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After report prison labour used for Christmas cards, U.K. retailer suspends Chinese supplier – CBC.ca

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British supermarket giant Tesco suspended a Chinese supplier of Christmas cards on Sunday after a press report said a customer found a message written inside a card saying it had been packed by foreign prisoners who were victims of forced labour.

“We abhor the use of prison labour and would never allow it in our supply chain,” a Tesco spokesperson said on Sunday.

“We were shocked by these allegations and immediately suspended the factory where these cards are produced and launched an investigation. We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.”

Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, donates £300,000 ($520,000 Cdn) a year from the sale of the cards to the charities British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK.

The message written inside a card sold at Tesco. (Reuters)

The Sunday Times said the message inside the card read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization.

“Use the link to contact Mr Peter Humphrey.”

Contact information for British man

Peter Humphrey is a British former journalist and corporate fraud investigator.

Humphrey and his American wife, Yu Yingzeng, were both sentenced in China in 2014 for illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling the information to clients including drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. The couple were deported from China in June 2015 after their jail terms were reduced.

The message inside the card was found by a six-year-old girl, Florence Widdicombe, in London, the Sunday Times said. Her father contacted Humphrey via the LinkedIn social network.

“We didn’t open them on the day that we got them. We opened them about a week ago. We were writing on them, and on my sixth or eighth card somebody had already written in it,” Florence told Reuters.

The message inside the card was found by six-year-old Florence Widdicombe in London. (Reuters )

Florence’s father, Ben Widdicombe, said he felt shocked after his child found the note, “but I also felt the responsibility to pass it on to Peter Humphrey as the authors asked me to do.”

Writing in the Sunday Times, Humphrey said he did not know the identities or the nationalities of the prisoners who put the note into the card, but he “had no doubt they are Qingpu prisoners who knew me before my release in June 2015 from the suburban prison where I spent 23 months.”

Tesco said it had a comprehensive auditing process in place.

Tesco auditing process

“This supplier was independently audited as recently as last month and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken our rule banning the use of prison labour,” the spokesman said.

British corporate investigator Peter Humphrey, left, and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, leave a Shanghai court on Aug. 8, 2014. Humphrey, who spent 23 months in a Chinese prison, says a prisoner he knew inside Qingpu prison likely placed the note inside a box of Christmas cards. (Reuters)

“If a supplier breaches these rules, we will immediately and permanently de-list them.”

The cards were produced at the Zheijiang Yunguang Printing factory, which is about 100 kilometres from Shanghai Qingpu prison, Tesco said.

The company, which prints cards and books for food and pharmaceutical companies, says on its website it supplies Tesco.

Two phone calls and one emailed request for comment to the company went unanswered after usual business hours on Sunday.

Humphrey and his wife said in their trial they had not thought they were doing anything illegal in their activities in China.

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Sleep Country Canada buys controlling stake in Hush Blankets – CBC.ca

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Sleep Country Canada Holdings Inc. has signed a deal to buy Hush Blankets, a direct-to-consumer seller of weighted blankets, pillows, sheets and bed-in-a-box mattresses.

Under the deal, Sleep Country will acquire a 52 per cent stake in Hush for $25 million.

The company has also agreed to buy the other 48 per cent in annual 16 percentage point stake increments starting March 31, 2023, at a price based on the business’s financial performance.

Hush was founded in 2017 by Lior Ohayon and Aaron Spivak and launched a weighted blanket in Canada in 2018.

Sleep Country says Hush will continue to operate as an independent business led by Ohayon and Spivak and a board including senior management from Sleep Country and Hush.

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These countries are vaccinating children against COVID-19 – CTV News

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Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have asked U.S. regulators to authorize their COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children aged 5-11, with an expert panel to the Food and Drug Administration scheduled to meet later this month to review data.

But with many parts of the world still awaiting doses for more vulnerable people, the World Health Organization has urged countries and companies that control the global supply of the vaccines to prioritize supply to COVAX.

The following is a list of some countries that have approved or are considering vaccinating children:

EU COUNTRIES

  • In June, Denmark said it would offer COVID-19 shots to children aged 12-15 to boost its overall immunity against the virus.
  • France has started vaccinating those from 12 years upwards, provided they have parental consent.
  • Germany in August agreed to make vaccination available to all children aged 12-17.
  • Austria has started vaccinating children aged 12-15.
  • Estonia could start vaccinating teenagers by the autumn, public broadcaster ERR reported, citing the head of the government’s COVID-19 council.
  • Hungary started vaccinating 16 to 18-year-olds in mid-May, according to Xinhua news agency.
  • Italy on May 31 approved extending the use of Pfizer’s vaccine to 12-15 year olds.
  • Lithuania’s prime minister said the country could start vaccinating children from age 12 in June, news site Delfi reported.
  • Spain begun vaccinating children between 12 and 17 years old around two weeks before the academic year in September, the health minister said.
  • Swedish PM says children aged 12-15 will be offered COVID vaccine later this autumn.
  • Greece in July said children aged 12-15 could be vaccinated against COVID-19 with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots.
  • Finland’s capital Helsinki in June said it will begin giving COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 12 to 15 who are at risk of contracting a severe coronavirus infection.

EUROPE (NON-EU)

  • Britain’s top medical advisers in September recommended that 12 to 15-year-olds receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Switzerland approved on June 4 vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds with Pfizer’s shot, while Moderna’s shot was approved in August for the age group.
  • In September, Norway started to offer one dose of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 12 to 15
  • San Marino has opened vaccinations for children aged 12-15, reported San Marino RTV, citing its Institute for Social Security.

MIDDLE EAST

  • In August, Israel on Sunday began offering a COVID-19 booster to children as young as 12.
  • The United Arab Emirates said in August rolled out China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17.

ASIA-PACIFIC

  • Indonesia on June 28 recommended China’s Sinovac vaccine for children aged 12-17.
  • An advisory committee to the Indian regulator recommended emergency use of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 shot in the 2 to 18 age-group. The regulator’s nod is awaited.
  • New Zealand’s medicines regulator has provisionally approved use of Pfizer’s vaccine for 12-15 year olds, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on June 21.
  • Australia said on Sept. 12 it will expand its COVID-19 vaccination drive to include around one million children aged 12-15.
  • China on June 5 approved emergency use of Sinovac’s vaccine for those between three and 17.
  • Hong Kong said on June 3 it would open its vaccine scheme to children over the age of 12.
  • Singapore opened up its vaccination program to adolescents aged 12-18 from June 1.
  • Japan on May 28 approved the use of Pfizer’s vaccine for those aged 12 and above.
  • The Philippines on May 26 decided to allow the Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for emergency use in children aged 12-15.
  • Jordan in July begun vaccinating children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19.

AMERICAS

  • The COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech will be the only one used in Mexico for at-risk children aged 12-17.
  • Brazil on June 11 approved use of Pfizer’s vaccine for children over 12.
  • Chile has approved use of Pfizer’s vaccine for 12 to 16-year-olds.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech have asked U.S. regulators to authorize emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. An advisory committee to the FDA will meet later this month to review the data.
  • Canada in early May approved use of Pfizer’s vaccine for use in children aged 12-15. The country has fully vaccinated more that 80% of its eligible population ages 12 and over.
  • Cuba’s vaccination campaign includes children as young as two.

AFRICA

  • South Africa will start vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17 next week using the Pfizer vaccine

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Canadian National Railway CEO to retire following investor pressure

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Canadian National Railway (CN) said on Tuesday Chief Executive Officer Jean-Jacques Ruest will retire at the end of January, following investor demands for his exit after the railroad operator’s failed bid for Kansas City Southern.

 TCI Fund Management, which owns 5% of CN, in August pitched former Union Pacific executive Jim Vena for the top job and on Tuesday urged Canada’s largest railroad operator to secure his leadership.

“Dismissing the same CEO that the Board put in place just three short years ago is a good start, but it does not address the fundamental problem of a lack of leadership,” TCI Founder Chris Hohn said. The hedge fund had earlier cited the company’s “ill-conceived” efforts to pursue the Kansas City merger for demanding Ruest’s ouster.

Last month, CN lost a bidding war to create the first direct railway linking Canada, the United States and Mexico as rival Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd signed a $27.2 billion deal to buy Kansas City.

CN has now set up a committee to look for a new CEO both within and outside the company.

“(The board) is not on the clock. It doesn’t mean that they will go slow,” Ruest said in an earnings call, adding that he would leave it to the board to engage with TCI.

Ruest had deferred discussions on his retirement plans in order to see the company through the merger, it said, and he could helm CN until it names a replacement.

In the third quarter ended Sept. 30, adjusted profit rose 9.5% on a surge in petroleum and chemicals shipments. But its operating ratio, a key profitability metric for investors, worsened to 62.7% from 59.9% a year earlier.

($1 = 1.2365 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Abhijith Ganapavaram, Amruta Khandekar and Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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