Coronavirus delays Rio’s iconic carnival for the first time in 100 years

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | September 25, 2020 1:41:37 pm

Performer from Beija Flor samba school parades on a float during the Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

For the first time in 100 years, Brazil will postpone its iconic Rio carnival owing to its “continued vulnerability” to the coronavirus pandemic. Like many other events this year, Rio de Janeiro’s annual parade, considered a global spectacle, will suffer a setback as Rio’s League of Samba Schools LIESA announced that the coronavirus pandemic “has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades.”

While the parade stands cancelled at the moment, Rio’s authorities are yet to announce a decision about the carnival street parties that take place across the city. The city’s tourism promotion agency however, showed scepticism in conducting large scale public events, especially in the absence of a coronavirus vaccine, AP reported.

The traditional event, first held in 1723, is a cultural mainstay of the country and provides many a source of livelihood each year. It’s postponement therefore is likely to impact the country’s already vulnerable working population.

Rio’s carnival was first held in 1723. (File)

Brazil reported its first confirmed coronavirus case on February 26, one day after this year’s Carnival. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating in the Latin American country that stands third globally with over 4.6 million infections. Brazil also has the world’s second worst death toll with 139,000 fatalities. (Follow the latest global updates on Covid-19 here)

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro Thursday announced his government’s aim to secure the supply of a coronavirus vaccine to immunize 10 per cent of its population by the end of 2021.That should cover Brazil’s “priority populations,” the press office said in a statement.

The official date of Rio’s 2021 carnival is yet to be announced.

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‘Home Teams vs. Hunger’ initiative aims to address Minnesota’s growing need

If you find those numbers sobering, you’re not alone. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie felt the same way.

“That’s a big number if you think about all those people that need help,” he said. “We have to get that number down by all means necessary.”

The local pro sports teams are doing their part this week, joining forces with Fox Sports North and other local media outlets to support Minnesotans in need through an initiative called “Home Teams vs. Hunger.” Launched Wednesday and running through Sept. 30, the effort is aimed at raising funds to tackle hunger. All proceeds benefit Second Harvest Heartland and five other Feeding America food banks serving 110 counties across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Twenty-one athletes, coaches or executives ranging from the six local pro sports teams to the Gophers are serving as spokespeople for the event.

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Anyone can go to www.2Harvest.org/hometeams and donate and/or bid on auction items ranging from memorabilia to exclusive experiences.

Second Harvest Heartland CEO Allison O’Toole said her team is “so humbled by the gesture.” She noted there are many things people can’t control right now, but they can still show up for their communities. That is needed now more than ever. The surge of people in need of food assistance is real. O’Toole said data showed there would be a 70 percent increase of people in need in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that number is up to 50 percent now. Countless people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

“So we need all hands on deck, and when the sports community comes together like this, we are overjoyed,” O’Toole said. “But we need this help so we can help this community thrive at the end of this.”

O’Toole said 40 percent of families showing up for assistance haven’t had to do so before. Part of the goal of weeks like this is to raise awareness along with funding. It’s not only OK to ask for help when needed, it’s something you should do.

“I always think that asking for help shows that you trust your community, and there is no shame in asking for a hand when you need it,” O’Toole said. “I know the folks asking for help right now, when they get back on their feet, they will do the same for someone else in need. And that’s why we’re here. That is our mission — to help.”

As the need has increased, so too, O’Toole said, has the community’s generosity. But she said people have to stick with it. She called this a “prolonged” crisis, projecting the level of hunger to go through the end of 2021, with the economic crisis lasting longer. The hunger level will only rise as added unemployment benefits dissipate. O’Toole said her organization is seeing a 50 percent increase in food distributions since last year. That number is up 25 percent since July.

The increase of people in need, O’Toole said, is double what it was 10 years ago during the Great Recession.

The pandemic also makes it more difficult to serve those people. Second Hand Harvest has had to bolster staff to make the logistics work, something O’Toole is grateful to have the resources to do. No longer can they have 150 volunteers in a center right now during COVID-19 restrictions. That number is currently reduced to 18. Needs are being filled with prepackaged foods that can go truck to trunk. That all requires resources, mainly dollars.

“That’s really the most important source of help right now,” O’Toole said.

That’s why she said this initiative is coming at the perfect time.

“We are on the steepest side of that climb right now,” she said. “We are distributing now over 300,000 pounds of food every day from our Brooklyn Park warehouse. So we are in it. The timing is perfect for this help, and we need teamwork across this community. It is fabulous that these teams are stepping up. We need it.”

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Coronavirus Global Updates, Sept 25: US cases surpass 7 million; Israel tightens second lockdown as coronavirus cases soar

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | September 25, 2020 12:31:23 pm

Coronavirus Global Updates: The global death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly inching closer to the one million mark, which currently stands at 9,82,969. The pandemic has infected over 31.99 million people across the globe, according to a Reuters tally. Over 22 lakh people have recovered after testing positive.

The United Sates, which continues to remain the world’s worst affected nation, now constitutes over 20 per cent of the world’s total cases. Covid-19 cases in the US surpassed 7 million-mark Thursday, it also has the world’s worst death toll with over 2 lakh fatalities.

Even as infections surge in Europe (France reported its highest daily case increase till date on Thursday) and the US, Latin America still remains the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic with several nations reporting a rapid increase in cases. Australia on the other hand has avoided a major second wave due to strict lockdown measures.

Here are some global developments on Covid-19

S.Korea to tighten social distancing curbs during two holiday weeks

Coronavirus Global Updates, 25 August: A worker disinfects as a precaution against the coronavirus on a street in Goyang, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.  (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea Friday said that it will impose tighter restrictions during its autumn holiday weeks when people traditionally reunite with families, increasing the risk for new clusters. The new measures will be enforced from September 28 to October 11 in high risk places like nightclubs and bars in densely populated Seoul.

These new restrictions are on top of current measures which limits indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100 along with banning spectators from sporting events. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 114 new cases as of midnight Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 23,455,along with 395 deaths.

US coronavirus cases surpass 7 million

After recording a surge in MidWest states, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 7 million mark Thursday and now constitutes more than 20 per cent of the world’s total cases. California is currently leading the country with over 8 lakh cases, followed by Texas, Florida and New York. The states recently surpassed 2 lakh Covid-19 deaths, the world’s highest death toll from the virus. According to Reuters data, the US is reporting over 700 deaths from the virus daily.

Ten states reported a record single day surge in cases in the month of September.Health experts believe this spike was due to reopening schools and universities as well as parties over the recent Labor Day holiday.

Cases further declining in Australia’s hotspot state

A patient has her temperature checked at a medical clinic during lockdown due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus in Melbourne. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

After reporting 14 new cases and 8 deaths in the last 24 hours, Victoria, Australia’s Covid-19 hotspot looks set to lift some lockdown restrictions in the coming days. “We are well and truly within the band in order to take those next steps,” said Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, without providing any details of the next steps. Andrews has said he will announce further easing of restrictions on Sunday.

The 2 week average of new infections in Victoria’s capital Melbourne has dropped below 26 as compared to an average of 30-50 which the state has set as a precondition to ease curbs. Australia’s strict lockdown measures, social distancing rules and high levels of contract tracing have resulted in the country avoiding a major second wave of coronavirus, unlike much of Europe and the United Kingdom.

Covid-induced fatalities in Mexico breach 75,000 mark

A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant solution inside the coffin of a person who died from suspected COVID-19, as the body arrives at the crematorium at Xilotepec Cemetery in Xochimilco, Mexico City. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Mexico’s death toll, fourth highest in the world, went past 75,000 Thursday after it reported 490 fresh fatalities. Despite closing schools, offices and other public places for over 6 months, the Mexican government has struggled to contain the virus. The largely informal nature of the country’s economy made working from home or with strict social distancing virtually impossible and is rapidly shooting up unemployment.

In Mexico, numbers have remained high for months even after coming off summer peaks, as the government prioritized increasing hospital capacity over tests and contact tracing. The confirmed coronavirus caseload stands at more than 715,000, according to government data.

Israel tightens second lockdown as coronavirus cases soar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool Photo via AP)

As coronavirus cases continue to surge in Israel, the country Thursday moved to further tighten its second countrywide lockdown ordering all non-essential businesses to close and requiring people to stay within 1,000 meters yards of their homes.

Furthermore, prayers during the ongoing Jewish Holidays as well as political demonstrations are to be limited to open spaces and no more than 20 people would have to remain within the restricted distance from home. the new measures will come into force from Friday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the pain caused by the closure but said the holiday season, when many businesses slow down in any case, was the best time to take action.

France sets new record for daily rise in Covid-19 cases

After reporting over 16,000 new cases Thursday, France broke its previous record of 13,498 single day rise in infection to set a fourth all time high of new coronavirus cases in eight days. The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections was up by 52, at 31,511, and the cumulative number of cases now 497,237.

The rapid rise in infections along with hospitals being maxed out have prompted the government to levy new restrictions mainly in big cities and hotspots.

Novavax starts late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial in UK

coronavirus vaccine, corona vaccine, covid 19 vaccine india, Pfizer vaccine news, astrazeneca vaccine update, russia vaccine update, covid 19 vaccine update, novavax vaccine, UAE vaccine, oxford vaccine news The trial will enroll at least 25% of participants over the age of 65. (File)

Novavax Inc on Thursday started a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce and is expected to test the vaccine in up to 10,000 participants between 18 and 84 years over the next four to six weeks.

The trial will enroll at least 25% of participants over the age of 65 and prioritize groups most affected by the COVID-19, the company said.

Brazil aims to secure vaccine for 10% of its population

Jair Bolsonaro, Bolsonaro coronavirus, VBrazil Covid cases, Bolsonaro public event, Jair Bolsonaro. (File)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Thursday said that he will issue decrees for the legal groundwork for Brazil to join the global COVID-19 vaccine partnership known as COVAX and it will earmark $453.8 million for securing vaccines through this. Brazil aims to use the COVAX facility to buy enough supply to immunize 10% of its population by the end of 2021, the press office said in a statement.That should cover Brazil’s “priority populations,” it said

Coronavirus delays Rio’s Carnival for first time in a century

Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival parade would not go ahead in February due to Brazil’s continued vulnerability to the coronavirus pandemic, Rio’s League of Samba Schools LIESA announced on Thursday. The spread of coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay and for many a source of livelihood, LIESA said. Rio’s City Hall is yet to announce a decision about the Carnival street parties that also take place across the city.

Brazil’s first confirmed coronavirus case was reported on February 26 one day after this year’s Carnival ended.

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Thief River Falls historian honors Civil War veteran nearly 100 years later

That’s why he is a member of the website Find a Grave. In 2017 Beedy received an anonymous request through the site. That person wanted a picture of Samuel J. Fuller’s grave at the Greenwood Cemetery in Thief River Falls, but there was a problem with fulfilling that request.

“He’s been laying there without any recognition,” said Steve Stone, who serves as the Veterans Service Officer for Pennington County.

For 91 years, Samuel Fuller has been buried at the cemetery with no grave marker.

“Every veteran should be recognized,” said Beedy.

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When he wasn’t working overnights at Digi-Key, Beedy would spend the next three years researching Fuller’s life. He discovered that Fuller grew up in Vermont, then moved to Minnesota where he farmed and served with the Minnesota Infantry during the Civil War. He then moved to California to farm before returning to Minnesota where he passed away in 1929 at the age of 96.

“I told that person I would make sure that Mr. Fuller would get a marker,” explained Beedy.

Two weeks ago Beedy’s years of work paid off.

“It’s a beautiful marker, it sticks out so nice, I’m just honored he is recognized now,” said Beedy.

The Veterans Administration sent a 200-pound, marble headstone to be placed at Fuller’s burial plot which was located by using old cemetery maps. The VA provides them free of charge.

“It’s just amazing the amount of evidence he came up with that we could get this marker from the VA,” Stone said of Beedy’s work.

With Fuller’s gravestone now in place, it’s actually right back to work for Beedy. He has discovered another veteran is buried right next to Fuller, and he too does not have a grave marker.

“It’s Joseph Meyers, he was a World War One vet,” said Beedy.

He was only in his 20s when he died at training in April 1918. Beedy has learned Meyers tried to dodge the draft by providing what was described as a lame excuse on the farm.

“He was helping his grandpa, they went and asked his grandpa, his grandpa said he hadn’t seen him in months, so that blew that,” explained Beedy with a chuckle.

Beedy hopes to have his headstone from the VA next spring.

“It’s life-changing in a way, you meet people you never knew existed,” said Beedy.

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Kim Jong Un apologizes over fatal shooting of South Korean

By: Bloomberg | September 25, 2020 11:40:31 am

north korea, south korea, south korean killed in north korea, south korean murder north koreaNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Bloomberg)

Kim Jong Un apologized over the fatal shooting of a South Korean national by North Korean military personnel north of the border, a gesture that may help ease a new source of tension between the two rivals.

North Korea sent a letter Friday morning apologizing over the killing of a 47-year-old man who worked for the fisheries ministry, South Korea National Security Adviser Suh Hoon said. The incident earlier this week was the first such killing in about a decade, and Seoul demanded Pyongyang to show contrition for its behavior.

“Kim gave the order to deliver the message that he is very sorry that the incident gave a major disappointment to South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the South Korean people,” the letter said, according to Suh. North Korea’s official media had so far made no mention of the incident.

The South Korean government employee went missing Monday from his boat near Yeonpyeong Island, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the nautical border known as Northern Limit Line. North Korean personnel shot the man and burned his body, the South Korean Defense Ministry said Thursday.

He was apparently trying to defect but was treated harshly by the North Koreans because they believed he could have been a carrier of the coronavirus, Yonhap News Agency cited a South Korean military official as saying.

Yeonpyeong, near where the shooting took place, was in November 2010 the site of the first attack on South Korean soil since the end of the Korean War. North Korea shelled targets for more than an hour, killing two civilians and two marines. The flurry damaged almost 300 structures and set wooded areas ablaze.

The incident marked a nadir in ties stemming from a series of incident that began in 2008 when North Korea fatally shot a 53-year-old South Korean woman vacationer who wandered close to a military facility at a resort at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang.

North Korea also apologized for that killing. But South Koreans were then ordered to vacate the facility that was supposed to serve as a place where people from the two Koreas could meet.

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Gary Kubiak on Vikings’ offensive woes: ‘I’ve got to do a better job’

In their first two games, both lopsided losses, the Vikings have called 56 pass plays and run the ball 40 times, four by quarterback Kirk Cousins. They haven’t been able to run as much as they want because with the defense struggling they’ve fallen way behind in games.

“That’s what we are,’’ offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said Thursday about Minnesota’s style. “That’s what we want, and we came out of training camp with a good, solid training camp and obviously that hasn’t correlated to the first two weeks, but we’ve got to stay positive and stay committed to what we want to be as a group.’’

Kubiak said the Vikings’ rushing average per carry of 5.4 yards has “been pretty good” and they “haven’t run it enough.’’ Entering Sunday’s game against Tennessee at U.S. Bank Stadium, the challenge is for Kubiak to get Dalvin Cook and others more rushing attempts but also to make the passing game enough of a threat to let that happen.

In a 43-34 loss to Green Bay in the opener, the Vikings scored 24 points in the fourth quarter after the outcome had been all but decided. In a 28-11 loss at Indianapolis, Minnesota managed just 175 yards and dropped to 30th in the NFL in total offense.

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“I’m focused on myself,’’ Kubiak said. “I’ve got to do a better job for the guys and getting them in position. We’re playing hard, our guys are playing hard, preparing hard. We’ve got to figure out a way to keep us on the field, get our snaps.’’

In the first two games, the Vikings have run just 96 plays to 143 for their foes.

Cousins completed just 11 of 26 passes for 113 yards with three interceptions against the Colts. His passer rating was a career-low 15.9

“I’ve got to find some room for him is the best way to put it,’’ Kubiak said. “We had some plays last week where he had no place to go with the ball. …. We’ve got to get some people open. … We had some plays that were very difficult on him. Kirk is battling, he’s doing his part. … I take it personal that I’ve got to help him more.’’

Vikings staying positive

Despite being 0-2 for the first time since 2013, Vikings players are doing their best to remain positive.

“We know what we can do in this locker room,’’ said wide receiver Adam Thielen, who was on practice squad when Minnesota started 0-3 and 1-7 in 2013. “We know we have talent. We know we have the coaches. We know we have the pieces. We just have to go out there and do it. … There are a lot of ups and downs, and the great teams figure out a way to overcome that and gain momentum and flip it around.’’

In their two losses, the Vikings have been outscored by an average of 13 points. Both games have been all but over by the end of the third quarter.

“You can’t be too hard on yourself,’’ said defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo. “It’s a long season and just don’t get down and play ball. … As a team standpoint, you can’t be discouraged and we’ve just got to go out and play excellent football.’’

Ngakoue steps up

One of the few bright spots for the Vikings against the Colts was the play of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

After a shaky Vikings debut against the Packers, Ngakoue had four pressures, including a strip sack of quarterback Philip Rivers. The Colts recovered the fumble.

“He’s getting better every day,’’ co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said of Ngakoue, acquired Aug. 31 from Jacksonville. “He’s very driven, he works hard every day and is improving every day, so I think (last Sunday was) just the beginning of where he’s going to go throughout the rest of the season.’’

Ngakoue has been unavailable this week for comment. However, he made a vow on his Instagram account.

“We will turn things around for the city of Minneapolis!’’ he wrote. “I promise.’’

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Australian think tank finds 380 detention camps in Xinjiang

By: AP | Canberra | September 25, 2020 9:18:50 am

How China tracked detainees and their familiesFILE – A call to prayer in the old city of Kashgar in Xinjiang region of China in 2015. A leaked government document shows how people were monitored and selected for internment camps in Xinjiang. (Adam Dean/The New York Times)

China appeared to be expanding its network of secret detention centres in Xinjiang, where Muslim minorities are targeted in a forced assimilation campaign, and more of the facilities resemble prisons, an Australian think tank has found.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute used satellite images and official construction tender documents to map more than 380 suspected detention facilities in the remote Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, highlighting re-education camps, detention centres and prisons that have been newly build or expanded since 2017.

The report builds on evidence that China has made a policy shift from detaining Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in makeshift public buildings to constructing permanent mass detention facilities.

This is despite Chinese state news agency Xinhua reporting late last year that “trainees” attending “vocational education and training centres” meant to deradicalise them had “all graduated”. Regional government chairman Shohrat Zakir was quoted as saying that foreign media reports of one million or two million people attending these centres were fabricated.

Predominantly Muslim minorities in the remote Xinjiang region have been locked in camps as part of a government assimilation campaign launched in response to decades of sometimes violent struggle against the Chinese rule. Some have been subjected to forced sterilisation and abortion and in recent months, ordered to drink traditional Chinese medicines to combat the coronavirus.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute researcher Nathan Ruser wrote in a report released late on Thursday: “Available evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees in Xinjiang’s vast ‘re-education’ network are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities, including newly-built or expanded prisons, or sent to walled factory compounds for coerced labour assignments.” At least 61 detention sites had undergone new construction and expansion work in a year to July 2020, the report said. These included at least 14 facilities still under construction this year.

“Of these, about 50 per cent are higher security facilities, which may suggest a shift in usage from the lower-security, ‘re-education centres’ toward higher-security prison-style facilities,” Ruser wrote.

At least 70 facilities appeared to have lesser security by the removal of internal fencing or perimeter walls, the report said.

These included eight camps that showed signs of decommissioning and were possibly closed. Of the camps stripped of security infrastructure, 90 per cent were lower security facilities, the report said.

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Thief River historian honors Civil War veteran nearly 100 years later

That’s why he is a member of the website Find a Grave. In 2017 Beedy received an anonymous request through the site. That person wanted a picture of Samuel J. Fuller’s grave at the Greenwood Cemetery in Thief River Falls, but there was a problem with fulfilling that request.

“He’s been laying there without any recognition,” said Steve Stone, who serves as the Veterans Service Officer for Pennington County.

For 91 years, Samuel Fuller has been buried at the cemetery with no grave marker.

“Every veteran should be recognized,” said Beedy.

WDAY logo

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watch live

Newsletter signup for email alerts

When he wasn’t working overnights at Digi-Key, Beedy would spend the next three years researching Fuller’s life. He discovered that Fuller grew up in Vermont, then moved to Minnesota where he farmed and served with the Minnesota Infantry during the Civil War. He then moved to California to farm before returning to Minnesota where he passed away in 1929 at the age of 96.

“I told that person I would make sure that Mr. Fuller would get a marker,” explained Beedy.

Two weeks ago Beedy’s years of work paid off.

“It’s a beautiful marker, it sticks out so nice, I’m just honored he is recognized now,” said Beedy.

The Veterans Administration sent a 200-pound, marble headstone to be placed at Fuller’s burial plot which was located by using old cemetery maps. The VA provides them free of charge.

“It’s just amazing the amount of evidence he came up with that we could get this marker from the VA,” Stone said of Beedy’s work.

With Fuller’s gravestone now in place, it’s actually right back to work for Beedy. He has discovered another veteran is buried right next to Fuller, and he too does not have a grave marker.

“It’s Joseph Meyers, he was a World War One vet,” said Beedy.

He was only in his 20s when he died at training in April 1918. Beedy has learned Meyers tried to dodge the draft by providing what was described as a lame excuse on the farm.

“He was helping his grandpa, they went and asked his grandpa, his grandpa said he hadn’t seen him in months, so that blew that,” explained Beedy with a chuckle.

Beedy hopes to have his headstone from the VA next spring.

“It’s life-changing in a way, you meet people you never knew existed,” said Beedy.

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COVID-19 is a litmus test for the rule of law in Armenia

Other activities that undermined the government’s fight against the pandemic, at least at the beginning, included: the PM and the Minister of Health publicly making jokes about COVID-19 – the PM having been heard to say that “COVID-19 is a dog to be ignored” while it appears that the Minister of Health has said “another absurd panic is ranging… swine flu, bird flu, dinosaur flu…”; the infamous photos of a reception where attendees (including the PM) did not wear masks and ignored social distancing in Shushi (in the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) on 21 May when public gatherings were prohibited; the very late use of masks (June 2020) by members of the government during its weekly meetings; and the failure to self-isolate by the PM during the days after it was announced on 1 June that he and his family had tested positive for COVID-19.

Furthermore, there were sometimes distorted voices coming out of the government (mainly contradictory voices between the PM and the Minister of Health), which made the articulation and implementation of a single unified strategy more difficult. The perception of a lack of unity among the “managerial team of the country” is not conducive to consolidating institutions and creates fertile ground for conspiracy theories, which in turn undermines the public trust in state institutions (especially in the “fake news” era). Besides the need for unity, the crisis constituted a good opportunity to strengthen the role of the Ministries of Health, Economy, or Education among others as these bodies have an important role to play in the context of the pandemic.

Instead, one witnessed a swinging pendulum between harsh measures to relaxed ones (from the complete shutdown of the economy to very relaxed ones when the number of cases were increasing), constant alteration of public safety regulations, some lack of comprehensiveness of these regulations (i.e. congregation of more than five people was prohibited, whereas restaurants and cafés where more than five people could gather were open for business).

But the central issue of this crisis in Armenia has been the enforceability and the actual enforcement of the rules. Public health rules were established and it was announced that the police and the army will enforce them from 16 March. However, the comprehensive enforcement and supervision of implementation did not occur until sometime in June. One explanation for this could be that the authorities were afraid to lose popularity if they were to enforce strict rules, but the lukewarm implementation of public health policies could eventually stir the public and their opinion away from necessary trust in and reliability of the government.

The PM was probably concerned to lose as little political capital as possible through the way the crisis was being managed. Yet again, political capital can be retained when seemingly unpopular actions are undertaken based on clear strategic goals which are communicated comprehensively to the public. There are also higher chances for this capital to remain stable when decisions are discussed and made within a team which is not fully made up of like-minded people.

In retrospect, the Armenian authorities’ constant renewal of the state of emergency for six months was not the best recourse. Indeed, a state of emergency is central to the rule of law and its use is a clear signal that the state cannot perform its function within the regular legal framework. However, a state of emergency has to be used when “it is strictly necessary to fighting against the public emergency”, and the states should always aim for its shortest possible duration. In September, specific legal provisions to address the health crisis were adopted to replace the state of emergency – provisions that would have been more effective in dealing with the public health crisis had it been thought of and implemented in March.

Cutting legal corners might seem politically appropriate in the given moment, but from a long-term state-building perspective, it is detrimental for the state and its citizens.

Governments come and go, but state institutions remain – it is primarily the role of those in power to strengthen those institutions, especially in a country where public trust is low and where the tendency to generate conspiracy theories is common. While this experience of handling the pandemic might have shown challenges, the authorities could also treat it as an important learning experience on institution building, policy formulation and implementation – whether during a crisis or in “normal times”. Finally, it should definitely be used as an opportunity for the authorities to strengthen their strategic vision on governance and state building.

The main challenge ahead for Armenia’s current government will be economic, which could trigger difficulties for the consolidation of the new political regime. In order to mitigate this risk, the authorities might wish to honestly analyse the lessons learned on the legal framework for COVID and how it was applied as well as enforced. If this analysis was discussed publicly, it could contribute to the strengthening of state institutions. States institutions will be central to crisis management in the coming months and years.

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US announces USD 150 million for H1B One Workforce training programme

By: PTI | Washington | September 25, 2020 9:36:49 am

crude oil, crude oil price, wto crude oil price negative, crude oil price india, india crude oil, crude oil price today, crude oil india price, crude oil news, crude oil falling, crude oil covid 19The training models will include a broad range of classroom and on-the-job training, customised training, incumbent worker training, registered apprenticeship programmes and industry-recognised apprenticeship programmes. (Bloomberg Photo)

The United States announced USD 150 million (over Rs 1,100 crore) on Thursday to invest in training for middle-to-high-skilled H-1B occupations in key sectors in the American economy.

Prominent among these sectors are information technology, cyber security, advanced manufacturing, transportation, wherein the H-1B One Workforce grant programme would be used to upskill the present workforce and train a new generation of workers to grow the future workforce, the Department of Labor said.

The coronavirus pandemic has not only caused disruptions in the labour market, but also forced many education and training providers and employers to rethink how to deliver training, the department said in a statement.

In this grant programme, the department’s Employment and Training Administration has set out to streamline funding and resources to encourage a more integrated workforce system that will push the applicants to provide an innovative mix of training strategies, leveraging innovative modes of training delivery, including online, distance and other technology-enabled learning.

Through local public-private partnerships, the grantees will deploy training to provide individuals in their communities with skills necessary to advance career pathways to employment in middle-to-high-skilled H-1B occupations within key industry sectors.

The training models will include a broad range of classroom and on-the-job training, customised training, incumbent worker training, registered apprenticeship programmes and industry-recognised apprenticeship programmes.

“The US Department of Labor is challenging communities to think as ‘One Workforce’,” Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch said.

“In the current job environment, it is critical that local organisations work as one, instead of independent parts of a process. Our goal is to create seamless community partnerships to build career pathways for local jobseekers to enter middle-to-high-skilled occupations in the cyber security, advanced manufacturing and transportation sectors,” he said.

Public-private partnerships will leverage resources across federal, state and local funding streams as well as from the private sector to support training, employment services and supportive services to maximise access to employment opportunities, the official statement said.

These partnerships will work toward a coordinated approach to preparing a skilled workforce within an economic region. All applicants must demonstrate that they are leveraging at least 25 per cent of the grant funds requested, it added.

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