Tag Archives: resigns

Head of Tokyo Olympics resigns over sexist comments

Yoshiro Mori resigned Friday as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee following sexist comments implying women talk too much.

“As of today I will resign from the president’s position,” he said to open an executive board and council meeting. The board was expected to pick his successor later on Friday.

“My inappropriate comments have caused a lot of chaos,”he said. He repeated several times he had regret over the remarks, but also said he had “no intention of neglecting women.”

Mori’s departure comes after more than a week of non-stop criticism about his remarks earlier this month. He initially apologized but refused to step away, which was followed by relentless pressure from television pundits, sponsors, and an online petition that drew 150,000 signatures.

But it’s not clear that his resignation will clear the air and return the focus to exactly how Tokyo can hold the Olympics in just over five months in the midst of a pandemic.

The Olympics are to open on July 23, with 11,000 athletes and 4,400 more in the Paralympics a month later. About 80 per cent in recent polls in Japan say they want the Olympics cancelled or postponed, with clear support from about 15 per cent.

Early reports said the 83-year-old Mori had picked 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, the former president of the governing body of Japanese soccer and a former player himself. He played for Japan in the 1964 Olympics.

WATCH | Head of Toyko Olympics under fire for sexist comments:

Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori acknowledged that his comments that women board members talked too much were ‘inappropriate’ and against the Olympic spirit. Mori said that he would not resign, however. 2:03

Kawabuchi is even older than Mori and will raise the issue of why a woman was not appointed. This is the centre of the entire debate that Mori triggered over gender inequality in Japan and the absence of women in boardrooms, politics, and sports governance. Women are also largely absent in leadership roles at the organizing committee.

Kawabuchi indicated on Thursday he had been contacted by Mori. But he said later he indicated he might not be the appropriate choice.

Japanese media immediately pointed out there were three qualified women — all athletes and former Olympians and at least a generation younger — who could fill the job.

Kaori Yamaguchi won a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics in judo. Mikako Kotani won two bronze medals in the 1988 Olympics in synchronized swimming. And Naoko Takahashi was a gold medallist in the marathon in the 2000 Olympics.


The Olympics are to open on July 23, with 11,000 athletes and 4,400 more in the Paralympic a month later. About 80 per cent in recent polls in Japan say they want the Olympics cancelled or postponed. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Spotlight on gender equality

Seiko Hashimoto, the current Olympic minister and a former Olympian, has also been mentioned as a candiate.

Mori’s remarks have put the spotlight on how far Japan lags behind other prosperous countries in advancing women in politics or the boardrooms. Japan stands 121st out of 153 in the World Economic Forum’s gender equality rankings.

Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo, characterized Japan as a country still run “by a club of old men.” But he said this could be a watershed.

“Social norms are changing,”he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “A clear majority of the Japanese found Mori’s comments unacceptable, so the problem is more to do with the lack of representation of women in leadership positions. This sorry episode may have the effect of strengthening the call for greater gender equality and diversity in the halls of power.”


A lifebuoy is pictured on a shore near the Olympic Rings in Tokyo. With less than six months to go until the start of the Games, speculation persists about the viability of the Games going ahead as scheduled in July. (Getty Images)

Though some on the street called for Mori to resign — several hundred Olympic volunteers say they are withdrawing — most decision makers including Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stopped short of this and simply condemned his remarks.

A comment a few days ago from Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda seemed to move the needle.

Toyota is one of 14 so-called Olympic TOP sponsors that pay about $ 1 billion US every four-year cycle to the International Olympic Committee. The company seldom speaks out on politics, and Toyota did not call for Mori’s resignation. But just speaking on the matter might have been enough.

“The (Mori) comment is different from our values, and we find it regrettable.” Toyoda said.

Toyota and Coca-Cola also are major sponsors of the torch relay.

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Reigning CPL MVP Kyle Bekker re-signs with league champion Forge FC

Captain Kyle Bekker, who led Forge FC to back-to-back Canadian Premier League titles, has re-signed with the Hamilton team.

The Canadian international midfielder was named the CPL’s most valuable player last year after leading the league in appearances (tied with 11) and minutes played by an attacking player (879). The 30-year-old native of Oakville, Ont., who had three goals and one assist in the league’s truncated 2020 season, was also a finalist for MVP honours in 2019.

“We are extremely happy to have our captain sign his new contract and commit to our club for the foreseeable future,” Costa Smyrniotis, Forge’s director of football, said in a statement. “Kyle has been such a valuable leader for our club since day one, both on the field and in the community. We look forward to continued success together in Hamilton.”

Bekker has made 49 appearances for Forge in all competitions, including 39 in league play.

Bekker played in Major League Soccer from 2013-16 with Toronto FC, FC Dallas and Montreal. He then suited up for North Carolina FC in the United Soccer League and the San Francisco Deltas in the North American Soccer League.

Bekker, who has won 18 caps for Canada, came up through the Sigma FC youth program in Mississauga, Ont., under current Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis, Costa’s brother. He played collegiate soccer at Boston College.

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Director of UBC’s school of public health resigns over holiday travel during pandemic

Peter Berman has resigned as director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health just over a week after admitting to holiday travel during the school’s winter break.

Berman announced his resignation in a Friday statement posted online. He said it would take effect at the end of the day.

“I took this difficult decision based on my assessment that the conditions of distress and division currently prevailing at SPPH make it impossible for me to continue to provide effective leadership to grow and develop our school, our community and our profession in my role as SPPH director,” Berman said in a statement.

“I deeply regret any actions of mine that may have caused this situation. I am grateful to the many of you who have shared messages of support to me directly or to others in our community and faculty. I also respect the many different views expressed by those in our wider community.”

Berman said in a letter posted last week that he travelled to Hawaii.

Both provincial and federal authorities in Canada have repeatedly advised against unnecessary travel — especially international travel — as B.C. and other jurisdictions grapple with a second wave of coronavirus infections.

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Homeland Security boss resigns as FBI warns of possible armed protests across U.S. before Biden inauguration

As security forces in the United States brace for the possibility of armed protests across the country around president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the acting secretary of homeland security is stepping down.

Chad Wolf, who criticized President Donald Trump over last week’s deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol, said in a message to staff that he would step down as of Monday night. He said Pete Gaynor, who ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would become the acting homeland security secretary. 

Wolf had earlier indicated he planned to remain in the job. Last week, Wolf asked Trump and all elected officials to “strongly condemn the violence” that took place at the Capitol. Five people died, including a police officer.

Wolf said he has condemned violence on both sides of the political aisle, specifically directed at law enforcement. He tweeted “we now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends” and called that unacceptable.


Meanwhile, the FBI is warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

An internal FBI bulletin warned that the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of some extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters on Monday that the Guard is also looking at any issues that may arise across the country.

“We’re keeping a look across the entire country to make sure that we’re monitoring, and that our Guards in every state are in close co-ordination with their local law enforcement agencies to provide any support requested.”

Security forces bolster plans

The head of the National Guard says at least 10,000 troops will be deployed in Washington, D.C., by Saturday, and an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states as officials brace for more, possibly violent protests surrounding president-elect Biden’s inauguration.

The U.S. National Park Service announced Monday it would shut down public access to Washington monument until Jan. 24, citing threats surrounding the inauguration.

The U.S. Secret Service will also begin carrying out its special security arrangements for the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration on Wednesday, almost a week earlier than originally planned. 

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday sent a letter to Wolf saying she is “extremely concerned” about the upcoming inauguration in light of the “unprecedented terrorist attacks on the U.S. Capitol.”


Trump himself is skipping Biden’s inauguration, a decision Biden said was a “good thing,” though Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife plan to attend.

Biden’s team hopes the event will help bring a fractured country back together. The theme will be “America United” — an issue that’s long been a central focus for Biden, but one that’s taken on added weight in the wake of the violence in the Capitol.

WATCH l Assessing the pros and cons of invoking the 25th Amendment:

The CBC’s Carole MacNeil speaks to Thomas Balcerski, associate professor of history at Eastern Connecticut State University, on whether the 25th Amendment could be invoked against U.S. President Donald Trump. 6:59

The presidential inaugural committee said that the theme “reflects the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together and creates a path to a brighter future.”

It will be one of Biden’s first acts as president and a show of bipartisanship at a time when the national divide is on stark display.

The focus on unity has characterized Biden’s presidential run from the start, and he’s said repeatedly since winning the White House he sees unifying the country as one of his top priorities as president. But the scope — and urgency — of the challenge Biden faces became even clearer after Trump inspired a riot at the Capitol last Wednesday, spurred by his repeated attempts to delegitimize Biden’s win.


U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to focus on bringing the country together once he’s sworn in on Jan. 20. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

There are already signs of increased tension outside of Washington, D.C., as state lawmakers return to work. 

In Olympia, Wash., members of the National Guard defended security fencing outside of the capitol building as the 2021 legislative session got underway. There were concerns armed groups might try to occupy the building. Last Wednesday, hours after the siege in Washington, D.C., people broke a gate outside the governor’s mansion in the state of Washington and made it to the porch and front yard.

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr resigns

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest allies, is resigning amid lingering tension over the president’s baseless claims of election fraud and the investigation into president-elect Joe Biden’s son.

Barr went to the White House on Monday, where Trump said he submitted his letter of resignation. “As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family,” Trump tweeted.

The announcement came shortly after the electoral college formally validated Biden’s win in the presidential election.

Trump has publicly expressed his anger about Barr’s statement to The Associated Press earlier this month that the Justice Department had found no widespread election fraud that would change the outcome of the election.

Trump has also been angry that the Justice Department did not publicly announce it was investigating Hunter Biden ahead of the election, despite department policy against such a pronouncement.

Trump said deputy attorney general Jeff Rosen, whom he labelled “an outstanding person,” will become acting attorney general.


Barr, pictured alongside U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019, was consistently an ally of the president despite objections from Democrats. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Barr in his resignation letter said he updated Trump Monday on the department’s “review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued.” He added that his last day on the job would be Dec. 23.

Trump spent much of the day watching the electoral college tally and calling allies but broke away to meet with Barr. His tweet about Barr’s exit was an unusually heartfelt response from a president who is notoriously cold to his departing staff and quick to name-call and deride them once they say they are leaving. The president has previously claimed he fired staffers who resigned to make himself appear more powerful.

Despite Trump’s obvious disdain for those who publicly disagree with him, Barr had generally remained in the president’s good graces and has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls.

But Trump has a low tolerance for criticism, especially public criticism, from his allies and often fires back in kind.

Barr, who was serving in his second stint as attorney general, sought to paint himself as an independent leader who would not bow to political pressure. But Democrats have repeatedly accused Barr of acting more like the president’s personal attorney than the attorney general, and Barr had proved to be a largely reliable Trump ally and defender of presidential power.

‘Investigate the investigators’

Before releasing special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on the Russia investigation last year, Barr framed the results in a manner favourable to Trump even though Mueller pointedly said he couldn’t exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.

He also appointed as special counsel the U.S. attorney who is conducting a criminal investigation into the origins of the FBI’s probe of the 2016 election that morphed into Mueller’s investigation of possible Trump-Russia cooperation, following Trump’s repeated calls to “investigate the investigators.”

Barr also ordered Justice Department prosecutors to review the handling of the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and then sought to dismiss the criminal charges against Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Trump later pardoned Flynn.

Barr’s break from Trump over election fraud wasn’t the first. Earlier this year, Barr told ABC News that the president’s tweets about Justice Department cases “make it impossible for me to do my job” and tensions flared just a few months ago when the two were increasingly at odds over the pace of the Durham investigation.

Trump had been increasingly critical about a lack of arrests and Barr was privately telling people he was frustrated by Trump’s public pronouncements about the case.

Trump was also said to blame Barr for comments from FBI Director Chris Wray on election fraud and mail-in voting that didn’t jibe with the president’s alarmist rhetoric.

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Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney resigns after quick playoff exit

Greg Vanney has stepped down from his roles as head coach and technical director of Toronto FC.

The club made the announcement on Tuesday, in the aftermath of last week’s playoff loss against Nashville.

Named head coach in August 2014, Vanney guided TFC to the MLS Cup in 2017 along with two other appearances in the league final.

The 46-year-old Vanney was the longest tenured coach in TFC history, holding every coaching record, including games coached (250) and wins (112).

WATCH | Nashville ends Toronto FC’s season early:

Daniel Rios scored in the 108th minute as Nashville SC upset Toronto FC 1-0 in round one of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. 1:40

Vanney also led Toronto to the Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship in 2017, becoming the first Major League Soccer club to win a domestic treble. He was named MLS and CONCACAF coach of the year that season.

Toronto qualified for the playoffs under Vanney five of the past six seasons and captured three Canadian championships since 2016.

“I want to thank Mr. [Larry] Tanenbaum [the chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment], the board of directors and MLSE for their unwavering support for the past seven years. I recognize that I have been extremely fortunate to work for one of the best ownership groups in all of sports,” Vanney said a statement.

“I also want to thank Bill [Manning, Toronto FC president] and Ali [Curtis, TFC general manager] for their support and leadership and most importantly the relationships we’ve developed over the years.”

“Thank you to all of the TFC staff and players for the incredible experiences we’ve shared together during this journey. I’m forever grateful to each of you. Lastly, to the TFC fans. You’re truly amazing and the memories and emotions from our biggest nights together will be cherished.”

Manning praised Vanney in a statement.

“I wish Greg nothing but the best in the future,” Manning said. “Back in 2014 he took over the head coach duties for a team that had never made the playoffs and turned them into an MLS champion. More than that, he is of high character and a great family man. I thank him for time well served for our club, his legacy here in Toronto is secure.”

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Trump COVID-19 adviser Scott Atlas resigns from White House job

Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post.

A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment.

Atlas confirmed the news in a letter to Trump dated Dec. 1 that he posted on Twitter.

In his letter, Atlas listed what he considered accomplishments in reopening schools and expanding virus testing while also defending himself against his many critics.

“Like all scientists and health policy scholars, I learned new information and synthesized the latest data from around the world, all in an effort to provide you with the best information to serve the greater good,” he wrote.

Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 people in the U.S. Atlas has been sharply criticized by public health experts, including Fauci, for providing Trump with misleading or incorrect information on the pandemic.

Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to criticize efforts to encourage face covering to slow the spread of the virus. Just weeks ago on Twitter he responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state’s policies.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Atlas’s call “incredibly reckless.” “We really all need to be focused on the public health crisis that is ravaging our country and that poses a very real threat to every one of us,” the Democratic governor said.

Atlas later tweeted that he “NEVER” would endorse or incite violence. Fourteen men have been charged in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer.

His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Atlas “has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic.”

“We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing,” the university said Nov. 16. “We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”

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Peru’s interim president resigns amid protests, constitutional crisis

Peru’s interim president resigned Sunday as the nation plunged into its worst constitutional crisis in two decades following massive protests unleashed when Congress ousted the nation’s popular leader.

In a short televised address, Manuel Merino said Congress acted within the law when he was sworn into office as chief of state Tuesday, despite protesters’ allegations that legislators had staged a parliamentary coup.

“I, like everyone, want what’s best for our country,” he said.

The politician agreed to step down after night of unrest in which two young protesters were killed and half his Cabinet resigned. Peruvians cheered the decision, waving their nation’s red and white flag on the streets of Lima and chanting “We did it!” But there is still no clear playbook for what comes next.

Congress scheduled an emergency session for Sunday afternoon to select a new president.


People in a Lima snack bar Merino announces his resignation in a televised message. (Luka Gonzales/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, ex-president Martin Vizcarra — whose ouster sparked the upheaval — called on the country’s highest court to step in.

“It can’t be that the institution that got us into this political crisis, that has for five days paralyzed Peru, with deaths, is going to give us a solution, choosing the person who they best see fit,” Vizcarra said.

Peru has much at stake: The country is in the throes of one of the world’s most lethal coronavirus outbreaks and political analysts say the constitutional crisis has cast the country’s democracy into jeopardy.

“I think this is the most serious democratic and human rights crisis we have seen since Fujimori,” said analyst Alonso Gurmendi Dunkelberg, referring to the turbulent rule of strongman Alberto Fujimori from 1990 to 2000.

Ex-president accused of bribery

Congress kicked Vizcarra out using a clause dating back to the 19th century that allows the powerful legislature to remove a president for “permanent moral incapacity.” Legislators accused Vizcarra of taking more than $ 630,000 US in bribes in exchange for two construction contracts while governor of a small province years ago.

Prosecutors are investigating the allegations but Vizcarra has not been charged. He has vehemently denied the accusations.


Martin Vizcarra speaks in front of the presidential palace after lawmakers voted to remove him from office in Lima on Nov. 9. (Martin Mejia/The Associated Press)

Merino, previously head of Congress, stepped in as interim president, but his six-day rule was marred by constant protests. The little-known politician and rice farmer promised to keep in place a scheduled vote for a new president in April. That did little to sway Peruvians who were loath to accept him.

Half of those in Congress are themselves under investigation for alleged crimes including money laundering and homicide. Polls show most wanted Vizcarra to carry out the rest of his presidential term, due to expire in July. As Peruvians took to the streets, police responded with batons, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Crackdowns ‘intensifying’

A network of human rights groups reported that 112 people were hurt in Saturday’s protests and the whereabouts of 41 others were unknown. Health authorities said the dead included Jack Pintado, 22, who was shot 11 times, including in the head, and Jordan Sotelo, 24, who was hit four times in the thorax near his heart.

“Two young people were absurdly, stupidly, unjustly sacrificed by the police,” Peruvian writer and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa said in a recorded video shared on Twitter. “This repression – which is against all of Peru – needs to stop.”

The protests rocking Peru are unlike any seen in recent years, fueled largely by young people typically apathetic to the country’s notoriously erratic politics. Protesters are upset at Congress for staging what they consider an illegal power grab as well as whom Merino had chosen to lead his nascent government.


A protester faces off with police in Lima on Sunday. (Angela Ponce/Reuters)

His prime minister, Antero Flores-Araoz, was a former defense secretary who resigned in 2009 after police clashes with indigenous protesters in the Amazon left 34 dead. Alberto Vergara, a political analyst with Peru’s University of the Pacific, said many saw the new Cabinet as “old, bitter, stale, closed to the world.”

In remarks before Saturday’s upheaval, Merino denied the protests were against him, telling a local radio station that young people were demonstrating against unemployment and not being able to complete their studies because of the pandemic. For many, that showed just how out of touch Congress is.

“We want the voice of the people to be heard,” protester Fernando Ramirez said as he banged a spoon against a pot at a protest.


Protesters hold a sign reading in Spanish ‘Murderer’ shortly before Merino announced his resignation in Lima on Sunday. (Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press)

According to the National Association of Journalists, there were 35 attacks against members of the media between Monday and Thursday, almost all by police officers. Rights groups have also documented excessive force against protesters, the use of tear gas near homes and hospitals and the detention of demonstrators.

“We are documenting cases of police brutality in downtown Lima,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter Saturday. “Everything indicates repression against peaceful protesters is intensifying.”

‘Peru deserves to move forward’

If Congress proceeds with selecting a new leader, they may have relatively few options that would appease demonstrators. An overwhelming majority -—105 of 130 — voted in favour of removing Vizcarra. They are widely expected to choose among those who were against the ex-president’s surprise rushed removal.

The timing of the crisis could not be worse: Peru has the world’s highest per-capita COVID-19 mortality rate and has seen one of Latin America’s worst economic contractions. The International Monetary Fund projects a 14 per cent decline in GDP this year.


Protesters gather outside the Congress building in Lima on Sunday. (Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters)

In stepping down, Merino said he’d fulfilled his responsibility with “humility and honour” and that it was a challenge he “accepted and did not seek.” He accused unnamed actors of trying to “confuse the country” into thinking Congress wanted to kick out Vizcarra in order to delay the upcoming presidential vote.

He also took a jab at demonstrators, saying there were groups of young adults “interested in producing chaos and violence.”

“I call for the peace and unity of all Peruvians,” he said. “Peru deserves to move forward.”

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Brazil health minister resigns after a month on the job as COVID-19 deaths surge

Brazil’s health minister Nelson Teich handed in his resignation on Friday after less than a month on the job, adding to turmoil in the government’s handling of the novel coronavirus as the country becomes a global hot spot for the pandemic.

Teich, who disagreed with right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, has submitted his resignation and will hold a news conference later Friday, his office said. Bolsonaro has been pushing in recent days for wider use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, which Teich resisted.

They have also disagreed on the pace of reopening the economy. Last week, the minister said he was not consulted before Bolsonaro issued a decree allowing gyms, beauty parlours and hairdressers to open for business.

Teich is the second health minister to resign amid the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil. In mid-April he replaced Nelson Mandetta, who also resisted broader use of hydroxychloroquine and disagreed with Bolsonaro’s argument to do away with quarantines and other coronavirus restrictions.

It is not clear who will be the next to step into the role.


Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, right, is seen with Teich as he is sworn in at the Planalto palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 17. (Andre Borges/The Associated Press)

Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus has been widely criticized globally as he has minimized the severity of the disease and told Brazilians to ignore quarantine restrictions.

The loss of his second health minister in less than a month spurred criticism of the right-wing president from politicians, and calls for his impeachment. In Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where the disease has pushed public hospitals to capacity, Brazilians banged pot and pans from their windows in protest, as they have throughout the pandemic.

Opposition and allied politicians criticized Bolsonaro’s intransigence after the latest development. Lawmaker Marcelo Ramos of the centrist Liberal Party said the president would only accept a minister without regard for science-based public health policy.

Alessandro Molon of the Brazilian Socialist Party warned that Brazil was heading toward a public health catastrophe and said the president should be impeached.

“Bolsonaro does not want a technical minister, he wants someone who agrees with his ideological insanity, like ending social distancing and using chloroquine,” Molon said in a statement.

‘Unfortunately, people will die’: Bolsonaro

Brazil has now surpassed Germany and France in the number of coronavirus cases, with more than 200,000 people infected with the virus as of Thursday, when the health ministry reported 844 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 13,933.

Bolsonaro has railed against the economic damage caused by state and local government social distancing measures, taking his campaign to reopen the economy to Brazil’s business community on Thursday.

In a video conference, he told a gathering of business leaders to “play tough” with São Paulo Governor João Doria, who has issued social distancing orders and said he will not comply with Bolsonaro’s latest decree to reopen gyms and beauty salons.


Bolsonaro is seen wearing a mask at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia on Friday. (Eraldo Peres/The Associated Press)

“One man is deciding the future of São Paulo,” Bolsonaro said, referring to Doria. “He is deciding the future of Brazil’s economy. With all due respect, you have to call the governor and play tough — play tough — because it’s a serious issue, it is war. Brazil is at stake.”

São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state and home to a third of its economic output, has seen hospitals pushed to the limit as it records the worst outbreak in the country.

Doria has urged residents to stay indoors and ordered all non-essential services closed through May 31. But Bolsonaro has sought to weaken those orders by declaring more services as “essential” and free to open, including gyms and hair salons.


Men carry boxes to be installed for the coffins at the São Pedro municipal cemetery in São Paolo, which has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. (Amanda Perobelli/Reuters)

Bolsonaro said it is still possible to reverse course and avoid what he called economic chaos in months to come.

“Will people die? Unfortunately, people will die. Unfortunately, no matter what, with a lockdown or not, we will continue to lose lives,” Bolsonaro said.

“Now the number of lives that will be lost from the economic chaos, because of the lockdowns, will be much much greater.”

WATCH | Brazilians fighting pandemic even as Bolsonaro downplays threat:

Citizens place masks on statues and continue to sanitize favelas despite president ignoring physical distancing. 1:13

Doria is one of at least 10 governors who said they would not comply with Bolsonaro’s decree.

Mandetta, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, predicted the country will likely see over 1,000 deaths per day sometime next week.

“History will tell who was right and who was wrong,” Mandetta said of his difference of opinion with Bolsonaro. “I think the numbers [speak] for themselves.

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Bill Peters resigns as Calgary Flames coach in wake of allegations of racism

The Flames will hold a news conference in Calgary today amid reports that head coach Bill Peters has been fired.

Peters has been under investigation by the Flames and the NHL after allegations surfaced earlier this week that he used a racial slur against a former AHL player 10 years ago.

The controversy has been developing since Monday night, when Akim Aliu tweeted he had racism directed his way by a former coach in 2009-10 while with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.

Aliu, who was born in Nigeria, did not refer to Peters by name in his tweet, but used Calgary’s airport code “YYC” when writing about the specific coach.

Peters issued an apology in a letter addressed to Flames general manager Brad Treliving two days later. Aliu called the apology “misleading, insincere and concerning.”

TSN and Sportsnet both reported Peters has been fired shortly after the Flames announced the news conference.

More to come

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