Home » Entries posted by WILSON RING Associated Press

Despite Canadian easing, US extends land border restrictions

Despite Canadian easing, US extends land border restrictions

The United States government is extending the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21By WILSON RING Associated PressJuly 21, 2021, 9:41 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe U.S. government on Wednesday extended the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travelers until at least Aug. 21.The announcement by the Department of Homeland Security came two days after the Canadian government announced it would begin letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7.It’s unclear how, or if, the U.S. decision will affect the Canadian decision.People in both the U.S. and Canada have been pushing for the reopening of the border to resume the flow of visitors and tourist dollars between the two countries.The U.S. announcement notes that increasing vaccination levels in the United States and Canada have increased and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the COVID-19 risk level in the two countries from “very high” to “high.”‘“Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary (of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas) has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing ‘specific threat to human life or national interests,'” the announcement said.The decision drew immediate criticism from politicians from U.S border states.New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, on Wednesday called the U.S. decision to extend the border closure “absurd.”“It harms our small businesses and families, and does not follow the science,” he said in a statement. “Canada has announced they will open their borders to fully vaccinated Americans, and it’s time the United States follows suit.”The Maine congressional delegation — two Democratic members of Congress and a Republican and independent senator — sent Mayorkas a letter urging him to allow fully vaccinated Canadians into the U.S.“This continued border closure has a negative impact on our local economies and families, which is why we urge you to develop an immediate plan to allow vaccinated Canadians to resume travel to United States,” the four said in the letter.North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum said Wednesday the border restrictions “have now crossed the line from precautionary to preposterous.”“Keeping the border closed to travelers won’t substantially drive vaccination rates up, but it will continue to hold the economy down and hurt communities that depend on cross-border activity, including North Dakota’s retail and tourism industries,” Burgum said in a statement.At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, both the U.S. and Canadian governments restricted non-essential travel by land between the two countries on the more than 5,500-mile (8,800-kilometer) border, although Canadians have been able to fly into the United States with a negative COVID-19 test. Until the Canadian decision on Monday, the two governments extended the closure every month.Homeland Security posted a separate announcement Monday restricting entry on the Mexican border. On the southern border U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents have been going back and forth with ease.Cross-border trade between the United States and Canada has not been affected by the closure.The U.S. Travel Association estimates that each month the border is closed costs $1.5 billion. Canadian officials say Canada had about 22 million foreign visitors in 2019 — about 15 million of them from the United States.

Ben & Jerry's to stop selling in Palestinian territories

Ben & Jerry's to stop selling in Palestinian territories

Ben & Jerry’s says it is going to stop selling its ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the sales in the occupied land are “inconsistent with our values.”By WILSON RING Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 4:42 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMONTPELIER, Vt. — Ben & Jerry’s ice cream said Monday it was going to stop selling its ice cream in the Palestinian territories, saying the sales in the occupied land are “inconsistent with our values.”In a statement posted on the company’s website, the Vermont-based ice cream maker says it recognizes “the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” the statement said. “We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”The statement did not explicitly identify the concerns raised, but last month, a group called Vermonters for Justice in Palestine called on Ben & Jerry’s to “end complicity in Israel’s occupation and abuses of Palestinian human rights.”“How much longer will Ben & Jerry’s permit its Israeli-manufactured ice cream to be sold in Jewish-only settlements while Palestinian land is being confiscated, Palestinian homes are being destroyed, and Palestinian families in neighborhoods like Sheik Jarrah are facing eviction to make way for Jewish settlers?” the organization’s Ian Stokes said in a June 10 news release. The organization didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.Founded in Vermont in 1978, but currently owned by consumer goods conglomerate Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s has not shied away from social causes. While many businesses tread lightly in politics for fear of alienating customers, the ice cream maker has taken the opposite approach, often espousing progressive causes.Ben & Jerry’s took a stand against what it called the Trump administration’s regressive policies by rebranding one of its flavors Pecan Resist in 2018, ahead of midterm elections.The company said Pecan Resist celebrated activists who were resisting oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice. As part of the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s said it was giving $25,000 each to four activist entities.Aida Touma-Sliman, an Israeli lawmaker with the Joint List of Arab parties, wrote on Twitter that Ben and Jerry’s decision Monday was “appropriate and moral.” She added that the “occupied territories are not part of Israel” and that the move is an important step to help pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation.While Ben & Jerry’s products will not be sold in the occupied territories, the company will stay in Israel through a different arrangement.In the meantime, right-wing former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy.”The Yesha Council, an umbrella group representing the roughly 500,000 Israelis living in West Bank settlements, said “there’s no need to buy products from companies that boycott hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens because of the place they choose to live.” It said Ben & Jerry’s decision “brought a bad spirit to such a sweet industry” and called on Israelis to buy locally produced ice cream this summer.———Associated Press reporters Lisa Rathke in Marshfield, Vermont, and Ilan Ben Zion and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

People along the US-Canadian border await word of reopening

People along the US-Canadian border await word of reopening

BURLINGTON, Vt. — In a normal, pre-COVID-19 summer, scores of pleasure boats are anchored in Lake Champlain off the Burlington waterfront by July 4, with most of them from Canada. But the anchorage is nearly empty this year because of the ongoing border closure.People who rely on those boaters directly and indirectly hope Canadians are back soon enough to avoid losing a second summer to the pandemic.“We can’t wait to welcome our visitors from Canada so that they can really embrace our new location in Burlington because I know that they are going to like it as much as we do,” said Elizabeth White, the director of development for Dream Yacht Charter. The company, which rents live-aboard sailing vessels to tourists across the world, moved its Lake Champlain operations to Burlington from upstate New York in 2020.But it’s unclear when the border — an easy sail about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north to where Quebec’s Richelieu River drains the lake north into Canada — will fully reopen.In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. and Canadian governments closed the more than 5,500-mile (8,800-kilometer) border to nonessential traffic. Now with increasing vaccination rates and dropping infection rates, many are annoyed the two governments haven’t laid out detailed plans to fully reopen the border.Canada is easing its restrictions. Starting Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians or permanent legal residents may return to Canada without quarantining. But among the requirements are a negative test for the virus before returning, and another once they get back.The Canadian and U.S. governments aren’t expected to reevaluate the border closure until July 21.Commercial traffic has gone back and forth normally between the two countries since the start of the pandemic. Canadians are able to fly into the United States with a negative COVID-19 test and Americans can visit Canada to see relatives or close friends as outlined by a strict set of guidelines. But to do that, people entering Canada must quarantine for two weeks on arrival and the quarantine is enforced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.The U.S. Travel Association estimates that each month the border is closed costs $1.5 billion. Canadian officials say Canada had about 22 million foreign visitors in 2019 — about 15 million of them from the United States.But there is a human angle to the closing that’s missed in the economic figures.Since shortly after the border closed in March 2020, people from both countries traveled to Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, to hold impromptu family reunions from their own side of the border on a residential street. While they can talk across the border, they can’t touch and they can’t pass things back and forth.In the state of Washington, a grocery store in Point Roberts was in danger of closing until the state gave it a $100,000 grant to keep it open until the border reopens and its Canadian customers can return. It sits in an approximately 5-square-mile (8-square-kilometer) slice of the United States on the tip of a peninsula south of Vancouver, British Columbia, that juts into U.S. territory.In far northern Michigan, a bridge connects Sault Ste. Marie to a larger city with the same name in Ontario, Canada. Denise Boston Talentino, a citizen of both countries, has lived on the U.S. side of the “Soo” for 26 years. She commuted to Canada to work as an addiction counselor before retiring in November but couldn’t visit family there.“The United States and Canada were like one world to me. I never imagined it would ever last this long,” Talentino said of the border rules.Canadian officials would like 75% of eligible Canadian residents to be fully vaccinated before loosening border restrictions for tourists and business travelers. The Canadian government expects to have enough vaccine delivered for 80% of eligible Canadians to be fully vaccinated by the end of July. Canadian government statistics show that as of July 1, just over 35% of the eligible Canadian population was fully vaccinated.”We are optimistic that the decrease in cases and increase in vaccine coverage will in due course allow a progressive easing of measures at the border,” said Madeleine Gomery, a spokesperson for Canada Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. “In the meantime, we are proceeding with appropriate caution on both sides, taking advice of public health experts, and encouraging Canadians to continue receiving their vaccinations.’’Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a Liberal member of the Canadian Parliament from the Toronto area, has been pushing for the safe reopening of the border. Erskine-Smith said that easing the entry requirements for Canadian citizens is an important step for fully vaccinated individuals to build trust in travel.“I would say I continue to think we should move faster,” Erskine-Smith said.He says officials on both sides of the border should have begun the process months ago on reopening details such as what would be acceptable proof of vaccination that would allow people to cross.On the U.S. side, politicians from states along the Canadian border have been pushing the Biden administration to move forward with plans to reopen the border.“We in Vermont are for the restoration of these cross-border relationships as soon as possible,” said Vermont’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. “Those decisions should be based on sound science and not on politics.”While the two governments are pondering the policy, people accustomed to seeing Canadians every summer are waiting.In Maine’s Old Orchard Beach, a longtime popular vacation spot for people from Quebec, the Canadians are sorely missed. At the Alouette Beach Resort there was a single Canadian visitor the weekend of Quebec’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, a province holiday that often turns into a long weekend for vacationing families from Quebec.Owner Fred Kennedy said the loss has been made up to some degree by American visitors and, looking ahead, some Canadians are making inquiries about travel later in the summer.“We still miss the Canadians,” Kennedy said. “It gives a flavor to Old Orchard.”———AP reporter David Sharp contributed to this report from Portland, Maine; as did Elliot Spagat from San Diego; Gene Johnson from Seattle; Ed White from Detroit and Rob Gillies from Toronto.

People along the US-Canadian border await word of reopening

People along the US-Canadian border await word of reopening

BURLINGTON, Vt. — In a normal, pre-COVID-19 summer, scores of pleasure boats are anchored in Lake Champlain off the Burlington waterfront by July 4, with most of them from Canada. But the anchorage is nearly empty this year because of the ongoing border closure.People who rely on those boaters directly and indirectly hope Canadians are back soon enough to avoid losing a second summer to the pandemic.“We can’t wait to welcome our visitors from Canada so that they can really embrace our new location in Burlington because I know that they are going to like it as much as we do,” said Elizabeth White, the director of development for Dream Yacht Charter. The company, which rents live-aboard sailing vessels to tourists across the world, moved its Lake Champlain operations to Burlington from upstate New York in 2020.But it’s unclear when the border — an easy sail about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north to where Quebec’s Richelieu River drains the lake north into Canada — will fully reopen.In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. and Canadian governments closed the more than 5,500-mile (8,800-kilometer) border to nonessential traffic. Now with increasing vaccination rates and dropping infection rates, many are annoyed the two governments haven’t laid out detailed plans to fully reopen the border.Canada is easing its restrictions. Starting Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians or permanent legal residents may return to Canada without quarantining. But among the requirements are a negative test for the virus before returning, and another once they get back.The Canadian and U.S. governments aren’t expected to reevaluate the border closure until July 21.Commercial traffic has gone back and forth normally between the two countries since the start of the pandemic. Canadians are able to fly into the United States with a negative COVID-19 test and Americans can visit Canada to see relatives or close friends as outlined by a strict set of guidelines. But to do that, people entering Canada must quarantine for two weeks on arrival and the quarantine is enforced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.The U.S. Travel Association estimates that each month the border is closed costs $1.5 billion. Canadian officials say Canada had about 22 million foreign visitors in 2019 — about 15 million of them from the United States.But there is a human angle to the closing that’s missed in the economic figures.Since shortly after the border closed in March 2020, people from both countries traveled to Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, to hold impromptu family reunions from their own side of the border on a residential street. While they can talk across the border, they can’t touch and they can’t pass things back and forth.In the state of Washington, a grocery store in Point Roberts was in danger of closing until the state gave it a $100,000 grant to keep it open until the border reopens and its Canadian customers can return. It sits in an approximately 5-square-mile (8-square-kilometer) slice of the United States on the tip of a peninsula south of Vancouver, British Columbia, that juts into U.S. territory.In far northern Michigan, a bridge connects Sault Ste. Marie to a larger city with the same name in Ontario, Canada. Denise Boston Talentino, a citizen of both countries, has lived on the U.S. side of the “Soo” for 26 years. She commuted to Canada to work as an addiction counselor before retiring in November but couldn’t visit family there.“The United States and Canada were like one world to me. I never imagined it would ever last this long,” Talentino said of the border rules.Canadian officials would like 75% of eligible Canadian residents to be fully vaccinated before loosening border restrictions for tourists and business travelers. The Canadian government expects to have enough vaccine delivered for 80% of eligible Canadians to be fully vaccinated by the end of July. Canadian government statistics show that as of July 1, just over 35% of the eligible Canadian population was fully vaccinated.”We are optimistic that the decrease in cases and increase in vaccine coverage will in due course allow a progressive easing of measures at the border,” said Madeleine Gomery, a spokesperson for Canada Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. “In the meantime, we are proceeding with appropriate caution on both sides, taking advice of public health experts, and encouraging Canadians to continue receiving their vaccinations.’’Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a Liberal member of the Canadian Parliament from the Toronto area, has been pushing for the safe reopening of the border. Erskine-Smith said that easing the entry requirements for Canadian citizens is an important step for fully vaccinated individuals to build trust in travel.“I would say I continue to think we should move faster,” Erskine-Smith said.He says officials on both sides of the border should have begun the process months ago on reopening details such as what would be acceptable proof of vaccination that would allow people to cross.On the U.S. side, politicians from states along the Canadian border have been pushing the Biden administration to move forward with plans to reopen the border.“We in Vermont are for the restoration of these cross-border relationships as soon as possible,” said Vermont’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. “Those decisions should be based on sound science and not on politics.”While the two governments are pondering the policy, people accustomed to seeing Canadians every summer are waiting.In Maine’s Old Orchard Beach, a longtime popular vacation spot for people from Quebec, the Canadians are sorely missed. At the Alouette Beach Resort there was a single Canadian visitor the weekend of Quebec’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, a province holiday that often turns into a long weekend for vacationing families from Quebec.Owner Fred Kennedy said the loss has been made up to some degree by American visitors and, looking ahead, some Canadians are making inquiries about travel later in the summer.“We still miss the Canadians,” Kennedy said. “It gives a flavor to Old Orchard.”———AP reporter David Sharp contributed to this report from Portland, Maine; as did Elliot Spagat from San Diego; Gene Johnson from Seattle; Ed White from Detroit and Rob Gillies from Toronto.