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Lebanese Protesters Clash With Army Near Presidential Palace

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese soldiers on Saturday fired rubber bullets and live rounds in the air to disperse hundreds of protesters trying to march to the presidential palace during an anti-government demonstration.

Tension is high in Lebanon following last month’s devastating explosion at Beirut’s port that killed nearly 200 people, and after another mysterious and huge blaze at the same site Thursday.

The Aug. 4 explosion was caused by the detonation of nearly three thousand tons of ammonium nitrates that had been improperly stored at the port for years. More than five weeks later, it is still not clear what started the fire that ignited the chemicals, and no one has been held accountable so far.

The explosion, which created a massive shockwave that shattered glass and blasted windows, doors and injured 6,500 people, came on top of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis blamed on decades of corruption and mismanagement by the country’s political class.

A supporter of Lebanese President Michel Aoun argues with riot police as they try to take a main road that links to the presidential palace before the arrival of the anti-government protesters, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Protesters had called for the march Saturday to the presidential palace in the suburb of Baabda to express their anger and call for accountability. Supporters of President Michel Aoun called for a counter-protest at the same location, adding to the tension.

Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers separated the two camps. Later, as anti-Aoun protesters attempted to break a security cordon blocking their path on the highway leading to the palace, troops fired at first live rounds in the air, then rubber bullets, in an effort to disperse them.

Some protesters threw stones and tree branches at the troops, injuring several of them. Some sat in the middle of the highway vowing to stay there. A group climbed on a sign post and hung ropes tied into nooses.

Some soldiers threw stones and sticks back at protesters, and pointed their M-16 machine guns at them as well. The military later issued a statement saying it had to form a human barrier to separate the two groups of demonstrators near the presidential palace, and was forced to fire in the air after protesters pelted soldiers with stones and beat them with sticks in an attempt to reach the presidential palace.

The public blames the corruption and negligence of Lebanon’s politicians, security and judicial officials, many of whom knew about the storage of the chemicals that exploded and did nothing.

An anti-government protester tries to calm down other protesters, as she stands in front of Lebanese soldiers who bloc a road

An anti-government protester tries to calm down other protesters, as she stands in front of Lebanese soldiers who bloc a road that links to the presidential palace, during a protest against the Lebanese President Michel Aoun, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

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Iran Executes 27-Year-Old Wrestler After Trump Asked For Leniency

TEHRAN (AP) — Iranian state TV on Saturday reported that the country’s authorities executed a wrestler for allegedly murdering a man, after President Donald Trump asked for the 27-year-old condemned man’s life to be spared.

State TV quoted the chief justice of Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, as saying: “The retaliation sentence against Navid Afkari, the killer of Hassan Torkaman, was carried out this morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz.”

Afkari’s case had drawn the attention of a social media campaign that portrayed him and his brothers as victims targeted over participating in protests against Iran’s Shiite theocracy in 2018. Authorities accused Afkari of stabbing a water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz amid the unrest.

Iran broadcast the wrestler’s televised confession last week. The segment resembled hundreds of other suspected coerced confessions aired over the last decade in the Islamic Republic.

The case revived a demand inside the country for Iran to stop carrying out the death penalty. Even imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, herself nearly a month into a hunger strike over conditions at Tehran’s Evin prison amid the coronavirus pandemic, passed word that she supported Afkari.

The International Olympic Committee in a statement Saturday said it was shocked and saddened by the news of the wrestler’s execution, and that the committee’s president, Thomas Bach, “had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid Afkari.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the execution was cruel.

“We condemn it in the strongest terms. It is an outrageous assault on human dignity, even by the despicable standards of this regime. The voices of the Iranian people will not be silenced,” Pompeo tweeted.

Last week, President Donald Trump tweeted out his own concern about Afkari’s case.

“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump wrote. “Thank you!”

Iran responded to Trump’s tweet with a nearly 11-minute state TV package on Afkari. It included the weeping parents of the slain water company employee. The package included footage of Afkari on the back of a motorbike, saying he had stabbed the employee in the back, without explaining why he allegedly carried out the assault.

The state TV segment showed blurred police documents and described the killing as a “personal dispute,” without elaborating. It said Afkari’s cellphone had been in the area and it showed surveillance footage of him walking down a street, talking on his phone.

Last week, Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency dismissed Trump’s tweet in a feature story, saying that American sanctions have hurt Iranian hospitals amid the pandemic.

“Trump is worried about the life of a murderer while he puts many Iranian patients’ lives in danger by imposing severe sanctions,” the agency said.

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Bahrain To Normalize Its Relationship With Israel, Trump Says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bahrain has become the latest Arab nation to agree to normalize ties with Israel as part of a broader diplomatic push by President Donald Trump and his administration to fully integrate the Jewish state into the Middle East.

Trump announced the agreement on Friday, following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The three leaders also issued a brief six-paragraph joint statement, attesting to the deal.

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!” Trump tweeted.

The announcement on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks came less than a week before Trump hosts a White House ceremony to mark the establishment of full relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain’s foreign minister will attend the event.

“There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

It represents another diplomatic win for Trump less than two months before the the presidential election and an opportunity to shore up support among pro-Israel evangelical Christians. Just last week, Trump announced agreements in principle for Kosovo to recognize Israel and for Serbia to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” Trump, Netanyahu and King Hamad said in the statement. “Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region.”

Like the UAE agreement, Friday’s Bahrain-Israel deal will normalize diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the two countries. Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, had already dropped a prohibition on Israeli flights using its airspace. Saudi acquiescence to the agreements has been considered key to the deals.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner noted that the agreement is the second Israel has reached with an Arab country in 30 days after having made peace with only two Arab nations — Egypt and Jordan — in 72 years of its independence.

“This is very fast,” Kushner told The Associated Press. “The region is responding very favorably to the UAE deal and hopefully it’s a sign that even more will come.”

Netanyahu welcomed the agreement and thanked Trump. “It took us 26 years between the second peace agreement with an Arab country and the third, but only 29 days between the third and the fourth, and there will be more,” he said, referring to the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan and the more recent agreements.”

The agreement will likely be seen as a further setback to the Palestinians who tried unsuccessfully to have the Arab League condemn normalization with Israel until they have secured an independent state. That was one of the few cards still held by Palestinians in negotiations as peace talks remain stalled.

The joint statement made passing mention of the Palestinians, saying the parties will continue efforts “to achieve a just, comprehensive, and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to enable the Palestinian people to realize their full potential.”

The agreement makes Bahrain the fourth Arab country, after Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. Other Arab nations believed to be on the cusp of fully recognizing Israel include Oman and Sudan. While tacitly blessing the deals Saudi Arabia, the regional power player, is not expected to move as quickly.

Like the UAE, Bahrain has never fought a war against Israel and doesn’t share a border with it. But Bahrain, like most of the Arab world, long rejected diplomatic ties with Israel in the absence of a peace deal establishing a Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in 1967.

The agreement could give a boost to Netanyahu, who was indicted on corruption charges last year. Deals with Gulf Arab states “are the direct result of the policy that I have led for two decades,” namely “peace for peace, peace through strength,” Netanyahu has said.

The Israeli-UAE deal required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians. Telephone calls soon began working between the nations as they continue to discuss other deals, including direct flights.

While the UAE’s population remains small and the federation has no tradition of standing up to the country’s autocracy, Bahrain represents a far-different country.

Just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, the island of Bahrain is among the world’s smallest countries, only about 760 square kilometers (290 square miles). Bahrain’s location in the Persian Gulf long has made it a trading stop and a naval defensive position. The island is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet and a recently built British naval base.

Bahrain is acutely aware of threats posed by Iran, an anxiety that comes from Bahrain’s majority Shiite population, despite being ruled since 1783 by the Sunni Al Khalifa family. Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had pushed to take over the island after the British left, though Bahrainis in 1970 overwhelmingly supported becoming an independent nation and the U.N. Security Council unanimously backed that.

Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Bahrain’s rulers have blamed Iran for arming militants on the island. Iran denies the accusations, though weapons experts suggest explosives found there bear similarities to others linked to Iran. Israel and Iran view each other as top regional enemies.

Outside of those tensions, Bahrain’s Shiite majority has accused the government of treating them like second-class citizens. The Shiites joined pro-democracy activists in demanding more political freedoms in 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept across the wider Middle East. Saudi and Emirati troops ultimately helped violently put down the demonstrations.

In recent years, Bahrain has cracked down on all dissent, imprisoned activists and hampered independent reporting on the island. While the Obama administration halted the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain over human rights concerns, the Trump administration dropped that after coming into office.

Bahrain’s royal family and officials have come out in support of the Israel-UAE agreement. However, civil society groups and others have condemned the move and warned the monarchy not to follow in UAE’s footsteps — despite Bahrain’s yearslong flirtation with Israel and Jewish leaders. Unlike the Emirates, Jews had a historical presence on the island and some still live there.

In 2017, two prominent U.S. rabbis said Bahrain’s king told them he hoped the Arab boycott of Israel would end. An interfaith group from Bahrain that year also visited Israel, though the state-run Bahrain News Agency later said that it didn’t “represent any official entity” after an uproar erupted on social media.

Bahrain has increasingly relied on support from other nations as it struggles with its debts, particularly neighboring Saudi Arabia. In that way, Bahrain has followed in lockstep with Riyadh, meaning any normalization with Israel likely got the kingdom’s approval, though, Saudi Arabia has for its part remained silent since the Emirati announcement.

Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Ilan Ben Zion and Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign Will Be Canada’s Largest Ever

OTTAWA — Canada is planning for what’s poised to be its largest-ever vaccination campaign. 

In a few weeks, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is expected to release an interim statement listing which priority groups should get first access to an authorized COVID-19 vaccine, when one or many become available.

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh is the chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the external advisory group responsible for identifying which groups should get COVID-19 vaccine priority. This sort of triage is necessary and similar to how the H1N1 vaccine was first rolled out. 

“Of course the problem currently is we don’t know which vaccine is going to be available and how many doses,” Quach-Thanh told HuffPost Canada. 

There won’t be enough vaccines available for everyone, at least at first. The number of doses in that initial stock, which could vary from tens of thousands to millions, will dictate the scale of an initial vaccination campaign.

“We have to remain quite theoretical about it,” Quach-Thanh said.

Watch: Chief public health officer says Health Canada aims to speed COVID-19 vaccine approvals. Story continues below video.

During the H1N1 influenza pandemic, six groups were given priority to the first round of vaccines. They included: people under 65 with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, children between the ages of six months and five, residents in remote and isolated communities, front-line health-care workers, and household contacts and caregivers of high-risk people and individuals who can’t be vaccinated. 

Quach-Thanh said priority groups for early COVID-19 vaccine distribution “might differ a bit because we are now looking at it through a different lens.” But a risk group is still a risk group, she said.

NACI has already identified priority groups for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. That list is currently before provincial and territorial governments, and public health groups for review. Quach-Thanh said notes will be collected and returned to NACI’s committee of experts for final approval before it’s signed off by PHAC for public release.  

The interim list of priority groups will be subject to an additional final revision when duration of immunity and the number of available doses of an approved vaccine are known.

You really have to plan ahead. Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization

“We have to start thinking about this because if we wait to know what vaccine has made it through to Health Canada, we won’t have enough time to think it through,” the infectious diseases expert told HuffPost Canada. “You really have to plan ahead.”

Because of the pandemic circumstance, Canadians will not have to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine. Quach-Thanh offered a pragmatic explanation: “Because there won’t be enough vaccines for people to purchase it on their own.”

Health care is a provincial and territorial responsibility, so it will be up to those jurisdictions to implement rules and administer vaccine clinics — which could lead to varying approaches like the different school reopening plans across the country. Some provinces and territories, such as British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, already have living plans in place to mitigate future influenza pandemics.

The process to ensure those plans are scalable and flexible enough to shape future COVID-19 vaccine distribution has many experts looking to the lessons from 2009-2010 when the H1N1 influenza pandemic gripped people’s attention. 

“There are so many variables in the current set up because it’s a novel virus,” explained Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association. “And that’s what differentiates it so greatly from H1N1.” 

In the spring and summer of 2009, the H1N1 influenza virus was the first flu pandemic the world had seen in 40 years. In Canada, the first cases were recorded in late April. It infected thousands, nearly doubling the number of hospitalized adults between 20 and 64 compared to the seasonal flu. Children under five were also hospitalized at a high rate due to the H1N1 virus. By the pandemic’s end, 428 people had died here. COVID-19, in comparison, has had a more devastating impact, resulting in more than 9,140 deaths and more than 131,000 reported cases as of Friday.

According to Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, 88.5 per cent of people who have reported COVID-19 cases have recovered. 

Pallbearers walk with the casket after funeral services for 13-year-old Evan Frustaglio in Toronto on Nov. 2, 2009. Frustaglio passed away after contracting the H1N1 virus. The boy’s sudden death triggered widespread public concern, and families flocked to hospitals and health clinics to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus.

A vaccine for H1N1 was distributed quickly in Canada because the federal government had a contract in place with a domestic supplier to ensure enough vaccine would be available to all Canadians, according to PHAC’s “Lessons Learned” report from the pandemic. Canada ordered 50 million doses of H1N1 vaccine then. And according to Statistics Canada, an estimated 41 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 were vaccinated in the pandemic then — one of the highest rates in the world.

That vaccination campaign, Canada’s largest up to that date, yields lessons for today.

Batches of vaccine were delivered to provinces and territories as they became available. The unprecedented time called for unprecedented measures.

“Provinces and territories were allowed to stock the vaccine in their centres before it was approved for use, an unusual practice since distribution is normally not allowed until the product is approved for sale,” according to the “Lessons Learned” report. “This was done to reduce the time lag due to the repackaging necessary for shipping smaller quantities of vaccine to smaller centres.”

Health Canada approved a vaccine for H1N1 around the same time the country entered the second wave of the pandemic in mid-October 2009. The federal public health agency declared the pandemic over on Jan. 27, 2010.

During the vaccination campaign, confusion arose with five vaccines that were available during the immunization period. They included three different H1N1 vaccines and two seasonal influenza vaccines. Public health officials found the range of options “complicated the process in terms of volume of documentation required, staff education and stockpiles.”

Priority groups crowded H1N1 vaccination clinics, creating long lineups, some that started hours before sunrise. It’s a stark comparison to today when unmasked strangers standing in each other’s two-metre bubbles would be cause for public alarm. Looking at those old images through a new COVID-19 pandemic lens is nothing short of cringe-inducing.

That situation, the risk of creating potential super-spreading events at clinics, is exactly what health officials want to avoid to reduce potential COVID-19 transmissions.

“We look back on pictures of the vaccination clinics for H1N1 and you had hundreds of people in these small, enclosed spaces, no one’s wearing masks or anything else,” Culbert said. “It would look very different for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.” 

Residents line up for H1N1 vaccinations, administered by Peterborough Health Unit, at a branch of Royal Canadian Legion in ru

Residents line up for H1N1 vaccinations, administered by Peterborough Health Unit, at a branch of Royal Canadian Legion in rural Lakefield, Ont. on Oct. 29, 2009.

Staff preload syringes as they prepare to perform vaccinations. There was no line up to be found, just a pair of nurses handi

Staff preload syringes as they prepare to perform vaccinations. There was no line up to be found, just a pair of nurses handing out appointment slips at the H1N1 vaccination clinic at the Timothy Eaton Business and Technical Institute in Toronto on Nov. 2, 2009.

Patricia Steward holds her 11-month son Brayden as he receives his H1N1 pandemic vaccine from a nurse at the The East York Ci

Patricia Steward holds her 11-month son Brayden as he receives his H1N1 pandemic vaccine from a nurse at the The East York Civic Centre clinic in Toronto October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (CANADA HEALTH)

To respect physical-distancing measures, COVID-19 vaccination clinics may look to scheduling time slots or having clinics set up in locations where people are working, reducing transmission risk by limiting the need for additional travel. 

“I could imagine instead of these mass vaccination clinics where there’s one clinic for a large population, there may be a larger number of smaller clinics so that you don’t have these large crowds gathering, especially indoors,” Culbert told HuffPost. 

Flexible early morning and evening hours are also another way to accommodate people who can’t get time off work to get vaccinated. The season when an approved vaccine arrives and what point in the evolution of the pandemic we’ll be in then will also determine how distribution sites are organized.

“Depending on timing, if it’s nicer weather by the time a vaccine comes out, then you could have tents, like open tents, where people could line up and to get a vaccine so that they’re not congregating in an enclosed space,” Culbert said.

Natural and vaccine-developed immunity and how long it lasts is another important factor in designing this massive vaccination program.  

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo during a Government of Canada briefing on the coronavirus on Parliament Hi

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo during a Government of Canada briefing on the coronavirus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ont. on June 25, 2020.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo said in July that studies have shown for people who have been infected with COVID-19, their natural immunity to the virus doesn’t last long, ranging from a few weeks to several months. Reaching herd immunity by natural infection is “not something that we can count on,” Njoo said.  

Waning immunity means increased risk of re-infection. With no one strong vaccine candidate on the immediate horizon, and with only early data to work with, Culbert said it’s currently within the realm of possibility that a viable COVID-19 vaccine “becomes an annual thing just like seasonal influenza.”

At least 88 million COVID-19 vaccine doses guaranteed 

The federal government has so far signed four contracts to secure at least 88 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines. An additional 102 million doses will be available “at Canada’s discretion,” Public Service and Procurement Minister Anita Anand told reporters Monday.

With Canada’s population at just over 37.5 million, it takes some very quick math to deduce that for full efficacy, some vaccines, if approved, will require more than one dose — and some careful planning now while the world waits for a viable vaccine. 

In July, the government initiated a call for tenders on alcohol swabs, bandages, and non-sterile single-use gauze — 75.2 million pieces, each. “We are also procuring supplies that will be needed in the manufacturing and packaging stages of vaccine production in Canada,” Anand said. “When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand wears a mask during an announcement at the 3M plant in Brockville, Ont.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand wears a mask during an announcement at the 3M plant in Brockville, Ont. on Friday, Aug 21, 2020.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has been explicit in saying when a COVID-19 vaccine is made available, it will not be mandatory. “No vaccines are mandatory,” she told reporters at the same press conference.

She said Canadians understand the value of vaccines. “We don’t see the same kind of vaccine hesitancy we see in other countries around the world.” Once a “safe and ethical” vaccine is approved, Hajdu said it will be up to NACI to help identify who and how to vaccinate.

Widespread vaccine uptake is Canada’s best shot at regaining any semblance of pre-pandemic “normalcy,” said Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam recently.

Education and outreach need to start now: NACI chair

It’s hard to ignore initial data pointing to seniors in long-term care facilities, new immigrants, and racialized communities as segments of the population at higher risk of being infected with COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has renewed attention to systemic barriers in health care that perpetuate inequalities in this country.

Supporters tape photographs of migrant worker Rogelio Munoz Santos, who died from coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a pr

Supporters tape photographs of migrant worker Rogelio Munoz Santos, who died from coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a pro-immigration rally by migrants, refugees and undocumented workers outside the office of Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in Toronto on July 4, 2020.

People take part in a protest outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's constituency office in Montreal on Aug. 15, 2020, where

People take part in a protest outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s constituency office in Montreal on Aug. 15, 2020, where they called on the government to give permanent residency status to all migrant workers and asylum seekers.

While the federal government continues to move and sign deals to secure enough supplies to distribute to the provinces and territories, one of the top concerns for NACI right now is dropping vaccine confidence rates in groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the novel coronavirus.

Quach-Thanh said the top concerns now are about safety, understanding more about potential vaccines’ duration of protection, and implementing a surveillance system to monitor inventory and uptake. There’s a worry at NACI that immigrants and people of colour are less likely to want to be vaccinated. 

Government polling suggests a majority of Canadians are open to getting vaccinated when a viable COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. But that number has dropped from 70 per cent in April to 65 per cent in late July. Respondents cited concerns about efficacy and side effects as diminishing factors. 

“There’s education and outreach that needs to start now to make sure that we do not miss out on vaccinating the higher-risk population,” Quach-Thanh said.

The circumstances of special populations, such as the homeless, migrant workers, immigrants and refugees who are not fluent in either English or French and rely on friends, family or an association as an intermediary with governments, need to be taken into consideration for vaccine distribution planning. 

It’s not because of any genetic predisposition that these people are at elevated risk of being infected with COVID-19, Quach-Thanh said. “But just because of where they work, and living arrangements.”

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Police Pull Coronavirus-Infected Surfer From Ocean For Breaking Isolation Rules

Police in northern Spain pulled a surfer infected with coronavirus from the sea for breaking self-isolation rules and charged her with public health violations.

Officers descended on a beach in San Sebastian on Monday after they were tipped off about the woman’s flouting of the public health law by her own colleagues, reported the Euro Weekly website

The unidentified woman reportedly resisted police commands to come out of the water for an hour. Viral video showed her swimming to shore and attempting to flee officers.

She eventually was detained by two officers in protective suits, marched away in handcuffs, and charged with disobeying the authorities and crimes against public health.

Check out the video here:

Spain imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns when the virus began to ravage the country in March.

It emerged from a state of emergency in June, but has since joined other European nations experiencing rapid growth in the number of new daily infections. 

Some 10,000 people are testing positive for the contagion each day. The pandemic has killed almost 30,000 people in Spain.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.

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Missing Hiker Shows Up At Press Conference About His Own Disappearance

An 80-year-old who went missing while hiking in northeast England had an emotional reunion with his family when he turned up as police were making a public appeal over his disappearance.

Harry Harvey was reported missing around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday after he was separated from his walking partner the day before while hiking in the Yorkshire Dales during bad weather. 

A major search involving police, the Royal Air Force and more than 100 mountain rescue workers had been unsuccessful. Police had said that Harvey was an experienced walker, but they were extremely concerned for his welfare due to the length of his disappearance in cold, wet conditions, the BBC reported.

On Tuesday morning, a wildlife photographer saw Harvey waving at her from near the village Keld, which is roughly 6 miles from his last known location.

His family was set to hold a police media appeal later at the Tan Hill Inn. As the meeting was about to start, the octogenarian arrived at the inn in a Land Rover with a mountain rescue team. Videos show members of his family rushing to embrace him.

In an interview livestreamed by the Tan Hill Inn after his arrival, Harvey, with a bandage across his forehead, said that he’d been caught in a heavy hailstorm and gale winds when he was separated. 

He said he’d had “three really good wild camping nights” on his own.

“Where we got separated, it was absolutely desolate. There’s not chance of putting up a tent there, that’s for sure,” he said. “So I had to find somewhere safe, which is what I did.”

He wasn’t worried, he told freelance journalist Tom Barton.

“Had all the kit I needed,” he said. “Only thing I was getting a bit short of was, I’ve got a hell of an appetite.”

Harvey could see search teams at one point, he added, but didn’t realize they were looking for him.

He said the bandage on his head was to cover an injury sustained when he fell crossing a bridge over a stream.

In an interview, his daughter-in-law, whose name was not given, said “he’s had a blast, we’ve had a nightmare.” 

His son, Phil Harvey, said his dad was “grounded.”

The photographer who found him, Annette Pyrah, told BBC she cried when she realized it was the missing hiker. She’d heard he was missing and “thought after three days he’s not going to be found.”

“I just looked up at the fell and this gentleman waved at me. I got out of my car and I said, ‘Are you Harry? Have you been missing for three days?’ And he said yes,” she said. “And I started crying.” 

The Swaledale Mountain Rescue team said in a statement on Facebook: “Great news Harry Harvey has been found safe and well on the moor near Tan Hill. Over 100 mountain rescue members have been involved in the successful search over the last three days. Thanks also for the substantial support offered by local people.”

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Far-Right Norwegian Politician Nominates Trump For Nobel Peace Prize, Again

A far-right Norwegian lawmaker has again nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize, this time for his efforts in a deal to establish diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde announced the 2021 nomination Wednesday on the “Fox News Rundown” podcast, saying he believed that Trump’s actions met the criteria set by Alfred Nobel for the prize: fellowship among nations, reduction of standing armies and promotion of peace congresses. 

Tybring-Gjedde is a member of Norway’s right-wing, populist Progress Party. He has repeatedly expressed anti-Islam and anti-immigration views over the years. He claimed that Muslims were driving “cultural Norwegians” out of Oslo neighborhoods and that Muslims should take a vow to “our” Christian state.

Tybring-Gjedde, with party colleague Per-Willy Amundsen, nominated Trump for the 2019 Peace Prize for his talks with North Korea. 

On the podcast, Tybring-Gjedde said that Trump is a peacemaker and that other people receive Nobel prizes without scrutiny of their personal records. “You don’t ask for the personality of the people, you ask for the performance of the people,” he said. “And Donald J. Trump has performed very well internationally.”

Host Jon Decker asked if Tybring-Gjedde if he was a fan of the president. The politician defended Trump’s domestic record, saying that he was doing well at creating jobs for “minorities and women” but then he got hit by COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“Every morning in Norway we wake up to something negative about President Trump,” he said. He thought it might be helpful to potential voters in the U.S. to know that there were some people in Europe who thought Trump was doing a good job.

Trump on Wednesday morning retweeted an article about his nomination and wrote, “Thank you!” He later retweeted several other news stories and various peoples’ thoughts on the topic. 

“This president has created peace around the world, drew down endless wars,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News. “This is a president who is very much deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Many people can nominate someone for a peace prize, including any member of a national assembly. The final decision is made by the five-person Nobel committee. There were 318 candidates for the 2020 Peace Prize and the winner will be announced Oct. 9.

The most recent American recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is former President Barack Obama, who received it in 2009. 

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Philippine Leader Duterte Pardons U.S. Marine In Killing Of Trans Woman

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president pardoned a U.S. Marine on Monday in a surprise move that will free him from imprisonment in the 2014 killing of a transgender Filipino woman that sparked anger in the former American colony.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he decided to pardon Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton because the Marine was not treated fairly after opponents blocked his early release for good conduct in detention.

A left-wing human rights group, Karapatan, immediately condemned the pardon as a “despicable and shameless mockery of justice and servility to U.S. imperialist interests.”

Pemberton was convicted of homicide and has been serving a prison term of six to 10 years for the killing of Jennifer Laude in a motel in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila. His lawyer, Rowena Garcia-Flores, told The Associated Press that Pemberton was already aware of Duterte’s decision when she called him.

“I heard the news,” Garcia-Flores quoted the 25-year-old Pemberton as saying. “I’m very happy.”

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, center, is escorted as he arrives at court before his conviction of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo city, Zambales province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, on Dec. 1, 2015. 

Meeting Pemberton in detention a few days ago, she said he expressed his willingness to apologize to the Laude family even belatedly. Pemberton would likely be removed from the Marines due to his conviction and plans to work in the U.S., Garcia-Flores added.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who once served as a lawyer for the Laude family, said the presidential pardon would mean the immediate release of Pemberton from detention.

“The president has erased the punishment that should be imposed on Pemberton. What the president did not erase was the conviction of Pemberton. He’s still a killer,” Roque told reporters.

Laude’s family denounced Duterte’s action as a grave injustice, including to the LGBTQ community, family lawyer Virginia Suarez said.

Duterte is one of the most vocal critics in Southeast Asia of U.S. security policies. But on Monday he said, “If there is a time where you are called upon to be fair, be fair.”

Last week, the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo city, which handled Pemberton’s case, ordered authorities to release him early from detention for good conduct, but Laude’s family appealed, blocking the Marine’s early release. Roque said the Department of Justice was planning a separate appeal.

The court order rekindled perceptions that American military personnel who run afoul of Philippine laws can get special treatment under the allies’ Visiting Forces Agreement, which provides the legal framework for temporary visits by U.S. forces to the country for large-scale combat exercises.

Pemberton, an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts, was one of thousands of American and Philippine military personnel who participated in joint exercises in the country in 2014.

He and a group of other Marines were on leave after the exercises and met Laude and her friends at a bar in Olongapo, a city known for its nightlife outside Subic Bay, a former U.S. Navy base.

Laude was later found dead, her head slumped in a toilet bowl in a motel room, where witnesses said she and Pemberton had checked in. A witness told investigators that Pemberton said he choked Laude after discovering she was transgender.

In December 2015, a judge convicted Pemberton of homicide, not the more serious charge of murder that prosecutors sought. The Olongapo court judge said at the time that she downgraded the charge because factors such as cruelty and treachery had not been proven.

Pemberton has been serving his sentence in a compound jointly guarded by Philippine and American security personnel at the main military camp in metropolitan Manila. The place of detention was agreed to under the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement, although Laude’s family had demanded that he be held in an ordinary jail.

Garcia-Flores said his detention was shortened by authorities under a Philippine law that allows the reduction of prison terms for good conduct. Suarez said the law cannot apply to Pemberton, who has been detained alone in a military camp and given other special privileges under the VFA.

The case has led to calls from some in the Philippines to end the U.S. military presence in the country, a former American colony with which Washington has a mutual defense treaty.

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One Of Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's Biggest Press Sagas Is Coming To An End

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle can finally put the Frogmore Cottage press saga behind them. 

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed to HuffPost on Monday that Harry repaid the roughly $3 million (or 2.4 million British pounds) in taxpayer money that had funded the renovation of their U.K. home, Frogmore Cottage. 

“A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by The Duke of Sussex,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty The Queen, and will remain the UK residence of The Duke and his family.”

Maybe now Frogmore will be forgotten.    

The repayment comes on the heels of the couple inking a massive deal with Netflix, which will see them producing features, documentaries, scripted series and more. The Sussexes, who now live in Montecito, California, plan to return to their UK home when possible, as COVID-19 travel guidelines permit.

The Sussexes originally lived together at Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace, near the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, prior to moving to Frogmore Cottage before the birth of their first child, Archie. The cottage is near Windsor Castle, where the couple got married. 

The tabloid press hounded the couple over their original renovations ― and the subsequent repayments ― after the royals moved into the residence in 2019. 

A general view of Frogmore Cottage at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, England.

A general view of Frogmore Cottage at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, England.

Lawyers for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex later denied claims made by the Daily Mail that the couple added a yoga studio, a wing for Meghan’s mother, a tennis court, and extensive soundproofing worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

The property had reportedly been due for a renovation prior to the royals moving in, and the Sussexes’ overhaul focused on things like wiring, flooring and plumbing.

“The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation in line with our responsibility to maintain the condition of the occupied royal palaces estate,” Sir Michael Stevens, the keeper of the privy purse, said at the time. 

“The building was returned to a single residence and outdated infrastructure was replaced to guarantee the long-term future of the property,” he said. “Substantially all fixtures and fittings were paid for by Their Royal Highnesses.”

The Sovereign Grant, which funds the monarchy and the work of the royal family, recently set aside money for refurbishments for Buckingham Palace.

According to 2017-2018 financial reports, $40 million dollars (or 30.4 million pounds) has been dedicated to a 10-year renovation for the queen’s primary residence to fix “essential building services” like “electrical wiring, pipework, boilers and generators.” 

Once the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they were stepping back as working members of the royal family, critics of the couple routinely brought up the Frogmore Cottage renovations as a mark against the pair, despite their promise to pay commercial rent on the property. 

But some commentators will never be satisfied. Long-time Sussex critic Piers Morgan met news of the repayment on Monday with calls for the couple to renounce their duke and duchess titles. 

People are now calling for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's titles to be removed after their Netflix deal. 

People are now calling for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s titles to be removed after their Netflix deal. 

The Duke of Sussex was also the subject of a controversial Sunday Times report over the weekend, with the outlet reporting that Harry scrapped an Invictus Games fundraiser with Amazon after landing his massive Netflix deal. 

A spokesperson for the Invictus Foundation on Monday denied that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s deal with Netflix affected the event in any way and said that the event was changed because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The event was shelved because the primary revenue generator was ticket sales from a live concert in Los Angeles in the Spring of 2021. Given current global circumstances with COVID, the event needed to be reconceptualized,” the spokesperson said, adding that it was “an independent decision” made prior to the deal with the streaming service and that Harry “remains committed as ever to the Invictus Games.”  

Lawyers for the Duke of Sussex have issued a legal complaint over the Times article. 

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Saudi Court Issues Final Verdicts In Jamal Khashoggi Murder, Sentencing 8 To Prison

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday in the case of slain Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi after his son, who still resides in the kingdom, announced pardons that spared five of the convicted individuals from execution.

While the trial draws to its conclusion in Saudi Arabia, the case continues to cast a shadow over the reputation and international standing of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose associates have been sanctioned by the U.S. and the U.K. for their alleged involvement in the brutal killing, which took place inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Riyadh Criminal Court’s final verdicts were announced by Saudi Arabia’s state television, which aired few details about the eight Saudi nationals and did not name them. The court ordered a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the five. Another individual received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years in prison.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate for his appointment on Oct. 2, 2018 to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiance, who waited outside. The team included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers, and individuals who worked directly for the crown prince’s office, according to Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations.

FILE – In this Dec. 15, 2014 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate. His body has not been found. Turkey apparently had the Saudi Consulate bugged and shared audio of the killing with the C.I.A., among others.

Western intelligence agencies, as well as the U.S. Congress, have said the crown prince bears ultimate responsibility for the killing and that an operation of this magnitude could not have happened without his knowledge.

The C.I.A. concluded in November 2018 that the crown prince had ordered the killing of Khashoggi. In an extraordinary statement of defiance against the U.S. intelligence agency, President Donald Trump said days later that the world may “never know” whether the crown prince was involved in Khashoggi’s death.

The Saudi verdicts came after the kingdom tried 11 people in total in December, sentencing five to death and ordering three others to lengthy prison terms for covering up the crime.

The Saudi trial, however, had concluded that the killing was not premeditated. That paved the way for Salah Khashoggi, one of the slain writer’s sons, to months later announce that the family had forgiven his Saudi killers, which essentially allows them to be pardoned from execution in accordance with Islamic law.

Salah Khashoggi lives in Saudi Arabia and has received financial compensation from the royal court for his father’s killing.

The trial has been widely criticized by rights groups and observers, who note that no senior officials nor anyone suspected of ordering the killing has been found guilty. The independence of the Riyadh Criminal Court has also been questioned.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Irqah Palace,

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Irqah Palace, in the capital Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Thursday, February 20, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via AP)

Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had written critically of Prince Mohammed in columns for the Washington Post at a time when the young heir to the throne was being widely hailed by Washington for pushing through social reforms.

Khashoggi’s columns criticized the parallel crackdown on dissent overseen by the prince. Dozens of perceived critics of the prince remain in prison, including women’s rights activists, and face trial on national security charges.

Khashoggi had been living in exile in the United States for about a year, leaving Saudi Arabia just as Prince Mohammed was beginning to unleash a crackdown on Saudi human rights activists, writers and critics of the kingdom’s devastating war in Yemen.

A small number of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Khashoggi’s family, were allowed to attend the initial trial’s nine court sessions. Independent media were barred.

HuffPost’s Hayley Miller contributed reporting.

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