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Canada

A commissioner on racism that divides

Hailed by some for her qualifications, criticized by others for her opposition to the law on secularism: the appointment of the city’s first anti-racism commissioner has just been announced that it divides.

“It’s a big blunder,” says Micheline Labelle, sociologist and professor at UQAM. She sees it as a “partisan appointment” which “gives a special touch to a committee that did not need that”.

On Tuesday, the City of Montreal announced the appointment of Bochra Manaï, who will become the first commissioner for the fight against racism and systemic discrimination as of next week.

This position was created in response to the recommendations of a report tabled this summer which pointed out the shortcomings of the City in its fight against discrimination.

The news was greeted “with great satisfaction” by Haroun Bouazzi, one of the activists who called for a debate on systemic racism in the metropolis.

With a doctorate in urban studies and two master’s degrees, Bochra Manaï was the director of an organization that fights against social exclusion in Montreal-North.

Lack of neutrality?

Some expect his tenure to be more “explosive” than consensual, not least because Mr.me Manaï is one of the opponents who led the challenge of law 21 on secularism in court. She was then spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

By choosing Mme Manaï, the City made a “courageous decision,” said Solange Lefebvre, professor of religious studies at the University of Montreal. “We have the right, in Canada, to be for or against a bill.”

For Micheline Labelle, it would have been better to name someone “neutral”, since his positions against Bill 21 risk discrediting his actions, she laments.

For Haroun Bouazzi, activist for human rights, it is the opposite. “Anyone who would have agreed with a law like this would have had no credibility.”

Fracture

The divide therefore seems to follow the divide between prolaïcité and antilaïcité, or even those who claim that systemic racism exists or does not exist in Quebec.

“It’s appalling,” insists André Lamoureux, political scientist and professor at UQAM. “I find it scandalous that the City of Montreal is providing funds for […] an ideological concept “, says the one who affirms loud and clear that the notion of systemic racism does not really apply to the reality of Quebec.

“We are shocked,” reacts Ferid Chikhi, co-spokesperson for the Quebec Association of North Africans for Secularism. He fears the “subjectivity” that he says comes with the activism of a “victimized minority that cries all the time.”

In contrast, Maryse Potvin, professor of education at UQAM, affirms that systemic discrimination is a well-documented phenomenon, as are the discriminatory effects of Bill 21. “I think we must give the runner a chance” , she says.

“Whether she is an activist against discrimination against Muslims in Canada, I do not see how that disqualifies her for a position which aims, precisely, to fight against discrimination”, abounds Martin Papillon, professor at the University of Montreal .

Avoid demonizing

But behind this divide, Solange Lefebvre assures us that it is normal that there are so many debates on such a complex subject.

“We must avoid demonizing people: whether it is the Legault government [qui refuse de reconnaître l’existence du racisme systémique] or those who challenge Law 21 ”, she tempers.

As of this writing, Bochra Monaï had not responded to our interview request.

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California Headline USA New York

Ex FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb slams the government for holding back Pfizer jabs

Ex FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has criticized the government for holding back seven million doses of the Pfizer vaccine as second doses.

Gottlieb urged the government to vaccinate as many as possible now with the first dose, which provides some defense against coronavirus on its own, and trust that Pfizer will have the second doses ready in time.

‘They (Pfizer) are being throttled, and I think the government has admitted they’re doing that. They are holding back doses,’ said Gottlieb, who headed up the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 until April 2019 and is now on the board of Pfizer.

The drug company had shipped three million doses, as of Thursday, but the Department of Health and Human Services has acknowledged they have seven million more doses of the vaccine in the warehouse, which were being held back as second doses.

Gottlieb said leaving doses sitting in warehouses, while cases, deaths and hospitalizations reach record levels in America, is ‘not the right decision’. 

He argued that there should be ‘confidence’ that the manufacturing will keep up with the pace needed for people to receive their second shots and that it would be ‘far more valuable from a public health standpoint’ to get as many people vaccinated now.  

Ex-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has weighed in on the vaccine distribution spat slamming the government for holding back Pfizer jabs from states saying it is ‘not the right decision’ while ‘we’re at the peak of the epidemic’

‘I think they should be leaning forward and trying to get more doses in people now and have some confidence that the manufacturing is going to keep up,’ Mediaite reports.  

‘The 25 million doses that (Pfizer) has promised for December have largely been manufactured and many more of the lots are released – I mean ready to be shipped than what are being shipped actually,’ he said. 

‘They could be shipping many more than they are. I think they’re trying to manage the supply chain. I think they’re trying to get Moderna and Pfizer to parity. I think they might be concerned that if they stuff too much vaccine into the supply chain, some of it could go unused, perhaps.

‘I don’t know exactly what their thinking is,’ he added. ‘This is what I would be speculating as to why they are doing that. 

‘My advice would be try to get as many shots in arms now as possible, because we’re at the peak of the epidemic right now, or entering the peak. And we know these vaccines are partially protected even after the first dose.’

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses taken 21 days apart, with the individual having almost full protection after the second dose. However, the vaccine also offers some protection after just the first dose. 

Meanwhile, the US hit another grim record for hospitalizations Friday, just days after the nation recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began. 

Gottlieb, who headed up the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 until April 2019 and is now on the board of Pfizer, accused the government of 'throttling' the supply to US states and said it would be more effective to get 'as many shots in arms' as possible right now

Gottlieb, who headed up the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 until April 2019 and is now on the board of Pfizer, accused the government of ‘throttling’ the supply to US states and said it would be more effective to get ‘as many shots in arms’ as possible right now

The former FDA boss added that more people being vaccinated now would be better for the public as infections, hospitalizations and deaths are soaring to record levels across the states. 

‘A vaccination this week is going to be far more valuable from a public health standpoint than a vaccination five weeks from now,’ he said.  

‘So I’d be trying to vaccinate more people than they are and as many people as possible right now.’

‘If we can get more first doses in people right now, you can start to have an impact on the epidemic we’re going through.’ 

On Thursday Pfizer issued a statement saying it had successfully shipped 2.9 million doses to US states but that it has ‘millions more doses sitting in our warehouse.

‘But, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses,’ the healthcare giant said.  

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses taken 21 days apart, with the individual having almost full protection after the second dose. However the vaccine also offers some protection after just the first dose

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses taken 21 days apart, with the individual having almost full protection after the second dose. However the vaccine also offers some protection after just the first dose

Respiratory Care Practitioner David Hamlin receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday at Valley Childrens Hospital in Madera, California

Respiratory Care Practitioner David Hamlin receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday at Valley Childrens Hospital in Madera, California

Senior administration officials did not deny the claims, saying the statement was technically accurate, but that this had been the plan all along so that anyone receiving the first jab will also receive the second. 

The federal officials said Pfizer committed to provide 6.4 million doses of its vaccine in the first week after approval. 

But the federal Operation Warp Speed planned to distribute only 2.9 million of those doses right away with another 2.9 million were to be held at Pfizer’s warehouse to guarantee that individuals vaccinated the first week would be able to get their second shot later.  

The government is also holding the additional 500,000 doses as a reserve against unforeseen problems.

Pfizer said it remains confident it can deliver up to 50 million doses globally this year and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Several states complained this week that they had received smaller shipments of the vaccine than expected and were also expecting far fewer doses next week, sparking concerns about potential delays for healthcare workers and long-term care residents to get vaccinated against the deadly virus. 

Pfizer said Thursday it had 'millions of doses' of its COVID-19 vaccine sitting in warehouses but were still awaiting shipping instructions from the federal government. Above, workers prepare the vaccine for shipment

Pfizer said Thursday it had ‘millions of doses’ of its COVID-19 vaccine sitting in warehouses but were still awaiting shipping instructions from the federal government. Above, workers prepare the vaccine for shipment

Boxes containing the Pfizer vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant. Government officials then hit back saying this had been the plan all along to ensure people getting the first jab can also get the second booster jab

Boxes containing the Pfizer vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant. Government officials then hit back saying this had been the plan all along to ensure people getting the first jab can also get the second booster jab

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday he feared many Americans will not receive the jabs until some time after the official timeline.  

‘This development will likely cut our state’s projected Pfizer shipments this month by roughly half,’ Pritzker said. 

‘The same is true across the rest of the nation.’  

On Friday, the FDA authorized distribution of a second COVID-19 vaccine in the US, granting emergency approval to Moderna’s jab which is 94 per cent effective. 

Ahead of its approval, officials allocated and readied 5.9 million doses of the shot to be sent to states over the next week. 

Shipments could begin as early as tomorrow with the first jabs likely to start Monday. 

The first Americans received Pfizer’s vaccine Monday. 

New York intensive care nurse Sandra Lindsay became the first person in the US to receive the vaccine Monday as part of the first phase of roll out to healthcare workers. 

Hundreds of thousands of people have since been vaccinated, with healthcare workers and nursing home and long-term care facility residents the first to receive the vaccine now.

The second phase is expected to start in January 2021 and will include non healthcare essential workers, people with chronic health conditions ad people over 50.

Last to get the jab will be young adults and children from spring 2021.     

Hospitalizations reached record levels Friday with 114,751 patients across America, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Cases also increased by 228,825 in a single day while an additional 2,751 people died. 

Categories
Headline USA New York Politics

NYPD Commissioner Asks for Criminal Support Against Gun Violence as Christmas Gift: 88% Detained Go Free | The State

It’s been a controversial year for NYPD

Photo:
Andrés Correa Guatarasma / Courtesy

As the head of the largest police force in the country turns one year old, Commissioner Dermot Francis Shea has a very special Christmas wish: support in the armed violence that in 2020 doubled in the city, at the same time that legal reforms and the pandemic made arrests more difficult.

NYPD is doing everything it can to get illegal guns off the streets, but it needs the help from prosecutors, judges and politicians for ensure that laws are applied, Shea stated.

“It’s Christmas, so I’ll ask for something under the tree,” Shea said yesterday during an extensive virtual meeting with the editorial board of the New York Post. “We have to take weapons seriously.”

On average, 88% of those arrested on weapons charges this year are back on the streets, which according to the NYPD has caused a historic increase in shootings that they have left more than 1,756 victims, between dead and injured.

Despite this alarming increase in shootings, union and racial tensions, the police deficit due to resignations and budget cuts imposed by the City Council, gun arrests have risen 27% in NYC, defended the Commissioner.

But with high frequency detainees end up on the streets in a short time thanks to the reluctance of the rest of the criminal justice system to enforce gun laws, Shea criticized.

It is estimated that more than 3,000 arrested suspects were released from January to November. And in December the panorama has not changed. “From a police perspective, we spend a large part of our resources on that,” he insisted. “We need help”.

When gun-carrying criminals are easily allowed to escape, the laws stay on paper. “Everyone in the criminal justice system knows it,” Shea said. This is why he particularly pointed out to prosecutors and judges not to support the work of the police, leaving the NYPD in a perpetually uphill battle.

Shea insisted that the NYC Police Department is doing the best it can with the headwind. “We are a part of the criminal justice system. We are not the jury. We are not the prosecutors. We are not the system that puts bracelets on the ankles ”.

Some of the suspects leave because they pay bail, but the judges release others under criminal reform laws in force since January 1, which prohibits them from setting an amount in some cases of possession of weapons considered “non-violent.” Also, with the coronavirus crisis, the order since March has been empty prisons as much as possible, to avoid contagion.

The NYPD and even President Donald Trump have repeatedly blamed those two phenomena for the impressive increase in shootings this year. “We have made a staggering number of arrests for firearms, taking criminals off the streets with guns… but when you look, three days later, four days later, those people are back on the street committing more violence with weapons ”, Shea lamented in previous statements last week.

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Headline USA Politics

FDA commissioner suggests Pfizer vaccine may not be approved today

The commissioner of the FDA said on Thursday morning that Pfizer’s COVID vaccine may not be approved today and that it may take even longer to give it the green light. 

An independent advisory committee is meeting today to discuss the findings of Pfizer’s trial but the deliberations aren’t due to begin until 3.10pm. Even though the meeting starts at 9am, the scientists will spend most of the day discussing the state of the pandemic in the US. 

Pfizer will then make its case and then the FDA will give a presentation but that won’t happen until after lunchtime.  

Then, the committee will vote on whether or not the vaccine should be approved and the FDA will take the committee’s recommendation into consideration but it doesn’t translate into immediate approval.   

It prolongs an already slow response from the US to get the vaccine off the ground that has angered millions of Americans while COVID cases continue to soar. 

The US recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began on Wednesday with more than 3,045 deaths and hospitals around the country are filling up. 

The UK and Canada have both approved the vaccine and the first people in the world received it in England on Tuesday but no firm date has yet been given for when Americans can expect to have access to it.

Speaking on all three of the major morning shows – Good Morning America, Today and CBS This Morning – FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn refused to give an approval date on Thursday or be drawn on how long the process will take. 

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FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn said on Thursday that they may not approve the vaccine today, like many had hoped they would, and that the process could take even longer

The UK approved the vaccine last week and people started receiving the shot on Tuesday. Above, a woman in  Cornwall, England, receiving the vaccine on Wednesday

The UK approved the vaccine last week and people started receiving the shot on Tuesday. Above, a woman in  Cornwall, England, receiving the vaccine on Wednesday

The FDA advisory panel is currently discussing the vaccine in a virtual summit (above) that is expected to go on all day

The FDA advisory panel is currently discussing the vaccine in a virtual summit (above) that is expected to go on all day 

 ‘I’m not going to prejudge what the advisory committee says. 

TIMELINE ON PFIZER VACCINE 

November 18: Pfizer announces its vaccine is 94% effective

November 23: Pfizer submits trial data to FDA for emergency approval 

December 3: UK approves Pfizer vaccine 

December 7: First doses are given in England 

December 8: FDA releases preliminary analysis saying vaccine is safe and effective but still doesn’t approve it 

December 9: Canada approves the vaccine 

December 9: Deadliest day for US with 3,045 deaths

December 10: FDA advisory committee meets to discuss the vaccine 

‘This is an advisory board, it’s not binding to the FDA but we think their input is really important so we want to hear the scientific and medical discussion and then incorporate that into our decision making.

‘We can act quickly and we intend to – we understand the urgency of the situation. 

‘There may be issues, medical, scientific issues that we have to address after the discussion and we will do so. 

‘We want to make sure that we make the absolute best decision for the American people,’ he said on Good Morning America. 

He then told Today that the vaccine met FDA standards, but that they still want to hear from the advisory panel anyway. 

‘Our initial assessment is that this is a vaccine that does meet our criteria… But we do want to hear from the vaccine advisory committee,’ he said. 

One source of discussion at Thursday’s committee meeting will be that two British healthcare workers suffered an allergic reaction after receiving the shot. 

Hahn said that is the kind of thing they want to look more closely at before approving the vaccine. 

There is still no date for when people will actually start receiving the vaccine. 

The federal government had said that the first doses would go out this month.

Nursing home staff and residents will be the first to receive it then it will go to healthcare workers. 

After them, the general public will have access to it. 

Another potential roadblock will be whether or not there are enough doses of the vaccine to go around. 

The government is actively in talks with Pfizer, Moderna and other vaccine companies to try to acquire as many doses as possible. 

There remains a huge amount of skepticism around the vaccine in the US. 

Many fear it was politically motivated and rushed out to try to help President Trump’s election chances. 

 

Daily deaths in the US reached their highest yet on Wednesday with 3,045 people dying

Daily deaths in the US reached their highest yet on Wednesday with 3,045 people dying 

Cases per day are eclipsing 200,000 on average for the first time on record. A total of 215,586 new coronavirus cases were reported yesterday

Cases per day are eclipsing 200,000 on average for the first time on record. A total of 215,586 new coronavirus cases were reported yesterday

Johns Hopkins professor slams the FDA for the 35,000 Americans who have died since vaccine was announced

A Johns Hopkins professor has slammed the FDA for taking so long to review the Pfizer vaccine while thousands of Americans continue to die from COVID. 

Pfizer announced in early November that its vaccine was effective after a widespread global trial involving 44,000 volunteers, 

It submitted its findings to the FDA for approval on November 23 but has still not been approved. 

Since then, 34,000 Americans have died from the virus. 

Writing for Med Page Today on Thursday, Martin Makary MD said there was no reason for the delay. 

‘There’s a war on, but you’d never know it from the agency’s weeks-long review. 

‘We are in a health emergency. The U.S. will soon exceed 3,000 deaths per day from COVID-19 and in the time that the FDA has been reviewing the vaccine trial data, some 35,000 people will have died in the U.S. from the virus. 

‘That’s more Americans than died during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and 9/11 combined. We are in a war now. Given the overwhelming results of the phase III trials and the dire projections for the next few months, the FDA should shift from peacetime to wartime speed. 

‘There is simply no scientific reason why the review that the FDA is tasked to do could not be done in a few days without cutting any corners on safety,’ he said.  

The experts all say this is not the case and that they will be among the first to receive it when it’s available. 

But a huge 41 percent of the public say they are not yet convinced that it’s safe. 

‘This is concerning to me… We need to get to herd immunity, and that requires a substantial percentage of Americans to be vaccinated,’ Hahn said on Thursday. 

In a preliminary analysis posted online on Tuesday, one group of FDA scientists said it was safe. 

Among the 20,000 people who were given the vaccine in Pfizer’s global trial, 137 had allergic reactions but so did 111 people who were given the placebo, leading scientists to dismiss it as a potential hazard. 

Four people did get Bell’s Palsy after receiving it, a type of facial paralysis, but the trial scientists said it was not necessarily the jab that caused it and was on par with the general rate of Bell’s Palsy in the wider population. 

But Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Wednesday warned people with a severe allergy to food or medicine not to get it. 

In America, that applies to at least 200,000 people who have food allergies and many more who have drug allergies.  

The two healthcare workers who were affected both carry EpiPens but no other information has been given. They are now said to be recovering well. 

British scientists have told the public not to panic and say the vaccine is safe but there is still a large amount of skepticism surrounding it. 

It also raises the question of whether the US was right to take longer in approving the shot, despite receiving pressure from Americans to give it the go-ahead because Britain had.  

On December 3, Dr. Fauci warned that the Brits had moved too quickly. 

‘In all fairness to so many of my UK friends, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,’ he said.

‘I think that would be a good metaphor for that…because they really rushed through that approval. I love the Brits, they’re great, they’re good scientists, but they just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of scrutinizing it really, really carefully, they said, ‘OK, let’s approve it, that’s it.’ And they went with it. 

‘In fact, they were even rather severely criticized by their European Union counterparts who were saying, you know, ‘That was kind of a hot dog play,” he said. 

 He then apologized for his remarks and said they were driven by competitiveness.

On Wednesday, after the British cases became public, Fauci said he was ‘concerned’. 

The document will be reviewed on Thursday when the panel of experts convenes

The document will be reviewed on Thursday when the panel of experts convenes

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Delhi The Buzz

Comments by Trudeau and others: Canada High Commissioner told not to interfere in India’s internal affairs


Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4

Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday and informed that comments by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, some cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers “constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs”.

“Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on the ties between India and Canada,” the MEA warned Patel.

The Government has viewed these comments as having encouraged gatherings of extremist activities in front of the Indian High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security.

“We expect the Canadian Government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimise extremist activism,’’ said an MEA note.

On the occasion of Gurpurab, Trudeau had veered from greeting Punjabis saying, “I would be remiss if I didn’t start also by recognising the news coming out of India about the protest by farmers. The situation is concerning and we’re all very worried about family and friends.’’

The MEA had at that time itself unfavourably viewed Trudeau’s remarks on the farmers’ stir.

Trudeau is the first world head of government to comment on the protest by Indian farmers.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had then referred to “some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders” relating to farmers in India and said they were “unwarranted”. Srivastava was also targeting Canadian ministers Navdeep Bains and Harjit Sajjan whose comments had preceded those of the Canadian PM.

Trudeau indicated that his government’s concerns about the protest had been conveyed to South Block but Srivastava said “it is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes”.

Trudeau’s observations on the farmers’ stir came during a Facebook video interaction on Gurpurab. Ministers Bains and Sajjan, also critical of the handling of the farmers’ stir, along with several of the 18 Sikh Canadian MPs, had joined the interaction.

The thrust of his opening address was on underlining Guru Nanak’s teachings of compassion, equality and selfless service, which, he said, were at the heart of both Sikhism and Canadian values.

But Trudeau spent considerable time on the farmers’ stir. “I know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns,” he said.

Sources here said Trudeau’s observations were aimed at his domestic constituency of which the Indian-origin diaspora was a major part. His hold on the Sikh community is under challenge by Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal-led New Democratic Party.

The MEA initially downplayed Trudeau’s comments since they were made at a time when New Delhi is actively soliciting investment from Canada’s deep-pocketed pension funds.

Modi had recently virtually addressed an Indo-Canadian business gathering which was seen as a repairing of ties as New Delhi thought Ontario was soft on Sikh separatists.

Earlier last month, a “virtual trade mission to Canada” had featured Canadian minister John Hannaford, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan and the two respective High Commissioners Nadir Patel and Ajay Bisaria.

But the demonstrations at the Indian High Commission and consulates in Canada may have tested MEA’s patience.

 





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Headline USA New York

NYC health commissioner tells New Yorkers over 65 and those with underlying conditions to stay home

NYC health commissioner tells New Yorkers over 65 and those with underlying conditions to stay home as city launches major blood drive amid ‘chronic deficit’ and surging COVID cases

  • Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi appeared with Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday
  • The advisory is ‘effective immediately’ officials said, urging older adults and people with underlying health conditions to limit activities outside the home 
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo later clarified that the announcement was ‘not a restriction’ and said senior citizens are ‘not imprisoned in your own home’ 
  • The city’s daily positive-test rate is 5.7%; its seven-day rolling average is 4.14%
  • As a result a major blood drive has been launched with the aim of collecting 25,000 blood, plasma, and platelet donations over the Holiday season
  • Mayor’s office says COVID has ‘created a chronic deficit in blood donations’

New York City officials have told New Yorkers over 65 and those with underlying conditions to stay home amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi appeared alongside Bill de Blasio Tuesday as the mayor’s administration made the announcement. 

A statement read: ‘Effective immediately, the City’s Health Commissioner is advising older adults and people with underlying health conditions who are at an increased risk of severe COVID-related illness to limit activities outside the home, except leaving home to travel to work or school, or for essential purposes including medical care, grocery shopping or pharmacy necessities.’

Governor Andrew Cuomo later clarified that the announcement was ‘not a restriction’ and said senior citizens are ‘not imprisoned in your own home’. He told reporters: ‘There is no restriction on people over 70 leaving their home.’ 

The mayor's office say the pandemic has 'created a chronic deficit in blood donations'

Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, left, appeared alongside Bill de Blasio, right, Tuesday as the mayor’s administration made the announcement

The NYC advisory issued Tuesday ‘also applies to household members and caregivers of these individuals’. 

‘Those covered by this advisory should also wear a face covering at all times indoors and outdoors including when around members of their own household who have known exposure to COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms of the virus, or frequently interact with the public’, the statement continued. 

But Cuomo said: ‘New York City offered guidance, advice, which is the same advice and guidance that we have been issuing and they have been issuing and every expert has been issuing since this started.

‘Senior citizens should be on alert, people over 70 should be alert. You’re 70 years old, you can do whatever you want to do in life. My advice is: Be careful. You are not imprisoned in your own home.’  

Coronavirus cases in NYC hit more than 290,000 Tuesday; 24,274 people in the city have died. Its daily positive-test rate is 5.7 percent; its seven-day rolling average is 4.14 percent. 

Statewide hospitalizations increased by 200 to 3,774; the positive test rate has jumped to 4.96 percent. An additional 66 people died across New York but the transmission rate is said to be just a fifth of what it was in March. 

A major blood drive has been launched with the aim of collecting 25,000 blood, plasma, and platelet donations over the holiday season. 

The mayor’s office say the pandemic has ‘created a chronic deficit in blood donations’. 

De Blasio said: ‘Giving blood makes a difference. It’s an easy, meaningful way to give back to your community this holiday season, and I urge New Yorkers to join the fight this month to keep New York City healthy.’

Chokshi added: ‘Throughout this pandemic, the people of this city have stepped up and done what was needed to keep each other healthy.

‘Donating blood is one more way to quite literally give life to our fellow New Yorkers. Schedule appointment today.’  

Governor Andrew Cuomo later clarified that the announcement was 'not a restriction' and said senior citizens are 'not imprisoned in your own home'. He told reporters: 'There is no restriction on people over 70 leaving their home'

Governor Andrew Cuomo later clarified that the announcement was ‘not a restriction’ and said senior citizens are ‘not imprisoned in your own home’. He told reporters: ‘There is no restriction on people over 70 leaving their home’

New York’s hospitals must prepare for an expected surge in coronavirus infections by stockpiling masks and gowns, expanding capacity and identifying retired nurses and doctors who could pitch in, Gov. Cuomo said Monday.

Cuomo said that with more than 3,500 people now hospitalized statewide for COVID-19 and more cases expected in the coming weeks, hospitals must draw up plans to redistribute patients both within health care networks and between networks so that no one hospital becomes overwhelmed, as happened when the pandemic first hit New York last spring.

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Headline USA

Portland commissioner who wants an $18m cut to the police department called 911 on her Lyft driver


A Portland City Commissioner who is currently pushing to carry out a $18million cut to the city’s police department and said most 911 calls are unnecessary called the cops on her Lyft driver earlier this month following a dispute about an open window. 

Jo Ann Hardesty was allegedly angered when the driver, Richmond Frost, refused to roll the windows up, despite it being recommended policy from the company to keep them down due to the coronavirus. 

It followed annoyance over a mix-up about where she was being picked up, all culminating in the driver cancelling the ride and saying Hardesty could find another car.

He attempted to leave the commissioner at a Chevron gas station but she refused to leave the vehicle and placed the call to the cops.  

Frost also made a 911 call and officers were forced to arrive at the gas station shortly before 10pm, in spite of the fact that Hardesty has argued that many 911 calls are unnecessary and a police response often not needed, according to the Portland Tribune. 

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Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called the cops on her Lyft driver Richmond Frost after he canceled her ride but she refused to leave the vehicle on November 1

Hardesty, who heads up Portland’s 911 system, had been picked up from ilani Casino in Washington when the series of disagreements began 

Frost, 63, pulled into a gas station and told Hardesty to leave but she refused as ‘it was cold and she was a woman and alone’, according to Fox News.  

Audio of both the 911 calls were published by Oregon Live, revealing their versions of events. 

‘Well, I’ve got a Lyft driver that decided he would just drop me off at a filling station. Well, I’m not getting out of the car, in the dark, at a filling station, not happening. All because I asked him to put the window up. I’m not leaving,’ Hardesty told the 911 operator. 

‘I am not going to allow him to leave me on the side of the road. I paid for a ride and he says he canceled it, so I’m just going to sit here until he sends me another ride.’

She is told by the dispatcher that ‘technically it’s his property and there’s no crimes involved’. 

Jo Ann Hardesty was allegedly angered when the driver, Richmond Frost, refused to roll the windows up and he decided to cancel her ride, sparking two 911 calls after she said she would not leave the car until he called her another one. She had a new ride by the time cops arrived

Jo Ann Hardesty was allegedly angered when the driver, Richmond Frost, refused to roll the windows up and he decided to cancel her ride, sparking two 911 calls after she said she would not leave the car until he called her another one. She had a new ride by the time cops arrived

‘Only you can order another ride,’ the dispatcher said, according to KOIN 6. ‘I can have an officer come out but they’re not going to be able to make him stay there.’ 

‘He can’t go anywhere because I’m not moving until another car comes,’ Hardesty insists and the dispatcher says they will send an officer.  

In Frost’s call, made three minutes after Hardesty, he is heard saying: ‘I’ve got a customer that I canceled the ride. I’m a rideshare driver and I canceled the ride, and I’ve taken her off the freeway to this filling station so that she can order another ride.

‘I canceled the ride so she’s no longer involved or engaged with me. She’s refusing to get out of my car,’ he added, explaining that she was in the back seat and he was in the front. 

When asked if she could have any weapons on her, he replied: ‘I doubt it’.  

Hardesty said that she made the call because she felt unsafe in the situation and accused Front of being ‘so blatantly rude from the beginning’. 

‘I don’t call 911 lightly, but I certainly am not going to do anything that would put my personal safety at risk,’ she told the Portland Tribune.

‘I knew that having him call the police would but me in danger. And that’s why I proactively called 911.

‘It’s a lot harder when you are Black or brown in America to make that decision … But I ultimately had very limited options,’ she added. 

Frost also admitted that there was tension from the start and told the Portland Tribune that he wasn’t sure if maybe Hardesty had a bad day gambling. 

‘I spent 40 years in the service business,’ he said. ‘There’s always a few people, you cannot please them no matter what you do.’ 

He added that he felt the call ‘was so unnecessary … To argue and belittle and to treat me the way I felt she treated me was completely unnecessary.’ 

Frost also argued that the gas station was well lit, that she was safe and that he had explained to her that he couldn’t call a Lyft for her. 

Yet Hardesty countered that the station was about to close, which was confirmed to KINO 6 by an employee, which would mean the lights were about to be turned off. 

Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty claimed she called 911 as she feared for her safety

Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty claimed she called 911 as she feared for her safety

‘I didn’t know how long I would have to wait,’ she said. ‘There was no way I was going to get out on the side of the road, in the dark, because some driver has an attitude, and decided I should just get out and just whatever happens happens.’ 

Hardesty had a new ride by 10.14pm but immediately made a complaint to Lyft. 

‘I requested a ride, the driver came to the wrong pick up location, He then blamed me. I asked him to roll the window up on my side and he started to yell, “I can’t because the regulations require each window to be cracked” (which isn’t true),’ said the complaint, which was released by her office. 

‘He then pulls over in the dark on the side of a gas station and told me he was cancelling the ride. I had no interest in being left on the side of the road by an angry driver. He threaten to call the police. I called the police & another car. 

‘Both arrived at the same time. It is totally inappropriate to expect a woman to get out of a vehicle in the dead of night because any angry person demands it.

‘This is a safety issue for your customer. Your driver was in no danger.’

Lyft responded by stating that the driver had acted in accordance to their policy. 

‘The feedback alleged that you refused to exit the driver’s vehicle after they requested you do so. As a reminder, drivers are free to end a ride for any reason as long as the drop off is in a safe location,’ it said.

‘Safety is our top priority. We take these matters very seriously. We encourage everyone using Lyft to be respectful of others. This helps maintain a safe and inclusive community.

‘Please know that future reports of this nature may lead to additional action being taken on your account.’

The reports of Hardesty’s 911 emerged just days after she called on elected leaders in Portland to ‘move past the fear and stretch ourselves to take the action that is demanded’ regarding a new police budget. 

Hardesty calls for massive changes and $18million in cuts to Portland's police department

Hardesty calls for massive changes and $18million in cuts to Portland’s police department

She has been pushing to ‘reallocate $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau to reinvest in community, COVID-19 relief, and police alternatives’, but the amendment was not passed by the Portland City Council last week.  

In a lengthy statement posted to Twitter when the amendment failed to be passed, she said: ‘What we have right now does not work. You cannot look me in the eye and tell me that a Bureau responding violently to protesters every night works for us. Or that over 50% of all the bureaus arrestees are houseless individuals works for us. 

‘Or that a Bureau shown to stop black drivers twice as much as white drivers works for us. Or a Bureau that has accumulated over $6,000,000 in overtime works for us. 

‘In June we started this journey by reallocating $15 million from the Police Bureau and redirecting those funds towards community investments,’ she added.

‘We came into this budget with the same goal of investing in our communities and reducing police by providing mutual aid because if Portlanders can’t depend on Portland to keep them safe and supported, who can they count on?’



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Headline USA Politics

Philadelphia’s Republican city commissioner blasts accusations of voter fraud as ‘deranged’


Philadelphia’s lone Republican city commissioner has described as ‘deranged’ the accusations of voter fraud being made by the White House, as he revealed his staff had been receiving death threats as Donald Trump attacks their integrity.

Al Schmidt, one of three city commissioners charged with overseeing elections, told 60 Minutes that he was shocked at the accusations made against him and his team.

‘From the insight looking out, it feels all very deranged,’ he said.

‘At the end of the day we are counting eligible votes, cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it is something I don’t understand.’

Al Schmidt, the Republican Philadelphia city commissioner, said the attacks felt 'deranged'

Al Schmidt, the Republican Philadelphia city commissioner, said the attacks felt ‘deranged’

Schmidt is pictured on Election Day with Lisa Deeley, one of two other city commissioners

Schmidt is pictured on Election Day with Lisa Deeley, one of two other city commissioners

Officials inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday morning counting votes

Officials inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday morning counting votes

Election workers in Philadelphia sort and count the votes on Sunday

Election workers in Philadelphia sort and count the votes on Sunday

Schmidt, a former senior analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) who held top secret security clearance, has ran elections since 2011 and takes pride in modernizing and making more efficient the process.

He said he was saddened by the ‘crazy stuff’ being said. 

‘It’s people making accusations that we wouldn’t count those votes, or people are adding fraudulent votes, or – just, coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff,’ he said. 

Donald Trump dispatched his son Eric and lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Philadelphia to press the president’s claim of fraud.

A record number of people voted by mail in the state, and many of the mail-in ballots were Democrat because Trump told his own supporters not to trust mail-in ballots, and to vote in person instead.

The president was then enraged when the mail-in ballots started being counted, and the pendulum swung away from him. 

‘This is absolute fraud,’ said Eric Trump. ‘We’ve seen it in Philadelphia before.’

Giuliani told a press conference at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping that Trump was ‘obviously not gonna concede.’

He said he will start filing lawsuits on Monday.

‘I don’t know if there’s enough evidence to set aside the entire election. Certainly not around the country, maybe in Pennsylvania,’ he said.

A pained-looking Schmidt said he was dismayed by the rhetoric.

Schmidt is seen inspecting the vote counting processes

Schmidt is seen inspecting the vote counting processes

Protesters outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center demand 'legal votes only'

Protesters outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center demand ‘legal votes only’

‘In the birthplace of our Republic, counting votes is not a bad thing,’ he said. 

‘Counting votes cast on or before Election Day by eligible voters is not corruption. It is not cheating. It is democracy.’ 

He said the argument that votes should not be counted bemused him. 

‘There really should not be a disagreement, regardless of party affiliation, when we’re talking about counting votes cast on or before Election Day by eligible voters,’ he said. 

‘It’s not a very controversial thing, or at least it shouldn’t be.’

And he revealed that his team had received calls from Trump supporters threatening them over the continued count – a process which will likely take another week.

He said they were receiving calls alleging ‘cheating’ and ‘manipulating the vote’. 

‘Or calls to our offices reminding us that ‘This is what the Second Amendment is for, people like us.”

Asked if he interpreted that as a death threat, Schmidt replied: ‘Yes, for counting votes in a democracy.’

Trump supporters protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sunday

Trump supporters protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sunday

Votes are still being counted and sorted inside the room, pictured on Wednesday

Votes are still being counted and sorted inside the room, pictured on Wednesday

Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, is in charge of defending the state from any legal suits launched by the Trump campaign.

He said the Trump campaign wanted two things.

‘Number one, to stop the count and number two, to allow their watchers to get closer to where the envelopes were being opened and scanned,’ he said.

‘On the first issue, being able to stop the count, they failed. 

‘And on the second thing – an agreement was reached to move these poll watchers from roughly 10 feet away to roughly six feet away.’

He said that had done nothing to affect the outcome of the vote.

Trump had said that poll watchers needed ‘binoculars’ to be able to observe.  

Ben Ginsberg, a Republican lawyer who was part of the legal team in Florida in 2000, successfully arguing the case for George W. Bush, said Trump’s legal team was on shaky ground.

He said there was no comparison to their own efforts in Florida.

‘On the one hand, it’s lawyers reacting to a client who is disjointed and unhinged and not terribly accepting of defeat,’ he said. 

‘And on the other extreme, this could be an instance of trying to slow down counts in individual states in the hopes that those states don’t complete their job of certifying election results in time for the electoral college to meet. 

‘And then he would go back to something else he’s talked about which is telling legislators to go and vote Trump slates even in states that were won by Biden.’

Asked what he would say to Trump if he could speak to him, Ginsburg replied: ‘Sir, you need to take a step back, look at the results. It is a democracy,’ he said.

‘It is a country that’s been very good to you. 

‘And you need to respect the institutions and the greatest institution of all is our elections that lead to the peaceful transfer of power. And you cannot be destructive of that.’



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Canada

Fitzgibbon is blamed by the ethics commissioner


Severely blamed Thursday for offering privileged access to a lobbyist friend, Pierre Fitzgibbon is not at the end of his sentences: the Ethics Commissioner is carrying out another investigation into him. “Angry”, François Legault considers that his minister deserves a reprimand.

Ethics Commissioner Ariane Mignolet presented to the National Assembly the first report of an investigation initiated 18 months ago following reports from our Office of Investigation and opposition complaints.

His investigation focused on the circumstances surrounding the sale by the Minister of the Economy of his shares in the company Move Protein.

After examining the links between Mr. Fitzgibbon’s ministerial activities, the transaction, and his friends, the Commissioner recommends that he be sanctioned with a reprimand.

Me Mignolet notes that Mr. Fitzgibbon found himself in a delicate position vis-à-vis his friend and lobbyist Luc Laperrière, who had done him a favor by buying him his shares of Move Protein which he had to dispose of.

The commissioner criticizes him in particular for having then allowed his friend to “communicate directly with [lui] in order to organize professional meetings “.

According to her, this “harms the maintenance of the confidence of the population in the members of the National Assembly”.

Legault agrees

Prime Minister François Legault admitted that his minister had acted badly. He also admitted that the commissioner’s findings had made him “angry”.

“He shouldn’t have met his friend,” he said at a press conference. […] There is a problem of fairness. “

Mr. Legault will suggest that his MPs vote in favor of the commissioner’s reprimand recommendation when her report is submitted to them.

Despite these initial conclusions, Mr Fitzgibbon could still receive criticism from the Commissioner.

Her report presented on Thursday reveals that by examining the Move Protein case, she took the initiative to split her case, in January 2020, and to do another investigation.

“A separate report” on “other related” items will be presented later, his cabinet confirmed Thursday.

Imprudence

Mr. Fitzgibbon admitted that he should not have met Mr. Laperrière alone as part of his lobbyist representations.

“Maybe there was recklessness, maybe I should have had someone with me,” he said. To say that I lacked judgment, I object to that. ”

Mr. Fitzgibbon asks the people to maintain their confidence in him.

“There was no wrongdoing,” he said. We are in appearances. ”

THE SAGA IN DATES

April 18, 2019

Pierre Fitzgibbon announces the appointment of his friend Guy LeBlanc as head of Investissement Québec. On the same day, our Bureau of Investigation revealed that they had until recently been co-owners of a company, Move Protein.

23 april 2019

The Ethics Commissioner responds to complaints from the opposition and opens an investigation into a potential conflict of interest in this case.

May 25, 2019

Our Bureau of Investigation reveals that the buyer of Mr. Fitzgibbon’s shares in Move Protein, Luc Laperrière, is an active lobbyist with him without however officially declaring his representations.

September 24, 2019

The Ethics Commissioner broadens her investigation to include Mr. Laperrière’s activities with his friend Minister.



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Headlines UK London Manchester

Police commissioner says officers WILL break up Christmas dinners if families flout lockdown rules


Police chiefs have warned that Christmas family celebrations will be broken up by officers if they flout lockdown rules.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said officers will investigate reports of rule-breaking over the festive period.

The West Midlands are currently under Tier 2 restrictions, meaning people cannot mix with any other households or bubbles inside.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said officers will investigate reports of rule-breaking over the festive period

The West Midlands are currently under Tier 2 restrictions, meaning people cannot mix with any other households or bubbles inside

Mr Jamieson told The Telegraph: ‘If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene. If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.

‘It’s not the police’s job to stop people enjoying their Christmas. However, we are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes, and if the Government makes those rules then the Government has to explain that to the public.’

The police chief also warned about the upcoming Hanukkah and Diwali celebrations which will also see families eager to gather inside, contrary to the rules in certain areas.

The three-tier system was introduced earlier this month in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in regional hotspots.

Police chiefs have warned that Christmas family celebrations will be broken up by officers if they flout lockdown rules

Police chiefs have warned that Christmas family celebrations will be broken up by officers if they flout lockdown rules

Jane Kennedy, the PCC in Merseyside, which is currently a Tier 3 region, said she would also investigate reports of illegal gatherings over Christmas.

Mr Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands in the near future, with the end of the furlough scheme ‘very likely’ to push people over the edge.  

He said: ‘We’re sitting on a time bomb here. We’re getting very near the stage where you could see a considerable explosion of frustration and energy. Things are very on the edge in a lot of communities and it wouldn’t take very much to spark off unrest, riots, damage.’ 

The police chief even compared the febrile situation to the 2011 riots sparked by the death of Mark Duggan, which saw violence spread across UK cities. 

He fears the trigger this time could be heavy-handed police forces shutting down celebrations and enforcing harsh restrictions.

He said people who have never been involved in crime could suddenly become emboldened to take part in the disobedience.

Forces in Manchester, London and Merseyside are concerned about potential violence, he added.

But Ms Kennedy disagreed, saying she doesn’t believe we are on the brink of serious disorder.

Their comments come after BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire admitted that if the rule of six were still in place by Christmas, she would ignore it.

Mr Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands in the near future, with the end of the furlough scheme 'very likely' to push people over the edge

Mr Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands in the near future, with the end of the furlough scheme ‘very likely’ to push people over the edge

She later backtracked from this stance, but her initial statement reflected an increasingly widespread disenchantment with the current rules. 

The idea that ‘we can carry on as we are’ and have a normal Christmas ‘is wishful thinking in the extreme’, a Government scientific adviser has said.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said ‘radical action’ would be needed to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, particularly in regions with high incidence of the virus.

Prof Edmunds, who told MPs that tens of thousands of deaths could occur during this wave of the pandemic, said further measures are needed to bring cases down.

The idea that 'we can carry on as we are' and have a normal Christmas 'is wishful thinking in the extreme', a Government scientific adviser has said

The idea that ‘we can carry on as we are’ and have a normal Christmas ‘is wishful thinking in the extreme’, a Government scientific adviser has said

He said that a circuit-breaker is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where incidence is high.

‘The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts,’ he said.

‘The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme.’  

A No10 spokesman previously said: ‘The PM has been clear previously that he is hopeful that in many ways we could be able to get some aspects of our lives back to normal by Christmas. 

The Government has not made any decisions about Christmas yet but many are preparing for restrictions to still be in place

The Government has not made any decisions about Christmas yet but many are preparing for restrictions to still be in place

‘As I say, we’ve been clear about the ambition to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year.’

The comments contrasted with the stance taken by Treasury Chief Secretary Steve Barclay in a round of interviews on Friday morning. 

He said: ‘I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time.

‘And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.

‘But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together – that is something we all hope to be in a position to do.’



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