Good & bad news for India travellers: USA eases advisory, Canada extends ban | Covid

The US state department issued a statement on Monday easing travel restrictions to India for its citizens and encouraging travel. The advisory came in the wake …



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New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern Storms To Landslide Re-Election Victory

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WELLINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Jacinda Ardern turned speaking from the heart and smiling through adversity into a winning formula for a blowout re-election as New Zealand’s leader on Saturday.

Now Ardern, who made a name for herself by crushing COVID-19 in the country and healing the nation after a massacre of Muslims by a white supremacist, faces a challenge to show her leadership extends beyond crisis management and kindness.

Her Labour Party won a landslide victory in the general election, a resounding mandate that ushers in New Zealand’s first purely left-leaning government in decades and may allow her to form a single-party government.

The win is also the reward for Ardern’s leadership through a series of extraordinary events that shaped her first three-year term: the gunman’s massacre of 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques and the eruption of the White Island volcano, which killed 21.

“Be strong, be kind,” New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in more than a century repeated through these dramatic events, her empathetic leadership and crisis management skills often masking her government’s shortcomings.

Ardern’s left-leaning government will face a looming economic hangover from COVID-19, a deep plunge in output and surge in debt after her strict lockdowns, a worsening housing crisis and a growing divide between rich and poor.

Despite promising a transformational term in 2017, Ardern’s affordable housing program was set back by blunders, plans for a capital gains tax that would have addressed the growing rich-poor divide were scrapped, and her government fell woefully short of its goal to reduce child poverty.

Even on climate change, which Ardern called “my generation’s nuclear-free moment,” progress has been incremental.

“I think it’s fair to say they have not achieved what they had hoped to achieve,” said Ganesh Nana, Research Director at Wellington economic think tank BERL. “There are many disappointed with the pace of change.”

Ardern burst onto the global scene in 2017 when she became the world’s youngest female head of government at the age of 37.

She became a global icon in a rise dubbed “Jacinda-mania,“ as she campaigned passionately for women’s rights and an end to child poverty and economic inequality in the island nation.

Ardern, raised a Mormon by her mother and police officer father, left the church over its stance on LGBTQ people in the early 2000s and has since described herself as agnostic.

Asked by a television presenter, hours after being appointed Labour leader in 2017, whether she planned to have children, Ardern said it was “totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace.”

Ardern did in fact have a baby daughter in June 2018, eight months after becoming prime minister – only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.

Many took her pregnancy and maternity leave in office as symbolizing progress for women leaders. Within three months of arriving in the world, her daughter Neve Te Aroha was at the U.N. General Assembly in New York with her mother.

Ardern is feted globally as part of a new wave of progressive and young leaders that include France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

Helen Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister for whom Ardern worked after university, said the young leader represents a refreshing and sharp point of difference in a world where news is dominated by utterances of populist and authoritarian leaders.

“Jacinda Ardern can be best compared with the three Scandinavian women prime ministers who are from the center-left,” said Clark, co-chair of a World Health Organization panel on the global COVID-19 response.

“All of them have led good responses to the pandemic, putting health security first and communicating in an empathetic way with the public in each of their countries.”

Last year Ardern received worldwide praise for her response to the Christchurch attacks, which she labeled terrorism. She wore a hijab as she met the Muslim community the next day, telling them the country was “united in grief.”

She delivered a ban on semiautomatic firearms and other gun curbs, a stark contrast to the United States, where lawmakers and activists have struggled to address gun violence despite numerous mass shootings.

At the U.N. General Assembly, Ardern, asked world leaders: “What if we no longer see ourselves based on what we look like,what religion we practice, or where we live … but by what we value?

“Humanity, kindness, an innate sense of our connection to each other. And a belief that we are guardians, not just of ourhome and our planet, but of each other.”

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Canada Revives Efforts To Ban ‘Gay Conversion’ Therapy Nationwide


TORONTO, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Canada has reintroduced a bill on Thursday that will criminalize LGBT conversion therapy, a federal minister said after an earlier effort to ban the practice failed as the parliament was discontinued due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Conversion therapy is any practice designed to change a person’s sexual orientation, which especially harms and stigmatizes those belonging to the lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans community.

Federal Minister of Justice David Lametti said the new bill will include five amendments to Canada’s Criminal Code to include offenses such as causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy, causing any person to undergo the therapy against their will, and profiting off from the practice.

The bill was previously introduced in the House of Commons in March.

“Conversion therapy is harmful, degrading, and has no place in Canada … I hope that all parties will do the right thing by supporting this bill,” Prime Minster Justin Trudeau told reporters on Thursday.

Trudeau’s Liberal Party promised to ban the practice during an unveiling of the party’s election platform last year.

The bill was presented in the House of Commons on Thursday though no voting date has been set.

Some 20% of sexual minority men in Canada have undergone some form of conversion therapy, according government data. Lower income, indigenous and trans people are disproportionately exposed to the practice, the data shows.

The bill will not apply to those seeking guidance and support from counselors or faith leaders.

Canadian cities such as Vancouver in British Columbia andCalgary in Alberta are banning the practice within their borders, a government statement said.

(Reporting by Mahad Arale; Additional reporting Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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Justin Trudeau: ‘The World Is In Crisis, And Things Are About To Get Much Worse’


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Friday that the current global order will be upended if leaders across the planet fail to come together to uphold human rights and tackle upcoming threats such as climate change.

Trudeau delivered the grave words in a prerecorded message to the United Nations General Assembly.

“The world is in crisis, and not just because of the last few months,” Trudeau said. “Not just because of COVID-19. But because of the last few decades. And because of us.”

Trudeau described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “wake-up call” and argued that organizations formed in the wake of two world wars — such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — are no longer effective because of red tape and because countries repeatedly push their own interests.

“There are few consequences for countries that ignore international rules,” Trudeau said, alluding to incidents in nations such as Russia, China and Iran without specifically naming names.

“For regimes that think might makes right. Few consequences for places where opposition figures are being poisoned while cybertools and disinformation are being used to destabilize democracies. Few consequences when innocent citizens are arbitrarily detained and fundamental freedoms are repressed. When a plane of civilians is shot from the sky. When women’s rights are not treated as human rights. When no one has any rights at all.” 

The prime minister argued that the world would soon face a “climate reckoning” and that the inability of nations to unite was a sign that the world was in “deadlock.”

“The international approach we relied on since the second half of the 20th century was built on an understanding that countries would work together,” Trudeau said. “But now the same countries are looking inward and are divided. We need to recognize where we are. The system is broken, and the world is in crisis. And things are about to get much worse unless we change.”

Watch Trudeau’s entire speech below.

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