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Health Canada asks Oxford-AstraZeneca for more vaccine info: In The News for March 30 – The Record (New Westminster)

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Tuesday, March 30…

What we are watching in Canada …

Canadian provinces suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people under age 55 on Monday as Health Canada demanded the company do a detailed study on the risks and benefits of its vaccine across multiple age groups

Use of the vaccine was suspended as the provinces acted on an advisory committee’s concerns about a possible link between the shot and rare blood clots.

Dr. Shelley Deeks, the vice-chair of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said its recommendations was updated amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially up to one in 100,000 — much higher than the one in one million risk believed before.

“As a precautionary measure, while Health Canada carries out an updated benefit-risk analysis based on emerging data, NACI recommends that the vaccine not be used in adults under the age of 55 years,” Deeks said.

She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under the age of 55, and the fatality rate among those who developed clots is as high as 40 per cent.

The blood clot condition is known as Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia. Deeks said it is treatable, and the fatality rate could go down now that it has been identified and symptoms are communicated.

The federal government is expecting around 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United States on Tuesday, which will arrive by truck and represent the first to come from south of the border.

Also this …

Global shipping prices will be pushed up by the ship blocking the Suez Canal but it will have a marginal effect on Canadian consumers, aside from potential delays for certain shipments, experts say.

The global supply chain was already under strain because of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating a shortage in container space that has seen shipping prices soar over the last year.

“I think the bigger issue will be delay,” said Mary Brooks, a professor emerita at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business. “If you’re the Home Depot store in Toronto, and you’re waiting for a product for your shelf, and it was coming from Singapore through Suez, it might be a week or a week and a half later and your shelf could be empty.”

Salvage teams on Monday freed the Ever Given, a massive container ship that became wedged in the side wall of the canal for nearly a week, blocking off traffic in one of the world’s most vital waterways.

More than 10 per cent of global trade flows through the Suez Canal, including shipments from India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia to Canada, experts said. The six-day incident at the canal held up almost $60 billion of global trade, according to data from TD Economics.

“The long-term trade impact of these disruptions is likely to be small given that the global trade in goods amounts to $18 trillion a year,” said Sohaib Shahid, senior economist at TD Economics. “However, the delays will have a domino effect, which will reverberate across global supply chains for weeks or months to come.”

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The video of George Floyd gasping for breath was essentially Exhibit A as the former Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee on the Black man’s neck went on trial Monday on charges of murder and manslaughter.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell showed the jurors the footage at the earliest opportunity, during opening statements, after telling them that the number to remember was nine minutes, 29 seconds — the amount of time officer Derek Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the pavement last May.

The white officer “didn’t let up” even after a handcuffed Floyd said 27 times that he couldn’t breathe and went limp, Blackwell said in the case that triggered worldwide protests, scattered violence and national soul-searching over racial justice.

Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson countered by arguing: “Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career.”

Floyd, 46, was fighting efforts to put him in a squad car as the crowd of onlookers around Chauvin and his fellow officers grew and became increasingly hostile, Nelson said.

The defence attorney also disputed that Chauvin was to blame for Floyd’s death, saying he had none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation and had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system. He said Floyd’s drug use, combined with his heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenaline flowing through his body, caused a heart rhythm disturbance that killed him.

The downtown Minneapolis courthouse has been fortified with concrete barriers, fences and barbed and razor wire. City and state leaders are determined to prevent a repeat of the riots that followed Floyd’s death, with National Guard troops already mobilized.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Fierce fighting for control of Mozambique’s strategic northern town of Palma left beheaded bodies strewn in the streets Monday, with heavily armed rebels battling army, police and a private military outfit in several locations.

Thousands were estimated to be missing from the town, which held about 70,000 people before the attack began last Wednesday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Monday for the attack, saying it was carried out by the Islamic State Central Africa Province, according to the SITE extremist monitoring group.

The rebel claim said the insurgents now control Palma’s banks, government offices, factories and army barracks, and that more than 55 people, including Mozambican army troops, Christians and foreigners were killed. It did not provide further detail on the dead.

Earlier this month the United States declared Mozambique’s rebels to be a terrorist organization and announced it had sent military specialists to help train the Mozambican military to combat them.

Palma is the centre of a multi-billion dollar investment by Total, the France-based oil and gas company, to extract liquified natural gas from offshore sites in the Indian Ocean. The battle for Palma forced Total to evacuate its large, fortified site a few kilometres outside of the city.

On this day 1972 …

Canadian sailors got a daily rum ration for the last time, ending a navy tradition dating back to 1667.

In entertainment …

A graphic novel for children that was a spin-off of the wildly popular “Captain Underpants” series is being pulled from library and book store shelves after its publisher said it “perpetuates passive racism.”

The book under scrutiny is 2010’s “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk” by Dav Pilkey, who has apologized, saying it “contains harmful racial stereotypes” and is “wrong and harmful to my Asian readers.”

The book follows about a pair of friends who travel from 500,001 B.C. to 2222, where they meet a martial arts instructor who teaches them kung fu and they learn principles found in Chinese philosophy.

Scholastic said it had removed the book from its websites, stopped processing orders for it and sought a return of all inventory. “We will take steps to inform schools and libraries who may still have this title in circulation of our decision to withdraw it from publication,” the publisher said in a statement.

Pilkey in a YouTube statement said he planned to donate his advance and all royalties from the book’s sales to groups dedicated to stopping violence against Asians and to promoting diversity in children’s books and publishing.

“I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism are harmful to everyone,” he wrote. “I apologize, and I pledge to do better.”

ICYMI …

Laurie Metcalf smiles and laughs when she thinks of her character Jackie and her assorted misadventures on the “Roseanne” spinoff, “The Conners.”

Dating back to her introduction in Roseanne Barr’s 1988’s sitcom, Jackie has reinvented herself many times over. She’s been a cop, a truck driver, a factory worker, co-owner of The Lanford Lunch Box (which was reopened on “The Conners”), and was for a time, as the character describes it, “Lanford’s leading life coach.”

The role earned Metcalf three Emmy Awards while “Roseanne” was on the air, but she’s content with Jackie being a supporting role.

“A little bit of Jackie goes a long way, so I’m always the weirdo B storyline. Too much of Jackie would be just overdose.”

While the character’s overall persona has remained unchanged through both series, it’s provided a chance to grow as an actor. When “Roseanne” started, Metcalf was a theatre actor with no experience in television.

“Everything was new to me. I had a big learning curve to jump into a multi-camera sitcom,” Metcalf recalled.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2021

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Canada’s manufacturers ask for federal help as Montreal dockworkers stage partial-strike

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MONTREAL (Reuters) – Canada‘s manufacturers on Monday asked the federal government to curb a brewing labor dispute after dockworkers at the country’s second largest port said they will work less this week.

Unionized dockworkers, who are in talks for a new contract since 2018, will hold a partial strike starting Tuesday, by refusing all overtime outside of their normal day shifts, along with weekend work, they said in a statement on Monday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Quebec’s 1,125 longshore workers at the Port of Montreal rejected a March offer from the Maritime Employers Association.

The uncertainty caused by the labour dispute has led to an 11% drop in March container volume at the Montreal port on an annual basis, even as other eastern ports in North America made gains, the Maritime Employers Association said.

The move will cause delays in a 24-hour industry, the association said.

“Some manufacturers have had to redirect their containers to the Port of Halifax, incurring millions in additional costs every week,” said Dennis Darby, chief executive of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).

While the government strongly believes a negotiated agreement is the best option for all parties, “we are actively examining all options as the situation evolves,” a spokesman for Federal Labor Minister Filomena Tassi said.

Last summer’s stoppage of work cost wholesalers C$600 million ($478 million) in sales over a two-month period, Statistics Canada estimates.

($1 = 1.2563 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal. Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Canada scraps export permits for drone technology to Turkey, complains to Ankara

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OTTAWA (Reuters) –Canada on Monday scrapped export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the equipment had been used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said.

Turkey, which like Canada is a member of NATO, is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces gained territory in the enclave after six weeks of fighting.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said in a statement, adding he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day.

Ottawa suspended the permits last October so it could review allegations that Azeri drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

In a statement, the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa said: “We expect our NATO allies to avoid unconstructive steps that will negatively affect our bilateral relations and undermine alliance solidarity.”

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said Cavusoglu had urged Canada to review the defense industry restrictions.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased, but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey’s military exports to Azerbaijan jumped sixfold last year. Sales of drones and other military equipment rose to $77 million in September alone before fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, data showed.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Cooney)

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Investigation finds Suncor’s Colorado refinery meets environmental permits

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By Liz Hampton

DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado refinery owned by Canadian firm Suncor Energy Inc meets required environmental permits and is adequately funded, according to an investigation released on Monday into a series of emissions violations at the facility between 2017 and 2019.

The 98,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colorado, reached a $9-million settlement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) March 2020 to resolve air pollution violations that occurred since 2017. That settlement also addressed an incident in December 2019 that released refinery materials onto a nearby school.

As part of the settlement, Suncor was required to use a third party to conduct an independent investigation into the violations and spend up to $5 million to implement recommendations from the investigation.

Consulting firm Kearney’s investigation found the facility met environmental permit requirements, but also pinpointed areas for improvement, including personnel training and systems upgrades, some of which was already underway.

“We need to improve our performance and improve the trust people have in us,” Donald Austin, vice president of the Commerce City refinery said in an interview, adding that the refinery had already undertaken some of the recommendations from the investigation.

In mid-April, Suncor will begin a turnaround at the facility that includes an upgrade to a gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) at Plant 1 of the facility. That turnaround is anticipated to be complete in June 2021.

Suncor last year completed a similar upgrade of an automatic shutdown system for the FCCU at the refinery’s Plant 2.

By 2023, the company will also install an additional control unit, upgraded instrumentation, automated shutdown valves and new hydraulic pressure units in Plant 2.

Together, those upgrades will cost approximately $12 million, of which roughly $10 million is dedicated to Plant 2 upgrades, Suncor said on Monday.

 

(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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