Pakistan Govt makes face masks compulsory in public as Covid-19 tally soars to 68,307 * Mob attacks Civil Hospital Karachi after coronavirus patient’s death * Why Pakistan cannot produce essential medicines * 68,283 cases reported in Pakistan; 1,441 dead, 24,131 recovered * US Asians, harassed over coronavirus, push back on streets, social media * Parisians flocked to parks and gardens as they reopened in the sunny French capital for the first time after almost 11 weeks of coronavirus lockdown * India announces major easing of coronavirus lockdown * Indonesia reports 557 new coronavirus infections * Officer charged with murder of black American as violent protests sweep US * Russia plans coronavirus vaccine clinical trials in two weeks: report * Afghan head of peace talks says ready for dialogue with Taliban * Hong Kong leaders say Trump 'completely wrong' for curbing ties

Wonder building of Toronto, Canada

OTTAWA: Canada joined with its major allies Thursday in condemning China for imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong, one day after a contentious B.C. court ruling in the Meng Wenzhou affair. 

The statement of "deep concern" with the United States, Australia and Britain comes as experts warn that two Canadians imprisoned in China could face retaliation because Wednesday's court ruling in the Meng case didn't go the way the People's Republic would have liked. 

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa angrily denounced the decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes in the extradition case of the Huawei executive, who is wanted on fraud charges in the U.S., as it once more called for her immediate release. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, to reporters after an online UN conference, that Canada's independent judicial system "rendered a judgment without any political interference." He noted Meng would "undoubtedly avail herself of" further legal moves to fight the extradition request. 

The Meng dispute, which has plunged Sion-Canadian relations to an all-time low, did not dissuade Canada from signing on to the statement that criticizes China for imposing a national-security law on Hong Kong.

MONTREAL: Canada's government has the authority to halt the extradition of a Huawei executive and should do so as part of efforts to secure the release of two Canadian citizens detained in China, a former Supreme Court Justice has said.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were detained by Beijing in December 2018, days after Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a US warrant alleging use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of US sanctions.

Her arrest sent China-Canada ties to rock bottom, and Beijing has since blocked billions of dollars worth of Canadian agricultural exports. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rejected proposals from former senior officials to intervene and release Meng in exchange for the repatriation of the two Canadians, citing the independence of the judiciary.

But former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour told Radio Canada on Tuesday that it was "high time for the [justice] minister to exercise his authority, his responsibility under the law and put an end to this process."

"From the beginning it was not in Canada's interest to go ahead with this extradition request from the United States," added Arbour, also a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She added Meng is accused by Washington of violating "unilateral American sanctions against Iran" that Ottawa has never applied.

On Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing that "Canada's justice minister has the power to end Meng Wanzhou's extradition process at any time." "This shows that Canada's government can enforce the law impartially in accordance with its own laws," he said.

Zhao reiterated China's position that Meng's case is a "serious political incident" and called for her to be released. Meng, the eldest daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has been out on bail and living in a mansion in Vancouver, while the two Canadians remain in China's opaque penal system.

On Friday China's Supreme People's Procuratorate said it had begun the prosecution of Kovrig and Spavor, who were "suspected of foreign espionage" and "providing state secrets." US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Monday demanded that China free the two Canadians, and said in a statement that his country "rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada."

Australia, Britain, France, Germany, the EU and others have also pressed China over the detention of the Canadians.

LAHORE (Layalpur Post): Pakistan Muslim League (N) President Quaid Shahbaz Sharif congratulates the nation on Eidalfitr. Eid al-Fitr is the holy month of Ramadan by Allah.

This is a day of special mercy and forgiveness from Allah. I congratulate all Muslim brothers and sisters in Islam, Pakistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The holy month of Ramadan is a great thank you. Unfortunately, this year we are seeing halal Eid in a miserable environment.

On one hand, the stories of Pakistani brothers, sisters and innocent children who were killed in the plane crash are precious lives that are being sacrificed by the COVID-19 virus. Millions of people are in trouble because of this crisis.

The plane crash and the deaths from COVID-19 have made Eidalfitr a tragedy, we share the grief of the affected families.

In solidarity with the people of occupied areas, Kashmir and Palestine, Allah will soon bless our brothers and sisters with the blessing of freedom.

In occupied Jammu and Kashmir, millions of our brothers and sisters are celebrating Eid in a double lock-down environment.

May Allah make their difficulties easier. May Allah bless this Eid for Pakistan and all the worlds of Islam and protect all the Islam and Pakistanis. Ameen.

I offer my sincere greetings to you and your family with prayer. Do not let the preventive medical practice of celebrating Eid. Allah is your supporter and protector. Ameen

MONTREAL: François Legault, the Premier of Quebec announced that in the coming weeks, activities will gradually resume in Québec, with the consent and collaboration of public health authorities. The reopening will occur in phases, depending on the type of activities and the geographic zone.

To limit risks linked with the virus’ spread, it is essential to continue to follow health recommendations:

1. wash your hands;                                  2. cough and sneeze into your elbow;       3. always stay at least 2 meters away from other people.

When it is impossible to maintain a distance of 2 meters between people, the use of a face cover is strongly recommended.

Businesses that can maintain teleworking among their employees are urged to do so.

ManitobaPremier Brian Pallister Delivers Inaugural State of the Province Address

OTTAWA: Canada is not yet prepared to confront the challenges inherent in reopening the shared border with the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday, stopping short of confirming that a ban on non-essential travel will be extended to June 21.

The federal government has asked to extend the current ban, which is currently set to expire May 21, and a favourable response is expected from Washington but likely won't come for a few more days, a source familiar with the ongoing discussions, but not authorized to talk about them publicly, told The Canadian Press. News of the request was first reported by the Globe and Mail.

"Right now, we're making decisions for right now," Trudeau said when asked about the possibility of keeping the border closed even after June 21, regardless of the wishes of the U.S., which is dealing with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world.

"Obviously, there are reflections on what next steps could be and might be in different situations and different progressions of COVID-19, but every step of the way in this unprecedented situation, we're reacting to and responding to the realities we see now, and that's where we will stay focused."

One of those realities is also the starkest: more than a million active cases in the U.S. 42 per cent of the world's active caseload and a death toll that was closing in Wednesday on 83,000 people, growing at a rate of more than 1,000 fatalities a day.

ALBERTA: Temperatures in the Prairie provinces are expected to be colder than average this spring. “There’s no indication that temperatures will be above normal,” said Bruce Burnett, director of markets and weather for  Winnipeg.

Low temperatures will likely cause issues for seeding in areas of the Prairies that have received late spring snowstorms.

“That will cause problems with things drying up; it’ll really slow that down,” he said, mentioning there are still five million tonnes of last year’s canola to be harvested this spring.

Ideally, he said, we would have liked to see some warmer, drier conditions this spring, particularly in the northern and eastern regions of the Prairies.

“But we’re in a pattern where we’re getting snow, and it’s not warming up quickly, so that’s going to delay things.”

A newsletter from Weatherlogics also predicted eastern regions of the Prairies to remain snowy and cold, with western regions tending to be drier.

TORONTO: The Ontario government is opening provincial parks and conservation reserves for limited day-use access. The first areas will open on Monday May 11, 2020, with the remaining areas opening on Friday May 15, 2020. At this time, recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Day visitors will also be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.  

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

"As we continue to make progress in our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are carefully and cautiously reopening the province, starting with certain businesses and retailers, and now our provincial parks and conservation reserves," said Premier Ford. "I encourage people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but please do so in a responsible way. Practise physical distancing and follow the rules set out by health care officials to stop the spread of this virus."

On Monday, 520 provincial parks and conservation reserves across the province will open, and the remaining 115 will open on the following Friday for limited day-use activities. At this time, camping and other activities are not permitted at any provincial park or conservation reserve. All buildings and facilities including washrooms, water taps, campgrounds, backcountry campsites, roofed accommodations, playgrounds, and beaches continue to be closed.

"People are eager to enjoy the warmer weather, stretch their legs and reconnect with nature," said Minister Yurek. "In consultation with our health experts, we're working to slowly phase-in the opening of Ontario Parks in a measured way to ensure the health and safety of visitors and staff. People should take note that not all amenities will be open and plan accordingly."

Over the next several weeks, Ontario Parks' staff will be conducting critical maintenance and other parks start-up procedures, so that more recreational activities and facilities will be available when it is safe to do so.

BRITISH COLUMBIA: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs & representatives of the federal and provincial governments are expected to sign an agreement today that politicians say will rebuild relationships after anti-pipeline protests and blockades earlier this year.

But the deal has also fractured an Indigenous community in B.C.’s Interior. The memorandum of understanding was signed in March, ending protests and blockades by First Nations across the country that damaged Canada’s economy.

The hereditary chiefs oppose the construction of a Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory and while this agreement recognizes their rights and title, the chiefs say it has no impact on the pipeline.

Elected chiefs of the First Nation say they should have been involved in the negotiations and are urging rejection of the agreement.

Premier John Horgan says the Wet’suwet’en have to figure out how to govern themselves and the agreement provides a framework allowing that.

Indigenous law expert Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond agrees with the elected chiefs, saying the signing should be postponed to allow for the governance issues to be worked out.

She says self-determination for the First Nation means they can pick their own government and how it functions but this agreement could saddle them with more conflict.

The University of Saskatchewan announced Wednesday it has named soil science professor Angela Bedard-Haughn as the Dean for its College of Agriculture and Bioresources for a five-year term starting Aug. 15.

Raised on a family farm in northeastern Saskatchewan, Bedard-Haughn studied at the University of Saskatchewan and University of California-Davis. As Dean, she replaces animal sciences professor Mary Buhr, who has held the post since mid-2009.

Currently the college’s associate Dean of research and graduate studies, and formerly department head and graduate chair in soil science, Bedard-Haughn is known for research work in wetland soils and in predictive soil mapping and has taught field courses on soil and landscape classification at both the undergrad and graduate levels.

“We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic and engaged group of students, faculty, staff and stakeholders,” she said in Wednesday’s release. “I hope to ensure that we are providing the training and research that the community needs, both here at home and around the world.”

Her appointment follows the university’s announcement Tuesday that it will continue “primarily remote online learning” for its fall term starting in September, combined with “limited classroom, laboratory, clinical and physical instruction only where warranted and where circumstances permit.”

The university said it plans to post more information about its COVID-19 pandemic response and decision-making processes as related to academic programs and research activity “in the coming weeks.”

BRITISH COLUMBIA: A senior police officer from the United Kingdom who specializes in money laundering says he believes Canada is no more vulnerable to the crime than other Western jurisdictions.

Simon Lord of the National Crime Agency, who is also part of a Five Eyes group dedicated to international money laundering controls, began his testimony before a public inquiry into money laundering in British Columbia on Thursday.

Inquiry commissioner Austin Cullen heard in February from a coalition of tax fairness groups that hiding ill-gotten cash behind shell companies is so widespread in Canada that it’s known globally as “snow washing.”

However, Lord says that the money laundering situation in Canada looks similar to that of the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries with similar legal and economic frameworks.

OTTAWA:The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day:

“Today, on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, we pause to reflect and honour all those who fought, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and democracy.

“On this day in 1945, Canadians joined the chorus of millions around the world to celebrate the end of the Second World War in Europe. With the unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime, the devastation, fear, and misery caused by more than five-and-a-half years of fighting gave way to feelings of relief, hope, and optimism. Although the war in Asia and the Pacific continued, parades were held and people sang in the streets as Canada and its Allies celebrated the end of a struggle that had tested our resilience and humanity.

“While this year’s commemorative ceremonies will move online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I invite all Canadians to pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in Europe, and supported the war effort at home, during the Second World War. We remain forever in the debt of all those who answered the call to serve, and for the people in uniform who gave everything so that their children and grandchildren could live in freedom and peace.

“Lest we forget.”

OTTAWA:Happy Saturday everyone. These days, a number of Canadians are going through hard times because of COVID-19. The pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for our country, and Canadians are suffering the consequences. However, some people and sectors are more deeply affected than others. Therefore, this week, we announced other measures to help those that need them the most.

First, we are working on concluding an agreement with all of the provinces and territories to increase the salaries of essential workers. These people have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 since the start of the crisis. They are doing incredible work. The best way to thank them is to ensure that they are well paid and protected.

And this week, thanks to this agreement, we are in the process of taking an important step towards putting more money in their pockets. We also announced more support to help the food sector get through this crisis. We are giving food processors more money to ensure the security of their workers. We are planning on specific measures to help cattle and pork farmers, and dairy producers, adapt to market changes.

We are implementing a program that will help the government purchase products that are likely to be wasted, to redistribute them to charity organizations. All in all, our government has proposed an additional $5 billion in lending capacity and a total investment of $510 million to support food security since the beginning of the crisis. And as I said earlier this week, if we have to do more, we will do more.

For the past few weeks, our government has been focused on getting people the help they need as quickly as possible. But to come out of this stronger than ever, we also have to think long-term. We need to lay the groundwork now, so our economy can come roaring back. And that’s what we’re doing with measures like the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. So far, more than half a million small businesses have received a loan through the CEBA.

And less than two weeks since launching the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, employers have applied for subsidies for almost two million workers. Our government is giving employers more resources, so they can stay in business and keep people on the payroll during this crisis. Maintaining the connection between employer and employee will be key not just to help people get back on their feet, but also to our economy.

In that vein, we announced yesterday that we would be extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy beyond June. At the same time, we’re working with our partners from around the world to beat COVID-19 for good. This pandemic is a global issue. Keeping Canadians safe and restarting our economy means defeating the virus not just at home, but wherever it is found.

So earlier this week, we announced new investments to accelerate the global development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, testing, and research, including research being done here in Canada. Over the past few weeks, we established new assistance programs for workers and businesses, but we know that the work is far from complete. As the situation evolves, needs and challenges also evolve and we adapt our response accordingly.

We are still listening to Canadians and still looking for ways to support them. I want to close by asking all the moms to step out of the room for a minute so I can talk to your kids. Okay, tomorrow is Mother’s Day, kids. It’s a special day for all the people who are mothers to us – our moms, stepmoms, grandmothers, aunts, and older sisters. So, let’s show them how much we love and care about them. You might want to get up early to make her breakfast or ask dad to help you get her some flowers.

Or if you’re not together this year because of the virus or other reasons, you can draw her a card or set up a video call. Whatever you do, I’m sure what you’ll choose to do will make her day and express how much you love her, how much you need her, and how much she has your full support and full love during this difficult time, but all the time as well. Take advantage of this time and have fun. We will get through this together.

British Columbians will move forward with safely restarting their province beginning in mid-May, according to a plan announced by Premier John Horgan.

Under B.C.’s Restart Plan, government will work closely with public health officials, businesses and labour organizations to lift restrictions in phases, gradually allowing for more social and economic activity, while closely monitoring health information to minimize the risk to the public.

“Our plan puts safety first. British Columbians have made enormous sacrifices so far, and it’s thanks to them that we’re able to begin to lift some restrictions,” Horgan said. “We’ll allow activities to resume as the evidence and experts tell us it is appropriate to do so. By moving carefully and deliberately, we will help British Columbians get to a ‘new normal,’ where more of our social and economic life can resume.”

Restarting economic activity will look different in B.C. than in other jurisdictions, because only a small number of sectors in the province were closed by public health order. Many other provinces are just now reaching the level of safe operations B.C. has been able to maintain throughout the pandemic.

B.C. is currently in Phase 1 of the restart plan. Phase 2, which will begin in mid-May, includes:

  • small social gatherings;
  • a resumption of elective surgeries and regulated health services like physiotherapy, dentistry, chiropractors and in-person counselling;
  • provincial parks open for day use;
  • opening more non-essential businesses in keeping with safe operations plans;
  • recalling the provincial legislature for regular sittings.

Essential businesses that have remained open during the pandemic, so far, have done so safely with the support of WorkSafeBC. Government will build on this successful experience by supporting all businesses as they take steps toward a successful reopening. Sectors that were ordered closed will be asked to work with WorkSafeBC to develop plans to reopen safely. WorkSafeBC is developing industry-specific guidance to help employers bring workers and customers back safely. Any business restarting operations must ensure it is in compliance with the provincial health officer’s orders and in accordance with occupational health and safety guidance provided by WorkSafeBC.

The target date for the start of Phase 3, which will include opening up of additional businesses and services, is between June and September 2020, if transmission rates remain low or in decline. Phase 4 will only be achieved when the threat of COVID-19 has been significantly diminished through widespread vaccination, broad successful treatments, evidence of community immunity, or the equivalent.

Most provincial parks will reopen, starting May 14, for day-use only. On June 1, many remaining facilities, including campgrounds, will reopen. A small number of parks that attract large crowds, or where reopening would pose a health risk to nearby communities, will remain closed. A strong emphasis on personal hygiene for all British Columbians, including hand washing, physical distancing and staying at home if you are sick, will be crucial for the success of every phase of the plan.

While B.C. already has sufficient testing and tracking capacity, by continuing to increase these, government will be able to identify any flare ups in COVID-19 case numbers and address them. This approach will support public safety and confidence.

“Today, we’ve unveiled our plan for a slow and safe restart. We need to be vigilant, to make sure we keep flattening the curve of transmission,” Premier Horgan said. “There is much more to do. But we will get through this pandemic to better days by working together and keeping each other safe.”

TORONTO: The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) announced a new program today called Encore!, which aims to pay musicians for live online concerts on Facebook and Instagram. 

As COVID-19 has forced musicians off the road, stripping many of their main source of income, numerous artists have taken to social platforms like Facebook and Instagram to perform for fans. But even though Facebook and a few other services (such as Twitch, YouNow and Periscope) offer an in-app donate or tipping buttons, the majority of these live streams don't make any money.  

A total of $200,000 will be available each quarter for this program for the duration of Canada's COVID-19 lockdown. In order to qualify for a payment, there are four key requirements artists must meet, according to SOCAN:

1. "At least 10 songs/compositions must be performed live, or a live performance of at least 30 minutes must take place, on Facebook or Instagram, from March 15, 2020, to March 7, 2021 (inclusive)."

2. "At least 100 people must have accessed the online event."

3. "A set list of all music performed has to be sent via SOCAN's Notification of Live Music Performance (NLMP) form at socan.com, with the 'venue' identified as Facebook or Instagram."

4. Claims must be made within 90 days of the Facebook/Instagram concert occurring." 

Each concert will be eligible for a $150 payment, with shares of royalties going to all rights holders of the music performed. Musicians are allowed to apply more than once pending each live event they host meets all the requirements above. 

2020. All Rights Reserved. Layalpur Post Media House, Faisalabad Pakistan.

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