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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern cancels her wedding amid new Omicron restrictions



New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has cancelled her wedding as the nation imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, she told reporters on Sunday.

New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gathering from midnight on Sunday after a cluster of nine COVID-19 Omicron cases showed community spread from the North to South islands after a wedding.

A family returned to Nelson in the South Island by plane after attending a wedding and other events in Auckland in the North Island. The family and a flight attendant tested positive.

New Zealand will move to a red setting under its COVID-19 protection framework, with more mask wearing. Indoor hospitality settings such as bars and restaurants and events like weddings will be capped at 100 people. The limit is lowered to 25 people if venues are not using vaccine passes, Arden said.

“My wedding will not be going ahead,” she told reporters, adding she was sorry for anyone caught up in a similar scenario. Ardern had not disclosed her wedding date, but it was rumored to be imminent.

Asked by reporters how she felt about the cancellation of her wedding to longtime partner and fishing-show host Clarke Gayford, Ardern replied: “Such is life.”

She added, “I am no different to, dare I say it, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill. That will far, far outstrip any sadness I experience.”

New Zealand’s borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February out of concern about a potential Omicron outbreak as in neighbouring Australia.

People able to travel to New Zealand under narrow exceptions must apply to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities. The government last week stopped issuing any new slots amid a surge in the number of people arriving with Omicron.

About 94% of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated and about 56% of those eligible have had booster shots.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission recommends prosecution on former President



Banjul, Gambia- The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has released the long-awaited white paper set up to probe crimes committed during the reign of former President Yahya Jammeh.

For over two years, the TRRC deliberated on hearings, during which witnesses gave chilling evidence about torture, death squads, rape and witch hunts often at the hands of Jammeh’s hit unit, known as the Junglers.

In addition, Jammeh jailed his critics, branded citizens as witches and forced people with AIDS to swap their medications for bogus herbal treatments that he had invented, according to human rights advocates.

Among the recommendations on the panel’s white paper is the prosecution of Jammeh and members of the Junglers and providing support to victims.

“President Jammeh will face justice for the atrocities that he committed in this country. Impunity is a kind of incentive that we are not prepared to serve perpetrators. Let us be clear about this those who contemplate committing gross human rights violations must also be aware that society one day will hold them accountable,” said Dawda Jallow, the Minister of Justice.

The TRRC documented 122 cases of torture, with more than 230 people killed and many raped by Jammeh’s operatives, the majority of them on the former President’s orders.

After losing an election in 2016 and trying to cling to power, Jammeh finally went into exile in Equatorial Guinea, leading to the end of his 22-year dynasty and paving way for President Adama Barrow.

For Jammeh to face trial, Equatorial Guinea would have to agree to extradite him and two-thirds of Gambia’s parliament would also have to approve a prosecution.

However, there is currently no extradition agreement between the two nations and Jammeh still enjoys considerable support in the country particularly in his home region of Foni.


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The Hypocrisy that is America (Gun Law)



A  shooting at a school in Texas. 19 dead children, many wounded and two adults were killed. The first thing you notice is the parents of these students appear to be primarily Hispanic.
Then ICE shows up. Apparently, even with such a horrible incident, the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security is looking for illegal immigrants even in a historic situation like this. Imagine you’re a parent in fear that your child is threatened and perhaps missing or worst, then The Federal Governments Goose Stepping Agents of I.C.E. appear.   Possible illegal immigrants who showed up to see if their children are safe may very well be arrested, incarcerated and deported. F*cked upright?
I was in New Orleans a while back with my wife. She is a descendant of Chinese immigrants to Canada. While visiting this wonderful city, we walked into a large protest against I.C.E. tactics. Thousands of people who have family members and friends are picked up by this agency’s agents. Imagine the kids are home, and you having dinner, and suddenly a bunch of armed security break into your home and take you or a family member away. Is happening in Russia, China, Saudi Arabia or some far-off Dictatorship? No, it’s happening in good old America. Some agents approached us as we spoke to the protesters. Our Passports saved us from a possible ride in the paddy wagon.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free”. Yeah at the foot of Lady Liberty. Sure legal immigration is preferred, but many of your neighbours are from nations of chaos, social fear and tyranny. Give me a break folks. Show them the courtesy of the chase, and leave them to find their little ones, cherish them, or in fact grieve their loss.
When you want to drive a vehicle you go through an extensive process of learning, and examination, with licensing and insurance approvals too. Buying a gun is far easier. Driving is a privilege to be earnt, owning a weapon f mass destruction is somehow a constitutional right. Crazy is it not?
An idea…Gun Control. Use all those I.C.E. agents in a process of identifying, interviewing and approving individuals who want weapons. That is what they are folks. Made to kill. Most mass murders prefer handguns, and semi and automatic weapons over shotguns and long rifles. Stop persecuting honest gun owners who are hunters and sports-minded. Outlaw everything except shotguns and long rifles. Simple. Outlaw the common practice of public officials being allowed to receive and accept “bribes”-sorry donations from the NRA and Gun Lobby.  Put a stop to America’s “illegal” immigrant Centered genocide as well.
Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
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Team Canada players raised 'concerns' about match with Iran before it was cancelled: Canada Soccer – CBC News



Players on Canada’s men’s soccer team raised concerns about a controversial friendly match against Iran — and Canada Soccer confirms that pushback factored into its sudden decision to cancel the event.

“Canada Soccer heard those private concerns and took them into consideration as part of the decision-making process,” wrote Canada Soccer in a media statement.

The organization also said it hasn’t paid any fees to Iran’s team. Iranian officials had told state-affiliated media that Canada Soccer would pay them $400,000 for the exhibition game, which reportedly would have allowed Iran’s team to turn a profit off a friendly match for the first time in more than two decades.

Now, the Iranian soccer team says it will pursue damages through FIFA from Canada Soccer for cancelling the game. Iran’s deputy minister of sport announced the team is seeking $10 million in penalties.

“[Canada Soccer] simply sent us a letter announcing the termination,” spokesperson for Iran’s soccer team Mohammad Jamaat wrote in a rare response to CBC News. “We are not provided with specific details.”

The match was called off abruptly Thursday morning in a terse two-line tweet from Canada Soccer.

The organization issued a statement that evening saying it had the best of intentions and organized the match to prepare the men’s soccer team for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.

The “untenable geopolitical situation of hosting Iran became significantly divisive” over the past week, Canada Soccer wrote.

WATCH/ Canada Soccer cancels controversial match against Iran 

Canada Soccer cancels controversial match against Iran

1 day ago

Duration 2:08

Officials at Canada Soccer have cancelled an exhibition game against Iran’s team that was scheduled for Vancouver in June, saying it’s become ‘significantly divisive’ after families of the victims in Flight PS752’s downing urged the organization to call off the match.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative MPs and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart all objected to the planned match. B’nai Brith Canada, an independent Jewish human rights organization, said it filed an order in Federal Court this week to prohibit any transfer of Canadian funds to the Iranian soccer federation.

The families of those who died in the destruction of Flight PS752 were particularly outspoken. They called the game a slap in the face because their loved ones were killed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The IRGC shot down the commercial plane in 2020 — killing all 176 passengers and crew members, including 85 Canadians and permanent residents.

Experts say sports and politics are intertwined in Iran and the IRGC has ties to the team.

Iranian national soccer team manager Hamid Estili (left) with Mahmoud Khazein (right) at a birthday party on April 8. (Entekhab )

CBC News also reported that the head of Iranian national soccer team, Hamid Estili, recently attended a party with Mahmoud Khazein, a man wanted by the FBI in relation to a plot to kidnap international targets, including three people in Canada.

Iranian news outlets say Estili was in Turkey to pick up the team’s Canadian visas on Thursday when Canada Soccer announced it had called off the match.

Jamaat said Canada Soccer sent the Iranian soccer team a letter about the cancellation.

“It was a very strange and unusual event for us, which can be said to be unprecedented,” said Jamaat, who added the team is now considering its options.

Soccer journalists have said that Iran has struggled to book friendly matches in the past ahead of the World Cup and that Canada Soccer should have anticipated a negative response.

Neither Canada Soccer nor Iran’s team would provide CBC News with a copy of the contract for the game, saying it’s confidential. 

More than 40,000 tickets had been sold for the match. Those ticket-holders will be reimbursed, said Canada Soccer. 

WATCH / Canada to pay Iran’s team $400,000 for Vancouver match, according to Iranian official 

Canada Soccer to pay Iran’s team $400K for controversial soccer match

3 days ago

Duration 2:05

There’s growing controversy around a planned exhibition match between the Canadian and Iranian soccer teams set for Vancouver for June. CBC News has reported that Canada Soccer will pay $400,000 to Iran’s soccer federation for the game — and that the head of Iran’s team attended a party with a man wanted by the FBI in relation to an alleged plot to kidnap international targets.

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