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US death toll 220,000; global cases pass 40 million


R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.


More than 220,000 Americans have now died of COVID-19,  Johns Hopkins University reported Monday, and global cases surpassed 40 million.

The United States has about 4.3% of the world’s reported population and 19.7% of the world’s reported coronavirus deaths, USA TODAY data shows.

The actual worldwide total is most likely considerably higher: Testing hasn’t been widely available, many have been asymptomatic, and certain governments have concealed numbers.

The U.S., Brazil and India are reporting the highest numbers of cases.

Meanwhile, in a Sunday night interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was “absolutely not” surprised President Donald Trump contracted an infection after attending what he described as a “superspreader event” in the Rose Garden on Sept. 26. He also said the White House has blocked him from speaking to the media on a number of occasions.

In Washington, the clock is ticking for a stimulus relief bill ahead of the Nov. 3 election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday set a 48-hour deadline for the White House, insisting that a second round of $1,200 checks for Americans, expanded unemployment benefits and additional financial aid for the Paycheck Protection program “depends on the administration.”

Some significant developments:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed the idea of a nationwide lockdown on “60 Minutes,” saying the U.S. is “fatigued” by coronavirus restrictions. He also said he’d take a vaccine upon approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • More than 6 million households failed to make their rent or mortgage payments in September, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America.
  • Amid a surge in cases, Italy implemented a new wave of COVID-19 restrictions but stopped short of curfews such as those imposed in France.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.1 million cases and 220,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

📚 Read this:The latest in USA TODAY’s Deadly Discrimination series looks at how systemic racism in the San Francisco Bay area is making COVID especially lethal for Asian Americans. 

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.


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California to independently review FDA-approved vaccines before distribution

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state won’t allow distribution of coronavirus vaccines until it is reviewed by the state’s own panel of experts — no matter who wins the presidential election next month.

The governor named 11 doctors and scientists to review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers. The board members hail from top California top universities and medical providers, along with state and local public health officials.

Newsom’s position pledge raises the possibility that California’s 40 million residents might not receive a vaccine as distribution begins in other states.

Fargo becomes first city in North Dakota to issue mask mandate

Fargo became the first city in North Dakota to issue a face mask mandate on Monday amid the state’s rising coronavirus caseload. The mandate applies to every person, family, business and store in the state’s largest city.

“As a community, we must all do our part to greatly reduce the spread of this deadly COVID-19 disease,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said in a news release. Mahoney, who is a general surgeon, has supported Gov. Doug Burgum’s handling of the pandemic but said it “would be great” if the governor issued a statewide mandate.

Cass County, which includes Fargo, has been one of the state’s hardest-hit areas. Health officials reported 200 new positive cases on Monday, bringing the toll to nearly 8,000.

CDC: Travelers who won’t wear face masks should get the boot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed Monday what has already become a required practice around the country, recommending that anyone traveling on airlines, trains, subways, buses or other public transport wear a mask.

If passengers don’t comply, those who won’t put on masks should be ordered to get off when possible, the CDC said in its interim guidance on the issue. Airlines or other transportation providers should, “at the earliest opportunity, disembark any person who refuses to comply.”

The CDC’s “strong recommendation” could be a boost to airlines, ride-hailing drivers and others that have seen resistance by some passengers to rules requiring they wear masks while traveling in close proximity to strangers to ward off the spread of the coronavirus.

“Wide use of masks especially helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people,” the CDC said in justifying its advice.

– Chris Woodyard

States finalize their COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans

State public health departments say they’re ready to leap into action as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is approved but caution so many things are still unknown that exactly what that leap looks like is hard to say right now.

For example, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said it’s like planning an outdoor picnic for 1.3 million of his closest friends (the population of Maine) without knowing how much food he has, who’s coming, how he’s going to invite them and what they can and can’t eat.

“We plan for things we have knowledge around and move forward from there,” he said.

The good news is that the earliest date a vaccine is expected to arrive is now around Thanksgiving so that gives states a little breathing room. 

On Friday, state public health departments submitted vaccination distribution plans to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plans were as detailed as they could be given the many things that are still unknown, such as when a vaccine or vaccines will become available and which groups will be first in line to get it and who comes next. 

– Elizabeth Weise

Wales locks down as COVID-19 cases spike

Wales has become the second nation in the United Kingdom to lock down large swaths of its economy to combat rising coronavirus infections, even as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resisting loud calls to do the same throughout England.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said Monday that his administration was backing a short, sharp “firebreak” to slow the spread of COVID-19. All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close for two weeks beginning at 6 p.m. Friday – a lockdown similar in scope to the U.K.-wide measures imposed in March.

“This is the moment to come together to play our part in a common endeavor to do everything we can together to protect the (National Health Service) and to save lives,” Drakeford said.

Drakeford said the Welsh lockdown will definitely end Nov. 9. “The benefit will be seen in the weeks that follow,” he said.

TSA screens 1M daily passengers for first time since beginning of pandemic

The Transportation Security Administration crossed a long-awaited threshold Sunday, screening 1 million passengers at airport checkpoints for the first time since March 17, spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.

TSA also screened 6.1 million passengers at checkpoints nationwide during the week of Oct. 12, its highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic.

“Although passenger volumes remain well below pre-pandemic levels, the 1 million single-day passenger volume is a noteworthy development that follows significant TSA checkpoint modifications in response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Farbstein said, citing precautions such as plexiglass barriers and having passengers screen their own travel documents.

The TSA screening figures have been climbing slowly but steadily since hitting their lowest point in April when several days were under 100,000. At that point, many states had instituted coronavirus lockdowns, air traffic from Europe, the U.K. and Ireland had ceased because of travel bans and U.S. airlines were still several weeks away from requiring all passengers to wear masks.

– Jayme Deerwester

Improving indoor air quality: Ventilation and air filtration play a key role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 indoors

Switzerland implements nationwide mask mandate, other new restrictions 

A nationwide mask mandate and new restrictions on gatherings went into effect in Switzerland on Monday.

The Swiss Federal Council announced Sunday an order that requires people to wear masks in all publicly accessible indoor areas including shops, banks, libraries, cinemas, restaurants, bars, gyms, schools and child-care facilities. The country has required people over the age of 12 who are not exempt for medical reasons to wear masks on public transportation since July 6, but the order now extends to subway platforms as well.

No more than 15 people will be allowed at public gatherings and the government recommends people work from home. At private gatherings of more than 15 people, masks are now required for anyone who is not sitting down and eating.

The new measures were put in place because of a recent “rapid rise in coronavirus cases,” according to a press release from the Swiss authorities.

Switzerland has had more than 83,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 2,132 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

People wait in line to register for rapid COVID-19 testing at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday. (Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)

Latinos only ethnic group to see increase in COVID-19 deaths over the summer

Latinos were the only ethnic group who saw a statistically significant increase of deaths from COVID-19 over the summer, according to a report published Friday by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An analysis of 114,411 COVID-19-associated deaths published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report found the percentage of deaths among Latinos increased from 16.3% to 26.4% from May to August. In the same time period, decedents who were white decreased from 56.9% to 51.5%, and the percentage who were Black decreased from 20.3% to 17.4%.

The report notes there was a geographic shift in COVID-19-related deaths from the Northeast to the West and South, where Latinos account for a higher percentage of the population. However, the shift alone doesn’t explain the increase in deaths as disparities among Latinos and other racial and ethnic groups have been well-documented during the pandemic.

More in the series:Racism is a pre-existing condition | Toxic neighborhoods | Segregated housing

– Adrianna Rodriguez

41 states had more cases in the last week than the previous week

A USA TODAY analysis of John Hopkins University data shows 41 states had more cases in the latest week than in the week before. New case records were set in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and  Wyoming.

According to an analysis of COVID Tracking project data found 36 states had a higher rate of people testing positive on testing than the week before. Those states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The U.S. has reported 8,154,594 cases and 219,674 deaths.

– Mike Stucka

COVID resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press


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Bougainville Elects Former Revolutionary Leader as President ahead of Tough Talks on Independence — Global Issues

Following an almost unanimous 97.7 percent referendum vote in November of last year for Independence from PNG, the people of Bougainville returned to the polls last month to decide on a new government. Bougainville’s main town of Buka. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS
  • by Catherine Wilson (canberra, australia)
  • Inter Press Service

“I, as your mandated President, am ready to take Bougainville forward, focussing on law and order, anti-corruption policies, the ratification process and improving the fiscal self-reliance of Bougainville,” Toroama said in a public statement on the occasion of his swearing in as President in the region’s main town of Buka on the Sept. 25. He will be supported in a caretaker government for the next two weeks by his new Vice President, Patrick Nisira, MP for Halia constituency in North Bougainville, and Therese Kaetavara, Women’s Representative for South Bougainville.

Toroama, who defeated 24 other presidential candidates, is a strategic choice. Following an almost unanimous 97.7 percent referendum vote in November of last year for Independence from PNG, the people of Bougainville returned to the polls last month to decide on a new government. It is now tasked with carrying the autonomous region on a challenging political journey toward the long held local aspiration for nationhood.

“The referendum was a turning point…looking at all the 25 candidates, people were looking for who could deliver and successfully talk about Independence ,” Aloysius Laukai, Manager of the local New Dawn FM radio station, told IPS. Laukai claims that “the election was conducted well” and widely accepted as free and fair. The campaigning and voting periods were reported as organised and peaceful, in spite of some alleged cases of misplaced voting papers.

The islands of Bougainville, with a population of about 300,000 people, are located more than 900 kilometres east of the PNG mainland. Bougainville hit the world headlines in 1989 when an indigenous landowner uprising against the then Rio-Tinto majority owned Panguna copper mine on Bougainville Island escalated into a civil war which raged on until a ceasefire in 1998. The peace agreement, signed in 2001, provided for establishing an autonomous government, which occurred in 2005, and a referendum on the region’s future political status.

Despite having only one recorded case of COVID-19, to date, the Bougainville government declared a state of emergency in March, which led to the delay of the general election, originally planned during the first half of this year.

Former President John Momis, who has led Bougainville for the past 10 years and been a prominent local political leader and figure of stability for more than four decades, bowed out of the race, having served the maximum two terms in office. The field then mushroomed into an unprecedented more than 400 candidates vying for 40 parliamentary seats and 25 hopefuls for the presidency.

Alluding to the stakes ahead, Momis called for unity as voters turned out to cast their ballots from Aug. 12 to Sept. 1. “Let us all walk this journey together as one people and one voice to decide our leaders for this next government that will lead us to our ultimate political future that is within the confines of democratic values and international best practice standards,” Momis stated on Aug. 17.

While also a pro-Independence advocate, Momis, a former Roman Catholic priest with extensive experience in peacetime politics, is a contrasting figure to Toroama. His achievements include serving in the national parliament, playing a major role in the region’s peace negotiations and serving as Bougainville’s governor after the conflict from 1999 to 2005.

The new President was a commander in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, a guerrilla force which instigated an armed uprising following grievances about the environmental devastation and economic inequity associated with the foreign-owned Panguna mine. He has not been a political leader or served in government administration, although he played a vital role in the peace talks which ended the conflict. More recently, he has been a successful cocoa farmer.

Geraldine Valei, Executive Officer of the Bougainville Women’s Federation, offered another perspective on the overwhelming support Toroama received at the ballot box. “The reason why we say that he is the right person is because, in our Melanesian way of resolving conflicts, if you start the war then you are the one to resolve it,” Valei told IPS, adding that, “he will, of course, need support from very good advisors to lead as President.”

Toroama’s rivals for the top office included James Tanis, who held the office of President briefly from 2008 to 2010, another former rebel ex-combatant, Sam Kauona, and local businessman, Fidelis Semoso. There were also two female candidates in the running: Ruby Miringka, a healthcare professional who has also worked for the Bougainville Referendum Commission, and Magdalene Toroansi, a former Bougainville Minister for Women.

Bougainville’s fourth government will face enormous challenges in the next five-year term to build a weak economy, improve governance and the capacity of institutions, all still in need of reconstruction and development following widespread destruction on the islands during the conflict. 

Valei told IPS that she would like to see the new President “strengthen good governance, have zero tolerance of corruption, strengthen law and order and advocate for the ratification of Independence from Papua New Guinea”.

Toroama also faces huge public expectations to bring about the region’s long held dream of Independence. Aspirations for self-determination in the region pre-date both the civil war and PNG’s Independence. The islands of Bougainville were brought under the umbrella of the new Papua New Guinean nation in 1975. But they are geographically located far from the PNG mainland and the islanders trace their ethnic and cultural kinship instead to the Solomon Islands, an archipelago to the immediate southeast of Bougainville.

However, the decisive result of last year’s referendum is non-binding. Long and complex negotiations between the PNG and Bougainville governments to agree the region’s new political status will occur over the coming months and years. Talks at the national level will be informed by input from local forums in Bougainville, comprising representatives of communities, ex-combatants, business leaders, women and youths. The final decision will then be ratified by the PNG Parliament. There is no deadline for this process, but Toroama has indicated he would like a decision reached within two to three years.

PNG’s Prime Minister, James Marape, has voiced his support and respect for the process ahead and the wishes of the Bougainville people. “I look forward to working with President-Elect Toroama in progressing consultations on the outcome of the recent referendum and securing long term economic development and a lasting peace for the people of Bougainville,” Marape said in a statement issued soon after the election results were announced.

Yet, the PNG Government is known to not favour full secession, preferring the region to remain within a ‘united’ PNG under a form of greater autonomy.

Looking ahead, economic experts claim that, with a weak economy and heavy dependence on international aid and funding from the national government, Bougainville would face a long period of transition to being an economically viable state, potentially up to 20 years.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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The Exploitative System that Traps Nigerian Women as Slaves in Lebanon — Global Issues

Nigerian migrants arrive in Lagos from Libya. Nigeria has, in the last two years, evacuated thousands of its citizens from Libya and Lebanon after they suffered several forms of abuses, including enslavement. Trafficking has resulted in at least 80,000 Nigerian women being held as sex slaves and forced labour in the Middle East. Credit: Sam Olukoya/IPS
  • by Sam Olukoya (lagos, nigeria)
  • Inter Press Service

Obasi is just one of thousands of young Nigerian women trafficked to Lebanon with false promises of a better life. The Lagos-based New Telegraph newspaper quoted a source in the Nigerian embassy in Lebanon as saying that some 4,541 Nigerian women were trafficked to the country last year. The chair of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, described the rate at which Nigerian women are trafficked to Lebanon as “an epidemic”.

After sustaining injuries in the blast, Obasi tried to return to Nigeria but she and four others were stopped at the airport under the exploitative Kafala system.

The system, which is widely practiced in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East, prohibits migrant workers from returning to their countries without the permission of their employer.

“Lebanon’s restrictive and exploitative kafala system traps tens of thousands of migrant domestic workers in potentially harmful situations by tying their legal status to their employer, enabling highly abusive conditions amounting at worst to modern-day slavery,” according to Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. The rights organisation called for a revised contract that recognises and protects workers’ internationally guaranteed rights.

In late May, Nigeria attempted to repatriate 60 trafficked women from Lebanon but only 50 could return home. Anti-trafficking activists in the Middle East said the remaining 10 women were held back in Lebanon under the Kafala system.

The Kafala system operates alongside a system that enslaves trafficked women. In April, a Lebanese man posted an advert under the “Buy and Sell in Lebanon” Facebook group. “Domestic worker from Nigeria for sale with new legal document, she is 30 years old, she is very active and very clean,” the advert said in Arabic. The price tag was $1,000.

An outcry from Nigeria forced Lebanese authorities to rescue the woman while a man thought to be responsible for the Facebook post was arrested. The Lebanese Ministry of Labour said the man would be tried in court for human trafficking.

But this is not an isolated case. Many Nigerian women trafficked to the Middle East have spoken out about being sold as slaves.

In January, 23-year-old Ajayi Omolola appeared in an online video saying she and a few other Nigerian women were being held under harsh conditions and that their lives were at risk.

“When we are ill, they don’t take us to the hospital, some of those I arrived in Lebanon with have died,” she said.

Omolola said on arrival in Lebanon, her passport was taken away and she was “sold”.

“I did not realise that they had sold me into slavery,” she said, adding that she only realised the gravity of her situation when her boss told her she could not return to Nigeria because he had “bought her”.

Kikelomo Olayide had a similar account. On arrival in Lebanon from Nigeria she was taken to a market. “In that market, they call us slaves,” she said.

Roland Nwoha, head of programmes/coordinator of migration and human trafficking at Idia Renaissance, a Nigerian organisation working to discourage irregular migration and human trafficking, told IPS that even though Europe is a major attraction for Nigerians in search of a better future abroad, the Middle East is proving an alternative for many.

Nwoha explained that unlike the journey to Europe, which involves a dangerous land journey through the desert and an equally dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea, traffickers fly their victims to the Middle East after procuring visas for them with the promise of good jobs.

The chair of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe said 80,000 Nigerian women are being held as sex slaves,and forced labour in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Nigerian women trafficked to the Middle East “almost always end in labour and sexual exploitation,” Daniel Atokolo Lagos commander of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons said.

Gloria Bright, a Nigerian teacher who was promised a teaching job with a monthly salary of $1,000 in Lebanon, was held captive and made to work as a domestic worker upon her arrival. She posted an online video in which she pleaded for help and to be rescued. She said besides being made to work under very harsh conditions, her boss sexually harassed her. “At times he will ask me to massage him, he will hug me, he will kiss me,” she said.

Bright was fortunate to be rescued by Nigerian authorities before the Aug. 4 Beirut blast.

Dabiri-Erewa said the trafficking of Nigerians to Lebanon “is becoming a big embarrassment and it has to be stopped”. In an effort to stop the crime, Nigerian authorities have arrested several people, including Lebanese residents in Nigeria. A Lebanese is being investigated in connection with the trafficking of 27 women to Lebanon, two of whom have been rescued.

The Lebanese ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab, says his embassy is assisting the Nigerian government to stop the trafficking of women to his country. He said the issuance of work visas to Nigerians has been suspended following cases of the abuse of Nigerian women at the hands of their Lebanese employers.

The ambassador said the Lebanese Ministry of Labour will work out a “legal and systemic way to make domestic staff to come into Lebanon legally without the fear of inhuman treatment”.

Nigerian activists, like Nwoha, who are working against human trafficking say the Nigerian government has to do more to curtailing the activities of the traffickers. They said the government should make conditions at home better to stop Nigerians desperately seeking a better life abroad.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Global Knowledge Warfare: Using Strategic Imagination to Harness Uncertainty and Fear

This expert-driven national-security insight can’t be generated for free.  We invite you to support quality content by becoming a  Cipher Brief Level I Member .  Joining this experienced security-focused community is only $10/month (for an annual $120/yr membership). It’s a great and inexpensive way to stay ahead of the national and global security issues that impact you the most.



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It is Time for a Democratic Global Revolution — Global Issues

The UN’s Security Council, in particular, is suffering from a dysfunctional decision-making method that grants the five victors of the Second World War and official nuclear powers not only a permanent seat but also a veto right. Credit: United Nations
  • Opinion by Andreas Bummel, Daniel Jositch (berlin / berne)
  • Inter Press Service
  • Daniel Jositsch is a Member of the Swiss Senate and President, Democracy Without Borders-Switzerland, and Andreas Bummel is Executive Director, Democracy Without Borders. Twitter: @democracywb

For many, the corona-related global crisis exacerbates a situation that was already critical before the outbreak of the virus.

The climate crisis is unfolding with record temperatures in Siberia, Greenland, the Antarctic and other places like the Middle East. The new climate apartheid is characterized by whether you can afford to shield yourself from such heat or not. Most cannot.

135 million people are facing crisis levels of hunger. There are currently more than 70 million displaced people who have fled war, persecution and conflict. It’s the worst humanitarian and refugee crisis in seventy years.

There is a global inequality crisis. Productivity gains and globalization disproportionately benefit the affluent. Financial assets in the trillions are hidden in offshore accounts from tax authorities. The world’s 26 richest billionaires own as much as the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet.

While global surveys confirm that people across all world regions strongly believe in democracy, there is in fact a democratic retreat. Confidence in the actual performance of democratic governments is waning. Populist nationalism and authoritarianism has been advancing, aided and abetted by social media platforms and the internet. Major arms control treaties are crumbling, geopolitical tensions are rising and multilateralism is under attack.

Civil society and citizens across the world are fighting back, though. Pro-democracy movements are at an all-time high as widespread protests in dozens of countries now and in recent times demonstrate. Freedom and justice have lost no appeal. At the same time, millions of citizens joined climate protests around the world and called for quick and effective action in this critical field.

The present issues are symptoms of a crisis of global governance. There is a scale mismatch between a political world order that is based on 200 states and territories and issues that demand decisive global action.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the organization continues to lose significance and impact. The UN is only as strong and effective as its member states allow it to be. The same applies to all intergovernmental organizations and forums, including the World Health Organization that had to launch an investigation into its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UN’s Security Council, in particular, is suffering from a dysfunctional decision-making method that grants the five victors of the Second World War and official nuclear powers not only a permanent seat but also a veto right.

If long-lasting solutions are to be achieved, this scale mismatch must be tackled. It is not enough to call on individual governments to change their policies. The way how the world is governed must be changed. What is needed is a new vision of a democratic world order that is based on shared sovereignty on global issues, a clear commitment to human rights, the principle of subsidiarity and complete disarmament.

When the UN was founded it was recognized that this should only be a beginning and that changes would be required. Article 109 of the Charter provides that a conference to review the Charter should be held by 1955. The UN’s member states did not deliver on that promise. Now is the time to hold them to account.

The world’s people need an actual say in global affairs that is not intermediated by national governments and their diplomats. The key ingredient of a new UN should be a democratically elected world parliament that complements intergovernmental bodies such as the UN General Assembly.

The creation of a new democratic world organization that has actual powers seems to be a gigantic project that raises numerous questions. How is a global democracy to be created while major states themselves are not democratically organised? Can decisions of a world parliament be enforced against the will of individual states? How is it possible that states will agree to the creation of a superior political unit?

These questions show the way forward: The people of the world themselves need to embrace and call for global democracy. Eventually, they are the sovereigns not only in their individual states but on the planet as a whole, too.

A global democratic revolution needs to push for a legitimate, inclusive and representative global body that will deal with these questions in a serious way. The creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly could be an important stepping stone to launch a global constitutional process and a transformation of global governance.

This global democratic revolution will be peaceful because it is not about destroying structures or conquering territories, but about opening up a political level that is lying idle. Supranational integration cannot be imposed by force. It will happen because the people want it.

If existing movements in the fields of climate, environment, peace, disarmament, democracy, social justice and others join forces, the global democratic revolution will become very real.

This may sound visionary. But the big issues troubling this planet and its people will remain, and worsen, unless the root cause is addressed. A democratic global government is not a mind game in some ivory tower. It is the most important question on the agenda of humanity today.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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An Accident in Name Only — Global Issues

Search and rescue team combs rubble in Beirut after a blast on 4 August 2020. Credit: UNOCHA
  • Opinion
  • Inter Press Service

From all we know, the blast that destroyed much of the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut in the early evening of 4 August was an accident – but if so, it was an accident only in name. Storing, against repeated warnings, more than 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate for nearly seven years under unsuitable conditions near a densely populated area amounted to asking for a catastrophe to happen.

Blatant, perhaps criminal, negligence and bureaucratic ineptitude were the immediate causes of the explosion that killed over 150, injured more than 5,000, displaced up to 300,000 and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage to the city – and counting.

In that sense, the disaster is only the latest, if most dramatic and devastating, manifestation of the dysfunction that has marked the Lebanese state for three decades. It is the product of a predatory political elite that has held state institutions in its grip and sucked them dry while allowing public services for ordinary citizens to break down to the point of non-existence.

The networks of political influence, patronage and corruption they have built have compromised accountability, due process and professional conduct on all levels. Their behaviour has pushed Lebanon over the brink of bankruptcy and beggared much of the population.

The headline in The Daily Star, a local newspaper, captured the bottom line particularly well: “Lebanon’s officials are its worst enemies”. Unless these political elites finally accede to the demands for fundamental reform, Lebanon will slide further into economic abyss, and public outrage may well lead to unrest and violence.

The blast will accelerate the Lebanese economy’s tailspin, immiserating a larger and larger part of the 6.8 million-strong population, one in five of whom are Syrian refugees. The Lebanese lira has lost more than 80 percent of its value since October, impoverishing citizens who now struggle to afford basic goods, which are mostly imported.

Banks have largely refused to dispense their customers’ savings, as they grapple with their own apparent insolvency. On 6 August, the Lebanese Central Bank announced support for businesses and individuals seeking to repair damage, yet experts remain sceptical that the institution can squeeze enough dollars out of its shrinking foreign reserves to make a real difference.

The liquidity crisis, loss of credit and resulting collapse of local demand, which was then deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic, has forced businesses to scale back operations or shut down entirely, shedding or furloughing tens of thousands of employees. State-provided electricity has dwindled to just a few hours per day, as fuel has become scarce.

Lebanese politicians have responded to the country’s political-economic crisis with characteristic lack of seriousness, arguing among themselves over the scale of losses at Lebanon’s politically connected banks, and who should make them whole. Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over an economic rescue package have deadlocked as a result.

Now Lebanon’s national crisis has been made much worse. With Beirut’s port incapacitated, and smaller facilities along the Lebanese coast likely unable to take much of the load, bringing in sufficient supplies of food and medicine will be a challenge.

The blast also destroyed the main grain storage silos and stocks of medical equipment. Enterprises that have weathered the crisis thus far will find it even more difficult to import equipment and materials to keep business going or to export their products. State tax and customs revenue will plummet further, forcing the government to fund its budget through the printing press and thus initiating a new round of hyperinflation.

Even before the latest disaster Lebanon was in need of humanitarian assistance. Now the need has become acute, and the volume of required aid, in particular medical staff and supplies, food to replenish destroyed stocks and building material to fix damaged shelters, has only grown.

Thankfully, a number of countries across the Middle East and in Europe are already pitching in. They will have to do more, as the effects of the Beirut port’s destruction and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese set in, compounding the country’s misery. They should provide assistance directly to the affected population and through local and international non-governmental organisations present on the ground.

Lebanon’s political leadership may still have a chance to do the right thing and institute long-overdue reforms, as the Lebanese people have demanded, and on which international donors have conditioned an economic rescue. The corrupt political arrangements that have bankrupted the country and that led ultimately to the 4 August disaster cannot be allowed to continue; they have reached their end. They will not be revived by some miraculous injection of foreign money.

Two months ago, Crisis Group published a report on how to pull Lebanon out of the pit. We emphasised that the political elite that has ruled Lebanon for the past 30 years must carry out structural reforms that prevent corrupt and self-serving cliques from appropriating state resources and public goods in order to win the substantial international support the country needs to emerge from the economic crisis.

Now those elites are again facing the wrath of the country’s citizens, as they did in October 2019, when hundreds of thousands rallied against the politicians in charge. Those protests followed another humiliating episode in which the government was helpless to control wildfires after neglecting for years to pay for maintenance of donated firefighting helicopters.

The latest disaster is a similar failure, but on a monumental, much deadlier scale. It seems likely to unleash a new wave of popular fury. Lebanese are seething on social media.

Activist groups that played a prominent role in the October protest movement are starting to mobilise again, raising their popular slogan demanding the removal of the country’s entrenched elites: “‘All of them’ means ‘all of them'”. Already in April and May, sporadic protests against deteriorating living conditions had sparked violent confrontations with the security forces, causing casualties. New demonstrations could spin out of control completely. A major protest has been called for 8 August.

If the Lebanese elites do have a chance to fix what they have broken, it may well be their last. They, along with the politicians whom they elevated and the officials whom they helped appoint, will have to face up to a Lebanese public that, after so many years of abuse and neglect, has now been terrorised by its own government with an entirely preventable explosion of world-historical size and destructive power. The public is justifiably enraged, and it has less and less to lose.

This statement was originally published by the Crisis Group

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Myanmar’s Protection Bill falls Short of Addressing Violence against Women — Global Issues

Rights experts say that the Myanmar government “has long shown a lack of commitment to breaking the cycle of impunity for widespread sexual and gender-based violence”. This is a dated photo of women travelling on a crowded train in Myanmar. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS
  • by Samira Sadeque (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

Myanmar is soon to see the latest version of its Prevention of and Protection from Violence Against Women (PoVAW) introduced in parliament. But the Global Justice Centre (GJC), an international human rights and humanitarian law organisation focusing on advancing gender equality, has pointed out that the legislation falls short of addressing violence against women.

According to GJC, the language used in the law borrows from Myanmar’s 1861 Penal Code and thus perpetuates antiquated understandings of rape, such as; considering rape as violence committed only by men, the definition of “rape” constituting only of vaginal penetration, and no acknowledgement of marital rape.

“The Myanmar government has long shown a lack of commitment to breaking the cycle of impunity for widespread sexual and gender-based violence, a problem that is exacerbated by broader structural barriers with respect to Myanmar’s military justice system, and a lack of robust domestic options for accountability,” the GJC analysis has claimed.

Last week, Khin Ohmar, an exiled human rights advocate from Myanmar and founder and chairperson of the advisory board of Progressive Voice — a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organisation rooted in civil society, with strong links to grassroots and community-based organisations throughout Myanmar — shared how sexual violence in the country is used in a “systematic pattern to target ethnic women and girls”.

Ohmar was speaking at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict, where she further reiterated how the military in Myanmar has carried out “unspeakable crimes” against ethnic minorities in the country.

Meanwhile, GJC has also published a list of recommendations that leaders can follow to ensure the law is comprehensive as well as applicable in today’s time.

IPS had a conversation with Akila Radhakrishnan, president of GJC, on the issue. Some parts have been edited for clarity purposes.

Inter Press Service (IPS): The year is 2020. How is Myanmar only now introducing the Prevention of Violence against Women Law (PoVAW)?

Akila Radhakrishnan (AK): There’s been a couple of things – I think the lack of will is a starting point. This is something consistently being pushed for by women in civil society since about 2013.

It has been raised as an issue and a part of the reason it’s such a priority is because the original laws we’re talking about date back to 1861.

We’re really talking about laws that haven’t been updated so with the political transition there was a moment when women in civil society saw the opportunity to think it’s time we had a comprehensive law on violence against women, updating progressive positions in the penal code and bring in things like protective orders or a more robust categorisations of kinds of sexual and other types of violence.

And in some ways, the military continues to perpetrate mass sexual violence. Some of the key things that civil society has been pushing for is bringing the military under a mandate of the law, which is antithetical to the military’s interest as well.

IPS: Despite Aung San Suu Kyi being the leader of the country, why are there still discrepancies in the legislation?

AK: Aung San Suu Kyi is no feminist. She has certainly in the past made stronger statements on sexual violence than she currently takes on but she’s very much seen certain types of political reform as her priority. If you look at the trajectory of the laws that were initially passed through the transition, most of the laws were really wound around issues that enabled foreign investment, for example.

There were certain laws that were due to be changed around issues such as certain types of press freedoms, many of which have been regressing in recent times in any case. There was never kind of a feminist priority set from the leadership.

There were certainly some amazing feminists who got elected, including from local women’s civil society who were elected to parliament. They even felt they’ll have the power to set what are the priorities to be passed, to be considered to be looked at in the context of a country that has a range of reforms that need to be undertaken.

Another issue is that it’s been really slow going in the part of some of the agencies that are involved in this as well such as others, such as the attorney general’s office, department of social welfare. There’s a complicated range of actors involved in the development of the law and in the pushback against the law as well

IPS: Where would you say the PoVAW law lacks most glaringly and needs to be most urgently addressed?

AK: Probably the most urgent one is the places where they continue to cling to the penal code and not really think through how to amend it. They kind of cling to the penal code definition of rape itself – it refuses to let go of rape as it was defined in the 1861 penal code.

We detail a range of issues with that specific definition. And a major part of the impetus was to say our more modern definitions of rape, that are more inclusive, that are gender neutral and have better definitions of consent and at the end of the day you’re creating this whole process and you’re clinging to something that’s there.

And related to that is issues such as marital rape as a crime that is somewhat separate from rape, it’s a lesser crime, a lesser penalty and you know that also stems out of an antiquated mindset.

IPS: Is this legislation only for cisgendered women?

AK: There’s a little bit of a tension there. The law itself is a violence against women law and that’s in the framework it’s been developed over quite a bit of time, so there’s been tension wanting to certainly to try to make the law as inclusive as possible really thinking through how difficult it is to even bring this to fruition.

In this moment, it’s important to try to think of how you take an intersectional inclusive approach to this. But unfortunately we’re going to end up only with a VAW framework so we want to at least within that context — and this is really belying on the expertise of groups that do this work better than we do — to really think through how to make something like this as inclusive as possible.

IPS: There are many ethnic minorities in Myanmar, many who often flee the country. How are ethnic minorities targeted for violence and sexual violence?

AK: The military uses sexual violence as a tactic weapon in its conflict, as its violent actions against all ethnic minorities. It is a systematic pattern — one that is met with impunity which is why legal reforms and accountability are so important. 

IPS: What are your hopes for the steps ahead for the PoVAW law?

AK: The law is an important step forward but in order for it to be a meaningful step forward it actually needs to take into account — and through the process be amended — so it meets international standards, and addresses some of the key issues with the law itself. Otherwise you get kind of a patchwork law where a lot of time and energy has been put into it, but it’s not going to achieve what it could’ve achieved to actually come in line with international standards.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Planning for Periods During a Pandemic — Global Issues

Targeting boys with menstrual health education will not only improve girls’ school attendance but will help address menstrual-related myths and stigma.
High school student in eastern India, studies a leaflet on menstrual hygiene. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS
  • Opinion by Shubha Nagesh, Monalisa Padhee (dehradun, india)
  • Inter Press Service

Despite these efforts, a large number of girls with disabilities who face the double burden of discrimination — stigma of disability and taboos associated with menstruation — have been left behind.

Girls and women comprise more than half of the total number of persons with disabilities. The majority of them live in low and middle income countries. A number of them are denied basic human rights because society is not set up to meet their unique needs. For instance, a large number do not attend schools, are not employed meaningfully, and are subject to neglect, abuse, violence, sexual harassment and much else.

Families and parents grapple with additional worries that include safety and hygiene around menarche (onset of periods) and menstruation. These concerns magnify for families whose daughters have cognitive and intellectual impairments and behavioural challenges as part of their disability. Knowledge and awareness around effective menstruation management becomes a challenge with heavy reliance on parents and or caregivers.

The pandemic has further worsened access and support due to restricted access, closure of establishments, traffic restrictions, and financial constraints. There are many families who are unable to afford disposable sanitary products for their daughters and rely on cloth which puts an additional burden of washing. These are re washed and reused- oftentimes, dried in closed spaces and corners that receive no sunlight, risking infection upon re use. Stigma continues around access, utilisation and safe disposal of menstrual products, particularly in urban poor and rural contexts.

Even outside pandemics and crises, the menstrual health needs of vulnerable populations need to be prioritized. Each girl deserves to have a safe and dignified menstrual experience irrespective of her disabilities. Policies and practices are best if inclusive and accommodate unique provisions and needs for girls and women with disabilities.

We propose the following four recommendations to ensure uninterrupted menstrual health services, particularly the supply of products during a pandemic or other emergency crisis situation.

First, it’s important to have an inclusive crisis management policy, one that prioritises the sexual and reproductive health needs of the girls and women with disabilities with deliberation. Developing systems prior to pandemics so these services persist as essential and vital at all times, will support uninterrupted services.

Second, provision of supplies in adequate quantities is essential- on an average if a girl or woman uses 15-20 sanitary pads per month, providing at least three month supplies of 20 pads a month to each girl with a disability will be reasonable. Girls with intellectual impairment, more often than not, are unable to keep track of their menstrual dates or identify symptoms that develop prior to a menstrual period. Having an adequate stock of pads beforehand to safeguard against situations like this pandemic will prevent girls from resorting to unhygienic practices.

Third, having adequate training of community health workers to identify the number of girls with disabilities in the community and their future needs, well in advance, and communicate with the agencies monitoring supplies to ensure regular and ample supplies.

Fourth, agencies who link the disabled community to organisations and donors must have robust systems in place to match needs, when it is required and where it is required. The processes must be seamless with needs outlined in advance, donations matched well with needs, priority measures to determine disabled communities who need supplies the most and accountability in distribution.

If all donors and philanthropies could come together to enable creation of centralised nodal agencies to channelise procurement, distribution, monitoring and evaluation, the system becomes transparent, accountable and effective. Including disability organisations in the dialogue and the actual effort that follows will ensure establishment of supply chains that deliver on time to those that need it the most such as remote villages, urban poor settlements, migrant communities, hard to reach slums.

Some of the above are already in place in India and need integration and scale to reach vulnerable populations, like those with disabilities. UNICEF recommends through recent guidelines processes that could be implemented to ensure menstrual products reach girls during a pandemic; these could be adapted by including the voices of girls with disabilities in formulating strategies to meet their needs.

After all, periods don’t pause for a pandemic and any other crisis and we need to ensure that the needs and challenges of the vulnerable population are adequately addressed.

Dr Shubha Nagesh is an Atlantic Fellow in Global Health Equity and works with the Latika Roy Foundation, Dehradun India

Monalisa Padhee, PhD, is the head of Women Wellness Initiative at the Barefoot College working with women and girls in rural India. She is a senior Aspen New Voices fellow and Atlantic Fellow for Global Health Equity.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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On Gil Scott-Heron and Global Protests

The recent global Black Lives Matter protests have prompted IR scholars and others to revisit the work of Malcolm X and the poetry of Gil Scott-Heron. In one of his prison letters, Malcolm X wrote that he became “a real bug for poetry. When you think back over all of our past lives, only poetry could best fit into the vast emptiness created by men.” Later in his life, Malcolm X sought to internationalize the plight of African Americans. For example, at the Organization of African Unity in 1964, he exhorted the African diplomats and others that “We, in America, are your long lost brothers and sisters, and I am here to remind you that our problems are your problems.” Malcolm X looked to internationalize the sensibilities of the attendees by saying of African Americans: “We stand defenseless at the mercy of American racists who murder us at will for no reason other than we are black and of African descent.” Before his assassination, Malcolm X pushed for centers for black artistic expression as part of a means to connect black people throughout the globe. After his death, “this energy coalesced into the Black Arts Movement.” In this movement, poetry and other forms of art were critical to speaking truth to power and working toward justice for the dispossessed and disenfranchised—domestically and globally.

Gil Scott-Heron is perhaps one of the most famous artists influenced by this movement. In this essay, we briefly outline why we have turned to Gil Scott-Heron’s poetry in the classroom. His poetry, inspired by Malcolm X, is particularly relevant to this moment as we witness the momentum of Black Lives Matter protests happening in all 50 states and all over the world from Belgium to Brisbane. Thousands marched in Paris. From Kentucky to Canada, from Fresno to Frankfurt thousands are looking at the police brutality visited upon African Americans and seeing similarities to how state-sponsored police forces act against people of color and poor people in their own milieu. Chinese, Russian, and Iranian diplomats are focusing attention, however fleeting and for their own purposes, on the treatment of African Americans. In the classroom, whom might we listen to and how might we speak about these global protests? Gil Scott-Heron, we think, helps us confront the complexities of this moment.

Throughout this year, we have been co-teaching a “Poetry and Politics” seminar. One of the poems that we have been teaching together is Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” The poem is helpful in thinking about this global moment of Black Lives Matter for several reasons.

First, it helps us think critically about the media’s focus on looting rather than structural sources of protests and riots (“There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mae pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run / Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance”). As we witnessed in recent weeks, the media tends to zoom in on certain newsworthy effects (e.g. fires, looting, and property damage) of structural racism rather than structural racism itself. The Revolution tells us that “there will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay.” The Revolution prompts a discussion about the reasons for the disparaging term for police, and, more importantly, pushes us to reflect on the many black men (and women) killed not only by law enforcement officers but by law enforcement structures—portrayed in certain media reports as though these killings are a sport replete with “instant replay.”

Second, Scott-Heron offers a poetic window into divisions within black movements, reminding us of how these movements are never monolithic and often have different objectives (or means of achieving them). For example, The Revolution involves a biting critique of civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young. During the heady days of the orthodox civil rights movement, the grassroots activities were led by the “Big Six.” Amongst the Big Six were longtime labor organizer A. Philip Randolph, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and a young John Lewis. Scott-Heron turns his pen towards the last two of the “Big Six:” Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins of the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, respectively.

Scott-Heron’s pen grows teeth when he writes “there will be no pictures of Whitney Young being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process. There will be no slow motion or still lifes of Roy Wilkins strolling through Watts in a red, black and green liberation jumpsuit that he has been saving for just the proper occasion.” Why does Scott-Heron use his pen to bite two of the most respected leaders of the civil rights movement? While Young and Wilkins were symbols of articulate moral leadership and effective advocacy in black communities, Scott-Heron muses about Young in a process (straightened hair) and Wilkins in a Bendera flag jumpsuit. Young and Wilkins were always seen in a dark fitted suit with a white shirt, a thin dark tie, and close-cropped natural hair. Putting them in a process and a multi-colored jumpsuit is arguably worse than putting them in a red nose with big floppy shoes piled up in a Volkswagen bug.

Why this imagery? Here, we see Scott-Heron launching two critiques. First, he is voicing a common criticism that Young and Wilkins were too close to white philanthropy to provide effective street-based leadership for black communities. Second, Scott-Heron is identifying both Young and Wilkins as outside the revolution, as irrelevant to the revolution and likely even as counter-revolutionaries that should be scorned by politicized black communities.

Using Young and Wilkins as stand-ins to criticize the “establishment” leadership of the “Big Six,” Scott-Heron turns his lens on the social and class divisions in black communities and finds a key fissure between middle-class blacks and the identity of the communities that birthed them. For students unaware of these kinds of divisions, Scott-Heron could prompt conversations about how and why they emerge, and also what they mean for bringing about both domestic and global change.

Third, Scott-Heron is pressing us to consider how black struggles can be domesticated or commercialized. As the world watches the protests and “instant replays” of George Floyd’s murder, we might ask what it means that “the revolution will not be televised?” The world finally seems to be watching. But what are we watching? Who is watching and what do we see (and fail to see)? Scott-Heron tells us that “the revolution will not go better with Coke.” How might revolution be domesticated by calls for cosmetic improvements without deeper systemic change? How might revolution be commercialized and co-opted? The Revolution leaves us searching—pragmatically and imaginatively—for difficult answers to so many pressing questions.

Considering The Revolution in the context of Black Lives Matter also reminds us of the deep connections between black political struggles in the United States and global struggles discussed within the annals of black political thought. W. E. B. DuBois held the first of the historic Pan African Conferences in 1919 locating the plight of African Americans within the overall anti-colonial struggle. The clergyman and diplomat Alexander Crummell wrote about internationalizing the anti-racist/anti-fascist struggle of African Americans in 1861 in his letter, The Relations and Duties of Free Colored Men in America to Africa. And as early as 1852, the veritable “Father of Pan Africanism” Martin Delany published The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, where he says the facts of American oppression of African Americans are plain and the goal is to “proclaim in tones more eloquently than thunder” that this treatment requires an international reaction.

The Black Lives Matter movement, emerging from black struggles in the streets of the United States, has become a global response to systemic racism. The death of Adama Traoré outside of Paris is seen as connected to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Chants in Paris include the phrase, “Justice pour Adama, Justice pour George Floyd, Justice pour Tous!” How do we respond to this moment in the classroom? A turn to poets like Gil Scott-Heron, we believe, is one productive way to reflect on this juncture. His poems distilled wordplay, irony, anger, intellect, and lament into some of the most illuminating poems and songs ever produced in the world. While his work contends with the sociopolitical brutalities of racism, it also signals toward the possibilities (and impossibilities) of change—in the world and within ourselves. As we read his poetry with students in the context of Black Lives Matter, change in the world (we hope) becomes more possible.

Guided by the spirits of Malcolm X and Gil Scott-Heron, we are searching, together. What will we find? What will we create? How might poems of the past and present inform and inspire the change we are working toward?

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Kate Garraway masks up as she heads to Global after returning to GMB

Kate Garraway rocked a stunning dress as she headed to Global (Picture: Backgrid)

Kate Garraway as been spotted masking up as she heads to Global, keeping busy as she returns to Good Morning Britain.

The presenter could be seen donning a bright floral dress with white heeled boots, and wearing a mask as she headed into the building.

Clutching a big handbag, she waved at the cameras, before adjusting her mask.

The mum-of-two, who has been taking time off from hosting the morning show during her husband Derek Draper’s coronavirus battle, recently announced she’d be returning.

The presenter confirmed she will be back on the ITV programme on Monday alongside Ben Shephard as Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid take their summer break.

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Appearing on Wednesday’s episode Kate said: ‘I’m gonna come back, I’m afraid. I’m back on Monday if you’ll have me. I haven’t got the fight to be a Piers Morgan but I’m back with Ben Shephard.’

Kate sported a mask as she headed into the building (Picture: BACKGRID)
She waved to the cameras as she headed into the building (Picture: BACKGRID)

‘It’s lovely to be back. It’s like coming out a little bubble of sadness,’ she said. She is returning after doctors told her to ‘get on’ while her husband Derek Draper remains in ‘critical condition’.

Derek, Kate’s husband of 10 years, has been in intensive care since April, after testing positive for coronavirus.

Kate is returning to Good Morning Britain on Monday (Picture: BACKGRID)
She recently opened up to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid about Derek’s coronavirus battle (Picture: GC Images)

He is now free of the virus, but has suffered complications, and was in an induced coma until recently.

Kate recently opened up about staying hopeful, explaining to Hello!: ‘We’re keeping positive and doing everything we can to bring him round.

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‘The children and I communicate with him every day on FaceTime, while a nurse holds his iPad.

‘I really believe he can hear. When medical staff say: “Good morning, Derek”, he sometimes opens his eyes. We and the doctors are doing everything we can so that he can start to recover.’

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MORE: Kate Garraway still fears going to pubs and confirms she also had coronavirus alongside husband Derek Draper

MORE: Kate Garraway battling to visit husband Derek in hospital as he fights for life in coma: ‘You can shop in Primark but I can’t hug him’

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