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Vaccine doses cross million and 'Schitt's Creek' nominated: In The News for Feb. 4

Last Updated Feb 4, 2021 at 4:24 am EDT

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 4 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada show the country has surpassed one million doses given for the first time.

According to the federal government, the provinces reported 13,768 new vaccinations administered Wednesday for a total of 1,000,862 doses given.

The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,640.847 per 100,000.

There were 2,340 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,157,381 doses delivered so far.

Just hours after Procurement Minister Anita Anand said this week she is confident Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine deliveries will only get better, the country’s purchases got slammed again.

“The worst week was last week,” Anand said in an interview with The Canadian Press Tuesday night.

Potential deliveries from the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as the COVAX Facility diminished and Canada learned the production problems that cut this week’s deliveries from Moderna by 20 per cent are now going to affect the next shipment as well soon after that statement.

Moderna was to deliver almost 250,000 doses to Canada the third week of February. It hasn’t said yet what the impact will be.

A spokeswoman for Moderna told The Canadian Press the company remains “on track” to meet its contract to supply two million doses of its vaccine by the end of March.

They are but the latest headaches for Canada’s vaccine efforts, coming after supply constraints cut Pfizer-BioNTech deliveries by more than two-thirds over four weeks, and European export controls that could put our entire supply of vaccines at risk.

The provinces and territories have used 86.48 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Also this …

A groundbreaking new report details how countries such as Saudi Arabia, China and Rwanda are meddling in democratic countries, including Canada, to harass, threaten and commit violence against their citizens living abroad.

The report by Freedom House on “transnational repression” is believed to be the first broad attempt to provide a global overview the threat of foreign interference by hostile regimes.

The American-based organization says a worldwide pattern of violence and intimidation meant to squelch dissent can be seen in a study of 31 countries targeting hundreds of victims in 79 other states, and it names six countries that are undermining democracy: China, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, and Canada’s NATO ally Turkey.

The report indicates how anecdotal accounts of foreign harassment in various Canadian diaspora communities are part of a worldwide pattern.

It says 3.5 million people globally have been attacked directly or through “secondary tactics of intimidation and coercion” that then sends ripples through diaspora communities around the world.

Freedom House president Michael J. Abramowitz said the report underscores dangers faced by human-rights activists, dissidents, and their families even after they have fled their repressive countries.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The Virginia Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would abolish the death penalty, a measure that if passed into law would mark a major policy change for a state that over its centuries-long history has led the nation in the number of executions it has carried out.

The Democrat-controlled chamber approved the bill in a 21-17 vote that split along party lines and was seen as a key hurdle for the measure. Advocates now expect the House version of the bill to easily clear that chamber, and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said he supports the legislation.

Wednesday’s vote followed a lengthy, emotional floor debate.

“I cannot think of anything that is more awful, unspeakable and wrong for a government to do than to use its power to execute somebody who didn’t commit the crime they’re accused of. The problem with capital punishment is that once it’s inflicted you can’t take it back, it can’t be corrected,” Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell, the bill’s sponsor, said as he introduced it.

Democrats raised concerns about the racial disparities in the application of the death penalty and pointed to research that shows it does not deter crime.

Republicans urged a “no” vote on the bill, saying it wouldn’t give victims’ families a chance at justice and voicing concerns that people convicted of heinous murders would be eligible for parole.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Myanmar authorities charged the country’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies, her allies said Wednesday, a move that gives the generals who overthrew her legal grounds to detain her for two weeks.

The charge came to light two days after Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest and appeared to be an effort to lend a legal veneer to her detention, though the generals have previously kept her and others locked up for years.

The military announced Monday that it would take power for one year — accusing Suu Kyi’s government of not investigating allegations of voter fraud in recent elections. Suu Kyi’s party swept that vote, and the military-backed party did poorly.

National League for Democracy spokesman Kyi Toe confirmed the charge against Suu Kyi that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. He also said the country’s ousted president, Win Myint, was charged with violating the natural disaster management law. A leaked charge sheet dated Feb. 1 indicates they can be held until Feb. 15.

“It was clear that the military were going to look for some legal cases against the leaders of the National League for Democracy and especially Aung San Suu Kyi to actually legitimize what they’ve tried to do,” said Larry Jagan, an independent analyst of Myanmar affairs. “And that is really a power grab.”

Police and court officials in the capital Naypyitaw could not be contacted.

On this day in 1992 …

Gulf Canada announced it was pulling out of the Hibernia oil project off Newfoundland. Almost one year later, the 25 per cent stake was purchased by the federal government, the remaining Hibernia partners and Murphy Oil.

In entertainment …

Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” has landed a Golden Globe nomination in the category of best TV musical or comedy series.

The Ontario-show show swept its Emmy Awards categories last fall, landing seven trophies, including best comedy series.

All four leads also snagged acting trophies last year — Hamilton-born Eugene Levy, Toronto-born Catherine O’Hara, Toronto-raised Daniel Levy, and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy.

Daniel Levy also won a writing award and a directing trophy he shared with Andrew Cividino for the show, which aired on CBC and ended its sixth and final season in April.

“Schitt’s Creek” has some stiff competition in its Golden Globes category: “Emily in Paris,” “The Flight Attendant,” “The Great” and “Ted Lasso.”

ICYMI …

The Trudeau government has added the Proud Boys and three other extreme right-wing groups to its list of terrorist organizations as it seeks to tackle the sort of neo-fascism and white nationalism that boiled over in the U.S. last month.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Wednesday that the four right-wing groups are among 13 additions to the list along with three groups linked to al-Qaida, four associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and one Kashmiri organization.

Groups on Canada’s roster of terrorist entities, created after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, may have their assets seized, and there are serious criminal penalties for helping listed organizations carry out extremist activities.

The decision to add the Proud Boys had been anticipated after the storming of Capitol Hill in Washington last month focused a spotlight on the group and Blair confirmed Canadian authorities were looking into its activities.

The other three right-wing extremist groups added Wednesday were The Base, the Atomwaffen Division and the Russian Imperial Movement, all of which are described as neo-Nazi and white-supremacy organizations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021

The Canadian Press