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Iran’s COVID-19 crisis fuelled by politics and religion

The regime would like you to see Beautiful shots of tranquil cities. People lining up in an orderly fashion to have their temperature checked at roadblocks. All images of a situation well in hand Reinforced by the soothing commentary of a designated government spokesman – Not quite Not only did Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, not manage this situation. Well from the beginning, he denied there was any problem.

He said the outbreak was hoax propaganda from Iran's enemies. Today he acknowledged it was real but likely planted in Iran by the United States. Iranian American Borzou Daragahi covers the ran for the British newspaper, The Independent. He says the regime had first provided two explanations for the outbreak: One is, it was propaganda aimed at besmirching, Iran and China, and so on and the other is that it's some sort of bioweapon And you hear that from people — loonies on all sides around The world, including in Iran, [ Reporter ], But soon there was undeniable evidence from the holy city of Qom, that the outbreak was underway Cell phone article emerged of coffins being hurriedly buried at a cemetery along with allegations that deaths were being covered up [ Reporter ] Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, eventually acknowledged that there was a problem But suggested it was not serious enough to require any quarantine.

He encouraged people to vote in the February 21st elections. The regime was a disaster in the way it handled it. Canadian journalist, Graham Wood, covers Iran for Atlantic magazine. So if it had early on just said, the city of Qom needs to be contained. You have to practice extreme social distancing and please please do not go out in the street to vote. Then they would have probably slowed down the epidemic and maybe bought themselves some time to not be completely paralyzed by it Then came the infamous scene with Iraj Harirchi, Iran's Deputy Health Minister, trying to play down the outbreak while coughing and sweating on camera.

It was soon revealed that he had contracted COVID-19 and that gave people an indication that maybe the government doesn't have this in hand. If the person who is responsible for fighting the virus is standing there, coughing on his colleagues sweating around them and probably involved in a super spreader event himself on camera. Trita Parsi is the founder of the National Iranian American Council. When you have a government at a time of crisis at a time of a pandemic and there isn't public confidence and trust in what they say and what they do, then that just makes the pandemic and the crisis around it all the more dangerous [ Reporter ] Sure enough, the virus started spreading through the upper ranks of the Iranian government, including Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, who sat just feet from the president at a leadership meeting.

Then a very senior member of the council that chooses the Supreme Leader died of the virus and before long, the list of the infected and the dead in the upper ranks of the government became astonishingly large. And so I think, there's also a case where a lot more people in Iran have it, but the ones that stand out are the ones who get the test and the ones who tend to get the test and go to the front of the line.

To get the test are the political elite. Over the years, there has been a distinctive characteristic of Iranian society that makes it especially vulnerable to a pandemic The devotion of intense religious believers on display at local shrines, And this is almost perfectly what you're supposed to do during a contagious epidemic. That is touching your face, touching pieces of metal that other people have recently been touching, And so the rituals that have been enacted for hundreds of years.

There are unfortunately well designed to spread a virus like this, so there have been some Imams, some Ayatollahs who have said keep on doing this, Keep on doing this, God likes it and he'll protect you. The government announced it because of the pandemic. The religious shrines would be closed. The local Imams would have none of it. This is tremendously dangerous. We have now a study from a leading university in Iran that says that if these precautions are not taken seriously, then this can lead to a pandemic inside of Iran.

That would leave three and a half million people dead. True believers recorded themselves licking the gates of a shrine supposedly to clean off the coronavirus. It shows I think, the danger of fundamentalism in Iran, as well as you know, other places where extremists feel the need to assert themselves. The government put out propaganda images showing men with fogging machines, supposedly disinfecting entire streets, which most experts regard as useless in fighting this virus.

Meanwhile, horrific articles began appearing on Iranian social media showing the real depth of the crisis In this one recorded in the Qom morgue. The dead are piled up in body bags on the floor because there is no place to put them This week. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that, despite the pandemic, the United States was increasing sanctions against Iran. Many see that as a grave mistake that could hurt the rest of the world If this virus is allowed to fester and grow in any other country.

The risk of that spreading elsewhere is significant, Very very significant. Now we know quite clearly that in this globalized world, with this amount of interaction, that the spread of the virus anywhere actually constitutes a threat to humanity everywhere, Iran marked the Persian New Year on Friday, An occasion that usually involves family celebrations. Perhaps a visit to the cemetery to honor departed loved ones.

Instead, the celebrations are canceled and trips to the cemetery are reserved for new burials of family members. Today, the Iranian death toll reached 1685 Terence Mckenna, CBC News Toronto.


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Vancouver announces big fines for those breaking social distancing | Power & Politics

The city’s council voted approved rather a motion that will see residents fined up to $ 1,000 for failing to comply with social distancing rules. Businesses face a fine of up to fifty thousand dollars. That’S after reports over the weekend of large groups of people coming together for outdoor picnics or to play soccer Kenedy Stewart is the mayor of Vancouver.

He joins us now hi Mary Stewart, thanks for making time for us my pleasure. So can you update us, I guess on on we outlined there what happened in council today, but it sounds like. Obviously it was. You know a straightforward decision for you and for council. Why is that yeah? Well, just starting last week we started by closing birds and restaurants. On st. Patrick’s Day, we were worried about lot lots of people coming downtown, so we had a health order from the Minister of Health to do that, and then we moved on to have a state of emergency where we started to shut down bars and restaurants and Other and other establishments, however, over the weekends you said there are people out at beaches, playing volleyball and soccer, and you know all kinds of things they shouldn’t be doing, and so I asked council called another virtual meeting, a special council meeting where we’ve now approved these Fines which up to $ 50,000, as you said for for businesses that are not complying and up to a thousand for individuals.

I have to say, though, there’s been 95 percent. Compliance Vancouverites have been awesome for the most part, staying home, doing the physical distance saying really pitching in to help us protect our most elderly and vulnerable people, as well as frontline workers. However, there’s a few bad eggs out there that we have to stop asking nicely and we’re going to have to go after them. If they don’t.

What do you think? What do you think mirror is the issue with that 5 % if 95 % are complying and to be fair. I’Ve heard that from a number of Mayors, as well as premiers on this evening’s program right, it’s not the majority of people where they live, but for those people who aren’t listening wat, why do you think it is what’s not getting through? You know it’s hard to say really. I mean where we had so many other things going out, we’re not interviewing people with and that’s you know they’re just either.

They don’t think you’re immune. Perhaps they you know it’s all age groups, it’s not just one particular group. So we just have to bring this in now and then we have, I think, 20 bylaw officers that are out there. We we’ve looked at think about a thousand businesses. Now we’ve issued about 15 orders of non-compliance, we’re asking again we serve notice to a business. For example, and then if they continue not to shut down and the fines kick in and we prosecute yeah, that’s actually what I want to follow up and ask you just for bit.

You know business owners who are reading tonight in Vancouver or for individuals who are, how will it work? Will you immediately be fined, or will you kind of get a warning first and then and then a ticket? How will it work yeah? So what happens? Is the bile officers are checking in and we also have people calling 3 1 1 to? Let us know if they see a non-compliant business and then a bio laughs term we’ll go to that premise and basically tape a notice on their door.

That gives them the warning and then we haven’t had to levy any fines yet. But we just we just passed this literally hours ago, so if they continue to to stop, you know not complying, then then we’ll issue the fines and if they don’t pay the fines, then we prosecute them. Do you think that there needs to be some sort of federal federal invoking of either the Emergencies Act or something more specific, so that it’s not I mean and not to I’m, not taking away from anything that the prime minister said he’s been unequivocal as well today.

So has the premier of your province, I mean political leaders are on the same page when it comes to this, but does there need to be sort of more than a recommendation coming from the federal government when it comes to this, you know I’m not giving advice. The prime minister and cabinet, in fact their outreach, has been amazing. I have a call this evening with the Deputy Prime Minister. I think I talked at 3 ministers yesterday.

You know I’m just really overwhelmed with the support here and really what I get asked is what’s going on in your neighborhood or in your city. What do you need? How can we help and that’s that’s exactly what what’s been coming from the federal government, so I’m so grateful for that right now we’re focusing on a Downtown Eastside. We have 10,000 folks that are either homeless or living in you know single room, occupancy hotels that cannot self isolate, so that is now our top priority and we need help from the feds and the province to to really show compassion and protect these folks to our Most vulnerable citizens – hey – I know we spoke about this last week.

Have you received assurances, I guess from other levels of government that there will be help in the way of the issues that you identify? There wait. We are know knowing that the federal government is working on getting us supplies which is really important for our hospitals and for for frontline workers, which is great I mean, but I know that there’s supply chain issues on those on those items. So that’s taking a little bit of time for us, we’re really just focused on Wednesday, because that’s the day that checks their issues.

People get paper checks for the most part. They take them to some kind of establishment to cash them, and then they go by. They go buy whatever they need to survive, and we just got to make sure that we’re trying to help them maintain the proper physical distance and hygiene, and that is a huge challenge in a neighborhood, that’s already under a health emergency for an overdose crisis. So so this is our top priority and the provincial Health Minister assures me it’s his as well.

So thanks to Adrian Dix and and you know, governments are working as fast as we can, and you know, we’ve never had really add anything like this happen in Vancouver. So we’re we’re just moving as fast as we can, but taking action. That’S the key when we spoke also last week mayor, we also discussed the sort of economic impact on Vancouver beyond what you were just describing and I’m wondering now.

We just got a number in nearly a million Canadians last week tried to access EEI, that’s compared to 27,000 that same week the year before, I’m wondering what that number says to you, and also what your sense is now almost a week later of the potential economic Impact in your city, well, there’s two things: I’m looking at first is the immediate needs of the city as an organization, so we know we’re losing millions of dollars a week because we’ve closed community centers and other revenue generating you know, parking fines.

All those kind of things that mostly been shut down so we’re. We have a big deficit that we have. We really appreciate some direct unconditional grants from either the federal or provincial government to help us with these shortfalls, which are going to really hit us hard as we move into the recovery so but the overall economy as well. You know where we now know that it’s okay to continue with construction, which is great, so we’re going to try to keep passing rezoning to get rental buildings built.

But again it’s tough when all your staff are at home working by computer, so we’ve got it. We’Ve got a lot. We’Ve made it a priority to identify a lot of shovel-ready projects that we can get going on right away as soon as you know, as soon as the coast is clear to get everybody back working, but in the meantime it is going to be tough for everybody. Businesses and employees, as well as layoffs as layoffs, start to ramp up okay I’ll leave it there.

I really appreciate you making some time. I know it’s really busy thanks mayor Stuart, no problem, thanks for covering this hi, i’m mocchi Capello’s host of power in politics see more of our show by subscribing to the CBC news, blog or click the link for another article.


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COVID-19: Ontario closing all non-essential businesses | Power & Politics

Well, we aren’t going to listen, we’re just going out. Well, I’m sorry! The rules in Florida is not the rules here in Ontario down on the US. It is spreading rapidly right across their country. I can’t repeat that enough: go directly home and stay in your house, but take it right now, as you have to self isolate for 14 days.

Bottom line full stop, no negotiating no store no running to the gas station. Your self isolating simple as that welcome back I’m Bashi, Capello’s host of power and politics and you’re reading a CBC News special on the corona virus pandemic that was Ontario premier, dug for a bit earlier today. A stern message echoed by political leaders across the country stay home and self, isolate, especially to those who’ve returned from a trip outside the country.

Ontario has just become the latest province to order all non-essential businesses closed as governments try and slow the spread of Kovan 19. That measure will take effect tomorrow. Just before midnight a bit earlier. I spoke to Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Minister of Health hi, Minister Elliott, thanks so much for making time for us really appreciate it pleasure. Thank you. Today. The premier announced Minister, that your government is ordering all non-essential businesses to close.

Can you tell us what counts as non-essential? Well, I can speak in a general sense. There will be a specific list that will be available tomorrow to the public, but, generally speaking, it is anything that is going to. First of all, keep our health workers continuing to be able to go to work, the people that are doing the lab testing and so on, and then we need to keep the supply chain open for Ontarians to be able to buy food at their lowest local grocery Store to get the medications that they need at their pharmacies and so on.

So we want to make sure that we, when we come forward with this list, we are making it available and possible for Ontarians to be able to get the essential things that they need. But for everyone else we’re asking them to please stay home. Please do not go out unless you absolutely need to. Please recognize the social distancing, it’s very, very important to keep everyone safe. What drove this decision, Minister? Is there a sense in your government that perhaps people are not heating, those warnings? Those asks that that you have made of them to the degree that they need to be well? We know that the vast majority of Ontarians do understand the need to follow these rules, but we have seen an increase of 78 cases between yesterday and today, we’re now at five hundred and three cases in Ontario.

So it shows us that there is still more that needs to be done and so we’re asking as well anyone who is returning from travel, particularly snowbirds, coming from the United States, to please a self isolate immediately upon your return to Canada. Please do not go to your local grocery store or Costco or Walmart, or a tea place else. Please go home immediately and then arrange with family to to drop food off at your door or order in food or, if you don’t have anyone to help you with that.

Please contact your public health department and they can help arrange food to be delivered to you. But it is really really important for the protection of everyone that this be maintained. If you do, though, Minister believes that the vast majority of Ontarians are already heating, this advice – why do you feel like this is necessary? Because there still are situations that we are hearing about, where people aren’t self isolating immediately upon their return to Canada, or they are continuing to gather in groups of 50 people or more.

At this point, we are looking at people being in very small groups. Even if you go outside, please just go out with one or two people, your partner members of your family, just because the social distancing is so important. We want to contain you to do whatever we can to prevent the spread of kovat 19. How will this be enforced Minister? Well we’re asking people to do this voluntarily? We know that there just aren’t enough enforcement agents out there to to follow this up, although there will be police that will be doing community monitoring and so on, but we’re really relying on the people of Ontario to to voluntarily follow this.

We are all in this together and it’s going to take all of us to to get out of this. So we need to all recognize that we have a role to play, that we have a responsibility to our families, but to each other to to follow all of these rules. Does that mean that if the rules are not followed, people will not face any kind of penalty? Well, there will there will, of course, be penalties in terms of fines and so on, but I think the more important thing is just for the health of everyone that we want to be able to make sure that people will self isolate.

We want to make sure that our health facilities are not overwhelmed by increases in numbers of people with kovat 19. So, of course, there will be penalties, but we are really asking people to please voluntarily follow the rules. We heard, minister from the federal government, the Prime Minister earlier today, in which he said the Emergencies Act. Invoking the emergencies act at a federal level is not off the table.

What is the position of your government where that’s concerned, so that if there are these questions about whether something needs to be voluntary or not, or whether people need to be inside or working or not, that those are instead define more clearly by the federal government and People who don’t follow those rules will face punishment. Where does your government stand on the federal government? Invoking that act well, we’re all working together, both municipally provincially and federally? I I’ve been in regular contact with Federal Minister of Health Minister haidu, and so we understand that the federal government has these significant powers that we want to work with them.

If they feel that it’s necessary, then of course we will follow the rules. But right now we are working very collegially, cooperatively and I think that’s really important for all of the people of both Ontario and Canada to know that that we are all working together to protect the health and safety of Ontarians and Canadians generally. I appreciate that Minister, but do you think that there is that it is the time for the federal government to invoke that act? I certainly can I’m not going to tell the federal government what to do.

What we are doing right now is in the best interest of voluntary ins, that what that’s what the premier has spoken about today, that’s what I’m directing my attention to and, as a matter of fact, I am having a conversation later today with the the federal minister And my provincial and territorial counterparts, so we all need to work together to make sure that we we protect the health of everyone and just before I let you go Minister, a final question on preparedness or on basically the health aspect of all of this.

Your government last weekend you promised that you would be able to process the province would be able to process 5,000 tests per day. When will that be happening by well, we have increased the number of tests that we are able to do. Provincially from 2,000 to 3,000 were over 3,000 per day now. I anticipate that within the next number of days a few short days, we will be able to process 5,000 and we are looking at increasing capacity beyond that.

We do have a plan in place to do that and we are working through that every day we are speaking about that at our command table on a daily basis. We had a conversation about that this morning. The plan is working and we are steadily increasing the volumes so just to be clear for our viewers, because I know many of them in Ontario are reading. You expect there to be the processing of 5,000 tests in the next few days and then you fact that processing capacity to increase beyond that as well.

Yes, absolutely, and we know that there is a backlog in terms of cases being tested right now we anticipate being able to get rid of the backlog very shortly and then get up to 5,000 cases and then be able to test a more would you say that Would happen by the end of this week we should be able to be up to 5,000 cases by the end of this week. Yes, all right, I’m going to leave it there, Minister Eliot really appreciate your time.

Thank you very much about she. I, on Vashon Capello’s host of power in politics, see more of our show by subscribing to the CBC news, blog or click the link for another article.


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