Monday, November 30, 2020

We Honour Nehanda’s Heroics — President

Farirai Machivenyika and Elliot Ziwira

Zimbabwe Herald

President Mnangagwa yesterday toured the new Parliament building under construction in Mt Hampden on a busy day for the Head of State during which he also toured the site where the Mbuya Nehanda memorial statue will be erected in the city centre and an art gallery on the western outskirts of the capital where the statue is being carved.

The President said the erection of a memorial statue for Zimbabwe’s First Chimurenga war icon, Mbuya Nehanda, in Harare was part of efforts to document the country’s history, especially the fight against colonial rule.

Mbuya Nehanda ‘s sculpture

Speaking during a tour of Nyati Gallery near Snake Park, where the statue of the icon is being made by sculptor Cde David Mutasa, President Mnangagwa said the Government decided to honour Mbuya Nehanda for the heroic rebellion against colonialism in which she paid the ultimate price by being hanged on April 27, 1902.

The memorial statue is being erected at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in the capital.

President Mnangagwa said the onus was on those who took part in the fight against colonial rule to record the country’s history.

“The issue is that if us, former freedom fighters don’t document our history and where we came from, the young generation will not know where we came from. So we should depart after making sure that we have recorded our history.

“Mbuya Nehanda led the war during the First Chimurenga and she led us when we fought during the Second Chimurenga that is why we are recognising her so that the young generation will know who led the war against the colonial regime,” he said.

The President scoffed at critics in some quarters claiming that the erection of statues of liberation war icons was idolatry.

“Those who say that also carry crosses around their necks and pictures symbolising Jesus Christ. Why wear that cross? If they were not part of us, we would have told them to go back to their countries of origin.

“What is wrong with us recognising those who led us during the liberation war? We recognise Jesus Christ because he died for us and we are also recognising Mbuya Nehanda because she led us during the war,” he added.

Apart from the statue that will be erected in Harare’s CBD, another one will be erected at the new Parliament in Mt Hampden where the new capital city is being constructed.

Earlier on, the President had toured the site of the Mbuya Nehanda memorial statue.

Director Actuarial Services in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Mr Phillip Mukura said the project was 80 percent complete, adding that the December 9 deadline for completion was within reach, in spite of the initial challenges the project faced.

“We are at 80 percent completion, which in our view is good enough, as we race against our December 9, 2020 deadline. We have done the sub-structure, which is the pile foundation. Now we are putting the steel girders, structural steel frames and the supporting pillars,” Mr Mukura said.

The statue will be mounted on a rotating platform, 6,5 metres above ground level, to allow enough room for haulage trucks.

On the significance of immortalising the heroine’s statue to keep the spirit of the struggle intact he said: “To Zimbabweans, this monument represents a way of celebrating our heroes. This monument represents Nehanda, the spirit medium, who played a crucial role in the liberation struggle that gave us the independence we celebrate today.”

On his fourth site visit to the new Parliament building, President Mnangagwa expressed satisfaction with the progress made.

Construction was expected to be completed by March next year but is now due for completion in September of the same year following disruptions that were caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There has been tremendous progress and achievements in terms of construction and finishing. I am sure the constraints came around as a result of Covid-19. Arrangements have been made for technicians who had been out of the country to come back and I believe that from next year, again construction would be in full pace,” President Mnangagwa said.

The President, who was accompanied on the tour by Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo and his deputy, Marian Chombo, who is also the legislator for Zvimba North where the new Parliament building is located, said a new State House would also be constructed in the area.

In his remarks, Minister Moyo said: “It was supposed to be completed by March (2021) and we thought Covid-19 would have slowed down in June or July and we were going to bring back the Chinese experts as well as our own people.

“Covid-19 intensified around that time and we could not bring back the experts nor could we allow our people to come here. Now the President has cleared that all those who are doing projects not only here, should come back so we think by September we should have completed,” he said.

Deputy Minister Chombo said her constituency was honoured that the new Parliament would be housed there.

The building is being constructed by the Shanghai Construction Group using a grant of approximately US$98 million extended to Zimbabwe by the Chinese government.

The new Parliament building will replace the current 100-seat building which is now considered to be too small to accommodate the country’s 350 legislators.

It will comprise two conference centres, a banquet hall which can accommodate 1 000 people, offices for parliamentary officers and several boardrooms for parliamentary committee sessions.

There will also be common areas, offices, special services, general public and media areas, 800 parking bays, 50 of which are reserved for VVIPs, and associated services.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa said Government will remove the remains of Allan Wilson and the 34 soldiers he commanded from Matopos and rebury them at the site of their defeat by King Lobengula’s Imbizo Regiment that was led by Mtshana Khumalo during the Battle of Pupu.

General Khumalo has since been declared a national hero.

The President said it was ironic that the settler regime had honoured Allan Wilson by naming a secondary school after him when he had lost in battle.

“As the Second Republic, we will remove the remains of those colonialists and rebury them where they lost the battle. How can the vanquished be honoured when the victors are not honoured?” President Mnangagwa asked.

The unveiling of Pupu National Monument in Lupane in Matabeleland North is set for this week but the exact date is yet to be confirmed.

During this year’s Heroes Day virtual address, President Mnangagwa announced that Gen Khumalo would be honoured alongside Queen Lozikeyi, Mgandani Dlodlo and Mbuya Nehanda.

Maikadra Massacre Perpetrators May Have Fled to Sudan, Says Government

Samri youth group that are said to have involved in the Maikadra massacre may have fled to Sudan as refugees

Ambassador Redwan Hussien (Photo : ENA)

Borkena

November 30, 2020 

The Ethiopian government announced on Monday that a youth group that was actively involved in the Maikadra massacre may have fled to Sudan as a refugee.

“We have a suspicion that there may be youth who took part in the Maikadra massacre among those who fled to Sudan [as a refugee],” said Ambassador Redwan Hussein who is also the secretariat of the Ethiopia Emergency Fact Check Task Force.

It was in an interview with Reuters that he said so. He confirmed that up to 43,000 Ethiopians have crossed the Sudan region following what the Ethiopian government calls a law enforcement operation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

A report by Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on the massacre in Maikadra indicated that an organized ethnic Tigray youth group under the name “Samri ” key actor during the massacre against innocent and unarmed civilians.

More than 600 people were brutally massacred according to the EHRC preliminary report. However, the number of victims is believed to be much higher than what was initially indicated as dozens of mass graves are being uncovered.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government said last week that it is working on returning the refugees to their places in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

The military operation against Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was finalized last Saturday after taking control of Mekelle city from where the TPLF leaders were leading a series of violence aimed at destabilizing the country.

TPLF leaders deployed as many as 250,000 trained militia and special forces for the war against the Federal government of Ethiopia. Many of the regiments were annihilated in several war fronts, according to a briefing by the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force.

TPLF leaders and supporters contest the report that Tigray region special force and youth carried out the massacre in Maikadra and call for an investigation to it although organizations like Amnesty International have verified it.

Tigray Leader Remains Critical of Ethiopian Central Government

By CARA ANNA

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responds to questions from members of parliament at the prime minister's office in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The fugitive leader of Ethiopia's defiant Tigray region on Monday called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to withdraw troops from the region as he asserted that fighting continues "on every front" two days after Abiy declared victory. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The fugitive leader of Ethiopia’s defiant Tigray region on Monday called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to “stop the madness” and withdraw troops from the region as he asserted that fighting continues “on every front” two days after Abiy declared victory.

Debretsion Gebremichael, in a phone interview with The Associated Press, said he remains near the Tigray capital, Mekele, which the Ethiopian army on Saturday said it now controlled. Far from accepting Abiy’s declaration of victory, the Tigray leader asserted that “we are sure we’ll win.”

He also accused the Ethiopian forces of carrying out a “genocidal campaign” against the Tigray people. With the Tigray region still cut off a month after the fighting began, no one knows how many people have been killed, and it’s difficult to verify the warring sides’ claims.

Each government regards the other as illegal after Abiy sidelined the once-dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front after taking office in early 2018.

The fight is about self-determination of the region of around 6 million people, the Tigray leader said, and it “will continue until the invaders are out.” He asserted that his forces held an undetermined number of “captives” among the Ethiopian forces, including the pilot of a fighter jet that his side claims to have shot down over the weekend.

The Tigray leader also asserted that his forces still have several missiles and “we can use them whenever we want,” though he rejected a question about striking at the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, saying the primary aim is to “clear Tigray from the invaders.” He again accused Abiy of collaborating with neighboring Eritrea in the offensive in Tigray, something the Ethiopian government has denied.

As for the idea of talks with the government, something Abiy has repeatedly rejected, the Tigray leader said that “depends on the content” and Ethiopian forces would first have to leave the region.

“Civilian casualties are so high,” he said, though he denied having any estimate of the toll. He accused Ethiopian forces of “looting wherever they go.”

“The suffering is greater and greater every day,” he said, calling it collective punishment against the Tigray people for their belief in their leaders.

The fighting has threatened to destabilize Ethiopia, the linchpin of the strategic Horn of Africa, and its neighbors.

Abiy in remarks to lawmakers on Monday asserted that “the defense force has not killed a single person in any city. No nation’s military could have shown better competency than us.” But one of his own cabinet ministers, Zadig Abraha, told the AP on Saturday that “we have kept the civilian casualty very low.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Abiy on Monday — the first known time since the fighting began — and reiterated the “grave concern regarding ongoing hostilities and the risks the conflict poses,” a spokesman said. Pompeo also “called for a complete end to the fighting and constructive dialogue to resolve the crisis” and for humanitarian access and protection of civilians, including refugees.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received a call from Abiy on Sunday to update him on the situation in the country, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general once again underscored the need for the full respect for human rights, as well as for humanitarian access for ourselves and our humanitarian partners,” Dujarric said. “The secretary-general also said that Ethiopia needed a true reconciliation without discrimination and in a country where every community should feel respected and be part of Ethiopia.”

Hospitals and health centers in the Tigray region are running “dangerously low” on supplies to care for the wounded, the International Committee of the Red Cross has said. Food is also running low, the result of the region being cut off from outside aid.

In a rare report from inside Mekele, the ICRC also said a major hospital in northern Ethiopia, Ayder Referral Hospital, is lacking body bags and some 80% of its patients have trauma injuries.

Fears of a widespread humanitarian disaster are growing. The U.N. has been unable to access the Tigray region. Human rights groups and others worry about the atrocities that might emerge once transport and other links are restored.

Nearly 1 million people have been displaced, including about 44,000 who fled into Sudan. Camps in Tigray that are home to 96,000 Eritrean refugees have been in the line of fire.

“We need first and foremost access” to Tigray, U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi said Sunday, adding that his U.N. colleagues in Addis Ababa are in discussions with the government. Abiy’s government has promised a “humanitarian corridor” managed by itself, but the U.N. has stressed the importance of neutrality.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on Monday urged the government to quickly restore basic services and humanitarian aid access to the Tigray region and allow access to independent investigations into “grave human rights violations.” It also expressed concern about profiling of ethnic Tigrayans.

Iran Says Israel Killed Military Nuclear Scientist Remotely

By NASSER KARIMI and JON GAMBRELL

In this photo released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry, military personnel carry the flag draped coffin of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a scientist who was killed on Friday, in a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. Iran held the funeral service for Fakhrizadeh, who founded its military nuclear program two decades ago, with the Islamic Republic's defense minister vowing to continue the man's work "with more speed and more power." (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A top Iranian security official on Monday accused Israel of using “electronic devices” to remotely kill a scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the 2000s.

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, made the comment at the funeral for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, where Iran’s defense minister separately vowed to continue the man’s work “with more speed and more power.”

Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has repeatedly declined to comment on the attack.

Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program, which Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003. U.S. intelligence agencies concurred with that assessment in a 2007 report.

Israel insists Iran still maintains the ambition of developing nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and research into other technologies. Iran long has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Shamkhani’s remarks drastically change the story of Fakhrizadeh’s killing, which took place Friday. Authorities initially said a truck exploded and then gunmen opened fire on the scientist, killing him and a bodyguard. State TV even interviewed a man the night of the attack who described seeing gunmen open fire.

State TV’s English-language broadcaster Press TV reported earlier Monday that a weapon recovered from the scene of the attack bore “the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry.” State TV’s Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam, claimed the weapons used were “controlled by satellite,” a claim also made Sunday by the semiofficial Fars news agency.

None of the outlets immediately offered evidence supporting their claims, which also give authorities a way to explain why no one was reportedly arrested at the scene.

“Unfortunately, the operation was a very complicated operation and was carried out by using electronic devices,” Shamkhani told state TV. “No individual was present at the site.”

Satellite control of weapons is nothing new. Armed, long-range drones, for instance, rely on satellite connections to be controlled by their remote pilots. Remote-controlled gun turrets also exist, but typically see their operator connected by a hard line to cut down on the delay in commands being relayed. Israel uses such hard-wired systems along the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

While technically feasible, it wasn’t immediately clear if such a system had been used before, said Jeremy Binnie, the Mideast editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly.

“Could you set up a weapon with a camera which then has a feed that uses an open satellite communications line back to the controller?” Binnie said. “I can’t see why that’s not possible.”

It also raised the question whether the truck that exploded during the attack detonated afterward to try to destroy a satellite-controlled machine gun that was hidden inside the vehicle. Iranian officials did not immediately acknowledge that. It also would require someone on the ground to set up the weapon.

Shamkhani blamed the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq as well for “having a role in this,” without elaborating. The MEK, as the exile group is known, has been suspected of assisting Israeli operations in Iran in the past. Shahin Gobadi, an MEK spokesman, dismissed Shamkhani’s remarks as “rage, rancor and lies” sparked by the group’s earlier exposes over Iran’s nuclear program.

Monday’s service for Fakhrizadeh took place at an outdoor portion of Iran’s Defense Ministry in Tehran, with officials including Revolutionary Guard chief Gen. Hossein Salami, the Guard’s Quds Force leader Gen. Esmail Ghaani, civilian nuclear program chief Ali Akbar Sahei and Intelligence Minister Mamoud Alavi. They sat apart from each other and wore masks due to the coronavirus pandemic as reciters melodically read parts of the Quran and religious texts.

Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami gave a speech after kissing Fakhrizadeh’s casket and putting his forehead against it. He said Fakhrizadeh’s killing would make Iranians “more united, more determined.”

“For the continuation of your path, we will continue with more speed and more power,” Hatami said in comments aired live by state television.

Hatami also criticized countries that hadn’t condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing and warned: “This will catch up with you someday.”

Overnight, the United Arab Emirates, which just reached a normalization deal with Israel, issued a statement condemning “the heinous assassination.” The UAE, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, warned the killing “could further fuel conflict in the region.”

Last year, the UAE found itself in the middle of an escalating series of incidents between Iran and the U.S. Though long suspicious of Iran’s nuclear program, the Emirates has said it wants to de-escalate the crisis. The UAE just started passenger air service to Israel and Israelis are expected to vacation in the country over Hanukkah in the coming days.

Bahrain, an island kingdom off Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf that also recently normalized relations with Israel, similarly condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing.

“In light of the current situation in the region, the kingdom of Bahrain calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid new levels of instability,” Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz has sent a cable to all Israeli diplomatic delegations around the globe urging diplomats to maintain “the highest level of readiness and awareness of any irregular activity” around missions and Jewish community centers.

Hebrew-language media in Israel reported that following the Fakhrizadeh’s killing, the Foreign Ministry ordered security increased at certain Israeli diplomatic missions overseas. The ministry declined to comment on diplomatic security matters.

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Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed.

Uproar in France Over Proposed Limits on Filming Police

By SYLVIE CORBET

FILE - In this Nov.21, 2020 file photo a demonstrator takes a picture of policemen during a protest against bill on police images, in Paris. As videos helped reveal many cases of police brutality, French civil rights activists voiced fears that a new security law would threaten efforts by people from minorities and poor neighborhoods to document incidents involving law enforcement officers. French President Emmanuel Macron's government is pushing a new security bill that would notably make it illegal to publish images of officers with intent to cause them harm. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

PARIS (AP) — French activists fear that a proposed new security law will deprive them of a potent weapon against abuse — cellphone videos of police activity — threatening their efforts to document possible cases of police brutality, especially in impoverished immigrant neighborhoods.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government is pushing a new security bill that makes it illegal to publish images of police officers with intent to cause them harm, amid other measures. Critics fear the new law could hurt press freedoms and make it more difficult for all citizens to report on police brutality.

“I was lucky enough to have videos that protect me,” said Michel Zecler, a Black music producer who was beaten up recently by several French police officers. Videos first published Thursday by French website Loopsider have been seen by over 14 million viewers, resulting in widespread outrage over police actions.

Two of the officers are in jail while they are investigated while two others, also under investigation, are out on bail.

The draft bill, still being debated in parliament, has prompted protests across the country called by press freedom advocates and civil rights campaigners. Tens of thousands of people marched Saturday in Paris to reject the measure, including families and friends of people killed by police.

“For decades, descendants of post-colonial immigration and residents in populous neighborhoods have denounced police brutality,” Sihame Assbague, an anti-racism activist, told The Associated Press.

Videos by the public have helped to show a wider audience that there is a “systemic problem with French police forces, who are abusing, punching, beating, mutilating, killing,” she said.

Activists say the bill may have an even greater impact on people other than journalists, especially those of immigrant origin living in neighborhoods where relationships with the police have long been tense. Images posted online have been key to denouncing cases of officers’ misconduct and racism in recent years, they argue.

Assbague expressed fears that, under the proposed law, those who post videos of police abuses online may be put on trial, where they would face up to a year in jail and a 45,000-euro ($53,000) fine.

“I tend to believe that a young Arab man from a poor suburb who posts a video of police brutality in his neighborhood will be more at risk of being found guilty than a journalist who did a video during a protest,” she said.

Amal Bentounsi’s brother, Amine, was shot in the back and killed by a police officer in 2012. The officer was sentenced to a five-year suspended prison sentence. Along with other families of victims, in March she launched a mobile phone app called Emergency-Police Violence to record abuses and bring cases to court.

“Some police officers already have a sense of impunity. ... The only solution now is to make videos,” she told the AP. The app has been downloaded more than 50,000 times.

“If we want to improve public confidence in the police, it does not go through hiding the truth,” she added.

The proposed law is partly a response to demands from police unions, who say it will provide greater protection for officers.

Abdoulaye Kante, a Black police officer with 20 years of experience in Paris and its suburbs, is both a supporter of the proposed law and strongly condemns police brutality and violence against officers.

“What people don’t understand is that some individuals are using videos to put the faces of our (police) colleagues on social media so that they are identified, so that they are threatened or to incite hatred,” he said.

“The law doesn’t ban journalists or citizens from filming police in action ... It bans these images from being used to harm, physically or psychologically,” he argued. “The lives of officers are important.”

A “tiny fraction of the population feeds rage and hatred” against police, Jean-Michel Fauvergue, a former head of elite police forces and a lawmaker in Macron’s party who co-authored the bill, said in the National Assembly. “We need to find a solution.”

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has acknowledged that “the intent (to harm) is something that is difficult to define.”

In an effort to quell criticism, lawmakers from Macron’s party announced Monday they would rewrite the criticized article of the bill, which will be debated by the Senate early next year.

Activists consider the draft law just the latest of several security measures to extend police powers at the expense of civil liberties. A statement signed by over 30 groups of families and friends of victims of police abuses said since 2005, “all security laws adopted have constantly expanded the legal field allowing police impunity.”

Riots in 2005 exposed France’s long-running problems between police and youths in public housing projects with large immigrant populations.

In recent years, numerous security laws have been passed following attacks by extremists.

Critics noted a hardening of police tactics during protests or while arresting individuals. Hundreds of complaints have been filed against officers during the yellow vest movement against economic injustice, which erupted in 2018 and saw weekends of violent clashes.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said out of 3 million police operations per year in France, some 9,500 end up on a government website that denounces abuses, which represents 0.3%.

France’s human rights ombudsman, Claire Hedon, is among the most prominent critics of the proposed law, which she said involves “significant risks of undermining fundamental rights.”

“Our democracy is hit when the population does not trust its police anymore,” she told the National Assembly.

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AP writer John Leicester contributed from Le Pecq, France.

Red Cross Chief Urges Vaccine ‘Fake News’ Fight

Associated Press

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine Covid-19 candidate vaccine, known as AZD1222, at Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Wrexham, Wales, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. (Paul Ellis/PA via AP)

UNITED NATIONS -- The head of the world’s largest humanitarian network is urging governments and institutions to combat “fake news” about COVID-19 vaccines which has become “a second pandemic” and start building trust in communities around the world about the critical importance of vaccinating people.

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a virtual briefing to the U.N. Correspondents Association on Monday that “to beat this pandemic, we also have to defeat the parallel pandemic of distrust.”

He said there is “a growing hesitancy about vaccines in general, and about a COVID vaccine in particular” around the world, pointing to a recent Johns Hopkins University study in 67 countries that found vaccine acceptance declined significantly in most countries from July to October this year.

In a quarter of countries, Rocca said, the study found that the acceptance rate for a vaccine against the coronavirus was near or below 50 percent, with Japan dropping from 70 percent to 50 percent acceptance, and France dropping from 51 percent to 38 percent acceptance.

He stressed that the lack of trust “is by no means a Western phenomenon,” citing the federation’s research in recent months in eight African countries -- Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya -- which showed a steady decline in the perceptions of the risk of COVID-19 infection.

A growing number of people indicated the virus doesn’t affect young people or Africans, that the disease doesn’t exist now but did exist and the pandemic has ended, he said. “In several African countries, we have seen a common skepticism towards vaccines in general, with a common belief being that foreigners use Africa as a medical ‘testing ground.’”

Surprisingly, Rocca said, some typically vulnerable and marginalized groups aren’t even aware of the pandemic, pointing to a federation survey in Pakistan which found 10 percent of respondents didn’t know about COVID-19.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MIAMI — The new mayor of Florida’s most populous county tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, officials said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the test result on Twitter. She said her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, was exposed to COVID-19 by a patient last Wednesday. He has also tested positive.

“Rob and I are quarantining at home,” Levine Cava wrote. “We both remain in good spirits and have only mild symptoms.”

Spokeswoman Rachel Johnson told the Miami Herald that Levine Cava has not been in contact with county employees since Wednesday and plans to participate in Tuesday’s county commission meeting by phone.

Levine Cava, 65, assumed office Nov. 17 after being elected earlier in the month. The Democrat had previously served as a county commissioner since 2014.

Levine Cava’s predecessor, Congressman-elect Carlos Gimenez, tested positive for coronavirus last week. The Republican is set to assume his new office Jan. 3.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California could see a tripling of hospitalizations by Christmas and is considering stay-home orders for areas with the highest case rates as it tries to head off concerns that severe coronavirus cases could overwhelm intensive care beds, officials said Monday.

“The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action.”

Hospitalizations have increased 89% over the past 14 days and nearly 7,800 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Monday. About 12% of Californians testing positive are likely to need hospital care within the next two to three weeks.

The biggest concern is intensive care cases, which have increased 67% in the past two weeks. If that continues, it would push ICU beds to 112% of capacity by mid-December.

That statistic is likely to drive state-mandated stay-at-home orders in 51 of California’s 58 counties that already are seeing the most restrictions on business activities, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health and human services.

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ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia has tested positive for COVID-19. That makes him the third Georgia congressman to contract the virus.

Scott’s chief of staff Jason Lawrence confirmed the positive test result on Monday.

Scott represents Georgia’s 8th District, which stretches through the interior of south Georgia. The chief of staff’s statement did not say if Scott was experiencing any symptoms but added he was heeding his doctor’s advice.

All three Georgia congressman who’ve tested positive for the virus have been Republicans. Rep. Rick Allen announced a positive test result last week. Rep. Drew Ferguson tested positive in October.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that his administration plans to release details next week on when Minnesota will start getting its first doses of coronavirus vaccines and who will be the first to get them.

Walz made the comments in a briefing for reporters following a conference call with several other governors, Vice President Mike Pence; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious-diseases expert; and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on the status of the country’s plans for distributing the vaccines.

The Democratic governor said he expects to hold “a very extensive briefing” for reporters and the public, possibly next Monday or Tuesday, on where Minnesota stands in the process. Details are still being worked out on the federal level about who gets priority — such as senior citizens and health care workers — and what the distribution plan will look like, he said.

The governor has been critical of the Trump administration for its lack of coordinated federal plans for fighting the pandemic, which has put much of the onus on the states. But he had praise for the federal vaccine drive.

“I believe the work around the vaccine and the plans around distribution have been incredibly well done,” Walz said.

The discussion with the governors involved distributing the first doses coming from Pfizer and later Moderna.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — New cases of coronavirus illness in Illinois dropped Monday for the third day in a row, but officials fear the fallout from Thanksgiving travel and family gatherings will push the numbers back up.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said there will be no change in current restrictions on social interaction for several weeks. They ban indoor food service, limit retail-store capacity and cap gatherings at 10 or fewer.

“We are still very much in a precarious place ...,” Pritzker said. “I say this as we come off of a Thanksgiving holiday when many people may have dropped their guard and gathered with people from outside of their own households. The hope now is that we can fend off the surge in the next few weeks to get to a healthier holiday time in the latter half of December.”

November’s end marked a period as ghastly as April or May, when the virus first crawled through the state. Total cases rose 77% to 726,304. Deaths stood at 12,278 -- 26% higher than at the beginning of the month.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s two-month-old coronavirus exposure notification app can now be used by mobile phone users as young as 13 as health officials work to stop the virus’ spread in schools around the state, officials said Monday.

The app, named COVID AlertPa, had previously been limited to people 18 and over.

“By expanding the age range, middle- and high-school students will be able to add their phones to the fight and help in contact tracing that occurs in their schools if a positive case is identified,” state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said at a virtual news conference.

A parent or legal guardian must approve the minor’s use of the app, she said. So far, more than 627,000 mobile phone users have downloaded it, according to the state.

Some school districts continue to conduct in-person instruction, even though each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties — except for northwestern Pennsylvania’s rural Cameron County, with fewer than 5,000 residents — has passed the threshold of new cases where the state Department of Education recommended fully remote instruction.

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TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is vowing to spend tens of billions more dollars to help the country recover from the pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the country is facing its most severe challenge since the second World War, the worst economic shock since the Great Depression and the worse health crisis since the Spanish flu over a century ago.

The cost to date has the federal deficit reaching a record $381.6 billion Canadian (US$294 billion) this year, but the government says it could close in on $400 billion Canadian (US$308 billion) if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is on lockdown.

The government’s fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families next year. The government is proposing $25 billion Canadian (US$19 billion) in new spending.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi is reporting a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations for a single day.

The state Department of Health said Monday that 1,008 people were hospitalized with the virus Sunday, marking the first time the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the state has topped 1,000. Numbers have risen steadily since Nov. 10, when 669 virus hospitalizations were reported.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Monday on Twitter that the record comes ahead of an “anticipated Thanksgiving acceleration” in coronavirus cases.

“This is truly serious,” he wrote. “Protect yourselves and your family now. We all know how.”

The state Health Department said Monday that Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 153,250 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,807 deaths from COVID-19 as of Sunday evening. That’s an increase of 1,485 cases and one death from the day before. The death occurred Saturday and was identified through a death certificate.

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Hospital and nursing officials fear that if COVID-19 cases continue unchecked there won’t be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds in the near future in the Kansas City metro area.

Kansas health officials on Monday added 4,425 cases to the state’s pandemic tally since Friday, bringing the total to 157,446. Data showed that Kansas averaged 2,198 new confirmed and probable coronavirus a day for the seven days ending Monday. That is below the record average of 2,766 cases.

The number of COVID-19 related deaths also rose by 31 to 1,560.

It is too soon to see how Thanksgiving gatherings have impacted coronavirus numbers, but medical providers expect to see another rise in hospitalizations in 10 to 14 days once people begin showing symptoms.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported on Monday 87 new hospitalizations, bringing the total of hospitalizations to 5,105 since the start of the pandemic. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 227 coronavirus patients were in ICU units, with 39% of ICU capacity remaining in Kansas.

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MIAMI — Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Monday that schools will be required to remain open despite the rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, arguing lockdowns and closures have not worked.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the spread of the virus among children “is not really very big at all” and is now advising to get children back in the classrooms.

The Republican governor said schools will continue to offer online classes for families who have chosen not to physically return, but school districts will require students who have fallen behind online to return to in-person instruction.

Florida has seen cases rise again, now totaling more than 990,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began earlier this year. More than 18,700 people have died with COVID-19 since March.

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Coronavirus deaths continued to increase in Iowa in the past two weeks as the state ends November posting 687 deaths. That’s a 34% increase from the 512 deaths reported in October.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported that there were 1,200 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours.

Data collected by Johns Hopkins University shows the state’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate of 40.2% remained third highest in the nation behind Idaho and South Dakota. Hospitalizations continued a gradual decline after peaking at more than 1,520 patients two weeks ago.

Laura Shoemaker, a spokeswoman for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, said the hospital’s decrease in COVID-19 patients — to 56 patients on Monday from 84 a week earlier — was mostly due to hospital discharges.

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SEATTLE — More than 30 patients and staff at Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital are suffering from coronavirus — the biggest spike in cases to date — and more than 150 have tested positive since the virus first hit the facility in March.

Ten Western State Hospital patients on a single ward got sick within a few days of each other after a nurse tested positive about a week ago. The patients ranged in age of 62 to 82 and were moved to the hospital’s special COVID-19 ward so they’re kept away from other patients.

Hospital officials say 12 workers tested positive within a three-day span last week. Most were on the same ward as the patient spike.

Officials are scrambling to find nursing staff to work on the COVID-19 ward and have offered overtime pay.

Department of Social and Health Services spokeswoman Kelly Von Holtz said the new spike in cases reflects the increase being seen across the country.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said on Monday that hospitals across the state will reduce elective surgeries to ensure there is enough space to accommodate coronavirus patients as the number of cases continues to surge.

Hospitals will be able to maintain their available bed capacities “at this moment,” the Republican governor said at a news conference. “But the worst days are ahead of us.”

State health data shows the number of people hospitalized with the virus in West Virginia jumped 29% in the past week to a record 597, including 162 in intensive care units. The number of hospitalizations has more than doubled in the past month.

And active virus cases statewide have jumped 62% in the past two weeks to 16,788.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Government spokesman Marko Milic says Plenkovic is feeling fine and will continue to perform his duties from his home.

The announcement came after Plenkovic’s wife tested positive for the virus on weekend. Plenkovic’s initial test came out negative but was repeated on Monday.

Croatia has faced weeks of soaring infections with the new coronavirus. On Monday, Croatia reported a record death toll of 74 fatalities in the past 24 hours and 1,830 new infections.

The government on Monday also tightened travel restrictions requesting a negative test for most people seeking to enter the country.

Americans Face New COVID-19 Restrictions After Thanksgiving

By TAMMY WEBBER and HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH

Nurses check on the status of rapid COVID-19 tests at a drive-through testing site in a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Americans returning from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.

Los Angeles County imposed a stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents, and Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, banned high school, college and professional sports and decreed a quarantine for those who have traveled more than 150 miles outside the county.

In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii County said trans-Pacific travelers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who have tested virus-free may be randomly selected for another test upon arrival. New Jersey is suspending all youth sports.

“The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action.”

Health experts had pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving and not gather with anyone who didn’t live with them. Nevertheless, almost 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the most since the pandemic gripped the country in March, and others took to the highways to be with family and friends.

Now they’re being urged to watch for any signs of illness and get tested right away if they experience symptoms.

Some families are already seeing the fallout from Thanksgiving gatherings.

Jonathan Eshnaur lugged his 32-inch TV to a Thanksgiving Day family gathering at his sister’s home in Olathe, Kansas, so he could watch football outside. He wore a mask and only went into her house for the prayer and to use the bathroom.

His father began feeling terrible that day and tested positive the next. His mother now is showing symptoms, and six others were exposed.

“I think we all have a tendency to think it won’t happen to me,” said Eshnaur, a 34-year-old special education teacher. “But that is kind of the issue with these kinds of viruses is it does happen, especially when we have widespread community spread that is going on.”

Priya Patel, 24, is isolating at her parents’ home in San Antonio after visiting friends over the weekend and coming down with a sore throat.

Patel, who works in public health in New York City, said she had been careful, wearing masks in public and staying out of restaurants and bars. But she spent time at a friend’s home in Texas over Thanksgiving.

“I’m an extremely extroverted person, and there is just so much time I can spend with my parents at home,” said Patel, who will stay away from her parents, both of whom have preexisting medical conditions, and wear a mask inside their home for the next 14 days.

Health officials are urging people to remain vigilant until a vaccine becomes widely available, which is not expected to happen for at least a few months.

On Monday, Moderna Inc. said it will ask U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection. Pfizer is also seeking approval for its vaccine and hopes to begin administering shots in the U.S. in December.

The virus is blamed for over 267,000 deaths and more than 13.4 million confirmed infections in the U.S. The country on average is seeing more than 160,000 new cases per day and over 1,400 deaths — a toll on par with what the nation witnessed in mid-May, when New York City was the epicenter.

A record 90,000 people were in the hospital with the virus in the U.S. as of Sunday, pushing many medical institutions to the limit.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said hospitals across the state will reduce elective surgeries to ensure there is room for coronavirus patients. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped 29% in the past week. In Kansas City, Kansas, hospital and nursing officials said they fear there will not be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds in the metro area if COVID-19 cases continue unchecked. Health officials on Monday added 4,425 confirmed infections and 87 hospitalizations to the state’s pandemic tally since Friday.

Rhode Island’s hospitals reached their COVID-19 capacity on Monday, the same day the state’s two-week pause took effect. Under restrictions announced by Gov. Gina Raimondo, some businesses will be required to shut down, while others are restricted. Residents are also asked to limit their social circles to people in their household.

“This will not be easy, but I am pleading with you to take it seriously,” Raimondo said in a statement.

In suburban St. Louis, a hospital official warned that hospitalizations could double in two to three weeks if people don’t quarantine after Thanksgiving gatherings. SSM Health DePaul Hospital in Bridgeton, Missouri, last week brought in a morgue trailer to store the dead, canceled elective surgeries and doubled up patients in rooms.

“We will be absolutely overwhelmed,” said Shelly Cordum, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. “I can’t even imagine what we are going to be facing in three weeks if we stay on this path.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious-disease expert, warned on ABC over the weekend that the country could see a “surge upon surge” of infections tied to Thanksgiving. And White House corononavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told CBS that people who traveled should “assume that you were exposed and you became infected,” and get tested if they experience symptoms.

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Associated Press writers Daisy Nguyen in Oakland, California, Alan Clendenning in Phoenix; Jeff McMillan in New York City; John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia; Michelle Monroe in Los Angeles; Lauran Neergaard in Washington; William J. Kole in Warwick, Rhode Island; and Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Moderna Asking US, European Regulators to OK its Virus Shots

By LAURAN NEERGAARD

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna Inc. says it will ask U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Moderna Inc. said Monday it was asking U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — intensifying the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.

Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.

Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.

Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.

Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company’s chief medical officer.

When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”

Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signaled it also is open to faster “conditional” clearance.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, called that level of protection “extraordinary.” But with a grim few months ahead until enough vaccine arrives, he is pleading with Americans to stick with masks and other critical public health measures.

“We’ve got to continue to do that consistently and uniformly until we get the entire or most of the country vaccinated and have enough herd immunity that we can crush this outbreak,” Fauci told the AP. With vaccines, “we’ve crushed smallpox, we’ve crushed polio, we’ve crushed measles,” but doing the same for COVID-19 will take time.

WHAT COMES NEXT

The FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate.

First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17.

RATIONING INITIAL DOSES

If the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people.

Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S.

Shipments are set to begin to states within 24 hours of FDA clearance. And this week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how those initial supplies will be given out. They’re expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities.

As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general U.S. population isn’t expected until at least spring.

Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year.

“Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said.

Britain’s government said Sunday it has ordered 7 million doses from Moderna.

The U.K. also has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, although it’s not clear how much of the companies’ limited December supply could go toward that order — if British health authorities clear the shots. Still, British hospitals are gearing up to receive some doses as early as next week.

Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.

ASTRAZENECA CONFUSION

AstraZeneca and Oxford University last week announced confusing early results of their vaccine candidate from research in Britain and Brazil.

That vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.

Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk.

A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective.

Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there.

STILL IN THE PIPELINE

Johnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose.

Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system.

The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won’t require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.”

Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Despite Federal Ban, Renters Still Being Evicted Amid Virus

By MICHAEL CASEY

November 29, 2020

FILE - Housing activists erect a sign in front of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's house, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Swampscott, Mass. Renters are still being evicted during the coronavirus pandemic despite a federal order that is supposed to keep them in their homes. The nationwide eviction ban went into effect Sept. 4 and was supposed to replace many state and local bans that had expired. But tenant advocates said there are still people unaware of the directive implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that broadly prevents evictions for nonpayment of rent through the end of 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, file)

BOSTON (AP) — A nationwide eviction ban was supposed to protect tenants like Tawanda Mormon, who was forced out of her two-bedroom apartment last month in Cleveland.

The 46-year-old, who was hospitalized in August for the coronavirus and can’t work due to mental health issues, said she fell behind on her $500-a-month rent because she needed the money to pay for food. When she was evicted in October, Mormon said she was unaware of President Donald Trump’s directive, implemented in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that broadly prevents evictions through the end of 2020.

“It was difficult. I had to leave all my stuff,” said Mormon, who has been staying with friends and relatives since her eviction. “I don’t have no furniture, no nothing.”

With most state and local eviction bans expired, the nationwide directive was seen as the best hope to prevent more than 23 million renters from being evicted amid a stalemate in Congress over tens of billions of dollars in rental assistance. It was also billed as a way to fight the coronavirus, with studies showing evictions can spread the virus and lead to an increase in infections.

The CDC order has averted a wave of evictions, housing advocates said, but tenants are increasingly falling through the cracks.

Some judges in North Carolina and Missouri refused to accept the directive, tenant advocates said. The order has been applied inconsistently, and some tenants, who had no legal representation, knew nothing about it. Landlords in several states also unsuccessfully sued to scrap the order, arguing it was causing them financial hardship and infringing on their property rights.

“Right now, we are seeing variations in the way courts are applying the CDC order, and we are also seeing a lack of knowledge among tenants and property owners,” said Emily Benfer, a law professor at Wake Forest University and the chair of the American Bar Association’s COVID-19 task force committee on evictions. “Advocates are working overtime to inform tenants of their rights under the CDC order and, in many places, evictions are going forward.”

In Fremont, Nebraska, Dana Imus went to court this month to avoid getting evicted for falling behind on rent. The 41-year-old mother of four lost her job as a forklift operator in March due to the pandemic and hasn’t been able to get another one — partly due to her car breaking down.

When she presented a declaration to her landlord that she qualified for the federal moratorium, she said he told her wrongly that Nebraska didn’t recognize it. She also tried to pay her landlord $400 of the $1,000 rent for October, but he refused. She used the money, instead, for a car payment and now has no money for rent.

“It’s been a struggle,” she said. “It’s stressful. But I trust God so, I mean, I’m not too worried about it. I know I am not going to be evicted because I trust God.”

Those who didn’t know about the CDC moratorium include Charlene Wojtowicz, who thought she had avoided eviction from her two-bedroom house in Cleveland after a nonprofit paid three months of her back rent and her landlord withdrew his lawsuit. This week, the landlord demanded the 33-year-old mother of three pay the $455 she owes for November.

“I’m worried that me and my kids will be out on the street,” said Wojtowicz, who lost a new housekeeping job after getting COVID-19 this summer. “I’m a single mother with three children trying my hardest. It’s not like I don’t want to pay this man.”

Eviction filings have begun creeping up in several states, with the Eviction Lab at Princeton finding cities in South Carolina, Ohio, Florida and Virginia saw big jumps during October. A factor, tenant advocates said, was the CDC’s guidance related to the order last month that allows landlords to start eviction proceedings.

“It’s pretty alarming that lots of evictions are still, at least, being filed,” said Eric Dunn, director of litigation at the National Housing Law Project in Richmond, Virginia. The act of filing an eviction, he said, can prompt tenants to move out ahead of a hearing over fears that an eviction record would prevent them from renting another apartment.

“Because tenants often value their ability to obtain other rental housing over remaining in one specific property, the fact that such cases are being filed likely has a chilling effect on tenants who would otherwise assert the moratorium,” he said. “Tenants who receive eviction notices will move out to avoid the creation of an eviction record, rather than stay in their homes.”

The CDC last month also said landlords have the right to challenge the veracity of tenants’ declarations that they qualify for the moratorium. A false claim could result in criminal charges for perjury, and lawyers for landlords have taken advantage of that language to challenge tenants in court.

To be eligible for protection, renters must earn $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or $99,000 for single filers; demonstrate that they’ve sought government help to pay the rent; declare that they can’t pay because of COVID-19 hardships; and affirm they are likely to become homeless if evicted.

“We now have to fight this battle every time we go into court, where it’s not enough that the tenant provides the declaration,” said Hannah Adams, an attorney for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. “Now they have to explain where every penny of their monthly check is going or even if they are getting a check. It creates a higher burden for tenants than was intended by the original order.”

Also driving evictions is that the order only applies to nonpayment of rent.

As a result, landlords are increasingly trying to sidestep the order by evicting tenants for minor lease violations like excessive noise or trash, or they are simply not extending leases, tenant advocates said.

That is what is happening to Imus, according to Caitlin Cedfeldt, a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Nebraska. Even before a judge ruled Monday that she qualified for the federal moratorium, her landlord gave her a new notice to vacate, alleging criminal behavior at her residence.

“The landlord lost today, but I think they are going to keep coming after her with notices like these in an attempt to circumvent the federal order,” Cedfeldt said by email.

The other challenge is that any legal victory could be short-lived. The CDC order is set to expire Dec. 31, just when a spike in virus cases threatens to further undermine the economy. Many tenants owe months of back rent. The global investment bank and advisory firm Stout estimates that by January, renters will owe as much as $34 billion.

It is unclear if the moratorium will be extended as tenant advocates have demanded. In addition, a coronavirus relief package that could include tens of billions of dollars for rent and mortgage assistance appears to be going nowhere. State and local rental assistance programs provided some relief, but advocates say the funds fall far short of what is needed.

Advocates already are pressing President-elect Joe Biden to sign a broad, new national eviction moratorium on his first day in office. They want Biden to work with Congress in his first 100 days to pass a relief package that includes at least $100 billion in emergency assistance for renters and landlords and resources for the homeless.

“By the time President-elect Biden takes office on Jan. 20, we may be in the midst of a historic eviction crisis in our country if no action is taken between now and then,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

SADC Waits for Signal from Mozambique

30 NOV, 2020 - 00:11 

Ranga Mataire – Writing Black

Zimbabwe Herald

Let’s face it, any disturbing developments in a neighbouring country have the effect of being contagious if not carefully managed.

There is something disturbing taking place in Mozambique in the province of Cabo Delgado. Since the discovery of massive gas deposits, armed groups have been ravaging communities, murdering civilians and thousands displaced.

Naturally, the disturbances are a concern for SADC, the regional bloc whose main thrust is not only economic development, but maintaining and safeguarding peace and stability.

Realising the seriousness of the developments in Cabo Delgado, Sadc recently held a summit in Botswana to assess the threats to the region posed by the Mozambican insurgents.

The objective of the summit was to deliberate on the reconfiguration of the Force Intervention Brigade and the United Nations stabilisation mission in the DRC and the terrorism situation in the region.

The Extraordinary Troika meeting was hosted by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the current chair for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

Curiously, the President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi did not attend the summit, choosing instead to send his Defence Minister Jaime Bessa Augustino Neto.

Similarly, and as has become tradition, Tanzania’s President sent his Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Mozambique and Tanzania are the two main countries mostly affected by the insurgencies, with some of the fighters said to be crossing from the latter.

Armed conflict mainly affects women and children

Although SADC expressed grave concern over the armed groups in Cabo Delgado, observers were taken aback by the somewhat lukewarm attitude of Mozambique.

It appears as though Mozambican authorities believe that the situation in their northernmost province hasn’t gotten to a level of having a regional military force intervening.

In fact, the Mozambican Defence Minister indicated to the summit that his government would send a signal to the region if situation warranted a collective solidarity force.

That as it may, the Botswana summit directed the finalisation of a comprehensive regional response and support to the Republic of Mozambique to be considered urgently by the summit.

It also pledged regional support to the development and implementation of the Joint Strategy on the Progressive and Phased Drawdown of MONUCSCO in the DRC.

A point to note is that despite the Mozambicans’ somewhat lukewarm attitude,  four days before the Botswana Summit they had signed a memorandum of understanding with Tanzania for joint efforts in dealing with escalating armed attacks by ISIL-linked fighters.

The agreement signed by the two countries’ police forces includes the extradition of 516 fighters from Tanzania to Mozambique. So why is Mozambique not so keen at this stage to have a regional force in Cabo Delgado?

In the absence of intelligence information, all one can do is speculate.

First, the Mozambican government might have certain intelligence information that everyone doesn’t have and are uncomfortable with an immediate regional intervention that might jeopardise current strides made in vanquishing the armed group.

Second, since the violence is at the moment concentrated exclusively in Cabo Delgado, the Mozambican authorities are not keen in inviting an international force as this would escalate the situation to a full blown conflict thereby attracting other far afield armed groups that share the same sentiments with the one operating in that province.

Third, companies that have set shop and intend to invest in Cabo Delgado have obvious vested interested and might be advising the Mozambican authorities on the best strategies in dealing with the armed group.

Fourth, the armed group or groups do not operate in a formalised fashion. The sporadic attacks by the group make it extremely difficult for a conventional force to decisively deal with them.

In the final analysis, while we are not privy to intelligence information informing the attitude of Mozambican authorities, the country still needs regional support. South Africa must assist Mozambique not only because it has companies interested in investing in the gas rich province, but could use its financial muscle to assist the latter’s defence forces. Relying on private security companies like one led by Colonel Lionel Dyke (Retired) is surely not the ultimate.

Zimbabwe Women Urged to Drive Vision 2030

30 NOV, 2020 - 00:11 

Photo: Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau

Herald

Women in Zimbabwe must be bold and claim their rightful place in driving the country’s economy to prosperity as enunciated in Government’s Vision 2030, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said on Friday.

Opening the annual conference to the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe (ICSAZ) in Nyanga, Minister Mutsvangwa gave a keynote address anchored on “breaking the glass ceiling; positioning women for leadership in governance and accounting in the new normal”.

This year’s conference, which ran under the theme; “transforming governance and accounting for a new normal”, also saw the launch of the Women in Governance and Accounting initiative.

The Constitution requires that the State must take all measures to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of Government.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Government had shown commitment to achieving gender equality by ratifying a number of gender-related international and regional protocols and highlighted the important role women have taken up in all sectors of the economy over the past decades.

“The Zimbabwean women have more than delivered in the last four decades of freedom and independence,” she said.

“The most outstanding is the farming domain for a nation that is still dependent on agriculture.”

Up to US$600 million was being disbursed annually to nearly 200 000 tobacco farmers registered with the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board and the majority are women.

“Even sweeter, they are prone to spend their hard-earned on the welfare of the family compared to their men counterparts,” she said.

“The end result is rising levels of rural prosperity. Women have also boldly ventured into mining, especially chrome and gold, as our bountiful mineral resources are reclaimed for the majority. All these are shining cases of women breaking through the gender glass ceiling of opportunities.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said despite all these achievements, women were yet to fully reach the pinnacle of their potential in the economic prosperity matrix.

The accounting and governance profession was at the forefront in the fight for gender positive developments in the domain of corporate governance and encouraged ICSAZ members to strive to instill enforceable and tangible measures for gender equality.

“This gender equality should never be construed as an act of charity,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. “Do not leave such a pivotal tool of social equality, such a vital tool of social progress, to the vagaries of chance.”

ICSAZ president Mr Taona Munzvandi said this year’s conference was buttressing the role of women in the governance and accounting professions and sought to come up with strategies on how corporates can effectively deliver on Vision 2030 targets.

“We have looked at how corporate boards are performing and their role in terms of good corporate governance and how effective they are to deliver the Vision 2030 as enunciated by President Mnangagwa,” he said.

“We have put in place strategies in that regard. A thriving economy is based on good corporate governance and without it, there is no accountability or responsibility.”

‘Nyathi Was a Sell-out from the Start’

29 NOV, 2020 - 00:11 

Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Harry Macherure, also known as Cde Jackson Chakaipa during the liberation war, poses for a picture in Tanzania

CHRONICLES from the 2nd CHIMURENGA

The most famous, or infamous, sell-out from the liberation struggle is probably Morrison Nyathi, with the most-talked about tragedy being his decision to provide intelligence to Rhodesians that led to the bombing of Nyadzonia refugee camp. Harry Macherure, also known as Cde Jackson Chakaipa during the liberation war, reckons Nyathi was a plant from the Selous Scouts from the word go, and sold out seven of his comrades at the front. Fortuitously, only Cde Seven survived from that episode. In this narration with Garikai Mazara, Cde Chakaipa remembers the events from more than 45 years ago like it all happened yesterday.

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Q: As per tradition, can we get to know a little background of Harry Macherure and how he got to the liberation struggle?

A: I was born on November 21, 1960 in South Africa as my father was working there. We came back around 1965 and attended Manzvire Primary School in Chipinge, where I rose to become school captain. 

One day, soldiers came to the school and were asking learners what they wanted to do when they finish school. You know how it is in primary school: Some were saying they want to be doctors, teachers and pilots. 

As the school captain, I was the last one to be asked, and I said I wanted to be a terrorist.

One I now know to be a captain in the army held my hands like he was greeting but pressed my hands so hard that the pain made me wet myself. The following morning, July 25,1975, I left school and went to war. 

I went to Espungabera and then Machaze. We stayed at Machaze for some months and then one day Cde Tsana — I am not sure if he is still alive — came to introduce Cde Robert Mugabe.

Q: Where is Machaze?

A: It is in Manica province of Mozambique. At Machaze life was difficult as the camp had between 10 000 and 15 000 people in a very small area. 

Hunger was an everyday thing. We survived by scavenging for food. If a buffalo strayed into the area, it was something else.

From Machaze we went to Toronga, then Chibawawa, where I went under instruction from Mutinhiri to Mai Mujuru. Despite my young age — remember, I was just 15 — I was very intelligent and knew party ideology inside-out. 

I knew ideology by head; knew all the leadership by head.

In 1976 I went to Takawira 1 — that is at Chimoio — for training and later on to Takawira 2. 

At Takawira 2, that is where I met Cdes Chiwenga, Joshuarus  Misihairambwi (Mark Dube) and Tongogara. I became an assistant to Cde Chiwenga.

The first provincial commander for Manica province was Chinemukutu, who was blown away by a land mine, and Cde Chiwenga went to take over his position.  

Then came Tiziwei Goronga and Tonderai Nyika. Manica had two provincial commanders.

Q: Tiziwei Goronga, is he alive?

A: I am not sure. These names are big names but not much is being said about them. 

When Cde Chiwenga was withdrawn from being provincial commander, he was deputy army commissar. By the way, Cde Josiah Tungamirai was the army commissar. Part of the duties of the deputy army commissar was to move around the provinces, and there is no part of the provinces that I didn’t go with Cde Chiwenga.

Later on, he left me in Manica province where I operated extensively. I remember being given a task to capture two whites, John and Martin. 

Q: What was the point of capturing the whites?

A: It was just propaganda, to prove that we could do anything with the Rhodesians. Remember, we now had some semi-liberated zones. 

The son of one of the whites, I can’t remember his name,  went on a campaign to try and find his father. Helicopters, horses, motor bikes — they were all used to try and locate the two. 

Tiziwei Goronga instructed me to lead a team that would take the whites as far away as possible. We went to Mbudzi . . . that is where we left them.

But before that, there was an incident at Gondola, where the likes of Mugabe, Muzenda and all the provincial commanders were meeting. I was part of the security team that unmasked a Portuguese, or was he a coloured guy, who had been planted. He was found with a pistol on him and he was working in the kitchen. 

He failed to explain himself — who he was or what he was doing there. He was apprehended and handed over to the Frelimo forces.

Q: When independence finally came, where were you and how was the atmosphere?

A: In 1979, I was sent to Tanzania for further training, but, in essence, we were kind of a reserve army: that if something went wrong, then we would mobilise. So ceasefire and independence I was in Tanzania. I never got to taste the euphoria that came with it. 

I only came back into Zimbabwe in 1981, to be integrated into the national army.

Q: Let us rewind a bit, a lot has been said about Morrison Nyathi — did you know him, came across him or trained with him?

A: Morrison Nyathi, his ways did not start at Nyadzonia as many people think. It was around 1976 when he assigned himself to the front with Cde Seven, among others. He had arranged with the Rhodies and he said to his comrades, “you are very naughty, you guys. Bring your guns and go to your poshtos”. 

He then removed the firing pins on the AK guns and when they came under attack these comrades could not fire back. All of them were caught, except Cde Seven who managed to escape.

Q: Is this Cde Seven still alive?

A: I am not sure but I was to meet him later at Chimoio. He was a bit of a tough guy. 

Sorry to digress a bit as I want to talk about Cde Zhepe, who trained a number of comrades. I think only the three of us — that is, myself, Cde Chiwenga and Cde Tongogara — know where we buried Cde Zhepe during the battle of Mavonde. 

If Cde Chiwenga is reading this, I want him to help in the repatriation of Cde Zhepe who was killed in the man-to-man battle at Mavonde through a landmine. Cde Zhepe was a great comrade. Everyone who fought alongside him would testify to that. Even those who were trained by him.

Q: Back to Nyathi?

A: Morrison, after selling the other comrades, he went to Nyadzonia where he knew almost everyone. Remember, he was a high-ranking comrade there. He sold out the entire refugee camp.

Q: So Nyathi went to war as a plant or he turned sell-out later on?

A: No, Nyathi was a plant from the word go. He was intelligent. He would stand before a crowd and talk; he was very confident. 

Though the Rhodesians messed it up by not sending him away, say to Britain or some other place to hide him. But then he met comrades who were emotional and they meted instant justice. 

But it would have been better if he had faced the nation and told everyone what and how he did it. 

By then, the death penalty was still active, maybe they could have given him a death sentence anyway.

Q: Would you know where he came from, here in Zimbabwe?

A: I wouldn’t know but I heard he met his fate in Goromonzi.

Q: And you were given land?

A: Not all war vets got land. Some war veterans are being evicted today. You can’t say you gave me land when you gave me six hectares. 

Q: But are you utilising the six hectares?

A: Some of them are farming but some are not because they have not been capacitated. . . I doubt if we are more than 25 000 (war veterans) right now, and if we remove all those with means, the remaining number is a small to mobilise resources for.

In the next instalment, as the nation inches closer to Unity Day, signed on December 22, 1987 between Zanu and Zapu, we speak to a decorated Zipra cadre. 

Djibouti Removes Itself As Candidate For Normalization With Israel

November 26, 2020 7:30 pm

Djibouti’s President Ismael Omar Guelleh. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The leader of Djibouti, a strategically located country in the Horn of Africa, said that the Muslim-majority country won’t consider normalizing ties with Israel at this time.

“The conditions aren’t ripe,” Djibouti President Isma├»l Omar Guelleh told the Africa Report. “We neither have a problem with the Jews as a people nor the Israelis as a nation. Some of them even come to Djibouti on business with their passport, and Djibouti’s citizens have been able to travel to Israel for 25 years now.”

But Djibouti does have a “problem” with Israel “denying Palestinians their inalienable rights,” Guelleh clarified. “All we ask that the government do is make one gesture of peace, and we will make 10 in return. But I’m afraid they’ll never do that.”

The tiny country of Djibouti, which has the smallest population in mainland Africa, was one of a few African countries, including Niger, which has been considered by Israel as candidates for the normalization of ties with the Jewish state.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

Somalia at a Crossroad, UN Envoy Urges ‘Deepened’ Political Consensus

23 November 2020

United Nations Peace and Security

The “broad political consensus” reached in September that ended a two-year stalemate in Somalia must be “preserved and indeed deepened”, the country’s UN envoy told the Security Council on Monday. 

Although the agreed model of voting “regrettably fell short” of the constitutional requirement for parliamentary elections based on the principle of universal suffrage, Special Representative James Swan, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), acknowledged that it did reflect “wide Somali political consensus and ownership”.  

“In addition to the support of the President and federal member state leaders, the indirect model was also endorsed by other key Somali stakeholders, including political parties and civil society, and was ratified by the Federal Parliament”, he said via videoconference. 

“A transition year’ 

The UN official painted a picture of a country facing critical decisions, namely “an electoral process to choose the parliament and president in the coming few months; a security transition so that Somalis can assume lead security responsibility by the end of 2021; and urgent priorities for humanitarian response and economic reforms”. 

Dubbing 2021 “a transition year in which Somalia takes lead responsibility on security matters”, Mr. Swan sought a “strategic vision” for the country’s security that would be supported by diverse backers, including “external actors”. 

He also lauded, among others, the Somali security forces and African Union (AU) Mission in the country, for contributing to collective gains in the security realm. 

Inclusive processes 

The UNSOM chief underscored that agreed-upon processes must be “more participatory and inclusive” and welcomed the agreement of political leaders to ensure a 30 per cent quota for women to sit in Parliament. 

As Somalia focuses on the electoral process, he upheld that the UN would continue to press for “participation by historically underrepresented groups”, including women, youth and marginalized communities.  

“They all have much to contribute to peace, stability, and development in their country”, upheld the Special Representative. 

Turning to the longer-term, Mr. Swan explained that in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the U Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and international partners, UNSOM would contribute to implementing the electoral agreement and “universal suffrage elections in the future”. 

“To this end, we urge Somali leaders to prepare consensually a roadmap with clear timelines and benchmarks to ensure one-person-one-vote elections take place in 2024/25”, he said. 

Freedom and respect 

The UN’s development work in Somalia is centred around human rights and justice, according to the UNSOM chief. 

“With elections approaching, I underscore my previous calls for the protection of political space, for tolerance of divergent opinions, for respect of free speech and association, and for media freedom”, he reiterated. 

In closing, Mr. Swan assured the Council of UNSOM’s ongoing work in promoting political cooperation.  

“Our good offices are aimed at fostering the widest levels of inclusion and consensus possible”, he stated. 

Protracted dialogue necessary 

Also briefing was Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and Head of the AU Mission, who said that “protracted and painstaking” dialogue was needed to achieve consensus on a parliament-endorsed electoral process. 

Mr. Madeira also expressed confidence regarding recent State efforts to improve governance, promote dialogue and strengthen security while underscoring the AU’s role in ensuring successful elections and highlighting the need for increased support and training of Somali police forces.

CIA Officer Killed in Somalia, Report Says

By AFP

November 27, 2020 01:11 AM

WASHINGTON - A CIA officer was killed in combat in Somalia in recent days, U.S. media said Thursday without releasing details of how the agent died.

The veteran officer was a member of the CIA's Special Activities Center, a paramilitary branch that carries out some of the US intelligence agency's most dangerous tasks, The New York Times said.

The officer died of injuries suffered during an operation last week, according to CNN.

The CIA has not commented publicly on the death.

Washington has some 700 troops deployed in Somalia carrying out training of Somali forces and conducting counter-terrorism raids against the Al-Shabaab militant group, which Washington designated a terrorist movement in 2008.

Earlier this month, Washington put on its terror blacklist the leader of an elite unit of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group blamed for a January attack in Kenya that killed three Americans.

Al-Shabaab is estimated to have between 5,000 and 9,000 fighters who have vowed to overthrow the Somali government, which is supported by some 20,000 troops from the African Union.

The slain US operative was a veteran of special forces operations, having previously been a member of the elite SEAL Team 6, the Times reported.

The outgoing administration of President Donald Trump is considering withdrawing all US forces from Somalia by the time he leaves office in January, the paper added.

At the start of his term, Trump gave the Pentagon a freer hand to expand their operations, with both air strikes and ground raids, in the war-ravaged African country.

But an official report released in February said that "despite continued US air strikes in Somalia and US assistance to African partner forces, Al-Shabaab appears to be a growing threat that aspires to strike the U.S. homeland."