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Duchess of Cambridge joins U.K. mourners defying vigil ban to honour Sarah Everard

Hundreds of people in London defied coronavirus restrictions Saturday to pay their respects to a 33-year-old woman who disappeared while walking home and was found dead a week later.

The case, which sent shockwaves across the U.K. because a police officer has been charged with her kidnapping and murder, also has spurred a national conversation about violence against women.

Earlier in the day, Metropolitan Police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared in court for the first time since he was arrested on suspicion of abducting and killing marketing executive Sarah Everard, who was last seen walking home from a friend’s apartment in south London on the night of March 3.

WATCH | U.K. police officer charged in kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard:

An officer with London’s Metropolitan Police has now been charged with kidnapping — and killing — a young woman who disappeared last week. British women are voicing their outrage. 2:02

Organizers at Reclaim These Streets said they had cancelled a vigil on Clapham Common in south London near where Everard, 33, was last seen. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Everard’s body was found hidden in an area of woodland in Kent, more than 80 kilometres southeast of London, on Wednesday. A post-mortem examination was taking place, police said Friday.

In the wake of Everard’s disappearance and killing, many women have taken to social media to share their own experiences of being threatened or attacked while walking outside.

Despite police warnings, many still went to Clapham Common to leave flowers, letters and drawings at a memorial to Everard. They stood in silence and the occasional sound of sobbing could be heard as several police officers looked on. (Justin Tallis /AFP via Getty Images)

Organizers had hoped to hold “Reclaim the Streets” vigils in Everard’s memory on Saturday but cancelled the in-person events after a judge refused to grant an order allowing them to go on despite coronavirus restrictions that bar mass gatherings.

The organizers said they were instead raising funds for women’s causes. They also urged people to light a candle on their doorstep rather than attend large gatherings.

Everard’s killing has led many women to share their fears of walking alone and experiences of being harassed or attacked by men in public, with calls for more action to be taken to address violence against women and abuse. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Despite the court ruling, hundreds of people turned up Saturday in the Clapham area of London, near where Everard was last seen.

Many laid flowers at a make-shift memorial. Among them was Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was seen pausing for a moment in front of the sea of flowers.

As night fell, people gathered at the site to pay their respects and protest at the lack of security they felt when out alone, with some chanting “shame on you” at police who were present.

Reuters witnesses saw police drag a small number of people away from the gathering on Clapham Common.

Police were not immediately able to confirm the number of arrests.

WATCH | Several detained at Sarah Everard vigil:

Several people were detained during a vigil for a woman murdered in London. The case that has caused widespread outrage in Britain about women’s safety. 1:00

Some at the vigil protested the lack of security they felt when out alone, with some chanting ‘shame on you’ at police who were present. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

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Argentina joins Canada at SheBelieves Cup after Japan drops out

Canada has a new opponent at next month’s SheBelieves Cup in Orlando with Argentina replacing Japan at the four-team women’s soccer tournament.

U.S. Soccer said 10th-ranked Japan withdrew “citing the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in their country.” Argentina will slot into Japan’s schedule and the order of games and kickoff times will not change.

The top-ranked U.S. and Brazil, tied for eighth with Canada in the FIFA world rankings, are the other teams participating in the sixth edition of the tournament.

Argentina, tied for 31st in the world rankings, made its third World Cup appearance in 2019 in France. The South Americans tied Japan 0-0 and Scotland 3-3 and lost 1-0 to England. The comeback against Scotland earned kudos, with the South Americans rallying from 3-0 down in the last 16 minutes.

The Canadian women are 4-0-0 against Argentina, although the two teams have not met since 2011 when Canada won 1-0 at the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

WATCH | Christine Sinclair makes history:

Canadian Christine Sinclair scores the 185th goal of her career, passing American Abby Wambach on the all-time goals list. 1:10

Canada making tournament debut

It’s Canada’s first trip to the SheBelieves Cup, which runs Feb. 18 to 24,

The four teams will play out of a bubble in Orlando. U.S. Soccer says teams and staff will be tested for COVID-19 before traveling, upon arrival and every two days thereafter.

The teams will not begin full training until the results of all arrival tests are confirmed. A limited number of fans will be allowed into Exploria Stadium.

The top-ranked Americans have won the tournament three times (2016, 2018 and 2020).

Unlike the other three participants, Argentina did not qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

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Canada’s Rhian Wilkinson joins England women’s coaching staff

Former Canadian assistant coach Rhian Wilkinson has joined the England women’s team coaching staff.

Wilkinson quit Canada Soccer last week, saying she was stepping aside to challenge herself and to add to her coaching skills — with an eye to coaching Canada in the future. The 38-year-old, who won 181 caps for Canada as a player, had been serving as assistant coach of the senior women’s team and head coach of the under-17 and under-20 sides.

England’s Football Association said Wilkinson will support former Norway midfielder Hege Riise. Kay Cossington, the FA’s head of women’s technical development, will also help at a February camp.

Sarina Wiegman is slated to take over the sixth-ranked English women as head coach after guiding the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics. The FA said both Riise and Wilkinson had agreed to short-term contracts.

“They bring significant international experience and will help guide our players before the arrival of Sarina Wiegman as our new head coach to lead us into the home Euro [Euroean championship] in 2022,” Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, said in a statement.

“Once February is complete, we will sit down and assess the Lionesses situation and consider next steps for Team GB in consultation with the home nations and the British Olympic Association.”

England still on the lookout

The English women’s coaching staff has been in a state of flux recently. Head coach Phil Neville has joined Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami while Bev Priestman, his former assistant, took over the Canadian women’s team in November. Wilkinson had succeeded Priestman as Canada youth coach when she returned to her native England in 2018.

Another opening came up on the England staff when Rehanne Skinner went to Tottenham last November. The FA said both Riise and Wilkinson applied for Skinner’s job.

Neville, a former teammate of Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham at Manchester United, had been tabbed to coach Great Britain at the Olympic soccer tournament before taking the MLS job.

Wilkinson also applied for the top Canadian job but was told it was too early in her coaching career. Priestman asked her to stay on but Wilkinson wanted to challenge herself elsewhere.

The 51-year-old Riise, named the 1995 world player of the year, won the Olympic, World Cup and European Championship as a player. Most recently she has coached Norway powerhouse LSK Kvinner.

Wilkinson, a native of Baie-D’Urfe, Que., who now calls North Vancouver home, played for Canada between 2003 and 2017, finishing with seven goals and 23 assists.

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Mesut Ozil bids farewell to Arsenal, joins Turkey’s Fenerbahce

Mesut Ozil said farewell to Arsenal teammates and flew to Turkey on Sunday to join Fenerbahce in a bid to reignite a once-flourishing career that faltered in London.

The former Germany midfielder, who is of Turkish descent, hasn’t played for Arsenal since March after falling out of favour with manager Mikel Arteta over concerns about the player’s work rate.

“I am very excited. I’ve said I’m a Fenerbahce fan. I am very happy to be coming to Fenerbahce,” Ozil said in a telephone interview with Turkish broadcaster BBO Sports. “God has granted me the chance to wear the Fenerbahce uniform as a Fenerbahce fan. I will do my best for the team.”

The 32-year-old Ozil wasn’t even included in Arsenal’s Premier League squad for the season despite being one of the highest earners and has been ostentatiously tweeting his support for the team from his home during matches.

Now Arsenal has managed to offload Ozil before his contract expires in June. Fenerbahce posted images of Ozil leaving London on a private jet on Sunday night.

After 7 1/2 years at Arsenal, which he joined from Real Madrid, Ozil is heading to one of the favoured clubs of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Welcome to your home, your country dear MesutOzil1088,” Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted.

Ozil posed for photos with Erdogan in May 2018 in the run-up to the Turkish general election — prompting serious criticism from German soccer officials and antagonizing some in Germany who felt the player wasn’t fully behind the national team — while the president was an official witness at Ozil’s wedding ceremony.

Criticism of China

Fenerbahce won the last of its 19 Turkish league titles in 2014. The team has not been in the Champions League group stage since a match-fixing scandal broke in 2011.

Ozil’s last match for Arsenal was in March, a week before soccer was suspended at the outbreak of the coronavirus, so he might not be match-sharp to start immediately for Fenerbahce.

Ozil became ostracized by Arsenal just as Arteta was hired as manager in December 2019. The club distanced itself from Ozil standing up for Muslims in the Xinjiang province of China after he condemned the detention of more than one million Uighurs and other minorities in so-called re-education camps.

A social media post from Ozil also denounced China for burning Qurans, closing mosques and the killing of religious scholars.

Ozil’s criticism of China led to Arsenal’s match being pulled from Chinese television. The Chinese government accused Ozil of being “blinded and misled” and Arsenal said “the content he expressed is entirely Ozil’s personal opinion” and stressed it was not getting involved as a club.

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Canadian international Liam Millar joins Charlton Athletic on loan from Liverpool

Canadian international Liam Millar has joined Charlton Athletic on loan from Liverpool through the end of the season.

The 21-year-old from Brampton, Ont., who impressed during two previous loan spells at Scotland’s Kilmarnock, has been playing with Liverpool’s under-23 team.

Charlton (9-5-5) currently stands sixth in League One, the third tier of English soccer. The London club is managed by former Leeds United midfielder Lee Bowyer.

Millar’s preferred position is left winger, although he can also play on the right or up front.

“He’s an exciting player, he wants to travel with the ball and he wants to go past people, that is what we need,” Bowyer told the club website.

Millar, who has won eight caps for Canada, made his first-team debut for Liverpool last February in an FA Cup fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury Town.

Millar’s father Alan spent several years in the Charlton system an injury cut his career short.

Liam Millar, who grew up playing for Brampton Youth SC and North Mississauga, moved to England with his father to pursue his soccer dream when he was about to turn 13.

He found a soccer home at Fulham, drawing the attention of Liverpool after a fine under-16 season and an impressive showing against the Reds in a friendly. His family eventually reunited in Liverpool.

A young Millar — at 10 or 11 — didn’t make the cut during a tryout with the Toronto FC academy. He was told he was too small.

Millar was 14 when he made his debut in the Canadian youth program in 2014. He made his senior debut in March 2018 against New Zealand in John Herdman’s first game at the men’s helm.

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Brett Peterson joins Florida Panthers as NHL’s 1st Black assistant GM

The Florida Panthers on Tuesday hired Brett Peterson as an assistant general manager, making him the first Black executive to hold that position in the NHL.

Peterson’s hiring comes days after the nearby Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as the first female GM in Major League Baseball. The NFL’s Miami Dolphins have a Black GM, Chris Grier, and coach, Brian Flores.

“I don’t think they’re just going out to get people; I think they’ve identified people that are good at what they do and hard-working and excited,” Peterson said on a conference call with reporters. “It just so happens to be that a couple of us are African-American and one of us is a woman and that shouldn’t matter. We want the best candidates.”

Among its recent anti-racism and diversity initiatives, the NHL formed an executive inclusion council that aims to increase minority participation in front offices and on coaching staffs. Peterson said his hiring is a milestone that he called “hard to put into words.

“I’m just happy that now there can be a second and a third,” Peterson said. “It’s going to be exciting times because I think other people will realize that things are possible and they should be. There’s never really been a hard stop, but there hasn’t been this type of opportunity yet, so I’m happy that we can hopefully create some more.”

The 39-year-old Peterson has a background as a player agent just like GM Bill Zito and fellow assistant Paul Krepelka. He was previously vice-president of hockey for Wasserman Media Group and has been an NHLPA certified agent since 2009.

“It’s a great move by the Florida Panthers, and Wasserman Hockey will certainly miss him,” Wasserman Hockey senior vice-president Judd Moldaver said in a phone interview. “He played the game at a high level. He treats people the right way. He’s extremely smart. Players love him, respect him.”

Aims to make sport more inclusive

Peterson played five pro seasons in the minors after winning a national title during his time at Boston College. The Northborough, Mass., native also advises and consults for a non-profit organization that provides mentoring and hockey programs for underprivileged youth and underserved communities.

“His substantive hockey experience as a player, significant developmental and evaluation skills and business acumen as a negotiator combine to form an elite skill set that is very difficult to find in our sport,” Zito said in a release sent by the Panthers. “There are many who can excel in one of those disciplines but few who excel in all three.”

The Panthers said Peterson will take an active role in their foundation’s community programs aimed at making the sport more inclusive in South Florida.

“I have worked with Brett for a number of years, and it’s not surprising that his skills were coveted by a front office,” said Wasserman Hockey executive VP Markus Lehto, who took over many of Zito’s clients at Acme World Sports when Zito became assistant GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I expect that many of the same qualities that made him a successful agent — his character, his respect within the industry and his understanding of all levels of the game — will also make him a successful executive.”

Boston College coach Jerry York called Zito the day after he took the Panthers GM job to recommend Peterson who, the Hockey Hall of Famer says, could have gone into any line of work he wanted after graduating. He opted to go the agent route.

“First person of colour that’s been an assistant general manager in the NHL — that’s breaking barriers,” York said. “I’d love to see him stay in that endeavour for a while and after five, six years or whatever, he could become a general manager seamlessly.”

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China joins WHO-backed vaccine program COVAX rejected by Trump

China announced on Friday it has joined a global scheme for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), giving a major boost to an initiative shunned by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Beijing’s latest bid to join the global fight against the coronavirus follows criticism over its handling of the pandemic, which has contributed to a growing unfavourable view of China in advanced nations, a recent survey showed.

“We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support COVAX,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

The statement did not detail the support Beijing will provide to the COVAX program, which aims to deliver at least two billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2021.

In May, President Xi Jinping pledged $ 2 billion US over the next two years to tackle the pandemic, which has killed more than one million people.

China, where the virus was first reported late last year, is also in talks with the WHO to have its domestically made vaccines assessed for international use.

WATCH | How vaccine nationalism could hinder progress against pandemic:

Vaccine nationalism, when rich countries buy up vaccines making them unavailable for other countries, could hinder the global fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic and a program to have vaccines available everywhere is still not fully funded. 4:12

As many as 171 nations have joined the program to back equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for rich and poor countries alike. Participants include about 76 wealthy, self-financing ones, but neither the U.S. nor Russia.

Goal to prevent hoarding

COVAX is co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

It is designed to discourage national governments from hoarding COVID-19 vaccines and to focus on first vaccinating the most high-risk people in every country.

But its prospects of success had been dim until recently, as some rich nations, including the United States, chose to sign their own supply deals.

“Vaccine deals are underway and we are fast approaching our initial fundraising target to jump-start support for lower-income countries,” GAVI’s chief executive, Dr. Seth Berkley, told Reuters in a statement.

“What seemed like an impossible challenge just a few months ago — ensuring every country, rich or poor, gets equitable, rapid access to COVID-19 vaccines — is now becoming a reality.”

The move also means China “will be procuring vaccines through the facility for a proportion of their own population, just as with other countries,” a GAVI spokesman said.

China has ample capability to make COVID-19 vaccine and will prioritize supplies to developing countries when they are ready, the foreign ministry added.

China has at least four experimental vaccines in final stages of clinical trials.

Two are being developed by state-backed China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and two by Sinovac Biotech and CanSino Biologics.

It has also inoculated hundreds of thousands of essential workers and other high-risk groups, though incomplete clinical trials have provoked safety concerns among experts.

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Chris Soules Joins Victoria Fuller in Her Hometown: See the Pic

Chris Soules Joins Victoria Fuller in Her Hometown: See the Pic | Entertainment Tonight

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Ben Platt Joins ‘Cheer’ Cast to Learn Fun Dance Routine During Quarantine Livestream — Watch

Ben Platt Joins ‘Cheer’ Cast to Learn Fun Dance Routine During Quarantine Livestream — Watch | Entertainment Tonight

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Mexico joins Canada, notifies U.S. it’s ready to implement new NAFTA

The Mexican government notified Canada and the U.S. late Friday that it is ready to implement the revised North American trade agreement, leaving it up to the Americans now to decide when the deal should take effect.

Jesús Seade, Mexico’s chief negotiator, announced the news on Twitter overnight, saying in Spanish that “with this, we will have a modern instrument that will strengthen the competitiveness of the region and energize the trilateral relationship.”

Juan José Gómez Camacho, Mexico’s ambassador to Canada, followed that tweet with one of his own on Saturday morning, adding that “this new instrument will strengthen the North American region and provide new dynamism to our economies.”

Canada was the first to notify its NAFTA partners Thursday that it was ready to set a date for the revised deal to take effect.

All eyes are now on the U.S. government to decide when it wants to proceed.

All three countries have ratified the deal.

The text of the agreement says it will take effect on the first day of the third month after all three partners have notified the others they’ve changed their relevant laws, regulations and other administrative systems and are ready to comply.

If the U.S. gives its notice before the end of April, the earliest the new measures could take hold is July 1. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday that Canada will continue to work with Mexico and the U.S. on implementing the new NAFTA, but he said the deal is taking a back seat to the response to COVID-19.

“The people who usually work very, very hard on ratification of trade deals are — like most people in government — very much focused on our response to COVID-19, and that needs to be our priority right now,” said Trudeau.

In the meantime, Trudeau said, the previous NAFTA agreement remains in place.

Coronavirus disrupting implementation

It’s not clear how soon the U.S. will act.

The Trump administration had wanted the deal in place before June 1. But that was before COVID-19 substantially disrupted the North American economy and dramatically altered cross-border travel and trade. 

On Monday, a bipartisan group of American senators called for a delay, saying “a long experience of incomplete and inadequate implementation by trade agreement partners has taught us that the United States must do this work on the front end to ensure that the words on paper deliver genuine benefits to Americans.”

Key industries that have to make substantial changes as a result of the deal, such as the automotive sector, have been siginificantly disrupted by the coronavirus, with some facilities no longer able to focus on re-evaluating their North American supply chains for compliance, as they retool instead to make urgently needed medical equipment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted governments, businesses, workers, and farmers globally, leaving little, if any, time and resources to prepare for a smooth transition to [the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement],” the senators’ letter to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. “USMCA should not enter into force prematurely.”

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