#China; #UnprovenCovid19VaccineShots; #NondisclosureAgreement; #WHO
China, Sep 27 (Canadian-Media): Thousands of high-risk Chinese population including staff of state-owned companies, government officials, vaccine company staff, and teachers are being injected on an emergency basis with unproven Covid-19 vaccine shots, still under trail, and are also made to sign a “nondisclosure agreement”, implying they can’t talk about it to the news media, media reports said.
Image credit: Pixaby
While questions were being raised by the global health experts if their consent had been taken into consideration before taking this action, China said that their experimental coronavirus vaccine programme, which started in July was supported by World Health Organization (WHO).
Zheng Zhongwei, a Chinese National Health Commission official had told Reuters that China had informed WHO in June, Hindustan Times News reports said.
Use of medical products can be approved by countries within their own jurisdiction in the current emergency situation, said WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, but only as a “temporary solution,”Hindustan Times News reports said.
With currently 11 vaccines in clinical trials and four in Phrase 3 trials, two of the later being developed by state-backed China National Biotec Group and one by Sinovac Biotech.
Another experimental vaccine was developed by CanSino Biologics, which was approved to be used in the Chinese military in June.
After freeing Canadian girl, American calls on world to repatriate stranded children in Syrian camps
#Canada; #ChildrenStrandedInSyria; #US; #RaptriateChildren; #MoreEfforts
New York/Canadian-Media: The former U.S. diplomat, Peter Galbraith who freed a 4-year-old Canadian girl from a detention camp in Syria last week is making a call on Canada and other countries to repatriate all of the children still stranded there.
Stranded children in Syria. Image credit: Pinterest
Galbraith said the children are and not responsible for what their parents did, or their ties to ISIS and are completely innocent.
According to Human Rights Watch, at least 23 Canadian children, most of them under the age of six, still remain in Syria's detention camps and added many are living in al-Roj and al-Hol, where hundreds of adults and children have died from the fighting in the region, or from a lack of medical care or unsanitary conditions.
"All governments should make an effort to try to get their children back," said Galbraith.
Canada has lagged behind in its efforts to repatriate stranded children in Syria.
Former federal lawyer Leah West, now a university lecturer on national security law and counter-terrorism, said during her visit to the camps in northeastern Syria in 2019, a riot erupted in which a woman was killed and seven others were shot. Just moments before the violence, West said, she was standing surrounded by a group of very young children.
"Canada is really an outlier here," said West. "Most countries in the world who've had citizens travel abroad have to some extent repatriated either children or large numbers of adults. The Canadian government is now losing control over this situation."
Whereas Leah said she expected to see those detained in the camps to smuggle themselves out with increased efforts, and fears Canadians associated with ISIS could be left at large.
#U.S.; #U.K.; #jointMeeting; #ClimateChange
New York/Canadian-Media: A joined meeting was held today between Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, and Alok Sharma, President-Designate of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, U.S. Dept. of State said.
Climate change. Image credit: Unsplash
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma released the following statement following their meeting.
"We resolved today to work closely together to reduce our own emissions and to rally all countries, and most especially the world’s major economies, to strengthen climate ambition. President Biden’s upcoming Leaders Summit on Climate and the G7 leaders meeting to be hosted by the UK are both critical opportunities to build momentum on the way to COP26 in Glasgow.
Our countries are fully committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. We urge all countries to take the steps needed to keep a 1.5 degree C temperature limit within reach, including through ambitious nationally determined contributions and long-term strategies to cut emissions and reach net zero.
We also resolved to work with other countries to help the world’s most vulnerable adapt and respond to climate impacts and to scale up finance and private investment for both mitigation and adaptation. We also look forward to working with all countries to finalize the Paris Rulebook and successfully advance wider negotiations issues. Strong progress on all of these fronts is critical to ensuring the success we need in Glasgow."
#Ottawa; #CanadaUSRelations; #BuyAmericanPolicy
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: Canada-U.S. relationship on their shared priorities and close ties as longtime allies still remain constrained despite repeated bilateral meetings between the two countries, media reports said.
Joe Biden holding conference with Justin Trudeau/ Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Despite joint commitments between Canada and the United States (U.S.) leaders and officials on tackling climate change, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and securing the release of detained Canadians in China Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, U.S. 'Buy American' policy strains the relationship between the two countries.
Canada being one of the strong trading partners in the world with a vibrant commercial and trade relationship, there is a potential of going forward in building more resilient supply chains in making the trade relationship with U.S. even stronger.
The main hurdle Canada needs to resolve to tap into U.S. supply of COVID-19 vaccines is U.S. "Buy American" policy because of an executive order promoting the purchase, production and development of made-in-America goods, signed by Joe Biden, President of the U.S.
In addition, the former U.S. president Donald Trump's executive order ensuring vaccine manufacturers prioritize U.S. contracts before exporting doses elsewhere has not been reversed by Biden.
#FreeSpeech, #CharlieHebdo, #GerardBlard; #PressFreedom
It has been six years since the Islamist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people lost their lives and millions mourned. “Je suis Charlie” became an expression of solidarity, and Charlie Hebdo a symbol of freedom of speech and press freedom. How did the events of January 2015 change Charlie Hebdo? What is the impact of violence and threats against journalists on press freedom? And finally, is satire really allowed to do everything? Sven Lilienström, founder of the Faces of Democracy initiative, asked Gérard Biard (62), the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, this and more.
Gérard Biard. Image credit: Screenshot
Sven Lilienström: Mr. Biard, the Faces of Democracy initiative wants to support a better understanding of democracy around the world. How significant are democracy and democratic values to you personally?
Biard: Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst system except for all those other systems. There is no better way to describe it. It is not a perfect system, but it is the only political system which admits its imperfections and works constantly to improve. Democracy is not based on the principle of election by the people - because voting also takes place in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes; rather it is about establishing, as a principle, that laws can be debated, discussed, contested and modified.
It is for this reason that secularism is one of the pillars of democracy. Not all secular countries are democracies, far from it, but no state based on religious laws is democratic - neither the Islamic theocracies of the Gulf region nor the Vatican. Religious laws are issued according to divine essence, i.e. they are unchanging, indisputable and incontestable. They can govern both public and private life.
In my view secularism, as it is perceived in France, is a fundamental and essential value in democratic life. It allows freedom of conscience and the right to believe or not believe, without which freedom of expression is not possible. Or indeed any freedom at all. I will give you an example.
Much has been said about the French law which prohibits religious symbolism in schools. But there is one thing which has not been emphasized and which is at the very heart of secularism. When we say to a young girl wearing a headscarf that she has to remove it as soon as she enters the building, we are telling her two things: we are telling her that she has the right to wear it - because she can wear it outside of school; but that she also has the right not to wear it. Secularism is a tool for emancipation and, in this sense, it forms the core of the notion of democracy.
To what extent did the events that unfolded on 7 January 2015 forever shape and change the magazine’s editorial routine and its soul? Have you ever considered quitting?
The primary change is that we now live under protection on secure premises and at a secret address. And this clearly raises the question of the challenge which faces our democracies nowadays: during the 21st century in Europe, in a time of peace, a satirical newspaper, an opinion-based paper, has to be placed under protection in order to continue to work. But the editorial stance at Charlie Hebdo has absolutely not changed at all since 7 January 2015. The simple fact that we are always - and increasingly - being subjected to threats is proof of this.
It is inconceivable for us to forgo some of our values, our battle for secularism, for freedom of conscience and the right to express satire and blasphemy. This would mean that the terrorists had won. To say that they were right, those who attacked Charlie Hebdo, the Hyper Cacher store, the Bataclan, the terraces of Paris, the promenade des Anglais in Nice, the Christmas market in Strasbourg, those who created thousands of victims in Europe and across the world and continue to kill in the name of a totalitarian religious ideology. This would give the message to fanatics that their strategy works and that violence and terror are a good method of operating.
This is nothing short of racketeering. But we know very well that if we accept submitting to racketeering, it never stops and the price we pay continues to increase. Some employees of Charlie Hebdo preferred to leave following 7 January. For them, it was no longer sustainable and that is perfectly understandable. But the newspaper continues as before with those who remained and those who have joined us since. For me, there was no question of stopping. I was not there on 7 January 2015. I cannot therefore honestly say if my decision might have been different if I had experienced the attack and survived.
Assaults on journalists are on the rise in Western democracies - they are insulted, threatened and attacked. Has journalism become more dangerous in Europe? Does Europe not protect its journalists enough?
Authoritarian tendencies have unfortunately become a reality in many of the world’s democracies as we have seen over the last four years in America and Europe too has not escaped this - I am thinking of Hungary in particular. But I do not believe that this is the primary danger threatening journalists today in general, even though there are legislative initiatives seeking to limit the freedom of the press, including in France.
The situation is a paradox. In western Europe, freedom of expression and the freedom of the press have never been as protected by the law and by the courts. However, these freedoms are being directly threatened by individuals or groups of individuals, often in the name of some very noble causes such as antiracism, feminism, LGBT rights etc. The majority of the time it is well-organized militants who exert pressure on social networks at the heart of universities and in the media. They create a puritan way of thinking - Good against Bad - and this is not necessarily dominant, but it is considered such by many editorial teams who prefer to give in to it rather than face attacks from trolls, calls for a boycott or tackling controversy. And this in turn leads to self-censorship.
This is what led the management of the New York Times to permanently remove press cartoons from all its editions because they are often a source of controversy. Taken to the point of absurdity, this desire not to shock anyone, to humor various highly active pressure groups on social networks or to foolishly conform to what is deemed to be the “correct” way of thinking at any cost is really the worst form of censorship. Every newspaper and media outlet is, of course, free to follow its own editorial stance.
But when this editorial stance is dictated by external pressures - and not by compliance with the law - the freedom of the press is thrown into question. The role of the press cannot be the same as that of the militants. Otherwise, this becomes the propaganda press.
Several defendants in the Charlie Hebdo trial were sentenced to long prison terms - the principal defendant was sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment. How do you feel about the verdicts?
The trial showed that any attack or terrorist attack is not solely attributable to the perpetrator. There are those who set off bombs or pull the trigger but there are also those who are part of the long chain of responsibility which makes the attack possible. Those who sell, transport and hide the weapons, those who supply the documents, vehicles, accommodation, a mobile phone - not forgetting those who push the ideology in justification of these acts.
An attack could not take place without all these links in the chain. The concept known as “lone wolf” attacks does not exist. Terrorism is a collective crime. The court verdict stated that all accused were guilty to varying degrees and this sends a clear message to all those supposedly claiming to be unaware of the terrorist nature of the criminal project in which they are participating.
Donald Trump is history - “Trumpism” stays. Do you think the fake news era is over and that trust in the established media is growing again, or has journalism suffered permanent damage?
Donald Trump did not invent fake news; he simply gave it an unprecedented legitimacy through his role. But it will clearly not disappear with him. Even less so because it is intricately linked with the internet and social networks which now play a key role in media production - a quarter of the globally registered Twitter accounts are held by journalists. It has now become normal to consider a tweet or Facebook message as “information” whereas these are merely opinions, often insignificant and lacking in intellect. With the rise of the internet and social networks, what we refer to as “information” is no longer a selection of verified and discussed events all ranked and put in perspective according to the relevant editorial stance; instead, it is a continuous flow of facts, much of which contain little to no journalistic interest yet still generate a stream of comments. In this context, fake news has a bright future ahead, aggravated by the fact that everyone is searching to find the “truth” - while it is preferable to seek to understand reality because the “truth” is forever shifting and changing.
Your 21 January issue features a frail Joe Biden being mauled by a rabid ex-president and called a “thief”. Would you say that Trump's ousting is a loss for satirists?
Donald Trump is like striking gold for all satirists, that much is clear: to create a caricature of him, you need only imitate him because he is a caricature in himself. But I am not so sure that he will disappear quickly from public life; that kind of personality does not just vanish overnight. Alec Baldwyn should not be too hasty to put away his wig. In any case, I think serious newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post will also miss him a lot. He was an easy target and provided them with a comfortable editorial stance.
Mr. Biard, what does freedom mean to you, and do you think that as editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo one has to be prepared to give up the basic human need for freedom to an extent in favor of safety?
In order to continue to do my job, defend the values which I consider key and write whatever I want to write, I have accepted a certain number of constraints. I work in premises which resemble a bunker and I am under police protection. My freedom of movement has clearly been affected and I can no longer do certain everyday things like go out for a walk when I see a ray of sunshine at the window, for example.
Before doing something like that, I have to alert my security. But I appreciate being able to live in France because in some other countries, I would also have to fear the police - here, they are the ones who protect me. More generally, the threat of terrorism is a headache for political heads of democratic countries.
They have to strike a fair balance between the security which they must ensure for all citizens and respecting personal and collective freedoms. It is a very difficult balance to find. For the last year, this has also been evident with the Covid-19 health crisis. And we have seen how fear - whether of a virus or an attack - can push people to graciously accept (or even demand in the case of Covid-19) significant restrictions on their most basic freedoms. In my view, it is here that the danger lies: this may encourage some leaders to adopt authoritarian tendencies.
Mr. Biard, thank you very much for the interview!
The interview is originally published in https://www.faces-of-democracy.org/
#US; #FormerUSPresident; #DonaldTrump; #TorontoDominionVotingSystems; #RudyGiuliani; #Lawsuit
US/Canadian-Media: US $1.3 billion in damages is being sought by Toronto's Dominion Voting Systems from former U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accusing him and his allies in manufacturing and disseminating lies which went viral and deceived millions of people into believing that Dominion had stolen their votes and fixed the election.
Rudy Giuliani. Image credit: Facebook page
For two months Trump and his allies denied his election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election and had been claiming without evidence that it was the result of widespread voter fraud before his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Democrats said that the storming of the Capitol building was to enable the country to move forward and ensure such a siege never happens again.
Although some Republican senators agreed with Democrats, the number was not close to the number needed to convict Trump.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump when the Senate acquitted, while Republican senators Mike Rounds, John Cornyn, and Lindsey Graham were among those who recently voiced opposition to the impeachment trial.
One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's nine impeachment managers, Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Pennsylvania said Trump's encouragement of his loyalists before the riot was an extraordinarily heinous presidential crime.
Trump's supporters invaded the Capitol and interrupted the electoral count as he falsely claimed there was massive fraud in the Nov. 3 election and that it was stolen by Biden. Trump's claims were roundly rejected in the courts, including by judges appointed by Trump, and by state election officials.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday the insurrection was a "stunning violation" of the centuries-old tradition of peaceful transfers of power and added,
"It is a critical moment in American history, and we have to look at it and look at it hard," Coons said.
Formed in Toronto in 2002, with its U.S. headquarters in Denver, Co., Dominion filed an earlier lawsuit against Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, accusing him of spreading false conspiracy theories for two months about the election.
Dominion Voting System. Image credit: dominionvoting.com
#Canada; #U.S.; #KeystonePipelineProject; #GreenParty; #NDP; #ConservativeParty; #JustinTrudeau; #JoeBiden
Canada/Canadian-Media: U.S. president-elect Joe Biden's planned Keystone XL cancellation after officially becoming the U.S. President, was reacted differently by the different political parties of Canada, media reports said.
Keystone Pipeline Project. Image credit: Wikipedia
The Keystone Pipeline project has long been supported by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as it would fetch more than 800,000 barrels of Alberta oil a day to refineries in Texas.
The project also had full support from the oilpatch with the justification it would allow Canadian producers to fetch prices closer to the going world rate.
In a statement released late Sunday, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, said the government "continues to support the Keystone XL project and the benefits that it will bring to both Canada and the United States."
"This infrastructure will safely transport Canadian crude oil that is produced under one of the strongest environmental and climate policy frameworks in the world, and will strengthen the vital Canada-U.S. energy relationship," she said.
But Biden's plan was welcomed by the leaders of Green Party, and National Democratic Party (NDP), two of Canada's opposition parties.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said that through Biden's plan to block the project the U.S. would be able see Biden as a committed climate warrior and that Canada who had not been serious about tackling the climate emergency should appoint its own minister for climate.
Applauding Biden's expected executive action, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters that he agreed with Biden's decision and added, "This is the direction that the future requires, we've got to fight the climate crisis."
"Global markets are clearer than ever that the jobs of the future are jobs that help us fight the climate crisis and that's where we need to make investments," Singh said. "Justin Trudeau has failed on this."
The federal government needs to shift its attention to support green jobs and clean energy.
On the other hand Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, said revoking of the Keystone XL permits by the U.S. would further imperil Canada's oil sector and the tens of thousands of jobs that are tied to the industry.
"This move will devastate thousands of Canadian families who have already been badly hurt by the economic crisis," O'Toole said in a statement.
"I call on the Prime Minister to immediately reach out to the incoming U.S. administration to stop this from happening and stand up for working Canadians across Canada."
#IRCC; #MengWanzhou; #MengWanzhouFamily
Ottawa/ Canadian-Media: Detained Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou's husband Liu Xiaozong, and her two children were granted permission to come to Canada by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials, media reports said.
Meng Wanzhou. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Liu came to Canada in October and was followed by the couple's children in December.
Meng, chief financial officer for Huawei Technologies Co., was detained in December 2018 while she was changing planes in Vancouver.
This was followed by her arrest on a U.S. extradition request over allegations of lying to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
She has been released on bail but has consistently denied the charges against her.
Meng is required to wear a GPS ankle monitoring bracelet, subject to the bail conditions, and is confined to her home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day and is allowed to travel around the Lower Mainland with security guards paid by her during the day.
The extradition proceeding is expected to begin at the beginning of March, and would continue until the end of April.
#UnitedStates; #RussiaLinkedDisinformationNetwork; #Sanctions; #influecingUSElections
United States/Canadian-Media: Sanctions are being imposed today by the United States (US) on seven individuals and four entities, who are part of a Russia-linked foreign influence network associated with Andrii Derkach, Michael R. Pompei, Secretary of State of US said.
Fake News media. Image credit: Pixaby
Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, has been an active Russian agent for more than a decade, maintaining close connections with Russian intelligence services and who was designated on September 10, 2020, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13848 for his attempt to influence the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.
Former Ukraine Government officials Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Andriy Telizhenko, and current member of the Ukrainian parliament Oleksandr Dubinsky have publicly appeared with or affiliated themselves with Derkach through the coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent malicious narratives that U.S. Government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine.
These efforts and narratives are consistent with or in support of Derkach’s objectives to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
As such, these individuals have been designated pursuant to E.O. 13848 for having directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign influence in an attempt to undermine the 2020 U.S. elections.
Today’s action also includes the designation of Petro Zhuravel, Dmytro Kovalchuk, and Anton Simonenko for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Derkach
#Switzerland; #PfizerBioNTechCovid19vaccine; #Swissmedic; #FederalOfficeofPublicHealth; #EU; #Moderna; #AstraZeneca
Switzerland/Canadian-Media: Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has been approved by Swissmedic, Switzerland's drug regulator for use in the country, media reports said.
Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Image credit: Unsplash
“The data available to date showed a comparable high level of efficacy in all investigated age groups, thus meeting the safety requirements,” drug regulator Swissmedic said in a statement Saturday, adding that the vaccine can’t yet be given to anyone under 16. “The level of protection afforded seven days after the second injection is over 90% in adults.”
The the vaccine was approved by the Swiss after the United Kingdom (U.K.) and United States (U.S.) among others have already approved the vaccine.
The decision by the European Union (EU) regulators be made in a meeting next week.
Contracts with the companies for the delivery of three million vaccine doses had been previously signed by Switzerland.
About 100,000 doses of the first delivery is scheduled to arrive this year, which would be followed by larger batches, according to a separate statement from the Federal Office of Public Health.
People in vulnerable groups would be prioritized for vaccinations beginning in December.
Swiss and EU regulators have been reviewing the vaccine for a conditional marketing authorization process, which according to EU commission’s directorate-general for health requires a higher evidence level, unlike the U.S. and U.K., which conducted emergency authorizations.
Due to seven-day average increase of 3 percent compared to last week, it was announced by the the Swiss government on Friday that it will be closing restaurants and leisure venues to curb the spread of new infections and added that further steps would be considering if the situation worsens.
Vaccines from Moderna and AstraZeneca are still undergoing approval by Swissmedic and are “unlikely” to be available until the middle of next year, said the public health office.