A new report from Russia’s state statistics agency shows the country recorded a record number of deaths in July of people infected with coronavirus.
The report from the Rosstat agency said 50,421 people suffering from COVID-19 died during the month, sharply higher than the previous record of 44,435 in December.
However, the agency said in the report that only 38,992 deaths were directly attributed to the disease. In another 5,206 deaths, the virus was assessed as likely the main cause but that more investigation would be needed; in 1,449 other cases, the virus contributed to the deaths but was not the main cause.
Rosstat said the other 4,844 deaths of infected people were not connected to the virus.
The report said the total of virus-related deaths in Russia by the end of July was 215,265 — well higher than the 180,840 cited by the national coronavirus task force. Russian officials ascribe that to different counting methods, saying the task force only includes deaths where COVID-19 was the main cause.
Officials also say the task force uses data from medical facilities while Rosstat takes its numbers from civil registry offices, where registering a death is finalized.
Russia’s vaccination drive against COVID-19 has lagged behind other nations. As of mid-August, only a quarter of the country’s 146 million people had received at least one vaccine dose, while 20 per cent had been fully vaccinated.
Authorities in many regions have made vaccines mandatory for certain groups of workers, including those employed in health care, education, retail, public transportation and government offices.
What’s happening across Canada
- B.C. vaccine bookings ticking up in wake of passport requirement announcement.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday, more than 215.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.4 million.
In Asia, Tokyo City Hall has apologized for “confusion” amid its vaccination rollout targeting young people, after crowds looking to get the shot were turned away from a facility in the Japanese capital. Health authorities on Saturday switched to a reservation system instead of first come, first served. But more than 2,200 people showed up to get vaccine appointment vouchers, some waiting in line since dawn, and 354 were selected by lottery to receive shots, Japanese media reported.
In Europe, thousands turned out in Berlin to protest the German government’s coronavirus measures, despite bans against several planned gatherings. The Saturday protests come amid debates in Germany about how and whether to impose restrictions for unvaccinated people, a question taking on more urgency as coronavirus case numbers rise.
In the Americas, hundreds of parents in Mexico have resorted to filing for court injunctions to get coronavirus vaccines for their children after the government refused to consider vaccinating those under 18. About 15 parents have won the injunctions and got their children shots as the government presses schools to return to in-person classes Monday.
In Africa, authorities have arrested Dr. Eteni Longondo, Congo’s former public health minister, following allegations he misappropriated more than $1 million US in funds allocated by the World Bank to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not immediately known what specific charges Longondo faced or whether he had retained a lawyer.
Taiwan blasts China for Pacific trade pact threats
China is an “arch-criminal” intent on bullying Taiwan and has no right to oppose or comment on its bid to join a pan-Pacific trade pact, Taiwan’s government said in an escalating war of words over Taipei and Beijing’s decision to apply.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan said on Wednesday it had formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), less than a week after China submitted its application.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it opposed Taiwan “entering into any official treaty or organization”, and on Thursday Taiwan said China sent 24 military aircraft into the island’s air defence zone, part of what Taipei says is an almost daily pattern of harassment.
In a statement late on Thursday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said China had “no right to speak” about Taiwan’s bid.
“The Chinese government only wants to bully Taiwan in the international community, and is the arch-criminal in increased hostility across the Taiwan Strait,” it said.
China is not a member of the CPTPP and its trade system has been widely questioned globally for not meeting the high standards of the bloc, the ministry added.
China sent its air force to menace Taiwan shortly after the application announcement, it said.
“This pattern of behaviour could only come from China,” it said.
In a statement also issued late Thursday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said China’s entry into the CPTPP would benefit the post-pandemic global economic recovery.
China opposes Taiwan using trade to push its “international space” or engage in independent activities, it added.
“We hope relevant countries appropriately handle Taiwan-related matters and not give convenience or provide a platform for Taiwan independence activities,” it said.
The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s growing influence.
But the TPP was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States.
The grouping, which was renamed the CPTPP, links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Canada's costly election: Could $600M have been spent elsewhere? – CTV News
With an estimated record-setting price tag of $610 million, the 2021 election is the most expensive in Canadian history — at a cost of about $100 million more than the 2019 election.
After all of that spending resulted in little change politically, many are asking whether it was worth the money and where else those hundreds of millions of dollars could have been directed.
Indigenous organizations have criticized the election as being “unnecessary,” suggesting the money could have been better spent on clean drinking water initiatives, reconciliation projects, and mental health initiatives.
Child-care advocates have similarly suggested that the funds could have been used to propel the Liberals’ $10-a-day child-care promise. And many Canadians have spoken out, wishing the money had instead been spent on pandemic recovery.
Experts say that it’s not quite that clear-cut, as governments don’t have a set amount of money in their pot each year – and some say you can’t put a price on democracy, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
Ian Lee, associate professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, says it’s important to first understand that government budgets don’t operate like your run-of-the-mill household budget.
“Governments don’t have a ‘fixed, rigidly financed, precise’ amount of money in their pot each year. They roughly know revenues come in and expenditures go out. Sometimes they’re a little short and they just have a deficit, and then they print the money because that’s what governments do,” Lee told CTVNews.ca by phone Thursday.
“Budgeting, unlike for the average consumer, is not a zero-sum game – consumers, if they don’t have the money for something, you’re just out of luck. You don’t buy it. Governments don’t face that dilemma, especially the federal government.”
In other words, just because a certain amount of money million was spent on the election, that doesn’t mean there is the same amount less to spend on something else.
But as for the principle of calling a pricey election during the fourth wave of a pandemic, experts are split.
“For me – it is true that anytime the government spends money it could be spent elsewhere and the point of elections is to judge the government on how they spent money and the decisions they made,” Michael Johns, visiting professor in the Department of Politics at York University, told CTVNews.ca by email Thursday.
“There are far too many examples of things that could be funded and are not and other things that are spent that are problems.”
But Johns says he is uncomfortable with the idea that spending money on an election should be considered an issue, suggesting that those upset with the timing of the election should have reflected such in their ballot.
“There would have been an election a year ago if the opposition had been successful in voting out the government on a matter of confidence; there would have been one in probably a year if it had not been triggered now due to the nature of minority governments,” he explained
“Either way the act of voting and having our preferences registered matters and costs money. People could judge the government on its timing and vote accordingly but we should be very careful when we start making decisions about holding elections based on their cost.”
Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, a non-profit citizen group advocating democratic reform, has a different view, saying the money spent on the election could have been spent on “anything else.”
“The prime minister decided to hold an election even though 327 MPs voted against holding the election at the end of May,” Conacher told CTVNews.ca by phone Thursday.
“And he knew in calling an election that Elections Canada would have a right to spend any money it needed to run it, which ended up being more than usual because of the costs of, for example, buying one pencil for everybody.”
As for what that money could have been spent on instead, Conacher says the government should make those decisions based on what the large majority of the country needs – like health-care solutions during a pandemic.
“In terms of where the $600 million could be spent, there’s many areas where the health of Canadians is at risk or where Canadians want money spent – pharmacare, child care – the polls show the large majority want those in place,” he said.
Lee disagrees that it has to be one or the other, saying that “you cannot make the argument that because they spend $600 million on the election, that therefore some other spending item will be cut by $600 million.”
Billionaire countries: Canada jumps up the list – CTV News
Canada added seven billionaires in 2020, increasing its total to 53, tied for 12th-most in the world, up from 14th the previous year, according to a new global report.
The combined wealth of Canadian billionaires also tops US$100 billion, an increase of 4.5 per cent from last year.
In its latest billionaire census, Wealth-X, an ultra-high net worth (UHNW) data company, stated the number of billionaires in the world surpassed 3,000 (up to 3,204) for the first time in 2020, after an additional 670 individuals entered the billionaire class. The combined wealth of this group is now approximately US$10 trillion.
The share of wealth held by billionaires among the UHNW class, which is defined as those with a net worth of US$30 million or more, has also increased to 28 per cent, despite billionaires making up just one per cent of the UHNW population.
Seven of the top 15 billionaires in the world made their fortunes in the technology sector.
These are the top five billionaires by net worth as listed by Wealth-X:
- Jeff Bezos, Amazon, US$201.2 billion
- Elon Musk, Tesla, US$181.1 billion
- Bernard Arnault, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, US$154.4 billion
- Bill Gates, Bill and Melina Gates Foundation, US$142.4 billion
- Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, US$137.4 billion, Facebook
Here’s a breakdown of the top 15 countries ranked by billionaire population and their combined wealth.
- U.S., 927, US$3.709 trillion
- China, 410, US$1.303 trillion
- Germany, 174, US$515 billion
- Russia, 120, US$397 billion
- U.K., 119, US$225 billion
- Hong Kong, 111, US$282 billion
- Switzerland, 107, US$318 billion
- India, 104, US$316 billion
- Saudia Arabia, 64, US$144 billion
- France, 64, US$238 billion
- Italy, 60, US$169 billion
- Brazil, 53, US$151 billion
- Canada 53, US$100 billion
- United Arab Emirates, 50, US$151 billion
- Singapore, 50, US$86 billion
Wealth-X lists Hong Kong as a semi-autonomous, special administrative region of China.
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