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Lebanon information minister quits in first cabinet resignation | Beirut explosion

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Lebanon’s information minister, Manal Abdel Samad, has quit in the first government resignation since an explosion in the port of Beirut killed more than 150 people and destroyed swathes of the capital.

“After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government,” she said on Sunday in a statement , apologising to the Lebanese public for failing them.

The head of Lebanon’s Maronite church called on the entire government to step down over the explosion, widely seen as proof of the rot at the core of the state.

Lebanese protesters enraged by the blast vowed to rally again after a night of street clashes in which they stormed several ministries.

The Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi joined the chorus of people pressing the prime minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to step down over the explosion which he said could be “described as a crime against humanity”.

“It is not enough for a lawmaker to resign here, or a minister to resign there,” Rai said in a Sunday sermon. “It is necessary, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the Lebanese and the immense responsibility required, for the entire government to resign, because it is incapable of moving the country forward.”

The Lebanese Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi
The Lebanese Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi asked the cabinet to step down. Photograph: Reuters

He echoed calls by Diab for early parliamentary polls – a long-standing demand of a protest movement that began in October, asking for the removal of a political class deemed inept and corrupt. At least six lawmakers have quit since the explosion.

The Maronite patriarch also joined world leaders, international organisations and the Lebanese public in pressing for an international inquiry into the explosion, which, authorities say, was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate had languished for years.

The Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, rejected calls on Friday for an international investigation which, he said, would “dilute the truth”.

Under pressure from the public and foreign partners who are exasperated by the Lebanese leadership’s inability to enact reforms, Diab’s government is looking increasingly unstable.

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Opinion | Our Parry Sound journalists celebrate World News Day by looking back at stories that matter

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It’s about trust. Our relationship with our readers is built on transparency, honesty and integrity. As such, we have launched a trust initiative to tell you who we are and how and why we do what we do. This column is part of that project.

World News Day happens on Sept. 28.

Journalists around the globe are coming together to celebrate the importance of providing credible and reliable news.


As we have been reporting daily on COVID-19 in our community, the thirst for the reliable news we provide has never been more in demand and our metrics confirm we are delivering more news to more people than ever before in our history.

We have a team of seven seasoned journalists working at The Parry Sound North Star and ParrySound.com, helping you make sense of the rapidly changing world around you.

Reporter Sarah Bissonette has been telling your stories in the North Star pages for 17 years and her family goes back generations in Parry Sound. Her beat, covering court, health and education, has been particularly important since the pandemic began. In a recent story she chronicled the actions of a local restaurant after one of their employees tested positive.

The story allowed the owner of the restaurant to share what happened to a larger group of people so the community understood and didn’t share hearsay.

Particularly in difficult times like these, responsible journalism helps our community work together and face the challenges of the day.

Reporter Stephannie Johnson has also been on the ground in Parry Sound, writing the stories you want and need, for 17 years. She opened up her heart to the community in a recent column about why wearing  face masks is so important to her and her immune-compromised son.

“Amid COVID-19 and the ongoing debate of mask-wearing, I wanted to show a personal perspective on the issue; my son with a chronic illness and how a simple mask could save his life,” she said. “Exposing myself as a person within the community, with a family, I felt may give people more pause to consider the issue from a different viewpoint.”

This kind of brave honesty is always at the heart of Johnson’s coverage and she really shines when she is able to bring this heart to stories of the lives of our community members.

Dave Opavsky is the editor of Parry Sound Life and he says one of the joys of producing this magazine seven times a year is seeing how far the impact of Parry Sound/Georgian Bay reaches. Through its stories, Parry Sound Life highlights natural wonders, attractions, talented artisans and welcoming communities – all elements that draw visitors, lure cottagers and makes Parry Sounders proud to call the area home.

 


These are stories worth writing and worth reading. Evidence that local news, your news, really does matter.

Pamela Steel is the managing editor for The Parry Sound North Star and ParrySound.com and part of our trust committee. Reach her at psteel@metroland.com.

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Over 200,000 People Have Died in the US: Live Covid-19 Updates

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Three major economies — the United States, China and Russia — have not joined. All three are pursuing their own vaccine plans.

In a virtual appearance before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, insisted that Russia’s vaccine was safe and effective, and offered free shots to U.N. staff. Russia’s approval of the vaccine, which came with much fanfare, occurred before it had been tested in late-stage trials.

More than 130 potential vaccines are estimated to be in development globally.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said Tuesday that COVAX “represents the most secure means of access, because it includes vaccines from very different countries of the world.”

Mexico has seen one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with over 700,000 recorded cases, or 555 per 100,000 people, and nearly 74,000 deaths, according to a Times database.

In other news around the world:

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand has apologized after being photographed with supporters without social distancing or masks last week while on the campaign trail, drawing criticism from the public and opposition politicians.

  • The awards ceremony for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been canceled because of the pandemic, the Norwegian Nobel Institute announced on Tuesday. Instead of the usual ceremony at Oslo City Hall, a scaled-back event will be held at the city’s university with a limited number of guests on Dec. 10. The prize will be announced at a news conference on Oct. 9.

  • Russia has reported a sharp rise in the number of new cases, with Moscow the epicenter of a nationwide spike in infections. Official figures released on Tuesday showed 6,215 new cases over the previous 24 hours — a marked increase from the start of the month and the highest number of daily cases since mid-July. Of those, 980 were reported in Moscow.

  • South Korea on Tuesday suspended a plan to provide free flu shots for about 19 million people, amid reports of problems with storing some of the vaccines during transport. The number of newly confirmed cases in the country, which is battling a second wave of infections, has stayed below 100 for the past three days. But millions are set to travel domestically next week to celebrate a five-day holiday.

  • Sixteen more residential areas in Madrid exceeded the infection rate criteria to return to lockdown restrictions, government data showed Tuesday. Those areas are in addition to 37 that went back under lockdown on Monday, raising the prospect that restrictions on movement will soon spread further across Spain’s capital region. Ignacio Aguado, the deputy head of the Madrid region, said that health care services were struggling to control the spread of the virus, while Salvador Illa, Spain’s health minister, urged residents of Madrid to stay at home as much as possible.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Stephen Castle, Troy Closson, Rick Gladstone, Abby Goodnough, Andrew Higgins, Jan Hoffman, Mike Ives, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Apoorva Mandavilli, Victor Mather, Patricia Mazzei, Patrick McGeehan, Raphael Minder, Claire Moses, Campbell Robertson, Simon Romero, Dagny Salas, Anna Schaverien, Christopher F. Schuetze, Megan Specia, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Katherine J. Wu, Carl Zimmer and Karen Zraick.

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Vatican: Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia ‘Intrinsically Evil’ | World News

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NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press

ROME (AP) — The Vatican on Tuesday reaffirmed its stance that euthanasia and assisted suicide are “intrinsically evil,” and told priests they should minister to those contemplating such deaths to try to change their minds but shouldn’t be present at the end if they don’t.

The Vatican’s doctrine office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a lengthy new document on end-of-life care for the terminally ill on Tuesday. It takes into account medical advances, the advent of “do not resuscitate” orders and legal approval for assisted suicide, as well as new Vatican perspectives on palliative care, including for children.

Catholic teaching holds that life must be defended from conception until its natural death. It insists that chronically ill patients, including those in vegetative states, must receive “ordinary” care such as hydration and nutrition, but that “extraordinary” or disproportionate care can be suspended if it is no longer beneficial or is only prolonging a precarious and painful life.

The Vatican stressed in the new document that the renunciation of extraordinary care in no way can mean a request for assisted suicide or euthanasia, which it called “a crime against human life.”

“The judgment that an illness is incurable cannot mean that care has come at an end,” it said. “Euthanasia, therefore, is an intrinsically evil act, in every situation or circumstance.”

It said those who participate in it, including medical personnel, are committing “homicide” and that lawmakers who approve it “become accomplices of a grave sin.”

Pope Francis has described euthanasia and abortion as evidence of today’s “throwaway culture,” in which the sick, the elderly and disabled are considered unworthy of life.

In the text, the Vatican told priests they should provide spiritual accompaniment to those who have expressed a desire to end their lives through assisted suicide or euthanasia. But it said priests can only offer the sacraments of confession or anointing of the sick if the patients truly repent and change their minds.

“To delay absolution is a medicinal act of the church, intended not to condemn, but to lead the sinner to conversion,” it said.

And it told priests that if such patients don’t change their minds, the priests shouldn’t be present at the time of death since “that could be interpreted as approval of this action.”

The Vatican backed the use of hospice centers and palliative care, including deep sedation to reduce pain. But it said such medication must never be used with the intent of hastening death.

And it called for the expansion of “prenatal hospice centers” to provide medical, psychological and spiritual care to parents and children suffering pre-natal pathologies that are “inconsistent with life.”

Rather than resorting to abortion, the Vatican said, providing this assistance “helps the parents to handle their grief and to regard this experience not just as a loss, but as a moment in the journey of love which they have travelled together with their child.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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