Canada bans ‘conversion therapy’
The lower house of the Canadian Parliament has voted to ban “conversion therapy” which attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice includes electric shocks, beatings and hypnosis. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals proposed the measure, though its passage prompted applause on both sides of the aisle. The Bill must now be approved by the upper chamber of parliament, the Senate. Malta banned conversion therapy in 2016.
Peng Shuai: WTA suspends China tournaments
The Women’s Tennis Association has decided to suspend all tournaments in China following the case of tennis player Peng Shuai. The former world number one in women’s doubles has been at the centre of concerns at international level after her disappearance from the public scene for weeks, following a complaint via social media of sexual abuse by the former vice premier Zhang Gaoli, 40 years her senior, with whom she had a relationship. The WTA had already said it was dissatisfied with the reassurances received from Beijing. WTA chief executive Steve Simon insisted the WTA will not relax its stance until China complies with a number of demands, not least concerning Peng’s safety and whereabouts.
‘Consider making COVID-19 jabs mandatory’ – EU
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said EU nations should consider making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory because too many people still refuse to have them voluntarily. “One third of the European population, or 150 million, is not vaccinated. This is a lot,” she told reporters. The EU-wide vaccination rate is 66%. Health policy remains a national prerogative in the EU, and making jabs mandatory remains controversial.
WHO warns of ‘toxic’ recipe for new variants
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that a “toxic mix” of low rates of immunization and testing were fanning new COVID-19 variants as Europe, adding it was time to “think about mandatory vaccination”. Asked whether European countries should prepare for a Christmas in lockdown, WHO executive director Michael Ryan said that one must “be patient” and wait to learn more about the Omicron variant. He stressed, governments in Europe are examining their epidemiological situation, introducing control measures, increasing surveillance and testing, and ensuring that those who are vulnerable or at risk are offered the vaccine.
Increase in cases in South Africa
South Africa has reported a sharp increase in coronavirus infections which has doubled across the country since Monday. The National Insitute for Communicable Diseases said recorded cases in South Africa almost doubled on Wednesday compared to the day before with 8,561 infections in 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 16.5%, compared to 4,373. Compared to a week ago, before the discovery of the Omicron variant, the increase in cases is over 400%.
First Omicron case in the US
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and health authorities in California have confirmed the first case of the newly discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron in the US on Wednesday, saying an individual who had recently travelled to South Africa tested positive for the strain. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also reported their first Omicron cases.
Facebook cancels ‘No Vax’ network accounts
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has removed a network of accounts linked to the anti-vaccination movement called V_V which originated in Italy and France. Mike Dvilyanski, Head of Cyber Espionage Investigations, said, “They insulted doctors, journalists and politicians by calling them supporters of the Nazis for promoting vaccines against COVID, ensuring that compulsory vaccination would lead to a health dictatorship.”
Maxwell accuser recalls she met Donald Trump
The key prosecution witness in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial told a federal court in New York she flew on Epstein’s private plane with Prince Andrew and how Jeffrey Epstein had driven her to Mar-a-Lago to meet Donald Trump when she was just 14 years old. The accuser, who is now an actress in her 40s, told the court she had been summoned to an orgy by Maxwell and Epstein at the age of 14, which had left her “frozen with fear”.
Baldwin denies pulling trigger
Alec Baldwin has said he did not pull the trigger of the gun he was holding that killed a cinematographer on the movie set of “Rust”. In his first major interview since the tragedy in October, the US actor also said he has “no idea” how a live round had gotten onto the set of the low-budget Western in New Mexico. “The trigger wasn’t pulled – I didn’t pull the trigger,” he said in an excerpt of an interview with ABC News released on Wednesday. “No, no, no. I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never.” In the interview, set to air in full on ABC this evening, Baldwin did not elaborate on how the weapon had gone off.