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Long delays as Canada opens border to fully vaccinated American tourists after 16 months

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Long delays were reported at the Canadian-U.S. border on Monday as Ottawa finally opened doors to fully vaccinated American tourists for the first time in 16 months, causing a rush of tourists to travel north during the busy summer season.

Government data showed a seven-hour wait time for the Fort Frances, Ontario, and International Falls, Minnesota, crossing. Fort Frances advertises itself online as “rarely experiencing delays”.

Several crossings in Ontario and New Brunswick – between the states of New York and Maine – had waits of three hours.

Canada barred all leisure travel from the United States in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as of August 9 fully vaccinated travelers are able to enter the country. International travelers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter in early September.

Late on Friday, the Canadian government and border staff reached a tentative deal to end a strike action that began earlier in the day.

Prior to the pandemic, tourism was the fifth-largest industry in Canada, contributing C$105 billion ($83.4 billion) to the GDP and providing one in ten jobs, according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Canada‘s biggest airport, has also asked travelers to brace for delays as American leisure travelers returns to Canada.

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Living with Albinism in Africa

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Albinism is something which is still abhorred in various sects of the African continent as a result of several superstitious myths that continue to be passed on from generation to generation.

I myself have not been spared from those superstitious myths. Growing up conversations which had to do with Albinism was often associated with curses, witchcraft and immorality. I never got to understand why people would say such things about another human being until I started learning about the notion of cultural beliefs and social norms.

Ever since, I have tried my level best to educate and inform people about Albinism and let them understand the fact that a human being is not defined by gender, sex, race, social status, academia or wealth.

Nevertheless, before I penned this article my editor advised me to elaborate on how someone gets to be born with Albinism.

How is one born with Albinism?

To be honest, there is no answer to that because if I were to delve into this direction I would propagate something which I am constantly fighting, which is stigma. It is the same as asking how one gets to be gay, lesbian, trans or how one gets to be black, brown or white it just happens and it does not make you less of a human.

 

A knee on the people with Albinism

Coming back to the continent, people with Albinism continue to be sidelined, persecuted and killed for ritual purposes. The continent actually has its knee on people with Albinism even though it is not given much traction by media platforms but that is the case and those with Albinism have just learned to be passive about it but not that it is not happening.

According to last July’s report issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), people with Albinism continue to be killed for ritual purposes with the numbers increasing drastically last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well to get some insight pertaining to the report and how it is to live with Albinism in Africa I spoke to Mary Regina Ndlovu-Kabosha, a human rights activist, actress, producer and motivational speaker from South Africa.

“Due to the fact that I have Albinism, I was raped 15 times, I was locked up in a mental institution, and I attempted 11 suicides. I was locked up in the toilet when I was in primary school due to the colour of my skin. I hated myself with passion. I had to teach myself how to read and write through audio. I had to secretly become one of the worst villains in the entire school because I wanted to hurt other people. I became a liar and a thief, my job was to give back what life gave to me which was pain, hatred, revenge, bitterness anything repugnant that was going to hurt you and make you feel pain,” said Regina.

You can just imagine how I was feeling after she poured out all of this daunting and hideous thing that transpired to her even when she was still a child just an innocent child and the world had already rejected her just because she has less skin pigmentation nothing else but just that.

As she continued, my heart and mind were already heavy and full of different emotions, nevertheless, I composed myself and let her carry on.

“Skin cancer is one of the biggest challenges we have and the biggest challenge of being a woman with Albinism is that you are always outside, outside in the sun doing chores, looking for work, taking care of kids and so forth and two seconds in the sun can leave you all burnt out. Moreover, they are very few schools that cater to people with Albinism out of 100 schools you might just find three. There is a lot of education that is needed to raise Albinism awareness. Being born with Albinism is not a curse like what other people alluded to, it just means I was born with pale skin it’s just an issue of skin pigmentation some have the right amount, some less and some more but it does not mean I am less of a human so all of these myths that associate Albinism with debauchery and witchcraft are just utter hogwash that’s why there is need for people to be equipped with the right kind of information,” she added on.

In addition, she further highlighted the unambiguous stigma I cited earlier that people with Albinism continue to incur even in this so-called woke generation we perceive to be in, “Anyone can give birth to a baby with Albinism a lot needs to be done as you look at the media in cartoons, books, the protagonists are black and white people no sign of those with Albinism which just shows you how rampant the issue of stigma on those with Albinism is. Our stories are not validated and colour does not determine humanity. It’s just not right to treat someone like a lesser human being just because of how they look it’s not right to let us all change that narrative.”

Before we parted ways I wondered how she had managed to overcome all of these challenges putting them to bed and carrying on with her life as well as raising awareness in the process but even before I asked her the question she took it upon herself to profess how she did it and how she now lives her life to the fullest.

“When I came across the audio Bible my life changed and then when I started listening to that audio Bible I started to rediscover myself and here I am producer of My Voice Albinism The New Era, talk show host, motivational speaker, evangelist, actress the list goes on,” said Regina.

All I could say was look at you with tears in my eyes. That is just how bizarre it is for those living with Albinism a total fiasco!

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Returning to the Office

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Unfortunately, the world’s economies are moving into or are in a Recession. A horrid word I know, but every decade or so it appears like an unwanted house guest.
Will a recession bring people back into the office? After 2 years of working from home, if you had that safety privilege-opportunity, many of us will be invited or perhaps forced to return to the office.

A Pew Research Center survey(2020) found that 64% of respondents polled had been working from home due to office closures due to the pandemic. By January 2022 61% were doing it because they wanted to. Employers allowed and even encouraged working from home while studying their employee’s progress and output.

Now we have found that we live in a job seekers marketplace, with companies offering higher wages and better perks to attract and keep potential employees. The “great resignation” of 2020-2021 has become the “great labour slackening” where employers feel emboldened-half of these employers believe in-office workers are more productive.

Many in the market believe employees will return to the office space, fearing the possibility of being laid off by employers requiring a sense of control and management. The same survey found that 14% of those who have returned to the office feared losing work opportunities while at home.

The Canadian National Society of High School Scholars found that 63% of their members wanted to go back to the office, while 23% considered working from home.

A recession places most businesses in a particularly difficult situation, that would not go well for their employees. Recessions traditionally bring with them cost-cutting avenues, repealing benefit packages, various benefits to the employee and staff, layoffs and terminations. Working from home also grants employers added benefits. Employee’s that work half-time at the office and their home office can save an employer $11,000 annually, while a full-time employee working from home would save them more. Negotiations between employers and employees working from home have and will carry on, where a person’s annual wage/salary will decline. The privilege of working at home has a cost, that of lower wages. Working from home can save an individual as much as $4-5,000 annually.

Businesses and employees have to consider what is best for themselves. The cost of hiring and retraining employees is very high, especially in this labour void we work in today.

A possible work-from-home strategy may be on its way, encouraged by governments, environmentalists and Sociologists. The Possible benefits such as less stress, driving to work, health and safety issues, and improved communication systems will certainly increase the likelihood that home-based work is a future trend.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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UN: Multiple famines might be declared in 2022

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Berlin, Germany- Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) has warned of a looming severe global famine if drastic measures are not taken.

Guterres warned that farmers in Asia, Africa and the Americas would be the hardest hit by the rising costs of fertilizer and fuel.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022, 2023 could be even worse. This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage. No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe,” said Guterres.

In addition, the UN Secretary-General said the Russian attack on Ukraine exacerbated pre-existing problems and called for the release of Ukrainian agricultural products onto the world market to ease shortages as well as debt relief for indigent countries.

“The war in Ukraine has compounded problems that have been brewing for years, climate disruption, the COVID-19 pandemic and the deeply unequal recovery,” added Guterres.

However, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said Western nations are deliberately stirring up tensions regarding Ukrainian grain exports.

Putin said Russia is not impeding exports, and criticized the West for its “cynical attitude” towards the food supply of the developing nations, which have been worst affected by soaring prices. He said rising inflation in the West was “a result of their own irresponsible macroeconomic policies.”

Furthermore, Putin said Russia is ready to provide free passage to international waters for ships carrying grain, adding that Russia had reached an “understanding” on that issue with the UN Secretariat.

Moreso, the Russian President suggested that the Ukrainian military should demine the country’s ports to further facilitate exports, and said “a constructive approach on Kiev’s part” is the only thing that is lacking and cited that Russia itself may be able to export between 37 and 50 tons of grain this year.

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