World en Tue Jan 05 17:44:22 IST 2021 canadian-regulator-authorises-astrazeneca-vaccine-2-million-doses-to-come-from-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Canadian regulators on Friday authorised AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine for all adults.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>It is the third COVID-19 vaccine given the green light by Canada, following those from Pfizer and Moderna.<br> </p> <p>This is very encouraging news. It means more people vaccinated, and sooner," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, adding that the nation of 38 million people will now get 6.5 million vaccines in total before the end of March, 500,000 more now with the new approval.&nbsp;</p> <p>Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in people 18 and over, expressing confidence it would work for the elderly even though some countries, including France, have authorised it only for use in people under 65, saying there is not enough evidence it works in older adults.</p> <p>With trials showing about 62 per cent efficacy, the vaccine appears to offer less protection than those already authorised, but experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop the outbreak. It's a good option, said Dr Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sharma said no one has died or become severely ill in trials of the vaccines now approved by Canada or in those of Johnson &amp; Johnson and Novavax shots, which could be approved soon.&nbsp;</p> <p>Health authorities in Germany and other countries have raised concerns that AstraZeneca didn't test the vaccine in enough older people to prove it works for them and indicated they would not recommend it for people over 65. Belgium has authorized it only for people 55 and under Health Canada said its decision was based on pooled analyses from four ongoing clinical studies trials as well as data in countries where it has been approved.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Based on the totality of the information, the benefit-risk profile of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is positive for the proposed indication in adults 18 years and over," Health Canada said in information posted online.<br> </p> <p>We're starting to get real-world evidence. There is evidence that in the older age group it would be effective, Sharma said.<br> </p> <p>Canada has now ordered 22 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford. It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Trudeau said 2 million of those doses will come from the Serum Institute of India, which Sharma said uses the same recipe but a slightly different method and was also approved.</p> <p>The AstraZeneca vaccine has already been authorized in more than 50 countries. It is cheaper and easier to handle than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs deep-cold storage that is not widespread in many developing nations. Both vaccines require two shots per person, given weeks apart.</p> <p>Canada and many European countries have been struggling to vaccinate people as quickly as Britain, Israel, the US and elsewhere. Canada does not have domestic production and Trudeau's government has been accused of not obtaining vaccines fast enough even while also being criticized for ordering enough doses overall to supply its population 10 times over.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The AstraZeneca vaccine forms the bulk of COVAX's stockpile and concerns were recently raised by an early study that suggested it might not prevent mild and moderate disease caused by the variant first seen South Africa. Last week, South Africa scaled back its planned rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine, opting instead to use an unlicensed shot from Johnson &amp;amp; Johnson for its health care workers.&nbsp;<br> </p> Sat Feb 27 17:33:07 IST 2021 new-zealand-auckland-to-go-into-a-seven-day-lockdown-after-covid-19-case-of-unknown-origin <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, on Saturday, announced that Auckland, the country’s largest city will need to go into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday, with the rest of the country to be put under level 2 restrictions.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The announcement was made after a new case of coronavirus of unknown origin was recorded.</p> <p>On February 17, Ardern had announced that the lockdown imposed on Auckland was being rolled back despite a family of three reported infected with the UK strain of the virus. Ardern said she did not believe the transmission was widespread. The city was initially put into a snap lockdown meant to last for three days.&nbsp;</p> <p>The patient who developed symptoms on Tuesday is said to have contracted an infectious strain of the virus. The person has visited several public places between Tuesday and Saturday.</p> <p>The lockdown will allow residents to leave their homes only to shop for essential items or essential work. Auckland currently has about 12 cases of the virus.</p> <p>New Zealand has recorded just 2,000 cases of the coronavirus since the virus broke out in the country for the first time in summer last year. It has been one of the developed nations to have successfully prevented the virus from spreading rapidly with its strict lockdown measures along with quarantining and contact tracing.</p> Sat Feb 27 17:04:14 IST 2021 us-the-house-passes-covid-19-stimulus-bill <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The US House of Representatives, on Friday, has passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill in his first major legislative victory. It is, however, unclear whether the proposal to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next five years will remain in the final package.</p> <p>Democrats passed the bill and sent it to the Senate. The senate and the house passed a resolution that would allow Democrats to pass the stimulus bill without Republican votes. the procedure known as reconciliation will allow the Democrats to pass the bill with a simple majority. the stimulus package is aimed at helping more than 500,000 American who lost jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The bill includes $1,400 direct payments to Americans making less than $75,000 annually, expanded federal unemployment benefits of $400 per week till August. The bill also includes $50 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing and billions for vaccine distribution and relief for small businesses. The bill also includes $350 billion for state and local governments.</p> <p>The Republican Party, in the meantime, is criticising the Democrats for using the reconciliation process to advance legislation opposed by the Republicans.</p> <p>Top Democratic leaders are discussing alternate options like penalising companies that don’t pay their workers a living wage, in case the proposal to increase minimum wage to $15 over five years is not included in the final bill.</p> Sat Feb 27 17:05:29 IST 2021 kremlin-critic-alexei-navalny-moved-penal-colony <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a penal colony on Friday. Navalny was poisoned in August 2020 by a nerve agent. Navalny returned to Russia in January, when he was detained by the police at Moscow airport. The lawyer and Kremlin’s fiercest critic has been in detention ever since.</p> <p>Navalny is expected to serve more than two years at the penal colony, the head of Russia's prison service told news AFP.</p> <p>“He has been transferred to where he is supposed to be under the court ruling," state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Alexander Kalashnikov, the head of the Federal Prison Service, as saying.</p> <p>The location of the penal colony hasn’t been revealed. Even when in prison, Navalny managed to rattle President Putin. He had his supporters release a video of an extravagant palace near the Black Sea, accusing Putin of corruption. at the penal colony, detainees are often kept in dormitories and divided into groups and they can work if they wish to. Navalny’s family will be informed of the location of the penal colony after ten days.</p> <p>The Kremlin has portrayed Navalny as unpatriotic. Navalny, ever since his detention, has been accused of slandering a world war veteran and of embezzlement.</p> Sat Feb 27 15:02:13 IST 2021 myanmar-envoy-urges-un-to-restore-democracy-in-the-country <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Myanmar’s permanent envoy to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, on Friday appealed to the organisation to restore democracy in the country and “to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military,” to do so.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people and to restore the democracy,” Moe Tun told Reuters. Myanmar has been in the state ever since the military, on February 1, ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, claiming her victory in the November elections were fraudulent.</p> <p>Protesters have been taking to the streets, demanding the release of Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League of Democracy party. Suu Kyi, who is on trial on charges of illegally possessing talkies, has been detained at an unknown location in Naypyidaw. Even as the police were out on the streets of Yangon and other parts of the nation, protesters gathered, singing and chanting. They, however, melted away into side streets as police set off stun grenades and firing into the air.</p> <p>Moe Tun said the leaders represented the country’s legitimate government. He ended his speech with a three-fingered salute, the protesters have been using. Moe Tun’s counterparts responded with applause to his address.</p> <p>UN special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said the UN should send a “clear signal in support of democracy” and urged that none of the member nations should recognise the military rulers.</p> <p>The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said: “We urge every member state here today to use any channel available to tell the military that violence against the people of Myanmar will not be tolerated. Together we all show the people of Myanmar that the world is watching. We hear them and we stand with them.”</p> <p>Myanmar’s army, which has imposed a state of emergency for a year, has promised an election but hasn’t given a date yet.</p> <p>“It is important the international community does not lend legitimacy or recognition to this regime,” Schraner Burgener said. “The result of the election of November 2020 was clear with 82 % of the votes for the NLD, she added.</p> <p>Guterres has pledged to mobilise enough international pressure “to make sure that this coup fails”.</p> Sat Feb 27 12:38:19 IST 2021 hundreds-of-nigerian-schoolgirls-taken-in-mass-abduction <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Hundreds of girls are missing after a large group of gunmen raided a school in northern Nigeria early Friday morning, residents say.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The Government Secondary Jangebe School in Zamfara state was the scene of the latest mass abduction of school children in northern Nigeria.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Nasiru Abdullahi told The Associated Press that school records show 300 girls are missing. His daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among them.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Resident Musa Mustapha said the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.<br> </p> <p>Several large groups of armed men operate in Zamfara state, described by the government as bandits, and are known to kidnap for money and for the release of their members from jail.<br> </p> <p>We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria, said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in the country. This is a gross violation of children's rights and a horrific experience for children to go through." He called for their immediate release.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The West African nation has seen several such attacks and kidnappings over the years, notably the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram of 276 girls from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than a hundred of the girls are still missing.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Friday's attack came less than two weeks after gunmen abducted 42 people, including 27 students, from the Government Science College Kagara in Niger State. The students, teachers and family members are still being held.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>In December, 344 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State. They were eventually released.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted the recent abductions and tweeted that Strong action is required from the authorities to turn the tide &amp;amp; keep schools safe.&nbsp;<br> </p> Fri Feb 26 22:32:56 IST 2021 prince-harry-says-he-stepped-away-from-royal-work-to-protect-family-mental-health <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prince Harry, who decamped from England to Southern California last year, rapped the theme song to the 1990s sitcom <i>The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air</i> during a late-night talk show interview in which he said he didn't walk away from his royal duties.<br> </p> <p>During an appearance on the CBS television network's The Late, Late Show with James Corden that aired early Friday, Harry said he decided to step away from his work as a front-line member of the royal family to protect his wife and son and his mental health.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>It was stepping back rather than stepping down, he told Corden. It was a really difficult environment, which I think a lot of people saw, so I did what any father or husband would do and thought, How do I get my family out of here?' But we never walked away, and as far as I'm concerned, whatever decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The appearance marked Harry's first interview since his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, stripped the prince and his wife, the former actress Meghan Markle, of their remaining royal duties earlier this month.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Corden's coup trumped Oprah Winfrey, whose interview with the couple is scheduled to air March 7.<br> </p> <p>During the segment, Corden and the prince tour Southern California on an open top bus, at one point arriving outside the mansion where the opening sequence of Will Smith's Fresh Prince was filmed.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>If it was good enough for the Fresh Prince, it's good enough for a real prince, Corden says, walking up the drive. Do you remember the song? Now this is the story, all about how, my life got flipped, turned upside down, now take a minute, Harry raps before turning to Corden for help.<br> </p> <p>And sit right there, I'll tell you how I became the prince of town called, Corden chimes in.<br> </p> <p>"Bel -ir," Harry finishes off the song.</p> <p>&nbsp;The royal couple actually live north of Bel-Air in Santa Barbara County.<br> </p> Fri Feb 26 21:25:32 IST 2021 khashoggi-case-biden-warns-of-changes-in-saudi-ties-as-report-confirms-mbs-role <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>US President Joe Biden on Friday revealed he had told Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to expect major changes in the US-Saudi bilateral relationship.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an interview with <i>Univision</i>, Biden said he had spoken to King Salman on Thursday. "I spoke yesterday with the king... Made it clear to him that the rules are changing and we're going to be announcing significant changes today and on Monday. We are going to hold them accountable for human rights abuses," Biden told <i>Univision</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The changes on Friday mentioned by Biden appeared to be a “Khashoggi Ban" announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after a report was submitted to the US Congress on the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We [Biden administration] immediately, when I got in, filed the report, read it, got it, and released it today. And it is outrageous what happened [to Khashoggi],” Biden said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Soon after the report's submission, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Khashoggi Ban that imposes visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Blinken said the Khashoggi Ban allows the State Department to impose visa restrictions on individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious extraterritorial counter-dissident activities. These activities include those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten or harm journalists, activists or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work or who engage in such activities with respect to the families or other close associates of such persons, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report on the killing of Khashoggi by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) had created a stir before its submission over its purported references to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man who has been driving key Saudi economic and foreign policies in recent years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ODNI report noted Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ODNI said it based the assessment on the prince's control of decision-making in the Saudi Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Mohammad bin Salman's protective detail in the operation and his support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Since 2017, the crown prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom's security and intelligence organisations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the prince's authorisation," stated the report.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ODNI said it has high confidence that nearly a dozen individuals participated in, ordered or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Khashoggi on behalf of the prince. Khashoggi had visited the consulate for documents for his marriage to a Turkish woman. The prince in 2019 had said he took “full responsibility” for the killing since it happened on his watch, but denied ordering it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The killing of Khashoggi had strained US-Saudi ties even as the previous Donald Trump administration had attempted to downplay the issue in pursuit of US goals to contain Iran.</p> <p>(With PTI inputs)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Feb 27 07:57:13 IST 2021 uk-supreme-court-rules-teenage-isis-bride-cannot-return-home <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The UK Supreme Court has ruled that British born Shamima Begum, who left the UK to join the islamic State in Syria, cannot return home. Begum was 15 when she left home to join ISIS. Now 21, she is currently at a refugee camp in Syria. The Court fears that allowing Begum to return would be a blow to other jihadi wives attempting to come back to the UK. Begum and two other school girls left the UK to travel to Syria and join ISIS in 2015.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Begum wants to come back and challenge the&nbsp;Home Office's decision to remove her British citizenship. In 2018, home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped Begum off her citizenship&nbsp; on national security grounds. The court ruled that her rights weren't breached when Begum was refused permission to return.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lord Robert Reed, President of the Supreme Court&nbsp; told CNN, the Court of Appeal was mistaken in ruling that Begum's right to a fair hearing should prevail over other competing rights.</p> <p>In 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that Begum be allowed to return to the UK for her appeal to ensure fairness. Reed also said that the Court of Appeal made their "own assessment of the requirements" despite an "absence of relevant evidence."&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Human rights campaigners argue that preventing her from entering the UK rendered her stateless.&nbsp;</p> Fri Feb 26 16:59:11 IST 2021 malaysian-man-wins-court-challenge-against-islams-ban-on-gay-sex <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a historic first, a Malaysian man won a court challenge against Islam’s ban on gay sex. In 2019, the man was charged with attempting to have “intercourse against the order of nature.”&nbsp;<br> &nbsp;</p> <p>“This is historic. This is monumental for LGBT+ rights in Malaysia,” Numan Afifi, the founder of LGBT+ rights group Pelangi Campaign told AFP. Paling Campaign wasn’t involved in the lawsuit. In a unanimous decision, Malaysia’s top court ruled that Islamic provision used the man was unconstitutional and the same cannot be enacted into law. The man’s lawyer said the ruling also indicates that the case against the man, filed in 2019 should be dropped.&nbsp;<br> &nbsp;</p> <p>The South Asian nation is known to up its crackdown on the gay community, say LGBT activists. There has been a rise in arrests and punishments ranging from caning to jailing.&nbsp;<br> &nbsp;</p> <p>Though same-sex acts are illegal in Malaysia, convictions have been rare.&nbsp;<br> &nbsp;</p> <p>Under British colonial-era law, that bans gay sex, known as Section 377, gay Malaysian men can face up to 20 years in prison if caught engaging in what is deemed as ‘unnatural sex’. In a country where the majority of the population is Muslim, gay people aren’t open about their sexuality.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Feb 26 16:45:22 IST 2021