Saints Kitts e Nevis

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PM Harris Encourages Federation Citizens to Take Up Subsistence Farming

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 13:53

Loop- Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has encouraged the people of the Federation to consider large or small scale farming in the face of the global supply chain bottleneck.

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister said the government appreciates the importance of agriculture in the delivery of a better quality of life to the people of the federation, as food is a basic human need. He said globally, the challenge to have food in adequate quantities and simultaneously at affordable prices is great.

The bottleneck is due to an increase in demand for products as online shopping has significantly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In many instances, however, manufacturers are unable to meet the rise in demand due to staff shortages and reduced operating hours restrictions and curfews continue to be put in place to limit the spread of the virus. Labour shortages are also impacting ports where the goods land, which in turn slows the offloading and inspection process thereby creating a bottleneck. Experts are predicting that this issue will get worse before it gets better.

Prime Minister Harris pointed to the supply chains around the world that continue to be disrupted by COVID-19 as backlogs increase. He also warned that there will be an adverse movement in the price of food items as an increase in transportation costs and fuel prices are realized. Costs of goods are likely to increase as a consequence of the supply chain disruptions and shortages due to climate change.

This is where, he said, locally grown foods play a critical role. “In the medium and long term, our challenge is to produce more of what we need to feed ourselves. We need to produce, store and distribute food at affordable prices. From a health perspective, a conscious effort has to be made by all of us to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet. Fresh food is to be preferred over-processed foods.  Foods that are low in salt and sugar are better for our health and wellness. A determined effort is required by our farmers and backyard gardeners to produce more of what we need.”

At a recent National Emergency Operations Center briefing, the Chairman of the COVID-19 Taskforce Abdias Samuel brought attention to the supply chain bottleneck which has not yet affected the federation. He however encouraged citizens and residents to manage resources and supplies that are currently available until a global solution is found. He said there was no need for panic, but necessary preventative measures must be put in place to be resilient against these types of global challenges.

In 2020 the St Kitts Nevis government responded to the food security challenge with additional budgetary support of $10 million. Support was offered to farmers in land preparation, fencing wire, reduced cost of bayticol, etc. Fisherfolk have been supported with fishing wire, fishing ropes and other necessities of their trade. In 2021, the budget support to the sector was increased while maintaining the support of duty-free concessions on farm vehicles, and removal of VAT from agricultural inputs including seeds and other implements.

Harris said the growth in the agriculture sector is highlighted by more lands being made available for farmers. There are over 1200 registered farmers and over 1200 registered fisherfolk, highlighting the growth in our agriculture sector. The Basseterre Public Market has been renovated and new farmers vending areas have been created as part of the government’s mission to build ‘stronger, healthier and more economically advanced communities.’

As more persons take advantage of the opportunities provided to them to earn through farming, new farms have been coming on stream in areas across the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the government of St. Kitts and Nevis to offer stimulus packages to offer assistance to those persons most affected by the devastating global phenomenon.

Prime Minister Harris in his address also gave an update on elements of the government’s second stimulus package.

The Prime Minister informed that the third round of payments under the income support programme totalling $2.6 million was made on Monday.  He said to date, 2,973 persons (98.8% of the approved applications) have benefitted from the programme which has recorded a total payout of $7.7 million since its launch.

In giving an update on the fuel Subsidy Programme, he pointed out that 118 individuals have submitted applications to the Ministry as of 15 October 2021.  The total payout to date is $129,800.

For the Disability Support Programme, The Treasury has made the third round of payments to 155 applicants.  The total payout to date is $248,000 ($233,000 to individual applicants plus $15,000 to Ade’s Place).

Food Truck Vendors Support Programme has assisted the four persons who have applied for assistance. The applications were received and approved by the Ministry and these vendors have all received payment.

The government’s second stimulus package also includes the waiver of commercial rent for small businesses which lease space from select government ministries, the waiver of stall fees for vendors using the public market and the reduction in travel tax in an effort to boost visitor arrival to the Federation.

The concessions associated with the government’s second stimulus package end in December 2021.

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The U.S. Doubles Down on Its Failed Haiti Policy

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 13:19
Washington Monthly The appointment of Kenneth Merten as chargé d’affaires signals a commitment to continued meddling in the Haitian government—despite warnings from the last envoy.

Hardly anyone in the United States has heard of the senior American diplomat Kenneth Merten, but in Haiti, he was already a widely disliked household name even before the State Department reassigned him to Port-au-Prince on October 12. Haitians view his appointment as a provocative sign that the Biden administration will continue interfering in their country’s affairs.

Meanwhile, the mainstream U.S. media is giving front-page coverage to the October 16 kidnapping of 17 American missionaries—and to what The New York Times calls “a country reduced to near lawlessness by natural disaster, corruption and political assassination.” Left out of the sensationalist American reports, however, is the firm conviction of many Haitians that the disastrous U.S. policies of the past decade have contributed to the present instability and chaos, and that the appointment of Merten is a dangerous indication that the State Department is doubling down on failure.

U.S. policy makers have apparently learned nothing from the former diplomat Daniel Foote, who resigned his senior post last month with a blistering indictment of America’s role in Haiti. On October 7, Foote appeared before a House foreign affairs subcommittee to elaborate on his critique. Veteran Haiti watchers were astonished by his candor. He blamed the U.S. for manipulating Haiti’s politics, for imposing the current “de facto” prime minister, Ariel Henry, and for propping up the ruling party, the PHTK, which he said is “blamed by Haitians for putting Haiti where it is today.”

Haitians who know Merten, Foote’s replacement, tell me he is pleasant, and fluent in Kreyol, the national language. But they have bad memories of his previous role there. In 2016, for instance,  as special coordinator for Haiti, he vigorously pushed for Haitians to swallow the results of the October 2015 presidential election, which was widely regarded as rigged.

Haitians resisted but held a questionable re-vote later that year in which the ruling party won again. One well-placed Haitian source told me the episode was “an electoral coup d’etat.” In recent days, old photos circulated on social media showing Merten beaming alongside the corrupt previous president, Michel Martelly; in one, the U.S. diplomat is even pictured wearing a pink wristband, the PHTK’s color.

But there is hope for Haiti. Foote told the House subcommittee that a broad-based coalition of civil society organizations and a range of political groups have already tentatively agreed on a comprehensive two-year transitional process that would restore order and eventually lead to new elections.

The coalition pointedly calls itself the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis. (It is known as the Montana Accord, after the hotel where it was signed.) The group is also successfully negotiating with other political forces. “There’s been a good dialogue process, the best I’ve ever seen,” Foote said. “They’ve reached agreements in Haiti that I didn’t think they would ever come up with.”

The State Department is not heeding the advice of either the Haitian coalition or Foote, but it continues to prop up the discredited de facto regime. As Foote told the subcommittee, “Haitians are close to an agreement if it doesn’t have to include the Ariel Henry government, which is . . . perceived as completely corrupt, with impunity, with ties to the gangs. The U.S. should stop imposing Ariel Henry on the Haitian people.”

The Haitian people are not sitting by waiting to be rescued. On October 18, they carried out a successful nationwide road blockade and work stoppage, which closed the country down, to protest the wave of violence and to demand that Henry resign. The latest protest is nothing new. Earlier this year, tens of thousands of Haitians regularly filled the streets in pro-democracy marches, and back in late 2019 a general strike against corruption brought the country to a standstill for two months.

The New York Times did recognize the resistance with a brief report on Monday’s protest, after mostly ignoring the mass movement for democracy. But the Gray Lady and the rest of the mainstream press continue to say nothing about the Haitian indictment of U.S. policy, even though reporters could stop just about anyone in the streets of Port-au-Prince and get some sharp comments.

Over the years, apologists for the U.S.-Haiti policy argue, usually discreetly and sometimes with embarrassment, that the State Department supports undemocratic governments there because it craves stability, which it believes will prevent Haitians from fleeing to the United States—its number one concern. Daniel Foote demolished that view in his resignation letter: “I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until her citizens have the dignity of truly choosing their own leaders fairly and acceptably.”

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Canary Island Volcano Eruption Sending Dust Cloud to Caribbean

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 12:40

The Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services says air quality is forecast to fall to moderate levels from tonight due to a surge in Saharan dust particles and emissions from the volcano in La Palma, Canary Islands.

In an Air Quality Bulletin issued today, the met office states that the air quality is forecast to fall to moderate levels as a result of particulate matters 2.5 and 10, associated primarily with a surge in Saharan Dust.

It went on to say there is also high confidence that emissions from the volcano in La Palma, Canary Islands are also reaching the area.

The Meteorological Agency has cautioned that the threat of health problems will become elevated for mainly unusually sensitive people, such as asthmatics and could potentially cause them limited impacts.

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SKN Ends Restrictions on Flights from India, South Africa

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 12:28
 by Harry Johnson

St. Kitts & Nevis now welcomes fully vaccinated international air travelers from India and South Africa.

  • The removal of the travel restrictions at this time for India and South Africa is consistent with the lifting of the restrictions on travelers from the UK on September 1, 2021.
  • St. Kitts & Nevis travel restriction remains in place for international travelers from Brazil.

St. Kitts & Nevis welcomes fully vaccinated international air travelers from India and South Africa with the October 18, 2021, removal of the restriction on travelers from these two destinations.

The removal of the travel restrictions at this time for India and South Africa is consistent with the lifting of the restrictions on travelers from the UK on September 1, 2021, and aligns with the continued upward momentum of the vaccination rate in the Federation. The travel restriction remains in place for international travelers from Brazil.

Among the adult population of St. Kitts & Nevis, 77.4% have received one dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, with 70.3% of the adult population fully vaccinated; among children and teenagers between the ages of 12 – 17, 10.9% of have received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine with 6.8% having received two doses. (Statistics as of October 19, 2021).

Effective October 7, 2021, “Vacation in Place” was reduced to 24 hours, with the required RT PCR arrivals test taken onsite at “Travel Approved” hotels and accommodations.

Test results will be made available during the 24-hour “Vacation in Place.” Those travelers with a negative test result may fully integrate into the Federation after the 24-hour period has elapsed and enjoy the myriad experiences St. Kitts & Nevis offers including, dining in restaurants, experiencing the vibe at one of the local beach bars on “The Strip,” visiting our unique and one-of-kind attractions, sailing the clear waters, hiking the volcano, shopping our local craft markets or just chilling at one of our beaches.

As announced on May 29, 2021 only fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed entry to the Federation.

  • Exemptions are in place for Citizens and Residents of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and children under the age of 18 accompanying their fully vaccinated parents or guardians.
  • All Travel Protocols and Requirements remaining in place for the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis, including the submission of negative test results from an RT PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival.

A traveler is considered fully vaccinated when two weeks have passed since receiving their second dose of a two dose vaccine series (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sinopharm or Sinovac), or two weeks after they have received a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). Mixing of approved vaccines for St. Kitts and Nevis is accepted.

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Royal Caribbean Announces $55,000 274 Night Cruise Visiting 65 Countries

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 11:57
Voyage starts in Miami items.[0].image.alt Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner By: CNN Newsource

MIAMI — Royal Caribbean is offering a 274-night cruise that reaches all seven continents.

The company is calling it the “Ultimate World Cruise.”

It’s on the Serenade of the Seas vessel with a sail date from Dec. 10, 2023 to Sept. 10, 2024.

The voyage, which starts in Miami, includes 65 countries and 11 wonders of the world.

For the first week of sales, only Royal Caribbean members with elite status can buy tickets.

Prices start at $54,899 per person.

Cruisers can enjoy a portion of the trip if they are not interested in staying aboard the ship for nine months.

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Brazil Deploys Troops After Deadly Indigenous Face-Off with Farmers

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 11:48

SAO PAULO, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Justice Ministry has dispatched security forces to an indigenous reservation in the south of the country where two people have been killed in a dispute over renting land to soy farmers.

Federal police said they are investigating the fatal shooting of two members of the Kaingang tribe on Saturday during a wave of violence fueled by dissent in the community over distributing the farming income.

Iuri de Oliveira, the officer leading the investigation, told Reuters that Rosenildo Batista and Lucas Caetano were killed after being expelled from the reservation over a disagreement with the tribal leader. He said police have identified suspects in the killings but have not made any arrests yet.

Human rights groups and members of the Kaingang community say the murders are related to an arrangement to grow cash crops on the Serrinha reservation, a 12,000-hectare area in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

With scarce global soy supplies and Brazil selling large volumes to China, the pressure is immense to expand grain areas, and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged commercial farming on indigenous lands.

In an order published in the government’s official gazette on Tuesday, Justice Minister Anderson Torres authorized national security forces to support police on the Serrinha reservation.

Funai, the government’s indigenous affairs agency, said it is monitoring the situation.

Although challenged as unconstitutional, a 2019 settlement between Funai, federal prosecutors and Cotriserra, a cooperative of Serrinha residents, has allowed the residents to keep leasing reservation land for farming.

In a statement, the Roman Catholic Church’s Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) said the leasing of Serrinha land had spurred divisions over the distribution of income, calling on authorities to end land rentals to stop the violence.

In a public letter last month, a group of Kaingang elders accused the tribe’s chief, Marciano Inacio Claudino, of hoarding proceeds from the three 60kg bags of soybeans per hectare that commercial farmers are paying for leased land.

Claudino told Reuters by telephone he had done nothing wrong and that he has the support of 90% of the Serrinha community members.

Reporting by Ana Mano Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by Brad Haynes and Karishma Singh

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Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic Ask for U.S. Help on Migration

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 11:27

 

PANAMA CITY, Oct 20 (Reuters) – The presidents of Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday asked for U.S. assistance in stemming the flow of thousands of migrants crossing the dangerous jungles that divide Panama and Colombia as they make their way to the United States.

Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo hosted a meeting with Costa Rica’s Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Dominican Republic’s Luis Abinader in Panama City on Wednesday, where they discussed the burgeoning migrant crisis.

Cortizo said that so far this year a record number of more than 100,000 undocumented migrants have trekked north from Colombia through the Darien Gap, a lawless jungle teeming with everything from deadly snakes to anti-government guerrillas.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said earlier this month that some 19,000 migrant children have crossed the Darien Gap so far in 2021, almost three times higher than the total for the previous five years. read more

Cortizo said the situation demands concrete solutions and that Washington should play an active role in assisting.

The Latin American leaders agreed “that our foreign ministers urgently articulate with the U.S. authorities and other countries to … look for concrete measures,” he added.

The presidents discussed the possibility of establishing a strategy of investments and job creation in Haiti, home to many of the migrants.

Cortizo said that he is seeking a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden during the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

In early 2021, Panamanian authorities had warned of a possible crisis after opening the borders that had for months been closed because of the pandemic.

By September, the immigration authorities of the Central American nation reported a record number of 91,305 migrants who entered from neighboring Colombia. Of these, 56,676 were Haitians and 12,870 Cubans.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Anthony Esposito Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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Bolsonaro: Senators Change Charges from Murder to Crimes Against Humanity

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 11:14
By

BRASILIA, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Brazilian senators investigating the handling of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak have dropped a recommendation from their draft report that President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with genocide and homicide, instead accusing him of “crimes against humanity.”

Senators leading the congressional probe met late on Tuesday to discuss a report prepared by opposition Senator Renan Calheiros, and agree to remove the homicide and genocide accusations due to what one senator called technical reasons.

The draft report still needs to be voted on by the Senate commission and could be vetoed and altered.

“The decisions were technical, not political,” opposition Senator Humberto Costa told Reuters. “We can’t run the risk of the report being thrown out by a judge because the characterization of the crimes was not precise.”

In practice, the senators’ decision changes little for Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the probe as politically motivated. It is highly unlikely that the far-right politician will face trial on any such charges, which would have to be brought by Brazil’s prosecutor general, whom Bolsonaro appointed.

The findings of the congressional probe, however, underline the growing political isolation of Bolsonaro a year before the next presidential election. His popularity has suffered from a weak economy, rising inflation and his handling of the outbreak.

More than 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, which has the second-highest death toll after the United States.

The nearly 1,200-page report, which was made public on Tuesday, had recommended 13 charges for Bolsonaro, including genocide against indigenous communities for actions that allegedly left them vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Costa said the senators that deliberated on Tuesday evening determined there was not sufficient evidence for a charge of genocide, as defined by the International Criminal Court. He added that a homicide charge would be difficult to substantiate as it requires a single, individual victim.

Calheiros, who was responsible for the original draft, told CNN Brasil he had conceded to colleagues’ technical arguments against the formal accusations of homicide and genocide.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia Additional reporting by Ricardo Brito in Brasilia and Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo Writing by Gram Slattery Editing by Brad Haynes, Nick Zieminski and Paul Simao

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Spain to Extradite Venezuela’s Ex-Spy Chief to US

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 10:43

Spain’s high court has ruled that Venezuela’s former spy chief, Hugo Carvajal, should be extradited to the United States.

Carvajal faces charges of drug trafficking and collaborating with Colombia’s Farc terrorist group.

But he could also have incriminating evidence against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, a major adversary of the United States.

Carvajal fell out with Mr Maduro and fled Venezuela for Spain in 2019.

Carvajal has repeatedly denied having any links to drug traffickers or the Marxist Farc rebels, and said the charges against him are politically motivated.

The Spanish high court ruling follows an interior ministry decision to refuse Mr Carvajal asylum. However, that process has yet to be completed as Mr Carvajal can appeal.

The extradition could also be delayed by another court case Carvajal may have to testify in.

It involves alleged illegal financing from Venezuela of Spain’s left-wing Podemos party.

 Carvajal, 61, nicknamed “El Pollo” (The Chicken), was arrested in Spain last month after he had been in hiding for nearly two years in the wake of an earlier Spanish court decision which backed his extradition.

The US and the government of President Maduro have been at loggerheads for years, with the US imposing tough sanctions on Venezuela.

Who is Hugo Carvajal?

Gen Carvajal was the head of Venezuela’s military counter-intelligence from July 2004 until December 2011, when Hugo Chávez was president of the country.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) embraces retired General Hugo Carvajal as they attend the Socialist party congress in Caracas, Venezuela July 27, 2014. Carvajal was a supporter of President Maduro but later turned against him

In 2011, US prosecutors accused  Carvajal of personally coordinating a US-bound shipment of more than five tonnes of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico.

The indictment also accused him of being on the payroll of a Colombian drug lord and having links to Farc.

He avoided an earlier US attempt at extradition and served again as military counter-intelligence chief under Mr Maduro.

But in 2019 Mr Carvajal chose to back opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader, and fled that year to Spain.

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UK: Drastic Action Needed as Covid Cases Soar, US Okay to Mixed Vaccines, More

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 10:29
Covid: Doctors call for Covid Plan B to start in England

By Hazel Shearing & Joseph Lee
BBC News

Woman in face mask at outside marketImage source, Getty Images

An “unacceptable” level of Covid cases means ministers should trigger their Plan B for the pandemic in England, doctors say.

The British Medical Association accused the government of being “wilfully negligent” for not reimposing Covid rules such as mandatory face masks.

Daily UK infections have been above 40,000 for eight days in a row.

Health Minister Edward Argar said the NHS is not under “unsustainable pressure” to justify restrictions.

He told BBC Breakfast there were about 95,000 beds in NHS hospitals, with 7,000 occupied by Covid patients and 6,000 currently empty.

“We know how those numbers can rise swiftly, which is why we’re looking at that day by day, hour by hour. But at the moment we do have the ability to manage,” he said.

The health secretary has warned daily cases could soon rise to 100,000 but is rejecting fresh restrictions right now.

Speaking at a Downing Street news conference on Wednesday, Sajid Javid said that “at this point” the government would not bring in its Plan B measures – which include compulsory face coverings and Covid passports for entry to nightclubs and large events, as well recommending working from home

But he warned insufficient vaccine uptake would make restrictions in England more likely.

Over the last seven days, the number of Covid patients admitted has risen by 11% and the number of deaths has increased by 21%, compared to the previous week, although they remain far below their peak in January.

Under the government’s plan for tackling Covid in England over the winter, the strategy currently in operation is Plan A.

It involves offering booster jabs to about 30 million people and offering a single vaccine dose to healthy 12 to 15-year-olds, as well as encouraging ventilation for indoor gatherings, hand-washing and face masks in crowded places.

Restrictions included in Plan B will only be reintroduced if the NHS comes under “unsustainable pressure”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s chairman, said doctors “can categorically say that time is now”.

He stressed that case numbers were comparable to March, when England was in lockdown, and were “unheard of in similar European nations”.

“It is therefore incredibly concerning that [Mr Javid] is not willing to take immediate action to save lives and to protect the NHS,” he said.

Dr Nagpaul said the government had “taken its foot off the brake, giving the impression that the pandemic is behind us and that life has returned to normal”.

He said: “It is wilfully negligent of the Westminster government not to be taking any further action to reduce the spread of infection”, adding that compulsory face coverings, physical distancing and ventilation requirements in “high-risk settings” were “the norm in many other nations”.

His comments echoed the demands of health leaders from the NHS Confederation this week.

And they came as Prof Sir Mark Walport, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, said “the current measures are probably not holding things” when it came to the spread of the virus.

“Am I worried? Yes. It’s very, very delicately poised,” he told BBC Newsnight.

“Winter is coming, flu is probably coming. It’s not a good place to be.”

Chart showing that the number of daily cases are rising. Updated 20 October Chart showing the number of daily Covid deaths is rising. Updated 20 October

In his Downing Street briefing, Mr Javid urged people to get booster vaccines and wear face coverings in crowded places with people they did not know.

Otherwise, he said, “it’s going to hit us all” – “and it would of course make it more likely we’re going to have more restrictions”.

However, No 10 said there were no plans for another lockdown in England.

Implementing Plan B would bring England effectively in line with restrictions still in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, face coverings are still compulsory on public transport and in places such as shops; people are asked to continue working from home where possible; and people attending nightlife venues and large events must prove their vaccination status.

Similar rules apply in Wales’ current winter planning scenario, dubbed Covid Stable.

As well as an existing requirement for face masks indoors and a focus on working from home, Northern Ireland has plans to introduce Covid passports and mandatory social distancing if hospital pressures become unsustainable.

The UK reported another 49,139 cases on Wednesday, and a further 179 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Around 14% of people in the UK aged 12 and over remain unvaccinated.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused Mr Javid of complacency, telling the BBC: “The simple truth is that the so-called wall of defence we’ve built up with vaccination is now crumbling.”

He said it was disappointing the health secretary did not give details on “how he is going to grip this and drive up the vaccinations we need”.

Meanwhile, the government has agreed deals for two new Covid treatments.

The Antivirals Taskforce has secured 480,000 courses of molnupiravir, which trials found cuts the risk of hospital admission or death by about half, as well as 250,000 courses of PF-07321332/ritonavir, which is currently undergoing clinical trials.

If approved by the UK’s medicines regulator, the Department of Health said thousands of patients would be able to access the treatments this winter.

========================= FDA greenlights mix-and-match booster doses By Nathaniel Weixel and Justine Coleman The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended its emergency use authorization for all COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday to allow for mix-and-match boosters for patients who initially received a different vaccine.

The federal agency also authorized booster shots for Americans who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson inoculations. The FDA had previously authorized boosters for the Pfizer vaccine.

The decision will allow recipients of all three vaccines to get booster doses from other companies, if and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues an official recommendation, which could come as early as Thursday.

“The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

“As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death,” she added.

The FDA’s move supporting mixed vaccine doses follows a preprint study from the National Institutes of Health that found that mixing and matching any of the three vaccines authorized in the U.S. was safe and effective.

Allowing mixed boosters is likely to smooth the messaging and logistics of the booster rollout by allowing pharmacists and doctors the flexibility to administer available shots to patients.

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s vaccines division, in a statement said the agency included the use of mix-and-match boosters to address a “public health need.”

Moderna was granted authorization for a half dose of its vaccine as a booster, for people older than 65, adults with underlying conditions and those with jobs or living situations that put them at risk of contracting the virus at least six months after the initial series.

Johnson & Johnson’s extra dose would be available at least two months after vaccination for everyone 18 years and older.

The broader eligibility is a reflection that the vaccine offers a lower level of protection than the shots from Moderna and Pfizer.

During a media briefing late Wednesday, Marks and Woodcock acknowledged that the different eligibility criteria for boosters can be confusing for the general public, but the agency is developing charts other material to help providers better understand.

“We have tried to keep this as uniform as possible but it was not possible to have it totally uniform, because we’re dealing with different vaccines,” Woodcock said.

“Although it is not simple … it’s not utterly, hopelessly complex, and so hopefully with some clear illustrations, it will be somewhat more accessible what’s going on here,” Marks added.

The majority of fully vaccinated people, at almost 105 million, received the Pfizer-BioNTech doses, according to CDC data.

Almost 70 million Americans are fully vaccinated with the Moderna series, while slightly more than 15 million received a Johnson & Johnson shot. That number reflects a later arrival on the market and a troubled rollout that included manufacturing problems and a ten day pause to investigate rare but serious blood clots.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine late last month, which gave nearly 60 million Americans eligibility.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is likely to provide more detailed guidance during its meeting Thursday, and experts hope the agency emphasizes that people who need a booster should try to receive the same vaccine as their primary dose.

Woodcock said during the briefing she anticipates people will not seek out different doses.

“We would expect many people will continue to get the same series that they had already received,” Woodcock said.

The FDA is also reportedly considering lowering the age of eligibility for booster shots to people aged 40 and older, without any underlying health conditions.

During the briefing, Marks indicated such a move was likely to happen but did not give a timeframe.

“There is evidence to suggest potentially that lowering the age of those eligible for boosters may make sense in the future, something we’re looking at closely,” Marks said.

“The nice thing about our [emergency use authorization] authority is that we are relatively nimble. It is something that can happen as soon as we see and feel that we need to take that action, and the exact age that we take will be based on what we see in terms of the emerging situation.”

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US: Plans to Vax kids 5 to 11 By Nathaniel Weixel

The White House on Wednesday unveiled its plans to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, pending authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks.

The Biden administration said it has purchased enough vaccines to give shots to all of the country’s 28 million children ages 5 to 11 years old, and have been working with state and local leaders to be ready to distribute the vaccines once they are authorized.

The distribution plan will rely on more than 25,000 pediatricians’ office, community health centers, schools and pharmacies to put parents and children at ease, rather than the mass vaccination sites used in the initial rollout for adults.

The administration said it is also launching a partnership with the Children’s Hospital Association to work with more than 100 children’s hospital systems across the country to set up vaccination sites in November and through the end of the calendar year.

“Parents know and trust children’s hospitals to be there for their children’s medical needs, and these vaccination efforts will be no different. Pediatricians, pediatric specialists, nurses and team members will administer the vaccine to kids in trusted, family-friendly settings that serve kids every day,” according to the fact sheet.

The details come ahead of an Oct. 26 meeting of an FDA advisory panel to discuss authorization for pediatric vaccines. If the panel recommends authorization, an FDA ruling could come in the days after, which would then clear a path for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make recommendations on a pediatric dose in early November.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration was not trying to get ahead of public health agencies by announcing a distribution plan before any vaccine has been authorized.

“I think the best practice here is to plan ahead so that we can hit the ground running at the time that CDC and FDA make their decision,” Zients said at a briefing Wednesday.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy echoed the need for planning ahead, and said the preparation needs to be in advance of the authorization.

“All these conversations we’re having with community organizations, the logistics that have to be set up with doctors offices and pharmacies. It takes time, and that’s one of the reasons why this planning has to start so early, it can’t wait until a final decision is rendered,” Murthy said.

“Although that final decision is clearly up to the FDA and the CDC,” he added.

According to the White House, the vaccine will have packaging available in smaller configurations that will make it easier for physicians’ offices and other smaller, community-based providers to use.

The vaccine will be stored in 10-dose vials, and packed in cartons of 10 vials each. To keep it from spoiling, the vaccine can be stored for up to 10 weeks at standard refrigeration temperatures and up to six months at ultracold temperatures, according to an administration fact sheet.

The vaccine will also come with all the ancillary supplies that providers need to serve kids, including smaller needles.

The plan will rely heavily on states, tribes and territories to help implement a smooth rollout.

To that end, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing full funding to states to support vaccination operations and outreach — including setting up sites, procuring equipment and supplies to store and administer the vaccine.

FEMA will also provide transportation to and from vaccination sites and will help with public communication like public service announcements and translation services.

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NYC extends vaccine mandate to all public workers

 

© Getty Images

New York City on Wednesday announced that it is expanding its vaccine mandate to all public employees and it will also end the option of testing weekly instead of getting the vaccine.

The city says that the mandate will affect 160,500 city workers, as they will be required to have one dose of the vaccine by Oct. 29. The only workers excluded are some uniformed corrections officers that will have a deadline of Dec. 1.

City employees who provide proof of vaccination by the Oct. 29 deadline will get a $500 bonus in their paychecks, while those who don’t submit documentation will be placed on unpaid leave until they do.

“There is no greater privilege than serving the people of New York City and that privilege comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said.

“We have led the way against COVID-19 — from fighting for the right to vaccinate frontline workers, to providing nation-leading incentives, to creating the Key to NYC mandate. As we continue our recovery for all of us, city workers have been a daily inspiration. Now is the time for them to show their city the path out of this pandemic once and for all,” he added.

 

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Governor General Sandra Mason to Become Barbados’ First President

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 20:01

Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason has been elected as Barbados’ first President after she secured the support of all members of the House of Assembly and all but one Senator during a joint sitting of the legislature chambers on Wednesday.

Opposition Senator, Caswell Franklyn walked out of the joint sitting of Parliament after objecting to the nomination of Dame Sandra as Barbados’ first President on Independence Day, November 30.

Speaker of the House,  Arthur Holder, said following the secret balloting that the threshold of two-thirds support required by the Constitution had been met.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley had jointly nominated Dame Sandra, and the other 27 Members of Parliament in attendance voted in agreement.

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The deaths are preventable

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 19:32

As of the end of last Wednesday, there were 21 Covid-19-related deaths in St. Kitts and Nevis. Most if not all could have been avoided.

Some among the dead claimed to be anti-vaccination. Some were passive and were listening to others – others who are not doctors or scientists. Many refused to take the vaccine, saying that Covid would not affect them.

Covid deaths in the Federation cover all ages. Will the next death be you, a family member or a friend? It doesn’t have to be that way. Most Covid-19 deaths are now preventable.

At least 90,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US, among unvaccinated adults, since June, could have been prevented with vaccines that were widely available, a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis released Wednesday found.

Most of the preventable fatalities — about 49,000 — occurred last month, as the highly transmissible Delta variant took its toll on the U.S., and sparked a surge in cases.

To determine whether a death was preventable, researchers started with all unvaccinated deaths since June — about six weeks after all adults in the U.S. became eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, or enough time for full immunity to set in after a two-dose vaccine.

Researchers then used results from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, that the vaccine was 91 percent effective against deaths, to estimate how many unvaccinated fatalities were preventable.

According to a report from The Hill, September was a brutal month for COVID-19 deaths in the US, as an average of 1,899 people died due to the virus every day, making it the second-leading cause of death that month behind heart disease, which caused about 2,000 deaths per day.

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Mr. Brantley’s comments on CBI receipts are perplexing – Finance Ministry official

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 19:27

By Staff Reporter

“Mr. Brantley’s comments on CBI receipts are quite perplexing. Confusing may be the better expression. Let it not go unnoticed that so far under Team Unity, a record transfer of over 250 million dollars has been provided by the Federal Government to the Nevis Island Administration (NIA).”

This assertion was made by an official of the Ministry of Finance in St. Kitts, in response to Nevis Premier Mark Brantley’s repeated claim that Nevis is not satisfied with its fair share of Citizenship By Investment (CBI) proceeds.

“The curious thing about this situation is that the Premier and two others in Nevis’ cabinet are in the federal cabinet. They are at the table. What are they doing to address matters when there? Premier Brantley should say exactly how he has approached the issue with his federal cabinet colleagues,” the official said.

“Why doesn’t anyone in the media ask him whether he will apply the clause 110 formula in the constitution for revenue sharing? Can any formula for revenue sharing that goes against clause 110 stand?

“These are pertinent questions that need to be asked of the Premier and all those who continue to complain ad nauseam about Nevis not getting its fair share. This is not only grandstanding. It is counter-productive,” the official concluded.

When questioned by the media during his monthly press conference on October 6, Premier Brantley reiterated his claim that Nevis is dissatisfied with its CBI receipts.

“CBI programme…Is Nevis satisfied with its share? The answer is no…and the answer is going to be no, until we have a resolution of the issue between the Federal Government and the NIA about the issue of CBI receipts. That is the reality of the situation.

“I have said time and time again that there has to be a sit down – the two, Federal Government and NIA, have to sit and work out a formula for sharing what is a joint asset.”

Brantley claimed that CBI has funded a large number of opportunities on the sister island of St. Kitts, while Nevis has not been treated the same.

“CBI has been, by and large, the only game in town. Let’s be blunt about it. CBI has fuelled tremendous activity on the island of St. Kitts – Park Hyatt…you know, the big development that’s down in the St. Paul’s area, Kittitian Hill, there’s also the big development, Ramada, and you see a lot of developments that have been done there. There’s a huge development that Mr. Caines has done by the Airport.

“You see support for customers at SKELEC, you see support for the airlines coming in to RLB…all of that is coming from Citizenship By Investment. A lot of the stimulus that we were able to offer is coming from Citizenship By Investment. A lot of the surpluses that we talk about each year, Citizenship By Investment.”

“In Nevis, I am borrowing…to keep Nevis afloat. St. Kitts has surplus from Citizenship By Investment.

“I don’t say these things to create any animosity, these are the facts. And so there has to be a reckoning between the two islands as to how these resources are shared.”

Brantley admitted that Nevis gets a fixed monthly amount from the Federal government as part of the processing fees, but added that it would be interesting to have some perspective in relation to what St. Kitts receives. He also emphasized that it was time for the matter to be definitively dealt with.

“I’m saying that’s fine (receiving a fixed monthly amount) but let us look at the bigger picture. We have had, I believe, some misguided commentators who treat it as if Nevis is being given a gift, or help. I don’t see how when you get something that belongs to you its help.

“But there are some who have taken that particular line, which I think is unfortunate. And some…and the figure that I hear bandied about mostly is two hundred million…“Nevis get two hundred million”. Sounds like a lot of money. And a lot of people…that’s the headline, ‘Nevis gets two hundred million’. You know what headline I’ve never seen? ‘How much does St. Kitts get?’ That would be a very interesting headline to look at.”

“Nobody seems concerned about that question. But everybody is concerned about how much Nevis getting. How much does the island of St. Kitts get? And if that question could be answered, I believe that then we would have some perspective, as to why I say that the current arrangement in relation to CBI is still not satisfactory, and has to be worked out.

“I have said to the Honourable Prime Minister, whose department handles this programme, that Unity has been there now six years. It is time for this particular matter to be dealt with and put to rest. It is beyond time!” Brantley stated emphatically.

He pointed out that before the Unity government took power, Nevis received no monies from the CBI, only by way of loan.

He said that it is time for Nevisians to be treated as part of the country, and “as equal citizens who are entitled to the fruits of their citizenship”.

“I’ll end by saying that Nevis is doing much better; because if you move from zero to something you are doing much better. And we were at zero.

“So now we can say that we are getting something from the Citizenship By Investment Programme, but when you look at the overall analysis, we are not getting anywhere close to our fair share from that programme, and I want to make that very clear.”

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Guinness edge out former champion team Lodge in #7 Domino League Inbox

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 19:19

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, October 20, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — The new Lodge-Ottley’s Community Centre in Ottley’s Village was the sole venue as the seventh segment of play in the 26th edition of Constituency Number Seven Dr the Hon Timothy Harris Domino League played off on Tuesday evening October 19.

Excitement was in the air as the fourteen teams were supposed to have played under one roof, an aura that saw Guinness Domino Club which had started poorly when the league opened late last month edging out former champion team Lodge Domino Club 13-12.

Another close and hotly contested game saw Mansion Domino Club beat defending champion Tabernacle Domino Club in a dramatic fashion. The game was tight right from the word go and could have gone either way after the two teams tied up at 12-12.

Kevin Fahie of Guinness Domino Club makes a move in their game against former champion team Lodge Domino Club on their way to a 13-12 win.

 

In the decider, the pair of Cremoy Aggard and Clifford Richards of Mansion played the game of their life amassing 100 points before their opponents could score a single point, a feat that earned them a bonus point thus carrying the day with a 14-12 win.

Former champion team, Parsons Domino Club, beat Phillips Domino Club 13-9, while another former champion team and the current points standing leader Unity Domino Club picked up maximum points without having to move any dominos after their opponents Ottley’s Domino Club failed to turn up. It was ironic that Ottley’s Domino Club failed to turn up as the new venue is right in their home village.

In other games, Christ Church Domino Club beat Sylvers Domino Club 13-7, Saddlers Domino Club beat Small Corner Bar Domino Club 13-10, while Molineux Domino Club stopped Unstoppable Domino Club 13-9.

At the end of the seventh segment of play in the 26th edition of Constituency Number Seven Dr the Hon Timothy Harris Domino League, former champion team Unity widened its points standing lead and now leads with 35 points. Unity is followed by Christ Church 26 points; Saddlers 25 points; Parsons 24 points; and Sylvers 24 points.

Others, in order, are Lodge 21 points; Molineux 21 points; Tabernacle 19 points; Mansion 19 points; Phillips 18 points; Guinness 16 points; Small Corner Bar 12 points; Unstoppable 11 points; and Ottley’s 10 points.

Constituency Number Seven Dr the Hon Timothy Harris Domino League is sponsored by Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and Area Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Seven, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris.

Eighth segment of play in this only round of play in the 26th edition of Constituency Number Seven Dr the Hon Timothy Harris Domino League will play off on Thursday October 21 and all games will be at the new Lodge-Ottley’s Community Centre in Ottley’s, as was done on Tuesday, since the venue has the capacity to accommodate all the seven games under the strict Covid-19 protocols.

Order of play will see Parsons facing Molineux; Saddlers vs. Lodge; Mansion will come up against Sylvers; leader on the points standing table Unity will face Small Corner Bar; Guinness will challenge defending champion Tabernacle; Phillips vs. Christ Church; and Unstoppable vs. Ottley’s.

Clifford Richards of Mansion Domino takes no chance as his team went on to dramatically edge out defending champion team Tabernacle Domino Club 14-12.

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CARICOM Hashes Out Its Agenda for COP 26 Conference

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 14:02

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have discussed key issues that the 15-member grouping will highlight at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Scotland starting later this month.

A statement issued here on Tuesday noted that two weeks ahead of COP 26, which opens in Glasgow on October 31,  regional stakeholders participated in a three-hour virtual session “for presentations and to dialogue on the key issues that the region will spotlight” at the COPY 26 that ends on November 12.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr Carla Barnett described the last several months of preparation as a period “to crystallise the region’s priorities and positions” and thanked the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) for its work in leading the region’s preparation.

Barnett stressed the importance of “collective action to support adaptation and mitigation at the national, regional and international levels.

“We have overwhelming scientific evidence, from various IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports of the threat that uncontrolled temperature rise will have on SIDS.

“We remain concerned about the level of ambition in submitted Nationally Determined Contributions. There is the urgent need to close the emissions gap to maintain global warming to well below 1.5 °C”.

Professor Michael Taylor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), in his ‘Countdown to Zero’ presentation said COP26 is a politically significant moment for accelerating ambition, noting that 1.5° does not represent a safe climate for the world or for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

He quoted the IPCC Report which states that “global warming of 1.5° C and two degrees Celsius will be exceeded during the 21st Century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions occur in the coming decades”.

Professor Taylor cautioned that “heading to 2°C is too much for SIDS, noting that even at 1.5°C, “we are only guaranteed half a chance of a liveable future.”

The outcomes from the November 1-12 COP26 can have profound impacts on our earth as we know it, and many view it as “the last best chance for political leaders to avert a climate catastrophe, which would be unavoidable if global warming exceeds 1.5°C”. It means “there must be zero tolerance on the net-zero emissions if we want to realise the future we want”, Professor Taylor said.

Chairperson of the Alliance for the Small Island States (AOSIS), Aubrey Webson, said that “vulnerable countries like AOSIS Members gave up liability or compensation for the 1.5° target in Paris during COP 21 in 2015.”

The Antigua and Barbuda official said despite all efforts by small islands like those of the Caribbean to keep 1.5 as the rallying cry, global warming has continued.

“There should be no delay. We cannot do business as usual; we must move to net zero,” Webson said, noting that there is so much at stake for those who are bravely attending the Glasgow meeting in person.

“Addressing climate change has been a long journey, and this year we are at a critical point where COP 26 must deal with the tension between the time to close the Paris Rulebook and the point of implementation.”

The Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place during what the region describes as a historic time with multiple crises and a rapidly closing window of opportunity for an effective global response, according to the statement.

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Cuba Evokes Patriotic Sentiment on National Culture Day

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 13:56
Havana, Oct 20 (Prensa Latina) Cuba on Wednesday is celebrating the National Culture Day in frank evocation of the patriotic feeling that emerges throughout the island and recalls the intonation for the first time of the Hymn of Bayamo in 1868. The celebration pays tribute to the 60th anniversary of Words to Intellectuals, the 120th anniversary of the Jose Marti National Library of Cuba, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Francisco Vicente Aguilera, and the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet and essayist Cintio Vitier.

From eastern Cuba, the Cubanness Festival and its theoretical event Cuban Nationality Melting Pot celebrate the creation of the song of independence written by Pedro Figueredo through 100 on-site and online activities.

This year, the event takes place amid the gradual reopening of the most representative spaces for the defense of art in the country, which is fighting the media war and the siege of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the US Government.

Without a cultural blackout, the nation managed to maintain the solid development of the policy outlined in that sphere by the Cuban Revolution, despite the Covid-19 health crisis, in which literary institutions, theatrical venues or recreational centers were temporarily closed and subsequently moved to digital scenarios.

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Florida Fines Leon County $3.5m for Mandating Vaccines

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 13:38

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida has issued its first fine to a county it says violated a new state law banning coronavirus vaccine mandates and for firing 14 workers who failed to get the shots.

The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday issued the $3.5 million fine for Leon County, home to the state capital, saying the municipality violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” law, which prohibits businesses and governments from requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

“These are people that, presumably, have been serving throughout this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically getting kicked to the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in St. Pete Beach.

Later, the governor tweeted, “No one should lose their jobs because of COVID shots.”The law took effect last month and can result in a $5,000 fine per violation. It is being challenged in court and conflicts with a Biden administration order that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.

In a statement, Leon County Administrator Vincent Long said the county believes its vaccination requirement is legally justifiable and necessary to keep people safe.

“The governor’s position in this instance unfortunately appears to be less of a public health strategy and more about political strategy,” he said.

Democratic lawmakers from Tallahassee derided the decision to issue a fine, saying local governments should have the authority to protect their residents as they see fit.

“Unbelievable! We don’t need the state bullying our communities or private businesses who are simply trying to serve the people and get on the other side of this pandemic,” said Florida Sen. Loranne Ausley.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday barring any entity, including private business, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers and called on state lawmakers to pass a similar ban into law.

At the White House on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki compared the actions of the Florida and Texas governors.

“Governor Abbott’s executive order banning mandates and I would also note announcement by Governor DeSantis this morning, essentially, banning the implementation of mandates, fit a familiar pattern that we’ve seen of putting politics ahead of public health,” Psaki said during a briefing.

The decision to fine Leon County comes a day after the Orlando Sentinel reported the state of Florida is investigating dozens of local governments, performing arts centers, the Miami Marlins, a law enforcement counter-terrorism unit and a concert by singer Harry Styles for suspected violations of the law.

Around 120 cases are being reviewed for violations, according to a public records request from the Orlando Sentinel.

In central Florida, the list includes Orange County government; the Orange County Convention Center; AdventHealth, one of the state’s largest health care systems; several performing arts venues; and the Amway Center, which is home to the Orlando Magic and recently hosted a concert by Styles whose tour mandated that attendees either be vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test.

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WORLD VIEW: Trump’s Man with Contempt Charge, Paris Attack Survivors, Syria Bus Bomb, Venice Floods, More

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 12:10

Oct 20, 2021

Alternate text

The Associated Press

The Rundown

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Thanks but no: UK queen turns down “Oldie of the Year” title

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Caribbean Legislators Pay Tribute to the Late Colin Powell

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 11:38

Caribbean legislators have been paying tribute to former United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who died on Monday at the age of 84.

“On behalf of the people of the 9th District of New York, the Clarke Family and myself, I extend my deepest condolences to the Powell Family and his loved ones and friends,” said Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.

She said that Powell, an American politician, diplomat, statesman, and four-star general, was “a trailblazer in the US military establishment.

“He rose through the ranks to become a four-star general and the Joint Chief of Staff in the Bush administration, and he would go on to be appointed the first Black US Secretary of State,” said Clarke, chair of the US Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Immigration.

“Like me, he was born and raised in New York to Jamaican immigrant parents and was a proud Jamaican American. Though my tenure in Congress began after General Powell’s retirement, I was honored to have been sent alongside him by President (Barack) Obama to represent the United States to Jamaica for the celebration of their 50th Independence Anniversary

“While we both represent two different political parties, he was a principled statesman who loved his country. We are all beneficiaries of his decades of service, and his life and legacy are a testament to the greatness of this man.”

Powell’s family said that his immune system was compromised by multiple myeloma, a rare cancer that forms in the blood.  According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple myeloma forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell.

“Healthy plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs,” said the non-profit hospital.

The family said he was vaccinated against the COVID-19 and was being treated for multiple myeloma at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He was also being treated for the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

“General Powell’s distinguished life was one that immigrants, children of immigrants and all Americans could look to and emulate,” Veteran New York State Assemblyman Jamaican-born N. Nick Perry told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

“His trailblazing efforts, including being the first Black US Secretary of State, changed the course of history for this nation,” added Perry, who represents the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, also a US Army veteran.

“General Powell’s accomplishments were celebrated not only by African-Americans but lauded and greatly appreciated by the Caribbean-American community, especially Jamaican-Americans, who took great pride in also claiming him as a son of Jamaica.

“On behalf of the people of the 58th Assembly District, I thank this great Caribbean-American son of New York City for his lifetime of service to America and the world, and pray that he rests in peace in a very special place in Heaven,” Perry said.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said Powell’s passing of complications from COVID-19, after a long battle with cancer, is “a sobering reminder of the state of this pandemic and the strength of this virus.

“Colin Powell, a first-generation native New Yorker and CUNY (City University of New York) graduate of Caribbean heritage, is a prominent figure, with a complicated legacy,” said Williams.

“He had a record many throughout the political spectrum – including myself – would find fault in, particularly his role in supporting very harmful foreign policy. At the same time, he was a role model for many across that same spectrum, and the importance of seeing a Black man at the highest levels of our government in that time cannot be understated.

“He was committed to his country, community and public service – before, during and after his time in government. The symbol and story of Colin Powell, the impact of his career, are all a part of the legacy we remember and the person we memorialize today,” Williams added.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the Democratic Party nominee for Mayor of New York, said General Powell was “a true trailblazer.”

“In his four decades of distinguished public service, he consistently broke barriers — as the nation’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state,” Adams said.

“Born to Jamaican immigrants in the South Bronx (New York), his life is a testament to the enduring power of the American dream,” added Adams, a retired New York Police Department (NYPD) captain.

“As a Black man who has spent my career fighting for a more just and equitable society, I am in awe of Mr. Powell’s considerable accomplishments and his ability to overcome the bigotry he faced in order to reach the highest levels of the military, and, later, our federal government”.

CMC

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A&B: PM Browne Promises to Arrest Scam Couple Who May By EnRoute to Antigua

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - Wed, 20/10/2021 - 11:27

Observer- A&B Prime Minister Gaston Browne has responded to reports that a Nigerian couple on the run for swindling thousands of investors to the tune of 22 billion Naira, had obtained citizenship from Antigua and Barbuda.

Having heard the news while in Parliament yesterday, Browne said that while he is yet to verify this, the alleged fraudsters – Bamise and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi — will be captured if they enter the country.

He said that he heard “that he and his wife obtained Antiguan and Barbudan passports, citizenship under the CIP programme and now that person is now wanted for defrauding a number of Nigerians.”

“I have already put systems in place to ensure that if he is not here as yet that they could capture him on his way here because Antigua and Barbuda is not gonna be a refuge for scamps,” he stated.

Browne reiterated that the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is not meant to attract criminals saying “our CIP programme is designed to attract and to incentivise investments, not to be a safe haven for crooks.

“This government will continue to do all in its power to ensure that those who violate and they seek refuge here that eventually they are repatriated from whence they came. It’s just a matter of time. Some of them may get temporary refuge here but we have no doubt that ultimately, they will be repatriated.”

According to Nigerian news, passports of the couple and their minor children surfaced online some time Monday night, hours after reports emerged that they had fled Nigeria after their ponzi scheme Imagine Global Solutions Ltd collapsed, leaving thousands of investors stranded.

The passports also reportedly showed that the couple had planned their disappearance months in advance to avoid the suspicion of investors.

Data entries on their passports showed that the husband and one of their minor children procured their passports on the same day — April 29, 2021.

The wife procured her own passport a few days later on May 4, 2021.

The Ajetunmobis were only detected to have fled Nigeria over the past weekend.

They apparently operated a company called Imagine Global, a micro lending service to small and medium businesses, and offered 22 percent interest on loans and 10 percent returns to investors.

Several victims on social media are said to have detailed how they lost as much as 500 million Naira.

A WhatsApp group as well as a Nairaland forum had been created for those affected by the fraudulent scheme to pool resources towards recovering their investments.

Imagine Global, which was registered in 2017, stated on its website that it has a customer base of 90,000 Nigerians, but it was unclear how many of them were able to recoup their investments before the couple disappeared.

The Ajetunmobis reportedly fled to London, where a branch of Imagine Global was incorporated in August 2019.

Peoples Gazette had attempted to reach them but the company’s address in Lagos had been locked and telephone numbers for the couple failed to connect on Monday morning.

A spokesman for Zuriel Consulting Limited — Imagine Global’s legal adviser — said the law firm could not comment on investors’ funds and the disappearance of the couple, adding that it can neither deny nor confirm claims that the amount squandered was up to N22 billion.

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