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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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UN General Assembly president welcomes Azerbaijan’s initiative to hold session on COVID-19


BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept.1

Trend:

President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad Bande expressed gratitude to Azerbaijan for the initiative to hold a special session on cooperation between countries in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, Trend reports referring to TASS News Agency.

“The proposal to hold a special session on the pandemic by the General Assembly is a veritable platform to mobilize global efforts against the pandemic,” Bande said at a special meeting on the session’s organization.

“We thank Azerbaijan, as Chair of Non-Aligned Movement, for pushing for this important session,” he stressed.

The assembly’s president clarified that the session co-organizers have already produced the document draft which can be accepted at the end of the session.

“We trust that the special session will ensure greater involvement of world leaders toward a result-oriented response to the pandemic,” he added.

“This will further strengthen the General Assembly as a global partner in the fight against the pandemic and its impact on people’s livelihood,” Bande concluded.

The UN General Assembly’s special session on the fight against the pandemic officially opened on July 10, but it took the countries time to agree on aspects of its conduct in conditions of remote work.

Earlier, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry expressed its confidence that the special session will contribute to strengthening the solidarity of states in the fight against the pandemic, and reinforce international cooperation in finding an answer to this global threat.



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Donald Trump news: President unleashes fury at “corrupt” New York after supreme court rule | World | News


The court’s decision follows demands issued by Manhattan lawyer Cy Vance Jr, who demanded Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA hand over the President’s financial documents.

The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday mean Mr Vance will be able to go back to court and have his demand enforced.

Mr Trump issued a series of ferocious tweets in response to the court’s decision.

He wrote: “Courts in the past have given “broad deference”. BUT NOT ME!

“This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!

Mr Trump’s ‘Mueller Witch Hunt’ statement references a past legal case brought against him involving Russian interference in his election.

READ: Trump attempt to scrap DACA immigration programme blocked by Supreme Court

However, reports have emerged claiming the court’s ruling could affect the President’s bid for re-election.

Despite the court ruling that New York investigators may be allowed to see Mr Trump’s financial records, judges decided other investigators were not.

CNBC reports the Supreme Court blocked similar demands by Democrats in the US House of Representatives.

Mr Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow claimed this was a victory for the president.

Mr Sekulow said he was pleased the Supreme Court had “temporarily blocked” the US Democrats’ demands.

All of the cases against Mr Trump discussed in the ruling involved subpoenas – demands for certain documents to be handed over.

According to reports, two such demands were issued by the US financial services and intelligence committees.

These demands attempted to get banks to hand over information on Mr Trump and his family.





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Kanye West announces he’s running for president


The controversial rapper will have to defeat friend Donald Trump.

It’s unclear whether he’s consulted with his friend Donald Trump, but rapper Kanye West has announced he’s ready to unseat the Republican president.

“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future,” West wrote on Twitter Saturday evening. “I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION”

It’s not apparent how serious he is about running, but it seems unlikely the polarizing entertainer could actually unseat Trump. It’s probably more likely he could use a little publicity for his upcoming album, “God’s Country,” and its first single, “Wash Us in the Blood,” which was released earlier this week.

But Trump himself was a reality TV star and former President Ronald Reagan of course made his name as a Hollywood actor before entering politics.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Trump both have a few hundred million dollar fundraising advantage on the 21-time Grammy winner. Though his wife, Kim Kardashian, is very nearly a billionaire after selling 20% of her KKW Beauty last month if he’s looking to borrow a few hundred million.

If West does actually want to run for president, he would have to do so as an independent. And even that would take him acquiring the necessary signatures to get on November’s ballot. Bad news for voters in Indiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina and Texas — the deadline has already passed to file and you won’t get a chance to vote for West. (Unless you want to write him in.)

West, 43, made a surreal appearance in the Oval Office in October 2018, meeting with Trump after professing his love for the current president. The move ostracized the Chicago rapper from many of his peers in the entertainment industry. In the end it turned out West hadn’t even voted in the 2016 election.

Donning a “Make America Great Again” hat, the two were set to talk about the president’s appeal to African Americans. But in reality the conversation swung from his IQ — he’s in the 98th percentile, he said — to his mental health to Ford needing to design the “fliest most amazing” cars and his comments on live TV during a Hurricane Katrina charity fundraiser that George W. Bush didn’t care about Black people. All the while, he tested television producers’ censor buttons.

The two actually did discuss West running for president, believe it or not.

Trump said the rapper “could very well be” a future presidential candidate.

“Only after …” West responded, referring to after Trump left office.

“That’s good, I’m glad to hear that,” Trump said.

Apparently, he’s moved up the date.

He seemed to imply in the May issue of GQ that he was going to vote for Trump this year.

“We know who I’m voting on,” West told the magazine. “And I’m not going to be told by the people around me and the people that have their agenda that my career is going to be over. Because guess what: I’m still here!”

Trump has also made acquaintances with West’s wife. Kardashian has visited the White House multiple times and met with Trump to push criminal reform policy. She first met with the president in 2018 when she secured the commutation of a Tennessee woman’s life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.

Kardashian visited the White House most recently in March along with three other women who had their sentences commuted by the president.

For what it’s worth, Kardashian tweeted an American flag emoji in response to her husband’s declaration.

One tweet before he made his proclamation, West shared a July 1 photo with maybe the only celebrity figure more polarizing than himself: Elon Musk.

Musk immediately responded to West’s presidential announcement, writing, “You have my full support.”

ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report.



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#Kazakhstan President Tokayev’s first year in office a success says EU



What happens in Kazakhstan also matters for the EU because the 27-member bloc is the number one investor in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s new president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (pictured), has marked his first year in office, with a pledge to forge ahead with more reforms. Tokayev won the presidential election on 9 June 2019 with 70% of the votes, running against six other candidate.  He is widely praised for introducing far-reaching reforms in the country, the eighth largest in the world though with a population of just 20 million.

In his first major speech, the president defined his policies in all fields of the economy and society.

In the state-of-the-nation address he promised to oppose ‘unsystematic political liberalisation’ and instead carry reforms ‘without running ahead’. Crucially, a large part of his one-hour speech was devoted to improving living standards for the Kazakh people.

He also emphasised his goal of having a strong president, an influential parliament, and an accountable government. This reflects the government’s continued focus on reducing inequality in Kazakhstan and improving Kazakh citizens’ quality of life.

At the same time, the president also focused on political and economic development, including supporting micro, small and medium-sized businesses.

While much of President Tokayev’s first year in office has focused on – successfully – delivering on these promises  prioritised domestic reforms, he has also paid heed to several foreign policy priorities for Kazakhstan.

Most recently, of course, the focus has been very much on combating the ongoing health pandemic.

Last month, he admitted that this “has not been easy for our country.”  He also warned, “the crisis has not yet been completely overcome. The epidemic has not completely disappeared. A pandemic is still dangerous to public health.”

Several key issues, he believes, still need to be resolved in the near future.

First. Improving the self-sufficiency of the Kazakh economy.

Second. Kazakhstan has allocated around 1 trillion tenge for the implementation of the president’s Employment Roadmap and, following the implementation of the projects, an analysis of their socio-economic efficiency will be carried out.

Third. the construction of affordable housing will give a powerful incentive for economic development, employment growth and social support.

Fourth. the time has come, he insists, to work out the issue of introducing a progressive scale of individual income tax in respect of wages and other types of income.

Fifth. Support for national business.

Sixth. The country should switch to working directly with each capital holder to boost increased competition for foreign capital.

So, what is the verdict on his first year?

Mukhtar Tileuberdi, the minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan, says, “The President has been quick to implement his ideas. In his first few months in office, he has shown his commitment to promoting the development of a multi-party system, increased political competition, and pluralism of opinions in the country”.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, said that in recent months “the breadth and depth of our relationship has progressed immeasurably.”

This is partly due to the fact that president Tokayev, in March this year,  signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, he said.  In doing so, Borrell notes it became the first country in Central Asia.

The Spanish official, a former president of the European parliament, adds “The European Union is the country’s biggest trade and investment partner, while Kazakhstan is by far the EU’s largest trade partner in Central Asia. What is more, we have invested heavily in strengthening governance, supporting its justice, social and economic reforms.”

Borrell says that, under the president’s tutelage, “We are turning the page and beginning an exciting new chapter.”

Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, the Chair of the EU-Kazakhstan Friendship group in the European parliament, is equally enthusiastic, saying “In Europe, the prevailing opinion is that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in fact, is building a social welfare state, where special attention is paid to reducing inequality, improving the quality of life of every Kazakh, and where priority is given to solving the day-to-day problems of the people.”

The ECR deputy adds, “In the field of foreign policy, Kazakhstan, as has been the case before, pays special attention to its partnership with the European Union. On 1 March 2020, the European Union-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement came into force. On the basis of this document, we expect that the parties will be able to fully reap the benefits of their partnership. As EU-Kazakhstan Friendship group chair I will do my utmost to further our relations to our mutual benefit.”

But the president has also overseen a whole raft of other changes, including abolishing the death penalty and reaffirming the need to strengthen the role of the Kazakh language as a state language.

He is spearheading a rapprochement between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union and also promoted freedom of expression for his country’s 20m citizens.

The president is also intensifying efforts to attract foreign direct investment, support farmers to market their products to foreign markets and support the activities of the Astana International Finance Centre.

He has also pledged to continue to support micro, small and medium sized businesses.

Shavkat Sabirov, director of the Institute for security and cooperation in Central Asia, says there has been a damaging lack of public confidence in political leadership around the world in recent time and this has many causes.

“But,” he notes,” perhaps none is more important than the widespread belief – fairly or unfairly – of citizens that their wishes, concerns and hopes are being ignored or taken for granted by those they have put in power.

It is a charge that Kazakhstan Tokayev has shown in his first months in office that he is determined to avoid.

Since his election last year, he has made his main priority reforming state and government services so they are more responsive to the needs and ambitions of its citizens.

He has wasted no time, either, in extending as he promised opportunity to all and increasing support to those who need it most.

It is a packed agenda – and President Tokayev is promising there will be no slow-up in reforms.

Fraser Cameron, director of the Brussels-based EU/Asia Centre, is a vastly experienced and respected expert on Asian affairs and gives a decidedly upbeat assessment of the country’s new head of state.

“President Tokayev’s ambitious reforms,” says Cameron, a former senior European Commission official,”should provide a solid basis to deepen cooperation between the EU and Kazhakstan.”

According to Willy Fautre, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, there is still room for improvement. He says, “In the field of human rights, the legacy of President Tokayev’s predecessor is very heavy and a lot of progress needs to be quickly achieved. Freedom of religion is one of those areas where some controversial laws should be revised and aligned to international standards as quite a number of peaceful Sunni Muslims have been unduly sentenced to very long prison terms. The US is putting in place a constructive policy in this regard with the establishment of the US-Kazakhstan Religious Freedom Working Group.

“Washington is also developing an Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue (ESPD) and has engaged Kazakhstan on a range of issues, such as human rights, labor and religious freedom. President Tokayev should not miss this opportunity to restore the image of his country.”

Looking to the future, there is still much more to do if the shared ambition of First President Nazarbayev and his successor of Kazakhstan joining the ranks of the world’s most developed 30 countries is to be achieved.

 

Kazakhstan/EU Factfile

  • The EU is Kazakhstan’s biggest trade partner, with almost 40% share in its total external trade.
  • Kazakhstan’s exports to the EU are heavily dominated by oil and gas which account for more than 80% of the country’s total exports.
  • Exports from the EU are dominated by machinery and transport equipment, as well as products within the manufacturing and chemicals sectors.
  • Imports from Kazakhstan greatly exceed EU exports to Kazakhstan.
  • Kazakhstan has a growing importance as an oil and gas supplier to the EU. Kazakhstan has benefited from strong foreign direct investment in recent years, largely to its oil and gas sector. Almost half of the foreign direct investment inflow comes from the EU.

 



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A black delivery driver filmed himself being trapped in an Oklahoma City neighborhood as an HOA president demanded to know why he was there


Travis Miller (center) being held in an Oklahoma City neighborhood.
Travis Miller (center) being held in an Oklahoma City neighborhood.

Facebook/Travis Miller

  • Travis Miller, a delivery driver in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, says a neighborhood’s homeowners’ association president blocked him into a gated community and demanded to know why he was there. 

  • Miller captured the ordeal on Facebook Live, in a video that lasts for 37 minutes that has been watched more than 170,000 times.

  • The HOA official, who said his name was David Stewart, told Miller that he had called police on him after Miller refused to disclose customer information. 

  • After the HOA official left, Miller said he was afraid to leave the gated community, telling police: “I didn’t want to leave and have it seem like I was fleeing the scene or anything like that.”

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A black delivery driver in Oklahoma City says a neighborhood’s homeowners’ association (HOA) president blocked him into the gated community and demanded to know why he was there and how he got in.

Travis Miller, a home appliance and furniture delivery driver, captured the ordeal on Facebook Live, in a video that’s now been watched more than 170,000 times.

Related Video: How to Stay Safe at Work During COVID-19

He told KFOR that he was making a delivery in the Ashford Hills neighborhood of Oklahoma City on Monday when a man claiming to be the president of homeowners’ association blocked him from exiting the gated community with his car.

Video of the incident shows the man, self-identified as David Stewart, repeatedly asking Miller why he was in the gated community. The video shows that a white car had been parked in front of Miller’s truck, so he couldn’t drive forward.

Miller refused to tell Stewart who he dropped packages off to in the neighborhood, citing customer privacy.

About 30 minutes into the Facebook video, another man joined Stewart, and asked Miller: “All we want to know is why you’re in here and who gave you the gate code. That’s all we need to know.”

 

Miller again told the men that he didn’t want to share personal information of customers, and told Facebook viewers that the men had called the police. The police don’t arrive during the video, but the Stewart eventually moved his vehicle out of Miller’s way.

“I guess they must have contacted the customer and the customer came around and they spoke for a minute and he moved out the way,” Miller can be heard saying in the video.

Miller then called police himself, telling dispatch what happened to him and making sure it was safe for him to leave the area. 

“He said that he called the cops back and let them know that everything was clear but I didn’t want to leave and have it seem like I was fleeing the scene or anything like that,” Miller said. 

‘I knew if I get out this truck, no matter what happened, I would have been in the wrong’

Miller told KOCO that the person he delivered items to had given him the key code for the gated community, and that when Stewart approached him, he kept his seatbelt on the entire time, locked his doors, and tried keeping his window up.

“I knew if I get out this truck, no matter what happened, I would have been in the wrong,” Miller told KOCO. “I always say to myself, ‘I’m going to go home to my wife and my kids.'”

The incident happened in the wake outrage over the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was gunned down while jogging in Georgia in February, and the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was killed in a police shooting Kentucky in March.

Miller has received an outpouring of support online since his video went live. He told KOFR that he didn’t know why Stewart responded in the way that he did.

“I just know that emotionally, it was hard to maintain restraint, especially when I’m dealing with death in the family, two family members within two days of each other,” Miller said. “I just did the best I could to not make a bad situation worse.”

Insider



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Mexican president claims rivals would take over if he self-isolated, as experts decry coronavirus response


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Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has remained steadfast against sweeping restriction measures that could help the spread of the coronavirus in his country.

This weekend, he balked at the idea of self-isolating, claiming that his rivals would use that time to overpower him politically and take control of the government.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
(AP)

“Do you know what the conservatives want? For me to isolate myself (but) there would be no leadership (of the country) or there would be their leadership because in politics there are no power vacuums – the voids are filled and that’s what they want, for there to be a vacuum so that they can take control … in an irresponsible way,” he said Sunday, according to the Mexico Daily News.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The 66-year-old president has sparked a furor in recent weeks for not imposing stricter measures against COVID-19 and hugging followers and saying religious medals would protect him.

He flew commercial to the western state of Sinaloa on Sunday, where he shook hands with residents, including the mother of convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera.

“Coronavirus isn’t the plague,’’ the president declared in a video message on social media.

“Those of us who have an important function, a basic one, can go out to the street and work. … You can’t close a tortilla shop, doctors and nurses have to keep working, the police [too] so that there are no robberies,” he said.

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has only just started taking tougher measures, including late Monday night banning non-essential work in the public sector and gatherings of more than 50 people.

As of Wednesday morning, Mexico had reported more than 1,200 confirmed cases and at least 27 deaths.

MEXICO’S LÓPEZ OBRADOR SHAKES HANDS WITH MOTHER OF ‘EL CHAPO’ DESPITE CORONAVIRUS WARNINGS, VIDEO SHOWS

Some experts warn the sprawling country of 129 million is acting too late and that the government figures likely underestimate the true number of infections.

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish "Stay home" in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of "non-essential activities," and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish “Stay home” in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non-essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has done far less testing than many other countries — around 10,000 tests. New York state alone had performed more than 205,000 tests by Tuesday. There were also signs the disease may be far more advanced in Mexico than the limited testing shows. Three state governors have already tested positive for coronavirus.

“Politics is very, very much involved in the decision-making going on right now,” said Janine Ramsey, an infectious disease expert who works for Mexico’s National Public Health Institute, a federal research agency, and has spent 35 years of her public health career in Mexico.

“Mexico, politically, does not value scientific evidence. Why? Because it takes decision-making away from the politicians,” Ramsey said.

The Mexican government has defended its policies, saying that its robust health surveillance system gives it a good idea of how the epidemic is evolving and that health experts are charting the country’s fight against the virus. Its focus now, it says, is keeping people at home to avoid a rapid spread that would quickly overwhelm the health care system.

“For most of us, especially those of us who work with infectious pathogens, there is absolutely no excuse not to test because you cannot predict a) the response, b) the velocity of transmission, or c) the vulnerability of people” to becoming infected or to infecting others, she said.

“February and March is when we should have been testing everybody.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

But many are taking their cues from the president himself, who had this to say at a news conference Tuesday: “Soon, very soon there’s going to be the day of hugs and kisses in all the public plazas.”

“We’re going to hug because we’re going to overcome this coronavirus crisis and the economic crisis and the social welfare crisis,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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University of Guelph pauses search for new president, names interim one – Guelph


The University of Guelph says it is suspending its search for a new president and vice-chancellor amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the board of governors have appointed current provost and vice-president Charlotte Yates as president on an interim basis for two years.


READ MORE:
University of Guelph cancels ‘face-to-face’ classes, events in response to COVID-19

Board chair Shauneen Bruder said universities and organizations worldwide are focused on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and this is where their efforts and resources should be concentrated.

“COVID-19 is creating much uncertainty, both now and for the future,” Bruder said in a statement. “We expect that even once the crisis subsides, the implications will be long-lasting. At the same time, there are many other strategic imperatives the university must address to continue to move forward.”

Yates replaces outgoing president and vice-chancellor Franco Vaccarino, who announced last year that he was stepping down. His term will end on Aug. 1 and Yates will officially take over the following day.

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A search committee has been working since last fall and the university said it was at a critical stage of the process when it made the decision to pause the search.

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Bruder said Yates was chosen in part because of her effectiveness in a range of complex situations and circumstances.

“Her significant experience and extensive knowledge of the complexities and challenges facing the university will enable her to act immediately on priorities during this critical period,” Bruder said.


READ MORE:
McGill University students design 3D-printable masks for health-care workers

Yates has served as provost since 2015 and the university said since then she has built a strong leadership team that includes five new deans and other key academic leaders.

She previously served as dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University.

“I am deeply honoured by the trust the board has placed in me to lead the University of Guelph during this challenging time,” Yates said.

“I welcome this opportunity. The university has extraordinary, dedicated faculty, staff and students and exceptionally strong academic and administrative leaders. Working together, we will rise to meet the challenges before us while also enhancing our reputation for quality and excellence.”

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An announcement regarding an interim provost and vice-president to replace Yates will be forthcoming, the university said.


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Here’s why frequent handwashing is recommended in preventing spread of COVID-19

In response to the pandemic, the University of Guelph has cancelled all in-person classes for the remainder of the winter semester and more than 4,000 students living on residence have moved out.

Classes resumed on Monday in what the university called an “alternative delivery format.”

More information on its response to the pandemic can be found on the university’s website.










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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Endorses Joe Biden For President



Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who quit her Democratic presidential campaign in August, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for the party’s nomination, calling him the “absolute best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump.”

“I’m proud to endorse @JoeBiden today,” Gillibrand wrote Thursday on Twitter, becoming the latest big-name Democrat to throw her support behind Biden. “Our country needs a president who will provide steady, honest leadership, and I believe Joe has the right experience, empathy, and character to lead. I’m excited to help him defeat Donald Trump in November.”

Biden has amassed a deep roster of support in recent weeks, with endorsements from many former 2020 rivals. Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) all said they’ll back him, as did former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire Mike Bloomberg.

“He’s the absolute best candidate to defeat President Trump, and I think he is the person who has gained the trust and the respect of the American people in a way that no one else has,” Gillibrand told The Washington Post, noting Biden was prepared to handle the coronavirus pandemic. “The truth is he’s run the strongest campaign.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Biden’s last major competitor, has lagged behind in recent primaries. Biden scored major victories in Tuesday’s primaries in Florida, Arizona and Illinois, and now holds a commanding lead in delegates.

Biden thanked Gillibrand for her support, saying the lawmaker has “never been afraid to speak without fear, to be brave in the face of injustice, and to empower others to get off the sidelines.”





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Americans Sick of President ‘Lies All the Time’



Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Saturday celebrated his big Nevada caucus win with supporters in San Antonio, Texas, declaring that the American people are “sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time.”

Multiple media outlets on Saturday evening called the Nevada race for the socialist senator, and he celebrated with supporters in San Antonio:

“I’m delighted to bring you some pretty good news. I think all of you know we won the popular vote in Iowa, we won the New Hamshire primary, and according to three networks and the AP, we have now won the Nevada caucus,” he said as supporters broke out in cheers of “Bernie.”

“No campaign has a grassroots campaign like we do, which is another reason we are going to win this election,” he declared, also proclaiming that he will win the Democrat Primary in Texas and in the general election.

Sanders told supporters that Trump gets “very very upset easily” so “don’t tell him we’re going to beat him in Texas.”

“We are going to win in Texas and across the country because the American people are sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time,” Sanders said.

“They are sick and tired of a corrupt administration. They are sick and tired of a president who is undermining American democracy, who thinks he is above the law, and who apparently has never read the Constitution in this country,” he continued.

“The American people are sick and tired of a government which is based on greed, corruption, and lies. They want an administration which is based on the principles of justice —  economic justice, social justice, racial justice, and environmental justice,” he added.

The socialist senator also told his supporters that Trump and his friends “think they are going to win this election”  by dividing people by race, religion, and sexual orientation.

“We are going to win because we are doing exactly the opposite,” he declared.

President Trump reacted to Sanders’ strong showing in Nevada on Saturday, warning him against allowing the Democrat establishment to steal the nomination from him.

“Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden & the rest look weak, & no way Mini Mike can restart his campaign after the worst debate performance in the history of Presidential Debates,” he said.

“Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!”:





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