NEW DELHI: The issue of the proposed tractor rally on the Republic day by farmers protesting against the new farms laws is in “executive domain”, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday after which the Centre withdrew its plea seeking an injunction against such a march on January 26.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that police has the “authority” to deal with the issue of proposed tractor march in Delhi and it is not for the court to pass order in the matter.
“We have told you that we will not issue any direction. It is a police matter. We will allow you to withdraw (the application). You are the authority and you have to deal with it. You have the powers to pass orders, you do it. It is not for the court to pass orders,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
The apex court said this while hearing the Centre’s application, filed through Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor or trolley march or any other kind of protest which seeks to disrupt the Republic Day gathering and celebrations.
During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Attorney General K K Venugopal said that if farmers are allowed to enter Delhi, they will go all over the city.
“These are the matters which are in executive domain,” the bench observed.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for some farmer unions, said that farmers are convinced that the new farm laws are against them.
“Suppose, we uphold the law then you protest. You counsel them properly. The only rider is ensure that people of Delhi are in peace,” the bench said.
The bench said the authorities can record the statement of Bhushan’s clients that they also want peace and they should talk on the issue.
While hearing the matter on January 18, the top court had told the Centre that the proposed tractor rally on the Republic Day by the protesting farmers is a “law and order” matter and Delhi Police has all the authority to deal with it.
“Does the Supreme Court say as to what are the powers of police and how they will exercise them? We are not going to tell you what to do,” the bench had said last week.
The Centre, in an application, said that any proposed march or protest which seeks to disrupt and disturb the Republic Day celebrations will cause an “embarrassment to the nation”.
On January 12, the top court had stayed the implementation of the contentious new farm laws till further orders and constituted the four-member committee to make recommendations to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers’ unions protesting at Delhi borders.
The members of the court-appointed committee were — Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Parmod Kumar Joshi, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, and Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana.
Later, Mann had recused himself from the court-appointed committee.
The top court had on January 12 said it would hear the pleas against the farm laws after eight weeks when the committee would give its suggestions to resolve the impasse after talking to the protesters and the government.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.
Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers’ income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and “mandi” (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.
NEW DELHI: The issue of the proposed tractor rally on the Republic day by farmers protesting against the new farms laws is in “executive domain”, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday after which the Centre withdrew its plea seeking an injunction against such a march on January 26.
Niti Aayog, Principal Scientific Advisor working hard to attract Indian talent from abroad: Rajiv Kumar
“With the partnership with Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan, we are working very hard to try and bring back and attract Indian talent from abroad,” he said.
Kumar said there are already some schemes (to bring back Indian talent) and the government think tank wants to sharpen them.
“Maybe that will also become an indicator…which state is able to attract a larger number of Indian talent, completely frontline, the best of art talent back to the country, making our system more flexible, less red tape and by making our environment far more attractive,” he said.
“Delhi has 43 science and technology institutions, we need to create a seamless interaction (among these institutions) to improve the innovation ecosystem in our own country.
“And this can be an indicator for the states whether they are able to create this cluster activity in science and technology going forward,” he noted.
Ranveer Singh shares a series of pictures from his latest photoshoot showing off his ‘Guldasta Flex’ | Hindi Movie News
The ‘Simmba’ star is seen donning a multi-coloured jacket which he has teamed up with velvet maroon pants in his latest post which he has captioned as ‘Guldasta Flex’. The sheer confidence with which he is pulling off this quirky look has left fans and Ranveer’s pals from the industry impressed.
Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Femina, Ranveer’s wife Deepika Padukone was all praise for his versatile performances. She said, “As an actor, he is probably the best we’ve had in a really long time; his versatility is unmatched. I don’t think there’s any actor in the current generation who has his versatility. Very often you still see the actor in the character, but, when you see Ranveer play a role, there is an absolute transformation and I haven’t seen that in a long time.”
On the professional front, Ranveer has been busy shooting for Rohit Shetty’s upcoming project ‘Cirkus’ which also features Pooja Hegde and Jacqueline Fernandez in pivotal roles. Apart from this, Ranveer also has Kabir Khan’s sports drama ’83’, Karan Johar’s period drama ‘Takht’ and Divyang Thakkar’s ‘Jayeshbhai Jordaar’ in his kitty.
Canadian Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe says she’ll skip a second straight WNBA season in order to focus on the Tokyo Olympics.
The 29-year-old, a reserve player for the New York Liberty, says she’s been in touch with the team and it is aware of her plans to focus on a gold medal.
“The plan this year is to forego the WNBA season again and to play with Team Canada for the whole summer, not miss any of our training camps leading up to the Olympics. Fully committed to Team Canada,” Raincock-Ekunwe told CBC Sports.
Waiting for Raincock-Ekunwe in the WNBA would be a young Liberty team including Canadian teammate Kia Nurse and former No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu. The team fielded a league-record seven rookies during its two-win 2020 season.
“Of course it’s tempting [to play with the Liberty]. I think they’re making some moves this year that will be big, that will be beneficial for the team. Sabrina being healthy and with the rookies they had last season getting some experience last year, I think it will be a great year for New York. So yeah, it’s tough to turn down the opportunity to play in one of the best leagues in the world. But I think Canada has a really good opportunity this summer,” she said.
In some ways, the Penticton, B.C., native’s commitment is more crucial in 2021 than it was in 2020. The team meets regularly over Zoom, but hasn’t been physically together since last February.
An upcoming international window, where European leagues break for national team events, begins Jan. 31, but it’s unlikely Canada will meet due to the spread of players across the world and various coronavirus restrictions.
One advantage for the Canadians is that most other national teams don’t meet virtually nearly as often, according to Raincock-Ekunwe, who previously played at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I love to represent our country. I love to play with the women on our team. It’s like a sisterhood or a family. And it’s just such a great thing to be a part of and work together to that one goal. So it’s something I look forward to every year getting together with this team. It’s been a long time without each other. So it’s weird,” she said.
“I’m really happy that we can just keep the connection through a year of disconnection.”
Team Canada may not meet in person again until after European league playoffs in May.
On Tuesday, Raincock-Ekunwe scored the game-winning basket with 21 seconds remaining in EuroLeague action against Poland’s Arka Gdynia.
🇫🇷 <a href=”https://twitter.com/ASVEL_Feminin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ASVEL_Feminin</a> win the thriller in Prague after <a href=”https://twitter.com/nayo_rain?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@nayo_rain</a> 1’s clutch 🏀<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/EuroLeagueWomen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#EuroLeagueWomen</a> <a href=”https://t.co/qyhPjHGjbQ”>pic.twitter.com/qyhPjHGjbQ</a>
The centre is averaging 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds on 59 per cent shooting over nine French league games this season, adding 9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in four EuroLeague contests. Combined, Lyon is 9-4.
That low games-played number reflects the bumpy campaign, with a coronavirus outbreak forcing a pause in play at one point. Raincock-Ekunwe was among the players who contracted the virus.
“It didn’t hit me as hard as some of the others. So I consider myself lucky. But I think I’m back to normal now — normal in this day and age. Honestly, I’m not feeling any side effects. I think right after I got it, it was hard to get the cardio back and kind of get the rhythm back,” she said.
With the Olympics scheduled to begin in just six months, some of the same virus-related concerns that caused the initial postponement are being brought up once again.
As of today, Raincock-Ekunwe says she would support the decision to hold the Games.
“I support vaccination and I would hope that there would be enough vaccines for those who would want to have some prior to the Olympics. And I think that could put a lot of people’s mind at ease. But I don’t think that the athletes should be prioritized over the general population who is at risk,” she said.
“And maybe I’m biased.”
After opting out of two straight WNBA seasons, Raincock-Ekunwe has sacrificed more than many potential Olympians.
At this point, she just wants to play.
“I think we’re all ready. Ready to play, ready to represent our countries.”
Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed the incoming Biden administration on Tuesday to take the Chinese Communist Party seriously as an “existential” threat to the country, saying the “American people are counting on it.”
In an exclusive interview with “America Reports,” Pompeo praised what he called President Trump’s efforts to identify the threat China posed to American interests, in contrast with President-elect Joe Biden’s past dismissals of the world’s largest country as serious competition.
“The threat from the Chinese Communist Party is real,” Pompeo said. “It is existential to the United States. We have to get this right. I am counting on the next administration continuing our work, continuing to build out on the things that we have done in the exact way that the American people will demand. I have great confidence that the American people have come to understand this challenge from the Chinese Communist Party. I will expect every leader, whatever political stripe, to continue to protect and secure American freedoms.”
Anthony Blinken, Biden’s pick to succeed Pompeo at the State Department, wrote in the opening statement for his confirmation hearing Tuesday that the U.S. should exercise “humility” in its foreign policy. Asked if he feared Blinken would begin with a so-called “apology tour,” Pompeo replied, “I hope not.”
“I’m proud of this country,” he said. “This is the most exceptional nation in the history of civilization. I’m proud of the work the Trump Administration has done in the Middle East, on China. We made life better for people all across the world. We recognize that the people of Iran and North Korea deserved better, and we worked diligently to achieve that. It ought not be an America we should apologize for.”
Pompeo spoke the same day the U.S. formally labeled China’s systemic oppression of the ethnic minority Uighur Muslims in western China as “genocide.” The action by the U.S. could precipitate further sanctions against China under a Biden administration.
Pompeo told Fox’s John Roberts the U.S. did not take making the heinous charge lightly. China has put the Uighurs in labor camps and forced them into hard labor, sterilizations, and abortions, according to officials.
“We wouldn’t have done this if we weren’t convinced that this determination that I issued today was proper, appropriate and would hopefully lead to better lives for people in this region,” Pompeo said.
Throughout Trump’s presidency — and even before — many of Hollywood’s stars have been at odds with the businessman-turned-politician, often taking to social media to condemn his Twitter comments or congratulate Biden for his victory.
In typical fashion, celebrities shared their feelings on the eve of the Biden inauguration.
“One more day!” comedian Wanda Sykes wrote on Twitter. “#Inauguration2021.”
“I’m putting my Christmas tree back up,” Billy Eichner wrote. “#InaugurationEve.”
The “Billy on the Street” star then shared a link to Whitney Houston’s now-famous performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV in January 1991.
“23 hrs,” actor Adam Scott simply wrote alongside a brief video clip of himself shaking Biden’s hand during an episode of “Parks and Recreation.”
“This,” Kerry Washington wrote in response to a tweet pointing out that “today’s the last day a woman has never been vice president.”
She later tweeted: “The first, but not the last. A historic Inauguration day is upon us. Let’s celebrate the women, like Vice President Kamala Harris (will never get sick of saying that!!!!!!), who by their example and by their service, open the door wider for women everywhere.”
“With only 1 day left in this Administration, is it too late for him to attempt to rehabilitate his reputation?*” Mark Hamill wrote. “*(Spoiler Alert: Yes… yes it is).”
“I’m feeling good today. In a few hours, sanity returns to the White House,” Joy Behar wrote. “Will we find things to tweet/talk about when Trump is gone? Send me some of your thoughts.”
“‘Twas the night before eviction No one but the my pillow guy in the house,” actor John Cusack wrote. “Not a creature was stirring not even Rudy ghoulianni – Forget it …”
In a separate tweet, he added: “Tomorrow the biggest American human mistake rides off to a life of court battles bankruptcy and shame. He must go to prison I hope he has a long life – So he can spent a nice long part of it in jail.”
“One more sleep,” Alyssa Milano wrote.
Joy Villa, however, offered congratulatory messages for the commander-in-chief.
“Bravo, President Trump on all your incredible accomplishments in just 4 years!” she wrote. “#magaforever.”
Trump’s legacy leaves Arctic with fewer environmental protections and more risk of conflict, experts warn
As U.S. President Donald Trump leaves office, the Arctic is probably far from the minds of most Americans.
Yet the region, where the U.S. is one of five nations with territorial waters, has loomed surprisingly large in the waning days of his presidency.
After just four years as president, Trump’s legacy in the Arctic might be greater than many would expect. Experts say he has endangered, if not unravelled, decades of environmental regulation and careful diplomacy.
Greenland: not for sale
If people remember anything about Trump’s Arctic policy, it will likely be the bizarre idea to purchase Greenland that he discussed with his aides in the summer of 2019.
Greenland, an autonomous territory within the kingdom of Denmark, has hosted U.S. troops since the Second World War. But it was decidedly not for sale. Since 2009, it’s been formally working toward independence.
“It’s not a country that you just talk about as if it is a piece of merchandise,” said Aleqa Hammond, the chair of Greenland’s parliamentary foreign and security policy committee and one of the people working to draft a constitution for an independent Greenland.
Trump’s suggestion was met with widespread derision and even caused a diplomatic spat with Denmark. The overall effect, Hammond said, was “at least one or two steps back” for the U.S. reputation in the Arctic.
“It’s not that the United States [has] not engaged in these sorts of conversations over the course of our history — we all have,” said Rufus Gifford, a former U.S. ambassador to Denmark and the deputy campaign manager for president-elect Joe Biden.
“But the way in which … [Trump’s] administration went about this was reckless.”
The U.S. under Trump quickly pivoted to more traditional methods of exerting power, giving Greenland $12 million for economic development and opening the first U.S. embassy in the capital, Nuuk, in more than half a century.
But the episode undermined U.S. standing in Greenland just as it sought to become an Arctic power in its own right.
“Greenland wants international co-operation, regardless of whether it’s the United States or not,” said Hammond. “The Arctic must be very aware about the agenda behind the Americans’ interest … and be sure that the Arctic people are the ones to decide in the end if this should be or not.”
Readying for a fight
Trump’s interest in Greenland might have seemed out of left field, but it highlighted the Arctic as “one of the most important centres in defence matters,” Hammond said.
Greenland is home to Thule Air Base, one of the U.S.’s most strategically important installations. The island’s land mass covers 20 per cent of the Arctic, and it’s located within a crucial gap between Russia and the north Atlantic that was heavily monitored during the Cold War.
“The Russians right now are building their air base just 1,000 kilometres away from Thule region,” Hammond said. “That requires America to be a stronger presence in Greenland than they ever have before.”
The Pentagon seems to agree. Under Trump, it initiated a “U.S. pivot to the Arctic,” according to Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
By the end of this year, all branches of the U.S. military will have new Arctic strategies, with possible implications for Canada.
Previously, U.S. Arctic strategy focused on “co-operation and environmental security issues,” according to Rob Huebert, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary.
“Quite clearly, the major concern for the Americans now is … the growing power of Russia and the growing interest of China in the region,” he said.
Charron agrees that the attitude toward Russia’s presence in the Arctic is one area where Trump’s influence is visible.
“It’s put Russia in the Arctic as an adversary, and that wasn’t the language of before,” she said.
The new strategies even include the threat of “freedom of navigation operations,” which are military exercises aimed at provoking disputes over Russian territorial claims to the northern sea route — and, potentially, Canada’s claims to the Northwest Passage.
That was matched by aggressive rhetoric from Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, which challenged longstanding territorial claims and prompted an official rebuke from the Canadian branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council for treating Inuit homelands as little more than a military chessboard.
Canada part of defence ‘pivot’
Canada has remained steadfast in claiming the Northwest Passage as its territorial waters (having pursued a Kiwi sailor for an allegedly illegal transit as recently as last year).
But the realities of a “blue Arctic,” with its open waterways and increased marine traffic, mean it’s not just the U.S. that is preparing for confrontations with foreign powers to become a “day-to-day” part of operating there.
“Not all of this can be attributed to Trump,” Charron said, with both Canada and NATO realizing that Russian and Chinese actions in the Arctic “are highly problematic.”
Though Canada’s Arctic and defence policies don’t name adversaries the way the Americans do, both call for an increased military presence in the Arctic. Canada is investing in its navy, holding regular Arctic military exercises and entertaining closer collaboration with NATO to monitor Canadian waters, Charron said.
But that may not be enough for a U.S. military concerned about Russian adventurism. Pressure could mount for expensive modernizations of NORAD and the North warning system, which Canada and the U.S. run jointly, “to ensure that we have eyes and ears on what’s happening,” she said.
“[Canada] in turn will also pivot to the Arctic,” said Charron, emphasizing that the security concern is “not going to go away.”
Fewer environmental regulations
Trump’s most lasting Arctic legacy might be four years of refusing to acknowledge climate change and a corresponding effort to roll back decades’ worth of environmental protections in the Arctic.
In his first year in office, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, which sets emissions targets for its signatories, in a move viewed as “antithetical to the general direction of … many of the Arctic states,” said Charron.
The Trump administration avoided acknowledging climate change or its impacts, including the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, in any joint declarations, which caused an unprecedented rift at the Arctic Council in 2019.
“The Arctic states could not agree on a joint declaration. I mean, that’s unheard of,” said Charron. “And that’s because Trump, ideologically, will not use the term ‘climate change.'”
More practically, Trump’s administration oversaw a rapid gutting of environmental regulations, with the Brookings Institution tracking dozens rolled back under his presidency right up to last week.
In Alaska alone, those included efforts to increase logging in forests, reduce protections for endangered Arctic species and permit the use of dogs, bait and artificial light in hunting wolves and bears.
The fight over development in wildlife refuge
But Alaskan environmentalists’ biggest battle with Trump has been over his push to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel development.
The refuge is home to calving grounds of the threatened porcupine caribou herd, central to the Gwich’in people of northern Alaska and the Yukon.
“What we’ve seen over the past four years is an unrelenting push to open these calving grounds to oil and gas development,” said Malkolm Boothroyd, the campaigns manager for the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
Huebert at the University of Calgary sees in this final rush an effort to “cripple” the incoming U.S. administration and paint the next president, Joe Biden, “as the bad guy” in the eyes of pro-development Alaskans.
In the area around the refuge, most residents vote Democrat but support responsible development, according to Donald Olson, the Democratic state senator representing Alaska’s Arctic region.
“The view from the people that I represent … is that the quality of life has been significantly increased by the oil industry,” said Olson.
But Olson said his constituents have been dismayed by Trump’s approach, which involved little to no consultation with local residents.
Trump’s push to open up the refuge to development has also made responsible development harder to defend. Public pressure from groups such as Boothroyd’s have turned some major companies — and their lenders — off drilling in the refuge.
Biden signals green agenda
Some of these policies are already set to be undone by the Biden administration — he plans to rejoin the Paris agreement on his first day in office, ban Arctic offshore drilling and “re-establish climate change as a priority for the Arctic Council,” according to campaign documents.
On defence, Biden doesn’t reject the military’s aggressive posture in the Arctic but has committed to also use international forums, such as the Arctic Council, to “hold Russia accountable for any efforts to further militarize the region,” according to Biden’s campaign platform.
“Biden will probably make efforts to roll back some of the worst elements of the unilateralism that Trump introduced into the Arctic,” said Huebert.
That could mean greater co-operation with Arctic Indigenous groups and a more considered approach to defence.
“I really hope that Biden confirms … that the Arctic is a homeland — it’s where people live,” said Charron. “It’s not just a big security chessboard.”
Others are more cautious in their optimism. Boothroyd, the environmental campaigner, said Trump’s four years in office left a mark in the Arctic that may be difficult to remove.
“There’s still a lot of work to undo the damage that’s been done.”
The story has made national headlines in the United States: Foreigners aged 65 and older in Florida, including Canadian snowbirds, are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some snowbirds who made the journey to Florida this winter — despite Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic — are counting their lucky stars, as they could wait months to get the shot in Canada. But they also face a backlash from some locals who argue non-Floridians shouldn’t get early access to vaccines that are currently in short supply.
“We’re first. Get to the end of the line if they want to come,” Florida resident Judy Allen told a local NBC TV station on Friday at a vaccine clinic in Sanford, Fla., north of Orlando.
A week earlier, Canadian snowbirds Andrew Paton, 75, and his wife, Jill, 74, each got their first vaccine dose at a clinic in a gated community in Palm City, Fla., where they own a home. They’re set to get their followup shot on Feb. 4.
“I’m just glad I got it,” said Andrew Paton, who is from Toronto. “Our American friends are thrilled. We’re part of this community. Let’s get everybody vaccinated if we can.”
But not everyone is on side. A few days after getting the shot, Paton said someone sent a letter to the board of his gated community, complaining that Canadian residents were offered the vaccine.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We’re not taking it from anybody. Everybody in this community who wanted one could get one.”
WATCH | Snowbirds face backlash in Florida for getting COVID-19 vaccines:
Unlike Canada, Florida is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged 65 and older during the first phase of its vaccine rollout. While the state opposes visitors coming specifically to get the shot, seasonal residents are welcome to sign up.
That policy has especially angered some Floridians who have yet to secure a vaccination appointment due to a slower-than-planned rollout.
“They’re taking it from people that are ahead of them … It’s not their stockpile,” said Clare Archer, 67, of Englewood Isles, Fla., south of Tampa.
Archer is a dual Canadian-American citizen who grew up in northern Ontario and has lived in Florida for the past 25 years. She said due to the short supply of vaccines in her region, both she and her husband have yet to snag an appointment.
And even though she has Canadian roots, Archer said she objects to snowbirds both travelling to Florida during a pandemic and getting the vaccine before some Floridians.
“They absolutely should not be here,” she said. “It’s beyond infuriating.”
WATCH | Why Canada’s vaccine rollout is so slow:
Several Florida politicians are also angry. Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced he’s trying to revise the rules so that non-permanent residents in Miami are last in line to receive the vaccine.
And on Jan. 10, Rick Scott, one of the state’s U.S. senators, declared on Twitter: “Vaccines must go first to Floridians.”
This is deeply concerning. Vaccines must go first to Floridians, starting with our health care and front line workers and most vulnerable populations. This week, I asked for answers from <a href=”https://twitter.com/HealthyFla?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HealthyFla</a> and more info on Florida’s vaccine distribution: <a href=”https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7″>https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7</a> <a href=”https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP”>https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP</a>
It’s up to each U.S. state to decide who gets priority during the vaccine rollout. In a news conference earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained why he’s not turning away seasonal residents who meet the current age requirement.
“We’re a transient state,” he said. “People who are here, four or five months a year, they have relationships with doctors, they get medical care in Florida.”
Canadian snowbirds on Good Morning America
Visitors in Florida getting the vaccine has become such a hot topic, the popular TV show Good Morning America covered the issue in a news segment on Friday.
“Residents across America — even Canada and Argentina — flocking to Florida … leading to what some are calling vaccine tourism,” the segment said.
The story featured Canadian snowbirds Shelton and Karen Papple of Brantford, Ont. The couple travelled to their home in Fort Myers before Florida announced its vaccine plans, and are both scheduled to get their first dose on Monday.
Shelton Papple, 66, told CBC News he has no qualms about getting vaccinated in Florida.
“We live here, we pay taxes,” he said. “We’re all in this together. It’s a world problem and everybody should be banding together.”
He said he also believes that reports of Canadians flocking to the state to get the vaccine are overblown, because there are plenty of hurdles. On top of securing a vaccine appointment, you must test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Florida (effective Jan. 26); stay in Florida for up to a month to get the second dose; receive another negative COVID-19 test before returning to Canada; and quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
But some Canadians are still willing to make the trip.
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone of Toronto’s Travel Secure said about 100 of his snowbird clients who originally decided not to head to Florida this winter due to the pandemic are now planning to travel to the state to get vaccinated.
But these aren’t cases of “vaccine tourism,” he said, because his clients plan to stay for the rest of the winter.
“They all own property and are really just exercising their right, I guess, to head down to a state that is offering vaccines,” said Firestone.
Papple suggests that as Florida secures and doles out more doses, the backlash against foreigners like him getting the shot will calm down.
“As things go along, the more and more people get vaccinated, I think that becomes a duller story.”
To help speed up the rollout, the state is now offering vaccine shots at a major pharmacy chain in the state. And more than a dozen federal lawmakers representing Florida, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have asked federal officials to beef up Florida’s vaccine supply to accommodate its large number of seasonal residents.
Twelve U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from the presidential inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views. “There’s 10 that were identified by the FBI and and I can’t speak to the level of vetting that they do,” said Chief of National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel Hokanson.
NEW DELHI: India dispatched the first consignment of 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport to Male in the Maldives on January 20.
The flight will first arrive in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and then leave for Male.
With this, Maldives (along with Bhutan) has become the first recipient of India’s gift of the Covishield vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). Earlier on Wednesday, India sent a consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield to Thimphu, Bhutan.
Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives’ Speaker of People’s Majlis (parliament) tweeted, “Today, an Air India plane will land in Male’ with 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine – a gift from India. For the Maldives, it’s the beginning of the end of this terrible virus. During the tsunami, ’88 coup, water crisis or corona pandemic, India has been our first responder and dependable friend”.
This vaccine diplomacy of India is yet another testament to its Neighbourhood First policy, in which the Maldives occupies a special and central place. This is reciprocated in full measure by the ‘India First’ policy of the Government of Maldives.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Maldives in June 2019 rightly said ‘Neighbourhood First is our priority; in the Neighbourhood Maldives is a priority’.
The delivery of these vaccines in the Maldives today fulfils the commitment made by the Foreign Secretary during his visit to the Maldives in November 2020 when he announced that as a close partner and friend, India would accord priority to the Maldives for providing vaccines, whenever these vaccines were ready.
Since the Maldives has a population of about 500,000, the donation will cover the vaccination requirement of a significant percentage of the population. In addition, Maldives proposes to purchase 300,000 doses of vaccines from SII at commercial rates.
Right from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has worked very closely with the Maldives in dealing with the pandemic. Among all neighbours, Maldives was the first and one of the largest beneficiaries of COVID-19 related assistance.
This includes assistance in the evacuation of Maldives nationals from Wuhan, the supply of essential medicines and food items and deployment of a 14 member Rapid Response Team consisting of doctors and paramedics in March 2020 to guide and train the Maldivian authorities and personnel in tackling the coronavirus threat.
When international borders were closed due to the pandemic in April 2020, Operation Sanjeevani was launched to meet the medical requirements of Maldives.
Under this operation, a special Indian Air Force (IAF) plane airlifted 6.2 tonnes of essential medical supplies from India to the Maldives. Also, as part of Mission Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), Male was the first port of call for Indian Navy Ship Kesari which delivered about 600 tons of food items to the Maldives in May 2020 thus ensuring food security.
Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has publicly announced that India has been the first and the best responder for the Maldives during this crisis.
It is noteworthy that Indian assistance comes without any pre-conditions or expectations.
Besides providing assistance in terms of medicines, food items, medical expertise, vaccines etc, India has provided assistance to the Maldives for its post-Covid-19 economic recovery, like air travel bubble in August 2020 to support the tourism industry, financial assistance of $250 million to deal with Covid-19 pandemic, and ferry services between the nations to ensure a reliable and predictable supply chain for the Maldives and boost bilateral trade along with food security to the Maldives as well as strengthening people-to-people contact.
Acting on the Neighbourhood First policy India will supply Covid-19 vaccines on a gratis basis to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from January 20 onwards.