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China: Zero-COVID bias seen in ‘Western media’

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BEIJING –

China on Thursday accused “some Western media” of bias, smears and political manipulation in their coverage of China’s abrupt ending of its strict “zero-COVID” policy, as it issued a vigorous defence of actions taken to prepare for the change of strategy.

The move in December to end mass testing and quarantines led to a sharp rise in cases, with some hospitals and crematoriums overwhelmed with victims.

An editorial in the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily outlined what it called China’s “optimization and control measures” and blasted reports by media outlets they didn’t identify as “completely biased hype, smear and political manipulation with ulterior motives.”

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Since the initial wave of new cases, life in much of China has largely returned to normal, although officials have expressed concern about a further spread of the virus into the countryside during the Lunar New Year travel rush now underway.

Despite that, the editorial said many localities have “passed the peak of the epidemic, and production and life are speeding up to return to normal.”

“Zero-COVID,” as the strategy came to be known, sought to track and isolate every case of infection, along with those who had contact with them and even third-hand contacts. It confined millions of people in cities such as Shanghai to their homes for two months or longer, with many suffering from food shortages and lack of access to health care.

China strongly defended the policy but began dismantling it under economic pressure and after highly rare street protests broke out in Beijing and other major cities denouncing the ruling party and its leader, Xi Jinping. On Jan. 8, it took the further step of eliminating the requirement that those arriving from abroad undergo lengthy and expensive quarantines.

China rejected both foreign and domestic criticism of the policy’s excesses, denouncing earlier calls from the World Health Organization for it to adjust to changes in the nature of the virus, calling them “irresponsible.”

That made the abrupt mid-winter shift to a policy of merely seeking to prevent the most serious cases all the more jarring for the population, many of whom have defied censors to express anger online. Virtually overnight, testing stations where people had stood in long lines disappeared, while field hospitals used to quarantine millions simply packed up.

China also ceased publishing figures on new cases and deaths, which it had long been suspected of underreporting, leading to further complaints from the WHO and foreign nations about a lack of transparency. Unconfirmed estimates now put numbers of new cases at tens of thousands a day, with up to 85% of the population in some provinces having become infected.

China has also rejected calls to release more data and provide more information about the origin of the virus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, accusing those making the requests of “politicizing” the issue.

The government has also lashed out at countries that require travellers coming from China to show a negative virus test, calling the demand “discriminatory” even though it requires the same of anyone entering China.

That defensive attitude was reflected in the People’s Daily editorial, which said: “Thanks to meticulous medical preparations, sufficient production capacity reserves, and strong organizational planning and equipment, China has smoothly passed the adaptation period after the `transition’ and `shift’ of the epidemic prevention policy.”

“In the face of China’s prevention and control achievements, any political manipulation is pale and powerless,” it added, citing endorsements from academics in Nigeria, Kenya and Russia, all close Chinese diplomatic partners.

“All parties should focus on fighting the epidemic itself, avoid any words or deeds that politicize the epidemic, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and work together to defeat the epidemic,” the editorial said.

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Be cautious of financial advice on social media: Expert – BNN Bloomberg

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Be cautious of financial advice on social media: Expert  BNN Bloomberg

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Vancouver woman wins identity fraud fight with Bell Mobility after posting on social media

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It’s been four blissfully quiet days since Erica Phillips last heard from the collection agencies ringing her two or three times daily for months, demanding payment of hundreds of dollars owed on a Bell Mobility account with her name on it that she never opened.

“It’s a huge sense of relief,” she said. “It’s so nice knowing that this won’t continue being a daily reminder of something that shouldn’t have been my problem to begin with.”

The Vancouver woman says she has been fighting the company for more than two years with little response, submitting documents supporting that the account was fraudulently opened using her name while at the same time filing reports with police, credit agencies and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

She says relief from the collection calls only came after she contacted news outlets and posted about her frustrations on social media.

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“I took all of the correct avenues,” she said. “I didn’t want to make myself public but I felt like I was forced to,” she said.

Phillips’ ordeal started in 2020 when she received notices mailed to an old address from both Rogers and Bell Mobility that said she owed money. She says she had never been a client of either company, so she thought they were a phishing scam. Further investigation found that identity fraudsters had used her personal information to open the accounts in her name.

She says Rogers took quick action to cancel the account when she contacted them, but Bell Mobility did not.

“That’s what seemed so insane to me at the beginning, that it was so easily taken care of with one of the companies and then not at all with the other,” said Phillips.

In an emailed statement, Bell Mobility told CBC:

“We have conducted an investigation and have determined that this account was fraudulent. We are attempting to contact the client and have advised our affiliated credit agencies of the billing error.”

The Consumer Protection B.C. website has information on how to prevent identity theft. It also has forms and advice for individuals who are being pursued by a company or collection agency for a debt that is not theirs.

Identity fraud and identity theft are criminal offences, but have become lucrative thanks to the growth of technology, according to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

In 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre issued an alert after a spike in identity fraud reporting.

“Fraudsters are using personal information about Canadians to apply for government benefits, credit cards, bank accounts, cellphone accounts or even take over social media and email accounts,” it said.

Phillips says in just one night her social media post received more than 100,000 views. She’s been surprised by the number of people who have reached out to her to say they too have been victims of identity fraud.

“It’s unbelievable the comments that I’m getting on all of the various stories now of people in similar situations,” she said. “It’s crazy.”

She says Bell Mobility has not apologized.

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Lawler pays tribute to Edmonton on social media, says goodbye to Elks ahead of CFL free agency – Global News

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Lawler pays tribute to Edmonton on social media, says goodbye to Elks ahead of CFL free agency  Global News

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