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Omicron cases start to climb as WHO warns the variant poses a ‘high infection risk’

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Flight cancelations are seen on the information board at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 30, 2021. Japan confirmed on Tuesday its first case of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

Politics Insider for Nov. 30, 2021: New cases in Canada; a military apology; and Steven Guilbeault’s bicycle

More cases in Canada: Two people in Ontario and one in Quebec have been infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, CBC reports, in addition to the two Ottawa cases announced on Sunday. Patricia Treble, writing for Maclean’s, has a roundup of what we know now. Cases are being detected daily around the world, CNN reports.

High risk: The World Health Organization warned Monday that the variant poses a “high infection risk,” the BBC reports: “Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic,” the WHO said.

Alarm bells: In the Globe, André Picard explains that it is too soon to know whether Omicron is more dangerous than earlier variants.

Despite its ominous moniker – Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, sounds like the name of a bad guy in a superhero movie – it’s not a given that the newest variant will be dramatically worse than previous ones, nor that it will displace Delta, the now-dominant variant. The reason Omicron has scientists worried is its “Frankenstein mix” of mutations. Viruses mutate, but usually do so fairly slowly. The new variant has set off alarm bells because it has 32 mutations on its spike protein alone. The spike protein is what coronaviruses use to enter human cells, so that raises fears (at least theoretically) that Omicron could spread more easily and circumvent immune protections, both those from infection and vaccination. But none of this is clear yet.

Reluctant Ontario: In the Star, Bruce Arthur argues that Doug Ford’s government should ponder the uncertainty and get more serious.

Israel moved hard on ventilation, contact tracing, boosters, and border restrictions, because Israel knows an emergency when it sees one. If Omicron is a real leap — and many virologists say its 25 to 30 mutations are at least hypothetically suited to potential immunity evasion, transmission and virulence — then the rules of the game will change. Some would likely stay the same, too. This government has set certain boundaries at this point which will influence the vulnerability to whatever Omicron or any other variant might be. It’s a broken record at this point, but this government has been truly reluctant to push vaccination from the premier on down. The result is about 1.4 million unvaccinated Ontarians over the age of 12, including some 350,000 over the age of 50. Every one is a walking alarm bell.

Why only Africa? The Globe has an opinion piece from U of T prof Ambarish Chandra, who argues that our travel restrictions are poorly thought out.

The speed with which the latest travel bans have been imposed on southern African countries suggests yet again that Canada is quick to impose harsh measures on the developing world but reluctant to do so with wealthy, Western countries. Multiple reports suggest that the Omicron variant was already present in Belgium and the Netherlands at the time these bans were imposed, but there is no discussion of extending measures to those countries.

Not vaccine apartheid: In the PostRupa Subramanya argues that vaccine hesitancy and logistical problems, not access to vaccines, are behind slow uptake in the global south.

There is no doubt that the purchasing power of rich countries makes it easier for them to procure vaccines, yet it is not true that poorer countries don’t have access to vaccines, as they can purchase them at concessional rates from the pharmaceutical companies, or draw from the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility. Rather than a lack of access, much of the disparity in vaccination rates in the developing world results from logistical problems and vaccine hesitancy, sometimes coupled with outright COVID-19 denial.

Conversion therapy ban: The Liberals tabled a bill Monday to ban conversion therapy, and not just for children, the Star reports.

The bill goes beyond the government’s previous attempt at a ban on conversion therapy. Bill C-4 would make it a crime to make anyone undergo conversion therapy, regardless if they consent. That was a key demand from survivors and advocates, who said the government’s previous attempt at a ban, Bill C-6, still allowed for conversion therapy to be provided to adults who consented. Advocates have said a person cannot consent to what amounts to fraud and torture.

Minister, CDS to apologize: Defence Minister Anita Anand, deputy minister Jody Thomas, and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre will apologize to victims of military sexual misconduct on Dec. 13, CTV reports.

“As part of our efforts to restore relationships with those harmed, we will offer a public apology to all current and former members of the Defence Team who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual misconduct, including harassment, and discrimination, “ the release states.

A prop bike? Conservative MP Ed Fast accused Steven Guilbeault of using a bicycle as a prop during a session of hybrid Parliament on Monday, CTV reports.

Fast raised a point of order following question period, arguing that Minister Steven Guilbeault hung the bike behind him to “make a statement about his environmental cred.” “Mr. Speaker, the point is, there’s a rule that you cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly. What the minister has done is blatantly use a prop because he’s now doing it from the safety of some other office,” Fast said.

Guilbeault responded on Twitter: “The bike has been there long before we started doing virtual Parliament. In fact, it has also been there for months as I was taking questions as heritage minister. Strange that after almost a year, it’s become an issue,” he said.

In a related story, the deputy speaker warned MPs appearing from home to keep their garb professional, CP reports, but he didn’t say anything about bikes.

Tech tax: The Liberal government intends to proceed with plans to implement a digital services tax targeting tech giants, the Post reports. Critics in the business community think the government should wait for an international agreement before acting.

Nomination survey: Some Conservatives think a membership survey is laying the groundwork so that Erin O’Toole can centralize the nomination process, the Hill Times reports.

Confront dissidents! Also in the Hill Times, former CPC MP Tom Lukiwski argues that O’Toole should call a leadership review so that he can silence internal critics.

Still fighting: Green Party officials are still engaged in a damaging internal feud, CBC reports.

Syrup to flow: The people behind Quebec’s strategic reserve of maple syrup said Monday they will release 50 million pounds of maple syrup–worth about $150 million–onto the market by February, responding to rising international demand, CP reports.

— Stephen Maher

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Gwen Stefani’s Son Kingston, 15, Is So Tall As He Runs Errands With His Mom – Photos

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Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani’s son Kingston towered over her as they kept it casual and dressed comfy for their weekend shopping trip.

Gwen Stefani’s, 52, mini-me Kingston Rossdale, 15, isn’t so mini anymore. The teenager sure has grown up fast as he now stands a couple of inches taller than his mom. The “Rich Girl” singer wore an adorable navy blue set of sweats that read “Anaheim Hillbillies” and stylish hiker boots as she walked side-by-side with her son as he wore jeans and a black T-shirt. The two also donned face masks as Kingston held a big box for his mom which looked like it contained liquor. Click here to see the pics.

Former No Doubt band member has been there for her eldest son and his younger siblings, Zuma Rossdale, 13, and Apollo Rossdale. She recently took the three on a family outing and treated them to ice cream at the Beverly Glen Deli in October 2021. She has also spent time with them around her ex-husband and their father Gavin Rossdale.

Kingston Rossdale during the ice cream outing with his family. (BACKGRID)

There have been a number of co-parenting reunions at their youngest son Apollo’s baseball games. Gwen has brought her current husband Blake Shelton to these occasions as well and they have seemingly been pleasant and drama-free. Everyone seems to come together for these events to support the baby of the family.

The two Voice judges announced that they were dating in November 2015, just after their respective divorces. Even though they didn’t end up being on the show together for long, their relationship still stood strong. The country music star proposed to the pop star in October 2020 after nearly five years of dating. They tied the knot during an intimate ceremony at his Oklahoma ranch in July 2021.

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton
Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton (Shutterstock)

Since then, they have reportedly been thriving as a couple. We checked in with sources close to the couple around the holiday season, and it seemed they weren’t letting the stress of the festivities get to them. “Blake and Gwen are exactly where you’d think they are with their relationship now being married for a few months as things begin to lead up to the holidays. Nothing has changed in marriage that they didn’t have in their dating and engagement lives and that is what makes things so great,” a source EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife.

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Tom Brady’s NFL Future: How Wife Gisele Bundchen Factors Into His Decision To Keep Playing

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Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen

Tom Brady has a tough decision to make as this seems to be the first year that he has seriously considered retiring from the NFL.

Tom Brady, 44, may not be sticking around in the NFL for too much longer. Now that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their playoffs game and his season is officially over, he has to revisit the decision about whether this is the year to retire. “Over any other year, this is the first year that retirement has even had an inkling of being thought about on Tom‘s side of things, a source EXCLUSIVELY tells HollywoodLife. 

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen pose during a previous event. (Shutterstock)

Apparently, his wife Gisele Bundchen, 40, will play a big role in Tom’s decision whether to continue with the NFL or retire. In fact, “conversations with Gisele in the offseason is going to be a major component on if he continues to play in the NFL or not,” our source tells us. This is not the first year that Gisele has had input but as the years go on, the decision becomes more and more difficult.

“After every year that goes by Tom has a conversation with Gisele to see where the family stands on him playing another year or not. “And regardless of how this season has ended, this year is looking to be the most important conversation yet,” the source explains, adding, “The kids are getting older, and they both want to decide how they really want to spend the next fifty years of their lives. And they are going to have many conversations after the season that are going to be very heartfelt.”

Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen
Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen at a previous event. (Sky Cinema/Shutterstock)

Regardless of how his wife feels, the Buccaneers want their quarterback to stick around. “Tampa wants him back and would do anything to get him back,” our source notes. “He still has a year left in his contract. The team really believes he will be back. Tom can pretty much write his own story and play for as long as he wants and if it was up to Tampa, they don’t want him to ever retire.“

The Buccaneers played the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Jan. 23. In a nail-biting game, the Rams ended up defeating the Buccaneers 30 – 27. Since this game was part of the playoffs, this means that the Buccaneers are out the running to compete in the Super Bowl and that they’re done playing for the season. Fans will have to stay tuned to see if Tom decides to return for his 23rd season.

 

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Thierry Mugler: 5 Things On The Iconic Fashion Designer Dead At 73

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Thiery Mugler

Fashion legend Thierry Mugler has died at 73.

Thierry Mugler has died at 73. His death was confirmed on his official Instagram account. “#RIP We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace,” the post’s caption read along with the same words in French and a picture of a black square. Tributes have already started to pour in for the renowned designer who was best known for styling A-list celebrities. Here’s everything you need to know about the late fashion icon Thierry Mugler.

Thierry owned a perfume company

Thierry first launched his perfume collection in 1992 and it has been his main focus. His first majorly known fragrance was Angel. He then jumped off of that and launched Alien in 2005. His scents can be found at major department and makeup stores including Macy’s and Sephora.

“We dedicate our lives to connecting men and women with their emotions, to provide them addictive stories,” President of Mugler Fashion and Fragrances said of Thierry’s work on his perfume company’s site. “We develop authentic relationships with our clients by offering personalized services and unique experiences. We’re limitless and uncompromising in our creation. In both Fashion and Fragrances, Mugler shakes things up, inspires.”

Thierry brought Diana Ross onto the runway

Diana Ross had adamantly not graced the runway until Thierry requested her presence. He asked the “I’m Coming Out” singer to walk in his 1991 fashion show for his summer collection. She accepted, making his show her first-ever runway appearance. Her famous daughter Tracee Ellis Ross also walked in the show.

Thierry designed Madonna’s sexy concert corsets

Thiery Mugler has died at 73. (Henry Lamb/Photowire/BEI/Shutterstock)

Thierry was the mastermind behind Madonna’s many elaborate and sexy concert looks. He even designed a piece named Madonna that served as the final look in his tenth-anniversary collection. The look tied into Madonna’s use of religious themes as it had a flowy, angelic shape and design but still had her dazzling touch of bedazzled blue and white star in the center of the dress. Most of Madonna’s sexist and most shimmery looks were designed by Thierry.

Thierry retired from fashion in 2003

After designing for over 30 years, the legend retired from creating any more collections in 2003. He announced that he would shift his priorities to perfume and photography. Even he stopped creating looks, his fashion house went under the direction of Nicola Formichetti who styled plenty of A-list celebrities as its artistic director including Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Rihanna and more.

Thierry came out of retirement to design Kim Kardashian’s 2019 MET Gala look

Even though Mugler threw in the towel on House of Mugler in 2003, one A-list star was able to convince him to come out of retirement. He designed Kim Kardashian’s iconic sheer sexy dress that dripped with jewels for the 2019 MET Gala. “This is the first time in 20 years Mr. Mugler has designed for the House of Mugler,” Kim told Vogue (via Harper’s Baazar) at the time. “So to come and design this gown for me is such an honour. This is about eight months in the making. He envisioned me this California girl stepping out of the ocean, wet, dripping.” She also got her to design her cowgirl-robot-hybrid Halloween costume that year.

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