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  1. Ottawa’s talks with Quebec shipyard to build much-needed icebreakers shrouded in fog By The Canadian Press Fri., Jan. 21, 2022timer1 min. read JOIN THE CONVERSATION OTTAWA - Questions are swirling over yet another delay in Ottawa’s nearly $100-billion plan to rebuild the fleets of Canada’s navy and coast guard, only this time the delay isn’t due to the stalled construction of a ship. The federal government announced in December 2019 that Quebec shipyard Chantier Davie was the only company to qualify for a piece of that work. That announcement kicked off negotiations toward an agreement that would see Davie responsible for building the coast guard’s next icebreaker fleet over the next 20 years. But more than two years later, those talks remain shrouded in fog, which has raised concerns about what will happen to those much-needed icebreakers. While both sides say discussions are proceeding, the last official update from the government was in July when it said it expected a deal by the end of the year. Some experts worry the failure to reach an agreement is indicative of a fissure between the two sides and will further delay replacing the coast guard’s icebreakers, most of which were due to retire years ago. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2022. Read more about: Ottawa
  2. The only ones who are against are some "Traditional Chiefs" (non elected of course).
  3. Biden administration suspending 44 U.S flights by Chinese carriers By David Shepardson 1 hour ago By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Transportation Department said Friday it would suspend 44 China-bound flights from the United States by four Chinese carriers in response to the Chinese government's decision to suspend some U.S. carrier flights over COVID-19 concerns. The Biden administration action came after Chinese authorities suspended a total of 44 United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines flights after some passengers tested positive for COVID-19. The suspensions will begin on Jan. 30 with Xiamen Airlines’ scheduled Los Angeles-to-Xiamen flight. The decision will cut some flights by Xiamen, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. The Transportation Department said China's suspension of some flights "are adverse to the public interest and warrant proportionate remedial action." It added that China's "unilateral actions against the named U.S. carriers are inconsistent" with a China-U.S. bilateral agreement. The department said that if China revised its "policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to once again revisit the action." But it also warned that if China cancels more flights, "we reserve the right to take additional action." The number of U.S. flights being scrapped has surged since December, as infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus soared to record highs in the United States. Beijing and Washington have sparred over air services since the start of the pandemic. In August, the U.S. Transportation Department limited four flights from Chinese carriers to 40% passenger capacity for four weeks after Beijing imposed identical limits on four United Airlines flights.
  4. 'No dissent is allowed': School board bars teacher from raising concerns over transgender books Tom Blackwell 1 hour ago Like18 Comments| An Ontario school board is facing charges of censorship this week after shutting down a teacher’s presentation to the group, saying her comments about books on transgender issues violated the province’s human rights code. Carolyn Burjoski was discussing publications she said are available in the libraries of Kindergarten to grade six schools. She had begun to argue the books made it seem too simple and “cool” to medically transition to another gender when her presentation was cut short by the Waterloo Region District School Board’s chair. Scott Piatkowski ruled she could not continue and the board eventually voted 5-4 to back up his decision. The fallout has continued since. Though controversial and opposed by most transgender advocates, concerns have been voiced before — including by leading figures in the movement itself — that gender-dysphoric young people are sometimes pushed too aggressively into medical transition. Piatkowski later told a local CTV station , however, that Burjoski’s comments were actually transphobic and “questioned the right to exist” of trans people. Meanwhile, the organization took down its recording of the meeting — a regular, public session of elected officials — and had YouTube remove another copy of the video for alleged copyright infringement. And then the teacher was given what she calls a “stay-at-home order” and told not to communicate with colleagues or students, though she’s still being paid and is slated to retire soon. On Thursday, she says her union rep informed her the board had appointed an outside investigator to examine her actions. In her first interview on the affair, Burjoski said she was “flabbergasted” by what happened at the meeting and Piatkowski’s remarks afterward. “I am not a transphobic person. It’s crazy that just because you ask a question, the first thing people do is call you that,” she said. “We do need to have a conversation about the intersection of biology and gender. We’re not having those conversations in our culture because, look what happened to me.” She said the order to stay away from school was likely meant to make an example of her: “The message is clear: no dissent is allowed.” Piatkowski declined to comment Thursday, saying he was already the target of organized online harassment and didn’t want to feed it further. He referred to two previous interviews with local media outlets. The human rights code bars discrimination based on gender identity and other grounds in the areas of housing, employment and providing services. Asked to explain how Burjoski’s comments violated the code, the chair told 570 News radio station that he would not repeat or respond to her remarks and “give them oxygen.” But he said he stood by his decision, and that chairs of other boards in the province have told him they would have done the same thing. “This person was speaking about transgender people in a way that was disrespectful, that would cause them to be attacked and I really needed to ensure it did not continue,” Piatkowski said. “I’m quite confident it was the right decision.” He said Thursday he knew nothing about the board’s actions against Burjoski or removal of the video of the meeting. Canada's teen transgender treatment boom Canada too quick to treat gender dysphoria in minors with hormones, surgery: critics Two groups representing the LGBTQ community in Waterloo could not be reached for comment. Trans activists, however, often argue that statements questioning medical transition in any way can fuel transgender harassment, discrimination and violence. “I’m not sorry that someone who opened the door to transphobic comments was stopped from keeping that door open,” Laura Mae Lindo, the NDP MPP for Kitchener Centre, commented on Twitter. “That’s not over-reach. Protect the most vulnerable. Uphold human rights. If you can’t do that, sit down.” One Waterloo trustee who came to Burjoski’s defence on Monday, though, blasted the board’s decision and said he’s never seen a delegation silenced in that way before. “It’s censoring presentations that the chair doesn’t agree with,” said long-time board member Mike Ramsay, who has served as chair three times himself. “As decision makers, we have to make informed decisions.… If we’re going to just take one point of view and say that’s sufficient, that’s wrong on so many fronts.” Burjoski said she has worked for more than 20 years as a teacher of English as a second language, specializing in children who have immigrated from various countries affected by war and political unrest. She appeared as a one-person public “delegation” in a session discussing the board’s controversial decision to conduct a system-wide removal of books it considered “harmful.” Her comments focused on resources recommended by the board for a transgender awareness day. Trouble started when she turned to a book called The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey and a scene that depicts a meeting between Shane, a transgender boy (born a girl), and a doctor. He voices excitement about starting on testosterone and when the physician says it would mean he likely wouldn’t be able to have children, he says, “It’s cool.” As Burjoski remarked that such books make it seem overly straightforward to take cross-sex hormones, Piatkowski interjected to warn she may be violating the code. The teacher then went on to say the book was misleading “because it does not take into account how Shane might feel later in life about being infertile. This book makes very serious medical interventions seem like an easy cure for emotional and psychological distress.” At that point, Piatkowski told her he was “ending the presentation.” The widely used “affirmation” approach to children who identify as transgender has raised some concerns in several countries, and not just among obvious critics. Two leading psychologists in the transgender medical community, one of them a trans woman, complained in a recent article about sloppy and dangerous assessment of young people presenting as trans, with overly hasty resort to hormones. Pam Buffone, whose parents group Canadian Gender Report highlights similar issues, said Burjoski raised legitimate questions about the appropriateness of school materials, as places like Finland restrict the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. “If there’s a reason to hide this discussion from public scrutiny, then there’s really something wrong,” she said.
  5. No support to decriminalize minor drug possession Calgary Herald 21 Jan 2022 STEPHANIE BABYCH With files from Madeline Smith sbabych@postmedia.com Twitter: @Babychstephanie Alberta police chiefs are taking a stand against decriminalizing the personal possession of drugs. The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP) said Thursday it will not support the decriminalization of minor drug offences before supports are improved and public policy is modernized. The announcement comes as Edmonton city council is poised to discuss a motion on Monday that would lay the groundwork for the city to request an exemption from the federal government to decriminalize the personal possession of drugs, similar to exemptions being pursued by officials in Vancouver and Toronto. Edmonton Coun. Michael Janz said on Twitter that council's discussion will be an opportunity to take the first step toward a public health approach to the ongoing drug poisoning epidemic. During a news conference Thursday, Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld, chair of the AACP, said Alberta communities are not ready for the effects of decriminalization. While Neufeld acknowledged that decriminalizing minor drug offences could be part of an integrated approach to redirect drug users away from the criminal justice system and toward appropriate health supports and care, he said Alberta chiefs don't believe those supports are currently available, including quickly accessible treatment services. “Drug decriminalization triggers an immediate need for structural and societal changes in areas that do not currently exist,” Neufeld said. “Jurisdictions that have implemented decriminalization have added a range of administrative sanctions in replacement of criminal justice outcomes.” All levels of government and stakeholders would have to establish regulations for issues such as the use of drugs in public spaces, the use of drugs in areas near minors, discarded needles or other debris, and public complaints, Neufeld said. And it would be essential to include input from rural and Indigenous communities, he added. Blood Tribe Police Service Chief Brice Iron Shirt said at the news conference that he does not recommend decriminalization of drug possession for Indigenous policing in Alberta, though he said Blood Tribe Police Service is taking a holistic approach to the opioid crisis that's specific to Blackfoot culture and beliefs. Elaine Hyshka, assistant professor and Canada research chair in health systems innovation at the University of Alberta, said charging people with minor possession of drugs does not deter substance use but contributes to significant harm to people's health, well-being and economic chances. In Alberta, nearly 1,400 people died from substance-related overdoses between January and October 2021. Hyshka said she's glad to see Edmonton council open the discussion and hopes other communities follow suit. Calgary Coun. Courtney Walcott said he took notice of Edmonton's motion. “It's setting a roadmap. This action on behalf of Edmonton, it's going to have a trickle-down effect because we'll be able to take a look at it, see the response, see the response from the public and, honestly, plan accordingly.”
  6. the outstanding question, except perhaps for a youngster (teen) , why anyone would want it?
  7. Will the Russians care about the sanctions. They would of course turn off the natural gas to Europe etc. Russia is facing ‘severe’ sanctions for Ukraine threats. Here’s what that could mean By Karin Strohecker and Andrey Ostroukh Reuters Posted January 20, 2022 11:41 am Growing tensions between Moscow and Western powers have raised the prospect of new sanctions being imposed on Russia, possibly the most severe yet, if it attacks neighboring Ukraine. U.S. Senate Democrats have unveiled a bill to impose sweeping sanctions on the Russian government and military officials – including President Vladimir Putin – as well as Russian banking institutions if Moscow engages in hostilities against Ukraine. “If Russia is using its conventional military to acquire land in Ukraine, that will meet a severe economic response,” a senior White House official said on Wednesday. Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders in what Kyiv and its allies fear could be preparation for a new military offensive. Russia, which denies planning to attack Ukraine, has been subject to sanctions since its 2014 annexation of Crimea from its neighbor. Further punitive measures were added after a former Russian spy was poisoned in Britain in 2018 and following an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election won by Donald Trump. Russia has denied any role in the poisoning of ex-spy Yuri Skripal and his daughter, and denies trying to interfere in foreign elections. Here are some ways financial sanctions could target Russia. Sanctions could target semiconductor chips The White House has told the U.S. chip industry to be prepared for new restrictions on exports to Russia if Moscow attacks Ukraine, sources said. This includes potentially blocking the country’s access to global electronics supplies. Similar measures were deployed during the Cold War, when the United States and other Western nations maintained severe technology sanctions on the Soviet Union, keeping it technologically backward and crimping growth. Sanctions could hit Russia's big banks, assets The United States and the European Union already have sanctions on Russia’s energy, financial and defense sectors. The White House is floating the idea of curbs on Russia’s biggest banks and has previously mooted measures targeting Moscow’s ability to convert roubles into dollars and other currencies. Washington could also target the state-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund. 2:09Questions remain over how much more Canada’s military can help Ukraine Questions remain over how much more Canada’s military can help Ukraine Sanctions applied to individual firms often cause sector-wide pain, according to former U.S. State Department economist Mark Stone, as they make investors worry that the curbs will be widened or that they will be unable to differentiate. “Sanctioning all transactions with Russian banks and freezing assets would be more impactful and more targeted” than a cut-off from the SWIFT global messaging system, said Brian O’Toole, a fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank. Targeting Russia’s access to SWIFT, which is widely used in international financial transactions, would become useful really only following broad financial sanctions by the United States, Britain and the European Union, O’Toole said. Sanctions could zero in on individuals with bans, freezes Sanctioning individuals via asset freezes and travel bans is a commonly used tool and can sometimes resonate widely. Britain imposed sanctions in April 2021 on 14 Russians under a new law giving the UK government the power to penalize those it says are credibly involved in the most serious corruption abroad.
  8. The president of Emirates says the 5G rollout that led to flights being canceled is 'one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible' situations he's witnessed Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images%7B The president of Emirates lashed out at US 5G rollout plans. Tim Clark told CNN it was "one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible issues" he'd seen in his career. Airlines including Emirates and British Airways canceled flights over 5G safety concerns. The president of Emirates has slammed a 5G rollout plan in the US that prompted airlines to cancel flights. "This is one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible issues, subjects, call it what you like, I've seen in my aviation career," Emirates President Tim Clark told CNN Wednesday. His comments came after Dubai-based Emirates and other airlines announced Tuesday they would suspend flights to some US airports over safety concerns linked to a 5G rollout near airports. Verizon and AT&T agreed last-minute on Tuesday that they would delay the launch of 5G service near airports after airlines warned the technology could cause massive flight disruptions. Despite the pause of the rollout, some airlines – including Emirates – continued to suspend flights. Clark told CNN that 5G was being deployed differently in the US compared to other countries, and that Emirates wasn't aware until Tuesday morning of "the extent that it was going to compromise the safety of operation of our aircraft and just about every other 777 operator." He added that Emirates decided to suspend the flights "until we had clarity." Video: Does 5G pose a threat to airline safety? (Reuters) Pause Current Time 0:03 / Duration 2:04 Loaded: 29.09% Unmute 0 LQ Captions Fullscreen Does 5G pose a threat to airline safety? Click to expand Many of the aircraft used on the affected routes are Boeing 777 airplanes. The Federal Aviation Administration Sunday published a list of Boeing and Airbus aircraft whose radio altimeter models were approved for performing low-visibility landings at many of the US airports where the 5G rollouts were due to take place. The 777 aircraft was not included in the January 16 list, although some 777 models have been included on updated lists. Emirates said Tuesday that from Wednesday it was suspending flights to six of its 12 US passenger destinations and was switching another three routes from Boeing 777 planes to Airbus A380s "due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services." It said that this was based on Federal Aviation Administration advice and guidance from Boeing. Emirates said Thursday that the FAA and Boeing had changed their guidance and that it would resume the canceled routes Friday and switch the A380s back to 777s Saturday. Airlines including Air India, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, and British Airways also suspended some flights over the 5G rollout. Ten major US air carriers had warned federal officials in a letter Monday that the scheduled 5G deployment could "potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas" and grind the nation's commerce "to a halt." This is because it could affect the aircraft's radio altimeter, which is used to determine a plane's altitude above ground level when landing or flying above mountainous terrain. Verizon and AT&T said Tuesday they would continue with the rollout on Wednesday as planned but would voluntarily delay deploying the technology near airports. Both criticized the FAA, with an AT&T spokesperson telling Insider that the company was "frustrated by the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services." Read the original article on Business Insider
  9. `RIGHTS HAVE TO HAVE TEETH' COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS VS. THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS Calgary Herald 20 Jan 2022 TYLER DAWSON National Post tdawson@postmedia.com Twitter.com/tylerrdawson ARTUR WIDAK / NURPHOTO / FILES Every Canadian has, thanks to Section 6 of the Charter, the right to “enter, remain in and leave Canada” and the right to “move to and take up residence in any province.” Over the course of the pandemic, Canadians have gone before the courts, arguing public-health measures to combat COVID-19 have infringed upon their rights. Yet, time and time again, these attempts have failed. Interprovincial travel restrictions have been found constitutional; some members of the military failed to stop a mandatory vaccination policy; and quarantine hotels have been found justifiable. While some of these court battles are ongoing, and many could be appealed to higher courts, two years into the pandemic, it's clear the courts have not been sympathetic to the idea that public-health measures have unreasonably infringed upon Canadians' rights. At a time when Quebec is pondering a variety of mandatory vaccination — financial penalties for the unvaccinated — some experts are asking, to what extent is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protecting Canadians' rights? Have courts struck an appropriate balance during the pandemic, and, will they do so afterwards? “The reality is that, given that judges are not specialists in public health, they have shown an overwhelming tendency to defer to policy-maker's decisions, and they've been very reticent to step in and invalidate them,” said Joanna Baron, the executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation. “Rights have to have teeth. And I think that judges, they've erred too far on the side of deferring to government.” What's critical to understand about the way courts have ruled during the pandemic, is that the rights the charter grants are not absolute. “The very first section of the charter explains to us that all of the rights in the charter are subject to reasonable limits that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” said Emmett Macfarlane, a political scientist studying the constitution at the University of Waterloo. This isn't especially unique to Canada. The U.S. Bill of Rights is often perceived to be tougher than the charter — after all, the First Amendment begins with “Congress shall make no law” — but those rights can also be limited: freedom of speech doesn't extend to child pornography; the Second Amendment right to bear arms doesn't extend to fully automatic weapons. Yet, the existence of Canada's limitations provision was controversial back when Canadians were actually debating what the charter ought to say. The initial version of Section 1, drafted in agreement between the federal government and the provinces, said charter rights would be “subject only to such reasonable limits as are generally accepted in a free and democratic society with a Parliamentary form of government.” Peter Hogg, one of the leading authorities on Canadian constitutional law, wrote that of the 46 groups that addressed Section 1 in their discussions of how to improve the charter, 38 of them said it had to go. Among them: the Canadian Bar Association, which said it “must be deleted”; the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, which said it was a loophole so ginormous, members dubbed it the “Mack Truck clause”; and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which, in a written memo from November 1980, said the government was “attempting, at one and the same time, to eat and have its constitutional cake.” “Parliament must either fish or cut bait. Legislative supremacy and the entrenchment of human rights cannot co-exist in this way,” the memo said. Jean Chrétien, who was then the justice minister, backed down in January 1981, and the language changed from “generally accepted” and “with a parliamentary form of government” to the current version, which says, charter rights are “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” (As it happens, the government was actually prepared to drop Section 1 altogether, if this new draft was also rejected.) “The purpose of the original draft was to ensure that the people, the legislatures and the courts would not look upon rights as absolute, but would recognize them as subject to reasonable limitation,” Chrétien said at the time. It's inarguable that some aspects of the pandemic response have infringed upon rights. But, because the charter allows for limitations on rights, that does not mean the policy or law or regulation is unconstitutional. “It's really a question of proportionality: Is the rights-restricting policy or law doing more harm or more good on balance?” said Macfarlane. In May 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador instituted a travel ban. Days later, Kimberley Taylor, who lived in Nova Scotia, was turned away when she tried to visit for her mother's funeral. As it happened, eight days later, she was allowed in, but her lawsuit — she was joined by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association — was heard by the court to determine if a province could restrict travel. Every Canadian has, thanks to Section 6, the right to “enter, remain in and leave Canada” and the right to “move to and take up residence in any province.” The court conceded that, yes, Taylor's mobility rights were violated. But, it said, this infringement was “a reasonable measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador.” Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental freedoms program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, says it's not the charter's fault it isn't being used to strike down pandemic-related legalization. Yes, the charter exists, and, yes, it has various clauses that justify infringements upon rights, but, at the end of the day, it's judges who are making those analytical calls and deferring to politicians and public-health experts. “Because of the nature of this particular emergency and the length of it, I think we do need the courts to be scrutinizing these measures more closely and requiring governments to really bring forward the evidence for why they're doing what they're doing,” said Zwibel. The way in which a court decides if something is constitutional or not is somewhat complex. But versions of this analysis have been done in many of the Covid-related court cases. In one case in the Federal Court, regarding the federal government's quarantine hotels, the judge had to analyze alleged violations of a number of charter rights, such as security of the person. “It is not difficult to readily apprehend how the prospect of having to stay at (government-approved accommodation) or a (designated quarantine facility), and then actually being at such a facility, would cause feelings of stress and anxiety in some people,” wrote Chief Justice Paul Crampton. “However, I find that the alleged violations did not engage the Applicants' right to security of the person.” Because of the pace of the pandemic — a restriction might have been lifted before it gets a court hearing — many issues haven't even come before courts or received charter analysis. In the United States, said Zwibel, the Supreme Court has heard stacks of Covid-related court cases. “We just don't have a system that lets that happen at that kind of speed. And the speed is important, because we've had rules that change so frequently that by the time you get something in front of a court, the rules that you're challenging might no longer be in place,” Zwibel said. In the four decades since the charter was adopted, courts both low and high have been sifting through these questions to determine the constitutionality of various laws and regulations, although, at times, the level of scrutiny has ebbed and flowed. “The court has oscillated on how much it demands government actually present to demonstrably justify its laws,” said Macfarlane. A recent — and obvious — example of this is the immediate post-9/11 era, when courts were exceptionally deferential to governments and their anti-terrorism legislation. “The courts aren't immune from the broader political context of the day,” Macfarlane said. An analogous phenomenon might be afoot now. So, what comes next? And what effect might the way the courts handled pandemic restrictions have on the way we perceive rights? “You can see a sort of draining away of public enthusiasm and public perception of the legitimacy of the charter's protections,” Baron said. (The Canadian Constitution Foundation has also litigated against some COVID-19 policies, such as quarantine hotels.) Just like the courts after 9/11 slowly became less willing to accept government arguments, as normalcy slowly returns, or the justifications for severe restrictions weaken, the courts may become more likely to strenuously question infringements upon rights. “We're seeing a period of some deference to public-health decision-making, but that may moderate over time, as courts feel a bit more confident in entering into some of the charter analysis on these issues,” said Dwight Newman, a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Since the way judges approach the charter shifts back and forth over time, so, too, does the perception that judges and the charter aren't protecting Canadians' rights. “I think people would like to have an instrument that actually protects some absolute rights ... that draws some clear lines in the sand. And that's not the way Section 1 has come to be interpreted in the Canadian context,” said Newman. But, he said, the charter still exists, and it still has power to protect against government overreach. “People should feel some confidence in that,” Newman said. It's hard to say what the effects will be in the long term, with regards to precedents and a shift toward judicial deference, experts said. Zwibel, though, argued individual rights have been devalued during the pandemic. “I agree that it's a problem that's required collective action and responsibility, and that there are rights and responsibilities, and that collective interests are important, but I think that we've forgotten — or just not paid sufficient attention to — the importance of protecting individual rights and freedoms.” YOU CAN SEE A ... DRAINING AWAY OF PUBLIC ENTHUSIASM.
  10. Omicron highlights fading hope of herd immunity from COVID-19 Julie Steenhuysen ReutersStaff Contact Published Thursday, January 20, 2022 10:19AM EST CHICAGO -- The Omicron variant, which is spreading far faster than previous versions of the coronavirus, is not likely to help countries achieve so-called herd immunity against COVID-19, in which enough people become immune to the virus that it can no longer spread, leading disease experts say. From the earliest days of the pandemic, public health officials have expressed hope that it was possible to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, as long as a high enough percentage of the population was vaccinated or infected with the virus. Those hopes dimmed as the coronavirus mutated into new variants in quick succession over the past year, enabling it to reinfect people who were vaccinated or had previously contracted COVID-19. Some health officials have revived the possibility of herd immunity since Omicron emerged late last year. The fact that the variant spreads so quickly and causes milder illness might soon expose enough people, in a less harmful way, to the SARS-COV-2 virus and provide that protection, they argue. Disease experts note, however, that Omicron’s transmissibility is aided by the fact that this variant is even better than its predecessors at infecting people who were vaccinated or had a prior infection. That adds to evidence that the coronavirus will continue to find ways to break through our immune defenses, they said. “Reaching a theoretical threshold beyond which transmission will cease is probably unrealistic given the experience we have had in the pandemic,” Dr. Olivier le Polain, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization (WHO), told Reuters. That is not to say that prior immunity offers no benefit. Instead of herd immunity, many experts interviewed by Reuters said there was growing evidence that vaccines and prior infection would help boost population immunity against COVID-19, which makes the disease less serious for those who are infected, or become reinfected. “As long as population immunity holds with this variant and future variants, we'll be fortunate and the disease will be manageable,” said Dr. David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. NOT LIKE MEASLES Current COVID-19 vaccines were primarily designed to prevent severe disease and death rather than infection. But clinical trial results in late 2020 showing that two of the vaccines had more than 90% efficacy against the disease initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained by widespread vaccination, similar to the way measles has been curbed by inoculation. With SARS-CoV-2, two factors have since undermined that picture, said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "The first is that immunity, especially to infection, which is the important kind of immunity, wanes quite quickly, at least from the vaccines that we have right now," he said. The second is that the virus can quickly mutate in a way that enables it to elude protection from vaccination or prior infection - even when immunity has not waned. "It changes the game when vaccinated people can still shed virus and infect other people," said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He cautioned against assuming that infection with Omicron would increase protection, especially against the next variant that might arise. "Just because you had Omicron, maybe that protects you from getting Omicron again, maybe," Wohl said. Vaccines in development that provide immunity against future variants or even multiple types of coronaviruses could change that, said Pasi Penttinen, the top influenza expert at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, but it will take time. Still, the hope for herd immunity as a ticket back to normal life is hard to shake. "These things were in the media: 'We’ll reach herd immunity when 60% of the population are vaccinated.' It didn't happen. Then for 80%. Again, it didn't happen,” Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, told Reuters. “As horrible as it sounds, I think we have to prepare ourselves to the fact that the vast majority, essentially everyone, will get exposed to SARS-CoV-2," he said. Global health experts expect that the coronavirus will ultimately become endemic, circulating persistently in the population and causing sporadic surges. The emergence of Omicron, however, has raised questions about exactly when that might happen. “We will get there," said the WHO's le Polain, "but we are not there at the moment.”
  11. Czech folk singer dies after intentionally catching COVID-19 Brooklyn NeustaeterCTVNews.ca Writer @bneustaeter Contact Published Thursday, January 20, 2022 11:02AM ESTLast Updated Thursday, January 20, 2022 11:02AM EST The son of a Czech folk singer says his mother, who was opposed to getting vaccinated against COVID-19, has died after she deliberately contracted the disease. Hana Horka, of the folk band Asonance, died on Sunday after intentionally exposing herself to the coronavirus at home, her son Jan Rek told CNN affiliate CNN Prima News. She was 57. Rek says his mother voluntarily exposed herself to COVID-19 after he and her husband, who are both vaccinated, caught it before Christmas. Rek said Horka wanted to get sick so she would not be required to get vaccinated. "My mom wanted to get sick so she gets the COVID pass," Rek said. "She said to me, and even publicly, she wants to get infected so she is done with COVID." In the Czech Republic, proof of vaccination or a recent COVID-19 infection is required for travel, accessing cultural and sports facilities, and for visiting bars and restaurants. Rek said his mother was getting incorrect information about the virus "from her social circle," and was posting anti-vaccination sentiments online. He added that Horka was "ignoring on purpose some facts and comments that were disproving her arguments." "She wanted to get sick on purpose," Rek said. While Rek said that his mother "wasn't extremely against vaccination," she was open to the idea of choice. "She was living by even at times unrelated information concerning health in general, but there has always been this underlying thought that nature will take care of everything and only we know ourselves the best," he said. Rek said he is sharing the story to warn others about the risk the Omicron variant poses to those who are unvaccinate
  12. The following article will of course raise the question re why the prices are so high and why can we not get reduced prices. 1. As the title of this thread states, you don't want our oil so why the hell would you expect to reap it's benefits? However all Canadians will share some of the benefits due to the increased federal tax revenue. 2. As a Province we may achieve a balanced budget from this new money and then be able to afford more benefits and jobs for our citizens, along with those who commute here from other provinces to work. (win / win) for all. 3. Re the cost, that is of course based on the world market. At the retail end, it varies greatly from Province to Province, City to City.
  13. Military may take months to gauge 5G safety risks to aircraftMilitary may take months to gauge 5G safety risks to aircraft By Stephen Losey Jan 19, 08:33 PM WASHINGTON — As the commercial airline and telecommunications industries scramble to limit the potential safety risks to aircraft from a rollout of new 5G networks, it may be months before the U.S. military has a handle on whether, or how big, of a problem this might be for its own planes. At the center of the controversy is whether the deployment of 5G networks, operating along a frequency known as the C-band, will interfere with radar altimeters used by military, civilian and commercial aircraft and helicopters. These altimeters are used to measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground. For the military, they are particularly necessary when mobility aircraft such as cargo planes or tankers land in adverse weather conditions. If the pilot’s visibility is poor during such a landing, he or she would have to use altimeters to measure how far off the ground the aircraft is during the approach, and a flawed reading could lead to a crash. Verizon and AT&T began activating their 5G networks on Wednesday, promising much faster wireless service speeds than the previous 4G network. But amid a growing outcry from the commercial airline industry, the companies on Tuesday announced they would temporarily limit the deployment of new 5G networks near some airports. Some international airlines announced plans to cancel certain flights to the United States over the concern.hat 5G deployment could cause interference to civil and military aircraft. By Valerie Insinna and Aaron Mehta The Federal Communications Commission in early 2021 auctioned off the rights to operate 5G transmissions in the C-band, or 3.7-3.98 GHz, primarily to Verizon and AT&T. That is close to the 4.2-4.4 GHz spectrum radar altimeters use. The airline industry trade association Airlines for America said it has brought concerns about the potential for interference and safety risks to the FCC several times since 2018, to little avail. The Air Line Pilots Association said in a Jan. 18 statement interference from 5G networks operating on this spectrum could cause aircraft to lose their radar altitude information or mistakenly tell the pilots the wrong altitudes, and could lead to crashes. In a Jan. 17 letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Federal Aviation Administration head Stephen Dickson, FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and the White House, Airlines for America urged that the new 5G networks not be activated within two miles of major airports. Failing to do so could result in “significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies,” reads the letter, which was also signed by the heads of major commercial aviation firms such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, UPS and FedEx Express. The military decided about a year ago that instead of trying to block the auction of the C-band spectrum, it would work to limit the potential interference with its aircraft’s systems. In a Tuesday email, Air Force spokesman Capt. Patrick Gargan said the Defense Department is working with its FAA counterparts on the 5G issue. Gargan said the Pentagon stood up a “Joint Interagency FiveG Radar Altimeter Interference,” or JI-FRAI, team, to develop “quick reaction tests” to determine the impact of 5G on avionics. The military is scrambling to understand the aviation crash risk from a new 5G sale More than a dozen commercial aviation groups are warning that the sale of spectrum could lead to interference and even fatalities. By Valerie Insinna and Aaron Mehta But those tests will not provide any answers soon. Gargan said testing is scheduled to begin this month, and the results are expected late this summer. Gargan also said military services have issued bulletins to the field and to fleets to alert aircrews about the potential for interference, and is setting up a system for reporting interference if it happens. The Air Force, Verizon and AT&T did not respond by press time on whether the telecommunications companies would similarly limit 5G rollout around military bases where aircraft take off or land. Honeywell, one of the leading manufacturers of radar altimeters, told Defense News it hasn’t been asked to take any steps to further safeguard its altimeters, though it continues working with the government and aircraft manufacturers on this issue. “Honeywell’s radar altimeters meet all existing FAA and manufacturer certification requirements,” Honeywell spokesman Adam Kress said in an email. “Neither the agency nor manufacturers have provided any additional requirements for our equipment. If needed, we’re ready to verify compatibility of our equipment with any new requirements and we have been working with the FAA, Department of Defense and aircraft manufacturers to conduct testing of our systems in the 5G spectrum.” The Air Force Safety Center said it had received no reports of problems with 5G interference, although the 5G networks on the C-band spectrum had only started to come online. CNBC reported some other forms of 5G have previously been available to some Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile customers. Those 5G services, however, are not on the C-band, which is prized for its ability to travel long distances and transmit large amounts of data.
  14. The EU Removed Canada From Its Safe List & It Means Travellers Could Face More Restrictions Helena Hanson 5 hrs ago The European Union has recently removed Canada from its safe travel list, which means Canadian visitors could face additional restrictions when travelling there. On Monday, January 17, the EU shared an update confirming that Canada, Argentina and Australia would be taken off the list of places for which travel rules should be lifted. It means passengers from these countries could be subject to additional travel measures if they enter the EU, although each member state is ultimately responsible for its own border policies. According to Forbes, to stay on the green list a country must have no more than 75 new COVID-19 cases daily per 100,000 people within 14 days. On the same day that Canada was pulled from the safe travel list, fourteen other countries were actually added to it. This included Qatar, Colombia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and China, among others. The EU suggests member states should "gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders" for residents of these places. It comes as the Omicron variant continues to impact the travel industry both in Canada and internationally. On January 10, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its advice and warned Americans to avoid all non-essential travel to Canada due to its "very high" levels of COVID-19. On Tuesday, WestJet announced even more cuts to flight services through February due to related staffing shortages and "cumbersome" travel restrictions. Other Canadian airlines have made similar moves in recent weeks. Canada's strict pandemic-related border measures remain in place and the country's global travel advisory is still active. This article’s cover image was used for illustrative p
  15. Cathay Pacific Is On Life Support, and Hope Is Running Out Hong Kong’s unofficial flag carrier lacks the attributes that have helped other airlines weather the pandemic. All dressed up and nowhere to go. Photographer: Kyle Lam/Bloomberg By David Fickling January 18, 2022, 3:00 PM MST Listen to this article 5:36 Share this article David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian. @davidfickling + Get alerts for David Fickling In this article 293 CATHAY PAC AIR 6.42 HKD -0.04-0.62% 753 AIR CHINA LTD-H 5.84 HKD +0.00+0.00% RYA RYANAIR HLDGS 16.22 EUR -0.18-1.10% SIA SINGAPORE AIRLIN 5.07 SGD +0.02+0.40% 1055 CHINA SOUTHERN-H 4.97 HKD -0.15-2.93% Open Is any airline on the planet in a more impossible situation right now than Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.? The carriers that have coped best during the pandemic have two qualities in common. They either have a substantial domestic or quasi-domestic market, such as Interglobe Aviation Ltd., Spring Airlines Co. or Ryanair Holdings Plc; a reliable government shareholder, like Singapore Airlines Ltd. or Emirates; or, ideally, both, like China’s big three airlines Air China Ltd., China Southern Airlines Co. and China Eastern Airlines Corp. Hong Kong’s unofficial flag carrier has neither. A pandemic that shuttered international travel was always going to be tough for an airline that crosses a border every time it flies. Still, rivals have been slowly getting back on their feet. Singapore Air was running at 37% of pre-Covid capacity in November before climbing to 45% the following month, buoyed by a government determined to return the city to its status as a global hub. Cathay was at just 12% of pre-pandemic levels in November — and the border rules have since been tightened. On Jan. 8, all flights from several of Cathay’s biggest markets — including Australia, Canada, the Philippines, the U.K. and U.S. — were suspended for a month. A week later, even transit flights — one of the few areas where Cathay was able to operate, given Hong Kong’s zero-Covid strategy involves a three-week quarantine — were suspended to a list of 150 countries, leaving the city almost cut off from air traffic: Cathay is a relatively rare example of a full-service airline that’s never been nationalized, but it’s always been able to count on an attitude of benign neglect. When Qantas Airways Ltd. tried to set up a budget carrier in the city in 2013, Cathay blocked it in the courts. When it funded trips to Europe for members of Hong Kong’s legislature amid that lobbying effort, the city’s future Chief Executive Carrie Lam said no rules had been broken. She’s now far less indulgent, promising this month to take legal action against the airline after outbreaks of the omicron variant were traced back to members of its crew who’d been allowed to skip quarantine protocols. The former flight attendants were arrested Monday and released on bail. Once upon a time, Cathay Pacific was treasured as a cherished part of Hong Kong’s unique identity as a laissez-faire center of free speech and free markets. With that identity itself now seen as a threat to Beijing, the airline has about as much value to the territory’s government as Lennon Walls, Tiananmen Square memorials and muckraking media tycoons. If there’s one aspect of Hong Kong that hasn’t changed, it’s that big money often speaks most freely. While Cathay Pacific’s shares have barely responded to the change in conditions, the airline’s 4.875% notes due in 2026 have been slumping, from 99.1 cents on the dollar on Jan. 5 to 93.9 cents now. That shift arises from a growing recognition that Hong Kong's one major favor to Cathay Pacific turned out to be a poisoned chalice. That the airline is operating at all right now is largely down to the HK$40.95 billion ($5.3 billion) bailout it received in 2020. Generous terms mean that the interest-like dividends on the HK$19.5 billion of preference shares at the heart of that package don’t even have to be paid until conditions improve. The sums owed are quietly accruing, though, and the interest rate will start ramping up in August 2023, from 3% currently to 9% by 2026. If Cathay keeps deferring preference dividends and adding them to its sum of debt, the annual interest bill alone on the prefs will top HK$2 billion by the middle of 2025 — roughly equivalent to its average net income in the last five pre-pandemic years. Those obligations will rank ahead of any dividends Cathay could hope to pay to its ordinary shareholders — and it’s also going to have to start paying down the principal, too. Cathay Pacific’s only hope to avoid its prefs turning into an ever-growing money pit is to see earnings spring back at lightning speed. But even a return to something resembling normal when international traffic gets back to pre-Covid levels around 2024 seems optimistic. With Hong Kong turning ever more into a hermit city indistinguishable from the authoritarian mainland of China, the business-class travelers who’ve helped make flights turn a profit are quitting for more welcoming locations. What future does Cathay Pacific have in that situation? It seems impossible that it will ever pay off its debt to the government. The most likely option is that a weakened airline finally falls into the arms of state-controlled Air China, which could turn it into a premium carrier and use it to extend its own cargo operations.
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