a one-year sentence. Following her detention on the day of the coup, the 75-year-old Suu Kyi was initially held at her residence in the capital of Naypyitaw, but members of her National League for Democracy party now say they don't know where she is. Since the takeover, a movement of protests in cities across the country has been growing — and the junta's response has become increasingly violent. The U.N. said it had “credible information” that at least 18 people were killed and 30 were wounded across Myanmar on Sunday. Counts from other sources, such the Democratic Voice of Burma, an independent television and online news outlet, put the death toll in the 20s. Any of the reports would make it the highest single-day death toll since the military takeover. The junta has also made mass arrests, and the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that as many as 1,000 people were detained Sunday, though it has only confirmed 270 of those. Several journalists have been among those detained, including one for The Associated Press. At least five people are believed to have been killed Sunday in Yangon when police shot at protesters, who have remained non-violent despite provocation from the security forces and pro-military counter-demonstrators. People erected makeshift sidewalk shrines Monday at the spots where several of the victims were shot and also paid their respects by standing outside the hospitals where the bodies were being released to families. In Dawei, a small city in southeastern Myanmar where an estimated five people were killed Sunday, the number of protesters on the streets Monday was lower than usual. Marchers there split into smaller groups, parading through the city to the applause of bystanders who also made the three-finger salutes adopted by the resistance movement to show their support. Confirming the deaths of protesters has been difficult amid the chaos and general lack of news from official sources, especially in areas outside Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw. But in many cases, there was evidence posted online such as videos of shootings, photos of bullet casings collected afterwards and gruesome pictures of bodies. In a statement published Monday in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry declared that the junta “is exercising utmost restraint to avoid the use of force in managing the violent protests systematically, in accordance with domestic and international laws in order to keep minimum casualties.” But U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the crackdown, calling the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrests “unacceptable,” and expressed serious concern at the increase in deaths and serious injuries, said U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. “What the world is watching in Myanmar is outrageous and unacceptable,” the U.N.’s independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said in a separate statement. “Words of condemnation are necessary and welcome but insufficient. The world must act. We must all act.” He proposed that countries could institute a global embargo on the sale of arms to Myanmar, “tough targeted and co-ordinated sanctions” against those responsible for the coup, the crackdown and other rights abuses, and sanctions against the business interests of the military. Social media posts from Myanmar have increasingly urged the international community to invoke the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect” to intervene directly to restrain the junta. Any kind of co-ordinated measures, however, would be difficult to implement as two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia, would almost certainly veto them on the basis of being opposed to interference in the internal affairs of other countries. In Washington, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan issued a statement saying the U.S. is “alarmed” by the violence and stands in solidarity with Myanmar's people, “who continue to bravely voice their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.” Washington has imposed sanctions on Myanmar because of the coup, and Sullivan said it would “impose further costs on those responsible,” promising details “in the coming days.” Security forces began employing rougher tactics on Saturday, taking preemptive action to break up protests and make mass arrests. Many of those detained were taken to Insein Prison in Yangon’s northern outskirts, historically notorious for holding political prisoners. Among the arrests made Sunday, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners was able to identify about 270 people, bringing to 1,132 the total number of people the group has confirmed being arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup. An AP journalist was taken into police custody on Saturday morning while providing news coverage of the protests. The journalist, Thein Zaw, remains in police custody. The AP called for his immediate release. “Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution. AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw,” said Ian Phillips, the AP's vice-president for international news. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Myanmar also condemned the arrest. The Associated Press
"These attacks were purposefully designed to manipulate the price of the company's shares, with the aim of causing a stock price decline in order to economically benefit the short sellers," SOS said in a statement. Shares of the company, which fell 23% on Friday after the reports, were up about 22% in premarket trading.
The European Commission will propose this month an EU-wide digital certificate providing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination that could allow Europeans to travel more freely over the summer. The EU executive aims to present its plans for a "digital green pass" on March 17 and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union. "The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism," Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government launched a vaccination campaign on Monday to contain one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials. Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated at six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila, after the arrival Sunday of 600,000 doses of vaccine donated by China. At the state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila, hospital director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi was inoculated first in a televised event and was followed by Cabinet and Department of Health officials. “Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move on,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a speech at the hospital, adding he would get vaccinated in about a week after the health workers. The Philippines was among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive vaccines due to delivery delays, although it has reported more than 578,300 infections, including 12,322 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back the country's economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger. “Our economy is really down, so the earlier these vaccinations gain speed, the better,” President Rodrigo Duterte told a televised news conference late Sunday after witnessing the delivery of the vaccines at an air base in the capital. Duterte said he was considering a further easing of quarantine restrictions in the capital and elsewhere once the vaccination campaign gains momentum. With just 600,000 doses available, Monday’s immunizations were billed as symbolic. Aside from the donated vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has ordered 25 million more doses from the company but no date has been set for the deliveries. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the arrival of an initial 525,600 doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems. China’s donation is a tiny fraction of at least 148 million doses the government has been negotiating to secure from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign funded by foreign and domestic loans. Most of the shipments are expected to arrive later this year amid a global scramble for COVID-19 vaccines. Duterte’s administration has come under criticism for lagging behind most other Southeast Asian countries in securing the vaccines, but the president has said wealthy Western countries have cornered massive doses for their citizens, leaving poorer nations scrambling for the rest. Aside from supply problems, there have been concerns over the vaccine’s safety, largely due to a dengue vaccine scare that prompted the Duterte administration to stop a massive immunization drive in 2017. There have also been concerns even among health workers over the Sinovac vaccine because of its lower efficacy rate compared to others developed in the West and Russia. Carlito Galvez Jr, who leads government efforts to secure the vaccines, said Duterte saw some surveys showing low public confidence in the Sinovac vaccine and ordered him and other top officials to be inoculated with it. At the Philippine General Hospital, where he was inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, Galvez said Filipinos could not return to their normal lives and the economy would not recover if people refuse to get immunized and prefer Western vaccines, which would come later in the year. “We should not wait for the so-called best vaccine. There is no best vaccine because the best vaccines are those which are effective and efficient and come early,” Galvez said at the hospital. ___ Associated Press journalists Aaron Favila and Joeal Calupitan contributed to this report. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Just like in her career, Jane Fonda used the Golden Globes’ platform to speak on deeper issues calling for greater diversity in Hollywood while praising the “community of storytellers” as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award. While wearing an all-white suit, Fonda raised the Globes’ highest honour above her head Sunday before commending storytellers for their vital role in troubled times. She said stories let us “have empathy, to recognize that for all our diversity, we are all humans.” “We are a community of storytellers, aren’t we, and in turbulent, crisis-torn times like these, story-telling has always been essential,” Fonda said. The actor and social activist went on to call for Hollywood’s leaders to try to “expand that tent” for more diverse voices. Fonda, 83, said there’s another “story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry, about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, who is offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” Her acceptance speech earned applause from Viola Davis, Glenn Close and Andra Day, who won best actress for her role in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday." Fonda was one of the few honorees to accept an award in person at the ceremony in Beverly Hills, California. In a video package, Ted Danson called Fonda “confident and independent” while “Captain Marvel” actor Brie Larson referred to her as a “real life superhero.” Kerry Washington and Laverne Cox also paid homage in the video that offered several clips of Fonda's activism and critically-acclaimed film roles such as “Klute,” “Coming Home” and “The Electric Horseman.” Tina Fey and Amy Poehler presented Fonda the Globes’ version of a lifetime achievement award. Fey — who starred alongside Fonda in the 2014 film “This is Where I Leave You” — called her a movie star who is “open, generous and a hardworking actor.” The DeMille award is given annually to an “individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.” Past recipients include Tom Hanks, Jeff Bridges, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier and Lucille Ball. Fonda is a member of one of America’s most distinguished acting families. She is the daughter of Oscar winner Henry Fonda, who died in 1982, and sister of Peter Fonda, who died in 2019. “He would be very proud of me,” she said backstage about her father. “I feel that he is here. I feel his spirit.” Fonda made an impact off-screen by creating organizations to support women’s equality and prevent teen pregnancy and improve adolescent health. She released a workout video in 1982 and was active on behalf of liberal political causes. For her on-screen efforts, Fonda has been nominated for five Academy Awards and won for the thriller “Klute” and the compassionate anti-war drama “Coming Home.” Her other prominent films include “The China Syndrome,” “The Electric Horseman” with Robert Redford, and “9 to 5” with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. She stars in the Netflix television series “Grace & Frankie.” Fonda gained notoriety in the 1970s when she travelled to North Vietnam during the height of the anti-Vietnam War protests and posed for photos next to an anti-aircraft gun. She fell under hefty criticism for her decision — one she repeatedly apologized for — to pose in the photo that gave her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.” In 2014, Fonda was given a lifetime achievement award by the American Film Institute. She launched IndieCollect’s Jane Fonda Fund for Women Directors, an organization aimed to support the restoration of films helmed by women from around the world. Fonda was arrested at the U.S. Capito l while peacefully protesting climate change in 2019, an action dubbed Fire Drill Fridays. For her 80th birthday, Fonda raised $1 million for each of her nonprofits, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and the Women’s Media Center. She also serves on the board of directors and made a $1 million donation to Donor Direct Action, an organization that supports front-line women’s organizations to promote women’s equality. Fonda’s book, “What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action,” released last year, details her personal journey with Fire Drill Fridays. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday stood by an unidentified Cabinet minister against calls for him to step down over an allegation he raped a 16-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. The accusation has created a cloud over the 16 men in Morrison’s 22-minister Cabinet and is feeding complaints of a culture within Parliament that is toxic for women. The allegation was contained in an anonymous letter sent to the prime minister’s office and to three female lawmakers last week. The letter contained a statement from a complainant that detailed her allegation of a rape she said occurred in New South Wales state in 1988. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, reported the allegation to police before taking her own life in June at age 49. Morrison said the Cabinet minister “vigorously and completely denied the allegations.” Morrison said he forwarded the letter to police and discussed the allegation with the federal police commissioner. Morrison said he did not intend to take any further action. “We can’t have a situation where the mere making of an allegation and that being publicized through the media is grounds for ... governments to stand people down simply on the basis of that,” Morrison said. The Ministerial Code of Conduct states a “minister should stand aside if that minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal or improper conduct.” Some within the government argue that because the complainant is dead, her allegation is no longer under official police investigation because a conviction is unlikely. Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, a minor Greens party lawmaker who received the anonymous letter, said the minister must step down pending an independent investigation by a former judge. “It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire Cabinet,” Hanson-Young said. She said the accusation erodes the belief that the government takes sexual assault seriously. Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley, who represented the complainant when she took her accusation to police, said the allegation cannot be resolved through the criminal justice system because she has died. The minister should step down while some independent inquiry investigates the evidence, Bradley said. “His position is pretty clearly untenable and he should step aside or be stood aside until this matter can be addressed and resolved,” Bradley said. The disclosure comes two weeks after Morrison apologized in Parliament to a former government staffer who alleged she was raped by a more senior colleague in a minister’s office two years ago. Brittany Higgins quit her job in January and reactivated her complaint to police after initially not pursuing the case because she felt it would have affected her employment. The colleague, who has not been named publicly, was fired for breaching security by taking Higgins into a minister’s office following a night of heavy drinking. Three other women have made sexual misconduct allegations against the same man since Higgins went public with her complaint. A government staffer who alleged she was raped by the man last year told The Weekend Australian newspaper the attack wouldn’t have happened if the government had supported Higgins’ initial complaint. Morrison responded to Higgins’ public complaints by appointing government lawmaker Celia Hammond to work with political parties to investigate Parliament House culture, improve workplace standards and protect staff. Hammond and opposition Labor Party Sen. Penny Wong also received anonymous letters about the 1988 rape allegation. Wong said she met the complainant in 2019 and the complainant detailed her allegation against the man, who was not in Parliament in 1988. “I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police,” Wong said. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whom Morrison replaced in a power struggle within the ruling conservative Liberal Party in 2018, said the complainant wrote to him in 2019 seeking advice on what she should do with her allegations. Turnbull described her allegations as “pretty harrowing” and said Morrison should remove the minister. Turnbull said he had sent the woman's email and his reply to police in the woman's home state of South Australia in expectation that they would be used as evidence in a coroner's investigation into her death. An investigation has not yet been announced. Morrison said that before he was told of the rape allegation last week, he had heard “rumours” that an Australian Broadcasting Corp. investigative reporter was “making some inquiries” about a rape around November last year when the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast its “Inside the Canberra Bubble” investigation. The program accused the Liberal Party of tolerating and condoning inappropriate sexual behaviour. The program exposed an extramarital affair between Population Minister Alan Tudge and a female adviser in 2017. It also alleged Attorney General Christian Porter had been seen “cuddling and kissing” a female staffer in a Canberra bar, which he denies. The government has condemned the program. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has asked the ABC board to explain how the program was in the public interest and complied with the state-owned broadcaster’s obligation to produce accurate and impartial journalism. Minister for Women Marise Payne on Monday described the recent allegations of sexual misbehaviour as a low point of her 24 years in Parliament. “This is most definitely the most difficult, most confronting and most distressing period of my work life in this environment,” Payne told Sky News. “But distressing for me is meaningless in comparison to those people who have had to endure issues around sexual assault, the experience of sexual assault or harassment in its many forms, and we want to make sure that that stops now,” she added. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Swedish payments firm Klarna has nearly tripled its valuation to $31 billion in less than six months with a new $1 billion private fundraising round, the company said on Monday. The new round, which was oversubscribed four times and will make the "buy now pay later" firm the most valuable European startup, confirms a Reuters story last week that it was finalising another private funding round.. It also puts the Swedish fintech on a par with many of Europe's biggest listed financial houses.
Death and taxes may be the only certainties in life, but death taxes are only a remote possibility for most people. The vast majority of Americans won’t ever have or give away enough to owe estate or gift taxes. Far more people could be affected if a tax break that benefits heirs is eliminated. While campaigning for president, Joe Biden proposed doing away with something called the “step-up in basis” that allows people to minimize or avoid capital gains taxes on inherited assets. But no legislation has been proposed yet, and such a change could have a tough time getting approved by a divided Congress. “Right now, we’re telling folks to start thinking about this stuff, but we’re not rushing out to take action,” says certified financial planner Colleen Carcone, a director of wealth planning strategies at TIAA. HOW STEP-UP IN BASIS LOWERS TAXES Although most estates don’t owe estate taxes, anyone who’s inherited a house, stock or other property has likely benefited from the step-up tax break that gives such assets a new value at the owner’s death. Say your savvy aunt paid $7,000 for a single share of Berkshire Hathaway stock in 1990. That’s her tax basis. If she sold the stock for its closing price of $362,000 on Feb. 10, she would owe tax on the $355,000 gain. If she generously gave you the stock and you sold it on Feb. 10, you’d owe the same amount of tax because you’d also get her tax basis. Now, let’s say that instead of giving you the stock, she left it to you in her will and she died Feb. 10. The stock would get a new basis for tax purposes of $362,000. All the gain that occured during her lifetime would never be taxed. If you sold the stock later, you would owe tax only on the gain since her death. Some kinds of inheritances, such as annuities or retirement accounts, don’t get the step-up. But it’s no exaggeration to say that far more people benefit from our estate tax system — by inheriting homes and other assets with a stepped-up tax basis — than have to pay any estate taxes. WHO PAYS GIFT AND ESTATE TAXES NOW This year, an estate has to be worth more than $11.7 million to trigger federal estate taxes. Less than 0.1 per cent of the people who died in the U.S. last year were expected to leave estates large enough to owe any tax, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. People who have to pay gift taxes are pretty rare as well. There’s an annual exclusion, or an amount you can give away to as many people as you want each year without having to file a gift tax return. The exclusion limit is $15,000 for 2021 — you can give up to $15,000 each to an unlimited number of people without having to report the gifts. Even if you do have to file a gift tax return, you wouldn’t actually owe gift taxes until the amount you gave away in your lifetime — over and above the annual exclusion amounts — totalled more than $11.7 million. These historically high limits are scheduled to end in 2025, which means in 2026 the estate and gift tax exemption limits would revert to $5 million per person, adjusted for inflation. Biden wants the exemption to drop to $3.5 million per person. People in some states already face lower limits. The 12 states that impose their own estate taxes — Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — and the District of Columbia have lower exemption limits than the feds. Massachusetts and Oregon have the lowest exemption amounts, $1 million. Six states — Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — also levy taxes on people inheriting. Different tax rates and exemption limits apply, depending on the relationship between the inheritor and the person who died. Immediate family members usually pay the least, if anything, while distant relations and nonrelatives pay more. WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW: KEEP GOOD RECORDS The idea of eliminating the step-up in basis has been proposed in the past, but it faced headwinds in part because the practice benefits a wide range of voters. Since there’s no concrete proposal to change the step-up, there’s not much people can do to prepare for change other than what they should be doing anyway, which is keeping careful records. That means “tracking the basis” of what they paid for any assets as part of routine estate planning. If you buy shares of a stock in a taxable account, for example, hang onto records showing those purchases. The cost of any improvements you make to a home or other real estate also can increase its tax basis and potentially reduce taxes later. “The one thing that we do think folks should start doing today is really starting to think about the record-keeping,” Carcone says. _________________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Estate Planning https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-estate-planning Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
(Anna Desmarais/CBC North - image credit) One Fort Liard, N.W.T., resident is asking the territory to control the area's bison population before someone gets hurt, after hearing about a deadly encounter with the animal last year in Yukon. Bison were introduced to Fort Liard in 1980, as part of the territory's strategy to revive the endangered species. Resident John Gonet said the animals have been running wild in the hamlet ever since, taking over public spaces like the schoolyard or the airport landing strip. "They shouldn't be in the community," Gonet told CBC. "A buffalo is a wild animal." Gonet said residents of the hamlet have asked the territory and their MLAs to intervene for decades, but very little has been done to mitigate the problem. Now, after reading about a deadly encounter with bison last year in Yukon, he said it's finally time for the government to step in — before someone gets hurt. "That's probably what it will take, for someone to get hurt or killed," Gonet said. "It's very, very frustrating — so I hope they do something about it." Bison considered 'threatened' species in N.W.T. The bison issue has changed some aspects of Gonet and his family's home life. Gonet used to build a snow slide for his five-year-old grandson every winter, but stopped doing so when he realized herds of buffalo crossed through his backyard. "[My grandson] is too scared to come out here, when there's 2,500 pound animals [nearby]," Gonet said. Bison walking down the street opposite Gonet's home in Fort Liard, N.W.T. Gonet said people are constantly watching to make sure bison are not crossing through their yards before going outside, because it would be difficult to fend off the animal. Since 2016, wood bison have been listed as "threatened" on the territory's list of species at risk, and under federal bodies including the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and the Canadian Species at Risk Act. One of the risks to wood bison, according to the N.W.T.'s website, is conflicts between humans and bison due to a "lack of public acceptance in some areas." No threat to community, N.W.T. says Julien Sabourin, a renewable resource officer with the territory's Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), said bison in the Liard Valley often wander into Fort Liard because they see it as a sanctuary from their predators, like wolves. Sabourin says they don't pose any threat to the community. "People in Fort Liard, they're pretty good at respecting the bison," he said. "Usually bison are afraid of people as well." Fort Liard has a local ENR officer, who chases out bison after getting complaints from people in town. Sabourin said it depends how often the officer responds to these calls, but it can happen "weekly". Last year, the department teamed up with local hunters who have the appropriate tags to harvest bison closer to the hamlet's limits. What that does, Saboruin continued, is it lets bison know that the hamlet is less of a safe haven for them, driving them further away. Sabourin said the hunt was successful, and there could be plans to do another one in the future. A 2019 management strategy created by the territory to manage the Nahanni herd also suggests the creation of a "diversion habitat" to drive bison out of the hamlet. Sabourin said this project is being looked into, but there is no timeline yet for when it will be put in place. Meanwhile, the department's biologists are just finishing a survey recording the size of the Nahanni herd. Once the department has a population estimate, Sabourin continued, they might consider giving more tags to hunters as a means to regulate the population.
This kitty is captivated by the newborn chicks in the box. So sweet and gentle!
LOS ANGELES — Chloé Zhao became the second woman to win best director at the Golden Globes and the first female winner of Asian descent on a night in which her film “Nomadland” was crowned the top drama film. Zhao, who was among three women nominated in the directing category, was honoured for her work on “Nomadland,” about people who take to the road and move from place to place seeking work for usually low wages. It stars two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand and includes nonprofessional actors. “I especially want to thank the nomads who shared their stories with us,” Zhao said, accepting the directing honour virtually on Sunday night. She singled out real-life nomad Bob Wells, who appears in the movie, for help with her remarks. “This is what he said about compassion,” Zhao said. “Compassion is the breakdown of all the barriers between us. A heart to heart pounding. Your pain is my pain. It’s mingled and shared between us.” The 38-year-old director who lives in Los Angeles is a leading Oscar contender for “Nomadland,” which is in select theatres and streaming on Hulu. “Now this is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories because it gives us a chance to laugh and cry together and it gives us a chance to learn from each other and to have more compassion for each other,” Zhao said in her acceptance remarks. “So thank you everyone who made it possible to do what I love.” She joins Barbra Streisand, who won in 1984 for “Yentl,” as the only women to win directing honours at the Globes. Until this year, just five women had been nominated in the category. “Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming. You feel like, it’s about time,” Zhao said in virtual backstage comments. “I’m sure there’s many others before me that deserve the same recognition. If this means more people like me get to live their dreams and do what I do, I’m happy.” Regina King ("One Night in Miami...") and Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman") were the other female director nominees. Zhao also was nominated for best motion picture screenplay and lost to Aaron Sorkin. McDormand received a nod for actress in a motion picture drama, but lost. Born in China, Zhao made her feature directing debut in 2015 with “Songs My Brother Taught Me.” She broke out in 2017 with “The Rider.” Next up for her is the big-budget Marvel film “Eternals,” set for release this fall. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
ISLAMABAD — The United States wasted billions of dollars in war-torn Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles that were either abandoned or destroyed, according to a report released Monday by a U.S. government watchdog. The agency said it reviewed $7.8 billion spent since 2008 on buildings and vehicles. Only $343.2 million worth of buildings and vehicles “were maintained in good condition,” said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, which oversees American taxpayer money spent on the protracted conflict. The report said that just $1.2 billion of the $7.8 billion went to pay for buildings and vehicles that were used as intended. “The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects," John F. Sopko, the special inspector general, said in his report. The U.S. public is weary of the nearly 20-year-old war and President Joe Biden is reviewing a peace deal his predecessor, Donald Trump, signed with the Taliban a year ago. He must decide whether to withdraw all troops by May 1, as promised in the deal, or stay and possibly prolong the war. Officials say no decision has been made but on Monday, Washington's peace envoy and the American who brokered the U.S.-Taliban deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, was back in the Afghan capital for a tour of the region. Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government have been holding on-again-off-again talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar but a deal that could bring peace to Afghanistan after 40 years of relentless war seems far off. After Kabul, Khalilzad will travel to Qatar's capital of Doha and neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, to push anew for progress in the Doha talks and a cease-fire to end the relentless violence. Analyst Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal said the findings by SIGAR are not surprising. The reasons for the financial losses include Taliban attacks, corruption and “throwing money at the problem without considering the implications,” he said. “It is one thing to build a clinic and school, it is another to operate, maintain, and in many cases defend this infrastructure from Taliban attacks,” said Roggio. "Additionally, the West has wildly underestimated the impact of Afghan corruption and in many cases incompetence. It was always a recipe for failure.” U.S. agencies responsible for construction didn't even ask the Afghans if they wanted or needed the buildings they ordered built, or if they had the technical ability to keep them running, Sopko said in his report. The waste occurred in violation of “multiple laws stating that U.S. agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively,” he said. Torek Farhadi, a former adviser to the Afghan government, said a "donor-knows-best” mentality often prevailed and it routinely meant little to no consultation with the Afghan government on projects. He said a lack of co-ordination among the many international donors aided the wastefulness. For example, he said schools were on occasion built alongside other newly constructed schools financed by other donors. The construction went ahead because once the decision was made — contract awarded and money allocated — the school was built regardless of the need, said Farhadi. The injection of billions of dollars, largely unmonitored, fueled runaway corruption among both Afghans and international contractors. But experts say that despite the waste, the need for assistance is real, given the Afghan governments heavy dependence on international money. The worsening security situation in Afghanistan also greatly impeded the monitoring of projects, with shoddy construction going undetected, said Farhadi, the former Afghan government adviser. “Consult with the locals about their needs and sustainability of the project once the project is complete,” he urged U.S. funding agencies looking to future projects. “Supervise, supervise, supervise project progress and implementation and audit every single layer of expenditure.” Going forward, Roggio said smaller, more manageable projects should be the order of the day. To build big unmanageable projects that Afghanistan has neither the capacity nor technical expertise for after 40 years of relentless war “feeds into the Taliban narrative that the government is corrupt, incompetent, and incapable of providing for the Afghan people,” he said. Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press