Jeff Bezos is not primed to become the world’s first trillionaire — yet

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, is only getting richer in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, even as tens of thousands of people die and millions more lose their jobs.

But while his business is booming thanks to millions of locked-down customers who rely on Amazon for their goods, he’s not quite on the verge of becoming the world’s first trillionaire. Yet.

Social media lit up with angry speculation on Wednesday night amid reports that the COVID-19 threat might actually push Bezos into trillionaire territory — a mind-blowing new strata of wealth that no person has ever achieved. If Bezos keeps making money at his current pace, he could be worth $1 trillion by 2026, according to those reports. (That’s $1,000,000,000,000, for those who want to count the zeroes.)

The reports all cite a single, months-old analysis by Comparisun, a small business advice platform that based its prediction on some back-of-the-napkin math. Essentially, it looked at how much each billionaire’s wealth grew over the last five years, then assumed that rate of growth would steadily continue for the rest of their lives.

Bezos is currently the richest man in the world with a fortune of about $143 billion, according to the live-tracking Bloomberg Billionaire Index. That’s well ahead of second-place Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder worth $106 billion. Gates has largely stepped back from the billionaire tech race and now spends most of his time trying to develop life-saving vaccines and technologies through his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bezos’ fortune has had a bit of an up-and-down year, but the coronavirus lockdowns helped him ride from a low point of $105 billion in mid-March up to his current $143 billion valuation, Bloomberg data shows.

The data also shows that Bezos’ wealth isn’t on a steady train to trillionaire status, as Forbes pointed out in a fact check on Thursday.

Bezos was the first billionaire to pass the $100-billion mark in 2017, and speculation has been rampant for years that he could one day be worth $1 trillion. A CNBC report in 2018 suggested that he could hit that goal if Amazon’s shares hit a value of $12,600 and if he held onto all of his stock. He’s sold billions worth of stock since then, and Amazon’s shares were trading at about $2,359 on Thursday morning, according to Reuters. That’s a surge of about 28 per cent over the year to date, but it’s still not close to making Bezos a trillionaire.

Amazon has also pledged to pour about $4 billion back into the business this year to boost wages for warehouse workers, add more coronavirus testing and increase cleaning efforts at its facilities. That could take a bite out of its overall value and slow Bezos’ march to $1 trillion.

Although many were quick to condemn the idea that Bezos might be a trillionaire, others applauded him as an unprecedented success story.

“Jeff Bezos is a billionaire (not a ‘TRILLIONAIRE’) because he has provided people with a service that they value,” Twitter user Wyatt Claypool wrote. “Most people don’t pay for things they don’t want and Amazon has inarguably made life easier for the poor.”

Several users pointed out that if people are truly scared of Bezos becoming a trillionaire, there’s one way to slow him down: don’t order from Amazon. After all, he’s not trillionaire — yet.

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COMMENTARY: How to plan for pests while gardening during the pandemic

Many people are trying to grow their own food during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Hands are sketching plans onto paper. Window boxes are appearing on balconies. Seeds are sprouting in repurposed plastic containers.

For some of us, this is a familiar ritual. For others, the practice of growing food is brand new territory.

Regardless of experience, most home gardeners will contend with the challenge of pests. The word pest describes any organism that causes harm to humans or human interests. Pests can cause sudden and significant damage to homegrown food.

However, with a little planning, monitoring and intervention, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood and severity of these losses. Here are some thoughts to consider:

Hedge your bets

Pest impact varies considerably over short distances (e.g. sunny front yard to shady backyard). Some pests are picky eaters and only feed on a handful of plant types. For example, the Colorado potato beetle feeds on nightshades, including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes.

Other pests pose risk only at certain times of the year. For instance, slug damage to plant seedlings is most severe in early summer.

By planting a diversity of plant species, in different places, with staggered planting dates, you can increase your chances of an abundant harvest. Check the back of your seed package for an estimate of how many days it will take the plant to reach maturity to ensure late-starters will have time to reach their full potential.

Notice the animals around you and plan ahead

Think about what animals you regularly see in your neighbourhood — and plan your lines of defence.

Deer have a particular fondness for crops like beans, peas, spinach and sweetcorn. If deer can access your plants, you should consider investing in fencing or netting. Deer tend to turn up their noses at strongly scented plants like mint, onions or oregano, and these can be planted in the places accessible to deer.

If your neighbourhood has a healthy raccoon population, container gardens might be a good option for you. By planting in containers, you can move your garden indoors at night and protect your harvest.

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Are you losing your tomatoes? Try harvesting them before the fruits reach peak ripeness. Placing unripe tomatoes in a paper bag for a few days will allow them to ripen in safety.

Not all insects are bad

Many major agricultural pests are insects and cause major losses of food across the world. However, an insect on your plant does not mean that it is causing harm.

Try watching the insect for a moment. How does it behave? Does it seem to be eating or laying eggs? If so, you might have a pest. Otherwise it could be a predator searching for a smaller insect to eat, a pollinator warming itself in the sun or simply a passerby on its way elsewhere.

Pesticide labels are legal documents that must be followed. They are written to protect the health of you, your family, your pets and the wider environment. Some regions prohibit the use of certain types of pesticides, so please familiarize yourself with local regulations before use.

Preventing hospital visits is even more important given the pressure our health-care system faces under COVID-19. Before using pesticides, try lower-risk options like integrated pest management practices, such as growing pest-resistant plant varieties, using row covers or including plant species that are highly attractive to natural enemies (like parasitic wasps) within the garden.

Ask for help

Whether you are a new or seasoned home gardener, pest problems can be real head-scratchers. Social media is an excellent way to connect with other gardeners to ask questions. Try #growyourown on Instagram, vegetable gardening forums on reddit or gardening groups on Facebook.

There are also a number of excellent blogs if you prefer to start with background reading.

While we are still physically distanced from one another, try picking up the phone and calling a friend who likes to garden. Take this time to connect with others over the challenges and joys of growing food.

Be kind to yourself

The food you purchase at farmer’s market and from grocery stores is grown by experts with knowledge, technology and dedicated time. Due to market demand, more often than not, the food on display is the best of the best.

So-called ugly produce is processed, used to feed livestock or wasted. Some of the food you grow will be ugly, often because of pest activity.

You may find caterpillars inside ears of corn or holes in your kale. Instead of fretting, use your discretion. Try removing the damaged portion using a sharp clean knife.

Enjoy the rest. It will be delicious, or at the very least — homegrown.The Conversation

Paul Manning, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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COMMENTARY: Oil is not ‘dead’ despite the eagerness of some to write its obituary

As much as airlines are suffering as a result of this pandemic — and that very much includes Canada’s major airlines — it would be absurd to argue that the airline industry is “dead.”

To be sure, the industry faces a long road to recovery and a great deal of uncertainty along the way. Some airlines might not make it, while others may be forced to downsize or to drastically overhaul their operations.

If we want Canada’s airlines to survive, then we need to look at how to help them through this, lest we find ourselves in the future dependent on foreign carriers. But no one seriously thinks that the airline industry has no future, and such a claim would likely be met with derision.

It is through a similar lens that we should view the comments about the oil and gas industry from former Green Party leader Elizabeth May and, to a certain extent, from Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet.

On Wednesday, May declared that the oil and gas industry was no longer viable, citing the pandemic, the drop in prices resulting from the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and what she sees as growing demand for alternative forms of energy. In response to a follow-up question, May was blunt: “Oil is dead,” she said.

Blanchet, meanwhile, more or less concurred with May, declaring that “tar sands are condemned and putting any more money in that business is a very bad idea.”

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Fortunately, the prime minister made it clear that he did not share this assessment. It seems quite clear that both May and Blanchet are trying to advance their own environmental and regional agendas. They do not want the federal government to provide support to the oil and gas industry and are trying to convince Canadians that doing so is an exercise in futility.

Prior to the pandemic, the International Energy Agency was forecasting that global oil demand would continue to grow for another 20 years, peaking at 106.4 million barrels a day in 2040. Undoubtedly, this pandemic has altered those forecasts, but hardly to the extent that May would have us believe.

Fossil fuels still represent about four-fifths of the world’s overall energy consumption. That number will obviously decline in the years ahead as the demand for renewables and other alternatives grows, but that hardly constitutes the basis for writing the industry’s obituary.

We don’t have to kill off Canada’s oil and gas industry to support a transition to renewables or to address the broader challenge of climate change. We do need to recognize that the world is, for now, still very much dependent on fossil fuels and it’s certainly in Canada’s best interests for us to remain a player in that global marketplace. The demise of Canada’s industry will only compound our economic pain and make our long-term recovery more difficult.

The prime minister was right to say, as he did, that Canada needs “the innovation, the hard work and the vision and the creativity of people working right now in the energy sector.”

Hopefully he’ll continue to ignore the likes of May and Blanchet on this point. The oil and gas business is not dead, despite those who wish it to be.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News.

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Italy's Generali not worried about takeovers thanks to core shareholders, strong capital

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s top insurer, Assicurazioni Generali (GASI.MI), said on Saturday it was confident of being able to rebuff a potential takeover bid, thanks to a “solid” group of core domestic shareholders and a strong capital and financial position.

In answers to investors posted on its website ahead of next week’s annual general meeting, the insurer said it was “very solid from an operational and financial point of view as well as in terms of capital and governance”.

Generali’s smaller market capitalisation has fuelled speculation in the past that it could become an acquisition target for larger rivals such as France’s AXA (AXAF.PA) or Switzerland’s Zurich Insurance (ZURN.S).

Sources told Reuters last month that a parliamentary committee on security was looking into the ownership structure of Italy’s top financial groups with a focus on possible changes at UniCredit (CRDI.MI) and Generali.

By driving down Italian stock prices, the coronavirus pandemic has heightened concerns that top financial institutions could fall into foreign hands, prompting the government to broaden special powers it has over sectors deemed strategic – to include banks and insurers.

Generali, whose biggest shareholder is Milanese financial group Mediobanca (MDBI.MI), is 28.5% owned by a group of Italian investors including eyewear billionaire Leonardo Del Vecchio.

Del Vecchio is also the top shareholder in Mediobanca.

Generali reiterated that there was no reason to doubt the group’s stability, even if the final impact of the COVID-19 crisis was still uncertain.

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COMMENTARY: Canada in the age of COVID-19 — is this our new ‘normal’?

It has been one month since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic. Since then, Canadians have gone from their version of normal to whatever historians will call today.

Will they call it a “new normal”? It’s hard to say. What we do know is the events of the last month have had a massive impact on the mindset of Canadians. Ipsos has catalogued some of the changes in a series of polls released with Global News this week.

What have we learned from our polling?

First off, for most Canadians COVID-19 is primarily an economic disease. Most of us don’t believe we will get the virus. We don’t even know someone who has it. But many of us (36 per cent in our survey) have had our jobs and incomes massively disrupted.

Worry about family job loss is the highest Ipsos has recorded in 30 years and 60 per cent of us are even worried about paying our monthly bills. What this means is that when we see reports about climbing infection rates, we aren’t hearing that we need to be worried about getting infected. We’re hearing we won’t be going back to work this week.

The need to get back to work is what’s behind the strong support for government action to stop the spread of COVID-19. Canadians are now prepared to accept government interventions that a month ago would have been unthinkable. We tried to find the limit to government action in our polling and were unsuccessful.

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In step with the mood of Canadians, our governments have been moving aggressively and, as a result, all of Canada’s political leaders are experiencing career-high scores in public approval. Premier François Legault’s approval rating in Quebec is 96 per cent. That’s the highest approval rating I’ve seen for any Canadian politician in my 30-year career.

How do we come out of the COVID-19 deep freeze? That’s what our polling will turn to next. What signals will Canadians be looking for to believe it’s safe to return to their normal activities? Will it be the opinions of experts and public officials? Will it be what we see with our own eyes in our neighbourhoods? Will the need for social interaction pull us back into the world regardless of what we’re told to do — especially as the summer weather presents an irresistible lure to go outside?

The cracks will start to show, especially among those who are feeling the loneliest and the least physically imperilled by the disease.

Our polling will also look at what changes in COVID behaviour will stick with us for the longer term. Will we keep washing our hands? Will we have a new sense of what it means to be social? Will our new relationships with technology or expanded retail options continue? Will close talkers disappear? (I certainly hope so.)

The truth is, nobody knows about any of this. What I do know is Global News and Ipsos will continue to track how the thinking of Canadians is evolving through this crisis. And what we learn, we will share with you.

Darrell Bricker is CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs. 

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.”

This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 1,006 Canadians conducted between April 3 and 7. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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COMMENTARY: Survival bunker business is ‘brisk’ amid the coronavirus crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic may be battering Canadian business, but the underground economy is booming.

No, I’m not talking about the still-flourishing black-market marijuana trade. I’m talking about a literal underground business: installing a survival shelter in your backyard or basement.

The bunker business is brisk, reports Ron Hubbard, owner of Atlas Survival Shelters in Texas.

“The demand for shelters is skyrocketing worldwide,” Hubbard told me, noting Canadian demand for his ready-to-install underground emergency shelters is spiking along with the COVID-19 infection rate.

“I do lots of bunkers in Canada,” said Hubbard, who lives three months a year in Saskatchewan. “British Columbia is the hottest market in Canada.”

Why is B.C. the hottest market? Maybe it’s because Canada’s west-coast province was among the first to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases, along with the heightened anxiety of living next door to Washington state, an early coronavirus hot spot.

Hubbard said his fanciest bunkers — costing upward of $100,000 a pop — feature all the comforts of home.

“It’s a pre-manufactured drop-in basement that’s water-tight and skin-tight,” he said.

“My own bunker has a master bedroom and eight bunks in a second bedroom. It has a full kitchen, living room, den, dinner table, entertainment centre, cameras and monitors. I’ve got a bathroom with a vanity and toilet. I’ve got a bathtub with shower.

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“It’s got everything you’d have in a two-bedroom apartment, except mine’s 20 feet underground with a bullet-proof hatch.

“You could go into that shelter if there is an airborne pandemic.”

But wait. There’s no evidence the COVID-19 virus can float and survive for long distances in the atmosphere like the radioactive fallout from a nuclear bomb.

So why would people buy an underground shelter to guard against an unproven threat?

Maybe it’s a sign of anxiety-riddled times, Hubbard told me.

“People want a Plan B,” said Hubbard, whose last major surge in business happened two years ago during the frightening nuclear sabre-rattling between the United States and North Korea.

“Every two or three years there’s some kind of scare,” he said, adding the scare-o-meter is rising.

“COVID-19 is not the big one. This is a warning shot across the world’s bow. The big one is coming later.”

Let’s hope not, because the damage inflicted by this emergency is bad enough, never mind a worse one.

The Conference Board of Canada this week released a sobering analysis of the economic impact of the pandemic that’s enough to make you batten down the hatches of your underground bunker and never come out.

“Canada will suffer record job losses in March and April — with lower-wage workers taking the brunt of the hit,” the economic think tank said in a new report.

“Shutting down most, if not all, non-essential services across Canada will result in massive job losses in the coming weeks. Our estimates suggest Canada could lose 2.8 million jobs in March and April — nearly 15 per cent of total employment.”

For a guy like Hubbard, business tends to be good when times are bad for others, especially if they’re frightened.

But his business can be cyclical, as he experienced when tensions eased between the U.S. and North Korea and orders for his shelters quickly slumped.

The goal of public-health officials now is to inflict another drop in the underground bunker market, by flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections and eventually re-opening an economy brutalized by the pandemic. It could take months, as Canada braces for more tough times ahead.

Mike Smyth is host of ‘The Mike Smyth Show’ on Global News Radio 980 CKNW in Vancouver and a commentator for Global News. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @MikeSmythNews​.

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COMMENTARY: Health minister’s credulity plays right into China’s hands

It is quite likely the case that China has not been completely open and transparent about the extent of its COVID-19 outbreak. It’s also the case that such matters are not necessarily relevant in the immediacy of Canada’s efforts to contain its own outbreak.

So while Canada doesn’t need to go out of its way to pick a fight with China at the moment, it’s also reasonable to expect our political leaders to avoid parroting the official Chinese line. The Chinese government is certainly trying to shape a narrative around the origins of this outbreak and Canada needs to avoid being a party to that in any way.

Separate reports from this past week suggest that U.S. intelligence has come to the conclusion that China has significantly understated the size of the outbreak, in terms of both the total number of cases and the number of deaths. This is on top of what we already know about how the Chinese government punished and silenced whistleblowers and suppressed news and social media posts about the virus in the early days of the outbreak.

In other words, the conclusions of U.S. intelligence probably shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The question now, though, is what to do with that information. I happen to subscribe to the view that China bears much responsibility for this pandemic and at some point there’s going to have to be some reckoning about that.

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China’s attempts to portray itself as the heroes of the COVID-19 response and its attempts to raise doubts about the origins of the outbreak are clearly part of a broader effort to avoid any sort of accountability.

We shouldn’t let them get away with it. Unfortunately, while the prime minister managed to avoid giving China’s propaganda efforts a boost, the same cannot be said of Canada’s health minister.

When the question was put to Health Minister Patty Hadju, though, the response was much different. Rather than defer to Trudeau’s response or echo what the prime minister had said, Hadju instead offered a defence of the Chinese government’s record.

“There is no indication that the data that came out of China in terms of their infection rate and their death rate was falsified in any way,” Hadju declared, before suggesting that the reporter’s question was somehow “feeding into conspiracy theories.”

It’s unclear why Hadju has such faith in official Chinese claims or why she felt that she had to publicly rebuke these reports about Chinese deceitfulness. Granted, there probably is a need in the short term to work with China and keep channels of communication open as we navigate this pandemic. But there’s no need at all to be lending a hand to China’s disinformation efforts.

To whatever extent China is sincere in trying to help other countries contain COVID-19 — either through the sharing of information about the virus itself or through the sharing of personal protective equipment for health-care workers — we must also not lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with an autocratic regime with its own agenda and interests.

As such, a much higher level of skepticism is warranted when it comes to official Chinese claims and statements.

Not only is it not in Canada’s interests to take China’s claims at face value, it’s not in the federal government’s interests to be hurting its own credibility right now. Canadians are being asked to put a great deal of faith in our elected leaders at the moment and the health minister’s credulity here isn’t helping.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News.

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China’s divorce rates rise as couples emerge from coronavirus quarantine

Not everyone is feeling the love while stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

In China, where the COVID-19 outbreak first began, divorce rates are rising after couples were forced into mandatory lockdown together to prevent the virus’ spread.

Divorce filings started to rise in the country as couples began to emerge from quarantine.

“On March 16, we went through 18 pairs of divorce registration procedures and obviously felt that the number of divorces had surged in the near future,” Yi Xiaoyan, director of the city’s marriage registration centre, told reporters.

Since Feb. 10, the number of divorce registrations in the city has reached 206, compared to 311 marriages.

“It takes 40 minutes to one hour to complete a divorce procedure, and sometimes staff members don’t even have time to drink water,” reads the city government’s website.

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Chinese cities like Xi’an and Dazhou have also recorded record-high numbers of divorce filings, according to Bloomberg.

Steve Li, a Shanghai divorce lawyer at Gentle and Trust Law Firm, says his caseload has seen a 25 per cent increase, Bloomberg reports.

A spokesperson, only identified by their surname Han, told Global Times that some couples decided to remarry within hours.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

[email protected]

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COMMENTARY: Opposition politicians strive for relevance in the world of coronavirus politics

Pity the poor opposition politicians across Canada nursing a severe case of pandemic politics.

Their collective challenge: how do they do what opposition parties are supposed to do — oppose and criticize the government — at the same time frightened Canadians look to those in power to protect them?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, governments across Canada have been forced on to a war footing.

Suddenly, the country’s public health officials have gone from bureaucratic obscurity to superhero status. And the leaders of governments — from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to provincial premiers and territorial leaders — are now front and centre at daily news conferences with the latest dispatches from the front.

The effect, in some cases, has been remarkable.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford is winning widespread praise for his daily media briefings, commitments to action and convincing displays of empathy. Ford was pitch-perfect again this week when he interrupted a media briefing to introduce and thank Christopher Desloges, his sign-language interpreter.

Even Ford’s fiercest critics admit he’s doing a good job, an amazing turnaround for a premier who saw his polling numbers slide during a difficult first year in office.

In British Columbia, John Horgan’s minority NDP government has achieved detente with the same bitter Liberal enemies the New Democrats vanquished in the last nasty election.

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Now, as war rages against the common-foe coronavirus, Horgan’s opponents have sheathed their political swords as all parties work together.

“This is no time for political bickering and attacks,” said Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, a medical doctor who understands the public health stakes more intimately than most.

That’s not to say all political powder is being kept dry.

In Ottawa, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer teamed up with other opposition politicians to oppose a brazen Trudeau power grab. Trudeau’s proposal to govern for more than a year — including raising taxes and spending billions of public dollars — without the formal approval of parliament got Scheer’s back up.

Scheer’s willingness to question the Trudeau effort to date was met with social-media pushback. How dare he attack the commander-in-chief while the battle is engaged!

But I think the time is not far off when all opposition politicians will start to find their stride and realize constructive criticism should not be out of bounds, even in this crisis.

“No government has all the right answers,” Vancouver-based political strategist Mike McDonald told me.

“Any opposition has the responsibility to ask tough questions of any government in power.”

He thinks that responsibility will get weightier as the economy gets weaker and the social mood gets edgier.

In downtown Vancouver, reports of break-ins and property crimes are on the rise. Rows of fancy Robson Street shops are boarded up against potential looters. Concerns about economic devastation are growing, along with questions about how an eventual recovery will be managed.

“We’ve had two or three weeks on a kind of euphoric high as political parties largely work together,” McDonald said.

“But, a month from now and beyond, there will be profound challenges to face, and any good government needs a good opposition to function at its best.”

Watch for Scheer — and the country’s other opposition leaders — to hold governments more closely accountable as the pandemic drags on.

Mike Smyth is host of ‘The Mike Smyth Show’ on Global News Radio 980 CKNW in Vancouver. You can reach him at [email protected]
or at @MikeSmythNews on Twitter.

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Clerk kicks Asian doctor out of U.S. gas station, citing ‘coronavirus prevention’ policy

An Indiana gas station owner has apologized after a doctor was kicked out of his shop for being Asian during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the doctor who works with cancer patients said he was verbally abused before being kicked out by an employee, citing the store’s “coronavirus prevention” sign, who asked if he was Chinese, according to Fox13.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” according to David, who asked to only use his first name.

David added that he told the clerk he was Korean and born in Kentucky, WISH-TV reports.

“He was very angry and told me to get out,” David continued. “I wasn’t allowed to buy anything there, not allowed to use the bathroom there.

The owner of Marathon gas station, according to the broadcast station, offered an apology. He also has reportedly fired the clerk in question.

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“Part of me is hurt and angry and saddened that people can actually behave that way to another,” he told WISH.

Martinsville Chief of Police Kurt Spivey confirmed to Newsweek that they received a call related to the incident on Friday.

“My understanding is that this was directly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“After speaking to the management and ownership of the store and gas station where this occurred they specified that this was a one-time incident,” Spivey continued. “They also stated that it was a language barrier issue. My understanding is that the subject was asked to leave by the clerk.

“The owner of the gas station has been nothing but apologetic and they are sorry that this entire incident happened and would like to move past it.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

[email protected]

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