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Federal government has not created system to source safe supply to reduce overdoses

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OTTAWA — More than a year since the federal government’s expert task force recommended it create a safe supply of substances to reduce people’s reliance on toxic street drugs, the government has not created any system to procure one.

Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of mental health and addictions, said in a recent parliamentary committee hearing that the government is building toward a plan to address the opioid crisis.

But she was less clear on what steps it is taking toward sourcing a safe supply.

“I think clearly they don’t have a plan around safe supply,” NDP MP Gord Johns said in an interview.

Johns, the party’s mental health and harm reduction critic, said Bennett has been vague on how she would deliver safe supply.

A regulated and safe supply of opioids would ensure people don’t rely on the unregulated and highly dangerous drug supply on the street, according to the June 2021 recommendations from Health Canada’s Expert Task Force on Substance Use.

In response to a question about safe supply, Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi told a House of Commons committee of the whole in May that she will make procurement decisions based on requests that come from Health Canada, and that she works with provinces and territories through the health minister.

In a Commons health committee meeting in June, Johns asked Bennett about what actions she is taking to scale up safe supply.

Bennett said though the government has approved diacetylmorphine, or injectable heroin, as a new treatment option for people with severe opioid use disorder, “the Pharmascience company is not ramping up to produce it.”

She mentioned other regulated substances such as Dilaudid and powdered fentanyl, but said doctors need to be able to prescribe them.

Despite Bennett’s comments, “she hasn’t even reached out to ask the procurement minister to procure safe supply,” said Johns, who added the government needs to look at a model for safe supply that has low barriers for people who need it.

Referencing the government’s work to procure COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, Johns asked why it is not doing the same for safe supply.

“It’s because it lacks political will, it’s not their priority, and they lack courage,” he said.

Bennett’s office did not directly respond to a question about whether she and Tassi have been working together to procure a safe supply of opioids.

“The provision of contracts for a safer supply of opioids is primarily a provincial and territorial responsibility,” Bennett’s office said in a recent statement.

Health Canada is currently supporting 17 safer supply projects in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, for a total investment of more than $64 million, her office said.

Natasha Touesnard, executive director of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, said she doesn’t think the government offering safe supply solely through pilot programs is an effective model because people who use drugs will get uneven opportunities for services depending on where they live.

The government’s slow action on safe supply shows it does not value the lives of people who use drugs, said Touesnard, who was a co-chair of the expert task force and questioned why the government is not acting on its own task force’s recommendations.

“Why are we still stagnated in this crisis? We live in vicarious trauma, desperation, losing people that we love every single day, and it is so traumatizing to our community to not have government support to make a change,” she said, adding that safe supply would save lives and reduce other types of overdose harms.

“It’s a waste of everybody’s time to actually sit at the table and have these conversations, and then just put it on a shelf to collect data,” Touesnard said.

She added it would also be fiscally irresponsible to stay the course, with taxpayers footing the health-care costs of those who use the illegal toxic drug supply.

The expert task force said in its report last year that there is an “urgent need” for safe supply to address the overdose crisis.

It recommended that an expert committee be stood up to lead the design of a “national safer supply program” for up to one million Canadians who it stated are at risk of death from drug toxicity.

Since 2016, more than 29,000 Canadians have died from apparent opioid-related causes, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Such deaths have increased dramatically since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and death rates have remained high since then, the agency reported in June.

Touesnard repeated a frequent observation that has been made in the community affected by the crisis: “It seems like they talk — we die.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press

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Mike Tyson up in arms with Hulu claims it stole his story

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Los Angeles, United States of America (USA)- Former heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson, has accused American streaming service, Hulu, of making a biographical series about his life without his approval and providing him with compensation.

In an Instagram post, Tyson made it clear that he doesn’t support the series, called Mike, and said that Hulu is the streaming version of the slave master.

“Don’t let Hulu fool you. I don’t support their story about my life. It’s not 1822. It’s 2022. They stole my life story and didn’t pay me. To Hulu executives, I am just a n—– they can sell on the auction block.

Hulu tried to desperately pay my brother (UFC president) Dana White millions without offering me a dollar to promote their slave master take-over story about my life. He turned it down because he honours friendship and treats people with dignity. I will never forget what he did for me just like I will never forget what Hulu stole from me.

Hulu stole my story. They are Goliath and I am David. Heads will roll for this. Hulu is the streaming version of the slave master. They stole my story and didn’t pay me. Hulu’s model of stealing the life rights of celebrities is egregiously greedy.

(Neither) Hulu nor any of their supercilious team ever tried to engage in any negotiations with this black man. In their eyes, I am still just a n—– on the auction block ready to be sold for their profit without any regard for my worth or my family. They say this story is an exploration of a black man. It’s more like an exploitation of a black man.

Hulu thinks their tracks are covered by hiring black sacrificial lambs to play the part of frontmen for their backdoor robbery is appalling, but I will always remember this blatant disregard of my dignity.

Someone should get fired from Hulu. Producers were lying to my friends saying I supported the unauthorized series about my life,” said Tyson in an Instagram post.

The eight-episode season of Mike which is set to premiere on the 25th of August stars Michael Jai White, George C. Scott, Paul Winfield, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and Tony Lo Bianco. The show is directed by Uli Edel.

According to Hulu, Mike is an eight-episode limited series, which explores the tumultuous ups and downs of Tyson’s boxing career and personal life from being a beloved global athlete to a pariah and back again.

 

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Chad’s military junta signs ceasefire agreement with over 40 rebel groups

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Doha, Qatar- Chad‘s military junta has signed a ceasefire agreement with more than 40 rebel groups.

The national reconciliation talks are planned for August 20. Ahead of those talks, the military government in Chad vowed to not take any military or police operations against the signing groups in countries neighboring Chad.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, told those at the national reconciliation talks that other groups will join the march of reconciliation and peace, with a view to achieving the aspirations and dreams of the Chadian people.

“The initial peace agreement we are celebrating today will be an important turning point towards stability and prosperity for the Chadian people,” said Al Thani.

Besides the ceasefire, the agreement signed on Monday includes a disarmament program, amnesty and the safe return of rebels outside Chad, the end of recruitment by rebel groups, and the release of prisoners on both sides.

Nevertheless, the signing of the agreement was overshadowed by the absence of Chad’s most powerful armed group, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which refused to join in the accord, making any prospects for a return to stability all the more uncertain.

FACT said in a statement ahead of the ceremony that it rejects the accord that will be put to signatories on Monday, calling for a new committee to organize new talks and saying participants in the national dialogue would not be treated equally.

The Union of Resistance Forces, which tried to oust the elder Déby in 2019 by sending a column of fighters in 50 pickup trucks from Libya only to be beaten back by French airstrikes signed the agreement, but another powerful group, the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, rejected the pledge.

After Chad’s longtime autocratic ruler, Idriss Déby, died while fighting against rebels in April last year, his son Gen. Mahamat Idriss Déby seized power and vowed to lead the country through an 18-month transition period.

Human rights organizations have criticized Déby for a broad crackdown on peaceful protests and the arrests of hundreds of members and supporters of the opposition.

“Chad’s significant military commitments in the fight against terror have meant that the international community has felt comfortable turning a blind eye to the serious human rights violations in the country,” said Human Rights Watch’s director for Central Africa, Lewis Mudge.

 

 

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Israel and Palestine agree to a ceasefire

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Cairo, Egypt- Israel and Palestinian militants have agreed to a ceasefire truce following the intervention of Egypt.

Over the past three days, at least 44 civilians and militants have been killed making it the worst flare-up between Israel and Gaza militant groups since Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war last year.

The fighting has badly damaged Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s second-largest militia. Two of its key leaders are now dead and many of its bases and weapons factories have been destroyed, factors that allowed Israel to claim victory in this round of fighting.

In an official statement, the Jewish State’s Public Diplomacy Directorate said that it would halt its air campaign on Gaza, but would strike back forcefully if the truce is broken.

The terms of the agreement were not immediately made public. However, Egypt’s official State news agency reported that in the push for a truce, Cairo was working to see the release of an Islamic Jihad militant captured by Israel six days ago, as well as ensure a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail would be transferred to a hospital for medical treatment.

“Our fight is not with the people of Gaza. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. The head of Islamic Jihad is in Tehran as we speak. We will do whatever it takes to defend our people,” said Israeli interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Israeli aircraft have pummelled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response.

Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its arsenal. Both groups call for Israel’s destruction, but have different priorities, with Hamas constrained by the demands of governing.

Since the last war, Israel and Hamas have reached tacit understandings based on trading calm for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas overran the territory 15 years ago. Israel has issued 12 000 work permits to Gaza labourers and has held out the prospect of granting another 2000 permits.

Before the cease-fire was agreed to, Israeli analysts largely portrayed the episode as a victory and even a warning to Israel’s other enemies in the region particularly Hezbollah, the Islamist militia in Lebanon of the fate that awaits them should they also enter into full-scale combat with Israel in the near future.

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