No longer an outlier: New York ends commercial surrogacy ban

NEW YORK — To become a father of two daughters, New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman and his husband made cross-country trips to California, where the girls were born through surrogacy arrangements. At the time, New York was one of a handful of states outlawing commercial surrogacy. Now, it’s about to become legal after years of activism by Hoylman and a host of allies who finally overcame tenacious political opposition. Instead of being a national outlier, New York will become a leader, according to experts on surrogacy . They say the new law, passed in April and taking effect on Monday, has a surrogates’ bill of rights providing the nation’s strongest protections for women serving as surrogates. Among the provisions:

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Pope hails Colombia for giving needy Venezuelans protection

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday praised Colombia for its recent decision to grant protection to Venezuelans who fled their homeland’s economic hardships, as he encouraged people to express gratitude to all those who help migrants. In remarks to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said he wanted to recognize Colombia’s decision, which he said would allow Venezuelans to enjoy “welcome, protection and integration.” The 10-year protection statute announced by Colombia’s president last week will give 1.8 million Venezuelans now living in Colombia permission to stay and the possibility to apply for permanent residency. Venezuelan migrants hope the measure will make it easier to obtain work and access social services. That would especially benefit 1 million undocumented Venezuelans

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Indian police arrest climate activist for supporting farmers

NEW DELHI — An Indian climate activist has been arrested for circulating a document on social media that allegedly incited protesting farmers to turn violent last month, leaving one protester dead and about 400 police officers injured during clashes in the Indian capital, police said Sunday. Disha Ravi, 22, was arrested in the southern city of Bengaluru and appeared in a New Delhi court on Sunday, New Delhi police said in a statement. The court sent her to police custody for five days to help in an investigation “into the criminal conspiracy related to the Toolkit document” that allegedly incited the farmers on Jan. 26, India’s Republic Day, police said. Thousands of farmers stormed New Delhi’s historic Red Fort complex

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Virus may never go away but could change into mild annoyance

NEW DELHI — What if COVID-19 never goes away? Experts say it’s likely that some version of the disease will linger for years. But what it will look like in the future is less clear. Will the coronavirus, which has already killed more than 2 million people worldwide, eventually be eliminated by a global vaccination campaign, like smallpox? Will dangerous new variants evade vaccines? Or will the virus stick around for a long time, transforming into a mild annoyance, like the common cold? Eventually, the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 will become yet “another animal in the zoo,” joining the many other infectious diseases that humanity has learned to live with, predicted Dr. T. Jacob John, who studies viruses and was

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Police investigate after threats made against Niagara’s medical officer of health

Niagara Regional Police have launched an investigation after online threats were made against the region’s acting medical officer of health. “We are aware of the social media posts in reference to Dr. Hirji that have been reported in the media. We have commenced an investigation,” the police force said in a tweet. “We will not be commenting any further at this time regarding that investigation.” Police were notified following a report in the St. Catharines Standard on Saturday which said threats were made on Facebook against Dr. Mustafa Hirji following the decision by the province to place the region in the “grey-lockdown” zone once stay-at-home measures are eased this week. Surrounding regions, meanwhile, will see non-essential businesses such as restaurant,

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‘Obamacare’ sign-ups reopen as Democrats push for more aid

WASHINGTON — HealthCare.gov’s market for subsidized health plans reopens Monday for a special three-month sign-up window as the Democratic-led Congress pushes a boost in financial help that could cut premiums by double digits. This enrolment period during the coronavirus pandemic is an early test of President Joe Biden’s strategy to use the Affordable Care Act as a springboard toward health coverage for all. Advancing on a parallel track, the new COVID-19 relief bill from House Democrats would offer a generous, though temporary, increase in subsidies for people covered by the law known as “Obamacare.” “It is a hugely important signalling move,” said Katherine Hempstead of the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The administration is doing more than having open enrolment

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3 suspects sought in east end shooting

Police are searching for three suspects following a late night shooting in the east end. Police say they were called to a building in the area of Broadview and Erindale avenues, near Bloor Street and Danforth just before midnight. When they arrived, they found a male victim suffering from a serious gunshot wound. Police say the first suspect is a Black male between 20 and 30 years of age, last seen wearing a black jacket, beige pants, black and white running shoes and a red hoodie. The second and third suspects are also described as Black males last seen wearing a black jacket, black pants and black shoes. All three suspects fled the scene on foot.

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Commons must decide whether to accept, reject Senate amendments to MAID bill

OTTAWA — A power struggle between the elected House of Commons and the appointed Senate could erupt this week over the emotional issue of medical assistance in dying. Senators have already approved five amendments to Bill C-7, including two major changes that would expand access to assisted dying well beyond what MPs agreed to when they passed the bill in December. Senators are to begin final debate on the bill Tuesday before finally voting on their amended version and shipping it back to the Commons, which will have to decide whether to accept or reject some or all of the amendments. For now, Justice Minister David Lametti’s office won’t say if the Trudeau government is willing to accept any of

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How Canada can capitalize on U.S. auto sector’s abrupt pivot to electric vehicles

WASHINGTON — The storied North American automotive industry, the ultimate showcase of Canada’s high-tensile trade ties with the United States, is about to navigate a dramatic hairpin turn. But as the Big Three veer into the all-electric, autonomous era, some Canadians want to seize the moment and take the wheel. “There’s a long shadow between the promise and the execution, but all the pieces are there,” says Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.  “We went from a marriage on the rocks to one that both partners are committed to. It could be the best second chapter ever.”  Volpe is referring specifically to GM, which announced late last month an ambitious plan to convert its entire portfolio of

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Lebanon administers 1st vaccines to health workers, elderly

BEIRUT — Lebanon administered Sunday its first jabs of COVID-19 vaccine, with an intensive care unit physician and a well-known 93-year-old comedian becoming the first to receive Pfizer-BioNTech doses. Lebanon launched its inoculation campaign a day after receiving the first batch of the vaccine — 28,500 doses from Brussels, near where Pfizer has a manufacturing facility. More were expected to arrive in the coming weeks. The rollout will be monitored by the World Bank and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to ensure safe handling and fair and equitable access for all Lebanese. Lebanon’s political, economic and health crises have converged, deepening the country’s troubles and public anger and mistrust of the long-serving ruling class.

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