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Japan slams international border shut as Omicron fears grow



Japan has closed its international border to foreign travellers

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed that Japan will close borders to new entries of foreign nationals, including business travellers, foreign students and foreign interns from Tuesday, as fears of the new omicron variant of COVID-19 grows.

“This is a preventive, emergency measure to avoid a worst-case scenario,” Kishida told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The entry ban does not affect foreign residents re-entering Japan and Japanese nationals. But Japanese citizens and foreign residents re-entering Japan traveling from 14 countries where cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed will be required to quarantine in government-designated facilities, Kishida said.

“This is an extraordinary measure for the time being just until we know more about the omicron variant,”

Kishida said.

Social distancing signs sit on benches at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Concern over the virus situation in Japan in growing as cases have surged in recent weeks. An outbreak initially thought confined to nighttime entertainment areas in Tokyo has spread to workplaces and across the country. Photographer: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg

Experts say Omicron should not cause panic

Leading infectious disease experts say the new variant may be more infectious than other strains, but relatively little is known about how transmissible and better able to evade the body’s immune responses it is.

According to Japanese media, the prime minister urged the public to remain calm, wear masks and maintain social distancing, stressing that the country has the highest vaccination rate among the Group of Seven countries.

PM Kishida also said that there had been one traveler from Namibia who tested positive for COVID.

It was unclear if the person had been infected with the omicron variant, but the sample had been sent to a lab for genomic testing.

On November 8, Japan started allowing new entries of foreign students and technical interns for the first time in nearly a year, provided they quarantine for 14 days, a span that would be shortened to 10 days if they those arriving are fully vaccinated.

The border closure announcement is especially bad news for foreign students

Foreign students make up the largest chunk of foreign nationals hoping to newly enter Japan — with many having already started paperwork to come after studying remotely from their home countries for up to more than a year.

Japan had been gradually tightening entry restrictions since the new variant began spreading quickly around the globe. Over the weekend, it required travelers from nine hot spots in Africa — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia — to spend 10 days in government-designated quarantine facilities upon arrival.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Russia exchanging food for arms from North Korea



The U.S. says any arms deal would violate UN Security Council resolutions

Russia is actively seeking more arms from North Korea to bolster its war on Ukraine.

The White House says Russia is sending a delegation to North Korea to offer food in exchange for weapons.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also revealed the U.S. had new information about a deal.

Kirby says the U.S. was monitoring the situation, and the alleged deal very closely.

“We also understand that Russia is seeking to send a delegation in North Korea and that Russia is offering North Korea food in exchange for munitions,” he said.

Kirby added that any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would violate UN Security Council resolutions.

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Mass Casualty Commission delivers assessment of 2020 tragedy



Twenty-two people were killed as the gunman evaded capture for 13 hours

Members of a joint provincial and federal inquiry into Canada’s deadliest mass shooting to date have provided their assessment of the tragedy – which left 22 people dead.

On 18-19 April 2020, a gunman driving a fake police car spent more than 13 hours evading capture and killed 22 people.

The Mass Casualty Commission is the taskforce assigned to investigate the Nova Scotia incident.

Now, the Commission’s damming report has found a cascade of failures within Canada’s federal police actually worsened the mass shooting.

The report says the nation’s police force has shown little interest in reforming in the years since.

The commission details fixes to systemic failures within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that are needed to restore trust in policing and ultimately prevent another national tragedy.

It found the attack profoundly damaged the collective identity of those affected by the killing, with many residents no longer feeling safe in their rural homes.

The report has also provided the most detailed account of what happened over those two fateful days.

The 51-year-old shooter assaulted his partner and then, armed with illegal firearms, left his home in a replica police vehicle, driving around a beachside community.

In less than an hour, he killed 13 neighbours and set fire to five homes and structures.

He managed to escape capture and, the next morning, killed nine more people.

The commission’s hearings began in early 2021 and ran for nearly a year – and stemmed from the frustration and grief of families who demanded answers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says lawmakers will look at the findings and make appropriate changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

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Donald Trump indicted over hush money payment to Stormy Daniels



Donald Trump has become the first former U.S. President to be indicted as he makes another run for the White House

Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The probe was led by Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which could change the 2024 presidential race.

It means Donald Trump becomes the first former U.S. President to be criminally charged.

It is unclear what the specific charges are, however, the indictment will likely be announced in the coming days, according to the New York Times.

The former president will then have to travel to Manhattan for fingerprinting and other processing.

If he is convicted, Trump could face significant fines and possibly jail time.

The payment stems from a Trump Organisation reimbursement to Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen.

He paid Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter she allegedly had with Trump in 2006.

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance law violations in 2018. He testified Trump directed him to make the payments and was sentenced to three years in prison.

“For the first time in our Country’s history, a President (current or former) of the United States has been indicted. I take no pride in issuing this statement and wish to also remind everyone of the presumption of innocence; as provided by the due process clause,” Cohen told NBC News.

Trump has previously said he would continue campaigning for the Republican Party’s nomination if he was charged with a crime.

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